Kyodo: “63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police”, part of systemic racial profiling by the National Police Agency

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s been difficult for me to blog much this year (beyond my monthly SNA columns), as I’ve had the busiest semester on record. All of my writing energies are being absorbed by coursework. So in order to keep up with events, I’m going to try to post more but feel the need to comment less.

Instead, Debito.org Readers are keeping us all updated in real time in their comments to various blog posts, but in particular see their updates and reposts of news articles in the Comments Sections of all Debito.org NewsLetters. They’re doing a far better job than I am. Many thanks.

On to the Kyodo article, which is more quantifiable grist for the mill for Debito.org’s longstanding substantiated claim that Racial Profiling is standard operating procedure for the Japanese Police. Read on. Bravo Tokyo Bar Association for getting us some citable statistics.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police
April 10, 2022 (Mainichi Japan/Kyodo News), courtesy of lots of people
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220410/p2g/00m/0na/019000c

PHOTO: Foreign residents take to the streets in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward on May 30, 2020, in protest against the alleged mistreatment by Japanese police of a Kurdish man. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — A total of 62.9 percent of people in Japan with foreign roots were questioned by police over the past five years, preliminary results of a recent Tokyo Bar Association survey showed, with the group saying the outcome is evidence of biased behavior by officers.

The survey on racial profiling drew responses from 2,094 people with roots in foreign countries. The association said it conducted the poll after receiving complaints that many such people had been questioned by police apparently due to their appearance.

Among individuals who were approached by the police over the past five years, 50.4 percent were stopped “two to five times,” while 10.8 percent were questioned “six to nine times” and 11.5 percent “10 times or more,” according to the survey conducted between Jan. 11 and Feb. 28.

A total of 70.3 percent of those individuals said they “felt uncomfortable” with the police questioning, while 85.4 percent said the police approached them upon recognizing they have roots in other countries. Most of those people believed officers had such an awareness because of their appearance.

A Japanese law governing police officers on duty allows them to question people if there are reasons to suspect they have committed an unusual act or crime. But 76.9 percent of people who were questioned by police officers in the survey said there was no reason for being treated with suspicion.

In a free description section, some wrote that after officers learned of their foreign nationality, they showed “overbearing behavior” toward them.

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo had warned on its official Twitter account last year that it had been receiving reports of “suspected racial profiling incidents” with several foreigners “detained, questioned and searched” by the police.

ENDS

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My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

mytest

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Visible Minorities 31: Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man
Shingetsu News Agency, February 21, 2022
By Debito Arudou (abridged)

Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who died February 1, was an evil man. Any honest obituary would admit as such. Unfortunately, the media’s retrospectives have tended to eulogize him, using weasel words so as to not speak ill of the dead.

But that’s the wrong reflex. Evil should never be whitewashed, especially when it comes to a person as evil as Ishihara, and by doing so they are complicit in historical revisionism. I will try to rectify that with this column by recounting Ishihara’s actual record…

A hateful man who poured his hate into concrete policies, Ishihara eventually found himself in a position of real power, elected multiple times to the governorship of the world’s largest and richest city. Ishihara installed Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras specifically in areas of Tokyo he claimed were “hotbeds of foreign crime,” and went on TV at regular intervals to propagandize that Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi at night were no longer Japan.

He also said that Japanese politicians who support more civil and human rights for foreign residents must have “foreign ancestors” themselves, and abetted political witch hunts and loyalty tests to root out politicians with international connections.

Essentially, Ishihara was trying to ethnically cleanse Japan, undoing the “internationalization” phase of the 1980s and 1990s of openness and tolerance. In its place, he sponsored overt racism and normalized xenophobia.

And it worked. To this day, entire political parties, candidates, and hate groups publicly rally for the expulsion of foreigners and the extermination of Koreans. That’s why current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can’t easily lift the world’s longest, most draconian and unscientific Covid border policies–because polls say 57% of the fearful Japanese public want them kept…

Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/ 
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Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

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Hi Blog.  Getting to this one a bit late, sorry. (Got two more new classes this semester; just starting to get into a semester groove now.)

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”.

Of course, we here at Debito.org are all in favor of inclusivity.  But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science.  No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse.  My comments interspliced within the article:

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PORTRAITS OF JAPAN
BEYOND TOKYO 2020: LEADING THE WAY TOWARD AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/_userdata/pdf/2021/winter2021/beyond_tokyo_2020.pdf

The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment:  So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability?  Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan?  Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

It was precisely because the world had been facing great difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Japan determined to fulfill its responsibility as host country to hold the Tokyo 2020 Games, even without spectators, and to provide the world with a sense of solidarity and to offer hopes and dreams, especially to children, who hold the future in their hands. Firmly intent on making this happen, many people throughout Japan worked in unison, striving to implement measures for safety and security to ensure that Japan bring the Games to a safe conclusion.

(Comment:  Trope check:  We hardworking Japanese should take a bow for “working in unison” (echoing the wartime sentiment of all Japanese hearts beating in unison without exception) making everything safe and secure for providing the world with hopes and dreams and solidarity.  Especially the children.  And according to the first sentence, Japan did this for the world?  I think more for its sponsors, both foreign and particularly domestic.)

The Tokyo 2020 Games not only moved and inspired many people through sports, but also advanced the Games’ core concept of “Unity in Diversity,” serving to promote the further growth of this movement. The percentage of female athletes participating in the Olympic Games was a record 48.8. Moreover, the number of athletes who identified themselves as LGBTQ+ was reportedly over 180—-more than triple that of the Rio 2016 Games—-and they won more than 55 medals among them. In order to promote gender equality, the number of mixed-gender events was doubled to 18. Seeing men and women teaming up to compete for their country was like a breath of fresh air. The Paralympic Games, which was held in Tokyo for the second time, served as an opportunity to convey to the world and cultivate the “barrier-free mindset” that is at the foundation of an inclusive society, in which everyone, with or without impairments, can lead a vibrant life.

(Comment:  Ah yes, the “Unity in Diversity” trope that I critiqued for SNA last August.  I will excerpt that below and show how ironic that trope actually was.  But look at how the article categorizes “diversity”:  Females.  LGBTQ+.  Mixed-gender.  Paraolympics.  Nothing about, for example, Visible Minorities.

But again, this has nothing to do with Japan, and more to do with the Olympic-sponsored events themselves.  Claiming this as something that we Japanese created is like claiming that Japan promoted better chocolate because Japan hosted a chocolate festival that somebody else created and sponsored.  And that that better chocolate somehow created mindsets throughout society to make them more inclusive of chocolate, even for those who hate chocolate.  There’s simply no data to support this assertion that any mindsets changed here, there, or anywhere.  Then we actually get to their dataset for their claims:)

Supporting the success of the Games from behind the scenes were more than 70,000 Games volunteers, who ranged in age from 19 to 91. These volunteers, regardless of age, gender, or disability, played the vital role of actuating the concept of “Unity in Diversity” by providing hospitality and supporting athletes and staff from around the world. MIURA Hisashi, who has a hearing impairment, was one of these volunteers. Wanting to contribute in some way to this historic event, he performed reception and maintenance duties, among others, at the residential buildings and fitness center at the Olympic and Paralympic Village. “As I actively offered my own opinions and shared sign-language skills, my teammates also naturally started to communicate more openly, showing their care for one another using both spoken words and sign language. Ultimately, I felt that we made an excellent team, and were able to fulfill our role. It was also unforgettable to have the chance to communicate with players and staff visiting from all around the world using gestures and body language. I’m glad that I was able to support them, even if only in a small way”, says Miura.

(Comment:  Wow, Miura got a lot of space.  One guy with a hearing impairment who performed “reception and maintenance duties” leads the way with gestures and body language.  A diverse sample size of one proves the point that society’s mindsets are changing.  And that’s basically the meat of the article.)

Respecting and supporting one another regardless of differences is crucial to the realization of an inclusive society. At this year’s Games, this notion was reiterated to many people throughout the world. Miura says, “The Tokyo 2020 Games offered an opportunity to make great progress in terms of ‘Unity in Diversity.’ I am thankful that I was able to make my personal contribution as a volunteer at the Games, and I believe it is important to continue building up such experiences, not just at the Olympics and Paralympics.”

(Comment:  Even more space for Miura.  That’s lazy journalism.  And it repeats that trope that we Japanese unified to somehow welcome more diverse people, whoever they are.

Note there’s not even a mention of the truly diverse people involved, notably tennis champ Osaka Naomi lighting the Olympic Cauldron in the Opening Ceremonies.  I guess that’s not the diversity they’re looking for:  It doesn’t fall into the “gender, age, and ability” point they’re trying to prove, then don’t.)

Each of us embracing diversity will create a vitality that will lead to the realization of a world where everyone can live comfortably. The Tokyo 2020 Games were a sure, significant step in that direction.

ARTICLE ENDS

ARTICLE PHOTOS: Some 11,000 athletes from 205 countries and regions and the Refugee Olympic Team participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, giving inspiring performances and setting numerous records. (Photo: Closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, August 8) AFLO SPORTS

Top: MIURA Hisashi (left), who has a hearing impairment, participated in the Games as a volunteer. Through the assistance of the Nippon Foundation Volunteer Support Center, which provides support to volunteers with impairments, he worked on a team together with an individual (right) who was able to offer sign-language interpretation at the venue to support the athletes. THE NIPPON FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER SUPPORT CENTER

Bottom: With the help of volunteers, Slovenian sprinter Anita Horvat exits the venue after the competition. Volunteers offered their assistance to athletes and Games personnel not just at the competition venues, but also at various locations around the country. XINHUA/AFLO

Left: Tom Daley (foreground), an openly gay athlete who won the gold medal for Great Britain in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform, told the press, “I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
PICTURE ALLIANCE/AFLO

Top: The Japanese duo of MIZUTANI Jun and ITO Mima won the gold in a new event, mixed doubles table tennis. REUTERS/AFLO
ENDS

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As mentioned above, here’s an excerpt of my SNA column of August 16, 2021 critiquing that “Unity in Diversity” trope:

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SNA Visible Minorities;  Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem (excerpt)

By Debito Arudou

…That’s why I had some pretty low expectations for Tokyo’s Opening Ceremonies on July 21. Scandal after scandal had erupted over Japan’s Olympic Committee abysmal leadership choices, including the creative head cracking fat jokes about a female entertainer, the composer of the ceremony bragging about his history of abusing disabled people, the director of the ceremony making wisecracks about the Holocaust, and, of course, Yoshiro Mori, the octogenarian chair, resigning after sexist remarks.

After this, how would Japan introduce itself to the world?

Surprisingly, as a land with some degree of diversity. In prominent positions were people in wheelchairs and Visible Minorities, including hoopster Rui Hachimura as Japan’s flag bearer, Zainichi Taiwanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh on the torch relay, and of course tennis champ Naomi Osaka having the great honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron. This caused much media buzz about how Japan was finally changing, coming to terms with the reality of its own diversity.

Sadly, I disagree. I would say this represents less a contradiction of Japan’s “monoethnic society,” more an affirmation of the power of tokenism.

Remember how Tokyo got these Games in the first place: By wheeling out French-Japanese TV announcer Christel Takigawa to give a fluent gaijin-handling presentation about Japan’s mystical prowess in omotenashi hospitality. Once her purpose as a token of diversity was served, she essentially disappeared from the Games, and the old guard took over and reverted to its scandalous form.

The thing is, tokenism isn’t acceptance. At best it’s a way station to your acceptance as an exceptional individual, successful DESPITE your background, and even that depends on whether you’ve fulfilled your assigned purpose. For the Olympics, if we’re putting you center stage, you’d better do your job and win Gold for the nation.

Unfortunately, the tokens didn’t win. Osaka was defeated in her third tennis match. Hachimura’s basketball team placed eleventh. Despite Japan’s record haul of medals, as far as I can tell only two Visible Minorities (Aaron Wolf in judo and Kanoa Igarashi in surfing) made it to the podium.

And Igarashi, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic “thoroughbred-ism”: “I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.”

Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness, all of which mattered much less when she was winning.

The final straw was when The Daily Beast reported August 4 that Yoshiro Mori had lobbied against Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron in the first place, in favor of a “pure Japanese man.” With her lackluster performance, no doubt many bigots feel Mori has been vindicated.
EXCERPT ENDS

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“Unity in Diversity” indeed.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

The article itself is available as a screen capture here (click to expand):

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Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

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Hi Blog. It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89.

Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc.  (Check out the utter gloss job the NY Times Obits did here.)  Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.

Debito.org has commented on Ishihara’s evil activities umpteen times (most famously here), so I see no need to dwell further. I think Kaori Shoji writes an excellent obit in the Japan Subculture Research Center (aptly titled “A Farewell To Japan’s King of Toxic Masculinity: Shintaro Ishihara“) where she sums up:

The man was a rightist, elitist, racist, misogynist, patriarchal pig. I hope I didn’t leave out anything.

But even she winds up succumbing to a begrudging admiration for a person in power who was granted even more power and wielded it. That’s a pity.  Yes, Ishihara had power — the power of yet another racist toxic masculinist born into rich privilege who did everything he could to make sure that privilege is perpetuated for his ilk. And his ilk have caused (and then denied) things like genocides, and should never be allowed to come near power and public service. Alas, an early showing with a prestigious literary award catapulted Ishihara into fame, and people are suckers for celebrities.

Returning to my opening, I say “measured amount of joy” because my joy was restrained by the fact that a recurrence of pancreatic cancer took Ishihara. I hope it hurt real bad in your final days, Ishihara. But no amount of pain you would ever experience would be enough payback for all the pain and suffering you caused other people.

Rot in hell, you monster. Arudou Debito, Ph.D.

======================
PS. Other Debito.org Readers have already commented on Ishihara’s demise in a separate blog post here.

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My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

mytest

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Visible Minorities Column 30: US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, JAN 24, 2022 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

SNA (Tokyo) — Shingetsu News Agency has reported for two years on how the Japanese government and media have gone out of their way to blame foreigners for the domestic spread of Covid. Each time we’ve gone out of our way to point out that Covid was usually brought in by Japanese citizens disobeying lenient quarantines.

The government’s exclusionary border policies, treating people without Japanese passports as somehow more contagious, is routinely supported neither by logic nor science.

The latest mutation of this narrative has been the blame targeted at US military bases in Japan for community spread.

For example, Japan Times reported on January 8, stitching together wire reports from Jiji Press and Kyodo News, that “US military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in [Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima]. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the US forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.” […]. But this is contradicted by what the US Forces Japan say are their actual policies, claiming 92-98% vaccination rates and limitations on movement.

So is the blame game grounded in facts and science? Or are these reactions to people trying to find another foreign scapegoat for the latest Covid spike? We don’t know because US Forces Japan aren’t making their practices sufficiently loud and clear. As usual.

The upshot: How US Forces Japan are yet again ignoring being used for domestic political capital is irresponsible. USFJ has the duty to recognize that what they do affects Visible Minorities in Japan, whether it be inspiring “Japanese Only” bigots to slam shop doors in their faces, or giving more ammunition to reactionaries who seek to seal off Japan’s borders.

Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

Page with more sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=16964.

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Combating xenophobic rumors and media: Debito.org asks US Forces, Japan for clarification on their COVID testing and vaccination policies

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From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: From Debito.org: Questions regarding US Forces, Japan vaccination procedures.
Date: January 13, 2022
To: indopacom.yokota.usfj.mbx.pao@mail.mil (courtesy of this site)
Cc: Shingetsu News Agency <shingetsunewsagency@gmail.com>

To Whom It May Concern,
US Forces, Japan

Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Debito Arudou, Ph.D., coordinator for Debito.org (www.debito.org), an award-winning online archive for life and human rights in Japan for more than 25 years. We address issues that affect Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, particularly Visible Minorities, and have acted as a launching pad for hundreds of journalistic and academic articles, government and NGO reports, and actions that have changed the course of national narratives and public policies. I am also the author of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, Second Edition 2022), and am a columnist for the Shingetsu News Agency.

Debito.org has some questions we would like to ask about the policies of US Forces, Japan.

In recent weeks, the Japanese media has portrayed US Forces in Japan as a major vector for infection in Japan, portraying the US military presence in Japan as a leak in their otherwise tight border policies. Consider:

============================
“Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters on Thursday that ‘U.S. military bases are one of the major causes of the spread of infections,’ while Yamaguchi Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka said, ‘The fact that (military personnel) were not tested before departure from the United States had a big impact.’ Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki also called the U.S. military’s measures ‘extremely regrettable.’”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
“U.S. military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in the three prefectures. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the U.S. forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/
============================
with a public advertisement in Okinawa published by Kyodo News in the Japan Times, showing a Westerner (not an Asian) sneezing:

From https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/

As you know, Japan’s border policies for most of the past two years have refused entry to most foreigners, including foreign residents regardless of visa status, while letting in Japanese under often lax quarantine conditions to spread Covid anyway. Yet media and policymakers in Japan have frequently portrayed Covid as an exogenous, “foreign” disease, with the highly problematic interpretation of seeing foreigners as more likely to spread Covid than Japanese.

The World Health Organization last month noted the lack of good science behind that claim, stating that “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident? Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.” (https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/12/28670f8f00db-urgent-kishida-hints-at-review-of-japans-re-entry-restrictions-over-omicron.html)

My point is that the US Military in Japan has a responsibility to dispel rumors and reports that are playing a part in potentially increasing xenophobic attitudes towards foreign residents of Japan.

I understand that you have made an attempt to do so with announcements on your US Forces, Japan, website dated January 5 and 9, 2022:
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2889890/us-forces-japan-increases-to-health-protection-bravo/and
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2893181/us-japan-joint-committee-statement-on-measures-to-address-the-spread-of-covid-19/

But please permit me to ask some clarifying questions, for publication on Debito.org:

==================================
1) Pursuant to President Biden’s order that all federal employees and military be vaccinated and tested by February 15 (“as of early December, 92 percent of federal employees and military personnel had received at least one dose”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/11/biden-federal-coronavirus-mandate-testing-rules-unvaccinated/), does this mean that all US Forces in Japan, both incoming and resident, have been vaccinated and boosted, and tested for Covid, including the Omicron variant?

2) What happens when members of the US Military test positive for Covid? If in Japan, are they quarantined within the base? If outside Japan, are they denied entry into Japan and quarantined overseas?

3) Do you have any response to the claims within the following reportage in the Japan Times:

“It was revealed in December that U.S. forces had been lax in their border measures against the virus… But it was found that the U.S. side was not conducting pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as required by Japan, and that it had shortened the period of restrictions on arriving personnel’s movement from 14 days to 10. It also allowed people in the restriction period to move freely within U.S. bases.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
==================================

I have heard unsubstantiated reports from American military members on social media that US Forces must be properly vaccinated and tested before they arrive in Japan. This would be at odds with what the Japanese media is saying.

Debito.org would welcome your clarifications for the record.

Thank you for reading and responding.

Sincerely, Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Debito.org
Columnist, Shingetsu News Agency (https://shingetsunewsagency.com)
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2022:  We received no answer.

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Why COVID keeps being seen as a “foreign” disease in Japan: Uncritical reportage in the Mainichi of Shizuoka Mayor blaming Omicron on “foreign nationals at work”, claiming it’s not “community transmission”. Wait, let’s parse that.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has talked about how Japanese officialdom keeps trying to construe COVID as something “foreign”, i.e., something exogenous that affects foreigners more than Japanese people (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, herehere, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here for example).  To the point where there’s even a research institute (Riken) speculating that Japanese are genetically less susceptible to COVID.  Seriously.

And that unscientific attitude is reflected in Japanese government policy that treats anyone with a Japanese passport as somehow less contagious than somebody with a foreign passport, regardless of individual vaccination status. (That of course means that a porous border and more lax quarantine rules for VIPs and “Japanese” entrants — including those without Japanese citizenship but WITH Japanese blood — get in and spread the disease anyway.  Omicron is in Japan to stay, brought in by Japanese, no matter how much you’re trying to blame it on, for example, the US Military.)

It’s gotten to the point where even the WHO has decried these policies as unscientific:

(Kyodo News Dec 2, 2021):  Michael Ryan, head of the WHO’s Health Emergencies Program, said of Japan’s ban on new entries of foreigners, “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident?  Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.”

But one other factor in all this gaijin-bashing is an uncritical media, even from foreigner-friendly media outlets like the Mainichi Shinbun. Where they report unconfirmed statements from a local mayor that people had contact “with foreign nationals” (“kaigai no hito“, or “overseas people” in the original Japanese), and scare the public all over again.

Article follows, then my comment:

//////////////////////////////////////
Central Japan prefecture’s 1st omicron case linked to contact with foreigners at job: mayor
December 28, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20211228/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

SHIZUOKA — Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.”

According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus.

The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.

The man received his second coronavirus vaccine by August. He developed symptoms on Dec. 23, was tested the following day, and hospitalized on Dec. 25. He was confirmed positive for the omicron variant the next day.

