Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1, 2011: “Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more”


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Hi Blog.  Now up for commentary before Debito.org vacations for February and March, here we have an article that was the #1-read article on The Japan Times Online all day yesterday.  Thanks everyone for reading!  Arudou Debito


The Japan Times, February 1, 2011


Naturalized Japanese: foreigners no more
Long-termers hit back after trailblazing Diet member Tsurunen utters the F-word

[NB: Not my title; too confrontational.  I was trying to be respectful in tone in this article to my dai-senpai.]
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110201ad.html

In Dec. 28’s Japan Times, Charles Lewis wrote a respectful Zeit Gist column asking three fellow wise men (sumo wrestler Konishiki, musicologist Peter Barakan and Diet member Marutei Tsurunen) about their successful lives as “foreigners” in Japan. Despite their combined century of experience here, the article pointed out how they are still addressed at times like outsiders fresh off the boat.

Their coping strategy? Essentially, accept that you are a foreigner in Japan and work with it.

That is fine advice for some. But not for us all. I talked to three other wise men, with Japanese citizenship and a combined tenure of more than 50 years here, who offered a significantly different take.

Takuma (who asked to be identified by only his first name), a university professor who was granted Japanese citizenship last year, felt “puzzled” by the attitudes — particularly Tsurunen’s quote, “We are foreigners and we can’t change the fact. . . . It’s no problem for me to be a foreigner . . . I always say I am a Finn-born Japanese.”

Takuma: “That’s a bit absurd. It’s as if he’s contradicting himself in the same breath. I would understand if he said something like, ‘I accept that I am often viewed as a foreigner, or that people mistakenly take me as a foreigner.’ It’s sad that he would refer to himself as a ‘foreigner’ — when in fact he isn’t.”

Kento Tanaka (a pseudonym), a corporate manager in Osaka, even felt a degree of indignation.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and lifestyle, and if you wish to see yourself as a foreigner in Japan no matter what, that’s fine. But it’s very strange for a naturalized Diet member to call himself a ‘foreigner,’ he said.

“Mr. Tsurunen in particular knows Japan’s Nationality Law, and has worked on committees dealing with it. It makes no sense for a legal representative of Japan to contradict the laws of the land like this. He made these statements in English, right?”

I confirmed with the author that yes, Mr. Tsurunen’s original quotes were rendered as is from the original English.

Kento: “Then I think he should consider clarifying or retracting. What’s the point of taking out Japanese citizenship if he undermines the status for us naturalized (citizens)? Like it or not, he represents us.”

Kaoru Miki, a technical writer in the video games industry, concurs.

“I agree Mr. Tsurunen should know better. I wouldn’t call myself a foreigner, no. Foreign-born, sure, or even ‘British’ when casually referring to my background. But not foreign. Ever. Just on general principle. Unfortunately, it’s an easy trap to fall into when the author of the JT article makes sweeping statements like: ‘It is still also a fact that no matter how long a foreigner lives in this country they will never shed their outsider status in the eyes of most native-born Japanese.’ “

“I often hear this kind of anecdotal hearsay bandied as fact, but it really doesn’t hold water. Exclusionary establishments exist, sure, but outside of guesting systems like the JET Programme or exchange students, it’s been my experience that people are for the most part accepted as is.

“Being asked for the 1011th time if you can use chopsticks may be tiresome, but it’s a far cry from being treated as an outsider, and to claim otherwise cheapens the experiences of those that face genuine discrimination,” argues Kaoru.

“Back to Mr. Tsurunen. The way I read his comments — and I’m assuming he meant ‘foreign-born,’ not ‘foreign’ — is that you don’t need to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit in.

“Mr. Tsurunen’s being born and brought up outside of Japan is something that will never change (i.e. in that sense, always a foreigner), and he doesn’t feel he needs to take up kendo, learn to make sushi, and walk around the house in yukata while listening to enka all the time (i.e. pretend to be Japanese) just to be accepted here.

“It’s an extension of the ‘there is no single Japanese way’ concept that Debito has always been a proponent of. Given Mr. Tsurunen’s achievements, I’d be surprised if he hadn’t meant something along these lines,” Kaoru wrote in an e-mail.

That brings us to the point of this column: What might have been meant, and what comes across in the article, are the common misunderstandings that we long-termers should understand and avoid.

One issue to consider is what trail is being blazed, since Mr. Lewis offered his three wise men up as examples of “foreigners” who have “made it” in Japan.

Congratulations to them. Seriously. However, they are not really templates for others. Given the extraordinary hoops these gents had to jump through, they are the exceptions that prove the rule — that the barriers to success are too high for most non-Japanese to get over.

In fact, if they still feel that they are “foreigners” after a generation of life here and Japanese citizenship, then there’s something fundamentally wrong with the template.

The bigger issue, however, is the image these high-profile long-termers are projecting when they still refer to themselves publicly as “foreigners.” Not only are they avoiding the appropriate status (after a century here, they should be calling themselves “immigrants”), but it also has knock-on effects that go beyond them as individuals.

These attitudes imperil the ethnic identities of Japanese children of international marriages.

Our wise men and many international children are probably here for life. But there is a fundamental difference between them. Long-termer immigrants came over here by choice, and most arrived as fully formed adults — with the choice to keep or subsume their ethnic identity.

Children of international roots are not offered that same choice. Born and raised here, and often left to their own devices within the Japanese educational system, they have an ethnic identity thrust upon them at a more malleable age, often based upon their physical appearance. That’s why we have to be careful when using “foreigner” in a way that conflates nationality (a legal status) with ethnicity (a birth status).

It is accurate for Mr. Tsurunen to say, as he did, that he is a “Finn-born Japanese.” However, as Kento pointed out above, it is inaccurate to say that a naturalized person is still a “foreigner.”

Personal choice of identity, coping strategy, whatever — a high-profile immigrant should be careful never to condone, or miscommunicate that he condones, this conflation. Otherwise, we will have a lot of ethnic Japanese children who call Japan their native land, yet are labeled and treated as “foreigners” — because the famous adult “foreigners” do it.

Instead, we long-termers should be using our status to promote the freedom of choice of identity for international children — helping them learn about retaining their ethnic roots within Japan, and helping other people understand that it is possible to be “Japanese” yet retain non-Japanese ethnic roots.

Mr. Tsurunen declined to comment for this article. In responses to many e-mails about the original article, his office released the following comment in Japanese (my translation):

“I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner,’ but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person,’ or, as I said in the article, ‘Finn-born Japanese.’

“I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and would like to offer my apologies.”

Let’s give Takuma the last word on coping strategies for immigrants who are less famous, but also comfortable and successful in Japan:

“Personally, I don’t get angry — or even a little bit upset — when someone refers to me as a ‘foreigner.’ But I do calmly say, ‘Actually, I’m Japanese now,’ and explain if necessary.

“Regardless, I don’t think it’s necessary to fight or argue with everybody over this issue. Just calmly state your case, and leave it at that. There will always be close-minded people — and we have to admit there are a lot of Japanese who have a narrow view on the issue of nationality — but most Japanese are pretty accepting.

“The concept of ‘being accepted as a Japanese’ is very fuzzy and can be interpreted in many ways. I have found that most Japanese — much more so than my foreign colleagues, friends and family — are very accepting of my new nationality. Mostly, though, I just want to be accepted as me — an individual — not as a nationality.”

Words to the wise.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp


NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor


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Hi Blog. As is good gaiatsu media policy, when we have somebody saying something discomfiting about Japan in overseas media, the GOJ’s Gaijin Handlers will step in to present the “Official View” (would be interesting if, say, the USG did more of that in Japan’s media).

Here’s the Japan Consulate in New York doing just that, with Mr. Kawamura earning his keep by presenting in the NYT the preferred image of Japan overseas — not of a country with policies that do not encourage NJ to stay and become immigrants, but rather of a country that seems more welcoming.

Even though he says in the opening and infers in the closing that foreign labor (not immigration, again) is of questionable suitability for “our” economy. And let’s neglect to mention the first drop in the NJ population for nearly a half-century in 2009. Besides, we have the “vaporware” policy of doubling some other numbers of temporary influx (students and foreign workers (not immigrants) — again, under policies no doubt that encourage people to give the best years of their working lives to us and then be sent “home” despite their investments). I think the concluding sentence offers the biggest lie: Japan will not “continue to find” the best policy mix, but will “continue to search for”.

(BTW, the original title of the article was, “Its Workers Aging, Japan Turns Away Immigrants”.  Yet within 48 hours it was was mysteriously softened to “Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor”.  Seems the gaiatsu has made the word “immigration” a taboo topic for overseas newspapers too.)

Have a beer, Mr. Kawamura. You’ve discharged your duty well. Arudou Debito


Foreign Workers in Japan: An Official View
The New York Times, published January 18, 2011
Courtesy JLO


To the Editor:

Despite Shortage, Japan Keeps a High Wall for Foreign Labor” (“The Great Deflation” series, front page, Jan. 3) oversimplifies a complex situation and seems to present foreign labor as a cure-all for Japan’s aging and declining population.

The article also appears to embrace clichés about Japanese homogeneity without pointing out recent policy changes. Japan is not walling itself off; quite the opposite is true.

In its new growth strategy, the Japanese government recognized the value of skilled foreign workers and their contributions to economic growth. Japan aims to double its skilled foreign work force by 2020 and to double the number of students from abroad that it welcomes, up to 300,000.

This policy reinforces the encouraging growth in the number of registered foreign residents. Despite a recent drop noted in your article, over the past 10 years registered foreigners in Japan have increased by almost 40 percent (from 1.6 million to 2.2 million). Japan faces tough economic and demographic challenges. But Japan will continue to find the policy mix that works best for our society and our economy.

Yasuhisa Kawamura
Director, Japan Information Center
Consulate General of Japan
New York, Jan. 14, 2011


Japan Times publishes reactions to their Dec. 28 article on Old Japan Hands accepting their foreigner status


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Hi Blog. The Japan Times yesterday published letters to the editor regarding Charles Lewis’s December 28 article in the Japan Times, on old Japan hands Konishiki, Peter Barakan, and Tsurunen Marutei, and their coping strategies for living in Japan long-term.

See it at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110118hs.html

The letters remind me of the parable of the blind men feeling up the elephant and describing what it looks like: One feels the trunk and thinks an elephant is like a snake or a tree branch, one feels the legs and thinks an elephant is like a pillar, one feels the tail and think it’s like a rope, one feels the ears and thinks it’s like a fan, one feels the tusk and thinks it’s like a pipe, one feels the belly and thinks it’s like a wall, etc. It’s a good metaphor for not getting the big picture.

As for the letters, each author gives the article a feel and offers their take: One talks about the patronizing attitude towards NJ and questions the presumption that they should just accept the bad treatment they receive. One talks about how everyone is a gaijin somewhere (as if we should drink anytime because it’s 5PM somewhere). Three others talk about the advantages of non-assimilation.  One simply agrees with the the sentiment that faint praise is merely small talk.  One talks about how he can never get friendly with Japanese men.   And one gets knotted up in the terminology of “gaijin”.

Agree or disagree, these points are all over the place, and nobody seems to be dealing with the real undercurrent running through the article:   Should a long-termer, immigrant, even naturalized person still consider himself or herself a foreigner, not a Japanese? Even Tsurunen-san, up until two days ago, seemed to have been advocating that.

We’ll see if I can offer up a more sizable chunk of the elephant in the room in my column on February 1.  Arudou Debito

Alleged “mistranslation” at Kyodo News of AKB48 ingenue’s anti-crime activities: Asking nationality of perp SOP for 110 calls?


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Hi Blog.  Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes (46 today, won’t feel a milestone for another four years).  With no particular connection is today’s blog entry, regarding the possibility that that the NPA’s slip was showing.

We had AKB48 (yes, I know what the acronym stands for, but I can’t help but think of it, not inappropriately, as a serial number) ingenue Maeda Atsuko doing public service for the police the other day (and boy it got carpet-bomb coverage by the media, see print articles alone below).  But the original and revised articles had a significant omission between them.  Alert Debito.org Reader RY reports below:


From: RY
Subject: 110 Call center practices
Date: January 12, 2011

I stumbled across your website several years ago and began following you again recently. Thank you for your work.

I found this article on the Japan Today site. I read it to my husband who is Japanese and he replied “It must be in the manual”. Referring to the content in the second paragraph.

I personally find it cumbersome to try to remember the difference for when to call 110/119 but now we are supposed to determine the nationality of the perp as well!? Why not easier questions such as gender/height/build/hair color?

Ok I admit maybe those might be a little difficult to answer too with the herbivores running around and all the different hair die numbers. Just thought this article was interesting. RY


AKB48’s Atsuko Maeda mans police call center
Japan Today/Kyodo News Wednesday 12th January 2011, 01:08 AM JST


TOKYO — Atsuko Maeda, 19, from popular idol group AKB48 this week visited a police emergency call center to publicize “110 day,” a day on which the public is reminded of the number to call in the event of an emergency. She took a mock emergency call from a witness to a robbery in order to experience the routine of a call center employee.

She calmly asked, “Is anybody injured? What nationality was the culprit?” to gauge the situation before passing the information on to a nearby patrol car.

When asked about her impressions of the experience, Maeda replied, “You’ve got to ask the right questions and get the information to officers as quickly as possible, and that it is not as easy as it sounds.”


Debito here again.  Seems the Standard Operating Procedure for the NPA’s checklist of questions given our dapper detective involved asking whether or not the perp is NJ or not (no easy task, unless you accept the rubric that anyone who doesn’t look Japanese is a gaijin, which hardly narrows the field anyway).  But since it seems the NPA (or Kyodo News) is getting a bit more sensitive about how things might play in Peoria (or at least how it will come off in media “not meant for domestic consumption”), we had the following “correction” made:

Er, “mistranslated”?  “What nationality was the culprit?” is a far cry from “How many suspects were there?”  My translation skills aren’t perfect, and I’ve been accused of liberally interpreting in the past, but sorry, I don’t buy it.  This doesn’t seem like a random string of letters that happened because the machine translator had a power surge or the proofreader had a stroke.

I note that all the Kyodo Feed media now share the same correction as well.  Below are all the articles I could find on the subject in Google News.  Anyone find the actual original preserved in 2-chan amber somewhere, let us know.

Kyodo News (as do all J media) have a habit of sweetening articles that may in fact portray their public-power subjects in a bad light.  Good example was Dietmember Etoh Takami back in 2003 claiming half the registered NJ population (as in a cool million) were all “murderers and thieves” (media kindly amended it to a mere ‘lots”, thanks for softening the blow apparently on our behalf).

NPA, your racial-profiling slip is showing.  Nice try keeping it out of the media.  Arudou Debito


(2011年1月11日06時00分 スポーツ報知、と 47news.jp (共同通信フィード)


強盗事件を想定した模擬110番の受理を体験した前田は「けが人はいませんか? 犯人は何人ですか?」と冷静に状況を判断しながら応答。現場の警察官に、無線で内容を報告した。「適切に聞き取って、素早く伝えないといけないのが、難しかったですね」。制服姿で表情を引き締めながら、正確な通報の重要性をかみしめている様子だった。


(時事通信 2011/01/10)



日本経済新聞 2011/1/10 18:55
「110番の日」の10日、人気アイドルグループ「AKB48」の前田敦子さん(19)が警視庁の110番通報を取り扱う通信指令本部の一日本部長を務め、「110番 守るこの街 地域の目」と標語を読み上げてPRした。




AKB前田敦子さん、一日通信指令本部長 110番の日
朝日新聞 2011年1月11日





(2011年1月10日22時14分 読売新聞)







Hi Blog. I had plenty of time to think about today’s blog entry during my snowbound Sapporo commute to university today (a 35-minute drive took more than three hours), and I’ve come to the following conclusion:

It was in all likelihood a translation mistake.

I came to this conclusion thusly:

1) I could find no evidence of an uncorrected Japanese version which mentioned nationality (there usually is one around the denizens of 2-Channel, but not this time).

2) I find the mistranslation of 何人 (which by the way does not come out as “nani-jin” when I hit the henkan button) as possibly “what kind of person” (a possibly oblique reference to nationality in this circumstance) plausible — although that’s certainly something the professionals should have picked up on before publishing the article.

So this time I think I got it wrong — I doubt Maeda actually asked about nationality when she read her script.

I of course still stand by my assertions that 1) the NPA’s SOP involves racial profiling (particularly in their use of the unsophisticated and misleading label “gaikokujin-fuu” to categorize anyone as not “Japanese-looking”), and that 2) the media significantly alters the factual content of their news stories for overseas — or even domestic — consumption. Those acts are perfectly within character, as per the examples I gave in this blog entry. I just don’t think that this case is an example.

Never mind. My style is to make the assertion first and capitulate when wrong. I find it brings out people who are willing to go the extra mile just to prove it wrong. I’m wrong this time. I capitulate.

Sorry for jumping to conclusions. Thanks for keeping it real. Arudou Debito

QB House Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requires Japanese language ability for a haircut (UPDATE: Sign has been replaced)


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Hi Blog.  Here is the latest permutation of the “Japanese Only” signs nationwide.  Instead of saying they refuse all foreigners, QB House, an international bargain barbershop chain since 1995, has a sign up in one of their Tokyo outlets saying they may refuse anyone who doesn’t speak sufficient Japanese.  While some may see this as an improvement (i.e. it’s not a blanket refusal of NJ), I just see it as another excuse to differentiate between customers by claiming a language barrier (which has been the SOP at exclusionary businesses in Japan for years now).  Who’s to judge whether or not someone is “able to communicate” sufficiently?  Some panicky manager?  I’ve seen it in practice (in places like Wakkanai), where a barber sees any white face, assumes he cannot communicate, and reflexively arms the X-sign at you.  This time, however, QB House has managed to make an exclusionary sign in perfect English in one of the more international areas of Tokyo.  How about catering to the customers instead of finding ways of snippily enforcing a “culture of no”?  Photo of the sign and note from submitter follows:


January 6, 2011

Dear Debito, Happy New Year!  I’m sending you a picture taken yesterday of a new CAVEAT that the put on QBHOUSE of Tameike Sannou (http://www.qbhouse.co.jp/shop/detail.html?salon=detail&id=84)

It’s pretty self-explanatory.

It wasn’t there a couple of months ago. The non-Japanese population density is rather high in this area, especially north-American and European, I guess they had some understanding issues.

It’s not the way of doing things anyway, especially with their outspoken passion for 国際化 and theit willingness to open further the country to tourism.

Best regards, Alberto Estevez, Tokyo




According to Japan Probe et.al, the above QC sign has been replaced with this, as of January 13:

AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying


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Hi Blog.  Here’s another reason why people ought to think carefully before attending Japanese schools as a student of diversity, and it’s not just because funding to being them over without sufficient institutional support afterwards is being cut.  Bullying.  Here we have a Japanese university apologizing for the suicide of one of their ethnic students (raised in Japan with Japanese citizenship, no less).  It only took them three years.  And yet, like the recent Uemura Akiko suicide, the possibility of it being racially-motivated is not dealt with by the authorities.  Thanks for the apology, I guess, but this will hardly fix the problem for others.  Hence think carefully.  Arudou Debito


Japan university sorry for death of bullied Indian student

Agence France-Presse
Tokyo, December 27, 2010
Hindustan Times (27/12/2010), courtesy of ADH


A Japanese university on Monday apologised to the family of an Indian student who committed suicide in 2007, after leaving a note saying he would kill himself because of bullying at school.

The male student, then aged 20, at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka prefecture, jumped from a building three years ago, leaving a note saying: “The bullying I keep getting at school … Cannot take it any more.”

The student, who was born to Indian parents and grew up in Japan, had earned Japanese citizenship, a university official said.

Compounding the tragedy, his father, depressed about his son’s suicide, later jumped to his death from the same building, according to local reports.

“I would like to express my heartfelt apology to the bereaved family members,” said university dean Masayuki Ochiai at a press conference.

The university refused to comment on whether the abuse was racially motivated saying the specific nature of the bullying was not known.

Local media said he had been forced to take his trousers down in front of other people and that he had been nicknamed “bin Laden”.

An independent third party panel was created in October to probe the incident after the Sankei newspaper and public broadcaster NHK reported the case.

Japan, a country where more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year, often sees school children kill themselves, with many leaving notes referring to harsh bullying by their peers.


Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)


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The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)

Download Top Ten for 2010 at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110104ad.html
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2011/01/04/general/arudous-alien-almanac-2000-2010/
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/images/community/0104p13.PDF

It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.


5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:


Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:


Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).


For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.


Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).




Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.


After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:


Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.


The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.

Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  The Yomiuri is in full trumpet about foreign crime again — this time concluding (in an article that does develop the causes of some severe NJ suffering) with a quote from an elderly somebody about coexistence with foreigners being perhaps but a dream.  A friend of mine offlist was quite critical of yesterday’s NYT article as an “anecdote-laden piece of fluff”. Okay, but check this one out:  Nothing but anecdotes and nary a reliable stat in sight.

One thing I’m not quite getting is the connection between Lehman and foreign crime.  Is Japan’s economy so fragile that one event could ruin it?  Don’t businesses make their own decisions, or sovereign countries have responsibility over their own fiscal and monetary policies?  Or is this another way of pinning Japan’s woes on foreigners?

As one submitter JK put it:  “I’d like to start off 2011 by taking a step back to 2008 where リーマ ン・ショック which has been the whipping boy for many of Japan’s ills. Add to the list another societal woe: Foreign crime. In a perverse way, I am surprised that this has taken so long to make it to press.”

Had a quick but unsuccessful look for the Japanese original online at the Yomiuri.  Anyone else find it, please send article and link?  Thanks.  Arudou Debito


Foreign crime hits local areas / ‘Lehman shock’ felt in surge of thefts by Japanese-Brazilian teens
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 4, 2011), courtesy of The Club and JK


A dozen foreign workers were silently sorting out used motorbikes, bicycles, TVs and washing machines piled up in a secondhand store’s storage yard guarded by fences up to three meters high on the outskirts of a commuter town in central Kanagawa Prefecture.

About 10 kilometers from the yard, there is a district with a large number of people from Southeast Asian countries. One resident said that the secondhand shop would buy even stolen goods.

“Now we are doing our business properly, only with customers whose identification we have confirmed,” said the 53-year-old shop owner, a former Vietnamese refugee who acquired Japanese nationality 20 years ago.

“Last year, when the business slump severely hit us, many stolen items were brought in here–even a power shovel,” he said.

“Last year, many foreign temporary workers got fired due to the recession. As a result, many young foreign residents began to support themselves through crime because their parents could not earn any more,” the 24-year-old son of the shop owner said.

There are 55 districts in Shizuoka, Aichi, Gunma and a dozen other prefectures where many foreign factory workers and their families have settled since around 1990.

Many families in such communities do not send their children to school because of language barriers and different views toward education. As a result, young foreign residents who are not in school tend to flock together during the day and sometimes run wild in the area. They are seen as a major reason for the deterioration of public safety in such areas.

In a bid to solve this problem, the central government and local governments have dispatched interpreters and assistant language teachers to primary and middle schools to help the children of foreign residents study.

Such efforts helped decrease the incidence of juvenile delinquency and crime in Oizumimachi, Gunma Prefecture, which has about 6,400 non-Japanese residents, after such problems hit a peak in 2007.

However, the bankruptcy of the U.S. major brokerage house Lehman Brothers changed the situation in many other areas of Japan that have large numbers of foreign residents. It ignited a global recession, negatively affecting Japan’s firms and eventually depriving many foreign factory workers of their jobs.

In the Homigaoka district of Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, where nearly half of the 8,000 residents are Brazilians of Japanese descent, many boys can seen hanging around at night in front of convenience stores, even in the cold of winter.

“After Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, our shoplifting damage jumped to 100,000 yen per month–three times higher than before,” said the 58-year-old owner of one convenience store in the district.

Another convenience store owner, 30, said: “Most of the 30 shoplifters we caught in a month [at that time] were Japanese-Brazilian boys.”

Kazuto Sergio Matsuda, a 55-year-old company employee, who moved to the Homigaoka district about four years ago, reached the point at which he could not stand by and watch this situation any longer. So he became the first Japanese-Brazilian member of the regional anticrime patrol in April 2009.

Through the patrol activities, Matsuda saw many Japanese-Brazilian families falling apart when fathers who had lost their jobs did not come home for many days as they searched for work, prompting mothers to go to out to work for a living and driving their children to juvenile delinquency as a result.

“I think children also are victims of the global recession. But if we simply ignore this situation, they will become increasingly isolated from their community when they’ve grown up,” Matsuda said.

The 79-year-old leader of a community group says he also feels that relations between longtime Japanese residents and Japanese-Brazilians have become more distant and remote.

“We need efforts to compromise with each other. But it’s extremely difficult for us to communicate with them because there are so many delinquent children,” he said. “Living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream.”


Weekend Tangent: LA Times: PRC Census also measures for ethnicity, unlike Japan’s Census


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent, here’s how China is handling their census, according to the LA Times.  What’s interesting as far as Debito.org goes is that, despite some claims of Chinese homogeneity thanks to the Han majority, the PRC apparently DOES survey for ethnicity.  Unlike the GOJ.  Again, that’s the hegemony of homogeneity in Japan.  Arudou Debito.


Chinese census takers have their work cut out for them
Evaded because of privacy concerns, they use the element of surprise.
LA Times November 10, 2010, By Barbara Demick


BEIJING — How do you count 1.3 billion or so people?

Here in China this week: Door-to-door.


Covering your dirty shoes with plastic wrappers before entering homes as you provide reassurance that sensitive information — about residency permits or babies who violate China’s one-child policy — will not be shared with other authorities.

But beware of dogs.

China on Wednesday is completing the world’s largest census, one so big that it has required 6 million census takers, more than the entire population of many countries. This is the sixth nationwide census China has conducted, its first since 2000, and one with a few new wrinkles.

In an effort to tally China’s staggering migrant population, estimated at more than 200 million, census takers are seeking to count people where they live, rather than at the homes where they have their hukous, or residency permits. Until a decade ago, people who had moved to big cities without permits could be arrested and deported.

Census takers have also offered stronger assurances this time that the information they collect will remain confidential. Data on family planning, taxes, landownership and residency permits are all, at least in theory, kept private by the census.

“This is only about statistics, but people are worried that they could get fined for having an extra child and they’ll avoid the census,” said Duan Chengrong, head of the population department at Renmin University. “Like in the U.S., the Chinese these days are paying more attention to their privacy.”

Before the 10-day census, the Chinese government began a massive awareness — some might say propaganda — campaign. Large green banners garlanded across streets throughout the country read: “Conducting a census — establishing a harmonious society.”

