Sankei columnist Sono Ayako advocates separation of NJ residential zones by race in Japan, cites Apartheid South Africa as example (UPDATED)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another one for the Debito.org archives.  Sono Ayako, famous conservative novelist, has just had a ponderous opinion piece published in the reactionary right-wing Sankei Shinbun daily newspaper.  This is the same newspaper that last decade serialized professional bigot Ishihara Shintaro’sNihon Yo” columns (which, among other things, saw Chinese as criminal due to their “ethnic DNA” (minzokuteki DNA)).  This is what the Sankei is getting up to now:  Publishing opinion pieces advocating Japan institute an Apartheid system for foreign residents, separating their living areas by races.  Seriously:

SONO:  “I have come to believe, after 20-30 years knowing about the actual situation in Republic of South Africa, that when it comes to residential zones, the Whites, Asians, and Blacks should be separated and live in different areas [in Japan].”  

She describes how Black Africans have come to despoil the areas (particularly infrastructurally) that were reserved for Whites in the RSA, and feels that “immigrants” (imin) would do the same thing to Japan.  And there’s lots more to mine from a remarkable capsule of bigotry and ethnic overgeneralizations that only cantankerous eldsters, who live in intellectual sound chambers because they are too old to be criticized properly anymore, can spew.  Huffpost Japan and original article below, followed by one more quick comment:

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

曽野綾子さん「移民を受け入れ、人種で分けて居住させるべき」産経新聞で主張
The Huffington Post Japan, courtesy of SH
投稿日: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST 更新: 2015年02月11日 11時53分 JST SANKEI

2月11日付の産経新聞コラムで、作家の曽野綾子さんが、日本の労働人口が減少している問題について触れ、移民を受け入れた上で、人種で分けて居住させるべきだ、と主張した。

(Entire column; click on image to expand in browser)

sonoayakosankei021115

「近隣国の若い女性たちに来てもらえばいい」と今後需要の増える介護について移民を受け入れる一方、「移民としての法的身分は厳重に守るように制度を作らねばならない」とした上で、

もう20〜30年も前に南アフリカ共和国の実情を知って以来、私は、居住区だけは、白人、アジア人、黒人というふうに分けて住む方がいい、と思うようになった。

(産経新聞 2015/02/11付 7面)
と住居の隔離とも取られかねない主張を展開している。

さらに、南アフリカでアパルトヘイト(人種隔離政策)の撤廃後、白人専用だったマンションに黒人家族が一族を呼び寄せたため、水が足りなくなり共同生活が破綻し、白人が逃げ出したという例を出し、「人間は事業も研究も運動も何もかも一緒にやれる。しかし居住だけは別にした方がいい」と締めくくっている。

このコラムに、ツイッター上では批判が集中している。
Rest of article at

http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2015/02/10/sankei_n_6657606.html

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

COMMENT:  While I hope (and I stress:  hope) that nobody is going to take seriously the rants of a octogenarian who has clearly lost touch with the modern world, it is distressing to see that this was not consigned to the regular netto-uyoku far-right internet denizens who regularly preach intolerance and spew xenophobic bile as a matter of reflex.  Shame on you, Sankei, for adding credibility to this article by publishing it.  Let’s hope (and I stress again:  hope) that it is not a bellwether of public policy to come.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS: More on Sono Ayako’s hypocritically misogynistic (yes!) rantings here in a separate article in the Japan Times.

PPS:  This article just made it into The Japan Times, with more details on how Sono was appointed to a PM Abe panel on education reform in 2013, demonstrating how deep the rot goes.

UPDATE FEB 13:  A protest letter in Japanese and English from the Africa-Japan Forum hits the media.  Self-explanatory.  Let’s see if this results in a retraction of the article.

UPDATE FEB 14:  South African Ambassador to Japan protests Sono Ayako’s pro-Apartheid column <産経新聞>曽野氏コラム、南ア大使も抗議文 人種隔離許容(毎日新聞) – Yahoo!ニュース http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150214-00000077-mai-soci

sonoayakoprotestletter021315

sonoayakoprotestletterj021315

Courtesy of the Mainichi Shinbun and MS.  http://mainichi.jp/graph/2015/02/14/20150214k0000e040192000c/001.html

UPDATE FEB 20: Gaijin Handlers intervene to rein in Japan-Studies intelligentsia by portraying Sono as somehow culturally-misunderstood:
http://www.debito.org/?p=13061#comment-831044

ENDS

Lawyer threatens Debito.org in 2009 re a 1993 article in The Australian Magazine on Japan pundit Gregory Clark. Had received reprint permission, so nothing came of it.

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  I’ve been sitting on this blog post for nearly six years, so I think it’s safe to say that nothing has come of this.

Back in 2009, somebody claiming to be a lawyer representing the publisher of The Australian Magazine contacted me, claiming copyright infringement, and demanded that Debito.org remove from its archives a 1993 article concerning Japan pundit Gregory Clark (who writes articles occasionally so embarrassingly xenophobic and bigoted that at least one has been deleted from the Japan Times archive).

Funny thing is that once I reproduced an email from 2000 from The Australian Magazine that permitted reproduction of said article on Debito.org, that somebody and her threat vanished.

Again, that was back in 2009.  It’s now 2015, so let’s put this up for the record.  Something tells me that Gregory Clark really doesn’t want you to read this very revealing article in The Australian about him, his modus operandi, and his motives in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Please see letter attached.

Gina McWilliams
Legal Counsel
Nationwide News Pty Limited & News Digital Media Pty Limited
2 Holt Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
t: 02 9288 3042   |   f: 02 9288 2480   |   m: 0402 140591   |   mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au

The Australian   |    The Weekend Australian   |   The Daily Telegraph   |   The Sunday Telegraph   |   mX   |   The Sportsman   |   news.com.au

<03 – Ltr debito.org 28.7.09.pdf>

Nationwidenews01072809

Nationwidenews02072809

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Date: August 2, 2009 3:04:28 PM JST

To: “McWilliams, Gina” <mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au>

Subject: Re: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Hello Ms McWilliams, and thank you for your attachment.  My apologies for my late reply.  It has been a busy week, and it has taken a little time to visit my safe deposit box and retrieve backed-up emails that are nearly ten years old.

Here is the permission I received from a M. Mairead Sweeney of The Australian Magazine, Dated December 19, 2000, to reprint the article “Our Other Man in Japan”.

============= PERMISSION GRANTED TEXT BEGINS [REDACTED:  FULL TEXT IN CONTEXT HERE] =================

From ???@??? Tue Dec 19 08:35:29 2000
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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘debito@debito.org‘” <debito@debito.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:55:31 +1100
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Dear Dave

Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
There is no problem reproducing the article, as long as credit is given to
The Australian Magazine.
Happy Christmas.

Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

============= PERMISSION GRANTED TEXT ENDS =================

Credit is, and always has been, given to The Australian Magazine.

Please review the following context from which this is taken.  Here is my request to The Australian Magazine, dated December 4, 2000, for reproduction permissions to print “Our Other Man in Japan”.  It is in raw text format (importing email from an old program [somewhat abridged]), for copyright permission, followed by the exchanges which resulted in the abovementioned permission being granted.  My name back then was David Aldwinckle (it is now Arudou Debito, due to naturalization as a Japanese citizen).

I would appreciate receiving your acknowledgment of these permission-granted circumstances as soon as possible.  I also wish you would do your homework before sending “notice” letters to my friends.  My friend, [SH, who hosted my site at the time], who was also sent your “notice” letter, is hereby cc-ed with this reply.  Kindly cc him your acknowledgment as well.

Arudou Debito (ne David Aldwinckle) in Sapporo, Japan

=========== PERMISSION REQUEST BEGINS ==================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 14:28:13 2000
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Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 13:20:51 +0900
To: ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au
From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle <debito@debito.org>
Subject: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
Cc: debito@debito.org
X-UIDL: bc68a5de1a75c6385b5848adcc747ef6
To whom it may concern:

I am looking for an old article of yours which appeared in THE AUSTRALIAN
MAGAZINE.  The date is not written anywhere on the pages, but here are the
details as I know them:

PUBLICATION:  The Australian Magazine
ARTICLE TITLE:  “Our Other Man in Japan”
AUTHOR:  Richard McGregor
CONTENTS:  about Gregory Clark’s life and times here in Japan
PAGE NUMBERS:  pp. 27 to 41?
APPROXIMATE DATE:  1993-94 (article mentions Hosokawa as Prime Minister)

Could you please tell me of the date and issue number etc. for the article
for proper citation?

Thank you very much,
Dave Aldwinckle in Sapporo, Japan
(your contact details courtesy of Mr Steven Lunn, Tokyo Correspondent)

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

=========== PERMISSION REQUEST ENDS ==================

And here is the answer I received, or rather the communication as it transpired (it took a few exchanges of emails):

=========== PERMISSION GRANTED BEGINS ==================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 15:37:20 2000
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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle'” <debito@debito.org>
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 17:03:22 +1100
MIME-Version: 1.0
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Hi Dave
Well the good news it that I’ve had success in locating the article.  The
details are:

The Australian Magazine, 16th October 1993, Edition 1.

If you need further information, please do not hestitate to contact me.
Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine.

—–Original Message—–

From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle [mailto:debito@debito.org]
Sent: Monday, 4 December 2000 4:34
To: Magazine, Australian
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about old article

Thanks for your speedy reply!
I only have a photocopy of the article in question, and no, I’m afraid it
(oddly enough) doesn’t give the date etc where it indicates the page number.
I’m afraid that you have all the information that I have.
Thanks for looking.  I would really appreciate it and don’t mind if it takes
a few days.  It’s quite a big article with a full-page photograph of Gregory
Clark.

Dave Aldwinckle
Sapporo

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

At 4:16 PM +1100 12/4/00, Magazine,  Australian wrote:

> Dear Dave
> I presume you don’t have the front cover of the magazine, just the pages in
> question (?). Where it says the page number, normally it has the Issue Date
> also.  This could be just on the more recent editions, I don’t know.  I have
> had a quick look through our computerised archives but have found nothing
> yet.  It may take a day or two to locate the information you require.

> Regards
> Mairead Sweeney
> The Australian Magazine

> —–Original Message—–
> From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle [mailto:debito@debito.org]
> Sent: Monday, 4 December 2000 3:21
> To: ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au
> Cc: debito@debito.org
> Subject: Inquiry to The Australian about old article
>
> To whom it may concern:
> I am looking for an old article of yours which appeared in THE AUSTRALIAN
> MAGAZINE.  The date is not written anywhere on the pages, but here are the
> details as I know them:
> PUBLICATION:  The Australian Magazine
> ARTICLE TITLE:  “Our Other Man in Japan”
> AUTHOR:  Richard McGregor
> CONTENTS:  about Gregory Clark’s life and times here in Japan
> PAGE NUMBERS:  pp. 27 to 41?
> APPROXIMATE DATE:  1993-94 (article mentions Hosokawa as Prime Minister)
> Could you please tell me of the date and issue number etc. for the article
> for proper citation?
> Thank you very much,
> Dave Aldwinckle in Sapporo, Japan
> (your contact details courtesy of Mr Steven Lunn, Tokyo Correspondent)
> =======================

From ???@??? Mon Dec 04 16:39:12 2000

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<25EAA402DE2FD111B8400000F875354809CC63AD@sydexchange.matp.newsltd.com.au>
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 15:49:16 +0900
To: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
From: Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle <debito@debito.org>
Subject: RE: Inquiry to The Australian about article on Gregory Clark
X-UIDL: 3f533fa822bf35aa7537f6496a033048
At 5:03 PM +1100 12/4/00, Magazine,  Australian wrote:
> Hi Dave
> Well the good news it that I’ve had success in locating the article.  The
> details are:
> The Australian Magazine, 16th October 1993, Edition 1.
> If you need further information, please do not hestitate to contact me.
> Regards
> Mairead Sweeney
> The Australian Magazine.

Excellent!  Thank you very much!
Would it be possible to receive permission from The Australian to reprint
this article in full in our next issue of NPO Japan Association for Language
Teaching (JALT)’s Journal of Professional Issues?
We are a non-profit organization and our publication fees are funded by both
JALT and from our subscribers (about 75 people).
To find out more about our Journal and to see back issues, please see
http://www.debito.org/PALEJournals.html
To find out more about JALT, please see
http://www.jalt.org/

Thank you very much for your time, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Best wishes,
Dave Aldwinckle
One JALT Journal of Professional Issues Editor

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

From ???@??? Tue Dec 19 08:35:29 2000
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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘debito@debito.org‘” <debito@debito.org>
Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2000 09:55:31 +1100
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Mailer: Internet Mail Service (5.5.2650.21)
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charset=”iso-8859-1″
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Dear Dave
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
There is no problem reproducing the article, as long as credit is given to
The Australian Magazine.

Happy Christmas.
Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

============ PERMISSION GRANTED ENDS ==================

From: Arudou Debito [mailto:debito@debito.org]
Sent: Tuesday, 11 August 2009 1:44 AM
To: McWilliams, Gina
Subject: RESEND: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Hello Ms McWilliams.  It’s been more than a week.  May I have a
response or an acknowledgment of receipt, please?  Arudou Debito

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

On Aug 14, 2009, at 5:13 PM, McWilliams, Gina wrote:
Dear Mr Debito

As previously noted, my client has no record of permission being granted for the relevant article to be reproduced/communicated on www.debito.org.

If, in fact, authorisation was granted in the terms set out below, I am instructed that my client now withdraws permission for the relevant article to be reproduced/communicated on www.debito.org and requires you to remove the article from the website within 7 days.

My client reserves all rights with respect to publication of the article on www.debito.org.

Yours sincerely
Gina McWilliams   |   Legal Counsel   |  Nationwide News Pty Limited & News Digital Media Pty Limited

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

From: Arudou Debito <debito@debito.org>
Date: August 16, 2009 12:05:09 AM JST
To: Gina McWilliams <mcwilliamsg@newsltd.com.au>
Subject: Re: RESEND: Copyright Infringement — Permission granted December 19, 2000 for reprint by Australian Magazine

Look, I don’t know who you are, and I cannot trace this email’s IP on standard searches.  Until I speak in person to a member of the media corporation claiming copyright over this article (that was granted me in writing fair and square from the actual media outlet several years ago), not just some alleged transmission from an alleged lawyer through an unverifiable email, I feel no credibility may be attached to this communication. Names and contact details.  From them directly.  And get my name right.

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

I received no further response from the organization or Ms. McWilliams.  A friend contacted people within The Australian in March 2010 and unearthed this:

“I had been curious regarding Mr. Clark’s claims that the 1993 article about him in The Australian Magazine was retracted. I called the news desk at The Australian and they searched their archives in the basement. They found a letter to the editor from Clark regarding the article. However, they searched three weeks of issues following the article and they could not find any retraction or correction printed. Therefore, I found no evidence supporting Mr. Clark’s claim that the article was retracted.”

ENDS

Yomiuri: GOJ sky-pie policy proposes to deal with rural population decrease with resettlement info websites, and robots!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Getting back to issues of Japan’s future, here is the GOJ once again last August offering another trial-balloon half-measure to reverse Japan’s population decline (especially in its rural areas):  A database!  And robots!

Of course, the Yomiuri diligently types it down and offers it up uncritically, with the typical pride of showing off “Japan’s stuff”.  The policy assumption is that if you offer people information, they’ll magically want to move out to the countryside — up to now they were just chary because they didn’t know where they could get an onigiri in Nakamura-son, Inaka-Ken.

That’s unrealistic.  It’s not a matter of lack of information.  It’s a matter of lack of economic opportunity for Japan’s largely white-collar labor force (the “potential migrants” being mentioned, of course, are Japanese) being offered out in The Boonies.  Hasn’t the GOJ gotten the memo yet after more than a quarter century of Japanese turning their noses away from 3K blue-collar work?  Not to mention the inevitable “Taro-come-lately” outsider treatment from the locals that greets many Japanese urbanites deciding to move out of the cities?  Fact is, Japan’s ruralities are even giving their land away for free, and it’s not stemming the exodus from.

No matter:  Just build it and they’ll come.  Hasn’t the GOJ learned anything from the Bubble Era?

Moreover, how about that other proposal below of introducing more robots in service areas to produce the 3K stuff?

Laced within that Industrial Policy is an appeal to national pride, as in Japan’s future as a world leader in robot use (without the actual substance of practicality behind it).  Ooh, our robots can produce bentos?  Can yours, France?  Then what: build robots to consume what robots produce?  No matter what, offering robots as replacements for humans in the labor market inevitably overlooks how this does nothing to revitalize Japan’s taxpayer base, because ROBOTS DO NOT PAY TAXES.

There is another option, the unmentionable:  Immigrants assuming the mantle of Japan’s farming economy and rural maintenance.  No, you see, that would be a security risk.  Too high a local foreign population would mean those areas might secede from Japan!  (Seriously, that is the argument made.)

Anyway, another pavement stone in the road to policy failure.  As we start a new year, I’d just mention it for the record.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan in Depth / Govt tackles population decline
The Yomiuri Shimbun
August 26, 2014, courtesy of Peach
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001522944

Migration info database eyed

In an effort to address population declines in provincial areas, the government plans to create a database to provide people thinking of moving from urban to regional areas with information about potential destinations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The government hopes to encourage more urbanites to move to regional areas by making it possible for them to extensively search for information on such issues as residency and welfare services anywhere in the country, according to informed sources.

Expenses to set up the database reportedly will be included in the fiscal 2015 budgetary request.

Using the database, potential migrants would be able to quickly obtain information on workplaces and job offers; schools and education; medical institutions and social welfare services; and shopping, the sources said.

Information provided directly from regional areas will be input into the database by Hello Work job placement offices and other entities, as well as by municipal governments trying to encourage urbanites to take up residency in their cities.

Municipalities facing serious population declines have individually offered information about job offers as well as available accommodation. The planned database will enable people thinking about moving to regional areas to view this information collectively, the sources said.

For example, if a resident of an urban community is considering a move to a prefecture in the Tohoku region, the database could be used to find areas meeting their needs by comparing information, such as what kind of jobs are available or the locations of schools.

Along with the database, the central government reportedly plans to establish offices to help people living in large cities move to provincial areas. The government hopes potential migrants will consult with counselors or obtain more detailed information at the offices, the sources said.

Among people interested in moving to regional areas, some are believed to be hesitant about making the move because of a lack of information about life outside major urban areas. The database is aimed at addressing that concern, they said.

More robots in service industry planned

The government plans to promote the development of robots for use in the service industry, such as at hotels and pubs, to cope with the industry’s worsening problems of labor shortages and heavy workloads, according to sources.

In September, the government is expected to establish a panel dubbed the “committee for the realization of the robot revolution,” which will comprise manufacturers and users of robots, and plans to subsidize programs judged to have bright prospects.

The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry intends to include ¥5 billion in its budgetary requests for fiscal 2015 for robot development and related projects.

The government envisages robots for such jobs as cleaning the stairs and bathrooms of hotels and changing bed sheets. It is also considering developing robots for use at factories, such as robots that pack bento boxes. The plan is to have such robots on the market within three years, the sources said.

The utilization of robots in the service industry has been lagging behind the manufacturing industry, as robot makers have made development for the manufacturing industry a higher priority because of higher prices.

Even so, some robots are already in use in the service industry. For example, some Japanese-style inns have introduced a robot capable of automatically delivering a large amount of meals near guestrooms, which has helped improve the efficiency of the inns’ services.

The government believes the widespread use of robots could dramatically reduce the burden of service industry workers.

It has set a goal of expanding the market size of robots for the nonmanufacturing sector, such as the service industry, to ¥1.2 trillion in 2020—about 20 times larger than that in 2012. The development of robots in nursing care and agriculture is progressing, so the government is aiming to expand robot development to other industries so Japan can lead the world in the utilization of robots.

ENDS

Fukuoka Subway Poster Contest winner: Rude Statue of Liberty “overdoes freedom”, takes space from J passengers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Check this out:

fukuokasubwayposterDec2014

(click on image to expand in browser)

This is a photograph of a subway banner last month designed by an eighth grader in a Fukuoka Junior High School, taking first place in a Fukuoka City Subway contest for “Riding Manners”.  The caption:  “Don’t overdo the freedom.”

December 25, 2014, Reader TJL remarksHmmm…Fukuoka is now jumping on the “ugly American” bandwagon by portraying a rude Lady Liberty taking up too much space and playing her music too loud…the poor old lady in kimono can’t sit down and the salary man is disturbed by the noise. My graduate student from Chile found this on the subway.  So much for the kinder, gentler Japan welcoming visitors by 2020 for the Olympics.

COMMENT:  First, praise.  It’s a clever, well-rendered poster by a Junior High School student who at a surprisingly young age has a great grasp of space, color, perspective, and poster layout (I’ve done a lot of posters in my day, and I wasn’t anywhere near this quality until high school).  I especially love the jutting out bare foot, the extra-spiky headdress, the update to include noisy iPod headphones, and the open flame of Liberty’s torch on the seat.  The artist also displays careful attention to detail — he even remembered Liberty also carries a book (it’s on the seat by the torch).

Now, critique.  It’s sad to see such a young artist with an image of seeing freedom as an American symbol that can be so abused in a Japanese context.  Remember, just about anything humanoid could have been posed here taking up too much space, and comically too.  However, as rendered, it comes off more as a cheap shot at something foreign.

It’s made even cheaper by making Liberty barefoot.  I mentioned the artist’s attention to detail, but Liberty wears sandals.  The artist’s omission of that and purposefully sticking a bare foot in the face of the audience increases the rudeness, in a way that is hypocritical for since the slogan is “not overdoing it”.  Also, the extra-long spikes on the headdress, although artistically good for the poster’s rhythm, only exaggerates the inapproachability of Liberty, and thus is similarly overdone.

In sum, this poster is being featured for discussion on Debito.org because the subconscious attitude in a prizewinning (and thus officially-sanctioned) contest is to see freedom as a foreign, abusable concept.  Thus freedom is unsuitable to a Japanese context because it victimizes innocent Japanese.  Meaning the subliminal message being normalized is a strand of xenophobia, shudderingly inappropriate for Japan’s developing youth and future.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times: Japan’s “Omotenashi” (“selfless hospitality”) not in tune with what visitors want, NJ expert warns

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Let’s start 2015 with a discussion about Japan’s tourism policy and some of the memes within.  Submitter JDG offers these thoughts about a recent Japan Times article:

===================================
JDG: Hello Dr. Debito, First of all, a happy new year to you. I wondered if you had chanced upon this article in the JT:
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns | The Japan Times
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

It’s really interesting, since it was written about a guy who has no connection (AFAIK) to the debate about NJ human rights, and is not a scholar of Japan. However, he has independently reached a conclusion that you yourself have expressed several times on Debito.org; Japanese deciding amongst themselves what NJ want/need/have difficulty with, is a sign of cultural arrogance aimed at controlling NJ.

I think this is important external reinforcement of your point of view. It shows that you are not alone and paranoid (as the apologists always try to portray you), but rather shows that in a totally different field of expertise, another observer has witnessed the same phenomena as you.

There are many interesting points that he raises, and I agree with him, but the main takeaway from the article is that the concept of ‘omotenashi’ is being used as a system of control over NJ in Japan (and we know how much the Japanese establishment believes that NJ need to be controlled), whilst at the same time serving a very racist nihonjinrongiron function of reassuring the Japanese themselves that they are unique and superior to NJ. Nice win for your logic. Sincerely, JDG.

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

Let me open this up to discussion on Debito.org. Article excerpt first. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

NATIONAL
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns
BY SHUSUKE MURAI, STAFF WRITER, THE JAPAN TIMES, DEC 25, 2014

Japan’s self-professed “omotenashi” (spirit of selfless hospitality) is often misinterpreted to force predetermined services on foreign visitors, says one longtime observer.

Cultural services expert David Atkinson, 49, says the nation’s confidence in what it offers the world is misplaced: Many foreigners who visit leave unfulfilled…

Atkinson says it is troubling to see Japanese increasingly lauding their own culture and that the trend could even become an obstacle to the government’s goal of getting 30 million tourists to visit annually by 2030…

“Originally, omotenashi means leaving the choices to the guests, not forcing foreigners with a different set of values to behave the way Japanese people expect,” he said.

Omotenashi became a buzzword in August 2013, when television celebrity Christel Takigawa used the term during Tokyo’s final presentation to the International Olympic Committee’s general assembly in Argentina for permission to host the 2020 Olympics…

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/

ENDS

My Japan Times JBC 83 Jan 1, 2015: “Hate, Muzzle and Poll”: Debito’s Annual Top Ten List of Human Rights News Events for 2014

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

A TOP TEN FOR 2014
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 83 for the Japan Times Community Page
Published January 1, 2015 (version with links to sources)

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/01/01/issues/hate-muzzle-poll-top-10-issues-2014/

 | 

Hate, muzzle and poll: a top 10 of issues for 2014

BY DEBITO ARUDOU, The Japan Times, January 1, 2015

As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the top 10 human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order:

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012). All the while, we gritted our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship.

However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, Ishihara resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater.

About time. He admitted last month that he wanted “to fight a war with China and win” by attempting to buy three of the disputed Senkaku islets (and entangling the previous left-leaning government in the imbroglio). Fortunately the conflict hasn’t come to blows, but Ishihara has done more than anyone over the past 15 years to embolden Japan’s xenophobic right (by fashioning foreigner-bashing into viable political capital) and undo Japan’s postwar liberalism and pacifism.

Good riddance. May we never see your like again. Unfortunately, I doubt that.

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

Japan apparently underperformed at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics (no wonder, given the unnecessary pressure Japanese society puts on its athletes) and somebody just had to grumble about it — only this time in a racialized way.

Chair of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics committee Yoshiro Mori (himself remembered for his abysmal performance as prime minister from 2000 to 2001) criticized the performance of Japanese figure skaters Chris and Cathy Reed: “They live in America. Because they are not good enough for the U.S. team in the Olympics, we included these naturalized citizens on the team.” This was factually wrong to begin with, since through their Japanese mother, the Reeds have always had Japanese citizenship. But the insinuation that they weren’t good enough because they weren’t Japanese enough is dreadfully unsportsmanlike, and contravenes the Olympic charter on racism.

Mori incurred significant international criticism for this, but there were no retractions or resignations. And it isn’t the first time the stigmatization of foreignness has surfaced in Mori’s milieu. Since 2005 he has headed the Japan Rugby Football Union, which after the 2011 Rugby World Cup criticized the underperforming Japan team for having “too many foreign-born players” (including naturalized Japanese citizens). The 2012 roster was then purged of most “foreigners.” Yet despite these shenanigans, Japan will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup right before the Tokyo Olympics.

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

In a delicious example of JBC SITYS (“see, I told you so”), Japan’s meritocratic Points-based Preferential Treatment for Highly Skilled Foreigners visa failed miserably in 2013, with only 700 people having even applied for the available 2,000 slots six months into the program.

JBC said its requirements were far too strict when it was first announced, predicting it would fail (see last year’s top 10, and “Japan’s revolving door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” JBC, March 6, 2012). Policymakers arrogantly presumed that NJ are beating down the door to work in Japan under any circumstances (not likely, after Japan’s two economic “lost decades”), and gave few “points” to those who learned Japanese or attended Japanese universities. Fact is, they never really wanted people who “knew” Japan all that well.

But by now even those who do cursory research know greater opportunities lie elsewhere: Japan is a land of deflation and real falling wages, with little protection against discrimination, and real structural impediments to settling permanently and prospering in Japanese society.

So did the government learn from this policy failure? Yes, some points requirements were revamped, but the most significant change was cosmetic: The online info site contains an illustration depicting potential applicants as predominantly white Westerners. So much for the meritocracy: The melanin-rich need not apply.

Good luck with the reboot, but Japan is becoming an even harder sell due to the higher-ranking issues on our countdown.

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

This is the third time the case of Ghanaian national Abubakar Awadu Suraj has made this top 10, because it demonstrates how NJ can be brutally killed in police custody without anyone taking responsibility.

After Suraj was asphyxiated while physically restrained during deportation in 2010, for years his kin unsuccessfully sought criminal prosecutions. Last March, however, the Tokyo District Court ruled that immigration officials were responsible for using “illegal” excessive force, and ordered the government to pay ¥5 million to Suraj’s widow and mother.

The case is currently being appealed to the Tokyo High Court. But the lesson remains that in Japan, due to insufficient oversight over Immigration Bureau officials (as reported in United Nations and Amnesty International reports; four NJ have died in Immigration custody since October 2013), an overstayed visa can become a capital offense.

6) Muslims compensated for leak

In another landmark move by the Tokyo District Court, last January the National Police Agency was ordered to compensate several Muslim residents and their Japanese families, whom they had spied upon as suspected terrorists. Although this is good news (clearly noncitizens are entitled to the same right to privacy as citizens), the act of spying in itself was not penalized, but rather the police’s inability to manage their intelligence properly, letting the information leak to the public.

Also not ruled upon was the illegality of the investigation itself, and the latent discrimination behind it. Instead, the court called the spying unavoidable considering the need to prevent international terrorism — thus giving carte blanche to the police to engage in racial profiling.

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

If this were my own personal top 10, this would top the list, as it marks a major shift in Japan’s narrative on racial discrimination (the subject of my Ph.D. last year). As described elsewhere (“J.League and media must show red card to racism,” JBC, March 12, 2014), the Japanese government and media seem to have an allergy when it comes to calling discrimination due to physical appearance “discrimination by race” (jinshu sabetsu), depicting it instead as discrimination by nationality, ethnicity, “descent,” etc. Racism happens in other countries, not here, the narrative goes, because Japan is so homogeneous that it has no race issues.

But when Urawa Reds soccer fans last March put up a “Japanese only” banner at an entrance to the stands at its stadium, the debate turned out differently. Despite some initial media prevarication about whether or not this banner was “racist,” J.League chair Mitsuru Murai quickly called it out as racial discrimination and took punitive action against both the fans and the team.

More importantly, Murai said that victims’ perception of the banner was more important than the perpetrators’ intent behind it. This opened the doors for debate about jinshu sabetsu more effectively than the entire decade of proceedings in the “Japanese only” Otaru onsen case that I was involved in (where behavior was ruled as “racial discrimination” by the judiciary as far back as 2002). All of this means that well into the 21st century, Japan finally has a precedent of domestic discourse on racism that cannot be ignored.

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

Last year’s top 10 noted that Japan would join an international pact that says international children abducted by a family member from their habitual country of residence after divorce should be repatriated. However, JBC doubted it would be properly enforced, in light of a propagandist Foreign Ministry pamphlet arguing that signing the Hague Convention was Japan’s means to force foreigners to send more Japanese children home (“Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents,” JBC, Oct. 8). Furthermore, with divorces between Japanese citizens commonly resulting in one parent losing all access to the children, what hope would foreigners have?

Fortunately, last year there were some positive steps, with some children abducted to Japan being returned overseas. Government-sponsored mediation resulted in a voluntary return, and a court ruling ordered a repatriation (the case is on appeal).

However, the Hague treaty requires involuntary court-ordered returns, and while Japan has received children under its new signatory status, it has not as yet sent any back. Further, filing for return and/or access in Japan under the Hague is arduous, with processes not required in other signatory countries.

Nevertheless, this is a step in the right direction, and JBC hopes that respect for habitual residence continues even after international media attention on Japan has waned.

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

Last July another court case mentioned in previous top 10s concluded, with an 82-year-old Zainichi Chinese who has spent her whole life in Japan being denied social-welfare benefits for low-income residents (seikatsu hogo). The Supreme Court overturned a Fukuoka High Court ruling that NJ had “quasi-rights” to assistance, saying that only nationals had a “guaranteed right” (kenri).

People were confused. Although the media portrayed this as a denial of welfare to NJ, labor union activist Louis Carlet called it a reaffirmation of the status quo — meaning there was no NJ ineligibility, just no automatic eligibility. Also, several bureaucratic agencies stated that NJ would qualify for assistance as before.

It didn’t matter. Japan’s xenophobic right soon capitalized on this phraseology, with Ishihara’s Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations) in August announcing policies “based on the ruling” that explicitly denied welfare to NJ. In December, in another act of outright meanness, Jisedai made NJ welfare issues one of their party platforms. One of their advertisements featured an animated pig, representing the allegedly “taboo topic” of NJ (somehow) receiving “eight times the benefits of Japanese citizens,” being grotesquely sliced in half.

You read that right. But it makes sense when you consider how normalized hate speech has become in Japan.

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

Last year’s list noted how Japan’s hate speech had turned murderous, with some even advocating the killing of Koreans in Japan. In 2014, Japanese rightists celebrated Hitler’s 125th birthday in Tokyo by parading swastika banners next to the Rising Sun flag. Media reported hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offered little more than lukewarm condemnations of what is essentially his xenophobic power base. Even opportunistic foreigners joined the chorus, with Henry Scott Stokes and Tony “Texas Daddy” Marano (neither of whom can read the Japanese articles written under their name) topping up their retirement bank accounts with revisionist writings.

That said, last year also saw rising counterprotests. Ordinary people began showing up at hate rallies waving “No to racism” banners and shouting the haters down. The United Nations issued very strong condemnations and called for a law against hate speech. Even Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto confronted Makoto Sakurai, the then-leader of hate group Zaitokukai (which, despite Japan’s top cop feigning ignorance of the group, was added to a National Police Agency watch list as a threat to law and order last year).

Unfortunately, most protesters have taken the tack of crying “Don’t shame us Japanese” rather than the more empowering “NJ are our neighbors who have equal rights with us.” Sadly, the possibility of equality ever becoming a reality looked even further away as 2014 drew to a close:

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

With his third electoral victory in December, Abe got a renewed mandate to carry out his policies. These are ostensibly to revitalize the economy, but more importantly to enforce patriotism, revive Japan’s mysticism, sanitize Japan’s history and undo its peace Constitution to allow for remilitarization (“Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2013).

Most sinister of all his policies is the state secrets law, which took effect last month, with harsh criminal penalties in place for anyone “leaking” any of 460,000 potential state secrets. Given that the process for deciding what’s a secret is itself secret, this law will further intimidate a self-censoring Japanese media into double-guessing itself into even deeper silence.

