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

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

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

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

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

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

NPAprelimcrimestats2011barchart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

crimeJandNJJapanTimesJuly2013

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

NPAJcrimestats19462007

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

First, check these out (courtesy of Welp):

gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

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

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

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

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

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

Back to something more professional.  Again, from Welp:

sonokouihanzaijune2013

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

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

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

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

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

hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

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

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

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

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

hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

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

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

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

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

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

KAJ and Debito.org on foreign crime and racial profiling in Japan: statistical hocus-pocus

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Hi Blog.  Sorry for the longish absence. I’ve been working on a big writing project, and I’m happy to say I got it ready on time and under budget.

A few days ago KAJ, the editor of MRbloggen, a Norwegian human rights blog, sent me a very insightful article on racial profiling and foreign crime reportage in Japan.  Let me excerpt:

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

Racial Profiling in Japan: Why do Japanese Fear Foreign Crimes?

<Posted by Kiki A. Japutra, Editor/Redaktør>

On 26 May 2013, a large mass demonstration demanding the eradication of foreign crimes and the expulsion of illegal immigrants was commenced in Tokyo. The demonstration ran for approximately two hours (between 11:00 – 13:00) starting from Shinjuku Park. In a statement calling for participation of the Japanese public, it was noted that “this demonstration is not a demonstration against foreign crime specific. It is a demonstration for the expulsion of all bad foreigners” [translated]. The procession of the demonstration can be viewed here. This is not the first time such mass distress against foreign crimes occured. So the question that should be asked is, is foreign crimes really a problem in Japan? What may have caused Japanese to fear foreign criminals?

Japan has been known for its media frenzy that focuses on the rising number of crimes committed by foreigners coming into the country. Some have argued that the phenomenon occurred due to the fact that the number of crimes committed by foreigners have been disproportionately higher than those committed by Japanese nationals. This has resulted in the stereotyping, criminalisation of certain nationalities, and countless acts of discrimination against non-Japanese nationals.

Photo: Lee Chapman (Tokyo Times)

The increase of crime reporting in the news media is argued to be one reason for the growth of public anxiety and the fear of crime, and the Japanese media plays a central role in creating the image of a “sick society”. Japan Today, for example, writes that:

[b]efore 1989, foreigners tended to be convicted at the rate of about 100 per year. But from the 1990s, the figure showed a marked rise and from 1997 onwards, posting consecutive year-on increases. By 2003, Japanese prisons held some 1,600 foreign inmates, making up roughly 5% of the total prison population. […] In 2010, foreigners were said to account for 3,786, or 4.4% of the total prison population. New arrivals that year included 195 Chinese nationals, followed in descending order (figures not shown) by Brazilians, Iranians, Koreans (both north and south) and Vietnamese.

Such a report in the news media is not uncommon in Japan. Some have argued that how the public reacts towards an incident is entirely shaped by their perspective and attitude towards a certain issue. In the case of Japan, the discrimination, and later criminalisation, of non-japanese nationals are influenced by the image incubated by the Japanese media about how foreigners are the cause of the constant raising of crime in Japan, and that certain nationalities are responsible for certain types of crimes. Such stereotyping of crime is also known as racial profiling.

How can we explain the hostility of the Japanese media towards foreign crime and foreigners in general? Mary Gibson explains in her book Born to Crime (2002) that “[a] succession of ‘Moral Panics’ offered opportunities for interest groups to shape criminal justice policy”. Citizens are more likely to support government’s means of social control (including laws and policies) if and when the government successfully soothes public’s anxieties and insecurities about crime. In other words, media acts as a tool to build public’s confidence in and support to the government.

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The rest of the article is at http://mrbloggen.com/2013/06/11/racial-profiling-in-japan-why-do-japanese-fear-foreign-crimes/, so have a look.

I have incorporated this information into my writing.  Have a read.  Arudou Debito

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Differentiated crime statistics in Japan for Kokumin and “Foreigners”

The NPA’s annual White Papers on crime illustrate how crime reportage in Japan is differentiated into “kokumin versus gaikokujin”, with no comparison between them in scope or scale:

NPAJcrime19462011

(Figure 1:  NPA kokumin crime statistics, 1946-2011, courtesy Ministry of Justice at http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/mokuji.html (accessed June 11, 2013). The left axis is the rate of incidents of crime, the right axis the number of people involved in cleared crimes. The top layer of blue vertical bars are all cleared cases of penal crimes including fatal or injurious traffic accidents. The center layer of yellow vertical bars are cleared cases of penal crimes including theft. The bottom layer of purple vertical bars are regular violations of the penal code excluding theft or traffic accidents. The top red line is the rate of all penal code violation incidents including traffic incidents. The second blue line is the rate of regular penal code violation incidents not including traffic incidents. The three bottom dotted lines are, from top layer bottom, numbers of perpetrators for all penal code violations (red), numbers of perpetrators for penal code violations not including traffic accidents (blue), and numbers of perpetrators for penal code violations not including traffic or theft.)

NPANJcrime19802009

(Figure 2:  NPA statistics for crimes by foreign nationals, 1980-2009, English original, courtesy Ministry of Justice at http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/en/59/nfm/n_59_2_3_1_2_1.html#fig_3_1_2_1 (accessed June 11, 2013). The terminology, according to the MOJ (http://hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_1_2_0_0_0.html): “Visiting foreign nationals” is a direct translation of rainichi gaikokujin, and refers to foreigners who are not “Other Foreign Nationals” (sono ta no gaikokujin) Permanent Residents, Zainichis, or American military on bases in Japan. After comparison with NPA charts below (cf. Figure 3), this chart does not include visa violations.)

Note the difference in scale. Comparing a base year of 2009 (H.21), there were a total of 30,569 total cleared cases of crime committed by all foreign nationals (blue plus red bars). For kokumin, corresponding thefts and regular penal offenses not including traffic violations (purple bar, on a scale of 万件) total to over 1.5 million cases, or a difference of about a factor of 49. If put on the same chart with the same scale, foreign crime numbers would thus be practically invisible compared to kokumin crime numbers.  However, the NPA has chosen to avoid this comparison, focusing instead on the rise and fall – mostly the purported rise – of foreign crime.

The effects and externalities of propagandizing “foreign crime”

Herbert (1995: 196-228) traces the arc of NPA White Papers after they introduced a new term into Japanese crime reportage from 1987: rainichi gaikokujin (“visiting foreign nationals”) indicating a new breed of “foreignness” in Japan (separate from Zainichi, American military and dependents within US bases in Japan, etc.) as a byproduct of Japan’s “internationalization” and foreign labor influx. Herbert notes that the tone, particularly in the NPA’s 1990 White Paper special on “rapid increase in foreign workers and the reaction of the police”, “functions to suggest that ‘illegal’ migrant laborers were involved” (197). This led to a “prompt media echo” and a “moral panic” (Gibson 2002) of a purported foreign crime wave that, in Herbert’s assessment, was “rash and thoughtless” (ibid). In a thorough recounting and analysis of media reaction, Herbert concludes that police reportage and media reaction successfully aroused suspicion and criminalization of non-citizens, where Japan as a nation was portrayed as “defenseless against international crime” (198). This also set a template for future NPA campaigns against “foreign crime” that would manipulate statistics, incur periodic moral panics in the media, and justify budgetary outlay for bureaucratic line-item projects (Herbert: 179).

By the 2000s, the NPA had normalized statistical manipulation to create perpetual “foreign crime rises”. As only a few examples: On May 1, 2000, the Sankei Shinbun cribbed from the NPA’s April periodic foreign crime report a front-page headline: “Foreign Crime Rises Again, Six-Fold in Ten Years;”[1] the small print was that this rise was in only one sector of crime, which had a comparatively small numbers of cases compared to cases committed by citizens. The NPA announced in their September 2002 periodic foreign crime report that the number of crimes committed by foreigners on temporary visas had jumped by 25.8% on the previous year, and serious crimes like murder, robbery, and arson likewise were up 18.2%. Despite rises in crime numbers committed by kokumin in the same time period (see chart above, H.10), the mass media headlined not only that foreign crime had increased, but also that foreigners are three times more likely than Japanese to commit crimes in groups.[2] Regarding latent foreign criminality, the NPA made the following argument within a 2010 news article: “The number of foreigners rounded up last year on suspicion of being involved in criminal activities was about 13,200, down roughly 40% from 2004 when the number peaked. ‘The extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics,’ the [NPA White Paper of 2010] says, attributing part of the reason to difficulties in solving crimes committed by foreigners—which are more likely to be carried out by multiple culprits than those committed by Japanese.”[3] In other words, even if “foreign crime” numbers are smaller than “Japanese crime” numbers, the NPA claims there must be a statistical understatement, because the latent “groupism” of “foreign crime” causes discrepancies when compared to “Japanese crime” (countering the stereotypical meme seen in Nihonjinron etc. of “Japanese groupism”).

Moreover, as seen in police notices, the NPA was claiming “rapid rises” (kyūzō) in foreign crime when foreign crime rates and numbers were concurrently decreasing. Even after “foreign crime” numbers eventually dropped below any reasonable NPA excuse of statistical discrepancies or pinpoint rises in types of crime, the NPA widened the scope of its sample to make it appear as though non-citizen crime had still risen. Compare the scale of its 2001 statistics (issued April 1, 2002) when non-citizen crime had plateaued, with 2012’s (Figures 3 and 4), when it had significantly dropped:

crimestats2001

(Figure 3: Crime statistics for “foreign crime” 1991-2001, chart from April 2002’s NPA semiannual report on “foreign crime.” The black portion of the bar chart is numbers of visa violations, the grey portion numbers of criminal violations, and the black line the total number of non-citizen perpetrators. Courtesy Arudou Debito, JAPANESE ONLY (2006).)

NPAprelimcrimestats2011barchart

(Figure 4: Crime statistics for “foreign crime” 1982-2011, chart from April 2012’s NPA semiannual report on “foreign crime”. The blue portion of the bar chart is numbers of visa violations, the yellow portion numbers of criminal violations, and the red line the total number of non-citizen perpetrators. Courtesy www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf.)

2011’s numbers have dropped below 1993’s numbers. So from 2007’s semiannual crime report the NPA shifted the scale back behind 1993 to show a rise compared to the past (similar to how Sankei Shinbun above depicted a six-fold rise in 2000, by comparing numbers to a decade earlier). There is no deflator to account for the fact that the non-citizen population was before 1990 less than half that of 2011.


[1]Gaikokujin hanzai futatabi zōka: 10 nen de 6 bai ni.” [Foreign crime goes up again: Six-fold in ten years] Sankei Shinbun, May 1, 2000.

[2] See inter alia Arudou Debito, “Generating the foreigner crime wave.” Japan Times October 4, 2002; Arudou Debito, “Time to Come Clean on Foreign Crime: Rising crime rate is a problem for Japan, but pinning blame on foreigners not the solution.” Japan Times October 7, 2003.

[3] “NPA says foreign crime groups increasingly targeting Japan.” Kyodo News, July 23, 2010.

ENDS

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

UPDATE JUNE 24, 2013:

Debito.org Reader DR sends us a link from the Shizuoka Prefectural Police website, where the url is, indicatively, entitled “gaijin hanzai”.  In this screen capture we see this cute little chart:

shizuokagaijinhanzaistatsjune2013

Not only is the chart hard to read (the undifferentiated bars are numbers of Gaijin committing crime, but you have to look at the bottom numbers to figure out that the green bar is visa violations (which Japanese cannot commit), and the light blue bar is for non-visa-related crimes.  Same with the yellow and red lines respectively for number of Gaijin crimes committed.  Note how since 2004 the number of NJ committing any kind of crime is on a downward trend, as are visa violations.  

But what gets rendered in red?  The jagged line to show rises.  Gotta keep that Gaijin scare on.

Shizuoka Kenkei, remember, is the organization that provided the general public with that racist prevention of Gaijin Crime manual back in 2000.

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 64 Jun 4, 2013: “By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column for your comments. Thanks to everyone who read it in print and online! Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times June 4, 2013, version with links to sources
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/06/04/issues/by-opening-up-the-debate-to-the-real-experts-hashimoto-did-history-a-favor

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has been busy making headlines around the world with his controversial views on Japan’s wartime sex slaves (or “comfort women,” for those who like euphemisms with their history). Among other things, he claimed there is no evidence that the Japanese government sponsored the program, and suggested these exploited women were (and still are) a “necessary” outlet for a military’s primal urges. (Sources here and here)

I will say something for this idiot’s provocative behavior: He brought this issue out for long-overdue public scrutiny. He has also presented us with a case study of how to keep people like him in check.

For a person in power, Hashimoto has behaved unusually candidly. Generally, after Japanese politicians or bureaucrats burp up ignorant, bigoted, sexist or offensively ahistorical comments, they backpedal by claiming they were somehow misunderstood (which Hashimoto did), or even try to excuse their remarks by saying they were “for a domestic audience only.” (They seem to think they live on an isolated debate Galapagos, and that the Japanese language is a secret code.)

Then Japan’s media plays along by ignoring or downplaying the events or, if pressed, lobbing the ideologues a few softball interview questions. Most reporters lack the independence (due to editorial constraints and incentives not to rock the powerful press club system) or the cojones to hold elites’ feet to the fire.

However, when their statements make the foreign media (particularly the BBC or New York Times) they get serious domestic traction, because now Japan’s international image — vis-a-vis countries Japan’s government actually cares about — is being tarnished.

In the bad old days, blunderers would then tentatively apologize and tender a snap resignation — without effecting any real change in how Japan’s elites “really think,” or sufficient debate on the issues they resuscitated. It feels like lopping off one of the heads of a hydra — you just know more noggins will pop up shortly.

Nowadays it’s worse, because the hydra often stays unlopped. Bona fide bigots (such as former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara; see JBC, Nov. 6, 2012: If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on) remain boldly unrepentant or tepidly sorry, hunker down at their posts and wait for the public to swallow the issue before the next media cycle begins.

The result is a toxic aftertaste regurgitated in the region: Japan seemingly rewrites a pretty awful colonial past, and former colonies see this free pass from historical purgatory as a product of Japan’s special political and military relationship with hegemon America. Asia’s acid reflux thus sours other international relationships.

This time, however, Hashimoto is doing something different: He’s actually cooking up an international debate. A marathon press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan last week exposed some juicy bones of contention.

Hashimoto reiterated his denial that the government was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women” but, more indicatively, he said: “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”

To paraphrase: Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong. Hashimoto is thus rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if blaming Japan is wrong because everyone else allegedly did it.

Essentially, revisionists such as Hashimoto want a bowdlerized assessment of history. But remember, every country has shameful periods in their past; the trick is to learn from them, not cover them up (as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, all the way down to a sanitized education curriculum).

They also want a dishonest tone in the narrative. For them, Japan must not only be seen accurately (as they see it); it must be seen nicely. That is simply not possible when addressing certain parts of Japan’s history.

Why are these people trying so hard to be relativistic? They might actually be so thick as to believe that any government would institutionalize sexual slavery in the “fog of war.” It’s more likely, however, that they simply don’t want their “beautiful country” to be the bad guy in their movie.

Fortunately Hashimoto’s posturing has exposed this ugly illogic. He has given people who know better (such as historians and eyewitnesses) the opportunity to correct and inform Japan’s revisionists on a national level.

To be sure, Hashimoto (a lawyer famous for taking extreme stances as a TV celebrity before his election to office) has never developed the “caution filter” that usually comes with public office, which is why he should return to private practice, where his semantic games would be limited to Japan’s petty courts.

But Hashimoto has also inadvertently shown us a way to blunt the rise of Japan’s incorrigible right wing: Reduce their rants to performance art.

As historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki sagely notes: “This is not politics by persuasion but politics by performance. The object of the current performance is obvious. It is to provoke impassioned counter-attacks, preferably from those who can be labeled left-wing and foreign — best of all from those who can be labeled Korean or Chinese nationalists. This will then allow Hashimoto to assume the ‘moral high ground’ as a martyred nationalist hero assailed by ‘anti-Japanese’ forces . . .

“This makes a careful and considered response to the Hashimoto phenomenon particularly important. Above all, this phenomenon should not be ‘nationalized.’ Hashimoto does not speak for Japan, and to condemn Japan because of his comments would only be to boost his demagogic appeal.

“The best reply from those who hope he never will speak for Japan is to allow his words to speak for themselves. Those outside Japan who are alarmed or offended by these words should seek out and lend support to the embattled peace, human rights and reconciliation groups in Japan which also seek a different future, so that their voices too may be heard at the national level.”

So, I encourage readers to understand what’s behind maintaining these narratives. Japan’s Hashimotos want to channel Japanese society’s innate cautiousness towards the outside world (JBC, Oct. 2, 2012: Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place) into domestic support for their xenophobic populism. When they make their venomous statements, take them up and calmly point out the illogic and inaccuracies therein — stress on the word “calmly.” Use their tactics against them.

It’s a bit ironic, but Japan needs more Hashimotos to make a hash of contentious issues. The clearer they spout stupid stuff, the clearer our corrections will be. And, with sufficient attention and pressure, the shorter their political lives will be.

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

ENDS

Discussion: Osaka Mayor Hashimoto and GOJ WWII Sexual Slavery System: A brave debate that is suddenly and disingenuously circumspect

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Posters on Debito.org have been champing at the bit to talk about Osaka Mayor Hashimoto’s controversial statements on the GOJ WWII sexual slavery program (which also involved NJ and colonial slaves, making this a Debito.org issue).  So let’s have at it as a Discussion in a separate blog entry.

Below are Hashimoto’s statements to foreign press shortly before he appeared at the FCCJ on May 27. While I am disinclined to comment on the historical specifics (as I haven’t studied the WWII Sexual Slavery aka Comfort Women Issue sufficiently to make informed statements), I will say this about what Hashimoto’s doing:  He’s bringing the issue to the fore for public scrutiny.

Bring this before public scrutiny in itself is a good thing.  Too many times we have had bigoted, racist, sexist, and plain ahistorical statements by Japan’s public officials downplayed by the media, resulting in predictable backpedaling and claiming that comments were “for a domestic audience only”.  This is typically followed by snap resignations without sufficient debate or correction (or, in recent years, people not resigning at all and just waiting for the next media cycle for things to blow over), undercarpet sweeping, and a renewed regional toxic aftertaste:  How Japan’s elite status in Asia under America’s hegemony allows it to remain historically unrepentant and a debate Galapagos in terms of historical accountability.  Japan’s media generally lacks the cojones to bring the xenophobic and bigoted to account for their statements (after all, Hashimoto to this day has not developed a filter for his role as public official; he still talks like the outspoken lawyer he was when appearing on Japanese TV as a pundit).  So having him show some unusual backbone before the foreign press is something more Japanese in positions of power should do.  Let’s have the debate warts and all, and let the historians debunk the ahistorical claims being made.  But the claims have to be made clearly in the first place before they can be debunked.

The bad thing going on here, in my view, is that Hashimoto is rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if “blaming Japan” is wrong because everyone allegedly did it.  In his words, “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”  That is:  Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong.

Hashimoto is also denying that the GOJ was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women”.  And that is wrong both morally and factually.  It is also wrong because working backwards from a conclusion of relativism.  People (especially those of Hashimoto, Abe, and Ishihara’s political bent) have the tendency to not want to view their “beautiful country” “negatively” as the bad guy in the movie.  Therefore their countrymen’s behavior must have been within context as part of the “normal”, because to them it is inconceivable that people could possibly have acted differently in the same circumstances.

But not only is this a dishonest assessment of history (EVERY country, yes, has a history that has shameful periods; the trick is not to cover them up, as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, down to Japan’s education curriculum), but it is also disingenuously circumspect:  For Hashimoto’s ilk, not only must Japan be seen ACCURATELY (as they see it), it must be seen NICELY.  That’s simply not possible for certain time periods in Japan’s history.

At least Hashimoto is willing to boldly present that side for people to shoot down.  Hopefully he will lose his political career because of it, for a man like this is unfit to hold political office.  But it is more “honest” than the alternative.

Hashimoto’s statements follow in English and Japanese, plus an AJW article on the FCCJ Q&A.  After that, let’s have some comments from Debito.org Readers.  But an advance word of warning:  Although this falls under Discussions (where I moderate comments less strictly), the sensitive and contentious nature of this subject warrants a few advance ground rules:  Comments will NOT be approved if a) they seek to justify sexual slavery or human trafficking in any form, b) they try to claim that Hashimoto was misquoted without comparing the misquote to his exact quote, or c) they claim historical inaccuracy without providing credible historical sources.  In sum, commenters who seek to justify Hashimoto’s ahistorical stances will have to do more homework to be heard on Debito.org.  Conversely, comments will more likely be approved if they a) stick to the accuracy or logic of Hashimoto’s statements, b) talk about the debate milieu within Japan regarding this topic, c) take up specific claims and address them with credible sources.  Go to it.  But make sure in the course of arguing that you don’t sound like Hashimoto and his ilk yourself.  Arudou Debito

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

Statement by Toru Hashimoto
Asahi Shimbun, Asia and Japan Watch, May 27, 2013, courtesy of JDG
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270012

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimioto issues a statement ahead of his press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

* * *

Ideals and values on which I stand:

Today, I want to start by talking about my basic ideals as a politician and my values as a human being.

Nothing is more regrettable than a series of media reports on my remarks with regard to the issue of so-called “comfort women.” These reports have created an image of me, both as a politician and as a human being, which is totally contrary to my real ideals and values. This has happened because only a portion of each of my remarks has been reported, cut off from the whole context.

I attach the utmost importance to the universal values of human rights, freedom, equality and democracy, whose universality human beings have come to accept in the twenty-first century. As a constitutionalist, I also believe that the essential purpose of a nation’s constitution is to bind government powers with the rule of law and to secure freedom and rights of the people. Without such legal limitations imposed by the constitution, the government powers could become arbitrary and harmful to the people.

My administrative actions, first as Governor of Osaka Prefecture and then as Mayor of Osaka City, have been based on these ideals and values. The views on political issues that I have expressed in my career so far, including my view of the Japanese constitution, testify to my commitment to the ideals and values. I am determined to continue to embody these ideals and values in my political actions and statements.

As my ideals and values clearly include respect for the dignity of women as an essential element of human rights, I find it extremely deplorable that news reports have continued to assume the contrary interpretation of my remarks and to depict me as holding women in contempt. Without doubt, I am committed to the dignity of women.

What I really meant by my remarks on so-called “comfort women”

I am totally in agreement that the use of “comfort women” by Japanese soldiers before and during the World War 2 was an inexcusable act that violated the dignity and human rights of the women in which large numbers of Korean and Japanese were included. I am totally aware that their great pain and deep hurt were beyond description.

I also strongly believe that Japan must reflect upon its past offenses with humility and express a heartfelt apology and regret to those women who suffered from the wartime atrocities as comfort women. Our nation must be determined to stop this kind of tragedy from occurring again.

I have never condoned the use of comfort women. I place the greatest importance on the dignity and human rights of women as an essential part of the universal values in today’s world. It is extremely regrettable that only the cut-off parts of my remarks have been reported worldwide and that these reports have resulted in misunderstood meanings of the remarks, which are utterly contrary to what I actually intended.

We must express our deep remorse at the violation of the human rights of these women by the Japanese soldiers in the past, and make our apology to the women. What I intended to convey in my remarks was that a not-insignificant number of other nations should also sincerely face the fact that their soldiers violated the human rights of women. It is not a fair attitude to blame only Japan, as if the violation of human rights of women by soldiers were a problem unique to the Japanese soldiers. This kind of attitude shelves the past offenses that are the very things we must face worldwide if we are truly to aim for a better world where the human rights of women are fully respected. Sexual violation in wartime was not an issue unique to the former Japanese army. The issue existed in the armed forces of the U.S.A., the UK, France, Germany and the former Soviet Union among others during World War 2. It also existed in the armed forces of the Republic of Korea during the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

Against this historical background, I stated that “the armed forces of nations in the world” seemed to have needed women “during the past wars”. Then it was wrongly reported that I myself thought it as necessary for armed forces to use women and that “I” tolerated it.

It is a hard historical fact that soldiers of some nations of the world have used women for sexual purposes in wars. From the viewpoint of respecting the human rights of women, it does not make much difference whether the suffering women are licensed or unlicensed prostitutes and whether or not the armed forces are organizationally involved in the violation of the dignity of the women. The use of women for sexual purposes itself is a violation of their dignity. It also goes without saying that rape of local citizens by soldiers in occupied territories and hot spots of military conflict are intolerable atrocities.

Please do not misunderstand, and think that I intend to relativize or justify the issue of comfort women for former Japanese soldiers. Such justification has never been my intention. Whatever soldiers of other nations did will not affect the fact that the violation of the dignity of women by the former Japanese soldiers was intolerable.

What I really meant in my remarks was that it would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world. It would suppress the truth that the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers not only existed in the past but also has yet to be eradicated in today’s world. Based on the premise that Japan must remorsefully face its past offenses and must never justify the offenses, I intended to argue that other nations in the world must not attempt to conclude the matter by blaming only Japan and by associating Japan alone with the simple phrase of “sex slaves” or “sex slavery.”

If only Japan is blamed, because of the widely held view that the state authority of Japan was intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women, I will have to inform you that this view is incorrect.

While expecting sensible nations to voice the issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, I believe that there is no reason for inhibiting Japanese people from doing the same. Because the Japanese people are in a position to face the deplorable past of the use of comfort women by the former Japanese soldiers, to express deep remorse and to state their apology, they are obliged to combat the existing issue of the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers, and to do so in partnership with all the nations which also have their past and/or present offenses.

Today, in the twenty-first century, the dignity and human rights of women have been established as a sacred part of the universal values that nations in the world share. It is one of the greatest achievements of progress made by human beings. In the real world, however, the violation of the dignity of women by soldiers has yet to be eradicated. I hope to aim for a future world where the human rights of women will be more respected. Nevertheless, we must face the past and present in order to talk about the future. Japan and other nations in the world must face the violation of the human rights of women by their soldiers. All the nations and peoples in the world should cooperate with one another, be determined to prevent themselves from committing similar offenses again, and engage themselves in protecting the dignity of women at risk in the world’s hot spots of military conflict and in building that future world where the human rights of women are respected.

Japan must face, and thoroughly reflect upon, its past offenses. Any justification of the offenses will not be tolerated. Based on this foundation, I expect other nations in the world to face the issue of the sexual violations in the past wars as their own issue. In April this year, the G8 Foreign Ministers in London agreed upon the “Declaration on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.” Based on this accomplishment, I expect that the G8 Summit to be held in this June in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the UK, will become an important occasion where the leaders of G8 will examine how soldiers from nations in the world, including the former Japanese soldiers, have used women for sexual purposes, face and reflect upon the past offenses with humility, solve today’s problems in partnership with one another, and aim for the ideal future.

With regard to my remark in the discussion with the U.S. commander in Okinawa

There was a news report that, while visiting a U.S. military base in Okinawa, I recommended to the U.S. commander there that he make use of the adult entertainment industry to prevent U.S. soldiers from committing sexual crimes. That was not what I meant. My real intention was to prevent a mere handful of U.S. soldiers from committing crimes and strengthen the Japan-U.S. Alliance and the relations of trust between the two nations. In attempting to act on my strong commitment to solving the problem in Okinawa stemming from crimes committed by a minority of U.S. soldiers, I made an inappropriate remark. I will elaborate my real intention as follows.

For the national security of Japan, the Japan-U.S. Alliance is the most important asset, and I am truly grateful to contributions made by the United States Forces Japan.

However, in Okinawa, where many U.S. military bases are located, a small number of U.S. soldiers have repeatedly committed serious crimes, including sexual crimes, against Japanese women and children. Every time a crime has occurred, the U.S. Forces have advocated maintaining and tightening official discipline and have promised to the Japanese people that they would take measures to stop such crimes from occurring again. Nevertheless, these crimes have not stopped. The same pattern has been repeating itself.

I emphasize the importance of the Japan-U.S. Alliance and greatly appreciate the U.S. Forces’ contribution to Japan. Nonetheless, the anger of the Okinawan people, whose human rights have continued to be violated, has reached its boiling point. I have a strong wish to request that the U.S.A. face the present situation of Okinawa’s suffering from crimes committed by U.S. soldiers, and take necessary measures to alleviate the problem.

It is a big issue that incidents of sexual violence have frequently happened without effective control within the U.S. military forces worldwide. It has been reported that President Obama has shown a good deal of concern over the forces’ frequent reports of military misconduct and has instructed the commanders to thoroughly tighten their official discipline, as measures taken so far have had no immediate effect.

With all the above-mentioned situations, I felt a strong sense of crisis and said to the U.S. commander that the use of “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan” should be considered as one of all the possible measures. Even if there is no measure with an immediate effect, the current state of Okinawa should not be neglected. From my strong sense of crisis, I strongly hope that the U.S. army will use all possible measures to bring a heartless minority of soldiers under control. When expressing this strong hope, I used the phrase “the legally accepted adult entertainment industry in Japan.” When this phrase was translated into English, it led to the false report that I recommended prostitution–which is illegal under Japanese law. Furthermore, my remark was misunderstood to mean that something legally acceptable is also morally acceptable. Although the adult entertainment industry is legally accepted, it can insult the dignity of women. In that case, of course, some measures should be taken to prevent such insults.

However, I understand that my remark could be construed as an insult to the U.S. Forces and to the American people, and therefore was inappropriate. I retract this remark and express an apology. In conclusion, I retract my inappropriate remarks to the U.S. Army and the American people and sincerely apologize to them. I wish that my apologies to them will be accepted and that Japan and the United States of America continue to consolidate their relationship of alliance in full trust.

My real intention was to further enhance the security relationship between Japan and the United States, which most U.S. soldiers’ sincere hard work has consolidated, and to humbly and respectfully ask the U.S. Forces to prevent crimes committed by a mere handful of U.S. soldiers. My strong sense of crisis led to the use of this inappropriate expression.

In the area of human rights, the U.S.A. is one of the most conscientious nations. Human rights are among those values accepted throughout the world as universal. In order for human rights of the Okinawan people to be respected in the same way as those of American people are respected, I sincerely hope that the U.S. Forces will start taking effective measures in earnest to stop crimes in Okinawa from continuing.

About the Japan-Korea Relationship

The Japan-Korea relationship has recently gone through some difficult times. Underlying the difficulty are the issue of comfort women and the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands. Ideally, Japan and South Korea should be important partners in East Asia, as they share the same values of freedom, democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. I believe that a closer relationship based on greater trust between Japan and South Korea would contribute to the stability and prosperity of not only East Asia but also the world.

One of the points of tension is that concerning wartime comfort women. Some former comfort women in Korea are currently demanding state compensation from the Japanese government.

However, the Treaty on Basic Relations between Japan and the Republic of Korea and the Agreement on the Settlement of Problems Concerning Property and Claims and on Economic Co-operation between Japan and the Republic of Korea, both signed in 1965, have officially and decisively resolved any issues of claims arising from the war, including the right of individual persons to claim compensation. Japan has also performed its moral responsibility with the establishment of the Asian Women’s Fund, and it paid atonement money to former comfort women even after the resolution of the legal contention with the treaties.

The international community has welcomed the Asian Women’s Fund. A report to the Human Rights Committee of the United Nations welcomed Japan’s moral responsibility project of the Asian Women’s Fund. Mary Robinson, the second United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, gave the Fund a favorable evaluation. Unfortunately, however, some former comfort women have refused to accept the atonement money from the Asian Women’s Fund.

Japan has given significant importance to the Treaty on Basic Relations and the Agreement on the Settlement, both of which made final resolution of any legal contention in 1965, and Japan also sincerely faces, reflects on, and apologizes for its own wartime wrongdoings with feelings of deep remorse.

The whole situation poses a rending dilemma for us: how to make such a compensation that former comfort women would accept as our sincere remorse and apology, while also maintaining the integrity of the legal bilateral agreements between Japan and Korea.

The Korean government has recently claimed that interpretive disputes over the individual right of compensation for former comfort women in the Agreement on the Settlement still remain. I hope that the Republic of Korea, as a state governed by the rule of law, recognizes the legal importance of the above-mentioned agreements. If the Republic of Korea still believes that there exist interpretive contentions in the agreements, I think that only the International Court of Justice can resolve them.

One can hope that the same legal/rule-of-law stance is also observed in the resolution of the territorial dispute over the Takeshima Islands.

I firmly believe that neither hatred nor anger can resolve the problems between Japan and Korea. I firmly believe in the importance of legal solution at the International Court of Justice, which arena would allow both sides to maintain rational and legal argument while both maintain both respect for each other and deep sympathy to former comfort women.

I wish to express sincerely my willingness to devote myself to the true improvement of the Japan-Korea relationship through the rule of law.

================================
Japanese version:
橋下徹氏:「私の認識と見解」 日本語版全文
毎日新聞 2013年05月26日
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130526mog00m010012000c.html

2013年5月27日

橋下徹

■私の拠(よ)って立つ理念と価値観について

まず、私の政治家としての基本的な理念、そして一人の人間としての価値観について、お話ししたいと思います。

いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する私の発言をめぐってなされた一連の報道において、発言の一部が文脈から切り離され、断片のみが伝えられることによって、本来の私の理念や価値観とは正反対の人物像・政治家像が流布してしまっていることが、この上なく残念です。

私は、21世紀の人類が到達した普遍的価値、すなわち、基本的人権、自由と平等、民主主義の理念を最も重視しています。また、憲法の本質は、恣意(しい)に流れがちな国家権力を拘束する法の支配によって、国民の自由と権利を保障することに眼目があると考えており、極めてオーソドックスな立憲主義の立場を採(と)る者です。

大阪府知事及び大阪市長としての行政の実績は、こうした理念と価値観に支えられています。また、私の政治活動に伴って憲法をはじめとする様々(さまざま)なイシューについて公にしてきた私の見解を確認いただければ、今私の申し上げていることを裏付けるものであることをご理解いただけると信じております。今後も、政治家としての行動と発言を通じて、以上のような理念と価値観を体現し続けていくつもりです。

こうした私の思想信条において、女性の尊厳は、基本的人権において欠くべからざる要素であり、これについて私の本意とは正反対の受け止め方、すなわち女性蔑視である等の報道が続いたことは、痛恨の極みであります。私は、疑問の余地なく、女性の尊厳を大切にしています。

■いわゆる「慰安婦」問題に関する発言について

以上の私の理念に照らせば、第二次世界大戦前から大戦中にかけて、日本兵が「慰安婦」を利用したことは、女性の尊厳と人権を蹂躙(じゅうりん)する、決して許されないものであることはいうまでもありません。かつての日本兵が利用した慰安婦には、韓国・朝鮮の方々のみならず、多くの日本人も含まれていました。慰安婦の方々が被った苦痛、そして深く傷つけられた慰安婦の方々のお気持ちは、筆舌につくしがたいものであることを私は認識しております。

日本は過去の過ちを真摯(しんし)に反省し、慰安婦の方々には誠実な謝罪とお詫(わ)びを行うとともに、未来においてこのような悲劇を二度と繰り返さない決意をしなければなりません。

私は、女性の尊厳と人権を今日の世界の普遍的価値の一つとして重視しており、慰安婦の利用を容認したことはこれまで一度もありません。私の発言の一部が切り取られ、私の真意と正反対の意味を持った発言とする報道が世界中を駆け巡ったことは、極めて遺憾です。以下に、私の真意を改めて説明いたします。

かつて日本兵が女性の人権を蹂躙したことについては痛切に反省し、慰安婦の方々には謝罪しなければなりません。同様に、日本以外の少なからぬ国々の兵士も女性の人権を蹂躙した事実について、各国もまた真摯に向き合わなければならないと訴えたかったのです。あたかも日本だけに特有の問題であったかのように日本だけを非難し、日本以外の国々の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について口を閉ざすのはフェアな態度ではありませんし、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざすために世界が直視しなければならない過去の過ちを葬り去ることになります。戦場の性の問題は、旧日本軍だけが抱えた問題ではありません。第二次世界大戦中のアメリカ軍、イギリス軍、フランス軍、ドイツ軍、旧ソ連軍その他の軍においても、そして朝鮮戦争やベトナム戦争における韓国軍においても、この問題は存在しました。

このような歴史的文脈において、「戦時においては」「世界各国の軍が」女性を必要としていたのではないかと発言したところ、「私自身が」必要と考える、「私が」容認していると誤報されてしまいました。

戦場において、世界各国の兵士が女性を性の対象として利用してきたことは厳然たる歴史的事実です。女性の人権を尊重する視点では公娼(こうしょう)、私娼(ししょう)、軍の関与の有無は関係ありません。性の対象として女性を利用する行為そのものが女性の尊厳を蹂躙する行為です。また、占領地や紛争地域における兵士による市民に対する強姦(ごうかん)が許されざる蛮行であることは言うまでもありません。

誤解しないで頂きたいのは、旧日本兵の慰安婦問題を相対化しようとか、ましてや正当化しようという意図は毛頭ありません。他国の兵士がどうであろうとも、旧日本兵による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が決して許されるものではないことに変わりありません。

私の発言の真意は、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題が旧日本軍のみに特有の問題であったかのように世界で報じられ、それが世界の常識と化すことによって、過去の歴史のみならず今日においても根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題の真実に光が当たらないことは、日本のみならず世界にとってプラスにならない、という一点であります。私が言いたかったことは、日本は自らの過去の過ちを直視し、決して正当化してはならないことを大前提としつつ、世界各国もsex slaves、sex slaveryというレッテルを貼って日本だけを非難することで終わってはならないということです。

もし、日本だけが非難される理由が、戦時中、国家の意思として女性を拉致した、国家の意思として女性を売買したということにあるのであれば、それは事実と異なります。

過去、そして現在の兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙について、良識ある諸国民の中から声が挙がることを期待するものでありますが、日本人が声を挙げてはいけない理由はないと思います。日本人は、旧日本兵が慰安婦を利用したことを直視し、真摯に反省、謝罪すべき立場にあるがゆえに、今日も根絶されていない兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙の問題に立ち向かう責務があり、同じ問題を抱える諸国民と共により良い未来に向かわなければなりません。

21世紀の今日、女性の尊厳と人権は、世界各国が共有する普遍的価値の一つとして、確固たる位置を得るに至っています。これは、人類が達成した大きな進歩であります。しかし、現実の世界において、兵士による女性の尊厳の蹂躙が根絶されたわけではありません。私は、未来に向けて、女性の人権を尊重する世界をめざしていきたい。しかし、未来を語るには、過去そして現在を直視しなければなりません。日本を含む世界各国は、過去の戦地において自国兵士が行った女性に対する人権蹂躙行為を直視し、世界の諸国と諸国民が共に手を携え、二度と同じ過ちを繰り返さぬよう決意するとともに、今日の世界各地の紛争地域において危機に瀕(ひん)する女性の尊厳を守るために取り組み、未来に向けて女性の人権が尊重される世界を作っていくべきだと考えます。

日本は過去の過ちを直視し、徹底して反省しなければなりません。正当化は許されません。それを大前提とした上で、世界各国も、戦場の性の問題について、自らの問題として過去を直視してもらいたいのです。本年4月にはロンドンにおいてG8外相会合が「紛争下の性的暴力防止に関する閣僚宣言」に合意しました。この成果を基盤として、6月に英国北アイルランドのロック・アーンで開催予定のG8サミットが、旧日本兵を含む世界各国の兵士が性の対象として女性をどのように利用していたのかを検証し、過去の過ちを直視し反省するとともに、理想の未来をめざして、今日の問題解決に協働して取り組む場となることを期待します。

■在日アメリカ軍司令官に対する発言について

また、沖縄にある在日アメリカ軍基地を訪問した際、司令官に対し、在日アメリカ軍兵士の性犯罪を抑止するために風俗営業の利用を進言したという報道もありました。これは私の真意ではありません。私の真意は、一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪を抑止し、より強固な日米同盟と日米の信頼関係を築くことです。一部の在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の問題を解決したいとの思いが強すぎて、誤解を招く不適切な発言をしてしまいましたが、私の真意を、以下に説明いたします。

日本の安全保障にとって、米国との同盟関係は最も重要な基盤であり、在日アメリカ軍の多大な貢献には、本当に感謝しています。

しかしながら、多くの在日アメリカ軍基地がある沖縄では、一部の心無いアメリカ軍兵士によって、日本人の女性や子どもに対する性犯罪など重大な犯罪が繰り返されています。こうした事件が起きる度に、在日アメリカ軍では、規律の保持と綱紀粛正が叫ばれ、再発防止策をとることを日本国民に誓いますが、在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪は絶えることがありません。同じことの繰り返しです。

私は、日本の外交において日米同盟を重視し、在日アメリカ軍の日本への貢献を大いに評価しています。しかし、人権を蹂躙され続ける沖縄県民の怒りは沸点に達しているのです。在日アメリカ軍兵士による犯罪被害に苦しむ沖縄の現状をアメリカに訴え、何としてでも改善してもらいたい、という強い思いを持っております。

アメリカ軍内部において性暴力が多発し、その統制がとれていないことが最近、アメリカで話題となっています。オバマ大統領もアメリカ軍の自己統制の弱さに相当な危機感を抱き、すぐに効果の出る策はないとしつつ、アメリカ軍に綱紀粛正を徹底するよう指示したとの報道がありました。

このような状況において、私は強い危機感から、在日アメリカ軍司令官に対して、あらゆる対応策の一つとして、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」を利用するということも考えるべきではないかと発言しました。すぐに効果の出る策はないとしても、それでも沖縄の現状を放置するわけにはいきません。私の強い危機感から、ありとあらゆる手段を使ってでも、一部の心無い在日アメリカ軍兵士をしっかりとコントロールして欲しい、そのような強い思いを述べる際、「日本で法律上認められている風俗営業」という言葉を使ってしまいました。この表現が翻訳されて、日本の法律で認められていない売春・買春を勧めたとの誤報につながりました。さらに合法であれば道徳的には問題がないというようにも誤解をされました。合法であっても、女性の尊厳を貶(おとし)める可能性もあり、その点については予防しなければならないことはもちろんのことです。

今回の私の発言は、アメリカ軍のみならずアメリカ国民を侮辱することにも繋(つな)がる不適切な表現でしたので、この表現は撤回するとともにお詫び申し上げます。この謝罪をアメリカ軍とアメリカ国民の皆様が受け入れて下さいます事、そして日本とアメリカが今後とも強い信頼関係を築いていけることを願います。

私の真意は、多くの在日アメリカ軍兵士は一生懸命誠実に職務を遂行してくれていますが、一部の心無い兵士の犯罪によって、日米の信頼関係が崩れることのないよう、在日アメリカ軍の綱紀粛正を徹底してもらいたい、という点にあります。その思いが強すぎて、不適切な表現を使ってしまいました。

アメリカは、世界で最も人権意識の高い国の一つです。そして、人権は世界普遍の価値です。アメリカ国民の人権と同じように、沖縄県民の基本的人権が尊重されるよう、アメリカ軍が本気になって沖縄での犯罪抑止のための実効性ある取り組みを開始することを切に望みます。

■日韓関係について

日本と韓国の関係は現在厳しい状況にあると言われています。その根底には、慰安婦問題と竹島をめぐる領土問題があります。

日本と韓国は、自由、民主主義、人権、法の支配などの価値観を共有する隣国として、重要なパートナー関係にあります。日韓の緊密な関係は、東アジアの安定と繁栄のためだけでなく、世界の安定と繁栄のためにも寄与するものと信じています。

現在、元慰安婦の一部の方は、日本政府に対して、国家補償を求めています。

しかし、1965年の日韓基本条約と「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」において、日本と韓国の間の法的な請求権(個人的請求権も含めて)の問題は完全かつ最終的に解決されました。

日本は、韓国との間の法的請求権問題が最終解決した後においても、元慰安婦の方々へ責任を果たすために、国民からの寄付を募り1995年に「女性のためのアジア平和国民基金(略称アジア女性基金)」を設立し、元慰安婦の方々に償い金をお渡ししました。

このアジア女性基金を通じた日本の責任を果たす行為は、国際社会でも評価を受けております。国連人権委員会へ提出されたレポートもアジア女性基金を通じての日本の道義的責任を歓迎しています。また国連人権高等弁務官であったメアリーロビンソンさんも基金を評価しています。

しかし、残念ながら、元慰安婦の一部の方は、このアジア女性基金による償い金の受領を拒んでおります。

日本は過去の過ちを直視し、反省とお詫びをしつつも、1965年に請求権問題を最終解決した日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定も重視しております。

日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定を前提としつつ、元慰安婦の方々の心に響く償いをするにはどのようにすればいいのかは大変難しい問題です。韓国政府は最近、日韓基本条約とともに締結された「日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定」における元慰安婦の日本政府への請求権の存否の解釈が未解決だと主張しております。韓国も法の支配を重んじる国でしょうから、日韓基本条約と日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定という国際ルールの重さを十分に認識して頂いて、それでも納得できないというのであれば、韓国政府自身が日韓請求権並びに経済協力協定の解釈について国際司法裁判所等に訴え出るしかないのではないでしょうか? その際には、竹島をめぐる領土問題も含めて、法の支配に基づき、国際司法裁判所等での解決を望みます。

私は、憎しみと怒りをぶつけ合うだけでは何も解決することはできないと思います。元慰安婦の方の苦しみを理解しつつ、日韓お互いに尊敬と敬意の念を持ちながら、法に基づいた冷静な議論を踏まえ、国際司法裁判所等の法に基づいた解決に委ねるしかないと考えております。

法の支配によって、真に日韓関係が改善されるよう、私も微力を尽くしていきたいと思います。
ENDS

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

Hashimoto explains remarks in Q&A session at Tokyo news conference
Hashimoto denies ‘will of state’ in comfort women system
May 27, 2013
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201305270124

AJW
Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto on May 27 explained his views on “comfort women” and other issues during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. Excerpts from the question and answer session follow:

***

Question: Are you trying to suggest that other nations were also somehow involved in the managing of wartime brothels like the Japanese military?