In alleys near the Beijing South Railway Station, where migrants from the countryside live in housing not much larger than some American bathrooms, census takers make repeat visits at different times of the day, hoping to catch otherwise elusive residents by surprise.

“They come sometimes at 10 p.m. to find us,” said a woman from Anhui province who was washing clothes in an outdoor sink.

At a neighborhood committee office, a 64-year-old woman wearing a Mao Tse-tung button on her red jacket said that she had barely slept since the census started. “The population is so mobile. And some won’t open the door. We just keep going back until we find them,” she said.

The life of a census taker is not easy. Their pay is about $150 for a month’s work and many report being bitten by dogs. In one neighborhood in the southern city of Guangzhou, 11 of 32 workers had quit by the third day of the census, according to the Southern Metropolis Daily newspaper.

Difficulties in getting information are sometimes even greater in wealthy neighborhoods than in poor ones. A Chinese journalist who went out with census takers during a preliminary census in August reported that only one resident opened the door in a posh gated community of 39 villas in the suburbs of Beijing. Often nobody answered even though people could be seen behind closed curtains.

“The rich worry more about their privacy. They may have second or third homes or mistresses they’re hiding away,” said Zhou Xiaozheng, a sociologist at Renmin University. “But it’s true of ordinary people as well; they’re not willing to cooperate with the government the way they used to in the old China.”

Many say they have been reassured by the government’s declaration that information cannot be used to levy fines, which often run as high as six times an annual income for extra births.

Census methods have varied by location. Millions in Beijing received Short Message Service communications on their cellphones instructing them to cooperate. In some neighborhoods, census takers have offered towels or shopping bags as token gifts to coax people into answering the questions. Elsewhere, census takers have been allowed to call in the police if residents refuse to answer the door.

Similar to the census process in the United States, most people are given a standard form with a few basic questions: 18 of them centering on names, ages, occupation. Ethnicity is also asked, but not religion, that being a sensitive subject in a communist country that is officially atheist. One-tenth of the population, meanwhile, was selected for a longer, 45-question form that includes queries about income, savings, the type of water one drinks (tap or boiled) and the number of bathrooms in the house.

The census data are expected to be published in April. Among the questions of keenest interest to demographers: How many people have migrated from their homes in the countryside to work in the cities? How much has the male- female ratio been skewed by the traditional preference for sons with a one-child policy in place? How has the ethnic balance changed in sensitive areas such as Tibet and Xinjiang where minorities complain that an influx of Han Chinese is diluting their cultures?

And, in the end, the ultimate census question: Just how many Chinese are there, really? At the last count, a decade ago, the figure was 1.27 billion. United Nations estimates put China’s population today near 1.4 billion.


ELT News and Daily Yomiuri columnist Mike Guest misrepresents not only the record, but also his own academic credentials


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  There is a person out there (one of many, no doubt) who takes a dim view of what we do here at Debito.org.  To the point of saying things in a published column we did not say.  Have a read of this.  Comment from me follows.


EFL News, October 29, 2010

The Uni-Files
A candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective.
By Mike Guest, Miyazaki University


An “interview” with controversial human rights activist Orudo Debiru
Categories:  Amusement/Fiction foreigners in Japan

Today- a Uni-files interview with the controversial activist and newspaper columnist Orudo Debiru

(For those who don’t know, Orudo Debiru is a naturalized Japanese citizen, originally from the U.S. His main claim to fame is his activism for human rights, especially the rights of non-Japanese in Japan. He is also wholly fictional and if he happens to resemble some actual person from say, Hokkaido, that’s because you, dear reader, made an unwarranted connection. Today he joins us with one of his most ardent, and equally fictional, supporters- Jay Newbie).

Uni-files: Debiru, in a recent newspaper article you argued that even non-Japanese living outside Japan, including those who have never set foot in Japan, should have the right to vote in Japanese elections. You also argued that they should be eligible for all the public and social services offered by the Japanese government, including pensions and welfare benefits. This seems to be a bit radical don’t you think?

Debiru: No. Otherwise you’re discriminating between Japanese people and non-residents. Why should only Japanese have access to the benefits of ‘Team Japan’?

Newbie: Japan owes something to the world. It can’t just always be take, take, take. Japan has to give in return.

Debiru: Japan is the only ‘developed’ county that doesn’t provide the vote for it’s non-citizens who live elsewhere.

Uni-files: Really? No country in the EU does that, nor do Canada, U.S., or Australia.

Debiru: What other countries do is irrelevant! What’s right is right! Are you saying that it is right for Japan to be discriminatory?

Uni-files: Debiru, you and your supporters often mention that some attitudes, policies, or states of affairs occur ‘only in Japan’ among developed countries. It seems that you buy into notions of Japanese uniqueness or exclusivity. Do you?

Debiru: Not at all! The notion of Japanese uniqueness is a nationalist myth!

Newbie: Of all developed countries, only the Japanese think of themselves as being unique. It seems to be part of the Japanese mentality. They believe whatever the government tells them. You won’t find this type of belief in Western countries anymore, only in Japan.

Uni-files: Ok. Let’s move on. You’ve also blogged about “how the Japanese authorities plan to incarcerate all foreign residents as a precaution against the foreign criminals”. I haven’t come across any such policy statements. Can you ground this?

Debiru: Well, I was scouring the internet looking for anything that might prove my preconceptions about the ulterior motives of the Japanese authorities when I came across another blogger who talked about how his upholsterer in Inaka Prefecture thought he had overheard a conversation at a vegetable stand about the local district council becoming more vigilant about registering foreigners for social services and helping them with securing housing. And I can substantiate it too- with a link to the blog. Anyway, to me, being told to ‘stay in your house’ in this manner is equivalent to incarceration. And the registration is clearly a way of rounding up the foreigners- just like a crminal [sic] dragnet.

Newbie: In any civilized country this would cause mass rioting in the streets. But because the Japanese are such compliant sheep, not to mention the blatant racism here, no one will stand up for us. The Japanese just pretend that foreigners don’t exist. They stare at us like we’re from another planet.

Uni-files: That must be tough for them to do, both ignoring your existence and staring at you at the same time!

Debiru: This is just the start of the whole racist process. Next thing you know, your pension is declared null and void and your ‘ha-fu’ kids are kicked out of school for not being Japanese enough.

Newbie: Wow, Debiru. That was your best answer yet!

Uni-files: Let me ask about these racism charges a bit. For example, I know that you oppose the fingerprinting of non-Japanese at airports but can this really be called racist? After all, it is based upon citizenship, right? For example, Debiru, you are racially Caucasian but, as a Japanese citizen, you don’t have to be fingerprinted. And someone who is racially ‘Japanese’- although Japanese isn’t even a racial category- but doesn’t hold a Japanese passport still has to be fingerprinted. So while it may be other things, how can you say it is ‘racist’?

Debiru: Don’t feed the troll, Newbie. Don’t feed the troll.

Uni-files: Ok, nect [sic] question. Regarding a specific recent blog entry of yours… You recently criticized the city of Sonzainashi for exploiting non-Japanese. Apparently, the city authorities had developed a ‘Welcome Foreign Guests’ plan in which selected hotels, hot springs, eateries, bars and so on offered English information and services and had started a promotional campaign that actively encouraged non-Japanese to visit. So, what was the thrust of your criticism?

Debiru: When they carry out this facile, deceitful put-on for non-Japanese they’re only doing it because they want their business. “Let’s take the foreigner’s money away from them” is the real motivation. ‘Yohkoso Japan!’- Yeah, right!

Newbie: I consider it a form of robbery; another way of victimizing us, the weakest members of this society.

Uni-files: You guys seem to be very negative about anything to do with Japan, even when Japan scores an apparent success.

Newbie: That’s because Japan places everyone into an us and them paradigm. They do it all the time. They have institutionalized the formula. They use it to justify oppressive policies. We would never do that in the U.S. We have laws that forbid it and an education system that teaches us not to do so.

Uni-files:So, given that Debiru is Japanese, would you put him among that number?

Newbie: Well, I mean, he’s not really a Japanese in the same way they are. (Debiru stares at Newbie). Well I mean, like, he’s not exactly Japanese like them. So to speak. He’s a different Japanese from all the other Japanese. (Debiru continues staring at him). Well, of course he’s just the same as them in that he’s a Japanese citizen. But Debiru is more…ummm… progressive. (Debiru smiles).

Uni-files: OK. Back to the point. Wouldn’t you at least agree that public order and efficiency here is quite excellent?

Debiru: Japanese public order is maintained by coercion and implicit threat. It’s fifty years behind most other countries in this regard.

Uni-files: OK. How about robotics? Or even toilet technology?

Newbie: Robotics here is 36 years behind every other country in the world. And Japan is 23 years behind as far as toilets go.

Uni-files: On what basis can you make such bold claims?

Newbie: Three months ago in the U.S., before I came to Japan, I visited another state for the first time. And their toilets were better than here. Not as xenophobic.

Uni-files: Ok. How about manga and animation? Surely Japan’s ranking in these…

Newbie: You sound like a Japan apologist, acting as if racism never occurs here. Like nothing ever happened in Nanjing!

Debiru: Speaking of which, China has overtaken Japan as the world’s #2 power so Japan can’t possibly be leaders in those fields and therefore must be on the decline in all catgories.[sic] And it is this frustration at being a washed up, has-been society that it causing Japanese to lash out at foreigners.

Uni-files: Really? How so?

Debiru: It happens all the time. Read my blog.

Uni-files: I don’t doubt that there are individual cases but I don’t see it as systemic.

Debiru: If it isn’t systemic, why would I have so many blog posts? That’s all the proof you need! Anyway, just on our way over to this interview the taxi driver spat at us, called us ‘Dirty foreigners’ and told us to ‘Get out!”.

Uni-files: Wow! In twenty years in Japan I have never even come close to experiencing anything remotely like that. Can you elaborate? He spat at you?!

Debiru: Well, he was making disgusting sucking sounds with his teeth so that you could hear the saliva washing around. To me that’s spitting.

Uni-files: I wouldn’t call that spitting…

Debiru: Stay on topic! The point is he would never have done that if the passenger was visibly Japanese.

Uni-files: I see. And he called you a ‘dirty foreigner’?

Debiru: Well he called us “gaikokujin no kata”.

Uni-files: But that’s a very polite way of just saying ‘foreigner’! Where’s the ‘dirty’ part?

Newbie: Well we already know that the Japanese are racist and xenophobic so we can safely assume what he must have been thinking.

Uni-files: And the ‘Get out!’ part?

Newbie: He asked us where we wanted to “get out”. (awkward silence). It’s semantics.

Debiru: Not only that but I am not a foreigner. I’m a Japanese citizen. (starts sniffling) I was… racially profiled!

Newbie: (patting Debiru’s slumping shoulders) There, there. Now you are a racial profiling survivor!

Debiru (brightening up): If Japan had an anti-discrimination law with any teeth he’d have his ass hauled off to jail.

Newbie: Exactly. And you know what, you’ll never see the weak-kneed Japanese media or the history textbooks pick up on stories like this either. They don’t want to hear about these high-octane truths.

Debiru: This is precisely why we need laws against racism, xenophobia, being opposed to immigration, questioning multiculturalism, and other wrong and hateful thoughts.

Uni-files: So you’re in favor of more state authority and policing over what people think?

Debiru: Are you kidding? The police and judiciary here are totally inept and corrupt. They should stay out of people’s lives… ummm…except for the lives of those people who hold unhealthy views.

Uni-files: One more thing about this case. You say that you were racially profiled because the taxi driver believed that you were a foreigner, which by the way, is a mistake that most non-Japanese would probably make as well. But how do you know that the driver was in fact Japanese. Couldn’t he have been ethnically Korean or Chinese? In other words, didn’t you profile him equally?

Debiru: (closes his eyes) Don’t feed the troll, don’t feed the troll.

Uni-files: Ok. Last question. I’m wondering how you chose your Japanese name.

Debiru: It’s the closest phonetic approximation to my previous name. In fact, I asked to have a different, more suitable name first but was refused by the [iyami deleted] Japanese authorities.

Uni-files: And what name was that?

Debiru: Martin Luther King.

Leave a comment (47)



Author’s Profile at ELT News
Mike Guest is Associate Professor of English in the School of Medicine at the University of Miyazaki. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, he has been living, working, and researching in Japan (not to mention lounging in the professors-jacuzzi and taking lengthy, fully-funded research trips to 5-star beach resorts in Bora-Bora) for almost twenty years.


COMMENT:  What a card.  Well, for those unfamiliar with Mr Guest, he is a columnist at ELT News and the Daily Yomiuri (I even wrote about one of his DY columns here at Debito.org, favorably).  However, what inspired a column of this caliber and tone in the ELT News (under the heading of “a candid look at EFL life and lessons from a university teacher’s perspective”) is a bit beyond me.  Its fallacious attributions (these statements are not quotes from me; if Mr Guest had critiqued actual quotes — and lordy knows there are years of my words online he could have referred to — that would have been better, no?  Better yet, why not just interview me?), the presumption that people who support or comment at Debito.org must be malinformed Newbies, the general mean-spiritedness of it all, et cetera — are quite unbecoming for a person aiming to be a respected opinionist by taking puerile pot-shots at people on professional educational fora.

Especially in the Comments section where, amongst other obnoxious ripostes, he had this to say:

Alright, since Mr Guest decided to compare academic credentials, I decided to research his.  Here’s what I found at his university website, where he has a one-year contract as an English teacher:

This looks okay, until you do some research.  Aston University is a distance learning school in Birmingham UK that does indeed offer his degree (probably this one here).  Fine.

However, Regent College is NOT the University of British Columbia, one of Canada’s top universities.  Regent College is a Christian Studies school next door to UBC.  As was confirmed with Regent College the other day:

Subject: RE: Degree
Date: Tue, 16 Nov 2010
From: Regent College Admissions

Thanks for your email. Regent College is a completely separate institution from UBC. We have some partnerships/affiliations with UBC, but a degree awarded from Regent College is solely from Regent and unrelated to UBC entirely. [emphasis added]

I hope this helps – please don’t hesitate to ask if you have further questions! If you are interested in receiving information about our MDiv degree, I’d be happy to send you our MDiv materials.

Amy Petroelje, Inquiries and Housing Coordinator
Regent College
5800 University Blvd Vancouver, BC V6T 2E4

phone 604.224.3245 toll.free 800.663.8664 fax 604.224.3097

email ends

So when I asked Mr Guest about his qualifications last week after his presentation at JALT Nagoya, here’s what he claimed:

SOUND FILE:  mikeguestUBC112010

Reconfirmed.  No possible misunderstanding about (putting UBC in parentheses) on his school katagaki.  He says UBC only, no mention of Regent College.  He has misrepresented his educational background.

Now, some might say that this might just be a form of shorthand, for an audience that might not know what Regent College is — as Mr Guest argued shortly afterwards:

SOUND FILE:  doctorguest112010

but as even his alma mater acknowledges, a degree from Regent College is not a degree from UBC.  It’s like saying somebody who graduated from Ithaca College, or Cornell College for that matter, graduated from Cornell University.  Not an ethical thing for an educational professional to do, especially when he wishes to establish himself as a credible critiquer of educational matters.

So if Mr Guest wants to scrutinize others, I hope he will accept the same public scrutiny.  Sadly, I’m not sure he will.  The following, written shortly after our first meeting at JALT Nagoya on a site called “Tepido.org” (an interesting choice of venue; it’s a website devoted *solely* to trashing me personally and people who contribute to Debito.org, run by blogger Mr Ken Yasumoto-Nicolson and toy store employee Mr Lance Braman), indicates that Mr Guest’s antagonism, dismissiveness, defensiveness, and blame-shifting continue unabated:


Mike Guest Says:
November 21st, 2010 at 7:51 am


It’s funny that this discussion about credentials should come up here now. Yesterday, Debito attended my presentation at the JALT Conference in Nagoya and confronted me afterwards. I wasn’t really surprised. First, during the Q and A session, he asked what my credentials were. A left-field question to be sure and I knew that he was up to something. Later he came to the front as I was packing up, with a bit of a manic gleam in his eye, a voice recorder in his hand, looking like an intrepid young reporter who’s ‘gonna take yer ass downtown’, and began a prepared spiel, trying very hard to be intimidating (but looking me to me a bit more like a caricature).

He said (among other things) that I was a fraud because I had misrepresented my academic credentials (I imagine this will be up on his site soon if not already). For the record, the crux was this: I have a BA from Simon Fraser Univ. (Canada) in Philosophy, an MSc in Applied Linguistics from Aston U. (U.K.) and a Masters in Theology from the graduate theological seminary on the UBC campus, Regent College. Regent issues its own independent degrees because of its religious affiliation, despite sharing the UBC campus and facilities, some teaching staff, plus several credits and classes (many of which I took for classical languages and linguistics). I also did an ESL teaching certificate course at UBC but whatever….

Anyway, when I mentioned a ‘Master’s from UBC’ in answer to his credentials question, Debito reacted like he had just found a photo of me in a compromising situation with a goat, thererafter harping upon my misrepresenting myself as having graduated from UBC.

Of course, way back when the personnel at my current university wanted to know my academic background I naturally went into detail about the relationship between Regent (the theological seminary) and UBC. Why hide anything? But when some guy asks you this from a crowd at an ESL presentation you’re not going to go into great detail. People don’t know what the theological school at UBC’s name is. It’s like if someone abroad asks where you live in Japan- you live in Chiba but you work in Tokyo. So you say Tokyo. No one expects the interlocutor to start suddenly playing prosecutor.

Debito also added that “we” (who?) had contacted Regent in Canada to find out about its relation to UBC and had also checked out my U of Miyazaki database in advance. So this underscores what I wrote in my parody, about his habit of scouring about in search of ways to find any potential striking point in any perceived adversary and then blowing the results out of proportion as if this credentials quibble constituted a weighty riposte to my earlier criticisms of him.

The upshot of this seems to be that Debito took umbrage at a comment I made here on Tepido about us having the same credentials. My comment had been in response to someone on his site saying that Mike Guest is in an isolated university bubble (or words to that effect), arguing that if someone wants to devalue my opinion based upon the claim of being an out-of-touch egghead, the same must apply to Debito. Instead, Debito seemed to take this as an invitation to an academic pissing match, and when confronting me in Nagoya, duly informed of his Ivy League school pedigree, which apparently trumps all: “So, we don’t have the same credentials do we, Mike?”

Well, I guess that’s true in a sense. For example I have two masters degrees whereas… oh, wait a second. None of this has any bearing on the validity or non-validity of my original criticisms of Debito does it? It’s just a sad attempt at rank pulling- arguing from assumed authority. I don’t know where Regent ranks in terms of thological seminaries, but even if my education was limited to Uncle Peter showing me how to bait a hook, my criticisms of Debito remain. Fishing for quibbles in how I answer an awkward question on-the-spot from the audience at an ESL presentation is rather pathetic But you know he’s going to do stuff like this.

I tried to talk with him after this, seeing if he might pull out of Debito mode but what followed was basically stonewalling on his behalf (plus a few choice words aimed in my direction) and eventually I gave up. I just look at it this way- it’s Debito being Debito. I expected a reaction from him at some point- after all, I took a shot at him and he’s trying to take one back- but the fact is that I just lose interest in these kind of one-dimensional people. I’ve already spent too much time writing about him…


(NB:  I might add that Mr Guest suggested I “switch to decaf” during those four allegedly unantagonistic and disinterested attempts to talk with me.  Again, what a card.)

Clearly, Mr Guest doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of what he’s done.  I have no truck with someone’s right to hold opinions about someone and express them in public.  But there are limits, of course — as in, are those opinions accurate?  If not, there should be scrutiny to make those inaccuracies clear.  However, it’s hard to scrutinize someone hiding behind “parody” to claim somebody said something he never said (it absolves Mr Guest of the responsibility of providing evidence or doing verifiable research). Makes one question the professionality of the ELT editors, who should be offering better safeguards to preserve the integrity of their forum.

However, scrutinizing someone’s alleged professional background is much simpler.  You don’t say you graduated from a place you did not graduate from and expect to be treated as an honest professional.

And you don’t pick on people like this (misrepresentation of the record is definitely a pattern in Mr Guest’s world) without expecting some scrutiny yourself.  Now face the scrutiny.  Like an adult.

That’s why I decided to go ahead with this expose on Debito.org.  People can make their own decisions about what kind of future relationship they wish to maintain with Mr Guest as a columnist, scholar, and professional.  Arudou Debito



The deceptions continue.  Mr Guest writes:

“Regent is a Theology School located on the UBC Endowment Lands. Many facilities are shared. If you want to do a Master’s degree in Theology you go to Regent, because UBC can’t offer Theology courses. Several credits I took as part of this Master’s I took at regular UBC classes (mostly linguistics) since some courses are cross-transferable. I also did an EFL teacher training course at UBC.”


“Regardless, if you want to do a Graduate degree in Theology at UBC you have to attend Regent or Vancouver School of Theology. Both are on the campus but are required to issue their own degrees as religious institutions. At both you can take classes and get cross credits from the standard UBC curricula and have full access to all UBC facilities. I used this to take linguistics courses- which were not offered at Regent. I also did a further ESL certification course at UBC.”


COMMENT:  Let’s cut through the fog.  Nowhere on your degree from Regent College, the one you cite as part of your academic credentials, does it say “University of British Columbia”.  They are not the same institution.  Claiming UBC on your employer’s website and at JALT, and insinuating as such online, does not change that.

Japan Times: Leaked documents reveal Tokyo Police spies on Muslim residents, tries to make snitches of them


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  In probably one of the most important developments of the year (thanks again to the Japan Times Community Page, consistently offering one great expose after another), we have actual substantiation of the Tokyo Police extending their racial profiling techniques to target Muslim residents of Japan.  Not only are they spying on them and keeping detailed files, they are trying to turn them against one another as if they’re all in cahoots to foment terrorism.

We all suspected as such (the very day I naturalized, I got a personal visit from Japan’s Secret Police asking me to inform on any Chinese overstayers I might happen to know; they said they read Debito.org — perhaps as assiduously as some of my Internet stalkers).  Now we have proof of it.  Shame, shame on a police force that has this much unchecked power.  Do I smell a return to Kenpeitai tactics?  Arudou Debito


The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010
Muslims in shock over police ‘terror’ leak
Japan residents named in documents want explanation — and apology — from Tokyo police force


This time last month, Mohamed Salmi says he was just another anonymous foreigner living and working in Japan. Today he fears his life here may be over, and receives phone calls from reporters asking him if he is an al-Qaida “terrorist.”

“I’ve no idea why they have picked on me,” says the Algerian, who has lived and worked in Japan for over 20 years and is married to a Japanese national. “My wife and I are still struggling to believe it.”

Salmi’s name was one of several released in extraordinary leaked documents from a counterterrorism unit of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s Public Security Bureau. Listed as “terrorist suspects,” the men are Muslims who live and work here, in many cases for decades.

The documents, which have been obtained by The Japan Times, contain vast amounts of personal information, including birthplaces, home and work addresses, names and birthdays of spouses, children and associates, personal histories and immigration records. Even the names of local mosques visited by the “suspects” are included.

In most cases, the causes of the initial police suspicion appear to have simple explanations. Salmi’s former work as a travel agent placed him in contact with Arab students, businessmen and diplomats.

“I had a lot of ambassadors as clients,” says the 47-year-old, who now works for a Japanese construction company. “I can’t believe this is enough to put me on a list of suspects.”

Apparently released via file-sharing software, the files and the background on how they were compiled reveal that Japanese police, under pressure from U.S. authorities, trawled Tokyo in the aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, in search of intelligence data among the city’s tiny Muslim community. According to victims of the leak, in some cases the Security Bureau tried to recruit them as spies…

Rest of the article at

Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.

Here’s what Debito.org has been saying all along (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here): The policing agencies are justifying any programs dealing with crime by blaming it on the foreigners.

As a source, here’s the Ministry of Justice itself in unrepentant Bunker Mentality Mode. It’s hard not to read this as, “We were a safe society until the foreigners came along and spoiled everything for us. So now we have to crack down on the foreigners and Japanese who deal with them.” Great. Of course, we have no purely homegrown crime here, such as the Yaks, right? Why is “Recovery of Public Safety” so firmly linked in “foreigner issues”? Because they’re a soft target, that’s why. Read on and try to suppress a wry smirk. Arudou Debito


Recovery of public safety

Undated article, courtesy of XY, English original

In the past Japan was proud of its image in the world of being an exceptionally safe country, but in recent years, the number of criminal cases that have been identified by the authorities has increased remarkably, while the clearance rate has dropped drastically and remains at a very low level, which makes the deterioration of public safety an issue of grave concern to the nation. In particular, exceptionally violent crimes attracting public attention and the occurrence close at hand of many offences committed by youngsters or by foreign nationals coming to Japan are making people uneasy about the maintenance of public order. In addition, since computers and high-level information technology such as the Internet have become a common feature of daily life, new crimes abusing such advanced technology have risen in number. Further, effective measures against international terrorism such as the multiple terrorist attacks on the United States, and efforts toward solving problems concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, are needed.

Under such circumstances, the Government, aiming at restoration of Japan as “the safest country in the world”, inaugurated the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime, which formulated in December 2003 “The Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime”, and the Conference is actively promoting comprehensive measures such as various countermeasures against crime including shoreline countermeasures, the consolidation of a social environment under which it is difficult to commit crimes, and the strengthening of the structure of agencies and organs responsible for public safety.

Based on the important issues shown in this plan (Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime), the Ministry of Justice submitted the Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and other related laws to the Diet, which raised the terms of statutory penalties for heinous and serious crimes and extended the statute of limitations for prosecution, and this Law has been in force since the beginning of 2005. Further, the Ministry of Justice, in order to better protect the economy and society from organized crime and suchlike, is engaged in getting legislation passed, including criminal provisions, to combat the obstruction of compulsory execution, which is also necessary for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; as well as legislation for measures against high-tech crimes, thereby enabling ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

In order to deal effectively with the frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and the increase in the number of transnational crimes, it is necessary to make the procedure for gathering evidence from abroad more effective and to enhance cooperation between the investigative authorities of foreign countries and Japan. As part of such enhancement of cooperation, the Japanese Government has concluded the Treaty between Japan and the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 21 July 2006) and the Treaty between Japan and Korea on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 26 January 2007). These treaties have made it possible to send and receive requests not through diplomatic channel but directly between the Ministry of Justice or other competent authorities of Japan and the Ministry of Justice of respective countries, enabling the expediting of procedures. The Japanese Government is also negotiating with Hong Kong, Russia and China to conclude the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Ministry of Justice is in the position of developing cooperation with other countries in the future.

The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and Other Related Laws has been submitted to the 2005 Ordinary Session of the Diet, which is necessary to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to cope with the modern crime of violation of the right to liberty, for example, confinement for long periods and the heinous kidnapping of minors, and this Law has been in force since July 2005.