These misgivings have been covered extensively elsewhere. But particularly germane for JBC is how, according to Kyodo (Dec. 8), the Abe Cabinet has warned government offices that Japanese who have studied or worked abroad are a higher leak risk. That means the government can now justifiably purge all “foreign” intellectual or social influences from the upper echelons of power.

How will this state-sponsored xenophobia, which now views anything “foreign” as a security threat, affect Japan’s policymakers, especially when so many Japanese bureaucrats and politicians (even Abe himself) have studied abroad? Dunno. But the state secrets law will certainly undermine Japan’s decades of “internationalization,” globalization and participation in the world community — in ways never seen in postwar Japan.


Bubbling under:

a) Jisedai no To’s xenophobic platform fails to inspire, and the party loses most of its seats in December’s election.

b) Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., Japan’s biggest drugmaker, appoints Christophe Weber as president despite the Takeda family’s xenophobic objections.

c) Media pressure forces Konsho Gakuen cooking college to (officially) repeal its “Japanese only” admissions process (despite it being in place since 1976, and Saitama Prefecture knowing about it since 2012).

d) All Nippon Airways (ANA) uses racist “big-nosed white guy” advertisement to promote “Japan’s new image” as Haneda airport vies to be a hub for Asian traffic (“Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad,” JBC, Jan. 24, 2014).

e) Despite NJ being listed on resident registries (jūmin kihon daichō) since 2012, media reports continue to avoid counting NJ as part of Japan’s official population.

ENDS

Holiday Tangent: Hanif Kureishi on UK’s Enoch Powell: How just one racist-populist politician can color the debate in an entire society

mytest

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Hi Blog, and Happy Impending Holidays. As a Holiday Tangent, the Guardian offers an excellent account of life for migrants, immigrants, and citizens of color in a society in flux (Great Britain in the 1970s, as it adjusted to the effects of a post-empire Commonwealth).  It depicts well how one racist-populist politician, Enoch Powell, could affect an entire society, and though fear-mongering invective effectively accelerate the othering and subordination of residents.

But that was just one person.  Imagine the effects of a proliferation of Enoch Powellesque racists and fearmongerers throughout a society, such as the leader of a party (Hiranuma Takeo), the governor of the capital city (like Ishihara Shintaro), or the Prime Minister of an entire country (like Abe Shinzo), or Japan’s entire national police force (see here, here, and here in particular).  Enoch had his effects, and Kureishi can now look back with some degree of “the past is a foreign country” relief.  Japan cannot.  Not right now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Hanif Kureishi: Knock, knock, it’s Enoch
The novelist and screenwriter remembers the effect of Enoch Powell – it’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is again centre of the political stage
The Guardian, Friday 12 December 2014, courtesy of PKU
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/enoch-powell-hanif-kureishi

I was 14 in 1968 and one of the horrors of my teenage years was Enoch Powell. For a mixed-race kid, this stiff ex-colonial zealot – with his obscene, grand guignol talk of whips, blood, excreta, urination and wide-eyed piccaninnies – was a monstrous, scary bogeyman. I remember his name being whispered by my uncles for fear I would overhear.

I grew up near Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the shadow of the second world war. We walked past bomb sites everyday. My grandmother had been a “fire watcher” and talked about the terror of the nightly Luftwaffe raids. With his stern prophet’s nostalgia, bulging eyes and military moustache, Powell reminded us of Hitler, and the pathology of his increasing number of followers soon became as disquieting as his pronouncements. At school, Powell’s name soon become one terrifying word – Enoch. As well as being an insult, it began to be used with elation. “Enoch will deal with you lot,” and, “Enoch will soon be knocking on your door, pal.” “Knock, knock, it’s Enoch,” people would say as they passed. Neighbours in the London suburbs began to state with some defiance: “Our family is with Enoch.” More skinheads appeared.

It was said, after Powell mooted the idea for a Ministry of Repatriation, that we “offspring”, as he called the children of immgrants, would be sent away. “A policy of assisting repatriation by payment of fares and grants is part of the official policy of the Conservative party,” he stated in 1968. Sometimes, idly, I wondered how I might like it in India or Pakistan, where I’d never been, and whether I’d be welcomed. But others said that if we were born here, as I was, it would be only our parents who would be sent back. We would, then, have to fend for ourselves, and I imagined a parentless pack of us unwanted mongrels, hunting for food in the nearby woods.

Repatriation, Powell said, “would help to achieve with minimum friction what must surely be the object of everyone – to prevent, so far as that is still possible, a major racial problem in the Britain of AD2000.” It was clear: if Britain had lost an empire and not yet recovered from the war, our added presence would only cause more strife – homelessness, joblessness, prostitution and drug addiction. Soon the indigenous whites would be a “persecuted minority” or “strangers” in their own country. It would be our turn, presumably, to do the persecuting.

The influence of Powell, this ghost of the empire, was not negligible; he moved British politics to the right and set the agenda we address today. It’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is once again the subject of national debate. Politicians attack minorities when they want to impress the public with their toughness as “truth-tellers”. And Powell’s influence extended far. In 1976 – the year before the Clash’s “White Riot” – and eight years after Powell’s major speeches, one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, ordered an audience to vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming a “black colony”. Clapton said that, “Britain should get the wogs out, get the coons out,” before repeatedly shouting the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”.

A middle-class, only child from Birmingham, socially inept and repressed, Powell had taken refuge in books and “scholarship” for most of his life. He was perhaps happiest during the war, spending three years in military intelligence in India. Like a lot of Brits, he loved the empire and colonial India, where he could escape his parents and the constraints of Britain. Many Indians were intimidated by and subservient to British soldiers, as my family attested. Like most colonialists, Powell was a bigger, more powerful man in India than he’d have been in England. No wonder he was patriotic and believed giving up the empire would be a disaster. “I had always been an imperialist and a Tory,” he said.

On his return in 1945, Powell went into politics. Like the grandees he aspired to be, he took up churchgoing and fox-hunting. Before his speeches on race, he was an obedient, relatively undistinguished servant of the state. But he was also, in fact, a proto-Thatcherite: a supporter of the free market and lower taxes with a utopian vision of unregulated capitalism where, miraculously, everything people required would be provided by the simple need for profit. Soon, as Thatcher said, there would be no alternative.

But, in 1968, that great year of newness, experimentation and hope, when people were thinking in new ways about oppression, relationships and equality, there was a terrible return. This odd Edwardian figure popped up into public life, and decided to became a demagogue. Richard Crossman, in his diary of 1968, worried about Powell’s celebrity appeal to “mass opinion, right over our parliament and his party leadership”.

Appealing to the worst in people – their hate – is a guaranteed way to get attention, but it is also fatal. Powell talked in whole sentences and was forever translating Herodotus, so was known for his cleverness. But he wasn’t smart enough to resist the temptation of instant populism for which he traded in his reputation. Racism is the fool’s gold, or, rather, the crack cocaine of politics. The 1970s was a dangerous time for people of colour – the National Front was active and violent, particularly in south London, and it was an ignoble sacrifice for Powell to attack the most vulnerable and unprotected, those workers who had left their homes to come to Britain. He elevated his phobia to a political position, and there was no going back.

Like many racists, Powell was nostalgic in his fantasies: before all this mixing, there was a time of clarity and plenitude, when Britishness was fixed and people knew who they were. Powell refused to allow his certainties to come into contact with reality. He had wanted to know India, but barely troubled himself with Britain and, apart from some weekends in Wolverhampton, lived most of his life in Belgravia.

In contrast to the crude caricatures of people of colour perpetrated by Powell, the Guyanese-born, Cambridge-educated writer ER Braithwaite – who served in the RAF before becoming a teacher in the East End because he couldn’t get a job as a engineer – writes in detail about race between the late-40s and the mid-60s. Three important works in particular, To Sir, With Love, Reluctant Neighbours and Choice of Straws engage with this era. From this clear-eyed, brave novelist we learn about the everyday humiliations, abuse and remarks that people of colour had to face after being invited to help run the NHS and transport system. To make the future it wanted, Britain needed the best doctors, engineers, architects, artists and workers of all kinds, and it imported them, before insulting them.

Powell liked to complain about every vile “imputation and innuendo” made about him; he was keen to be a martyr and victim. Braithwaite, for his part, really suffered. He catalogues the systemic and degrading exclusion from jobs and housing that so disillusioned immigrants about the British with their babble about fairness, liberty and the mother country. His books describe the rage and hate that relentless humiliation inevitably engenders – as colonialism did, in its time. Powell probably intuited the simple idea that tyranny creates resistance, and grasped that future conflicts would be caused by the tyranny he supported, hence his apocalypticism.

Powell developed his own schoolmasterish look. Always in black, sometimes in a long overcoat and occasionally in a little homburg, he was punky and subversive, and came to enjoy making everyone furious with his provocations. And he had the cheek to call us “a roomful of gunpowder”. He didn’t fit in; but he certainly liked to disorientate and traumatise us. After he spoke, we were in freefall; we didn’t know where or who we were. Powell wanted to confirm us as outsiders, as unintelligible and unwanted, but this helped us clarify things and created resistance. Out of Clapton’s statements, for instance, came Rock Against Racism, created by artists, musicians and activists to combat fascism. Then there was identity politics. We were not nothing; we had histories and, unlike him, we had futures.

Powell was creating the conflict he claimed to be the solution to. He soon found himself supported by the National Front. Powell had called himself a Nietszchean as a young man, but Nietzsche would have hated the wretched appeal to the mob or herd. Powell was merely addressing the bitter rabble, and, for so fastidious a man, this would have been distasteful, and he must have considered how incapable our intelligence can be when it comes to protecting us from the temptations of self-destruction.

He cheated his followers, because all he gave them was the brief thrill of superiority and hatred. Nothing substantial altered in the world, and the wild, amoral capitalism that developed from his Hayek-inspired economic vision created wealth for some, but otherwise had no respect for the homes or jobs of Powell’s followers, nor for the other things he cared about – tradition, national borders, patriotism or religion.

Although he was attacked and condemned by students wherever he went, he didn’t trouble himself to think about the profound social changes sweeping the country, as young people attempted to liberate themselves from the assumptions of the past. Britain wasn’t decaying, it was remaking itself, even as it didn’t know how the story would end.

In London now, if you stroll through the crowds on a bright Sunday afternoon near the museums and decorated shop fronts, even for those of us who have been here for years, this multiracial metropolis – less frantic than New York, and with more purpose than Paris, and with its scores of languages – seems like nothing that has ever been made before. And it grows ever more busy, bustling and compelling in its beauty, multiplicity and promise, particularly for those of us who remember how dull and eventless London could seem in the 70s, especially on Sundays.

Britain survived Powell and became something he couldn’t possibly have envisioned. He was a pessimist and lacked faith in the ability of people to cooperate with one another, to collaborate and make alliances. The cultural collisions he was afraid of are the affirmative side of globalisation. People do not love one another because they are “the same”, and they don’t always kill one another because they are different. Where, indeed, does difference begin? Why would it begin with race or colour?

Racism is the lowest form of snobbery. Its language mutates: not long ago the word “immigrant” became an insult, a stand-in for “paki” or “nigger”. We remain an obstruction to “unity”, and people like Powell, men of ressentiment, with their omens and desire to humiliate, will return repeatedly to divide and create difference. The neoliberal experiment that began in the 80s uses racism as a vicious entertainment, as a sideshow, while the wealthy continue to accumulate. But we are all migrants from somewhere, and if we remember that, we could all go somewhere – together.

ENDS

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. I received this email from Debito.org Reader AM last March (sorry for taking so long to get to it):

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

March 3, 2014
AM:  Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?]

I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.

http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html

It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese.

Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
====================================

COMMENT: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here.  Here’s the top page:

MOJBOHR2014001

ANALYSIS: The first page opens nicely with the typically-gentle grade-school register of slogan entreaty (nakayoku shimashou or “let’s all be nice to one another, everyone”), with “Let’s respect the human rights of foreigners” (entreaty is all they CAN do, since they’re not in a position to demand compliance when racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan).  It  includes their image-characters Jinken Mamoru-Kun and Jinken Ayumi-Chan.

But then it immediately veers into “guestism” territory by citing the long-range statistic of a record 11,250,000 NJ entering (nyuukoku) “our country” (wagakuni) Japan.  It’s not a matter of considering the rights of the 2 million NJ already here as residents as part of wagakuni — it’s a matter of treating all “entrants” with respect due to their obvious and automatic “differences” we’ll conveniently list off for you (language, religion, culture, customs, etc.).  They are being denied apartments, entrance into bathhouses (thanks!), and barbershops.  Also mentioned are hate-speech demos against “certain nationalities” (yes, the Zainichi Koreans).  Then comes mention of the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, and how there will be even more chances to come into contact with NJ.  That’s why the MOJ’s BOHR is insisting that we “respect” (sonchou) the human right of foreigners, raise awareness, and take on “enlightenment activities” (keihatsu katsudou — because, again, that’s all the BOHR can do because it has no policing or punitive powers) to help “the citizens” (kokumin — not the “residents”, which would include NJ) rid society of the prejudices and discrimination, and understand and respect foreigners’ livestyle customs (seikatsu shuukan).

Ready for more official “othering” of the people we’re ostensibly trying to protect?  Next bit, a 2012 Cabinet research survey:

MOJBOHR2014002

ANALYSIS:  According to this survey, they asked Japanese citizens only (not the NJ themselves) what they thought were the types of human-rights problems NJ face in Japan.  The two top responses were “not having their differing customs and habits accepted by society” (34.8%) exactly tied with “NJ don’t face any special problems/I don’t know“! (Not a surprising outcome if you’re not the people being discriminated against; it’s like asking the foxes about what problems they think the chickens have.)  The other issues mentioned are disadvantages faced at work or finding work (25.9%), finding apartments (a real doozy of a problem, yet only 24.9%), being stared at or avoided (15.9%), facing discriminatory behavior (15%), being bullied at school or the workplace (12.9%), facing opposition for getting married (12.5%), and being refused entry to hotels and shops (6.3%).

Which means that in this survey, where the questions are not open-ended, that out of all these preset options conveniently provided for the surveyed (see Q12, none of which mention racial discrimination, natch) with multiple answers possible, a full third of all votes went to “I don’t see/don’t know any problem.”  That’s pretty widespread ignorance, especially since this is the only question about discrimination in this survey that CANNOT be asked of the discriminatees.

The next section in the above screen capture talks about what services have been offered to NJ who claim they’ve had their human rights violated.  First example is of a BOHR investigation conducted for a claimant (who was refused entry into a barbershop), and how it was ascertained that he was indeed refused, and how the BOHR “explained” (setsuji) to the store manager that he should improve how he offers his barbering services.  The end.

The next example leads into the next screen capture:

MOJBOHR2014003

The next case is of a ryokan hotel refusing a foreigner entry when he was making a reservation over the internet.  After investigation, the ryokan managment said they’d had the experience of some foreigner who did not speak Japanese [as if that is somehow relevant] who walked off with hotel goods.  The BOHR again “explained” to the management that being NJ was not grounds for refusal under the Hotel Management Law, that this act was discriminatory behavior, and that they did not accept this explanation as a rational reason for refusal.  Again, the end.  Your hardworking taxes in action.

Next up, some more tax outlay for “enlightening” posters and events (screen captures above and below):

MOJBOHR2014004

It’s again of the “entreaty genre” in register, with the confused Jinken kids saying “it’s important to understand each other”, “What are violations of human rights towards foreigners?” and “Could you be discriminating against foreigners?” (Love the presumption of innocence for Japanese readers, which NJ, when officially portrayed as illegal workers, criminals, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, don’t get.)  And finally:

MOJBOHR2014005

We have some more links to BOHR services, enlightenment videos, Cabinet announcements re stopping exclusionism towards “certain nationalities”, and a nice-looking soft-pastel November 15, 2014 symposium in Osaka entitled “Foreigners and human rights:  Acknowledge the differences, and live together”.  Sorry I missed it.  Featured is is a “Talk Show” by Todai literature professor and radio personality Dr. Robert Campbell, and a panel discussion with only one NJ on board (Alberto Matsumoto, a Nikkei of Argentine extraction who runs an ideas shop):

MOJBOHR2014006

CONCLUSION:  Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves.  As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat.  However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science.  But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations (see here, word search for “Legal Affairs Bureau”) window-dressed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Fun Facts #19: JT: Supreme Court denying welfare for NJ residents inspires exclusionary policy proposals by fringe politicians; yet the math does not equal the hype

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Further setting and normalizing the national narrative for denying NJ their due as supporters of Japan’s social safety net, here is another article from the Japan Times charting the moves of the exclusionists.  Afterwards is a comment doing the math behind the hype, exposing it as just that:  hype.  But of course, nobody in the press seems to want to do their sums and expose it for the non-story it should be.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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NATIONAL
Ruling denying welfare for foreign residents finds homegrown, biased support
BY TOMOKO OTAKE, STAFF WRITER, The Japan Times OCT 17, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/17/national/welfare-rollback-underway-ruling-empowers-xenophobes/

The landmark Supreme Court ruling in July that found permanent residents of Japan legally ineligible for public assistance is already having an impact. Moves are afoot both at the national and local levels to try to scale back or remove welfare payments to foreign residents.

In a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman from Oita Prefecture, the nation’s top court made it clear that permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese nationals. Article 1 of the 1950 Public Assistance Law states the law concerns “all nationals,” which the court said referred only to Japanese citizens.

Despite the ruling, the welfare ministry has stood by its long-standing policy of offering the same level of welfare protection to foreigners as Japanese, based on a notice it issued to municipal governments in 1954.

In line with the ministry policy, the municipal governments have distributed welfare benefits — ranging from cash assistance to free health care services to housing aid — to needy foreigners with permanent or long-term residency status, including the spouses of Japanese and migrant workers from Brazil.

But the July ruling has given momentum to some forces, including those harboring anti-foreigner sentiments and advocates of cutting “waste” in government spending, to try to limit foreigners’ access to welfare.

The minor opposition party Jisedai no To (Party for Future Generations), co-founded by ultranationalist Shintaro Ishihara, plans to submit bills to the extraordinary Diet session that would give destitute foreigners a year to choose between two extremes: becoming naturalized citizens or leaving the country.

The move follows an August proposal, by a team of lawmakers in the ruling Liberal Democratic party tasked with eliminating wasteful state spending, to restrict welfare assistance to foreigners.

“The welfare outlays to foreigners run up to ¥122 billion per year,” the Aug. 4 report by the LDP team said. “We must say it is difficult to maintain the status quo.”

The team also said the government “should create guidelines (on public assistance) for foreigners who arrive in Japan, and consider deporting those who cannot maintain a living.”

Taro Kono, a member of the Lower House who heads the LDP project team, said the envisioned revision to the welfare system would not affect permanent residents, but those on mid- to long-term visas. The changes would likely materialize in the form of denied access to public aid for a certain period after one’s arrival in Japan, to prevent abuse by those coming here just to receive welfare, he said. He added that the team has yet to decide on the number of months or years before foreigners would be granted access.

According to Kono, the rationale for creating a probational period is a provision in the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law that states the government would deny entry to “a person who is likely to become a burden on the Japanese government or a local public entity because of an inability to make a living.”

“People who come to Japan on mid- to long-term visas would undergo a lot of events here, and some of them might lose their ability to make a living and apply for public assistance. That’s fine. But if they apply for assistance right after they arrive in Japan, that would mean they made a false claim (about their reason for coming),” Kono told The Japan Times earlier this month.

“Likewise when they renew their visas, they are supposed to have means to support themselves or otherwise their requests for visa renewals would be rejected. But if it turns out that they cannot sustain their living in, say, six months after their visas are renewed, that would mean they were not truthful about their means when they applied for a renewed visa, and (this would constitute) grounds for denial of public assistance.”

The LDP team also proposed that all welfare recipients be prescribed generic drugs unless otherwise specified by doctors. If they want to be prescribed patented drugs, they should pay for their share of the costs, according to the team’s report.

The team’s proposal for an eligibility requirement for foreigners based on their period of stay appears to be more or less in line with practices in other advanced countries.

Most European countries do not have a nationality clause for welfare benefits, but do list a residency period as a condition for eligibility, said Shinichi Oka, a professor of social security at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo.

At the same time, in Europe there is little distinction among different visa statuses, Oka said, noting that whether people have permanent resident status doesn’t affect their chances of qualifying for welfare.

“I’m not aware of any major European countries that (enforce) a nationality clause for public assistance eligibility,” Oka said. “The only requirement they have is that the applicants have lived in the country for a certain period of time.”

While the U.S. and Britain in principle deny welfare benefits to illegal aliens, in France, foreigners who have entered or are staying illegally in the country are also considered as “having the right to live” and are often deemed eligible for welfare benefits, Oka said.

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

ENDS

From the comments below the JT article.  Debito.org Readers, go ahead and take apart the numbers if you like:

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

Charles: “The amount of welfare being paid to foreigners is 122 billion yen! That’s a really big number!” That’s what the average man on the street thinks.

But wait a second, let’s actually do the math. Yeah, I know, you hate math, but it’s okay, we can use a calculator!

Japan’s GDP is 536,122,300,000,000 yen (over 536 TRILLION yen). So 122 billion yen is less than 0.03% of Japan’s economy. Basically, Shintaro Ishihara with his Jisedai no Tou, and the LDP, are wasting countless hours of time on something that, at best, will save Japan 0.03% of its GDP.

To make an analogy, I make about $28,000 a year. So this is the same as me OBSESSING and LOSING SLEEP AT NIGHT over how I can save $8 per year.

I think that maybe instead of spending all this time obsessing over 0.03% of its GDP, Japanese politicians should instead spend that time reviewing their math notes from elementary school, especially division, multiplication, and percentages. If they did that, they might find that this problem isn’t nearly as big as they’d thought.[…]

“According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s total social welfare benefits reached ¥103.487 trillion in fiscal 2010, topping ¥100 trillion for the first time.”
Source: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2012/12/12/editorials/footing-for-social-welfare/

Okay, so in Japan, the total welfare budget is 103.487 trillion yen. But only 0.122 trillion yen of that goes to foreigners, so that means that the other 103.365 trillion yen are going to Japanese people!

Here, let’s do some more math:

103.487 trillion yen / 127 million Japanese = Each Japanese person is, on average, sucking 814,858 yen per year from the welfare system!

Now let’s do the math for foreigners:

122 billion yen / 2 million foreigners = Each foreigner is, on average, sucking 61,000 yen per year from the welfare system!

So…who’s REALLY sucking welfare, here? I guess I now know where my income tax (所得税) and 8% consumption tax (消費税) are going, now…

…you’re welcome, Japan!

ENDS

From hate speech to witch hunt: Mainichi Editorial: Intimidation of universities employing ex-Asahi reporters intolerable; Sakurai Yoshiko advocates GOJ historical revisionism overseas

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s the next natural step of Japan’s Extreme Right:  jingoism and terrorism.  They feel empowered enough in present-day Japanese society (especially in the wake of the Asahi retracting some articles on Japan’s “Comfort Women” wartime sexual slavery) to start making larger threats to bodily harm.  No longer are they satisfied with being bully boys during demonstrations (beating up Leftists with relative impunity, see here and here) — as seen in the article below they have to hound from livelihood those who oppose them using nail bombs.

The tactics behind the practitioners of hate speech have morphed into real power to conduct ideological witch hunts.  And it won’t stop there — the most powerful elements of the Extreme Right are gearing up like never before in the Postwar Era to rewrite history overseas too (see Yomiuri advert below).  The fact that the Nobel Peace Prize did not go to people advocating for the conservation of Article 9 in Japan’s “Peace Constitution” is more evidence that the outside world still hasn’t caught up with what’s really going on with Japan’s Right Wing Swing.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Editorial: Intimidation of universities employing ex-Asahi reporters cannot be tolerated
October 03, 2014, Mainichi Shinbun, courtesy of YX
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20141003p2a00m0na003000c.html

Two universities have received letters threatening to harm their students unless the institutions dismiss a pair of instructors, who as Asahi Shimbun newspaper reporters had written articles about the wartime comfort women issue.

The universities are Tezukayama Gakuin University in Osakasayama, Osaka Prefecture, and Hokusei Gakuen University in Sapporo. Osaka and Hokkaido prefectural police are investigating the respective incidents on suspicion of forcible obstruction of business.

One of the two teachers, a professor at Tezukayama Gakuin University, has stepped down following the incident.

The Tezukayama Gakuin professor was previously said to be the first journalist to report the late Seiji Yoshida’s testimony that he captured women on Jeju Island to work as “comfort women” for Japanese soldiers during World War II, when Korea was under Japanese colonial rule. In its assessment of its coverage of the issue published in August, the Asahi Shimbun retracted the article about Yoshida’s claim after deeming it a fabrication. Moreover, the Asahi Shimbun later ran a correction saying that a reporter other than the professor wrote the story.

The part-time instructor at Hokusei Gakuen University was the first journalist to report a former comfort woman’s testimony. He was accused by some critics of receiving favors from his mother-in-law — a member of an organization supporting former comfort women’s lawsuits against Japan — in reporting the testimony, as well as covering up facts that would be disadvantageous to former comfort women. However, the Asahi’s assessment concluded that he never distorted facts relevant to the issue.

The Asahi Shimbun has been paying a high price for failing to correct its coverage of Yoshida’s fabricated stories for so many years. Asahi President Tadakazu Kimura held a news conference to offer an apology, and the company will commission a third-party panel to review its coverage of Yoshida and its impact on society. There are numerous things that the daily must clarify.

Still, this does not justify the culprits’ attempts to rid society of news reports and writers they do not like by threatening institutions irrelevant to the Asahi controversy. The intimidation has affected not only the universities, but also the instructors’ families, who have become targets for harassment after their private information was posted online.

Hokusei Gakuen University has received inquiries from the parents of many students about the instructor, prompting its president to post an explanation on the university’s website. Close attention should be focused on how the university, which is supposed to respect freedom of thought, will respond to the situation.

To ensure free discussions, police should apprehend suspects in these cases as soon as possible. Behind the incidents is an atmosphere of intolerance being spread by some magazines and on the Internet — in which dissenters are condemned out of hand as “anti-Japanese” and “traitors.” This is similar to the spread of racist hate speech campaigns across the country. The settlement of the comfort women issue would become increasingly remote if those who incite racial discrimination with violent language are ignored.

The simplistic branding people as “anti-Japan” could be the seedbed for similar incidents. Each and every member of the public should try to eliminate discriminatory words and deeds from their conduct to create an environment for calm discussions.

ENDS

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

Ad in September 16, 2014’s Yomiuri Shinbun taken out by Sakurai Yoshiko’s “Japan Institute for National Fundamentals”, courtesy http://en.jinf.jp/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/The_Japan_News.pdf 

SakuraiYoshikoJINFYomiuriAd

Searchable text:

Time to hit back at international aspersions over ‘comfort women’

http://en.jinf.jp/news/archives/3224

“The Japanese military forcibly rounded up 200,000 Korean women and girls and forced them to become sex slaves.”
This fabricated story has become widely believed in the international community.

The evidence behind this story was the untrue statements of Seiji Yoshida, who was said to be the former head of the mobilization department of the Shimonoseki Branch of Romu Hokoku-kai, an organization in charge of recruiting laborers and claimed to have participated in forcible abductions. Thirty-two years after The Asahi Shimbun first reported these comments by Yoshida, a man it lionized as a “conscientious Japanese,” the daily admitted these stories were false and retracted them. During this time, Japan was insulted and shamed over the comfort women issue.

The Foreign Ministry bears an even heavier responsibility for this deplorable state of affairs. In August 1993, the Japanese government issued a statement through then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono (the Kono statement), which expressed the government’s “sincere apologies and remorse” to former comfort women. After the statement, the misperception that comfort women had been forcibly taken away spread around the world. Despite this, the Foreign Ministry has not presented a single clear counterargument to set the record straight, even to this day.

In 1996, Radhika Coomaraswamy, a U.N. special rapporteur on violence against women, submitted a report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission that accepted Yoshida’s remarks as fact, and jumped to the conclusion that comfort women had been “sexual slaves.” This report fueled groups seeking to erect statues dedicated to comfort women in several nations, and influenced the U.S. House of Representatives’ adoption of a resolution calling on Japan to apologize to comfort women.

Now, more than ever, Japan needs to tell the world the facts about this matter and dispel entrenched misperceptions about comfort women. Instead, the Foreign Ministry will build “Japan House” public relations hubs in major cities overseas to promote Japanese cuisine and anime as a pillar of the “strategic proliferation of information abroad.” Does the ministry have its priorities in the right order?

A task force charged with protecting Japan’s reputation and directly controlled by the prime minister should be set up, and a minister and dedicated secretariat placed in charge of handling this matter. A united effort by the whole government is required—urgently.

ENDS

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

October 19, 2014, Sunday Mainichi 2-page article talking about how “Asahi Bashing” has morphed into nail bombs, presenting danger to Japan’s very democracy.  Courtesy of XY.

SundayMainichi1019141

SundayMainichi1019142

ENDS

Japan Times JBC 80 October 8, 2014: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Hi Blog. Thanks to readers once again for putting this article into the #1 spot at the Japan Times Online for two days!  Debito

“BIASED PAMPHLET BODES ILL FOR LEFT-BEHIND FOREIGN PARENTS OUTSIDE JAPAN
Pamphlet on Hague Treaty on Child Abductions displays slanted mindsets favoring the Japanese side of disputes
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Column 80 for Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE, October 8, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/10/08/issues/biased-pamphlet-bodes-ill-left-behind-foreign-parents-outside-japan/
p1
After years of pressure from foreign governments, and enormous efforts by “left-behind” parents to have access to children abducted to and from Japan after marital separation or divorce, the Japanese government became a party to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction in April.

That is, of course, good news. Now the issue becomes one of enforcement. And to that end, this column has serious doubts that the Japanese government will honor this treaty in good faith.

These doubts are based on precedent. After all, Japan famously ignores human-rights treaties. For example, nearly 20 years after ratifying the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, and nearly 30 since acceding to the U.N. Convention on Discrimination against Women, Japan still has no law against racial discrimination, nor a statute guaranteeing workplace gender equality backed by enforceable criminal penalties.

We have also seen Japan caveat its way out of enforcing the Hague before signing. For example, as noted in previous JT articles (e.g., “Solving parental child abduction problem no piece of cake” by Colin P.A. Jones, March 1, 2011), the debate on custody has been muddied with ungrounded fears that returned children would, for example, face domestic violence (DV) from the foreign parent. DV in Japan is being redefined to include nontactile acts such as “yelling,” “angry looks” and “silent stares” (particularly from men).

It is within this context that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) recently issued a pamphlet titled “What is the Hague Convention?” Available in Japanese and English, it offers a 12-page manga in which a Japanese father carefully explains the Hague Convention to his Japanese-French son.

The pamphlet has sparked considerable controversy. After I blogged about it last month on Debito.org, many annoyed left-behind parents overseas said they would forward it to their national elected representatives. After a South China Morning Post article cited blog commenters calling it racist, Huffington Post Japan and Al Jazeera picked up the story, engendering predictable relativism about differing cultural interpretations.

For the record, I never wrote that the MOFA pamphlet was “racist.” That term, if not used carefully, tends to dull analysis, especially since the pamphlet is more subtle than that. In fact, it provides valuable insights into MOFA’s slanted mind-set towards the child abduction issue.

First, consider the visuals. In three cartoons (on the cover, and pages 4 and 10) we see a foreign-looking man (never a woman) being physically violent towards his child, with two of those showing the child longing to return to Japan and be with mother.

Violent Dads: First and 3rd illustration are used twice, so three.

MOFA1

MOFA2

Reinforcing that in five more places (cover, pages 1, 7, and 9 (twice) — see C and D) are illustrations where the child expresses dismay at being abducted from Japan; only once (page 4) is there dismay at being abducted overseas. On the other hand, pages 2 and 7 show children displaying no dismay at being abducted to Japan, or instead showing shock (pages 2 (twice) and 3 — see E) at not being allowed to return to Japan. The clear inference: Japan is, on balance, the natural place for the child, regardless of factors such as primary language or time spent living abroad.

Dismay at being abducted from Japan. Cover and pg 9 repeat illustration twice, so five.

MOFA3

MOFA4

MOFA5

(text context clarifies that the third illustration above is an abduction from Japan)

Dismay at being abducted overseas (one image only):

MOFA6

No dismay at being abducted to Japan:

MOFA7

MOFA8

Dismay at not being allowed to return to Japan:

MOFA9 MOFA10

This implicit fear of the outside world is reinforced by images of uneasy children facing unfamiliar rules, customs and languages (pages 1, 4 and 5 (twice)). More subtle is the picture on the cover and page 1, where foreign (adults) surround, frown and stare at the nervous Japanese child as though she really doesn’t belong. (She’s sent back to her Japanese mother’s loving arms by the next panel — phew.) Only once (page 3) is there a happy child sent back to his foreign dad.

Uneasy children facing the unfamiliar:

MOFA11

MOFA17

 

MOFA12

Being stared at by adults:

MOFA13

Sole image of happy child being returned to NJ father (plus katakana-speaking father not in English version, referred to below):

MOFA14

Then consider the manga storyline. The Japanese father protagonist experiences a child abduction when the French mother abducts their son to France. Fortunately, according to the pamphlet, because Japan signed the Hague, Japan’s authorities can have French authorities track down the child, get mediation and (as the conflict resolution of this story) return the son (and the mother) to live happily ever after in Japan (page 6).

That is the central and tacit argument of the MOFA pamphlet: Japan signing the Hague isn’t about returning children to their habitual residence (whether it be Japan or overseas); it is about giving Japan greater leverage overseas to bring its children home to Japan. Where they belong.

Moreover, for some mysterious reason we spend the first page developing the relationship between the Japanese father and son protagonists, with father comically put off-balance by a barrage of questions from son, then negotiating with him to finish his dinner before answering. By page 3, the pamphlet mysteriously succumbs to another case of the cutes, as an anime figurine appears to praise the son’s intelligence (revealing father as an anime fetishist).

