Yomiuri Sept 23 06: Govt to have employers report info on foreign employees

mytest

COMMENT: Quite honestly, I am of two minds on this proposal. Depends on who the true target of this policy is: The employer (to force them to employ legal workers, and force them to take responsibility when they don’t? It would be about time.), or the foreign employee (in another attempt to “track” them constantly, an extension of the proposed “Gaijin Chip” IC Card system? See my Japan Times article on this at http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html).

It’s a wait-and-see thing for me, as there is no way to determine how it will be enforced until it is enforced. As witnessed with the recent revisions of hotel laws, requiring passport checks of tourists, giving the NPA license to order hotels nationwide to demand passport checks of ALL foreigners (regardless of residency), see http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html. –Arudou Debito

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Govt to check foreign staff situation / Plans to have firms report worker details
The Yomiuri Shimbun, Sept 23, 2006
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060923TDY01004.htm

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry intends to make it mandatory for firms that hire foreign employees to report the number, name and nationality of such workers, ministry sources said Friday.

Currently, this information is submitted on a voluntary basis, and personal information is not included. As a result, the government does not have a detailed picture of the nation’s foreign workers.

With the new policy, the ministry will establish a reporting system that requires firms to submit foreign workers’ information. Companies that fail to turn in the necessary information will be subject to punishment. The ministry hopes the new measure will prevent foreigners from working illegally, while encouraging legitimate workers to take out social insurance.

The Labor Policy Council, an advisory body to the health, labor and welfare minister, will shortly start discussions on the measures and hopes to submit a bill to revise the Employment Promotion Law to the ordinary Diet session next year.

The nation’s declining birthrate and aging population has led to growing concerns over a labor shortage. Consequently, the government is working on ways to entice more foreign workers to the country.

According to reports on foreign employees submitted to the ministry’s public job security offices as of June 2005, about 340,000 foreigners had been hired by about 30,000 firms. These numbers are likely to keep increasing. Of the workers, 43 percent hailed from East Asia, followed by 30 percent from Central and South America.

However, according to the Justice Ministry, as of the end of 2005, registered foreigners numbered 2.01 million, 800,000 of whom were estimated to be working, including illegal workers, based on an analysis of their residence status.

There is a sizable difference between the two ministries’ figures.

The current system allows firms to choose whether to provide information to the government on their foreign employees, and only those firms with more than 50 employees are eligible to do so.

The government has been criticized for its sloppy monitoring of foreigners once they have entered the country, even though immigration procedures are rigorous.

By making it obligatory for companies to report foreign workers’ details, the government hopes to keep track of people on an individual basis, and to enhance measures for clamping down on those working illegally. In addition, it is hoped the measures will encourage foreign workers to take out social insurance, and allow central and local governments to offer better support to workers who have to change jobs frequently due to unstable contracts.

The government’s three-year deregulation program, finalized in March, discusses making it mandatory for firms to submit reports on their foreign employees and whether reports should include detailed information such as workers’ names and residence status. The policy is likely to prove controversial in light of the protection of foreign workers’ privacy and the impact of the new system on the economy.

Yomiuri Shinbun (Sep. 23, 2006)
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 2006

mytest

Good evening all. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here, with a roundup of recent articles I’ve been blogging recently:

Table of Contents:
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1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)
2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”
3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE
4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN
5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN
6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG
7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST
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Newsletter dated September 23, 2006
Freely forwardable

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1) 2-CHANNEL’S DEFENDANT NISHIMURA “DISAPPEARS” (SHISSOU)

I updated you last week (http://www.debito.org/?p=30 ) about my lawsuit against Japan’s largest Internet BBS, 2-Channel. Although they lost a libel suit to me last January, Owner and Adminstrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki still hasn’t paid the court-ordered damages, moreover has ignored another series of paperwork my lawyers have filed to enforce the decision. Full details on the lawsuit at http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html#english

The news is that I just heard that Nishimura, with his invisible income, numerous personal blogs and online columns, and books published by the likes of Kodansha and Asukii, has made himself invisible. Yes, he’s just plain disappeared. Witness this newspaper article (translation mine):

============== BEGINS ==================
On September 22, it was established that Nishimura Hiroyuki (29), aka “hiroyuki”, administrator and operator of giant Internet BBS “2-Channel”, has disappeared (shissou joutai). This BBS is being run by Nishimura as an individual. Even after government organs have demanded that inappropriate posts be removed, and posters have their whereabouts revealed, [Nishimura] has let these things slide and not responded to orders to appear before courts. The worst case scenario is that “2-Channel”, an emblematic site to Internet industries, may even be shut down.
=============== ENDS ===================

I don’t know in what newspaper this appeared (it looks like a screen capture from a TV news show), but it is the genuine article, and visible at http://www.debito.org/nishimuradisappears.jpg

I have also heard rumors that Nishimura was about to declare personal bankruptcy, and has a gaggle of lawsuits following him to zap any above-board income (royalties etc.) he might legally receive. However, he’ll never be able to open and register a real company. If he does resurface (if he’s even still in the country) and declare himself bankrupt, he’ll apparently even lose the right to vote.

For the record, I do not support closing 2-Channel down (it is for millions a very valuable network). I only want it to take responsibility for filling the media with irresponsible information, so bad that even Japan’s cautious courts have determined in several cases to be libelous. Continuous evasion of these responsibilities as a member of the media may mean Nishimura gets his in the end. Keep a weather eye on this story…

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2) J TIMES: FUTURE CONFLICTS ON FOREIGN “OLDCOMERS” AND “NEWCOMERS”

Reporter Eric Johnston has done it again–another prescient scoop on what may become a pressing domestic issue in future: How a probable influx of foreign labor may cause frictions between foreigners themselves, i.e. the “Oldcomers” (the Zainichi generational foreigners) and the “Newcomers” (overseas-born immigrants, whose numbers are rising as the Zainichis’ fall). Excerpt:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
“I don’t think you’d see a level of violence between different ethnic groups that you see in other parts of the world because Japanese authorities and society would not tolerate it,” said former Tokyo Immigration Bureau chief Hidenori Sakanaka. “But it’s likely that established foreign residents would discriminate against groups of new foreigners, barring them from apartments, restaurants, or jobs.

“It’s already happening in cities like Tokyo, but it could become a much bigger problem nationwide in the future,” he said.

And newcomers facing job discrimination in particular, be it from long-term foreign residents or from Japanese, could find that groups like labor unions that have often been at the forefront of protecting the rights of foreigners may change their attitude if they begin to see foreign labor as a threat.

“I can see a large influx of foreign workers sparking opposition from Japan’s labor unions,” Sakanaka said.

“Compared to the Justice Ministry and the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, opposition within the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to large numbers of foreigners is quite strong, and much of this opposition reflects the opposition that exists in labor unions.” (Japan Times, Sept 12, 2006)
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

It also addresses issues such as education, discrimination, public policy, and a lingering ostrich mentality even amongst “progressive” (and Prime-Ministerial-aspiring) Dietmembers such as Kouno Taro. Blogged in full at
http://www.debito.org/?p=28

Speaking of internationalization tensions:

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3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE

Here’s a harbinger of future foreign entrepreneurialism:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
The Toyama prefectural government has instructed two businesses
targeting foreign residents to improve their business practices after
discovering they had disregarded the city planning law, The Yomiuri
Shimbun has learned.