In order to stabilize the public security of the nation, preventing the re-offending of offenders who have committed crimes or delinquency is also important.

Penal institutions including prisons, juvenile prisons and detention houses, are now suffering from a severe overcrowding of inmates and it is thought that this may adversely affect the treatment given by the institutions. Therefore the Ministry is striving to solve the problem by such means as the construction of prisons using private financial initiatives (PFI). Furthermore, in order to find a way to enable the large numbers of Chinese inmates, who are one of the causes of overcrowding, to be transferred to their home country, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working toward early conclusion of a bilateral treaty between Japan and China and continues dialogues with China.

In addition, the Ministry is striving to prevent inmates from re-offending by improving the treatment programs for the rehabilitation and smooth resocialization of inmates.

In the field of rehabilitation of offenders in the community, the Ministry of Justice is aiming to smoothly enforce the Offenders Rehabilitation Act, which was passed by the Diet and was promulgated in June 2007 and to ensure fair application of the Act in order to improve and strengthen the offenders rehabilitation system in the community.

The Offenders Rehabilitation Act shall be enforced on a date which is specified by a Cabinet Order within a period not exceeding one year from the day of promulgation (June 15, 2007). However, some articles of the Act which relate to support of crime victims were already enforced on December 1, 2007. In order to carry out balanced probation, parole, and improvement of the system of cooperation between rehabilitation workers in the private sector such as volunteer probation officers, and public officers, the Ministry of Justice is striving to strictly enforce the lower laws and ordinances which lay down the detailed regulations of the bill of the Offenders Rehabilitation Act. In addition, the Rehabilitation Bureau is endeavoring to establish strong rehabilitation of offenders in the community in a way which will fulfill the expectations of the citizens in the future.

To ensure balanced and effective probation, the Ministry of Justice implements the following from the viewpoint of the appropriate roles for probation officers and volunteer probation officers: guidance and assistance by probation officers who give direct and intensive supervision to persons who need special consideration for treatment, reinforcement of direct participation by probation officers for persons who need focused treatment, implementation of special treatment programs for sex offenders, violent offenders and drug abusers. In addition, assisting in securing employment is extremely important to prevent re-offending. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice promotes finding employment together with public employment security offices to support probationers and parolees in finding work, promotes measures for work security in a variety of industries and fields through cooperation with the ministries concerned, and promotes the National Halfway House Project.

Concerning antiterrorism measures, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Immigration Control Act), was revised in the regular session of the Diet in 2005 in order to include new counter-terrorism measures, based on the Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism (decided on December 10, 2004 by the Headquarters for the Promotion of Countermeasures against International Terrorism including International Organized Crime) and the amended Act entered into effect in December of 2005.

Further, according to the plan, the ordinary Diet Session in 2006 amended the Immigration Control Act. The revision included the introduction of (i) regulations requiring foreign nationals to provide fingerprints and other personal identification at the landing examination, (ii) regulations regarding the grounds for deportation of foreign terrorists, and (iii) regulations requiring the captains of ships and other vessels entering Japan to report in advance information regarding crewmembers and passengers.

With regard to North Korea, the Public Security Intelligence Agency is collecting and analyzing information such as abduction, nuclear and missile issues, in order to contribute to providing solutions. Further, the Agency is endeavoring to consolidate its intelligence collection mechanism by intensifying and expanding its intelligence network and its cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies in order to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks by international terrorist organizations, and to clarify the actual state of such organizations as well as to detect international terrorism related activities in Japan, while making efforts to actively promote the Government’s “Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism” with other agencies and organizations concerned. With regard to Aum Shinrikyo (the Aum cult), taking into consideration that there is no fundamental change in its dangerous nature even after the cult split into the main stream group and the Joyu group in May 2007, the Agency is strictly implementing the measure to place the groups under surveillance thereby clarifying the organizations themselves and their activities and providing local governments at their request with the results of the surveillance, thus trying to secure the safety of the public and ease the fears and the anxiety of the Japanese people.

(Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Nov 2, 2010: ‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse in Japan Studies


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‘Homogeneous,’ ‘unique’ myths stunt discourse
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20101102ad.html

Last month I attended an international lecture by one of Japanology’s senior scholars. I’ll call him Dr. Frink. Decorated by the Japanese government for his contributions to the field, he talked about Japan as a “unique” state that never really changes, even as it slips to third place behind China’s economy.

One reason he gave for this was that “Japan is still the most homogeneous society in the world.” He defined homogeneity by citing Japan’s tiny percentage of resident foreigners.

That was easily disputed after a quick Google search (the lecture hall had Internet; welcome to the 21st century). I raised my hand afterwards and pointed out that some 60 countries were technically “more homogeneous” than Japan, as they have smaller percentages of foreigners, foreign-born residents and immigrants.


According to the United Nations, as of 2005, Japan’s percentage (listed at 1.6 percent, which means that the zainichi, or Japan-born foreigners, are also included) was still larger than Kenya’s (1 percent), Nigeria’s (0.7 percent), India’s (0.5 percent) and China’s (excluding Hong Kong and Macau, 0.3 percent). Of course, given the boom in international migration this decade, many countries are net exporters of immigrants. But herein lies the flaw in linking monoculturality to an absence of foreigners: Don’t all these allegedly “homogeneous” countries (including Japan) also acknowledge ethnic minorities within their borders?

However, this column will focus on a much deeper problem in Dr. Frink’s school of scholarly discourse: The fixation on Japan’s “uniqueness,” and how a cult of Japanese homogeneity interferes with good social science.

Search academic databases for publications in Japan Studies. Quite a few of them (some with Japanese authors espousing their own uniqueness) toe the line of “Japan behaves this way because it is homogeneous, etc.” Scholar Harumi Befu has written books on how this has crystallized into a pseudoscience called Nihonjinron, affecting debate worldwide.


There is a political dimension to all this: the politics of maintaining the status quo.

The Japanese government funds chairs and departments (especially in Japan) to influence the direction of Japan Studies, and is nowadays attracting students to focus on “soft power,” “cool Japan” cultural exotica.





The point is, ruling elites in Japan are perfectly happy with Japan being portrayed as preternaturally intransigent — due to historical, cultural, geographical or whatever reasons — because they like Japan as it is.

However, for the rest of the people living in Japan, this status quo is sending us down a road of obsolescence.

It is clear that Japan is in a deflationary spiral with a crushing national debt and an aging workforce. Paradigm shifts are necessary, and ideas should also be welcome from knowledgeable people overseas. But some advice, bound or blinded by the cult of uniqueness, becomes muted, veers off-target or is never even offered in the first place.

This doesn’t happen everywhere. Boffins have little reservation in telling, for example, Russia what to do about its economy. Why not Japan? Because of ingrained fears about being insensitive or culturally imperialistic towards this modern-day Galapagos.

It hardly bears saying, but societies of living beings are not preserved in amber. There are constant economic, political and demographic pressures requiring changes in thought and direction. In Japan’s case, the aging society will probably lead to increased immigration and a niche-market economy, where certain things are done well, but no longer on the scale of a world power. People both inside and outside Japan will have to come to terms with that.

Yet some data sets relevant to this transition are not open to scholarship. I mentioned here last year (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009) how Japan’s demographic scientists are not including a fundamental numerator in their equations (i.e., inflows) by refusing to even discuss immigration. I also argued last month (JBC, Oct. 5) that Japan’s census, which only surveys for nationality, not ethnicity, is ignoring the possibility that there might be multiethnic Japanese here already. This is despite all the racial intermarriage, multiethnic Japanese children, naturalized citizens, and the fact there are more permanent-resident foreigners here than ever before.

Scholars should be demanding more official data on this. Instead, we are getting the Dr. Frinks of the world spouting spurious claims based on the false premise that the absence of information indicates homogeneity.

Let’s have more sophistication in the discourse. Japanology now offers the world an excellent opportunity to study how a modern, developed and educated society learns to cope with a fluctuating place in the world. Nihonjinron should be seen and dismissed for what it is: a static ideology, existing for a nostalgic public looking for a comfortable self-identity, a ruling elite unwilling to face a fundamentally different future, or an overseas audience craving exotica over science.

This means we should have a moratorium on superlatives, such as linking the “U-word” with Japan. All societies have their singular aspects, to be sure, but we should never lose sight of the fact that we’re all one big human family with more communalities than differences. To belabor the obvious, no society is “uniquely unique.”

Fixating on Japan’s illusory “uniqueness and homogeneity” takes energies away from studying the very real problems that Japan, like any other country, will be facing this century. Let’s demand better scholarship and help Japan cope with — if not get out of — this mess.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records


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Hi Blog.  Here’s a very interesting and nuanced article about differing treatment of sports figures in the media:  Ichiro in the US vs. Hakuho in Japan.  Excerpt follows.  Worth a read during the holidays.  Debito back in Sapporo

The Japan Times Sunday, Oct. 3, 2010
MEDIA MIX by Philip Brasor
Media racism: How unsportsmanlike


Local favoritism is built into organized sports. At the macro level you have whole countries rooting for national teams at the Olympics or the World Cup. At the micro level you have fans cheering a hometown boy who plays for a team far away. By the same token, nationalistic fans denigrate opposing countries’ players in international tournaments, while athletes from outside a locality may not receive the same level of local enthusiasm as those who grew up there.

In its Sept. 30 issue, Shukan Shincho attempted to build a story on two recent events: Hakuho’s breaking of Chiyonofuji’s record for consecutive sumo victories, and Ichiro Suzuki’s milestone 3,500th hit as a professional baseball player. That these events occurred within 24 hours of each other was irresistible, and Shincho wanted to connect them in a way that was guaranteed to attract attention. The headline of the article was, “Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s racism problem.”

Both athletes are strangers in foreign lands; or, at least, they started that way. Ichiro has been an outfielder for the Seattle Mariners in the United States since he entered the Major Leagues in 2001 after nine years playing in Japan’s Pacific League, and he has consistently been one of the game’s best hitters in both countries. Hakuho was born and raised in Mongolia, and is now the sole yokozuna (grand champion) in what is an ancient and traditional Japanese sport. Shincho’s point is that because both are “foreigners,” they do not receive the same attention and respect from the media and the public in their respective countries as native athletes, despite the enormity of their achievements.

Shincho claims that Ichiro’s 3,500th hit, a landmark that very few players in the history of the major leagues have reached, was virtually ignored by the American press. The reason, according to the magazine, is that Ichiro compiled this record in two countries, and Americans don’t take Japanese baseball seriously. To support this theory, the reporter quotes Japanese sports writers and baseball players who make the case that Ichiro’s talent is superior to that of the vast majority of currently active American baseball players.

As proof that Americans don’t evaluate Japanese players equally, the opinion of retired major leaguer Pete Rose is cited…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20101003pb.html

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 5 2010: “Census blind to Japan’s true diversity”


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Hi Blog. Back from abroad, currently in Tokyo recovering from jetlag, getting ready for my speech at Nihon University this Sunday. Here’s my column from yesterday for commentary.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

Census blind to Japan’s true diversity

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010


It’s that time of the decade again. By now, all households in Japan should have received and submitted Japan’s National Census (kokusei chousa), a survey taken every five years expressly to assist in policymaking, drawing up electoral districts and other matters of taxation and representation. This of course includes non-Japanese (NJ) on visas of three months or longer. Get yours?

This time the Japanese government did some nice things for NJ: It offered a multilingual website (Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Portuguese and English) explaining the hows and whys of the census. It also offered the census itself in 27 different languages, along with enhanced privacy protection measures. You can send the form in yourself, for example, so you don’t have some nosy census-taker peering over your shoulder (with the white-hot curiosity some people display over anything an NJ does).

Class act. A golden “Attaboy!” from this columnist.

However, one thing is still unfortunately being overlooked in the census: Japan’s ethnic diversity.

Postwar Japan has officially maintained (justified in part by the feel-good pseudoscience of nihonjinron) that Japan is a monocultural, monoethnic and homogeneous society.

It wasn’t until 1997 that the government officially recognized that any kind of minority even exists in Japan (the Ainu), and it took until 2008 before the Diet passed a resolution recognizing the Ainu as an indigenous people “with a distinct language, religion and culture.”

Nevertheless, this time around Japan’s census does not measure for ethnicity (minzoku). It still measures only for nationality (kokuseki). In other words, on the form you indicate that you are Japanese or that you are miscellaneous (indicate nationality).

So what does that mean for the Ainu? They are Japanese citizens, of course, but their indigenous status remains unaccounted for.

Then how about naturalized citizens? I of course wrote down “Japanese” for my nationality on the census. But I would also have liked to indicate that I am a hyphenated Japanese — a Japanese with American roots, an Amerika-kei Nihonjin.

But it’s not just about me. How about children of international marriages? My kids are just as American as they are Japanese, so why not have it formally acknowledged? It would be in other societies with ethnic diversity. Why can’t we show how genetically diverse Japanese society is, or is becoming?

Because of politics. I believe the government still wants to maintain the image of Japan’s ethnic homogeneity, as it justifies a lot of status-quo policymaking (e.g., a closed-door refugee regime, no official immigration policy, the firm and oft-repeated belief that Japan is not and will never be an “immigration nation”).

After all, Japan’s identity is currently based on the ideals of cultural and even racial purity. Why would one dare to collect official data that would undermine that?

The official reason I keep getting from the Census Bureau is that this is a privacy issue. Asking people for their ethnic backgrounds is apparently too personal.

So you’re saying other questions on the census, such as household income, are not? Our personal information, according to your flash website, is properly protected anyway, right? If privacy is a concern, why does Japan have such an intrusive, even door-to-door, census at all?

Again, the government says it is for the creation of good policy in Japan. Which means, by extension, that matters of diversity and ethnicity are not part of good policymaking?

Sure, it’s nice to believe that by not making an issue of one’s roots, naturalized and multiethnic Japanese are officially treated the same as any other Japanese. But invisibility and accuracy are two different things. If accuracy is what the census is aiming for, it would be better to acknowledge that people of a wide range of ethnicities hold Japanese nationality.

Here a statistic the government already knows: International marriages in Japan have increased from 30,000 to 40,000 couples per year this past decade. Assuming not unreasonably that each couple has two children, mathematically Japan must be home to hundreds of thousands of multiethnic Japanese children. We would know better how many if we only asked.

Moreover, we have more naturalized citizens in Japan than ever before. That matters.

My suggestion: To alleviate privacy concerns, make ethnicity an optional question on the census form. Other questions are optional. Why not this one?

Be accurate. Count us as hyphenated citizens if that’s what we choose. Because like it or not, Japan is becoming multiethnic. Better get some policies ready for it.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010


Discussion: Oguri Saori’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” manga series: Does it help NJ assimilate?


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Hi Blog. We’ve recently had a decent discussion come up in my previous blog entry, and it’s good enough to warrant its own entry.

The topic was Oguri Saori’s Daarin Wa Gaikokujin” (My Darling is a Foreigner), a best-selling series of manga depicting the life of a quirky bilingual foreigner by the name of “Tony” who marries a Japanese woman. The manga chronicles the different personalities of the husband and wife as they deal with issues in Japan, create a life and a family together, travel from one place to another, and generally try to get inside “Tony’s mind”. There are several books under Oguri’s authorship (at least one with real-life husband Tony Laszlo’s co-billing — his “Guide to Happiness”), and even a movie earlier this year, not to mention an English translation, subway and train PSAs, and an ANA advertising deal. It’s a very influential economic juggernaut that has spawned imitators (there are other “Darling”-types of books connected with different nationalities), and now with “DWG with baby” on board the epic is anticipated to continue for some years to come.

The question for Debito.org Readers: Is the DWG manga series really working in NJs best interests? As in, as far as Debito.org is concerned, helping NJ to assimilate, be treated as equals and moreover residents of Japan?

I came out in my last blog entry and said I wasn’t sure it is. Let me give my standpoint and open the floor up for discussion:

First a disclaimer: I knew Oguri Saori personally, stayed with Laszlo and Saori for many days during trips to Tokyo, and even helped Saori with some grunt work (as in erasing pencil lines) in earlier non-DWG works. We were quite close. I have immense respect for her as an illustrator (as I too like to draw) and a storyteller. I think she has earned every bit of her success after developing her talent and investing years of hard work in her craft. Bully for her. May she earn millions more.

But the problem I have had with the DWG series (and I’ve come to this conclusion after many years of watching how DWG appeals to people) is that it is selling “foreigner” as “exotic” and “different” all over again. A friend of mine concurs, seeing the appeal of DWG as “making foreigners into things, even accessories, for collection and display”. I won’t go quite that far. But watching what kind of audience the DWG media machine generally seeks to appeal to (young to middle-aged women who might want to date a foreigner — or are dating/married to a foreigner), I see that they are being encouraged to view DWG as a guide to “foreigners’ minds”. This might be an overstatement, but the title itself (“Gaikokujin”) already sets Tony-chan apart as something perpetually different, moreover something to be studied (and there is enough bad social science in Japan treating NJ as cultural representatives, worthy of petri-dish examination). Regardless of how Saori originally intended, the marketing of these books plays right into this. Tony-chan is cute, sure. Eccentric and interesting, sure. Representative of anything? No.

Imagine if we were to publish a book, “My Darling is a Japanese”, and we had this quirky Japanese man who spoke geeky English and studied all sorts of [insert country here] cultural norms and had all sorts of eccentric tics? Then imagine a publisher pushing it as having insight into how Japanese men (or for that matter, any kind of Asian man) behave within this cultural context? We’d have people buying it if it were funny, sure. But I bet there would be a little more care against pushing it as something representative of anything. Even Borat, for example, was sold as performance art, not fodder for the study of Kazakhstan or foreigners in general.

In sum, I initially liked the idea of DWG as an eye-opener and a softener. But subsequent mutations of the phenomenon have turned it into simply more of the same: Quirky foreigner comes here and still is seen as quirky because he is foreign. Not because he is a quirky person. And people lap it up because they think it offers insights. Doubt that? Read this.

I don’t see it furthering the cause of helping NJ assimilate and being treated as equals and residents, not foreigners. DWG has been a wasted opportunity.

Now let’s open up the floor to discussion. I ask respondents to please try to leave Laszlo’s and my personal relationship out of this (because it’s irrelevant, and the DWG books are not Laszlo’s anyway). Please critique the DWG phenomenon on its own merits. I seriously look forward to seeing what people (especially fans) say. Arudou Debito in Radium Hot Springs, BC

Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules


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Hi Blog. While doing some research yesterday, I found out this interesting development:

Debito.org (via The Community) originally reported about a decade ago that the Takamado English speech contest, for junior-highschooler English speaking ability name-sponsored by a member of the Japanese royalty, was refusing foreign children enrolled in Japanese schools entry. This might seem reasonable, since native English speakers competing with Japanese L2 students would indeed have an unfair advantage.

However, Takamado’s rules excluded ALL foreigners, including those from countries that are not native English-speaking countries (such as Chinese or Mongolians). Moreover, the rules also excluded ALL Japanese who had foreign blood, as far back as grandparents.  Archive:


When the dubious practice of assuming that any foreigner had a linguistic advantage in English was raised with the organizers, they decided to keep the rules as is.  So I wrote about it for the Japan Times, dated January 6, 2004:


Freedom of speech
‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests


… A prestigious event, name-sponsored by the late Prince Takamado, its goal is: “To create an internationally rich youth culture, both proficient in English and widely popular (sic), which aims to develop Japanese culture and contribute to international relations.”

Yet its disqualifiers are oddly xenophobic: Rule 3: “If any of your parents or grandparents are foreigners (including naturalized Japanese) in principle you are excluded.” Rule 2a: “If you are born in a foreign country and have stayed abroad past your 5th birthday,” and; 2b: “If after your 5th birthday you have lived in a foreign country for over a total of one year, or if you have lived in a foreign country over a continuous six-month period,” you may not enter the contest.

The organizers seemed to have forgotten that not all foreigners speak English…


So now back to the present.  I checked the rules for Takamado yesterday, and here’s how they’ve been revised:


  1. Students recommended by their school principal and attending a Middle School in Japan (excluding International and American Schools).
  2. Students who fall into any of the following categories are not eligible to participate in the contest:
  3. Those who were born and raised in English speaking countries/regions* beyond the age of five.
  4. Those who lived in English speaking countries/regions or studied in International and American Schools beyond the age of five for a total of one year or six months continuously.
  5. Those whose parent or grandparent with nationalities of English Speaking countries or naturalized Japanese, having lived in Japan for less than 30 years.
  6. Those who won 1st to 3rd places in any previous contests.
  7. Those that violate the above clauses and enter the Contest will be disqualified.

*Below are the definitions of the English speaking countries. (Defined by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Republic of Singapore, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Republic of the Philippines, Negara Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Commonwealth of Australia, Republic of Kiribati, Independent State of Samoa, Solomon Island, Tuvalu, Kingdom of Tonga, Republic of Nauru, New Zealand, Republic of Palau , Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Vanuatu, Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Fiji Islands, Republic of the Marshall Islands, United States of America, Canada, Antigua and Barbuda, Republic of Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, Republic of Suriname, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Commonwealth of Dominica, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Commonwealth of The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Republic of Uganda, Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Republic of Ghana, Republic of Cameroon, Republic of The Gambia, Republic of Kenya, Republic of Zambia, Republic of Sierra Leone, Republic of Zimbabwe, Republic of the Sudan, Kingdom of Swaziland, Republic of Seychelles, Somalia, United Republic of Tanzania, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Republic of Namibia, Republic of Botswana, Republic of Malawi, Republic of South Africa, Republic of Mauritius, Republic of Liberia, Republic of Rwanda, Kingdom of Lesotho, Republic of Cyprus, Lebanese Republic, Ireland, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Republic of Malta, Cook Islands, Niue, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, India, Islamic Republic of Pakistan



Now that’s more like it.  Took some time, but it looks like they added some sophistication to deeming who has a linguistic advantage.  No longer is it a blanket system of “a foreigner is a foreigner is a foreigner”, and the attitude is less that any foreigner is a blanket tainter of Japanese student blood.  Okay, better. Pays to say something.  Especially in print.  Arudou Debito on holiday

Tangent: Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive


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Hi Blog. As a tangent (but a very interesting one) is the biggest news story the past few days in Japan; Japan has some very old people who have gone missing or are long dead, but are still registered as living pensioners.

This of course calls into question two things:

1) The oft-cited claim that Japanese live longest in the world. With actually-dead people nudging up the average, and the possibility that the oldest people are only that way because nobody has checked on them in thirty years, this source of national pride has given way to questions of the efficacy of Japan’s Kokusei Chousa (National Census) system, which has somehow missed recording these people for decades (or in all probability, enabled horrific scams of “baachan in a freezer” while her pensions keep getting collected).

and 2) (and this is why it’s tangentially related to Debito.org), it calls into question the efficacy of the Juuminhyou and Koseki systems too. Although any formal registry system might miss people who are not being noticed or are being deliberately hidden, it’s funny to find a centarian registered as living at a car park. But it’s not funny when you realize that taxpaying NJ are not registered as “spouse” on the Koseki Family Registry system, or even as visible residents and family under the Juuminhyou Residency Certificate system. Meanwhile, long-dead people are, just because they’re Japanese. It’s screwy. It’s an angle that has not been covered in the debate on this. But it oughta be.

Read on for the first article I read on this issue. If you see any more that cover other important angles, send them on with links, thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Tokyo’s oldest listed person, age 113, is missing
Associated Press August 3, 2010


TOKYO (AP) — A 113-year-old woman listed as Tokyo’s oldest person is missing, officials said Tuesday, days after the city’s oldest man was found dead and mummified.

Fusa Furuya, born in July 1897, does not live at the address in the Japanese capital where she is registered and her whereabouts are unknown, Tokyo Suginami ward official Hiroshi Sugimoto said.

Her disappearance surfaced just days after the shocking discovery last week that Tokyo’s oldest man, who would have been 111 years old, had actually been dead for decades.

Officials said that they had not personally contacted the two oldest people for decades, despite their listing as the longest-living in the city. They apparently found out that the man was dead, and Furuya missing, when they began updating their records ahead of a holiday in honor of the elderly that is to be observed next month.

Officials visited Furuya’s apartment last Friday, but her 79-year-old daughter said she has never lived there.

The daughter, whose name was not disclosed, told officials she was not aware of her mother’s registration at that address and said she thought her mother was just outside Tokyo with her younger brother, with whom she has lost touch.

But when officials checked that address they found a vacant lot.
Officials are also looking for a 106-year-old man who is missing in Nagoya, central Japan, Kyodo News agency reported. The Asahi newspaper said three more centenarians were unaccounted for.

The number of centenarians in Japan has been rising for decades.
Japan has 40,399 people aged 100 or older, including 4,800 in Tokyo, according to an annual health ministry report last year marking a Sept. 21 holiday honoring the elderly. Each centenarian receives a letter and a gift from a local government office — usually by mail.

In the earlier case, police are investigating the family of the man found dead and mummified on suspicion of abandonment and swindling his pension money. Sogen Kato is believed to have died 32 years ago after he had retreated to his bedroom, saying he wanted to be a living Buddha.

Health and Welfare Minister Akira Nagatsuma has urged officials to find a better way to monitor centenarians, but local officials say it is hard to keep track because their families are often reluctant to receive official visits.

Many also send their elderly relatives to nursing homes without doing the proper paperwork.
AP-ES-08-03-10 0506EDT

More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”. (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)


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Hi Blog. For a nice bite-size Sunday post, dovetailing with yesterday’s post on the NPA’s whipping up fear of foreign crime gangs, here we have the Kanagawa Police offering us a poster with racist caricatures of NJ, and more minced language to enlist the public in its Gaijin Hunt. Check this out:

(Click on image to expand in browser.)
From http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/ps/32ps/32pic/32004_47.pdf, courtesy lots of people.

Now let’s analyze this booger. In the same style of fearmongering and racist police posters in the past (see for example here, here, here, and here), we have the standard NJ conks and wily faces. Along with a crime gang stealing from a jewelry store (nothing like getting one’s hands dirty, unlike all the white-collar homegrown yakuza crime we see fewer posters about).

The poster opens with employers being told to check Status of Residences of all the NJ they employ. Of course, employers who employ NJ usually sponsor them for a visa, so this warning shouldn’t be necessary. I guess it’s nicer than warning the employer that if they do employ overstayers, the employer should also be punished. But again, we hear little about that. It’s the NJ who is the wily party, after all.

Then we get the odd warning about overstayers (they say these are lots of “rainichi gaikokujin”, which is not made clear except in fine print elsewhere that they don’t mean the garden-variety NJ) and their links to “international crime groups” (although I haven’t seen convincing statistics on how they are linked). Then they hedge their language by saying “omowaremasu” (it is thought that…), meaning they don’t need statistics at all. It’s obviously a common perception that it’s “recently getting worse” (kin’nen shinkoku ka).