Irrelevant curlicues:

MOFA16 MOFA15

Why these irrelevant curlicues? Because by page 6, we learn why the French mother abducted the son: She accuses father of spending all his time watching anime and not paying attention to them. This is of course made dubious after all the space spent portraying the father’s caring, explaining, hugging, even cooking for his son. So clearly she’s just being hysterical. Of course, she returns to Japan with them after negotiations, so nothing fatal to the relationship.

On the other hand, when it’s a Japanese woman abducting, her reasons are more serious than hubby’s anime fetish. She has to deal with domestic violence, poverty (cover), unsympathetic or unpredictable foreign courts (pages 2, 3, 4, and 5), and even the unlikely scenario of begging frowning foreign strangers on the street to help her missing child overseas (page 2). Conclusion: The Japanese side is generally being victimized, while the foreign side is subtly depicted as violent and overreacting.

Other images referred to above. Frowning foreign strangers on the street:

MOFA18

This is where MOFA is most disingenuous: In no fewer than four places (pages 1, 2 (twice) and 5) are unsympathetic courts, “cultural differences,” “legal procedures” and “language barriers” cited as hurdles for the Japanese spouse overseas.

Japan’s unsympathetic courts, legal procedures and cultural presumptions allowing child abductions to happen here on a regular basis — even between Japanese couples — are never mentioned. Japan, remember, has no joint custody or guaranteed child visitations.

In fact, taking the issue to a court overseas may afford both parents more rights — as it did in the Savoie case, where, despite the pamphlet’s claims, a Tennessee court gave Noriko Savoie permission to leave the U.S. for Japan (whereupon she abducted Christopher Savoie’s children). This is where the pamphlet morphs from guide to screed.

No doubt some MOFA representatives will be reading this critique, so let me point out two more inaccuracies unbecoming of a government agency attempting an impartial review of the issue.

First, almost all of the international marriages in the pamphlet are portrayed as between (katakana-speaking, in the Japanese version) white men and Japanese women. In fact, most international marriages in Japan are between Japanese men and Asian women. That is where the pamphlet is an easy target for accusations of racism. Not all “foreignness,” especially in this case, is so visually identifiable.

Then there’s the biased terminology. It is inaccurate in the English version to frame child abductions as “children’s removal” — after all, this is not the Hague Convention on Child Removals. Just as inaccurate as the term it was translated from, tsuresari (literally, “accompanying and disappearing”), meant to semantically soften the act of kidnapping — especially when another appropriate word, rachi, is used for abductions of Japanese by North Koreans.

On the plus side, there have already been good outcomes from Japan’s joining the Hague. Left-behind parents including Christopher Savoie and U.S. Navy Capt. Paul Toland (who have successfully pushed for the Goldman Act, as well as several U.S. congressional resolutions decrying Japan’s status as a haven for child abductions) have recently had their Hague applications accepted by the Japanese government, which has promised to locate and provide access to the Americans’ children in Japan. In effect, this is official acknowledgment that their children were in fact abducted from their lawful custody. Two abducted children have also been returned to their habitual residences in Japan.

NB:  There are at least 3 US resolutions mentioning Japan Child Abduction: House Resolutions 125 and 1326 and Senate Resolution 552.  Savoie Case, letter from MOFA dated September 8, 2014, accepting his case as a Hague Case, meaning the GOJ recognizes his legal custody:

SavoieGOJletter090814

Very good. But will all this eventually result in Japan actually returning a child to a parent overseas — something which, according to activists, has never happened as a result of Japanese government or court action?

Let’s wait and see, of course. But at this juncture, I doubt Japan will enforce the Hague with much verve. Doing so, as Colin P.A. Jones has pointed out on these pages, would in fact give more rights to those in international marriages than it would domestic couples! If the Japanese government’s past behavior towards inconvenient international treaties is any guide, it will find caveats to ensure international divorce does not become another way for Japan’s depopulation to accelerate.

Thus, MOFA’s pamphlet is little more than subtle propagandizing meant to reassure the Japanese public that they haven’t lost the power to abduct by signing the Hague. In fact, MOFA is portraying the Hague as a means to bring more Japanese children back home. With that mind-set as strong as ever, I anticipate that foreign parents will continue to get a raw deal from the Japanese system.

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

Debito Arudou recommends that officials at MOFA and everyone else understand this issue better by watching “From The Shadows,” a documentary available at www.fromtheshadowsmovie.com. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause usually appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

Blame Game #432: J-Cast.com reports Mt. Fuji is covered in human poop, speculates due to increase in foreign tourists

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Continuing our occasional series on “The Blame Game” (I’ve written about this before in the Japan Times), where embarrassing and inconvenient domestic problems are blamed on foreigners, here’s a report by a Japanese media source that Japan’s venerable symbolic Mt. Fuji is covered in human hiker crap.

Fine.  I’ve hiked up many mountains, and I’m sure a hike up Fuji would challenge many an intestine.  But then the article headlines that it might be due to the increase in foreign tourists (particularly Chinese and Koreans), parroting internet speculation.  Not so fine.  It does add “balance” by saying that others have said that Japanese also do it.  But again, that’s not what the headline says, and you’d have to read further to get that.  The story should in fact be that people are bashing foreigners, not that NJ pooping on Fuji might be happening.

Click bait is one thing, but the media practice of picking on foreigners because they are too weak in Japan’s media to respond against group defamation (as I discuss in my doctoral dissertation; more on that later, sorry) is another.  Japan needs stronger anti-defamation leagues (we at Debito.org have tried; remember McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr. James” campaign?) to nip this sort of thing in the bud.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

富士山は登山者の「うんこ」がたくさん 外国人観光客の増加が原因なのか
J-Cast.com, 2014/9/18 19:14, courtesy of MS
http://www.j-cast.com/2014/09/18216232.html

世界文化遺産に登録された富士山のトイレのない場所で、多数の汚物が放置されているのが見つかった。
訪日外国人の数が近年増加傾向にあるため、ネットではマナーの悪い外国人の仕業という噂も出ているが、本当にそうなのか。
ネット「真っ先に想像されるのは中国人や韓国人ですね」

富士山で排泄物が放置されていた
新聞各社の報道によると、静岡県側の富士山須走口登山道の5~6合目の茂みや岩陰など17か所に、排泄物が放置されていた。入山者からの情報提供をもとに2014年9月14日に静岡県が調査を実施して確認した。気温の低い富士山では、微生物の力で糞尿が分解されずに残ってしまう可能性があり、生態系にも悪影響を及ぼすことが懸念されている。
富士山のふもとにある観光案内所「富士ビジターセンター」を訪れた7月と8月の外国人は増え、特に中国から来た人々は去年の同時期と比べて倍以上になっているという。こうした背景から日本のネットでは、マナーの悪い外国人観光客が原因ではないかと囁かれている。

日本のツイッターには
「富士山に排泄物で真っ先に想像されるのは中国人や韓国人ですね」
「富士山の登山道でうんこするの中国人しかいないだろ」
「うんこのニュース聞いて中国人とかじゃないの?とかふつうに思ったけど韓国人か」
といった書き込みがされた。
一方、中国ネットでは、
「これが日本人の真の民度だ!」
「お互い様だな。期限切れ食品に下水油・・・。どこにでもあるんじゃない?」
「日本人がよく言う”民度”ってやつがコレね」
といった声が出たと、新華経済ニュースが紹介している。

山小屋「これはもう昔からですよ。毎年のことです」
しかし、富士山の山小屋に話を聞くと、汚物が放置されているのは今に始まったことではないという。
須走口登山道で山小屋を営むオーナーは「これはもう昔からですよ。毎年のことです」と断言する。山小屋が多数あるルートはトイレの設置数も多いが、須走口の場合は1時間15分ほど歩かなければ、次の山小屋に到達できないところもあり、「登っているうちに新陳代謝が活発になって、便意を催してしまうのではないでしょうか」と説明する。
山小屋のトイレは基本的に有料なので、支払いを嫌がって野外で排泄する人もいる可能性もあるという。マナーに関してはヨーロッパ系やアジア系に限らず、悪い人は悪いという印象で、中国・韓国の観光客が際立っているというわけではないそうだ。別の山小屋に話を聞いても以前から排泄物はあるということだった。今回は5~6合目で汚物が大量に発見されたが、「山頂の方はもっとひどいですよ」と話していた。
ENDS

SCMP (Hong Kong) on MOFA Hague Pamphlet: “‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists”, cites Debito.org (UPDATE: Also makes Huffington Post Japan in Japanese & Al Jazeera)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I am happy to say that our last Debito.org blog post generated another news article.  Thanks very much to Julian for drawing attention to the issue.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

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

‘Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists
Pamphlet issued by Tokyo to Japan’s embassies in response to Hague convention is criticised for depicting a foreign man beating his child

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 September, 2014, 11:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2014, 1:44am
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong,), by Julian Ryall in Tokyo
Courtesy http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1594102/racist-cartoon-issued-japanese-ministry-angers-rights-activists
p1
The cartoon showing a white man beating his child has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.

Human rights activists in Japan have reacted angrily to a new pamphlet released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that they claim is racist and stereotypical for depicting Caucasian fathers beating their children.

The 11-page leaflet has been sent to Japanese embassies and consulates around the world in response to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction going into effect in Japan on April 1.

Tokyo dragged its feet on ratifying the treaty, which broadly stipulates that a child should be returned to his or her country of habitual residence when they have been taken out of that country by a parent but without the consent of the other parent.

But manga-style images of foreign fathers beating children and Japanese women portrayed as innocent victims have raised the hackles of campaigners, both those fighting discrimination against foreigners and non-Japanese who have been unable to see children who have been abducted by Japanese former spouses.

“It’s the same problem with any negotiations in which Japan looks like it has been beaten,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese citizen who was born in the United States and has become a leading human rights activist.

“After being forced to give up a degree of power by signing the Hague treaty, they have to show that they have not lost face and they try to turn the narrative around,” he said. “It’s the same as in the debate over whaling.

“The Japanese always see themselves as the victims, and in this case, the narrative is that Japanese women are being abused and that the big, bad world is constantly trying to take advantage of them.”

Arudou is particularly incensed by the cover of the publication, which shows a blond-haired foreigner hitting a little girl, a foreign father taking a child from a sobbing Japanese mother and another Japanese female apparently ostracised by big-nosed foreign women.

“It is promoting the image that the outside world is against Japanese and the only place they will get a fair deal is in Japan,” said Arudou.

The rest of the pamphlet takes the form of a conversation between a cartoon character father and son, but with the storyline showing the difficulties of a Japanese woman living abroad with her half-Japanese son.

Arudou says the publication then “degenerates into the childish” with the appearance of an animated doll that is the father figure’s pride and joy, but also dispenses advice.

“As well as promoting all these stereotypes, why are they not talking about visitation issues for foreigners whose half-Japanese children have been abducted by their ex-wives?” asked Arudou.

Several foreigners who have been unable to see their children for years have already contacted Arudou to express their anger, with a number of US nationals saying they would pass the document onto lawmakers.

Arudou’s post on the issue on his website has also attracted attention, with commentators describing the pamphlet as “racist propaganda”.

“This is disgusting,” one commentator posted. “Pictures are powerful, more powerful than words. And the only time I’ve ever seen anything remotely like this is when I did a search for old anti-Japanese propaganda.

“Of course, that was disgusting too, but it was wartime!”

Another added, “What a pathetic advert for an ‘advanced’ country.

“As for the text – not wasting any more bandwidth on such utter racist, xenophobic, patronising, paranoid nonsense.”
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPT. 19: THIS SCMP ARTICLE PRODUCED AN ARTICLE IN HUFFINGTON POST JAPAN:

外務省作成の「ハーグ条約」小冊子は人種差別 人権活動家が指摘
The Huffington Post
投稿日: 2014年09月17日 16時34分 JST 更新: 2014年09月19日 14時17分 JST PAMPHLET WHAT IS THE HAGUE CONVENTION
Courtesy http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2014/09/17/pamphlet-of-the-hague-convention-mof_n_5833674.html

国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定めた「ハーグ条約」について、外務省が作成した小冊子に人権侵害にあたる内容が含まれているのではないか、という指摘が出ている。

指摘しているのは、人権活動家の有道出人(あるどう・でびと)さん。アメリカ出身の日本国籍取得者だ。有道さんは「ハーグ条約ってなんだろう?」という外務省が作成した小冊子について、子供や無実の日本女性に暴力をふるう外国人のイラストは、嫌悪感を抱かせる内容となっていると分析。日本人のかつての配偶者によって子供を連れ去られ、子供に会うことができないでいる外国人もいるとして、小冊子のあり方に疑問を呈しているという。香港の英字紙・サウス・チャイナ・モーニング・ポストが報じた。

有道さんは特に、小冊子の表紙のイラストに怒りを覚えるという。そこには、小さな女の子を叩いている外国人のイラストや、ブロンドヘアの外国人男性がすすり泣く日本人女性の母親から子供を連れ去るイラストなどが描かれている。有道さんは「このような内容は、日本だけが公正な話し合いができる場所で、世界は違うというようなイメージを植え付ける」と話す。(中略)

「これらの固定観念のイラストばかりでなく、なぜ、元妻に連れ去られた子供と会うための外国人の権利について書かないのか」と有道さんは指摘した。

(サウスチャイナ·モーニング·ポスト「’Racist’ cartoon issued by Japanese ministry angers rights activists」より 2014/09/16 23:14)
pamphlet what is the hague convention

ハーグ条約は夫婦のどちらかによって国外に連れ出された子供の扱いを定める多国間条約で、日本は2014年4月から条約加盟国となり、合わせて小冊子もつくられた。

日本はハーグ条約への加盟が遅く、海外から批判を浴びていた。特にアメリカからの圧力は強く、2010年にはアメリカ下院本会議が日本への連れ去りを「拉致」と非難する決議を採択した。ハーグ条約の適用を受けた2014年4月には、元配偶者らが日本に連れ帰った子供との面会を求める親が、アメリカでは少なくとも約200人に上ったという。

有道さんは自身のブログで、この小冊子の中に、外国人が子供にDVを行っているイラストが複数あることや、外国人が日本人に冷たいことを明示するイラストも使用されていると述べている。

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

pamphlet what is the hague convention

これらの有道さんの指摘について外務省領事局の担当者は、現在のところ外務省は同様の指摘を受けてはないとハフポスト日本版の電話取材に回答。また、「小冊子を見ていただければ分かると思うが、人種差別的な内容を意図して作成したものではない」として、画像の変更等を行う予定はないと述べた。

なお、この小冊子は日本語版だけでなく英語版もつくられているが、日本語版と同様のイラストや文章が使われている。
ENDS

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

UPDATE SEPTEMBER 30:  ALSO MAKES AL JAZEERA:

http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

Al Jazeera.com, September 18, 2014

Japanese ministry’s child abduction pamphlet shows white father hitting child

Rights activists criticise cartoon from Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs after country signs child abduction convention.

Screenshot of Japanese Foreign Ministry publication. MOFA JAPAN.

A Japanese Foreign Ministry pamphlet depicting white fathers abusing children has drawn criticism from human rights activists who say it perpetuates(link is external) racist stereotypes.

The pamphlet(link is external) reportedly was sent to Japanese embassies and consulates to explain the implications of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The booklet features manga-style cartoons and is also available in English via the ministry’s website.
 
Japan’s years of refusal(link is external) to sign the Hague Convention drew significant pressure from critics in the US and Europe, who argued(link is external) that Japan had become a “safe haven” for parental child abductors…

Read the rest at http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201409181245-0024160

2014 MOFA pamphlet explaining Hague Treaty on Child Abductions to J citizens (full text with synopsis, including child-beating NJ father on cover & victimized J mothers throughout) UPDATE: With link to MOFA pdf and official E translation

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Japan, after years of pressure from overseas, is now a signatory to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, where children of international marriages are to be protected against psychologically-damaging abductions and severed contact with one parent after marriage dissolution and divorce.  Debito.org has covered this issue extensively in the past.  What matters now is how Japan intends to enforce the treaty.  Debito.org has argued that we are not hopeful about Japan following the spirit of the agreement in good faith.  It has been reinterpreting sections with caveats to give the Japanese side undue advantages in negotiations, indirectly portraying the Non Japanese (NJ) party as the suspicious interloper, redefining important issues such as domestic violence (DV) to include heated arguments and “silent stares” etc., refusing to see abductions by the Japanese parent as much more than a natural repatriation, and not being self-aware that in Japan, child abduction and severed contact with one parent is quite normal (due in part to the vagaries of the Family Registration System (koseki)), but not necessarily in the best interests of the child.  Japan has been, in short, a haven for international child abductions, and how the GOJ will interpret the Hague to its people is crucial for change in public mindsets and enforcement.

To that end, Debito.org is fortunate to have received a copy from a concerned reader of a 2014 Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Gaimushou) pamphlet explaining the Hague to the Japanese public.  Scanned below in full, within its discourse are troubling assumptions and presumptions that bear scrutiny and exposure, as they remain along the lines of the concerns expressed above.  If this is Japan’s official mindset towards international child abductions, then Debito.org remains pessimistic, if not cynical, about Japan’s intentions to enforce the Hague in good faith.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE, courtesy of Debito.org Reader Oliver:  The pamphlet can be found on the MOFA website, so it is genuine. PDF is here:

http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/files/000033409.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/gaiko/hague/index.html)

And there is even an English language version!

http://www.mofa.go.jp/files/000034153.pdf
(link from this page: http://www.mofa.go.jp/fp/hr_ha/page22e_000249.html)

From the Japanese Consulate in Hong Kong, courtesy of XY.
(click on any image to expand in browser)
p1
This is the cover image, with a father about to explain the Hague to his curious son, and look what makes the first impressions:  The J mother sobbing as the NJ parent whisks their child from her grasp.  The child being stared at and not fitting in with her big-nosed NJ classmates (Japanese rarely have much of a nose in Japan’s international illustrations; it’s a style, but it makes it seem as if NJ are never Asian; never mind).  The J father being nabbed by the police regarding his kid.  The J mother short of money when thinking of her daughter.  And, of course, the obligatory drawing of the physically-abusive NJ parent with the child longing for her J mother.  The point is, the J mother is in most situations the one being victimized.

p2
The first page already has a case of the cutes (even though, since this book has no furigana over the kanji, it’s a manual directed towards adults, not children), with a J father explaining to his son suddenly overwhelming him with questions (after complimenting him on his interest in the news) about how, as of April 1 2014, Japan has to follow the Hague regarding the “tsuresari” (“accompanying and disappearing”, not the more hot-button term “rachi” used for “abductions” when it’s Japanese being abducted to North Korea) of children.  After making a deal with him to eat all his dinner before hearing more, we have a prototypical J=NJ union couched as between a Japanese and a Gaijin (even though most international marriages in Japan are overwhelmingly between Japanese and Asians): the NJ male makes off with the child, the child has trouble fitting in overseas due to language and environmental difficulties, and the child is happily returned to the J mother’s arms thanks to the glad hands of the Hague Treaty thinking of the best interests of the child.  By the end of the page, the son is already shuddering to think what it might be like to live in a foreign country, what with no friends in school and all that.

p3
Next page has more explanation about what will change under the Hague.  The first point is that Japan had no standing to have children returned if they were abducted.  The poor victimized J-mother had to find her child with no help (apparently by showing a photo to taller Gaijin strangers giving her the cold shoulder), and even had to go to court to ask for custody (in a place with different laws and culture!).  How terrible, the child notes, for the parent to suddenly have to go to a big country and look for a little child.  Of course, then the converse is depicted to be true (but without the sobbing child pining for his NJ dad as the J mom takes her back to Japan — in fact, more alarm from the child that he can’t return to Japan), with consequent difficulties in seeing their child (NB:  Nowhere mentioned is the fact that joint custody and visitation is guaranteed in some of these overseas places with the dreaded “different laws and cultures”, but not in Japan.)  And what about the case where the divorce takes place overseas and the J-mother wants to take the child back to Japan?  The courts will deny the mother the ability to leave!  (“What, you can’t go home to your country of birth??” proclaims the ever more-startled son at the end.  Even though that exit denial didn’t happen, for example, in the Christopher Savoie Case, which is why the abduction of his children occurred.)  Conclusion:  Already the issue is portrayed in a lopsided manner, with the J-mother being the more victimized party overseas.

p4
Next page succumbs to an even more silly case of the cutes, not only with the katakana-accented NJ begging a J court for his child back, but also with an animated doll appearing as an interlocutor because Papa happens to be an anime otaku fetishist (rather unbecoming of a serious issue in a serious pamphlet issued by a national government).  Carrying on…  This section talks about how signing the treaty makes it so that either side can have their child returned, meaning this will stop courts from hindering parents from returning to their countries at will, because if problems arise, there is an apparatus where courts can return the child if necessary.   (NB:  Not mentioned is that there has not been a single recorded case in Japanese court where a Japanese child has been returned to a NJ parent’s habitual residence overseas, meaning there is no precedent that the apparatus will work on the Japanese side.)  It also will probably act as a means to preempt abductions, says the pamphlet.

p5
Then the pamphlet turns to a case of one of Papa’s friends (a J mother married to a NJ father) who abducted their child to Japan.  It went before a Japanese court, with the child standing at the mercy of the gavel, fate uncertain.  But just to make sure there is a lingering scare, the son expresses doubt as to the justice of a child being repatriated to a physically-abusive (!!) NJ father (where did THAT presumption come from?). Once again, the NJ father is being portrayed as potentially abusive, even though, naturally, abusive J (mothers or fathers) exist in Japan.

p6
Next page allays the fears of injustice, with a list of reasons why a child would not be forcibly returned thanks to the Hague (bonus image of the loving mother embracing a heart and saying that she will prioritize the protection of the child).  But — horrors — at the suggestion by the child that Papa’s friend shouldn’t have abducted the child and should have perhaps gone to court in America, Papa immediately kiboshes that by mentioning how American courts have a different culture, procedures, language barriers, and might even award custody of the child to a third party! (Again, no mention of the possibility of joint custody or guaranteed visitation rights enforced overseas, neither of which are permitted in Japan due to the koseki Family Registry system, aka “different culture”).  The nuance of this section becomes “it’s oh so complicated, no wonder Papa’s friend abducted their child”.  Conclusion of this page:  It would be awful if one parent couldn’t see their child (which is disingenuous coming from the GOJ because, as mentioned above in the introduction, child abductions without joint custody or visitation rights even between Japanese parents in Japan are quite normal).

p7
Suddenly, a sad fate befalls even this family, what with Papa being revealed as married to a French woman named Marie (who speaks normal Japanese; DV and broken Japanese seem to be the lot of the Western NJ male) who has run off to France with their boy.  Fortunately, thanks to the Hague, the GOJ can intervene, contact the French government, ascertain where she and their child is, get the authorities over there to mediate, get Papa to abandon his anime fetish (good thing he’s not a physically-abusive man; it’s just a harmless fetish, so nothing to fault the J man overmuch for as any serious grounds for divorce, right?), and get them all to make up and fly into the sunset back to Japan for a happy life ever after.

p8
Next page outlines the Hague procedures in three basic steps.  Of course, it’s all NJ men and J women (three different couples).  Visually, note the nuance of the child once again being more distressed to be leaving Japan with her father than going back to Japan with her mother.

p9
Next page lists the countries that are signatories to the Hague and the key points of it in bullet form.

p10
Next page gives the key points in Q&A format, first with what happened before Japan thankfully signed the Hague (abductions with impunity!), second with what to do if an abduction from Japan to a signatory country takes place, third with how long the Hague is in effect (until the child is aged 16), and fourth with a warning not to go abroad and reabduct your child back (you’ll be arrested; get a lawyer).

p11
The penultimate page gives more Q&A, with the obligatory 5) what to do in cases of DV (paste in NJ dad child abuse image again), or even the possibility of DV in the past (ko ni aku’eikyou o ataeru you na bouryoku), with a special section on page 5 above just in case you should want to use Japan’s increasingly grey and loose definitions of DV to get your child back; 6) getting J diplomats to help you out overseas; 7) getting a better understanding of the laws and Alternative Dispute Resolution using public resources.

p12

The pamphlet ends with the boy saying how he understands it all now, and the dad saying how nice it would be if more countries signed the Hague.  Quite.  But not the way it’s being interpreted here.

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

JT: Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts and columnist Eric Johnston; why I doubt that will happen

mytest

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Hello Blog.  In the wake of last week’s shocking decision that NJ of any status have no automatic right to their paid-in social welfare benefits, here’s another push for increased protections for Japan’s minorities that looks unlikely in this current political climate to come to pass, despite both the court rulings and the gaiatsu pressure from overseas:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Japan needs to get tough on hate speech: U.N. experts
Japan Times/JIJI JUL 16, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/16/national/social-issues/get-tough-hate-speech-u-n-experts/

Japan came under pressure at a U.N. meeting Tuesday to do more to help stop hate speech that promotes discrimination by race or nationality.

“According to information we received, there have been more than 360 cases of racist demonstrations and speeches in 2013, mainly in Korean neighborhoods in Tokyo,” Yuval Shany from Israel, one of the experts at the U.N. Human Rights Committee, said at the meeting in Geneva.

Shany asked Japan whether it is considering adopting legislation to address hate and racist speech.

Existing laws in Japan do not allow police to intervene to stop hate speech demonstrations, Shany said at the meeting held to review the civil and political rights situation in Japan.

“It seems almost nothing has been done by the government to react to Japanese-only signs which have been posted in a number of places,” Shany said.

Another committee member, Zonke Majodina from South Africa, asked if Japan has “plans to enact a national anti-discrimination law, for direct and indirect discrimination, applying to both public and private sectors, complying with international standards and ensuring equal protection to everyone.”

Elsewhere in the meeting, committee members questioned whether human rights are protected in Japan under the country’s capital punishment system, as well as its system designed to provide equal employment opportunities for men and women.

The review is scheduled to continue into Wednesday when it is expected to cover the issue of “comfort women” who were forced to work in Japan’s wartime military brothels.

This is the committee’s first review of Japan in six years. The committee is set to announce recommendations for improvement on July 24.

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NATIONAL | VIEW FROM OSAKA
Time for legislation to prevent spread of hate speech
BY ERIC JOHNSTON, JUL 19, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

On July 8, the Osaka High Court ruled that, yes, standing in front of a primary school while kids are in class, shouting through a megaphone that they and their parents are not human, and then vandalizing the school’s property, is legal discrimination.

The decision against the anti-Korean group Zaitokukai for its actions at a pro-North Korean school in Kyoto is welcomed by all civilized people and will likely (unless the notoriously conservative Supreme Court hears the case) end one of the more high-profile hate speech cases seen in Kansai or elsewhere in Japan.

However, the Kyoto incident is just one of many involving what some countries legally define, and ban, as hate speech. Yet Japan, citing freedom of expression, is reluctant to confront the issue.

Given the official silence and unofficial tolerance, it’s hardly surprising that hate speech is on the rise, especially in Kansai:

• In 2011, a Zaitokukai representative visited a Nara museum running a temporary exhibition on Japan’s occupation of Korea. He later showed up in front of the museum and hurled insults at people of “burakumin” (social outcast class) origin, since the museum also has a permanent exhibition on the buraku people. Thankfully, the man was forced to pay ¥1.5 million — not for making derogatory remarks against Koreans or buraku people, per se, but for “defamation of the museum.”

• In a particularly shocking case, a 14-year-old girl in Osaka’s traditional Korean district of Tsuruhashi participated in a February 2013 anti-Korean demonstration by shouting through a megaphone that she wanted to kill all of the Koreans in the area.

When comments by Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto about Japan’s prewar “comfort women” system being necessary at the time were added to the mix a few months after the Tsuruhashi incident, Osaka found itself with a reputation both inside and outside of Japan as an intolerant city under mob rule, a place where misogynists, bigots and hate-mongers can say whatever they want without fear of social or legal reprisals.

The good news is that, finally, more and more people in Osaka and the Kansai region are fighting back against the haters.

Counter-demonstrations against Zaitokukai in particular are increasing. At the same time, there is a feeling among many here that, as Osaka and Korea have a deep ties, things will work themselves out.

But that’s the problem. What’s needed now is not “historical perspective,” “understanding” or “respect,” but legislation ensuring protection and punishment. This is precisely because perspective, understanding and respect alone will not stop hate speech — especially that directed at new groups or those who have not traditionally been as ostracized as ethnic minorities.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/19/national/time-for-legislation-to-prevent-spread-of-hate-speech/

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As Eric noted, there is the muscle (such as it is) of Japan’s judiciary recently supporting something like this:

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NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Japanese high court upholds ruling against anti-Korean activists’ hate speech
KYODO, JUL 8, 2014

The Osaka High Court on Tuesday upheld a lower court ruling that branded as “discriminatory” demonstrations staged near a pro-Pyongyang Korean school by anti-Korean activists who used hate-speech slogans.

A three-judge high court panel turned down an appeal by the Zaitokukai group against the Kyoto District Court decision ordering that it pay about ¥12 million in damages to the school operator, Kyoto Chosen Gakuen.

The order also banned the group from staging demonstrations near the school in Minami Ward, Kyoto.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Mori said in the high court ruling that Zaitokukai members staged the demonstrations near the school with the intention of spreading anti-Korean sentiment among Japanese people.

Mori said Zaitokukai members’ activities were not intended to serve the public interest and that the group’s actions seriously damaged the school’s provision of ethnic education.

The ruling found that eight Zaitokukai activists staged anti-Korean demonstrations near the school three times between 2009 and 2010, using loudspeakers to denounce those inside.

They yelled slogans, accusing the students of being “children of North Korean agents” and demanding that all ethnic Koreans be kicked out of Japan.

The activists posted footage of their activities on the Internet.

In October 2013, the Kyoto District Court accepted a lawsuit by the school operator, ordering the nationalist group to pay damages and noting that Zaitokukai’s activities run counter to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which came into force in 1969. Japan ratified the convention in 1995.

During the high court hearings, Zaitokukai argued that their members exercised their rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, and argued that the damages were excessive.

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/08/national/crime-legal/japanese-high-court-upholds-ruling-anti-korean-activists-hate-speech/

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For the record, here’s how people deal with it in other countries, such as, oh, the European Parliament and France:

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WORLD / SOCIAL ISSUES
Polish MEP’s racial slur sparks anger
AFP-JIJI JUL 17, 2014

STRASBOURG, FRANCE – A far-right Polish MEP outraged lawmakers gathered in the European Parliament on Wednesday by comparing the continent’s unemployed youth to “niggers” in the U.S. South.

Janusz Korwin-Mikke, the outspoken leader of the royalist and libertarian Congress of the New Right party, delivered the remark during a speech to deputies decrying the existence of minimum wage laws.

Comparing job-seeking youth to black laborers in the American South during the 1960s, Korwin-Mikke said: “Four millions humans lost jobs. Well, it was four million niggers. But now we have 20 millions Europeans who are the Negroes of Europe.

“Yes, they are treated like Negroes!

“We must destroy the minimum wage and we must destroy the power of trade unions,” the 72-year-old added, before being shouted down in the parliament session.

The Socialist coalition immediately called on Korwen-Mikke to apologize or resign over what it called the “worst insult of racist discrimination and humiliation.”

“What Mr. Korwin-Mikke has preached did not only offend those that have a different skin color, but everyone who is inspired by the European values of dignity and equality,” said Italian Socialist Cecile Kyenge, who is of Congolese origin.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/17/world/social-issues-world/polish-meps-racial-slur-remark-sparks-anger/

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Front National politician sentenced to jail for ape slur
Anne-Sophie Leclere handed nine-month prison term for comparing French justice minister to chimpanzee
Agence France-Presse in Cayenne
The Guardian, Wednesday 16 July 2014 13.20 EDT
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/16/french-national-front-politician-sentenced-to-jail-monkey-slur-christiane-taubira

A former local election candidate for the far-right Front National (FN) in France has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing the country’s justice minister, who is black, to an ape.

Anne-Sophie Leclere provoked a storm last year when she compared Christiane Taubira to an ape on French television and posted a photomontage on Facebook that showed the justice minister, who is from French Guiana, alongside a baby chimpanzee. The caption under the baby ape said “At 18 months”, and the one below Taubira’s photograph read “Now”.

Leclere was an FN candidate in Rethel, in the eastern Ardennes region, for the 2014 local elections, but the FN soon dropped her and went on to do well in the March polls.

On Tuesday, a court in Cayenne, French Guiana’s capital, sentenced her to nine months in jail, banned her from standing for election for five years, and imposed a €50,000 (£39,500) fine. French Guiana is an overseas département of France and is inside the European Union. It also handed the FN a €30,000 fine, putting an end to a case brought by French Guiana’s Walwari political party, founded by Taubira.

The court went well beyond the demands of prosecutors, who had asked for a four-month jail sentence and a €5,000 fine.

Leclere, who was not present in the court, said that she would appeal. The FN said it would also appeal, denouncing the sentences as “appalling” and criticising the trial as a “trap”, as the party was unable to find a lawyer in Cayenne to defend it.

In a television appearance last year, Leclere said she would prefer to see Taubira “in a tree swinging from the branches rather than in government”.

“She is wild,” Leclere said, adding: “I have black friends and it doesn’t mean I call them monkeys.”

Leclere has since defended her comments, saying that while clumsy, they were not racist. She said the photo montage was a joke, and added: “The photo was posted on my Facebook page and I took it off a few days later. I was not the creator of this photograph.”

Taubira has been on the receiving end of several racial slurs over the past year. Not long after Leclere’s comments, the far-right weekly newspaper Minute published a cover featuring a picture of Taubira and headlines that read: “Crafty as a monkey” and “Taubira gets her banana back”.

In French, getting your banana back is roughly the equivalent of recovering the spring in your step.

Joel Pied, of Walwari, said Tuesday’s court decision was “historic and beneficial”. He said: “A prominent institution of the republic recognises that the Front National is punishable by law and that it’s a racist party. We hope this decision will mark a milestone.”