The prefectural government intends to issue similar instructions for
seven other businesses in the near future. If the conditions of the
instructions are not met, the businesses will be ordered to cease
operations. If the orders are again ignored, the prefectural
government will file criminal complaints against them.

The Construction and Transport Ministry is demanding the prefecture
also investigate the about 170 such businesses in the area that are
believed to be on the edge of the law as part of a clampdown on
businesses encroaching on the countryside…

The nine businesses for which the guidance has been issued or
scheduled comprise five used-car dealerships, a mosque, a real estate
office targeting foreigners, a money exchange business and a
used-appliance store. The operators of the locations include Japanese,
Bangladeshis and Pakistanis, among others…

[And of course, the perfunctory allusion to foreign crime…]

In the neighboring areas, there are a large number of robberies,
burglaries and traffic violations committed by foreigners….

(Yomiuri Sept 13, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=29 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Goes without saying, but I would expect any businessman regardless of nationality to follow Japan’s zoning laws. But based upon the number of these “shack businesses” I see springing up in the Hokkaido countryside (where our foreign population is miniscule), I can’t help but think that crackdowns and criminal procedures wouldn’t be so considered without the foreign element. Let’s hope these proceedings also target places without mosques and Russian customers…

Now for a man who really wants foreigners to come to his town–as long as it’s for the Olympics…

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4) TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA TO RUN FOR THIRD TERM, DISSES “FOREIGNERS” AGAIN

Yes, the man who never misses an opportunity to slag somebody off (how dare the Fukuoka mayor put in an Olympic bid and compete with Tokyo, the center of the universe!) has decided to run for a third term as Tokyo Governor. Expressly so that he can shepherd his plans through for the 2016 Tokyo Olympics: Tokyo won the bid to be Japan’s champion on August 31.

That’s fine. But then Ishihara decided to punch below the belt when a critic just happened to be “foreign”:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.

In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”

Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”

The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).

(Asahi Sept 1, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=27 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Aim high, shoot low. This caused quite a furor with human rights groups, since Ishihara promised to stop making these types of discriminatory remarks in 2000 after the firestorm wreaked by his “Sankokujin” (basically meaning “lesser-nation foreigners” in vernacular use) Speech to the Self Defense Forces (where he called for foreigner round-ups in the event of a natural disaster). For good measure, on September 15, Ishihara then talked about illegal immigration from the, quote, “sankokujin” all over again.

People have filed complaints, for what they’re worth (links in Japanese):
http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060916/K2006091504340.html?C=S
http://news.goo.ne.jp/news/asahi/shakai/20060920/K2006092004280.html
http://www3.to/kmj1

Can hardly wait to see how Ishihara assesses all the foreigners who come to spend money here during the Olympics… Given Japan’s overreaction to world-class sporting events, viz. the World Cup in 2002, I’m not optimistic.
http://www.debito.org/WorldCup2002.html

I’m also not all that optimistic about Ishihara getting the boot in the next election. But one can dream.

Meanwhile, the beat goes on with people blaming foreigners for their ills:

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5) ASAHI: MURDER SUSPECT TRIES TO BLAME CRIME ON “BLOND” MAN

It’s quite a famous case up here in Hokkaido, where a kid from a broken family in Wakkanai, Japan’s northernmost city, apparently tried to get his friend to help kill his mom. It’s a pretty sad case, covered assiduously by the Wide Shows, of yet another example of Japan’s apparent decline in morals. It’s further complicated (as far as this newsletter is concerned) by the following fact:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
The victim’s son had initially told investigators that he saw a man with blond hair running away from his home, and the first-floor living room appeared to have been ransacked. Investigators suspect that the two attempted to cover up their involvement.

(Mainichi, Aug 29, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=32 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

Fortunately, the police saw through this. But given the NPA’s long history of targeting foreigners (got lots of links, but I’m not going to include them all in this already long-enough post), I’m happy that they didn’t jump to conclusions (especially given the often-sour relationship between Japanese seaports and disembarking Russians, which I have also catalogued in great detail in the past).

The point I’m trying to make is this: This is yet another attempt to pin Japanese crime on foreigners. It didn’t work this time, but how many crimes in Japan which are suspected to be committed by “foreigners” are thusly red-herringed? Does wonders for the foreign crime rate. And this is not alarmism–I have archived two other cases in 2004 of “gaijin nasuri tsuke”, one involving a youth gang attack, the other an indolent trucker:
http://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.html

By the way, an interesting note about this article. The original Japanese at
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/jiken/news/20060829k0000e040014000c.html
does NOT mention the blond man at all. It only says that the suspect saw “an unknown man” (mishiranu otoko) running away from the house’s genkan. Well, maybe both the media and the police are becoming more careful about how they investigate things nowadays. Good.

Now, how about some specious research from our intellectual best and brightest?

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6) KITAKYUSHU PROF BLAMES BAD ENGLISH EDUCATION ON FOREIGNERS WHO STAY TOO LONG

Professor Noriguchi Shinichiro of Kitakyushu University (whom I have on very good authority is a very progressive individual) does himself few favors, with one of those navel-gazing essays on how bad Japan’s English-language education is.

After lashing out at unqualified Japanese teachers, Noriguchi then lumps in foreign instructors as a factor–not for any qualifications they lack, but rather because of qualifications they apparently lose over time:

============== EXCERPT BEGINS ==================
In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teacher–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.

(Asahi, Sept 15, 2006, http://www.debito.org/?p=34 )
============== EXCERPT ENDS ====================

I see. A foreigner who is less adjusted is axiomatically more effective. Hmm. Damn those foreigners for becoming used to the system, getting their bearings, and “Japanizing” themselves. How dare they? It’s even unprofessional.

I guess we can also assume that this means we should not give permanent tenure to foreign faculty in Japanese Universities, because they have a shelf life (instead of a learning curve). It certainly is logic that would happily be used by unscrupulous university employers (I have a list of them at http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html).

This argument, by the way, is quite similar to the one used by Asahikawa University in a famous precedent-setting lawsuit called the Gwen Gallagher Case (who was fired after more than a decade of service for no longer being, quote, “fresh” enough, see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkiseigallagher). I wonder if Noriguchi would enjoy being lumped in this kind of company.

So it’s one prof’s opinion, BFD. Unfortunately, Noriguchi’s essay appeared in one of Japan’s most influential, well-read, and prestigious columns called “Watashi no Shiten” in the Asahi.

I think he should issue a retraction. You can encourage him to do so via email at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
http://www.kitakyu-u.ac.jp/foreign/in/noriguchishinichiroin.htm

Speaking of universities:

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7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of tertiary-educational employers who refuse to employ full-time foreign faculty on permanent-tenure terms (i.e. without contract–unlike most universities, which tenure full-time Japanese from Day One of hiring), has just gotten one addition.

It’s AIU–which has Gregory Clark as its Vice President. More on Clark at
http://www.debito.org/PALEspring2000.html
http://www.debito.org/gregoryclarkfabricates.html
http://www.debito.org/onsensclarkjtimes122599.html

It’s a bit of a surprise. Akita International University was opened a couple of years ago to offer “a radically new approach to education in Japan”–with classes entirely in English, overseas immersion, and other progressive educational strategies.