Next paragraph offers the standard “threat to Japanese social order” (chi’an) presented by visa overstayers and illegal workers (even though overstayers have gone down steadily since 1993), and asks for the public’s assistance.

Then it brings in the heroic Kanagawa Police, and how they will be strengthening their controls over these big-hootered shifty-eyed NJ from now on, and asks for anyone with information about illegal NJ to drop by any cop shop or police box (even though police boxes I’ve reported unlawful activities to have told me to take my crimes elsewhere; I guess NJ criminality is a higher priority).

Finally, we have the places to contact within the Kanagawa Police Department. We now have a special “international crime” head (kokusai han kakari), a “economic security” head (keizai hoan kakari), and a “gaiji kakari“, whatever that is shortened for (surely not “gaikokujin hanzai jiken“, or “foreign crime incidents”). Such proactiveness on the part of the NPA. I hope they sponsor a “sumo-yakuza tobaku kakari” soon.

Anyone else getting the feeling that the NPA is a law unto itself, doing whatever it likes in the purported pursuit of criminals, even if that means racial profiling, social othering of taxpayers and random enforcement of laws based upon nationality (even a death in police custody with impunity), and manufacturing consent to link crime with nationality?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Compare and contrast with the English version of PR for the same police department, courtesy of crustpunker:


Not only is it a disingenuous lie, its contents are utterly banal.  And since I can’t find the gaiji kakari under “Section Information” in English, so I doubt the overall accuracy as well.

This is linked from this even nastier Kanagawa Police site regarding NJ:



ここでは、これら対日有害活動の一部を紹介し、我が国の国益を害する不法行為に関する 情報提供をお願いしています。
rest at above website


Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime


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Hi Blog.  Here’s the semiannual NPA NJ crime propaganda campaign, claiming once again some kind of “increase”.  Before, we had decreases in crime depicted as an increase, depending on what crime you looked at or what language the article was in.  Now it’s the NPA, in the face of a 40% admitted drop in “NJ criminals rounded up” since  2004, giving the spin of doubting its own statistics.  What’s next, saying NJ are more likely to commit crime because of their criminal DNA?  (Actually, Tokyo Gov Ishihara beat them to that nearly a decade ago; dead record due to Tony Laszlo’s Issho Kikaku, so Japanese here.)

Here’s the report being referred to in pdf format:


Note how last month’s police raids of NJ junkyard businesses was done in time  for the survey.  Gotta say something, act as though they’re doing something, even if it doesn’t seem like they found much.

Also note how on the bottom of page two of the report, they give a definition that the “gaikokujin” they’re referring to are not those here with PR status, the Zainichi, the US military, or “those with unclear Statuses of Residence” (what, refugees?  certainly not visa overstayers).  Okay.  Pity the media doesn’t mention that.  Nor is it mentioned that although this report is supposed to deal with “international crime”, it is just titled “Rainichi Gaikokujin Hanzai no Kenkyo Joukyou” (lit. The Situation of Cases of Crimes by Foreigners Coming to Japan).  I guess just talking about garden-variety crime by NJ (back in the day when it was allegedly going up) isn’t convenient anymore.  You have to narrow the focus to find the crime and shoot the fish in the proverbial barrel — it gets the headlines that attribute crime to nationality, even somehow allows you to doubt your own statistics.  Moreover enables you to claim a budget to “establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners” (as opposed to an integrated manner to counter crimes in general).

More on the issue at Debito.org here.  Let’s see what the NPA spin is next time.  Fascinatingly bad science.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


NPA says foreign crime groups increasingly targeting Japan
Kyodo News Friday 23rd July, 2010, Courtesy of JK and KG and many others


TOKYO — International criminal organizations are increasingly targeting Japan as members of such groups, the locations where they commit crimes and their victims have become more multinational, the National Police Agency said in its white paper released Friday.

While members of foreign crime groups have tended to stay in Japan for a short period of time to steal or engage in other criminal activities then flee overseas, such groups are now coordinating with crime syndicates in Japan and repeatedly committing crimes using existing ‘‘criminal infrastructure,’’ according to the annual paper.

In analyzing the globalization of crime, the document points to underground banks, groups specializing in arranging fake marriages and scrap yards in the suburbs as examples of such infrastructure.

Police inspected in June a total of more than 400 yards in Japan. One reason was to see whether they were being used as a base for global criminal activities. Some scrap yards were found to have been used to disassemble stolen cars and heavy machinery to export parts.

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 paper 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.

To counter the trend, the agency set up in February an office specializing in collecting and analyzing intelligence on crimes committed by foreigners.

It aims to establish a system in which investigators across the nation would be able to work in an integrated manner to counter crimes committed by foreigners.




Foreign criminals building up Japanese operations, threatening public order: NPA
(Mainichi Japan) July 23, 2010 Courtesy of MS
Globe-spanning foreign criminal organizations have secretly been building up their operations in Japan in recent years, according to a National Police Agency (NPA) white paper for fiscal 2010 submitted to the Cabinet on July 23.

According to a special “globalized crime” section of the report, the types of crimes perpetrated by foreigners in Japan are changing at the same time as criminal activity involving the movement of people money and the flow of information over borders is building — presenting what the agency emphasizes is “a threat to public order.”

The globalization of crime “could very well cause a tectonic shift in the public order of our nation,” the report declares. “From this point on, law enforcers are required to respond to the situation in an appropriate manner.”

Previously, crimes perpetrated by foreigners tended to be of the “hit and run” variety, committed during short-term stays in Japan and followed with the criminal fleeing the country. However, in recent years, cases of global foreign criminal organizations targeting Japan, and the formation of criminal groups in Japan made up of foreigners from many countries, have been conspicuous — a trend dubbed “the globalization of crime.”

As an example, the report cites a 2007 tear gas spray attack on a jewelry store clerk and theft of a 280 million yen tiara from the shop in Tokyo’s Ginza area by a Montenegrin group called the “Pink Panther” gang. It also details a 2006-2009 scam by a primarily Nigerian group that used fake credit cards to buy electronics from volume dealers, which they then sold to used electronics shops. Another example is a Pakistani, Cameroonian, Sri Lankan and Japanese group which stole heavy construction equipment in some 500 cases from 2002 to 2008, dismantled them and exported the parts.

There are also cases of foreigners involved in drug dealing, smuggling counterfeit goods, Internet-based computer hacking and money laundering, and some of them in connection with Japan’s own yakuza criminal organizations.

This year, the NPA is formulating a strategy to counter the globalized crime trend, and has set up a special “globalized crime countermeasures” unit. The agency is also strengthening cooperation and information exchanges with foreign public security agencies via diplomatic channels and Interpol. It is also building on extradition treaties for the smooth extradition of criminals.

警察白書:「グローバル化」脅威に 外国人犯罪に焦点

毎日新聞 2010年7月23日










Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel


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Hi Blog.  As an update to the whole Toyota and safety issues (with people blaming them on cultural differences), now we have news that Toyota is actually going to “review defect measures” and “beef up quality controls” using “outsiders” for “independent scrutiny”.

I myself am not all that optimistic.  Toyota is, as the article says below, essentially “keeping it in the family”.  After previously penalizing an American QC expert for his scrutiny, they’ve anointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts who are Japanese only. Yeah, that’ll learn ’em about “cultural differences”, all right. Especially since the article below once again quotes Toyota as still trying to “bridge a cultural gap”.  As if culture is any factor here in making unsafe cars safe.  Enforced cluelessness.

Meanwhile, a US federal grand jury is subpoenaing Toyota to make sure the documentation doesn’t also continue to “stay in the family”. That article and video below too. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Toyota to study quality panel’s recommendations
By YURI KAGEYAMA (AP) – July 13, 2010 Courtesy of MD


TOKYO — Toyota will start studying an assessment of the company’s quality control conducted by four outside experts to help beef up quality controls at the recall-battered automaker under a program that began in March to review defect measures.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it was tackling a number of improvements, including analyzing each accident and consumer complaint more thoroughly and boosting communication with journalists and other outsiders to be better at ensuring quality.

Toyota, the world’s top automaker, has seen its once sterling image for quality plunge since October after recalling more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world with defective gas pedals, faulty floor mats, software glitches and other problems.

Despite vowing to improve quality, the automaker has in some cases discouraged independent scrutiny. Electronic messages obtained by The Associated Press in the U.S. show Toyota was frustrated with Southern Illinois University Professor David Gilbert, whose research indicated that electronics might be to blame for unintended acceleration problems in Toyota cars.

The messages show Toyota not only tried to cast doubt on his findings but also made clear it was displeased. One Toyota employee questioned whether he should be employed by the university, which has long been a recipient of company donations.

In steps disclosed Monday as under way, Toyota said it is boosting collaboration between Toyota’s quality-related divisions and its legal division, beefing up training among employees to get a better grasp of customers’ views on vehicle troubles, and trying to obtain more input from third-party experts.

Toyota has added four academic and consumer experts, who were recommended by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, which is not directly affiliated with Toyota. They are Hiroshi Osada, professor of management at the Tokyo Institute of Technology; Noriaki Kano, honorary professor at Tokyo University of Science; Yasuo Kusakabe, chairman of the Automobile Journalist Association of Japan and Yoshiko Miura, general manager at the Japan Consumer’s Association.

“Especially pressing is the need for establishing guidelines to steer crisis-management activity by the president and other members of senior management,” the panel said in a summary of their report. “Also pressing is the need for bridging the culture gap between Japan and other nations in public relations activities.”


SEC and Federal Grand Jury Are Investigating Toyota
Toyota Subpoenaed Over Sudden Acceleration Cases
ABC NEWS Feb. 22, 2010

A federal grand jury in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

VIDEO:  Koua Fong Lee, in prison for vehicular homicide, says Camry’s brakes didn’t work
Article and video at http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/toyota-subpoena-sec-federal-grand-jury-toyota-acceleration-investigation/story?id=9910971

The grand jury in the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena on February 8 asking Toyota and its subsidiaries to “produce certain documents related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the braking system of the Prius.”

According to documents filed with the SEC, Toyota also received a voluntary request and a subpoena from the Los Angeles office of the SEC on February 19 asking for production of “certain documents including those related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the company’s disclosure policies and practices.”

Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan'” by Gaijin Handler Akira Yamada (of MOFA)


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Hi Blog.  As a Sunday Tangent, here we have an essay from a GOJ gaijin handler doing what I call “turning a frown upside down” (I know — I do it myself enough.)  He makes the case that a waning Japan is not so waning.  It’s emerging as a carrier of “cool”, as in culturally-based “soft power”.  Funny to see this screed appearing before a bunch of academics in an academic network, making all manner of hopeful assertions not grounded in much reliable evidence.  It’s just trying to tell us how much the world in fact still “loves” Japan.  Well, clearly the author does.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


From: H-Japan Editor
Date: July 7, 2010 12:44:35 PM MDT
Subject: H-JAPAN (E): AJISS-Commentary on “Cool Japan” by Akira Yamada
Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History
Courtesy of Peach

July 7, 2010

From: Japan Institute of International Affairs

Editor: Akio Watanabe
Editorial Board: Masashi Nishihara, Naoko Saiki, and Taizo Yakushiji
Online Publisher: Yoshiji Nogami

AJISS-Commentary No. 95
“A Growing Love for “Cool Japan”” by Akira Yamada

[Akira Yamada is Deputy Director General of International Cooperation Bureau & African Affairs Bureau, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Japan.The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and should not be attributed to The Association of Japanese Institutes of Strategic Studies.]


Japan may appear defensive on the economic and political fronts. Has the world lost interest in an aging Japan whose economy will fall to third largest? There is, however, a side of Japan that is the object of ever stronger and deeper affection around the globe: Japanese popular culture, particularly anime (Japanese animation) and manga.

It will be no exaggeration to say that the world’s interest in and admiration for Japanese pop culture has grown dramatically in the first decade of the 21st century, thanks partly to the global spread of the Internet. This fact, however, is not well known around the world, even in Japan. Not many of the readers of the AJISS-Commentary, either Japanese or non-Japanese, likely have a clear understanding of the whole picture.

Although the exact number is unknown, there may be well over 100 events annually organized around the world featuring Japanese pop culture, anime and manga in particular, and attracting more than 10,000 participants. If events with several hundred or thousand participants are included, the number would be countless. Events focusing on Japanese pop culture are growing continuously both in numbers and in size. The largest event of this kind, “Japan Expo” held annually in Paris since 2000, brought in a record 164,000 participants in 2009. It is said that Brazil had several events with more than 100,000 participants.

These events feature not only pop culture such as anime, manga and fashion, but almost all aspects of Japanese culture, including traditional culture. They are basically organized and attended by local people alone with no Japanese involvement. When asked, these young participants will happily tell you about their passion for and keen interest in the excellent manga works and unique fashion produced in Japan. They are devoted Japanophiles who express their wish to visit Japan and their passion to learn and disseminate the Japanese language and culture. Their interest in Japan goes far beyond the scope of pop culture. There is no doubt that the largest factor motivating foreigners to learn the Japanese language today is the appeal of Japanese anime and manga. It should also be added that there is an ever growing interest in Japanese girls’ fashion, which revolves around the keyword kawaii (cute).

Such keen interest in Japanese pop culture is being exhibited not just in developed or neighboring countries, in which we can assume people have easy access to relevant information. Young people expressing their love for Japanese anime and manga are growing in number in Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East as well as in the Mekong region, including Myanmar and Laos.

Why do Japanese anime and manga attract so many young people around the world? This is a difficult question, but one possible answer is their diversity and universality. Born out of long and fierce competition, the work of Japanese pop culture artists has acquired an appeal not only for children but also for full-grown adults.

The popularity of Japanese anime and manga goes far beyond what one might imagine. There was one occasion on which a Japanese expert was set aback when he gave a lecture in Italy. When he asked the audience whether they liked Japanese anime, a student from Rome responded in a matter-of-fact way, “Professor, we have grown up with Japanese anime!” In the world of the Internet, you can sense that people around the world are connected via their love and passion for Japanese pop culture. A country that moves and excites young people around the world with its continuous production of high-quality anime, manga and fashion – that is what Cool Japan is.

AJISS-Commentary is an occasional op-ed type publication of The Association of Japanese Institutes of Strategic Studies (AJISS) consisting of three leading Japanese think tanks: Institute for International Policy Studies (IIPS), The Japan Institute of International Affairs (JIIA), and Research Institute for Peace and Security (RIPS).



NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.


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Hi Blog. Here we have a good opinion piece in the NYT (the overseas paper the GOJ takes most seriously) from a Japanese (not a NJ, so there’s no possible excuse of a “cultural misunderstanding”) who looks suspicious to Japanese police simply because she is taller and darker than average. So she gets zapped for racial profiling (a word, as she acknowledges, is not in common currency in nihongo). Well, good thing she didn’t get arrested for looking “too foreign” and not having a Gaijin Card, which happened back in February 2006 (article enclosed below).

As I have said on numerous occasions, racial profiling by the NPA is a serious problem, as it will increasingly single out and multiethnic Japanese as well. I am waiting one day to get leaked a copy of the NPA police training manuals (not available to the public) which cover this sort of activity and scrutinize them for latent racist attitudes (we’ve already seen plenty of other racism in print by the Japanese police, see for example here, here, and here). But scrutiny is one thing the NPA consistently avoids. So this is what happens — and victims have to take it to outside media to get any attention. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Too Tall for Japan?
The New York Times, July 8, 2010, Courtesy lots of people


TOKYO — Racial profiling had never struck me as a personal issue. I am a Japanese woman living in Japan after all, where less than 2 percent of the population is foreign. And even among that sliver of a share, the majority is Asian. How could racial profiling exist if most everyone looks the same?

I was awakened from such naïveté a few years ago when I started getting pulled aside by police, apparently to see if I was an illegal immigrant. On three occasions, officers sidled up to me at busy train stations, flashing their badges and asking me where I was headed. When they concluded I was a Japanese national, they sent me on my way.

Earlier this year, two officers approached me as I was exiting Tokyo Station and asked to see an ID and the contents of my purse. I refused their repeated requests while demanding an explanation until one of the officers finally told me, “You are tall and dark-colored and look like a foreigner.” He then added, “Every day we catch four to five overstays this way,” referring to immigrants with expired visas.

I was stunned by the officer’s blatant profiling of me based on what I perceive as my only slightly unusual features: a bit taller than average height and a shade of a sun tan. But microscopic vision for sniffing out differences is a common trait among the Japanese who are often uncomfortable with dealings outside of their familiar zones.

The officers who approached me on suspicion of being an illegal immigrant were presumably acting on Japan’s Police Duties Execution Law. It states: “A police officer may stop and question any person who has reasonable ground to be suspected of having committed or being about to commit a crime.”

The Japanese law is broader than the controversial legislation in the U.S. state of Arizona that goes into effect this month, which allows police to confirm someone’s immigration status only after stopping the person on other grounds. “The same thing as in Arizona has been in place in Japan for a long time without much criticism,” says my cousin and lawyer Genichi Yamaguchi.

Most Japanese are unaware of these racially motivated checks. But even if they knew about them, it is questionable how much they would object. Profiling is a common practice here with casual exchanging of personal information. The details collected from a business card or queries such as asking where one attended university or what blood type one is serve as clues to allow people to predict how each party will behave.

As a single parent who has lived overseas and is blood type A, I am stereotyped as hard-nosed enough to have decided to go it alone, blithe from surviving dealings with all sorts of people and having the seriousness attributed in popular beliefs here to people of my blood group.

Such typecasting takes on racist overtones when applied to foreigners. “Chinese don’t know train manners,” I overheard a man say recently in response to a Chinese woman talking loudly on her cellphone in the compartment. On a bus tour of the Western city of Nara, several Japanese passengers complained that the Filipinos aboard who had trouble keeping up with the rushed sightseeing pace “don’t understand ‘dantai kodo,”’ or group behavior. When one of the Filipinos went to the restroom, a Japanese woman grumbled that she should have held back in deference to the group schedule. Such intolerance — when the government is on a major campaign to increase tourism to the country, and just this month eased visa application requirements for Chinese visitors.

There are even disturbing signs that Japanese increasingly don’t want to bother trying to understand the unfamiliar territory beyond their borders. Only one student from Japan entered Harvard University’s freshman class last year, bringing the total number of full-time Japanese undergraduates to five, compared to a total of 36 from China and 42 from South Korea.

A 2007 Web-based survey by the Nomura Research Institute revealed a growing reluctance to live overseas among younger Japanese. While 33 percent of men and 23.9 percent of women in their 60s and older said they would have some aversion to either themselves or their spouses going to work overseas, the share of people with that sentiment reached 42.9 percent and 38.9 percent respectively for people in their 20s.

The next time a police officer stops me, I plan to explain that suspecting me of a crime simply because I look foreign constitutes racial profiling. Only there is no term for the practice in the Japanese language.

Kumiko Makihara is a writer and translator living in Tokyo.


This has happened before, only worse for the victim:

<誤認逮捕>旅券不携帯で逮捕の女性、実は日本人 埼玉

( 2006年02月28日 00時37分 )
毎日新聞社 Courtesy of Kaoru

埼玉県警川口署は27日、入管法違反容疑(旅券不携帯)で逮捕した女性(28)が実は同県川口市在住の日本人だったと分かり、釈放したと発表し た。女性が言葉を発せず、容姿などから外国人と判断したという。

同署によると、25日午後7時40分ごろ、川口市内の路上を歩いていた女性にパトロール中の署員3人が職務質問。署員は女性の容姿が東南アジア出 身者に似ており、名前や国籍を尋ねたところ、小さな声で「日本人です」と言ったきり何も話さなくなったため、署に任意同行した。女性は署でも日本語の質問 に対し無言を通したため、同署は「外国人」と判断。パスポートの不所持を確かめて同容疑で逮捕した。

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


Police erroneously arrest ‘Asian-looking’ Japanese woman on immigration law breach

Mainichi Shinbun Tuesday, February 28, 2006 at 07:01 EST

SAITAMA — The Saitama prefectural police on Monday arrested a Japanese woman on suspicion of violating the immigration law but later released her after discovering that she was a Japanese national, police officials said.

The police had judged that the unemployed woman, 28, was not Japanese because she looked like a foreigner of Asian descent and that she carried an envelope written in Portuguese, the officials said. The woman was questioned by a policeman around 7:40 p.m. on Saturday in Kawaguchi. She told the officer that she was Japanese, but stopped answering further questions, the officials said. The woman’s family said she is not good at speaking with strangers.


Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them


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The Japan Times, Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Japan’s hostile hosteling industry
Draft eleven with links to sources and alternate conclusion

Online version at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

As you may know, Japan has no national civil or criminal legislation outlawing and punishing racial discrimination, meaning businesses with “Japanese only” signs aren’t doing anything illegal.

Problem is, I’m not sure it would matter if such a law existed.

To illustrate, consider one business sector that — technically — cannot exclude customers by race or nationality: hotels. Article 5 of Japan’s Hotel Management Law (ryokan gyoho, or HML) says that licensed accommodations cannot refuse service unless 1) rooms are full, 2) there is a threat of contagious disease, or 3) there is a issue of “public morals” (as in shooting porno movies there, etc.).


However, as discussed here last week (“No need to know the law, but you must obey it,” Zeit Gist, June 29), the law in Japan can be a mere technicality.

The HML is frequently ignored. Quick online searches (try Rakuten or Jalan) soon uncover hotels either outright refusing non-Japanese (NJ) lodgers, or, more circumspectly, those that say, “We don’t take reservations from NJ without addresses in Japan” (which is still unlawful).

SOURCE:  Jalan:  (recently amended to say “NJ without domestic contact addresses” refused)

Rakuten:  (now amended to say “no bookings from overseas”)

Still excluding:  http://travel.rakuten.co.jp/HOTEL/18497/18497_std.html

When I call these hotels and ask why they feel the need to exclude (it’s my hobby), their justifications range from the unprofessional to the cowardly.

Most claim they can’t provide sufficient service in English (as if that’s all that NJ can speak), so naturally it follows that they won’t provide NJ with any service at all. Or they say they have no Western-style beds (I wonder if they worry about people using chopsticks too?).

More clever managers claim “safety” (the trump card in Japanese culture), as in: “In case of an emergency, how can we communicate with NJ effectively to get them out of a burning building?” (When I ask how they would deal with blind or deaf Japanese customers, they become markedly less clever.)

The nasty managers hiss that NJ steal hotel goods or cause trouble for other guests, thus making it a crime issue. (After all, Japanese guests never get drunk and rowdy, or “permanently borrow” hotel amenities themselves, right?)

This attitude in Japanese hotels is surprisingly widespread. According to a 2008 government survey, 27 percent of them said they didn’t want any NJ customers at all.


Some might claim this is no big deal. After all, you could go someplace else, and why stay at a place that doesn’t want you there anyway? At least one columnist might claim that culturally insensitive NJ deserve to be excluded because some of them have been bad guests.

Fortunately, these apologist fringe opinions do limited damage. However, when a government agency allows — even promotes — the systematic exclusion of NJ clients, we have a real problem with the rule of law in Japan.

Consider the curious case of the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Association ( www.tif.ne.jp ). In September 2007, I was notified that their English site was offering member hotels two preset options for “acceptance of foreigners” and “admittance of foreigners” (whatever that difference may be). Of the 142 hotels then listed, 35 chose not to accept or admit NJ customers.

SOURCE: https://www.debito.org/?p=1941

I contacted FPTA and asked about the unlawfulness. A month later their reply was they had advised all 35 hotels that they really, really oughta stop that — although not all of them would. For its part, FPTA said it would remove the site’s “confusing” preset options, but it could not force hotels to repeal their exclusionary rules — FPTA is not a law enforcement agency, y’know. I asked if FPTA would at least delist those hotels, and got the standard “we’ll take it under advisement.”

Case closed. Or so I thought. I was doing some followup research last December and discovered that even after two years, FPTA still had the option to exclude on their Japanese Web site. And now nine times more hotels — 318 — were advertised as refusing NJ (gaikokujin no ukeire: fuka).

SOURCE: https://www.debito.org/?p=5619

I put the issue up on Debito.org, and several concerned readers immediately contacted FPTA to advise them their wording was offensive and unlawful. Within hours, FPTA amended it to “no foreign language service available” (gaikokugo taio: fuka).

This sounds like progress, but the mystery remains: Why didn’t FPTA come up with this wording in Japanese on its own?

Moreover, unlike the Japanese site, FPTA’s English site had stopped advertising that NJ were being refused at all. So instead of fixing the problem, FPTA made it invisible for NJ who can’t read Japanese.

Furthermore, when researching this article last month, I discovered FPTA had revamped its site to make it more multilingual (with Korean and two Chinese dialects, as well as English). However, the multilingual site buttons for searching accommodations led to dead links (the Japanese links, however, worked just fine).

On May 24, a Mr. Azuma, head of FPTA’s Tourism Department, told me it was taking a while to reword things properly. I asked if the past two years plus six months was insufficient. Miraculously, in time for this article, the foreign-language links are now fixed, and no more excluders can be found on the site.

However, the underlying problem has still not been fixed. Another NJ recently alerted me to the fact that the only hotel in Futaba town, Fukushima Prefecture, refused him entry on May 2. He had made the mistake of going up alone to the front desk and asking in Japanese if he could have a room. Management claimed none were available.

Suspicious, he walked outside and had his Japanese wife phone the hotel from the parking lot. Presto! A twin room was procured. She walked in, got the key, and all was sparkly.

When I phoned the hotel myself to confirm this story, the manager claimed that a room had just happened to open up right after my friend left. Amazing what coincidences happen, especially when this hotel — also featured on the FPTA Web site — advertises that they “can’t offer services in foreign languages” (or, it seems, even if a foreigner speaks a nonforeign language).

SOURCES: here and here

Let’s connect some dots: We have public policies working at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism wants more NJ to visit and pump money into our economy, with Japan relaxing visa requirements for mainland Chinese tourists as of July 1. Yet the Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies just want to keep policing NJ, and that includes deputizing hotels. This is why since 2005 they’ve been demanding hotels photocopy all NJ passports at check-in — again, unlawful (Zeit Gists, Mar. 8 and Oct. 18, 2005).

Of course, this assumes that anyone pays attention to the laws at all.

Japan’s lack of legal support for hapless NJ tourists (not to mention residents) — who face unfettered exclusionism precisely where the HML says they shouldn’t — are thus finding local government bodies conspiring against them.