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Thanks for the reference to our work, United Nations.  So there is precedent, example, template, and international embarrassment.  Will this result in a law in Japan against hate speech (ken’o hatsugen)?  I say again: not in the foreseeable future, sadly.  As noted on Debito.org many times, we have had all four of these pressures in Japan for decades now (not to mention an international treaty signed in specific), yet we still can’t get a law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu) in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

In a stunning decision, Japan’s Supreme Court overturns Fukuoka High Court, rules that NJ Permanent Residents (etc.) not automatically eligible for social welfare benefits

mytest

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Hi Blog. There has already been an enormous outpouring of outrage at Friday’s Supreme Court decision in Japan’s NJ communities, so Debito.org will echo those sentiments and provide a forum for them to also be expressed here.

In an event sure to make my year-end top ten most important human rights issues of 2014, Japan’s highest court just overturned the Fukuoka High Court’s 2011 decision, ruling that an octogenarian granny who, despite being born in Japan, living her life here as a Zainichi Special Permanent Resident, and contributing to Japan’s social welfare systems, has no right to the benefits of her contributions because she’s foreign (i.e., not “kokumin”).  More comment after the articles:

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NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Foreign residents can’t claim welfare benefits: Supreme Court
Japan Times/KYODO JUL 18, 2014, Courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/07/18/national/social-issues/top-court-rules-non-japanese-residents-ineligible-welfare-benefits/

The Supreme Court ruled Friday that foreigners with permanent residency status are ineligible for welfare benefits, overturning a decision by the Fukuoka High Court that had acknowledged their eligibility under the public assistance law.

The decision by the top court’s Second Petit Bench concerned a lawsuit filed by an 82-year-old Chinese woman with permanent residency who was born and grew up in Japan.

The woman applied for welfare benefits with the Oita municipal office in Oita Prefecture in December 2008 but was denied the benefits on the grounds she had some savings.

The woman then filed a suit demanding that the city’s decision be repealed. She is now receiving the benefits because the municipality accepted her welfare application in October 2011.

While the recipients of welfare benefits are limited to Japanese nationals by law, the government issued a notice in 1954 saying foreigners should be treated in accordance with the public assistance law.

Since the government limited recipients to Japanese nationals and foreigners with permanent residency in 1990, municipalities have exercised their discretion in doling out the benefits.

In October 2010, the Oita District Court rejected the plaintiff’s suit, saying that denying the public assistance law to foreigners was within the discretion of a municipal government.

In November 2011, however, the Fukuoka High Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, saying that foreigners with permanent residency have been protected under the public assistance law.
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最高裁が初判断「外国人は生活保護法の対象外」
NHK 7月18日 17時49分, Courtesy PKU
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20140718/k10013123601000.html

日本に住む外国人が生活に困窮した場合、法的に生活保護の対象になるかどうかが争われた裁判で、最高裁判所は「法律が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。

生活に困窮した外国人への生活保護費の支給は、永住資格を持つ人や難民認定された人などを対象に、人道上の観点から自治体の裁量で行われています。
これについて、永住資格を持つ大分市の中国国籍の女性が起こした裁判で、外国人が法的にも保護の対象になるかどうかが争いになり、2審の福岡高等裁判所が「法的な保護の対象だ」と判断したため、国が上告していました。
18日の判決で最高裁判所第2小法廷の千葉勝美裁判長は「生活保護法が保護の対象とする『国民』に外国人は含まれない」とする初めての判断を示しました。
そのうえで「法的保護の対象を拡大するような法改正もされておらず、外国人は自治体の裁量による事実上の保護の対象にとどまる」と指摘して、2審の判決を取り消しました。
今回の最高裁判決はあくまで法律の解釈を示したもので、自治体が裁量で行っている外国人への生活保護には直ちに影響を及ぼさないものとみられます。

原告弁護士が判決を批判
判決について、原告の弁護士は会見で「法律の中の『国民』ということばだけを見て、実態に踏み込んでいない形式的な判断だ。外国人に生活保護を受給させるかどうかは行政の自由裁量だと最高裁がお墨付きを与えるもので問題だ」と批判しました。
さらに「外国人は日本で生活してはいけないと言っているのと同じで、安倍内閣は成長戦略の一環として外国人の受け入れを拡大するとしながら、一方でセーフティネットは認めないというのなら日本にこようとする外国人はいないだろう。なんらかの形で外国人の受給について法律の改正をしなければならない」と指摘しました。

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COMMENT:  The implications of this are pretty obvious:  NJ can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government not thinking that NJ deserve social welfare benefits, too bad, because they’re not guaranteed.  We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever any equal benefit from it.

I’ve written about this case numerous times before.  Excerpts:

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Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits

Kyodo: A Japanese court repealed on Thursday a decision by Oita Prefecture in southwestern Japan not to examine a request from a 78-year-old Chinese woman to look into a decision by Oita City that rejected her application for welfare benefits.

A three-judge panel at the Oita District Court acted on a suit filed by the woman, who has obtained permanent residency status in Japan, against the Oita prefectural government decision that turned away the woman’s request, filed in February last year, to examine the Oita municipal government decision not to provide welfare benefits to her.

The prefectural government dismissed the woman’s request without examining it, saying she was not eligible to seek benefits because she does not have Japanese nationality.

In Thursday’s ruling, the district court said the prefectural government must review the municipal government decision in line with the woman’s request, and decide whether she should be given benefits.

Presiding Judge Kenji Kanamitsu brushed aside the prefectural government’s argument that the city’s decision not to provide her with benefits was a ”unilateral administrative action” against a foreigner who has no right to seek welfare benefits, and not an ”administrative decision” as she claimed, whose appropriateness can be reviewed under the administrative appeal law.

Judge Kanamitsu said the woman is ”obviously” eligible to ask the prefectural government to review the municipal government decision.

”An application for welfare benefits has been rejected, and it means the same to the applicants, regardless of their nationalities,” the judge said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=7563

BUT

17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.

After a half-month interlude of light and reason (as in September 30 to October 18), where it actually looked like a Japanese courtroom was actually going to be nice to somebody and rule against The State, another court has come along and put things back to normal:

Mainichi: The Oita District Court ruled on Oct. 18 that foreigners with the right to permanent residence but without Japanese citizenship are not entitled to welfare benefits, rejecting the claims of a 78-year-old Chinese woman who sued after being denied benefits by the Oita city government…

According to the ruling, the woman has Chinese nationality but was born in Japan and holds the right to permanent residence. In December 2008, the woman applied to the welfare office in Oita city for welfare payments, but was turned down with the reason that she had “a comfortable amount of money” in her savings.

The main issues of the trial became whether the woman held the right as a foreigner to receive welfare payments and whether her financial status justified her receiving aid…”

COMMENT: Gee, that was quick by Japanese judicial standards! I guess they know the value of putting the kibosh on something before the floodgates open: Can’t have all the goddamn foreigners expecting to have rights to something like our social welfare benefits, especially at an advanced age.

http://www.debito.org/?p=7639

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

Then, as the clock continues to run out for this superannuated NJ, we now have another flip, fortunately in the more inclusive direction:

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

Court rules noncitizens are eligible for welfare

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Nov. 17, 2011), courtesy of lots of people
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111116006297.htm

FUKUOKA–The Fukuoka High Court ruled Tuesday that permanent residents in in Japan with foreign nationalities are eligible to receive public welfare assistance, overturning a lower court ruling.

The high court accepted an appeal by a 79-year-old woman who is a permanent resident in Japan with Chinese nationality. She filed the lawsuit, claiming that the Oita city government illegally rejected her request for public welfare assistance.

Presiding Judge Hiroshi Koga said in the ruling, “Foreign citizens with permanent residency [in Japan] are legally guaranteed the same status as Japanese citizens who receive the same treatment.”

The high court overturned the Oita District Court’s ruling and nullified the Oita city government’s decision not to grant the woman public welfare benefits.

According to a lawyer for the plaintiff, it is the nation’s first court ruling to present a legal basis for foreign permanent residents in Japan to receive public welfare benefits.

According to the ruling, the woman applied for the public welfare at the Oita city government in December 2008, but the city government rejected her request.

The point at issue in the lawsuit was whether the Daily Life Protection Law can be applied to noncitizens.

Full blog entry at http://www.debito.org/?p=9658

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And as I wrote in my Japan Times column of January 3, 2012, where I was ranking the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2012 for NJ in Japan:

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

6.  Oita denial of benefits overturned

News photo

In 2008, Oita Prefecture heartlessly rejected a welfare application from a 78-year-old Chinese (a permanent resident born in Japan) because she is somehow still a foreigner. Then, in a shocking ruling on the case two years later, the Oita District Court decreed that NJ are not automatically eligible for social welfare. Finally, in November, this stubborn NJ, in her 80th year, won a reversal at the Fukuoka High Court — on the grounds that international law and treaty created obligations for “refugees (sic) (to be accorded) treatment at least as favorable as that accorded to their nationals.”

What caused the confusion was that in 1981, the Diet decided that revising the public welfare law to eliminate nationality requirements was unnecessary, since practical application already provided NJ with benefits. Three decades later, Oita Prefecture and its district court still hadn’t gotten the memo.

Bravo for this NJ for staying alive long enough to prize her case away from xenophobic local bureaucrats and set congruent legal precedents for all NJ.

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=9837

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And now the pendulum has swung again, with a great big Bronx Cheer for all NJ in Japan.

My final thought on this for now is how the online commenters (who consistently blame NJ for anything bad that happens to them) spin this one against the plaintiff?  It’s a challenge:  She’s an 82-year-old granny Zainichi living her entire life in Japan trying to get her tax benefits back, for heaven’s sake.  Still, the reflexes are kicking in.  We’ve already had one person commenting at the Japan Times about how this ruling was a means to deal with “illegal immigrants” somehow (the JT immediately spotted this as trolling and deleted it; wish they would be more proactive with my columns, as trolls keep derailing any meaningful debate).  Any more gems out there, go ahead and quote them in the Comments section below.  A ruling this egregiously anti-NJ becomes an interesting psychological experiment to see how far the self-hating gaijin will go to deny they have any rights to anything whatsoever in Japan.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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UPDATE JULY 25, 2014: THIS VERY BLOG ENTRY GETS CITED IN THE SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST.  THANKS!

Anger erupts over court denial of welfare to foreign permanent residents of Japan
Japanese Supreme Court rules that a Chinese permanent resident is not entitled to payouts even though she has paid taxes all her life
SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST : Monday, 21 July, 2014,
Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1557063/anger-erupts-over-court-denial-welfare-foreign-permanent-residents-japan

Activists, analysts and foreign residents of Japan have reacted with dismay to a decision by the Supreme Court that foreigners with permanent residency are not entitled to welfare benefits.

Friday’s ruling by the highest court means that even foreign nationals born in Japan, who have spent all their lives in the country and paid their taxes, national insurance premiums and state pension requirements are still not guaranteed to receive financial support when they need it.

The Supreme Court’s decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Fukuoka high court that granted welfare to an 82-year-old Chinese woman who was born and raised in Japan.

The woman had applied for assistance to the municipal office in Oita prefecture in December 2008, but her request was refused because she had savings. The woman launched a legal case demanding that the decision be reversed on the grounds that she had paid taxes to the national and prefectural governments throughout her life.

In the first ruling of its kind, the Supreme Court stated that, from a legal standpoint, permanent foreign residents do not qualify for public assistance because they are not Japanese.

The ruling apparently gives local authorities across Japan the legal right to halt financial assistance to non-Japanese residents. The fact that many municipalities across the country are facing economic hardship may increase the risk of city governments seeking to exercise that right.

“It’s shameful,” said Eric Fior, a French national who owns a language school in Yokohama and who has lived in Japan for more than a decade.

“It’s bad enough that foreign residents do not have the right to vote at any level in Japan, but when you pay your taxes and contribute to the pension scheme, it’s something of an insult to be told that you have no right to get some of that money back when you need it,” he said.

“I imagine that many foreign residents will be asking themselves why they have to pay their taxes.”

The Oita case has been followed closely by Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is “foreign”.

“The implications of this are pretty obvious,” Arudou wrote in his most recent blog posting. “Non-Japanese can be taxed and exploited at will, but if there’s ever a question of the local government thinking that nonJapanese deserve social welfare benefits, too bad because they’re not guaranteed,” he wrote.

“We’ll just take your money and deprive you of any guarantee that you’ll ever get any equal benefit from it.”

The post has generated heated comment. One person wrote: “The sheer pettiness and nastiness of the court’s decision just disgusts me.”

Other posters said the decision would have an impact on the government’s campaign to attract skilled foreign nationals to work in Japan in an effort to combat the dramatically shrinking population.

Conservatives have applauded the court’s decision.

“The state cannot provide benefits to all the poor people who come to Japan,” said Yoichi Shimada, a professor of international relations at Fukui Prefectural University.

“The problem in this particular case is that the woman chose not to take Japanese nationality and chose to remain Chinese,” he said. “If Japan allowed all foreign residents unlimited access to welfare, then the country would go bust.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Foreigners riled over welfare ruling
ENDS

AFP: “Tarento Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture”. I wish her well, but the hyperbolic hype is not warranted

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this issue a few days late, but this article has made an enormous splash in media worldwide. It’s about the latest “haafu” celebrity phenom, Rola, or Satou Eri. Read on, then I’ll comment:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
By Alastair Himmer
AFP/Japan Today/Japan Times/et al. ARTS & CULTURE JUL. 15, 2014, courtesy of TJL
Rola changing DNA of Japanese pop culture
Japanese fashion model and TV personality Rola poses for photographs during an interview with AFP in Tokyo on May 20, 2014

In celebrity-obsessed Japan with its conveyor belt of 15-minute stars, fashion model and “talent” Rola is blazing a meteoric trail at the forefront of a galaxy of mixed-race stars changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture.

Turn on the TV and there’s no escaping the bubbly 24-year-old of Bengali, Japanese and Russian descent—she even dominates the commercial breaks.

A marketing gold mine, Rola smiles down celestially from giant billboards, her wide eyes and girlie pout grace magazine covers and she even greets you at vending machines.

But Rola, who settled in Japan when she was nine, has done it by turning the entertainment industry on its head, her child-like bluntness slicing through the strict convention that governs Japanese society.

“Whenever people told me to speak politely, I never worried about it,” she told AFP in an interview. “I’m not talking down to anyone. I’m not a comedian, it’s just how I am. It’s just being open-hearted and trying to make people open theirs.”

But it is not just her quirky charm that is breaking down barriers. Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society—a culture where skin whitening creams are still huge business—has long been mirrored by its entertainment industry.

Rola and host of others are beginning to change that.

Half-British singer and actress Becky is another superstar with model looks and a huge fan base in Japan, while half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa helped Tokyo win the 2020 Olympic vote as the city’s ambassador for “cool”.

Their rise to fame mirrors a shift in attitudes in Japan, which only opened its doors to the outside world in the middle of the 19th century and where foreigners—those without Japanese nationality, even if they were born here—make up less than two percent of a population of 127 million.

“Being of mixed race was once looked down upon,” said sociologist Takashi Miyajima. “Now foreign entertainers are admired in Japan as something untouchable. You could even say they benefit from positive discrimination.”

Rarely now do you see TV shows without at least one “haafu” (the Japanese pronunciation of “half”, meaning “mixed race”), such has been the shift.

“Young Japanese women want to be like Rola,” said psychologist Yoko Haruka, a regular on Japanese TV. “They buy the same clothes, bag. It’s like a cartoon world, the baby-face effect.

“She has the foreign look: long legs, small face, but because she is ‘half’, she’s not an object of envy at all. She’s an idol like Madonna was, but closer and easier to relate to.”

Rola’s trademark puffing of the cheeks, ditzy catchphrases, infectious giggle and carefree charm have helped make Japan’s most famous ‘It Girl’ a smash hit with legions of adoring fans.

She believes the shifting landscape has had a positive effect on Japan.

“Nationality isn’t important,” she said, dressed in tight blue jeans under a floral one-piece. “I used to think Japanese people weren’t open and should lighten up. But Japan has become brighter.

“People copying me is cool,” she added in her helium voice. “If I can do one thing to help bring a tiny improvement to Japan, that’s great.”

Born of a Bangladeshi father and a half-Japanese, half-Russian mother, Rola’s eccentricities helped overcome the language barrier when young, once turning up at elementary school in pajamas she mistook for her new uniform.

“Normally if you can’t communicate it’s frustrating but I only have fun memories of childhood,” she said. “When I was small I’d play with Barbie dolls and the next day I’d jump in the river with boys catching crayfish or playing with turtles. Maybe that’s why I use a lot of hand gestures. I naturally just made friends.”

In a culture that once might have passed over her darker tone, Rola’s exotic looks have clearly helped—she was scouted by a modelling agency on the streets of Tokyo when she was in high school.

Following in the footsteps of mixed-race glamor girls such as Jun Hasegawa and racing driver Jenson Button’s fiancee Jessica Michibata, Rola has also taken peak-time television by storm.

Japan can take its celebrity worship to extremes, David Beckham once having a giant chocolate statue dedicated to him in Tokyo while his mohican hairstyle triggered a personal grooming craze among local women during the 2002 World Cup.

“I don’t get stressed (by fame),” said Rola. “People come up to me on the street and go ‘Hi, Rola!’ as if I’m their friend.”

When not shooting commercials for everything from cosmetics or beer to headache pills or battered octopus balls, Rola is at the gym—or fishing.

“When the next trends hit, the ‘half’ (mixed race) boom will calm down a bit,” said Haruka. “But that might take a while.”

For now, Rola’s girl-next-door innocence continues to bewitch.

Asked to sum herself up in one word, she closes her eyes and offers: “A salmon, maybe. They’re not just tasty, they swim hard up rivers, so they’re tough little critters.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  First off, I wish Rola well.  I hope she continues to make the media splash she’s making.  I of course prefer that people think that “Haafu” (or rather, “Doubles”) are desirable rather than derisible.  On this note, a commenter on Japan Today offered a very erudite comment, so let me quote it:

=============================================
jpn_guy JUL. 14, 2014 – 09:46AM JST
The positive reaction to mixed-race models is certainly better than not wanting them on screen. It’s “anti-racist” and to be welcomed. To a certain extent, I guess it does show Japan is becoming more open and tolerant.

But like most things, it’s not that simple. For one thing, all these women are stunning beautiful. Everyone loves a good-looking girl. We knew that already! But not all mixed race people in Japan could, or even want to be, celebrities. Kids like mine just want normal lives. They might want to be a lawyer, a pilot, a shipbuilding engineer or a dental technician.

As I said, the high visibility of mixed-race people in better than being vilified and ignored, for sure. But it’s also a sign of fetishism, and a refusal to see mixed race people as just “one of us”. Celebrities are “special” by definition. Ironically, that’s why visible minorities have less difficulty breaking into this field.

The complex impact of mixed-race celebrity is well illustrated by the fact that “half-French newscaster Christel Takigawa” is actually a fully Japanese citizen by the name of Takigawa Masami – the name she used when she began her career. Apparently, so many people rang in to ask why someone with a Japanese name did not “look Japanese”, the producers forced her to use her “foreign-sounding” middle name, so that it better matched her face.

In other words, Takigawa’s success is dependent on people setting her apart as foreign even though she is Japanese. A few years ago, another TV presenter (Yutaka Hasegawa) referred to her disparagingly as “that foreigner” (ano gaijin), although to be fair he was heavily criticized by her fans (though not reprimanded by his employer).

Another example is the comedian and fully Japanese citizen Horita Seiki Antony who markets himself as “Antony”.

I remember reading about cases of mixed-race people with traditional Japanese sounding names being asked “where do you get off having that name with a face like that?”

It’s great to see all sorts of people on TV. When you get to know people, Japan is generally a warm and friendly society. But we should be very careful in making the broad claim that that Rola and her colleagues are “breaking down barriers in Japan’s largely mono-ethnic society”.

Through no fault of their own, they are sometimes perpetuating the stereotype of the exotic other.

When local people treat mixed race people and foreign people in non-celebrity fields just like anyone else, then we will have true progress.
=============================================

Complete agreement, especially with the sociology. As for the media angle, I think the longer people like us have been here, we become skeptical of the “latest thing” after seeing so many “tarento” fizzle out without much impact. As another Japan Today commenter put it: “Back in the ’60s it was Karmen Maki and Ann Lewis. In the 70s there were Linda Yamamoto, Kathy Nakajima, Saori Minami and a cutsie singing trio with the stage name Golden Half. In the 80s, Rie Miyazawa, Anna Umemiya, etc. Nothing new under the sun.”

Of course, most “tarento” blaze and then fizzle without making any real impact, least of all “changing the DNA Japanese pop culture” as this article and its pundits claim. Rola in particular does not seem to be consciously promoting any increase in social tolerance of “haafu” — she’s just doing her thing, entertaining with a new (or actually, not all that new, but for now fresh-sounding) schtick as an ingenue. Of course.  That’s her role as an entertainer.  This has been the role of so many other entertainers, including the Kents (Kent Derricott made his pile and returned to the US to buy his mansion on the hill in Utah for his family; Kent Gilbert did much the same and lives in Tokyo with a residence in Utah as well), Leah Dizon (remember her?, already divorced from the Japanese guy who made the baby bump the speed bump in her career; she’s trying to make a comeback in Japan while based in Las Vegas), Bob Sapp, Chuck Wilson, and many, many more that I’m sure Debito.org readers will recount in comments below.

Sadly, none of these people have really made or will make a long-term impact on Japan’s mediascape. The best long-seller remains Dave Spector, who is a very, very exceptional person in terms of persistence and media processing (not to mention stellar language ability), but even he makes little pretense about being anything more than an “American entertainer” for hire.  Other impactful persons I can think of are Peter Barakan and perhaps these people here.  So it’s not non-existent.  But it’s not powerful enough to permit “Doubles” to control their self-image in Japan, either.

Again, I wish Rola well, like I wish any broad-minded entertainer well, but I believe she is just riding a trendy wave at the moment.  Her schtick is as filling and substantial to consume as cotton candy — take one bite and you get nothing left in your mouth. Especially since any little-girl act has a very short shelf life. That’s why the headline of “Changing the DNA of Japanese pop culture” is simply too high an expectation. Celebrating Rola as if she’s the next Beatles is a bit hollow and ahistorical, when Japan has never had a Beatles in terms of gaijin tarento.

This overhype (even the academics cited are going along for the ride, one of whom carelessly errs by calling her “foreign”) can be fatal for many an entertainer when people eventually tire of her current incarnation. Even if Rola becomes “successful” by revamping her act to become more substantial, she’ll just be as subsumed and co-oped as Miyazawa Rie or Becky is. Or as forgotten as Leah Dizon within a few years. Let’s hope not, and let’s hope that she becomes a long seller. But I doubt it.  Because the ingenue trail she is blazing (or rather, is being blazed for her by her agents) of the “sexy-baby-voice tarento” genre has never really allowed for that.

Bonne chance.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 77 July 3, 2014,”Complexes continue to color Japan’s ambivalent ties to the outside world”, modified version with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks for putting my column once again in the Top 10 read articles for two days!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito:

justbecauseicon.jpg

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

COMPLEXES CONTINUE TO COLOR JAPAN’S AMBIVALENT TIES TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD

JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 77
Published July 3, 2014, amended version from unanticipated edits with links to sources.

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/07/02/issues/complexes-continue-color-japans-ambivalent-ties-outside-world/

Hang around Japan long enough and you’re bound to hear the refrain that the Japanese have an inferiority complex (rettōkan) towards “Westerners” (ōbeijin).

You’ll hear, for example, that Japanese feel a sense of akogare (adoration) towards them, wishing Japanese too had longer legs, deeper noses, lighter and rounder eyes, lighter skin, etc. You’ll see this reflected in Japan’s advertising angles, beauty and whitening products, and cosmetic surgery. [Endnote 1]

This can be quite ingratiating and disarming to the (white) foreigners being flattered, who have doubtless heard complementary refrains in Western media about how the short, humble, stoic Japanese are so shy, self-deprecating and appreciative.

But people don’t seem to realize that inferiority complexes have a dark side: They justify all kinds of crazy beliefs and behavior.

For example, Japan’s pundits have already begun arguing that Japan’s disappointing performance in the World Cup in Brazil was partly down to the fallacy that Japanese bodies are smaller and weaker than those of foreigners. Japan’s sports leagues have long used this belief to justify limiting foreign players on teams — as if it somehow “equalizes” things.

This “equalization” is not limited to the infamous examples of baseball and sumo. The National Sports Festival (kokutai),[2] Japan’s largest amateur athletic meeting, bans almost all foreigners. Japan’s popular Ekiden footrace bans all foreigners from the first leg of the marathon, and from 2007 has capped foreign participants on teams at two (the logic being that the Ekiden would become “dull” (kyōzame) without a Japanese winning).[3]

Who is a “foreigner”? It’s not just a matter of citizenship: The Japan Sumo Association decided to count even naturalized Japanese citizens as “foreign” in 2010, in clear violation of the Nationality Law. (Somebody, please sue!)

These limitations also apply to intellectual contests. Until 2006, Japan’s national Takamado English Speech Contests barred all people (including Japanese) with “foreign ancestry”. This included non-English-speaking countries, the argument being that any foreign blood somehow injects an unfair linguistic advantage. (After 2006, Takamado provided a list of English-speaking countries whose descendants would continue to be ineligible.)

This is atrocious reasoning. But it is so hegemonic because of Japan’s long history of race-based superiority studies.

In 1875, Yukichi Fukuzawa (the man gracing our ¥10,000 note) wrote an influential treatise called “An Outline of a Theory of Civilization.” Borrowing from Western eugenics, he reordered the world to correlate levels of civilization with skin color.[4]

White-hued people were at the top, dark-skinned people at the bottom. Naturally for Fukuzawa, Asians were ranked just below whites. And, naturally, Japanese were the most “civilized” of the Asians.

The West has largely moved on from this dangerous bunkum, thanks to the “master race” excesses of World War II and Nazi Germany’s Final Solution. However, Japan’s social sciences still largely ascribe to century-old social stratification systems that see race as a biological construct, and bloodlines and blood types as determinants of behavior.

So far, so Japanese Society 101. But the point I want to stress here is that inferiority complexes are counterintuitively counterproductive.

I say counterintuitive because they foster feelings not of humility towards people they admire, but of anger. Yes, anger.

Harvard University anthropologist Ayu Majima discusses this in her 2013 essay “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.” She talks about how the elites of the Meiji Era (1868-1912) (who would set Japan’s nascent national narratives) felt a sense of “distance, inferiority and disjuncture towards the West.”[5]

Distance was a big theme back then. Although Japan is of course geographically Asian, with deep historical connections to China, Fukuzawa and other Meiji Era elites advocated that Japan “quit Asia and enter Europe” (datsu-a nyū-ō).

So that’s what happened. Over several decades, Japan industrialized, militarized, colonized and adopted the fashions and trappings of “Western civilization.” Japan sought recognition and acceptance from the West not as an inferior, but as a fellow world power. Japan wanted the sense of distance to disappear.

But that didn’t happen. Japan’s elites were shocked when the League of Nations (the precursor to the United Nations) refused to include in its 1919 Covenant an anti-racial discrimination clause that Japan (yes!) had demanded. More shocking was when Japan was treated like a “colored,” “uncivilized” nation under America’s Asian Exclusion Act of 1924.[6]

This is where the psychology of inferiority complexes is generally misunderstood. When people try this hard for validation and don’t get it, it doesn’t engender the passive humility and must-try-harder attitudes so often gushed about in the Western media regarding Japan.

Majima argues, “While an inferiority complex is generally regarded as a sense of inferiority towards oneself, it should rather be regarded as a sense of indignity and anger towards the lack of recognition of one’s worth . . . for not being recognized, approved or admitted by the important ‘other.’ “

So instead you get isolation, loneliness, anxiety and scant sense of belonging. (I’m sure you long-termers who feel unrecognized for all your efforts to “fit in to Japan” can relate to this.)

How did Japan react to being rebuffed? Policymakers declared that Japan neither belonged to the East nor the West. It isolated itself.

Worse, according to Majima, “Japan sought to identify itself through the unstable ‘distance’ between self and others as ‘tradition.’ “

Ah, tradition. Lovely thing, that. It turns this angry mindset from a phase in Japan’s history into part of its permanent self-image.

This feeling of isolation gave rise to Japan’s “cult of uniqueness,” and it dominates Japan’s self-image today, constantly vacillating between superiority and inferiority when dealing with foreigners. This “tradition” of ranking oneself in comparison with others, particularly in terms of degrees of civilization, has become ingrained as cultural habit and reflex.

And that’s why inferiority complexes are counterproductive for Japan’s relationship to the outside world: They make it more difficult for “foreigners” to be seen and treated as individuals. Instead, they get thrust into the impossible role of national or cultural representative of a whole society.

They also make it more difficult for Japanese to be neutral towards foreigners. Rather, the default reflex is to see them in terms of comparative national development and civilization.

These complexes also interfere with constructive conversations. For if acceptance, recognition and superlative praise of Japan as a safe, peaceful, developed country are not forthcoming from the outsider, insult and anger almost inevitably ensue. After all, criticism of Japan besmirches its self-image as a civilized society.

This is especially true when it comes to issues of racial discrimination in Japan. Japanese society is loath to admit it ever happens here — because racial discrimination is not what “civilized” societies do. I will discuss this in a future column.

============================
Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDNOTES:

[1] Ashikari, Mikiko. 2005. “Cultivating Japanese Whiteness: The ‘Whitening’ Cosmetics Boom and the Japanese Identity.” Journal of Material Culture 10(1): 73-91.

[2] References includeArudou Debito, “A level playing field? National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Sumo shutout in Fukushima.” Japan Times, September 30, 2003; “Top court upholds foreigner ban.” Japan Times, June 12, 2004. See also Douglas Shukert’s testimonial about his case at www.debito.org/TheCommunity/kokutaiproject.html. Also, JASA’s information on the Kokutai is at www.japan-sports.or.jp/kokutai/, in English at www.japan-sports.or.jp/english (which makes no mention of nationality requirements for participants).

[3] Sources include “Foreign students can’t start ekiden.” Asahi Shinbun, May 24, 2007; “Let’s be fair, let Japanese win.” Deutsche Press-Agentur, October 4, 2007. The official site for the High School Ekiden is at www.koukouekiden.jp. Restrictions on “foreign exchange students” are at www.koukouekiden.jp/summary/point.html (items 5 and 6), and prior race results are at www39.atwiki.jp/highschoolekiden.

[4] Dilworth, David A. et al. trans. 2009. Yukichi Fukuzawa: An Outline of a Theory of Civilization. New York: Columbia University Press.

[5] Majima, Ayu. 2013. “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan: Male Elites’ Racial Experiences Abroad, 1880s-1950s.” In Kowner, Rotem, and Walter Demel, eds., Race and Racism in Modern East Asia: Western and Eastern Constructions. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill.

[6] Cf. Lauren 1988; Kearney 1998; Dikötter 2006.  Even then, as Russell (in Weiner, ed. 2009:  99) notes, “[Japan’s] rhetoric of racial equality left much to be desired, for not only did Japan’s racial equality clause not question the right of League members to possess colonies (at the time Japan was also seeking [a new colony in China]) but its demand for ‘fair and equal treatment’ applied only to ‘civilized nations’ (bunmei koku) and League member states – not to their colonies and subject peoples.  Japan’s ruling elites were less interested in securing equality for non-whites than in ensuring that Japan, as a sovereign nation and member of the League, would be afforded the same privileges as Western nations…”

ENDS

Japan’s population tally in media still excludes NJ residents; plus J political misogyny and appeals to gaiatsu

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK offers the following links and commentary about two important subjects: 1) The unwillingness of Japan’s media to count NJ as “residents” in official population tallies (despite NJ inclusion on the juumin kihon daichou Resident Registry since 2012), and 2) the widespread misogyny in Japan’s policymaking arenas that has no recourse but to appeal to pressure from the outside world (gaiatsu) for assistance (as NJ minorities clearly also must do).

Speaking to the first point in particular (since it is more within Debito.org’s purview):  Before we even touch upon the lousy demographic science, how insulting for NJ once again to simply “not count” as part of Japan’s population.

Some J-articles have minced words by qualifying the ethnically-cleansed statistic as “the population of Japanese people” (nihonjin no jinkou).  But others (see the Nikkei below) simply render it as “Japan’s population” (nihon no jinkou).  When they eventually get around to mentioning that NJ are also here, they render them as “nihon ni taizai suru gaikokujin” (NJ “staying” in Japan, as opposed to zaijuu “residing”).  How immensely arrogant and unappreciative of all that NJ residents do for Japan!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Passing along some links regarding Japan’s ongoing population decline.  I’ll comment afterwards.

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

Population drops for fifth year as migration to cities continues
Yomiuri Shinbun, June 25, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001380919

Jiji Press:  Japan’s population on Jan. 1 of this year was down 0.19 percent from a year before at 126,434,964, falling for the fifth straight year, the internal affairs ministry said Wednesday.

The figure was calculated based on Japan’s resident registry network system and does not include foreign residents.

While the number of births in 2013 edged up 955 from the previous year to 1,030,388, the number of deaths reached a record high of 1,267,838.

As a result, the natural population decline, or the number by which deaths exceed births, stood at 237,450, the highest on record. Japan’s population marked a natural decline for the seventh consecutive year.

The number of foreign residents in Japan stood at 2,003,384 as of Jan. 1 this year, down 0.12 percent from a year earlier. Since July 2012, the resident registry network system has also handled foreign resident registration.

The population in Japan including foreign residents came to 128,438,348.

Of the total Japanese population, people aged under 15 accounted for 13.04 percent, down 0.09 percentage point, while the productive-age population, or people aged 15-64, was 61.98 percent, down 0.49 point.

The proportion of people aged 65 or over rose 0.58 point to 24.98 percent, reflecting the aging of the society.

The Japanese population in the three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Kansai increased 44,276 to a record high of 64,394,619, demonstrating a tendency of the population concentrate in big cities, especially Tokyo.

Of Japan’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw their populations decline. The drop was especially steep in Akita, at 1.23 percent, Aomori, at 1.02 percent, and Yamagata, at 0.96 percent.

Fukushima Prefecture, home to Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, saw its population fall at a slower pace of 0.72 percent. An official from the internal affairs ministry said the slowdown suggests that the impact of the nuclear accident has softened.