Which is sad because it seems to have lapsed back into bad old systemic habits:

==============================================
NAME OF UNIVERSITY: Akita International University (Private)
LOCATION: 193-2 Okutsubakidai, Yuwa, Tsubakigawa, Akita-City, Akita
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#aiu

EMPLOYMENT ABUSE: Despite wanting PhDs (or the equivalent) for faculty, AIU offers 3-year contracted positions with no mention of any possibility of tenure, plus a heavy workload (10 to 15 hours per week, which means the latter amounts to 10 koma class periods), a four-month probationary period, no retirement pay, and job evaluations of allegedly questionable aims. In other words, conditions that are in no visible way different from any other gaijin-contracting “non-international university” in Japan. Except for the lack of retirement pay.

SOURCE OF INFORMATION: Job advertisement in the Chronicle of Higher Education, dated September 2, 2006. http://chronicle.com/jobs/id.php?id=0000469416-01 (or visit http://www.debito.org/aiudata.html).

Other unofficial sources of dissent available on the Chronicle’s forums at
http://chronicle.com/forums/index.php?topic=28632.0
==============================================

There will be more additions to make to my lists (including the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Businesses) when there’s time. They’ll be on my blog first, of course. Again, to receive things in real time, subscribe at http://www.debito.org/index.php
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All for today. Thanks very much for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 ENDS

Asahi: Tokyo Gov. Ishihara to run for third term Sept 1 2006

mytest

Ebullient Ishihara to seek 3rd term
09/01/2006
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200608310347.html

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has made clear he will seek a third term to help prepare Tokyo for its bid to host the 2016 Olympics.

Ishihara, 73, declared his intention to run for the gubernatorial race next spring after Tokyo beat out Fukuoka on Wednesday to be Japan’s candidate to host the Summer Games in 10 years. The capital will likely compete with Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and other cities.

“I am the one who initiated the bid (to host the Games) so I’m responsible,” an apparently elated Ishihara said when asked if he would run again.

“I’ve made up my mind,” he said.

The second of Ishihara’s four-year terms will end April 22, 2007. The city to host the 2016 Games will be picked in the fall of 2009.

On Thursday, Ishihara met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Shinzo Abe and called for “all-out Cabinet support” for Tokyo’s bid.

Abe is the frontrunner in the Sept. 20 race to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, although he has yet to officially declare his candidacy.

“If you win the (Liberal Democratic Party’s) presidential race, please appoint a minister in charge” of the Olympic issue, Ishihara said.

To prepare for the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, the administration of then Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda appointed a Cabinet minister to take charge of the operation.

Abe pledged government support for Tokyo’s efforts, although on the actual proposed portfolio, he simply said, “the next Cabinet will study the issue.”

Tokyo’s victory over Fukuoka had been expected due to the capital’s superior fiscal strength and name-recognition value.

In his presentation prior to the Japanese Olympic Committee’s selection panel vote, Ishihara suddenly floated the idea of converting a closed Tokyo high school into a national training center for athletes.

He also underscored Tokyo’s resolve to host the Olympics for a second time by saying it would stand again for 2020 should its current bid fail.

However, Ishihara’s trademark volatility came to the fore when Fukuoka supporter Kang Sang Jung, a professor of political science at the University of Tokyo–and a second-generation Korean born and raised in Japan–criticized Tokyo’s Olympic bid.

In his pre-vote speech, Kang provoked Ishihara’s ire by asking, “Can we win over world competitors with an Olympics of the rich, by the rich and for the rich?”

Ishihara replied in his speech, saying: “A scholar of some foreign country said earlier Tokyo has no philosophy. I do not know why.”

The governor then went on to make his displeasure clear later at a celebratory party, when he dismissed Kang as both “impudent” and an ayashigena gaikokujin (dubious foreigner).

Ishihara was first elected governor in 1999, and went on to win 3.08 million votes in the 2003 re-election.
END

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF SEPT 10, 2006

mytest

Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Welcome back from summer break, everyone. Got quite a backlog of articles for this newsletter.

Let me briefly open with my summer break: Two weeks cycling 940 kms (Sapporo to Wakkanai to Abashiri), averaging around 100 kms a day, and a trip average of 16.9 kms an hour, on a mountain bike. Friend Chris accompanied me for the entire trip, and he’ll soon have a site up with a report and photos. And yes, I as usual lost no weight on this cycletrek (my third, see my first at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#cycletreks), but I feel great, and wish I lived in a climate with no winter so I could do this all year round.

On to the updates. As I said, there’s a backlog, so apologies if you have seen some of these articles before:

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1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS
2) YOU TUBE: “JAPAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU!” VIDEO ON EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS
3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON NATURALIZATION IN JAPAN
4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI
5) ASAHI: RACIALLY-MOTIVATED BULLYING FUKUOKA COURT CASE RULES FOR VICTIM
6) SF CHRONICLE: CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN IS NOT BASED ON RULES
7) KYODO: NEW “FOREIGN CRIME” CAMPAIGN HITS SNAG: DISSENT
8) CALLING ALL NATURALIZED CITIZENS: NEW BOOK FORTHCOMING
… and finally… NEW DEBITO.ORG BLOG
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September 10, 2006, Freely forwardable.
Full text of all articles below blogged at
http://www.debito.org/index.php

1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS

The reason I opened with our cycletrek is to segue nicely into this topic: Upon reaching northern cities Wakkanai and Monbetsu, Chris and I did the rounds of “Japanese Only” signs on public establishments. Photo archive, eyewitness reports, and links to newspaper articles international and domestic available at:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Wakkanai
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Monbetsu

WAKKANAI
Chris and I went by public bath “Yuransen”. An egregious entry in this gallery, Yuransen for years has violated the Public Bath Law to refuse all foreigners (including foreign taxpayers) entry. Then it built a separate “gaijin bath” with separate entry and separate prices (2500 yen, six times the entry fee of 370 yen, and without male and female sections). This attracted international attention, even making the New York Times in April 2004:
http://www.debito.org/iht042304.html

Well, guess what. Yuransen went bankrupt in March 2006. So much for its claim that letting foreigners in would drive them out of business. Meanwhile, its rival onsen some miles away, Doumu, does a brisk trade. And it has never refused foreigners. Does anyone else see a lesson here? Current photo of Yuransen’s storefront at the above Rogues’ Gallery link.

MONBETSU
has also had “Japanese Only Store” signs up since the previous century. Despite demands from the Ministry of Justice for them to be taken down in July 2000, some signs (we counted four) are still up to the present day, with the city government turning a blind eye to repeated requests and petitions for resolution.

Well, Chris and I dropped by a yakiniku restaurant and got the manager to take one of the signs down. It took less than a minute! Photos up soon at the Rogues’ Gallery. Bonus: if you’d like to hear me in action negotiating the sign down, courtesy of Chris’s mp3 player/recorder, download a soundfile at

Best part: Hear me stuttering in surprise at how easy it was, and Chris giggling at the very end.

Y’know, we’re going to win this battle. Not least because this issue has legs:

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2) YOU TUBE: “JAPAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU!” VIDEO ON EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS

In a similar vein, somebody has been filching photos from the Rogues’ Gallery, to create a YouTube photo gallery entitled “Do you like Japan? Japan doesn’t like you!” Japanese national anthem included. A two-minute vid, it has been viewed as of this writing about 25,000 times, with more than 700 comments, and the dubious honor of being one of the top ten most accessed “Travel and Places” videos in YouTube history.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xCeK0Trz9E0&mode=related&search

And before you ask: No, I didn’t have any part in creating this video, and knew nothing about it until a friend notified me a few weeks ago.