Hashimoto: I have absolutely no intention of justifying the wrongs committed by Japan in the past. We have to always carry within our hearts the terrible suffering experienced by the comfort women.

We should also put an end to unreasonable debate on this issue.

Japan should not take the position of trying to avoid its responsibility. That is what causes the greatest anger among the South Korean people.

I want to bring up the issue of sex in the battlefield. I don’t think that the nations of the world have faced their pasts squarely. That obviously includes Japan.

Unless we squarely face the past, we will not be able to talk about the future. Sex in the battlefield has been a taboo subject that has not been discussed openly.

Japan was wrong to use comfort women. But does that mean that it is alright to use private-sector businesses for such services?

Because of the influence of Puritanism, the United States and Britain did not allow the respective governments and militaries to become involved in such facilities. However, it is a historical fact that those two nations used local women for sexual services.

When the United States occupied Japan, the U.S. military used the facilities established by the Japanese government. This is also a historical fact backed by actual evidence.

What I want to say is that it does not matter if the military was involved or if the facilities were operated by the private sector.

There is no doubt that the Japanese military was involved in the comfort stations. There are various reasons, but this is an issue that should be left up to historians.

What occurred in those facilities was very tragic and unfortunate, regardless of whether the military was involved in the facilities or they were operated by private businesses.

Germany had similar facilities as those used by Japan where comfort women worked. Evidence has also emerged that South Korea also had such facilities during the Korean War.

The world is trying to put a lid on all of these facts.

It might be necessary to criticize Japan, but the matter should not be left at that. Today, the rights of women continue to be violated in areas of military conflict. The issue of sex in the battlefield continues to be a taboo.

It is now time to begin discussing this issue.

I have no intention of saying that because the world did it, it was alright for Japan.

Japan did commit wrong, but I hope other nations will also face their pasts squarely.

The past has to be faced squarely in order to protect the rights of women in conflict areas as well as prevent the violation of the rights of women by a handful of heartless soldiers.

Q: Do you feel there is a need to revise or retract the Kono statement on comfort women since there is wording that “the then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women,” which indicates trafficking was involved?

A: I have absolutely no intention of denying the Kono statement. I feel that what is written in the statement is generally based on fact.

However, it is ambiguous about a core issue.

You brought up the issue of military involvement in the transport of women. Historical evidence shows that private businesses used military ships to transport the women. Most of the employers at the comfort stations were private businesses. There was military involvement in the form of health checks to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Because a war was going on, military vehicles were used in the transport of the women.

The argument of many Japanese historians is that there is no evidence to show that the will of the state was used to systematically abduct or traffic the women. A 2007 government statement, approved by the Cabinet, also concluded there was no evidence to show the will of the state was used for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women.

The Kono statement avoided taking a stance on the issue that was of the greatest interest of South Koreans. This is the primary reason relations between the two nations have not improved.

The Kono statement should be made clearer.

Historians of the two nations should work together to clarify the details on this point.

The South Korean argument is that Japan used the will of the state for the systematic abduction and trafficking of the women, while the Japanese position is that there is no evidence for such an argument. This point has to be clarified.

Separately from what I just said, there is no doubt that an apology has to be made to the comfort women.

The core argument that the will of state was used for the systematic abducting and trafficking of women is likely behind the criticism from around the world that the Japanese system was unique.

It was wrong for Japanese soldiers to use comfort women in the past. However, facts have to be clarified as facts. If arguments different from the truth are being spread around the world, then we have to point out the error of those arguments.

Q: Do you agree with the argument by Shintaro Ishihara (co-leader of the Japan Restoration Party) that Japan should not have to apologize for the war because it was forced to fight by the economic sanctions and other measures imposed by the United States?

A: Politicians have discussed whether there was military aggression on the part of Japan or colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula. This is an issue that should be discussed by historians.

Politicians who represent the nation must acknowledge the military aggression and the unforgivable colonial domination of the Korean Peninsula.

Denying those aspects will never convince the victorious nations in the war because of the terrible loss of life that was involved in achieving that end.

Politicians who represent the nation have to acknowledge the responsibility for the nation’s actions during World War II. They have to also reflect on and apologize to neighboring nations for causing terrible damage.

Ishihara does have a different view of the past.

That is likely a generational difference between those who lived through the war and those of my generation who were born after the war. This is a very difficult issue for nations defeated in the war.

Those who lived through the war believed that what their government was doing was the right thing.

The vast majority of Japanese acknowledge the military aggression and colonial domination of the war. However, it is very difficult to have all 120 million Japanese agree on this point since Japan is a democracy.

Politicians of my generation should not stir up questions of Japan’s responsibility in the war. The duty of politicians of my generation should not be to justify what happened in the war, but work toward creating a better future. Politicians of my generation should face the past squarely and use their political energy for the future.

However, that does not mean that we have to remain silent about any wrong understanding of the facts of the war just because Japan was a defeated nation.

Q: Is it your view that what the Japanese military of that time was involved in does not constitute human trafficking in light of the international understanding that any involvement by any individual or organization in any part of the process is defined as human trafficking? Separately, is it your view that the testimony given by women who were forcibly taken by the Japanese military is not credible?

A: I am not denying Japan’s responsibility. Under current international value standards, it is clear that the use of women by the military is not condoned. So, Japan must reflect on that past.

I am not arguing about responsibility, but about historical facts.

I feel the most important aspect of the human trafficking issue is whether there was the will of the state involved. Women were deceived about what kind of work they would do. The poverty situation at that time meant some women had to work there because of the debt they had to shoulder.

However, such things also occurred at private businesses.

I think similar human trafficking occurred at the private businesses that were used by the U.S. and British militaries.

Japan did do something wrong, but human trafficking also occurred at such private businesses.

I feel the human trafficking that occurred at both places was wrong.

I want the world to also focus on that issue that involves other nations.

I am aware that comfort women have given their accounts of what happened. However, there is also historical debate over the credibility of those accounts.

Q: If the government was aware of what was happening at the comfort stations and did nothing, isn’t that a form of government and military involvement; and who should bear responsibility for that?

A: Under the present value system, the state must stop human trafficking.

In that sense, Japan cannot evade responsibility by any means.

We must think now of what the government should do when confronted by such a situation.

***
ENDS

Good news: GOJ signs Hague Child Abductions Treaty. Bad news: GOJ will probably caveat its way out of ever following it

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I have some good news to report.  After years of pressure on the GOJ to act like its fellow advanced societies in terms of divorce and child custody, Japan earlier this week signed the Hague Convention on Child Abductions.  Good.  I will comment more after the BBC article:

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

Japan votes to adopt child abduction treaty

22 May 2013 BBC News

Japan's Upper House members approve the international treaty Hague Convention after an unanimous vote at the National Diet in Tokyo on 22 May 2013
Japan’s parliament voted unanimously to approve the treaty

Japan’s parliament has voted to adopt an international treaty on child abductions, after years of pressure from Western countries.

The 1980 Hague Convention sets out procedures for handling cross-border child custody disputes.

Japan is the only country out of the Group of Eight industrialised nations (G8) yet to ratify the convention.

Its policies have been blamed for making it easy for Japanese mothers to remove children from foreign fathers.

Parents who have had their children abducted and taken to Japan by ex-spouses have describe the country as a “legal black hole” into which their children disappear, the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Tokyo.

In February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support for the treaty after meeting US President Barack Obama.

The upper house of parliament voted to join the treaty on Wednesday. The lower house, which is more powerful, approved the treaty last month.

The government will ratify the treaty after finalising domestic procedures, including setting up a central authority responsible for locating abducted children and helping parents settle out of court where possible.

Japan says it aims to ratify the treaty by March 2014.

Divorced abroad

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction aims to protect the rights of both parents in custody cases.

“When I said I wanted to see [my daughter] on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed” — Paul Toland, US Navy Commander

It seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made according to the laws of the country which provided the first residence for the children.

Under the convention, children who are taken away by a parent following a marriage breakdown must be returned to the country where they normally reside, if requested by the other parent.

However, campaigners say little will change until Japan reforms its own archaic divorce laws, our correspondent reports.

Japan’s family courts normally grant custody to one parent – traditionally the mother – after a divorce.

That parent is under no obligation to give the other parent access to the child, and it is not unusual for one parent to be cut out of their children’s lives forever.

There have been more than 200 international custody cases involving Japan. Many involve cases of Japanese nationals – married to non-Japanese nationals – who were divorced abroad taking their children back to Japan, despite joint custody rulings.

One high-profile case is that of US Navy Commander Paul Toland, who lost custody of his daughter Erika after his marriage with his Japanese wife broke down.

“The [family] court completely avoided any discussion regarding visitation with Erika,” he said in a statement in 2009.

“When I said I wanted to see Erika on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed.”

He was unable to regain custody after his ex-wife killed herself – instead, his daughter now lives with her maternal grandmother, who Cdr Toland said in his 2009 statement had refused to allow access.

In 2010, the ambassadors of 12 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Germany, signed a joint statement urging Japan to adopt the 1980 Hague Convention.

However, critics of the convention have previously argued that it could make it harder for Japanese women to flee abusive relationships abroad.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  I don’t want to dismiss this development out of hand, because Japan doing this is a step in the right direction (after all, if even after this I had nothing good to say, then what would EVER count as good news on Debito.org?)  But as I have argued before, I think it’s been signed because enough time has passed for caveats to be put in place — so that the home team will rarely lose a custody case in Japan (furthermore, part of the argument for signing has been that Japanese would have a stronger footing overseas to pursue custody cases in Hague signatory countries — again, benefiting the home team in either case).  After all, the normalized portrayal in Japanese media of NJ as violent spouses, and Japanese as victims (particularly wives, even though they are the great minority in international marriages) has expanded Japan’s definition of “Domestic Violence” to even simple heated arguments.  Fight with your J-wife anytime and lose your kids. The deck is stacked.

Let me quote one submitter:  “From May 13’s Japan Times.  A series of articles hammering home what will evidently be Japan’s final word on the subject, that Japanese fleeing countries abroad are doing so to protect their kids and themselves from angry, violent, abusive foreign husbands.  Cue standardized quotes from proclaimed “expert on the issue” Kensuke Onuki as well as lawyer Mikiko “I was for the convention but now I see it conflicts with Japanese culture” Otani and a slew of heart-wrenching stories of Japanese wives fleeing abusive marriages (one claiming that had Japan been party to the Hague Convention at the time of her escape she would have chosen killing her child and herself than risk a return to her husband.  Whether these individual stories have merit of not, it’s pure one-sided sensationalism.  Where are the Murray Wood stories of wife abuse and neglect?
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f1.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f3.html
“Only Minoru Matsutani’s article sandwiched between offers any sense of balance.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f2.html

And to quote another anonymous legally-trained friend:  “How to address DV is an issue in all Hague countries. In addition to allegations of DV, the Japanese legislation will also allow a judge to consider whether it would be difficult for EITHER the taking parent OR the parent requesting return to raise the child in the country of origin.  This sounds awfully close to a full-blown custody determination, which is sort of what courts are NOT supposed to do in Hague cases.”

As for future prospects, I shall defer to the better-informed judgment of a specialist international lawyer in this field, who wrote the following shortly before the Hague was signed:

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Japan’s Potential Ratification of the Hague Convention: An Update
Jeremy D. Morley

http://www.internationalfamilylawfirm.com/2013/03/japans-potential-ratification-of-hague.html

Japan has not yet ratified the Hague Abduction Convention. The Japanese Cabinet has today reportedly approved the ratification but the necessary legislation has not yet been passed by the Japanese Diet (Parliament).

The issue of Japan’s joining the Hague Convention is still controversial in Japan. Many members of the Diet are flatly opposed to the treaty on the ground that it will lead to the imposition of “Western thinking” on family relationships in Japan, i.e. that it might lead to the intervention of the courts into the private life of families, to the issuance of judicial orders concerning family matters that can be enforced by the power of the state, and to both parents having meaningful rights to their children after a divorce or separation.

Accordingly, newspaper editorials in Japan have demanded that, when Japanese wives “flee” foreign countries because of alleged domestic violence abroad, they must not be forced to return to the country where such abuse has occurred.

Such concerns have already led to inclusion of a provision in the draft legislation that is most likely to lead to an unnecessarily broad interpretation of the “grave risk” exception in Article 13(b) of the Convention. Indeed, that is the intended result.

The result of such an exception would be to shield abductors who are able to claim domestic abuse even though:

  • (a) The legal system in the (American) habitual residence would provide an abuse victim and child with very substantial protection;
  • (b) No change is being made in Japan to the lack of any meaningful provisions in Japanese law for the other parent to have any access to the child or any decision-making role in the life of the child, so that in reality the foreign left-behind parent would still be without any meaningful rights to the child; and
  • (c) There is no meaningful system within Japan to effectively determine the merits of such claims of abuse.

In addition, there is a serious concern that petitioning parents will be forced into mediation before being allowed to proceed with or complete their judicial case. There are special provisions in the draft legislation promoting mediation. If the mediation process works similarly to the current Family Court mediation process it will lead to lengthy delays and extreme unfairness to petitioning parents.

Mediation is generally an extremely unhelpful forum for foreigners in family law cases in Japan, since (i) foreign parties must appear in person regardless of their place of residency, (ii) the sessions are usually short and are repeatedly adjourned for lengthy periods of time, necessitating multiple inconvenient and expensive visits to Japan, (iii) the foreigners’ views are generally misunderstood for language and cultural reasons, and (iv) the foreigners are pressured to accept unfair terms since there is no enforcement of court decisions in family law matters in Japan and because they are told that their refusal to accept the mediators’ recommendations will be held against them in a trial.

When most other countries have joined the Convention the United States could choose whether or not to accept the accession. If a country has not enacted satisfactory legislation designed to effectively enforce the terms of the Convention other countries need not accept the accession. Such is the case with Thailand, which acceded to the Convention in 2002 but has not yet enacted implementing legislation satisfactory to the United States or several other countries. By contrast, as an original member of the Hague Conference, Japan will not be acceding to the Convention, but will ratify it which will trigger its immediate entry into force without any place for international review.

Meanwhile, the Japanese public is being told that even if Japan signs the Convention, “The return of a child can be denied if the parent seeking it is believed to abuse the child or have difficulties raising him or her.” Daily Yomiuri, Mar. 16, 2013. If that is the gloss that Japan intends to put on the Hague Convention – even though the Convention is expressly designed to secure the expeditious return of all abducted children except in extremely unusual cases – there is little or no point in Japan’s purported ratification of the treaty.

The result of Japan’s ratification of the Convention will likely be to create the appearance of Japan’s compliance with international norms but without any of the substance.

ENDS

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

CONCLUSION:  Same as other treaties that Japan has signed but doesn’t enforce, I think the Hague will wind up as a historical footnote as another treaty Japan chooses to ignore.  When we see the highly unlikely prospect of children of international marriages abducted to Japan sent back overseas by a Japanese court (in contrast to other judiciaries that DO repatriate children, see for example here and here) then I’ll think progress has been made.  But it’s pretty inconceivable to me, since child abduction happens between Japanese couples too thanks to Japan’s insane marriage system, and it’s hard to imagine foreigners suddenly being granted more rights in Japanese marriages than fellow Japanese.  Arudou Debito

Asahi on arrest of Zaitokukai participant in anti-Korean demo; J-Cast on anti-Korean stuff being sold at Dietmember kaikan; Osaka sign saying “Stop Scrawling Discriminatory Graffiti”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have some positive movements regarding the treatment of hate speech in Japan, particularly regarding that “Kill all Koreans” hate demo that took place last February (god bless the ensuing gaiatsu of international attention for making the GOJ finally take some action to deal with this deservedly embarrassing incident).  First, the Asahi reports that one of the participants in the Zaitokukai hate demo named Akai Hiroshi was arrested by the police, for violent bodily contact with a person protesting Zaitokukai activities.

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

新大久保の反韓デモ、初の逮捕 対立グループに暴行容疑
朝日新聞 2013年5月20日, courtesy of MS
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0520/TKY201305200108.html

在日韓国・朝鮮人を非難する東京・新大久保でのデモで対立するグループの男性に体当たりしたとして、警視庁は、自称・埼玉県熊谷市拾六間、無職赤井洋容疑者(47)を暴行の疑いで逮捕し、20日発表した。「つまずいて相手にぶつかっただけだ」と容疑を否認しているという。新大久保でのデモで逮捕者が出たのは初めて。

新宿署によると、赤井容疑者は19日午後6時40分ごろ、東京都新宿区の路上で、会社員男性(51)の胸などに体当たりした疑いがある。

赤井容疑者は「在日特権を許さない市民の会」のメンバーらとともにデモに参加。被害男性は、デモをやめるよう抗議する集団に加わっていた。両集団はそれぞれ約200人規模で、警視庁機動隊を挟み、緊迫した状況だったという。

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

Japan Times reports from Kyodo:

==============================
NATIONAL
Man held during anti-Korean rally
KYODO MAY 22, 2013

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/22/national/man-held-during-anti-korean-rally

Police have arrested a 47-year-old man who took part in a regularly held anti-Korean demonstration in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, for allegedly assaulting another man protesting the rally.

The man arrested Monday identified himself as Hiroshi Akai, an unemployed former Self-Defense Force member from Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Akai said he had “accidentally bumped into” the other man, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police allege Akai hurled himself at the 51-year-old company employee Sunday evening after the protest in Shinjuku. He was held by riot police who were guarding the demonstration.

Rightwing groups, including one claiming to be “citizens who do not condone privileges given to Koreans in Japan,” have been staging demonstrations several times a month in Shinjuku and nearby Shin-Okubo, home to a large ethnic Korean population.
==============================

Okay, good start, and glad that there are protests regarding the hateful, xenophobic protesters (usually their activities get ignored even if they involve violence against counter-demonstrators).  Except for the fact that this sort of hate speech has by now reached the highest and lowest levels of society, as in anti-Korean stickers being sold in Diet buildings, and anti-Korean graffiti being scrawled on public transportation:

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

韓国人差別ステッカーを議員会館で販売 自民議員側は関係否定して困惑顔
2013/5/14 J-Cast News, courtesy of MS
http://www.j-cast.com/2013/05/14175063.html

「チョンキール」と書かれた韓国人差別のステッカーが衆院議員会館で売られていた――。朝日新聞記者がこうツイートし、ネット上でステッカー販売に批判が相次いでいる。市民団体の会議室利用に協力した自民党議員側は、販売との関係を否定しており、困惑している様子だ。
ステッカーには、ゴキブリのような絵とともに、「ヨクキク 強力除鮮液」「チョンキール」と字が入っていた。朝日新聞社会部の石橋英昭記者が、2013年5月13日のツイートで、会議室でこんなものなどが売られていたと写真付きで紹介している。「日韓断交」というステッカーなども写っている。
朝日新聞記者のツイートがきっかけ
jcast051413
ツイートが物議
この日の会議室は、沖縄復帰をめぐる学習会に使われており、石橋記者は、自民党の西銘(にしめ)恒三郎衆院議員が主催者で、日本維新の会の西村眞悟衆院議員が講演していたと書いた。ただ、続くツイートでは、「国会議員が窓口になって議員会館で学習会を開いた民間団体の関係者が、販売していたということです。議員は直接には関わってないと思います」と補足している。
しかし、ツイートは波紋を呼び、ネット上では、「主催議員は責任をとらなければならない」「知らなかったでは済まされないぞ」などと批判が相次いだ。小説家の深町秋生さんも、「首相のヘイトスピーチ批判とはなんだったんだろう」とツイッターで疑問を呈すほどだった。
これに対し、学習会実行委員会の中心メンバーで市民団体の沖縄対策本部では、「この写真は昨日の学習会とも主催者とも関係ありません」とツイッターなどで弁明を始めた。石橋記者もこのことをツイッターで紹介し、「主催者と無関係な人が会議室に入り、台を設け販売していたとのことのようです」と前言を変えた。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、フェイスブックでさらに事情を説明している。それによると、ボランティアを依頼した人の友人が、一緒に参加して勝手に展示したものだという。西銘・西村両議員側には、報告とお詫びをしたとしている。
「記者は事実関係確認してほしかった」
とはいえ、西銘恒三郎議員が、差別ステッカーなどの展示・販売について知っていたことはないのか。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、取材に対し、そのことを否定し、展示の経緯について説明した。それによると、ボランティアをしていた人の友人は、前日の別の集会にも来ており、そこでステッカーなどを販売していた。友人は、学習会でボランティアをするので、そこでも販売させてほしいと仲村さんに申し出たが、仲村さんは、会議室での物品販売はできないと説明を受けているとして申し出を拒否した。
ところが、この友人は当日、会議室のテーブルでステッカーなどを勝手に展示し始めた。これを仲村さんの仲間が見つけ、展示を止めさせたそうだ。ステッカーの販売までしたとは、聞いていないという。
ステッカーなどは、日韓断交共闘委員会という市民団体がサイト上で売っていたが、仲村さんは、この団体のことは知らないとした。販売の意図もナゾのままで、「今後は身元チェックを厳しくするなど、注意していきます」と言っている。
学習会の主催は、形式的に西銘議員になっているが、実際は実行委がしていたという。西銘議員は、企画・運営にはタッチしておらず、学習会にも来ていないとした。
西銘議員の事務所では、取材に対し、スタッフがこう説明した。
「同じ沖縄の人が祖国復帰の勉強会をしたいので会議室利用の窓口になってほしいと依頼があり、こちらで借りられるようにお手伝いはしました。しかし、実行委員会からステッカーのことについて報告などがあり、どういうことなのかとびっくりしています。差別的な思想自体が困りますし、とても残念なことだと思っています。朝日新聞の方も、ツイッターで発言する前に、事実関係を確認してほしかったですね」
ENDS
==============================

The good news, however, is that we’re hearing about these events at all (discrimination often goes ignored in the J-media if its against NJ). Also good news is that the authorities are taking measures against them, as seen in this sign sent to me yesterday by AP:

antirakugakisignmay2013

(Taken in Sekime-Seiiku Station in the Osaka area, May 20, 2013.)

The sign reads: A bright society where people respect each others’ human rights.  Let’s stop scrawling discriminatory GRAFFITI that will hurt people’s hearts.  If you notice any discriminatory graffiti, let us know (addendum:  let a station attendant know).  Signed, Osaka City Citizens’ Bureau.  

Submitter AP writes:  “I talked to the 駅長 as well. I said I don’t know what lead to posting that message, but as a foreigner in Japan I sometimes face 差別 and understand why this kind of thing is important to address, and thanked him. He seemed appreciative as well.”

Good.  Then maybe people are realizing that this sort of thing affects everyone in society, not just some guest foreigners whose lives and feelings have no connection with ours.  These are positive developments.  Arudou Debito

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

aichiprefjunkairenraku4

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

aichiprefjunkairenraku3

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

aichprefjunkairenraku2

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

Here’s the best one:

aichijunkairenraku042713

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How should the NPA remedy this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”

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Hi Blog.  We’ve talked about Tokyo’s Olympic bids for 2016 and 2020 before on Debito.org (I see them as basically a vanity project for Japan’s elite ruling class to convince themselves that the outside world is still paying attention to them, especially after successful bids in Beijing 2008 and Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018).  But here’s an interesting development:

According to the New York Times, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki (a good writer and analyst (see also here) before he became Vice-Governor then Governor, and from whom I expected more intelligence and sophistication) is taking cheap shots at other Olympic bidders, violating IOC rules.  Particularly at Istanbul for its religious and ethnic/economic composition, Inose has said, “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes”.  He also said that other countries lack “Tokyo’s excellent sense of hospitality”.

Funny, that.  As if Japan does not have classes of its own based upon economic clout or connections to a ruling elite.  And of course, there’s the frequent claim by Japan’s promoters of lack of infrastructure and development elsewhere.  Never mind how that infrastructure doesn’t seem to be taking care of its hundreds of thousands of victims and homeless after the Tohoku Disasters more than two years afterwards.

(More on how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is in fact hereherehereherehereherehere, and here)

But you see, we’re not holding the Olympics in Fukushima.  And we’ll take advantage of Fukushima by trying to claim a sympathy vote for Tokyo in their stead.  Also never mind that unfettered discrimination against domestic minorities in a society also violates the Olympic Charter.  So much to see when you scratch the surface.

There were some subsidiary arguments about Japan’s aging society, which Inose turned on their head to say that healthy seniors are the sign of a healthier society.  That’s fine — that’s just boosterism.  But then he violates IOC rules again by denigrating:  “I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long.  And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

See what I mean about a lack of sophistication?  I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree (as Inose is an Ishihara Shintaro protege, and Ishihara is a bonafide bigot (see also here).  Or else Inose has been so steeped in the dominant discourse of Japan being a unique and peerlessly rich, homogeneous, developed society, that he actually has come to believe it himself.  Hence the blind spots cluttering his analysis.  Put it down to the effects of being steeped in affluence and power.

As submitter MH notes about what he calls Inose’s “idiotic, xenophobic and downright racist comments”, “One doesn’t have to extrapolate too far to see how a racist landlord or real estate agency might feel a certain (ingrained) justification for banning foreigners.”  Quite.  So much for Japan’s “excellent sense of hospitality”.  Arudou Debito

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

In Promoting His City for 2020 Games, Tokyo’s Bid Chairman Tweaks Others
By KEN BELSON
The New York Times: April 26, 2013, courtesy of MH
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/27/sports/in-praising-its-olympic-bid-tokyo-tweaks-the-others.html

With less than five months to go before the International Olympic Committee chooses a city to host the 2020 Summer Games, the three remaining bidders — Istanbul, Madrid and Tokyo — are increasing their efforts to win over delegates and the public.

The Olympic committee’s rules prohibit bid committee members from directly criticizing other bids. Instead, the bidders often highlight the perceived strengths of their bids to note delicately what they believe to be their rivals’ shortcomings, something known in the communications industry as counter-positioning.

Naoki Inose, the governor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and chairman of the Tokyo 2020 bid, has often done that, highlighting his city’s extensive and efficient transportation system, as well as the financial and technical wherewithal to build first-class sports sites and housing for the athletes. He has also noted that, like Paris and London, Tokyo has hosted the Summer Games before, a claim that Istanbul and Madrid cannot make.

But Inose has also pushed the boundaries of rhetorical gamesmanship with occasionally blunt and candid statements about how his city compares with the competition, particularly Istanbul, which he has suggested is less developed and less equipped to host the Games.

“For the athletes, where will be the best place to be?” Inose said through an interpreter in a recent interview in New York. “Well, compare the two countries where they have yet to build infrastructure, very sophisticated facilities. So, from time to time, like Brazil, I think it’s good to have a venue for the first time. But Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes.”

Asked later to elaborate on his characterization of Istanbul, a spokesman said Inose meant that simply being the first Islamic country to hold the Olympics was not a good enough reason to be chosen, just as being the first Buddhist country or the first Christian country would not be, either.

The spokesman said Inose did not mean to refer to “class.”

Istanbul is an Olympic finalist because it is an international city in one of the fastest-developing countries in the region. A member of NATO, Turkey straddles Europe and Asia and is a bridge between Christianity and Islam. With its emerging middle class, Turkey has become a political and economic powerhouse in the region.

This is Istanbul’s fifth bid to host the Olympic Games. In a statement, the city’s bid committee declined to address comments made by rival bidders.

“Istanbul 2020 completely respects the I.O.C. guidelines on bidding and therefore it is not appropriate to comment further on this matter,” the statement said.

The International Olympic Committee does not look kindly on overtly harsh attacks by bidders, and occasionally it sends letters of reprimand to those who break with protocol, former bidders said.

According to Article 14 of the Rules of Conduct for bidders: “Cities shall refrain from any act or comment likely to tarnish the image of a rival city or be prejudicial to it. Any comparison with other cities is strictly forbidden.”

Though untoward comments rarely disqualify a bid, they could raise doubts in the minds of I.O.C. delegates about the trustworthiness of a bidder.

“The reason the rule is there is that if someone deviates from it, it triggers a chain reaction,” said Mike Moran, chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee from 1978 to 2002 and a senior communications counselor for New York’s bid for the 2012 Summer Games. “The I.O.C. is very serious about their protocols.”

Moran added that negative comments by bidders would probably not hurt a bid, although “you never know how a comment might influence those I.O.C. members.”

At several points in the interview, Inose said that Japanese culture was unique and by implication superior, a widely held view in Japan. He noted that the political scientist Samuel P. Huntington wrote in his book “The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order” that Japan was unlike any other culture.

Inose also pointed to polls that showed 70 percent of Tokyoites in favor of hosting the Summer Games, up from 47 percent last year. The well-received London Games, he said, have helped generate enthusiasm and confidence that Tokyo can host a similarly successful event.

Tokyo, he added, is exceptional because the Imperial Palace, which is largely off-limits to residents and visitors, forms the city’s core while bustling activity surrounds it. “The central part of Tokyo has nothingness,” he said. “This is a unique way that society achieved modernization.”

Inose brushed aside the notion that Olympic delegates may favor Istanbul’s bid because Turkey has a far younger population than Japan and thus is fertile ground for developing the next generation of Olympic enthusiasts. While population growth has stalled in Japan, the population of Tokyo has grown because of an influx of younger people, he said. He added that although Japan’s population is aging, its elderly are reasonably healthy.

“We used to say that if you are poor, you have lots of kids, but we have to build infrastructure to accommodate a growing population,” Inose said. “What’s important is that seniors need to be athletic. If you’re healthy, even if you get older, health care costs will go down. The average age is 85 for women and 80 for men, so that demonstrates how stress-free” Japan’s society is.

“I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long,” he added. “And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

Inose has drawn distinctions between Japan and other cultures in other settings, too. When he visited London in January to promote Tokyo’s bid, he said Tokyo and London were sophisticated and implied that Istanbul was not.

“I don’t mean to flatter, but London is in a developed country whose sense of hospitality is excellent,” Inose told reporters. “Tokyo’s is also excellent. But other cities, not so much.”
ENDS

TV Tokyo bangumi: “Why did you come to Japan?” interviews NJ arrivals at Narita, reifies mainstream media discourse of NJ as tourists, not residents

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this out, courtesy of Japan Today:

tvtokyoNJwhatareyoudoinghere
Courtesy http://www.japantoday.com/category/picture-of-the-day/view/what-are-you-doing-here

Submitter JDG argues:
====================================
Saw this story on Japan Today (link): It’s a story about a poster campaign to advertise a TV show where NJ straight off the plane are asked why they came to Japan. In the poster, ‘talent(less)’ J-celebs, and a variety of caricatured NJ are proffering answers (‘maid’ cafes, lolitas, etc).

“I think that there are two ways of looking at this.

“The first is that they are proceeding from the false assumption that all NJ in Japan are visitors who must be here for some uniquely crazy ‘Japanese’ experience that they can’t get at home, and plays into the myth that there are no NJ long term residents who are here because of their jobs, or family connections. Whilst ignorant and not very helpful for understanding the wide variety of NJ identities, it is a common enough mistake for the Japanese to make.

“However, my second thought is that this poster is an inadvertent and unintended insight into a darker aspect of Japanese psychology on the NJ issue. What if we suppose that this poster is not the product of some ignoramus who genuinely knows nothing of NJ realities in Japan, and believes the myth totally? What if this poster simply reflects a more widespread and deep rooted opinion that NJ shouldn’t be living in Japan because they have families or business here? What if the poster is deliberately not offering reasons such as ‘I’m here because I’m on the board or directors of (insert J-company here)’, or ‘I’m here to get my children back’, or ‘I’m here with the IAEA to inspect your reactors’?

“These are exaggerations, of course, but the point that I am making is that this poster in itself is a tool of devision, disenfranchisement, exclusion, subjugation, and othering. All that, and created with a lack of self-awareness in the process? A frightening indicator of the extent to which discrimination is normalized in japanese society.”
====================================

I would concur in particular with the aspect of maintaining the dominant discourse in Japan of NJ as “guests”, i.e., “temporary visitors, not residents”, mixed in with the shades of “Cool Japan” that helps Japanese society revalidate and even fetishize itself through foreigners.

But it’s essential (by definition) that this revalidation message remain positive — as in, “Japan is a nice place that is polite to everyone, especially its guests”. That is one of the positive aspects of “guestism” — hosts don’t get their status quo challenged. After all, why would somebody spend so much money and fly in just to come and bad-mouth the place? It’s a pretty safe and not-at-all-random sampling that will probably match the TV network’s editorial and entertainment conceit.  (And on the off-chance if not, no need to broadcast the views of quite clearly rude people.)

Media enforcement of Guestism has a long history, really. Back in 2009, Debito.org caught NHK asking specifically for NJ guests on its “COOL JAPAN” program “who have lived in Japan for less than one year”, as if they would have more insights on Japan than somebody who has lived in Japan longer. Like, say, for example, participants in the reviled and acclaimed bangumiKOKO GA HEN DA YO, NIHONJIN” (1998-2002; even my fellow plaintiffs and I were allowed to appear regarding the Otaru Onsens Case), which featured diversity of opinion in all its screaming glory, but still allowed NJs to speak in their own words in Japanese.  KKGHDYN was probably the high water mark of Japan’s assimilation of NJ viewpoints into Japan’s generally foreign-resident-free media (one that shuts itself off so effectively from NJ voices in Japan that nearly HALF, i.e., 46%, of all respondents (Japanese, natch) to a recent Cabinet survey didn’t even know that Nikkei Brazilians have been living in Japan on a special visa status for the past two decades!), but after the “foreigner as criminal” GOJ and media blitz of the 2000s, we’re right back to Bubble-Era-and-before attitudes towards NJ in the domestic media.

So in the end, asking people, “So how do you like Japan?” mere minutes after landing is probably within character.  But it’s awful media representation.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 62, Apr 2, 2013: “Tweak the immigration debate and demand an upgrade to denizen class”

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Hi Blog.  Thanks to everyone who read my article, as it has been trending within the most-read articles within the past couple of days once again this month.  Here it is on the blog for commentary with links to sources.  Enjoy!  Arudou Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg
Tweak the immigration debate and demand an upgrade to denizen class
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, Just Be Cause Column 62, published April 2, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/02/issues/tweak-the-immigration-debate-and-demand-an-upgrade-to-denizen-class/
Version below with links to sources

Crucial to any public discussion is defining the terms of debate. However, often those terms must be redefined later because they don’t reflect reality.

One example is Japan’s concept of “foreigner,” because the related terminology is confusing and provides pretenses for exclusionism.

In terms of strict legal status, if you’re not a citizen you’re a “foreigner” (gaikokujin), right? But not all gaikokujin are the same in terms of acculturation or length of stay in Japan. A tourist “fresh off the boat” has little in common with a noncitizen with a Japanese family, property and permanent residency. Yet into the gaikokujin box they all go.

The lack of terms that properly differentiate or allow for upgrades has negative consequences. A long-termer frequently gets depicted in public discourse as a sojourner, not “at home” in Japan.

Granted, there are specialized terms for visa statuses, such as eijūsha (permanent resident) and tokubetsu eijūsha (special permanent resident, for the zainichi Korean and Chinese generational “foreigners”). But they rarely appear in common parlance, since the public is generally unaware of visa regimes (many people don’t even know foreigners must carry “gaijin cards”!).

Public debate about Japan’s foreign population must take into account their degree of assimilation. So this column will try to popularize a concept introduced in the 1990s that remains mired in migration studies jargon: denizen.

Denizenship,” as discussed by Tomas Hammar of Stockholm University, is a mid-step between migrant and immigrant, foreigner and citizen — a “quasi-citizenship.” In his 1990 book “Democracy and the Nation State,” Hammar talks about three “entrance gates” for migrants to become citizens: 1) admission to the country, 2) permanent residency, and 3) acquisition of full citizenship.

Denizens have passed the second gate, having become resident aliens who have been granted extensive civil and social citizenship rights — including national and/or local suffrage in some countries.

Although denizens lack the full political rights of a citizen, scholars of international migration note that countries are increasingly giving denizens faster tracks to full citizenship, including relaxation of blood-based nationality (e.g., in Sweden, Holland, Switzerland and Germany), official guidance in naturalization procedures after obtaining permanent residency (e.g., United States), greater tolerance for dual citizenship (e.g., Mexico) and some electoral rights (e.g., European Union). [all claims within books by scholars below, but some quick references here]

A similar discussion on denizenship has taken place in Japanese academia, thanks to Atsushi Kondo (1996), Chikako Kashiwazaki (2000) and Akihiro Asakawa (2007) et al., all of whom rendered the term in katakana as denizun, translating it as eijū shimin (permanent “citizens,” so to speak).