Eight prefectures experienced population growth, including Tokyo, at 0.53 percent, Okinawa, at 0.42 percent, and Aichi, at 0.16 percent.

Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw a 0.06 percent increase apparently due to a rise in the number of people moving to the prefecture to take part in reconstruction work following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

The average number of members per household for the whole of Japan stood at a record low of 2.30. The average was the lowest in Tokyo, at 1.97.

Japan’s population declines for 5th straight year
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2g00m0dm027000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s population stood at 126,434,964 on a resident register basis as of Jan. 1, down 243,684 from a year earlier and declining for the fifth straight year, amid a falling birthrate and a growing proportion of elderly people, government data showed Wednesday.

The number of deaths last year hit a record high of 1,267,838, while the number of births increased slightly to 1,030,388, according to the data released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

The number of the people aged 65 or older stood at 31,582,754 — the highest figure since 1994 when comparable data became available. The number of children aged 14 or younger stood at 16,489,385, the lowest figure since 1994.

Of the country’s 47 prefectures, 39 saw a decline in population. The population declined by 29,639 in Japan’s northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, followed by Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast and by Shizuoka Prefecture in central Japan. Akita Prefecture in northeastern Japan saw the largest rate of decline at 1.23 percent.

Miyagi, Saitama, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Aichi, Shiga, Fukuoka and Okinawa prefectures saw population increases, with Tokyo’s population growing 67,539, or 0.53 percent, the biggest increase among the eight prefectures.

Elderly people accounted for 24.98 percent of Japan’s population. By prefecture, the proportion was highest in Akita Prefecture at 31.23 percent and lowest in Okinawa Prefecture at 18.1 percent.

The number of foreign residents declined by 2,347 to 2,003,384, the data showed.

The population of Japanese and non-Japanese residents totaled 128,438,348.

June 26, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)

JK comments:  What is the reason the population figure does not include NJ even though the resident registry network system has been able to account for NJ registration since 2012?

How it’s rendered in Japanese:

日本の人口、5年連続減 労働力の都市部集中強まる
日本経済新聞 2014/6/25 21:16
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASFS25015_V20C14A6MM8000/

総務省が25日発表した住民基本台帳に基づく1月1日時点の人口動態調査によると、日本人の総人口は1億2643万4964人で5年連続の減少となった。15~64歳の生産年齢人口は調査開始以来の最少を更新し、成長の押し下げ要因になる。人手不足の都市部に、景気回復の遅れが指摘される地方から働く世代が向かう傾向が強まり、地方では自治体の行政運営が難しさを増している。

調査期日は年度末移動の影響を避けるため3月末から1月に変更、増減は昨年1月と比べた。

日本人の総人口は前年より24万人減った。出生数はやや持ち直したが、死亡者数の増加が止まらず、自然減は7年連続。生産年齢人口は7836万人で総人口に占める割合は61.98%、65歳以上の老年人口は3158万人(同24.98%)だった。

三大都市圏に住む人は全人口の半数を超えて増え続けており、首都圏(東京、神奈川、千葉、埼玉)の人口は今年初めて3500万人を超えた。働き手が流入する首都圏は生産年齢人口の割合がなお高いが、65歳以上の割合も22.69%と前年3月末より0.55ポイント上昇、高齢化の足音が近づく。

人口が減ったのは39道府県で、秋田県と青森両県は減少率が1%を超えた。両県は増田寛也元総務相らが試算した「消滅の可能性がある」市町村の割合でも1、2位。増田氏は「東京の景気が先行して良くなると地方から人口が流出する。地方の景気回復が課題だ」と指摘する。

地方で人口減が続けば行政サービスの維持が難しくなる。秋田県は40年に今より30万人余り少ない70万人になるとの推計に基づき、地域や行政のあり方の再検討に着手。市町村とは電算システムや上下水道の維持管理の話し合いを始めた。青森県は3億円かけ結婚支援など27の人口減対策を進める。

市町村で人口減少率が高い市町村は6%を超える宮城県女川町、奈良県野迫川村、山梨県小菅村など全国に広がる。4番目に高い高知県大豊町は平均年齢が60歳を超え、年間の出生数は十数人。「集落の維持が難しい」として住民が担っていた道路の草刈りや側溝の掃除は町が臨時職員を雇って代行している。

日本人と3カ月を超えて日本に滞在する外国人を合わせた総人口は1億2843万8348人。そのうち外国人は200万人で、前年よりやや減少した。

In other news, have a look here:

Victim of sexist jeers tells foreign media more than one person responsible

Mainichi Shinbun June 25, 2014
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140625p2a00m0na009000c.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Ayaka Shiomura meets reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24. (Mainichi)

A Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman, who was subjected to sexist jeers during a recent assembly meeting, stressed that the heckling came from more than one person as she spoke at a news conference for the foreign media.

Over 100 reporters and workers with the foreign media gathered at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo’s Chiyoda Ward on June 24 as Tokyo metropolitan assemblywoman Ayaka Shiomura, 35, held a news conference over the sexist heckling during the June 18 Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly meeting. She stressed once again that the heckling came from not just Akihiro Suzuki, an assembly member who has admitted to sexist jeering, but from other colleagues in the assembly. She said, “I want those who are responsible to step forward.”

At the beginning of the conference, Shiomura told reporters how the incident took place and her feelings about it.

A female Associated Press correspondent congratulated Shiomura for continuing with her speech in the assembly meeting under such circumstances, and asked her what it is like for women to be working in local assemblies and the general attitude of men in the political world. Shiomura said, “I cannot deny that it is not easy for women to work in the political scene, and I do feel that politics is built around men’s standards.”

Reporter Thomas Hoy Davidsen, from a Danish newspaper, expressed disappointment, saying, “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Tokyo assembly votes down resolution calling for identifying hecklers

Mainichi Shinbun June 26, 2014
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140626p2g00m0dm028000c.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly member Akihiro Suzuki is seen after a press conference where he apologized for sexist heckling, at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building on June 23. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Tokyo metropolitan assembly voted down on Wednesday a resolution that called for identifying assembly members who heckled an assemblywoman last week with sexist remarks, with disapproval by the Liberal Democratic Party delegation, the biggest group in the assembly.

Among a suspected few hecklers, only 51-year-old Akihiro Suzuki, who quit the LDP delegation amid the scandal, was identified as he came forward later to admit to having made one of the remarks — “You should get married first.”

The Communist Party submitted another resolution urging Suzuki to resign but the assembly voted it down.

The assembly passed another resolution submitted by five assembly groups which calls for assembly members to make efforts to restore voters’ confidence in the assembly and to prevent recurrence of a similar incident.

At the opening of the day’s plenary session, the chairman of the 127-seat assembly, Toshiaki Yoshino, urged all members to maintain order and dignity.

Last week, Ayaka Shiomura, a 35-year-old female assembly member from Your Party, was heckled during the plenary session while she was asking questions on maternity support measures.

She was heckled with such remarks as, “You should get married first,” and, “Can’t you have babies?”

On Monday, Suzuki admitted to having made the first remark and apologized to Shiomura. But he denied making the second remark.

Shiomura told reporters that one of the hecklers said, “You should have babies first.”

Last Friday, Shiomura filed a written request with the assembly chairman seeking identification of the hecklers. But Yoshino, an LDP member, refused to accept the request.

JK comments:  The quote I’d like to focus on is this: “The incident has caused deep embarrassment to Japan which is preparing to host the Olympics.”

Soo…. seeing as how the political option got voted down twice, it looks to me like the only option Shiomura has to effect change in the gikai is via pulling the shame lever in form of a Kisha Club press conference. My take is that this move is intended to generate attention with gaiatsu as a real and possible side effect.

Assuming this is case, can your conclusion to the Urawa “Japanese Only” Soccer Banner Case (i.e. Gaiatsu is basically the only way to make progress against racial discrimination in Japan) be generalized to include political misogyny as well?

ENDS

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

 

J-Govt. “We are Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol. 4 , June 2014 offers fascinating insights into PM Abe Admin mindsets

mytest

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Hi Blog. Any good organization wanting public approval (or in this case, approval from its geopolitical “friends”) does outreach. And this very professional online magazine issued yesterday from the Abe Administration, called “We are Tomodachi”, is worth an introduction to Debito.org Readers.  It offers fascinating insights into what the PM Abe Administration is thinking (or trying to convince you it is thinking — something few branches of Japan’s governmental organs do in any convincing detail even for its citizens).

As The Economist (London) recently noted, Abe is “Japan’s most purposeful prime minister for many years“, and many of Abe’s purposes are herein clearly argued in well-proofed English, albeit in all their stiff transparency.

I mean “transparent” in the sense that the aim of the propaganda is pretty obvious. But I also mean “stiff”.  For example, check this picture out:

tomodachisprsum2014

Surely they could have chosen a better picture.  The message one gets is of a very stiff and uncomfortable Abe plonked amidst Japan’s little African brothers (okay, sisters) who have little idea who he is and practically no enthusiasm for him being there.

Yet this is the cover photo of the magazine!

Moving on, here’s the email promo I got last night:

////////////////////////////////////////
From: We are ‘Tomodachi’ by Japan Gov. <tomodachi@cas.go.jp>
Date: June 8, 2014
Subject: “Tomodachi” Newsletter Vol.4

==========================================================
This e-mail has been sent to people who consented
to receive the “Tomodachi” newsletter.
==========================================================

Greetings from the staff of the Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

“We Are Tomodachi” is an e-book published with the aim of further deepening people’s understanding of the initiatives of the Government of Japan and the charms of Japan. With the recent events that have taken place, including the visit to Japan by the U.S. President and the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to European countries from late April to early May, on May 31, we released the spring/summer edition, which is a revised version of the spring edition. The link is as follows.

 http://japan.kantei.go.jp/letters/index.html

*Clicking on the E-BOOK icon at the center of the screen will allow you to view the e-book in browsing mode.
The PDF version is available for download by clicking on the PDF icon.

We very much hope you will read this for a deeper understanding about Japan.

The summer edition will be released in mid-July.
We are preparing a broad range of topics, including an introduction to colorful fireworks that light up the evening sky and a feature on women who play an active role in society. Please stay tuned!

=========================================================
The Staff of the Office of Global Communications,
Prime Minister’s Office of Japan

public.relations@cas.go.jp
=========================================================

*You can visit the URL below to terminate your subscription to this newsletter or change the address at which you receive it:
 https://www.mmz.kantei.go.jp/tomodachi/unsubscribe.php
////////////////////////////////////////

The inside of the 80-page magazine is, again, fascinating in its prioritizing of subjects, including:

  • Abe in Fukushima
  • The aims for the Abe Administration (depicted as “kokorozashi”, complete with large kanji; I wish we had a shakuhachi soundtrack)
  • A photo essay of Abe hobnobbing internationally this Spring
  • Abe’s speeches
  • A photo essay of Abe hobnobbing internationally over the past year
  • “Abenomics is Progressing!  Making the impossible possible” (complete with a graphic with — you guessed it — three arrows!  Plus another one of him “drilling” through vested interests; yeah, sure.)
  • Abe “actively engages” in dialogue
  • The Road to Revival
  • Fukushima’s contaminated water problem
  • Japan’s Proactive Contribution to Peace (with lengthy explanations of how Japan’s new National Security Council and Act on the Protection of Specially-Designated Secrets is similar to if not milder than Official Secrets Acts elsewhere)
  • International Contributions of Japan’s Self Defense Forces
  • The Senkaku Islands:  3 Commonly Held Misconceptions
  • A bit on the North Korean kidnappings of Japanese, making it into an international issue by including abductees from Thailand, Romania, Lebanon, and China (but if that’s the tack you want to take, why no mention of South Korean abductees?).
  • Japan’s contributions to international attempts to decrease maternal mortality rates in Cambodia
  • Empowering Farmers as Mainstream Economic Actors (in Africa)
  • Japan’s Global-Leading Medical Services
  • Useful information for traveling in Japan
  • Travel times from Narita to downtown Tokyo — “How Fast It Has Become!”
  • Free Wi-Fi Expands (for foreigners!)
  • Related Websites and Publications
  • Flower Festivals in Summer
  • “Friends of Japan” (with profiles of Kendo Master Alexander Bennett, Heritage Preserver Alex Kerr, and Tea Ceremony and “Heart of Japanese Hospitality” Master Randy Channell Soei)
  • What Surprises Foreigners About Japan (with a survey of — count them — a whole 50 foreigners, the majority of whom had their lost belongings returned!  My, those honest Japanese!  Good thing they weren’t talking about umbrellas or bicycles — or that theft is by far the largest crime in Japan)
  • Japanese Customs (and come to Japan and be a JET teacher!)

And more.  Part travel guide, part geopolitical gaijin handling, part cultural screed (cue those shakuhachis!), this is a great read to deconstruct how the Abe Administration is trying to march the Post-Bubble discourse on Japan back into the first-generation Postwar discourse.  Ah, those were the days, when Japan’s elites had near-total control over Japan’s image in the world, and so few outsiders had any understanding (or or had experienced Japan in great depth) that they would ever be taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t a “real Japanese” (moreover, the handful of NJ who did know something could be co-opted as anointed cultural emissaries; they’re still trying to do it within this very magazine).

No, since then millions of people have since experienced Japan beyond the GOJ boilerplate, have lived and invested their lives in Japan, and have learned the Japanese language.  So the dialogue is not so easily controlled by the elites anymore.  (PM Abe’s Gaijin Handlers:  If you’re dropping in on Debito.org again, Yokoso and enjoy our Omotenashi!)

So, Gaijin Handlers, here’s a lesson on what to avoid next time:  What irritates people like us who know better is your cultivated mysticism in elite conversations about anything cultural in Japan.  Consider this example of bogus social science (depicted as a “secret”) from page 72:

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

“The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with.  Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly.  When people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it.  So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses:  light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells.  Because even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.”

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

This is a juicy claim for deconstruction under a number of genres of social science.  The biggest confusion you’re going to cause in NJ tourists and newbies will come when they confront the amount of noise at many a tourist trap (especially from those trying to “nigiyaka” the place up with their megaphoned music), and wonder how they’re supposed to use all their five senses like the mystical Japanese apparently do.  Logically, this also means the purported J-silence around awkward conversations could be due to the inscrutably “shy” Japanese trying to take NJ in with all their five senses too (I wonder what happens when they get to “Smell”, “Touch”, or “Taste”?).  What rubbishy analytical tools.  And it’s one reason why so many people (Japanese and NJ) go nuts in Japan, because they’re constantly told one thing yet experience another.

Anyway, there’s a lot there, so I’ll let Debito.org Readers go through this magazine and have some fun.  For as sophisticated as Japan’s bureaucrats can be, they’re pretty clumsy when it comes to social science.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

My Japan Times JBC column 76: “Humanize the dry debate about immigration”, June 5, 2014, with links to sources

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks as always for putting my article in the Top Ten most read on the JT Online once again!
justbecauseicon.jpg
========================================
Humanize the dry debate about immigration
By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 76 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES
June 5, 2014, courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/06/04/issues/humanize-dry-debate-immigration/
Version with links to sources.

Japan’s pundits are at it again: debating what to do about the sinking demographic ship. With the low birthrate, aging and shrinking society (we dropped below 127 million this year) and top-heavy social security system, Japan’s structural problems will by many accounts spell national insolvency.

However, we’re hearing the same old sky pies: Proposals to plug the gaps with more Japanese babies, higher retirement ages, more empowered women in the workplace (also here) — even tax money thrown at matchmaking services!

And yet they still won’t work. Policymakers are working backwards from conclusions and not addressing the structural problems, e.g., that people are deserting a depopulating countryside for urban opportunities in an overly centralized governmental system, marrying later (if at all) and finding children too expensive or cumbersome for cramped living spaces, having both spouses work just to stay afloat, and feeling perpetual disappointment over a lack of control over their lives. And all thanks to a sequestered ruling political and bureaucratic elite whose basic training is in status-quo maintenance, not problem-solving for people they share nothing in common with.

Of course, proposals have resurfaced about letting in more non-Japanese (NJ) to work. After all, we have that time-sensitive 2020 Tokyo Olympics infrastructure to build — oh, and a Tohoku to reconstruct someday. And no self-respecting white-collar Taro wants those 3K (kitsui, kitanai and kiken — difficult, dirty and dangerous) jobs. Never mind that policymakers have rarely cared about the NJ already here investing their lives in Japan, long discouraged from settling via revolving-door visa regimes, and even bribed to leave in 2009.

So, come back! All is forgiven!

Predictably, the Shinzo Abe administration recently announced the expansion of the “trainee” program. You know, that exploitative, abusive and unmonitored system that has imported NJ since 1990, free from the protections of labor law? The one that causes dozens of NJ deaths from overwork and other “unknown causes” every year, and keeps many in conditions of virtual slavery? Despite a decade of criticisms from human-rights groups, parliamentarians and the United Nations, these three-year visas have been lengthened by two more so we can exploit them longer.

And then, a previously taboo word entered the discussion: imin (immigration). It made such an impact that prominent debate magazine Sapio made it June’s cover story.

Sapio_June.Cover

Michael Hoffman reviewed this spread in the JT in his Big In Japan column on May 24, “Will Japan be a country that welcomes all?”

Great. But I’ll answer Michael’s question right now: no — and not just for an obvious reason like Japan’s innate mistrust of outsiders. We also have a structural problem with how the concept of imin is being framed. It goes beyond constant othering and alienation: NJ aren’t even being seen as people.

Last time this debate came up, I lambasted the government for shutting NJ long-termers out of the deliberation councils drafting policies affecting them. I also mentioned how policymakers avoided the word imin.

So now imin has been formally broached — albeit while being stigmatized: The person in charge of the Immigration Bureau, Justice Minister Sadakazu Tanigaki, immediately said NJ would present “adverse effects on security.” (Note to ad agencies: Don’t hire Tanigaki to sell your product.)

But imin has also been dehumanized. Look up “immigrant” in an English-Japanese dictionary and you get words such as ijūmin, ijūsha, imin rōdōsha and, oddly, mitsunyūkokusha and fuhō nyūkokusha (illegal immigrant). But these aren’t immigrants: These are migrants, here temporarily, as properly translated by domestic NGOs looking out for NJ interests, such as the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Iju Rodosha to Rentai Suru Network).

The word for “immigration,” meaning something permanent, is imin — denoted on the Denshi Jisho dictionary site as a “sensitive” word (of course; that’s why the government avoided using it for so long).

But we still have no word for an immigrant as an individual person, such as iminsha, with its own honorific sha — in the same vein as ijūsha (migrant), rōdōsha (laborer), teijūsha (settler, usually a Nikkei South American), zairyūsha (temporary resident), eijūsha (permanent resident) and even (in a few government documents) kikasha (naturalized citizen).

It’s just the clipped imin. That means nobody gets to claim “I am an immigrant” in Japan. (Try it: “Watashi wa imin desu” sounds funny.) And this in turn means immigration remains a strictly statistical animal. Lost in this narrative is the idea that when we import labor, we import people. With lives. And needs. And voices to be heard.

This kind of framing damages the debate by taking away the immigrant’s voice. Take that Sapio special: From the very cover, you’ll notice that not one visible minority is featured among the talking heads.

Sapio_June.Cover

Almost all those speechifying inside are elite Japanese (including former Tokyo governor and professional bigot Shintaro Ishihara, which already signals where things are headed): the same old pundits defending their ideological camps with no real new ideas.

But more indicative of the framing of the debate is the main photo on Sapio’s cover: a hate-speech rally showing anti-Korean demonstrators vs. anti-racism counterdemonstrators. (A smaller inset photo shows South Americans at a labor-union rally. Their faces are visible, unlike those in the larger photo, which were blurred out to protect people’s privacy. More evidence of powerlessness: Apparently NJ aren’t people with privacy concerns.)

Hang on: An anti-Korean rally is not an issue of immigration; it’s got more to do with Japan’s unresolved historical issues with its neighbors.

If you define “immigrants” as NJ who have moved to Japan and made a life here as long-term residents (if not regular permanent residents, or ippan eijūsha) — i.e., the “Newcomers” — that’s a different group than the one being demonstrated against.

Being targeted instead are the “Oldcomers” — the Zainichi Korean and Chinese special permanent residents (tokubetsu eijūsha), descendants of former citizens of empire who have been living in and contributing to Japan for generations. The Oldcomers are not the “immigrants” in question — and from this blind spot, the debate goes askew.

Sapio’s editorial on discrimination towards NJ (pages 20-21) not only neglects to mention any examples of discrimination against Japan’s Newcomers; it also crosses its analytical wires by citing the Urawa Reds “Japanese only” exclusionary banner at Saitama Stadium last March as hate speech against the Oldcomers.

Hang on again: That “Japanese only” banner would not have affected the Zainichis. “Japanese only” is a narrative targeting Japan’s visible minorities, i.e., those who don’t “look Japanese” enough to pass an exclusionary manager’s scrutiny. Naturally, after several generations here, Zainichi can quietly enter a “Japanese only” zone without drawing hairy eyeballs. And while the historical wrongs done to the Zainichi in Japan are very worthy of discussion, they should not suck the oxygen out of the debate on immigrants.

But I believe this is by design: By entangling the debate in the same old Zainichi issues, the xenophobes can derail it with the same old paranoid fears about granting rights to potentially subversive North Korean and Chinese residents. This makes the true iminsha not only voiceless but invisible.

That’s exactly what the xenophobes want. A common theme in rightist writings is “more foreigners means less Japan,” and admitting more visible minorities (which inevitably happens when you import people) will always bring forth that tension. Best to just argue as if they don’t exist.

So what to do? Be Gandalf and say “That shall not pass!” Just as the Urawa Reds fans’ “Japanese only” banner forced the domestic media in March to finally admit that racial discrimination happens in Japan, we must force the nation’s elites to reframe the concept of immigration and humanize the immigrants behind the statistics. Allow the public to see a way to welcome Newcomers not only as individuals, but also as long-termers, immigrants and, ultimately, as citizens with the same rights and obligations as every other Japanese.

The elites will resist this, because the economic incentives are clear: The more powerless and invisible you keep NJ, the easier it is to exploit them.

So, if you want to finally address one of Japan’s structural problems, start by popularizing the word iminsha. Let regular folk with regular lives attach that term to an NJ neighbor they know. Then give them a voice.

Otherwise, it’s same old debate, same old (and getting older) Japan.
========================================

Debito Arudou received his Ph.D. from Meiji Gakuin University in International Studies in April. Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

SAPIO Mag features special on Immigration to Japan: Note odd media narratives microaggressing NJ (particularly the Visible Minorities) into voiceless role

mytest

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Hi Blog. As noted in the Japan Today article cited below, SAPIO debate magazine (June 2014) devoted an issue specifically to the issue of immigration (imin) to Japan (what with the Abe Administration’s renewed plan to import 200,000 NJ per year).

Good. But then it fumbles the issue with all manner of narratives that microaggress the NJ immigrant back into a position of being powerless and voiceless.  First, let’s start with SAPIO’s cover, courtesy of MS:

Sapio_June.Cover

COMMENT:  Notice anything funny?  Start with the sub-headline in yellow talking about having a vigorous debate from “each world” (kyaku kai).  Each?  Look at the debaters being featured in the bubbles.  See any Visible Minorities there?  Nope, they’re left out of the debate once again.  All we get are the typical powerful pundits (probably all Wajin, with “Papa Bear” Wajin Ishihara second in line). , Where is the voice of the immigrant?

And by “immigrant”, I mean people who have immigrated to Japan as NJ and made a life here as long-term resident if not actual Permanent-Residency holder.  The people who have indefinite leave to remain.  The “Newcomers“, who work in Japan and work for Japan.  As depicted in the picture of the labor-union demonstrators in the inset photo in the top right.

Now look at the larger photo.  It’s a xenophobic demo about issues between Japan and Korea (and no doubt China).  That’s not a debate about immigration.  It’s a hate rally airing historical grievances between Japan and it’s neighbors, gussied up as a jerry-rigged issue about “Zainichis having special privileges as NJ” (the very root complaint of the Zaitokukai group, which, even if those “special privileges” were meaningfully true, ought to happen anyway what with all the contributions the Zainichi have made to Japanese society both as prewar citizens of empire and postwar disenfranchised residents for generations; but I digress).  Anyway, the point is that the cover does not convey the issue of “immigration in Japan” accurately.  Zainichi issues dominate.

Finally, note how all the Wajin demonstrators have their faces blocked out in the photo.  Clearly Wajin have privacies to protect.  Not so the NJ protesting in the photo inset.  Hence NJ once again have fewer rights to privacy in the Japanese media.  Just like this photo from the racist Gaijin Hanzai Magazine of yore (remember that?  more information here). Comparative powerlessness in visual form.

gaijinhanzaipg11

Next up, check out the Japan Today writeup on the SAPIO special:

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

Consultant urges ‘one-of-a-kind’ immigration policy for Japan
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI MAY. 12, 2014 – TOKYO —
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/consultant-urges-one-of-a-kind-immigration-policy-for-japan, courtesy lots of people

In its cover story for June, Sapio devotes 14 articles—including a contribution by former Tokyo Gov Shintaro Ishihara—and 23 pages to wide-ranging discussions on the subject of immigration. It looks like substantial changes are coming, and coming soon. What form should immigration take? What are the merits and demerits?

Management consultant Kenichi Ohmae is, if anything, a pragmatic person. He also expresses his ideas logically and persuasively, and he has devoted a lot of thinking to the issue of immigration, which he suggests be adopted as a policy in three successive stages.

First of all, the demographics don’t lie: by 2050 the largest age segment in Japan’s population pyramid, both for males and females will be those in their late 70s, with fewer and fewer younger people. If this course is maintained, people in their productive ages will decline rapidly. Ohmae says he pointed this out more than 20 years ago. During his past four decades as a business consultant, he has observed that in general, introduction of foreign workers in Japanese businesses has been carried out in five-year increments, during which time problems and challenges are resolved through a trial-and-error basis.

When one looks back 25 to 30 years, to the economic “bubble,” Japan found itself with a labor shortage, particularly in construction and manufacturing. It began bringing in “Nikkeijin” (people of Japanese ancestry) from Latin America, along with Pakistanis, Iranians and others. Since there was no visa status for manual laborers, they entered on tourist or student visas, and the government feigned disinterest when they took blue-collar jobs.

Then the bubble collapsed, and these workers were summarily dismissed. The number of illegal foreign workers declined, and Japan was soundly criticized for its lack of interest in the workers’ welfare.

The current Abe government appears inclined to issue guidelines that will expand entry by foreign workers in such fields as construction, nursing care, agriculture and household domestics. On the other hand, it’s proceeding with measures to ensure that the entry of such foreigners not be mistakenly construed as “immigration policies.” In other words, time limits will be imposed on those workers’ stays. Inevitably, this will result in a repeat of the mistakes and troubles that happened after the collapse of the bubble.

Considering that the Japanese babies being born now will take from 15 to 30 years before they start contributing to Japan’s economy, it’s clear that immigration offers Japan’s only hope to preserve its economic vitality. And, Ohmae emphasizes, now is probably its last chance to take meaningful action.

The three stages Ohmae proposes are: First, Japan should emulate Silicon Valley in attracting 1,000 skilled people a year from such countries as Israel, India, Taiwan, Russia and East European countries. But these people should not be limited only to the field of Information Technology. They would be concentrated in six “clusters” around the country, mostly in large urban areas where they and their families would be made to feel at home with access to churches, schools and so on.

The second stage is to find a way to attract 100,000 professionals a year in the category of work titles with the “shi” suffix (such as “kangoshi” or nurse), trained care providers, attorneys, firemen, etc), all of which are currently in short supply.

The third stage is to accept blue-collar workers, of whom at least 300,000 per year will be needed to keep Japan’s economic engine purring. Ohmae suggests the Japanese government set up and fund preparatory schools in countries likely to supply labor, where students can learn the basics of the Japanese language, laws, customs, and so on before they arrive. And passing an examination will entitle them to a Japanese-style “green card,” permanent residence and the right to work. Such a system is likely to help avoid concentration of unskilled foreigners who would gravitate to the slums that have created social problems in other countries.

When considering the future of immigration, Ohmae also urges the importance of avoiding its politicization among Japanese, so that when people debate its pros and cons, this can be done dispassionately, without tarring one another with “right wing” or “left wing” labels.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Although unusually well-intentioned (check out his paternalistic and misogynistic attitudes about Burmese and Aung San Suu Kyi in 1997’s SAPIO), Ohmae, despite his verbal distancing from Japan’s perpetual “Revolving Door” visa regimes, fundamentally recycles the same old ideas about bringing in brainy NJ (unscientifically linking job skills with thoroughbred nationalities/ethnicities and sequestering them in their own enclaves, once again), with no apparent suggestion about making these immigrants into Japanese citizens.  Well, we don’t want to give them too much power to actually have any say over their own lives here.  NJ can come here to work so that we Wajin can stay economically afloat, but that’s all.  They shouldn’t expect much more than the privilege to work and stay in our rich country for as long as they’re needed.

I’ll leave the readers to parse out all the unconscious “othering NJ” microaggressions for themselves, but, ultimately, the question remains:  Where is the specialist commenting on “immigration” (there are people well-studied in that science; try the United Nations) who will lend a specifically-trained viewpoint to the debate, instead of the same old, hoary Wajin pundits defending their ideologies?

Finally, consider the opening editorial article in SAPIO below, which explores the issue of discrimination in general in Japan.  Despite the title (which rightfully talks about hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans and Chinese as shameful for a first-world country), it opens with some soul-searching about the Urawa Reds fans’ “JAPANESE ONLY” banner in Saitama Stadium as an example of Japan’s discriminatory attitudes.  Fine.  But then the article is hijacked once again by the (very important, but not complete) issues of domestic discrimination towards the Zainichi.

Remember, this is an issue also devoted to IMMIGRATION.   The numbers of the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese (i.e., the “Oldcomers”) have been dropping for many years now.  They are not the immigrants of note.  The immigrants, as I defined above, are the NEWCOMERS.  And once again, their voice is not represented within the debate on discrimination or assimilation in Japan.  Those minorities, particularly the Visible Minorities, are silenced.

What’s particularly ironic in the citation of the Urawa Reds’ “Japanese Only” banner is that IT WOULD NOT HAVE AFFECTED THE ZAINICHIS.  “Japanese Only” as a narrative very specifically affects those who do not “look Japanese“.  Thus any Zainichi in Saitama Stadium that day would have “passed” as “Japanese” on sight identification, and could have chosen to sit in those exclusionary stands.  Thus SAPIO, like just about all Japanese media I’ve ever seen, once again crosses its analytical wires, and with these narratives riddled with blind spots and microaggressions, Japan’s “immigration” issue will not be resolved.

That said, I think PM Abe knows this.  That’s why his administration is going back to bribing Wajin to have more babies.  More on that here courtesy of JK.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Sapio_June1 Sapio_June2

 

ENDS

 

Hitler’s 125th birthday march in Tokyo Ikebukuro video: It’s only a few illogical dullards who can but question the nationality (thus loyalty) of dissenters

mytest

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Hi Blog. On Sunday, April 20, there was a march in Tokyo Ikebukuro to celebrate the 125th birthday of Hitler. Yes, you read that right.  And an article came out about it in Japan Today’s Kuchikomi column.  Have a read and then I’ll comment:

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

Marchers in Ikebukuro fete Hitler’s 125th birthday anniversary
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 25, 2014, courtesy of BS

http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/marchers-in-ikebukuro-fete-hitlers-125th-birthday-anniversary

A group of demonstrators paraded through Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district last Sunday, criticizing China and South Korea while advocating the restoration of the “Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere” proposed by Japan in the 1940s. The procession this time was different from those organized by other groups seen marching on Tokyo’s streets, as, in addition to the 16-ray rising sun flag of Japan, the participants spearheading the march openly waved the Nazi flag—an act that’s illegal in Germany.

hitlerbdaysalutes042014

(And gave Nazi salutes…)

The demonstration, including the flags, can be viewed in the YouTube video below.

According to J-Cast News (April 23), Sunday’s demonstration was organized by an organization that calls itself the “Gokoku Shishi no Kai” (Group of Warriors Protecting the Nation). They assembled in a small park in East Ikebukuro, the location of the gallows in the former Sugamo Prison, where former Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and six other Class A war criminals were executed by hanging in December 1948.

“To keep the achievements of our illustrious predecessors from going to waste, we advocate the restoration of the Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, minus participation by China and the two Koreas,” one of the organizers told the assembled demonstrators. Referring to the date as coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Adolf Hitler’s birthday, he also noted that “The empire of Japan and Nazi Germany have been portrayed as villains, and in Germany glorifying the Nazis will get a person jailed. We would like to re-investigate the 1993 Kono Statement and Nazi Germany as well, to rehabilitate their good acts and restore their honor.”

When asked to name the Nazis’ good acts, the speaker was able to come up with the autobahn, but not much else.

Approximately 40 marchers, who also carried the flags of Tibet and the Taiwan Independence Party, chanted slogans such as “Let’s tie up with Asia, excepting ‘Shina’ (China) and ‘Chosen’ (Koreans),” “Japan should learn from the Nazis’ good points” and “Long live the Chancellor (Hitler)!”

A smaller group of counter-demonstrators also showed up and the two sides exchanged taunts, but did not exchange blows.

As the demonstration broke up, the organizer was quoted as saying that the police had requested they delay the march due to President Obama’s impending visit to Tokyo.

“But I told them, “It can only be this day (Hitler’s birthday), and kept pushing for a permit. We should all tell the police how much we appreciate their consideration.”
ENDS

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

Here’s the video from Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2jKx_J5TUw#t=615

COMMENT: I’m glad this was filmed (Leni Riefenstahl did a much better service portraying her Nazis!), because it reveals two things:

1) The banality of evil. “Warriors Protecting the Nation”?  All we really see are a small group of dorks playing at hate speech, trying to attract attention to themselves by saying things that they know will inflame historical passions of irrationality and prejudice.  It’s kinda like high-schoolers listening to heavy metal music (or, okay, I’m dating myself:  gangsta rap) really, really loud to annoy their parents.  But who’s listening on, on either side?  There are far more cops there keeping the peace than there are demonstrators waving their flags.  Considering how much bigger their last demonstration was (which also included Nazi flags), is this all they could muster for Hitler’s momentous 125th?