Other than the two people deemed close contacts, 12 of the 13 people involved in the same work tested negative. One still awaits their results.

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

静岡市でオミクロン株初確認 海外から来た人と接触 市中感染は否定的
毎日新聞 2021/12/27
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20211227/k00/00m/040/344000c
新型コロナウイルス感染症の変異株・オミクロン株への静岡県内初感染が静岡市で確認された27日、田辺信宏市長は記者会見で「業務上、海外の人と接点が確認されている。市中感染の可能性は低い」と説明した。患者は男性で軽症、市保健所で感染経路を調べている。
市によると、男性は新型コロナの感染が既に確認されていた。国立感染症研究所のゲノム解析でオミクロン株陽性と判明。濃厚接触者2人は陰性だった。
男性患者は海外渡航歴はなく、海外から来た人と業務で接触があった。市保健所は感染経路について「業務上の接触の方を強く疑う状況と判断している」と説明。8月までにワクチンの2回目接種を終えていた。23日に発症、24日に検査を受け、25日に入院。26日にオミクロン株の陽性と分かった。
濃厚接触者以外の仕事関係者13人のうち12人の陰性を確認。1人は検査結果を待っている。【山田英之】

ENDS

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

COMMENT: A few more simple questions needed to be asked of Mr. Mayor before his speculation got passed through by the Mainichi editors, and allowed to filter into the public sphere:

  • Were these “overseas people” freshly-arrived in Japan from overseas despite a near-blanket ban on any foreigners at the border?
  • Were these “overseas people” in fact foreign residents who were here anyway, therefore those people are in fact part of “the community” (meaning, yes, “community transmission”).
  • Is there any evidence that these individual “overseas people” were in fact COVID-positive? Were they tested? Was there any other vector testing of other people in the community? Or are we just simply assuming that foreigners are more likely than Japanese to have COVID and leaving it at that?

We should know.  But we don’t.  Why not?  Because the constant and uncritical assumptions that foreigners a) are vectors, and b) are not part of the “Japanese community” at large anyway, are precisely what I mean when I refer to Japan’s Embedded Racism. Presumptions like these are so normalized as to be embedded and unquestioned in Japan, even by media professionals who are supposed to be asking these questions before they let these racist ideas infect and spread throughout society.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My annual “Human Rights Top Ten for 2021” countdown now at Shingetsu News Agency, VM 29 Dec 27, 2021

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Hello and Happy Holidays to all Debito.org Readers! Here’s my annual Top Ten, this year moved to the Shingetsu News Agency because The Japan Times isn’t in the market for articles like these anymore. Excerpt:

//////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, DEC 27, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN

SNA (Tokyo) — Since 2008, I have always devoted my end-year columns to counting down the Top Ten human rights issues as they pertain to Non-Japanese residents of Japan. This year I’m moving this feature to the Shingetsu News Agency. Let’s get started:

10) Debito.org Turns 25 Years Old…
9) Tourism to Japan Drops 99% Since 2019…
8 ) Vincent Fichot Hunger Strike against Japan Child Abduction…
7) Tokyo Musashino City Approves, Then Defeats, Inclusive Voting Proposal…

Full countdown with write-ups at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/12/27/visible-minorities-human-rights-top-ten-for-2021/

Enjoy!  More to come in 2022!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

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Hi Blog.  While doing some research for my upcoming SNA end-year column, I found this interesting article from 2018 that deserves highlighting.  An important estimated statistic follows about the possible number of dual nationals in Japan (close to one million).  And also the fact that those dual nationals in Japan are probably under no credible threat of losing one citizenship.

International couples with dual national children in Japan, take note:  Do not let your children sacrifice one side of their identity merely for the sake of bureaucratic convenience, especially when they don’t have to.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

(PS:  Note how little the debate has progressed since dual nationality in Japan was proposed back in 2009!)

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

What does Japan’s Nationality Act really mean for its dual citizens?
Subtitle: Given the present “don’t ask, don’t tell” attitude of the Justice Ministry, it would be highly unusual if Naomi Osaka was forced to relinquish her U.S. citizenship at the age of 22. 
BY CORY BAIRD AND SAKURA MURAKAMI
The Japan Times, Sep 19, 2018 (excerpt)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/how-tos/japans-nationality-act-really-mean-dual-citizens/

How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?

The Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times in April that some 890,000 are in a position to be dual nationals, according to data from local municipalities from the years 1985 to 2016. This number includes those who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as those that are assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

Has anyone been stripped of their dual nationality by the Japanese government?

There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.

In April, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that the justice minister had never issued a warning to a dual citizen by birth to decide upon one nationality, meaning that no such dual national has ever been stripped of their Japanese citizenship under Article 15 of the Nationality Act.

This lack of enforcement is a fact that Okuda says is often overlooked.

“For athletes like Naomi Osaka, the newspapers write under the impression that she must choose a nationality,” he said, “but many people do not know that (the Justice Ministry) has never warned people (for not declaring one nationality), although in the past the Justice Ministry has reportedly mailed the children from international marriages a notification about the obligation to declare one nationality.”

However, for those who have naturalized to other countries, there have been a few reported cases of citizens being stripped of their Japanese passport.

The Nationality Act states that Japanese citizens who naturalize to a foreign country will automatically lose their Japanese nationality upon obtaining foreign citizenship.

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/09/19/how-tos/japans-nationality-act-really-mean-dual-citizens/ 

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US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

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Hi Blog.  We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org (and in book “Embedded Racism in Japan“) for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it.

Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media.

Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this.  Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

PS: If anyone is on the US Embassy mailing lists and you received a warning there too, please forward it to debito@debito.org or in the Comments Section below for the record.  Thanks.

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

U.S. Embassy warns of suspected racial profiling by Japan police
By Isabel Reynolds, Japan Times/Bloomberg, December 6, 2021, Courtesy of JDG, TJL, and GPW
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/06/national/crime-legal/us-embassy-racial-profiling-police/

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a warning Monday about foreign residents being stopped and searched by Japanese police in what it said were suspected to be “racial profiling incidents.”

The unusual move by the embassy of Tokyo’s only formal ally came after Japan closed its borders to new entries by foreigners amid concern over the omicron variant, just weeks after beginning a cautious reopening. The closure was backed by almost 90% of respondents to a media poll over the weekend.

The alert posted on the Twitter account of the American Citizen Services section of the embassy warned that U.S. citizens should carry proof of their immigration status and notify their consulate if detained. The alert added that several foreigners “were detained, questioned, and searched.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno dismissed the concerns and said at a news briefing that police questioning in the country is not based on nationality or race.

The number of foreign citizens living in Japan fell by 2% to 2.8 million in June, compared with a year earlier, according to the Justice Ministry. American citizens made up less than 2% of the total, at nearly 54,000. Entry by foreign tourists, businesspeople and students is currently banned under coronavirus restrictions, although foreigners with resident status are currently permitted to re-enter.
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////

US Embassy in Tokyo warns of ‘suspected racial profiling’ by Japanese police
BY MONIQUE BEALS – THE HILL.COM, 12/05/21
https://thehill.com/policy/international/584441-us-embassy-in-tokyo-warns-of-racial-profiling-by-japanese-police

The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo issued a tweet on Sunday warning that foreigners were being stopped by Japanese police in “suspected racial profiling incidents.”

“The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched,” the tweet said.

“U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained,” it added.

The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained. pic.twitter.com/a8BkAU7eCR

— U.S. Embassy Tokyo, ACS (@ACSTokyo) December 5, 2021

The embassy’s warning message came not long after Japan closed its borders to foreigners amid concerns surrounding the omicron variant.

Nearly 90 percent of respondents in a Japanese poll said they were in support of the border measures, Bloomberg reported.

The number of foreign nationals living in Japan fell slightly this year to 2.8 million, Bloomberg reported, citing the Ministry of Justice. Less than 2 percent were American citizens, or about 54,000 people.

ENDS

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Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)

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Hi Blog.  I’m still on writing hiatus (except for my monthly SNA columns) after the release of my Second Edition of “Embedded Racism” (Meanwhile, Debito.org Readers are contributing noteworthy articles to the Comments Sections of the Debito.org Newsletters.)

But let me emerge to report from Senaiho, on his case of school bullying against his multiethnic daughter in 2018.  We’ve covered it for years on Debito.org (original Senaiho post here, then Updates One, Two, ThreeFour. and Five), and it’s gone from a criminal case against his daughter’s assailants (which Senaiho lost last May 2021) to a civil case against the authorities (for mental duress from official negligence).  After three years of this rigmarole, we’ve just heard that he won the civil case.  His briefing follows.

UPDATE DEC 15, 2021:  Here is his full court decision text, redacted.  PDF.  23 pages. Click on:  SenaihoHighCourtDecision2021

Although the court award is a pittance (it almost always in the cases of racial discrimination), it still holds the authorities culpable.  Congratulations on setting another positive precedent, Senaiho and family!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Senaiho
Subject: Judgment in our case against the city of Yamanashi
Date: November 30, 2021
To: “Debito Arudou Ph.D.” <debito@debito.org>

Hello Debito,

We finally have it. I am sorry it was not in time to be included in the latest edition of your excellent book. Maybe next time.

In the final judgment in our civil case against the city of Yamanashi and the school system, the court awarded 110,000 yen to us, the plaintiffs. A bitter/sweet, long and hard fought victory.

First the positives. Any judgment against a public entity in Japan is almost unheard of. In 99% of the cases of suits brought against a public entity, the private party almost always loses. It is so rare that the government does not even keep statistics on it, and they keep statistics on everything. There really is no point of reference for those not familiar with the legal system in Japan. It is hard to even find anything to compare it with in other countries, especially the US, where everybody sues everybody. The reason for this is because the court and everyone who works at and for them are all public officials themselves. To render a judgment against another public entity would be akin to shooting oneself, so to speak. This is also why judgments are always a pittance against any public official in Japan in the rare cases where there are any.

In the brief of the judgment the court found the teachers/school and city of Yamanashi liable for the damages of cutting our daughter’s hair. There are laws against doing this, the history of which I will not go into. It vindicates us as parents, who were put to public shame and blamed for the fact that our daughter was bullied. She also received some satisfaction for having been teased to the point of desperation that resulted in her unable to attend school for several years while receiving treatment. It also vindicated her from the some of the extensive damage to her self-esteem. Unfortunately, these scars she will most likely carry for the rest of her life. No mention was made of the root causes of her having her hair cut; racism and abuse against her for the sin of being born from a mixed racial couple.

Our lawyer gets to celebrate a rare victory for any legal professional in Japan. A judgment of any kind against a public entity will most likely propel him into the rare air of lawyers in Japan who have won judgments against public officials. He will most likely get appointed to various prestigious committees and professional elite boards. A boost for his career. Good for him.

The downside of our small victory is that it is small. One judgment in a regional court in Japan changes nothing really. There will be some media coverage for a little while. After that dies down, the bullies will continue to bully, the racists will continue to rant, and the public officials will continue to cover up their culpability. The amount of the judgment itself is an insulting pittance, and does nothing to deter anyone from the actions that caused it. It is just a spit in the street for public officials who have no personal skin in it anyway. They get to go on with business as usual. We get to pick up the pieces of our lives. Unless the city of Yamanashi appeals the judgment (actually I kind of hope they do) we get to carry on, older but wiser? Hmm, not sure about the wiser part.

Thank you again to everyone here at Debito.org who supported us with your encouragement and prayers.

Senaiho

The bullying haircut, as demonstrated in court by Senaiho.  Image courtesy of Bunshun and Senaiho.

The bullying haircut as demonstrated in court

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My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021

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Hi Blog.  my Second Edition of “Embedded Racism in Japan” (Lexington Books, 2022) has just come out, and I summarize both editions in my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column.

Since the First Edition is probably well-known by frequent readers of Debito.org, let me excerpt the new arguments of the Second Edition.  Read the whole SNA column for the full context.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, NOV 22, 2021 by Debito Arudou
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/11/22/visible-minorities-japans-fast-breeder-reactor-of-racism/

(Excerpt) In my new Second Edition of Embedded Racism (2022), I’m now arguing that Japan’s long-ignored racial discrimination undermines the rest of the world, especially its liberal democracies, because Japan is in fact a fast-breeder reactor of radioactive racism.

Since the end of World War II, the capitalistic side of the world, particularly the United States, willfully ignored and indulged Japan’s explicit expressions of racial and ethnic superiority. After all, the conservatives of the world would rather Japan be right-of-center and anti-communist. So they funded conservative governments and offered favorable access to international markets, ensuring that Japan got rich and deferential.

For what do the conservatives care if Japan violates its human rights treaties or inflames regional tensions, through historical denialism and the arrogance of racial superiority? As long as Japan keeps hosting the bases, buying the weapons, and acting as America’s unsinkable aircraft carrier in Asia, they have in them a harmless and controllable ally.

Except that it’s not. Here’s where the chickens come home to roost.

One axiom in this field of study is that if you ignore racism, it spreads. Bigots exist in every society, and if they realize they can get away with discriminating against people, they’ll gleefully do it, especially if they have templates to follow.

Japan offers those templates… In short, embedded racism has made Japan into the world’s template “ethnostate.”

That is to say, to numerous white supremacists worldwide, Japan is the model for a society organized along beliefs of its own ethnic purity. As one of the richest and most-respected countries in the world, Japan, unlike other rich countries, has prospered while keeping minorities and migrants to a minimum…

The conclusion is that my second edition of Embedded Racism is a clarion call for liberals and progressives to wake up, and get ready to defend democracy from the ethnocentrists. Fight with all your might the fiction that the way to deal with a race problem is to exclude and cleanse races from your society. That’s the Japan template. Don’t let it be yours.

Again, if you leave discrimination alone, it spreads. Leaving Japan alone to practice its embedded racism has finally reached the point of blowback. It’s time for a new set of templates to fight racial discrimination in the world, including and especially Japan’s.

Overseas policymakers should also be ready to make Japan take responsibility for what it’s wrought upon the world. It’s time to pressure the Japanese government to observe its treaty promise to the United Nations more than 25 years ago—passing a law against racial discrimination—and begin the process of enfranchising its minority voices.

That includes doing more than just scolding or issuing strongly worded letters. I suggest putting pressure where Japan’s elites care—limiting access to overseas markets. Or else Japan will remain a fast breeder reactor of racism irradiating the rest of the democratic world.

EXCERPT ENDS.  Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/11/22/visible-minorities-japans-fast-breeder-reactor-of-racism/

If you are interested in reading the fully revised and updated Second Edition, please download this publisher promo flyer (with discounts), take it to your local library, and have them order a copy. Then you can borrow and read it for free.

http://debito.org/EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer.pdf

======================
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Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

mytest

Hi Blog. The new SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2022), completely revised and updated with 100 extra pages of new material, is now on sale.

Information site outlining what’s new, with excerpts and reviews, and how to get your copy at a discount at

http://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html

(Or you can download a flyer, take it to your library, have them order the book, and then borrow it for free at EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer)

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

My SNA Visible Minorities 26: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

mytest

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Visible Minorities: The “Inconceivable” Racial Discrimination Law
Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty.
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, September 20, 2021

SNA: The signature function of the United Nations is to promote world peace, and one way to do that is to encourage ethical standards of behavior from its member countries. They get people to agree on those norms and standards through signing international treaties.

One of the standards that matters most is human rights practices. After all, countries which want to belong to the respected club of “civilized” countries are expected to sign the treaties covering a whole host of noble issues: the elimination of torture; the protection of women, children, and people with disabilities; and the protections of people in general in terms of economic, political, social, civil, and political rights. Signatories are expected to submit periodical reports (usually about every two years) to UN Committees to demonstrate how they are progressing.

Japan has signed most of those treaties. My favorite one, of course, is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which protects people, especially our Visible Minorities, against discrimination by “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” But getting Japan to actually abide by CERD is one of the hobby horses I’ve been riding for decades.

When Japan signed the CERD in 1995, it explicitly agreed to “prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination,” and they were to do it “without delay.” Yet more than a quarter century later, Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination…

So when called upon to justify its record of nasty treatment of its foreign, ethnic, historical, and visible minorities, how does Japan get away with it? By delaying, of course. Let’s take a look at the last time Japan submitted its Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CERD, and reveal its pattern of reporting in bad faith…
///////////////////////////////////

Rest is at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/09/20/visible-minorities-the-inconceivable-racial-discrimination-law/

Read it before it goes behind paywall later this week, or subscribe and support your local progressive journalism for about a dollar a week!

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at

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2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) still mentions Debito.org’s works: “Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading ‘Japanese only’.”

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something that makes me smile.  The 2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) includes something that might not otherwise be there — had Debito.org not taken up the task of describing and cataloging discrimination for the past 25 years (back when people were even denying that racial discrimination actually happened in Japan!).

Everything mentioned in the UN excerpt below is covered in my book Embedded Racism in Japan (Lexington Books, 2015).  But especially close to my heart is the text enlarged below.

One of my lifetime goals is leaving the planet a better place than when I arrived. This feels like proof that we at Debito.org have done something positive. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

/////////////////////////////////
United Nations
CERD/C/JPN/CO/10-11
International Convention on the Elimination of A ll Forms of Racial Discrimination
Distr.: General
26 September 2018
Original: English
Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

Concluding observations on the combined tenth and eleventh periodic reports of Japan

1.The Committee considered the combined tenth and eleventh periodic reports of Japan (CERD/C/JPN/10-11), submitted in one document, at its 2662nd and 2663rd meetings (CERD/C/SR.2662 and 2663), held on 16 August and 17 August 2018. At its 2676th meeting, held on 28 August 2018, it adopted the present concluding observations.

[skip down to page seven]

Situation of non-citizens

33.The Committee is concerned that:

(a)Non-citizens have reportedly been denied housing and employment because they are foreign nationals;

(b)Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading “Japanese only”;

(c)Non-citizens, in particular Koreans, continue to be excluded from the national pension scheme because of the age requirement;

(d)The State party has not yet amended its legislation to allow non-citizens to be eligible for basic disability pensions;

(e)Non-citizens and long-term foreign residents and their descendants remain excluded from public positions that engage in the exercise of public authority or public decision-making because they do not have Japanese nationality;

(f)Some permanent residents must obtain a permit to re-enter the country prior to departing, even if they are only leaving for one day, while others do not need such a permit.

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

34. Bearing in mind the Committee’s general recommendation No. 30, the Committee recommends that the State party:

(a) Ensure access to housing and employment to non-citizens and foreign nationals without discrimination ;

(b) Create and enforce legislation against the posting of discriminatory signs and the practice of excluding public services by privately owned facilities, such as hotels and restaurants, to persons on the basis of being a foreigner or of foreign appearance;

(c) Ensure that non-citizens are included in the national pension scheme ;

(d) Amend legislation to allow non-citizens to be eligible for basic disability pensions ;

(e) Allow non-citizens, especially long-term foreign residents and their descendants, to have access to public positions that engage in the exercise of public authority or public decision-making ;

(f) Eliminate the permit requirement prior to departure for some permanent residents so that they may enter and exit the country in the same manner as other permanent residents ;

(g) Consider ratifying the Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.

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

Full report downloadable in several languages at:
https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CERD/C/JPN/CO/10-11&Lang=En

ENDS

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My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

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Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 16, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN (excerpt)
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…

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

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/. Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:

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

Visible Minorities: The Tokyo Olympics Trap
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 19, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…
//////////////////////////

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/07/19/visible-minorities-the-tokyo-olympics-trap/

======================
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SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.

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Hi Blog. It’s going to be a busy next few weeks for Debito.org if the Olympics-fueled reactionary racism keeps creating conditions like these:

Yesterday Debito.org Reader XY sent me pictures from a friend from the Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu, which has “Japanese Only” elevators!
赤坂エクセルホテル東急
〒100-0014 東京都千代田区永田町2-14-3
TEL: 03-3580-2311 FAX: 03-3580-6066
https://www.tokyuhotels.co.jp/akasaka-e/index.html


(Photos dated July 10, 2021. Click on photo to expand in browser)

The Shingetsu News Agency has followed up on this, contacting the Excel Tokyu on July 11, 2021, reporting the following exchange on their Twitter feed:

===============================
SNA: At the elevator of the Excel Hotel, we have confirmed there are signs asking Japanese and foreigners to use different elevators. Why did you put up those signs?

HOTEL STAFF: We started accepting people involved in the Olympics since a few days ago, and the Organizing Committee gave instructions that facilities should try to avoid contact between foreign and general guests, so we put up the sign of separation as a part of prevention measures against infection, prevention of Covid spread.

SNA: So you received instruction from the Organizing Committee and decided that this was a proper judgment?

HOTEL STAFF: Yes, but regarding the expression, several people pointed out there was a problem, and so we have no withdrawn the sign. We are thinking to make a new sign to separate patron lines.

SNA: Why exactly did you withdraw it?

HOTEL STAFF: We withdrew the sign to consider our response from now on.

SNA: Were you told that it is better to withdraw the sign?