SOURCES: https://www.debito.org/japantimes030805.html

Brains cooked yet? Now get a load of this:

As of June 1, the Toyoko Inn chain, already saddled with a history of poor treatment of NJ and handicapped customers, opened up a “Chinese only” hotel in Sapporo. When I called there to confirm, the cheery clerk said yes, only Chinese could stay there. Other NJ — and even Japanese — would be refused reservations!

I asked if this wasn’t of questionable legality. She laughed and said, “It probably is.” But she wasn’t calling it out. Nor was anyone else. Several articles appeared in the Japanese media about this “exclusively Chinese hotel,” and none of them raised any qualms about the legal precedents being set.

SOURCES:  Toyoko’s history: https://www.debito.org/olafongaijincarding.html
and https://www.debito.org/?p=797
and http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060128a1.html
Sapporo Chinese Only: https://www.debito.org/?p=6864

So what’s next? More hotels segregated by nationality? Separate floors within hotels reserved for Chinese, Japanese and garden-variety gaijin? What happens to guests with international marriages and multiethnic families? Are we witnessing the Balkanization of Japan’s hosteling industry?


Folks, it’s not difficult to resolve this situation. Follow the rule of law. You find a hotel violating the HML, you suspend its operating license until they stop, like the Kumamoto prefectural government did in 2004 to a hotel excluding former Hansen’s disease patients.


Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected. It sucks to be NJ: The laws, such as they are, don’t apply to you anyway — if they are applied at all. Yokoso Japan.


Oh wait — the ex-Hansen’s patients were Japanese, so they deserve to have their legal rights protected.

Sucks to be NJ: Let NJ in our orderly society, and they cause so much confusion that people don’t even feel the need to obey the law anymore. Now that even Japanese are being excluded, no doubt NJ will be blamed for disrupting the “wa” once again. Yōkoso Japan.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to community@japantimes.co.jp

Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”


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Hi Blog. First the articles, then my comments:


27 foreign trainees died in Japan in FY 2009
Japan Today/Kyodo News Tuesday 06th July 2010, 06:44 AM JST, Courtesy of Yokohama John


TOKYO Twenty-seven foreign nationals who came to Japan for employment under a government-authorized training program died in fiscal 2009, the second worst figure on record, government officials said Monday. Most of the workers who died in the year that ended in March were in their 20s to 30s, officials of the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry said.

Of the 27, nine died of brain or heart diseases, four died while working, three died by suicide, three died in bicycle accidents and the remainder died from unknown causes, the officials said.

By country, 21 came from China, three from Vietnam, two from the Philippines and one from Indonesia, they said.

The number was the second largest, following the 35 foreign nationals who died in fiscal 2008. This could trigger moves toward revising the government program, first launched in 1993, as a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who is an expert on the issue, said, ‘‘Many trainees who died of brain or heart diseases could have actually died from overwork, while those who killed themselves could have committed suicide induced by overwork.’’

COMMENT: Taste the ironies in this article. First, how in 2009, the death of 27 “Trainees” (i.e. people brought over by the GOJ who as people allegedly “in occupational training” don’t qualify as “workers” (roudousha) entitled to labor law protections) is only the SECOND worst figure on record. Second, how we have close to a third (as in eight NJ) of the total dying of “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.) Third, how about the stunning ignorance of the sentence, “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. If the Kyodo reporter had bothered to do research of his media databases, he’d realize it’s hardly “recent” at all. And it’s not being fixed, despite official condemnation in 2006 of the visa regime as “a swindle” and death after death (at a rate two to three per month) racking up. Karoushi was a big media event way back when when Japanese were dying of it. Less so it seems when NJ are croaking from it.

Now for the second article (excerpt):


‘Karoshi’ claims first foreign trainee
The Japan Times, Saturday, July 3, 2010, Courtesy of JK

MITO, Ibaraki Pref. (Kyodo) A labor office in Ibaraki Prefecture will acknowledge that a Chinese national working as an intern at a local firm under a government-authorized training program died from overwork in 2008, marking the first foreign trainee “karoshi” death from overwork, sources said Friday.

The male trainee, Jiang Xiaodong, had worked since 2005 at Fuji Denka Kogyo, a metal processing firm in the city of Itako, Ibaraki Prefecture, but died of cardiac arrest in June 2008 in company housing at age 31.

He worked more than 100 hours overtime in his last month, the Kashima labor standards inspection office said.

Jiang’s relatives are separately claiming he worked more than 150 hours overtime in his second year and after. However, he was only given two days off in a month, they claimed.

According to a group of lawyers trying to raise the issue of the trainee program’s abuse by many employers as a source of cheap labor, this will be the first intern karoshi. The lawyers also accuse the government of having lax oversight of trainee working conditions.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100703a4.html

COMMENT CONTINUED: So it only took about two years for “a labor office” to admit that a NJ “trainee” had been worked to death, given the hours he worked that were a part of the record? Gee whiz, what Sherlocking! Lax oversight indeed. How many more people have to die before this exploitative and even deadly system is done away with? Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”


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Hi Blog.  Get a load of this Nikkei Business cover (courtesy of MS).  Nothing like a bit of Photoshop to add a Chinese-style torii (and a crappy shadow against the sun) in the middle of Ginza to create alarm and sell papers:  “Your new boss is Chinese”, reads the headline, coining the word “Chapan”.

Also enjoy the typical invective that invades Japanese business rhetoric:  Rakuten’s “enemy” is America’s Amazon Inc and China’s Ali Baba.  As Chalmers Johnson wrote back in 1980 (article here for those who can access it), Japanese companies don’t just enter a market, they “hit the beaches” (jouriku suru).  So let’s gird the troops for battle, especially now that we’re on a defensive posture.  I don’t know which is worse — the sh*t-eating grins and claims of superiority (when Japan was a rising economy during the Bubble Economy), or the sore-loser crybaby language one sees nowadays, even though Japan can’t clean up its act (debtwise, for example), or accept that the current way of doing business may not be sustainable.  Better to resort to aggressive invective against the outsider, I guess.  Those are my thoughts on a crabby morning after watching too much early-morning World Cup.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police


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Hi Blog.  Sapporo was given a thrill yesterday with a heist at one of it’s biggest department stores, Marui Imai.  Somebody went along an outdoor enclosed corridor connecting two buildings over a road, smashed a window on the building, lifted nearly a million bucks of expensive jewels and watches, then rappelled down the building to the street below for a clean getaway.  Think Pink Panther comes to Japan’s largest small town.

The media called it a “daring” robbery.  But Hokkaido Police, with no other evidence, reportedly said it was so daring it might have been foreigners!  I guess Japanese are too docile and uningenious to be daring.  I think they forgot the World Cup in Sapporo ended in 2002, so it’s a bit odd to keep blaming crime on them.  But again, NJ are a soft and convenient target for blame.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


TBS News June 25, 2010, courtesy of CJ





Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration


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Hi Blog.  This was brought up as a blog comment a few days ago, but let’s talk about it as its own blog entry.  The Asahi did an extensive poll on what people see as Japan’s future in relative economic decline.  Results indicate that people are distressed about China overtaking Japan, but they apparently aren’t ready to change much to change that.  Most germane to Debito.org is the question:

“On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.”


賛成      26 反対       65

Meaning that people polled apparently would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigrants.

Of course, no immigrant without citizenship was polled (if even then), so ah well.

That said, we had the good point, raised within the blog comments on this the other day, that it just might be better for organic acceptance of immigrants over time than to bring in huge numbers and force them on the populace (although I don’t see events over this past decade helping matters much, including the unfettered hate speech towards NJ during the PR Suffrage debates, political leaders publicly doubting the “true Japaneseness” of naturalized Japanese or Japanese with NJ roots, and other elements of officialdom blaming NJ for social problems such as crime, terrorism, and infectious diseases).

Then again, a friend of mine also raised an even more pertinent point:  “What’s the point of asking that question at all?  We still haven’t had a good debate on immigration and why Japan needs it.  Nobody’s explained the merits of immigration to the Japanese public all that well.  [In fact, discussion of it is even taboo.].  So no wonder people are negatively predisposed.  Why change things when we don’t understand why?”

Touche.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Poll: 95% fear for Japan’s future
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN 2010/06/12, courtesy of John in Yokohama


With China poised to replace Japan as the world’s No. 2 economy, Japanese are increasingly taking a more critical look at their country, once referred to as a nation of “economic animals” and known as Japan Inc.

According to an Asahi Shimbun survey, about 95 percent of Japanese are worried about Japan’s future, while 62 percent say the nation is being rapidly overtaken by other countries.

And while acknowledging that Japan’s economy–once the envy of much of the world–may no longer be a main source of pride, more than half of the respondents said Japan does not need to strive to become a major global power.

According to the survey, 75 percent of Japanese have pride in their country, but only 34 percent said they had pride in Japan’s economy.

Sixty-five percent of the respondents said the economy was not a source of pride.

For the multiple-choice question on what aspects of Japan they are proud of, 94 percent cited the nation’s technological prowess, while 92 percent pointed to its traditional culture.

Ninety percent of respondents in their 20s and 80 percent of those in their 30s said they felt pride in Japan’s “soft power,” or edge in creating anime and computer games.

Toshiki Sato, a University of Tokyo professor of sociology, said the survey results reflect a society that has lost its identity.

“If a nation has technological prowess, it would translate into economic strength. The fact that people express pride in technology (while holding a low evaluation of the economy) resembles the grumblings of a manager of an ailing company. It’s a reflection of a lack of confidence,” Sato said.

Questionnaires were sent to 3,000 randomly chosen eligible voters nationwide in late April, and 2,347 valid responses were received by the May 25 deadline.

Asked about their future vision for Japan, 51 percent said they hope to see a society that promotes economic wealth through hard work, while 43 percent said Japanese society should be one that achieves a relatively comfortable level of wealth without working too hard.

Seventy-three percent said they preferred a nation that is “not so affluent but has a smaller income disparity,” against 17 percent who chose “an affluent society but with a large disparity.”

Fifty-eight percent favored a large government offering full administrative services, such as social security, even at the cost of higher taxes, while 32 percent preferred a small government.

As for Japan’s role in the world, 39 percent said Japan should be a major player with more clout and obligations, while 55 percent said they did not think Japan should be a global power.

On accepting immigrants to maintain economic vitality, only 26 percent supported such a move, while 65 percent opposed.

Along with 78 percent of respondents who said environmental protection should be prioritized even at the cost of stunting economic growth, the figures suggest that Japanese are clearly breaking away from the mind-set of their country being an economic giant.

Sato said the survey showed that Japanese people were taking a hard, cool-headed look at their nation.

“Since the Meiji Restoration (of the 19th century), Japanese have tended to bring about the worst consequences by developing unfounded confidence and pride, as with the defeat in World War II, rapid economic growth and massive pollution, and the economic bubble,” Sato said.

“You don’t want to lose too much confidence, but the ability to be humble is a virtue. The survey results should be seen in a positive light,” he said.


「日本は自信を失っている」74% 朝日新聞世論調査







Not reported in the Japanese but reported in the English version was this question:


賛成      26 反対       65



(数字は%。小数点以下は四捨五入。質問文と回答は一部省略。◆は全員への質問。◇は枝分かれ質問で該当する回答者の中での比率。< >内の数字は全体に対する比率。特に断りがない限り、回答は選択肢から一つ選ぶ方式。調査期間は鳩山内閣の時期にあたる)

「日本は自信を失っている」74% 朝日新聞世論調査



大いに満足している 2

ある程度満足している 46

あまり満足していない 38

まったく満足していない 13


大いに不安を感じている 50

ある程度不安を感じている 45

あまり不安を感じていない 4

まったく不安を感じていない 0


誇りをもっている 75

誇りをもっていない 19


(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6)

誇れることだ   34 94 33 92 68 67

そうは思わない  65 6 66 5 29 29


快調に登っている 1

急な坂を懸命に登っている 15

息が切れて、後続の人に追い抜かれていく 62

足を痛めて先に進めない 18


自信を失っている 74 そうは思わない 22


経済の行き詰まり 36<26>

政治の停滞 49<36>

国の財政の悪化 44<33>

国際的地位の低下 17<13>

少子高齢化 22<16>

伝統的価値観の衰退 6<5>


底力がある   56 そうは思わない  28


重大な問題だ  50 そうは思わない  46


(1) (2) (3) (4) (5) (6) (7)

当てはまる  46 45 45 77 20 35 26

当てはまらない50 51 52 20 76 61 70




精神的に豊かな生活を送れている 23

そうは思わない 73


報われる社会だ 25

報われない社会だ 69


仕事を優先した方がよい 36

個人の生活を優先した方がよい 48


一生懸命がんばって、豊かさを向上 51



仕組みを大幅に改革することが必要 57

いまの制度を維持しながら改良 40


豊かだが格差が大きい国 17

豊かさはそれほどないが格差が小さい国 73


経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるとしても、環境への配慮を優先した社会を目指すべきだ 78

経済成長を妨げるおそれがあるなら、環境への配慮はほどほどでよい 15


好ましい    14 好ましくない   77


期待する    78 期待しない    17


賛成      26 反対       65


大きな政府   58 小さな政府    32


関係を深める方がよい 52

距離をおく方がよい 34


関係を深める方がよい 48

距離をおく方がよい 42


思う      12 思わない     85


大国であるのがよい 39

大国である必要はない 55


アメリカの軍事力に頼るべきだ 38

独自の防衛体制を作り上げるべきだ 48


期待する    45 期待しない    51

〈調査方法〉 全国の有権者から3千人を選び、郵送法で実施した。



Saturday Tangent: Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.


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Hi Blog.  As a Saturday tangent, let me take up an interesting case of how a different minority that feels discriminated against in Japan gets surveyed and reported upon — positively, because they happen to be Japanese.

Consider this:


Japan Times, Friday, June 11, 2010
Discrimination felt by 70% of disabled: report
Kyodo News, Courtesy of RC

Nearly seven out of every 10 people with disabilities said they have faced discrimination or biased treatment, an annual government report showed Friday.

The fiscal 2010 white paper on measures for disabled people, released by the Cabinet Office, says 68.0 percent of those surveyed said they have experienced discrimination or biased treatment because of their disabilities.

The office surveyed 2,178 people with disabilities between December 2009 and January 2010.

The report also says 11.4 percent of the respondents always feel they are discriminated against and 50.9 percent feel discrimination occurs sometimes.

The findings indicate many disabled people continue to be discriminated against at a time when Japan is considering ratifying the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, officials said…

Rest of the article at:


COMMENT:  Okay, I’m sure many if not most people with disabilities feel disadvantaged and discriminated against in Japan.  Fine.  This is not to minimize that.

However, look at how much positive spin they are given both in terms of survey and media coverage.

For example, look at the last sentence of the Kyodo excerpt above:

“The findings indicate many disabled people continue to be discriminated against at a time when Japan is considering ratifying the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, officials said…”

No, the findings indicate many disabled people FEEL they continue to be discriminated against.  Not that this indicates something factual, that they ARE.  That is an important semantic distinction, but “officials” are citing this as a reason to ratify a treaty to protect them.

Fine.  I’m all for it.  But they’d never do that for NJ.  The GOJ won’t even survey NJ in specific, or phrase the questions as if they are being discriminated against at all.  Citing an article I wrote about two and a half years ago:


Japan Times Community Page October 23, 2007

Human rights survey stinks
Government effort riddled with bias, bad science

… [Consider] how the remaining questions are phrased against foreigners.

For example, Q5 asked, “Which of the following human rights issues are you concerned about?”

Discrimination against “foreigners” came in 14th at 12.5%, behind “handicapped”, “elderly”, “children”, “Internet abuse victims”, “North Korean kidnap victims”, “women”, “crime victims”, “HIV sufferers”, “leprosy victims”, “homeless”, “Burakumin”, “ex-convicts”, and “human trafficking”.

Worthy causes in themselves, of course.  But foreigners enjoying such low regard is unsurprising.  The next series of questions deliberately diminish their stature in society and their right to equal treatment.

Q6 through Q19 asked for comment about “human rights problems”.  Each question covered specific sectors of society, with conveniently leading options to choose from:

Women (choices of “human rights violations” included porno and scantily-clad women in advertising), children (including adults being overopinionated about their children’s activities), elderly (including lack of respect for their opinions), handicapped (including being stared at), Burakumin, HIV patients, crime victims, Internet victims, homeless, homosexuals, and Ainu.

Nice for the government to acknowledge (even overdo) several examples of discrimination.   But in its two questions about discrimination against foreigners, no conveniently leading options are provided.

Instead, Q12 says, “It is said [sic] that foreigners living in Japan face discrimination in their daily lives”.  Then asks if they deserve the same rights as Japanese.

Er… is there doubt about the existence of discrimination against foreigners in Japan?  Even our courts have officially acknowledged it in several lawsuits–the Ana Bortz and the Otaru Onsens cases being but two famous examples.

And no similar question of doubt or qualification is raised towards any other group.

Q13 even kindly proffers possible justifications for foreigners’ “disadvantageous treatment”.  Out of six choices, half say “nothing can be done” to improve things because a) “foreigners have trouble getting used to Japanese situations”, b) “differences in customs, culture, and economic standing” (which got the most votes, 33.7%).  And–better sit down for this one–the tautological c) “because they are foreigners, they get disadvantageous treatment”.

When a human rights survey from even the highest levels of government allows for the possibility of human rights being optional (or worse yet, justifiably deniable based on nationality), we have a deep and profound problem.

Full article at https://www.debito.org/japantimes102307.html


In sum, this to me is another example of the GOJ manufacturing consent to sway the public to accept a policy position.  Fortunately, it’s for protecting people, not hurting them.  But wouldn’t it be nice if the GOJ had somehow stepped in during all the nasty debates re NJ PR suffrage and curbed the hate speech, or even ask NJ sometime in a Cabinet Survey if THEY feel discriminated against?  After all, we’ve already signed a Convention designed to protect them — nearly fifteen years ago in 1996, so there should be no disinclination.  But no, NJ don’t deserve the same attention.  After all, they aren’t Japanese.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it


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Hi Blog.  The new Kan Cabinet started out yesterday, and it would of course be remiss of me to not mention that one of the Cabinet members, Renho, has become the first multicultural multiethnic Dietmember to serve in the highest echelons of elected political power in Japan.  Congratulations!

She is, however, a constant target of criticism by the Far Right in Japan, who accuse her of not being a real Japanese (she is of Japanese-Taiwanese extraction, who chose Japanese citizenship).  Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo most notably.  He continued his invective against her on May 7 from a soundtruck, and it made the next day’s Tokyo Sports Shinbun.  Courtesy of Dave Spector.

It goes without saying that this is a basically a rant about a Cabinet member by a former Cabinet member who will never be a Cabinet member again, an aging ideological dinosaur raging against tide and evolution.  Sucks to be a bigot and in a position of perpetual weakness as well, I guess.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson


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Hi Blog.  Here we have a part of Osaka Chuo-ku making public announcements protecting their municipality against “illegal foreign overstayers” and “illegal workers”.  Using invective like “furyou gaikokujin haijo” (exclude bad foreigners), it’s rendered on the same level as the regular neighborhood clarion calls for “bouryokudan haijo” (exclude the yakuza).  I see.  Foreigners who overstay their visa and who get employed (sometimes at the behest and the advantage of the Japanese employer) are on the same level as organized crime?  And you can pick out Yakuza just as easily as NJ on sight, right?

This campaign has been going on for years (since Heisei 17, five years ago), but the Yomiuri now reports efforts to really get the public involved by tapping an enka singer to promote the campaign.  How nice.  But it certainly seems an odd problem to broadcast on the street like this since 1) I don’t see the same targeting happening to Japanese employers who give these “bad foreigners” their jobs, and 2) numbers of illegal overstays caught have reportedly gone down by half since a decade ago.

Never mind.  We have budgets to spend, and disenfranchised people to pick on.  Nice touch to see not only sponsorship from the local International Communication Association (how interculturally sensitive!), but also “America Mura no Kai”, whatever that is.  Yet another example of state-sanctioned attempts to spread xenophobia and lower the image of NJ — this time by gangsterizing them.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


June 3, 2010, MB writes:

Hi Debito, First of all let me say that your efforts are really appreciated and I really think that you help many people !!

By the way, I just found this article:

which is connected to the http://www.fuckedgaijin.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25068

Every now and again, local districts around the country will appoint an honorary chief of police for the day who will usually attracts media coverage for some regular campaign. Minami in Osaka recently chose enka singer Reiko Kano to go out and raise awareness among local residents. You must be wondering what issue was she given to promote Perhaps bicycle parking or warnings about ATM bank fraud? Osaka sees a lot of purse-snatching so maybe she was passing out fliers about that. Actually, it appears the Minami police decided to use the singer to put people on the alert for illegal immigrants. The fliers, put together by police and a local residents group, read 「Stopザ・不法滞在」 (“Look out for illegals”). Police say they caught 150 last year. That’s down 50% from 10 years ago but there are concerns that fake passports and fake gaijin cards are getting harder to spot.

I just thought that maybe it could be of interest for the blog. I must admit that this movement to “clean” Minami in Osaka is not all that bad BUT I especially didn’t like this:

7) 不良外国人の排除
8) 暴力団の排除

Maybe I’m over-sensitive but using 排除 with 人 it doesn’t sound too good…..plus it’s just above the Yakuza….comparing a person without a visa to a gangster is not very nice.

All in all it seems that the campaign aims also to promote Osaka (and Minami) as a touristic spot thus they aim at “cleaning” the city and give a nice image to the “foreign tourists”…


Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban


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Hi Blog. Here’s an excerpt of a satirical piece that appeared in the Japan Times Community Page earlier this week. On the Gunma-ken Isesaki City Bureaucrat Beard Ban. Thought it very funny. Especially when it brings up the nationality of my own beard! Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Tuesday, June 1, 2010
Gunma city does battle with beards
Local government’s hairy-chin ban sets example for nation


I would like to draw readers’ attention to the outstanding work of the municipal government of Isesaki, Gunma Prefecture. After receiving complaints that citizens find bearded men unpleasant, Isesaki — just as all levels of Japanese government often do — took decisive action to address an important public concern: The city announced a ban on beards for municipal workers.

Isesaki deserves our thanks for recognizing that allowing beards is the first step along a slippery slope. If we let government workers get away with improper grooming, the next thing you know they will start being creative and ask inappropriate questions like, “If we are actually trying to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, maybe we shouldn’t make expressways toll-free?” or, “Why don’t we budget more to ease the national shortage of child-care facilities instead of giving parents a per-child payout every month?”…

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has been quick to point to surveys that show government workers with beards are more likely to be supporters of voting rights for non-Japanese residents than clean-shaven employees. Excessive facial hair could even be used to mask an individual’s foreign roots, meaning that many of the hirsute could be naturalized citizens or children of naturalized citizens…

A legal defense committee led by human-rights advocate Debito Arudou (of course he has a beard) and law professor Colin P. A. Jones is looking into whether Isesaki used off-budget secret funds to operate a barbershop in the basement of City Hall and provided free haircuts and shaves to public employees. Arudou reportedly tried to enter the barbershop but was refused access because his beard didn’t look Japanese, even though he insisted that his beard did, in fact, become Japanese several years ago.

Professor Jones has apparently filed a freedom of information request for documents detailing whether, and how much of, taxpayers’ money was used for the secret project. In response, the city said that no such documents could be found, no such barbershop exists, and furthermore it would be a violation of the privacy of the barber to say anything more…

Rest of the article at

Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)


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Hi Blog.  The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has just started asking for opinions from the public regarding Japan’s ascension to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (which provides guidelines for dealing with cases of children being taken across borders without the consent of both parents, as well as establishing custody and visitation; all past Debito.org articles on the issue here.).

Sounds good until you consider the contexts.  We’ve already had a lot of Japanese media portraying the Japanese side of an international marriage as victims, fleeing an abusive NJ.  Even the odd crackpot lawyer gets airtime saying that signing the Hague will only empower the wrong side of the divorce (i.e. the allegedly violent and-by-the-way foreign side), justifying Japan keeping its status as a safe haven.  Even the Kyodo article below shies away from calling this activity “abduction” by adding “so-called” inverted quotes (good thing the Convention says it plainly).

But now we have the MOFA officially asking for public opinions from the goldfish bowl.  Despite the issue being one of international marriage and abduction, the survey is in Japanese only.  Fine for those NJ who can read and comment in the language.  But it still gives an undeniable advantage to the GOJ basically hearing only the “Japanese side” of the divorce.  Let’s at least have it in English as well, shall we?

Kyodo article below, along with the text of the survey in Japanese and unofficial English translation.  Is it just me, or do the questions feel just a tad leading, asking you to give reasons why Japan shouldn’t sign?  In any case, I find it hard to imagine an aggrieved J parent holding all the aces (not to mention the kids) saying, “Sure, sign the Hague, eliminate our safe haven and take away my power of custody and revenge.”  That’s why we need both sides of the story, with I don’t believe this survey is earnestly trying to get.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan conducts online survey on parental child abductions
Kyodo News/Japan Today Wednesday 26th May, 06:29 AM JST


TOKYO — Japan began Tuesday soliciting views via the Internet on the possibility of the country ratifying an international convention to deal with problems that arise when failed international marriages result in children wrongfully being taken to Japan by one parent.

The online survey by the Foreign Ministry asks people who have been involved in the so-called parental ‘‘abductions’’ to Japan of children of failed marriages what they think about Japan’s accession to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

Complaints are growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child.

The convention provides a procedure for the prompt return of such ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights.

Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has suggested that he is considering positively Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention and ratifying it during the next year’s ordinary Diet session.

Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said at a regular news conference Tuesday that the government will examine opinions collected through the online survey in studying the possibility of joining the convention. The questionnaire will be posted on the website of the Foreign Ministry and its 121 diplomatic missions abroad, he said.

At present, 82 countries are parties to the Hague Convention. Of the Group of Eight major powers, Japan and Russia have yet to ratify the treaty.