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3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON JAPAN NATURALIZATION

Newsweek Japan this week has two articles (English and Japanese each) entitled “The New Face of Japan–Foreigners are not only coming–They’re staying”. Friends Kaoru and Kiichi (formerly Coal and Jayasinghi), are featured on the very cover. Get a copy of both issues quickly while they’re still on the newsstands!

For those who cannot, text at
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/

Excerpt (included not because it quotes me, but because it luckily encapsulates the spirit of the article nicely):

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Meanwhile, so-called permanent residents–foreign born people who have chosen to live in Japan for the long term–are steadily growing. “It shows that immigrants, not generational foreigners, are now becoming the more common permanent residents in Japan, meaning they’re not going to leave,” says human-rights activist Debito Arudou, a former American turned Japanese citizen. “I used to say half of the foreigners in Japan were born here. Now it’s more like a quarter.”

And the fundamental consequence, says Arudou, is clear. “We’re going to see people who don’t look Japanese being Japanese. That’s undeniable.”
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

(NB: Those who would like to see some substantiation for this sea change in Permanent Residency, see my essay on this last January at http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html )

A couple of quick corrections to the article, if I may: The figure of 15,000 people cited as the total number ofnaturalized people in Japan is the rough estimate of the YEARLY intake of naturalized citizens. According to the Minister of Justice, around 300,000 foreigners (mostly the Zainichis) took citizenship between 1968 and 2000. Update the number by 15K per year and you’re closing in on 400,000 newly-minted Japanese of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

And former Finn Tsurunen Marutei is not the only naturalized Japanese in the Diet. As friend Chris pointed out, “Renho, formerly of Taiwanese nationality, and Shinkun Park, formerly of Korean nationality, are two other naturalized Dietmembers.”
http://www.renho.jp/
http://www.haku-s.net/index.html

Newsweek has told me they will be issuing corrections in short order. Speaking of Tsurunen:

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4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI

Reporter friend Oscar did a bang-up job of an article on Tsurunen for Metropolis Magazine last August. Article available at
http://www.crisscross.com/jp/newsmaker/345

Soon up for re-election, Tsurunen gives his views on Yasukuni, foreign crime, assimilation, education, nationalism, and constitutional changes. Highlight:

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Tsurunen’s more than 30 years of naturalized citizenship–if not books he’s penned in Japanese with titles such as “I Want to be a Japanese,” “Here Comes a Blue-Eyed Assemblyman” and “Blue-Eyed Diet Member Not Yet Born”–speak to his vested interest in foreigner acceptance. But he’s no longer as optimistic as when he took office in 2002.

“Well, it is still my goal–or wish [to get suffrage for foreigners]–but I’m not sure I have been able to do much. For example, I am for the right of permanent foreign residents to vote,” he says of a bill now on ice that would allow them to do so in local elections. “But our party is not united on this issue. Last year, I was the leader of a committee that dealt with the issue of accepting more foreign laborers and we made some progress. But I’m not sure if it’s the best solution now. Japanese people are not ready to live with foreigners. There will be problems such as discrimination. We have some cities where 10% of the population is foreign and they already have these kinds of problems.”… “For foreigners this is not a very friendly country–it can be very cold. I’m one of the lucky ones.”
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

COMMENT: I’ve met Tsurunen on several occasions, even had a chance to talk to him one-on-one (see my October 2003 interview with him at http://www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html ). I personally like the guy. I also understand that he’s trying to make his mark as a politician trumpeting more than just ethnic-rights issues (one of his biggest policy pushes is for recycling), and as a politician, he’s not in a position to please everybody.

However, I have qualms about the degree of his distancing. For example, when UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene came to Japan for a second time, talking about racial discrimination and the need for legislation to combat it (see http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html ), Diene attended a 2PM meeting at the Diet’s Upper House on May 18, 2006. A few Dietmembers attended, and some of their offices sent secretaries to at least leave their office’s meishi business card behind as a sign of awareness or interest. Tsurunen’s office did neither. I find this deeply disappointing. This is, after all, a meeting with the United Nations–and on foreigner and ethnic issues. If Tsurunen’s office can overlook this, what kind of example does this set for the rest of Japan’s politicians?

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

5) ASAHI: IJIME CASE IN FUKUOKA RULES IN FAVOR OF VICTIM

Elephant-minded readers of Japan’s media might remember the “Pinocchio” Case of 2003–where a grade-school teacher had a “thing” about the mixed racial background of a child in his class. He would pull on the boy’s nose until it bled, calling him “Pinocchio”, do the same thing with his ears with a “Mickey Mouse”, and devise all sorts of public punishments (even demanding he die for having “stained blood” (chi ga kegareta)) until the child became mentally unstable.

On July 28, 2006, Fukuoka District Court ruled positively that the PTSD the boy suffered deserved compensation–awarding 2.2 million yen (continuing to push up the “market value” of racial discrimination lawsuits from the generally-accepted 1 million yen or so).
Full report at
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200607290180.html
Original Japanese at
http://www.asahi.com/edu/news/SEB200607280015.html

The downside to this case is that the teacher only received a suspension from teaching for six months, and is now back on the job with full responsibilities. The man deserves, in my view, incarceration, if not institutionalization.

Moreover, this is not the first case of racially-motivated power harassment between teacher and student I am aware of by any means. I will soon be reporting on a future Kawasaki court decision regarding a Chinese-Japanese in similar straits. For now, info site at http://www.debito.org/kawasakiminzokusabetsu.htm (Japanese).

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

6) SF CHRONICLE: “CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN ISN’T BASED ON RULES”

Friend and legal expert Colin has done an excellent article in the San Francisco Chronicle on another one of my hobby horses: Child custody after divorce in Japan, the weakness of courts to enforce their own decisions, and the “Who dares, wins” attitude behind many of the officially-mediated battles.
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/08/27/INGD3KO4C71.DTL

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Imagine discovering you have been living in an artificial world with rules designed to mask a terrible reality. This is, of course, the premise of “The Matrix,” but it is also an analogy I use to explain child custody and visitation in Japan, a subject in which I do research (and have had personal experience). Japan’s family courts have rules and procedures that hide a sad truth: They are powerless to protect the parent-child relationship when a divorce turns hostile… Child custody litigation is always sad, but particularly so in Japan. For starters, there is, quite literally, no law…

Those who seek cultural (as opposed to institutional) explanations for this state of affairs should be wary. In a recent book in Japanese on visitation, a widely published expert on family problems explained why visitation was different in Japan than in the United States or Europe. The book said Japan is a Confucian society where children are important for continuing the bloodline (but only within marriage), while Western countries had gun cultures, long histories of incest, and frequent cases of parents abducting, raping and even killing their children.
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

Colin also talks about about the dynamic behind judicial decisionmaking–where judges who don’t toe the official current in their decisions are denied promotion and reappointment. It adds up to a horrifying state of affairs where children (especially those in international or intercontinental divorces) are the big losers, being technically kidnapped by one parent to Japan with no recourse whatsoever.

Fortunately, this issue is finally gaining some attention internationally. See report at Children’s Rights Network Japan about a recent protest at a Los Angeles film screening on the “Megumi Yokota Story”, drawing (stretched, but effective) comparisons between kidnappings to North Korea and child kidnappings to Japan:
http://www.crnjapan.com/events/2006/en/megumiyokotaprotest.html

A primer on this issue available from the Japan Times at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060718z1.html

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

7) KYODO: NEW “FOREIGN CRIME” CAMPAIGN HITS SNAG: DISSENT

You may have seen on the news a new slew of programs on “foreigner crime”. It’s periodical. The National Police Agency spoon-feeds the media every six months or so with new “foreigner crime” statistics, and special “tokushuu” shows doubling as public-service announcements appraise the public on how to avoid becoming victims of hordes of foreign criminals.