HOTEL STAFF: No, we did not make a judgment about that.

SNA: By separating Japanese and foreigners, were you not afraid of causing misunderstanding for Non-Japanese?

HOTEL STAFF: The signs separating Japanese and foreigners were intended to be a part of prevention measures against infections for each.

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

Michael Penn at SNA comments: “Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu separated its elevators between “Japanese Only” and “Foreigner Only.” SNA called the hotel to ask them why they did it. The answer is that this was their interpretation of guidance from the Olympic authorities. Seems all non-Japanese are visitors. (MP)”

DEBITO COMMENTS: Where to start?  Okay, how about here:

  1. The assumption is, as usual, that rates of infection for foreigners and Japanese are different.  Never mind that:
  2. “Foreigners” as signposted includes ALL Non-Japanese (including Residents), regardless of whether they’ve actually left Japan and come back  As Michael mentioned above, foreigners are no matter what treated as an exogenous force.
  3. Plenty of Japanese have gotten infected from each other, not from foreigners.  In fact, many cases of variants have been carried in and incubated by Japanese themselves.
  4. Even foreigners who HAVE come in from overseas have been checked and cleared both inside and outside Japan for infection, and if the systems are working properly, the foreigners (only) are barred entry.  That especially goes for people connected with the Olympics, as we have seen.
  5. And many of those foreigners have gotten their vaccines overseas already, and at rates higher and more successful than Japan’s current lackluster (and slowing down) procedures for getting vaccinated.
  6. I’m not an epidemiologist, but I daresay you’re LESS likely to get infected from inbound foreigners going through the current GOJ quarantine procedures than from the average (generally-unvaccinated: current rates are at 16.9%) Japanese clustered in poorly-ventilated urban transportation, non-remote workplaces, and eateries.

This is once again a collision of poor physical and social science, with foreigners (including residents) being blamed for things the Japanese Government is doing wrong. And once again, “Japanese Only” services are being reflexively resorted to by the general public.  As friend Olaf (a scientist) put it, “The failure of the jp education system. Unable to think logically, just follow orders, and unable to forsee the results of their actions.”

Again, SITYS.  I knew this would happen if Japan continued on its course of a “Japanese Only” Olympics.  Debito.org saw these logical fallacies starting as far back as the Diamond Princess cruise ship fiasco last year.

Finally, let me squeeze this in at the bottom.  In addition to enlisting the general public (resulting in the predictable bullying of NJ) to find “illegal foreigners” (including a downloadable app to scan Gaijin Cards like a game of Pokemon Go), the Japanese Government is now asking Duty-Free Stores to check passports and rat on foreigners for breaking quarantine (since after all, we can’t do that to Japanese).  From the Japan Times:

///////////////////////////////////////////////
Japan to ask tax-free stores to report visitors breaking quarantine
Japan Times/Kyodo News, July 10, 2021 (excerpt), courtesy of JDG
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/07/10/national/shop-owners-quarantine-rules/

The government will ask duty-free stores to check the date of entry to Japan in customers’ passports and report if they were shopping during their required 14-day quarantine period, sources close to the matter said Friday.

The government will also ask the stores to provide digital purchase records of violators to the National Tax Agency to ensure travelers follow quarantine rules, as Tokyo grapples with a resurgence of COVID-19 just two weeks before the Tokyo Olympics open, the sources said.

All travelers to Japan are currently required to make a pledge to self-isolate for 14 days after entering the country, even if they test negative for the coronavirus upon arrival. Travelers from certain countries where highly contagious variants have spread are asked to stay in hotels or other accommodation for several days and take further tests as part of their 14-day quarantine.

Entrants associated with the Olympics are exempt from the usual border controls but are still required to take precautions, such as observing a three-day quarantine period after entering the country.

The quarantine rule has been frequently violated despite penalties for noncompliance such as public shaming or, in the case of foreign nationals, deportation. […]

In the request sent to shop operators, the health ministry asks them to provide information including the names, nationalities and passport numbers of violators to its Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants.

If an Olympic-related visitor is found to be violating the rule, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will report the matter to the Tokyo Organising Committee. […]

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/07/10/national/shop-owners-quarantine-rules/
///////////////////////////////////////////////

What a mess. I told you long ago that Japan’s governance and police forces aren’t mature or accountable enough to handle international events.  The place, as Edward Seidensticker pointed out many years ago, becomes a police state whenever a significant influx of “foreigners” is involved.

There are a few weeks left of Olympic-sized ordeal for Japanese society. Again, I’d like to vacation this blog for the summer, but I think Debito.org might be busy reporting on the latest permutations of racial discrimination. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE JULY 12, 2021:  It seems the signs have been amended:

Okay, now foreigners have “priority”.  That makes it all better.  Not.  The hotel management just doesn’t get what they’re doing wrong, and think it’s only a matter of wording.  It’s still differentiation and othering of people based upon faulty science.  

And I pity the staff member who had to carefully match font and font size, print, cut out, and paste the text over the old sign because the hotel management was too cheap to just amend and print up a new one.  Very professional on all counts. — Debito

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Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?

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Hi Blog. Time for a quick statement about a news event that is “low-hanging fruit” in terms of civil rights and international relations, but instructive enough for a mention on Debito.org.

Check this out: According to the Mainichi below, the Japanese Government (GOJ) wants foreign countries to recognize its “COVID vaccination passports” (i.e., proof that a person has been vaccinated).

But it will still subject every foreigner (including, as usual, foreign residents) to quarantine. Meaning it won’t recognize FOREIGN versions of COVID passports.

Funny, that. It’s yet another example of how Japan’s authorities expect to have their cake and eat it too. Like how institutions in Japan can discriminate against foreigners without much if any international sanction. But woe betide anyone who seems to discriminate against Japanese overseas. Japan has gotten away with this for so long (e.g., more than 25 years since it signed the UN CERD without passing any laws against racial discrimination) that the GOJ has accepted it as normal transactional behavior for Japan in the international arena. (That, or the bureaucracy is so silo-ed off that getting a coordinated vaccine passport policy across all of the veto gates would involve discomfiting ministerial turf battles. Boo hoo.)

Well, tough. Let’s hope that overseas negotiators have the sense to not be taken in by the “unique Japan” arguments as usual, and demand comity. You don’t get without giving back in kind. But given how lenient the outside world has been regarding, say, the overt racism of Japan’s exclusionary border policies during the pandemic (and now the “Japanese Only” Olympics), it’s not a slam-dunk conclusion as of this writing.

Thoughts, Debito.org Readers?

(FYI, I’ll be vacationing the blog shortly for the summer.) Debito.org, Ph.D.

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

Japan seeks to have vaccine passports accepted by over 10 nations
July 4, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of AW
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210704/p2g/00m/0na/034000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan is making arrangements for its COVID-19 vaccination passports to be accepted by over 10 nations, including Italy, France and Greece, after the certificate program begins in late July, government sources said Sunday.

If the agreements are reached, certificate holders will be exempt from quarantine or showing negative test results for COVID-19 when traveling from Japan to those countries, the sources said.

But the Japanese government plans to continue requiring travelers entering Japan, including returnees, to quarantine for two weeks even if they have been vaccinated. The position has complicated negotiations with countries such as Singapore and Israel, which have called for mutual exemption, the sources said.

So-called vaccine passports are official documents showing a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The certificate, to be issued by municipalities, will include the holder’s name, passport number and date of vaccination.

Business circles in Japan have been calling for the introduction of vaccine passports. The country’s largest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, proposed in late June that such certificates be in digital format.

Japan has lagged behind the United States, Britain and Israel, among others, in its rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, it has stepped up efforts to inoculate citizens ahead of the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23.

A quasi-state of emergency is in place for urban areas like Tokyo amid fears of the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Until we see the spread of the Delta variant subside, it will be difficult to allow the mutual exemption of quarantine,” a Japanese government source said.

Japan has a sweeping entry ban on foreign nationals to cope with the pandemic, except those with approval given under “special exceptional circumstances.” Travelers entering Japan are asked to stay at home or a designated facility for 14 days after arrival.

The European Union has its own digital vaccination passport for EU citizens and residents. Certificate holders are exempt from testing and quarantine when traveling to a different country within the bloc.

The World Health Organization does not endorse making vaccine passports mandatory for travelers as equal access to COVID-19 vaccines has not been ensured.
ENDS

======================
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Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.

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Hi Blog. At long last, I can get to this issue.

As I have written elsewhere, Japan’s Immigration Bureau Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks“) are an extra layer of incarceration that only non-citizens must deal with.

Regular Wajin Japanese, when detained, arrested, and/or incarcerated, go through Japan’s criminal justice and prison system.  However, because non-citizen detainees cannot renew their visas while in detention, any arrest and incarceration by police increases the probability of detention later in separate Immigration detention facilities (specifically reserved for non-citizen visa overstayers and refugees/asylum seekers). Detainees in these Immigration facilities (nyūkoku kanri sentā) face a different system both in terms of criminal procedure and living conditions.

In terms of procedure, inmates convicted of a specific crime and sentenced to a Japanese prison have a legally-defined release date, often with the possibility of parole; visa overstayers being detained in an Immigration detention center, however, have no specific limit to their detention period, resulting in people detained for several years (and for some, still counting).

In terms of living conditions, rights of detainees to adequate food, exercise and living space in Immigration Bureau detention centers are less regulated than in Japanese prisons (which are subject to international oversight regarding standards of favorable treatment). Consequently, inhospitable, unsanitary, and generally unmonitored conditions in these detention centers have occasioned protests both from human rights organizations and from the detainees, in the form of hunger strikes and suicides. Immigration detainees have also suffered and died from their medical conditions being neglected by detention officials, and from the over-prescription of sedatives and painkillers.

In 2021, the senseless death of a Sri Lankan named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, due to medical negligence in a detention center, brought national attention and protest against the GOJ’s treatment of visa overstayers and asylum applicants—and the withdrawal of a bill before the Diet that would have only strengthened the ability for bureaucrats “to keep any foreign national in custody without the approval of a judge”, thus violating constitutional guarantees of due process.

Those are the headlines. Now for the sources:

  • See for example CCPR/C/79/Add.102, which notes, “[T]he Committee is concerned that there is no independent authority to which complaints of ill-treatment by the police and immigration officials can be addressed for investigation and redress. The Committee recommends that such an independent body or authority be set up by the State party without delay.United Nations, November 19, 1998; “Welcome to Japan?” Amnesty International, 2002, alleging extortion and physical abuse at the Narita Airport detention center, excerpt archived at www.debito.org/?p=9846.
  • “Detention centers lack doctors: Two facilities holding visa violators not offering proper medical care.” Daily Yomiuri, December 22, 2006 (the Japanese version of this article, dated December 21, has the more revealing headline, “Ōmura nyūkan sentā de jōkin-i fuzai 2 nen ni, kakuho no medo tatazu” [The Ōmura Detention Center has had no full-time doctor on call for two years now, and no idea when they will secure one].
  • Interviews, Michael. H. Fox, Director, Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Research Center, 2004-8.
  • Caterpillars and cockroaches: Foreigners lead hunger strike in immigration detention center.” Asahi Shinbun, October 18, 2007.
  • Detainees allege abuse at Kansai holding center.” Japan Times, March 9, 2010.
  • Immigration detainees end hunger strike.” Japan Times, March 22, 2010; “Inmates on hunger strike in Japan immigration center.” AFP, May 20, 2010; “Running to nowhere.” Kansai Time Out, June 2010.
  • “Deportee center hunger strike abates, detentions drag on.” Japan Times, September 1, 2012; “Nigerian dies after hunger strike in Japan detention center.” Reuters/Asahi Shinbun Asia-Japan Watch, June 27, 2019; “Death in Detention: Grim toll mounts in Japanese detention centers as foreigners seek asylum.” Reuters, March 8, 2016, archived at www.debito.org/?p=13885, noting: “The watchdog report drew attention to what it said was the heavy prescription of drugs to detainees. At the time he died, Ghadimi had been prescribed 15 different drugs, including four painkillers, five sedatives—one a Japanese version of the tranquilizer Xanax—and two kinds of sleeping pills, the report said. At one point during his incarceration, he was on a cocktail of 25 different pills.”
  • Ex-immigration boss: detentions too long.” Japan Times, July 14, 2010, former Immigration Bureau chief Sakanaka Hidenori proposed that detentions in Immigration facilities not exceed one year; however, once oversight mechanisms were activated in August 2011, the number of detainees awaiting deportation or asylum permission for more than six months dropped dramatically (indicating how lax oversight had hitherto been).
    See “Foreigners held by immigration sharply down after reviewing rules.” Mainichi Shinbun, February 4, 2012.
  • Nevertheless, abuses, some resulting in fatalities, continue to the present. See for example Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at detention center while doctor at lunch.” AFP/Japan Today and Japan Times, October 25, 2013; “Immigration detention centers under scrutiny in Japan after fourth death.” Reuters, December 3, 2014; “Immigration detention centers like prisons, U.K. inspectors say.” Japan Times, February 6, 2015; “Immigration detention centers like prisons, U.K. inspectors say.” Japan Times, February 6, 2015—and I make the case that they are worse than prisons at www.debito.org/?p=13056
  • “Progressive News Service: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year.” Debito.org, March 9, 2015, www.debito.org/?p=13136
  • “Sri Lankan woman dies in detention, wrote about her hunger.” Asahi Shinbun, March 15, 2021; “A Sri Lankan’s tragic death in Japan casts a harsh spotlight on controversial refugee system.” Straits Times, April 24, 2021, which notes, “Ms. Wishma was vomiting blood in her final days, and was so weak that she had no control of her arms and legs. The immigration authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to medical expert advice to put her on an intravenous drip or to grant her provisional release to ease her stress. A report by public broadcaster NHK suggested that officials tend to suspect malingering for minor illnesses in their reluctance to grant provisional release.”
  • Finally, “Left in limbo: Japan’s haphazard immigration policies, disrespect for human rights.” Mainichi Shinbun, April 19, 2019, notes,As of the end of July 2018, of the 1,309 detainees nationwide, 54 percent had been detained for six months or longer. According to attorneys and others who provide assistance to foreign workers in Japan, 13 foreign nationals died by suicide or from illness while in detention between 2007 and 2018. Many detainees complain of appalling health conditions at detention centers, saying they are hardly permitted to see physicians. A damages lawsuit brought against the central government at the Mito District Court for the 2014 death of a then 43-year-old Cameroonian man while he was detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Ushiku is ongoing. His mother, who resides in Cameroon, filed the suit.According to the legal complaint that was filed, the man had been confirmed as diabetic after a medical consultation at the immigration center. He began to complain of pain in February 2014, and died at the end of March that year. Security cameras at the center captured him saying in English that he felt like he was dying starting the night before his death, and the footage has been saved as evidence. Even after the man fell from his bed, he was left unattended, and a staff member found him in cardiopulmonary arrest the following morning. He was transported to a hospital where he was confirmed dead. “Immigration officials have a duty to provide emergency medical care,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Koichi Kodama. “The government should be accountable for revealing who was watching the footage of the man rolling around on the floor, screaming in pain, and whether anyone went directly to his room to check on his condition.”
  • Sri Lankan’s death in spotlight as Japan debates immigration bill.”
    Japan Times/Kyodo News, May 12, 2021; “Immigration reform fails to resolve asylum contradictions.” Japan Times, March 13, 2021; “Withdrawal of immigration bill underscores Suga’s precarious standing.” Japan Times/Kyodo News, May 19, 2021.

There are plenty of other articles out there, since the Wishma Sandamali Case attracted so much attention.  However, it was not soon enough for some, and won’t be for others still being destroyed by this system.  For as Submitter JK notes,

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

“Relindis Mai Ekei did not die in detention [in January 2021] like Wishma Sandamali. Instead, she died in hospital [of untreated breast cancer] about three hours before receiving her residence card (在留カード):

Was Cameroonian woman’s death hours before she received Japan residency avoidable? (Pt. 1)

Was Cameroonian woman’s death hours before she received Japan residency avoidable? (Pt. 2)

Was Cameroonian woman’s death hours before she received Japan residency avoidable? (Pt. 3)

死の直前「漢字勉強したい」カメルーン出身者は救えなかったのか

From the article:

If Mai’s status of residence had been granted earlier, she would have been able to take better care of herself through welfare and health insurance.

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

Even more on the Gaijin Tanks issue starting from here: http://www.debito.org/?p=13885#comment-1805327.

There is no defense for this inhumane extralegal detention system that is killing people through willful negligence simply because they are foreigners incarcerated.  We catalog it all here on Debito.org for the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards

mytest

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Poster Title: “When you employ a foreigner, check their Zairyuu Card!  Employers will also be punished for employing illegal workers!!” Ministry of Justice, Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau. Photo from Hiroo Subway Station, June 16, 2021, courtesy of K on Twitter.

Hi Blog. As you may have heard, the Justice Ministry has enabled the general public to collect your personal data from your “Gaijin Cards” via downloadable app. That’s the subject of my most recent SNA column, out today. Opening:

==========================
Visible Minorities: Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, June 21, 2021

“Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.”

This quote, usually attributed to former US Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, was made in the context of an overcrowded Japan in his day, used to explain the stark difference between public and private behaviors of Japanese (sneaking off, for example, to love hotels for a bit of private time).

But privacy is taken quite seriously in Japan, especially if it will damage a reputation. Television broadcasts of criminal suspects on perp walks often have their handcuffs blurred, since the person hasn’t been convicted yet. Media reporting on businesses accused of unsavory activities (such as food poisoning or putting up “Japanese Only” signs) often refuse to report their company names so it doesn’t adversely affect their sales. Even people who park their cars in those love hotels may find themselves in a parking garage with curtains, or with their license plates covered up by pieces of plywood provided by the establishment.

So why doesn’t this concern for privacy apply to foreign residents? (Examples of egregious violations of privacy by nationality, contrasted with all the legal protections for citizens, follow. Then we get to the new Gaijin Card Reader App…)
==========================

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/06/21/visible-minorities-gaijin-card-reader-app-obliterates-privacy/

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Readers Niklas and B have sent word that the Ministry of Justice has made a “Residence Card Checker App”, available from December 25, 2020, downloadable from their website (English, Japanese). It’s available for Windows PC, Apple Mac App Store, Google Play, and iOS (with manuals!). It scans RFID Zairyuu Cards, aka “Gaijin Cards”, which is personal ID required of foreign residents only, and must be carried 24/7 on pain of criminal penalty.

In their words, “This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.”

How nice.

Except that the only people allowed to demand, let alone scan, Gaijin Cards are people connected with the Ministry of Justice (Immigration, police, etc.). This has now unlawfully put the ability to read private information within the general public’s grasp. Such as people posing as fake cops (which does happen). It’s not that far removed from the government “snitch sites” where anyone could anonymously report their local gaijin to the government and have them harassed, er, investigated by local authorities. (They’ve since disappeared after nearly two decades in action, so this is a new form of potential harassment.)

Poster Title: “When you employ a foreigner, check their Zairyuu Card!  Employers will also be punished for employing illegal workers!!” Ministry of Justice, Tokyo Regional Immigration Services Bureau. Photo from Hiroo Subway Station, June 16, 2021, courtesy of K on Twitter.

UPDATE JUNE 21: I have done an SNA column on this issue.

Debito.org will now archive the sites in English and Japanese for the record, with some screen captures. Especially enjoy reading the Privacy Policy, especially since one initial reason why the government advertised that the RFID card was a better system was due to privacy (and “convenience“)–random people wouldn’t be able to read the embedded information. Now they can. Where is the outcry over “privacy concerns” that Japanese citizens enjoy whenever the government makes personal ID policy affecting them? Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

ENGLISH SITE: https://www.isa.go.jp/en/policies/policies/rcc-support.html

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)

Overview

This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.

Distribution

For PC

Windows
Please follow the link provided below.

Click here for downloads for Windows systems

macOS
Can be found on the Mac App Store.

Download on the Mac App Store

For mobile

Android
Can be found on Google Play.

Get it on Google Play

iOS
Can be found on the App Store.

Download on the App Store

Operation manual

Operating environment

  • Operating environment

    Windows 8.1, Windows 10 (ARM, x64, x86 compatible)
    macOS 10.14 or higher (compatible with Apple M1 chips)
    Android 6.0 or higher
    iOS 13.2 or higher

  • Necessary hardware

    Contactless IC card reader (if using a PC)
    * APDU-compatible models only

    References
    The following contactless IC card readers were used to test the app’s functionality:

    • NTT Communications Corporation
      ACR1251CL
    • Sony Corporation
      RC-S380
    • I-O Data Device, Inc.
      USB-NFC4

    NFC-compatible device (if using a cell phone)

Frequently asked questions

If you suspect that you have found a counterfeit residence card, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

To confirm a residence card’s validity, please use the Validity Inquiries for Residence Card Numbers online service (in Japanese). [JP]This link leads to an external page.

For any questions or concerns regarding the app (after installation), please contact the support team at the following address:
rsd-support@rsd-support.jp
We are unable to accept any inquires made by phone.