Courtesy http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/files/ko_haag.doc


【問1】 国境を越えた子供の移動に関する問題の当事者となり、以下のような経験をしたことはありますか。なお、回答に当たり、個人名などは挙げていただく必要はありません。

●国境を越える形で子供を連れ去られたり、やむなく子供と一緒に移動せざるを得なかったこと (その事情も含めて教えてください。) (回答)

●外国で裁判をして、裁判所の命令等により国境を越える移動に制限が加えられたこと (回答)

●差し支えなければ、以下の事項についても教えてください。 -子供の年齢: -父母の別: -子供に対する親権の有無: -関係ある国の名前:

【問2】 ハーグ条約の存在やその内容をご存知でしたか。 (回答)

【問3】 これまで我が国がハーグ条約を締結していないことについてどのようなご意見をお持ちですか。 (回答)

【問4】 日本がハーグ条約を締結することになれば、ご自身又は類似の境遇に置かれている方々にどのような利益・不利益があると思いますか。 (回答)

【問5】 その他ハーグ条約や国際的な子の連れ去り問題についてご意見があれば、お書きください。 (回答)

お名前(       )

ご連絡先(      )


(1)差し支えない (2)希望しない





Question 1:  Have you ever had an experience like the ones below regarding the problem of children being moved across borders? You do not have to reveal anyone’s names in your answers:

— There was a child abducted across an international border / you had no choice but to move with your children (please give details):
— You had a court trial in a foreign country and your border movements were restricted by a court order. (Response space)

— If convenient, please tell us about the following conditions:  Age of the child: — Whether you are the mother or the father — Whether you had custody of the children / The name of the relevant country (Response space)

Question 2: Did you know the existence and the content of the Hague Convention? (Response space)
Question 3: Do you have an opinion about Japan not becoming a party to the Hague Convention so far? (Response space)
Question 4: If Japan were to sign the Hague Convention, you think there would be any advantages or disadvantages given to people in similar circumstances, or yourself? (Response space)
Question 5: If you have any comments about the issues – child abduction and the Hague Convention and other international issues, please state them below: (Response space)


Contact details

There may be cases where we need to contact you to receive more details on your case.  Would contacting you be possible? (Yes/No)

Thank you for your cooperation.


David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective


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Hi Blog.  The Japan Times Community Page put out an interview with an ultranationalist, Sakurai Makoto, who first came to my attention during his push to send Calderon Noriko “home” with her visa-overstaying parents last year.  He strikes me as one of those shy guys who compensates with a flamboyant public image.  Pity he’s using that image to promote ignorance and bigotry.  Excerpt follows focusing on the interview, laying bare how inconsistent the actual mindset is.  It’s good to know what the other side is thinking.  What doesn’t frustrate you beyond belief only makes your arguments stronger.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Sakurai: a very dapper demagogue
The man behind ‘Japan’s most dangerous hate group’
Japan Times Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100518zg.html

Excerpt: Why such relentless invective?

“To tell you the truth, Japan is extremely bad at dealing with foreigners,” he says. “Until about 100 years ago, before the Meiji Restoration, there were almost no foreigners here. We’ve only been dealing with them for a little over a century. But with globalization we understand that a lot of Japanese people go abroad, and that naturally a lot of foreigners now come to Japan. We realize we can’t prevent that. But they should obey Japanese rules.”

So he’s not actually against foreigners coming to Japan, just those who break the law?

“No, we oppose immigration. The (ruling) Democratic Party of Japan has proposed allowing 10 million people to come here. According to the ministry of health, by 2050 there will be 80 million Japanese here — that’s a fall of over 40 million. By 2100 it will be 20 million. If it continues like this our working population will disappear. So people are wondering what we should do. Should be accept millions of foreigners? I don’t think so.”

What about foreigners who have come here, married Japanese citizens, who pay taxes and have children. Would you send them all home?

“That’s different. Those people weren’t invited to come here by the government. The government wants millions of people to come in and work like robots in industrial jobs. They can’t treat foreigners like robots. Are you going to treat them as citizens? The DPJ is not talking about this. They should be allowed in step by step. It should be deliberated.”

Then you support a policy of phased, planned integration?

“If we’re saying, ‘OK, let’s set up schools for these people to help them blend into our society,’ I can understand that a little. But that’s not happening. The government is simply saying, ‘Come to Japan as workers.’ There’s no debate.”

OK, so let’s say there is a debate. Let’s say the government does deliberate this and create a policy that will allow phased mass emigration of 10 million people to come here. Would that be acceptable?

“No, I oppose such a move. Look at the Scandinavian countries. They let immigrants in and it resulted in cultural friction. You can’t let people in who are from different religions and cultures. It creates too many problems.”

Of course there are some problems, but many societies have successfully integrated large immigrant populations. What about Britain?

“Britain is getting what it deserves (jigo jitoku) because it was a colonial power. All those people it colonized and suppressed are coming back.”

Didn’t Japan do the same to Korea?

“No, that wasn’t colonization; it was an annexation (heigo). The Koreans invited us to come to their country.”

Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100518zg.html

Newsweek and NBER on how immigration helps societies, vs separate Newsweek column doubting it


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Hi Blog.  We had two articles come out in Newsweek over the past two months on the effects of immigration.  One from last March cites an academic saying how influxes of foreign workers boost economies, raising average incomes (based upon 50 years of data) 0.5% for every percent increase in the workforce that is foreign-born.  The other guest column that came out late April cites other academics suggesting the opposite.

My take:  I feel that we’ve got some posturing going on.  I’m reminded of the movie THE RIGHT STUFF, where we have the character of Werner Von Braun saying that the Americans are going to win the space race against the Soviets because “our German [scientists] are better than their German [scientists]”.  Same here, where the April article brandishes its scientists vigorously, throwing in undeveloped citations like rocks (some aimed at “activists” and “multicuturalists” shrouding the debate in phony “half-truths”), and name-dropping academics with insufficient development of the science involved.

Myself, I’ll trust a half-century of data collated in the March Newsweek article, and believe that countries are enriched by immigration.  Would anyone argue that places like the United States have NOT benefited through labor migration to its shores?  The only issue is of quantifying how much, which the April column in my view hardly accomplishes.

And if proper attraction and assimilation of immigrants is key (which the April article hints at but won’t come out and say plainly), then the argument once again supports those half-truthy “multiculturalists” and their purportedly phony solutions.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Why Immigration Boosts Wages—and Not Just In California
By Tony Dokoupil | NEWSWEEK
Published Mar 12, 2010
From the magazine issue dated Mar 22, 2010, Courtesy of BC


As the white house revives immigration reform—an issue the president is discussing with congressional leaders—it may want to ponder the effects of curbing foreign labor. While immigrants are blamed for dragging down American wages and stealing jobs, University of California, Davis, economist Giovanni Peri comes to a different conclusion. In a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper, Peri trowels through nearly five decades of immigration data and finds that foreign workers have boosted the economy, jacking up average income without crowding out American laborers. For each percentage of the workforce that is foreign-born, he found an almost 0.5 percent bump in average wages. In California, where the percentage of immigrants in the workforce has jumped more than 25 points since 1960, that means an almost 13 percent bonus—roughly $8,000. Immigrants, Peri says, push native-born workers into better-paying positions, expanding the size of the job pie so unskilled Americans aren’t left out.

What’s obvious to an economist, however, is hard to translate into politics. The most popular stances on immigration involve citizenship for illegals already here and border security to shut out everyone else. Less likely to land votes: a guest-worker program that brings in labor to meet demand and keep wages afloat. But without such a program, says Peri, “the U.S. is essentially giving up on gains.”


Link to the actual paper here (fee required)


The official summary of the paper (courtesy http://www.nber.org/digest/mar10/w15507.html):

The Effect of Immigration on Productivity: Evidence from US States
A one percent increase in employment in a US state, attributable only to immigration, is associated with a 0.4-0.5 percent increase in income per worker in that state.

Immigration during the 1990s and the 2000s significantly increased the presence of foreign-born workers in the United States, but the increase was very unequal across states. In The Effect of Immigration on Productivity: Evidence from US States (NBER Working Paper No. 15507), NBER Research Associate Giovanni Peri analyzes state-by-state data to determine the impact of immigration on a variety of labor market outcomes, including employment, average hours worked, and average skill intensity, and on productivity and income per worker.

Peri reports a number of distinct findings. First, immigrants do not crowd-out employment of (or hours worked by) natives; they add to total employment and reduce the share of highly educated workers, because of their larger share of islow-skilled relative to native workers. Second, immigrants increase total factor productivity. These productivity gains may arise because of the more efficient allocation of skills to tasks, as immigrants are allocated to manual-intensive jobs, promoting competition and pushing natives to perform communication-intensive tasks more efficiently. Indeed, a measure of task-specialization of native workers induced by immigrants explains half to two thirds of the positive effect on productivity.

Third, Peri finds that inflows of immigrants decrease capital intensity and the skill-bias of production technologies. The decrease in capital intensity comes from an increase in total factor productivity; the capital-to-labor ratio remains unchanged because investment rises coincident with the inflow of immigrants. The reduction in the skill-intensity of production occurs as immigrants influence the choice of production techniques toward those that more efficiently use less educated workers and are less capital intensive.

Finally, Peri finds that for less educated natives, higher immigration has very little effect on wages, while for highly educated natives, the wage effect of higher immigration is positive. In summary, he finds that a one percent increase in employment in a US state, attributable only to immigration, is associated with a 0.4 to 0.5 percent increase in income per worker in that state.

A central challenge in establishing a causal link between immigration and economic outcomes is the fact that immigrants may be disproportionately attracted to states with strong economic performance. Peri recognizes this problem, and uses information on state characteristics, such as the location of a state relative to the Mexican border, the number of ports of entry, as well as the existence of communities of immigrants there before 1960 to predict immigrant inflows. He then studies how these predicted inflows, rather than actual inflows, are related to labor market outcomes. He argues that the state characteristics that underlie his predictions are not likely to be associated with either labor market outcomes or productivity. He also controls for several other determinants of productivity that may vary with geography such as R and D spending, computer adoption, international competition in the form of exports, and sector composition.


Japan’s Phony Solution

The half-truths about immigration.

By Paul J. Scalise | NEWSWEEK
Published Apr 30, 2010
From the magazine issue dated May 10, 2010

Should Japan welcome more immigrants? Diehard multiculturalists insist that migration to Japan is not only inevitable but also enhances “mutual understanding.” Others fear the opposite: the chaos these outsiders, or gaijin, conceivably bring to Japan’s safe streets and largely homogeneous society. Both extremes understand the politics of emotion far better than the economics of immigration, keeping the issue shrouded in half-truths.

The problem is usually described in apocalyptic terms, roughly as follows. According to the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, Japan’s population has peaked. A downward turn is expected to follow, reaching close to 100 million in 2050 and 45 million in 2105. That means fewer workers paying fewer taxes to support an already expanding army of senior citizens. With social security, pensions, and interest payments on the national debt occupying more than 50 percent of Japan’s national budget in 2009 (up from 19 percent in 1960), the government, sooner or later, will face a decision of crisis proportions. Does it raise taxes sharply? Cut benefits drastically? Go deeper into debt? Or throw open the doors to young foreigners to restore balance between workers and retirees?

What the debate misses, however, is that immigration reform will likely have a muted impact on Japan’s standard of living if productivity continues to sour and Japanese women remain underutilized. Robert Alan Feldman, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Japan, figures that Japan would need between 7.4 million and 11 million immigrants to maintain a comparable standard of living in 2012 alone, depending on the decline in Japan’s local productivity. Should immigrants bring dependent families, Feldman says this “avalanche” would have to be closer to 20 million.

Hardly anyone realizes how unlikely Japan is to open up to an immigration boom of such magnitude without answering some difficult questions: what kind of immigrants does it want and how to attract them? One problem is that bringing in too many low-skilled immigrants too quickly risks increasing competition for low-skilled jobs and reducing the earnings of low-skilled native-born workers, according to immigration economist Barry R. Chiswick. In this view, because of their low earnings, low-skilled immigrants tend to pay less in taxes than they receive in public benefits. So while the presence of low-skilled immigrant workers may raise the profits of their employers, Chiswick notes, “they tend to have a negative effect on the well-being of the low-skilled native-born population, and on the native economy as a whole.”

Highly skilled, high-wage immigrants present their own problems. Feldman’s Japan model assumes that the average immigrant would be less productive than local hires because of different languages, work habits, traditions, and educational needs. And what’s never explained is how to attract the “right” immigrants and assimilate them in the first place. Right now, Japan’s average compensation per employee (adjusted for purchasing-power parity) is 36 percent lower than in the U.S. and 15 percent lower than in the euro area, according to the OECD. Worse, monthly cash earnings have been falling slowly for the past decade. If Japan wants to attract doctors, nurses, and engineers, and keep them, it needs to pay them more. And therein lies the rub. Is it really worth it in the long run?

Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates the fiscal cost and benefits of an influx at three different stages of an immigrant’s life. In stage one, when only single youths are admitted, the government gains more in tax payments than it pays in benefits. In stage two (with spouse) and stage three (with spouse and two children), the benefits paid by the local and central governments far exceed the tax revenues. If 500,000 migrants were to enter Japan in stage three, the ministry estimates, the net loss would become a whopping ¥1.1 trillion, or about $12 billion.

No one knows for certain the extent of the blowback if Japan were to be the migrant sponge of East Asia’s and Latin America’s poor. Instead of a cost-benefit analysis, pundits, activists, and the mainstream media focus mainly on the politics, rarely the economics. Either immigrants are depicted as a feel-good panacea to everything that ails Japan, who are kept at bay by a xenophobic Japanese government, or they are deemed devious criminals and a threat to society. Neither is accurate. Both are distracting. It’s time the focus of debate changed.

Scalise is research fellow at the Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies, Temple University, Japan Campus.


More on author Paul J. Scalise and his complicated relationship with Debito.org here.

JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times column May 4, 2010, on “Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues “


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The Japan Times Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues


Tally ho! The hunt is on for “fake Japanese” in Japanese politics.On March 17, at a meeting of opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) officials, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara not only criticized the ruling coalition for their (now moribund) bill offering permanent resident non-Japanese (NJ) the vote in local elections. He even accused them of having subversive foreign roots!


“How about those Diet members who have naturalized, or are the children of parents who naturalized? Lots of them make up the ruling coalition and are even party heads.”



He argued that their support for NJ suffrage arose from a sense of “duty to their ancestors.”

We then had the standard Ishihara brouhaha: One person who felt targeted by that remark, Social Democratic Party leader and Cabinet member Mizuho Fukushima, denounced it unreservedly as “racial discrimination.” She stressed that she was in fact a real Japanese and demanded a retraction. Ishihara, as usual, refused. Cue coda.


But something’s different this time. Ishihara is not just toeing the “foreigners cannot be trusted” line he’s reeled out ad nauseam over the past decade to justify things like targeting foreigners and cracking down on Tokyo’s alleged “hotbeds of foreign crime.”

He is now saying foreigners will always be foreigners, even if they have been naturalized Japanese for generations.

He also assumes even “former foreigners” will always think along tribal bloodlines, and axiomatically vote against Japanese interests.

Take that in: A leader of a major world city is stating that personal belief is a matter of genetics. The problem isn’t only that this ideology was fashionable about 130 years ago. Look where it ultimately led: putsches, pogroms and the “Final Solution.”


What’s with Ishihara’s foreigner fetish? Author and scholar M. G. Sheftall of Shizuoka University, whose Waseda doctoral thesis was on the psychological consequences of Japan’s defeat in World War II, notes this might not be limited to one demagogue.

Ishihara’s “Showa Hitoketa generation” (1926-1935) was “completely immersed, from birth until late adolescence/early adulthood, in prewar Japanese ideology at its most militantly militaristic, chauvinistic and xenophobic. It is unsurprising many never quite recovered from the trauma they suffered when their ideology was suddenly and catastrophically delegitimized in August 1945.”

Indeed, Ishihara is not alone. Splitting off from the LDP last month was the new Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), founded by xenophobes including Takeo Hiranuma and Ishihara. Hiranuma, you might recall from my Feb. 2 column, similarly questioned the legitimacy of Japanese lawmaker Renho because [he believes] she naturalized.



But Ishihara’s Japan is dying — or just plain dead. Demographic and economic pressures are making a multicultural Japan inevitable. These psychologically crippled old men are merely raging against the dying of their light. The average age of Sunrise Party founders is around 70; Ishihara himself is 77. Mortality is a blessing, as they won’t be around to see the Japan they can’t envision anyway.


But like I said, it’s different this time, because Ishihara has made a fatal mistake. Before, he picked on foreigners with impunity because of their political disenfranchisement. Now he has expanded his sights to include Japanese citizens.

A lack of focus kills causes. For example, during the 1950s American “Red scare,” a senator named Joseph McCarthy launched an anticommunist crusade to uncover people with undesirable political sympathies. But then he tried to target President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He overdid it, and it was his undoing.


Likewise, Ishihara is trying to unearth foreignness in very enfranchised Japanese people, and his movement is already coming undone. Only the extreme right buys into “racial purity means ideological purity,” and after shouting down the NJ suffrage bill it has lost momentum. All the fading “Sunset” set can do is rehash anti-Chinese and Korean rhetoric while attaching tangents so loopy (e.g., claiming the ruling coalition controls Japan’s entire debate arena) that they just seem paranoid.

Meanwhile, with the departure of immensely popular Diet member Yoichi Masuzoe from the LDP, the only viable opposition party just keeps on sputtering and splintering.


To repeat what I wrote in February: Those calls for NJ to naturalize if they want to be granted suffrage are just red herrings, because for people like Ishihara, Japanese citizenship doesn’t matter. Once a foreigner — or once related to a foreigner — you’ll never be a “real Japanese,” even if you are generations removed.

It’s a Trojan horse of an argument, camouflaging racism as reason. Now that it is also targeting international Japanese, it will fail.

Again, grant NJ the vote, and accelerate the multiculturalization process already under way. Don’t fall for the last gasps of a lunatic fringe grasping for a Japan more than a century behind the times.

Furthermore, those accused of being “foreign” must call Ishihara’s bluff and stop the witch hunt. Reply: “So what if I were to have NJ roots? I am still as Japanese as you. You have a problem with my nationality? Take it up with the Ministry of Justice. They will side with me.”

Ishihara and company: Game over. Time for you to resign and get out of our way.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp


Sunday Tangent: Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.


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Hi Blog.  I have been hearing word from several sources about the new draconian laws being enacted in Arizona to catch illegal migrant workers, including legally-sanctioned racial profiling, and stopping people on the street for ID checks.  Many have said that it seems Arizona has taken a page out of the GOJ’s handbook for dealing with NJ in Japan.  The difference, however, is that 1) the US dragnet is (necessarily) a coarser mesh (as Japanese authorities have a wider view of who doesn’t “look Japanese”, since anyone can “look American” and more sophistication is needed over there), and 2) it’s caused a level of controversy that has never happened in Japan (imagine street protests to this degree, even a J prime  minister denouncing it?).

I believe it’s only a matter of time (and it will take some time) before the Arizona authorities stop the wrong person on racial grounds, other American laws kick in to protect people against racial discrimination, and American courts rule this Arizona law unconstitutional.  Wait and see.

That just ain’t gonna happen in Japan for obvious reasons:  We ain’t got no legal sanctions against racial discrimination, let alone this degree of people caring for the human rights of foreigners.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Mark in Yayoi writes:

Hey Debito, a bill just signed in Arizona:



Arizona’s Gov. Brewer Signs Controversial Immigration Bill

Brewer Says Law is Necessary to Solve a ‘Crisis,’ But Obama Calls Bill ‘Misguided’


ABC NEWS April 23, 2010 — Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed a controversial immigration bill into law today that will give local law enforcement greater authority to ferret out and arrest illegal immigrants.

Immediately before signing the bill into law, Brewer said that the legislation “represents another tool for our state to use as we work to solve a crisis that we did not create and that the federal government refuses to fix.”

“We in Arizona have been more than patient waiting for Washington to act,” Brewer said. “But decades of inaction and misguided policy have created a dangerous and unacceptable situation.”

The bill takes effect in 90 days after the current legislative sessions over the next several weeks.

“I firmly believe [the law] represents what’s best for Arizona,” said Brewer. “Border-related violence and crime due to illegal immigration are critically important issues for the people of our state, to my administration, and to me as your governor and as a citizen.”

The signing came just a few hours after President Obama harshly criticized the legislation, calling it “misguided.” The president also instructed the Justice Department to examine the Arizona law to see if it would violate civil rights.

Obama criticized the bill at a naturalization ceremony in the White House Rose Garden for active duty service members from 24 countries.

The president said if Congress fails to enact comprehensive immigration reform at the national level, “We will continue to see misguided efforts opening up around the country.”

The absence of a federal resolution of the controversial issue, he said, “opens the door to irresponsibility by others,” and he cited “the recent efforts in Arizona, which threaten to undermine basic notions of fairness that we cherish as Americans.”

So far this year, Congress and the administration have made little progress in advancing legislation on the issue.

Outside Capitol Building, Crowds Protest Decision

After the signing, crowds outside of the state capitol building erupted in anger. Carrying signs and American flags, they marched nearby, protesting the governor’s decision.

Brewer defended the law against claims that it is discriminatory, saying that she had worked for weeks to rework the language to strengthen civil rights protections. The governor also issued an executive order to develop training for state law enforcement to prevent racial discrimination or profiling.

“As committed as I am to protecting our state from crime associated with illegal immigration, I am equally committed to holding law enforcement accountable should this statue ever be misused to violate an individual’s rights,” she said.

The Arizona law makes it a crime under state law to be in the U.S. illegally and allows police to arrest and question suspected undocumented persons about their status without a warrant. It also criminalizes the transporting of an illegal immigrant anywhere in the state, even if by a family member.

Brewer, who faces a tough Republican primary in August, signed the same bill that former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat, vetoed three times.

Brewer was under intense pressure to not sign the legislation. Civil rights groups have decried the sweeping measure as opening the door to racial profiling and sowing distrust between Hispanics and the law enforcement groups charged with keeping them safe. Others said the law will pull resources from fighting more-serious crimes.

Thousands of people wrote or called the governor’s office, with a 10-to-one majority opposing the bill, a spokeswoman said.

“I don’t think anything has been this extreme until this point,” said Bridgette Gomez, a 24-year-old math tutor. “The evil is racial profiling, to think that you’re going to always have to show identification. Because I’m tan, I must be illegal.”

But supporters of the law, including U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have said it will help solve an illegal immigration crisis the federal government so far has not acted swiftly enough to contain.

Ariz. Immigration Bill Supporters Say They’re Enforcing Law

“Illegal is illegal,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Russell Pearce. “We’ll have less crime. We’ll have lower taxes. We’ll have safer neighborhoods. We’ll have shorter lines in the emergency rooms. We’ll have smaller classrooms.”

An estimated 10.8 million immigrants live illegally in the U.S., according to the most recent Department of Homeland Security figures. About 460,000 live inside Arizona’s borders. Now that the Arizona bill has become law, it likely will face constitutional challenges.

President Obama said he’s instructed the Justice Department to “closely monitor” the situation and “examine the civilian rights” and other implications of the legislation.

The Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF) and other groups are also preparing to challenge the legislation.

“The Constitution is pretty clear about having one set of rules,” said Thomas A. Saenz, general counsel and president of MALDEF. “Now, you have the state of Arizona coming along and creating an obstacle to federally mandated priorities.”

Still, state Sen. Pearce, a former deputy in the Maricopa County Sherriff’s Office, which is known for cracking down on illegal immigrants, said he’s merely trying to enforce law that’s already on the books.

“Illegal is not a race. It’s a crime. And in Arizona, we’re going to enforce the law … without apologies,” he said. “It’s just that simple.”

Vulnerable to Legal Challenges?

California attempted to pass a similar measure in 1994 — Proposition 187 — that was designed to keep illegal immigrants from using health, education and other social services.

Even though it passed, it was struck down by a federal court on the basis of constitutionality.

Similar legal challenges against Arizona are inevitable, Saenz said, and it will likely end up costing the state millions of dollars.

“Arizona is going to face very serious consequences if it enacts it,” Saenz said, comparing it to the experience in California, where the legislation was a “tremendously wasteful diversion of resources.”

“There was a palpable impact on international trade to California, in particular,” Saenz said. “It became clear over time that Mexican companies began to take their commerce through Texas and other border states because of pervasive hostility.”

But it’s high time states step up to the plate and do something about illegal immigrants, Pearce said.

“I would think this is a great opportunity to codify states’ inherent authority,” he said. “We created the federal government. We’re in charge. Constitutionally, we have inherent authority. It’s time to step up to the plate and start enforcing the law.”

This is not the first time Arizona’s state laws have come under fire. In 2005, the state made smuggling humans a state crime, and in 2007, it prohibited employers from knowingly hiring illegal immigrants.

Earlier this week, the state House voted for a provision that would require President Obama to show his birth certificate if he wants to be on the state’s ballot in the next presidential election.

Before the signing, protesters had hoped to build grassroots momentum to convince Gov. Brewer to veto the bill — an effort that ultimately failed.

“You hear story after story of youth that don’t find out until they’re 16 that they are undocumented because their parents didn’t tell them,” said Alicia Contreras, 26, a student at Arizona State University. “Arizona is ground zero for these type of immigration laws, and as a youth — high school, college students — we need to come together.”



It looks like the state of Arizona is going to become exactly like the nation of Japan when it comes to immigrants and their civil liberties.  Mandatory carrying of papers, police empowered to question people and demand papers, punishment up to 6 months in jail and $2500 fine.

Obama has already spoken out against it.  (Imagine a prime minister doing that here!)

Provisions of the law here:



Key Provisions of Arizona Immigration Legislation

Key provisions of Arizona immigration legislation signed into law by governor

The Associated Press

Key provisions of Arizona’s immigration legislation, signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer on Friday:

— Makes it a crime under state law to be in the country illegally by specifically requiring immigrants to have proof of their immigration status. Violations are a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Repeat offenses would be a felony.

— Requires police officers to “make a reasonable attempt” to determine the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that he or she is an illegal immigrant. Race, color or national origin may not be the only things considered in implementation. Exceptions can be made if the attempt would hinder an investigation.

— Allow lawsuits against local or state government agencies that have policies that hinder enforcement of immigration laws. Would impose daily civil fines of $1,000-$5,000. There is pending follow-up legislation to halve the minimum to $500.

— Targets hiring of illegal immigrants as day laborers by prohibiting people from stopping a vehicle on a road to offer employment and by prohibiting a person from getting into a stopped vehicle on a street to be hired for work if it impedes traffic.

— The law will take effect by late July or early August.


It’s as if they copied this stuff straight out of NPA guidelines!

This really is disgusting.  Commenters on the two stories don’t seem to be cognizant of the plight of legal immigrants who don’t yet have US nationality (perhaps because with dual nationality being allowed in the US, there’s no reason to remain a “foreigner” if you’re long-term), and are focusing only on the difference between US citizens and illegals.

Fortunately, people are protesting it already, both online and in the real world.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens with the inevitable falsely-accused people.  Hopefully the news outlets won’t drop the story.  MIY

From Times Online (London)
April 22, 2010
Arizona Bill ‘puts racial profiling into law’
Giles Whittell, Washington, Courtesy of AI


An anti-immigration law condemned as a licence for racial profiling is expected to come into force in Arizona within the next 48 hours. The law would be the first in the US to give police the power to stop citizens and demand proof of legal residence in the US merely on suspicion of not carrying appropriate papers.