Some historical examples of how the NPA has finagled statistics and manufactured crime waves at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes100402.html
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html
http://www.debito.org/foreigncrimeputsch.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/ihtasahi121502.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes033004.html
http://www.debito.org/NPAracialprofiling.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

This time around, however, there’s been a snag–in that “Chinese Criminal DNA” proponent Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s former deputy chief has even come forward to call all the grandstanding an exaggeration.

The text of the article available on my blog (no other extant link available) at

Aug 24, 2006 Kyodo: “Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign”

———ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Hiroshi Kubo, who released a book titled ”Is Public Safety Really Deteriorating?” in June, said such measures could make people excessively wary, encourage prejudice against foreigners and benefit those in authority like the police…

Some analysts say these concerns are entirely reasonable and have urged authorities to work harder to get rid of factors threatening public order, such as the widening income disparity, instead of simply telling people to brace themselves for possible crimes.

Kubo, 59, was a senior bureaucrat in the Tokyo government. He led various crime prevention projects as a division chief in charge of public safety in the governor’s headquarters from August 2003 to March 2005, when he quit the municipality.

Kubo said he felt ”embarrassed” when he involved himself in or led projects he said were aimed at prompting people to think the community was becoming more and more dangerous and to rely on the authorities, especially the police, to deal with the situation.
———ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

Finally, a voice of reason, even at the top…

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

8) NEW BOOK ON NATURALIZED CITIZENS FORTHCOMING

Calling all naturalized Japanese readers:

Naturalized Chinese-Japanese Professor U Hoden, of Japan Women’s University, and myself will be collaborating on a new book over the next few months. We aim to feature the views of life in Japan from a “newcomer citizen” perspective, with essays in Japanese from those who have naturalized. This will be in their own words. We have a basic outline of questions ready, so if anyone is interested (Kaoru, Kiichi?), please let me know at debito@debito.org.

Meanwhile, my friend and I have just finished the fourth draft of our new GUIDEBOOK TO LIFE IN JAPAN, which we think should be coming out in the next six months or so. More on that later…

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

And finally, let me announce here my new blog at debito.org, to more easily archive these newsletters. Go to
http://www.debito.org/index.php
to see what’s going out. There is also RSS capability, for those who want to sign up for reports in real time, before I collate into an update. I’m still getting used to the technology, but I hope you like what you see.

As always, thanks for reading, and welcome back for what promises to be an eventful autumn!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
Sept 10, 2006
NEWSLETTER ENDS

SF CHRONICLE Aug 27 2006: “Child custody in Japan isn’t based on news””

mytest

Child custody in Japan isn’t based on rules

-By Colin P.A. Jones

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, August 27, 2006

[COMMENT AT VERY BOTTOM]

Imagine discovering you have been living in an artificial world with rules designed to mask a terrible reality. This is, of course, the premise of “The Matrix,” but it is also an analogy I use to explain child custody and visitation in Japan, a subject in which I do research (and have had personal experience). Japan’s family courts have rules and procedures that hide a sad truth: They are powerless to protect the parent-child relationship when a divorce turns hostile.

Take the case of Samuel Lui, whose Japanese wife took their 2-year-old son from California to Japan in violation of a California court order that gave him custody. The validity of his U.S. custody order was confirmed by Japan’s Supreme Court, yet his wife remained in control of the child. In the meantime, he had to file proceedings in the Osaka Family Court just to seek visitation with the child who was supposed to be living with him in California.

By this time, his wife had thoroughly poisoned the child against him, and he ultimately had to agree to a mediated settlement whereby he gave up custody in exchange for limited (and unenforceable) visitation.

Child custody litigation is always sad, but particularly so in Japan. For starters, there is, quite literally, no law. A couple of articles in the Japanese Civil Code give Japan’s judges the authority to decide custody in divorce cases based on the best interests of the child. But there are virtually no provisions expressing what those interests are (California’s Family Code, by comparison, states clearly that best interests of a child involve frequent and continuous contact with both parents regardless of their marital situation).

Visitation, a matter of course in most U.S. divorces, is in Japan a vaguely defined notion created by judicial precedent and only sometimes described as a right. In reality, both custody and visitation are effectively administrative decisions made at the discretion of judges and untrained mediators, some of whom may even regard visitation as harmful to children.

The judges are part of an elite bureaucracy. Chosen from a small minority of those who have passed one of the most difficult exams in the world, the Japanese bar (which until recently had a pass rate of 3 percent), judges usually enter the judiciary in their 20s and spend their careers in a variety of postings around the country, often living in government housing, isolated from the rest of society.

A judge’s postings reflect the progress of his or her career, which depends on annual reviews. Well-rated judges will end up in higher courts or become part of the judicial administrative apparatus.

While the criteria used by the judiciary in evaluating its members are not public, efficient docket-clearing is an important factor. So, it seems, is not embarrassing the judiciary as an institution.

In one recent case, a judge who wrote a popular book criticizing the excessive length of some judicial opinions was denied reappointment. The reason? His opinions were too short.

Disfavored judges may end up spending most of their time in lower courts outside of Tokyo or other major cities, or in family court, where excessive tenure may be a sign of a stalled career.

While some judges may seek out such postings, others may have joined the judiciary expecting to preside over cases of national importance rather than resolving marital bickering. Thus, other factors may be at work when the best interests of a child are adjudicated.

Because docket clearing is one of these factors, a judge may be too busy to participate in the mediation proceedings that by law must precede divorce and custody litigation in Japan.

If the mediation is deemed unsuccessful, however, the judge may issue a judgment based primarily on the recommendation of the mediators and a family court investigator (another employee of the judicial bureaucracy). A parent may thus lose custody and be denied virtually all meaningful parental rights in proceedings where the judge has barely heard the parties speak and has never seen the child in question.

Custody and visitation decisions also present the judiciary with a problem from the standpoint of preserving its status because they are generally unenforceable.

The Web site of the U.S. State Department Office of Children’s Issues warns that compliance with Japanese family court orders is essentially voluntary. Police rarely get involved in family disputes and courts do not have marshals who can enforce compliance.

The penalty for violating a family court order is at most a fine of less than $1,000. There are other remedies, but they also have limited efficacy, particularly against a party with limited financial resources or who cannot be located.

I interviewed one mother whose attempts to enforce visitation were thwarted when her ex-husband simply hung up the phone on the court officer who had been trying to persuade him to comply. “There is nothing more we can do,” the bureaucrat explained, apologetically.

From the standpoint of resolving cases without exposing the judiciary’s weakness, it is small wonder that family courts so often seem to find the status quo to be in the best interests of the child, particularly when it comes to visitation.

If this means no visitation when one parent refuses to cooperate, then it is often denied or terminated. If the child is too young, visitation may be detrimental. If the child is going through puberty, visitation might be upsetting. If the parents cannot get along, then it would be bad for the child to be exposed to their fighting (though courts do not seem to care about such exposure within a marriage).

If Dad buys too many expensive presents for the children, then that, too, is potential grounds for termination of visitation.

It doesn’t seem to take much for Dad to become optional: One man (who has become a fathers’ rights activist) saw his visitation terminated by the court because his ex-wife said thinking about the visits made her physically ill.