Question list

Q1 How do I read a residence card? What is the Residency Management System?
For more details, please click on this link.

Return to question list

Q2 What if the information listed on the card and the information displayed in the app is different?
Even if the card has been read correctly, if any of the information differs from that displayed in the app, then it is possible that it has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

Return to question list

Q3 It can’t read the card.
  1. If you receive an error message that reads: “Cannot read the card. Please touch the card with NFC reading position of the device again. If it is displayed repeatedly, please contact the regional immigration bureau near you .” (Japanese: カードが読み取れませんもう一度かざしてください。繰り返し表示される場合はお近くの出入国在留管理官署にお問い合わせください)

    → Check to see that all connections are secure.
    → Ensure that the proper drivers have been installed/updated.
    As the app may not recognize a card reader immediately after its installation, please restart all devices before use.
    → The card reader may not work if it has been placed on a desk (or similar object) made of metal.
    → If you continue to receive the same error message, then it is possible that the card has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

  2. If you receive an error message that reads: “An error occurred while reading the card. Please check the card as you may be holding a card other than the residence card. ” (Japanese: カードの読取中にエラーが発生しました。在留カード以外のカードをかざしている可能性がありますのでカードをご確認ください)

    → Hold the residence card above the reader. The app is only capable of scanning residence cards and special permanent resident certificates.
    → If the error was not due to improper scanning or the use of an incorrect card, then it is possible that the card has been forged. In cases such as these, please contact your nearest Immigration Services Bureau.

Return to question list

Q4 Will the app work on an iPad?
Unfortunately, it will not.
As iPads lack a versatile NFC interface, they are not a suitable device for the app to run on.
Please refer to the operating environment section for a list of compatible operating systems.

Return to question list

Privacy policy

  1. The privacy policy only applies to the residence card checker app (henceforth referred to as “app”).
  2. The app is designed to simply display the information read from a residence card or special permanent resident certificate. It does not collect or distribute any data (including personal information).
  3. This policy does not apply to any websites which are accessed from the app. Those have their own privacy policies, which are managed independently.
  4. The Ministry of Justice (Immigration Services Agency) reserves the right to revise the privacy policy at any time. Should this occur, users will be notified on the home page.

Disclaimers

The terms “Microsoft” and “Windows,” as well as the Microsoft logo, are the property of the Microsoft Corporation.
The terms “Android” and “Google Play,” as well as the Google Play logo, are the property of Google LLC.
The terms “Apple,” “iPad,” and “macOS” as well as the Apple logo, are the property of Apple Inc.
The “iOS” trademark is used under license by Cisco Systems Inc.
“ARM” is the registered trademark of ARM Limited.

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

JAPANESE SITE: http://www.moj.go.jp/isa/policies/policies/rcc-support.html

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)

\

 

ENDS

======================
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Mainichi Editorial: Foreign workers would also serve roles as consumers, taxpayers. Bravo. It needs to be said by somebody in the Wajin media

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Hi Blog.  I just uncovered this post sitting in my Drafts folder for the past couple of years.  It is eminently sensible and needs to be said by somebody in the Wajin Media, not just here repeatedly on Debito.org. Let’s put it up.  As submitter JK says:

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

The article below is a nice change: imagining 外国人 as not just 労働者 but also 消費者 and 納税者.

Of course it would have been great if the article had gone a bit further (i.e. 可能な日本人としての役割), but baby steps I guess? –JK

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

Editorial: Foreign workers would also serve roles as consumers, taxpayers
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181109/p2a/00m/0na/018000c

November 9, 2018, Mainichi Shinbun

Important viewpoints are apparently lacking in discussions on accepting more foreign workers to Japan. The discourse treats foreigners only as a “workforce” to alleviate labor shortages, and fails to shed light on a variety of other roles they can play.

Boosting the workforce is a vital challenge for the Japanese economy. Seeking people from overseas when labor-saving measures alone are not enough is a natural response to the reality.

But foreigners working in Japan can contribute more than labor to Japanese society. This point should not be overlooked.

First of all, they are also consumers.

The rapid depopulation of the Japanese workforce, which forms the core of household consumption, can cause national demand to shrink and drag down economic growth.

Greater use of artificial intelligence (AI) may ease labor shortages to a certain extent, but AIs do not eat or drive cars.

Foreign workers will push up housing and educational spending, like Japanese households do, when they live in Japan with their family members for longer periods of time.

Moreover, their wide-ranging needs can be expected to create new products and services and even lead to new jobs.

Another important role that foreigners can play is paying taxes. They pay income tax when they work, and they shoulder the consumption tax as Japanese do in the course of their daily lives.

A look at the United States gives insight in the situation. According to the New American Economy, a multipartisan organization studying and making proposals on immigration issues, the combined disposable income of people who came from overseas topped almost 100 trillion yen in 2014, making up for 14.3 percent of total households in America. The ratio was higher than the percentage of people born outside the U.S. at 13.2 percent.

This population group pays some 37 trillion yen in federal, state and local taxes. This amount is as large as the combined revenue from Japan’s income and consumption taxes in fiscal 2017.

We should discuss which choice we want to make — hiring young single workers on an ad hoc basis, or inviting long-term settlers with family members to increase their income and spending.

If we choose the second option, we need to make necessary preparations, and make corresponding commitments. This means exploring ways to benefit both foreign workers and the Japanese economy.

Japanese version

就労外国人 多面的な役割 消費者、納税者としても
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20181109/ddm/005/070/030000c
社説
就労外国人 多面的な役割 消費者、納税者としても
毎日新聞2018年11月9日 東京朝刊

外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大に関する議論には、重要な視点が欠けているようだ。外国人を人手不足対策の「労働力」としてしか語らず、それ以外のさまざまな役割にあまり光を当てていない。

もちろん日本経済にとって、労働者の補充は喫緊の課題だ。省力化を徹底してもなお足りない人員を国外に求めるのは、自然な流れだろう。

しかし、国内に生活の拠点を置いて働く外国出身者は、労働力以上のものを日本経済にもたらす。この点を軽視すべきでない。

まず、消費者としての役割だ。

消費活動の中心でもある現役世代の人口急減は、需要の縮小につながり、経済成長の足かせとなる。

人工知能(AI)の活用で人手不足をある程度和らげることができたとしても、AIは外食をしたり、電車に乗ったりはしない。

外国人労働者が家族とともに長く日本で生活することになれば、日本人の世帯と同じように住宅や教育関連の消費も増えるだろう。

さらに彼らの多様なニーズに対応した商品やサービスが生まれたり、それが雇用の創出につながったりすることも期待できそうだ。

もう一つの主な貢献として、納税者の役割がある。働けば所得税を納めるし、生活の中で消費税も我々と同じように負担する。

米国の場合をみてみよう。移民問題の研究や提言を行っている超党派団体、ニュー・アメリカン・エコノミー(NAE)によると、外国出身者の世帯の可処分所得は2014年時点で約100兆円にのぼり、米国の全世帯の14・3%を占めた。全人口に占める外国出身者の比率、13・2%を上回る。

納税者としては、連邦政府向けと州政府など地方行政向けを合わせ、約37兆円の貢献をしている。昨年度の日本の所得税と消費税の税収を合わせた額に匹敵する規模だ。

若手の単身者を頭数として場当たり的に利用しようという発想と、家族を伴う定住者に所得を増やしてもらおうという発想のいずれを取るか、議論すべきである。

後者を選ぶのなら、そのための準備と覚悟が必要になる。外国人労働者と日本経済の双方が得をする道を模索する、ということだ。

ENDS

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

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NHK: Ibaraki Public Health Center targets foreigners as vectors of Coronavirus, then retracts discriminatory claims as “misleading” and “inappropriate”

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Hi Blog.  There’s a bit of a flap at the moment about defeated revisions to Japan’s Immigration rules due to the awful death by official negligence of a NJ detainee, but this will take more research and write up on my part as a separate blog entry. (Debito.org Readers are already discussing it here.). I’ll get to it shortly, as I’m deep into a different writing project right now. Meanwhile, let me put up this quickie for the record:

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

Ibaraki health center warns ‘many coronavirus patients infected by foreigners’
BY TOKYO REPORTER STAFF ON MAY 22, 2021, Courtesy of Niklas and TG.
https://www.tokyoreporter.com/japan-news/ibaraki-health-center-warns-many-coronavirus-patients-infected-by-foreigners/

IBARAKI (TR) – A health center in Itako City this week retracted an “inappropriate” advisory that stated foreigners are the source of an increase in novel coronavirus infections, reports NHK (May 22).

On May 19 and 20, the Itako Health Center distributed the notice by email to agricultural cooperatives and city halls within its jurisdiction.

The document stated, “There are many coronavirus patients likely infected by foreigners.”

It advised, “If you talk to a foreigner, wear a mask. As well, please do not eat with them.”

On May 21, the health center and the Ibaraki Prefectural Infectious Disease Control Division retracted the document. “The document’s content was inappropriate,” they said.

“Though we had no intention of discriminating against foreigners,” the Itako Health Center told NHK, “we are sorry if any of the expressions were misleading.”

Shohei Sugita, a lawyer who supports the rights of foreigners, points out that Article 14 out the Constitution does not permit such distinction based on nationality since it leads to discrimination.

“Distinguishing between Japanese and foreigners may give the impression that infections are spreading only due to foreigners, which is very disappointing,” said Sugita.

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

“外国人と食事しないように”感染予防啓発文書に保健所が記載
NHK News 2021年5月22日 5時30分, courtesy of Jaocnanoni, RO, MMT, BS,  and others
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210522/amp/k10013044921000.html 

茨城県の保健所が外国人が働く農家に対して新型コロナウイルスの感染予防を呼びかけた文書に「外国人と一緒に食事をしないように」などと書かれていたことがわかりました。保健所は内容が不適切だったとして文書を撤回しました。

茨城県の潮来保健所によりますと、今月19日から20日にかけて、新型コロナウイルスへの感染予防について外国人が働いている農家に向けた文書を保健所の管内の農協や市役所にメールで送りました。

この文書には「外国人から感染した可能性が疑われる新型コロナウイルス患者が多く発生している」と書かれています。

そのうえで「外国人と会話するときは必ずマスクをつけてください」とか、「外国人と一緒に食事をしないようにしてください」などと書かれていました。

「文書の内容は不適切」と撤回

文書を出したあと外部から保健所に「不適切ではないか」との指摘があったということで、茨城県感染症対策課と潮来保健所は21日、「文書の内容は不適切だった」として文書を撤回しました。

潮来保健所はNHKの取材に対し「外国人を差別する意図は全くありませんでしたが、誤解を招く表現があったとしたら申し訳ありませんでした」と話しています。

今回の文書について外国人の支援活動を行っている杉田昌平弁護士は「行政が外国人と明示して差別を助長させかねない表現をすることは憲法14条の法の下の平等の原則に照らしてもあってはならない。日本人と外国人を分けて表現したことは外国人にのみ感染が広がっているような印象を与えかねず、大変残念な表現だ」と話しています。
ENDS
///////////////////////////

COMMENT: “Misleading”?! “Inappropriate”?! “Unintentional”?! How about unscientific and discriminatory, especially for an official bureau safeguarding public health that should know better? But given what we know at Debito.org about Japan’s constant “Blame Game”, used to distract from official policy errors and scapegoat Non-Japanese for just about anything, we could see it coming.

The bigger surprise is how quickly NHK jumped on this so quickly and got it retracted. Bravo. Media watchdogs are supposed to look out for the general public, including Non-Japanese Residents (even though they generally don’t). Please get ready to do more of the same in future. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 22: “Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal”, May 17, 2021

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Hi Blog. Hello Debito.org Newsletter Readers. This month’s SNA Visible Minorities column 22 updates us on how Japan’s discriminatory border policies disproportionately punish Non-Japanese residents, even when things that are going wrong are due to government mismanagement. Paraphrased excerpt:

==============================
Visible Minorities: Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal
By Debito Arudou, May 17, 2021 (condensed intro)

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometimes government-designed policies lack sense. Or, in places where the government is as unaccountable as Japan’s, policymakers ignore cautions—-or don’t get cautioned at all because a docile mass media is mobilized behind a national goal. So when things go wrong, very bad things can happen, especially when punishments for noncompliance only go one way and hurt innocent people.

That is what’s in the cards yet again with Japan’s Covid border controls. The current policy is that if you are a resident of Japan returning from overseas, you face a mandatory self-quarantine system. Everyone, regardless of nationality, signs must notify the authorities of their current location each day. If not, authorities will contact them via Skype, WhatsApp video call, or by voice cell phone number.

If you are found to be breaking quarantine as a Japanese, you get your name exposed to the public. However, foreign residents will lose everything—their lives, livelihoods, and anything they ever invested in Japan—by getting deported. So with punishments this disproportionate, the government had better make sure nothing goes wrong. Guess what? Things are going wrong, and it’s the government’s fault…
==============================

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/05/17/visible-minorities-interrogating-the-discriminatory-quarantine-scandal/

Links to sources cited in the full article:  Kyodo News May 1, Japan Times May 12, MOFA self-quarantine pledge.

Enjoy! Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
======================
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Kyodo: “300 people per day re-entering Japan breaking COVID self-quarantine”. But NJ report Govt incompetence, which punishes them disproportionately.

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Hi Blog. Government incompetence is nothing new. There’s not much you can do when the expectation is one-way: The Man demands a promise from you, with punishments if you don’t comply, but if The Man doesn’t keep his promises, too bad, since there’s often no punishment for the Powers That Be.

That’s what’s happening under Japan’s new “self-quarantine” rules. Kyodo News reports that “up to 300 people per day are breaking the self-quarantine”. People, regardless of nationality. What is NOT evenly enforced regardless of nationality is the punishment.

As Kyodo notes, ‘The health ministry, which has asked for people to honor their pledge, has warned that penalties for noncompliance include publicly revealing names or, in the case of a foreign national, revocation of their status of residence and deportation.”

That’s very different. Especially since people are reporting to Magdalena Osumi of the Japan Times (see below) that there has been no follow-up from the government when it comes to helping people keep their pledge (and some confusion about how the rules are supposed to work). So if the GOJ messes things up and you’re a citizen, uh, your name gets made public. Big whoop. But if you’re NJ, through no fault of your own, you get deported.  Your life in Japan is over.

As Debito.org has predicted might happen, this new Covid “Self-Quarantine” regime has become yet another means to ethnically-cleanse Japan of its foreigners. As if revolving-door visas and insecure job statuses aren’t enough.

And of course, the Kyodo article neither questions the disproportionality of the punishment or reports on the incompetence of the government.

What follows is the Kyodo article. After that, a request from Magdalena Osumi for information about the government incompetence for an upcoming article. Read on if you have something to share with her. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Up to 300 people per day breaking self-quarantine pledge in Japan

KYODO NEWS – May 1, 2021, Courtesy of Magdalena Osumi at the Return to Japan Support Group
https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/05/7e132ca7447a-up-to-300-people-per-day-breaking-self-quarantine-pledge-in-japan.html

Up to around 300 people every day, who had pledged to self-isolate upon arrival into Japan as part of measures to contain the novel coronavirus, could not be confirmed to be in their quarantine location or were found to be some distance away, the health ministry and a contracted medical service firm said Saturday.

The daily checkups have been conducted as part of strengthened border control measures since the end of March to keep imported cases of the coronavirus at bay and target all arrivals into the country for a 14-day period.

But with the whereabouts of some people unable to be confirmed during the period, the ministry is now considering having private security companies pay visits to quarantine locations if the person cannot be reached for more than three days.

According to the ministry and the medical service company supporting the quarantine operation, an average of 24,000 people needed to be accounted for on a daily basis during a 14-day self-quarantine period.

Of that number, around 200 to 300 people every day could not be confirmed to be in their pledged quarantine locations, with 70 percent failing to report their whereabouts to authorities and 30 percent found to be away from the locations.

A health ministry official has called on people not to rely too heavily on the results from tests conducted when they entered the country, as it is possible to get a false negative result during an incubation period.

“We want people to properly see through their quarantine,” the official said.

Japan now requires all arrivals into the country to provide COVID-19 negative test results taken within 72 hours of departure and be retested at the time of entry. Even if the results are negative, people are asked to pledge they will self-quarantine for 14 days in their home, a hotel or another facility.

People are also asked to install a location tracking app called OEL upon arrival, with notification messages requesting location information and health status sent on a daily basis during the quarantine period.

Those who fail to report their whereabouts are contacted individually via a Skype video call or other methods.

The health ministry, which has asked for people to honor their pledge, has warned that penalties for noncompliance include publicly revealing names or, in the case of a foreign national, revocation of their status of residence and deportation.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

MAGDALENA OSUMI SAYS: Hello. Regarding this article about people breaking quarantine rules in Japan, I know that many people have had problems with applications they’re supposed to install after entering Japan, or haven’t received passwords to log in. I understand that’s one of the reasons why people are blamed for breaking the self-isolation rules and the pledge.

I would like to write about it for The Japan Times. Is there anyone who has experienced such problems with any of the tracking applications or had problems with reporting on their health condition and whereabouts during the 14-day quarantine period, and could share their experience with me? It will be greatly appreciated.

Magdalena’s JT email: magdalena.osumi@japantimes.co.jp

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

Responses (anonymized and excerpted in places)

LACK OF OFFICIAL FOLLOWUP:

AB: Today is day 15 for me and I never received an OEL email and password. No Skype call. No WhatsApp call. No messages. All I did was the daily health update automated email.

CD: My [spouse] and I finished our quarantine never having received the OEL password, or a Skype call. We did receive the health questionnaire and reported our health daily.

EF: I never received a phone call from anyone.

GH: The thing that surprised me the most were the people that they stationed at Narita airport that were supposed to check that all these applications were installed. They were clearly not from the quarantine department or any other government agency. They were non native Japanese speakers and one of them had trouble conversing in Japanese at all. One Japanese man was getting very upset because he couldn’t understand how to install the applications on his phone. In my case, the person responsible couldn’t remember how to check if my location tracking was set up properly and made a mistake. Everything starts at the airport. I imagine some of the problems you are looking into happen because the apps aren’t set up right in the first place.

MO: They are understaffed so they had to get some help from somewhere else but it doesn’t seem to be organized well. I’ll keep that in mind.

CONFUSION ABOUT THE SYSTEM

IJ: I don’t know how they get that 300 number, for example I used OEL to check in at the quarantine hotel, and then check in again at home after 3 days. There’s a large distance in between, am I count as one of those 300?

KL: there r two “buttons” on the app, one to report a place of stay, which is used once u arrive at the place of quarantine, and another button for subsequent location check ins. If you have to change the place of quarantine, you need to click on the button reporting your new place of stay.

MN: However, the OEL alert only directs you to the I’m Here button. There were no instructions about checking in at the new location so I assumed pressing the I’m Here button will suffice, also assuming that the location will automatically be updated. I got a Skype call on my 4th day asking me to check in at my new location.

OP: Another vote for the two buttons being quite confusing — I kept pressing the “check in” button for three days instead of the “i’m here” – as the screens look almost exactly the same (same coloring and design) and “check in” could absolutely be interpreted as something along the lines of “daily check-in.” It feels like there are many ways to make an error here because of unclear app design.

QR: As for me, it didnt work a freakin single time

ST: IMO, all the written forms allude to the fact we are allowed [to go outside and exercise]. But apparently not. I was prepared to not leave my house, but then I read my forms saying we are allowed out if necessary and we must wear a mask and not catch public transport.

UV: i just spoke to a lady from immigration and going out to get food is ok, as it is a necessity. Provided you don’t go too far from where you are staying and practice safe measures i.e. mask and social distancing, you should be ok. Going on walks I would probably say are not ok though.

WX: no, it’s not ok. The pledge you signed specifically states that you must stay at home or risk deportation or a 10 million yen fine. If you get caught, the defense of a “random, unnamed person at immigration said it was ok” isn’t really going to cut it. And the more people that think they’re entitled to break the rules, the tougher the rules are going to get for everyone.

YZ: I think this is so typical of Japanese nuanced messaging… I am in [not Tokyo] at the moment and we have been told since the end of last year to avoid all unnecessary and non-urgent trips out of the city….. ‘if we can help it’. I have adhered to this, yet many of my colleagues have been attending conference or business meetings all over Japan! Am considering a trip back [overseas], but will have to quarantine in Tokyo since no private transport option possible. I can do 14 days in a hotel but not 14 without exercise and fresh air – wiling to go for a walk at 5am with a mask on!

ZA: It’s a possible 1 million fine, not 10. The only actual penalty currently is making your name public. The wording specifically says:

For 14 days after arrival in Japan, (1) I must stay at home or the accommodation listed in 2. below. I must consult the public health center and Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants in advance when I need to change my accommodations due to unavoidable circumstances. (2) I must not have contact with anyone who I do not live with. (3) I must not use public transportation (trains, buses, cabs/taxies, domestic flights, etc.) for 14 days after entering Japan.

https://www.mofa.go.jp/files/100168885.pdf

However, I would advise people to abide by the spirit as much as possible.