Arizona’s Republican Governor, under pressure from right-wing rivals for her job, has until Saturday afternoon to sign or veto the measure. The Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, a leading champion of immigration reform, has denounced it as a mandate for “German Nazi and Russian Communist techniques” of snooping and betrayal.

Up to ten other states are said to be considering similar laws as pressure mounts on the Republican Right and along America’s southern border for state-based immigration crackdowns in the absence of federal immigration reform.

The Arizona Bill would make it a crime for legal immigrants not to carry their alien registration papers, and would allow police to arrest those unable to produce them — potentially upending the presumption of innocence underpinning US law and the principle that its enforcement should be colour-blind.

“It basically puts racial profiling into law,” a spokeswoman for the Senate Democrats in the Arizona state assembly told The Times yesterday.

One of the measure’s Republican sponsors, Representative John Kavanagh, called it “a comprehensive immigration enforcement bill that addresses the concerns of our communities, constituents and colleagues … gives our local police officers the tools they need to combat illegal immigration”.

The progress of the hugely controversial Bill through the state assembly has been closely watched throughout the country, and helped by a wave of anger over the murder of an Arizona rancher 20 miles from the Mexican border last month. Robert Krentz, 58, was gunned down on his own property by an unknown assailant whom police assume was an illegal immigrant involved in a drug-smuggling operation.

In a sign of the pressure on moderate conservatives to be seen to get tough on illegal immigration in an election year, Senator John McCain, once a champion of progressive immigration reform, has stunned former colleagues by endorsing the Bill. “The state of Arizona is acting and doing what it feels it needs to do in light of the fact that the federal government is not fulfilling its fundamental responsibility — to secure our borders,” he told Fox News as the measure was approved by the State Assembly on Monday.

The Bill also has the support of Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County, the senior law enforcement official in the Phoenix area, who has gloried for decades in the unofficial title of “America’s toughest cop”. Mr Arpaio has courted sanction by federal authorities for years by encouraging his deputies to stop those they suspect of being illegal immigrants and demand to see their papers.

Arizona has the highest per capita population of undocumented aliens, with 460,000 at the latest estimate. Cardinal Mahoney has called the new Bill “the country’s most retrogressive, mean-spirited and useless anti-immigrant law”.

The Arizona state assembly has invited further controversy by granting initial approval to a Bill that would require President Obama to submit his birth certificate before having his name entered on ballot papers for the 2012 presidential election.

Accusations that Mr Obama was not born in the US and is therefore not eligible for the Presidency have lingered in the blogosphere since his candidacy gained national traction in 2007. As a matter of record, he was born on August 4, 1961, in Hawaii where his birth certificate is on file. His campaign has released a certified scanned copy of the certificate but some 40 per cent of Americans remain doubtful or unsure where he was born, according to polls.

Saturday Tangent: Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog.  It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan.  Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these):  Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.  More on the NJ Blame Game here.

But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before!  Read on.  What’s next:  Traffic lights staying red for too long?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


KYA writes:
I saw this on the TV news today, it’s not really a legal issue or anything but it’s a little bit ridiculous and a little bit offensive:

3歳児の虫歯激減 都内、歯磨き習慣定着
東京新聞 2010年4月21日 07時17分

Fussa’s got the highest percentage of 3 year olds with cavities in Tokyo, and the “person in charge” has decided to blame that on the fact that there are a lot of NJ residents in Fussa who “give their kids juice on a daily basis.”

Given the proximity of Fussa to the Yokota base, however, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those NJ in Fussa that they’re talking about are American… and American children tend to have MUCH better teeth than their Japanese counterparts. Many Americans are almost paranoid about dental health these days… and on the other hand, Fussa is also one of the less expensive areas of Tokyo, I’d bet that a lot of those cavities can be ascribed to lower-income families who just can’t or won’t spend the money on dental visits and fluoride treatments, etc.

I’m not sure whether to laugh at this or be offended by it… since the terrible teeth of Japanese children are quite the popular conversation topic among the American eikaiwa teachers that I’ve known, it seems ironic at the least. ENDS

Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
Hi Blog. They say that as you age, you become a caricature of yourself, as the mind becomes more inflexible and lifelong habits and ideologies become ingrained.

But then there are those who turn mean and nasty, if not outright insane. And I believe Tokyo Governor Ishihara has finally turned from a committed politician to a politician who should be committed.

Debito.org Reader GS puts it well when he writes:

Hi Debito, Anti-suffrage rightists say they are against suffrage for permanent residents because “foreigners can naturalize if they want equal rights with Japanese.” Well, now Governor Ishihara is using “naturalized” as an epithet to smear members of the ruling cabinet as untrustworthy.


外国人参政権「先祖へ義理立てか」 石原知事が与党批判
朝日新聞 2010年4月18日11時2分





2010年4月19日11時58分配信 産経新聞

社民党の福島瑞穂党首(消費者・少子化担当相)は19日、国会内で記者会見し、東京都の石原慎太郎知事が17日の外国人地方参政権の反対集会で、名 指しこそ避けたものの与党党首の中に帰化した人がいるという趣旨の発言をしたことについて「私も、私の両親も帰化したものではない」と否定した。

その上で、「私は外国人地方参政権には一貫して賛成してきた。政治家の政治信条を帰化したからだという事実誤認に基づいて説明することは、私の政治 信条をゆがめ、踏みにじるものだ」と述べ、石原氏に発言の撤回を求めた。

石原氏は17日の「全国地方議員決起集会」で、「この中に帰化された人、お父さん、お母さんが帰化され、そのお子さんいますか。与党を形成している いくつかの政党の党首とか、与党の大幹部ってのは調べてみると多いんですな」などと発言していた。

福島氏は会見で「『与党を形成している政党の党首』といえば、おのずと特定され、私のことをおっしゃっているのだと考えた」とした上で、「(帰化 を)問題とすること自体、人種差別だ」とも述べ、発言を撤回しない場合は法的措置も辞さない考えを示した。


Apparently they’re on a witch hunt for not only “naturalized” Japanese who supposedly can’t be trusted, but any Japanese who might have parents who have been naturalized!  I really believe Japan is an outlier when it comes to race. The idea that nationality is a racial concept – as opposed to a legal concept – is so ingrained here I’m afraid it will not die easily.  A minister in Germany is of Vietnamese descent. And yet Japan is terrifried that a cabinet member might be naturalized or have naturalized parents. Really pathetic. GS


COMMENT:  It hardly bears fully iterating, but:  Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese.  In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics.  But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides.  Study your history.  Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

This is beyond pathological racism.  This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power.  And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion:  hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action).  But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem:  Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too.  Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization.  But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs.  “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

These are the people who should be booted from power.  Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer.  Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, naturalized citizen.

Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

Hi Blog. For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Debito.org Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day.  Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.


From: AS
Subject: More anti-NJ suffrage propaganda
Date: April 14, 2010

Hi Debito, There was a person handing out anti-NJ suffrage materials at Tokorozawa station yesterday morning, and, as I promised myself I would, I got a photo and the stuff he was handing out.

I think I caught him off guard when I approached him from the flank and stuck my hand out for the pamphlets – he just handed them over without realizing until it was too late.

Ok, the pamphlets themselves. The first one is not particularly nasty, it’s just another “Release the North Korean kidnap victims” flyer. It appears to be produced by another group.

Funny how this stuff talks about the international community, while the group distributing it want nothing to do with the international community.

The second one is quite vindictive and lacking in logic. The first side is largely devoted to portraying China as a murderous country with no justice or morals (“a culture of evil”) and then jumping to the conclusion that foreign suffrage, dual nationality, recognized residency for NJs and spouses with different surnames will mean the same fate for the Japanese as is has for ethnic minorities in China!! (The same kind of logic as “Don’t buy a Toyota because Tojo was a murderer!”)

“China is evil, so we can’t have…”

Page 2 resorts to character assassination of DPJ members, linking them with China, South Korea and communism, then goes on to the same arguments that NJs will abuse child support allowance and that Japanese won’t be able to receive it.

Next is the big stinking lie that anyone (including illegal residents and criminals) can get PR just by living here for 5 years and that they will have the same voting rights as Japanese.

It then goes on to suggest that human rights laws will turn Japan into a communist nation with no freedom (Gosh – I was under the impression that page one was slagging off China for not protecting human rights)

Finally, we get the guff that allowing different surnames for spouses will be the end of the family unit. (Let’s just make everyone change their name to Suzuki, then).  DS


ADDENDUM FROM DEBITO:  I too saw these protesters and felt their invective outside the Diet Building on March 23, 2010, just after I gave my presentation to UN Special Rep Bustamante.  (I wonder if he caught wind of these people; they certainly were making enough of a stink.)

I too managed to get some flyers (off a kind reporter), and here are some of them.  Hang on to your logical hats, everyone:

In addition to the flyers AS referred to above (these are the same people distributing, after all):

We have former ASDF general Tamogami wallowing in all the luscious pink trappings of Japanese patriotism, calling for people to come pay money to hear him speak in Kamakura.  What you would be in store for:  According to the Japan Times January 24, 2010 (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100124x4.html), “20 percent of shares in the Japanese mass media are held by foreigners. This means that the Japanese mass media are controlled by foreign investments. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was brought down by these foreign powers.” Good thing he’s no longer imbedded in our military.

Here’s our laundry list of national heroes (with Tamogami and racist Dietmember Hiranuma enjoying big pictures) for us lesser mortals:

The greater national hero I’d like to see honored more often would be journalist Kotoku Shusui, but some of these faces above are the type of people who would have him and his ideology killed.  (They managed it, and look where it got Japan — destroyed in WWII.)

Underpinning all of the counterarguments proffered above is more hatred.  NJ hate us.  So we shouldn’t allow any of them to vote.  QED.

Next up:


And here comes the kitchen sinking — where we lump in all sorts of other issues (including Nikkyouso, even Japan’s sex education) with the NJ suffrage stuff.  And of course Ozawa’s qualification as a real Japanese are called into question due to his beliefs.  Didn’t realize “Japaneseness” also meant ideological conformity and uniform arguments.  Oh wait, yes it did, back in the bad old days when it led the nation to destruction in a world war.  Never mind.  Reenforced patriotism will surely fix everything!

And finally:

An advertisement for a big free public rally against NJ suffrage in the Budoukan (the place the Far-Rightists also protested when the Beatles played back in 1966, as they were too decadent for Japanese morals; they paved the way for Cheap Trick, however, phew).  Wish I could have gone.  The Japan Times and Kyodo attended, however.  Here’s what they say (excerpt):


The Japan Times Sunday, April 18, 2010

Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan

By ALEX MARTIN Staff writer

Conservative intellectuals and key executives from five political parties were among the thousands who gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to rally against granting foreign residents voting rights for local elections.

On hand were financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, who heads Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, who recently launched his own political party, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe.

According to the organizer, a total of 10,257 people attended the convention at the Nippon Budokan arena in Chiyoda Ward, including representatives of prefectural assemblies and citizens from across the nation…

In an opening speech preceded by the singing of the “Kimigayo” national anthem, Atsuyuki Sassa, former head of the Cabinet Security Affairs Office and chief organizer of the event, expressed his concern about granting foreigners suffrage.

“I was infuriated when I heard of plans to submit to the Diet a government-sponsored bill giving foreign residents voting rights,” he said.

“Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.”

[NB:  As any taxpaying NJ knows, this is untrue.  I guess that means they don’t need NJ tax monies.]

Taking the podium to a round of applause, Kamei emphasized his party’s role in preventing the government from submitting the bill to the Diet, and said that “it was obvious that granting suffrage will destroy Japan.”

Kamei, who has in the past argued that giving foreigners voting rights could incite nationalism during polling, went so far as to declare that his party would leave the ruling coalition if the government submitted the bill to the Diet…


Rest of the article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100418a1.html

Kyodo News adds:


Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote

Japan Today/Kyodo Sunday 18th April, 2010


TOKYO — A group of conservative lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties on Saturday voiced their opposition to proposed legislation to enfranchise permanent foreign residents for local elections. Shizuka Kamei, who leads the People’s New Party, addressed a gathering of people against the proposed legislation in Tokyo, saying, ‘‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘

‘‘It will not be enacted during the current parliamentary session because the People’s New Party has invoked a veto (within the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama),’’ said Kamei, who is a cabinet member within the tripartite coalition government.

While Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan is aiming to pass the legislation, at least one member is apparently opposed.

Jin Matsubara, a House of Representative member of the DPJ, told the meeting, ‘‘There is an argument that Europe is positive about enfranchising foreigners, but that does not hold water in Japan. I am unequivocally opposed. It’s my belief that it is necessary to faithfully speak up (about the issue) within the party.’‘

Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, a cabinet member and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan that partners the DPJ and PNP in the government, reiterated her endorsement of the proposed legislation.

‘‘It’s not about all foreigners and it’s also limited to local elections,’’ she told reporters in Odate, Akita Prefecture. ‘‘Participation in the local community is necessary, as some countries have approved it.’‘

Objections to the bill were also expressed by opposition lawmakers at the Tokyo meeting. Tadamori Oshima, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, ‘‘We must protect Japan’s sovereignty. I am absolutely opposed.’‘

Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, suggested that enfranchising foreign residents is a vote-buying tactic. ‘‘The Democratic Party says livelihood is the No. 1 issue, but in fact aren’t elections their No. 1 business?’’ he said.

Takeo Hiranuma, who leads the just launched Sunrise Party of Japan, said he ‘‘will stake his life in fighting’’ against the legislation.


CONCLUSION:  These are some awfully flash and well produced pamphlets, and renting sound trucks and the whole Budoukan for all these sound bites cost a helluva lot of money.  Who’s funding this?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids. What spongers?


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free

Hi Blog.   In mid-March we had a storm in a teacup about DPJ policy re child allowances:  If NJ also qualified for child support, politicians argued, some hypothetical Arab prince in Japan would claim all 50 of his kids back in Saudi Arabia.  Well, thanks to that storm, we have the Health Ministry creating policy within weeks to prevent NJ from potentially sponging off the system.  As submitter JK notes, “What follows is article on why 厚生労働省 feels the need to clamp down on those untrustworthy foreigners; never mind about the lack of data.”

Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件

Well, that’s proactive policymaking in Japan.  In the same way that anti-terrorism policy that targets foreigners only was proactive (although it took a few years to draft and enact).  Here, the bureaucrats could just do it with a few penstrokes and call it a “clarification”, without having to go through the pesky political process.

But the assumption is, once again, that a) foreigners are untrustworthy and need extra background checks, and b) any policy that might do something nice for the Japanese public needs to be carefully considered by viewing it through the “foreigner prism”, for who knows what those people might do to take advantage of our rich system?  “What-if” panicky hypotheticals without any data win the debate and govern policymaking towards NJ again.

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Gov’t gets tough on allowances for foreigners who claim to have children in home countries
(Mainichi Japan) April 7, 2010

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has tightened conditions for paying child-care allowances to foreigners who reside in Japan and claim to have children in their home countries, ministry officials said.

The move is aimed at preventing foreign residents from illicitly receiving expensive allowances by falsely adopting children in their home countries or using other tricks to deceive Japanese authorities. The ministry has notified local governments across the country of its decision.

Before providing child-care allowances, local governments are required by the ministry to confirm that such recipients meet their children in their home countries at least twice a year by checking their passports, and make sure that they send money to their children at least once every four months.

The ministry took the measure out of fear that a large number of foreigners would falsely adopt children in their home countries for the sole purpose of illegally receiving child-care allowances in Japan.

The number of foreign residents’ children who receive child allowances while living in their home countries remains unclear, according to the ministry.

Some local governments have expressed concern that the measure would increase their workload.

Original Japanese story

子ども手当:外国人支給、厳格に 子との年2回面会要件
毎日新聞 2010年4月7日 東京朝刊





Japan Times: Arudou Debito gives up on activism due to poverty


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
DEBITO.ORG PODCASTS now on iTunes, subscribe free


The Japan Times, April 1, 2010

(Sapporo)  April 1:  Activist Debito Arudou announced in a press conference today that he will be hanging up his gloves and quitting activism.

“It sucks to support the tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free,” Debito was quoted as saying.  “I’m tired of being a poor, huddling mass breathing for free.”

Debito claimed dire poverty.  “Money (that’s what I want),” he said, citing the Beatles.

“From now on, I’m going to be a Japanese government shill, representing our incorruptible, self-sacrificing, and endearing bureaucrats as a bridge to explain our country’s noble and altruistic motives to the rest of the world.  We are unique, after all. That line pays better.”

Clutching two burlap bags with dollar signs on them, he said, “Pay me in yen next time.”

When asked if this was not a departure from the standard Debito Doctrine, Debito said, “I’m a Japanese citizen now, so call me by my last name with a -san attached!  Or I’ll sue you.”

Debito refrained from further comment, except to say, “Kora!  I thought I just told you to call me ‘Arudou-san’!”



More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion


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Hi Blog.  Following up on some previous Debito.org posts (here, here, and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting.  We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear.  Read on:

First up is a notice I received world about on February 28, 2010, from a Nagoya resident.  (click on image to expand in your browser)

As you can see from the headline, we have the “Beware of Foreign Crime” slogans, with the claim that foreign crime is rising (an outright lie — it’s been falling for years:  sources here, here, and here)).  It asks people to lock their doors properly and be careful of walking alone.  Then it digresses to say that the DPJ is planning to bring in immigrants and grant them suffrage, and that more crimes are anticipated, so protect your family and property by linking your opposition to the NJ PR suffrage bill to crime prevention.  It then asks people to do their own research, using search terms “NJ suffrage” and “danger”, plus “mass media” and “biased reporting”.

And who put this out?  At the very bottom it just says that these are “internet users” who have woken up to the dangers out there, and are putting this flyer out at their own expense.  They are not in any way affiliated with a group or religion.  They’re just anonymous internet bullies.  (Okay, the last sentence they didn’t the courage of conviction to say:  never mind taking responsibility for their actions — such is the modus operandi of the anonymous bully.)

Next up:  A flyer that appeared in a person’s snailmailbox in Narita, February 23, 2010: (click on image to expand in your browser)

Very well rendered in classic easily-understood manga illustration, it zeroes in on the dangers of NJ PR suffrage in terms of Chinese hordes.  Once they get elected, tiny little carbon-copy slanty-eyed Maos all vote in a bloc in small towns and get elected.  Just like, they claim, some Chinese did in Richmond, BC, Canada, and the candidate allegedly couldn’t even speak English!  Then Chinese will take over public utilities and blackmail old, hardworking Japanese into paying user fees, and then we’ll have an invasion of Chinese voters, ballots in hand.  Before you know it, we’ll be surrounded, thanks to immigrants’ higher birthrates, and we’ll see the same fear of foreigners here as we see in Europe, where the Dutch are being crowded out of their own country.  Etc etc.  In other words, it’s turning the positive arguments for immigration on their head, and making the issue into a zero-sum power game with Japan being lost in the process.

And finally for today, an actual published mook, found on newsstands in Tokyo and no doubt much elsewhere on March 7, 2010.

The title is “Emergency Publication” (aren’t they all?), “NJ PR suffrage will be the end of Japan”.  Same thing in the subtitles:  “China can now legally invade us!”  “The Policy for 10 Million Immigrants will make Japan into a foreign country.”  With flakey Zainichi Taiwanese commentator Kin Birei (who is all over the ideological map whenever she appears on Koko Made Itte Iinkai) saying “Naturalize if you want to vote”, etc.

What follows are the Table of Contents and a sample page, courtesy of MS.  He comments that “The contents aren’t as bad as the cover.”  Then like Miwa Locks “Foreigner-Proof Security” and “Gaijin Hanzai Mook“, once again we have businesses riding the anti-foreign scare wave to make a quick buck.

This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain recall issues


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Hi Blog.  As a weekend tangent, here’s more on Toyota and how we try to steer attention away from matters of engineering — by blaming it once again on culture, and getting some university prof to mouth it for legitimacy’s sake.  Comments from submitter BT included.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


On Feb 26, 2010, at 11:45 AM, BT wrote:

Greetings and salutations! Just came across this little gem while reading the Asahi Shinbun earlier today. I thought you might be interested (if someone else hasn’t already sent this in): http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201002250455.html

It’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:

“Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”

(The “we’re superior” routine)


“Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.”

(The “poor, poor Japan” routine)

Cheers from Tokyo!  BT

‘Toyota relied too much on Japanese way’

2010/02/26, Interview with Hideo Kobayashi (THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

What can companies do to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Toyota Motor Corp. over its vehicle recalls?

Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences, says Toyota failed to recognize differences in the way Japanese and Americans perceive recalls.

Kobayashi is an expert on crisis management concerning safety measures and is well-versed in recall matters. Because product problems are bound to crop up, he says companies should deal with them while paying attention to detail.

Following are excerpts of an Asahi Shimbun interview with Kobayashi:

* * *

Question: In the United States, Toyota has come under fire for being tardy in issuing recalls. What is your sense of the whole Toyota issue?

Answer: Trouble always occurs when a carmaker develops, produces and introduces a new vehicle. When problems occur, modifying the vehicle is what every automaker (in the world) does as a matter of course. While the modification is usually carried out on cars to be produced in the future, the system of recalls specifically targets vehicles that have already been manufactured so that they are fixed, too.

I think the biggest problem with Toyota was its failure to recognize the difference in thinking in Japan and the United States over the issues of recalls and safety. It apparently made a typically Japanese judgment.

Japanese companies have a strong tradition of being bound by legal regulations, with a deep-rooted perception that issuing a “recall is evil.”

In the United States and Europe, companies believe that from a crisis management viewpoint, “the sooner a recall is done, the easier it is to contain the damage.” As a result people think: “Because there is a recall (system), we can travel in a car without having any worries.”

Overseas subsidiaries (of car manufacturers) that are aware of these things had better take the lead in coping with recalls. However, faced with rapid market expansion and increased sales, Toyota probably decided that it would be easier for the headquarters (in Japan) to make a judgment.

Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.

To survive, many Japanese companies need to go overseas for sales and manufacturing, but they won’t succeed if they force their Japanese style (of doing business). Overseas subsidiaries must hire locally and assimilate.

Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan.

Naturally, there can be various troubles even with cars developed in Japan that are regarded as good in the country. Problems need to be handled with attention to detail.

Q: Toyota has decided to introduce a brake override system that enables a driver to stop the car even if the gas pedal is depressed. Was it a problem that there was no such system previously?

A: It was rather whether (Toyota) had explained to customers the lack of the system and what could happen as a consequence.

Weekend Tangent: China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Turning over the keyboard to Debito.org Reader R for commentary about some pretty nasty (and repetitive:  how many ways can we say “you don’t get it”, and “you don’t belong here” in a single essay?) anti-foreigner media published in a major English-language daily in China for a comparison.  And I thought 2-Channel was bad.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Subject: “gaijin” discrimination in China
Date: January 18, 2010

Dear Debito, I am a regular reader of your blog, even though I do not usually participate or leave comments.

I am quite interested in your work about discrimination in Japan (where I currently live) ; I also keep an eye on what happens in China (I was living there before).

I found this article in China Daily online the other day (http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2010-01/12/content_9304769.htm).

When I was reading it I was thinking 2 things :

– there is discrimination in Japan, but hopefully it won’t get as obvious as the tone of this article. Can you imagine this kind of article about “Gaijin” in Japan (FYI, Laowai means Gaijin in China) published in a serious english newspaper, like Japan Times for example ?

[Ed: Yes I can. I’m thinking something like Amy Chavez and Japan Lite. Although in the case I will cite I think if it more as failed sarcasm than borderline hatred. Both are snotty and asinine, however.]

– this article reminded me of your work. unfortunately we have nobody like you in China to prevent that kind of article from being published 🙁 Because the truth is I was very shocked by the tone if this article and how it pictures white people living in China.

Well, I know it doesn’t talk about Japan at all, but I thought you could be interested by what happens in our neighbour country… Best regards, R


Dear laowai, don’t mess with our Chinese-ness
By Huang Hung (China Daily) 2010-01-12


Now, listen up, you foreigner boys and girls, Chinese New Year is around the corner and I want to talk to you seriously about fireworks.

I saw this picture in a newspaper, where a smiling, cordial Chinese girl (rather pretty as well) was explaining the tradition of lighting fireworks to a group of foreign guys. They all looked very happy.

I will let you know that is false information. Fireworks are no small matter, and no laughing matter either. So wipe that smirk off your face and listen up.

As a Chinese, I want to be honest with you. For the past 30 years, we have opened up to the West, and welcomed foreigners like yourselves to come here to do business, to make money, even gave you some easy credit to let you buy real estate, marry our women, whatever. But this does not make you Chinese. There are things we reserve for ourselves, and it really doesn’t matter how long you have been here, just don’t assume you can be one of us, and don’t touch the following three things:




Most of you are well trained enough to withhold your chopsticks, whichever way you are holding them, and stay away from the chicken feet at Chinese dim sum restaurants. But some of you are show-offs. Most of the time, you are trying to prove to your Chinese girlfriend’s parents that you are so Chinese. “Look, I am eating chicken feet. Mmm … Good!”

Don’t do that. We really get annoyed when foreigners try to chomp on chicken feet. Sometimes, you are so polite, you don’t spit out the bones, you chew them and try to swallow them. That’s totally unacceptable. Because, when you do that, most Chinese start getting anxious about you choking to death on the damn chicken bones. And it is very difficult to enjoy dim sum when you are anxious.

Sea cucumbers are not for you either. Most of you are rather intimidated by slimy sea things – jelly fish, sea cucumbers. But, there are those of you who are so brave that you insist on trying it, and pretend to enjoy it. Most of the time, you are a foreign businessman, you don’t want to offend your Chinese host by not eating the most expensive dish ordered.

I’ve got some news for you. Guess what? He didn’t order it for you! He ordered it for the Chinese at the table! Do you know how difficult it is to soak the sea cucumber so it acquires the right slimy texture? No one can master it in his own kitchen. Only the restaurants can. So stop trying to pick up the sea cucumber with your chopsticks, it will probably end up in your lap anyway. Just politely put the untouched dish back on the lazy susan. We are not impressed by sea cucumber chivalry.

Now fireworks. It is strictly, strictly for us Chinese. We really don’t want you anywhere near fireworks. First of all, it is dangerous. You don’t understand why 1.4 billion people have to turn into pyromaniacs for one night. It’s totally beyond your comprehension. But we love it; we have been setting off these things since we were three and for 5,000 years. So let me just say that fireworks are not for barbarians like you. You don’t get it. On the other hand, we Chinese have great tolerance for fireworks; it’s one night when you can do some damage and get away with it. For example, you can burn a building down, a brand new building, with stuff in it. How can you comprehend that level of generosity?

And, don’t you dare try to do the same, we simply have no tolerance for it. You try to burn a building down, we will kill you, because, you were probably high, and we really don’t give a hoot whether you are mentally disturbed or whether your prime minister is going to make endless harassing phone calls.