(Compare with their previous: )

TokyoEdogawaSwastika032314

2) Their inability to make a cogent argument. At minute 2:55 in the video, they face a dissenter, and the group’s counterattack is swift and hive-minded. Instead of engaging in any form of logical debate, all they do is swarm in at their critic and say over and over again, “Anta nani-jin? Nani-jin? Anta nihonjin? Chuugokujin? Kankokujin?” (What are you? Japanese? Chinese? Korean?) As if a true Japanese couldn’t possibly be dissenting. By minute 5:20, they aver that it musta been a Shina-jin (the historically-unflattering word for Chinese), as if that settles their hash.

And if you watch to the end, it all just breaks down into a group of dullards who go out for a beer afterwards. Herr ringleader is not of the mettle to lead a beer hall putsch.  Clearly these dwebes have nothing better to do with their weekend. 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

Japan’s Right-wing swing taking on NJ media: Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges

mytest

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Hi Blog. As Japan’s right-wing swing begins to be noticed and acknowledged overseas (I predicted this swing would happen quite a while ago), foreign media are increasingly taking off the kid gloves, and dealing forcefully with Japan’s perpetual historical amnesia. So much so that it’s making some Japanese opinion leaders uncomfortable, and, as the article below attests, they’re pushing back against the apparent gaiatsu by claiming the foreign correspondents are succumbing to “propaganda”. Have a read.

Within, note how opportunist NJ panderer Henry Scott-Stokes is being tossed around like a ball in play as evidence of something (hey, revisionism has more credibility if someone, anyone, from the NJ side will parrot their views). Debito.org has already covered the profiteering that some NJ (particularly those who have no idea what has been written for them in Japanese) will engage in. Shame on them for becoming the monkey to the organ grinder.

As a bracing counterpose, check out this other extremely angry article by Robert Fisk in the UK Independent on the Abe Administration and Japan’s burgeoning (and hypocritical) revisionism; he’s clearly commenting outside of his comfort zone, but this is what will increasingly come out as the mask of “peaceful Western ally” that Japan’s elites have shamelessly worn for two generations continues to slip.  And this generation of elites, who have never known war (and will never have to serve even if there ever is one), will continue to extol the glory of it.  Arudou Debito

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

Foreign correspondents ‘blindly swallowing’ anti-Japanese propaganda, writer alleges
JAPAN TODAY KUCHIKOMI APR. 10, 2014, courtesy of MS
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/foreign-correspondents-blindly-swallowing-anti-japanese-propaganda-writer-alleges

TOKYO — In his “East Asia Anemometer” (an anemometer is a device for measuring wind speed) column for the Sankei Shimbun column of March 29, Takao Harakawa accused foreign correspondents based in Tokyo of harboring “blind belief” in the anti-Japanese propaganda being generated by China and South Korea. He bases this on his observations from a recent press conference that in his view descended into a “blame-Japan” fest.

China, he alleges, has ordered its embassies in various countries to engage in a worldwide campaign to criticize prime minister Abe for visiting Yasukuni Shrine last December. And South Korea recently went so far as to use the venue of an international comic exhibition to lambaste Japan over the sex-slave (“comfort women”) issue.

These two neighboring countries’ persistent efforts to discredit Japan, suggests Harakawa, may finally be starting to show results, as the press event held in mid-March at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Yurakucho, Tokyo, turned into a one-sided affair.

The event was intended to publicize the activities by a delegation of Japanese legislators in local government assemblies who had visited Glendale, California to protest Korean lobbyists’ installation of a statue of a comfort woman in a public park.

But when it came time for questions, Harakawa didn’t like the tone of the reporters at all.

“During the war, Korean laborers worked in the coal mines in Oita prefecture. Do you think they were sent there forcibly or not?” was one question.

“We’re not here today to discuss laborers, this is a press conference about ‘sex slaves,’” replied Yoshiko Matsuura, a councilor in the Suginami assembly, in an attempt to deflect his question.

Matsuura pointed out that the 1993 “Kono Statement” apologizing to the sex slaves was based on “completely vague testimony, and also noted that as a result of the controversy there, Japanese children residing in Glendale had been subjected to “bullying and harassment” by Korean children.

“The statue of the ‘comfort woman’ erected in Glendale will leave a huge bill to be paid in the future,” she warned.

The questions fired back by the correspondents in attendance, however, were “conspicuous in the way they were either based on insufficient understanding or bias.”

Another correspondent’s remarks that “You’re saying that the ‘sex slaves’ are a fabrication, but as opposed to merely making that statement, how many facts are there to support it? Presently Japan is continuing to lose sympathy throughout the world,” is given as another example.

Tomoko Tsujimura, a member of the Komae City assembly who also attended the gathering, was quoted as saying “Since the Japanese government is not completely responding [to the allegations], Japan’s position is being outweighed by propaganda from South Korea, and I feel the foundations have been laid for many members of the foreign media to harbor feelings of disgust toward Japan.”

After the event, Kawahara said a sympathetic foreign journalist said to him, “Today’s event was not to ask questions to you, but to cast blame on Japan.”

In the background of the journalists’ mindset, believes Harakawa, was a viewpoint echoing the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal.

Details from the press event have appeared in the online versions of TIME magazine and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Neither of them were inclined to support Matsuura’s views. TIME’s reporter even wrote that the speakers’ efforts to take the offensive over the sex slave issue was “likely to do them more harm than good.”

Interpreter at the event was Hiroyuki Fujita, an international journalist and translator of Henry Scott-Stokes’ recent book (in Japanese) titled, “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist.”

“Foreigners, especially citizens of the Allied nations (during WW2), tend to view the historical truth in terms of judgments handed down by the Tokyo war crimes tribunal,” said Fujita. “According to that view, Japan must be the villain, and anyone who attempts to assert something at odds with that is stereotypically tarred as a revisionist who is attempting to gloss over history. One of the very few correspondents who’s an exception to this would be Mr Henry Scott-Stokes, who has really done his homework on the issues.”

Japan faces an urgent need to assume a state of readiness to counter propaganda from China and Korea, including additional budgetary measures for issuing information, Harakawa concludes.

ENDS

“Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues

mytest

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Hi Blog. Another to add to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments. This time, a restaurant, as submitter Yoshio Tanaka notified me via email and photographs:

====================================
April 5, 2014, Yoshio Tanaka wrote:

Please would you mind helping me? Today I went to a restaurant in Asakusa with my wife and some Japanese friends. They didn’t allow us to enter, because me and my wife are not Japanese. In the entrance there is a paper that says “Japanese only” in English, and other advertisement in Japanese. My Japanese friend, entered to the restaurant and kindly asked the manager if me and my wife could enter, too. The manager said they doesn’t allow foreigners, no matter if they speak Japanese nor have been living in Japan for long.

I hope you can help me, and write some article about this discrimination. I think discrimination is one of the worst problem in our world, so we must stop it immediately.  Thank you for your time!!!
====================================

(All photos taken April 4, 2014.)

asakusatentakesign040514
(NB:  The Japanese below the JAPANESE ONLY text on the sign reads, “The inside of this restaurant is very small.  In order to avoid accidents, we are sorry, but we refuse entry to all children below the age of 5.  We ask for our customers understanding and cooperation.”)

asakusatentakefront040514
Storefront

asakusatentakebanner040514
Noren of restaurant with the phone number.

天健 (てんたけ)
ジャンル 天ぷら、天丼・天重
住所 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-4-1
TEL・予約  03-3841-5519

“Ten-take” tempura restaurant, Tokyo-to Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-4-1, Phone 03-3841-5519

Contact details courtesy http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131102/13010522/, last updated January 2014, with no mention of its “Japanese Only” rules.  (It does mention the no children under five:  店内が非常に狭いため、事故防止の観点から5歳未満の子連れ不可の張り紙あり」.  Interesting how a “no foreigners” rule somehow escapes mention.)

COMMENT: I called Tentake today (April 5) to confirm with the management that yes, they do have a “Japanese Only” restriction.  Their reasons given:  1) Hygiene (eiseimen), which were, when asked, issues of “foreigners” not taking off their shoes when entering, 2) NJ causing problems (meiwaku) to other customers, and 3) a language barrier, as in NJ not speaking Japanese.  Basic Otaru Onsen exclusionary excuses.  When asked if he didn’t think these were prejudicial generalizations about all NJ, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t deal with “foreigners” (tai’ou o shi kirenai).  Then he hung up.

That’s as much information as I could get out of the management regarding the reasons for the exclusionism.  Readers who feel that this restaurant is behaving inappropriately for a business open to the general public are welcome to phone them at the number above, or drop by and say so directly.  Douzo.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2014:  The sign is down and the shop is open to NJ customers again.

JT: Motley crew of foreigners backing Japan’s revisionists basks in media glare (with UPDATES)

mytest

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

Hi Blog. Check this out:

NATIONAL / MEDIA| BIG IN JAPAN
Motley crew of foreigners backing Japan’s revisionists basks in media glare
BY MARK SCHREIBER
THE JAPAN TIMES MAR 22, 2014, Courtesy of the author

In the war of words — particularly with South Korea and China — over World War II-era issues that has intensified over the past 18 months, foreigners — both Westerners and Asians — have also waded into the fray. And some have even sided with revisionist positions, raising questions over the Japanese military’s alleged recruitment of sex slaves (“comfort women”) and other contentious wartime topics.

For these individuals, preaching to the Japanese choir does appear to have its rewards. At a gathering in Tokyo last autumn, veteran British journalist Henry Scott Stokes commemorated the 70th anniversary of the showpiece meeting of the Greater East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, Japan’s short-lived effort to align Asians against European colonial powers.

“Japan is a country of rising sun,” he told his audience. “Joining hands together with the fellow Asian people who desire truly Free Asia, I sincerely hope that Japan will play a vital role for realizing democratic Asian unity.”

Soon thereafter, Shodensha published Scott-Stokes’ book “Eikokujin Kisha ga Mita Rengokoku Sensho Shikan no Kyomo” (“Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist”). The book, whose third chapter echoes the speech in its description of Japan as “Asia’s light of hope,” has gone through 11 printings and sales have shot past 80,000. Last week it was rated Amazon Japan’s 32nd best-selling title…

Rest of the article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/22/national/motley-crew-of-foreigners-backing-japans-revisionists-basks-in-media-glare/

COMMENT:  In light of the recent Nazi Swastika flags appearing in right-wing marches, it’s pretty wrong-headed for anyone who wants to keep a good reputation to publicly align with people like these.  But it’s within character.  I’ve heard plenty of pretty unflattering things about Mr. Scott-Stokes through the grapevine over the years.  But another NJ bozo mentioned in the article as being in the pocket of Japan’s revisionist right is Tony Marano, a YouTube Vlogger (a sample video of his is up at the JT site; follow above link), who has in the past ignorantly commented on the “Japanese Only” signs issue — by blaming NJ (i.e., the “ugly Americans”) for the signs’ existence.  Particularly one “liberal” foreigner (guess who; and I’m not a foreigner) who sues “them” and “messes up their legal system“:


Courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6vCjqJ9U7k#t=16

I wonder if Marano will ever get over his ignorance by actually doing any reading up on the issue.  Probably not.  Critics of his ilk rarely do — it makes the maintenance of their world view that much simpler.  And, clearly, as the JT article establishes, more profitable.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 1 (No, this isn’t an April Fool’s prank): Marano gets a regular column with tabloid weekly Asahi Geino. Now all he has to do is spout off, and it gets translated into a language and culture he doesn’t understand. I love how they try to directly translate his “god bless” at the end of the article.  Marano has no idea what he’s getting himself into.
Texas_Oyaji.1
=================================

UPDATE APRIL 2: Henry Scott-Stokes, mentioned in the JT article above, also admits that he can’t even read his own revisionist book, let alone write it:

Oddly, perhaps, he admits to not knowing exactly what’s between the pages of the book that carries his name – he says he reads little Japanese and an English translation has yet to be produced. It was dictated over hundreds of hours to another FCCJ member, Hiroyuki Fujita, then brought to publication by Tony Kase, an old friend of Henry’s with connections to the LDP. “Tony Kase had the most to do with this,” he explains, but adds: “I have to accept responsibility for it since it is in my name.”

From “The Revenge of History”, FCCJ’s Number 1 Shimbun, April 1, 2014
http://www.fccj.or.jp/number-1-shimbun/item/332-the-revenge-of-history.html

So like Marano, Scott-Stokes has no idea how he’s being rendered in Japanese. Seems like for some, Japanese language fluency and apologist/revisionist stances are inversely proportional.

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

UPDATE APRIL 3:  Now a second Marano column has appeared in daily tabloid Yuukan Fuji, this one dated April 4 and apparently out every Thursday…  

Marano_YF.4Apr

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

UPDATE APRIL 6:  Debito.org Reader Don MacLaren responds to Marano’s accusation that litigious NJ are in Japan “messing up their legal system”.  According to MacLaren, despite numerous attempts on numerous fora, Marano has not responded to him publicly.  MacLaren’s video, then his comments accompanying his video, follow:


Courtesy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exozeU7LplU

Published on Apr 6, 2014

Don MacLaren:  Mr. Tony Marano has published numerous videos on Japan, many of them sympathetic to the right wing element in Japan, which believes Japan’s actions in World War II were noble. He also posted a video called, “No foreigners allowed” signs in Japan,” concerning non-Japanese (people’s) feelings about this discrimination (regarding these signs, posted in front of Japanese business establishments) and a lawsuit that was initiated over this discrimination.

Mr. Marano suggests Americans are excessively litigous, while the Japanese are not. I take exception to this as I was a defendant in a frivolous lawsuit in Japan brought on by my visa sponsor and employer. I felt I had no choice but to countersue (even though I couldn’t afford a lawyer at first). After almost a year and a half of litigation, I was awarded everything I wanted. I resigned my position with the company and left Japan. Please read the link below to read more about my time in Japan’s courts:
http://donmaclaren.com/don_maclaren_-…

Mr. Marano’s video, “No foreigners allowed” signs in Japan” is here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6vCj…

The Japan Times Piece I refer to in my video, where I first read about Mr. Marano is here:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014…

Debito Arudou’s blog/website is here:
http://www.debito.org/

The discussion on Mr. Arudou’s blog/website on Mr. Marano (and non-Japanese who support Japan’s right-wing element) is here:
http://www.debito.org/?p=12215

Thank you for tuning in. Please feel free to comment/criticize in a civil, reasoned way in the “comments” section of this video. Sincerely, Don MacLaren

Longer version of MacLaren’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCvrAN3uf08
ENDS

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

UPDATE APRIL 14, 2014:

The pandering columns keep proliferating.  Now Scott-Stokes has a regular column in Yuukan Fuji (bylined “Wake Up, Japan”, this inaugural one dated April 15, 2014) where he calls Korean issues with Wartime Sexual Slavery “nonsense” and the Kouno Statement on it as “the worst” (sai-aku).

HSS_YF1

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 73, “J.League and Media Must Show Red Card to Racism” on Saitama Stadium “Japanese Only” Urawa Reds soccer fans, Mar 13, 2014

mytest

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Thanks for your support!

Hi Blog and JT Readers.  Thanks again for putting this article top of the JT Online for two straight days again! ARUDOU Debito

ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
J.LEAGUE AND MEDIA MUST SHOW RED CARD TO RACISM 
JBC Column 73 for the Japan Times Community Page
To be published March 13, 2014
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/03/12/issues/j-league-and-media-must-show-red-card-to-racism/
Version with links to sources

Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

On Saturday, during their J. League match against Sagan Tosu at Saitama Stadium, some Urawa Reds fans hung a “Japanese only” banner over an entrance to the stands.

It went viral. Several sports sections in Japanese newspapers and blogs, as well as overseas English media, covered the story. The banner was reportedly soon taken down, and both the football club and players expressed regret that it had ever appeared. Urawa investigated, and at the time of going to press Wednesday, reports were suggesting that the club had decided that the banner was discriminatory, reversing a previous finding that the fans behind the incident had “no discriminatory intent.”

So case closed? Not so fast. There is something important that the major media is overlooking — nay, abetting: the implicit racism that would spawn such a sign.

None of the initial reports called out the incident for what it was: racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). News outlets such as Kyodo, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, AP, AFP, Al-Jazeera — even The Japan Times — muted their coverage by saying the banner “could apparently be considered/construed/seen as racist.” (Well, how else could it be construed? Were they trying to say that “only the Japanese language is spoken here”?) Few ran pictures of the banner to give context or impact.

Japanese media appended the standard hand-wringing excuses, including the cryptic “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League,” and even a reverse-engineered claim of performance art: “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not bolstering the team with foreign players.” (Oh, and that’s not prejudiced?)

The Internet buzzed with speculation about the banner’s intent. Was it referring to the fact that Urawa was allegedly fielding a Japanese-only team for a change (notwithstanding their Serbian coach)? Or were the bleachers to be kept foreigner-free?

Doesn’t matter. “Japanese only” has long been the exclusionary trope for Japan’s xenophobes. The phrase came to prominence in 1999 in the Otaru onsen case, which revolved around several public bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, that refused entry to all “foreigners” based on their physical appearance (including this author, a naturalized Japanese). Later, exclusionary businesses nationwide copycatted and put up “Japanese only” signs of their own. “Japanese only” is in fact part of a social movement.

The upshot is, if you don’t “look Japanese,” you are not welcome. That’s where the racism comes in. Why should the Urawa banner be “construed” any differently?

The better question is: Why does this language keep popping up in public places? I’ll tell you why. Because Japan keeps getting a free pass from the outside world.

Just look at Japan’s sports leagues and you’ll find a long history of outright racism — excluding, handicapping and bashing foreigners (even the naturalized “foreigners”) in, for example, sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai national sports festivals and the Ekiden long-distance races. So much for a sporting chance on a level playing field.

Nevertheless, Japan keeps getting rewarded with major international events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 2002, the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the Olympics in 2020. So be as racist as you like: There’s no penalty.

Anyplace else and soccer governing body FIFA would probably take swift action to investigate and penalize offenders in line with its policy of zero tolerance for racism, as has been done in the past, most recently in China. In January, the Hong Kong Football Association got fined for shirking its responsibility to stop racial discrimination against Filipino supporters by Hong Kong national team fans during a “friendly” match.

The Urawa Reds incident is still fresh. I await FIFA’s reaction (if any) with anticipation. But after more than two decades of watching this stuff — and even doing a doctoral dissertation on it — I’m not hopeful.

After all, Japan is not China. The developed world sees Japan as their bulwark of democracy in Asia, and is willing to overlook one very inconvenient truth: that a racialized narrative in Japan is so commonplace and unchallenged that it has become embedded in the discourse of race relations. Foreigners are simply not to be treated the same as Japanese.

People often blame this phenomenon on legal issues (foreigners are not treated exactly the same as citizens anywhere else either, right?) but the pachyderm in the parlor is that the practical definition of “foreigner” is racial, i.e., identified by sight. Anyone “looking foreign” who defied that Urawa banner and entered that stadium section would have gotten — at the very least — the stink-eye from those (still-unnamed) xenophobes who put it up. What other purpose could the banner possibly serve? In any case, it has no place under official FIFA rules.

Make no mistake: “Japanese only” underscores a racialized discourse, and the media should stop making things worse by kid-gloving it as some kind of cultural misunderstanding. It does nobody any favors, least of all Japanese society.

Consider this: As Japan’s rightward swing continues, overt xenophobia (some of it even advocating murder and war) is getting more vociferous and normalized. Not to mention organized: The Asahi Shimbun reported that in Tokyo’s recent gubernatorial election, about a quarter of the 611,000 people who voted for extreme-right candidate Toshio Tamogami, an overtly xenophobic historical revisionist, were young men in their 20s — a demographic also over-represented at soccer games.

Giving their attitudes a free pass with milquetoast criticism (J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said that he will act if the banner was proven to be “discriminatory” — meaning he could possibly find otherwise?) only encourages discriminatory behavior: Be as racist as you like; there’s no penalty.

Point is, the only way to ensure Japan keeps its international promises (such as by creating a law against racial discrimination, after signing the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination nearly 20 years ago!) is to call a spade a spade. As scholar Ayu Majima notes, Japan has a fundamental “perception of itself as a civilized nation,” an illusion that would be undermined by claims of domestic racism. Remember: Racism happens in other countries, not here.

(Source:  Ayu Majima, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.”  In Kowner and Demel, Eds., RACE AND RACISM IN MODERN EAST ASIA.  Brill, 2013, p. 409.)

By always denying racism’s existence, Japan preserves its self-image of civilization and modernity, and that’s why calling out this behavior for what it is — racial discrimination — is such a necessary reality check. FIFA and media watchdogs need to do their jobs, so I don’t have to keep writing these columns stating the obvious. Stop abetting this scourge and show some red cards.

Arudou Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
==============================

UPDATE:  A lot happened soon after this article came out; I believe some of it because.  You can read comments below for some updates, and see my separate blog entry for the conclusions and lessons I learned from it — that essentially you’re not going to get any progress on the human rights front by appealing to moral arguments, because Japan’s elites and national narrative-setters don’t really care about that.  What they really DO care about is Japan’s image abroad as a “civilized” country, and that is the only pressure point NJ have.

“Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it

mytest

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Hi Blog. Going viral on Saturday (I’ve been away from my computer this weekend, sorry to be blogging late) was news of a banner up at a sports meet on March 8, 2014, that said “Japanese Only” (the Urawa Reds soccer team in Saitama Stadium, which according to Wikipedia has some of the best-attended games in Japan).  Here it is:

urawajapaneseonlybanner030814

(Photo courtesy http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg, from BS)

According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?).  Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate.  Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations.  But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.

And that issue they should scratch up is this: Since at least 1999, as Debito.org has covered more than any other media on the planet, Japan has had public language of exclusion (specifically, “Japanese Only” signs spreading around Japan) that have justified a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”, particularly those as determined on sight. It’s also perfectly legal, since the GOJ refuses to pass any laws against racial discrimination, despite promises to the contrary it made back in 1995 when signing the UN CERD.

This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.

But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures.  You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports?  For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?

I’m not going to bet my lunch on it, as scrutiny and responsibility-taking (as in, finding out who put that banner up and why — speculation abounds) could happen. But it probably won’t. Because people can’t even say clearly and definitively that what just happened in Urawa was “racism” (and Al Jazeera, the Asahi, or the Mainichi didn’t even see fit to publish a photo of the banner, so readers could feel the full force and context of it). And that we’re going to see ever more expressions of it in our xenophobic youth (which was a huge political force in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election) as Japan continues its rightward swing into bigotry. ARUDOU Debito

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

「JAPANESE ONLY」 J1で差別横断幕か
朝日新聞 2014年3月9日01時03分

http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASG387J0FG38UTQP03N.html

8日のサッカーJ1浦和―鳥栖戦があった埼玉スタジアムのコンコース内に、「JAPANESE ONLY」との横断幕が掲げられ、浦和側が撤去した。浦和は「差別的と解釈されかねない行為。事実確認のうえ、適切な対応に取り組む」とのコメントを発表した。

「日本人だけ」と直訳できる文言が掲げられたことに、外国人排斥を意図するとしてインターネット上で非難の声が相次ぐなど、波紋が広がっている。選手の目に入る場所ではなかったが、浦和の元日本代表DF槙野智章選手は自身のツイッターで「負けた以上にもっと残念な事があった」と、憤りを表した。

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

Japanese club remove banner
The Urawa Red Diamonds remove a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.
Al Jazeera from AP and AFP, 09 Mar 2014 08:49
http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/football/2014/03/urawa-removes-discriminatory-banner-20143974349569584.html

PHOTO CAPTION:  Urawa did not have a single foreigner in their squad for Saturday’s match against Sagan Tosu [AFP]

The Urawa Reds club, who play in Japan’s J-League Division 1, have removed a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.

Most teams in the J-League have foreign players on their roster but Urawa did not have a single foreigner in its squad for Saturday’s match, despite having a Serbian coach in Mihailo Petrovic.

A photograph of the ‘Japanese Only’ banner went viral on Saturday with it believed to be aimed at foreign tourists.

A statement on the team’s official website read: “As far as the club is concerned, racist language or behaviour is totally inexcusable.”

It was not known who put the sign up but the team said they are “working to establish the facts of the incident.”

After losing the match 1-0 Urawa Reds defender Tomoaki Makino said, “This is what should not be done as our players play for Urawa with pride”.

He continued “If we can’t be united, we can’t win”.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////

SOCCER / J. LEAGUE
Reds remove banner seen as racist
KYODO/Japan Times MAR 9, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/03/09/soccer/reds-remove-banner-seen-as-racist/

Urawa Reds said they removed a banner that could be construed as racist from an entrance gate to spectator seats at a J. League match Saturday between Reds and Sagan Tosu.

The banner in question had the words “Japanese Only” written on and club staff asked for it to be taken down. The person that put up the banner has not been identified, according to Urawa.

A statement on Reds’ official website said: “We are working to establish the facts of this incident.”

“As far as this club is concerned, racist language or behavior is totally inexcusable. Urawa Reds abide by the six tenets of the Sports For Peace program, including a ban on racist conduct”

Opinion was divided among Reds supporters over whether the banner was racist.

One man, a 36-year-old company employee said, “It’s terrible. Inexcusable,” while another, a 50-year-old salaryman said, “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League.”

Mainichi Daily News adds:

Urawa did not have a single foreign player in their squad for Saturday’s match.

A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

March 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140309p2g00m0sp042000c.html

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

【浦和】ゲートに差別的横断幕か
読売新聞 2014年3月9日00時51分 スポーツ報知
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/soccer/jleague/news/20140308-OHT1T00257.htm

埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJ1の浦和―鳥栖で、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられたことが、浦和への取材で分かった。「日本人以外お断り」との差別的な意味にも取れる可能性があるため、クラブのスタッフが要請して横断幕は外されたという。

浦和は公式サイトに「事実確認の上、適切な対応に取り組んでまいります」との声明文を掲載した。浦和によると、掲げた人物は特定されていない。

埼玉スタジアムで試合を観戦した浦和サポーターの中で受け止め方は分かれた。男性会社員(36)は、差別的な意味に理解し「最悪。許せない」と怒った。一方、男性会社員(50)は「日本人でJリーグを盛り上げようという意味だと思う」と話した。女性会社員(28)は「チームが外国人選手による補強に力を入れないことへの皮肉では」との見方を示した。
////////////////////////////////////////

See also:
http://i.imgur.com/0O2JJO8.jpg
http://www.reddit.com/r/japan/comments/1zxtpm/my_friend_just_posted_this_photo_of_urawa_reds/
http://www.brandonsun.com/sports/soccer/j-league-side-urawa-reds-remove-discriminatory-banner-from-stadium-249168211.html

More elaborate discussion in Japanese at

http://rensai.jp/?p=67645

UPDATE: I did a Japan Times column on this issue shortly afterwards. Read it at: http://www.debito.org/?p=12162

Immigration Bureau: Points System visa and visual images of who might be qualified to apply

mytest

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Hi Blog. Got this from KM a short time ago, regarding Japan’s “Points System” visa:

=================================
February 23, 2014
Hi Debito! Don’t want to make a mountain out of a mole hill but the illustration at the top of this page interests me:

http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/newimmiact_3/index.html

Almost all of the “highly-skilled” people have non-Asian looking noses. The only people that look like they might be from Korea or China are a family and the father is dressed as a factory worker. Like I say, I don’t want to read too much into this illustration but it does seem to be indicative of a tendency to want to exclude people from neighboring countries from the “preferred” group of foreigners.
=================================

Here’s the image:
pointssystemimageimmigration

What do you think? Is there mountaining out of molehills here? ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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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:

Weird stats from Jiji Press citing MHLW’s “record number of NJ laborers” in Japan. Yet Ekonomisuto shows much higher in 2008!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Just got this interesting note from Debito.org Reader JDG:

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

Food for thought…

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

NATIONAL
Foreign workers in Japan hit record 717,504
JIJI, JAN 31, 2014, reprinted in The Japan Times

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/31/national/foreign-workers-in-japan-hit-record-717504/

The number of foreign workers in Japan stood at 717,504 at the end of last October, up 5.1 percent from a year before, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said Friday.

The figure was the highest since it became mandatory for employers to submit reports on foreign employees to the ministry in 2007.

The increase reflected an improvement in the employment situation amid the economic recovery and Japanese companies’ growing moves to hire foreigners with special skills, according to the ministry.

The number of Chinese workers was the highest, at 303,886, or 42.4 percent of the total, followed by Brazilians at 95,505, or 13.3 percent, Filipinos at 80,170, or 11.2 percent, and Vietnamese at 37,537, or 5.2 percent.

The number of Chinese workers rose 2.5 percent. Filipino and Vietnamese workers increased 10.0 percent and 39.9 percent, respectively. Meanwhile, the number of Brazilian workers fell 6.3 percent.

Of all foreign workers, 27.3 percent were in Tokyo, followed by 10.9 percent in Aichi Prefecture, 5.9 percent in Kanagawa Prefecture, 5.3 percent in Osaka Prefecture and 5.2 percent in Shizuoka Prefecture.

The government is considering accepting more foreign workers under its growth strategy and reviewing on-the-job training programs for foreigners.
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////

JDG comments: The number of NJ workers in Japan has hit record levels, apparently.

Now, when I saw this, I expected to read lots of stern warnings about the danger of NJ *infiltration* into Japan, but the article claims that this increase is due to the J-gov’s amazing efforts to attract NJ with ‘special skills’ (and, of course, because *our great leader’s* economic policy is a godsend).

But hang on! I thought that the scheme to attract 2000 ‘elite gaijin’ a year was pronounced a failure?

Upon further reading it seems that most of these ‘gaijin with special skills’ are from asia (mainly China) leading me to suspect that their ‘special skill’ is their preparedness to work for minimum wage. Also,the biggest number is in Tokyo. So I suspect that rather than Tokyo being over-run with Chinese millionaire stock-brokers, it could be more accurate to deduce that these Nj are doing all the KKK jobs that the Japanese think they are too good for- combini’s and waitressing.

Interestingly, because this is being touted as a symptom (sorry, I meant ‘result’) of Abe’s economic policy, it will now be difficult for the NPA to announce the next ‘gaijin crime-wave’. I predict that when Abe throws a sickie, such an announcement will come. JDG
==========================

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Okay, there’s something fishy going on here. Check out this cover from Ekonomisuto of January 15, 2008, now more than six years ago, which puts the figure of NJ working in Japan at more than 930,000 (the すでに93万人 in the subtitle after the yellow kanji) — a helluva lot more than the allegedly record-breaking 717,504 quoted in the article above.

ekonomisuto011508cover

I have the feeling that statistics somewhere are being kneaded for political ends (unsurprisingly), as JDG notes. We must show a recovery of sorts no matter what (ironically now pinning part of it on NJ workers in Japan), making Abenomics a bubble in thought as well as in economic stats. What a shame that JIJI seems to be parroting the ministerial line of calling it record-breaking without any research or critical thinking.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the more standardized statistics from the Ministry of Justice (not MHLW) which shows how many NJ are registered as LIVING in Japan. NJ do a lot more in Japan than just work, and the figure given for Brazilians in Japan (95,505) seems remarkably small compared to the hundreds of thousands that lived (or used to live) in Japan in previous years. If those new MOJ stats are out, somebody please feel free to track them down and repost (awfully busy at the moment). Thanks. ARUDOU, Debito

ENDS

Discussion: How about this ad by COCO’s English Juku, learning English to get a competitive advantage over foreign rivals?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An alert Debito.org Reader has sent in the following (thanks for it):

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

I’m emailing you to let you know about a new campaign going around in Tokyo for COCO’s English Juku. English Juku advertisements have always been rather lowbrow at times, but this one has hit multiple lows in my opinion. The ads in the trains are the same advertisement banner used at the top of their main website here.

cocojukuwebsite013114

Main website contains the main advertisement. http://www.cocojuku.jp/

At first I laughed due to how awkward and confusing it appeared. On second glance on the train today I took a closer look and thought about it within the context of the Japanese text and statements made. Is this playing on racial overtones to push for a reason to be learning English? What if the bride was Indian, African, or of another Asian ethnic background such as Chinese? Are these overtones really appropriate for an advertisement?

Furthermore, a few friends of mine also pointed out how downright sexist the ad was as well. It is clearly exclusively aimed at Japanese men with the woman being just an object of possession and trade with no say on who she marries, especially in the YouTube video.

YouTube Advertisement http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O93n0jGF25M

Thought you might be interested in seeing this rather questionable advertisement campaign. It’s especially ironic considering the way that COCO recruits their instructors in the US and the images portrayed on that section of the site.

Recruitment site: http://www.cocojuku.jp/recruit/

While I laughed at first, I have to say I find this ad campaign simply offensive on many levels.

-Anonymous

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

Their other ad spot:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rv2pWI8sptI

COMMENT:  I’m tuckered out after the ANA advertisement issue.  I think I’ll let others have their say.  I’ll put this on Discussion mode for looser moderation.  Is this the same as the ANA ad to you, with a racialized bent to the product?  If not, why not?

On a related note, in lieu of a deeper comment, I will mention that I read Catherine Pover’s book LOVE WITH A WESTERN WOMAN (a guide for Japanese men), courtesy of CP.  And while there was some inevitable stereotyping of both the subject and the target audience, I thought the book was an earnest attempt to communicate what a “Western” woman might like and how a Japanese man might better get to know one.

I wonder what Caroline would have to say about this ad.  I’ll ask her.  ARUDOU, Debito

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Thanks as always for reading and commenting to Debito.org. Arudou Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad
BY  ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, JAN 24, 2014, Column 72 for The Community Pages
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/24/issues/dont-let-ana-off-the-hook-for-that-offensive-ad/

Making headlines recently has been a commercial by ANA, one of Japan’s flagship airlines.  Released last Saturday, its 30-second spot shows two Asian men (one a comedian named Bakarizumu, but let’s call them A and B) standing at an airport window speaking English with Japanese subtitles.

(See the ad at debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.)