This is the Japanese of the pledge:
入国後 14 日間、①自宅又は宿泊場所など下記(2)に記載する住所で待機すること。なお、やむを得ない理由により待機場所を変更する必要が生じた場合は、自宅又は宿泊施設を管轄する保健所及び入国者健康管理センターに事前相談すること。②他者との接触を行わないこと。③公共交通機関(不特定多数が利用する電車、バス、タクシー、国内線の飛行機等)を使用しないこと。
It’s the same as the English. No public transit or taxis, must reside in the same place unless unavoidable, no contact with other people.

According to many people I have spoken to both online and in person have stated that immigration officials at the airport and by phone have expressly stated that they can go out during quarantine. This is exactly why people are confused. This information is not in the official pledge travelers are required to sign. My suggestion for your report is to contact the immigration authorities directly and find out the truth. Print that in the newspaper so everyone, Japanese and gaijin are aware of the rules and one group doesn’t get blamed for the continued spread of the virus. The problem is with immigration and their hypocrisy.

ENDS

======================
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Problematically racialized Education Ministry-approved primary-school “Morals” textbook: “Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-nen” (Kōbun Shoin, 2020)

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Hi Blog. We’ve talked numerous times before about GOJ-approved (and other) textbooks in Japan’s primary education (particularly in regards to teachingmorals“), and their issues with racializing “foreigners” and people of diversity in Japan. Here’s the latest version in a new textbook, from Debito.org Reader XY, who is facing an uphill battle in teaching his young child how to view diversity in society. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: XY
Subject: Problematic depictions of race in a dōtoku textbook for first graders
Date: April 26, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Today I’m contacting you because I’ve to share something problematic concerning the dōtoku (morals) class taught in Japan’s schools. My child just entered primary school and because of the questionable reputation the dōtoku class gained during the last two decades, I put the dōtoku textbook under scrutiny. As I suspected it didn’t disappoint me and provided two sections I find highly problematic when it comes to race images and relations in Japan.

But first I want to provide the bibliography of the textbook in question.

Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-Nen, Tokyo: Kōbun Shoin, 2020 (“Primary School Morals:  Having a Heart Full of Plenty, Year One”, approved by MEXT in 2019) (click on images to expand in browser).

The first two photos are of the cover and the imprint, including a list of authors.

And now to the two problematic sections I found.

The first one stretches from pages 26 to 29.




It shows a story of a lumberjack who lost his axe in a pond. A goddess appears from the pond, shows him a golden axe, and asks him if it’s his one. He declines. Next, she brings him a silver axe, but he declines again saying that his axe is made of iron. The goddess is impressed by his honesty and gives him his iron axe together with the golden and silver ones as reward for his honesty. The neighboring lumberjack hears what happened, gets envious, and wants those precious axes, too. He goes to the pond and throws his axe into the pond on purpose. The goddess appears and offers him a golden axe. The envious lumberjack immediately claims that this is his lost one, but the goddess knows that it’s a lie and disappears, leaving the envious lumberjack without any axe. The textbook then asks the pupils how they feel about the behavior of the envious, lying lumberjack.

The story is a classic and the questions raised are fair enough, but I think the depiction of the characters is literally begging for criticism. The goddess is obviously modelled after something stereotypically Ancient Greek, but that’s not a big deal. To me the problem lies within the looks of the two lumberjacks. While the honest one could pass as an ordinary J-salaryman if you draw him in a suit, the dishonest one looks like a stereotypical Western lumberjack, complete with a very pronounced large nose to convey the “proper” racial stereotype of a white person to first graders. Not very flattering.

The second problematic section stretches from pages 100 to 103.




It deals with a blonde, white foreign girl called Emma from Australia transferring to the class of the protagonist. But if you go on and read the text, you’ll quickly find out that this “foreign” girl (and the text blatantly says gaikoku no hito) from Australia is actually a “hāfu”, having an Australian father and a Japanese mother (tick the box for the stereotype of a white man marrying a J woman).

So, the girl isn’t a gaikoku no hito, at all, but would have Japanese citizenship by bloodline through her mother in the real world. A barefaced, unjust gaijinization of a certain type of birthright Japanese. The story goes on with the description how Emma marks correct answers (with a check rather than the Japanese circle) emphasizing differences and that Emma is not able to speak Japanese properly, yet (tick box for the next stereotype about “foreigner’s” language skills). The story concludes with the typical anticipation of the Japanese girl – the protagonist – looking forward to converse with Emma in English after the start of English classes.

I identified three major problematic points in total:

  1. Gross gaijinization of a birthright Japanese just because of having a foreign father instead of doing the morally correct thing and teach that the so-called “hāfu” are as Japanese as any “pure” Japanese.
  2. The claim that Emma is bad at Japanese because of her “foreignness”, which can easily proliferate the stereotype that “foreigners” can’t speak Japanese (properly), even if they have a Japanese parent (and therefore aren’t gaikokujin (or gaikoku no hito, wording that is more about origin than legal status) in the first place).
  3. A strong focus on differences rather than similarities as human beings no matter what race someone belongs to.

Overall an extraordinarily poor example, sidelining mixed-race Japanese to gaikokujin status and planting this legally false and socially outdated idea into the minds of first graders. A G7 member should do away with the proliferation of such bs. It’s 2021, not 1921.

In conclusion, I think that these two texts sneak in stereotypes into the minds of Japanese first graders that are detrimental to foreigners and international (racially diverse) Japanese. The first one subtly conveys a “foreigners can’t be trusted” kind of message, the second one treats legal Japanese with international heritage as genuine gaikokujin and overemphasizes differences over similarities, and also proliferates the obnoxious gaikokujin = blonde eigojin stereotype.

Best regards,
XY

======================
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Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)

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Hi Blog. Last week I received the following information from around the internet (h/t to GG, WX, XY, and YZ) and about a “Japanese Only” establishment that put up some exclusionary signs. Their report follows, my comment comes at the very end.

//////////////////////////////////
From: XY
Subject: Foreign people are forbidden sign in Nagasaki
Date: April 16, 2021
To: <debito@debito.org>
[anonymized and edited for brevity]

Dear Debito,
I’m XY, who shared the racist signs outside a restaurant in Nagasaki on Facebook this week. GG, an old friend, tells me that he contacted you about the signs and that you’d like more information. Another long-term resident, WX, originally posted the photos on Tuesday on Facebook and I shared them, as did YZ. The signs were still there as of yesterday.

The restaurant is called Bronco, address 850-0852 Nagasaki, Yorozuya machi 5-4.

Phone 095-825-9377.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ステーキハウス-ブロンコ-206688849396493/

This is in Kanko dori, the main downtown shopping area in Nagasaki. Online photos of the interior show a Confederate flag on display. [All signs courtesy of YZ as of April 17, 2021; click on image to expand in browser.]

Caption by YZ: The first two were taken two days ago by a student of mine who lives near that place. The third picture was the original one that WX had taken And the last is a screenshot of my comment on their Facebook page about the confederate flag. The inside of the restaurant is decorated in pretty much anything you can think of from the United States and especially from Texas. (Ironic, don’t you think?)

XY continued: After we posted the photographs, many people both foreign and Japanese either called the restaurant or contacted local government agencies to complain. The owner didn’t answer any of the calls and the person who did said they realised the signs were problematic. The agencies contacted said the signs were offensive or discriminatory but they had no legal recourse to action.

YZ and I planned to visit the restaurant to talk to the owner yesterday, but it was their 定休日. Apparently the owner has a bad reputation of being extremely unpleasant and we suspect he knows fully well that the signs are discriminatory and doesn’t care. YZ contacted someone in the local chamber of commerce in the hope that they can pressure the owner to remove the signs.

In all my decades of living in Nagasaki I have never seen anything like this. I’m deeply upset that Nagasaki, with it’s long history of interaction with foreign countries, and it’s image of a peace-loving city, is allowing this. I have no desire to eat in this restaurant but I believe the signs are infringing on my human rights, by discriminating against me as a foreigner, and suggesting that foreigners are the source of COVID-19 infection. Thank you for your interest in our story. Please let me and YZ know if you need more information. Kind regards, XY

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Another one to add to Debito.org’s collection of “Japanese Only” signs.  In addition to all of the other places archived both here on the Debito.org Blog and on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, it looks like the owner of Bronco is so much of a fan of America that he’s adopting America’s long history of racism, down to the Confederate Flag (supporters of which would historically no doubt have supported America’s Asian exclusion laws, WWII internment camps for Japanese, and other measures that would exclude Non-Whites like him).

The interesting thing about this bigot is that his racism has evolved with the times.  No longer is it a matter of excluding people because they don’t “look Japanese” or “don’t understand Japanese customs or language” etc., etc.  Now it’s a matter of infection (which in fact is a Japanese government-supported narrative).  No matter that Japan’s primary vectors of infection in recent months have been Japanese returning from overseas themselves, what with Japan’s honor-system quarantines for Japanese only until relatively recently, a willful under-testing of the asymptomatic or much contract tracing of infected Japanese (to keep the numbers low and the Olympics coming), and abysmally low vaccination rates in Japan, leading to the distinct possibility that Japan has incubated its own Eek Variant of the Coronavirus.

If anything, foreign returnees and even tourists are probably more likely to be vaccinated and therefore less contagious than the average Taro. But no matter.  Blame the foreigner.  After all, it’s what even the main Japanese scientist advising the government told us we should do.  Bad physical science, coupled with even worse social science, has once again enabled the racists.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE:  EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS ARE DOWN

From: XY
Subject: Re: Foreign people are forbidden sign in Nagasaki
Date: April 25, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

I’m sorry for not getting back in touch with you sooner. Thank you for blogging about Bronco. I’m happy to report that the signs were taken down by Sunday April 18th, we think because of pressure from the local shop owners’ association. YZ had contacted MICE, an organization which promotes the new conference center being built here [info in English, Japanese], who told her they would ask the shop owners’ association to talk to the owner. Also some of YZ’s friends are members of the association and also acted on our behalf, after seeing her posts on SNS.

We are both glad that the local Japanese community stood up against racism.
Kind regards, XY

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  See?  If the government has an interest or a duty to stop this exclusionary behavior, it can happen quite rapidly.  Yet another reason why we need actual laws against racial discrimination.

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SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

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SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

Debito.org first went live on April 15, 1996, during the earlier days of the World Wide Web, as a means to respond to online bulletin board critics. When topics came up over and again, I’d just archive a previous essay on Debito.org and send a link. After a couple hundred essays were organized into general information sites, Debito.org became a platform for issues involving foreign residents of Japan.

The first major issue I took up was “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s universities. This is where all Japanese full-time faculty were granted contract-free tenure from day one of employment, while all foreign academics, despite many being better qualified than their Japanese counterparts, got perpetual ninkisei contracts (some of them term-limited) without the opportunity for tenure.

I discovered a “smoking gun” one day in my university mailbox: A paper directive from the Ministry of Education encouraging national and public universities to fire their older foreign professors by not renewing their contracts. I scanned it, archived it, and sent a link to prominent advocates like Ivan P. Hall (author of Cartels of the Mind) for further exposure. It turns out that a government demanding their universities axe all their foreigners over forty is state-sponsored discrimination, and it blew up into an international issue that even then-US Ambassador Walter Mondale took up.

All of that information is still up on Debito.org today, and it turns out that a permanent archive that is searchable, citable, with context and without paywall, is a valuable resource, especially as many unscrupulous people would rather have a history of their actions and policies disappear into the ether. Once archived on Debito.org, it didn’t. Soon other issues on Debito.org garnered national and international attention, even generating public policy movements…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/04/19/visible-minorities-retrospective-on-25-years-of-activism/

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April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.

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Hi Blog. I’m pleased to announce that Debito.org is celebrating its 25th birthday today!

Yes, as far back as April 15, 1996, Debito.org first went live as an archive of my essays written for a long-dead open listserv called the “Dead Fukuzawa Society”, founded by acolytes of the late Chalmers Johnson who believed, like Fukuzawa Yuukichi, of the “Fukoku Kyouhei” (Rich Country, Strong Military) slogan, that Japan had a lot to learn from overseas practices to make one’s country stronger (as did Chalmers Johnson, who believed that the US needed to learn from Japan’s Industrial Policy and mercantilist practices).  Much debate ensued at DFS, and when I realized that my some of my responses to critics were retreading ground I’d written before, I archived them on Debito.org and just sent links.  Some of my most interesting (and fresh) early essaywriting is still up on Debito.org (the website, not this blog section, which will incidentally also be celebrating its 15th birthday on June 17th), including “Issues of Education for Young Families“, “Debunking Myths about Japan,” “Cultural Quirks and Esoterica“, “Dai-san Sector and corruption in my little town“, “Driving in Japan“, “Japan Cycletreks“, and even funny essays (yes, humor from Debito!).

Things have changed for better and for worse, and I’d like to think Debito.org had a hand in promoting the “for better”.  We’ve broken major international news stories, including the Otaru Onsens Case, Trade Barriers and the Dr. Tanii Suicide, the embedded racism of the 1995 Kobe EarthquakeNinkisei Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities, Japan’s Racial Discrimination covered by the United Nations, Ministry of Justice foreigner “Snitch Sites“, discrimination at Japan World Cup 2002, racist “foreign DNA” crime research at the National Police Agency, “Tama-chan” sealion and the Juuminhyou, and more listed at our “Activists’ Page“. Debito.org’s archives have also been a launching pad for books, hundreds of newspaper articles and columns, and cited research papers.  Thanks in part to Debito.org (as opposed to all the other information in the academic canon dismissing Japan’s racial discrimination as “ethnic discrimination”, “foreigner discrimination”, and “cultural misunderstandings”), Japan is no longer claiming with a straight face that racism doesn’t exist. Some are even coming to the conclusion that we need actual laws against racial discrimination (now more than 25 years after signing UN international treaty promising to eliminate it).

In fact, look at this Asahi Shinbun article, dated April 11, 2021, courtesy of KM:

Quick, rough translation by Debito (amendments welcome from Debito.org Readers):

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

THE LACK OF A COMPREHENSIVE LAW FORBIDDING DISCRIMINATION

Asahi Shinbun, April 11, 2021

The UN, recognizing that ignoring human rights leads to the barbarity of war, issued proclamations guaranteeing human rights and the elimination of discrimination in its UN Charter (1945) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).  Other agreements, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1969) Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and Children (1981) also demands that signatories pass laws forbidding discrimination.

Japan has also looked back on its wartime past, and established in the Japanese Constitution that basic human rights are inviolable rights, and all Japanese people (kokumin) are equal before the law and should not suffer discrimination.  However, despite specific definitions about discrimination outlined in various UN treaties, Japan still has not made a law with comprehensive definitions against discrimination.

Instead, Japan has put into effect full-scale laws against discrimination against the forceful assimilation of minorities and worked towards the improvement for conditions of Burakumin enclaves.  It has also worked towards the education and enlightenment of the public in order to resolve psychological abuse.

Under the Abe Administration, instead of addressing all forms of discrimination, it took a case-by-case approach with the Law to Eliminate Discrimination against the Handicapped (2013), and laws against hate speech and Burakumin discrimination in 2016.

However, the three laws above do not include penalties for carrying out discrimination, stopping at the idealistic “this cannot be done” and “it will not be permitted”. This is due to exceptions being made under guarantees of freedom of speech in the Constitution, given a background of reservations expressed by constitutional experts about “arbitrary restrictions by government regarding speech and expression in places like public demonstrations.”

Editorial Department, Kitano Shouichi

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

COMMENT:  I would argue that this dialog in a major newspaper, acknowledging the need for a “comprehensive law” against discrimination with penalties, would not have been possible in the 1990s before Debito.org. We constantly pointed out that racial discrimination was happening to Visible Minorities in Japan, and a landmark court case (the above mentioned Otaru Onsens Lawsuit) firmed up judicial precedent that racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu), as rendered, would appear in court documents as an incontrovertible fact of the case. Granted, no mention was made of Non-Japanese and Visible Minorities in Kitano’s essay.  But the word “comprehensive” (houkatsuteki) would arguably include that.

That’s where the work of Debito.org lies for the next 25 years — getting a law against racial discrimination, with penalties, on the books.  I hope you will join us in keeping the record alive and updated as we keep pushing for a Japanese society more tolerant and accepting of diversity.  Japan’s inevitable multiethnic future depends on it.

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Founder, Debito.org 

PS. Debito.org Readers, would you put something in the Comments Section about how Debito.org has been of use to you?  Thanks!

======================
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Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site

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Hi Blog.  In anticipation of Japan becoming a less avowedly monoethnic society over time, what with international marriages, more Visible Minorities becoming prominent, and naturalized citizens, the Powers That Be are coming up with new terminologies to keep a firewall between the “real” pure-blooded Japanese and the mongrels.  We’ve had the “Mixed-Blood Children Problem” (Konketsuji Mondai) as a Postwar Japan issue for policymakers to “fix”, the offsetting epithet “Haafu” for generations, and recently the official term “Gaikokujin Shimin” used throughout Japan’s local government offices and ministries to lump anybody (including Japanese citizens, born and naturalized) into the “foreigner” category if they have any foreign connections. (Official definition of GS: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within [our jurisdiction], this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”)

Not to be outdone, creative purists are coming up with new terms.  Check out this screen capture from a Ministry of Justice site (courtesy of CJ, click to expand in browser):

From http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken02_00025.html.

Check out the first word of the message: “honpougai shusshinsha” (本邦外出身者) , or “people originating from outside our homeland state”.

Yes, that is being used by the Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougo Kyoku) website, and this fresh, new term creates another (this time very nationalistic) definitional line a non-Wajin cannot cross. After all, “shusshin” (origin) is something you’re born into, and a new legal status (such as a new citizenship) cannot change it.  Even naturalized Japanese (such as sumo wrestlers) are forever stuck with “gaikoku shusshin” in official categorizations.

But note the invective this time.  It’s not even “nippongai” (outside Japan) or “kaigai shusshin” (overseas origin).  It’s “Honpougai” (outside the real homeland of Japan), adding a “motherland/fatherland/our country” patriotic flavor.

Finally, note the occasion for using it: “Kokusai jinshu sabetsu teppai dei ni muketa jinken yougo kyoku kara no messeiji” (A message from the Bureau of Human Rights on the International Day for Eliminating Racial Discrimination).  Wow, TPO.

COMMENT:  I’m actually not all that shocked that this is coming from the MOJ BOHR. We’ve talked about them many times on Debito.org (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)  It’s an organization technically assigned to investigate and defend our human rights in Japan, but it is in fact a Potemkin system. It has no enforcement powers (as they will tell you in every conference you have with them), only existing to deflect international criticism of Japan’s human rights record. Remember this the GOJ agency that actually violated UN Treaty on racial discrimination (CERD), specifically advising the City of Otaru during the Otaru Onsens Case that passing legislative measures to eliminate racial discrimination were “okay if necessary”, and that “there would be no penalties” for not doing so. Lest we forget, here’s the actual document about it, courtesy of the Otaru City Government:

(From Arudou Debito, “Japanese Only” 2nd Ed. in Japanese, all editions in English.)  

This is how the GOJ will delay the erosion of Japan’s ethnostate by the mudbloods and interlopers for as long as possible. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)

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Hi Blog. Here’s is a German TV show reporting on what life is like in Japanese Covid quarantine. At first, it seems like an April Fool’s article, but it rings all too familiar when one deals with Japanese bureaucracy, especially when it gets paranoid about contact with the outside world and contagion. (I remember once on an NHK news broadcast during the Avian Flu scare in 2003, where bureaucrats were filmed positioning chairs 2 meters apart in an international airport quarantine zone, measuring down to the millimeter (yes, with a measuring tape) the distance between them. Phew! That one millimeter makes all the difference.)

Anyway, read what the German media has to say about current life in quarantine in Japan (which TV news show Tagesschau compares to a prison, but with very Japanese-bureaucracy touches), and how Olympic participants will be bypassing it all. “Measuring-tape Science” at work again. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Great and nauseating article by “Tagesschau” (Review of the Day), Germany’s apex TV news, on the latest quarantine rules for overseas travelers returning to Japan
Date: April 1, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Maximilian Doe here. I wanted to draw you attention to a great and nauseating article by the “Tagesschau”, Germany’s apex TV news broadcasting (Germany’s equivalent to Britain’s BBC News). It deals with the current quarantine rules for incoming travelers and how they are enforced.

Here is the link: https://www.tagesschau.de/ausland/asien/tokio-einreisebestimmungen-corona-101.html

And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:

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

Corona-Entry to Japan
Jail-like quarantine
Tagesschau April 1, 2021, 12:17 p.m., translation courtesy of MD

The government of Japan gets seemingly nervous a couple of months to the Olympic Games: Many travelers from abroad have to go to a quarantine hotel – and that is a ripsnorter: No fresh air, roll call in the morning, cold food.