Fathers who insist on their rights may be told by family court mediators, “Children don’t need a father all the way to age 18.”

Those who seek cultural (as opposed to institutional) explanations for this state of affairs should be wary. In a recent book in Japanese on visitation, a widely published expert on family problems explained why visitation was different in Japan than in the United States or Europe.

The book said Japan is a Confucian society where children are important for continuing the bloodline (but only within marriage), while Western countries had gun cultures, long histories of incest, and frequent cases of parents abducting, raping and even killing their children.

Whatever the explanation, the sad dynamics of custody litigation can lead to a vicious downward spiral. If a wife moves out of the home with the children and files for divorce (most divorces in Japan are initiated by women), she might be inclined to allow visitation.

However, her lawyer is likely to recommend against it, seeing it as a potential opportunity for the father (or hostile ex-in-laws) to take possession of the children. The courts may be unable to intervene and the woman could lose custody.

Some lawyers actually recommend against visitation until the divorce is final — which may take months or years because of the mandatory mediation.

Nor will a family court want to order visitation if it might result in a new status quo it cannot remedy but will surely be blamed for. After months of not seeing his children, the father may come to view abduction as the only way of preserving their relationship. In a recent case, a former judge was arrested for abducting his own daughter.

One Japanese mother I interviewed had a custody order affirmed all the way up to Japan’s Supreme Court. Her ex-husband still has their son despite years of litigation. Since she lost almost all contact with the child when he was 1 year old, she hopes to have at least enough contact that he will remember his mother’s face.

Sadly, Japan’s courts cannot seem to help realize even this meager hope.

——————————

Colin P.A. Jones is an associate professor at Doshisha University Law School in Kyoto. Contact us at insight@sfchronicle.com.

Page E – 3

URL: http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2006/08/27/INGD3KO4C71.DTL

COMMENT: Fortunately, this issue is finally gaining some attention internationally. See report at Children’s Rights Network Japan about a recent protest at a Los Angeles film screening on the “Megumi Yokota Story”, drawing (stretched, but effective) comparisons between kidnappings to North Korea and child kidnappings to Japan:

http://www.crnjapan.com/events/2006/en/megumiyokotaprotest.html

A primer on this issue available from the Japan Times at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060718z1.html

end

METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN INTERVIEW AUG 9, 2006

mytest

Foreign-born lawmaker puts Japan’s acceptance of outsiders to the test

By Oscar Johnson
Courtesy http://www.crisscross.com/jp/newsmaker/345

Marutei Tsurunen stands in front of the Diet. PHOTO BY TSUTOMU FU
TOKYO — Marutei Tsurunen relentlessly clawed at the doors of the Diet for a decade with two goals in mind: to get the inside scoop on politics and offer an outsider’s perspective in a land he says is far from ready to accept its foreign residents. It’s a task that Japan’s first and only foreign-born parliamentarian likens to a mission from God — literally. In fact, he left North Karelia, Finland, 40 years ago as a Lutheran lay missionary bent on helping Japan see the light.

“Of course, I’m a Christian and I still say I’m a missionary, not as a churchman but as a politician,” says Tsurunen, 67, whose mission has always been more about social practice than religious preaching. Having graduated from Finland’s Social Welfare College, he was a caseworker for a children’s home in Kyushu before forgoing his church ministry to head an English-language school. In 1992, he was elected as the nation’s first foreign-born assemblyman in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

“Originally I had no interest in politics,” he confesses. “I had been wondering why I left the church and why I was here. There was very little I could do to affect society as a foreigner. Then suddenly it hit me like lightening: maybe I should try it. It took a long time but I finally found my calling.”

To be sure, the House of Councilors seat that fell to him in 2002 can be seen as nothing short of a miracle. Having made three failed bids (and another for the House of Representatives), it came only after former television celebrity Kyosen Ohashi stepped down, dramatically declaring politics too lowbrow for his own tastes. The job automatically went to Tsurunen, fellow Democratic Party of Japan member and runner-up in the 2001 election, whose close-but-no-cigar defeat he and everyone else considered the end of his political career.

Tsurunen is an unabashed Japanophile who, in addition to rendering his Finnish name, Martti Turunen, into its current Japanese form, has translated “The Tale of Genji” and other local classics into his native language. His populist tactics brought him tantalizingly close to victory in each race, and upon finally taking office he touted protecting the environment and “internationalizing” the nation as his priorities. These days, he’s homed in on sustainable agriculture as a member of the Diet’s Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and founder and secretary-general of the Parliamentarian’s League for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture. But he says his mission is not confined to these.

Task is to improve Japanese lifestyles

“I feel this society is sick in many ways,” says Tsurunen, an amiable and soft-spoken vegetarian with a grandfatherly demeanor. He lays much of the blame for today’s social ills on an increasingly popular “law of the jungle,” which he says rewards selfish ambition and ignores the less fortunate.

“Morale is down and there are many things that are unhealthy about Japanese lifestyles today. There are more than 30,000 suicides every year and maybe five times as many attempts. Many people drink a lot and eat too much. Environmentally, more chemicals are used in Japan than anywhere else. Sixty percent of our food comes from other countries — one of the highest rates in the world. That’s because we eat a lot of meat. My task is to improve our lifestyles, to make them healthier.”

That’s not to say that the nation’s self-styled “blue-eyed lawmaker” hasn’t spied a number of recent political trends that put foreigners who are in — and in close proximity to — Japan on edge. There’s an ominous rightwing shift toward deepening nationalism, he concedes. It’s one that includes fingerprinting foreigners, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s insistent public homage at Yasukuni Shrine and an education bill that mandates patriotism.

“It is a shift,” Tsurunen says, “and a very dangerous one. I’m very worried about it. It’s mainly in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, not its junior coalition partner New Komeito.” True to his calling, he broaches such issues with caution.

“A few years ago we stopped fingerprinting foreigners and I thought it was a good idea,” he explains. “In some ways it’s good now because of terrorism. But maybe 1% of foreigners entering the country are criminals, while 99% are not. To fingerprint all of them, I think, is counter to basic human rights.” Yet, it comes as no surprise to the member of a government wont to fault foreigners for its crime woes — to the extent of mulling a legal cap on their residency to 3% of the population.

Tsurunen’s more than 30 years of naturalized citizenship — if not books he’s penned in Japanese with titles such as “I Want to be a Japanese,” “Here Comes a Blue-Eyed Assemblyman” and “Blue-Eyed Diet Member Not Yet Born” — speak to his vested interest in foreigner acceptance. But he’s no longer as optimistic as when he took office in 2002.

Goal is to get right to vote for foreigners

“Well, it is still my goal — or wish — but I’m not sure I have been able to do much. For example, I am for the right of permanent foreign residents to vote,” he says of a bill now on ice that would allow them to do so in local elections. “But our party is not united on this issue. Last year, I was the leader of a committee that dealt with the issue of accepting more foreign laborers and we made some progress. But I’m not sure if it’s the best solution now. Japanese people are not ready to live with foreigners. There will be problems such as discrimination. We have some cities where 10% of the population is foreign and they already have these kinds of problems.”

Tsurunen says he and his views as an outsider are welcome in the upper house, but admits it wasn’t always so in the Yugawara assembly, a post he resigned to run for the Diet. After spending two-thirds of his life here with his Japanese wife Sachiko and two adult children, he’s “hopeful” but makes no promises.