Perhaps this will come as no surprise, but their extensive research highlighted the comparatively closed nature of Japanese immigration policy. Japan has been an outlier in terms of citizenship rules, going against the trend seen in other advanced democracies to enfranchise denizens.

For example, Japan has an intolerance of dual nationality, high hurdles for achieving permanent residency, arbitrary and discretionary rules for obtaining full citizenship, few refugees, and strict “family” blood-based citizenship without exception for future generations of denizens (which is why Japan is still home to hundreds of thousands of zainichi “foreigners” 60 years after their ancestors were stripped of Japanese citizenship).

Essentially, Japan does not recognize denizenship. This was underscored during recent debates on granting local suffrage rights to permanent residents (gaikokujin sanseiken). Opposition politicians stated clearly: If foreigners want the right to vote, they should naturalize.

Sadly, steps to humanize the debate, by incorporating the perspectives of long-term residents themselves, were not taken, creating a tautology of disenfranchisement. The antireformers eventually won the debate, retrenching the binary between “foreigner” and “citizen” and obscuring the gray zones of long-term residency.

There are long-standing systemic issues behind this entrenchment. As Kashiwazaki notes: “The system of naturalization is not designed to transform foreign nationals promptly into Japanese nationals. Restriction on naturalization corresponds to the government’s stance on border control, namely that Japan does not admit immigration for the purpose of permanent settlement.”

As discussed on these pages numerous times, the firewall keeping foreigners from ever becoming settlers is maintained by Japan’s revolving-door visa regimes, strict punishments for even slight administrative infractions that “reset the visa clock,” and a permanent “police the foreigners” credo from a Justice Ministry not configured for immigration or integration.

This has a long history. As Japan’s “Immigration Bureau” has argued repeatedly after it designed the postwar rules on any foreign influx (here in 1959): “Since Japan is one of the most densely populated countries in the world, policies of controlling both population growth and immigration are strongly called for. It should therefore be a government policy to severely restrict the entry of foreigners into Japan. Particularly because there are undesirable foreigners who would threaten the lives of Japanese nationals by criminal activity and immoral conduct.”

After a high water mark of “internationalization” in the 1990s, Japan’s conservatives in the 2000s (backed up by periodic official “foreign crime” and “visa overstayer” campaigns to scare the public) managed to stem the tide of liberalization seen in other advanced democracies, turning Japan into an immigration Galapagos increasingly reactionary towards outsiders — even as demographics force Japan’s decline.

Like the people it represents, denizenship as a concept remains invisible within Japan’s public discourse, oblivious to how foreigners actually live in Japan. Categorically, people are either gaikokujin or nihonjin. Rarely if ever are the former termed eijūsha, eijū shimin, imin or ijūsha (immigrants).

Let’s tweak the terms of debate. If you’re planning on living in Japan indefinitely, I suggest you get your neighbors warmed up to the fact that you as a non-Japanese (let’s at least avoid the dislocated, transient trappings of the generic word “foreigner”) are not merely gaikokujin. You are jūmin (residents). And as of 2012, most of you now have a jūminhyō (residency certificate) to prove it.

Then spread the word through the grass roots, such as they are. Upgrade your status and mollify the binary. Or else you’ll just be stuck in a rhetorical limbo as something temporary and in transit. Not good for you, not good for Japan.

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

Debito’s most recent publication is “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance” in The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus (japanfocus.org/site/view/3907) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Pages of the month. Comments: community@japantimes.co.jp.

My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest publication, which came out last Sunday, elaborating more on the historical arc of Japan’s rightward swing I have already talked about journalistically in three recent Japan Times columns:

Here is how I see the build up to what came to fruition with PM Abe and his cadre’s reinstatement to power last December.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.
Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance
日本の右傾化と鳥取県人権条例

By Arudou Debito

ABSTRACT
Japan’s swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

This article traces the arc of that xenophobic trajectory by focusing on three significant events: The defeat in the mid-2000s of a national “Protection of Human Rights” bill (jinken yōgo hōan); Tottori Prefecture’s Human Rights Ordinance of 2005 that was passed on a local level and then rescinded; and the resounding defeat of proponents of local suffrage for non-citizens (gaikokujin sanseiken) between 2009-11. The article concludes that these developments have perpetuated the unconstitutional status quo of a nation with no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.

Keywords: Japan, human rights, Tottori, racial discrimination, suffrage, minorities, Japanese politics, elections, xenophobia, right wing

Introduction

As has been written elsewhere (cf. Arudou 2005; 2006a; 2006b et al.), Japan has no law in its Civil or Criminal Code specifically outlawing or punishing racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). With respect to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which Japan adopted in 1996), Japan has explicitly stated to the United Nations that it does not need such a law: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.” (MOFA 2001: 5.1)

However, in 2005, a regional government, Tottori Prefecture northwest of Ōsaka, did pass a local ordinance (jōrei) explicitly punishing inter alia discrimination by race. What happened to that law shortly afterwards provides a cautionary tale, demonstrating how public fear of granting any power to Non-Japanese occasioned the ordinance to be rescinded shortly afterwards. This article describes the defeat of a similar bill on a national scale, the public reaction to Tottori’s ordinance and the series of events that led to its withdrawal. The aftermath led to the stigmatization of any liberalization favoring more rights for Non-Japanese.

Prelude: The Protection of Human Rights Bill debates of the mid-2000s

Throughout the 2000s, there was a movement to enforce the exclusionary parameters of Japanese citizenship by further reinforcing the status quo disenfranchising non-citizens. For example, one proposal that would have enfranchised non-citizens by giving them more rights was the Protection of Human Rights Bill (jinken yōgo hōan). It was an amalgamation of several proposals (including the Foreign Residents’ Basic Law (gaikokujin jūmin kihon hō)) that would have protected the rights of residents regardless of nationality, ethnic status, or social origin.

Read the rest at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/3907

Other Japan Focus articles by Arudou Debito at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito

3907 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance

2708 Arudou DebitoA. Higuchi

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan

2559 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants

2386 Arudou Debito

Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The Newfound Power of Japan’s International Residents

2078 Arudou Debito

The Coming Internationalization: Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?

1743 Arudou Debito

JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against “Foreigners” in Japan

Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga. How Ironic.

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’ve devoted a couple of blog entries (here and here) plus a Japan Times column to propagandizing journalist Tsutsumi Mika, who has had her “Poverty Superpower of America” book series adapted for Japanese grade-school audiences nationwide and a manga-reading Japanese public.

I’ve already gone into detail elsewhere about the latent journalistic problems with her reportage (not the least the outright falsification of evidence), and the implicit ironies involved with her demonizing a foreign society as a cautionary tale to audiences without sufficient training in comparative cultural study and critical thinking.

Now here’s another irony, sent to me by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Further inspection of Tsutsumi’s works reveals an odd attitude towards Jews. Consider this excerpt from her “Poverty Superpower of America” manga, courtesy of Amazon Japan:

tsutsumimikamangagoldberg

Courtesy http://www.amazon.co.jp/コミック貧困大国アメリカ-堤-未果/dp/4569708978/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1362882715&sr=8-10#reader_4569708978

Here we have a Jew named “David Goldberg” from a financial agency selling bogus house loans to an immigrant Mexican family before the whole US derivatives crisis.  Goldberg announces himself as “the ally of the weak” before destroying all of their hopes and dreams.

Interesting choice of character for Tsutsumi, reflecting the latent bias one sees in elite Japanese society regarding “rich Jews” (not to mention other stereotypes; see below) that surfaces every now and again (such as in our former Education Minister and Prime Minister, and current Deputy PM/Minister of Finance Aso Taro):

==================================
Blue eyes, blond hair: that’s US problem, says Japanese minister
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Thursday 22 March 2007

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/23/japan.usa

Taro Aso, Japan’s foreign minister, risked upsetting his country’s strongest ally by suggesting US diplomats in the Middle East would never solve the region’s problems because they have “blue eyes and blond hair”.

Mr Aso, a straight-talking nationalist, said the Japanese, on the other hand, were trusted because they had “yellow faces” and had “never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns”.

Japan has healthy relations with Arab countries and Iran and imports much of its oil from the Middle East. It is a big contributor of aid to the Palestinian Authority, but also has friendly ties with Israel.

“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” local media quoted Mr Aso as saying in a speech about Japan-sponsored investment in the Middle East. “Japanese are trusted. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”

Mr Aso, seen by some as a possible successor to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is no stranger to controversy.

In 2001 he said a member of the burakumin, Japan’s underclass, could never lead the country. He later angered Japan’s indigenous Ainu population by describing the country as unique in being “one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture and one race”. While economics minister, he said he wanted to turn Japan into a country where “rich Jews” would want to live.

In 2003, he sparked protests when he praised imperial Japan’s often brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, and last month he described the US post-invasion plans for Iraq as “very immature”.
==================================

Back to Tsutsumi.  What makes things even more ironic is not that her current husband is an anti-discrimination activist, but that her former husband was apparently Jewish himself:

tsutumimikaSUNYNewPaltz

http://www.newpaltz.edu/alumni/lost.php?view_by=maiden_name&letter=T

tsutstumimikajeremybaummyspace

http://www.myspace.com/jeremybaum/blog/395635368

叩けば埃が出る。Tsutsumi Mika is a person replete with irony.  I wonder what the Jewish anti-defamation leagues would make of Tsutsumi’s Jewish crook?  The American Embassy (unlike the Japanese Embassy) is pretty lackadaisical about how the US is portrayed in Japan’s media.  But I doubt, say, the Simon Wiesenthal Center would be.

Anyone want to let them know about this?  Would be interesting how Tsutsumi, as she did when questioned about the misleading details of her grade-schooler Chagurin article, would defend her editorial choices.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 61 March 5, 2013: “Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan”

mytest

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Just wanted to say thanks to everyone who read and commented on this article — it was in the “trending” articles (for a time in the top position) for two days. Debito

justbecauseicon.jpg

Child’s quibble with U.S. ‘poverty superpower’ propaganda unravels a sobering story about insular Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, March 5, 2013, Column 61 for JUST BE CAUSE
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/03/05/issues/childs-quibble-with-u-s-poverty-superpower-propaganda-unravels-a-sobering-story-about-insular-japan
Version with links to sources

Last November, a reader in Hokkaido named Stephanie sent me an article read in Japan’s elementary schools. Featured in a sixth-grader magazine called Chagurin (from “child agricultural green”) dated December 2012, it was titled “Children of America, the Poverty Superpower” (hinkon taikoku Amerika no kodomotachi), offering a sprawling review of America’s social problems.

chagurin1

Its seven pages in tabloid format (see debito.org/?p=10806) led with headlines such as: “Is it true that there are more and more people without homes?” “Is it true that if you get sick you can’t go to hospital?” and “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the fatter the children are?”

Answers described how 1 out of 7 Americans live below the poverty line, how evicted homeless people live in tent cities found “in any town park,” how poverty correlates with child obesity due to cheap junk food, how bankruptcies are widespread due to the world’s highest medical costs (e.g., one tooth filling costs ¥150,000), how education is undermined by “the evils (heigai) of evaluating teachers only by test scores,” and so on.

For greater impact, included were photos of a tent city, a fat lady — even a kid with rotten-looking picket-fence teeth.

chagurin4teethcrop

These images served to buttress spiraling daisy chains of logic: “As your teeth get worse, your bite becomes bad, your body condition gets worse and your school studies suffer. After that, you can’t pass a job interview and you become stuck in poverty.”

The article’s concluding question: “What can we do so we don’t become like America?” Answer proffered: Think critically, don’t take media at face value and ask questions of your parents and friends. Ask why hamburgers are so cheap, why Japan would give up its sovereignty and domestic industrial integrity through the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free-trade agreement, and why only “efficiency and competition” are prioritized in the agricultural, medical and educational sectors.

Heavy stuff for a children’s magazine, and not entirely without merit. But not entirely accurate, either. So Stephanie’s daughter did as encouraged and questioned the article, for she had been to America and her experience was different.

Teacher’s answer: “It is written so it is true.” So much for critical thinking.

So Stephanie wrote to Chagurin asking about some of the article’s “generalizations and falsehoods” (such as the cost of a filling: ¥150,000 would in fact cover an entire root canal). She asked why there had been no comparison with Japan’s strengths and weaknesses so that both societies “can learn from each other.”

To their credit, Chagurin responded in January (see debito.org/?p=11086), admitting to some errors in scope and fact. “Tent cities in every town park” was an exaggeration; the kid’s “picket-fence teeth” were in fact fake Halloween costume teeth. They would run a few corrections but otherwise stood by their claims.

Editors justified their editorial bent thus (my translation): “Chagurin was created as a magazine to convey the importance of farming, food, nature and life, and cultivate the spirit of helping one another. The goal of the article . . . was not to criticize America; it was to think along with the children about the social stratifications (kakusa shakai) caused by market fundamentalism (shijō genri shugi) that has gone too far. . . . There are many things in this world that we want children to learn . . . not limited to poverty and social inequality, but also food supply, war, etc. . . . We would like to positively take up these issues and include Japan’s problems as well.”

But that’s the thing. They didn’t. Chagurin basically seized upon an entire foreign society as a cautionary tale, swaddled it in broad generalizations and burned it in effigy to illuminate a path for Japanese society.

So I did some research on the magazine. Endorsed by Japan PTA, Chagurin is funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives, connected with the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF).

Aha. MAFF is famous for its propagandizing, especially when it comes to keeping Japan’s agricultural sector closed for “food security” purposes. Remember Japan’s poor harvest in 1995 when rice had to be imported? To ensure Japanese consumers never realized that “foreign rice” could be of similar quality to domestic fare, American and Chinese-made japonica was blended with Japanese, while low-quality Thai rice was sold alone as “foreign” to maintain a firewall. Similar dirty marketing tricks have happened with other agro-imports, including foreign apples in the 1990s and the “longer Japanese intestines unable to digest foreign beef” nonsense in the 1980s. Chagurin’s inclusion of the TPP issue is suddenly not so odd.

More interesting, however, is the article’s author, Mika Tsutsumi. According to The Japan Times (“Spotlight on the States,” April 4, 2010), Tsutsumi, the daughter of a famous Japanese journalist, lived many years in the U.S., her “dream country.” A former United Nations worker and Nomura Securities analyst who studied at the State University of New York, New Paltz, Tsutsumi has since returned to Japan to write extensively about America exclusively in Japanese. Her bestselling books include “America’s Revolution of the Weak,” “Freedom Disappears from America” and the award-winning “America, the Poverty Superpower” (original, sequel and a manga version) — which Chagurin, from the title on down, cooperatively adapted for preadolescents nationwide.

Although Tsutsumi repeatedly encourages critical thinking in her writings, none of her books on Amazon Japan apply the same level of critique to Japanese society — probably because they would not sell as well or win awards. Thus America becomes a convenient foil for Tsutsumi to sell herself, even to grade-schoolers.

But put the shoe on the other foot: If an article of this tone and content about Japan appeared in grade-schooler magazines overseas, funded by the U.S. farming lobby and endorsed by the PTA, the first wave of protests would be from the Japanese Embassy. Then Internet denizens would swamp the publisher’s servers with accusations of racism and Japan-bashing, followed by hue and cry from the Japanese media. Yet in Japan, this angle of research passes muster — as long as it’s not about Japan.

Then I dug deeper and found something even more interesting: Tsutsumi is married to Diet member Ryuhei Kawada, a member of Minna no To (Your Party), a mishmash of center-right libertarian “we’ll say whatever you want to hear as long as you vote for us” political platforms. Kawada, a hemophiliac among thousands infected with HIV in the 1980s tainted blood scandal, came to national prominence spearheading a successful campaign against the government and the drug companies involved.

An activist for Japan’s “lost generation” of “permanent part-timers” and chosen as a “Young Global Leader” by the World Economic Forum, Kawada was elected to national office in 2007 on a platform of fighting discrimination. On his website (ryuheikawada.jp/english) he states, “Discrimination is the most serious issue not only in developing countries but in developed countries. I still see it in my country. . . . Education against it must be essential.”

That’s ironic, because in 2008 Kawada (unsuccessfully) campaigned against reforming Japan’s Nationality Law to allow international children born out of wedlock to be recognized as citizens even if paternity was not formally acknowledged, opportunistically joining a chorus of Japan’s xenophobes fomenting a “false paternity” scare. Apparently for Kawada, “discrimination” in Japan does not transcend nationality.

[See also http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/国籍法改正問題 and  http://d.hatena.ne.jp/macska/20081209/p1]

Thus Tsutsumi and Kawada are a power couple (such darlings of the left that they can jump to the right), and their influence in both policymaking circles and Japan’s media is broad. For Kawada, his alarmist gang of arguments forced the Nationality Law to be reinterpreted in 2012 to place further restrictions on Japanese with foreign nationalities (Just Be Cause, Jan. 1). For Tsutsumi, her books are now even “catching them young” — scaring impressionable minds about the “evils” of a foreign society before any schooling in comparative cultures or critical thinking.

Not to be outdone, let me offer two of my own cautionary tales from this month’s research adventure.

One is that a lack of critical thinking in Japan has enabled Japan’s media to propagandize with impunity. Propaganda, as defined by scholar Robert McChesney, is “the more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they’ll support government policy.” Tsutsumi’s article is a quintessential example: By denigrating a foreign society while elevating her own, she distorts information to leave readers ill-informed and more supportive of Japan’s insularity.

To be fair, it’s not only Tsutsumi: Live long enough in Japan and you’ll be influenced by the slow-drip mantra of how “dangerous” the outside world is (contrasted with “safe Japan”), and how if you ever dare to leave Japan (where “everyone is middle class”) you’ll be at the mercy of gross social inequalities. Over time you’ll start to believe this propaganda despite contrary experiences; it’s very effective at intimidating people from emigrating, no matter how tough things get in Japan.

The other lesson is that the hope that Japan’s “next generation” will be more open-minded than their elders is gradually evaporating. Tsutsumi and Kawada are well-educated 30-to-40-somethings with international experience, language ability and acclaimed antidiscrimination activism under their belts. Yet both are behaving as conservatively as any elite xenophobic rightist. They can get away with it because they have a perpetual soft target for Japan’s media — the outside world — to bash in a society that generally mistrusts outsiders. And they’re making mucho dinero while at it.

So let’s conclude in Tsutsumi’s style: “We” should not become like Japan because its aging society, controlled by an unaccountable bureaucratic/gerontocratic elite, will forever crowd out the young and disenfranchised from its power structure. Meanwhile the Japanese public, insufficiently trained in critical thinking, will remain intellectually blinded by jingoistic and xenophobic propaganda.

After all, focusing on overseas problems distracts attention away from domestic ills, such as an inflexible job market, an imperfect education and health system, an underdiscussed class system, a mass media that ill-serves the public interest — and yes, ironically, even questionable dietary practices, underreported poverty and homelessness, and substandard dental care.

Never mind. Let’s talk instead about how “we” are still somehow better off than somebody else. Bash the outside world — it’s lucrative. For some.

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

Amazing new Cabinet survey finds “81% welcome ‘foreigners’ of Japanese descent”. Festival of cognitive dissonance!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This has already been discussed better elsewhere, but it would be remiss of Debito.org to not give a bit of space to this amazing Cabinet survey:

From the Japan Times/Kyodo:

//////////////////////////////////
Poll: 81% welcome foreigners of Japanese descent
KYODO MAR 2, 2013

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/03/02/national/80-of-japanese-welcome-foreigners-of-japanese-descent/

More than 80 percent of respondents in a new poll said they are open to foreign nationals of Japanese descent living in the nation, the Cabinet Office reported.

The office’s first survey of its kind, released Thursday, found 80.9 percent of respondents expressed openness to living alongside those with Japanese ancestry, including Brazilian and Peruvian descendents of Japanese immigrants. Only 12.9 percent opposed the idea.

Of the 3,000 citizens canvassed in January for the poll, 59.7 percent were also in favor of the central government and municipalities assisting non-Japanese residents to a greater extent, for instance by providing Japanese-language classes for unemployed young people and recruiting interpreters at Hello Work job-placement offices.

“With more opportunities to interact with foreigners, (Japanese people) are eventually no longer rejecting” the idea of accepting non-Japanese nationals in society, a Cabinet Office official remarked.

As of the end of 2011, there were fewer than 300,000 foreigners of Japanese descent living in the country, of whom 210,000 were Brazilians and another 50,000 Peruvians, the Cabinet Office said.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

Now just sit back in your chair and let that sink in for a moment. We have the highest level of government in Japan conducting a slanted survey (available in Japanese here) asking not about public acceptance of NJ, but rather a breed of NJ, specifically “Nikkei Teijuu Gaikokujin” (non-citizen residents of Japan who are of Japanese lineage). Why would that be the question asked? What policy is retroactively being sought to be justified? And why is this angle newsworthy?

Apropos of a few answers, here are some comments garnered from Debito.org and elsewhere:

==============================
AS: “Blood = Japanese v.2?”

JDG: “It’s a brilliantly pointless piece of reporting, for the sake of massaging the egos of the Japanese readers, and assuring them that Japan is a ‘modern’ country… J-public are finally willing to accept foreigners… as long as they are ‘Japanese’ foreigners… I feel like I have gone back in time 5 years. The same politicians are back, the same old economic policies are back, and now Japan wants all those Nikkeijin they paid to go home, to come back too?”

Puddintain: “Imagine a similar poll in a country mostly populated with folks of white European descent that found that 80% percent of them were willing to live with immigrants of white European descent! Wouldn’t that be something amazing?”
==============================

Robert Moorehead’s JAPANsociology blog offers a more in-depth analysis of the Cabinet survey itself, so I won’t repeat. The most poignant parts of it for me was:

==============================
Moorehead: The survey asked respondents if they knew that there were Nikkei living in Japan, and how they knew this. Nearly 53 percent the respondents either knew that Nikkei were living in Japan, or had heard about it. 46 percent answered that they did not know that this group was living in Japan… [!!!]

On the one hand, I’m encouraged by the support for Nikkei in Japan. It’s certainly better than if they had said the opposite. But … I’m skeptical. South Americans in Japan, Nikkei and non-Nikkei alike, have told me very clearly that they do not feel included in Japanese society. Instead, borrowing some phrases from Eli Anderson’s The Cosmopolitan Canopy, they’re perpetually ‘on probation.’ In this provisional status, any misstep can be used against you as a sign of the fact that you’ll never fit in…

Hopefully government officials will use this survey to promote further initiatives to empower the Nikkei (and hopefully other non-Japanese) in Japan. Publicly conducting the survey, posting it on the Cabinet Office website, and releasing it to the press, may indicate that the government is testing public support for such initiatives.

http://japansociology.com/2013/03/02/80-of-japanese-welcome-foreigners-of-japanese-descent/
==============================

COMMENT: Bingo! As has been noted before on Debito.org, the Cabinet, in its sessions last summer on how to “accept” NJ into Japanese society for future economic vitality, only showed interest in the treatment of Nikkei. Nikkei, you see, are somehow part of “us” (due to Wajin blood conceits), and it looks like Japan’s policymakers are going to give the old failed Nikkei worker importation strategy another try, and cite this “shooting fish in a barrel” survey to support it.

Anyway, if the Cabinet is so keen on taking surveys, how about its perpetually embarrassing (and, as I’ve reported in the Japan Times, very flawed) Cabinet Survey on Human Rights that it conducts every four years? I just found the 2012 version here, a year late, clearly made public with significantly less fanfare (I searched for it as late as last October).  Perhaps because the results in the past were far more revealing about Japan’s cognitive dissonance regarding human rights (over the past decade or so, only a bit more than half of respondents answered affirmatively to the survey question, “Should foreigners have the same human rights protections as Japanese?”), meaning a large proportion don’t support granting equal human rights to foreign humans!  You see, human rights for NJ, by the very nature of having to ask this kind of question, are optional in Japan.  Less so, it would seem based upon this new Cabinet survey, for the “foreigners” with the right bloodline.  Which is the conceit that this new Cabinet survey is pandering to.

Ultimately, I believe the GOJ will once again fall into the same old shortsightedness (like so many other societies) of wanting “workers” only to discover later they brought in “people”.  And then, as before, society will seek to denigrate if not get rid of them as soon as they actually have needs (such as health care to provide, children to educate, lifestyles that reflect their backgrounds, retirement pensions to pay, political power to cede) that run counter to the original national plans…  Arudou Debito

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

PS:  I will talk about the new 2012 Human Rights Survey shortly, (for the record, it’s archived at https://web.archive.org/web/20130210112833/http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h24/h24-jinken/index.html) after my next Japan Times JBC column comes out next Tuesday JST.  Seems like the surveyers read my 2007 JT column criticizing it, and changed the survey questions regarding NJ discrimination this time.

For the record:
〔参考1〕 外国人の人権擁護についての考え方,,,,,
,該当者数,日本国籍を持たない人でも、日本人と同じように人権は守るべきだ,日本国籍を持たない人は日本人と同じような権利を持っていなくても仕方がない,どちらともいえない,わからない
,人,%,%,%,%
平成19年6月調査(注1),”1,766″,59.3,25.1,10.8,4.8
平成15年2月調査(注1),”2,059″,54,21.8,15.7,8.5
平成9年7月調査(注1),”2,148″,65.5,18.5,11.5,4.5
平成5年7月調査(注1),”2,274″,68.3,20.4,8,3.2
昭和63年7月調査(注2),”2,320″,61.8,16.7,12.3,9.2
(注1)平成5年7月調査から平成19年6月調査までは、「日本に居住している外国人は、生活上のいろいろな面で差別されてい,,,,,
ると言われていますが、外国人の人権擁護について、あなたの意見は次のどちらに近いですか。」と聞いている。,,,,,
(注2)昭和63年7月調査では、「生活上のいろいろな面で、外国人は差別されていると言われていますが、外国人の人権擁護に,,,,,
ついてあなたの意見は次のどちらに近いですか。」と聞いている。,,,,,
https://web.archive.org/web/20130220074813/http://www8.cao.go.jp/survey/h24/h24-jinken/zh/h14san1.csv

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

mytest

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

GenkyStoresBewareNJCrime022813

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOKYO | Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:41pm EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

And these crimes just keep rising:

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese society is ageing rapidly and its economy remains stalled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

chibamanbikichuuisign062111
(Courtesy Japan Times Yen For Living Blog)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

osakananbukeisatsuflyer021813

Translating:

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

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

About the perps…

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

Report these incidents to the police by dialing 110…

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

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

et cetera. Please contact us. OSAKA PREFECTURAL POLICE

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

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

Just a few for your reference:

Ueno Police racist caricatures in 2002 flyer

uenokeisatsu1002

 

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

ikunokeisatsuJune07

More information on the above here.

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

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

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

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

ORIGINAL:

furikomesagiNPAoriginal

PARODY:
furikomesagi
ENDS

Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here we have a case of cyberbullying by Japan’s nasty Internet denizens who do not wish the inconvenient truth of Japan’s racism (a subset of the stripe found in every country and every society) to be discussed or thought about. It made the Washington Post.  Comments by me follow the article:

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

American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japan’s history of discrimination

Posted by Max Fisher on February 22, 2013 at 6:00 am

Courtesy http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/22/american-teacher-in-japan-under-fire-for-lessons-on-japans-history-of-discrimination/ and Medama Sensei

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot from YouTube by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki, who first arrived in Japan on a teacher exchange program in 2007, wanted to learn about the nation that his parents had once called home. He taught English, explored the country and affectionately chronicled his cross-cultural adventures on social media, most recently on YouTube, where he gained a small following for videos like “Hitchhiking Okinawa” and the truly cringe-worthy “What Americans think of Japan.” One of them, on the experience of being gay in Japan, attracted 75,000 views and dozens of thoughtful comments.

Dezaki didn’t think the reaction to his latest video was going to be any different, but he was wrong. “If I should have anticipated something, I should have anticipated the netouyu,” [sic] he told me, referring to the informal army of young, hyper-nationalist Japanese Web users who tend to descend on any article — or person — they perceive as critical of Japan.

But before the netouyu put Dezaki in their crosshairs, sending him death threats and hounding his employers, previous employers and even the local politicians who oversee his employers, there was just a teacher and his students.

Dezaki began his final lesson with a 1970 TV documentary, Eye of the Storm, often taught in American schools for its bracingly honest exploration of how good-hearted people — in this case, young children participating in an experiment — can turn to racism. After the video ended, he asked his students to raise their hands if they thought racism existed in Japan. Almost none did. They all thought of it as a uniquely American problem.

Gently, Dezaki showed his students that, yes, there is also racism in Japan. He carefully avoided the most extreme and controversial cases — for example, Japan’s wartime enslavement of Korean and other Asian women for sex, which the country today doesn’t fully acknowledge — pointing instead to such slang terms as “bakachon camera.” The phrase, which translates as “idiot Korean camera,” is meant to refer to disposable cameras so easy to use that even an idiot or a Korean could do it.

He really got his students’ attention when he talked about discrimination between Japanese groups. People from Okinawa, where Dezaki happened to be teaching, are sometimes looked down upon by other Japanese, he pointed out, and in the past have been treated as second-class citizens. Isn’t that discrimination?

“The reaction was so positive,” he recalled. For many of them, the class was a sort of an a-ha moment. “These kids have heard the stories of their parents being discriminated against by the mainland Japanese. They know this stuff. But the funny thing is that they weren’t making the connection that that was discrimination.” From there, it was easier for the students to accept that other popular Japanese attitudes about race or class might be discriminatory.

The vice principal of the school said he wished more Japanese students could hear the lesson. Dezaki didn’t get a single complaint. No one accused him of being an enemy of Japan.

That changed a week ago. Dezaki had recorded his July classes and, last Thursday, posted a six-minute video in which he narrated an abbreviated version of the lesson. It opens with a disclaimer that would prove both prescient and, for his critics, vastly insufficient. “I know there’s a lot of racism in America, and I’m not saying that America is better than Japan or anything like that,” he says. Here’s the video:

Also on Thursday, Dezaki posted the video, titled “Racism in Japan,” to the popular link-sharing site Reddit under its Japan-focused subsection, where he often comments. By this Saturday, the netouyu had discovered the video.

“I recently made a video about Racism in Japan, and am currently getting bombarded with some pretty harsh, irrational comments from Japanese people who think I am purposefully attacking Japan,” Dezaki wrote in a new post on Reddit’s Japan section, also known as r/Japan. The critics, he wrote, were “flood[ing] the comments section with confusion and spin.” But angry Web comments would turn out to be the least of his problems.

The netouyu make their home at a Web site called ni channeru, otherwise known as ni chan, 2chan or 2ch. Americans familiar with the bottommost depths of the Internet might know 2chan’s English-language spin-off, 4chan, which, like the original, is a message board famous for its crude discussions, graphic images (don’t open either on your work computer) and penchant for mischief that can sometimes cross into illegality.

Some 2chan users, perhaps curious about how their country is perceived abroad, will occasionally translate Reddit’s r/Japan posts into Japanese. When the “Racism in Japan” video made it onto 2chan, outraged users flocked to the comments section on YouTube to attempt to discredit the video. They attacked Dezaki as “anti-Japanese” and fumed at him for warping Japanese schoolchildren with “misinformation.”

Inevitably, at least one death threat appeared. Though it was presumably idle, like most threats made anonymously over the Web, it rattled him. Still, it’s no surprise that the netouyu’s initial campaign, like just about every effort to change a real-life debate by flooding some Web comments sections, went nowhere. So they escalated.

A few of the outraged Japanese found some personal information about Dezaki, starting with his until-then-secret real name and building up to contact information for his Japanese employers. Given Dezaki’s social media trail, it probably wasn’t hard. They proliferated the information using a file-sharing service called SkyDrive, urging fellow netouyu to take their fight off the message boards and into Dezaki’s personal life.

By Monday, superiors at the school in Japan were e-mailing him, saying they were bombarded with complaints. Though the video was based almost entirely on a lecture that they had once praised, they asked him to pull it down.

“Some Japanese guys found out which school I used to work at and now, I am being pressured to take down the ‘Racism in Japan’ video,” Dezaki posted on Reddit. “I’m not really sure what to do at this point. I don’t want to take down the video because I don’t believe I did anything wrong, and I don’t believe in giving into bullies who try to censor every taboo topic in Japan. What do you guys think?”

He decided to keep the video online, but placed a message over the first few sentences that, in English and Japanese, announce his refusal to take it down.

But the outrage continued to mount, both online and in the real world. At one point, Dezaki says he was contacted by an official in Okinawa’s board of education, who warned that a member of Japan’s legislature might raise it on the floor of the National Diet, Japan’s lower house of parliament. Apparently, the netouyu may have succeeded in elevating the issue from a YouTube comments field to regional and perhaps even national Japanese politics.

“I knew there were going to be some Japanese upset with me, but I didn’t expect this magnitude of a problem,” Dezaki said. “I didn’t expect them to call my board of education. That said, I wasn’t surprised, though. You know what I mean? They’re insane people.”

Nationalism is not unique to Japan, but it is strong there, tinged with the insecurity of a once-powerful nation on the decline and with the humiliation of defeat and American occupation at the end of World War II. Japan’s national constitution, which declares the country’s commitment to pacifism and thus implicitly maintains its reliance on the United States, was in some ways pressed on the country by the American military government that ruled it for several years. The Americans, rather than Japan’s own excesses, make an easy culprit for the country’s lowered global status.

That history is still raw in Japan, where nationalism and resentment of perceived American control often go hand-in-hand. Dezaki is an American, and his video seems to have hit on the belief among many nationalists that the Americans still condescend to, and ultimately seek to control, their country.

“I fell in love with Japan; I love Japan,” Dezaki says, explaining why he made the video in the first place. “And I want to see Japan become a better place. Because I do see these potential problems with racism and discrimination.” His students at Okinawa seemed to benefit from the lesson, but a number of others don’t seem ready to hear it.

ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT BY DEBITO: Miki Dezaki contacted me last week for some advice about how to deal with this (I watched the abovementioned video on “Racism in Japan” and found it to be a valuable teaching aid, especially since it reconnected me with “Eye of the Storm“, the original of which I saw in grade school four decades ago); the only major problem I have with it is that it neglects to mention current stripes of racism against immigrants and Visible Minorities in Japan), and told him to stand his ground. Now the “Netouyo” (Netto Uyoku, or Internet Right-Wing, misspelled throughout the article above) have stepped up their pressure and attacks on him, and authorities aren’t being courageous enough to stand up to them. Now that his issue has been published in the Washington Post, I can quote this article and let that represent the debate.

The focus of the debate is this:  a perpetual weak spot regarding bullying in Japanese society.  We have loud invisible complainants cloaked by the Internet, who can espouse hateful sentiments against people and shout down historical and current social problems, and they aren’t simply ignored and seen as the cowards they are: anonymous bullies who lack the strength of their convictions to appear in public and take responsibility for their comments and death threats. People in authority must learn to ignore them, for these gnats only get further emboldened by any attention and success they receive.  The implicit irony in all of this is that they take advantage of the right to “freedom of speech” to try and deny the same rights to those they merely disagree with.  I hope that sense prevails and the debate is allowed to proceed and videos stay up.  Miki has done admirable work making all this information (including translations into Japanese) on uncomfortable truths accessible to a Japanese audience.  Bravo, Miki.  Stand your ground.  Debito.org Readers, please lend your support.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE MARCH 3: MIKI DEZAKI RESPONDS TO CRITICS, REFUSES TO TAKE HIS VIDEOS DOWN. BRAVO

NHK on Fukushima: Offering all-expense-paid junkets to NJ journalists, interviews for NJ residents who experienced disasters. What’s the catch?

mytest

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Hi Blog. In an interesting development, NHK is offering opportunities for NJ (both journalist and resident) to give their views on the “The 2011 Great Tohoku, Japan Earthquake and Tsunami”. For example:

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

Job: Non-Japanese journalists to cover stories in the Tohoku region

POSTED BY  (Asia Chapter of the Asian-American Journalists Association) ⋅  ⋅ LEAVE A COMMENT
FILED UNDER  

NHK is looking for non-Japanese journalists to cover stories in the Tohoku region. All the expenses are paid by NHK. Anyone interested in this, please contact Ayako Mie at ayako.mie@japantimes.co.jp

Project Description

NHK Enterprises will soon start the production of a new series program. Its title is “Tomorrow: Japan, beyond 3.11”. NHK will air this series from April 2013 and NHK Enterprises will produce 30 episodes in one year. The synopsis of this series is as follows;
A huge disaster attacked Japan. It was as if it denied the civilization which we build in 20th and 21st century. But many new movements begin in all over Japan. They are about ecology, new energy, industry, education, community, mental care and etc. Many experts and scientists are working hard to build the future of Japan not only in Tohoku area but also all over Japan. They think they have to utilize the precious experience of disaster.In this series, a foreign journalist, presenter or editor of TV, radio, or website will visit the places where new movements begin. He or she will cover this and will meet the people who are involved in this movement. And this series will depict the process of his or her discovery and will ask his or her impression. It will tell us the new things which Japanese people have not recognized.

(28 minutes x 30, From April 2013 to March 2014)

We are now looking for journalists, presenters or editors who can come to Japan to cover the new movements in Tohoku area or in Japan. The criteria of the reporter and theme of the series are as follows;

  1. Journalists, presenters or editors of TV, radio, or website who can deliver their messages through the media to the broad audience in their countries.
  2. Those who have the concern for the new situation after the earthquake in Japan and those who want to meet key persons of the new movements in Japan.
  3. Themes of this serried are the nuclear issues, the new technology about the earthquake, new movements which began after the earthquake, new trends of business, volunteers and etc. They can be not only directly connected to the earthquake of nuclear crises but also about the broad movements of life style, culture, technology or business.

If you have any idea of the reporter in your country, please tell us the name and contact information. We’ll invite him or her and will coordinate the trip and research in Japan. And we’ll allow them to use the materials which we will shoot.

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

Now that’s a great opportunity for outsiders to come in on a junket and do some reporting. This opportunity is also being echoed within a call to GaijinPot for NJ residents to give their views:

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

“My 3-11″ – Voluntary Interviewee for the program

https://jobs.gaijinpot.com/job/view/lang/en/job_id/82360, courtesy of MB

ON AIR:
March 2013

CONTENT:
NHK is seeking to interview those who had experienced The 2011 Great Tohoku, Japan Earthquake & Tsunami while living in Japan. They will film your unique perspective and experience on the disaster, and it impacted your life in Japan. The interview will take place for the special documentary program in February to be aired in March.

CONDITIONS:
Please write your 3-11 experience in your cover letter
Currently reside in Japan (Preferred for the interview)
Those who previously posted your earthquake experience on GaijinPot
http://injapan.gaijinpot.com/japan-needs-you/my311/

EXAMPLE:
**** My 3.11 memory *****
“That night I walked home with what seemed like every other person in Tokyo. My abiding memory of that walk was the good spirits, friendly nature and calm resolve to get home shared by everybody.

I was working as the editor of a news website when the earthquake first struck. It had been an almost stereotypical slow news day when the office started to shake, then shook some more, and then kept shaking. That convinced us to prepare to leave. I had just enough time to write a one-sentence bulletin on a large earthquake being felt in Tokyo before having to leave….

***** What did I get / learn from your experience of 3-11? *****
I had my first sense of wide scale failure on 3.11 and the immediate aftermath. Authorities, some individuals and technology all cracked in some way. But I learnt how to conquer fears in a scenario such as that, how to deal with systematic failures around you and how to buck up and keep smiling.”

Some of examples in the above link;
– British Photographer, living in Saitama
– Software engineer, Pakistani
– Margarita, Swedish, Female, Fukushima
– Canadian, Chiba-ken, Male, English teacher
– Japanese-Egyptian
– Juliet M, Koriyama ,Fukushima, English Teacher
– United States, Ibaraki, Female, Assistant Language Teacher
– ALT American, in Kamaishi, Iwate
…and many other contributors.

Although NHK is only able to interview a small number of listed applicants, we appreciate your willingness to share your experiences and we will read (and possibly consider airing) no matter if you are selected as an interviewee or not.”

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

This invites a “where’s the catch?” reaction.  When I posted this announcement yesterday within a separate blog entry, one of the more cynical comments from a Debito.org Reader included:

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

Marcus:  @Debito (#19), how convenient that they give you a pre-made, “wa”-stressing example of what you should write. I understand that Japanese-style documentaries are almost exclusively not real, but scripted reality along these lines. The truth has to be hidden, unless it exactly fits the bigger scheme, I guess.

It kind of makes me want to submit an sarcastic entry like, “On 11/3 I was living the sweet gaijin life, getting drunk, doing drugs, and french kissing frozen tuna in Tsukiji, when suddenly the earth started to shake. Of course, I was completely freaked out by it because I am not as used to it as the noble Japanese. When the shaking got really strong I switched on CNN, which by the way is owned by the Chinese and therefore totally Anti-Japanese. I saw the Tsunami hitting Tohoku and realized that this might have be ‘The Big One’. So I did what all we Gaijin came to Japan to do: Go out onto the street to riot and loot, and try to overthrow the Emperor. I made it to Shinjuku and met an old, but really genki man on the street who seemed to suffer from really dry eyes. I was so impressed and intimidated by his antics that I gave up all my evil plans, and spent the rest of the day marveling at ‘the good spirits, friendly nature and calm resolve to get home shared by everybody.’