By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

Lively singing of birds – that sounds nice at first glance, but the truth is that it is a sudden insolation forced upon the guests in a Covid quarantine hotel in Tokyo. And it is cynical, because all incoming travelers are sealed off from the outside world starting with boarding the plane for Japan. The windows of the hotel cannot be opened, the air-conditioning does not work. Those you want to exchange air by opening the door of the room just a crack wide will cause a crisscross of voices. The telephone will ring. Japan is watching you – and is scolding you as if you are a school child.

Roll call in the morning with spit test

There are roll calls at 6:30 in the morning. All who are captive the third or the sixth day have to do a Covid spit test. It will be collected one hour later, but that way you have plenty of time to collect your spit. And it wakes up everyone else, too.

Japan has decided two important things just a couple of weeks ago. First: Those who enter the country have to undergo three days of publicly financed mandatory quarantine and have to self-isolate afterwards for eleven days. Everything is rigidly double-checked with Apps, Skype, and written inquiries twice daily.

Second: The internationally accepted PCR-test is not enough for Japan’s bureaucracy any more. Now Japan demands swabs from the nose and throat. Those who do not agree to these swabs by signing and stamping must spend six days of quarantine without fresh air. Many travelers were affected by this during the last days, because these new rules were only mentioned in small print, a practice that also enraged multiple European embassies according to our information.

Food supply under surveillance

Three times a day a young Japanese voice wordily informs, that food will now be hanged at the doorknob and that it is prohibited to open the door in any case. Another announcement comes after the delivery has ended. Then you can take the food in, provided you are wearing a mask, and it is watched by a guard at the floor, who is standing there the entire day wearing a mask and face shield.

At the first time people curiously look into the bag with the food, but the joy dissipates already with the dinner at 6 p.m.: The food is always cold, it is always a pile of dry rice, always three snippets of white cabbage, often thin slices of pork with a rim of fat, and half a liter of water to gobble it down.

Alcohol is prohibited unless you coincidentally have some in your luggage. It is said that those who are hungry can – after extensive checks, of course – call friends to bring them dry food to the hotel.

Complicated way home

When the last gong rings after three or six days and multiple Corona tests the people affected are not allowed to take a taxi home. To not bother the neighborhood everybody has to go back to the airport first – probably with a colored rubber band at the arm again – and then they can go home.

Many Japanese are so embarrassed by this treatment of the bureaucracy towards incoming travelers that they apologize.

Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this

Participants in the Olympic Games and their teams are reportedly exempt from all of this next summer. According to current planning they can enter without any quarantine – and if they cannot bring the correct corona test Japan will probably welcome them anyway. After all, Japan wants to showcase itself as a tomodachi, a friend.
ENDS
////////////////////////////////

Comment from MD: I first hoped that it’s a very bad April Fools, but it wasn’t, since the article is still up today. It ranked #2 in the ranking of the most read articles at the time of translating, so people are curious about it, and rightly so.

This policy apparently applies to all returnees regardless of nationality, so the treatment is not necessarily racial discrimination. But it’s nonetheless a very problematic arrangement, basically punishing returnees with jail-like confinement. Also the part about food supply is dire. (sarcasm warning) I suppose Jewish and Muslim returnees will be extremely delighted by a bag of cold pork. Best regards, MD

======================
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It’s official: Tokyo 2020 is a “Japanese Only” Olympics: Japanese living abroad still allowed to attend, not foreigners. (UPDATED: This probably includes Japanese who have given up their J citizenship.)

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Hi Blog. I’ve been writing about Japan’s racialized attitude towards Covid for well over a year now (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), which is, essentially: Japanese have been treated as less infectious than foreigners traveling under the same conditions. This was seen most clearly in the racist border policies that have refused all foreigners re-entry (including those with valid visas) but let in all Japanese.

I suspected that this poor science would play a part in the Japan Olympic Committee’s recent decision to ban all “overseas spectators” (their wording: “kaigai no kankyaku“) from attending the Olympics. And I suspected that this would only apply to foreigners.

Well, the Japan Times reported today that this has precisely come to pass: “According to the Japanese organizing committee, foreign nationals made up roughly 10% of a total of 80,000 volunteers before the pandemic forced the one-year postponement of the games. Japanese citizens living abroad are expected to be allowed to volunteer, according to the officials.” [emphasis added]

So to recap: Japanese citizens living overseas are not counted as “overseas spectators”. They have that immunity to Covid by dint of their passport.

This is despite:

  • The rest of the developed world vaccinating at far higher rates than Japan is at the moment.
  • The fact that those “overseas spectators” bearing proof of vaccination are less likely to spread Covid than the (almost all unvaccinated) Japanese.
  • The fact that, again, any gathering during a pandemic is potentially a superspreader event. The danger being posed to the Japanese public by holding these Olympics with spectators keeps getting ignored in the GOJ’s singleminded attempt at recouping their investment.

And now the IOC has in effect “fully respected and accepted” this exclusionary Olympics.  It’s the world’s “first ever without overseas spectators“.

No.  It’s the first Olympics without “foreign” spectators.  Overseas spectators are okay if they’re Japanese.

So as predicted, welcome to Japan’s first “Japanese Only” Olympics. As long as you have a Japanese passport, you are immune to Covid and have privileged access to Our Games. SITYS. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

PS:  I know the article says that Japanese “volunteers” living abroad will get in, not “spectators”.  But do you really think the Japanese government is going to make that distinction?  It’s already not making a distinction between Japanese in Japan and Japanese living abroad for re-entry.  You think officials are going to say, “Oh, you’re not going to actually watch the games?  Just come in to the event as a volunteer?  Oh, well, that’s okay, then!  Come right on in!”

Similar is the distinction that has NOT been made between NJ Residents and foreign tourists.  I’ve talked about that here.  And that distinction is still not being officially made now.  So for those thinking, “Well, I live in Japan, I’ve got tickets, I’ll get in!”, I say wait and see.  My read, based upon decades of study of how the government treats NJ Residents (and reaffirmed by its blanket border bans of NJ over the past year), is that I’ll be very surprised if any distinction is finally made.  D.

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

UPDATE MARCH 24:  Debito.org Reader RO points out that according to the IACE Travel Agency (which is legally liable for their information), even overseas “Japanese” who NO LONGER HAVE JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP (because they gave it up and took another nationality) can still re-enter Japan.  In other words, what constitutes “overseas Japanese” is a matter of having Japanese blood, even without having Japanese legal status.  These are racialized paradigms for what constitutes a “Japanese”, and that is related to this blog entry because they will factor into border controls concerning the Olympics.

RO saysApparently former Japanese nationals who have renounced their Japanese citizenship are still allowed to enter Japan, if they can show proof of their former Japanese citizenship. See the below post from someone else.

——————–
After I saw the post of someone here that is a spouse of a Japanese flew to Japan without a visa, and only holding a koseki tohon was allowed in, I did some digging.
I am a child of a Japanese and thought a special circumstance visa was necessary even for short term (less than 90 days).
On a Japanese travel website updated March 8, I saw this…
アメリカ国籍の日本人(日本国籍を除籍した方)、または日本国籍の配偶者や子供は日本に入国できますか?
Can Japanese nationals of the United States (those who have removed Japanese nationality), or spouses and children of Japanese nationality enter Japan?
Answer:
短期間(90日以内)であれば、下記の条件で滞在が可能です。アメリカ国籍の方は引き続き入国制限の対象となるため、日本入国には特別な書類が必要です。 管轄地域の領事館にて、除籍謄本などで日本国籍を除籍したこと、または日本人の配偶者・子供であることを証明できる書類を用意できれば問題ありません。滞在が長期になる場合は、別途、手続きが必要になりますのでご注意ください。法務省のWEBサイトもあわせてご確認ください。
For a short period (within 90 days), you can stay under the following conditions. American citizens will continue to be subject to immigration restrictions, so special documents are required to enter Japan. There is no problem if the consulate in your jurisdiction can prepare documents that can prove that you have removed your Japanese nationality with a copy of your removal, or that you are a spouse or child of a Japanese national. Please note that a separate procedure is required for long-term stays. Please also check the Ministry of Justice website.
So in other words, if you obtain a document proving you removed your Japanese citizenship, from your consulate (such as a koseki tohon), you won’t need a visa is how I’m understanding this. No where does it mention a visa, but you may have to be in the visa exempt countries.
Link (see bottom Q/A section)

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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at http://www.debito.org/?p=16480)

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

UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito

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

Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/asia/tokyo-olympics-spectators.html

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

JOC’s official statement on this:

ABOUT THE GAMES
Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM
https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/statement-on-overseas-spectators-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

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Reuters: “No foreign spectators at Tokyo Olympics”: Japan takes the Gold Medal for Discrimination with a “Japanese Only” Olympics? (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Check this out.  According to Reuters below, Kyodo News (full article now in Comments Section) is saying that “overseas spectators” will not be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. I would hope that means that Non-Japanese Residents of Japan are allowed to get tickets and spectate.  But I’m not at all confident that will happen.

First, how will authorities enforce that, given the “Japanese Only” practices widespread in Japan that historically have barred entry or participation to anyone who is foreign, moreover doesn’t “look Japanese”? (This includes Japanese sports; see for example here, here, herehere, here, and here.)  After decades of studying these practices, my educated guess is that this entry ban will be applied to any person considered to be “Non-Japanese”, not just NJ tourists from overseas; and that includes online ticket sales.  Meaning anyone with a foreign-sounding name online will be denied a ticket, and a foreign-looking face denied entry at the door.

Second, what completely astonishes me is the poor physical and social science happening here.  Authorities have once again missed the point is the fact that ANY gathering during a pandemic is potentially a super-spreader event.  The virus is already in Japan, spread by Japanese, and thus Japanese spectators will infect each other, of course.  So if safety is a concern, why aren’t they barring ALL spectators?

Why are they targeting foreigners? Well, partly because the Wajin spectators are already doing it.  According to opinion polls cited in the article below, the “public concerns” officials are pointing to indicate that 77% of respondents are against allowing “foreign fans” to attend (while less than half want all spectators banned regardless of nationality).  But wait — isn’t this a form of “manufactured consent” — where the government and media continue to portray the issue as “It’s the foreigners who are contagious, not us hygienic Wajin“, and then that becomes a “public concern”?  Olympics + Pandemic + Racist Government Policies = Reified Embedded Racism.

Enough.  First the unprecedented cost overruns that have made this the most expensive Olympics in history.  Then the Mori sexism debacle.  And now the potential for a “Japanese Only” Olympics?  If you can’t postpone the Games until after the pandemic, I say cancel them already.

This is why Debito.org was always against Japan getting the Games.  Hosting international events brings out the worst in Japan’s ethnostatist governing practices, and now it’s clear it encourages the Wajin population at large to become even more racist as well.  SITYS.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

NOTE:  The JOC and IOC have since agreed to exclude all “overseas spectators” from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  More on that in my SNA column of this month at http://www.debito.org/?p=16504.

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

Reuters
Japan to keep foreign spectators away from Tokyo Olympics, Kyodo says
Reuters, Tue, March 9, 2021, By David Dolan and Chris Gallagher, courtesy of NM and MG

https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-stage-tokyo-olympics-without-122947237.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo 2020 games organising committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.

The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.

The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.

“The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.

“Five parties, the IOC, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week,” the organising committee said in response to the Kyodo report.

“The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered.”

‘TRADE-OFF’

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the 2012 London Olympics which enjoyed sell-out crowds, and now President of World Athletics, said the goal was always to ensure “the best possible games for the athletes and having full stadiums of passionate people”, preferably with a “good global presence”.

“With all the work being done around vaccinations and the huge sacrifices large parts of the world have made over the last year, I would hope that fans (international and domestic) will be able to attend (the Tokyo Olympics), of course it would be better,” he told Reuters.

“However, if local communities are concerned, then athletes will accept that and it is a trade-off they are prepared for.”

In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 percent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.

The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour.

Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.

(Reporting by David Dolan, Ossian Shine and Chris Gallagher; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson, William Maclean)

ENDS

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

UPDATE MAR 10:  Here’s some original text from Kyodo giving the original terminology in context.  (There is no full Kyodo article like the one in English (reproduced below in Comments) referred to in the Reuters article above.  That’s a composite.)

五輪・パラ、海外観客見送りへ
政府、今後5者協議で確認
共同通信 2021/3/9 22:48 (JST)
https://this.kiji.is/741995959420239872
政府は、東京五輪・パラリンピックで海外からの一般観客の受け入れを見送る方針を固めた。複数の関係者が9日、明らかにした。来週にも政府、大会組織委員会、東京都、国際オリンピック委員会(IOC)、国際パラリンピック委員会(IPC)の代表による5者協議を再度開き、確認するとみられる。

新型コロナウイルスの変異株が確認され、現在は外国人の新規入国を原則、認めていない。今後の感染状況も見通せず、世論の不安も強いことから一般観客の入国は難しいと判断した。政府高官は9日、海外観客の対応を速やかに決める必要があるとの認識を示した。
ENDS

COMMENT: So now it’s a matter of practical application. Here’s hoping public outrage will force policymakers to make it clear that NJ Residents are not included in the term “海外からの一般観客” (“regular spectators from overseas”).

But that’s not going to come from within Japan, since Reuters noted above that a Yomiuri poll “showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend” (which again doesn’t have that firewall between NJR and tourists).  And now we have to find that Yomiuri poll to see what the original rendering of “foreign fans” was.

My point remains that in practical application, unless the government steps in to clearly distinguish between NJR and tourists, the public won’t, and discrimination will ensue. And as the terminology is rendered in the media, it’s not clear enough. Based upon precedent I have written about for decades, there must be outrage about this. Hence this blog entry.  — Debito

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

UPDATE TWO MAR 10:  I found the Yomiuri poll cited in the Reuters article.

東京五輪「観客あり」賛成45%、反対48%…読売世論調査
読売新聞 2021/03/07 22:00

https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/yoron-chosa/20210307-OYT1T50193/
読売新聞社が5~7日に実施した全国世論調査で、東京五輪・パラリンピック大会組織委員会の橋本聖子会長が観客を入れた形での開催を目指す考えを示していることについて聞くと、「賛成」が45%、「反対」が48%と拮抗きっこうした。
一方、観客を入れて開催する場合に海外からの観客を受け入れることは、「反対」の77%が「賛成」の18%を大きく上回り、否定的な意見が多数を占めた。
ENDS

COMMENT: Again, the term used in the poll is “海外からの観客” (again, “spectators from overseas”) is a poor translation of “foreign fans” on the part of Reuters. — Debito

======================
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Lloyd Parry in Times London: “Cancel Tokyo 2020 Olympics”. Yet even this respected reporter sloppily implies Japan’s Covid numbers are contingent on foreigners

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Hi Blog.  Richard Lloyd Parry, a very respected journalist and author, has come out with a sensibly-argued Op-Ed in The Times London in favor of cancelling the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (which, for the record, Debito.org was never in favor of Japan getting in the first place).  Full text below.

But even then he words things carelessly when he writes:

“[…] Japan […] compared to the pandemic mess in the rest of the rich world [has] been doing well. With twice the population of Britain, Japan has registered about a tenth the number of coronavirus cases and one twentieth the deaths. This has nothing to do with vaccination, which has hardly begun in Japan — only a few tens of thousands of health workers have been jabbed — but rather good hygiene and an almost complete ban on foreign visitors. Now the government threatens to sacrifice these gains for the sake of money and prestige.”

COMMENT:  Portraying Japan’s apparent success at lower case numbers as due to an almost complete ban on “foreign visitors” is neither helpful nor accurate.

As Mr. Lloyd Parry surely must have known (since the ban affected him too as a Japan resident), this ban included foreign residents, not just visitors.  Not to mention that the British Covid variant was verifiably brought into Japan by Japanese.

Implicitly framing Covid as a “foreign virus” brought in by “foreign visitors” makes Japan seem to be a hermetically-sealed environment until the foreigners came in; and now “the government threatens to sacrifice these gains” from its apparent isolationism.  This rhetoric isn’t that far removed from calling Covid the “Chinese Virus” or the “Kung Flu“.  And we’ve seen the dreadful results of that kind of carelessness. (Including Japan.)

A moment’s reflection (which probably would have happened if Lloyd Parry were talking about minorities in Britain, especially at the editorial stage) would have brought about the realization that these are people we’re talking about, and how issues are couched in the media affects them, particularly if they’re Japan’s disenfranchised minorities.

If it were my article, I would have said “Japan strongly limited international travel“, which doesn’t zero in on foreigners in specific.

I’ll let others comment on the possible comparative issues of “good hygiene” (implying the rest of the rich world has bad hygiene?), and other factors that might lead to Japan undercounting actual virus cases (such as a lack of reliable contact tracing, and not testing the asymptomatic for Covid).

But in my view, keeping the Covid case numbers low was a matter of politics, not science:  to keep the Olympics on track.  Now even despite all that, Lloyd Parry makes a convincing argument for canceling the Games.  Fine.  But let’s be more careful how we point fingers, shall we?  We’ve seen enough of how foreign correspondents succumb to Japan-style racialized narratives just as soon as they talk about “foreigners” and Japan.  (Japan Times column on this implicit racism also here and here.)  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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It’s time to cancel this year’s Olympic Games
The risk to the world, not just Japan, of a super-spreading event in Tokyo this summer is too great
Richard Lloyd Parry
Wednesday March 03 2021, 12.01am GMT, The Times London, courtesy of RW
https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/its-time-to-cancel-the-2021-olympic-games-3pb6sq9w9

All but the most fanatical music lovers would accept that, this summer at least, Glastonbury had to go. For the second year in a row the 50-year-old festival has been cancelled because of the pandemic. The disappointment is hard to overestimate: for plenty of people, Glastonbury should have been a moment of release after months of demoralising lockdown. But, as Sir Paul McCartney observed, “a hundred thousand people closely packed together with flags and no masks. Talk about super-spreader.”

Similar feelings of frustration, sadness and resignation are being experienced over cultural and sporting experiences around the world, from closed theatres and cinemas to empty football stadiums to the Chelsea Flower Show. It’s not that anyone personally objects to gardening enthusiasts but as a matter of common sense, and for the good of all of us, this is not the time for 157,000 of them to converge.

Consider then another international event, the grandaddy of them all. It will bring together more than 15,000 young participants from more than 200 countries plus several times that number of judges, sponsors, journalists and hangers-on. More than 11 million tickets are to be sold; tourists are supposed to pour in from across the globe.

If far smaller and shorter festivals are to be sacrificed in the interests of global public health, it seems obvious that such a massive event, spread over four weeks in the biggest city in the world, should also be cancelled. And yet officially, at least, the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, postponed since last summer, are going ahead.

As Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, said the other week, “I am determined to achieve the games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity and to give hope and courage around the world.”

The Olympic custodians like to talk about courage, humanity and other abstract virtues; in reality, they have more hard-headed reasons for pressing ahead regardless. The vast sums of money already spent on the games are only the most obvious, inextricably tangled up with other investments of prestige and power that make the prospect of cancelling them heart-sickening to a lot of very powerful and determined people.

Tokyo’s will be the most expensive Olympic Games ever mounted — even Japan’s government auditors put the cost at £18 billion or more, and the cost of postponement from last year has added £2 billion to that. No one seems to know, or is willing to say, how much has already been spent. But to call it off now would directly hurt some of the world’s biggest companies, including Coca-Cola, Visa and General Electric, and lead to years of legal arguments about who owes what to whom.

It would represent a withering humiliation for the Japanese government. It would be crushing to the young athletes who have spent years training for the world’s most prestigious sporting event. Money, power and glamour say that the Olympics have to go ahead whatever happens; they are the runaway train that cannot be stopped. The question of public health has been officially ruled out as a consideration. As Yoshiro Mori, the former Tokyo Olympic boss, said, “no matter what situation with the coronavirus, we will hold the games.”

This matters to people in Japan because, compared to the pandemic mess in the rest of the rich world, they have been doing well. With twice the population of Britain, Japan has registered about a tenth the number of coronavirus cases and one twentieth the deaths. This has nothing to do with vaccination, which has hardly begun in Japan — only a few tens of thousands of health workers have been jabbed — but rather good hygiene and an almost complete ban on foreign visitors. Now the government threatens to sacrifice these gains for the sake of money and prestige.

The Japanese authorities and the International Olympic Committee insist that they will do everything possible to Covid-proof the games. Details are far from clear. (More may emerge from a high-level meeting this week, but they are likely to include repeated testing of athletes who will essentially be locked down in their Olympic “village”.) Spectators, it seems, will be allowed, although it is not clear whether these will include foreign visitors.

The effect of all this will be to take the fun out of the Olympics without eliminating the risk that they will serve as a super-spreader event. It might work out, and if any country can pull off such a feat of regulation and enforcement it is Japan. But nobody can be sure. Pandemic trends may improve dramatically between now and July or there may be new surges in emerging variants of the virus that will make the Olympics a crucible of infection that will set the world back weeks or months.