“For foreigners this is not a very friendly country — it can be very cold. I’m one of the lucky ones.” The key, he insists both by word and example, is to learn the language and avoid retreating to the bubble of gaijin communities. “If they want to get inside Japanese society, they should try to work for this society, not just for their rights. Japanese must learn to live with foreigners, but foreigners must also learn to live with Japanese,” he says. That may also mean living with an increasingly nationalistic worldview fostered by public education.

On plans to revise the 60-year-old Fundamental Education Law to mandate “loving the nation,” Tsurunen defers to the Democratic Party line. The ruling LDP bill, which is widely expected to prevail over opposition alternatives, plays on a conservative-posited notion that occupation-era education reforms are behind national woes ranging from declining academic performance to surging juvenile crime. Critics fear it could turn back the clock to a time when loving the nation meant nosediving fighters into battleships, occupying neighboring countries or rationalizing sexual slavery for a war effort deemed unpatriotic to question.

“This Fundamental Education Law bill is very difficult,” Tsurunen says. “In our (DP) bill we say patriotism should be encouraged but not mandatory. Maybe this trend has something to do with the law on the national anthem in Tokyo,” he says of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s popular nationalist reforms. They have punished well over 300 teachers — and reportedly some parents — in the metropolis for not standing before the flag and singing the anthem, or for not encouraging students to do so, at school events.

“They’re very strict about it. In Japan the history of the flag and the anthem, which pays homage to the emperor, is unique,” he says. “I’m afraid if this new education bill gets through in its present form, then when you look at students’ records you’ll be able to say, ‘You love the government this or that much.’ That’s not good.” Recent media reports have noted that 40 to 50 schools in Saitama — citing the Ministry of Education’s current guidelines for social studies — have already started to assess sixth-graders on their demonstrated “love of the nation.”

As for Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes Japan’s war dead including convicted Class-A war criminals, Tsurunen offers a measured but candid view.

“Yasukuni Shrine very much relates to China,” he says of Japan’s emerging rival in terms of regional power and resources. “I’m a little afraid of China because it wants to control the region. The prime minister should not go to Yasukuni now — but not because of China’s protests. We must find a good solution.”

He notes that controversy still swirls over the convictions of the criminals enshrined at Yasukuni and says building a new national memorial to bypass them is untenable. “I think it would be best if we could remove them from Yasukuni. But solving this issue will not solve all our problems with China.”

Japan’s relationship with China is not the only one that gives Tsurunen pause. “I think there should also be less emphasis on our relations with the United States,” he says. It’s a recurring theme in his thoughts on diplomacy.

In July, a week after North Korea lobbed seven Scud, Nodong and Taepodong-2 missiles into the Sea of Japan, Nagatacho rang with the bullhorns of right-wing protestors calling for an attack on the Stalinist state. Tsurunen dismissed the caravan of black vans with the wave of a hand. “They’re here all the time,” he says. “I’m not worried about North Korea. If they do anything, it would be suicide. To tell you the truth, I’m more worried about what the United States will do. Japan cannot act alone. If North Korea continues to aggravate the situation too much, the United States may attack them. That would destroy them and a lot of people would die.”

Tsurunen developed a distaste for war at the tender age of 4, when his family was one of a few in their small Finnish village to escape an attack by Soviet soldiers. “Our house was in the middle of the forest so they didn’t notice we were there,” he recalls. “Yes, you could say I am a pacifist. I don’t believe war can solve anything; it just makes things worse. Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as if we are attacked and must defend ourselves.”

War-renouncing Constitution is outdated

As director of the Diet’s Research Commission on the Constitution, this informs his position on whether and how to revise war-renouncing elements of a constitution the U.S. imposed on Japan during its occupation. He says the document is outdated, and polls show 60 to 70% of the nation believes some kind of amendment is in order.

“I think under certain conditions it’s needed,” Tsurunen says. “The first article should be changed so that it mentions the Self-Defense Forces, their task to defend the nation and to help with international humanitarian efforts at the United Nations’ request. Right now, it doesn’t,” he says of the missions that Japan’s quasi military have already undertaken.

But he stresses SDF deployment overseas should only be at the behest of the U.N., not the United States, as was the case with sending troops to Iraq. He also notes that similar to the fate of the education law, there’s a need to be on guard against LDP hawks that might seek to expand the SDF’s international role.

“Our party’s idea is quite different than the LDP’s,” Tsurunen says. “They may have ideas about making Japan stronger, more independent or nationalistic but they cannot change the constitution alone. Still, we must be careful when the LDP makes their proposals.”

In this case, his faith is not so much in his party’s ability to stop such tactics as it is in the need for a referendum to change the constitution. But he’s also hopeful the day will come when the Democratic Party of Japan will break the near half-century grip the conservative LDP has had on government.

“Because there is so much corruption many people are finally anticipating a shift in power,” he says, adding it’s the most significant change he’s seen in politics since he’s been in Japan. “During the last election the opposition actually won the most votes. The LDP won the election but that was because of the proportional electoral system. For the first time, more than 50% of the voters want change.”

To that end, Tsurunen is putting the faith he has in his political calling to the test one last time in a bid to retain his seat in the 2007 upper house election. It could be his first and only outright victory in a Diet election before reaching retirement age. “The people are very interested in me,” he says of his two-hour early morning glad-handing sessions with locals at train stations. “I believe I can get it.” The result may also say a little something about how truly ready Japan is to accept their “blue-eyed Diet member”— or any other foreigner.

August 9, 2006
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT: I’ve met Tsurunen on several occasions, even had a chance to talk to him one-on-one (see my October 2003 interview with him at http://www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html ). I personally like the guy. I also understand that he’s trying to make his mark as a politician trumpeting more than just ethnic-rights issues (one of his biggest policy pushes is for recycling), and as a politician, he’s not in a position to please everybody.

However, I have qualms about the degree of his distancing. For example, when UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene came to Japan for a second time, talking about racial discrimination and the need for legislation to combat it (see http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html ), Diene attended a 2PM meeting at the Diet’s Upper House on May 18, 2006. A few Dietmembers attended, and some of their offices sent secretaries to at least leave their office’s meishi business card behind as a sign of awareness or interest. Tsurunen’s office did neither. I find this deeply disappointing. This is, after all, a meeting with the United Nations–and on foreigner and ethnic issues. If Tsurunen’s office can overlook this, what kind of example does this set for the rest of Japan’s politicians?

END

Aug 24, 2006 Kyodo: “Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign”

mytest

You may have seen on the news a new slew of programs on “foreigner crime”. It’s periodical–the National Police Agency spoon feeding the media every six months or so with new “foreigner crime” statistics, and special shows doubling as public-service announcements to appraise the public on how to avoid hordes of foreign criminals.

Some historical examples of how the NPA has finagled statistics and manufactured crime waves at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes100402.html
http://www.debito.org/opportunism.html
http://www.debito.org/foreigncrimeputsch.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/ihtasahi121502.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes033004.html
http://www.debito.org/NPAracialprofiling.html
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

This time around, however, there’s been a snag–in that “Chinese Criminal DNA” proponent Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s former deputy chief has even come forward to call all the grandstanding an exaggeration.

ARTICLE BEGINS
///////////////////////////////////////////

Ex-deputy of Tokyo Gov. Ishihara cries foul over ‘safe town’ campaign
By Kakumi Kobayashi
(Original link unavailable, apologies)

TOKYO, Aug. 24 Kyodo – A former deputy chief of Tokyo Gov. Shintaro
Ishihara’s task force on public safety is questioning some of the projects
the metropolitan government has been promoting to that end.