So, you better be good, you better be nice, because firecrackers are coming to town!

(Huang Hung is an opinionator on arts, lifestyle and showbiz.)

[Ed:  And [comes off as] a nationalistic asshole.]


Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim; GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on. And if people find other articles with interesting tacks (the second Kyodo version in the JT below feels decidedly muted), please include whole text with link in the Comments Section below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Feb 25 2010 The Associated Press


GENEVA, Feb. 25 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”

The review, the first since 2001, is a required procedure for countries signatory to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

It is conducted by a committee composed of 18 legal experts who act in their professional capacity.

Fourteen Japanese government officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, spent the morning answering questions about Japanese legislation and practices to fight racism and protect minority rights.

The committee was critical of the lack of antidiscrimination legislation in Japan, and the treatment of Japanese minorities and its large Korean and Chinese communities.

Prior to the start of the review on Wednesday, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented to the committee issues they wanted raised.

They showed a video of a group of Japanese nationalist protesters waving flags and protesting in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

An official of Japan’s Justice Ministry said such behavior could be explained as a reaction to “intermittent nuclear and missile tests” by North Korea, although any consequent human right violations were investigated.

Many committee members asked questions about the Okinawan population, some groups of which are fighting to obtain recognition as an indigenous population.

“There is no clear definition of an indigenous people, even in the U.N. declaration,” Ueda said. “But Okinawan people are Japanese, and their language is the Japanese language,” he said.

Concerns were also expressed by committee members about the treatment of descendants of people in discriminated communities called “buraku.”

Committee members admitted they had difficulty understanding whether they were a caste, or a separate ethnic group.

“What makes them different from the average Japanese?” committee member Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves asked.

“There are no differences at all, they are like us, we are the same,” Ueda answered.

Other questions raised included educational opportunities for students of non-Japanese schools, and reports that some individuals had to change their last name to a pre-approved Kanji when obtaining Japanese citizenship.

Foreign schools in Japan get tax credits and subsidies, a delegate from the Education Ministry said, and students from many, especially Korean, schools had access to Japanese universities.

Counselors are available for foreign students joining Japanese schools, the delegate added.

On the name-change allegation, “in order not to create inconvenience in their social life, it would be better to pick an easier to use character,” a member of the Justice Ministry said. “But you can also use hiragana and katakana.”

After the review, Ralph Hosoki of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, one of the NGOs, told Kyodo News, “The government only regurgitates what’s already in place…There is no imaginative dialogue to work towards concrete changes.”

In concluding remarks, committee member Patrick Thornberry said, “A lot of the responses are that you do not need legislation…My concern is that your information…may not be proper to make such a conclusion.”


The Japan Times, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Japan faces U.N. racism criticism


GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan’s record on racism has improved, but there is still room for progress, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“We heard today much that is good and positive, but I think a deepened engagement would be welcomed and necessary,” Patrick Thornberry, the member of the committee responsible for Japan’s review, said Wednesday.

The review, the first for Japan since 2001, is required of signatory countries to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

Fourteen Japanese officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, flew from Japan to field questions and comments from the committee of 18 legal experts.

Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”

The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.

Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.

“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”

Committee members also criticized the treatment of certain segments of society, such as the “burakumin” (descendants of Japan’s former outcast class), and the people of Okinawa.

“The ‘buraku’ situation is a form of racial discrimination,” committee member Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah said. “It is frighteningly similar to the caste system in Africa.”

Many members of the committee, however, praised the government’s recent recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people.

But there was also criticism of the treatment of Chinese and Korean nationals, in matters ranging from the lack of accreditation of their schools, to the necessity, at times, for them to change their names when they obtain Japanese citizenship.

The NGOs, before the review, showed the committee members a video of a group of nationalists waving flags and protesting aggressively in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

“Why are these children guilty of what North Korea is doing?” committee member Ion Diaconu asked.

Some members of the committee also expressed concern that such schools did not receive any government funding at a time when the government is considering removing tuition fees for public high schools.


Feedback from a Debito.org Reader, who cced me in this letter yesterday to a UN official, disputing the lack of “rampant discrimination”. Forwarding:

Dear Gabriella,

I am writing this email in the hope that it will find Mr. Patrick
Thornberry as he is conducting a review on Japan’s Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. I read briefly of the review on the Japan Times website
(URL below).


I am concerned that a very important human right is not being protected
in Japan. I am referring to the child’s right to an education. In Japan,
the child’s right to an education is ensured by law. Students must
attend school as compulsory education until they graduate from junior
high school. However, this legislation is only applicable to Japanese
citizens. Non-Japanese do not have the same rights/obligations regarding
education and this violates the right of the non-Japanese to an

I direct your attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.

11 . Convention on the Rights of the Child
New York, 20 November 1989

Apparently, Japan became a signatory on 21 Sep 1990 and ratified it on
22 Apr 1994. However, practice in Japan does not appear to be in line
with the articles of the convention. Specifically article 3 and article 28.

Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and
with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of
equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all»

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary
education, including general and vocational education, make them
available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures
such as the introduction of free education and offering financial
assistance in case of need;


In Japan, education until Junior high school is compulsory for Japanese
students only. For non-Japanese it would appear that the legislation
provides compulsory primary education only. In reality, this is not
ensured. There are many families whose children are not enrolled in any
part of the Japanese education system. Some cite the language barrier as
problem with sending their children to a Japanese school. Education is
not “available to all”. This leads to some students being enrolled in
“schools” that are not required to comply with any standards. This leads
to a conflict in Article 3.

Article 3 Paragraph 3
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and
facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall
conform with the standards established by competent authorities,
particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and
suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.


There are thousands of Brazilian families living and working in Shizuoka
Prefecture. Many of these families send their children to “Brazilian
schools” that do NOT conform with the standards of Japanese schools. In
fact, many of these so-called schools have no standards with which they
have to comply.

On the other hand, Japanese students have access to compulsory,
standards-compliant education until the end of junior high school.
Non-Japanese children are being discriminated against to the point that
their universal and inalienable right to a quality education is not
being protected.

Enforcing compulsory education in Japan is necessary. Japan may not have
the multilingual schools that would be ideal but a standards compliant
education is better than what these children get now which is either a
non-standards compliant education or no education at all. Enforcing
compulsory education would surely see the current situation improve.

In the news article I cited at the beginning of this email there was no
mention to this issue. That leaves me with my sole question, is
eliminating hate speech really more important to the UN than children’s




——- Forwarded Message ——–
From: Harumi Fuentes
Cc: Gabriella Habtom , sthodiyil@ohchr.org,
Subject: Re: Fw: JAPAN – U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 11:10:06 +0100

Dear Mr. (anonymized),

In response to your email, the Committee is in charge of monitoring
the implementation of the Convention for all the persons under the
jurisdiction of the State party and the right to education is covered.
Please rest assured that despite what reports or news articles may
write or omit, the issue of education was addressed extensively by the
Committee. In fact, going over the summary record, I’d like to inform
you that education, including Peruvian and Brazilian schools and
miscellaneous schools, was taken up by almost all the members of the
Committee and discussed in length with the State party.

We appreciate the useful information you provided on legislation on
compulsory education for Japanese and non-nationals and thank you for
your interest in the work of the Committee.

Best regards,
Harumi Fuentes

Harumi Fuentes Furuya (Ms.)
Associate Human Rights Officer

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division
OHCHR-Palais Wilson 1-075
tel. +41-22-917 9699

Kyodo et al. falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  It’s that time of year again.  Time for the National Police Agency (NPA) Spring Offensive and Media Blitz against foreign crime.  Article, then comment, then some original Japanese articles, to observe yet again how NJ are being criminalized by Japanese law enforcement and our domestic media:


No. of white-collar crimes by foreigners up by 31.2% in 2009

Thursday 25th February, 2010 Kyodo News, Courtesy of KG

TOKYO — The National Police Agency detected 964 white-collar crimes by visiting foreigners in Japan last year, up 31.2% from the previous year, it said Thursday. The number of visiting foreigners charged with such crimes came to 546, up 7.9%, according to the NPA. It said notable among the crimes was teams using faked credit cards.

The overall number of crimes committed by all foreigners in the reporting year fell 11.1% to 27,790, with 13,282 people, down 4.3%, charged, the NPA said.



COMMENT:   Yep. Same old same old. Parrot the NPA: Highlight the NJ crime rises, and play down the fact that NJ crime overall has gone down. And of course no depiction of J “white collar” (whatever that means) crime numbers, nor their ups or downs to give a sense of scale.

NB: I can’t find the Japanese original for the Kyodo English article, only something in Kyodo’s Chinese-language news service (which avails us with the original terminology for “white-collar crime”, as “gaikokujin chinou hanzai” (lit. foreign intellectual crime); again, whatever that means). The structure is the same:

02.25.10 17:36




The Sankei doesn’t defy its typical anti-NJ bent as it also parrots the NPA:

外国人の知能犯罪が増加 前年比31・2%増の964件 564人摘発詐欺グループ目立つ
産經新聞 2010.2.25 10:53

Jiji Press takes a different angle, headlining the drop in NJ crime and assigning possible societal causes, but still resorts to pointing out a rise where possible (in types of crime, such as theft and graft):



And in a related note, the NPA is going “global” in its unified crime-fighting efforts:

警察庁:国際犯罪、対応を一元化 部門横断的に「対策室」
毎日新聞 – ‎Feb 22, 2010‎









Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.


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Hi Blog.  Here’s something I received the other day from Debito.org Reader XY.  It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period).  It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.

I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Dietmember Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more-mainstream LDPers (a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims.  First, have a look at the flyer (received February 19, 2010):

The arguments in summary are these:

1) PR NJ suffrage might be unconstitutional (hedging from the rabid right’s clear assertion that it is).  In fact, I’m not sure anyone’s absolutely sure about that.

2) PR NJ suffrage will give foreigners say over how our children are taught and how our political decisions are made.  (Well, yeah, if there are enough NJ in any particular district; and even if there were, given how nasty Japan’s public policy can be towards NJ, I’m not so sure that’s such a bad thing.)

3) Granting PR NJ suffrage is not the world trend.  (Oh, now we cite how other countries do things?  If other countries were creating a world trend, such as signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, you’d no doubt be begging off stressing how unique Japan is instead.  Besides, at least three dozen other countries, many of them fellow developed countries, grant local suffrage to non-citizens, and they deal with it just fine.)

4) One shouldn’t equate taxpayer with voting rights, asserting that Japanese wouldn’t get suffrage if they lived overseas.  (Actually, yes they would, if they lived in one of those abovementioned three dozen plus countries which grant it.)

5) We haven’t studied the issue enough.  (This is a typical political stalling tactic.  How much debate is enough?  How long is a piece of string?)

6) We’ve got prefectural governors coming out against PR suffrage.  (And we have prefectural governors coming out FOR suffrage too.  Anyway, when has the national government listened to local governments until now?  It hasn’t been for the past decade since the Hamamatsu Sengen, for example.)

My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom.  “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!”  Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its spotlight on our archipelago.  NJ as invading alien!!  And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party (yes, the UFO党) waiting to cart us all away!!  How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.

But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka, which decided that its local university should be officially “foreigner-free”.  This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents.  It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.

Vote your conscience.  Now that we know who these LDP idiots are, don’t vote them back into power.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce


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Hi Blog.  One more piece in the puzzle about why divorces with children in tow in Japan are so problematic.  As we’ve discussed here before umpteen times, Japan does not allow joint custody (thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system etc.), nor does it guarantee visitation rights.  Following below is another excellent article by Colin Jones on why that is — because Japan’s paternalistic courts and bureaucrats believe they know more than the parents about what’s best for the child — and another full article from the Yomiuri illustrating how this dynamic works in practice.  It’s one more reason why I believe that without substantial reforms, nobody should marry (Japanese or NJ) and have children under the Japanese system as it stands right now.  Arudou Debito in Calgary


The Japan Times Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2010
Children’s rights, judicial wrongs
By COLIN P. A. JONES Last in a two-part series (excerpt)


Parents, lawyers and activists alike understandably frame the problems of parental child abduction and parental alienation in Japan in terms of children’s rights. While it would be easy to conclude from what I wrote in last week’s column that Japanese courts simply do not care about them, this would probably be a mistake.

On the contrary, family courts and their specially trained investigative personnel are held out as the “experts” on children, their welfare and rights…

Thus, in my view, the fact that courts might be inclined to ignore Civil Code provisions that describe parental authority as including parental rights is understandable for the same reason that they might not be keen on referring to the Children’s Rights Convention: It is probably personally and professionally more satisfying to tell other people what they should be doing than the other way around.

With rights being the principle way in which parents and other citizens could tell the courts and other government institutions what to do, their conversion into duties is also understandable. While in other countries courts provide a mechanism by which people assert their rights against bureaucracies, in Japan the courts tend to be more like bureaucracies themselves. The same logic may also explain why the Japanese government is able to advance plans to make it easier to terminate the rights of abusive parents at a time when growing calls for the adoption of joint custody, enforceable visitation and joining the Hague Convention on international child abduction remain unaddressed.

Consequently, parents and activists trying to address the problems of child abduction and parental alienation in Japan using arguments framed in terms of children’s rights may not get very far with family courts or other bureaucracies. After all, they are the experts in the subject, and if you are in court they may presume you are a bad parent anyways. That being the case, they will tell you what is best for your child, not the other way around.

Full article at: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202zg.html


WHEN FAMILIES BREAK UP / Divorced parents fighting for right to see own children
The Yomiuri Shimbun Feb 3, 2010, courtesy of TC


We live in a time when divorce has become commonplace. In Japan, a couple gets divorced every two minutes. Consequently, the number of divorced parents filing requests with the courts for visitation rights is increasing.

There is also a growing number of conflicts resulting from breakups of couples from different countries. Due to differences in interpretation regarding child custody, parents have been accused of abducting their own children and taking them to another country.

As families and people’s values diversify, certain problems have become difficult to resolve under the existing system.

Starting today, we will look at some of the problems divorced parents face as they struggle to win the right to see their children.

After separating from her husband five years ago, a 51-year-old woman in Tokyo began a long struggle to see her 15-year-old son.

The woman, a temporary worker, has only been able to see her son twice in the five years that have passed. The meetings, held in a court and in the presence of a court personnel, totaled just 95 minutes.

On both occasions when the woman saw her son, she was unable to stop tears welling up.

“My son, who is taking piano lessons, put his hand on mine to compare the size,” she said. “As I saw him staring at me while talking, I felt we were deeply bound inside.”

Desperately wishing to see her son more often, in July 2007 she applied to the family court for mediation on the issue of visitation rights.

However, the woman’s former husband initially resisted all requests to allow her to visit her son, citing the boy’s need to focus on his schooling, including preparing to move up to the next grade.

As part of the mediation process, in which a voluntary settlement is sought with the help of commissioners, the court initially set up two short meetings between the woman and her son as a way of determining the format future meetings should take.

The two met for 50 minutes in March 2008 and 45 minutes in April 2009.

“My son remembered the meeting we had a year earlier,” the woman said.

While the court advised that the woman be allowed to visit her son every two months, the couple failed to reach an agreement. As a result, the mediation process moved to the next stage, which will see a final decision issued by a judge.

“I’m so worried that I might never be allowed to see my son again,” she said.


Children caught up in disputes

The number of divorces nationwide reached 250,000 in 2008, according to a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry survey. Of those divorced couples, 140,000 had children aged under 20, which numbered more than 240,000.

The rising number of divorced couples is accompanied by an increasing number of conflicts involving children.

According to an annual survey compiled by the Supreme Court, family courts across the country mediated in 6,261 cases concerning disputes over meetings between divorced parents and their children and judges were forced to deliver a final decision in 1,020 of those cases. Both figures were triple the numbers a decade ago.

Even through such court-mediated procedures, only half of the parents involved in the cases won permission to see their children.

In addition, regardless of an agreement or court order reached on visitation, if the parent who lives with the child strongly resists allowing meetings, it remains difficult for the other parent to see the child.


Maintaining contact important

Several years ago, a 40-year-old man from Kanagawa Prefecture seeking the right to see his then 1-year-old son applied for court mediation.

He had helped his wife take care of the baby, feeding him milk and changing his diapers at night. On his days off, he took the boy to a park to play. “I had no inkling I’d be prevented from meeting my son after the divorce,” he said. “But I was completely wrong.”

He said that even after the official mediation procedure started, his former wife maintained she would never allow him to see their son. She even pushed back the scheduled date for the mediation. Time passed and no decisions were made.

Desperate to see his son, the man even visited the neighborhood where the boy lived with his mother.

The former couple failed to reach a compromise through the court-led mediation process and began proceedings that would lead to a decision by a judge. Two years later, the court concluded that the man should be allowed to see his son once a month, for half a day. Nevertheless, the former wife broke the appointment set for the first meeting, leaving the man unable to see the boy.

After repeated negotiations with the woman through lawyers, he finally managed to ensure he could regularly see his son. “I believe it’s important for children’s growth to maintain a relationship with both parents,” the father said. “I think adults shouldn’t deprive their children of this right due to selfishness.”

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura argues the existing system no longer meets society’s changing needs. “It was previously believed that divorced parents had to accept they couldn’t see children they’d been separated from,” Tanamura said. “In recent years, however, men have become more involved in child rearing and the number of children born to couples has declined. Because of this, many divorced parents have an increased desire to maintain their relationship with their children even after a divorce.”

What needs to be done to ensure that parents can see their children after a divorce? There is a growing need for this nation to find an answer to this question.


Sole custody causing headaches

A key factor behind disputes involving divorced couples over their children’s custody is a Civil Code stipulation that parental prerogatives are granted to either the mother or father–not both.

The parent who obtains custody assumes rights and duties for his or her child, such as the duty to educate the child and the right to control any assets they might have. However, the parent without parental authority can claim almost no rights concerning their children.

In fact, mothers win in 90 percent of court decisions concerning the custody of a child–known as mediation and determination proceedings.

There is no provision in the Civil Code referring to the visitation rights of a parent living separately from his or her child, so whether the absent parent can meet the child depends on the wishes of the former partner who has been granted custody.

If the parent who has custody refuses to let his or her child meet with the former spouse in a court mediation, it is difficult to arrange visits.

Even if the parent living separately from his or her child or children is allowed to visit, the chances are limited–for example, to once a month. Moreover, if the parents who have custody ignore the court’s decision to grant their spouses visiting rights, there is almost no legal recourse to implement such visits.

Waseda University Prof. Masayuki Tanamura said: “The current system strongly reflects the Japanese family system established in the Meiji era [1868-1912]. Since that time, parental authority has been regarded as the right of the parents to control their children, so couples fight over it.”

Meanwhile, as the number of divorces increased from the 1970s to the ’90s in Europe and the United States, such countries began allowing joint custody, in which former couples cooperate in bringing up their children even after breaking up.

Lawyer Takao Tanase, who also serves as a professor at Chuo University, said: “[In such countries,] the rights of parents who live separately from their children after divorce to visit and communicate with their children are recognized, and such visits occur regularly. For example, there are cases in which such parents meet with their children once a fortnight and spend the weekend together.”

The number of international marriages is increasing yearly–reaching a record high of 18,774 cases in 2008–and the difference in the custody system between Japan and foreign countries causes serious problems when a Japanese splits from his or her foreign spouse.

Cases in which Japanese living in foreign countries take their children back to Japan after divorcing a foreign spouse have become an international problem. The Foreign Ministry confirmed 73 such incidents in the United States, 36 in Canada, 35 in France and 33 in Britain.

There is an international law to deal with such disputes. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction stipulates that if a former husband or wife takes his or her child or children to another country without the consent of the former spouse, the spouse can apply to bring the child back to the country where they were living. Member countries assume an obligation to cooperate in bringing the child back to the home country.

Many European countries and the United States have joined the convention, but Japan has yet to ratify it. International pressure on Japan to adopt the convention is growing.

“We need to separate the problems of parent-child relationships from the problems between couples. We need to establish laws enabling children to meet with the parent who is living separately after divorce, with the exception of cases in which the child is exposed to potential physical danger by meeting the parent,” Tanase said.

“In Japan, divorce is becoming increasingly common, and it’s important to accept the idea that divorced couples will share child-rearing duties even after divorce,” he added.

(Feb. 3, 2010)

Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Forwarding.  Disgraceful.  Suggest those concerned send the day-care center my Japanese-language parody of the book where the shoe is on the other foot.  Arudou Debito in Calgary


From: Mark Thompson
Date: 2010/2/18
Subject: Teaching Children the Words of Hate in Tokorozawa, Japan

Dear Debito, I would like to bring the following matter to your attention.

A daycare center named Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園), or Green Daycare Center, in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, located just 30 minutes by train from Ikebukuro station in Tokyo, has been teaching hate speech to three-year old children daily, despite the protests of the parents of at least one biracial child in the class.


Although technically a private institution, the parents were originally instructed by the city of Tokorozawa that their child would have attend daycare there.

During the two years that the child has attended the daycare center, the parents had never once voiced a single concern about the operation of the daycare center until much to the their shock, the daycare center based a play / musical to be performed on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, on the book Little Black Sambo:


This is the very same book that several Japanese publishing companies had stopped printing due to public outrage in 1988. When the book was reprinted by one rogue publisher in 2005, many residents of Japan–foreign and Japanese–signed a petition encouraging the publishing company to use a different title and illustrations for the book due to their offensive nature:


Unfortunately, now that the book Little Black Sambo has been republished and widely distributed in Japan, it is apparent that the book is now being taught at Japanese daycare centers and quite possibly preschools and elementary schools across the country as well. At least two additional volumes of the book have also been printed by the same rogue Japanese publishing company:



In addition, another publishing company has also decided to get in on the action and has also decided to republish another version of Little Black Sambo:


It is important to note that the book Little Black Sambo was written by a white English woman during India’s colonial period, and at a time when slavery was still quite common. Although the use of the word “slavery” was in decline at the time in India, the population was routinely subjected to debt bondage by the British instead.

Here is a quick translation of some of the frightening lyrics from the song the children are being taught to enjoy singing daily at the daycare center in Tokorozawa:

“Little Black Sambo, sambo, sambo
His face and hands are completely black
Even his butt is completely black”

In the original Japanese:


Obviously, that kind of speech should never be taught to children by teachers at a daycare center. Those words are more akin to what might be taught by a white supremacist group.

Apparently, the book they daycare center is using even comes complete with demeaning picaninny images:


Now every time the 3-year old biracial child sees a black person he starts using the racial slur and mentions their black skin. The parents now fear taking their own child out in public or overseas. As the child is of such a young age, it also is not effective for the parents to tell the child not to use those derogatory words outside of daycare, as the child will only use them more.

In an attempt to be as understanding of cultural differences, as it was possible that perhaps the daycare center teachers were just not aware of the problems with the book, the parents of the biracial child both wrote letters in Japanese explaining the history of the book, why the title was discriminatory, and mentioning that they thought that illustrations showing demeaning racial stereotypes were not appropriate for young children.

The parents even showed the teachers that the term “sambo” was offensive and derogatory, both in English and in Japanese:



Beside being used as a disparaging reference to black people, the English dictionary above makes it clear that the word is also used to refer to people of “mulatto ancestry,” in other words, the offspring of parents of different racial origin.

After doing a little research, the parents soon found that the term had been in use and deemed derogatory as far back as 1748, 150 years before the book Little Black Sambo was even written. In addition, the derogatory word “sambo” has been prohibited from being broadcasted on TV or radio in Japan (放送禁止用語), which was also explained to the daycare center.

This fact that the book contains offensive slurs shouldn’t even be considered news to anyone in Japan, when when Little Black Sambo was republished in Japan in 2005, the website of the Asahi News reported that the book was said to “discriminate against black people” and the article can still be found online:


In an attempt to help the daycare center out of a sticky situation, the parents of the biracial child even had the two following books sent by express mail and took them to the daycare center:

The Japanese translation of “Sam and the Tigers”:


The Japanese translation of “The Story of Little Babaji”:


Both books above are modern, politically-correct retellings of Little Black Sambo that would not cause offense.

However, the daycare center said that they were not only already aware of the politically correct versions of the book, but has also refused to use them.

The daycare center’s excuse is that since all of the children have already learned the title Little Black Sambo, there will be no change in the title whatsoever. The staff have continued to teach the use of the discriminatory word “sambo” and encourage the children to enjoy using it.

In addition, at a meeting with one of the parents of the biracial child, the daycare center said that although they could not make any promises, they would “try” to change the lyrics of the song. However, it seems that additional lyrics were never actually taught and the biracial child and others in the school continue to use the hate speech filled one.

It appears that nothing has been done at all and that the daycare center is just trying to avoid the problem. Despite the parents’ protests, the daycare center still continues to use the racial slur in the presence of their biracial child and encourages the child’s classmates to enjoy singing the song which clearly contains hate speech.

Despite the daycare center’s claims, the fact is that there is no good excuse for racial discrimination.

It is shocking that a daycare center of all places, located just 30 minutes by train from downtown Tokyo, where the population includes a fair number of black people and numerous African Embassies, is teaching hate speech to small children. Tokorozawa’s sister cities include Decatur, Illinois in the United States (which has a 20% African American population), Changzhou in the People’s Republic of China and Anyang, Gyeonggi in South Korea. In addition, Tokorozawa is also the home of Columbia International School (コロンビアインターナショナルスクール) and several international dormitories for the international students of Waseda University:



As can be imagined, this has caused quite a lot of stress for the family with the biracial child. While understanding that this matter needs to be brought to the attention of the public, one of the parents of the biracial child has expressed concern for their family’s safety, and so wishes that the family not be further identified publicly.

Japanese society is based on shame and often slow to change. As a culture is appears that may Japanese people prefer to try to ignore problems and just hope they go away. Only by shaming organizations that discriminate and drawing the public’s attention to the problem of racial discrimination in Japan, will real change eventually come about.

Please take the time to contact the daycare center yourself, either in English or Japanese, and raise your concerns about the daycare center’s teaching of hate speech to young children. It will only take a minute of your time and contact information is provided below.

Midori Hoikuen (みどり保育園)

Tel: 04-2948-2613 (Monday to Saturday, 9 AM – 5 PM)
Fax: 04-2947-3924
E-mail: qqew85hd@world.ocn.ne.jp


Sayamagaoka 1-3003-52
Tokorozawa, Saitama 359-1161


Please also make your voice heard, by sending a carbon copy to Tokorozawa City Hall, Department of Daycare Services, which has been informed of this issue:

EMAIL: a9126@city.tokorozawa.saitama.jp

Thank you very much for your time. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.


Mark Thompson (MarkThompson1970@gmail.com)

This message can be freely copied, distributed or published online. Please help raise awareness of racial discrimination.