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

NHK in fact has a history of using NJ to advance an agenda, for example using a quite willing supplicant in Tarento Daniel Kahl to portray overseas media as being biased regarding reportage on Fukushima (something Debito.org has had opinions about in the past). Consider this five minutes (!!) of NHK airtime devoted to Kahl for the newsworthy gesture of making a grandstanding YouTube video:

After all, if even a native speaker (well, one, anyway, and a few others that agreed with Kahl with no dissenters included in the broadcast) says there’s something fishy about overseas reportage (despite, after all, Japan’s already fishy domestic reportage), my, that’s added credibility for NHK viewers! It’s hard to believe that the above proposals won’t be put to the same ends, which is why I created this blog entry to discuss it.  After all, I saw how Hokkaido Shimbun, for example, completely sanitized an article I wrote in 1995 about my experiences in Kobe as a post-earthquake volunteer there (see below) and still had the temerity to put my name on it! (see also here)

Debito in Kobe as an earthquake volunteer. “Everyone was such a hard trier (ganbariya).” Not my title, not my contents.

It’s not outside precedent.  I would even argue that “sanitizing opinion for domestic consumption” is standard operating procedure.

What say you, Debito.org Readers? Arudou Debito

Update: JA and PTA’s Chagurin Magazine responds to protests re Tsutsumi Mika’s “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article for 6th-Grade kids

mytest

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Hi Blog. Last November, Debito.org reported that a magazine named Chagurin (sponsored by the PTA and the JA Japan Agricultural lobby, and placed in Elementary Schools nationwide) featured a scare-mongering article entitled “Children within the Poverty Country of America”. This was reported by a NJ resident named Stephanie whose daughter read the article in public school, questioned its contents because she had overseas experience, and was allegedly rebuffed by her teacher with an unquestioning, “It is written so it must be true.”

The contents, which were scanned and featured on Debito.org in full, depicted America as an example of what Japan should not become, and focused on several social problems (such as homelessness, poverty, obesity, non-universal health care, flawed education, and poor diet) which do exist but were largely exaggerated — even in some cases falsified —  in the article; moreover with no grounding with comparative social problems in Japan. The author, Tsutsumi Mika (her website here), a bilingual journalist educated in the US who preaches critical thinking in her article’s conclusions, turns out to be someone who cranks out bestselling books in Japanese that don’t apply the same critical thinking to Japan (only to America, as a cautionary tale). I called the Chagurin article “propaganda”, not only because it was sponsored by a Japan Agricultural lobby famous for its dirty media tricks (see herehere and here), but also because it was disseminated to a young audience of sixth graders not yet trained in the critical thinking Tsutsumi so prizes.  It followed Robert W. McChesney’s definition of propaganda exactly: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” And it caught them while they’re young.

Even more interesting information about Tsutsumi then came out in Debito.org Reader comments:  She is married to a young Dietmember named Kawada Ryuuhei of the Minna No Tou Party; he is an HIV activist who preaches anti-discrimination within Japanese society, yet supports xenophobic arguments regarding revisions to Japan’s Nationality Law (ergo his anti-discrimination sentiments only apply to “Japanese”). They make for an interesting pair, espousing an interestingly self-serving (and un-self-reflective) ideology that defies critical thinking even for fully-grown, mature, and educated adults — especially unbecoming given their life experiences both in overseas societies and in matters of discrimination.  (In contrast to what many say about international experience opening up the minds of younger Japanese, these two indicate the opposite effect as they pander to their xenophobic markets.)

That’s the background. The news for today’s blog entry is that Chagurin magazine responded to Stephanie this month, who in November had sent in a complaint letter about the article.  Their reply acknowledged some errors within, even incorporated answers from Tsutsumi herself (who didn’t budge in her claims). I will translate it below with comments from Stephanie and myself, and enclose the original text (redacted to remove Stephanie’s last name).  Any translation errors are mine, and corrections are welcome. As Tsutsumi advocates, put on your critical thinking caps as you read it!

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

TRANSLATION BEGINS:

Salutations.  We received your letter regarding the “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article in the December 2012 issue of Chagurin.  Thank you for your interest in our magazine.  We apologize for the delay in our answer.

Chagurin was created as a magazine to report on the importance of farming, food, nature and life, and cultivate the spirit of helping one another.  The goal of the article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” was not to criticize America.  It was to think along with the children about the social stratifications (kakusa shakai) caused by market fundamentalism (shijou genri shugi) that has gone too far.

Let us now answer the four criticisms that you pointed out, incorporating the answers of author Tsutsumi Mika:

1) Your point that “In any town you might go” you will find parks full of [homeless peoples’] tents being untrue:

Indeed, saying that “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” might be considered an exaggerated (kochou) way to put it.

Author Tsutsumi writes this:

  • It is a fact that after the Lehman Shock, with bankruptcies driving people out of their homes, the people living in tents has gone up dramatically (kyuuzou).  These are called “tent cities”, and they have been reported in major news media as well as in world media such as the BBC.
  • That said, tents aren’t only in parks, so the expression “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” I think is a mistaken way to put it. [sic]

In light of this, in our upcoming March issue of Chagurin we will run the following correction:

  • “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” is a mistaken expression, so we amend it to “there are tents in various places”.

2) Your point that “At a dentists. a filling (tsumemono) costs 150,000 yen [approximately 1700 US dollars]” being untrue:

Author Tsutsumi writes this:

  • A bill for a tooth’s treatment will easily exceed 1000 dollars, especially in the cities.
  • Even if you are insured, there are cases where the insurance company refuses to pay.
  • If you are not insured, there are many cases where they take advantage of your weakened position (ashimoto o mirarete) and demand high prices.

[NB: With remarkable serendipity, I have a friend who just had dental work for a root canal for a cracked tooth and a cap on top.  The entire root canal came to about 1000 dollars, and the cap about 800 dollars.  So total that’s about what Tsutsumi claims is the market price for a filling, in a city like Honolulu.  And yes, fortunately, the insurance company paid for most of it.  So obviously your mileage may vary from Tsutsumi’s claims.]

In regards to points 1 and 2, the author did extensive on-site research, and this is grounded upon information with sources.  Saying it as an “everything and all” absolute beckons overstatement, and for giving rise to misunderstandings we apologize.

Regarding point three, about the the picture of the boy with cavities in fact wearing fake Hallowe’en teeth:

chagurin4teethcrop

We checked with the photo agency from whom we borrowed this photo, and found out that they are fake teeth.  This was a mistake by our editorial department, and we apologize for putting up the wrong photo (ayamatta shashin o keisai shita koto).

In light of this, in our upcoming March issue of Chagurin we will run the following correction:

“Regarding the photo of the image of the boy with bad teeth, these were not cavities, these were false teeth used as a costume, and we apologize and correct this error.”

4) Your point about the column being so negative:

Regarding that, the last page of the article states that it is calling for children to independently (jishuteki) choose data for themselves (jouhou no shusha sentaku), so as a project (kikaku) in itself we think this is a positive thing.  Author Tsusumi is of the same opinion.

There are many things in this world that we want children to learn.  Unfortunately with the way the world is now, there are many problems, not limited to poverty and social inequality, but also food supply, war, etc.  In regards to these problems, we would like to positively take up these issues and include Japan’s problems as well.

Thank you very much for your feedback.  We will take them under advisement in our upcoming articles, and not make mistakes like these again by paying attention to fine details.  We appreciate your reading our publication very much.  

Signed, Chagurin Editors Iwazawa Nobuyuki and Mogi Kumiko

ENDS

CHAGURIN REPLY SCANS (two pages):

chagurinreply1 chagurinreply2

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  While both Stephanie and I appreciate the fact that the magazine admitted to some mistakes (let alone answered her at all; although Tsutsumi clearly didn’t budge from her claims), the fundamental points I raised in my November post on this article and the treatment of the issues remain unaddressed:

 – It is testament to our educations that we as readers with critical faculties can see that the points raised [within Tsutsumi’s article] are real social problems [in the United States]. The point of this blog entry, however, is how a) they are presented b) to a young audience without significant training in the critical thought the author is advocating, c) couched as a contrast to how Japan is (or is becoming) as a cautionary tale, and d) in a way unsophisticated enough to present these conditions with the appearance of unmitigated absolutes e) about a foreign society that isn’t going to answer or correct the absolutes. Then we get to the sensationalism (e.g., the allegedly fake teeth in the illustration and the misquoted prices) and the subterfuge (the odd linkage to international trade/TPP as the source of problems, etc.)…

Finally, consider the shoe on the other foot — if an article of this tone and content appeared in an overseas grade-school level newspaper funded by the farming lobby and endorsed by the PTA with the same type of content about Japan, the first people banging on the publisher’s door in protest would be the Japanese embassy.  Then the internet denizens will follow with accusations of racism and anti-Japaneseness. The fact that not a single poster on Debito.org has cited anti-Americanism as the author’s motive (in fact, a few comments I did not let through were explicitly anti-American themselves; moreover with no substantiation for claims) is testament again to the sophistication of our audience here: We can acknowledge problems in societies of origin without glossing over them with blind patriotism.

Stephanie herself added (dated January 15):

I received a response from the editor of Chagurin magazine. I sent them a letter in November and when I did not hear back I thought they would not respond. I was surprised when this letter arrived a few days ago. And to admit any kind of mistake or wrong…I think that is a big step. […]

Yes, I thought missing the core issue of this being a propaganda piece aimed at children is what happened in their response (my daughter translated the letter for me). I’ve lived half my life in locations that were not exactly warm to my being caucasian or my being American. With that I have learned the frustrations of not being able to “make” someone see a different viewpoint or a view beyond what they narrowly have allowed themselves. Growing up, “Where are you from?” I never knew quite what to answer, I’m a “third culture kid”. My mom is [a native of one European country] and my dad is [a native of another European country], I have dual citizenship.

Still, that Chagurin admitted anything wrong — was surprising. I’m still hoping that gradually, with people willing to write and speak out that there will be a change and an ability to focus on the true points of concern in these very important issues. And yes, if the shoe were on the other foot it would have been a huge deal!

I did follow the article and discussion after you posted it. I very much enjoyed the discussion and was glad that the majority of those sharing understood the overall concern –not, as you mentioned an anti-American issue. […]

I want to thank you again for the site you maintain that provides awareness and support for so many people — thanks.

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

Alright, Debito.org Readers: We have been formally encouraged to think independently by Chagurin and Tsutsumi, so let’s use some critical thinking about this publication, the author, the tack, and the points/evidence raised therein. Problem solved with this apology and retraction? Arudou Debito

Asahi: Media-fostered xenophobia forces prefectural countermeasures against NJ buying “strategic land”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has reported in the past on how media fearmongering against foreigners (by the Yomiuri, natch) has caused people in the boonies to get paranoid about NJ purchasing land for apparently nefarious purposes (for who knows what they’ll do to the water table beneath them!).  Well, the Asahi below has surveyed this paranoia and exposed it for the bunkum it is.

It’s especially ironic when the New York Times does a story two days later (in their “Great Homes and Destinations” column, a promo piece on the buyer’s market for real estate in Japan) and buys hook line and sinker the assertion by vested interests that “Foreign buyers face no restrictions in Japan.”  Not anymore, and not for a little while now (Debito.org’s earliest story on this is from 2010!).  More under-researched bunkum posing as news.  Especially in this time of politically-motivated NJ Witch Hunts in Japan’s property market. Arudou Debito

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

Local governments swallow scare stories over ‘foreigners’ buying strategic land
Asahi Shimbun December 25, 2012, courtesy of Yokohama John
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201212250046
By KOSUKE TAUCHI/ Staff Writer

A flap over “foreigners” buying Japan’s upland forests and potentially controlling the nation’s water resources has caused some local authorities to push the panic button and introduce heightened oversight of some land sales.

Four prefectural governments have written new rules and nine others are considering similar measures, which they say are intended to help protect the national nature of Japan’s water resources.

But The Asahi Shimbun has found limited evidence of foreigners buying Japan’s forests—and not a single confirmed case of them doing so with the aim of securing control of water.

Fears that foreign nations—notably, China—might buy up forest and deplete subterranean water caused a storm in political circles and the news media three years ago. At that time, China’s economic power was increasingly being viewed as a threat, amid acquisitions of Japanese enterprises and real estate by Chinese capital.

News reports fueled the scare. One suggested that China was looking to acquire headwaters areas in Japan. Another said investors from Hong Kong had purchased a forest in Hokkaido.

The Forestry Agency said in 2010 it had about 30 confirmed cases of forests being bought with foreign capital.

In March of this year, Hokkaido became the first prefectural government to approve an ordinance to counter such acquisitions. Saitama, Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures followed suit.

All four prefectures now require sellers and buyers of land in headwaters areas, both Japanese and foreign nationals, to notify the authorities in advance. Corporations and individuals who fail to do so, or ignore subsequent government recommendations, risk being publicly named.

“It will help curb foreign acquisitions,” said Kiyoshi Ueda, governor of Saitama Prefecture.

Seven other prefectures—Yamagata, Yamanashi, Nagano, Fukui, Gifu, Tokushima and Kochi—said they are considering similar moves. Two others—Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures—initially said they had no such plans when The Asahi Shimbun first contacted them in August, but their respective prefectural governors later said they would consider following suit.

In a survey of all 47 prefectural governments across Japan, The Asahi Shimbun found that foreign capital had purchased a total 1,234 hectares of forest. The sales were in eight prefectures. More than 80 percent of the forest concerned was in Hokkaido.

asahiforeignlandbuys122512

Source:  Asahi Shinbun 12/25/12

Acquisitions by Chinese capital accounted for 408 hectares, and most of those purchases were made with capital from Hong Kong.

Most purchasers gave their motivation as asset ownership or speculation in land prices ahead of likely resale. There was no confirmed case of a purchaser aiming to “secure water resources.”

In nine of the 13 prefectures that have either tightened rules or are considering doing so, there were no records—ever—of foreign purchasers buying forests.

The story appears to be a case of politicians exploiting sensitivity over Japan’s “homeland” and “territories”—and running one step ahead of reality.”

ENDS

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

INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE
House Hunting in … Japan
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Great Homes and Destinations column,
By NINA ROBERTS
Published: December 26, 2012 (excerpt)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/greathomesanddestinations/real-estate-in-japan.html

[…] MARKET OVERVIEW

Japan is a buyers’ market, said Erik Oskamp, the owner of Akasaka Real Estate in Tokyo. “Owning property in Tokyo is probably half or a third of the monthly price than if you rent,” he said, “and still people are not buying; that’s how depressed the market is. You always have to explain to people, ‘We’re still here, Japan still exists.’ “

The housing stagnation dates to 1991, the year that diminished expectations about Japan’s economy sent property values into a nosedive.

“During the 1980s, Japan became the financial center of the Asian region,” said Jiro Yoshida, an assistant professor of business at Penn State. “People had a really rosy expectation about the future of the Japanese economy.” With lowered expectations came “a huge drop in property prices,” Mr. Yoshida added, recalling that property prices fell by about 50 percent over the next decade.

The free fall abated in the early 2000s, and a gradual ascent began by 2006 and 2007, Mr. Oskamp said. Still, according to Mr. Yoshida, residential values remain about half what they were in 1991, and even 70 percent less in some areas. In resort areas like Minikami and Chiba, Mr. Oskamp said, values are down by as much as 90 percent.

That said, however, the global economic downturn did not have a huge impact on Japan because its banks had not expanded globally, Mr. Yoshida said.

WHO BUYS IN JAPAN

Almost no foreigners are buying primary residences in Japan, according to Mr. Oskamp. Some are buying as an investment or for use as a second home, but the number is minuscule. “Less than 1 percent of all real estate transactions in Japan involves a foreigner,” he said.

Compounded as it was by the 2011 earthquake and the resulting fear of radiation contamination, the financial crisis pushed many foreigners — especially the banking professionals who typically buy property — to choose Singapore or Hong Kong instead.

What few foreign buyers there are tend to be from China or Taiwan, said Yukiko Takano, the Japan Sotheby’s International Realty agent who has this listing.

BUYING BASICS

Foreign buyers face no restrictions in Japan. Hiring a lawyer for residential real estate transactions is not standard practice; instead, real estate agents typically handle the legal work, with the seller’s agent drafting the contracts. A judicial scrivener, or notary public, investigates the property’s history of ownership and registers its change.

Employed foreigners are generally able to obtain mortgages from Japanese banks. If a borrower defaults on a mortgage, the bank has the right to go after personal assets.

WEB SITES

Japan Tourism: jnto.go.jp/

Tokyo Travel Guide: gotokyo.org/en/

Mount Fuji tourism: yamanashi-kankou.jp/

EXCERPT ENDS

NYT: Xenophobia in Environmental Ministry re exclusionary Fukushima decontam efforts: “Japanese soil is different”, “NJ assistance might scare local grandmas”

mytest

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Hi Blog. As part of a continuing series of how the Post-Fukushima Debacles have laid bare just how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is (see related articles here (item #2), here, here, herehere, here, herehere, and here), the NYT has just reported the latest on the Fukushima radiation cleanup effort.  Within, we can witness a wonderful fusion of corruption, xenophobia, and unaccountable bureaucratic culture that have been symptomatic of why Japan as a society cannot not fix itself (see items #1-3).  And this time, it’s a wonderful capsule summary of why foreign technology and assistance will lose out to featherbedded domestic interests (the Kensetsu Zoku, who are making a right mess of things).  And how there’s no hope of it getting better since the corrupt corporatists who facilitated this system in the first place (LDP under Abe and co.) are back in power as of December with a fresh mandate.  A choice excerpt from the NYT, very, very germane to the purview of Debito.org, follows:

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

NYT:  Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.

“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”

(UPDATE:  Original Japanese question and answer, courtesy of Hiroko Tabuchi (thanks!):

質問:なぜ除染事業に海外の業者や技術が採用されてないのか。
環境省福島除染推進チーム次長 西山 英彦:
(ストリップペイント等の除染技術については)「海外で有効なものでも、日本は土が違ったりしますから」
(除染事業全体を海外の会社が請け負うことについて)「外国人が福島をうろうろしてたら、お年寄りのおじいちゃんおばあちゃんが恐がるでしょう」

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

(Here’s a picture of Nishiyama Hidehiko to burn into your memory cells, courtesy of Reuters:)

NishiyamaHidehiko

This is an incredibly racist insult to all the NJ who were both there and who went up there to help the victims of the disasters at great time, expense, and risk to their health — without scaring people.  I have two articles below the NYT from the WSJ which outline what a horrible little fellow this Nishiyama is, and how he keeps bouncing right back into power despite scandal within Japan’s unaccountable bureaucracy.

After that, I have some links to previous comments on this article.  I originally put this up yesterday as an addendum to a previous blog entry, but the comments there (see most of them in context here) are worth archiving here because they express the appropriate amount of outrage.  About a system that is, in the end, betraying everyone.  Kudos to NYT reporter Hiroko Tabuchi for uncovering this.  Arudou Debito

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

In Japan, a Painfully Slow Sweep
The New York Times, January 7, 2013
By HIROKO TABUCHI
See photos at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/business/japans-cleanup-after-a-nuclear-accident-is-denounced.html

NARAHA, Japan — The decontamination crews at a deserted elementary school here are at the forefront of what Japan says is the most ambitious radiological cleanup the world has seen, one that promised to draw on cutting-edge technology from across the globe.

But much of the work at the Naraha-Minami Elementary School, about 12 miles away from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, tells another story. For eight hours a day, construction workers blast buildings with water, cut grass and shovel dirt and foliage into big black plastic bags — which, with nowhere to go, dot Naraha’s landscape like funeral mounds.

More than a year and a half since the nuclear crisis, much of Japan’s post-Fukushima cleanup remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.

Local businesses that responded to a government call to research and develop decontamination methods have found themselves largely left out. American and other foreign companies with proven expertise in environmental remediation, invited to Japan in June to show off their technologies, have similarly found little scope to participate.

Recent reports in the local media of cleanup crews dumping contaminated soil and leaves into rivers has focused attention on the sloppiness of the cleanup.

“What’s happening on the ground is a disgrace,” said Masafumi Shiga, president of Shiga Toso, a refurbishing company based in Iwaki, Fukushima. The company developed a more effective and safer way to remove cesium from concrete without using water, which could repollute the environment. “We’ve been ready to help for ages, but they say they’ve got their own way of cleaning up,” he said.

Shiga Toso’s technology was tested and identified by government scientists as “fit to deploy immediately,” but it has been used only at two small locations, including a concrete drain at the Naraha-Minami school.

Instead, both the central and local governments have handed over much of the 1 trillion yen decontamination effort to Japan’s largest construction companies. The politically connected companies have little radiological cleanup expertise and critics say they have cut corners to employ primitive — even potentially hazardous — techniques.

The construction companies have the great advantage of available manpower. Here in Naraha, about 1,500 cleanup workers are deployed every day to power-spray buildings, scrape soil off fields, and remove fallen leaves and undergrowth from forests and mountains, according to an official at the Maeda Corporation, which is in charge of the cleanup.

That number, the official said, will soon rise to 2,000, a large deployment rarely seen on even large-sale projects like dams and bridges.

The construction companies suggest new technologies may work, but are not necessarily cost-effective.

“In such a big undertaking, cost-effectiveness becomes very important,” said Takeshi Nishikawa, an executive based in Fukushima for the Kashima Corporation, Japan’s largest construction company. The company is in charge of the cleanup in the city of Tamura, a part of which lies within the 12-mile exclusion zone. “We bring skills and expertise to the project,” Mr. Nishikawa said.

Kashima also built the reactor buildings for all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading some critics to question why control of the cleanup effort has been left to companies with deep ties to the nuclear industry.

Also worrying, industry experts say, are cleanup methods used by the construction companies that create loose contamination that can become airborne or enter the water.

At many sites, contaminated runoff from cleanup projects is not fully recovered and is being released into the environment, multiple people involved in the decontamination work said.

In addition, there are no concrete plans about storing the vast amounts of contaminated soil and foliage the cleanup is generating, which the environment ministry estimates will amount to at least 29 million cubic meters, or more than a billion cubic feet.

The contaminated dirt lies in bags on roadsides, in abandoned fields and on the coastline, where experts say they are at risk from high waves or another tsunami.

“This isn’t decontamination — it’s sweeping up dirt and leaves and absolutely irresponsible,” said Tomoya Yamauchi, an expert in radiation measurement at Kobe University who has been helping Fukushima communities test the effectiveness of various decontamination methods. “Japan has started up its big public works machine, and the cleanup has become an end in itself. It’s a way for the government to appear to be doing something for Fukushima.”

In some of the more heavily contaminated parts of Fukushima, which covers about 100 square miles, the central government aims to reduce radiation exposure levels to below 20 millisieverts a year by 2014, a level the government says is safe for the general public. But experts doubt whether this is achievable, especially with current cleanup methods.

After some recent bad press, the central government has promised to step up checks of the decontamination work. “We will not betray the trust of the local communities,” Shinji Inoue, the environment vice minister, said Monday.

There had been high hopes about the government’s disaster reconstruction plan. It was announced four months after the March 2011 disaster, which declared Japan would draw on the most advanced decontamination know-how possible.

But confusion over who would conduct and pay for the cleanup slowed the government response. It took nine months for the central government to decide that it would take charge of decontamination work in 11 of the heaviest-contaminated towns and cities in Fukushima, leaving the rest for local governments to handle.

In October, the state-backed research organization, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, announced that it was soliciting new decontamination technology from across the country.

By early November, the agency had identified 25 technologies that its own tests showed removed harmful cesium from the environment.

A new system to trap, filter and recycle contaminated runoff, developed by the local machinery maker Fukushima Komatsu Forklift, was one of technologies. But since then, the company has not been called on to participate in the state-led cleanup.

“For the big general contractors, it’s all about the bottom line,” said Masao Sakai, an executive at the company. “New technology is available to prevent harmful runoff, but they stick to the same old methods.”

The Japanese government also made an initial effort to contact foreign companies for decontamination support. It invited 32 companies from the United States that specialize in remediation technologies like strip-painting and waste minimization, to show off their expertise to Japanese government officials, experts and companies involved in the cleanup.

Opinions on the trip’s effectiveness vary among participants, but in the six months since, not a single foreign company has been employed in Japan’s cleanup, according to the trip’s participants and Japan’s Environment Ministry.

“Japan has a rich history in nuclear energy, but as you know, the U.S. has a much more diverse experience in dealing with the cleanup of very complicated nuclear processing facilities. We’ve been cleaning it up since World War II,” said Casey Bunker, a director at RJ Lee, a scientific consulting company based in Pennsylvania that took part in the visit.

“There was a little of, ‘Hey, bring your tools over and show us how it works.’ But they ultimately wanted to do it themselves, to fix things themselves,” Mr. Bunker said. “There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in a consultative relationship moving forward.”

Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.

“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”

Some local residents are losing faith in the decontamination effort.

“I thought Japan was a technologically advanced country. I thought we’d be able to clean up better than this,” said Yoshiko Suganami, a legal worker who was forced to abandon her home and office over two miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”

Most of the clients at Ms. Suganami’s new practice in Fukushima city are also nuclear refugees who have lost their jobs and homes and are trying to avert bankruptcy. She said few expect to ever return.
ENDS

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

In Japan Rarity, Nuclear Spokesman Replaced After Affair Allegations

By Yuka Hayashi

Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2011, courtesy of JE

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/06/30/in-japan-rarity-nuclear-spokesman-replaced-after-affair-allegations/

Over the past few months, the world has been rocked by revelations of powerful men caught in sex scandals: Arnold and Anthony Weiner, to name a few. Now Japan has its own version, which this week claimed the scalp of Hidehiko Nishiyama, Tokyo’s former chief nuclear spokesman.

NishiyamaHidehiko
Reuters
Hidehiko Nishiyama was demoted from his role as the government’s chief nuclear spokesman on June 29 after rumors about an alleged affair with a young female employee unfurled.

Unlike the U.S., where online flirting costs politicians their jobs, the public in Japan is generally forgiving of powerful men involved in sex scandals. But not this time.

Mr. Nishiyama, a successful career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, was abruptly pushed out of his role Wednesday, less than a week after a news magazine reported an alleged affair between him and a younger female staffer at the ministry. While Mr. Nishiyama, 54, denied having a sexual relationship with the woman through a ministry spokesman, the colorful details reported in the article became a source of incessant  gossip among the city’s elites.

Extra-marital affairs of politicians and business leaders are often viewed in Japan as they are in France – personal matters that should be left alone as long as they don’t interfere with their work — or dramatically offend people’s sensitivities. Some even consider such scandals as something the men should be proud of, as a sign of their power and personal charm.

Take Prime Minister Naoto Kan. In 1998, a news magazine reported his affair with a newscaster. He was called “You idiot!” by his wife, as he himself admitted, but suffered no lasting damage to his career. Paparazzi captured Goshi Hosono, a rising star of Mr. Kan’s ruling party, in a moment of passion with a TV reporter in 2006, but the 39-year-old married politician quickly put his career back on track; he just got appointed as Japan’s new nuclear minister on Monday.

Until recently, Mr. Nishiyama, who is married with two children, was known as a rising star within the ministry, but that hardly made him a public figure. That changed a few days after the March 11 disaster, when he was tapped to moderate the ministry’s daily briefings on the accident. With his articulate answers and knowledge of the power industry gained through his previous assignments, he became a familiar face on national television.

Mr. Nishiyama will now return to his pre-March 11 job in the ministry’s trade bureau, where his primary responsibility is to move Japan toward participating in a controversial regional trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I apologize if (the report) gave the impression or invited concerns that I was not fully committed to my job” Mr. Nishiyama said last week. Yukio Edano, chief government spokesman, said Wednesday Mr. Nishiyama was relieved of his responsibility due to “concerns that (the scandal) would interfere with his duties.”

ENDS

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

Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2011

Bureaucratic Fallout

By Yoree Koh and Yuka Hayashi

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/11/18/bureaucratic-fallout/

It has been a punishing day for Japan’s nuclear officials.

Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said Friday he would forgo his monthly cabinet salary of Y1.5 million, or roughly $20,000, to take responsibility for an employee of his ministry dumping radioactive soil sent from Fukushima prefecture near his backyard in Tokyo’s suburbs.

As the minister also overseeing the cleanup of the nuclear crisis, Mr. Hosono said the insensitive behavior exhibited by his staff ultimately falls on his shoulders. (He will continue to collect his Y1.3 million monthly income as a member of parliament).

Penalties were also imposed on the environment vice ministers, who will face a 20% pay cut for two months. Others involved have been transferred to other positions and given stern warnings.

The penalties come the day after Mr. Hosono revealed that an environment ministry employee threw soil with trace amounts of radiation away in a vacant lot near his home last week. The soil was sent to the ministry from a Fukushima resident, who had asked the ministry to get rid of the soil. Tests of the soil detected radiation of about 0.18 microsieverts per hour – a low level deemed safe.

Looking ever more haggard since becoming the central government’s captain in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi accident soon after March 11,  Mr. Hosono said at a press conference Friday: “What is behind this is the feeling among Fukushima residents that the government has not been implementing its responsibility for handling contaminated soil and should be doing more. I do not think I will be able to gain understanding of people in Fukushima with something like this,” according to state broadcaster NHK.

Separately, the environment ministry has taken in a familiar face to help oversee the soil decontamination effort. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a former government nuclear spokesman disgraced by a sex scandal,  has been named deputy chief of a special team for decontamination of Fukushima, set up within the ministry of environment, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.

Mr. Nishiyama, once a rising star at the METI, became a television star soon after the March accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant as a well-spoken, never-tiring spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the ministry’s nuclear regulatory body. But he lost the high-profile job in June after a weekly magazine carried a detailed account of his extramarital affair with a female staffer of the ministry. Mr. Nishiyama apologized at the time for the trouble the allegations had caused. On Sep. 30, the ministry formally suspended  the 54-year-old career bureaucrat for one month for having been engaged in “inappropriate” sexual conduct during working hours at the height of the nuclear crisis.

Mr. Nishiyama still remains an employee of the METI but will now be on lease to the environment ministry.  The 54-year-old elite bureaucrat joined the ministry in 1980 after graduating from Tokyo University. Mr. Nishiyama wasn’t available for comment.

ENDS

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

COMMENTS:

AB: Like the classic “gaijin skis won’t work on Japanese snow” absurdity van Wolferen (?) wrote about 20 years ago. Unbelievable this crappola is still going on. Only gonna get worse with LDP back in the saddle. To paraphrase de Tocqueville “a people gets the government it deserves”

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

CD: i wonder the extent to which this statement is a convenient misdirection. it’s much easier to spew out some xenophobic nonsense than to publicly admit that fukushima has been written off. i mean, the place was written off the moment they built the plants. but what japanese politician or bureaucrat is going to admit to that? much easier to say grandma and grandpa might get scared by gaijin.

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

AB: No one — at least no one IN JAPAN — is EVER going to admit this (even though it’s true). It’s like the same-old same-old — everyone afraid of being tarred with the “Hikokumin brush” and being called “defeatist” or a “dream-destroyer” (yume wo kowasu hito).

Same dynamic that kept everyone with half a brain enough to see what was going on otherwise silent as Imperial Japan lurched toward — then plunged into — a suicidal war in 1941.

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

EF: This is private life, [Nishiyama] does with his tin-tin whenever he wants. What concerns us is his racist profile and he attacking foreigners this way again after all foreigners have done for the victims in Fukushima because, at the time of the hard cleaning up, many foreigners were there removing the corpses along with the Japanese and no one seemed scared by our presence.

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

GH: [Nishiyama’s] comments are already noted on his Wikipedia page under 日本人論的・差別的発言.

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

IJ: Pathological racism. Just like how they couldn’t use the U.S. military’s rescue helicopters in Kobe. The Japanese air is different so the pilots might not have been able to fly in Japanese airspace… and the U.S. and French doctors might have scared the earthquake victims to death. But it was really the swiss search dogs that would have been the biggest problem. Japanese dog food is so different. LOL … What a frigging mess Japan is in. Gladder and gladder I voted with my feet years ago.

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

KL: So the local victims have to suffer because of the racism of the authorities?! But I guess the little people don’t matter…

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

MN: I know the real reason foreign companies were not invited to take part. I have a relative who works for a major general contractor (maybe even one mentioned in the article). He tells me that ALL (not some, ALL) of their business is carried out in cash for the single purpose of ensuring bribes go smoothly. Foreign companies are not above this. They just don’t know how to play the game.

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

JDG: Yet another microcosm for all that is wrong with Japan. If the J-public (especially the victims of the disaster) are going to persist in taking it lying down (and unlubricated!), then I can’t see much hope for the future.

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

GP: Instead, there are now armies of cheap laborers washing down buildings with water and scraping topsoil off schoolyards and dumping it in local rivers – simply spreading the contamination even further while they toil to line the coffers of companies with the juicy cleanup contracts – companies that just conveniently are linked to the nuclear industry. And this is a first world country?

The final comment from the environment ministry really said it all though. This almost reads like a sarcastic joke referencing the “Japan has different snow” tactics of yester-year, with a fine dash of xenophobia thrown in for good measure. Can’t have any nasty furriners scaring the oldies!! (Let’s conveniently ignore the fact that hundreds of foreigners if not thousands have already given their time, money and labor to cleanup and rebuild in Tohoku, and by all accounts their assistance was warmly welcomed).

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

JDG: ATTENTION APOLOGISTS!

Since you obsessively check this site, please read Debito’s post #23 and explain to me;

  1. How this is simply one small isolated case of government and business collusion in corruption, and does by no means indicate that ‘Japan Inc.’ is broken?
  2. How does this prove that the Fukushima situation is fully safe and under control, and being managed in a transparent fashion?
  3. How does the following statement;’“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”’, prove that rather than racism being endemic in the heart of the Japanese state, I am simply an over sensitive moaner who can’t understand Japan’s unique culture?
  4. How does this article prove that all Japan reporting is shoddy in nature, and biased unfairly against Japan?
  5. How does this statement by a displaced Fukushima resident; ‘“It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”’ clearly reek of unfair and scientifically unsound anti-nuclear lobby alarmism?

By all means, please take this opportunity to show us all where we have being getting it so wrong for all these years in our criticism of Japan.
=======================

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

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

By ARUDOU DEBITO

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

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

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

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

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

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

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

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

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

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

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

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

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

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

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

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

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

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

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

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

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

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

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

Bubbling under (in descending order):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Japanese Only” hospital Keira Orthopaedic Surgery in Shintoku, Tokachi, Hokkaido. Alleged language barrier supersedes Hippocratic Oath for clinic, despite links to METI medical tourism

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Hello Blog.  As part of a long list of “Japanese Only” establishments, which started with bars and bathhouses and has since expanded to restaurants, stores, barber shops, internet cafes, hotels, apartments, and even schools denying NJ service, has now taken the next step — denying NJ medical treatment.  Read on.  Comment and confirmation from me follows.  Forwarding with permission.

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December 17, 2012
Re: Advice regarding discrimination at a hospital

Dear Sir, My name is Hilary. I am originally from Canada and I’ve been employed by the Town of Shikaoi in Tokachi, Hokkaido as an Assistant Language Teacher for the past four years.

Today, I was experiencing a problem with my foot; I thought I broke a toe over the weekend. I spoke with a Japanese Teacher of English with whom I work with and she offered to call a clinic in neighbouring Shintoku and accompany me to the clinic after school for treatment. She made the telephone call in Japanese and was advised of their location and hours of business and took down their information. Once we arrived there, she spoke with reception and a man (presumably a doctor) motioned to me, making the “batsu” gesture and said (in Japanese) that the clinic’s system doesn’t allow for the treatment of foreigners because of our inability to understand Japanese. I looked at my colleague for confirmation on what I heard and she looked completely dumbstruck.

She turned to me and asked if I understood what they said. I said yes and repeated what the man said back to her in English. Her mouth just hung open and she said “I’ve never heard of such a policy”. The man leaned into my colleague and asked her if I understood Japanese, to which I replied, yes I do. He then said that he would check with the attending physician but doubted that I could receive treatment.

As he went to talk with the attending physician, a receptionist said to my colleague that she (the receptionist) explained the clinic’s policy to my colleague over the phone. My colleague started to tear up as the man returned and said that I could not receive treatment from this clinic due to the reasons he already stated. At that time, the receptionist told the man that she did explain that to my colleague over the phone. My colleague asked the man what we should do and he gave us the telephone number of another hospital in a different town and advised us to go there. I gripped my colleague by the arm and simply said “let’s go”. As we walked out of the clinic, my colleague was very distraught and she said to me “they never told me that on the phone”. I said to her “of course they didn’t. The receptionist was lying”.

We returned to our hometown and went to our local hospital. I received very good care from an English speaking doctor who told us not to worry about the other hospital. However, I was advised by an independent friend that you would be the best person to contact over such a situation.

If needed, this is the clinic’s information:

keiraseikeigeka

Keira Orthopaedic Surgery (Seikei Geka Iin)
けいら整形外科医院
13 Jominami 5 Chome
Shintoku, Kamikawa District
Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
0156-69-5151

If you could advise me as to what, if anything, I should do, I would appreciate that very much. Best regards, Hilary

Hospital details (courtesy http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php)
けいら整形外科医院
院長 計良 基治
診療科 整形外科
病床数 無し
所在地 〒081-0013 北海道上川郡新得町3条南5丁目
電話 0156-69-5151
FAX 0156-69-5152
URL 無し
診療時間
月、金曜日:8時から12時、13時30分から18時30分
火、水、土曜日:8時から12時
休診日
火、水、土曜日午後・木曜日・日曜日・祝祭日・年末年始

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COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I called Keira Seikei Geika Iin first thing in the morning JST on December 18, 2012, and talked to a man who did not give his name.  He apologetically confirmed that his institution does not take foreigners.  The reason given was a language barrier, and that it might cause “inconvenience” (meiwaku).  When asked if this did not constitute discrimination, the answer given was a mere repeat of the meiwaku excuse and apology.  When asked about having an interpreter along to resolve any alleged language barrier, the answer became a mantra.  I thanked him for his time and that was the end of the conversation.

Feel free to telephone them yourself if you wish further confirmation.  I think Hokkaido Shinbun should be notified.  For if even Japanese hospitals can get away with defying the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next?  I have said for at least a decade that unchecked discrimination leads to copycatting and expansion to other business sectors.  Now it’s hospitals.  What’s next?  Supermarkets?  And it’s not even the first time I’ve heard of this happening — click here to see the case of a NJ woman in child labor in 2006 being rejected by 5 hospitals seven times; it only made the news because it happened to pregnant Japanese women a year later.

Postscript:  Hillary fortunately did not have a broken toe.  It was chilblains.  Wishing her a speedy recovery.  Arudou Debito

Postpostscript:  The information site for this clinic has links to a METI-sponsored organization for international medical tourism, through a banner saying, “We support foreign patients who wish to receive medical treatments in Japan.”  Click here for more info.

PTA-recommended “Chagurin” mag puts propaganda article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” in Japan’s 6th-Grader classrooms

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Stephanie sent me this eye-opening email a few days ago. I’ll let her tell the story (citing and redacting with permission), and comment at the very bottom after the article being cited:

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

November 25, 2012
Hello Debito. I really don’t know if this falls under an area of concern that you might want to get involved with but…

My daughter is a 6th grader at a small country public school here in Hokkaido. Every month they get a magazine called “Chagurin” (I think it may be JA sponsored). Anyways, she looks forward to reading these as they have interesting articles and ideas. But this month in the December issue there is an article called “Hikon Taikoku America no Kodomotachi” [Children of the Poverty Great-Power Country of America]. After reading it she told her teacher she did not think parts of it were true, the teacher said it was written so it is true.

She brought this article home to us and translated it. I am so … what is the word…disappointed, mad…it is just not right that this lady writes an article with so many false statements and big generalizations. There are parts of truth but presented in a negative way.

Basically saying America is not a good place and no matter where you go you will see people living in tents in the parks. Other points — the poorer you are the fatter you are (which implies people are fat because they are poor). The health care is poor and it costs 150.000 yen to get one filling! Because people can not afford this they do not go to the dentist they in turn can not bite right, have interviews or get jobs.

One more thing. If you take a look at the photo with the boy with the “bad teeth” — as soon as I saw this photo I doubted those teeth are real. They remind me way too much of the fake halloween wax costume teeth I always had growing up. I sent the photo to a dental hygienist who has been working in America 20+ years and she said “In my 20+ years I have never seen teeth like these. They look like the fake halloween teeth.” When I write the author of the article I will be asking her for the photographer’s info to clarify the facts behind this photo.

I think you can glean more by reading this yourself so I will attach the article, front cover, and back page.

My issue is not that some people feel this way. My issue is that this magazine is for elementary students who, after reading it, believe it. I have plenty of issues with America but also feel very strongly about not writing or portraying all of America based on one area of America. This author says things that are downright wrong and then goes on to tell the kids that they should always seek to find out the truth … that angers me. Can you imagine a counter part article printed in the States about Japan based on one person’s narrow vision of an area and experience in Japan. I have a friend who works in a H.S. in Japan — the students write graffetti on the walls and throw desks out the window — should I write an article for all US children to read about the downfall of Japanese schools?