There is one factor that should be decisive in all this: the views of ordinary Japanese people. About this there is no room for argument. Poll after poll has consistently shown that a majority of not only individual Japanese but even businesses oppose the holding of the games this summer.

This is not an expression of sour anti-Olympic sentiment but the reluctant acknowledgment of a grim truth. Whatever precautions the authorities take, people will sicken if the Tokyo Olympics go ahead. Some of them will die. That is not a price that anyone should be asked to pay.
ENDS

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
/////////////////////////////////

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.

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Hi Blog. President of the 2020 Japan Olympics Committee (JOC), former abysmally unpopular PM, and professional geriatric grouch Mori Yoshiro has put his foot in it again. He’s gone off on the women allegedly cluttering his committees (he even got the number of them wrong), after there was a suggestion from somewhere that the gender imbalance on the committee be addressed. Articles follow, then comments:

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Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Games meeting – newspaper
Reuters, Wed, February 3, 2021, courtesy of MG

https://sports.yahoo.com/tokyo-2020-chief-mori-makes-144553091.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told a meeting on Wednesday that female directors talked too much, which was “annoying”, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, made the comments, some of which were greeted with laughter, at a meeting with members of the Japanese Olympic Committee, the Asahi reported.

Tokyo 2020 could not be immediately reached for comment.

“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” Mori said, according to the report from the Asahi, one of Japan’s leading daily papers. “We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”

The JOC board has 25 members, of whom five are women.

According to the committee’s governance code, established in 2019, it should be aiming to make sure that 40% seats on the board are filled by women.

The 83-year-old Tokyo 2020 chief was already facing criticism for comments he has made about the Games, amid growing public opposition in Japan to holding the postponed event this summer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.

On Tuesday, Mori had told a meeting with Japan’s Sports Research Commission that “we will hold the Olympics, regardless of how the coronavirus (situation) looks”.

In response to those comments, Japanese comedian Atsushi Tamura, who was set to be an Olympic torchbearer, said he would decline to run in the torch relay due to begin March 25.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Mari Saito; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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

ABC News adds (excerpt):

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

Tokyo Olympics chief apologizes for sexist comments that women talk too much in meetings
“I deeply regret it,” he told reporters Thursday.
By Anthony Trotter and Morgan Winsor
ABC News (USA), February 4, 2021, Courtesy of the Author
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister of Japan, made the remarks during an executive meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee that was held online Wednesday. When giving his “private opinion” about the committee’s goal of increasing the number of female board directors from 20% to more than 40%, Mori expressed concern about how that would affect the length of meetings, according to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest daily newspapers. […]

“A meeting of an executive board that includes many women would take time,” Mori was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak too. That is why they all end up making comments.” […]

Speaking at a hastily-prepared press conference on Thursday, Mori confirmed he made the comments and offered an apology.

“It was an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I deeply regret it and would like to sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”

When asked about the calls for his resignation, Mori told reporters: “I’m not considering resigning.” […]
//////////////////////////////////////

Rest of the article with more contextualizing information than the Reuters’ piece at
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

COMMENT from Submitter MG: “Just wanted to send another bit of good Debito fodder from our ol’ buddy Mori Yoshiro. Just another reminder of what a terrible choice it was to hire this jerk to head an Olympics that really should just never have been handed to Japan in the first place when there was still a ruined Tohoku that needed rebuilding. Were it not for the long-term economic consequences that will follow my beloved adopted home country due to folly of these Games, I would surely enjoy the schadenfreude of a group of elites getting egg all over their face.”

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Let me explain why this is a Debito.org Issue. First, Debito.org came out against Japan holding the Olympics because a) international events bring out the worst in Japan’s media and policing tendencies, and b) Japan played dirty pool to get them (including racist comments about fellow contender Istanbul being unsuitable as a venue because it is “Islamic”).  Because beating out other candidate countries, and getting reaffirmation that Japan still matters on the world stage, is what Japan’s leaders care about, not sports.  Heck, Japan can’t even play fair when there are “foreign competitors” within its DOMESTIC sports (see here, here, and here).

But then we get to Mori. We’ve covered him quite a bit on Debito.org for his racist comments (for example, about Japanese Olympians Chris and Cathy Reed, where he attributed their inability to medal because they were “naturalized”, not Real Japanese). Then we get to his bigoted statements about how Japan (aka the “Kokutai”) is the “Land of the Gods” (Kami no Kuni), a sentiment that belongs in the rhetoric of Prewar Japan leaders destined for defeat.

I called this entitled old man “a mould for gorilla cookies” long ago because even then I saw him as a waste of space.  He’s the type of Japan elite dinosaur zombie politician (in the same vein as equally useless Former PM Aso Taro) who feels like he can say whatever pops into his “shark brain” and not be held accountable for it.  Because he never really has.  Despite being a lousy leader, he just keeps on getting jobs leading things — in his case, high-profile sports committees (such as the Rugby World Cup in 2019) that turn into international embarrassments.  As it has again today.

To Japan, tolerating Mori Yoshiro is like tolerating gaffes from the UK’s Prince Philip.  But Mori is not royalty, endured only because his position is essential upholding an apparently sacrosanct system.  He should be retired from public service immediately even if he refuses to resign.  It’s obviously long overdue.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Kyodo: Japan developing GPS tracking system for foreign travelers as “anti-virus measure”. So Covid is now another international event, justifying more policing of foreigners only?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In a development that Debito.org has been anticipating for quite some time (see, for example, the remotely-trackable RFID chipped Zairyuu Kaado ID cards the Government rolled out in 2012 to keep better tabs on NJ Residents), according to a Kyodo article below the Government is using the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as an excuse to enact programs digitally tracking all foreign tourists.  Read on:

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

Japan developing tracking system for travelers from overseas as anti-virus measure
Kyodo News/Japan Today Dec. 27, 2020
https://japantoday.com/category/national/Japan-developing-tracking-system-for-travelers-from-overseas-as-anti-virus-measure

TOKYO (KYODO) — Japan is developing a system aimed at keeping track of travelers from overseas as part of efforts to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus within its borders, a senior government official said Sunday.

“There will be no point if we don’t implement it, so you will not be allowed to enter the country unless you use it,” Takuya Hirai, digital transformation minister, said on television.

Hirai said the government wants to complete the development of the monitoring system by the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, due to be held next summer.

Without providing in-depth detail, he said it will function by using global positioning system technology.

His comments on Fuji TV’s “The Prime” news program came a day after Japan said it will ban nonresident foreign citizens from entering the country, which has been seeing record daily numbers of coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

The measure, which will take effect from Monday through January, was announced following Japan’s detection of a new and seemingly more contagious variant of the virus.

Among other measures to tighten its borders, Japan will require its nationals and foreign residents to quarantine for two weeks, show proof of a negative coronavirus test result within 72 hours of departure for the country and undergo another test upon arrival.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Nothing quite like being forced to wear the equivalent of a GPS criminal tracker for your entire stay.  And it’s not a stretch to see it being applied beyond tourists to NJ Residents after that, as Covid is providing a pretense to “track and trace” those “foreign clusters“.  As CNN notes, “If visitors are allowed [to attend the Olympics], their experience will likely be high-tech. The government is developing a contract tracing app for attendees using GPS that will reportedly link visas, proof of test results, tickets and other information, authorities said.”

Visas? So we’re getting Immigration involved? As Submitter JDG notes, “Obviously, it’s just a matter of time until the Japanese demand all NJ are 24/7 tracked legally in real time with an automated alert popping up on some koban monitor the minute their visas expire. That ought to end that nefarious den of crime right there!  Whew.”

Finally, note how this proposed contract tracing and tracking is only being applied to foreigners, not Japanese:

“In doing so, [Kanagawa] prefecture would spend much less time pursuing contact history for what it described as the second most cluster-prone demographic — namely, kindergarten, day care and school teachers — and would completely stop investigating others. With the announcement, Kanagawa became the nation’s first prefecture to forge ahead with such a drastic scaling down of contact-tracing, which had been the linchpin of Japan’s battle against the pandemic.” (Japan Times, Jan 19, 2021, courtesy of JDG, emphasis added)

So with the advance of technology, the dragnet further tightens on “the foreign element” in Japan. As we have seen with the G8 Summits, the 2002 soccer World Cup, the 2019 Rugby World Cup, “Visit Japan” tourism campaigns in general, and now the 2020 Olympics, international events in Japan serve to inflame its knee-jerk “safety and security” reflexes, and justify all manner of bad overpolicing habits. They essentially become an excuse to invite foreigners in, then police them further.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Kyodo: Tokyo District Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality. My, what paranoia and hypocrisy

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In a landmark ruling yesterday (see articles below, and a 2018 Debito.org post when this case first started here) first testing the waters for allowing Japanese to have more diverse roots in a legal sense, the Tokyo District Court has just ruled that Japanese who obtain other citizenships do not have constitutional protections from being subsequently deprived of Japanese citizenship.

This means:

a) If you as a Japanese citizen naturalize in another country, then when the Japanese government decides to take away your Japanese citizenship, you have no legal recourse under the Japanese Constitution.  It can be unilaterally revoked at the government’s discretion.

(Same, no doubt, with people who naturalize into Japan but for whatever reason don’t get their foreign citizenship revoked — not all countries grant revocation as an option.  So in that case, the Japanese government reserves the right there too to revoke, although this situation in specific hasn’t been tested in court yet.)

b) If you as a native-born Japanese citizen have dual nationality due to having international parents, and if you do not declare to the Japanese government that you are a Japanese citizen only (and have renounced all other citizenships by age 22 — as Osaka Naomi, referred to below, reportedly did), then the Japanese government can revoke your Japanese citizenship and not deprive you of any Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Conclusion:  Essentially, nothing has changed in practice.  The lower judiciary has essentially just made its stance against dual nationality clear.  Take into account that this ruling, handed down by a notoriously conservative branch of Japan’s judiciary (yes, Tokyo District and High Courts are actually well-known around the Japanese legal community for their very conservative judgments), has merely affirmed what was already true: “two passports = untrustworthy”.  And their legal reasoning mentioned in the articles below reflects that logic, based upon paranoid pre-war arguments about individual mixed allegiances threatening the motherland, etc., with no need to update for the complexities of the modern world.  Should the plaintiffs decide to appeal this case, then the Tokyo High Court and probably eventually the Supreme Court will affirm the lower court’s ruling.  So it’s definitive.

What to do about it:  Continue to follow Debito.org’s advice:  If you have two passports, you always claim to be solely Japanese by age 22 but secretly keep renewing your foreign passport.  The Japanese government is still not fully enforcing any draconian “show us a revoked foreign passport by age 22 or we will revoke your Japanese citizenship” towards all its citizens with international roots.  Given Japan’s dropping population, that’s probably not in its interest.  But if the Japanese government ever gets around to doing that, based upon yesterday’s ruling, as far as the Japanese judiciary is concerned it will have free rein.

The only way this is going to change is if Dietmembers pass a law to specifically make dual nationality legal.  Then the onus falls upon the judiciary to declare that law unconstitutional (probably not).

How likely is a law like this?  Not very.  But at least one politician (Kouno Taro) has made his support of dual nationality clear — not because of individual human rights and the dignity of diversity, but because that way Japan can increase its athletic talent pool (not to mention the issues of Japan “re-claiming” Japanese Nobel Prize winners who have naturalized abroad).  The Kokutai as a whole must benefit or it’s not something to consider.  Oh well.  Plus ca change.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

See archive of articles on Japan’s dual nationality issue here.

RELATED: Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad (Debito.org, August 29, 2015)

And get a load of the person who inadvertently exposed all the hypocrisies of Japan’s dual nationality system:  Former President of Peru and convicted criminal Alberto Fujimori, a sudden newfound Japanese citizen when on the run from Interpol.

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

Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality
January 21, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK and Mixed Roots in Japan
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210121/p2g/00m/0na/112000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) –[The Tokyo District Court (in Kyodo original)] on Thursday rejected a lawsuit challenging the country’s ban on its citizens from holding foreign nationality, in what is believed to be the first judicial decision on the matter.

In a lawsuit filed with the Tokyo District Court in 2018, eight men and women in their 30s to 80s who were born in Japan but now live in Europe claimed a legal requirement that Japanese who gain foreign nationality must give up their citizenship violates the Constitution.

The government, however, argued the plaintiffs’ claim takes no note of national interests, as permitting dual citizenship would enable people to have voting rights or diplomatic protection in other countries.

Dual citizenship “could cause conflict in the rights and obligations between countries, as well as between the individual and the state,” said Presiding Judge Hideaki Mori.

According to the suit, the eight plaintiffs — six who have acquired Swiss or Liechtenstein nationality and two others who plan to obtain Swiss or French nationality to facilitate their work and lives — hope to maintain their Japanese citizenship.

Article 11 of the nationality law states that Japanese citizens who acquire non-Japanese nationality on their own instigation automatically lose their Japanese nationality, effectively banning dual citizenship.

The plaintiffs claimed that the law was originally designed for purposes such as avoiding overlapping military service obligations imposed by multiple nations.

“The court did not seriously consider the feelings of Japanese living abroad,” Swiss resident Hitoshi Nogawa, 77, who led the plaintiffs, said following the ruling.

As many countries in the world, including the United States, now allow dual citizenship, the clause stripping people of Japanese nationality violates the Constitution, which guarantees the right to pursue happiness and the equality under the law, the plaintiffs said.

The issue of dual nationality in Japan drew global attention when tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, who had both Japanese and U.S. citizenship, selected Japanese nationality just before turning 22 in 2019. She was born to a Japanese mother and Haitian father.

The law requires those who acquired dual nationalities under 20 years old to choose one by age 22, and those who obtained them at age 20 or older to select one within two years.

The nationality law also requires Japanese citizens who obtain foreign citizenship to notify the government of their abandonment of Japanese nationality. But as it includes no penalties, many Japanese are believed to have maintained multiple passports after obtaining non-Japanese citizenship.

About 518,000 Japanese are estimated to have permanent residency status in other countries as of October 2019, but the government has been unable to confirm how many of them hold multiple citizenship.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

東京地裁 二重国籍認めず 憲法に違反しないと判断
NHK 2021年1月21日 17時28分
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210121/k10012825871000.html

外国の国籍を取得し、日本国籍を失った人たちが、日本の国籍法の規定によって二重国籍が認められないのは憲法に違反すると訴えた裁判の判決で、東京地方裁判所は憲法に違反しないと判断し、二重国籍を持つことを認めませんでした。

日本では国籍法で、外国の国籍をみずからの希望で取得すると日本国籍を失うと規定し、複数の国籍を持ち続けることを認めていません。

スイスやリヒテンシュタインに住み、現地の国籍を取得して日本国籍を失った6人は、二重国籍が認められないのは憲法に違反するとして、国に対して日本国籍があることの確認を求め、裁判では二重国籍を認めない規定が憲法に違反するかが初めて争われました。

判決で東京地方裁判所の森英明裁判長は「憲法は国籍を離脱する自由は定めているものの、国籍を持ち続ける権利については何も定めていない。国籍法の規定は二重国籍の発生をできるだけ防ぎながら、国籍を変更する自由も保障していて、立法目的は合理的だ」と指摘しました。

そのうえで国籍法の規定は憲法に違反しないと判断し、訴えを退けました。

原告団長「あまりにも偏っている」
原告と弁護団は、判決後に東京 霞が関で会見を開き、原告団長の野川等さん(78)は「がっかりしています。裁判所にはもう少し真剣に質問に答えてほしかった。国は私たちが質問したことに真面目に答えておらず、あまりにも偏っていると思う」と述べました。

弁護団は控訴する方針だということです。ENDS
======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities column 18: “Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner” (Jan 18, 2021), on how Covid countermeasures disproportionately target Non-Japanese against all science or logic

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column’s point is this: Even after political leadership has finally shed Shinzo Abe, the Japanese government has found new ways to discriminate against foreign residents of Japan. This is no accident, as NJ were in no way protected, considered, or involved in this policymaking that profoundly affects them.  Soon, any foreign resident of Japan may be under threat of immediate deportation. Excerpt follows, full article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column 18, January 18, 2021

[…] New year, new salvo of foreigner bashing: Last week, the Suga administration unveiled re-entry rules that permit non-Japanese residents to re-enter the same as Japanese, as long as they completed the same paperwork and fourteen-day quarantine.

Good, but here’s the wrinkle: If you are found in violation of any quarantine regulations, you don’t just get in trouble like Japanese by, err, having your name made public. You may lose your visa status and get deported from the country. You read that right.

This policy was in reaction to the discovery of the United Kingdom mutation of Covid within Japan this month. But like most policy created in times of shock, it has hasty assumptions: that a foreign variant meant that foreigners were somehow responsible. In fact, the Patient Zeroes who came back from England and went out partying instead of quarantining were Japanese.

This new policy is ironic. In addition to the past year of Japanese media blaming foreigners for creating “foreign clusters,” it also ignores the lazy government response to Covid. Nobody at the national level wanted to take the responsibility for declaring a blanket state of emergency. But since infections have now reached record numbers, here comes the crackdown—and once again foreigners are being disproportionately targeted.

Granted, the government is now threatening to mete out jail time and fines for Japanese who don’t cooperate with measures to reduce Covid’s spread. This has occasioned the perfunctory hand-wringing about the effectiveness of punishment in curbing infections and “infringing too much on personal freedoms” for Japanese. I see that as part of the healthy give-and-take of political debate, to make sure things don’t go too far. But where is the parallel debate about the “freedoms” of non-Japanese residents who are receiving unequal treatment under the law?

A Japanese getting a fine or a spell in the clink is one thing, but it’s incomparable to a foreigner losing their legal status gleaned after years or decades of residency, followed by deportation and permanent separation from their lives, livelihoods, and families in Japan.

We know that one of the reasons Covid became a pandemic is because of asymptomatic transmission. So what if a person who doesn’t know they’re sick and hasn’t left the country gets linked to a cluster by contact tracing? If that somebody happens to be a foreigner, his or her life in Japan may well be over…

Read the rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/01/18/visible-minorities-latest-visa-rules-could-purge-any-foreigner/
======================
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Japan Times: J Govt’s pandemic border policy highlights their taking advantage of insecure legal status of foreign residents

mytest

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Hi Blog. In more remarkable reporting, Magdalena Osumi brings out the background thought processes behind Japan’s Covid measures that have constantly targeted foreigners in particular as vectors of infection. I will be talking more about this in my next SNA column out tomorrow, but before that, let’s get some insights into the mindsets of our government, which takes full advantage of the fact that foreigners in Japan have no guaranteed legal, civil, or even human rights under the Constitution in Japan because they don’t have citizenship. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

//////////////////////////////////
Tokyo’s pandemic border policy highlights insecure status of foreign residents
By Magdalena Osumi, The Japan Times, Dec 30, 2020
Courtesy https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/

Excerpt:
[…] Inequity between the treatment of Japanese and non-Japanese residents, including those with established residency status and decadeslong careers here, brought back to the surface long-standing frustrations over apparent struggles with multiculturalism in the nation, stirring debate on the status of foreign residents here and the extent of Japan’s preparedness for an influx of foreign workers that had been anticipated before the pandemic struck.

As questions linger over the government’s intentions behind the controversial rules, records and reports from behind the scenes of Japan’s fight against the pandemic have begun to emerge.

They highlight the limits of the nation’s immigration strategy, with decisions apparently made ad hoc amid chaos, and reveal the insecure status of foreign nationals in Japan and underlying discriminatory attitudes within society toward immigrants and expatriates.[…]

Japan’s handling of border control in the first months of the year was more chaotic.

That changed on April 3 when Japan introduced a draconian border control policy, banning entry by nearly all foreign residents from 73 countries and regions affected by the spread of the virus.

What prompted some of the most intense criticism of the policy was its failure to distinguish between short-term visitors and long-term residents — a decision that made it the only member of the Group of Seven that refused to allow residents with foreign passports to return to their homes in Japan from overseas.

What turned out to be the decisive factor in Japan’s implementation of the strict entry ban — and its reluctance to ease the restrictions — was a lack of preparedness to control entry procedures, together with poor testing capacity at airports. […]

Reports from government meetings do not show any sign of vigorous debate on the consequences of imposing strict restrictions on non-Japanese residents with legal residency status in the nation, despite concerns about international ties and a long-term impact on Japan’s economic interest. […]

On top of that, the government faced a challenge in implementing further restrictions on Japanese citizens, who are protected by a constitutional right to enter Japan. Foreign nationals, meanwhile, do not have such protection under the Constitution. […]

Throughout the year, health care experts on the government’s coronavirus task force expressed concern that they were unable to gain a comprehensive view of the attitudes held by foreign nationals toward the pandemic.

Officials were worried that language barriers, for example, may hamper access to information on basic anti-infection measures, such as avoiding the so-called Three C’s of closed spaces, crowds and close-contact settings.