Looking out at the jets, A says, “Haneda Airport has more international flights nowadays.”  B replies, “Finally.”  Then their exchange goes, “Next stop, Vancouver.”  “Next stop, Hanoi.”  “Exciting, isn’t it?”  Then B says, rather oddly, “You want a hug?”  When A only gives him a nonplussed look, B continues, “Such a Japanese reaction.”  When A explains, “But I am Japanese,” B counters, “I see.  Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” And A, smiling broadly, agrees to it.

Alright so far.  Except that, as you can see in the picture below, A is now wearing a strapped-on long nose and a big blond wig.  Off they fly to their destinations.
ANAHanedabignose

This has occasioned considerable debate and media coverage.  Many commenters in the English-language online forums have called this advertisement “racist” (one even said “Debito bait”; I’m chuffed), and have made motions to take their business elsewhere.  Others have said the advertisement isn’t racist, just lame.  A few managed to find a deep pocket of latent irony, saying it’s actually poking fun at the Japanese people and their insular attitudes.  Meanwhile, within Japanese-language forums, according to a Yahoo Japan poll, 82% of respondents see no problem with it.

ANAYahooJapansurvey2014
http://polls.dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/other/10721/result
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140120-00000038-jij_afp-bus_all)

(NB:  Note look how the question is worded. It introduces the issue by saying that a comedian (Bakarizumu) performed the act (read: it’s a joke!), and says that the complaints came “from foreigners” (read: not from Japanese) of “racial discrimination” (read: misleading representation of the issue). So we’ve set up the question as “we joking Japanese” vs “those kvetching foreigners” “taking a madcap jape” too seriously, and bingo, you get a vast majority of people wondering what the problem is.)

It probably comes as no surprise to you that JBC objects to this ad.  If ANA had really wanted to “change the image of Japan,” it should have avoided racializing their product.  Instead, it’s just business as usual.

Consider some other racist marketing strategies from not so long ago (visuals and reports archived at debito.org/?p=12077):

Last year, Toshiba marketed a bread maker with an obnoxiously overexuberant Japanese girl speaking katakana Japanese, wearing a blond wig and a big nose.  (Ad archived at debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4.)

toshiba2013suipanda1

In 2010, Nagasaki Prefecture promoted its “foreign” buildings by showing Japanese tourists wearing—you guessed it—blond wigs and big noses.  (Ad archived at debito.org/?p=7523.)
nagasakitabinetto2

In 2005, Mandom sold men’s cosmetics with a Rasta-man motif, juxtaposing black people with a chimpanzee.  (Ad archived at debito.org/mandomproject.html.)
MandomAd2

Dare I mention the resurrection of book “Little Black Sambo” in 2005, which inspired overtly racist nursery-school songs in Saitama about black butts?  (See Matthew Chozick, “Sambo racism row reignites over kids’ play,” Zeit Gist, April 13, 2010.)
Sambooriginal

And how about the Choya plum saké commercials in 2008, featuring three girls (two Caucasian, one Japanese), the latter sporting a big plastic nose and stick-on paper blue eyes?  Although most of these ads were soon pulled after complaints, you can still go to Amazon Japan or Tokyu Hands and buy your own “gaijin” stick-on blue eyes and nose (with the caption “Harō Gaijin-San”) to sport at parties!

Har har.  Can’t you see it’s all just a joke, imbued with a deep sense of irony subversively directed at Japanese people?  Except that, as I’ve pointed out in JBCs passim, irony as humor is not one of Japan’s strong suits.

Moreover, remember when McDonald’s Japan was using a nerdy white guy to hawk newfangled burgers?  JBC argued (“Meet Mr. James, Gaijin Clown,” Sept. 1, 2009) that stereotyping of this nature only works as humor if, among other things, there is a “switch test” – i.e., everyone is fair game for parody.

But in Japan it’s not fair game.  Japanese society and media takes quick umbrage to being lampooned by the outside world, especially in a racialized manner.

Case in point:  To commemorate the publication of “Little Black Sambo,” I drew up a parody called “Little Yellow Jap” to put the shoe on the other foot (debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html).  I made the protagonist as stereotypically exaggerated as the ink-black gollywogs in the book:  bright yellow skin, round glasses, buck teeth, and clad in a fundoshi loincloth.  I pointed out on every page that this was a parody of Japan’s Sambo, and contextualized it with a full explanation in Japanese of why racialized books for children are bad.

Yet for years now in the Japanese version of Wikipedia’s entry on me, this parody is cited as an example of my “discrimination against Japanese.”  Clearly turnabout is not in fair play.

Or consider the case of British TV show QI (Philip Brasor, “Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter,” Media Mix Jan. 30, 2011, discussed here).  Producers were forced to apologize for a joke about a recently-deceased Japanese who in 1945 unluckily travelled to Nagasaki, after experiencing the first atomic bombing, to catch the second one.  A panelist had dryly quipped, “He never got the train again, I tell you.”

That’s not funny!  That’s insensitive.  And insulting!  And racist, according to the more unified online communities in Japan, backed up by protesting Japanese government officials, all of whom clearly understand irony.  (For the record:  I’m being ironic.  Please laugh.)

Back to ANA.  I bet the omnipotent gerontocracy at corporate headquarters didn’t think anything amiss (obviously; they approved the ad), because, as is often claimed in these situations, Japanese in fact “admire” (akogareru) white people.  This ad is, if anything, a paean.  After all, look at him!  He looks like Robert Redford, one of the prototypical kakkō-ii foreigners of our generation!  (They could do with a Brad Pitt update, I guess.)

In tepid apology letters, ANA uses the standard disclaimer:  “We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”  Okay.  And I’m sure many of your potential customers didn’t “mean” to be offended either.  But many were.  And if you have any pretentions to being an international company, you wouldn’t get in these sticky wickets in the first place.

(Two apology letters http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431421
http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431434
UK Independent on the apologies http://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431419)

To be fair, this campaign was probably cooked up not by ANA, but by one of Japan’s advertising oligarchs (no doubt Dentsu, with nearly a third of Japan’s market share).  Anyone with an eye on the Japanese media knows how they make silly amounts of money on silly stereotypes (including the one that Japanese don’t hug), while reaffirming the binary between “Japan” and “the rest of the world.”

Nevertheless, ANA deserves its lumps, because reps simply don’t know what they’re apologizing for.  In fact, they clumsily reinforced the binary, stating in press releases that complaints have “mostly come from foreign customers” (as opposed to real customers?), before finally pulling the ad last Tuesday.

Now consider this:  Gerry Nacpil, Supervisor of ANA Sky Web, wrote in his apology: “The intention of this commercial was… to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

So… “global citizens” equals White people?

Now the ad is even more problematic.

To quote a friend, in an open letter to ANA:

“Dear ANA:  Are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur?  And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?  Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.  And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions.  Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks-in-mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th-century, ‘we are so different from you funny-looking white gaijin’ Meiji-Era mentality.

“Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers.  They may surprise you.  Sincerely, A Big-Nosed White Guy who speaks Japanese.”

Touché.  Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards.

For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep.  ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies.  NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages.

This is a prime opportunity.  Don’t let ANA off the hook on this.  Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

ENDS

ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s times like these when people seem glad that a forum like Debito.org exists.  I say this based on the large number of people who submitted information about the new ANA commercial on Haneda Airport’s increased international flights. Seems that somebody, anybody, should express outrage.  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here it is (courtesy lots of people; thanks!):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jgzAOCmWA0

(UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA has pulled the ad, so the link above is dead.  I have archived it for posterity as an .mp4 at http://www.debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.  Thanks JK!)

Well, let’s have a think. With two Asian guys speaking only in English (one saying he’s Japanese — the noticeably shorter guy) noting that Japan will have more international access (Vancouver and Hanoi are mentioned as their destinations), the message of the ad is that the image of Japan will change. “Exciting, isn’t it?”, says the Japanese bloke. The taller dude says, “You want a hug?” When nothing happens (i.e., no hug), he oddly says, “Such a Japanese reaction.” When the tall dude says, “Let’s change the image of  Japanese people,” the short dude agrees to it. And this is what happens to him:

ANAHanedabignose

Yeah, that’ll do it.  Put on a wig and a fake nose, and that’ll change Japan’s image.

Actually, no it won’t.  This is in fact business as usual, given how Japan has a nasty habit of racializing commodities.  Check out but a few examples of racist Japanese commercial campaigns from Debito.org’s archives (click on images to see more information).  Then I’ll comment about the ANA one:

Traveling to Nagasaki (let’s gaijinize ourselves!) (2010):
nagasakitabinetto nagasakitabinetto2

Toshiba sells breadmakers! (2013)
toshiba2013suipanda1

McDonald’s Japan sells burgers! (2009)
mcdonaldsmrjames001

Selling sweets! (2013)
vibesumadara3

Mandom sells men’s cosmetics! (2005)
MandomAd2

Mini Stop Konbini sells Afro Melon Bread! (2010)

Publisher Zuiunsha resurrects “Little Black Sambo” without historical context! (2005)
Sambooriginal

Selling party favors! (Tokyu Hands 2008, still on sale on Amazon)

COMMENT ON ANA’S AD CAMPAIGN:

Well, I have the feeling that once again, a major Japanese company left their advertising to one of the big-name ad firms (as Toshiba above did), and they once again just thought they were being cute by sticking a wig and a big nose on somebody and making them look “foreign”.  After all, who would complain?  Japan is after all a homogeneous society with no racial issues (not!).  Chuckling old-timey OBs on the board who make all the decisions and expect everyone to knuckle under thought nothing of it, especially since (check out that screen capture again):

ANAHanedabignose

the guy looks remarkably like Robert Redford!  Who to a lot of Japanese (especially to the generation who haven’t had a Brad Pitt update yet) is the prototypical and idealized Westerner!

But some people, myself included, take a dim view of this campaign.  Let me quote an esteemed friend of mine:

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

Dear ANA,
I’m not sure you know this, but are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur? And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?
Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.
And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions. Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks in mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th century, “we are so different from you funny looking white gaijin” Meiji Era mentality.
Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers. They may surprise you.
Sincerely,
A Big Nose White Guy who speaks Japanese

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

Quite.  If ANA really wanted to change the image of Japan, they should have had the guys hugging!  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20:  Stating that they are now pulling the ad, ANA officially comments in a reply to complaints below (English original):  The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

Interesting mindset.  Good to know what ANA was thinking.  But do you think this advertisement accomplishes that?  Are “global citizens” therefore Robert Redford lookalikes?  In light of this, the advertisement is to me even more problematic.

UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA’s campaign expands to the Hibiya Line in Tokyo (Courtesy of JK, click on photo to expand in browser):

ANAHanedaHibiyapic012214

UPDATE TWO, JANUARY 22: FYI, the Japan Times has tapped me to do my next Just Be Cause column early on, you guessed it, the ANA advertisement.  Already filed, it will come out Saturday, January 25 JST.

UPDATE: HERE’S THE JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

mytest

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Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

DVB News: Japan’s lack of transparency threatens Burma’s development (as PM Abe seeks to contain China)

mytest

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Hi Blog. A bit of a tangent today. The author of this article asked me for some input some months back, and I steered him towards some resources that talked about Japan’s historical involvement with Burma (and deep ties between the ruling junta and Japan’s WWII government — to the point of using the Imperial Army’s public order maintenance style over its colonies as a template to repress domestic dissent). Even with recent changes in Burma’s government, Japan’s engagement style is reportedly not changing — it’s still up to its old nontransparent policymaking tricks.  I put up this article on Debito.org because it relates to the Abe Administration’s perpetual use of China not only as a bugbear to stir up nationalism and remilitarization, but also something to encircle and contain, as Abe visits more Asian countries in his first year in office than any other PM (without, notably, visiting China). Nothing quite like getting Japan’s neighbors to forget Japan’s wartime past (and, more importantly, Japan’s treatment of them as a colonizer and invader) than by offering them swagbags of largesse mixed with a message of seeing China instead as the actual threat to regional stability.  Result:  Who will agitate for the offsetting of Japan’s historical amnesia if the descendants of their victims (or their governments, lapping up the largesse) will not?  These are the “arrows” Abe is quietly loosing, and this time outside Japan in support of his revisionism.  Arudou Debito

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

Japan’s lack of transparency threatens Burma’s development
Demographic Voice of Burma News, October 31, 2013, By Jacob Robinson,courtesy of the author
http://www.dvb.no/analysis/japans-lack-of-transparency-threatens-burmas-development-myanmar/34024
Excepted below

Japan’s traditional approach to diplomacy – characterised by “quiet dialogue” – is becoming a threat to Burma’s fragile reform process. In recent weeks, the Japanese government has demonstrated an alarming lack of transparency regarding both its role in Burma’s peace process and land grabbing problems at Thilawa, Japan’s flagship development project near Rangoon. Eleven News also reported on Tuesday that a Burmese parliament member demanded greater transparency about how Japanese financial aid is distributed to Burma’s health sector.

Perhaps of greatest concern is Japan’s abysmal response to land grabbing problems at Thilawa. When landgrabbing reports first surfaced in January 2013, a Japanese company developing Thilawa responded to media inquiries by saying that land issues were the sole responsibility of Burma’s government. The following month, a spokesman for Japan’s embassy in Burma took the same position, saying that Thilawa land issues were “very complicated” and that Burma’s government was solely responsible for land grabbing issues.

This kind of detached and dismissive response from Japan was nothing less than a public relations disaster. It also set off alarm bells among members of the international community who were hoping that Japan would play a responsible role in Burma. It wasn’t until this October – over 10 months after the initial land grabbing report – that Japan’s government finally decided to take some responsibility for land grabbing by holding a meeting with Thilawa landowners. Not surprisingly, The Irrawaddy reported that the meeting was off-limits to the media and held behind closed doors.

Japan’s secretive approach to such an important issue is an ominous sign that Japan is stubbornly clinging to its “quiet dialogue” approach to diplomacy, whereby Japanese officials “gently encourage” foreigners to capitulate in stuffy private meetings that are tightly controlled and choreographed by Japan. Japanese officials just don’t seem comfortable doing business any other way. But being uncomfortable isn’t an excuse. There’s a good reason why transparency has become a rallying cry for Burma’s opposition, and Japan will need to adapt. A lack of transparency breeds corruption, and corruption stifles development. So if Japan really wants to foster sustainable development in Burma it simply has to change its ways…

In other words, Japan is starting to destroy an amazing opportunity that practically fell into its lap when Burma’s military decided to give Japan a prominent role in developing the “new and improved” Burma. One reason why Japan has been so favoured lately is because it’s viewed as a “friendly” alternative to China. But if people start to equate Japan’s tactics with those of China, the whole game changes and Burma will be less willing to grant Japan special privileges.

Japan also made a huge mistake by asking Yohei Sasakawa to serve as Japan’s official peace ambassador in Burma. Sasakawa is a member of Japan’s far-right historical revisionist movement which still somehow thinks Japan was the victim rather than the aggressor of World War II. Sasakawa also cultivated personal ties with Burma’s former military dictatorship, and not surprisingly Sasakawa has yet to disavow his father’s controversial support for fascism.

In his blog, Sasakawa even sings high praises for former junta leader Than Shwe, an outrageous position which immediately puts him at odds with millions of Burmese citizens. As a personal friend and apologist of Than Shwe, it’s clear that Sasakawa should have been disqualified from the peace process from the beginning…

Full article at http://www.dvb.no/analysis/japans-lack-of-transparency-threatens-burmas-development-myanmar/34024
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive through Gaijin Handler Kitaoka Shin’ichi

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Hello Blog. This month sees my 69th Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, and I’m happy to report that even after nearly six years of monthly articles (and nearly 12 years of semimonthly reports), I don’t feel like I’m losing my stride. In fact, this month’s entry is one that I’m particularly proud of, as it helped crystallize a feeling I’ve had for quite some time now about the rightist shift in Japan’s politics — and how it inevitably leads (in Japan’s case) to militarism. It spent a couple of days in the JT Online Top Ten, thanks everyone!

justbecauseicon.jpg

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

JAPAN BRINGS OUT BIG GUNS TO SELL REMILITARIZATION IN U.S.
By Arudou Debito
JUST BE CAUSE Column 69 for the Japan Times Community Pages
The Japan Times, November 7, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/11/06/issues/japan-brings-out-the-big-guns-to-sell-remilitarization-in-u-s/
Version follows with links to sources

Last month in Hawaii I attended a speech titled “Japan’s new National Security Strategy in the Making” by a Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka. A scholar and university president, Dr. Kitaoka is deputy chairman of the “Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security” within the Shinzo Abe administration.

I sat in because I wanted to see how a representative of Japan’s government would explain away Abe’s militaristic views to an American audience.

Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He was smooth. In impeccable English, to a packed room including numerous members of Hawaii’s military brass, he sold a vision of a remilitarizing Japan without a return to a prewar militarized Japan. (You can see the entire speech at http://www.vimeo.com/77183187.)

He laid out how Japan would get around its ban on having a military beyond a “self-defense force,” i.e., one that could project power beyond its borders. It would be the same way Japan got around its constitutional ban on having any standing military at all: Japan would once again reinterpret the wording of the Constitution.

His logic: If Japan has a sovereign right to “individual self-defense” (i.e., the right to attack back if attacked), it also has an inherent sovereign right to “collective self-defense” (i.e., the right to support Japan’s allies if they are attacked). A reinterpretation must happen because, inconveniently, it is too difficult to reform the Constitution itself.

That legal legerdemain to undermine a national constitution should have raised eyebrows. But Kitaoka was culturally sensitive to what his American audience wanted to hear: that the ends justify the means. He immediately couched Japan’s freer hand as a way to better engage in the U.S.-Japan security alliance, as well as participate more equally and effectively in United Nations peacekeeping operations. Japan could now assist the world in “human security” through a “proactive peace policy.”

As further reassurance, he gave five reasons why Japan could not return to 1930s-style fascism. Back then, 1) Japan needed more territory, resources and markets, which were being denied them by economic blocs formed during the Great Depression (conveniently omitting the entire “liberating Asians from white imperialism” narrative that underpinned Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere”); 2) there was hubris on the part of Japan’s military, convinced that neighboring territories were weak and easy targets; 3) the international community had little economic integration or punitive sanctioning power; 4) the military was not under civilian control; and 5) Japan lacked freedom of speech.

Then his rhetoric entered what I call “perpetual wolf-at-the-door territory,” reflecting the typical ideological polarization of a trained geopolitical security analyst. They see the world only in terms of power, potential threats and allies vs. enemies. (That’s why I stopped studying security issues as an undergrad at Cornell.)

Kitaoka sold China as the polar opposite of Japan. Japan is a “peace-loving” society with a “peace Constitution” and capped military expenditure, while China is a nuclear power with an enormous and expanding military budget. Japan has, if anything, “too much” freedom of speech, unlike China, where dissidents are jailed. Japan has no territorial designs abroad (not even the constant threat of invasion from the Korean Peninsula is worrisome anymore — the U.S. has it covered), while China is claiming islands and expanding into markets as far away as Africa! If Japan steps out of line, it would be hurt by international sanctions, as it is fully integrated into and dependent on the world economy, while China . . . isn’t. China is safeguarding its national security and enhancing its prestige through a nationalism that is “obsessed with national glory” while Japan . . . isn’t.

In fact, Kitaoka managed to trace just about every problem in his speech back to China. His conclusion in a Yomiuri Shimbun column on Sept. 22 was stark: “We should now take the place of the (prewar) Republic of China, which was invaded by Japan, and think about how to defend ourselves from unjustified aggression, and consider what should be done to defend ourselves more aggressively.” History, to Kitaoka, has come full circle.

So, in order to maintain regional security and balance of power, Kitaoka announced that Japan would adopt two measures by the end of 2013: 1) A comprehensive “national security strategy,” the first in Japan’s history, integrating foreign and defense policy; and 2) a new “outline of defense planning” through the establishment of an official “National Security Council.”

This would be led by a PM Abe unfettered by the “cancer of sectionalism” between “pro-Western” and “pro-Socialist” camps in Japan’s bureaucracy. Abe’s strong executive leadership would break the hold of Japan’s leftists (whom Kitaoka dismissed as “vocal minorities”) and give the “majority” their proper hand in policymaking.

Then Kitaoka felt he was in a position to make guarantees to the audience. He told them not to worry, for there was “zero possibility” of Japan intervening in the Koreas, including over the Takeshima/Dokdo disputed rocks, “without a request from you.” Japan would also not go nuclear, because nukes are unnecessary in a land so “narrow and densely populated” with no place to put them!

What about Japan’s ability to project power at sea? Despite the recent unveiling of the Izumo (one of three SDF “helicopter-carrying destroyers”; see “Watching Japan and China square off in East China Sea,” BBC News, Nov. 12, 2012), Kitaoka says Japan has “no use” for them. After all, the whole archipelago is full of “unsinkable aircraft carriers” — the Japanese islands themselves. So pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

My favorite part of Kitaoka’s speech (other than when he defied his doctorate training by calling Koreans an “emotional people,” and dismissed several counter-opinions as “stupid”) was when he blamed the putative ineffectiveness of the U.N. Security Council on a struggle between democratic and undemocratic member states, with China and Russia getting in the way. The U.N. would be more effective if more democratic countries were allowed into the UNSC — India, Germany, Brazil and . . . Japan, naturally.

Nice segue. Told you he was smooth.

This is why I am devoting a whole column to this event: The Abe administration is clearly on a charm offensive, sending out an articulate “gaijin handler” with an elite pedigree (Kitaoka is president of the International University of Japan, professor emeritus at Tokyo University, a former ambassador and U.N. representative, and a member of several major think tanks) on a whistle-stop U.S. tour to reassure American power brokers that they can relax their grip over Japan’s security.

After all, that seems to be what the U.S. wants. The schizophrenic U.S.-Japan security relationship has demanded for decades that Japan make more contributions to the geopolitical order, while making sure U.S. bases underpin Japan’s regional security and stop regional worries about a resurgent militarist Japan. As Maj. Gen. Henry Stackpole, former commander of the U.S. Marines in Japan, put it in 1990, the U.S. is the “cork in the bottle.” Thus, Kitaoka is softening up the crowd for Abe to uncork Japan’s military potential.

Now it all makes sense. This is why Abe is making so much noise recently in places like the Wall Street Journal and domestic media about Chinese aggression and regional security.

Abe has a timetable to meet. His national security council is due this month. The defense planning outline is due in December. It’s time to rile up the Japanese public once again about the Chinese wolf at the door, and get them ready to sign off on Japan’s remilitarization.

Look, when Japan’s gross domestic product fell behind China’s in 2011, we all knew there would be blowback in terms of Japan’s national pride. But so much so quickly? Who would have thought that a troublemaking Tokyo governor could create such geopolitical mayhem by threatening to buy some specks in the ocean outside his prefecture, throw Japan’s left-leaning government into chaos and get Japan’s most right-leaning government in generations elected by the end of 2012?

Then again, it’s not so surprising. Watching Kitaoka’s speech, I realized again just how smooth Japan’s elites are. They know whose hands to shake, whose ears to bend, and how to behave as public campaigners in the diplomatic community. Hey, that’s how they somehow got the 2020 Olympics! They know how to say what people want to hear. That is the training of a lifetime of tatemae (pretenses masking true intentions).

Sit back, folks. We’re going to get an official and resurgent Japanese military. With a probable nod and a wink from the Americans, there’s not a lot we can do but watch Abe’s military machinations march to fruition. In 10 years, let’s see how many of Kitaoka’s public promises about a peaceful, internationally cooperative Japan hold.

=====================================
More discussion of the Kitaoka speech at www.debito.org/?p=11896. 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 Thursday Community page of the month. Send your comments on these issues and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

ENDS

Restoration Party Shinpuu’s xenophobic candidate in Tokyo Katsushika-ku elections: “Putting Japanese first before foreigners”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As Tokyo is having some elections (or by this time of blogging, had; sorry), I thought it within the role of Debito.org to archive yet another example of xenophobia used as a campaign strategy.

Xenophobic party Ishin Seitou Shinpuu (Restoration Party New Wind) is up to its old anti-foreigner tricks again.  This time, front and center, is a candidate for Tokyo Katsushika-ku by the name of Kaneko Yoshiharu, a former employee of Ishikawa Prefecture and former town councilor for O-i Chou in Kanagawa Prefecture, clearly skipping to the other side of Tokyo to rent an apartment and rally up a few fellow fearmongerers.

shinpuukanekoyoshiharu2013poster

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/tokyo_katsushika/kaneko73101001.jpg

His slogan, front and center:  “More than foreigners, Japanese are first!” (Gakokujin yori nihonjin ga daiichi!), setting up a false dichotomy (the fact that foreigners can’t vote in the first place makes that clear).  He’s also calling for limits to foreign products being “dumped” (i.e., being sold overseas for lower than production cost or domestic pricing in order to capture market share — which is kinda rich to say given Japan’s trade record) and for a hardening of policy against Japan’s low birthrate (sorry, potential pun acknowledged).  He also wants (see below within his public statement) an end to “superfluous (kajou na) support for foreigners”, whatever that means.

In case you’re wondering whether anyone would have the courage to put this up on campaign poster walls (or wonder whether Japan’s election laws would allow for such divisive language), he does and they do:

PT370001

(Courtesy RW, photo taken November 5, 2013 in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo)

If you want to know more about what Kaneko wants done, have a look at this:

KanekoYoshiharuPolicies2013

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/

Keep an eye on this party, folks (http://www.shimpu.jpn.org).  It’s the most brazen, but by no means the only xenophobic party of grumpy old Japanese men out there who want to jerk Japan’s political chain hard right.  It helps to have somebody extremely hard-line so that other hardliners (such as Ishihara/Hashimoto’s Japan Restoration Party — without the New Wind) look milder by comparison.  Helps to normalize the invective. Arudou Debito

Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Saw this interesting poster in, of all places, an elevator in Narita Airport last September:

DonaldKeeneCenter

Yes, that’s our Donald Keene, currently aged 91, whose center last September 21 was opened up in Kashiwazaki (for those who unfamiliar with that part of Niigata Prefecture, K-town is in between Nagaoka and Joetsu; nice beach) in order to transmit “the excellence of Japanese literature” (watashi wa ninon bungaku no subarashisa o tsutaetai).

This is an important event, as it counts as an established NJ legacy on the scale of Edwin Dun and of course Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo (both of whom have their lives immortalized in building form).

Now, where Debito.org has taken issue with Keene is with not with his scholarship or contributions to the field of Japanese studies (indeed admirable), but with his naturalization while publicly denigrating NJ.  As chronicled here and in the Japan Times, he himself made a big fuss about how he was becoming a Japanese citizen for selfless reasons, e.g., to “become one of them“, to show “solidarity with the Japanese people” in their time of great need, so that he might help victims of the Tohoku Disasters in some way.

Fine.  But he also threw in all sorts of irrelevancies and nastiness, such as making himself out to be morally superior to other NJ residents (contrasting himself with those allegedly fleeing Japan like the mythical “Flyjin”, mentioning how he wasn’t committing crimes like they were — despite actual NJ crime trends).  It was a poor show of social science by a trained researcher.

If he’s going to be mean, then he’s going to have his record scrutinized like everyone else.  So, despite his promises to “contribute to areas affected by the [Tohoku] disaster“, by now what has he done?  Put his Donald Keene Center in Tohoku to attract tourists?  Sorry, Kashiwazaki is quite far away from the disaster areas, and the Donald Keene Center website doesn’t even mention the events in Tohoku as any form of motivation.  Visited Tohoku like other NJ to help out with relief efforts?  Well, according to his English Wikipedia entry, he gave a speech in Sendai; thanks, but…  Or opening up his library for free to the public?  No, sorry, that’s not how business is done:

DonaldKeeneCenter2

Not sure where profits are going.  Again, no mention of contribution to disaster relief on the Center’s website.

And of course, there is one very big contribution to Japan he could still yet make.  One very big open secret about douseiaisha in Japan is that even if they can’t get officially married (due to Japan’s koseki system), they can still adopt one another and establish inheritance rights.  That’s precisely what Keene did by naturalizing, getting his own koseki, and then adding his partner to it.  So in this worldwide wave of tolerance/reactionary intolerance towards gay marriage, gay rights is another issue Keene could use his influence to raise awareness about (and before you say he’s too old to do so, consider George Takei).  But no.

Again, these are all a person’s life choices, and I will respect Keene’s.  Except for the fact that he doesn’t respect others’ life choices (he should read “Yes I Can” by Sammy Davis Jr., and learn something about not denigrating other minorities in his position to advance himself, and then pulling up ladders of opportunity behind him). He doesn’t seem to be keeping his public promises.  His pandering to stereotypes about NJ, plus public gestures of self-hugging while making a show of his apparent self-sacrifices, are disingenuous upon closer inspection.

I’m not in the habit of paraphrasing Depeche Mode (I’m famously a proud fan of Duran Duran), but maybe it’s time to start.  A stanza of “Everything Counts” applies here:

“All for himself, after all.”

That is not the best legacy for immigrants and former NJ to leave behind.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE OCTOBER 8, 2014:  Dr. Donald Keene reiterates his belief that NJ left in significant numbers after the 3/11 Disasters in Tohoku in a recent Yomiuri interview. Even though I demonstrated in a Japan Times column that this was not the case in April 2012.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10081
So much for his role as a scholar… 

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

Message Special / Donald Keene / My life now is the happiest that I ever had: Scholar
Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun
11:11 pm, October 05, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001615967

When the terrible things happened in Tohoku, and especially when I read that many foreigners who had lived in Japan, worked in Japan, were leaving the country, I was very angry, and I wondered what I could do to show I was different. (REST OF THE ARTICLE IN COMMENTS SECTION BELOW).

Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In an apparent policy U-turn, the GOJ decided last week to lift the ban on certain South Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) from re-entering Japan.  This after bribing them to leave in 2009 so that they would not become an inconvenient unemployment statistic (not to mention that it was cheaper to pay their airfare than to pay them their social welfare that they had invested in over the decades, or pay them their pensions in future when reaching retirement age).

The reasons for this U-turn are being discussed in a recent Japan Times article, excerpted below.  The article speculates that a couple of embarrassing lawsuits and visa-denials might have tipped the GOJ’s hand (I for one doubt it; Japan’s visa regimes, as can be seen for example in its perennial stance towards refugees, are generally impervious to public exposure and international pressure).  I believe it was more an issue of the GOJ facing reality (as happened more than one year ago at the highest policymaking levels, where even the GOJ still maintained the stance that if immigration was an inevitability, they had better bring back people with Japanese blood; after all, the only ones in attendance were all Wajin and one token Nikkei).

Debito.org has spoken out quite hot-tonguedly about how ludicrous the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe was, not the least because of its inherently racialized paradigms (because they only applied to Nikkei — people who were also in even more dire financial straits due to the economic downturn, such as the Chinese and Muslim factory workers laboring in conditions of indentured servitude, were left to fend for themselves because they lacked the requisite Japanese blood).

So as a matter of course Debito.org cheers for the lifting of the ban.  But the Bribe and the Ban should never have happened in the first place.  So the GOJ can also take its lumps even if they are ultimately making the right decision.

Does this mean that the numbers of registered NJ residents of Japan will start to increase again?  I will say it could happen.  I stress: could, not will happen.  But if it did, that statistic, not any asset bubbles and transient stock-market numbers that people keep championing as the putative fruits of “Abenomics”, will be the real indicator of Japan’s recovery.   That is to say, if Japan ever regains its sheen as an attractive place to work for international labor, then an increase in Japan’s NJ population will cause and signal a true leavening of Japan’s economic clout and prowess.  But I remain skeptical at this juncture — as I’ve said before, the jig is up, and outsiders generally know that Japan has no intention or enforceable laws to treat immigrants as equals, no matter how much of their lives and taxes they invest.

At this time, I believe international migrant labor will continue to vote with their feet and work elsewhere.  So good luck with significant numbers coming to Japan even with this ban lifted.  Arudou Debito

==========================
Referential article:

Ban lifted on ‘nikkei’ who got axed, airfare
But Japanese-Brazilians must have work contract before coming back
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, The Japan Times OCT 15, 2013
EXCERPT:
In what could be a significant change in policy affecting “nikkei” migrant workers from Brazil, the government Tuesday lifted a ban on the return of Japanese-Brazilians who received financial help in 2009 to fly home when they were thrown out of work during the global financial crisis.

Ostensibly an attempt to help the unemployed and cash-strapped Latin American migrants of Japanese ethnic origin escape the economic woes here, the 2009 initiative offered each an average of ¥300,000 to be used as airfare. It eventually resulted in an exodus of around 20,000 people, including 5,805 from Aichi Prefecture and 4,641 from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Although some of the migrants were genuinely thankful for the chance to get out of struggling Japan and find jobs back home, others were insulted because accepting the deal also meant they couldn’t come back to Japan at least “for the next three years” under “the same legal status.” This was seen as an outrageous move by the government to “get rid of” foreign workers as demand for their services fizzled out.

The migrants were initially banned from re-entering Japan for an unspecified period of time, but after a storm of both domestic and international condemnation, the government eventually said it might green-light their return after three years, depending on the economy.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/15/national/ban-lifted-on-nikkei-who-got-axed-airfare/
ENDS

Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH East-West Center Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Yesterday I attended the following speech:

KitaokaShinichiEWCflyer

I attended because I wanted to see what was making one of PM Abe’s leading advisors tick.  Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint.

He spoke in excellent English, and came off as a very articulate, passionate, and fluent advocate of his cause, which is essentially to make Japan strong enough militarily to deter China.  He did not feel a need to be restrained by a diplomat’s training, calling various schools of thought “totally wrong” and “stupid”, nor an academic’s subtlety that should come with a doctorate, where he said with firm certainty at various stages that “no Japanese” wants things like expansion of Japan’s borders (he also called Koreans an “emotional people”).  Almost all of the geopolitical problems he referred to in his talk were traced back to China, and he made a strong, reasoned plea for Japan’s inherent sovereign right for collective self defense in order to “contribute to peace and stability” by being empowered to assist Japan’s friends and allies (particularly, naturally, the Americans).