I will write the magazine, the author, and whoever else I can think of but truly I think we will only turn an ear if more than one person writes to discuss this.

Is this something you can write about? Maybe call or write the magazine?

Also, above the magazine name on the front of the magazine and the back page that I am sending you it says something about “JA group” If this is backed by JA do you have an idea of who I could write with JA as well? Please let me know. And thank you. Regards, Stephanie

PS: I have an email below that I am preparing to send the Chagurin magazine regarding the article I just wrote you about. I can only send this in English — unless you, or someone you know might be willing to translate this. It would need to be on a volunteer basis as I really can’t afford to pay anything beyond 1,000 yen at this time — and my own Japanese is poor beyond the daily chit chat. Thanks, Stephanie
—————————————————————–

Dear Chagurin Editor,

My 6th grade daughter borrowed her school’s “Chagurin” magazine, December 2012 issue. She enjoys reading the Chagurin magazine, but was surprised when she read the article “Hikontaikoku America no kodomotachi”

While this article does have some truths — the majority of the article is not only negative but also filled with generalizations and falsehoods.

It is not true that in “doko no machi ni itemo” you will find parks filled with tents. We live in Japan, but we are from America. In all of our experience of living and traveling America — we have never seen a park with homeless people in tents. It may be true for a few select areas of America, but not as Mika Tsutsumi writes in her article. This is incorrect and a huge generalization.

It is not true that one filling at the dentist costs 150.000 yen. That is nowhere near true and is completely outrageous. It would cost around $100.

And it is not true that because of the expense of filling one tooth people can not interview and get jobs. That, again, is a huge generalization.

I am saddened that you would allow such a negative article with several falsehoods to be printed for young children in Japan to read and believe!

We love Japan. We love America. Both countries have strengths and weaknesses. Both can learn from each other. But to write an article in either country that takes an experience of one person in one area and then paint it as truth for the whole country — that is just wrong.

I come from a multi-cultural background and I raise my children here in Japan so they too can experience a new culture and way of thinking. It is disappointing for me to have my daughter read this article and then talk with her teacher, telling her that the article was not true and the teacher responds that it is written and so must be true. And sadder yet, to have the Japanese children that read this article actually believe it.

I believe the only way to make this right is to write a retraction of the article, clarifing the falsehoods and generalizations.

I know an ALT who teaches at a public school in Japan. The students at that school write on the walls, don’t listen to teachers, sneak off and smoke in the school, and throw desks out the window. Shall I take this experience and write an article for a children’s magazine in America about the demise of the Japanese school system?

Of course I would not. But I hope you can understand what I am saying. I am truly disappointed in the printing of this article. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, Stephanie
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

=======================================
CHAGURIN MAGAZINE COVER DECEMBER 2012
Note that this magazine is put out by the JA Group “as a magazine to further the education of children’s dietary lifestyles”), and is recommended by the Japan National Parent-Teachers’ Association.

FIRST PAGE OF ARTICLE
The author is credited as Tsutsumi Mika, a native of Tokyo who was at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (commonly known as UNIFEM) and Amnesty International’s NYC division, before landing her current job at Nomura Securities America. One of her books is also entitled “Report from the Field: The Poverty Great-Power Country of America” (Iwanami Shoten Inc.).  The article’s headline: “Children in Poverty Great-Power Country of America”, where in the subtext notes that the site of the “American Dream” is now a place where one in seven people live in poverty, and children are also being affected (“sacrificing” (gisei), is the word used). “Let us learn what is happening in America, and think about it together!” is the conclusion.
(all pages enlargable by clicking on image)

SECOND PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of people without homes is increasing in America?”
Answer proffered: “There are many tents where people who have been forcefully evicted from their homes have to live.” (Among other claims, the article notes how this can be found in parks in any town — and Tsutsumi even takes care to note that it affects Whites as much as Blacks and Latinos!)

THIRD PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the more fat children there are?”
Answer proffered: “Because all they can afford is junk food, children with decrepit bodies and teeth are increasing.”

FOURTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that even if you get sick, you can’t go to hospital?”
Answer proffered: “It’s the world’s most expensive place for medical costs, where one hospitalization can cost you all your assets.” This is also the page with the claim that a single tooth filling will cost you 150,000 yen, and the suspiciously bad teeth on a photographed child.

FIFTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that one out of every two school students teachers quit school within five years?”
Answer proffered: “This is one of the many evils (heigai) from tests that only evaluate people based upon point scores”. [Seriously, this criticism despite Japanese society being famous for its “examination hells”.]

SIXTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of children [sic] who graduate high school and enter the army are increasing?”
Answer proffered: “With the poverty, future options for youth are disappearing”.

SEVENTH PAGE OF ARTICLE (the best one yet!)
Question raised: “What can we [readers] do so that we don’t wind up like America?”
Answer proffered: “If you have questions, find things out for yourself, and develop an eye that can see through to the truth”. It claims that Japan is on the same road as America, what with the homeless, the TPP and resultant outsourcing overseas etc. One of the questions that Tsutsumi suggests we subject to critical thinking is “Why are hamburgers so cheap?”

BACK PAGE OF MAGAZINE
Gives profiles of the editors behind this propaganda piece. The editor of this article, Mogi Kumiko, notes how it was so frightening that it made her break out in goosebumps.

Mogi encourages people to send in their feelings about the article. That address is:

Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Ichigaya Funagawara Machi 11.  Postcode 162-8448
Chagurin’s website is at http://www.ienohikari.net/press/chagurin/
The sponsors, Ie-No-Hikari (funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives), can be found at http://www.ienohikari.net/ja/
(And in case you were wondering, the doggerel name for the magazine apparently comes from Child-Agricultural-Green.)

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Y’know, I am quite partial to the succinct definition of “propaganda” given by The Problem of the Media (2004) author Robert W. McChesney: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” That I believe is exactly what is happening with this magazine.

I have seen these kinds of dirty tricks rolled out by the goons in Japan’s agricultural sector before. Remember the whole rice kyousaku back in 1995, when rice had to be imported, but the “good stuff” was blended with Japanese, American and Chinese-made Japonica, while the lower-quality stuff was sold as is and called “Thai rice” to make sure a firewall was maintained between “Japanese” and “foreign” rice? I do, and The Ministry of Dirty Tricks itself (Nourinshou) has done the same thing with other agricultural goods, including apples back in the 1990s and imported beef/longer Japanese intestines back in the 1980s.

Of course, now we have a more international audience in Japan’s schools, who can see through the propaganda because they have experiences outside of Japan. It’s immensely disingenuous for author Tsutsumi to advocate a critical eye toward the truth yet fall into the propagandizing camp herself. Especially to an audience of Sixth Graders nationwide. But catch them while they’re young, and you will instill fear in them of not only America, but the outside world for a lifetime.

Wonder when the JA will give us the same straight poop on Japan’s irradiating food chain. Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

NYT on Donald Keene “becoming one of them”, in an underresearched article that eulogizes the man before time

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I didn’t know the New York Times was in the habit of writing eulogies before their subject dies.  But that’s essentially what happened earlier this month with their write-up on Donald Keene.

Frequent readers of Debito.org will remember why I take such a dim view of Keene’s ignominious actions at the twilight of an illustrious career.  I’ve devoted a Japan Times column to how a scholar of his standing used poor social science in his public statements alluding to the “Flyjin Myth” and the fiction of foreigners as criminals.  Despite this, Keene has still refused to acknowledge any of the good things that NJ residents have done (not only in terms of disaster relief “in solidarity” with “The Japanese”, but also on a day-to-day basis as workers, taxpayers, and non-criminals).  Nor has Keene amended his public statements in any way to reflect a less self-serving doctrine — thus elevating himself while denigrating others in his social caste.  In essence, Keene has essentially “pulled up the ladder behind him”, stopping others from enjoying the same trappings of what the NYT claims is “acceptance”.  Thus, how NJ sempai in Japan (even after naturalization) eat their young to suit themselves is a fascinating dynamic that this article inadvertently charts.

This article represents a missed research opportunity for an otherwise incredibly thorough reporter (Martin has written peerless articles on Fukushima, and I simply adored his report on the Ogasawaras).  How about this for a research question:  Why else might The Don have naturalized?   I say it doesn’t involve the self-hugging cloaked as some odd form of self-sacrifice.  How about investigating the fact that while gay marriage is not allowed in Japan, adoption (due to the vagaries of the Koseki Family Registry system) is a common way for same-sex partners to pass on their inheritance and legacies to their loved ones — by making them part of their family.  Naturalization makes it clear that there will be no extranationality conceits to interfere with the smooth transfer of claims.  This article could have been a fine peg to hang that research on.

Not to mention the fact that even seasoned journalists at the NYT can fall for The Fame:  Ever hear of the old adage that enables many a minority to receive the veneer of “acceptance” despite all the racialized reasons to deny it?  It’s called:  “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”   Yes, so many lovely “thanks” from strangers in coffee shops; but as I’ve written before, The Don sadly won’t be around for any denouement once The Fame inevitably fades.

(Then we get to a few semantic issues unduly unsophisticated for the NYT:  the old stereotypes within about Japan as “a racially homogeneous nation” — haven’t we gotten beyond that yet?  Well, there is a sop thrown in to qualify the reconfirmed Flyjin Myth with “many foreign residents and even Japanese left the country.”  Yes, EVEN Japanese left Japan.  Huh.  Of course, under normal circumstances, NJ would never stay and Japanese would never leave, even if the food chain is getting irradiated and the GOJ, as Martin has so assiduously reported in the past, has been unforthright about it.  But that’s me putting on my semantic “microaggression” cap; excuse the digression…)

Anyway, if one gives the NYT the benefit of the doubt here, I think the tack of the article should have been, “A person has to jump through THIS many hoops in order to be considered ‘one of them’ [sic] in Japan?  Go through all of this, and you should be ‘accepted’ by the time you are, oh, say, ninety years old.”  Instead, this development is portrayed as a mutual victory for The Don and Japan.

Why is this not problematized?  Because this article is a eulogy — it’s only saying the good things about a person (not yet) departed, and about a society that will not realize that it needs New Japanese who are younger and able to do more than just feebly salve (instead of save) a “wounded nation”.  That’s the bigger metaphor, I think, The Don’s naturalization represents to today’s Japan.  Arudou Debito

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New York Times, November 2, 2012
Lifelong Scholar of the Japanese Becomes One of Them
By MARTIN FACKLER, courtesy of AH

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/03/world/asia/with-citizenship-japan-embraces-columbia-scholar.html

TOKYO — WITH his small frame hunched by 90 years of life, and a self-deprecating manner that can make him seem emotionally sensitive to the point of fragility, Donald Keene would have appeared an unlikely figure to become a source of inspiration for a wounded nation.

Yet that is exactly how the New York native and retired professor of literature from Columbia University is now seen here in his adopted homeland of Japan. Last year, as many foreign residents and even Japanese left the country for fear of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident that followed a deadly earthquake and tsunami, Dr. Keene purposefully went the opposite direction. He announced that he would apply for Japanese citizenship to show his support.

The gesture won Dr. Keene, already a prominent figure in Japanese literary and intellectual circles, a status approaching that of folk hero, making him the subject of endless celebratory newspaper articles, television documentaries and even displays in museums.

It has been a surprising culmination of an already notable career that saw this quiet man with a bashful smile rise from a junior naval officer who interrogated Japanese prisoners during World War II to a founder of Japanese studies in the United States. That career has made him a rare foreigner, awarded by the emperor one of Japan’s highest honors for his contributions to Japanese literature and befriended by Japan’s most celebrated novelists.

Dr. Keene has spent a lifetime shuttling between Japan and the United States. Taking Japanese citizenship seems a gesture that has finally bestowed upon him the one thing that eludes many Westerners who make their home and even lifelong friendships here: acceptance.

“When I first did it, I thought I’d get a flood of angry letters that ‘you are not of the Yamato race!’ but instead, they welcomed me,” said Dr. Keene, using an old name for Japan. “I think the Japanese can detect, without too much trouble, my love of Japan.”

That affection seemed especially welcome to a nation that even before last year’s triple disaster had seemed to lose confidence as it fell into a long social and economic malaise.

During an interview at a hotel coffee shop, Japanese passers-by did double takes of smiling recognition — testimony to how the elderly scholar has won far more fame in Japan than in the United States. A product of an older world before the Internet or television, Dr. Keene is known as a gracious conversationalist who charms listeners with stories from a lifetime devoted to Japan, which he first visited during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945.

BUT what is perhaps most remarkable about Dr. Keene is that Japan, a racially homogeneous nation that can be politely standoffish to non-Japanese, has embraced him with such warmth. When he legally became a Japanese citizen this year, major newspapers ran photographs of him holding up a handwritten poster of his name, Kinu Donarudo, in Chinese characters. To commemorate the event, a candy company in rural Niigata announced plans to build a museum that will include an exact replica of Dr. Keene’s personal library and study from his home in New York.

He says he has been inundated by invitations to give public lectures, which are so popular that drawings are often held to see who can attend.

“I have not met a Japanese since then who has not thanked me. Except the Ministry of Justice,” he added with his typically understated humor, referring to the government office in charge of immigration.

With the patient air of someone who has tussled with Japanese bureaucracy before, he listed what he called the absurd requirements imposed upon him to take Japanese citizenship, including documentation to prove his completion of elementary school in New York City. Still, in a nation that welcomes few immigrants, Dr. Keene’s application was quickly approved. To become Japanese, Dr. Keene, who is unmarried, had to relinquish his American citizenship.

His affection for Japan began in 1940 with a chance encounter at a bookstore near Times Square, where Dr. Keene, then an 18-year-old university student at Columbia, found a translation of the Tale of Genji, a 1,000-year-old novel from Japan. In the stories of court romances and intrigue, he found a refuge from the horrors of the world war then already unfolding in Europe and Asia.

Dr. Keene later described it as his first encounter with Japan’s delicate sense of beauty, and its acceptance that life is fleeting and sad — a sentiment that would captivate him for the rest of his life.

When the United States entered the war, he enlisted in the Navy, where he received Japanese-language training to become an interpreter and intelligence officer. He said he managed to build a rapport with the Japanese he interrogated, including one he said wrote him a letter after the war in which he referred to himself as Dr. Keene’s first P.O.W.

LIKE several of his classmates, Dr. Keene used his language skills after the war to become a pioneer of academic studies of Japan in the United States. Among Americans, he is perhaps best known for translating and compiling a two-volume anthology in the early 1950s that has been used to introduce generations of university students to Japanese literature. When he started his career, he said Japanese literature was virtually unknown to Americans.

“I think I brought Japanese literature into the Western world in a special way, by making it part of the literary canon at universities,” said Dr. Keene, who has written about 25 books on Japanese literature and history.

In Japan, he said his career benefited from good timing as the nation entered a golden age of fiction writing after the war. He befriended some of Japan’s best known modern fiction writers, including Yukio Mishima and Kenzaburo Oe. Even Junichiro Tanizaki, an elderly novelist known for his cranky dislike of visitors, was fond of Dr. Keene, inviting him to his home. Dr. Keene says that was because he took Japanese culture seriously.

“I was a freak who spoke Japanese and could talk about literature,” he joked.

Japanese writers say that Dr. Keene’s appeal was more than that. They said he appeared at a time when Japan was starting to rediscover the value of its traditions after devastating defeat. Dr. Keene taught them that Japanese literature had a universal appeal, they said.

“He gave us Japanese confidence in the significance of our literature,” said Takashi Tsujii, a novelist.

Mr. Tsujii said that Dr. Keene was accepted by Japanese scholars because he has what Mr. Tsujii described as a warm, intuitive style of thinking that differs from what he called the coldly analytical approach of many Western academics. He said that this has made Dr. Keene seem even more Japanese than some of the Japanese novelists whom he has studied, like Mr. Mishima, an ultranationalist influenced by European intellectual fads.

“Keene-san is already a Japanese in his feelings,” Mr. Tsujii said.

Now, at the end of his career, Dr. Keene is again helping Japanese regain their confidence, this time by becoming one of them. Dr. Keene, who retired only last year from Columbia, says he plans to spend his final years in Japan as a gesture of gratitude toward the nation that finally made him one of its own.

“You cannot stop being an American after 89 years,” Dr. Keene said, referring to the age at which he got Japanese citizenship. “But I have become a Japanese in many ways. Not pretentiously, but naturally.”
ENDS

Archiving Tottori’s 2005 Jinken Ordinance (the first and only one ever passed, then UNpassed, penalizing racial discrimination in Japan) to keep it in the historical record

mytest

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Hi Blog. Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record.

On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders.  Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010.  It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3.

However, the counterattack was immediate.  The major local newspaper in the neighboring prefecture, the Chūgoku Shimbun (Hiroshima), claimed in its October 14 editorial entitled, “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” that the ordinance would “in fact shackle (sokubaku) human rights.”  Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly, or had supported abstract ideals without thinking them through. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to.  Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill.  Some sample complaints (with my counterarguments in parenthesis, for brevity):  a) The ordinance had only been deliberated upon in the Assembly for a week (though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005); b) The ordinance’s definitions of human rights violations were too vague, and could hinder the media in, for example, investigating politicians for corruption (even though the ordinance’s Clause 31 clearly states that freedom of the press must be respected); c) Since the investigative committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and cover-ups (similar to the Bureau of Human Rights, which reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice); d) This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers (which means that no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have enforcement power — but this calls into question the many other ordinances in Japan, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration).

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) sounded the ordinance’s death knell in its official statement of November 2, 2005: Too much power had been given the governor, constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated.  This called into question the policymaking discretion of the committees that had originally drafted it, and the common sense of the 35 Assemblymembers who overwhelmingly passed it.  The government issued an official Q&A to allay public concern, and the Governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose, but the original supporters of the ordinance, feeling the media-sponsored and internet-fomented pressure, did not stand up to defend it.  In December and January 2006, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the Vice-Governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists), where arguments to rescind the bill included how appointed untrained public administrators ostensibly cannot act as judges.  On March 24, 2006, less than six months after passing the ordiance, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend it indefinitely.  “We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations.  The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr. Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori Governor’s office.  “They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times.  Governor Katayama resigned his governorship in April 2007, saying that ten years in office was enough.  The ordinance was later resubmitted to committees in 2007, where it was voted down for the last time. As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed entirely from the Tottori Prefectural website.

The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan.  So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable:

Courtesy http://web.archive.org/web/20080329214102/http://www.pref.tottori.jp/jinken/jorei-kyusai.html

とりネッ ト >  人権局 > 鳥取県人権 侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

目次

  • 第1章  総則(第1条−第3条)
  • 第2章  人権侵害救済推進委員会(第4条−第15条)
  • 第3章  人権侵害に対する救済手続(第16条−第28条)
  • 第4章  適用上の配慮(第29条−第33条)
  • 附則

第1章 総則

  • (目的)
    第1条  この条例は、人権の侵害により発生し、又は発生するおそれのある被害の適正かつ迅速な救済又はその実効的な予防に関する措 置を講ずることにより、人権が尊重される社会の実現に寄与することを目的とする。
  • (定義)
    第2条  この条例において「人権侵害」とは、次条の規定に違反する行為をいい、行政機関による同条の規定に違反する行為を含むもの とする。
    2  この条例において「虐待」とは、身体に外傷が生じ、若しくは生じるおそれのある暴行、心理的外傷を与える言動若しくは性的いや がらせをし、又は養育若しくは介護を著しく怠り、若しくは放棄することをいう。
    3  この条例において「人種等」とは、人種、民族、信条、性別、社会的身分、門地、障害、疾病又は性的指向をいう。
    4  この条例において「社会的身分」とは、出生により決定される社会的な地位をいう。
    5  この条例において「障害」とは、継続的に日常生活又は社会生活が相当な制限を受ける程度の身体障害、知的障害又は精神障害をい う。
    6  この条例において「疾病」とは、その発症により日常生活又は社会生活が制限を受ける状態となる感染症その他の疾患をいう。
  • (人権侵害の禁止)
    第3条  何人も、次に掲げる行為をしてはならない。
    (1) 人種等を理由として行う不当な差別的取扱い又は差別的言動
    (2) 特定の者に対して行う虐待
    (3) 特定の者に対し、その者の意に反して行う性的な言動又は性的な言動を受けた者の対応によりその者に不利益を与える行為
    (4) 特定の者の名誉又は社会的信用を低下させる目的で、その者を公然とひぼうし、若しくは中傷し、又はその者の私生活に関する事実、肖像そ の他の情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (5) 人の依頼を受け、報酬を得て、特定の者が有する人種等の属性に関する情報であって、その者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがあるもの を収集する行為
    (6) 身体の安全又は生活の平穏が害される不安を覚えさせるような方法により行われる著しく粗野又は乱暴な言動を反復する行為
    (7) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをすることを助長し、又は誘発する目的で、 当該不特定多数の者が当該属性を有することを容易に識別することを可能とする情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (8) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをする意思を公然と表示する行為

第2章 人権侵害救済推進委員会

  • (設置)
    第4条  第1条に規定する目的を達成するため、人権侵害救済推進委員会(以下「委員会」という。)を設置する。
  • (委員会の職務)
    第5条  委員会は、人権侵害による被害の救済及び予防に関する職務を行う。
  • (組織)
    第6条  委員会は、委員5人をもって組織する。
    2  委員は、非常勤とする。
    3  委員会に委員長を置き、委員の互選によりこれを定める。
    4  委員長は、委員会の会務を総理し、委員会を代表する。
    5  委員長に事故があるとき、又は欠けたときは、委員長があらかじめ指名する委員が、その職務を代理する。
  • (任命)
    第7条  委員は、人格が高潔で人権に関して高い識見及び豊かな経験を有する者のうちから、議会の同意を得て知事が任命する。
    2  委員のうち男女いずれか一方の数は、2人以上となるように努めなければならない。
    3  委員のうちには、弁護士となる資格を有する者が含まれるように努めなければならない。
  • (任期)
    第8条  委員の任期は2年とし、再任されることができる。
    2  委員の任期が満了したときは、当該委員は、後任者が任命されるまで引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • (身分保障)
    第9条  委員は、次の各号のいずれかに該当する場合を除いて、在任中その意に反して解任されない。
    (1) 禁錮以上の刑に処せられたとき。
    (2) 委員会により、心身の故障のため職務の遂行ができないと認められたとき、又は職務上の義務違反その他委員たるに適しない非行があると認 められたとき。
  • (解任)
    第10条  知事は、委員が前条第1号に該当するときは、その委員を解任しなければならない。
    2  知事は、委員が前条第2号に該当するときは、議会の同意を得てその委員を解任することができる。
  • (委員の責務)
    第11条  委員は、公平かつ適切にその職務を遂行しなければならない。
    2  委員は、職務上知ることができた秘密を漏らしてはならない。その職を退いた後も、同様とする。
    3  委員は、在任中、政党その他の政治的団体の役員となり、又は積極的に政治運動をしてはならない。
  • (委員会の会議)
    第12条  委員会の会議は、委員長が招集し、その議長となる。
    2  委員会の会議は、委員の3分の2以上の出席がなければ開くことができない。
    3  委員会の議事は、出席者の3分の2以上の多数により行う。
    4  委員会は、必要があると認めるときは、事案の当事者その他の関係者、学識経験者等の出席を求め、その意見を聴くことができる。
  • (委員の除斥)
    第13条  委員は、次に掲げる場合には、その職務の執行から除斥される。
    (1) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは配偶者であった者が、事案の当事者であるとき。
    (2) 委員が、事案の当事者の四親等内の血族、三親等内の姻族若しくは同居の親族であるとき、又はあったとき。
    (3) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは二親等内の血族が、その従事する業務について事案の当事者と直接の利害関係があるとき。
    2  前項に規定する除斥の原因があるときは、委員会は、職権又は申立てにより、除斥の決定をする。
    3  除斥の申立てがあったときは、その申立てについての決定が確定するまで当該事案に係る職務の執行を停止しなければならない。
  • (報告)
    第14条  委員会は、第21条若しくは第24条第1項の規定による措置を講じたとき、又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行ったとき は、当該措置又は公表の 内容を、知事を経由してその日以降の最初の議会に報告しなければならない。
    2  委員会は、毎年度、この条例に基づく事務の処理状況について報告書を作成し、知事を経由して議会に提出しなければならない。
    3  前項の報告書には、第24条第1項の規定により行った県の機関に対する勧告について、その具体的内容を明記するものとする。
  • (事務局)
    第15条  委員会の事務を処理させるため、委員会に事務局を置く。
    2  事務局に事務局長その他の職員(以下「事務局の職員」という。)を置く。
    3  第11条及び第13条の規定は、次条第2項の規定により同条第1項の相談を行う事務局の職員及び第18 条第4項の規定により同項の調査を行う事務局の 職員について準用する。

第3章 人権侵害に対する救済手続

  • (相談)
    第16条  委員会は、人権侵害に関する問題について、相談に応ずるものとする。
    2  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に前項の相談を行わせることができる。
  • (救済の申立て等)
    第17条  何人も、本人が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあるときは、委員会に対し救済又は予防の申立てをすることがで きる。
    2  何人も、本人以外の者が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあることを知ったときは、委員会に対しその事実を通報するこ とができる。
    3  第1項の申立て又は前項の通報(以下「申立て又は通報」という。)は、当該申立て又は通報に係る事案が次のいずれかに該当する 場合は、行うことができ ない。
    (1) 裁判所による判決、公的な仲裁機関又は調停機関による裁決等により確定した権利関係に関するものであること。
    (2) 裁判所又は公的な仲裁機関若しくは調停機関において係争中の権利関係に関するものであること。
    (3) 行政庁の行う処分の取消し、撤廃又は変更を求めるものであること。
    (4) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実のあった日(継続する行為にあっては、その終了した日)から1年を経過しているものであること(その間 に申立て又 は通報をしなかったことにつき正当な理由がある場合を除く。)。
    (5) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実が本県以外で起こったものであること(人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者が県民である場 合を除 く。)。
    (6) 損害賠償その他金銭的補償を求めるものであること。
    (7) 現に犯罪の捜査の対象となっているものであること。
    (8) 関係者が不明であるものであること。
    (9) 前各号に掲げるもののほか、その性質上、申立て又は通報を行うのに適当でないものとして規則で定めるものであること。
    4  知事は、前項第9号の規則の制定又は改廃をしたときは、これを議会に報告しなければならない。
    5  申立て又は通報は、文書又は口頭ですることができる。
  • (調査)
    第18条  委員会は、前条第1項の申立てがあったときは、当該申立てに係る事案に関して必要な調査を行わなければならない。
    2  委員会は、前条第2項の通報があったときは、当該通報に係る事案に関して必要な調査を行うことができる。
    3  委員会は、人権侵害の被害の救済又は予防を図るため必要があると認めるときは、職権により調査を行うことができる。
    4  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に調査を行わせることができる。
    5  調査は、犯罪捜査のために認められたものと解してはならない。
  • (関係者の協力等)
    第19条  委員会は、前条に規定する調査に関し必要があると認めるときは、当該調査に係る事案に関係する者に対して、事情の聴取、 質問、説明、資料又は情 報の提供その他の必要な協力を求めることができる。
    2  前項の規定による協力の要請を受けた調査に係る事案の当事者は、法令で特段の定めがある場合その他正当な理由がある場合を除 き、当該調査に協力しなけ ればならない。
    3  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に応ずることが犯罪の予防、鎮圧又は捜査、公訴の維持、 刑の執行その他公共の安 全と秩序の維持(以下「公共の安全と秩序の維持」という。)に支障を及ぼすおそれがあることにつき相当の理由があると当該関係行政機関の長が認めるとき は、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
    4  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に対して事実が存在しているか否かを答えるだけで公共の 安全と秩序の維持に支障 を及ぼすおそれがあるときは、当該事実の存否を明らかにしないで、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
  • (調査結果の通知等)
    第20条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行ったときは、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に対し、その調査結果の内容を書面により 通知するものとする。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定による通知をするときは、通知の相手方に対し、調査結果の内容について再調査を申し立てることができる旨 及び申立てをすることが できる期間を教示しなければならない。
    3  第1項の規定により通知を受けた者は、当該調査結果の内容について不服があるときは、当該通知を受けた日から2週間以内に、そ の理由を記載した書面に より、委員会に再調査を申し立てることができる。
    4  委員会は、前項の規定による申立てに理由があると認めるときは、再度第18条に規定する調査を行わなければならない。
  • (救済措置)
    第21条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査の結果に基づき、人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めると きは、次に掲げる措置を 講ずるものとする。
    (1) 人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者及びその関係者(以下「被害者等」という。)に対し、必要な助言、関係公的機関又は関 係民間団体 等の紹介、あっせんその他の援助をすること。
    (2) 人権侵害を行い、若しくは行うおそれのある者又はこれを助長し、若しくは誘発する行為を行う者及びその関係者(以下「加害者等」とい う。)に対 し、当該行為に関する説示、人権尊重の理念に関する啓発その他の指導をすること。
    (3) 被害者等と加害者等の関係の調整を図ること。
    (4) 犯罪に該当すると思料される人権侵害について告発すること。
  • (調査及び救済手続に当たっての配慮)
    第22条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行い、又は前条に規定する措置を講ずるに当たっては、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に よる自主的な解決に向け た取組が促進されるよう十分配慮しなければならない。
  • (調査及び救済手続の終了等)
    第23条  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、当該調査に係る事案が第17条第3項各号のいずれかに該当することが明らかになっ たときは、調査又は救済 措置を中止し、又は終了するものとする。
    2  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、人権侵害による被害が確認できず、又は生ずるおそれがないことが明らかであるときは、調 査又は救済措置を中止 し、又は終了することができる。
    3  委員会は、前2項の規定により調査又は救済措置を中止し、又は終了したときは、理由を記載した書面により、その旨を申立人又は 通報者に通知しなければ ならない。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないときは、この限りでない。
  • (是正等の勧告等)
    第24条  委員会は、生命若しくは身体に危険を及ぼす行為、公然と繰り返される差別的言動、ひぼう若しくは中傷等の重大な人権侵害 が現に行われ、又は行わ れたと認める場合において、当該人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めるときは、第21条に規定する措置を講ずるほか、次に掲げ る措置を講ずるものとする。
    (1) 加害者等に対し当該人権侵害をやめ、又はこれと同様の行為を将来行わないよう勧告すること。
    (2) 加害者等に対し人権啓発に関する研修等への参加を勧奨すること。
    2  前項第1号に掲げる勧告を受けたときは、当該加害者等は、委員会に対し、当該勧告に関して行った措置を報告しなければならな い。
    3  委員会は、第1項第1号に掲げる勧告を行ったにもかかわらず、当該加害者等が正当な理由なく当該勧告に従わないときは、その旨 を公表することができ る。
    4  委員会は、第1号及び第2号に該当するときは申立人、通報者及び被害者等に、第3号に該当するときは申立人、通報者、被害者等 及び加害者等に通知する ものとする。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないとき、その他正当な理由があるときは、この限りでない。
    (1) 第1項の規定により措置を講じたとき。
    (2) 第2項の規定により加害者等から報告があったとき。
    (3) 前項の規定により公表したとき。
  • (弁明の機会の付与等)
    第25条  委員会は、前条第1項第1号の規定による勧告又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行うときは、あらかじめ当該加害者等に対 し、弁明の機会を与えな ければならない。
    2  弁明は、委員会が口頭ですることを認めたときを除き、弁明を記載した書面(以下「弁明書」という。)を提出してするものとす る。
    3  弁明をするときは、証拠書類等を提出することができる。
  • (弁明の機会の付与の通知等)
    第26条  委員会は、弁明書の提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合は、その日時)までに相当な期間をおいて、当該加害 者等に対し、次に掲げる 事項を書面により通知するものとする。
    (1) 原因となる事実
    (2) 弁明書の提出先及び提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合には、その旨並びに出頭すべき日時及び場所)
  • (訴訟援助)
    第27条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査に係る人権侵害の被害者等若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護 士から委員会が保有する 当該人権侵害に関する資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けた場合において、当該人権侵害に関する請求に係る訴訟を遂行するために必要があると認めるとき は、申出をした者に当該資料(事案の当事者以外の者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがある部分を除く。)の閲覧をさせ、又は写しを交付することができ る。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定により資料の閲覧をさせ、又は写しの交付をした場合において、当該被害者等が当事者となっている当該人権 侵害に関する請求に係る 訴訟の相手方若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護士から当該資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けたときは、申出をした者にその閲 覧をさせ、又は写しを交付しなければならない。
    3  前2項の規定により資料の写しの交付を受ける者は、当該写しの作成及び送付に要する費用を負担しなければならない。
  • (罰則)
    第28条  第11条第2項(第15条第3項において準用する場合を含む。)の規定に違反して秘密を漏らした者は、1年以下の懲役又 は50万円以下の罰金に 処する。
    2  正当な理由なく第19条第2項の規定に違反して調査を拒み、妨げ、又は忌避した者は、5万円以下の過料に処する。

第4章 適用上の配慮

  • (人権相互の関係に対する配慮)
    第29条  この条例の適用に当たっては、救済の対象となる者の人権と他の者の人権との関係に十分に配慮しなければならない。
  • (不利益取扱いの禁止)
    第30条  何人も、この条例の規定による措置を求める申立てをしたことを理由として、不利益な取扱いを受けない。
  • (報道の自由に対する配慮)
    第31条  この条例の適用に当たっては、報道機関の報道又は取材の自由その他の表現の自由を最大限に尊重し、これを妨げてはならな い。
  • (個人情報の保護)
    第32条  この条例の適用に当たっては、個人情報の保護について配慮しなければならない。
  • (委任)
    第33条  この条例に定めるもののほか、この条例の施行に関し必要な事項は、規則で定める。

附則

  • (施行期日)
    1  この条例は、平成18年6月1日から施行する。ただし、次の各号に掲げる規定は、当該各号に定める日から施行する。
    (1) 第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分  公布の日
    (2) 第2章(第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分を除く。)及び第28条第1項の規定  平成18年4月 1日
    (3) 第28条第2項の規定  平成18年10月1日
  • (この条例の失効)
    2  この条例は、平成22年3月31日までに延長その他の所要の措置が講じられないときは、同日限り、その効力を失う。
  • (この条例の失効に伴う経過措置)
    3  この条例の失効の際現に第18条に規定する調査を行っている事案については、同条から第27条までの規定は、前項の規定にかか わらず、同項に規定する日 後も、なおその効力を有する。この場合においては、同日に在任する委員が、その任期にかかわらず、引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • 4  委員又は事務局の職員であった者が職務上知ることができた秘密については、第11条第2項及び第15 条第3項の規定は、附則第2項の規定にかかわら ず、同項に規定する日後も、なおその効力を有する。
  • 5  この条例の失効前にした行為及び前2項の規定によりなおその効力を有することとされる場合におけるこ の条例の失効後にした行為に対する罰則の適用につ いては、なお従前の例による。ENDS

BBC: Japan’s pseudoscience linking personality traits to blood types. I say it dumbs society down.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something that’s been on my mind for years, and probably on other Readers’ minds too: The emphasis on blood in Japan in determining one’s status in society.

The BBC below talks about the hegemony of discourse in Japan linking personality traits to blood types. Most of the developed world with any social science training has debunked this. There is of course other quackery of the same ilk (horoscopes/palmistry etc.), but they are hardly taken seriously (they don’t matter in, for example, job interviews). But “blood”-based conceits encourage much more dangerous habits.  As noted below, they have historical connections with eugenics, Master-Race theories and Social Darwinism (i.e. that people can be sorted into personality “types” based upon birth-determined genotypical markers) which, in extreme cases, have led to pogroms and genocide.

Yet in Japan, blood-based theories of social behavior hold significant sway. In my opinion (based upon my current research), a conceit with “blood” not only legitimizes a lot of bad science (both physical and social), but also converts a lot of latent racializing tendencies into “old-school racism” (I say “old school” because most social scientists nowadays acknowledge that racism is a social construct, not a biological one).  In some cases, for example, one has to be “pure-blooded” in order to be, for example, a “real” Japanese. Thus it doesn’t just allegedly determine personality — it determines one’s legal standing in society. More on that from me some other time.

In any case, in society such as Japan’s that has this amount of weight put on hierarchy, having a quack science like this (so normalized that people can profit handsomely from it) avails people with poor analytical skills of one more factor to “sort, categorize, typify, and even stigmatize” people for things that are simply not their fault. It’s one more way of taking the individual out of the equation for personal behavior.

Simply put, this pseudoscience fosters horrendously bad habits. For in Japan, once the “blood type” equation is expanded beyond the allegedly “uniform and homogeneous society” trope, people become more susceptible to engaging in racial profiling towards “foreigners” — once the invisible genetic markers get expressed as visible phenotypical ones.

In sum, dumb ideas with common currency dumb down an entire society. And personality typing by blood is one of the dumbest. Arudou Debito

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

OPENING SIDEBAR

A minister quits

In July 2011, Minister for Reconstruction Ryu Matsumoto resigned after being criticised for making insensitive remarks. He blamed his blood type.

“I would like to offer my apologies for offending the people in the disaster-hit areas. I thought I was emotionally close to the disaster victims, but I lacked sufficient words and my comments were too harsh.

“My blood’s type B, which means I can be irritable and impetuous, and my intentions don’t always come across.

“My wife called me earlier to point that out. I think I need to reflect about that.”

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

Japan and blood types: Does it determine personality?
By Ruth Evans Courtesy of DK
BBC News 4 November 2012

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20170787

Are you A, B, O or AB? It is a widespread belief in Japan that character is linked to blood type. What’s behind this conventional wisdom?

Blood is one thing that unites the entire human race, but most of us don’t think about our blood group much, unless we need a transfusion. In Japan, however, blood type has big implications for life, work and love.

Here, a person’s blood type is popularly believed to determine temperament and personality. “What’s your blood type?” is often a key question in everything from matchmaking to job applications.

According to popular belief in Japan, type As are sensitive perfectionists and good team players, but over-anxious. Type Os are curious and generous but stubborn. ABs are arty but mysterious and unpredictable, and type Bs are cheerful but eccentric, individualistic and selfish.

About 40% of the Japanese population is type A and 30% are type O, whilst only 20% are type B, with AB accounting for the remaining 10%.

Morning television shows, newspapers and magazines often publish blood type horoscopes and discuss relationship compatibility. Many dating agencies cater to blood types, and popular anime (animations), manga (comics) and video games often mention a character’s blood type.

A whole industry of customised products has also sprung up, with soft drinks, chewing gum, bath salts and even condoms catering for different blood groups on sale.

Blood types, however, are simply determined by proteins in the blood. Although scientists regularly try to debunk these beliefs, they remain popular in Japan. One reason often given is that in a relatively uniform and homogenous society, it provides a simple framework to divide people up into easily recognisable groups.

“Being the same is considered a good thing here in Japanese society,” says translator Chie Kobayashi. “But we enjoy finding little differences that distinguish people. On the other hand, it can also lead to bad things being said about the minority B and AB types.”

It was only in 1901 that the ABO blood group system was discovered by the Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner. His Nobel prize-winning work made it possible to identify the different blood groups, paving the way for transfusions to be carried out safely.

Theorists of eugenics later hijacked his research during the inter-war years, with the Nazis using his work to further their ideas of racial supremacy.

It was also adopted by Japan’s militarist government in the 1930s to train better soldiers, and during World War II, the Imperial Army is reported to have formed battle groups according to blood type.

The study of blood types in Japan gained mass appeal with the publication of a book in the 1970s by Masahiko Nomi, who had no medical background. More recently, his son Toshitaka went on to promote it further through a series of popular books – he also runs the Institute of Blood Type Humanics. He says his aim is not to judge or stereotype people, but simply to make the best of someone’s talents and improve human relationships.

Between them, father and son have published dozens of books on the subject, not just the handful of bestsellers.

These beliefs have been used in unusual ways.

The women’s softball team that won gold for Japan at the Beijing Olympics is reported to have used blood type theories to customise training for each player. Some kindergartens have even adopted methods of teaching along blood group lines, and even major companies reportedly make decisions about assignments based on employees’ blood types.

In 1990 the Asahi Daily [sic] newspaper reported that Mitsubishi Electronics had announced the creation of a team composed entirely of AB workers, thanks to “their ability to make plans”.

These beliefs even affect politics. One former prime minister considered it important enough to reveal in his official profile that he’s a type A, whilst his opposition rival was type B. Last year a minister, Ryu Matsumoto, was forced to resign after only a week in office, when a bad-tempered encounter with local officials was televised. In his resignation speech he blamed his failings on the fact that he was blood type B.

Not everyone sees the blood type craze as simply harmless fun.

It sometimes manifests itself as prejudice and discrimination, and it seems this is so common, the Japanese now have a term for it – bura-hara, meaning blood-type harassment. There are reports of discrimination against type B and AB groups leading to children being bullied, the ending of happy relationships, and loss of job opportunities.

Despite repeated warnings, many employers continue to ask blood types at job interviews, says Terumitsu Maekawa, professor of comparative religion at Tokyo’s Asia University and author of several books about blood groups. He’s critical about sweeping popular beliefs about blood types.