But that their remarks suggesting inability among foreign nationals to adhere to health protocols were made alongside words of encouragement regarding the promotion of domestic tourism instilled a false perception that the pandemic in Japan was under control, in contrast to the situation abroad, while contributing to a narrative that foreign nationals may have posed a threat…

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/
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“Tired Panda” on how rural tax authorities specialize in targeting foreign taxpayers for audit. And Japan aims to be Asia’s #1 financial hub? Hah.

mytest

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

Hi Blog. In the wake of treating Non-Japanese Residents like they’re riddled with extra Covid contagion, here’s yet another example of how Non-Japanese taxpayers are treated with extra suspicion — with bored tax auditors even in the most rural areas of Japan dedicated to ferreting out rank-and-file sneaky foreigners’ assets and earnings socked away overseas. Courtesy of Debito.org Reader “Tired Panda”, edited and reproduced here with permission.

According to numerous sources, “Japan has explicitly stated its goal is to make Tokyo the number one financial city in Asia… Japanese officials see an opportunity to lure the Asian headquarters of global financial firms to Tokyo as Hong Kong struggles under new scrutiny from Beijing.” In a business climate like the one being described by “Tired Panda” below, who wound up giving up Permanent Residency status after being zapped by local tax authorities, this seems unlikely to happen in Japan.

Any Readers out there who can help this person out? Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: “Tired Panda”
Subject: Foreign taxation accountants in Japan
Date: January 2, 2021
To: debito@debito.org

Hi Debito,

Firstly, thank you for the tireless work you have done over the years to uncover the systemic racism in Japan and demystify many of the baffling issues ever present for a non-Japanese living in Japan.

I arrived on these shores in 199X, and after leaving the JET program, I went on to do various gigs and also teach in some of the Universities around the [Katainaka Prefecture] area.

In 201X, I joined a Japanese company, under the umbrella of a global company, and still work there to this day, now as a contracted employee. My salary has never increased and I have never received a bonus.

However, my beef is not with the contract (that’s a separate issue), it is with the ever increasing harassment by the [Katainaka Prefecture] Tax department.

I have scoured your columns to look for information on the “exit tax” which came into effect in July 2020, and also for any links to taxation experts.

Of course, there are the giants like KPMG and Price-Waterhouse Coopers, but they are geared more to the highly paid CEOs and other foreign workers whose taxation is more of a corporate nature.

It started with my tax accountant in [Katainaka Prefecture], who I have used for several years, suddenly asking me to declare my worldly assets, including how many mountains I owned. Being unaware of any such requirement, I was stunned by this and resisted but my accountant said just roughly write it down and as long as it’s under 5,000,000 you’ll be OK. Just sign it.

The tax department audited me a couple of years ago covering a period of 5 years. They have two young recruits whose full-time job is to concentrate on foreigners. They speak no English. They produced figures suggesting I had been evading taxes over this time and the amount of tax payable. They would not say what shares or investments were the source of the income and I had no way of disputing any figures. I’m aware that tax losses can be carried over to offset gains but they would not recognize this for my foreign investments, saying something about a “blue paper”. I made a start on trying to track everything over the years, but gave up when it became evident that unless something was in the format they required, such as a statement from Monex Japan, they would not accept it. They also slapped a penalty on each of the year’s taxes, compounding over the five year period. It became obvious that it was futile and I paid a substantial amount.

I thought this was the end of that horrifically stressful saga and I would make sure to try and do everything required and account for everything down to the last cent. I decided to revoke my permanent residency as I can’t see myself living indefinitely in this country which is forever tightening the tax noose in an effort to pay for the aging population. With the sponsorship of my company and using the new points system I changed to “Highly Skilled Professional (i) (b)” status.

I recently received an email from my accountant saying that the [Katainaka Prefecture] tax department is asking if I actually had more than 5,000,000 yen when I signed the statement over 5 years ago. I have ignored this.

I remember seeing that with the visa status I have, I do not need to declare foreign income. I don’t remember where I saw that, but I have no doubt that my current tax accountant is blissfully unaware of the implications of my current visa. I advised him for his information but received no response. The last communication was a relaying of the question from the [Katainaka Prefecture] Tax Office.

So, after that long-winded explanation, my question is; are you able to direct me to an English speaking tax accountant… who would be able to correctly lodge a tax return for me and offer advice? As I mentioned, the international tax specialists mentioned above are quite exorbitant, so I’m looking for a smaller scale accountant firm.

Thanks again and kind regards, “Tired Panda”
///////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS
======================
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My Japan Times JBC 119: Top 5 Human Rights Issues of 2020: “A Watershed Year for Japan’s Foreign Residents” (Dec. 31, 2020)

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======================
Hi Blog.  Happy New Year!  As has happened at the Japan Times for more than a decade, here is my annual countdown of the top human rights issues for the past year in terms of their impact on NJ Residents in Japan.

I usually do a Top Ten, but since I only had 1000 words this year, it became a Top Five with a few “bubble unders” snuck in.  Enjoy!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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justbecauseicon.jpg

2020 was a watershed year for Japan’s foreign residents
By Debito Arudou, The Japan Times, Just Be Cause, Dec 31, 2020

“May you live in interesting times,” goes the famous curse. By that standard, 2020 was captivating. One thing affected everyone worldwide: COVID-19. And in Japan, our international community was hit particularly hard by public policy regarding its containment.

There were many other issues worth mentioning, however. For example, the Education Ministry announced an increased budget for language support in schools for non-Japanese children next year — a promising sign. However, Japan’s continued mistreatment of those kept in immigration detention centers, and an officially acknowledged incident of “hate speech” in Kitakyushu that went unpunished, were also steps backward from the goal of an inclusionary society.

We don’t have space for them all, so below are the top five issues I feel were of greatest impact to Japan’s non-Japanese residents in 2020, in ascending order.

5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…

Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/12/31/issues/japan-2020-foreign-resident-issues/

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

The issues that bubbled under (with links to sources):

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 17: NIKE JAPAN Advertisement on Japan’s Visible Minorities does some good (Dec 21, 2020)

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Hi Blog. As promised in a previous blog entry, I would be giving my opinion on a recent advertisement from Nike Japan that got a lot of attention. We’ve already debated the ad itself on Debito.org here. Thanks for your feedback. Now here’s my take, as part of my latest Shingetsu News Agency column. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Nike Japan Does Some Good
Shingetsu News Agency, DEC 21, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

SNA (Tokyo) — Nike’s television advertisement depicting a multiethnic Japan stands out as a bright spot to close out the dreadful year of 2020.

Entitled “We Will Continue Moving: Myself and the Future,” the two-minute ad depicts a series of diverse Asian youths pensive about their lives in Japan.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G02u6sN_sRc

Some are running about and kicking soccer balls while musing about their identity and their abilities. A voiceover has them wondering if they’re “normal,” or living up to expectations. One girl, shown in closeup in a school uniform, is clearly a Japanese with African roots. Another boy, after eating a Korean meal with his family, looks up the Zainichi issue late at night on his cellphone. Tennis champ Naomi Osaka’s photo makes a fleeting appearance, with a question about whether she’s American or Japanese. A girl finds Japan’s culture of cuteness doesn’t resonate with her, and wishes she could just ignore it all. Another girl gets glares for going out in public in her Korean school uniform. After more cuts to kids practicing their sports skills, scenes follow of school crowds staring and group-bullying minorities. One lad, drawn attention to by the teacher in class as a new transfer student, feels pressure to be liked by everyone. Another isolated kid feels pressure to tolerate her ostracisation, and then the African-Japanese girl reappears, trying to ignore the other kids who are making a fuss about her kinky hair in a school bathroom. As the music swells, these kids then seek solace in sports, becoming appreciated by their peers for their talents as star athletes—to the point where one girl tapes “KIM” over her Japanese name on the back of her jersey.

The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.

Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products.

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

======================
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United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

======================
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My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society, Nov. 16, 2020

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Visible Minorities 16: US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

======================
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Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED).

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Long-time readers of this venue know that I surrender to no-one in terms of criticizing the GOJ in its handling of NJ residents, especially in how they treat taxpaying long-term residents on par with (or even value less than) foreign tourists.

That said, an image sent to me by a number of people has been this:

Now, I’m not sure where this screenshot is coming from (Debito.org Reader MF has noted that it came from the Fuji TV network itself), but the chyron would indicate that this government panel is saying that “Foreigners have different languages and customs, so we can’t thoroughly enforce policies against the spread of [Covid] infections.”  By implication, this means that foreigners are being seen as an obstacle to the safety of Japanese society because of their differences.  This image is starting to multiply around the media sphere, for example https://www.facebook.com/memesugoi/posts/1032954460504017, which is why people are sending it to me.

However, news network FNN has a different take. Debito.org Reader JLO submitted the following video:

FNN says, at minute 1:30, “Bunkakai de wa, kurasutaa e no taiou ya, kotoba no chigai de soudan ya jushin ga okureru gaikokujin no tame ni ichigenteki na soudan madoguchi o setchi suru koto ni tsuite giron shiteimasu.”
Or (my translation):
“At this panel, they are debating about whether to set up a unified consultation center to deal with clusters and with foreigners and who face delayed medical consultations and treatments due to language differences.”  Screen capture:

#新型コロナウイルス

“第3波”感染拡大止まらず クラスター・外国人支援など協議

2,864 views Nov 11, 2020

That’s quite a different take from that other chyron!  According to FNN, this panel seems to be trying to assist, not exclude or blame.

I welcome others who find more clarifying media about this event.  Meanwhile, my point is to be careful.  Foreigners have been so perpetually offset and treated as exceptions from the regular population that this could reflexively feel like a repeat performance.  But let’s be careful that this reflex does not lead to disinformation.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE NOV 14:

Ph.D. Candidate Anoma van der Veere has kindly tweeted out his research indicating some media sensationalism is going on here.  Access the thread beginning at https://twitter.com/anomav/status/1327117586249568256?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0gIPlDs9K6X8tH87UWEuafZDYEM9XrgLobf7LI2luRRJgnStztEdka9n4

(Courtesy of JLO).  Screen captures follow, for the record.  Debito

THREAD ENDS

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

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

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

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W on Japan’s Kafkaesque and faulty re-entry procedures (even after October revisions to “open borders to Re-entry Visa foreign residents”): More elaborate racist barriers now.

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Hi Blog.  What follows below is an eyewitness account (redacted to remove personal identifiers) of a Permanent Resident of Japan, married to a Japanese for decades, who as a European went through re-entry procedures that apply to foreigners only (regardless of visa status) and not Japanese.  The Japanese Government claims they have made things easier for Non-Japanese re-entrants since October 1, but Debito.org Reader W would beg to differ below.

This Kafkaesque account will no doubt resonate with those who are used to Japanese bureaucracy, and doubly so when they see how racism (the belief that having a Japanese passport somehow makes you less contagious) is as usual part of the mix.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: W
Subject: My Investigation Story – W (posts on Debito blog)
Date: October 17, 2020 (revised version)
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Dear Debito,

Thank you for follow up on re-entry ban issue. It is very important that someone is trying to do something with this discriminatory measures. Here is my personal investigation. I have had enough with lack of clarification and just assumptions by posters around various news venues.

I spoke with one of the Japanese Embassies in Europe to ask about the procedure. They were very kind and helpful. I would advise everyone to contact them in the country you are staying, not to read the “assumptions” in other media.  I also asked about my Japanese spouse who is always with me in the same country where we spent the last half year. Let me start from her, because her case is short.

Well, my spouse doesn’t need anything even though we would re-enter together from the same country where we lived together. Japanese don’t need to prove negative Covid exposure (through a PCR test) prior to return to Japan. However, I as a foreigner need a) a PCR test, administered in the foreign country 72 hours before departure, and b) a “Confirmation Letter” with “Certificate of Testing for COVID-19” signed and sealed by the lab by the foreign country that conducted this PCR test. ( I sent you screenshot proof).  In spite of the kindness over the phone, I realized that their attitude is that only we foreigners carry viruses after all.

One of my questions was about PCR lab because officially without minor symptoms one cannot be tested in my foreign country.  The Embassy told me the whereabouts of some labs that do test without symptoms, and I was given the names. I was reminded that unlike regular PCR tests, these is not free and I will have to pay for it.

I continued to ask further questions about how it works, because it would be rather impossible to set up everything within 72 hours, including a getting that Confirmation Letter and “PCR Certificate” from the Embassy which takes a couple of days to receive.  That looks like this (PDF):

PCR Certificate for Japan

Also see example from the Japanese Consulate, Boston, USA. https://www.boston.us.emb-japan.go.jp/files/100098498.pdf

I also asked why do I need such letter at all when I already have a re-entry seal? The answer I received was:

The Confirmation Letter is necessary to control inflow of foreign re-entrants, so they can follow up with testing capacity at the airport. If too many of them ask to re-enter then the Government may ask to temporary stop issuing those letters. (This sounds like the option for a re-entry ban again).

Anyway, I continued with questions about timing. And this is where it shows totally different story from what people “assume” on various posts.

Test result time varies by countries. I want to point that I`m against of PCR test if it doesn’t involve everyone regardless of their nationality.

Interestingly, we don’t have to show to Embassy our PCR result in order to receive Confirmation Letter. I was advised to begin process with the letter, which takes couple of days to receive it and then do the test after that. If it comes up negative then I can purchase a ticket. (72 hours before takeoff the ticket price would probably be tripled.)

Anyway, I wanted to be sure, so I asked questions again:

Me Q: Does this mean I don`t have to bring PCR to show you in order to apply and receive Confirmation Letter?

Emb A: No, because you won`t be allowed in without PCR result with only the letter itself. This is why you can apply as soon as you want to.

Me Q: Do I have to come to the Embassy? It takes about an hour drive one way.

Emb A: Yes, we need your Passport and ID. (ONE MUST HAVE VALID RE-ENTRY)

Me Q: Fair enough. Do I have to pick up in person too?

Emb A: Yes, you have to come again to pick it up. (Note: another 2 hours lost from the 72-hour window)

Me Q: What happens when I arrive in Tokyo? I know there is another test and then…?

Emb. A: We don`t have such information, I will give you phone number so you can call to ask in Japan
Me: OK,Thank you.

I received the number, and my spouse called that number next day. I can say that the staff was extremely helpful and explained to us everything. We also called Japanese Immigration too. They also were very helpful.  A lot of hassle, but at least we had very kind people on the other side of the line.

Initially I gave up on returning to Japan for time being. My spouse was crying, because going back alone was not what we always do. We live and travel together. In our long marriage we are never separated. We are a happy couple. I cannot blame my spouse for what the Japanese Government does to separate international families.

Whenever we enter Europe, my spouse always goes with me to almost empty immigration line for EU Citizens, because residency permit holders can do it.  However in Japan at the entry point we are separated.  I`m fingerprinted and photographed as a suspicious resident — and now this extra set of hoops to jump through, because I may be a threat to Japan’s National Security. (The Covid re-entry ban is based on such an assumption.)  I admire Japan and people and always follow the rules, never had any problems and I don’t see myself having any wherever I go. National Security would some kind of real accusation IMO.

Now, back to testing abroad, which differs from the requirements for Japanese people:

I didn’t want to be separated from my spouse, so I decided to go ahead and go through all the hassle.

The PCR test certificate must be filled in on a specific document prepared by MOFA.  You can’t download it.  You have to go to the Embassy and get it.  On their paper. It’s the best if the PCR testing lab fills it in and stamps it. Foreign-issued certificates are not accepted, because they do not specify the exact method that the test has been done. They show COVID-19 Test – NEGATIVE or POSITIVE – and whether the sample was from nose or throat. That’s it.

The European labs I spoke with told me that they send test results within 24 hours, with the certificate either by email, or one must login to the lab portal and download it. I sent them the Japanese template sample and asked if they would fill in the form for me, as this is specific for Japan. They told me NO, because we send all certificates by email. Our certificate has been approved and accepted in many other countries that require all arrivals to bring negative PCR test result (not just foreigners). If I want, I can find another lab.

According to MOFA, the requirements must be specifically followed or one will not be allowed in. Besides, I checked drive-through testing that one can see on the edge of many European cities. I looked from the distance and found that all tests are done from throat swab. But these tests are for people who have Covid symptoms and are referred there by health authorities (free test).  But, again, they won’t test me unless I’m symptomatic.  I’m not.

Japanese PCR test rules from Japan Times (Aug 31, 2020):
====
Only negative results for molecular diagnostic tests conducted via nasopharyngeal swab or saliva samples using the real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction method (RT-PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (LAMP) or an antigen test using the chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) method will be recognized as valid. Such tests need to be conducted within 72 hours prior to departure and documents confirming the procedure need to be filled out entirely in English and need to be signed by a doctor from the medical institution where the test was conducted or have the institution’s stamp. The officials suggest using the certification form for COVID-19 tests, which can be found on the justice ministry’s website.
====

I found a lab which was new in my area and they would help me. After retrieving the Confirmation Letter from the Embassy, I scheduled PCR test 2 weeks later. Meanwhile, I took the risk to lose money by purchasing a plane ticket at the same time as the PCR test without the option to cancel it regardless of the situation. My Travel Insurance confirmed that they would not reimburse me either due to positive PCR test. I took the risk of a negative outcome because if I bought it after a negative PCR test, it would probably cost me triple within that 72-hour window. My spouse was incredibly happy that we will go together. I said to her: Darling, hold on, we need test result first. The same day late evening it arrived. NEGATIVE! Baby, we go together as planned.

It was not the end of story yet.

I received foreign certificate pdf which was signed and stamped by a doctor with blue pen. It was not enough though. Not enough for Japanese requirements. I was lucky that the lab was kind enough and told me to come back next day to give me a printed “negative “certificate they issued, my passport and Japanese printed form. They will do for me what I need.  It just cost me well over 100 Euros.

I went there the next day with pre-filled form with my details only to ask for REAL stamp and doctor’s REAL signature. Now I had everything that I needed to re-enter Japan.

My lab was close enough, but imagine if someone live far away or if they didn’t open new lab closer to me, then I would have to drive 1-2h to do the test in another city and then next day to waste the same time to get “REAL” certificate signed. I can tell you that immigration in Japan did not accept foreign issued document. I pulled it up first to see what happens. Well, I had to give them the form required by MOFA. They took away from me both. What if I didn’t have the Japanese version? Would I be sent back?

At the airport in Japan

Here, everyone of course goes through a lot of paperwork, stamps, signs etc. It should be more digitized to allow more arrivals. Anyway, after they take your foreign PCR test, Japanese Immigration then tests you again via PCR from saliva. One needs to spit 1mm into given small container. (it’s not always as easy as it seems). Then, next step is to go through another round of paperwork and then to a special room where you have an assigned chair with your number received earlier. The PCR result comes within about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once the result arrives, there is another small round paperwork, with all the documents such as PCR Certificates from abroad, PCR result from airport, 2 documents that everyone had to fill in in the plane plus passport being presented to the Immigration.

Japanese Citizens are free to go after showing a passport and taking a PCR test administered by Japanese Immigration, while foreign residents are stopped for a little bit longer than usual.  I spent about 10 minutes longer because of checking all document, having my photo and fingerprints taken.  Then one must go to another booth where another officer re-confirms again if all these docs are in order, then stamps it, signs it and at the end you are free to enter.

I don’t mind doing this procedure as long as everyone is treated equal regardless of their nationality.  Including Japanese. However, most of the European countries do the Covid test upon arrival. In Germany, for example, if you show negative test from your country you let through without additional tests at the border. (I’m not sure if this is the same for all countries). I do wish that Japan would change their stance towards residents such as at least Spouses of Japanese (first of all when traveling together to/from the same place) and PRs.

The biggest obstacles for some of you might be to return to the lab again to have the Japanese form filled in. Good Luck!

In the end, let me summarize what I went through:

Step 1:
Japanese Embassy – Apply for Confirmation Letter. 1h drive one way (probably not required anymore since Suga became PM).

3 Days later
Japanese Embassy – Pick up confirmation letter. 1h drive one way

Step 2:
PCR test (lucky they opened just recently a lab close to me)

Step 3:
Next day go back to the lab to stamp and sign the Japanese document by a doctor. This is only when test comes back negative.

Step 4 (when all above is done):
Airlines require to fill in (or rather tick boxes) on their own document. This must be done prior to boarding.

Step 5:
Japan now requires another form to be filled in once inside the plane to “catch” early those at high risk who may be infected and may need hospitalization. (This is not a failsafe; anyone can lie on any forms, including these given by airlines.)

Step 6:
Another PCR in Japan at the airport upon arrival. (Other countries, such as Germany, respect certificates issued elsewhere when showed at the border, and next PCR is not necessary then.)

Anyway, I hope this is quite clear what`s happening. I do hope you still fight for changing things. I don’t mind PCR testing in principle, but then test everyone the same, including Japanese, or at least accept foreign certificate sent by email as other countries do.

Sincerely, W

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