Dr. Kitaoka was very smooth.  He pushed all the right rhetorical buttons with an American audience (this one at the EWC quite full of American military brass; the audience was quite emotive), contrasting rich, democratic, non-nuclear, and “peace-loving” Japan with richening, undemocratic, nuclear and unfree China, which is increasing its defense budget every year and seeking territorial expansion (he even mentioned China’s dealings in Africa in that context).  He also smoothed feathers to head off the “Genie in the Bottle” argument (which is one image the US military uses to justify its continued presence in Japan — to stop Japan from remilitarizing) by pointing out five conditions why today’s Japan is different.  (See them well elaborated in his Yomiuri article scanned below.)

So to this end, Japan would need its first National Security Council, which would hopefully be established by November 2013.

There were a couple more surprises in Dr. Kitaoka’s talk.  One was that he was arguing that Japan is essentially in the same position today as China was in the early 20th century, where Japan is the one now who should think about how to defend itself from unjustified aggression from China!  The other surprise was his reasoning about why the world should not worry about Japan’s potential renewed territorial expansion abroad — because treaty agreements between the US and South Korea would preclude Japan’s need to invade the Korean Peninsula for defensive reasons (now that’s a novel take on Japan’s colonial history!).

Oh, and that it would be an impossibility for Japan to go nuclear again, because Japan as a huge developed economy integrated into world markets is particularly vulnerable to international sanctions.  But China, you see, is a member of the UN Security Council, unlike Japan, and they make UN sanctions more “ineffective”.  Less democratic countries, such as China and Russia, have more power in the UN than the democratic countries such as Japan, Germany, India, and Brazil… (and that was a very neat way to allude to Japan’s need for a UNSC seat — told you he was smooth).

The Q&A was done by people passing papers to the front to be sorted, vetted, and read by EWC staff.

In the end, Dr. Kitaoka talked like I would expect one of Japan’s elites to talk — seeing the world only in terms of power, and how Japan needs more of it because its neighbors are security threats.  That’s what any security analyst will say, of course (that’s how they’re trained), but Dr. Kitaoka spoke like a trained Gaijin Handler representing PM Abe’s political agenda, not a scholar.  Fascinating in that light, but scary, since these are the people who have been voted right back into power and want to dramatically alter Japan’s future policy.

Through him we can see PM Abe’s remilitarizing machinations and goals.  And next month, here they come.  Arudou Debito

NB:  LLK sends links to his full speech (with Q&A) available on vimeo.com. Here’s the link:

http://vimeo.com/77183187

Japan’s New National Security Strategy in the Making from East-West Center on Vimeo.

Here are the handouts that were presented to the audience for Dr. Kitaoka’s talk:

(click on image to expand in browser)

KitaokaShinichiYomiuri

KitaokaShinichihandout1KitaokaShinichihandout2
ENDS

Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos

mytest

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maorirefuseekyodonews091213

Maori woman refused entry to bath due to traditional tattoos
SAPPORO, Sept. 12, 2013 Kyodo News, courtesy of JK
http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/09/245956.html

A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday.

The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture.

On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.

When a member of the group claimed the decision was discriminatory, the staff replied that the facility prohibits entry to anyone with tattoos in order to put customers at ease.

“Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos,” the facility official told reporters.

An Ainu language lecturer who was in the group said he felt sorry to disappoint an important guest.

“It is unfortunate that other cultures are not understood,” he said.

According to the food and sanitation section of the Hokkaido prefectural government and the National Federation of Public Bath Industry Trade Unions, the law on public baths allows operators to refuse entry to customers with infectious diseases, but does not rule on customers with tattoos.

Prohibition of tattoos is often used by public facilities in Japan to prevent entry by members of the country’s organized crime groups, many of whom have tattoos on their bodies.

ENDS

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

Hi Blog.  Oh the ironies of the above happening.  It’s standard practice nationwide at many public bathhouses to refuse entry to Japanese with tattoos because they might be yakuza, and it’s long been a debate when one gets NJ who have tattoos as fashion statements.

isawafront

(Courtesy Debito.org Rogues’ Gallery. Note sign and people with tattoos, on left.  And while we’re at it, note sign that refuses foreigners who can’t speak Japanese and who don’t have valid visas.  More information here.)

But what really floors me is that a) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it’s a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them:

ainuliptattooing

(Courtesy http://www.ksc.kwansei.ac.jp/~jed/CompCult/)

Well, luckily for these bathhouse owners the GOJ erased that culture in its indigenous Ainu, not to mention erased most of the Ainu culture and people themselves.   So nobody in Japan can claim cultural suppression of expression of tattoo culture anymore since suppression worked so well.

But wait, there’s more irony.  Check this out:

Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

Full text of articles below.  Submitter JK notes:

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

On the one hand, it’s about time the Ainu get the recognition they deserve.  Yet on the other hand, focusing on the Ainu creates a cultural blind spot:

“The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”

Wait, hold on – why stop with just the Ainu? Why not end discrimination against *all* people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony?

My fear is that the GOJ will use the Olympics to politicize the Ainu at the expense of other NJ (e.g. Zainichi  Koreans, immigrants).

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

That’s precisely the point, really.  If we’re the GOJ, we’ll turn a blind eye towards (if not actively promote) the cultural suppression and denial of domestic ethnic diversity.

Except when we’re on our best behavior because the eyes of the world are on us.  Then we’ll pay lip service to the ending of discrimination against one minority group.  Never mind the others.

And if anyone comes here during the Olympics and gets refused service somewhere?  Sorry, shikata ga nai.  We have no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.  Even though it’s closing in on twenty years since we promised to do so when signing the UN CERD in 1995.  Maybe if you give us the Olympics a few more times, we’ll promise to protect a few more minorities.

I assume the Maori researcher has a topic for her next research paper.  Arudou Debito

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

先住民族マオリ女性の入浴拒否 北海道・石狩管内の温泉、顔の入れ墨理由に(道新 09/12 06:25)

http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/donai/491172.html
ニュージーランドの先住民族マオリの言語指導者で、日高管内平取町で6日まで開かれたアイヌ語復興を目指す講習会の講師を務めた女性が、石狩管内の民間の温泉施設で顔の入れ墨を理由に入館を断られていたことが11日、分かった。講習会関係者は「入れ墨はマオリの尊厳の象徴であり、大変残念」としている。

女性はエラナ・ブレワートンさん(60)。講習会関係者ら約10人で8日、札幌市内でのアイヌ民族の行事を見学後、入浴と食事のため温泉施設に行った。その際、ブレワートンさんの唇とあごの入れ墨を見た温泉側が「入れ墨入館禁止」を理由に入館を断った。同行したアイヌ民族の関係者らが温泉側に「多様な文化を受け入れることが必要では」と再考を求めたが聞き入れられなかった。

同温泉は、入り口に「入れ墨入館禁止」の看板を設置。入れ墨がある人の入浴はすべて断っているという。ブレワートンさんは「深い悲しみを感じた」と落胆。温泉の支配人は「入れ墨にもいろいろな背景があることは理解するが、一般客はなかなか分からない。例外を認めると、これまでの信頼を裏切ることになる」と説明している。<北海道新聞9月12日朝刊掲載>

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

Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
September 11, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

SAPPORO — The national government’s panel to work on revitalizing Ainu culture has decided to complete the building of an Ainu-themed museum and memorial park around Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, by the summer of 2020, with a goal to promote Japan’s multiethnic culture during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, chairman of the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion, said, “The government aims to make the 2020 Olympics an opportunity for people overseas to learn about Ainu culture.” His comments came during a panel meeting on Sept. 11 to explain the plan to complete construction of the “Symbolic Place for Ethnic Harmony” as a national center for Ainu culture revitalization before the Games begin in Tokyo in July 2020.

The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony. It will conduct studies on Ainu history and culture while working on human resource development for the cultural preservation of the Ainu. The government also plans to bury bones of Ainu people at the site, which have been collected from their graves for research purposes by institutions including the University of Tokyo and Hokkaido University.

An expert panel on Ainu policy blueprinted the idea of building the memorial museum and park in 2009 as the 2008 Diet resolution concluded that the Ainu were an indigenous people of Japan.
ENDS

Original Japanese:

アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
毎日新聞 2013年09月11日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

政府の「アイヌ政策推進会議」(座長・菅義偉官房長官)が11日、札幌市であり、北海道白老(しらおい)町のポロト湖周辺に整備するアイヌ文化の復興拠点「民族共生の象徴となる空間」(象徴空間)を2020年度にオープンする工程表を決定した。

菅官房長官はあいさつで、東京五輪が開催される20年7月までに象徴空間を完成させる考えを示し、「(東京五輪を)海外の皆さんにアイヌのことを知っていただく機会にしたい」と述べた。

象徴空間はアイヌ差別の歴史に終止符を打ち、多民族共生社会の実現を目指す拠点。アイヌの歴史や文化の展示・調査研究、アイヌ文化の伝承と人材の育成などを行うほか、北海道大や東京大などが研究目的でアイヌ墓地から収集した遺骨を慰霊する。

「アイヌを先住民族とする」とした国会決議(08年6月)を受け、政府の「アイヌ政策のあり方に関する有識者懇談会」が09年に象徴空間構想を打ち出した。【千々部一好】
ENDS

 

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 67 Sept 10 2013 “If you’re jozu and you know it, hold your ground”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg
==================================
IF YOU’RE JOZU AND YOU KNOW IT, HOLD YOUR GROUND
JBC 67 for the Japan Times Community Page, September 10, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/09/issues/if-youre-jzu-and-you-know-it-hold-your-ground

It’s been a long, hot summer, so time for a lighter topic for JBC:

A non-Japanese (NJ) friend in Tokyo recently had an interesting experience while out drinking with coworkers. (For the record – and I only say this because how you look profoundly affects how you are treated in Japan – he is a youngish Caucasian-looking male.)

His Japanese literacy is high (which is why he was hired in the first place), but his speaking ability, thanks to watching anime in America from childhood, is even higher — so high, in fact, that his colleagues asked him whether he is part-Japanese!

That kinda harshed his buzz. He wondered how he should respond. Should he abide by Japanese manners and deferentially deny his jouzu-ness? Or accept the praise with a “thank you” and a smile?

I commented that he should not only say thank you and accept the accolades, but also claim the part-Japaneseness. Yes, lie about it.

Why? Because this simple-looking interaction involves several issues, such as social hierarchy, bad science and privacy. And if not handled well, this episode could end up eroding his standing within this group

First, hierarchy: Long-time readers of this column are by now aware that I see most social interactions in terms of power relationships.

Especially in Japan, where just about everything from politeness levels to porn is a matter of power. There is almost always some element of social stratification, e.g., by age, gender, educational level, kohai/senpai status etc. involved.

One’s social standing naturally affects expectations of how people should behave, and what manners one should adopt. But manners get really screwy if NJ are involved.

For example, consider the expectations behind international communication strategies. It’s pretty much axiomatic that NJ who don’t “look Japanese” can’t possibly speak Japanese. NJ must speak and be spoken to English!

Which means that if somebody has the courage to address an NJ (overcoming the group psychosis of English instruction in Japan; see “Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English,” JBC Sept. 8, 2010), he will often take it as a personal affront if the NJ defies expectations by clicking into Japanese.

Even if no umbrage is taken, the Japanese-speaking NJ is still treated as deviant. You see that in frequent microaggressive behavior like “hen na gaijin” snipes, or the occasional public figure candidly wishing that “gaijin” weren’t fluent (see “Newscaster regrets anti-foreigner quip”, Asahi Shinbun, Dec. 21, 2006).

That’s one issue. The second is the bad science. Do people seriously believe that having Japanese ancestry makes you better at Japanese?

Actually, many do. But that’s quite unscientific. Admittedly, growing up where people are speaking Japanese around you is helpful for learning what I call “Kitchen Japanese,” i.e., unaccented speech but limited literacy. However, not all people with Japanese blood grow up in a Japanese-language environment, so the connection remains tenuous.

In any case, bloodline doesn’t account for my NJ friend’s Japanese literacy, which rarely happens without structured and disciplined study. He accomplished it, hence the compliments. But the praise is still entangled within a “blood = ability” narrative.

Fact is, Japanese language is a skill, which means it can be learned by anyone able to learn a foreign language, regardless of bloodline or background.

Which leads us to the third issue: privacy. What business was it of my friend’s co-workers to ask about his background?

That’s why he should feel free to lie about it. After all, everyone else in Japan lies about things that are nobody’s business.

Consider the single young lady with the ring on her finger. Ask her where she got it and she’ll probably say she bought it for herself. Even if her kareshi gave it to her last night at the love hotel. Why? Because personal matters are kept private.

Lying is nothing controversial. I’ve talked before about how not telling the truth is a standard practice of adult life in Japan (see “The costly fallout of tatemae and Japan’s culture of deceit,” JBC Nov. 1, 2011).

But in this case, lying might actually do some good. By confounding expectations.

Confounding expectations erodes stereotypes. And an excellent way to do this (as comedians and satirists throughout the ages have done) is by poking fun through absurdity.

Naturally, there will be some resistance. Critics of this column essentially believe that Japanese society can never be satirized, i.e., using humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to criticize societal stupidity and folly. That’s what this column has done for years, engendering howls of “cultural insensitivity” etc.

They’re missing the point of irony and satire within social commentary. Since Japanese humor doesn’t have much sarcasm, avenues are limited for pointing out foibles. Fortunately, you can still be absurd and get your point across.

Let’s play this out. Consider what would happen if my visibly-Caucasian friend were to (falsely) claim Japanese lineage in this setting.

The dogmatists will be pleased to have their expectations confirmed – quite possibly bloodline is the only explanation they’ll accept.
The critical thinkers may pause and say to themselves, “Hang on, really?” And maybe, just maybe, a few will realize that the question is patently absurd, and that blood is irrelevant to learning skills.

But what if my friend instead went the route of humility and showed deferential manners? He’d lose. Because, again, Japanese manners are not applied equally to NJ.

For example, even if a Japanese says, either as a response or a disclaimer, “My language ability is no good,” it is usually taken as pro forma humility. People pretty much know “he’s just saying that” and don’t take it all that literally.

However, if a NJ does it, it reaffirms the narrative and expectation that NJ don’t speak Japanese.

But there are knock-on effects for NJ, especially if they have acted deferentially to their juniors: They’ve cut themselves off at the knees and taken themselves down a rung on the social hierarchy.

Never do that. As I’ve written before (“Toot your own horn – don’t let the modesty scam keep you down,” ZG Sept. 2, 2012), once you drop down a peg, the group is probably not going to give it back. Hierarchy is not only something you earn. It’s something you claim.

After all, most native speakers of Japanese cannot appreciate what non-natives have gone through to reach fluency. As I’ve said before, communicating in Japanese is not all that difficult. What’s difficult is communicating with Japanese people.

You have to get over the Catch-22: People not speaking to you in Japanese because it’s not good enough, yet it’s not getting good enough because people won’t speak to you in Japanese. All the power relations and ingrained prejudices accompanying just about every social interaction work both as a barrier and a subordinator for NJ.

So when complimented, say thank you. You’ve earned it, so own it. And if they ask you to play to their expectations, only do so in a way that is to your advantage. Because it’s only going to get more difficult as you get older, and all the young pups who have trouble accepting NJ as senpai will happily enforce stereotypes, and police you back into the Dumb Gaijin category. Then you will languish as a permanent subordinate, unrecognized for your herculean efforts.

Defy disempowering expectations, or ultimately it will be your expectations – of equal and respected treatment in Japan after all your investments and sacrifices – that are defeated.
ENDS

Yomiuri on “Points System” visa: “Too strict”, few takers, under review by Justice Ministry (which institutionally will never be able to fix it)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An attempted panacea to Japan’s lack of formal immigration policy floated many moons ago (and discussed here and here) was a “Points System” visa, here to bring “higher-skilled” workers (koudo jinzai).  I critiqued it for its probable failure in the Japan Times here.

The failure has officially happened.  Even the Justice Ministry admits below that the visa regime has attracted few people, and that, as Debito.org has reported before, is because its requirements are too strict.

But to me it’s no wonder it failed.  It’s not merely (as alluded below) an issue of criteria, but rather institutionalized treatment of immigrants.  We saw attitudes towards immigration last summer when ministries debated how immigrants should be treated, and cross-ministerial officials only weakly offered the same old hackneyed conclusions and lessons unlearned:  Privilege granted to Nikkei with the right bloodlines, more attention devoted to how to police NJ than how to make them into Japanese citizens (with their civil and human rights protected), insufficient concern given for assimilation and assistance once NJ come to Japan, and almost no consultation with the NJ who are already in Japan making a life as to what assistance they might need.

This is what happens when you put a people-handling policy solely in the hands of a policing agency (i.e., the Justice Ministry):  Those people being perpetually treated as potential criminals.  There is automatically less focus on what good these people will do and latent suspicion about what harm they might.  It doesn’t help when you also have an administrative regime trying to find any excuse possible to shorten visas and trip immigrants up to “reset the visa clock” for Permanent Residency, through minor administrative infractions (not to mention the fact that changing from your current visa to this “Points System” visa resets your “visa clock” once again).  It’s official ijiwaru, and without a separate ministry (i.e., an Imincho) specifically dedicated configuring immigration or integration into Japanese society, things will not be fixed.  Arudou Debito

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

Few foreigners tempted by points system
August 7, 2013. The Yomiuri Shimbun, courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000435956

A points-based preferential immigration system expected to attract 2,000 highly skilled foreign professionals to Japan annually accepted only 17 foreigners in its first 11 months, a dismal result that has prompted the government to review the criteria experts have blamed for the low number, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The system was adopted by the government last May to encourage skilled foreigners to take up residence in Japan and help boost Japanese economic growth. It gives these specialists privileges such as a shorter minimum-required period of stay for obtaining permanent residence.

Foreigners doing research at universities and other institutions, those with professional skills and corporate managers are eligible to use the system. They are given points in accordance with such criteria as academic credentials, professional and scholastic achievements and promised annual income.

For instance, a researcher with a doctorate who will work at an academic institution is awarded 30 points, while one with a master’s degree gets 20 points. Applicants who get at least 70 points in total are recognized as “highly skilled professionals” and can receive preferential immigration treatment including the right to acquire permanent residence within five years instead of the normal 10; permission for a spouse to work here; and permission to bring a parent to Japan to help look after the professional’s children.

However, only 17 foreigners were admitted to Japan under the point system between May 2012 and early April this year. This number rose to 434 when foreigners who were already in Japan and successfully applied for the system are added. The total includes 246 from China, 32 from the United States, 19 from India and 16 from South Korea.

In April and May, an expert panel at the Justice Ministry discussed reports that the current criteria were too strict.

One criticism was that the yearly income guideline was based on the salary of company workers, making it difficult for researchers at universities with lower yearly incomes to gain high points. Another was that only applicants with a yearly income of at least 10 million yen are allowed to have a parent accompany them to Japan.

After hearing these reports, the goverment began considering the easing of the criteria. Some possibilities include raising the points given for research papers submitted or patents obtained from the current ceiling of 15 points, shortening the minimum-required period of stay from five years to three for applying for permanent residence, and allowing foreigners on lower yearly incomes to bring an accompanying parent.

These issues will be worked out among the Justice, Foreign and Health, Labor and Welfare ministries, with the government planning to amend the system by year-end.

The government’s policy of increasing the number of foreigners to be admitted into Japan via the points system was specified in its growth strategy compiled in June.

“To help our country win in the global competition for excellent manpower, we’ll review the system and call on universities and companies to make better use of it,” said a senior official at the Justice Ministry, which is in charge of immigration control.

ENDS

Japan Focus: “Japan’s Democracy at Risk: LDP’s 10 Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change” by Lawrence Repeta (UPDATED with Aso’s Nazi admiration gaffe)

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Hello Blog.  Meiji University law professor Lawrence Repeta has written up an important article about the probable outcomes and motivations of the specific texts (and subtexts) behind the LDP’s proposed constitutional revisions.  A rough draft of this article appeared on Debito.org from a Repeta lecture last May; as his lecture notes don’t appear as of this writing to be loading properly, let me put this article up instead.  Again, frightening stuff, especially from a human-rights perspective.  And it looks to me like it may come true with PM Abe’s Upper House win last weekend.  Arudou Debito

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

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 28, No. 3, July 15, 2013.
Japan’s Democracy at Risk – The LDP’s Ten Most Dangerous Proposals for Constitutional Change
By Lawrence Repeta, courtesy lots of people

http://japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/3969
(excerpt)

This is a critical moment in Japan’s history. In parliamentary elections held on Sunday, July 21, the LDP gained thirty seats, giving the Party a total of 115 in the 242-seat Upper House. Following its sweeping victory in December 2012 Lower House elections, this means that together with its coalition partner Komeito, the Party holds secure majorities in both Houses of the Diet. Although the LDP does not control the two-thirds parliamentary majorities required to pass resolutions for constitutional change, it does control Japan’s political agenda. Abe and his followers are in a good position to continue their push to revise the constitution.

Under the present constitution, the Japanese people recovered from the unimaginable suffering of total war and have come to enjoy several generations of peace and prosperity. That constitution has acted as a powerful restraint on the nation’s rulers. It has never been amended. The constitution is the “supreme law” of the land. As we show below, the LDP seeks fundamental change that could have far-reaching effects.

[…]

1. Rejecting the universality of human rights

The LDP proposals start with a thorough rewriting of the Preamble. Several ringing declarations of democratic ideals would disappear: “We, the Japanese people….do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people…” Deleted. “Government is a sacred trust of the people….This is a universal principle of mankind….” Deleted. “…we have determined to preserve our security and existence, trusting in the justice and faith of the peace-loving peoples of the world…” Deleted.

In place of these ideals, the LDP Preamble would emphasize the strength of the Japanese nation, lauding the people’s pride in their country and their willingness to defend it. It would also express pragmatic goals such as a desire to “pursue friendly relations with all nations under a philosophy of peace” and to promote “education, science and technology.”

But, in contrast to the universal principles of the present constitution, the overriding theme of the LDP version is that Japan is different from other countries. Thus, the first sentence of the LDP Constitution would read: “Japan is a nation with a long history and unique culture, with a tennō [Emperor] who is a symbol of the unity of the people….” (Appendix One presents the full English texts of the present Preamble and the proposed LDP version.)

Regarding human rights, the LDP Q&A Pamphlet further explains,

…[r]ights are gradually formulated through the history, tradition and culture of each community. Therefore, we believe that the provisions concerning human rights should reflect the history, culture and tradition of Japan.3

This replacement of universal human rights principles with a unique system of rights based on Japan’s “history, culture and tradition” has profound implications for the people of Japan and for Japan’s relations with the world. Recognition of the universal nature of human rights is the fundamental principle that underlies the postwar global human rights regime. The first article of the UN charter proclaims that “promoting and encouraging respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all” is one of the UN’s primary purposes. One year after Japan’s Constitution took effect, the UN General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations….” and described its purpose as securing “their universal and effective recognition and observance….”4

The LDP program clearly rejects this global consensus on human rights. Japan has been an important supporter of the UN since it joined in 1956. Denial of the universal nature of human rights would not only have an impact on the Japanese people, but would also mark a major change in Japan’s foreign policy.

What elements of “history, culture and tradition” should provide the basis for human rights in Japan? The Q&A’s authors do not tell us directly, but several proposed changes in constitutional wording and statements in the Q&A pamphlet indicate a clear direction. We will examine some of these proposals below.

2. Elevating maintenance of “public order” over all individual rights

The LDP would revise key language of Article 12 of the Constitution to read that the people “shall be aware that duties and obligations accompany freedoms and rights and shall never violate the public interest and public order.…”

What are these “duties and obligations”? The LDP doesn’t say. Such open-ended language would serve as an invitation to zealous officials eager to identify duties and obligations that may limit or even override individual rights. The most disturbing aspect of this text, however, is that “freedoms and rights” would be subordinated to “public interest and public order.” “Freedoms and rights” are specified in the present text of the constitution, but the new expression “public interest and public order” is undefined. In their Q&A pamphlet, LDP authors explain,

“Public order” here is “social order” (shakai chitsujo); it means peaceful social life (heibon na shakai seikatsu). There is no question that individuals who assert human rights should not cause nuisances to others.5

So the LDP target appears to be individuals who “assert human rights” and thereby “cause nuisances to others.” Although the public order limitation would apply to all constitutional rights, we can expect that it would have an especially powerful chilling effect on speech rights and other forms of protest. Every public march or other political demonstration slows traffic and causes “nuisances” to others. Most democratic societies accept such inconveniences as a necessary cost of freedom, especially for protection of the right to speak out. Japan’s courts have shown little respect for such rights, however, repeatedly ruling in favor of police action to manage public demonstrations and otherwise restrict public speech.6…

Under the LDP plan, the hostile attitude of the police and the courts toward public demonstrations would gain an unshakable foundation in the constitution itself with express language declaring that an undefined (and therefore potentially limitless) “public interest and public order” would be superior to individual rights.

3. Eliminating free speech protection for activities “with the purpose of damaging the public interest or public order, or associating with others for such purposes”

Just in case a future court might overlook the change to Article 12, the LDP would also revise Article 21 of the Constitution, which presently makes the simple, powerful declaration that “Freedom of assembly and association as well as speech, press and all other forms of expression are guaranteed.”

The LDP proposal adds this proviso: “Notwithstanding the foregoing, engaging in activities with the purpose of damaging the public interest or public order, or associating with others for such purposes, shall not be recognized.”

This change not only strips free speech protection from activities that might have the purpose of damaging the “public order,” it would also remove protection from the right of association. So even if I did not go down to the demonstration on that fateful day, if am a member of some citizens group that did, I might be prosecuted, too.

4. Deleting the comprehensive guarantee of all constitutional rights

Widespread recognition of the primacy of human rights as a fundamental condition of civilized society is a relatively recent phenomenon. As noted above, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was not created until its drafters were driven by recent memories of the most destructive war in human history.

Article 97 of Japan’s Constitution delivers a stirring declaration of the heritage of these rights: “The fundamental human rights by this Constitution guaranteed to the people of Japan are fruits of the age-old struggle of man to be free; they have survived the many exacting tests for durability and are conferred upon this and future generations in trust, to be held for all time inviolate.”

The LDP proposes to simply delete these words. The Party provides no explanation for this in its Q&A pamphlet, so we can’t be entirely sure about its motivation…

– Full article at: http://japanfocus.org/-Lawrence-Repeta/3969

ENDS

Scholar Morris-Suzuki on the rebranding of PM Abe for foreign consumption, contrasted with his “reverse postwar political reforms” goals set out in his manifesto

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On the eve of an election that will only further empower this man, Scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki talks about the media machines to rebrand him as “not a nationalist”.  Hah.  And double hah after reading some actual scholarship on this man.  Read on and grit your teeth as election results come in.  Arudou Debito

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 28, No. 1, July 15, 2013.

The Re-Branding of Abe Nationalism: Global Perspectives

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

In 2010, the Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) launched a highly successful TV show called The Gruen Transfer. The title refers to the disorienting psychological effects produced on consumers by the architecture of shopping malls, whose dazzle and noise are deliberately designed to mesmerize: on entering, “our eyes glaze over, our jaws slacken… we forget what we came for and become impulse buyers”.The ABC’s Gruen Transfer explored the weird, wonderful and disorienting effects produced by the advertising industry. Its most popular element was a segment called “The Pitch”, in which representatives of two advertising agencies competed to sell the unsellable to the show’s audience – creating gloriously sleek videos to market bottled air, promote the virtues of banning religion, or advocate generous pay raises for politicians.

I have been reminded of The Gruen Transfer in recent months, as sections of the media in Japan, and even internationally, have gone into overdrive to sell an equally challenging message: the message that Japanese Prime Minister Abe Shinzo is not a nationalist.This particular pitch has been running for some time. It began with the inception of Abe’s first short-lived prime ministership in 2006, when Japanese Foreign Affairs Deputy Press Secretary Taniguchi Tomohiko devoted considerable energy to persuading a US audience that Abe was “almost the polar opposite” of a nationalist.The right-of-centre Sankei Newspaper took up the challenge with enthusiasm: its Washington correspondent, Komori Yoshihisa, published numerous articles, including an opinion piece in the New York Times, which aimed to refute the “nationalist” tag. Far from being a hawkish nationalist, Komori argued, Abe had “merely been shaped by democracy”, and his real aim was to bring Japan back from the “post-war extreme towards the center”.But these pronouncements had only limited impact on international opinion, and by early 2007 one prominent Japanese marketing consultant was lamenting, in the pages of the Yomiuri newspaper, that the government needed a far more effective foreign media strategy to rescue Abe from the “hawk” and “nationalist” labels.5

The issue has resurfaced with renewed vigor since the advent of the second Abe regime in December 2012. In May 2013, a US Congressional Research Service paper describing Abe as a “strong nationalist” evoked a surprisingly querulous response from pro-government media in Japan, and even from Prime Minister Abe himself. Abe hit back with a statement in parliament, expressing his unhappiness that “the ideas of our country” were being misunderstood by foreigners. He went on to call for measures to “actively collect and spread information so that we will be correctly understood”.6

[…]

Abe’s core goal, inherited from Kishi, clearly set out in Towards a Beautiful Country, and echoed in the manifestos of groups like the Shinto Association of Spiritual Leadership, is to “escape from the postwar regime”: that is, to reverse the political reforms introduced to Japan during the allied occupation. In his view, these reforms undermine Japan’s traditions, which are centred on the figure of the Emperor. What Abe’s nationalist vision means in practice is best understood by examining his party’s far-reaching proposals to rewrite the postwar Japanese constitution. The proposed changes include removing the reference to “respect for the individual” and making it constitutionally impossible for foreign permanent residents to be given national or local voting rights. Freedom of expression and freedom of association would not be protected where these “have the purpose of harming the public interest or public order”. The same formula would be used to limit the right of citizens to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The revised constitution prepared by the Liberal Democratic Party contains no guidelines as to how, and by whom, “public interest” and “public order” would be defined, leaving an alarmingly large loophole for the repression of civic freedoms by the state. A new article would also be added to the constitution to give the state sweeping powers to declare prolonged states of emergency, during which constitutional rights could be suspended.22 With the prospect of an LDP super-majority in parliament for the next two to three years, there is a strong likelihood that the ruling party will push forward with an attempt to carry out these changes: changes so profound that they should probably be described, not as plans for constitutional revision, but rather as plans for a new constitution.

This artwork appeared in an exhibition entitled “the Constitution and Peace” which opened in a public art space in Fukui Prefecture in May. The work consists of several sections of the current constitution written out in attractive calligraphy and coloured ink on Japanese paper. Soon after the exhibition opened, it was removed on the orders of the company which manages the art space for the local government on the grounds that “its political content might offend the feelings of some viewers”.

 

The current popularity of the Abe administration in no way reflects public enthusiasm for these grand political designs. It is, instead, a response to the government’s economic stimulus package, and to Abe’s skill in making optimistic statements, which convey a sense of leadership to a population weary of political uncertainty and economic malaise. In the end, the Abe government’s performance should and will be judged, not on any political labels, but on the impact that it has on Japanese society and on Japan’s relations with its region and the world. It is possible that Abe may yet choose to focus on the vital tasks of creating a basis for a strong Japanese economic future and improving relations with Japan’s neighbours, rather than pursuing the ideological agendas of anti-liberalism and “escape from the postwar regime”.

In the meanwhile, though, those who care about the future of Japanese society should not allow the dazzle of verbal juggling to induce a political version of the Gruen Transfer. The prime minister’s ideology may be re-branded for the global market, but the old adage remains: buyer beware.

– See full article at: http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3966

Tessa Morris-Suzuki is Professor of Japanese History in the Division of Pacific and Asian History, College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University, and a Japan Focus associate. Her most recent books are Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan’s Cold War, Borderline Japan: Foreigners and Frontier Controls in the Postwar Era and To the Diamond Mountains: A Hundred-Year Journey Through China and Korea.

ENDS

Anti-Korean Upper House candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki wants Japan closed to immigrants and rearmed with nukes (CORRECTED)

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Hello Blog. It’s election time again, and of course we get all sorts of weirdos coming out of the woodwork. In past campaigns we’ve had antiestablishment types (love this campaign video), and also xenophobic types (this one was a shocker back in 2011 — here’s his campaign video). But here’s one candidate this time around who targets Koreans in particular:

suzukinobuyukicampaignposterjuly2013

Suzuki Nobuyuki, a candiate for Tokyo in the Upper House for the far-right Restoration Party Shinpuu (New Winds, not to be (easily) confused with Ishihara’s Restoration party), calls for the end of relations with Korea, an end to immigration (imin), and even the barring of Koreans from entering Japan (how he’ll deal with the Zainichi already here is unclear from his slogans). Oh, and he also wants Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons (kakubusou) — now that’s even fodder for Japan’s increasingly isolationist future.

(UPDATE JULY 18:  It has been pointed out in the Comments Section below that the poster above of Suzuki was misunderstood, in that Suzuki is trying to use his bad-boy image of meddling with monuments overseas — so much so he’s been barred from entering South Korea — as an election campaign tactic.   Sorry for the error, and thanks for the corrections.  He makes his barring from South Korea the banner item on his newspaper blurb too.)

Here’s his newspaper blurb, courtesy of MS (click on image to expand in your browser):
SuzukiNobuyuki2013election

It has the typical right-wing tropes about a strong country with sufficient autonomy to defend itself from Chinese invasion, defending Japan’s honor by weeding out “masochistic” (jigyaku) history from education and reestablishing the family unit along traditional lines (no doubt meaning bringing back the Ie Seido), returning Japan to its status as the “world’s safest country” by bringing back the “world’s safest energy source,” nuclear power, and kicking out immigrants so they don’t take jobs away from Japanese (even though NJ were brought in as official policy during Japan’s labor shortage to do the dirty jobs Japanese don’t want in the 3K sector; oh, never mind — facts don’t matter to these people).

Nasty ideology seeing the light of day these days in Japan. Are there still people not becoming alarmed yet? The stuff coming out of the mainstream political parties involving constitutional revisions is even scarier.

Other election watchers seeing stuff that’s bothering them are welcome to contribute (don’t forget links. Here’s Shinpuu’s). Arudou Debito