“We can point out some general tendencies as a group, but you can’t say this person is good or bad because of their blood type.”

His own research, he says, is based more on empirical research rather than popular superstition. In his books he explores the theory that predominant blood types may determine religious beliefs and societal norms.

In the Western world, O and A types make up almost 85% of people, but in India and Asia, B types predominate. Japan, he says, is unusual in Asia in that it has more variety of blood types.

“A type societies tend to be characterised by monotheism such as Christianity and Judaism, with one fundamental analysis of human beings and a strong sense of societal norms. But societies dominated by B types are more prone to polytheism – like Buddhism and Hinduism – with lots of gods, and they think people are all different.”

Professor Maekawa, himself type B, says in Japan his blood group is often criticised for being too individualistic and selfish.

“It isn’t very nice. But it doesn’t annoy me or hurt me, because it has no scientific basis at all.”

In a smart state-of-the-art clinic busy with lots of people donating blood, director Akishko [sic] Akano says he’s not aware that the negative image of certain blood types has an impact on their work, or dissuades minority B and AB types from coming forward. A bigger problem in Japan’s rapidly ageing society, he says, is persuading enough young people to volunteer as blood donors.

In the next room, I find Masako, lying on a bed strapped to a quietly purring machine as a nurse takes samples. This is the eighth time she’s given blood. Her blood type is AB, which is rare as it accounts for only 10% of people in Japan.

“People sometimes don’t like me,” she tells me. “They think I am weird and strange. Lots of people tell me they don’t understand what I am thinking about.”

Although Masako laughs as she tells me this, it seems that in Japan, no amount of scientific debunking can kill the widely held notion that blood tells all.

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


CLOSING SIDEBAR
What’s your blood type?

The main blood group system is ABO, with four blood types: A, B, O, AB
Rhesus system, for which you can be positive or negative, is the second most important with regard to blood transfusions.

In total there are 32 recognised blood group systems, which all have either positive or negative indicators.

The discovery of the latest two blood types – Langereis and Junior – were announced by researchers from Vermont earlier this year.

Four books describing the different blood groups characteristics became a huge publishing sensation, selling more than five million copies.

ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html or
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106ad.html, whichever you prefer
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two ten months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass.

Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another. Then another. The default theory became: Ishihara must be doing something right. Either voters actually like him, or they are just overlooking his bigoted outbursts because they have no other viable choice (or are sick of sloganeering milquetoast politicians in general).

My take is simply that Ishihara chooses his targets wisely. He never goes after the majority (who might vote him out). Good at sensing the weak minority voice behind any issue, he makes himself appear powerful at their expense — especially when he targets foreigners, who can’t vote anyway.

I also think people (including reporters) are generally suckers for celebrities and power-brokers, especially when they’re charismatic bullies picking on people. It’s amusing to watch people squirm — as long as you’re not the one being bashed.

Bearing all this in mind, Ishihara quitting his job can only be a good thing — for two reasons.

One is that the fool is giving up his self-legitimizing bully-pulpit-for-life. He’s lost the power to threaten to raid Metropolitan Tokyo’s tax coffers for bank bailouts, purchases of geopolitically sensitive ocean dots, relocation of the world’s largest fish market to a polluted empty lot, or hosting Olympic Games.

He also no longer has Japan’s most centralized police force (keishichō) at his disposal — one which, as Edward Seidensticker noted, can convert Tokyo into “a police city” whenever necessary (Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Ishihara can no longer target people he dislikes with the same degree of public authority.

But the other, more important reason is because it’s time for the world to stop doling out free passes and realize just how far rightward Japan is swinging.

The Japan Times has reported many times (ZGs, Oct. 4, 2002, May 4, 2005, Feb. 20, 2007, Aug. 28, 2007, May 4, 2010, etc.) how Ishihara and his ilk have egregiously blamed outsiders for Japan’s domestic social ills (including crime, terrorism, subversive activities and a general undermining of all things “Japanese”) and gotten xenophobic public policies to match. However, these gradual developments have been largely ignored by outside observers and decision-makers.

Remember, the only thing that can really shame Japan into clamping down on xenophobia and chauvinism is the feeling they’re being watched by the world — i.e., gaiatsu (outside pressure). Yet international organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, still treat Ishihara’s proposals as if they are legitimate. Again, where are the international boycotts to protest this man’s history of hate-mongering?

So, Ishihara putting his cards on the table will speak definitively about Japan’s future direction. If Ishihara gets his way (and he will win election to the Diet, comfortably) and gets, say, a Cabinet post or the prime ministership, he will legitimize a path for all the young budding Rightists (such as Hashimoto, who is half Ishihara’s age) to push their agenda of remilitarizing Japan and rekindling an ahistorical love for its fascist past.

This will finally get people to sit up and realize how much of a threat postmodern Japan — a state addicted to a discourse of self-victimization while scapegoating others for its own problems — is to stability in Asia.

If Ishihara doesn’t get his way (and becomes one of the many grumbling parliamentary pinheads within a fringe party, hamstrung by the omnipotent bureaucracy Ishihara himself so loathes), this will take the wind out of the sails of Japan’s Rightists — who are so desperate for attention they’ve reinstalled Shinzo Abe as leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (even though he lacked the stomach for the job the last time he was prime minister).

Either way, I say again: Bring it on. By abdicating his otherwise permanent job, Ishihara is making one last gamble at age 80. And he’s doing it out of the hubris and addiction to power seen in other old men (such as former Peruvian President and Ishihara crony Alberto Fujimori), who have spent too long in self-affirming sound chambers surrounded by sycophants.

These megalomaniacs have convinced themselves that as part of an elite ruling class, whatever they want they will get. In Fujimori’s case, the twit gave up his extradition-proof safe haven in Japan to seek re-election back in Peru (JBC, May 5, 2009). He is now serving life in a Peruvian jail.

In Ishihara’s case, a seat in the Diet may wind up being his final sequestration. It certainly ain’t no Tokyo governorship.

Go for it, Ishihara! Let’s see what you’ve got in the time you have left. Show us clearly, once and for all, how Japan intends to position itself for the future — so the rest of the world can start making plans.

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

Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

ZakSPA!: “Boo hoo hoo” stories about “Haafu” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration

mytest

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader CJ submits the following ZakSPA! page talking about Japan’s genetic internationalization in tabloid style: How “boo hoo hoo” (tohoho) it is to be a “half.”

http://www.zakzak.co.jp/zakspa/news/20121009/zsp1210091400003-n1.htm

Reading through the articles (enclosed below), I’m of two minds about this. On one hand, it’s good to have the media acknowledging that there are Japanese kids of diverse roots and experiences out there, with some tone of saying how silly it all is that so many people get treated in stereotypical ways (with a “roundtable of halfs” at the end giving their own views on the situation). On the other hand, the level of discourse gets pretty low (“some foreigner talked to me in Narita Airport in English and it was so frightening I felt like crying”), and an opportunity to actually address a serious issue of how Japan has changed is wasted on parts laughing, parts crybabying, parts confirmation that treating people as “different” because they look “different” is a natural, if not inevitable, part of life in Japan. I’ll let Debito.org Readers read for themselves and decide whether this important topic is being broached properly.

Definitely not cool, however, is the topic page with the prototypical illustration of a “half”:

We have not only some phenotypical “othering” going on here, but also the trope of “being foreign means you can’t use chopsticks”. One would think that most multiethnic Japanese (not to mention anyone regardless of nationality — it’s a skill) would have few problems with that. But it’s supposed to be funny, in a “microaggressive” sort of way. Har har. Arudou Debito

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“一般人ハーフ”のトホホな体験談を紹介!外見、言葉、文化…

★[一般人ハーフ]のトホホな日常 ZAK X SPA! 2012.10.09

外見でトホホ編

バラエティ番組を中心に、今、ハーフタレントが大人気!しかし一般人ハーフは、いいことばかりじゃないようで、日本人離れした外見がトホホな事態を招くことも。

「高校に進学するときに引っ越しをして、誰も知ってる人がいない学校に。そしたら『あいつ何者?』って感じで、最初の1週間は周りからものすごく注目されました」(オランダとのハーフ男性)

初日の休み時間には、彼を一目見ようと学年中が押しかけ、廊下が黒山の人だかりになったとか。

「話しかけてくるわけでもなく、ワイワイ言いながら遠巻きに見てるだけで……。動物園のパンダになったような気分でした」って、どんなド田舎の学校だよ!?

「ハーフって○○だよね」という思い込みで、ミョーなことを言われちゃうこともある。

「『ハーフなのに背が低いよね』ってよく言われます。ベッキーだって158cmで、 私と一緒。背の低い白人ハーフもいることを知ってほしい(笑)」(ロシアとのハーフ女性)

逆に、「ハーフ」と聞いて視界にフィルターがかかってしまった例も。

「『やっぱり外国の人だからまつ毛が長いですね』『顔が小さいですね』と言われる。ホメようとしているんでしょうけど、現実と全然違う。だって、普通の日本人(父母ともに日本人=以下同)の平均と変わらないですから」と苦笑するのはスリランカとのハーフ女性。

「学生の頃はよく『金髪紹介しろよ』『妹いないの?』『姉さんいないの?』とか言われました(笑)」(ハンガリーとのハーフ男性)って、妹や姉がいたら何する気だ!?さらに「お母さんはキレイか?」とも聞かれたそうだが、いったい何を期待してるのやら。 ハーフにエロな妄想を抱く日本人は男女を問わないようで、「ガイジン顔(白人系)だからか、『エッチ好きなんでしょ』と言う人も。ルーマニアハーフの友達は『このおしり、本物?』と女性に触られたとか」(ドイツとのハーフ女性)とは、同性でもセクハラの域。

「新宿の風俗で“ウマ並み”と思われて断られた。腹が立つより切なかった」(イタリアとのハーフ男性)ってのは、ある意味うらやま……いや、お気の毒さまでした。

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■言葉でトホホ編

ハーフの皆さんが日本人に必ず一度は言われるというセリフ。それは「○○語で何か話して!」だ。

「腹が立つとまではいかないけど、ロシア語を話せるとわかったら、『何かしゃべってみて』と言われるのが困る。何かってナニ?」(ロシアとのハーフ女性)

聞いたところで、さっぱりわかりゃしないだろうにねえ。

仕方なく何か適当にしゃべったとしても、「ハンガリー語は(日本人には)ピンとこない言語なので、しゃべると必ずビミョーな空気になる」(ハンガリーとのハーフ男性)というのも切ない。

別の意味でタチの悪いのが、「語学を少々たしなんでいます(キリッ」という日本人だとか。

「社内で英語がペラペラとされている人が、自分との関わりを避けようとするので笑ってしまった」(イタリアとのハーフ女性)という程度ならカワイイもの。

「フランス語が少しできる日本人女性には、必死にフランス語を使おうとする人が多いですね。気がつけば私は日本語で話し、相手は限られたフランス語で返している状態に。お互いの会話のリズムが悪くなるし、正直、迷惑です」(フランスとのハーフ女性)

気分だけはパリジェンヌのつもりなのかもね……。

普通に日本語で話しただけで驚かれたり「お上手ですねー」とホメられたりするのは日常茶飯事。そこで「『やぶさかでない』とか、『さもありなん』みたいな言葉を使うと、驚き度が3段階ぐらいアップする」(アメリカとのハーフ男性)ってのも何だかなー。

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■言葉でトホホ編

ガイジン顔を見るや否や、「日本語が話せない」と勝手に思い、妙な対応をする日本人も多い。

「日本で、初対面の人に『○○でーす!』と日本語であいさつしているのに、私と一緒に来た日本人に『このコ、どこのコ?』と聞かれること多数。日本語で話しかけてるんだから、私に聞いてー」(ドイツとのハーフ女性)

耳で聞いた「日本語のあいさつ」より、目の前の「ガイジン顔」のほうが脳内で勝っちゃったのね。

「夜に車を運転中、ナンバープレートを照らすランプが切れていたらしく、パトカーに『止まりなさい』と言われたのですが、警官は自分の顔を見るや『日本語わかりますか?』。日本語がわかるから停車したんですけどね」(オランダとのハーフ男性)とはごもっとも。

「駅員に日本語で発車ホームを尋ねたら変な英語で返され、何言ってるかわからなくて電車に乗り遅れたことがあります」(スイスとのハーフ女性)となると大迷惑だ。

英語で話しかけるならまだしも、インチキ外国人化する人もいる。

「『ニホンゴ、ワカリマスカ?』『コレ、ヨメマスカ?』と、カタコトで話しかけられることが。『はいはい、わかりますよ!』と大声で答えてます」(カナダとのハーフ女性)、「日本語で話しているのに、やたらカタカナ語や外来語を使ってくる」(アメリカとのハーフ女性)って、お前はルー大柴か!

「図書館で本を読んでいたら、中年男性がそーっと近寄ってきて、『日本語読めるんですか?』と聞かれました。日本語を読めない人が、本を開いて見つめて何をするというのでしょう?」(フランスとのハーフ女性)

実は、ナンパだったのかも!?

■トイレで外国人に英語で話しかけられてビビった!

日本生まれの日本育ちだったり、非英語圏と日本のハーフだったりで「英語が話せない」というハーフは少なくない。それゆえトホホな思いをすることも。たとえば、トルコとのハーフ男性の場合、「日本の私立中高一貫校に入ったら、みんな私よりも英語ができて、中1の頃はバカにされました」。

日本人だけでなく、外国人にも英語が話せると見られてしまう。

「子供のとき成田空港のトイレで、隣に来た外国人からいきなり英語で話しかけられた。どう返していいかわからず、“最中”なので逃げられず、怖くて泣きたくなりました」(オランダとのハーフ男性)

「困るのは英語で道を尋ねられたとき。わかる英語だけ言って、あとは日本語で対応。悲しいのは、クラブで英語で声かけられて日本語で答えるとガッカリされること。『ヤダー、ニセモノじゃん!』って」(アメリカとのハーフ男性)

でも、最近は慣れて「そういう反応を楽しんでる」のだそうだ。

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

■文化でトホホ編

「日本と○○のハーフです」と言うと、その国の文化や国民性に関するステレオタイプなイメージを押しつけられるのもハーフの悩み。

「『ドイツと言えばビール!サッカー!お城!ロマンティック街道!』と言われますね。あと、『シャウエッセン』(笑)。それは日本で売ってるソーセージでしょ。ドイツとはまったく関係ないよ……」(ドイツとのハーフ女性)

まあ、日本人がフジヤマ、ゲイシャ、テンプラとか言われるようなもんか。ただ、当たってる場合もあって、「『父親がロシア人』と答えると『お父さんは大酒飲み?』と聞かれる。でも、本当に大酒飲みなので『ウイスキーならオンザロックで7杯くらい』と正直に答える」と苦笑するのはロシアとのハーフ女性。とはいえ、「『バナナで釘が打てるのか』『プーチンは好きか』とかも聞かれるけど、そんなん知らんがな!」とのことだ。

相手に興味を持つのはいいけれど、「初対面で親しくもないのに、根掘り葉掘り“取り調べ”みたいに聞くのはやめてほしい」(カナダとのハーフ女性)と、うんざりしているハーフは多い。

「日本人であると説明しても同列に扱ってもらえず、失礼な質問攻めにあったり、執拗な外国人キャラづけによるからかいを受ける」(ハンガリーとのハーフ男性)なんて声も。ガイジン顔だからってハーフタレントと同じようにイジられたら、そりゃウザいよな。

その点、日本人にとって馴染みの薄い国の場合は、「お国はどちらと聞かれたら、『半分ポーランドです』と答える。オランダやポルトガルなどと違って、日本人にポーランドのイメージがない。だから、それ以上あまりツッコまれない。ある意味ラク」(ポーランドとのハーフ男性)だとか。たまに聞かれるのは「酒をたくさん飲むんだろ?」で、「これは本当(笑)。ドイツとロシアに挟まれた国だからねー。ポーランドではウオッカをショットグラスのストレートで飲む。最高でボトル2本空けたことがあります。日本人の友達はつぶれちゃいます(笑)」って、それは個人差あるのでは……?

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■文化でトホホ編

ハーフの食生活にも、誤解と偏見がいっぱいだ。

「牛丼屋で黙って座っていたら、スプーンにフォークまで出してくれるが、黙ってお箸で食べる」(ハンガリーとのハーフ男性)

「コンビニのおにぎりを食べてると『似合わないね』『違和感ある』と言われ、パン類やピザなどを食べてると『似合うね』と言われる」(アメリカとのハーフ男性)

フランスとのハーフで現在は主婦の女性は「『家では何料理を作るの?』と食生活に変な興味を持たれることに辟易しています」と眉をひそめる。

「日本人が想像するようなフランス料理を家で作るわけがありません。普通に日本の家庭料理です、と答えると驚かれたり、フランスの食事が恋しくないのかと心配そうに聞かれるのにも、ややうんざり」

いまだ日本人の“おフランス”イメージは抜けず!?

「ハーフというだけで、その国を代表する人みたいな扱いをするのはやめて!」と訴えるのは、スイスとのハーフ女性。

「たとえばコーヒーに角砂糖を2個入れると、『スイス人はコーヒーにお砂糖を2個入れるんですね』と言われます。違います。私がそうしているだけです。2個の人、1個の人、ブラックで飲むスイス人もいます。個人差をまったく無視し、私のすべての行動をスイスと結びつけないでください……」

逆に「『我々日本人は~』と聞かされるのも疲れます。『私の母も日本人やけど全然ちゃうで!』と言いたくなる」と憤慨する。

「高齢の方には『先の大戦では日独伊三国同盟でしたね』と、やけに好意的な人がたまにいる」(ドイツとのハーフ女性)ってのも、喜んでいいのかどうなのか。

戦争がらみでは「『北方領土を返せ』と言われる。直接言われたり、知らない人からメッセが来たり」(ロシアとのハーフ女性)って、お門違いもいいところだ。

別の意味で非礼極まりないのが下ネタ関係。「ガイジン=エッチという先入観からか、妙に下ネタを振ってくる人、やめてほしい」(アメリカとのハーフ女性)、「『ロシアの女性ってエッチも情熱的なんだよね~』『ハーフとエッチしたことないからさせて~』とか言う男。バイカル湖に沈めたい」(ロシアとのハーフ女性)など怒りの声多数。

何を勘違いしてるのか知らんけど、そういう輩は味噌汁で顔洗って出直してこーい!

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■ハーフ座談会

サンドラ:まずは“ハーフあるある”から。「その顔で○○?」ってよく言われませんか?

荒川:「その顔でヒロシ?」とよく言われます(笑)。純日本人に見られたことは皆無。イギリス人の友達にも「ガイジン顔」「日本人には到底見えない」と言われたことがあります。

中澤:初対面ではなく、長い付き合いの友達でも、和食を食べていると「似合わないねー」と言われます(笑)。

一同:あるあるー!

中澤:おにぎりの中身は「梅干しじゃなく、せめてツナにしろ」とかね(笑)。

サンドラ:私たちガイジン顔の人に「おにぎりが似合わない」と言うのは、日本人に「ハンバーガーが似合わない」「ステーキ食べるな」って言っているようなもの(笑)。

林:マックで食べてると、「めっちゃ似合う」とか言われます。別に嫌な気分はしないけど。

サンドラ:知らない日本人から声かけられることも多いですよね。

小林:いきなり「英語しゃべって」と来ることも。さすがに小学生、大きくても中学生くらい。

荒川:小さい子が必ず「アメリカ人だ!」と言うのが不思議。「英語人だ!」って言われたことも(笑)。

齋藤:急いで駅の階段を駆け上がっていたら、知らない人が突然「グッドモーニング!」って。とっさに「おはようございます!」と返してしまいましたが、妙な感じでした(笑)。

中澤:話したがるおじさんとかいませんか?飲み屋でフッと目が合うと、急に英語で話しかけてきたりするような--。

林:俺はそういうの嫌。露骨に“嫌ですオーラ”出してます。

中澤:自分はわりと話します。頑張ってるんだな、と思って。でも、さっきまで俺、日本語で話してたんだけど……という(笑)。

サンドラ:顔見知り程度の人が、英語の練習したくて誘ってくることって、ありますよねー。

一同:あるあるー!!

齋藤:「私、英会話習いたいから、ランチでもどう?今から全部英語ね」って(苦笑)。

中澤:そういうときは、しゃべらないですね。母が英会話の先生をしているんですが、1時間何千円でやっているわけです。それと同じことをタダでやれって言われているようなものですから。

小林:英語関連で言うと、私が日本語話せるとわかっているのに、親戚がときどき会話に英単語を交ぜて話してきますね。「はい、これお茶、ティーね」とか……。

一同:(爆笑)

林:俺は日本生まれで英語は頑張って勉強して覚えたのに、テストでいい点数取っても「ハーフだからいいよな」って言われたことがあります。

小林:私も母がフランス人だから英語は関係ないんですけど、小中学校と、まあまあ勉強はできるほうだったんです。それで、英語も成績よかったんですが、周りはやっぱり「ラクしていい点数取れていいねえ」って感じで。

齋藤:私は中1まではよかったんですけど、中2のときに赤点取ってしまって(笑)。そこから頑張って勉強するようになりました。

サンドラ:ハーフと言うと「家では何語で話すの?」というのもよく聞かれる質問ですよね。

中澤:「父とは日本語、母とは英語」と言うと「じゃあ両親の間では?」って聞かれて「英語です」って。そういうのをいちいち答えなきゃいけないんですよね。

サンドラ:もっと進むと、「夢は何語で見てるんですか?」「寝言は何語ですか?」とか。

中澤:「痛いときは『アウチ!』って言うの?」とか(笑)。

サンドラ:あと「ミドルネームはないの?」というのも。

一同:それは必ず聞かれますね。

荒川:小さい頃はミドルネームがありましたが、自分はそれが嫌だった。病院などで名前を呼ばれると、みんなが一斉に注目する。親に懇願して、小学校に上がる前に今の名前に変えた。昔は今より金髪でほかの子と全然違うから、見た目もコンプレックスでした。

中澤:わかります!自分も小さい頃、髪が真っ茶で目立つから、それで先生に目をつけられたし。

■半分は日本なのに日本の部分はスルーされる

サンドラ:「どこの国?」と聞かれるのはいいけど、聞いてどうするのかなって気もする。「どっちがドイツ?」「父」と言うと、もう次は「お父さんとお母さん、どこで知り合ったの?」となる。

中澤:勝手に家系図を作られているみたい(笑)。

小林:どうして初対面の人に、そこまでファミリーストーリーを話さなきゃならないの?

齋藤:普通、親のなれそめなんか聞かないよね。で、ハーフと知ってから「俺、鹿児島と兵庫のハーフだから」とか言う人も。

一同:いるー!超あるある!

サンドラ:いろいろ聞かれながら、半分日本人なんだけどなあ、って思います。日本とドイツだと言っているのに、日本はスルーでドイツのことばかり。それが悔しい。

中澤:日本人が出身地の話で仲間意識を持つのはわかるけど、ハーフ相手だと仲間探しではなく違いを探してるって感じがする。

サンドラ:純日本人でもみんなが直毛の黒髪ではないのに、そこから外れると「違う人」。そう教育されてきたから、大人になっても「ハーフは違う人」と思うのかも。

小林:母の国のフランスだけでなく、「日本のどちら?」って、父の国のことも聞いてくれたらうれしい。同じ和歌山出身の人なら、すごく盛り上がれそう。でも、聞かれたことはありません(笑)。

中澤:日本の中に現にある多様性に目を向けてほしいですよね。

サンドラ:若いギャルたちは意外に「どこの国の人?」とか聞いてこない。もう少しで「いろんな日本人がいる」というのが“普通”になるかもしれませんね(笑)。

■司会 サンドラ・ヘフェリンさん ドイツ育ちの日独ハーフ。日本在住歴15年。著書『浪費が止まるドイツ節約生活の楽しみ』(光文社)、『ハーフが美人なんて妄想ですから!!』(中公新書ラクレ)ほか。HP「ハーフを考えよう」http://half-sandra.com/
ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

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The Japan Times
Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place
By ARUDOU DEBITO
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121002ad.html

No doubt you’ve seen the news about the Takeshima and Senkaku disputes: Japan is sparring with China, South Korea and Taiwan over some specks in the ocean.

Why is this happening? Theories include pre-election political posturing and securing borders to exploit resources. But it’s gotten to the point where even respected academics (such as Stanford’s Harumi Befu and Harvard’s Ted Bestor) are worriedly writing, “current developments are counterproductive to the lasting peace in East Asia and are dangerously degenerating into belligerent diplomacy.”

My take on these scraps is pretty simple: They are merely a way to distract the Japanese public from a larger malaise, the symptoms of which include Japan’s loss of clout as Asia’s leading economy, perpetual economic funk, ineffectual political leadership and an irradiated food chain.

But the larger question remains: How could these far-flung rocks get so much domestic political traction? Bully-pulpiteer Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara managed to raise $18 million from the general public for buying bits of the Senkakus. This in turn forced Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to nationalize them with $26 million of public funds, entangling the government in this imbroglio (and no doubt giving Ishihara a chuckle over all the mischief he’d caused).

(NB:  Total money raised by Ishihara according to Yomiuri Sept 7, 2012: 1.4 billion yen.  Purchase price 2.05 billion yen.) http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120906004354.htm

After all, Japan has a lot to lose in these disputes. Known as the “fragile superpower,” Japan depends on the outside world both for raw materials and export markets. (China is, remember, Japan’s largest trading partner.)

Japan also has a reputation for being diplomatic towards everyone for business purposes (with its foreign policy sardonically known as happō bijin gaikō, “like a woman who appears beautiful viewed from any angle”). Why now so out of character?

Some might argue that Japan is “growing up” and “acting like a normal country.” Ishihara himself co-wrote the book “The Japan That Can Say No,” which among other things called for Japan to be more “assertive” on the world stage.

But that was in 1989. Now much older and more powerful (as head of a megacity), Ishihara has clearly revised “assertive” to mean “belligerent.” This isn’t Japan just saying “no.” It’s Japan saying, “Gimme. Or else.”

And this is not limited to Ishihara anymore, meaning the fundamental character of Japan’s leadership has shifted. The heads of Japan’s three main cities (Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya) have all expressed “revisionist” views of history, doubting the legitimacy of Asian claims of Japan as aggressor and plunderer during World War II. Revisionists seem determined to fan passions against outsiders for demagogic purposes.

For example, in what historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Japan Focus, Sept. 3) calls “foreign policy by tweet,” Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto capriciously stirred up historical matters largely settled a decade ago. Through glib texts to the general public, he stated in essence that the “comfort women” wartime sexual slavery issue had not been resolved by Japan’s official acknowledgment of the historical evidence in 1993 (something Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also asserted but later retracted).

The subtext is that Hashimoto’s ilk wants a government-authored history that paints Japan in a “hopeful” light. Indicatively (and ironically, considering his family background), he is pulling funding from Japan’s only human rights museum in Osaka next year, on the grounds that displays are “limited to discrimination and human rights” towards Japan’s minorities. In his view, they fail to inspire Japan’s children with a future full of “hopes and dreams” (Mainichi Shimbun, July 25).

How did this cabal gain such political leverage? I think we can understand their appeal through the lens of rekindling national “hopes and dreams.”

First, as Japan’s “lost decade” of economic woe stretched into two, a public hungry for hope and inspiration became receptive to the message of reliving past glories — not only in terms of wealth and international prestige, but also in terms of military might (as can be seen in the popularity of jingoistic manga like “Gomanism”). At last, there was something to be proud of amidst the interminable bad news.

Second, Gov. Ishihara, in cahoots with Japan’s police forces, banged the alarmist drum of foreign crime and terrorism so loudly and successfully that other political hopefuls could chime in and get (re-)elected. The ensuing suspicion of “outsiders in our midst” helped stem the tide of Japan’s internationalization and diversification, as Japan’s foreign-resident population, after an unbroken 48-year rise, began falling.

Third, hopes for liberalization were dashed when, for the first time in Japan’s postwar political history, a viable opposition party took over from the perpetually-ruling, corrupt Liberal Democratic Party. A mere three years later, people seem disappointed that the Democratic Party of Japan couldn’t undo a half-century of embedded LDP cronyism.

This all plays into the hands of zealots who wish to “restore” Japan (To what? A bubble economy? A regional military power?) without a clear template — except past precedent. The small print is that those past systems won’t work without the exercise of military power, or favorable overseas terms of trade designed for a reconstructing economy (neither of which are viable for present-day Japan).

No matter, say the Revisionists, let’s march backward: Last month, not only did the LDP reelect staunch historical revisionist Shinzo Abe as its party leader, but Hashimoto also launched his ominously named Japan Restoration Party, which has few policy aims except the proactive defense of Japanese sovereignty and territories.

It’s laughable how far removed all this is from what the Japanese public really wants. I believe most Japanese are not looking for trouble with any neighbor — in Japan or abroad. They just want to lead a quiet, prosperous life.

But now that even the Japanese media have started adopting the jingoistic tone of “restoring” Japan, the current discourse of belligerency is normalized and irresistible. Only true patriots dare say anything in public, while the silent majority hunkers down and waits for the fracas to pass (hopefully without any shots fired).

In a few months, this may all amount to a storm in a teacup. But I don’t think so. Political movements such as these (even if promoted by a very loud minority) do real social damage, setting precedents that legitimize the next wave of nationalism and antiliberalism.

As I’ve discussed on these pages before (e.g., Zeit Gist, July 8, 2008), extreme positions have eventually justified quiet but radical and illiberal reforms. For example, officially sponsored fears about foreign crime and terrorism have created a surveillance society that affects everyone. Since the DPJ took office, alarmist (and successful) invective against, say, granting local suffrage to foreign permanent residents also emboldened conservatives to defeat other liberalizing proposals, such as granting separate surnames to married couples and more civil rights for children. Several attempts at getting a universal law against discrimination have been defeated because of allegations that foreigners would abuse Japanese with it.

Thus foreigners are the perpetual wolf at the door, and have been used very effectively to mobilize the nation against both putative internal and external threats.

Now with boats clashing prows and loosing water cannon at each other because of ocean specks, soon there will be very normal-sounding calls for revisions of our “Peace Constitution.” Revisionists will argue (Ishihara already has) that like any “normal” country, Japan needs an actual “military,” able to defend its sovereignty from the wolves.

Therein lies the cognitive dissonance of any historical revisionist: Somehow “hope” is generated by forgetting a regrettable history.

This must not happen, because the proponents of this view simply do not wish to learn from history. And you all know what George Santayana said about “those who cannot remember the past (being) condemned to repeat it.”

I will conclude with the thoughts of M.G. Sheftall, professor of modern Japanese cultural history at Shizuoka University:

“Postwar Japan wanted to be welcomed back into the community of responsible countries and membership in the United Nations. So as a condition, the government acknowledged a ‘we were wrong’ narrative of the war experience. I think bearing guilt for a few more generations for the 20 million Asians killed under Japanese imperialism is necessary before the words ‘army’ or ‘navy’ inevitably return to the official Japanese lexicon. It’s just the decent thing to do.

“As a historian, it’s discomfiting having anything smacking of wartime ideology making a comeback while men who committed atrocities for the Imperial Japanese military still live. While they deserve some sympathy for what they endured under an ideology they were unable to resist or reject, I don’t they deserve the satisfaction of leaving this mortal coil feeling that Japan’s war has been historically vindicated. There’s justice in that, I think.”

By then, history will have taught Japan’s governing elites the folly and waste of clashing over petty nationalistic goals. If there is any hope.

============================
Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Mainichi: Japan’s only human rights museum likely closing after Osaka Gov Hashimoto defunds, says doesn’t teach Japan’s “hopes & dreams”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something quite indicative about the conservatives in Japan.  As I will be alluding to in my next Japan Times column (due out October 2), there is an emphasis on making sure “hopes and dreams” are part of Japan’s future.  Fine, but for Japan’s conservatives, fostering “hopes and dreams” means obliterating things like the shameful bits of Japan’s past (which every country, doing an honest accounting of history, has).

For Osaka Mayor Hashimoto (who just launched his ominously-named “Japan Restoration Party”), that means killing off Japan’s only human-rights museum (which, when I visited, had a corner devoted to the Otaru Onsens Case).  Because talking about how minorities in Japan combat discrimination against them is just too disruptive of Japan’s “dreamy” national narrative.  Read on.  Arudou Debito

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

Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan’

By Tessa Morris-Suzuki
(Recommended citation: Tessa Morris-Suzuki, “Out With Human Rights, In With Government-Authored History: The Comfort Women and the Hashimoto Prescription for a ‘New Japan,’” The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol 10, Issue 36, No. 1, September 3, 2012.)

Hopes and Dreams
They exist all over Japan, like tiny sparks of light, flickering and fragile, but somehow surviving against the odds: the peace museums, the reconciliation groups, the local history movements that work to address problems of historical responsibility neglected or denied by national politicians. As Kazuyo Yamane notes, according to a UN survey, Japan has the highest number of peace museums of any country in the world (Yamane 2009, xii). But the heritage created at the grassroots by ordinary Japanese people is constantly under threat from the hostility of nationalist politicians and sections of the media: and never more so than today (see Chan 2008; Morris-Suzuki, Low, Petrov and Tsu 2012).

Among the sparks of light is Osaka’s Human Rights Museum, also known as Liberty Osaka.

Founded in 1985, Liberty Osaka is Japan’s only human rights museum. It features displays on the history of hisabetsu buraku communities (groups subject to social discrimination), the struggle for women’s rights, and the stories of minority groups such as the indigenous Ainu community and the Korean minority in Japan. An important aspect of the museum is its depiction of these groups, not as helpless victims of discrimination, but rather as active subjects who have fought against discrimination, overcome adversity and helped to create a fairer and better Japanese society. By 2005 more than a million people had visited the Liberty Osaka. (See the museum’s website (Japanese) and (English).)

Today, the museum faces the threat of closure. The Osaka city government has until now provided a crucial part of themuseum’s funding, but the current city government, headed by mayor Hashimoto Tōru, has decided to halt this funding from next year, on the grounds that the museum displays are ‘limited to discrimination and human rights’ and fail to present children with an image of the future full of ‘hopes and dreams’ (Mainichi Shinbun 25 July 2012)

Rest of the article at:
http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

A message to that effect from Liberty Osaka, then the Mainichi Shimbun articles being referred to, follow for the record:

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

お知らせ

4月末から大阪市長は8月から当館への補助金打ち切りを表明し、皆様方にはご心配をおかけしています。大阪市は6月2日の公開ヒアリングにおいて、来年度の補助金打ち切りを前提としつつ、8月から約20%削減して補助金を組む方針を示しました。たいへん厳しい状況ではありますが、当館は来年3月まで事業と運営をおこなってまいります。来年4月からの事業と運営のあり方については関係諸機関・団体と協議してまいりますので、引き続きご支援・ご協力いただきますよう、よろしくお願い申し上げます。

2012年6月8日

大阪人権博物館

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

大阪人権博物館:存続の危機 府市の補助金打ち切り 問題知る場なくせば差別は消える?
毎日新聞 2012年07月25日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/feature/news/20120725dde018040097000c.html

国内で唯一の人権に関する総合展示施設、大阪人権博物館(リバティおおさか、大阪市浪速区)が、存続の危機に直面している。年間1億4000万円の収入のうち約85%を占めていた大阪府・市の補助金が、今年度で打ち切られるためだ。行政が人権問題についての施設費用をまかなう意味と、補助金打ち切りの背景を、識者らの言葉から探った。【鈴木英生】

同博物館は、1985年開館。部落差別を筆頭に、アイヌ▽在日コリアン▽沖縄▽女性▽ハンセン病▽薬害エイズ−−など、さまざまな問題を取り上げる。展示資料は約2000点。文書やパネルを並べるだけでなく、実物大で再現したアイヌのチセ(家)、沖縄や朝鮮半島などの民族衣装が着られるコーナーなどもあり、多面的だ。

橋下徹・大阪市長と松井一郎・大阪府知事は今春、展示が「差別と人権に縛られている」「子供が夢や希望をもって将来像を描く施設になっていない」などとして、補助金打ち切りを決めた。

博物館の関係者らは、補助金打ち切りを「人権教育の危機」と憤る。以前は橋下市長自身、「僕は、人権という教育は絶対必要だと思ってますので、ここはもう崩さず」(府知事時代の2009年に博物館リニューアルを求めた際の府議会での発言)などと語っていた。

そもそも人権問題の展示施設を、行政が支えてきたのはなぜか。人権博物館の元理事長でもある元木健・大阪大名誉教授(社会教育学)は「『社会教育法』で説明ができます」と話す。

一般的に、博物館の設置運営は、同法に基づく社会教育の一環とされる。同法は、国や地方公共団体が「市民の自主的な社会教育活動のための環境醸成」をしなくてはならないとする。「同法は、博物館など施設の設置運営どころか、集会の開催や資料の作成・配布までも、行政の責務としています」(元木さん)

ENDS

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

大阪人権博物館:存続の危機 府市の補助金打ち切り 問題知る場なくせば差別は消える?
毎日新聞 2012年07月25日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/feature/news/20120725dde018040097000c3.html

在日コリアン2世でもある姜尚中・東京大教授(政治学)は「橋下氏がターゲットとする施設に、人権博物館と、住友財閥の寄付で戦前に建った府立中之島図書館が入っているのは象徴的だ。さまざまなマイノリティーやマジョリティーが形作ってきた複雑な世の中全体を否定して、競争原理だけに基づく社会をつくりたいという思考が、背景にある気がする」と話している。

◇反対署名など展開
人権博物館は今後について「来年4月からの博物館のあり方は、関係諸機関・諸団体と協議する」としている。

部落解放同盟大阪府連などは「リバティおおさかの灯(ひ)を消すな全国ネット」を設立し、補助金打ち切り撤回を求めて運動している。同ネットは署名活動のほか、昨年度より2割削減された今年度の補助金を穴埋めするためのカンパ活動も展開中だ。
ENDS

AP Interview: Japan Nuke Probe Head Kurokawa defends his report, also apportions blame to NJ for Fukushima disaster!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something interesting.  A Debito.org Reader submits an article about an AP interview with the head investigator behind the Fukushima Nuclear Disasters, Kurokawa Hiroshi, who in his report on what caused the disaster (depending on which version you read) not only points a finger away from “specific executives or officials” (rather blaming “ingrained conventions of Japanese culture“), but also rather subtly points a finger at NJ.

As written below, part of the responsibility also lies within the international community.  Quote:

He said [his six-month investigation] showed that bureaucrats brushed off evidence of tsunami risks that had been clear as far back as 2006, and that representatives from international watchdog groups took travel money from the utilities.

Gosh, travel money as hush money?  That must have been quite a lavish journey.  As the submitter notes:  “NJ allowed themselves into being bribed by TEPCO, and therefore, failed to make sure TEPCO was acting properly?  Total blame shifting. Why didn’t he say that in his English presentation to the FCCJ?”

Perhaps because “Kurokawa made similar points in other parts of the report,” sort of thing (see below)?  Or maybe it’s the flip side of “we’re all victims” now:  “We’re all to blame.”  Arudou Debito

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

AP Interview: Japan Nuke Probe Head Defends Report
Thu, 09/13/2012 – 11:25pm
YURI KAGEYAMA – AP Business Writer – Associated Press, courtesy of JDG

http://www.pddnet.com/news/2012/09/ap-interview-japan-nuke-probe-head-defends-report

The head of a major investigation into Japan’s nuclear disaster is defending his report against criticism that his panel avoided blaming individuals and instead blamed elements of the nation’s culture.

Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a doctor who headed the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, said he sticks with his view that the catastrophe was “Made in Japan,” underlining collusion among the regulators and the utility that had set off the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. He said his panel intentionally stopped short of naming individual culprits.

“No one takes responsibility in Japan, even those in positions of responsibility,” Kurokawa told The Associated Press this week at his commission office in Tokyo. “This is unique to Japan, a culture that stresses conformity, where people don’t complain.”

People are complaining, however, about the commission’s report, not only for lacking specifics on responsibility but for making statements on Japan’s culture that appeared in the English-language version of the document but not the Japanese version.

The 641-page report, released in July, compiled interviews with 1,167 people and scoured documents obtained from nuclear regulators and Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility that operated Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

A devastating March 2011 tsunami set off by a 9.0 magnitude quake destroyed backup generators and sent Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant into multiple meltdowns and explosions. About 150,000 people were evacuated from a 20-kilometer (12-mile) no-go zone. Fears remain in Fukushima about cancer and other sickness from radiation.

The independent panel of 10 experts, including a lawyer, former diplomat and chemist, was appointed by the legislature. It is a style of investigation common in Western nations but was unprecedented in Japan.

The panel’s report has drawn criticism from Japanese and overseas critics.

“One searches in vain through these pages for anyone to blame,” Columbia University professor and Japan expert Gerald Curtis wrote in an opinion piece submitted to The Financial Times. “To pin the blame on culture is the ultimate cop-out. If culture explains behavior, then no one has to take responsibility.”

Tatsujiro Suzuki, vice chairman of the government Atomic Energy Commission, which promotes nuclear technology, was critical of the differences between the English and Japanese versions of the report. He said it appeared to be putting on one face to the Japanese people, while presenting another abroad.

The preface of the English version said, “What must be admitted — very painfully — is that this was a disaster ‘Made in Japan.’ Its fundamental causes are to be found in the ingrained conventions of Japanese culture: our reflexive obedience; our reluctance to question authority; our devotion to ‘sticking with the program;’ our groupism and our insularity,” he wrote in the English version.

The passage wasn’t in the Japanese message. But Kurokawa said he made similar points in other parts of the report in Japanese.

He said he wanted to reach a global audience by pointing to the longtime practice of handing plum jobs to retired bureaucrats, the half-century domination by a single party, and elitist employees taking lifetime jobs for granted as a peculiar “mindset” that fosters irresponsibility, slow decision-making and dubious governance.

“I didn’t want to say it, but it is ‘Made in Japan,'” Kurokawa said. “This is about Japanese culture and values. There is nowhere else quite like that.”

Tokyo prosecutors recently accepted a request by a group of lawyers to carry out an investigation into criminal charges of professional negligence against regulators and the nuclear plant’s management. If prosecutors move ahead, their power to subpoena records, raid offices and question officials would be far greater than that of Kurokawa’s panel.

Kurokawa said such an investigation was welcome as a sign of a “healthy democracy.” He said his six-month investigation offered plenty of fodder for a criminal inquiry. He said it showed that bureaucrats brushed off evidence of tsunami risks that had been clear as far back as 2006, and that representatives from international watchdog groups took travel money from the utilities. He said it may not have the names, but the dates and circumstances are there so all the investigators have to do is check, he said.

Japanese media have reported that prosecutors waited for Kurokawa’s report before deciding to take up a criminal investigation. The report’s finding that the accident was preventable and manmade made it more likely the prosecutors would investigate.

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m currently researching on the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus, and late last month I found this weird advertisement in the Ka Leo student newspaper (August 20, 2012, the debut issue for the start of the semester for maximum exposure):

“Have you ever wanted to help Japanese people in a way that could make a meaningful difference?  Participating in a clinical trial can be a deeply rewarding way to possibly help advance medical breakthroughs in Japan.

“Volunteers should be:  Healthy, between the ages of 18 and 60, born in Japan, or have both parents or all 4 grandparents born in Japan…

“Think you can volunteer?  Great!  COVANCE, Honolulu, Hawaii”

(Page 66.  Click on the image to expand in your browser.)

Covance is the “Contract Research Organization for Drug Development Services”, according to their website (www.covance.com).  Also, the link they provide in their advertisement above asks three locations (UK, United States (Global), and specifically Honolulu), and has only two languages:  English and Japanese, indicating their strong links to Japan (and no doubt the subcontracting for Japanese-oriented research — tool around the Japanese version for awhile; fascinating reading).

The upshot:  We want healthy “Japanese” for “medical breakthroughs in Japan” (as opposed to breakthroughs in medical science anywhere).  I smell patents, or at least patently racist language of “testing Japanese for Japanese since Japanese bodies are different” that infiltrates Japan’s physical and social sciences. (see for example here and here).

What I find especially interesting about this ad is the imported racialized conceits about what defines a “Japanese”:

No doubt due to the sensitivities of the English-language audience, there is no mention of “Japanese blood” as a qualifier.  No matter, that’s indirectly stated:  Born in Japan, both parents born in Japan, or all four grandparents (we wouldn’t want a Non-“Japanese” grandparent sullying the mix, after all) for proper thoroughbred status.

I’m a Japanese, but I don’t qualify.  Naturalized.  So wrong blood.  Sorry.  And it still would be wrong, under the paradigms above, even if I had been born in Japan (say, to a family of diplomats or missionaries; they exist).  Imagine Covance making the same stipulations for, oh, I don’t know, sickle-cell anemia research by asking for only “African-Americans” (or bona fide “Africans”) who have been born only to “pure-black” families stretching back three generations?  That would raise some eyebrows.  But not when we transpose it onto Japan-based conceits, where the racism is embedded.

What a pity.  Nothing quite like getting fresh young people to “volunteer” their time and bodies for big pharma’s future profits.  But what a way to do it:  By advertising in a college campus newspaper drawing lines between people under questionable scientific rubric.  I think we need better screening procedures not only within the medical community, but also within the media, so less of this racialized social science leaks into the physical sciences.  Arudou Debito

Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et al. on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization

mytest

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Hi Blog.  There’s a case that can be made nowadays that Japan is not only in decline, it’s falling back on jingoism (beyond the standard nihonjinron and historical revisionism) to support the image of a Japan that was once better when it had fewer foreigners (or none, which was historically never the case).  As my current research (more on this in future) has sought to demonstrate, Japan’s (Postwar, not Prewar, cf. Oguma Eiji) national narrative of “monoculturalism, monoethnicity, and homogeneity” has sponsored an ideological ethnic cleansing of Japan, thanks in part to revolving-door visa regimes and all manner of incentives to make sure that few “visibly foreign” foreigners stay here forever (hence the prioritizing of the Nikkei) for they agitate for more rights as generational residents (consider the visas that can be cancelled or phased out pretty much at government whim; we’ve seen it before with, for example, the Iranians in the late 1990s).  And if you ever thought “the next generation of younger Japanese will be more liberal”, we now have Osaka Gov Hashimoro Touru (younger than I) also supporting historical revisionism (see below) and forming the “Japan Restoration Party” (the poignantly and ominously named Nihon Ishin no Kai) on September 12, 2012.  With the recent saber-rattling (which nation-states indulge in periodically to draw public attention away from larger social problems, in Japan’s case the issues of nuclear power and the irradiating food chain) and the overblown flaps over the Takeshima/Tokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu ocean specks, we have an emerging vision of Japan as a remilitarized power in Asia, courtesy of Debito.org Reader JDG.  I thought we’d have a discussion about that here.  Take a look through the resource materials below and consider whether or not you share the apprehension that I (and some major academics overseas, including Ted Bestor and Harumi Befu, at the very bottom) have about Japan’s future.  Arudou Debito

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August 23, 2012
Hello Debito, I hope that you are well, and enjoying your sumer break.  I was wondering if I might suggest a JBC topic for you?

The Economist link I sent to you before, combined with the earlier war-crimes denial by the mayor of Nagoya, the ever-irritating blinky [Ishihara Shintaro], and now this:
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120822x3.html

===========================================
The Japan Times Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012
No evidence sex slaves were taken by military: Hashimoto
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto said there was no evidence that the Imperial Japanese Army forced Korean women and girls into sexual servitude at wartime military brothels.

In response to a question Tuesday about South Korean President Lee Myung Bak’s visit to the disputed Takeshima islets, which are called Dokdo in South Korea, which controls them, Hashimoto touched on Lee’s recent demands for Japan to apologize to the forced sex workers — now often described as “sex slaves” by the media — who were euphemistically called “comfort women” by the Japanese.

“There is no evidence that people called comfort women were taken away by violence or threat by the (Japanese) military,” Hashimoto said. “If there is such evidence, South Korea should provide it.”…

In August 1993, after more than 1½ years of government research into the issue, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued a statement saying the Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of “comfort stations” and the transfer of comfort women.

“The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments,” the statement said.

“It is deeply regrettable that the politician (Hashimoto) made remarks that run counter to the official position of the Japanese government,” said a South Korean government spokesman in an email to The Japan Times. “Former Chief Cabinet Secretary Kono issued a statement acknowledging the forcible recruitment of the so-called comfort women, sexual slavery victims drafted for the Japanese Imperial Army. As such, we believe the Japanese government has already acknowledged the forced nature of the recruitment of comfort women.”
Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120823a6.html
===========================================

Hashimoto denying J-war crimes is giving me massive pause for thought about the future of Japan. J-politicians have done this since the reverse course, but the fact of Hashimoto doing it proves that even the ‘next’ generation of J-politicians can’t stop the denial, and abandon Imperial era ideology.

Why does this bother me (beyond the obvious)?

Power is (as I am sure you know) based on three ‘legs’ in international relations terms. The first is political power (you can influence countries because they agree with your policies). Post-war Japan has never had any clout in this area. The second form is economic power (you can influence other countries with cash incentives). Until now Japan has been quite adept at quelling ruffled neighbors feathers with large amounts of ODA. But now China and Korea are ‘catching up’ economically, and Japan is falling behind, so this economic power is seen to be escaping from Japan’s grasp.

The third type of power in international relations is military power (when you can’t convince or buy concordance, smack them in the face). Recent comments by J-politicians named above, the continued visits to Yasukuni by the insensitively flippantly named ‘Let’s Visit Yasukuni!’ group of Diet members, the recent changing of the constitution to ‘ensure Japan’s nuclear safety’ (a move that specifically does not exclude the development of nuclear weapons- ‘Self Defense Force’ type word games), are causing me and others, great apprehension about Japan’s future.

Whilst I have no doubt that Japan will not embark on a series of expansionist wars, it seems to me that increasing Japanese insecurity with economic stagnation (read as: ‘Economic failure=losing the post-war peace’), is forcing J-politicians to fall back increasing on the verbosity of the third leg of international relations power. The purpose of this verbosity is to garner domestic support rather than exert any real international influence, and in this sense, it is of great concern for NJ residents in Japan.

Whilst I hope sincerely that a significant majority of the Japanese public would resist such endorsement of Imperial-era Japanese militarism, I am not encouraged. Given that it is unrealistic to suppose that Japan could successfully take military action against it’s powerful neighbors free from the risk of retaliation, my fear is that (as in 1930’s Germany), we are seeing a ‘renaissance’ of Japanese nationalistic ideology, rather than it’s much prolonged demise. An ideology that can only find a vent for it’s frustration on the NJ living in Japan.

The implications of this for NJ is that Japan will certainly not become more open and less discriminatory, but rather the drastic opposite.

At present, it’s all rather in the balance, but the fact that 67 years after the end of WWII the Mayors of Japan’s first, second, and third cities can still deny war crimes whilst calling for a militarily ‘stronger’ Japan should certainly make any NJ think twice about even visiting.

I have had enough, and will be leaving with my family. Japan, I sincerely believe, will get much worse for NJ as the economy fails to right itself. I think that the case can be made that the chance for Japan to become an internationalized country (in the Western sense) passed some 20 years ago, and instead of looking to the future, the Japanese are raging at the passing of glory days gone by.

Sincerely JDG.

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September 10, 2012

As a postscript to the mail I sent you before, have you seen this?
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120911a1.html

===========================================
The Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 11, 2012
Tanigaki out, Ishihara likely in LDP race
Party angling for return to power; Noda kicks off DPJ campaign
By MASAMI ITO and NATSUKO FUKUE Staff writers

Liberal Democratic Party President Sadakazu Tanigaki gave up his bid Monday to seek re-election in the Sept. 26 LDP leadership race, paving way for his right-hand man, Nobuteru Ishihara, as yet an undeclared candidate, to vie for the helm…

[Current DPJ PM] Noda, 55, vowed to create a nuclear power-free society, without saying when this may be achieved, and pledged 1 percent inflation within a year to overcome deflation.

He also vowed to protect Japanese sovereignty, including over the Senkaku Islands, which Japan controls, and the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea. He pledged to pave the way for the return of the Russia-held islands off Hokkaido. Noda also noted the government will buy three of the five Senkaku Islands, which are currently owned by a Saitama businessman.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120911a1.html
===========================================

Son of blinky as the next PM, combined with The Economist’s insiders’ take on future LDP policy? Does not bear thinking about for NJ.

I believe that Japan has been stringing the world along all along, just so that we would be happy to buy their cars and VCRs and other crap. In it’s heart Japan has never changed because it doesn’t want to, and now that we aren’t buying enough of their products, they have no reason to pretend to have changed.

I think that the time is coming for a change in strategy. Working from inside to educate the Japanese about the issues is having no real effect, maybe the next phase is just to shove evidence of Japan’s disgraceful behavior into the face of the international community until Japan is shamed into taking action.

After all, what should the headline of the NY Times be on the day that PM Son-of-Blinky shakes hands with the President of the USA?

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The Japan Times, Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
Hashimoto launches party amid workload, universal appeal doubts
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer (excerpt)
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120913a3.html
OSAKA — Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s new national political party, Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), was officially launched Wednesday with the aim of fundamentally changing the way the nation is governed…

The event boasted a map of Japan that included not only the four main islands and Okinawa, but also the Japan-controlled Senkaku islets, which are also claimed by China, the Takeshima islets, which are held by South Korea, where they are called Dokdo, and the four Russian-held islands off Hokkaido that Japan has wanted back since Soviet forces seized them at the end of the war.

Hashimoto’s party platform calls for proactive defense of Japanese sovereignty and territories. It did not specify how it would deal with territory Japan claims but no longer has control over….

There is also concern among Hashimoto’s advisers over how broad, nationally, the new party’s appeal will be. His biggest supporters are socially conservative urban males in their late 20s through late 40s, and media are already dubbing the party a “boy’s club.” Of the 105 local-level politicians in Osaka Ishin no Kai, only nine are women, and there were no female participants in Sunday’s discussion.

Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120913a3.html

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日本維新の会、結党を宣言 衆院選350人擁立目指す
朝日新聞 2012年9月13日
http://www.asahi.com/kansai/news/OSK201209130004.html

大阪維新の会(代表・橋下徹大阪市長)は12日、大阪市内で政治資金パーティーを開き、橋下氏が国政政党「日本維新の会」結党を正式に宣言した。次期衆院選に向けて350人程度の擁立を目指し、候補者の公募も週内に開始する。設立時期は、新党に参加する衆参国会議員7人の離党時期を踏まえ、今月下旬以降になる見通し。

パーティーで橋下氏は「我々大阪維新の会は国政政党をつくることに決めた」と、大阪市内に本部を置く日本維新の会結成を宣言。「これから日本の大いくさが始まる。今日そのスタートを切る」と、次期衆院選に向けた候補者擁立などの準備を本格化するとした。

橋下氏は、新党に参加するため11日に離党届を出した民主党の松野頼久元官房副長官(衆院熊本1区)、自民党の松浪健太衆院議員(比例近畿)ら衆参国会議員7人を紹介。次期衆院選での擁立を検討している前横浜市長の中田宏氏らのほか、維新の会との連携を模索する河村たかし名古屋市長や大村秀章愛知県知事も参加した。
ENDS
////////////////////////////////

September 12, 2012 3:45 am
Japan’s not ready to be a reliable ally

The Financial Times (London), Letter to the Editor
From Dr Jean-Pierre Lehmann. Courtesy DH
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/99321782-fb4d-11e1-87ae-00144feabdc0.html

Sir, Ian Bremmer and David Gordon’s suggestion that “Japan must be the new indispensable ally for the US in Asia” (September 10) is an absolute non-starter; going down that road would be disastrous for the US and for the region.

First, Japan has become more than ever since the end of the second world war, and more than any other major country, an inward looking-nation. There is no Japanese world view. The number of Japanese students in the US has significantly declined, in contrast to the growing numbers from many other Asian countries. Japan scores last but one (North Korea) in TOEFL (tests of English as a foreign language). Since Sadako Ogata served as the UN high commissioner for refugees there has been no prominent Japanese holding an international position. There is no visibility, let alone influence, of Japan at the World Trade Organisation. On this, as in respect to many other issues, no one knows what Japan stands for. At international policy forums, the Japanese, apart from a tiny handful of regulars, tend to be conspicuous by their absence. Japan remains a very closed country to foreigners: there are very, very few foreigners (and especially few non-Japanese Asians) in prominent positions in Japanese companies, Japanese universities, Japanese think-tanks, Japanese non-governmental organisations (of which there are very few internationally inclined), and so on. The picture of Japanese corporate diplomacy they present is a throwback to a vision of the 1980s, which was pretty much a mirage already then.

Second, and far more critical as recent events so sadly demonstrate, Japan, unlike Germany, has still not made peace with its neighbours. Relations are terrible with the Koreans and with China, but they are also bad with many other Asian countries or entities, including Hong Kong and Taiwan. Not only has Japan shown no leadership in Asia, it has been seen to behave in a highly mercantilist fashion and with a stunning lack of conscience of its past atrocities. The Japanese have shown themselves, at best, to be amazingly insensitive.

For the moment, unlike in the 1930s and 1940s, Japan poses no military threat. However, its behaviour vis-à-vis the world in general and its Asian neighbours in particular poses a serious security threat. There can be no peace in the Asia of the 21st century if the peace of the 20th century in Asia has not been restored. By whitewashing the past (as the US did vis-à-vis Japan and Asia in the aftermath of the second world war) and embracing Japan as an indispensable ally in Asia, the US will be seriously exacerbating the already explosive regional condition.

Japan should be encouraged to make peace and open up. Then prospects for a peaceful and prosperous Pacific will be greatly enhanced.

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, Emeritus Professor at IMD, Lausanne, Switzerland

ENDS

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

From: “Bestor, Theodore” XXXXXXX@WJH.HARVARD.EDU
Date: September 3, 2012 6:10:57 PM
To: EASIANTH@LISTSERV.TEMPLE.EDU
Subject: FW: China & Korea relations with Japan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本
Reply-To: East Asia Anthropologists’ discussion

Dear Colleagues,

With Harumi Befu’s permission, I am forwarding his email of earlier today regarding the crises among various Asian nations over nominal control of tiny rocks in the several oceans and seas around East Asia. I entirely agree with his position that nationalist rhetoric is ramping up in very disturbing ways on all sides.

I send this along in the hope (both Harumi’s and my own) that those of us who study and write about East Asian cultures, societies, polities might help create spaces in which to engage in creative and productive dialogue that could contribute to a diffusing of tensions.

Harumi and I agree that the current heated rhetoric over the various specks in dispute are serious threats to regional peace and stability.

Perhaps EASIANTH could be a forum for discussion on this set of issues.

With best wishes, Ted

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

From: Harumi XXXX@stanford.edu
Date: Mon, 3 Sep 2012 19:56:30

Subject: China & Korea relations with Jpan 中国〜日本/韓国〜日本

Dear Colleagues in East Asian Studies:
(Apologies for multiple mailing.)

This communication is being sent to my colleagues who might be concerned as I am with the current developments in the border dispute between Korea and Japan and between China and Japan, created by respective governments’ hardened positions. These disputes are unnecessarily escalated by the support of nationalist sentiments of all sides and are further flared by the media.

I hope at least some of you share my view that the current developments are counterproductive to the lasting peace in East Asia and are dangerously degenerating into belligerent diplomacy, and that it is time and it is the duty of us academics making our living by studying this area to undertake a concerted effort to make our voices heard, trusting that our collective wisdom has the power of persuading the public and the governments of the three countries.

Our academic endeavor is an effort in futility if we cannot exert any influence on the larger society in time of crisis.

I have no preconceived agenda, formula, or program of action. You must have your own take and preferred course of action. Some might like to act alone; others might like to underscore the Durkheimian belief that collective action is more than the arithmetic sum of parts. Whatever you wish to do, time is of essence. Dark clouds are gathering fast. I beseech you to act.

Respectfully submitted by your colleague,
Harumi Befu, Stanford University
p.s. My mailing list is woefully inadequate. I hope you will feel encouraged to utilize your own lists of contact.

ENDS

Kyodo: “Foreign caregiver program faces tightening”: Death knell of program as J media finds ways to blame the gaijin?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now let’s get back to some of Debito.org’s roasting chestnuts.  Let’s have a look at what’s becoming of Japan’s latest “revolving door” labor visa regime scam (after the “Trainees”, the “Nikkei Returnees”, and the “Points System”):  the “foreign caregivers“, which has ground to a halt due to the (otherwise fully-qualified) NJ health professionals themselves realizing that the systematic barriers were creating an exploitative regime.  So now according to Kyodo News it looks like it’s being scaled back.  But not without kicking someone in the ribs first.  As submitter JDG notes:

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

The foreign caregiver program was launched because there was a realization that the looming shortage of caregivers to meet Japan’s aging population had already arrived. However, as you have documented, from it’s inception it has been riddled with unrealistic expectations, low pay, harsh conditions, few incentives, and subject to some strange accounting.

Well, here is the logical conclusion:  foreign caregivers are ‘gaijin criminals taking advantage of the system’. Rather than examining what is wrong with the system, the (of course) natural response by officials is to make the program even tougher to live with for caregivers. Only a Kyoto University Prof. seems to have any sense about him. I would say that this development will mark the end (in real terms) of the program. Of course, it’s all the NJ’s fault…

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

Read on.  Arudou Debito

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Foreign caregiver program faces tightening
Kyodo News, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120804f1.html

The program to enable Filipino and Indonesian care workers to work in Japan under free-trade agreements is at crossroads four years after its launch as Tokyo wavers over whether to tighten requirements for candidates in light of unexpected incidents that have run counter to the plan.

In the latest case, a 37-year-old Indonesian candidate was arrested and deported for working illegally at an auto parts plant in Aichi Prefecture instead of at the nursing home in Okinawa to which she had been assigned, apparently because she had difficulty mastering the Japanese language.

This came amid heightened public scrutiny of the program after it was reported that a number of candidate care workers had quit and returned to their home countries despite passing the qualification exam. They had been expected to work in Japan.

“Work at the special nursing home for the elderly was tough,” the Indonesian caretaker was quoted as saying when questioned by immigration officers in Nagoya after her arrest.

The woman came to Japan under the program in August 2010. After undergoing training, she began working at a special nursing home in Okinawa along with four other candidates in December of that year.

Last December she briefly returned to Indonesia, saying she wanted to spend Christmas and New Year’s in her home country.

She later re-entered Japan, but did not return to her workplace in Okinawa. Instead, she started working at the auto parts plant in Aichi in March.

“We had no problem with her working attitude, although it seems she was troubled by the fact that she was lagging behind other candidates in terms of learning Japanese,” a staff member at the nursing home said. “I wish she would have come to us for consultation.”

Caregivers who come to Japan under the program are allowed to stay in Japan for a maximum of four years until they pass the national exam. Before this summer, it was easy for them to apply for re-entry permits prior to making short trips to their home countries or for other travel outside of Japan.

Under the new immigration control system that came into effect in July, foreigners working in the country are now allowed to exit and return within a year without obtaining re-entry permits.

“A blind spot in the system has been taken advantage of,” a government official said on condition of anonymity. “Illegal employment absolutely came out of the blue.”

Similarly, an immigration official in charge lamented that when an application for a re-entry permit is submitted, it is “impossible” to detect whether the applicant is going to engage in activities beyond the scope permitted under the applicant’s visa status.

To remedy the situation, the government is considering revising the program’s prerequisites for entry into Japan, including requiring candidates to have a certain level of Japanese language skill. On the other hand, some are concerned that making the rules too stringent will go against the original aim of opening doors to foreign caregivers.

Commenting on the issue, Wako Asato, a special associate professor at the graduate school of Kyoto University, criticized the government for failing to come up with a consistent policy as it sits on the fence between those supportive of the program and others wary of it.

“How should Japan welcome and make good use of talented care workers from abroad? If the government does not present a clear stance on this, I believe we’ll be seeing more candidates giving up halfway or quitting to return home even after passing the exam,” the expert on migration said.

According to Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services, the program’s intermediate coordinator agency based in Tokyo, a total of 1,562 care workers and nurses have come to Japan under the program. Of them, five became unaccounted for and authorities have not been able to confirm if they left the country.
ENDS

Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again, calls NJ judo Olympians “beasts” spoiling Japan’s sport

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Sanitizer-General I referred to in my last Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column is at it again:

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

石原都知事「西洋人の柔道はけだもののけんか」
(読売新聞 2012年8月4日06時03分 スポーツ報知)courtesy of MS
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/topics/news/20120803-OHT1T00324.htm

東京都の石原慎太郎知事(79)は3日の定例会見で、ロンドン五輪で柔道勢の苦戦が続いていることについて「西洋人の柔道ってのは、けだもののけんかみたい。(国際化され)柔道の醍醐(だいご)味ってどっかに行っちゃったね」と話した。「ブラジルでは、のり巻きにチョコレート入れて食うってんだけど、これはすしとは言わない。柔道もそうなっちゃった」と述べた。

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

ENDS

Translation (by Debito):

Yomiuri:  Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro (79) said at his regular press conference on August 3, regarding the difficulties the Japanese judo team is having at the London Olympics, “Watching Westerners do judo is like watching beasts fight.  An internationalized judo has lost its exquisite charm.”  He added, “In Brazil, it’s said that they eat chocolate in their norimaki, but I wouldn’t call that ‘sushi’.  It’s a shame that judo has also gone the same way.”

That’s the entire article.  How sporting of him.  These are the type of people who, for example, seek to keep NJ out of Sumo by limiting stable to one “foreign wrestler”, and they include naturalized citizens as “foreign” as well (unlawful under the Nationality Law; still waiting for the lawsuit).  Judo will be the “Japanese sport that got away” since they “internationalized” it, I guess; but that’s why it’s an Olympic event and Sumo, run by racists (and sexists), will never be.

Anyway, for the record.  This will be my penultimate post before vacationing for the summer.  Arudou Debito

Resurrecting Gregory Clark’s embarrassingly xenophobic Japan Times column on “Global Standards” Nov 1, 1999, quietly deleted without retraction from JT Online archives

mytest

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Hi Blog.  When doing research last blog entry, on how Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark led the Apologist counterattack on criticism of Japan for institutionalized racism (as witnessed at the time by the Ana Bortz Case of 1998-9 and the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999-2005), I discovered that one of his most xenophobic columns, entitled “Problematic Global Standards” of November 1, 1999 (weeks after the Bortz verdict in Shizuoka District Court made clear that racism, none other, existed within these shores) has long been deleted from the Japan Times archive.  I think after reading it you might understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it, but deletion from a newspaper archive without a retraction is simply not on.  I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives:

Let me also type it out in full now, so it becomes word-searchable by the search engines for posterity.  Bigots, media fabricators, and profiteers like Clark deserve to be hoisted by their own petard.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

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

PROBLEMATIC GLOBAL STANDARDS
By Gregory Clark
The Japan Times, Monday, November 1, 1999

The Japanese are preoccupied nowadays with something called “global standards.” Spelled out clumsily in “katakana” English, “gurobaru sutandaado” has every implication of a backward, inferior Japan rightly despised by the civilized world for its failure to reform itself in our Western image.

It is true there are some Japanese standards that need to be reformed. The apathy towards social evils like “yakuza,” bike gangs and tobacco is one. Corruption in conservative political and business circles seems endless.

The education system could learn much not just from the West, but also from Taiwan or Singapore, particularly at the tertiary level.

But for every Japanese minus there is usually more than a more-than-compsenating plus. Over the years, the Japanese have evolved a value system that for all its faults has created the advanced and reasonably stable society that most of us come here to enjoy.

Or, to put it another way, for all the global standards that Japan should be emulating, there is usually any number of Japanese standards that the rest of us should emulate — particularly the ones that say people should be honest and reasonably polite to each other.

Which is where the sad story of the Hamamatsu jewelry shop owner fined recently for racial discrimination becomes relevant.

That Japan is remarkable for its lack of organized theft is no secret. One result is that even jewelry merchants feel little need to take little precautions.

Another is that Japan has become a paradise for Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern and Latin American gangs keen to exploit this lack of precaution. To date they have managed to pull off close to 100 major jewelry heists, not to mention any number of big-haul raids on pachinko parlors.

With jewelry thefts, one ploy is to have someone, often a female accomplice, visit the targeted store in advance and pretend to show a purchasing interest while checking out details for the planned theft later.

Another is for the accomplice to create a disturbance, and while Japan’s fuss-sensitive shop assistants have their attention diverted, others in the gang pretending to be customers empty the unlocked display boxes.

Needless to say, this gives Japan’s jewelry merchants something of a problem. That some may have decided that their best defense is to ban all foreign-looking would-be customers from their stores is not very surprising.

But that, precisely, is where the man in Hamamatsu came unstuck. His district has a large Latin American-origin workforce. Having already suffered two robberies, he saw fit to deny entrance to a woman of Latin appearance who turned out to be a Brazilian journalist.

She also happened to be legalistic (another “global standard” Japan need not rush to adopt) and since Japan did not have a relevant law, the shop owner was charged under a U.N. antidiscrimination convention that Japan had signed. Found guilty, he was fined Y1.5 million.

No doubt the judge involved saw the U.N. connection as the ultimate in global standards. Many in the media here were equally enthusiastic. Few seem to have considered the corollary, namely that from now on not just the jewelers but anyone in the merchandise business will have to embrace another “global standard” — the one that says they should regard all customers as potential criminals to be welcomed with guns, guards, overhead cameras, and squinty-eyed vigilance.

True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant, and in Japan it includes refusals to rent property. But as often as not, that is because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs.

Refusal to respect the culture of a host nation is the worst form of antiforeign discrimination.

This clash between “global standards” and Japanese standards leaves its detritus in other areas.

Japanese standards say that there are times when an economy functions better if rival companies can get together, sometimes with customers, to agree on prices and market share. Unfettered competition can easily lead not just to monopolies, but also to very damaging “over-competition” (“kato kyoso”) as Japanese firms, with their strong survivalist ethic, struggle to keep alive.

But the “global standards” imposed on postwar Japan say otherwise. They insist that competition has to be free and unfettered. All and any cooperation between companies — the dreaded “dango” phenomenon — is a crime.

So Japan compromises. Dango that happen to be exposed are evil. The others are OK. What it should be doing is preventing dango that aim simply to jack up prices, while encouraging those that bring order to markets and help customers.

A recent victim of this expose standard was a small group of cast-iron pipe makers that had colluded on prices, mainly to rescue a weak competitor from bankruptcy. For its generosity, the group had its executives arrested and paraded as criminals.

Curious, the United States, which helped impose this anti-dango standard also condemned Fujitsu’s famous Y1 bid for a large Hiroshima computerization contract. The bid was a typical result of what can happen in Japan when competition is free and unfettered.

Nagging Western demands for unfettered competition in Japan’s finance industry and an end to government control over the banking system also led indirectly to the bubble economy and Japan’s current economic plight.

The same standards also managed to wreck the Asian economies two years ago, and then endorsed strong criticisms of Malaysia and Hong Kong for the state interventions that were crucial for rescuing those two economies from the wreckage imposed on them by Western speculators.

It’s time Japan, and much of the rest of the world, worked out their own standards.

===================
Gregory Clark is president of Tama University
ENDS

Japan Times: “Ninjin-san ga Akai Wake” Book is behind bullying of mixed-race children; contrast with “Little Yellow Jap”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Barring any unforeseen events of great import, I am planning to Summer vacation Debito.org for most of August, following the publication of my next Japan Times column on August 7.  So as we wind things down a little, here’s something I had in the archives for commentary someday.

How the media portrays minorities and people of differences in any society is very important, because not only does it set the tone for treatment, it normalizes it to the point where attitudes become predominant, hegemonic, and unquestioned.  This article in the Japan Times regarding a book that portrays blackness as “dirty” is instructive, in that it shows how people react defensively when predominant attitudes are challenged.  The dominant, unaffected majority use the inalienable concepts of culture and identity (particularly in Japan) as blinkers, earplugs, and a shield — to deny any possibility of empathy with the people who may be adversely affected by this issue.

And I consider this to be a mild example.  Remember what happened when Little Black Sambo was republished by Zuiunsha back in 2005, after years of being an “un-book” in Japan?  But Sambo was just seen as a “cute” character, with no provided historical context of the world’s treatment of the Gollywog (after all, Japan often does not consider itself “of the world” when it comes to racial discriminationsome even profiteer off it).  It was actually being used as a teaching tool in Saitama to impressionable pre-schoolers in 2010; nothing like forming Japanese kids’ attitudes early!  So I did a parody of it (“Little Yellow Jap“) to put the shoe on the other foot.  THEN the accusations of racism came out — but in the vernacular against me for parodying it!  (Here’s an example of someone who “got it”, fortunately.)  The same dynamic is essentially happening below.  Read on.  Arudou Debito

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The Japan Times Tuesday, April 10, 2012
HOTLINE TO NAGATACHO
Book is behind bullying of mixed-race children (excerpt)
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120410hn.html

Dear Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Hirofumi Hirano,

My three beautiful children were all born in Japan and went to Japanese public schools. Their mother is a native Japanese of Japanese ethnic background, and I am a Canadian citizen of African background.

Since my children are light brown, they were often teased by other kids because of the color of their skin. The culprits were cruel, directing various racial slurs. Among others, “black and dirty as burdocks” was one of the terms that often came up.

But, when I once ran across and brought home a picture book, “Ninjin-san ga Akai Wake” (“The Reason the Carrot is Red”) from the local library, my children got quite upset.

Written by renowned Japanese author of children’s literature Miyoko Matsutani, the story unfolds like this: A carrot and a burdock ask a white radish (daikon) out to a bath. The burdock jumps in the water but soon hops out because the water is too hot; it remains black. The carrot stays in the hot water longer and turns red. The daikon cools the bath with some cold water and washes himself thoroughly, which turns him shining white.

At the end, the three stand beside each other to compare their color. The burdock is black and dirty because he did not wash his body properly; the daikon is white and beautiful because he did.

When I was talking about this story during one of my lectures on human rights issues at a PTA meeting in Fukuoka, one of the participants, a Japanese mother of an African-Japanese preschool boy, started crying and saying that her son was taunted, ridiculed and called “burdock” after his pre-school teacher read the aforementioned book to the class.

When the little boy returned home that day, he jumped into the bathtub, started washing his body and crying, “I hate my light brown skin, I hate the burdock, I’m dirty and I want to be like the white radish!” How can this child have a positive image of himself?

We all felt sad after hearing this story, because the book associates the color black with dirt. The story’s underlying message is clear: “You’ll be black and dirty like burdocks if you don’t wash yourself well in the bath.” So children with darker skin will be victimized by the message it conveys.

How can such a book still be in libraries and preschool classrooms in increasingly multiracial contemporary Japan?

I called the publisher, Doshinsha Publishing Co., and demanded the book be recalled, saying it was racist. The publisher disagreed. My demand to meet with Matsutani to discuss revising the portions of the book I considered objectionable was also rejected.

Yoichi Ikeda, the editor of the book published in 1989, told me over the phone that the story was the author’s version of a Japanese folktale.

“Matsutani is not promoting racism, she was just handing down to Japanese children our rich culture,” he said. “And anyway, there are not many black children in Japanese preschools.”

Surprisingly, the book is quite popular and was even selected as one of the Japan School Library Association’s “good picture books.”

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120410hn.html

H-Japan on “Apartheid or Academic Accuracy: Japan’s Birth Rate”, Tohoku U Prof Yoshida’s demographic research methodologically excludes “foreigner births”

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Hi Blog.  One social statistic that is very politically-charged in Japan (along with the unemployment rate, which is according to some kept low due to methodological differences in measurement) is Japan’s birth rate.  I have already argued that Japan’s demographic science is already riddled with politics (in order to make the option of immigration a taboo topic).  But here is another academic arguing that how the birth rate is measured differs from time to time, sometimes resulting in not counting NJ women giving birth in Japan!  In other words, Japan’s demographic science is methodologically leaning towards only counting births of Japanese citizens, not of births of people in Japan — and a prominent scientist named Yoshida at Tohoku University is actually advocating that NJ births be excluded from Japan’s birth rate tally, for the purposes of formulating “appropriate public policy”!  Application of the Nationality Clause to demographics to systematically exclude them from public policy considerations?  The author of this piece from H-Japan calls it “apartheid”.   So would I.  Have a read.  Arudou Debito

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

Apartheid or Academic Accuracy: Japan’s Birth Rate
From: JFMorris
Date: Sun, 15 Jul 2012 
Venue: H-Japan Website, courtesy of LB

Dear List Members,

On 12th July 2012, Professor Yoshida Hiroshi of the Graduate School of Economics, Tohoku University, made a press release of research conducted under his direction. So far as I can ascertain, this press release was ignored by almost all mainstream media, but NHK reported the content of his team’s findings on its TV news programmes in detail, and featured a detailed interview with him on its evening radio news show.

The starting point for Professor Yoshida’s research is the discrepancy between the official birth rate announced by the Japanese government. The birth rate for years when a census conducted is higher than that for years when there is no census. The reason for this is that in census years, the birth rate is calculated on the basis of women of Japanese nationality resident in Japan, whereas in non-census years the birth rate is calculated using the total number of women in the relevant age cohort; i.e. including women of foreign nationality resident in Japan. Professor Yoshida recalculated the birth rate for 2011, a non-census year, excluding women of foreign nationality from his figures and compared it to the birth rate for 2010, a census year, for various levels of local governmental bodies across Japan. His press release demonstrates that when comparing 2011 and 2010, the official figures for the birth rate show either no change (10 prefectures ) or a decline across the prefectures of Japan, whereas when the 2 years are compared using his equivalent data, the birth rate shows a decline in only 8 prefectures (of which 5 are most likely affected by the events of March 2011), and actually shows an increase (albeit small) in 30 prefectures.

Professor Yoshida’s research is very important in any discussion of the birth rate and population issues in Japan. It is extremely important in formulating pubic policy on matters concerning population, and the related issue of women’s issues, especially at the level of local government, as regional discrepancies between the local birth rate and the national average are large. In his long radio interview with NHK, Professor Yoshida emphasised the importance of collecting statistically valid and meaningful data in order to formulate and evaluate the effectiveness of public policy, particularly in an issue so delicate as the birth rate.

So far so good. However, in the pursuit of statistical consistency, Professor Yoshida has committed a form of apartheid, and NHK by uncritically reporting the methodology and ‘significance’ of Professor Yoshida’s research, has amplified his methodological error across Japan, and given it quasi-official sanction by reporting it on the ‘national’ news network.

Professor Yoshida’s work contains two problems. If he wishes to point out the methodological inconsistency in the way the current Japanese birth rate is calculated, he has an important and very valid point. All scholars who use the official figures for the Japanese birth rate should be aware of his research. However, if he is going to claim (as he does in his press release and on public television and radio) that his figure are the objectively ‘correct’ figures for the Japanese birth rate, than his calculations are just as methodogically flawed as the governmental figures that he criticises. His calculations assume that all children of Japanese nationality born in Japan are born by women of Japanese nationality. The rate of marriages of Japanese men to women of foreign nationality has accounted for 3.2 to 4.6% of all marriages in Japan over the past 10 years or so. The overwhelming majority of children born from these marriages will be registered as ‘Japanese nationals.’ The gist of Professor Yoshida’s criticism of the official figures for the birth rate in non-census years is that they are lower than the reality. However, the figures that he claims are the objectively correct figures, by the same token, will always produce a figure for the birth rate that is higher than the reality, because it denies that there are children born to mothers of foreign nationality throughout Japan. If Professor Yoshida merely wished to demonstrate the inconsistency of the official figures for the Japanese birth rate then his research would be valid. However, to claim that his figures are objectively correct is not as invalid as the data that he criticises and for exactly the same reason that he criticises the government figures, the gross insult that he has committed by denying the existence of 10’s of thousands of women of foreign nationality married to Japanese men and bearing Japanese children is unforgivable.

To add insult to injury, Professor Yoshida in his radio interview claimed that statistics for foreigners resident in Japan should be excluded from all public calculations of population within Japan, in order to formulate appropriate public policy. The example he used to make his point was Gifu Prefecture, which has a relatively large concentration of foreign workers. After the depression following the Lehman Brothers’ Shock of 2008, the majority of foreign workers remaining in Japan are people who have lived here for 20 years or more, and are not likely to conveniently return to their home country. By claiming that foreigners/foreign workers should be excluded from all statistics for population in Japan and any formulation of policy based on these statistic, Professor Yoshida is doing nothing other than advocating a form of apartheid.

I have submitted a letter directly to Professor Yoshida pointing out the methodological shortcomings and social implications of his research and public statements. I have also submitted an email to NHK outlining the problems involved in their reporting, and have not received an answer from either.

John Morris
Miyagi Gakuin Women’s University,
Sendai, Japan

For reference:
Tohoku Uni press release of Professor Yoshida’s research
http://www.tohoku.ac.jp/japanese/newimg/pressimg/tohokuuniv-press20120612_01.pdf

Professor Yoshida’s web site
https://sites.google.com/site/economicsofaging/

Official governmental figures on marriages by nationality within Japan
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii10/dl/s05.pdf
ENDS

NYT: A Western Outpost Shrinks on a Remote Island Now in Japanese Hands; the overwriting of NJ legacies in Ogasawaras

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Hi Blog.  Many people sent me this important article, and I apologize for the amount of time it took to put it up.  Here we have a fascinating case study of how Japan still to this day decides to overwrite indigenous difference within its own land.  The case here is of the non-Wajin peoples (the Oubeikei, descendants of NJ sailors) on the outlying Ogasawara (Bonin) Islands (technically part of Tokyo-to, believe it or not).  Not content to ignore the Oubeikei as minorities in Japan (despite having Japanese citizenship yet NJ ethnic diversity), the system (as witnessed in the non-preservation of history, see below) is now in the process of overwriting them as simply non-existent, thanks to the attrition of mortality.

It’s a common tactic within the “monocultural” meme in Japan:  Simply pretend that diversity doesn’t exist in Japan, and continuously assert that NJ are an exogenous force within Japan’s history with only gaiatsu as an influence (from Commodore Perry on down).  Meanwhile, Western media (and scholarship; don’t forget the legacy of Reischauer) parrots and proliferates this fiction through canards such as the “borrowing” theory, i.e., “Japan borrows ‘things’ [never people] from the outside world and uniquely ‘Japanizes’ them.”  This is how the legacies of NJ as resident and generational contributor to Japanese society are constantly downplayed and transmuted into, e.g., “temporary English teacher”, “temporary fad sportsman”, “temporary advisor/researcher” etc. — all memes that forever see NJ and their descendants as merely exceptional and subsumable with time (as was done with the postwar appearance of “konketsuji” children of US-Japanese liaisons during The Occupation).

And Japan wants the Northern Territories (Kuriles) back?  Imagine what will happen to the Russian residents there?  It’s no longer a world where people can ignore Japan’s past destruction of cultures (cf. the Ainu, the Okinawans, the Korean Kingdom, the indigenous Formosans), but neither can the GOJ simply assume that Asian-looking minorities can be rendered invisible (as many of the Russian residents are Caucasian) like the Zainichi Koreans and Chinese, etc.  have been  Nor can one assume that NJ will be allowed to assimilate properly into Japanese society while maintaining the dignity of diversity, even as the GOJ is now considering when advocating an actual NJ migration policy.  The SOP is still, as is being witnessed below on the Ogasawaras, one of willful ignorance and othering, subsumption, and overwriting of history.

It portends ill for Japan’s future prospects as an international, multicultural, multiethnic society.  Arudou Debito

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

A Western Outpost Shrinks on a Remote Island Now in Japanese Hands
By MARTIN FACKLER, The New York Times
Published: June 10, 2012, courtesy lots of people

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9504EED81639F933A25755C0A9649D8B63

CORRECTION APPENDED
CHICHI JIMA, Japan — Every morning, as the sun rises over this remote Pacific Island and its tiny port with typically Japanese low-slung concrete buildings, John Washington commits a quiet act of defiance against the famously insular Japan: he hoists an American flag over his inn.

Mr. Washington, 63, whose white skin and blond hair, which is turning white, mark him as something of an outsider, is a great-great-grandson of the island’s founding father, an American sailor named Nathaniel Savory who set sail in 1830 with a band of adventurers for this island, which was known as a lawless natural wonder.

These days, Mr. Washington’s attempt to evoke that history seems increasingly like an act of desperation. His community — descendants of those settlers — is vanishing as young people leave this isolated outpost, a 25-hour ferry ride from Tokyo in a chain once known as the Bonins, or assimilate, dropping the Anglican religion and English language of their forebears.

”I feel it will all die out with my generation,” Mr. Washington said. ”They don’t teach the history of the Bonin Islands to kids, don’t teach about Nathaniel Savory. The Japanese hide these things.”

And what they are hiding, he says, is a tale as colorful and lurid as it is disputed.

Since it was settled by Mr. Savory’s American and European followers — fortune seekers, deserters, drunkards — and their Hawaiian wives, the island has been pillaged by pirates, gripped by murder and cannibalism, and tugged back and forth between Japan and the United States in their battle for supremacy in the Pacific. There was a brief revival of the island’s Western culture after World War II, when it was ruled by the United States Navy.

Even the island’s V.I.P. visitor list seems outsized for a spit of land just five miles long. It includes Commodore Matthew C. Perry, who stopped here on the 1853 voyage in which he opened Japanese ports at gunpoint, and Jack London, who visited as a 17-year-old deckhand and later wrote about the Bonins.

Today, the island is a sleepy place. Its rhythms are set by the arrival once every six days of the ferry that makes the 600-mile journey from Tokyo, which has administered Chichi Jima as part of what are now known as the Ogasawara Islands, after the United States returned them to Japan in 1968.

About 2,000 people live here, mostly Japanese from the mainland who came after the transfer. Over time, they have overwhelmed the descendants of the original settlers — known here as Obeikei, or the Westerners — who are now estimated to number fewer than 200.

Most of the Obeikei are Japanese citizens. Most of those who still speak English and retain distinctly Western or Polynesian features are over the age of 50.

In a country that prides itself on its homogeneity and avoids tackling uncomfortable situations directly, many of Chichi Jima’s Japanese residents profess to having little knowledge of or interest in the Westerners. They instead focus on running the whale-watching and diving tours for the tourists drawn to a pristine island chain that last year was listed as a Unesco World Heritage site.

Some Japanese residents say the Westerners have made their own lot by being standoffish, using both Western and Japanese names, and pining to return to the ”Navy time” after World War II, when they had the island virtually to themselves.

An old graveyard with Christian tombstones is one of the few visible traces of the Westerners’ history. And the official account of the island’s history, presented at the village-run visitor center, plays down the Westerners’ role in settling the island.

It says the island chain was discovered in 1593 by a samurai named Sadayori Ogasawara, for whom the chain was later named. The ”Euro-American natives” are presented as little more than squatters who occupied what officials say was already Japanese territory, despite a consensus among modern Japanese and Western historians that Ogasawara never visited the islands.

”They are not the same as indigenous natives who have been here for hundreds of years,” said Kazuhiko Ishida, the island’s vice mayor. He said that while no efforts are being made to preserve the Westerners’ culture, they are not mistreated, either.

Westerners agree, but even some of those with close Japanese friends and spouses say feeling marginalized is not much better.

”They call me foreigner,” said Sutanrii Minami, 64, a tour guide who also goes by Stanley Gilley and who looks Polynesian. ”I’m not a foreigner. I was born on this island.”

What is undisputed is that the island was left largely to rule itself until 1875, when Japanese settlers and officials took over in what the historian Daniel Long calls the first act of territorial expansion by a budding Japanese empire.

”Chichi Jima was probably the only case where the island was claimed by an Asian power and the natives were English-speaking Westerners,” said Mr. Long, who has written several books on the island.

It is also agreed upon that the island was untouched when sailors’ tales of an ”uninhabited paradise” drew the 35-year-old Mr. Savory and about 20 settlers. They eked out a living selling provisions to passing Yankee whalers and British warships.

Many visiting captains remarked on the lawlessness of the island, recording tales of murder and polygamy. It also proved vulnerable to pirates, who in 1849 made off with Mr. Savory’s gold — and his wife. Witnesses later told a passing captain that the abduction was a tall tale: they said the woman, who was much younger than Mr. Savory, eagerly joined the marauders, leading them to his hidden wealth.

Islanders say that such raids may have led the settlers to peacefully accept the Japanese as rulers, who treated them with benign neglect.

That changed with the approach of World War II. Although they were not interned, the Westerners were forced to take Japanese names and were watched as possible spies. In 1944, most were evacuated along with the Japanese residents to the mainland, where they say they suffered discrimination.

”We are loyal Japanese, but they treated us as enemies when they saw the color of our faces and our eyes,” said Aisaku Ogasawara, 81, an Anglican pastor who also goes by Isaac Gonzales.

During the war, some of the Western men entered the Japanese Army, joining the garrison that defended the island. They witnessed a different horror, historians say, when eight captured American airmen were beheaded and then eaten by the starving Japanese defenders.

After the war, the United States Navy used the island for a submarine base. The Navy allowed the Western-descended settlers to return in 1946, but Japanese former residents were barred from coming back — possibly because of the nuclear warheads that historians say were stored on the island.

When the island was returned to Japan in 1968, the Westerners were given a choice of becoming either Japanese or American citizens. Many left for the United States.

Some wish that Japan and the United States had allowed them to decide the island’s future themselves.

”This island was returned without our control,” said Rokki Sebori, 52, who also goes by Rocky Savory and runs the island’s cooperative supermarket. ”We still feel in our hearts that this is our island.”

ENDS
Correction: June 17, 2012, Sunday
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: A picture caption last Sunday with an article about the vanishing community of Americans on Chichi Jima, a remote Pacific island that was founded by an American sailor but turned over to the Japanese in 1968, misstated the given name of a Westerner who served in the American Navy and now runs a bar in the island. He is Rance Ohira, not Lance.
ENDS

Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”

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Hi Blog. We’ve had a discussion recently as part of Debito.org Comments about one of the side-effects of Japan’s new residency-certificate registration (juuminhyou) coming up in July.  People suspect that the GOJ is using this revision as a means not only to make sure that local governments aren’t being “soft” on NJ visa overstayers (by denying them benefits even the Kyodo article below acknowledges they are entitled to), but also to check whether all NJ residents are registered and paying into Japan’s social insurance system. This is controversial because plenty of Japanese also opt out of the system, and also because it will possibly become a means to say, “Pay in or no visa renewal,” something that citizens obviously cannot be threatened with.

This is yet another example of social Othering on a policy level (if you want to tighten things up, you should do it across the board for everyone in Japan, not just NJ), not to mention with some pretty stiff potential penalties (back paying into the system may run into the tens and hundreds of man yen, which can be financially insurmountable, and unjust especially when some employers in Japan have conveniently forgotten to pay in their half of the NJ employee’s social insurance when hiring NJ full time).  Thus NJ get uprooted from Japan due to their employer’s negligence.

I for one haven’t done enough research on what’s going to happen in coming months under the new system (my scrivener colleague in the visa industry himself too is waiting and seeing), but when it becomes plainer it’ll be discussed here. What IS plainer is that the Japanese media is already gearing up to portray the perpetual scapegoats for Japan’s social ills — NJ — this time as welfare spongers and social parasites. See the second article below.

Note that all of the things that are being alleged against foreign “welfare chiselers” in that article I’ve heard and seen being done by Japanese too (especially the fake marriage bit — but what’s not covered in the article is how a NJ visa changes when a divorce occurs, so it’s not that “easy”).  But one need not mention that inconvenient detail.  NJ shouldn’t be here anyway if they’re going to commit, er, the same crimes that Japanese commit.  Once again, social Othering and scapegoating of a disenfranchised minority is SOP in Japan for lots of social ills — and worse yet, the specter of “foreign hordes taking advantage of Japan’s overgenerous system” sells newspapers and alienates the aliens. Nothing less than media-bred xenophobia. Arudou Debito

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Some municipalities set to deny services to illegal foreign residents: poll
Kyodo News Tuesday, April 24, 2012
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120424b6.html

Foreigners residing in Japan illegally could lose access to education and health care services when the revised basic resident registration law takes effect even though they are still entitled to receive them, civic groups said Monday.

According to the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan and other groups, dozens of the 72 municipalities that participated in the survey plan to deny services when the revision takes effect in July.

Four said they won’t allow children of illegal foreigners to be enrolled in public schools and 13 said they will not issue maternity health record books to pregnant foreign women who are residing illegally.

Another 12 said they won’t be able to subsidize delivery expenses for pregnant women in financial distress, while 33 said they will not vaccinate illegal foreigners against tuberculosis and other diseases, the survey said.

After the revision takes effect, foreigners will registered in the same residence system used by the Japanese.

In addition, illegal residents and asylum seekers will no longer be covered by the resident registry system, although the central government has repeatedly said they will continue to be entitled to basic services offered by municipalities.

The survey, which was conducted between January and March, highlighted misunderstandings on the part of local governments when it comes to providing basic services to illegal foreign residents. More confusion is expected to occur at municipal offices after the amended law enters force.

There were about 67,000 foreigners overstaying their visas as of January, according to Justice Ministry statistics.

Eriko Suzuki, an associate professor specializing in immigration policy at Kokushikan University, said the local governments polled mistakenly believe they cannot provide services to illegal foreign residents because they weren’t supposed to be in Japan to begin with.

The professor, who was involved in the survey, urged the central government to better inform municipalities about how to treat illegal aliens after the revised law takes effect.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Tabloid blasts growing numbers of foreign welfare chiselers
Japan Today.com KUCHIKOMI MAY. 29, 2012, courtesy of DR
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/tabloid-blasts-growing-numbers-of-foreign-welfare-chiselers

“Malicious Foreign Welfare Recipients Increasing Rapidly” screams the yellow and red headline emblazoned across the front page of Yukan Fuji (May 25). The accompanying banner, in inverse white characters on a red background, reads “meticulous investigation.”

“If there’s a way to receive something, I can’t understand why you don’t accept it. How stupid can Japanese be?” chuckles Mr A, a 26-year-old man who lives somewhere in the Kanto area. The son of parents from an unnamed southeast Asian country—making A the second generation to live in Japan—he works as a regular staff member of a manufacturing company.

A’s newly purchased car, a Japanese model, cost 3 million yen. He can afford such goodies because he, his wife and their three children receive extra “pocket money” from the government.

“My wife began receiving welfare payments from last year,” he tells the tabloid. “Including child support and other subsidies, she gets 200,000 yen per month. When combined with my take-home pay, we get over 500,000 yen per month, or about 6 million yen per year. “

In the past, recipients of welfare had been limited, by law, to “Individuals whose income from work is insufficient to meet necessary living costs,” and by virtue of this, A should not be eligible. So how does he get away with it?

“Easy,” he says. “I divorced my wife.” And he did, on paper anyway. They still live together, so it’s what one might call a divorce of convenience.

“My ex-wife went to the city office and claimed she lacked ‘sufficient income to care for the children,’ and she was promptly judged eligible and began receiving welfare payments,” A confesses.

Should the authorities send a case worker to investigate, they would find the wife residing in a separate apartment, which she rents. But actually she continues to live together with her “former” husband.

“Once a month, a case worker will pay a visit, but since notification is always made in advance, all my wife has to do is take the kids over to the rental apartment ahead of time,” he says.

Mr A tells Yukan Fuji that nearly all the inhabitants of the public housing development where he lives are foreigners.

“There are some Chinese and Indians, but people from my country are the most numerous, more than 300. Most of them are receiving welfare,” he says.

Yukan Fuji remarks that indeed there may be foreigners whose difficult situation warrants welfare, but in the case of Mr A, we’re looking at flat-out fraud.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as of February 2012, 73,995 foreign nationals were receiving welfare payments—more than double the figure of 2000, when the average for foreign recipients in any given month was 32,858 recipients.

An official at the health ministry told the reporter that foreigners deemed eligible to receive such payments include “Permanent residents and residents who are preparing for permanent status, those with officially recognized refugee status and those with Japanese spouses.”

“There’s no doubt that the number of foreigners taking advantage of flaws in the system has been increasing,” says Professor Ryu Michinaka of Kansai University of International Studies. “Some take the form of spurious divorces or falsified documentation. Even in cases when the government offices suspect something illegal is going on, they’ll invoke the ‘language barrier’ and just pretend they don’t understand.”

The foreign welfare chiselers also share the tricks of the trade with their compatriots, and parents also give advice to their children, creating next-generation social parasites.

“There aren’t enough case workers to check out the applicants,” adds Michinaka. “One case worker might have to cover 80 families, or sometimes even twice that number. Ironically, the total incomes for some of the families might be more than the caseworker earns in salary.”

Japan needs to put its collective foot down and put an end this “haven” that makes it so easy for unscrupulous foreigners to feed at the public’s expense, the article concludes.
ENDS

WSJ: “‘Expats’ Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card”, needs more research beyond “Expat” conceits

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here we have the Wall Street Journal up to its old tricks: Representing the “Expat” community’s attitudes towards Japan, doing “Japan Real Time” research that is essentially navel-gazing about Japan from a skyscraper window (or a computer screen, as it were).

Even though the reporter, Sarah Berlow, parrots much of the net-researched stuff (courtesy of the GOJ, sharing the same blinkered viewpoint of life in Japan for NJ residents) accurately, check this bit out:

“New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality.”

Err… wrong. Japanese citizens have no residence cards to carry, as we’ve discussed here on Debito.org for years. This fact has long seeped into the consciousness of people who ACTUALLY live here, as one of the WSJ commenters duly notes:

There is no such residence card for Japanese nationals. Japanese citizens usually use drivers licences, health insurance cards or passports for ID if necessary. They most certainly are not issued with these or similar residency-based cards currently, I am aware of no plans to do so, and there is no compulsory carrying of ID required for Japanese citizens (except to enter an airport). The previous system required non-Japanese to carry a credit card-sized ID card at all times (subject to penalty if not carried) and will still do so. Japanese citizens do not have to carry ID and will still not be required to do so.
Source for comments relating to requirements for resident non-Japanese :
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/newimmiact/q_a_details1_english.html , especially under Q1-9

And how about this: “These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number [of foreigners entering Japan], to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.”

Err… foreign tourists never had to carry Gaijin Cards in the first place (only people who had to register with residency visas of three months and up), so these changes have no connection and will have no effect. Does Ms. Berlow even have a residency visa in Japan so she might know about this from personal experience?  If not, there are whole books on this, ones so easy even the busy-getting-rich-off-their-Expat-packages-and-enjoying-their-Expat-Bubble-Enclaves Expats can read them (cf. HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS), so bone up.

And there is no mention of the RIFD Gaijin Card Chipping for the new “Gaijin Residency Cards” only, something I’ve made a fuss about in the past.  Ms. Berlow uses the word “track” in regards to NJ within the article, which is appropriate, for reasons she probably didn’t research enough to anticipate.  RFID enables remote tracking of people’s credit card numbers, to begin with.

http://www.businessinsider.com/watch-this-is-how-easy-it-is-for-thieves-to-steal-everything-in-your-wallet-2012-5

And with technological advances, as I’ve argued before, it is only a matter of time and degree before it’s capable at long distances — if it’s not already. Don your tinfoil hats, but RFID technology is already being used in military drone guidance systems for long-distance precision targeting. You think the GOJ’s going to abdicate its wet-dream ability to keep physical track of potential foreign “illegal overstayers”, now that it has the ability to RFID chip every foreign resident from now on? Oh well, the “Expats” need not worry. They’re not in Japan forever.

Finally, what’s the reason I’m jumping on the WSJ so much?  Because, as I’ve said, they’re up to their old tricks.  Don’t forget, it was the WSJ who first broke (and legitimized in English and Japanese) the story about the fictitious “Flyjin” Phenomenon, setting the agenda to tar the NJ who left (or worse, stayed for the stigma).  Thus the WSJ’s record of “spoiling things” for NJ in Japan is on par with what critics claim Debito.org does.  Sorry, we might not have their media reach or legitimacy, but at least we do better research here, for free.  That’s a deal even a non-“Expat” can afford.  Arudou Debito

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

The Wall Street Journal May 7, 2012, 3:57 PM JST
Expats Say Goodbye to Gaijin Card
JAPAN REAL TIME HOME PAGE
By Sarah Berlow Courtesy of TS
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2012/05/07/expats-say-goodbye-to-gaijin-card/

This summer marks the end of an era for foreigners residing in Japan. Starting July 9, the 60-year-old “certificate of alien registration” — the credit-card sized i.d. informally known as “the gaijin card” — will go the way of yakiimo carts, weekly Astroboy broadcasts, and uniformed men punching train tickets.

New residents will instead be given a “residence card” similar to the ones Japanese citizens carry, except for a special marking designating the holder’s nationality. It’s part of a series of amendments to Japanese immigration law designed to create a simpler system for the government, and a way for foreigners to feel, well, slightly less alien.

One main change: foreign residents and Japanese nationals can sign up with the government under the same resident registration system, rather than filing under separate categories, as currently required. That means foreigners generally can handle more of their bureaucratic needs only with their local municipal office, reducing the need to deal with immigration authorities. The new law is also designed to make life easier for Japanese with non-Japanese spouses. The entire family can be registered in one system, and the foreign spouse can be listed as the head of the family. Under current law, those families have to register under two different systems.

Another significant change: longer stay periods on certain visas. Some specialized workers, like engineers, can stay for up to five years instead of the current three; students can stay for up to four years and three months, up from the current maximum of two years and three months. Re-entry permits are being extended to five years from the current three years.

According to the Immigration Bureau of Japan, the new system will better track “the residency of foreign nationals residing in Japan for the mid-to long-term with resident status, and ensure greater convenience for those foreign nationals.”

The “gaijin card” was first created in 1952, and for many years included the holder’s fingerprint — a requirement that drew complaints from foreign residents who felt they were being treated as criminals. That feature was dropped by 1999.

The changes come as Japan faces a sharp drop in foreign residents, a trend prompted by the long recession, the reduction in financial jobs following the 2008 global financial crisis, and the rising cost of living due to the strong yen. Last year’s quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident didn’t do much to encourage foreigners to stay.

At the end of 2011, the number of registered foreigners in Japan had dropped by about 56,000 from 2010 to 2,078,480, the third consecutive decline, according to Japan’s Ministry of Justice.

The number of foreigners who entered Japan 2011 was 7.1 million down 24.4% from 2010. These new changes come as the government attempts to increase this number, to an “era of 25 million foreign visitors to Japan” by 2020, a goal established in 2011.

Read this post in Japanese/日本語訳はこちら≫

WSJ 2012/5/8 14:56
外国人登録制度、7月9日に廃止へ 60年の歴史に幕
http://jp.wsj.com/japanrealtime/blog/archives/11055/

今夏、日本に居住する外国人にとって1つの時代が終了する。過去60年間在留外国人の身分証明書として使用されてきた「外国人登録証明書」が7月9日に廃止される。

これまでの外国人登録証明書に代わり、今後、入管法上の在留資格をもって日本に中長期間在留する外国人である中期在留者には「在留カード」が交付されることになる。日本国民に交付されるのと同じようなカードだが、所有者の国籍を示していることが異なる。政府にとってより単純な制度の創設と在留外国人に対するある種の配慮を目指す一連の入管法改正の一部。

大きな違いは、外国人居住者と日本国民が、現行で義務付けられた異なるカテゴリーではなく、同様の住民基本台帳制度の下で登録できるようになる。これにより、外国人居住者には一般的に、市区町村でできる手続きの範囲が拡大し、入国管理局とのやり取りが減少することになる。また、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、外国人と結婚している日本人にとっても利便性が高まる見込みだ。家族全員が1つの制度の下での手続きが可能になる上、外国人の配偶者も世帯主となり得る。現行法の下では、こうした家族は2つの異なる制度の下で登録する必要がある。

もう1つの著しい変更は、特定の査証に対する在留期間の延長だ。例えば、エンジニアといった一部の特別技能労働者は現行の3年から5年に、また学生は現行の2年3カ月から4年3カ月に在留期間が延長される。さらに、再入国許可についても、有効期間が現行の3年から5年に延ばされる。

法務省入国管理局は、新しい在留管理制度の導入により、「在留状況をこれまで以上に正確に把握できるようになる」とともに、「適法に在留する外国人の方々に対する利便性を向上する措置も可能になる」と説明している。

中長期在留者が所持する外国人登録証明書は1952年に導入され、長年にわたり、指紋押捺制度を伴うものだった。指紋押捺は1999年までに廃止された。

長期に及ぶリセッション(景気後退)や2008年の世界金融危機に伴う金融関連職の減少、円高による生活費の上昇などを背景に、日本の外国人居住者数は大幅減少に直面している。また、昨年の東日本大震災とそれに伴う福島第1原発事故の影響も考えられる。

法務省によると、2011年末時点での在留資格別外国人登録者総数は前年から約5万6000人減少し、207万8480人となった。減少は3年連続。

11年の訪日外国人数は710万人と、前年比24.4%減少した。一方、政府は訪日外国人を2020年までに2500万人に増加させるという目標を掲げている。

記者:Sarah Berlow
ENDS

JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it

mytest

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Hi Blog. The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.

The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo“, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it:

The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”

“The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”

Thank you.  Read the full JT May 6, 2012 Editorial at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20120506a2.html

In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)

Yet people who should know better, and who should be advocating for the needs of the NJ Communities in Japan, are already citing this survey as somehow indicative. Japan Probe, for example, states that this survey “confirms Post-3/11 “Flyjin” Phenomenon / 25 Percent of Tokyo’s Foreign Residents Fled“, and apparently “deals a major blow to certain bloggers who have claimed that the “flyjin” phenomenon was a myth.

One of those certain bloggers indeedy would be me.  And I gave much harder and rigorous numbers from all of Japan and from the central government and for the entire year, clearly exposing the “Flyjin” phenomenon as myth in my April Japan Times column.  Hence, there’s no clearer interpretation of Japan Probe’s conclusion than the will to live in obtuse denial.

But that’s what keeps hatenas hovering around my head.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if online resources like Japan Probe (which calls itself “The web’s no.1 source for Japan-related news and entertainment”) would work for the good of the NJ communities it purports to inform? It did do so once upon a time, for example, during the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook debacle, where Japan Probe was instrumental in helping get the racist magazine on foreign crime off the shelves and the publisher bankrupted. But now, why try so hard, as the Japan Times Editorial above saliently notes, “to exaggerate the extent of foreigners leaving the country and impugn their motives for leaving“?

What’s gained out of any of this, James at Japan Probe? The smug satisfaction that you’re somehow right? (Even though you’re not?) Or that you’re somehow “more dedicated to Japan” because you didn’t leave? (Assuming you are in Japan.  Who cares?  Moreover, what if, as I argued in my May 2011 JT column, people did leave Japan anyway?  It’s their life and their decision.  Why should you care anyway?)

Why, in these days of seemingly-endless self-sacrifice in Japan, do people have to turn on themselves like this and just make things worse for everyone?  Especially themselves?  It’s a serious question.  So let me pose it.  Arudou Debito

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

Referential J media:

25 percent of foreigners living in Tokyo left Japan temporarily after March 11 quake
May 01, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120501p2a00m0na016000c.html

Twenty five percent of foreigners living in Tokyo left the country temporarily following the March 11, 2011 disasters, according to a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey.

The survey was conducted between October and November 2011 as part of the metropolitan government’s efforts to re-examine the way information is delivered to foreigners residing in the capital in case of a disaster. It obtained responses from a total of 169 Tokyo-based foreigners.

According to the survey, among those who had briefly returned to their home countries following the disasters, nearly half were foreigners who have lived in Japan for less than three years, hinting at the tendency that the shorter a foreigner had lived in Tokyo, the more likely they were to leave after the disasters.

Among the most common reasons for those who had briefly left Japan were, “Strongly urged by families abroad,” and “Following embassies or employers’ instructions to leave temporarily.”

Meanwhile, 56 percent of the respondents said they did not leave Tokyo following the disasters, while 5 percent had moved to the Kansai area in southern Japan or other places within the country.

In terms of the means foreigners used to collect information related to the disasters, 75 percent said they relied on TV broadcasts, 37 percent used the Internet, and only 7 percent read newspapers at the time.

Among the respondents, 44 percent said they used mobile phones and 28 percent used e-mail as a means to contact relatives and friends immediately after the disasters, though only 51 percent reported the attempt was successful.

Among the free answer section of the survey, some opinions stressed the need for more accurate and faster information services for foreigners, one explicitly pointing at the fact that “A panic was caused at the time due to a lack of accurate information provided to foreigners overseas.”

At the same time, the survey also hinted at the need for information provided in easy Japanese, based on the results that while 76 percent of the respondents said they could understand Japanese, when asked if they could understand the language if simple phrases are used, responses increased to 85 percent.

The survey also showed that 41 percent of the respondents had never experienced earthquakes prior to moving to Japan.
ENDS
==========================
ORIGINAL JAPANESE:
東日本大震災:都内外国人、25%が一時帰国 母国の家族ら心配−−都アンケ /東京
毎日新聞 2012年05月01日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20120501ddlk13040130000c.html
都内在住の外国人に東日本大震災時の行動を尋ねた都のアンケートで、25%が周囲の勧めなどで一時帰国していたことが分かった。地震の直後、家族や友人と連絡がうまく取れた人は半数にとどまり、母国の家族らの心配が大きかったことがうかがえる。
調査は昨年10〜11月、災害時の外国人への情報提供のあり方を検討する資料にするために実施。169人から回答を得た。41%は日本に住むまで地震に遭った経験がなかった。
一時帰国の理由は「母国の家族から強く言われた」「在日大使館や職場からの指示」などが多かった。「国内滞在3年未満」が帰国者のほぼ半数を占め、滞在が短い人ほど東京を離れる傾向があった。56%は震災後も転居や帰国をせず、5%は関西などに引っ越していた。
地震の直後は44%が携帯電話、28%がメールで家族や友人と連絡を取ろうとしたが、「うまく連絡が取れた」と答えたのは51%。震災関連情報は75%がテレビ、37%がインターネットから得ており、新聞は7%にとどまった。自由意見では「海外の外国人に正確な情報が伝わっていないため、パニックが起きた」として、的確で迅速な情報公開を求める声もあった。
ends

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

UPDATE MAY 9, 2012:

‘Exodus’ of disaster-panicked foreigners from post-3.11 Japan doesn’t add up

Mainichi Daily News May 9, 2012, courtesy of MS

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20120509p2a00m0na013000c.html

Where have all the foreigners gone?

One year ago — less than two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and with the Fukushima nuclear crisis in flux — anyone walking the streets of Tokyo might very well have asked that question. With Japan in the teeth of disaster, it seemed as though the country’s foreign population had evaporated, an image reinforced by news footage of gargantuan queues at Narita International Airport check-in counters.

Some 531,000 foreigners left Japan in the four weeks after the March 11, 2011 disaster, according to a Ministry of Justice announcement of April 15 that year. It was mass panic, a rush for the last lifeboats on the Titanic. The expatriate community had left Japan for dead.

Or had they?

Of those 531,000 people who left in the first month, about 302,000 had obtained re-entry permits, suggesting most were at least considering coming back. Furthermore, a look at foreign resident numbers and the job market for foreign talent months after the disaster show that the exodus was in the end more a trickle than a flood, and perhaps only an acceleration of pre-existing trends.

Certainly in the days after the quake, with a nuclear crisis and all its potential horrors brewing at the Fukushima nuclear plant — about 225 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo — the first reaction of many was to get somewhere else in a hurry. Canadian Jason Yu, a senior IT manager at the Tokyo offices of a European investment bank, says more than half his predominantly foreign staff disappeared soon after the disaster.

“We had around 120 (workers), and I’d say about 70 left,” he says. “It was really something, because one day they were there, and then they weren’t.”

According to Yu, amid the hysteric coverage of the nuclear disaster in the Western media and a general sense that the government wasn’t telling the whole story, his firm allowed employees to leave if they didn’t feel safe and return when they were ready. Eventually, of the some 70 who had left — many with families — about 50 returned to their posts. However, “a lot of them moved on” to jobs outside Japan when their contracts ended that summer.

“That was typical,” says Christine Wright, managing director of Hays Specialist Recruitment Japan, a recruiting firm that also does broad research on employment trends. “There was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction,” where lots of people left, if not Japan, then the Kanto area, and then came back.

The rush for the exits was not, however, entirely illusory. Hays Japan saw a wave of openings in the “professional contractors” area, which includes IT and other positions where Japanese language proficiency is not necessarily a requirement. With so many foreigners in certain fields having absconded, Wright says some of Hays’ client firms expressed a preference for Japanese candidates with good English skills, as they were seen as more likely to stay long-term. Furthermore, “a lot of roles that can be (filled) by a non-Japanese speaker have been off-shored” to places like Hong Kong and Singapore, she adds.

So how great was the exodus?

“When you look at the statistics, the losses weren’t all that huge,” Nana Oishi, associate professor of sociology at Tokyo’s Sophia University, told the Mainichi. According to Oishi, the Ministry of Justice — which administers Japan’s immigration system — has not released how many of the half a million-plus foreigners who left Japan from March 12 to April 8, 2011 have returned. However, what the ministry will say is that the total foreign population in the country fell from 2,134,151 in December 2010, to 2,078,480 by December 2011 — a loss of 55,671 people, or just 2.6 percent.

Moreover, the loss was not disproportionately greater than those of preceding years. Japan’s foreign population peaked at 2,217,426 in 2008 — the year of the Lehman Shock — and has been in decline ever since, dropping by 31,305 from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009, and by 51,970 in the same period in 2009-2010.

A closer look at the foreign population by resident status furthermore shows that the decline was far from an across-the-board phenomenon, with some categories even posting significant gains. The number of technical trainees, for example, jumped to 141,994 in December 2011 from 100,008 at the same time the previous year — a 42 percent rise. Permanent residents went from 964,195 to 987,519, up 2.4 percent; investor and business manager visa holders from 10,908 to 11,778, an 8 percent climb; and teacher numbers inched up 0.9 percent, from 10,012 to 10,106.

Even in categories that saw declining numbers, the justice ministry statistics show a pattern of losses predating 3.11 by years. “Specialist in humanities and international services” visa holder numbers peaked in 2009, and have since been drifting downwards by several hundred annually. The number of foreign engineers, which dropped by 8.5 percent to 42,634 between December 2010 and December 2011, had already fallen from a high of 52,273 in 2008 to 46,592 by the end of 2010. Intra-company transferee numbers — those posted to Japan by their firms — have also been declining since 2008.

What’s more, according to justice ministry statistics, the inflow of foreign workers has also been in annual decline since a 2004 peak of about 158,900, dropping to some 52,500 by 2010.

In other words, not all the blame for even the modest drop in the foreign population can be put on disaster panic, as the overall numbers — and those in certain professional categories in particular — had been in decline for some time.

What the earthquake and the nuclear crisis have done, according to Oishi, is accelerate pre-existing trends. First of all, Oishi and Wright point out, off-shoring of back-office and non-Japanese speaking jobs was already in progress when the disaster hit. Furthermore, there was already employee attrition in some sectors for reasons completely divorced from the disaster. As Jason Yu points out, there were already staff cuts and transfers going on at the investment bank where he works before 3.11 because “it was not a good year” financially, “so you can’t say people left just because of the earthquake.”

Even the outflow of foreigners with children, which Yu says accounted for a significant portion of those who left his firm, was not all down to the disasters, according to Oishi.

“When the earthquake happened, that trend accelerated because of the radiation issue,” she says, but she points out that the departure of skilled foreign workers with kids, too, was a pre-existing trend. In a paper published on April 13 in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, Oishi points out that concerns over the quality of Japanese public education and the high cost of international schools — which do not receive government funding — was already pushing skilled foreigners with families out of the country.

The fear and the airport lines in the weeks after the earthquake and meltdowns were real. Over the long term, however, it can be said that there was no “exodus” of foreigners, but rather a smaller-scale reshuffle of certain types of foreign residents that was sped up by 3.11. “You can’t really say the quake chased away skilled workers,” says Oishi.

In fact, asked if the disasters had impacted firms’ drive to internationalize their workforces, Hays’ Christine Wright said, “One year on, no.”

According to Wright, Hays Japan’s business in foreign talent has jumped to “record levels. We’ve got record levels of vacancies, record levels of placements, so our business is performing at the best it’s performed” in the firm’s 11 years in Japan.

Furthermore, Wright says that the initial post-quake preference for Japanese candidates has weakened and “the market for foreign talent in the future … will continue to increase,” with fluent bilinguals and those capable of filling leadership positions particularly in demand.

The image of foreigners streaming out of Japan in March and April 2011 was a strong one. Wright says that she was thanked by Japanese associates for staying, and that her business relationships with some clients even improved when it became clear she would not be absconding.

More than a year on, however, government statistics and employment trends show that the exodus was if not entirely imaginary then at least ephemeral. The reality is, the foreign population remains in the millions, job openings for foreigners and foreigners hoping to fill them remain plentiful, and Japan remains a major destination among the globally mobile. (By Robert Sakai-Irvine, Staff Writer)
ENDS

Cracked.com: Racialized characters in Japanese video games

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As Japan switches its economic clout into more “soft power” issues (i.e., selling its culture instead of its hardware; cf. METI’s promotion of “Cool Japan”), we are seeing instances of where Japan’s conceits and “blind spots” (i.e., a lack of cultural sensitivity towards, for example, minorities both in Japanese society and in other societies) have seeped into its output, with imperfect filters in place.

Take for example one of my favorite sites for procrastination and indulging in hilarious writing:  Cracked.com.  They have a pretty good research staff, and have dug up several instances of Japanese video games (since Japan dominates the industry) that are, as they put it, “politically incorrect” (today’s word for “racist”, since you can still be “politically incorrect” yet use it as a source of, say, humor; but it’s still the same “othering”, racializing, and subordinating process).  Here’s the link:

http://www.cracked.com/article_16885_the-6-most-politically-incorrect-video-game-moments.html

I won’t appropriate the text or the images because it’s better presented there.  But we have examples of:

  • Gay characters in the Sega’s VENDETTA street-fighting game the dry-hump everything as a weapon, and in BARE KNUCKLE 3 that mince about flamingly etc. (these were left in the Japanese version but removed from the overseas versions and in subsequent versions).
  • Blackface and n*gger-lipped characters in Nintendo’s SQUARE NO TOM SAWYER game (which never got released in the US; wonder why).
  • GEKISHA BOY, where street-animal African-Americans come in three types:  “street pimp, prostitute, and Michael Jackson”.
  • Sega’s DJ BOY, which features a stereotypical Big Black Mama shooting fireballs out of her anus.

And plenty more.  As Cracked.com demonstrates, the Japanese market generally keeps these (and other) stereotypes and conceits alive and well (as if Japan doesn’t need to worry about how they affect public perceptions of minorities in Japan), while for overseas markets things get sanitized (or not, occasioning protests and backpedaling) when Japanese sellers suddenly develop a “sensitivity”.

Some (including Cracked.com) might call it “innocent”.  I won’t.  Especially when the racist versions are allowed to remain on sale in Japan regardless (“for domestic consumption only“, in that allegedly impenetrable “secret code” that many Japanese seem to think the Japanese language is).

If Japan really wants to keep its cultural exports viable, maybe it should attempt understand how other people anywhere, including within Japan, might feel about being represented in such a fashion.  Or, if stereotyping is used as a source of humor, allow for everyone to be “fair game” (which, I have argued before, doesn’t happen enough in Japan; there is certainly ample Japanese protest when Japanese get similarly stereotyped).  Arudou Debito

JDG on self-appointed Hanami Vigilantes in Osaka harassing NJ

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IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
Novel IN APPROPRIATE by ARUDOU Debito

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UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  As spring gets underway in the population centers of Japan and people go out partying under the cherry trees, here’s a rather unpleasant development that JDG reports:  anti-gaijin vigilantes, who take it upon themselves to police people they suspect of potential unsavory behavior (in a reportedly less than micro-agressive manner) under rules they purport to know.

This isn’t the first time, of course, Debito.org has heard about anti-NJ vigilanteism in bored power-hungry Japanese ojisan.  There is the officially-sanctioned stuff (“Japan Times: NPA to entrust neighborhood assoc. with more policing powers, spy cameras” Debito.org July 1, 2009), and even the Chounaikai neighborhood associations (historically used to help the prewar Kenpeitai Thought Police increase their snooping abilities). But there are also “citizens’ groups” (see “TV Asahi ‘Super Morning’ rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ“, Debito.org January 10, 2011) and other busybodies interfering with and taking nosey pictures of NJ going about their business in public (ending up as fodder in places like Gaijin Hanzai Magazine). Then there’s the quick mobilization of society whenever NJ are around anyway (as in the Hokkaido G8 Summit of 2008, where “local residents” and “advisors” hundreds of kilometers away were summoned to defend Japan from within (see The Japan Times “SUMMIT WICKED THIS WAY COMES, The G8 Summit gives nothing back, brings out Japan’s bad habits”, April 22, 2008, where “3000 amateur “local residents” and “neighborhood associations” in Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, [were called upon] to “watch for suspicious people” around “stations and important facilities”).

Golly, compared to this, self-appointed hanami police look like nothing. Except when you fall under their dragnet for harassment just for sitting on a blue tarp while foreign. Is this happening to anyone else? Arudou Debito

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April 10, 2012

Hi Debito, Hope you are well. Just wanted to share this story with you, maybe some of your readers have had similar experiences.

On Sunday (8th April) I went via Hankyu Kurakuenguchi station to Shukugawa, where along the river bank many people enjoy hanami every year. It is (apparently) a very highly rated location on a national scale.

I have been meny years with Japanese friends, and have never had a problem. However, this was the first year that I went early and alone in order to secure a nice spot. Shukugawa has rules on it’s website (such as no ‘reserving’ of a spot with unattended blue sheets, and you must not enter the roped off areas around the tree roots), which I read in advance.

I arrived at 10.30 am, and immediately I found a nice spot and stopped, then some old guy started hassling me to move on, saying that I wasn’t allowed to stop there. I told him to shut up, and then ignored him (thinking he was just some grumpy old codger), but as I was setting out my sheet and blanket, four more old guys came along to join him, and tried telling me that the place I was in was off limits. I pointed to the Japanese groups set up all around me, and asked ‘What about them?’, but the old guys just ignored my question, and told me that they would call the police if I tried to give them any trouble.

I know I wasn’t breaking any of Shukugawa’s rules, so I just ignored them and waited for the rest of my group to arrive. For the next hour the group of five old guys stood over me, coming over every 5 minutes to ask me if I was going to move on, or asking me if I didn’t think that I was selfish by taking up so much room (one blue sheet), and even taking my photo twice. I told them that it was against the law to take my photo without my permission. I took theirs only after that (see attached photo).


When my NJ and Japanese friends turned up, the old guys took off pretty sharpish.

I realize that this is not an earth-shattering case of discrimination, but I think it is important because:

a) I wasn’t breaking any rules. By taking my photo, the old guys are breaking the law.
b) I don’t like unelected volunteer jobsworths bullying people around.

I want to make sure that other NJ know their rights when confronted by old gits like this. Sincerely, JDG

ENDS