Hiroshi Kubo, who released a book titled ”Is Public Safety Really
Deteriorating?” in June, said such measures could make people excessively
wary, encourage prejudice against foreigners and benefit those in authority
like the police. The Japanese-language book is titled ”Chian wa Hontouni
Akkashiteirunoka” in Japanese.

Some analysts say these concerns are entirely reasonable and have
urged authorities to work harder to get rid of factors threatening public
order, such as the widening income disparity, instead of simply telling
people to brace themselves for possible crimes.

Kubo, 59, was a senior bureaucrat in the Tokyo government. He led
various crime prevention projects as a division chief in charge of public
safety in the governor’s headquarters from August 2003 to March 2005, when
he quit the municipality.

Kubo said he felt ”embarrassed” when he involved himself in or led
projects he said were aimed at prompting people to think the community was
becoming more and more dangerous and to rely on the authorities, especially
the police, to deal with the situation.

The ”safe town” campaign helps boost various businesses related to
crime prevention and create new entities and government affiliations.

”It means police officers and police bureaucrats can get more
‘amakudari’ posts,” Kubo said, referring to the Japanese business practice
whereby current and retired bureaucrats land jobs in entities the
government oversees or is closely related to.

He said he wrote the book hoping it would cause people to have second
thoughts about what the authorities try to promote ”in a more level-headed
manner.”

Ensuring public safety was a key pledge Ishihara made before he was
reelected for a fresh four-year term as Tokyo governor in April 2003.

The Tokyo government boosted its budget for crime prevention projects
nearly 30-fold to 8.7 billion yen in the fiscal year which began in April
2004.

The money financed projects such as those aimed at watching
non-Japanese more closely and installing security cameras in public spaces.

The local government encourages people to form patrol teams to find
”suspicious persons” in the neighborhood, buy goods to protect children
from possible attackers and receive crime alerts that local authorities
send to individuals’ cell phones.

A 2004 government survey indicated 87 percent of Japanese felt public
safety had deteriorated in the past decade. Behind the concern were reports
of a spate of illegal acts committed by youths and foreigners who
overstayed their visas, the poll suggested.

Analysts say people have become much more wary since the school
rampage in an elementary school in Osaka Prefecture in 2001 when a
knife-wielding man entered the school premises and randomly killed eight
children in front of their friends and teachers in broad daylight.

Kubo also questioned the rhetoric Japanese authorities indulge in when
warning people against crimes committed by non-Japanese.

An annual report by the National Police Agency in fiscal 2005 said the
police in 2004 cracked down on 21,842 foreign visitors to Japan over
alleged illicit acts, up 9.2 percent from a year earlier, in 47,128 cases,
up 16 percent.

The total number of foreigners who entered Japan in the year also rose
18 percent to 6.757 million.

Kubo indicated it is obvious that the ratio of people breaking the law
in any given group increases as the size of that group grows. The figures
in the police report do not mean that non-Japanese are in general more
likely to commit crimes compared with Japanese, he said.

”But the authorities tried to highlight only one side of what such
figures suggest,” Kubo said. ”I’m not saying such crimes are not
increasing…But it is wrong to easily say people in this category are good
and those in that category are bad.”

Criminologist Koichi Hamai doubts that people’s concerns about
suburban crimes really originate from their own experiences.

A recent survey by a team headed by the professor at Ryukoku
University’s Graduate School of Law suggested over 90 percent of people
polled said they feel crimes have increased in the past two years
nationwide.

But when asked if they feel similarly about their own neighborhood,
the ratio of people saying so sank to 27 percent, while 64 percent said
”unchanged.”

The 2004 government survey also indicated 84 percent of people became
interested in public safety because ”TV and newspapers often cover” the
topic, far outnumbering the second most common answer — that the issue has
become a topic of conversation with relatives and friends — at 30 percent.

Hamai urged the government to boost measures to help people who once
committed offenses but are trying to return to society as part of efforts
to prevent crimes.

Much research has indicated that although Japan’s economy is showing
signs of recovery, the gap in people’s incomes and wealth has widened and a
belief that only the strong survive has spread under Prime Minister
Junichiro Koizumi, who took office in 2001.

Hamai said, for example, that many youths have more difficulties
landing jobs after leaving reformatory institutions than in the past.

”It leads to an increase in repeat offenders…That’s a sign of
danger. Inaction by the government could really cause public safety to
deteriorate,” he said.

Sociologist Kazuya Serizawa said a change in public reactions to
heinous crimes targeting children, especially after the 2001 school
incident, suggests many Japanese communities have become more guarded than
in the past.

”In the past, people discussed what was behind the emergence of such
a cruel culprit or said ‘We may have to review the problems in our
community’ even though they were shocked,” the tutor at Kyoto University
of Art and Design said.

”But recently, people immediately talk about how they can kick
suspicious people out of the community…It seems difficult to stop this
trend,” he said.

==Kyodo
ARTICLE ENDS

Newsweek Japan on Naturalized Japanese–Sept 11, 2006 issue

mytest

Excellent article on how Japan is changing as more people naturalize. The article in full follows.

==========================
This is the New Japan
Immigrants are transforming a once insular society, and more of them are on their way.
By Christian Caryl and Akiko Kashiwagi
Newsweek International
Courtesy http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/

Sept. 11, 2006 issue – A few years ago, when Milton Minoru Takahashi first set out to improve conditions for Brazilian guest workers living in Nagoya, he thought he’d be telling Japanese about soccer, samba and Brazilian beaches. They were the sales hooks the Brazilian-Japanese Takahashi—who works for a nonprofit foundation that aids the 60,000 foreigners in Nagoya—thought could open locals’ eyes to the beauties of Brazilian culture. But, he says, “the Japanese didn’t want to hear about those things. They wanted to talk about noise and garbage”—problems allegedly caused by the Brazilian immigrants in their neighborhoods.

Takahashi now spends most of his time on more mundane tasks, trying to help his fellow Brazilians overcome the bewildering array of barriers to integration into Japanese society. But he still wonders why the Japanese government is largely indifferent to the problems facing foreigners. What would he like to see from Tokyo? “Action,” says Takahashi. Something, anything, to acknowledge that there are immigrants in the country—and that they require recognition and support.

Takahashi’s frustration underscores a critical disconnect in Japan—a split between what the country is becoming and what most Japanese want it to be. For mostly economic reasons, Japan must open itself to other ethnicities. Japan’s population is not only aging rapidly, but starting to decline. By the year 2050, it is expected to fall from 128 million now to around 105 million. To keep the economy viable, experts say, the country must let in more immigrants—not just guest workers, but foreign-born naturalized citizens. A government panel acknowledged that in a report this summer, while at the same time recommending that the foreign percentage of the total population not exceed 3 percent, roughly double what it is now.

Consciously or not, ordinary citizens and government bureaucrats still cling to the notion that Japanese society is a unique, homogeneous culture. There is a conspicuous lack of public debate about how this insular country should adjust to the reality that more immigrants are coming—and that those already here are changing Japan. “The government has no [comprehensive] immigration policy,” says Marutei Tsurunen. Rather, the approach is piecemeal, with different agencies issuing often contradictory regulations. Tsurenen should know. He’s a former Finn turned Japanese citizen and the only naturalized member of the national Parliament, or Diet.

Travel around Japan today, and one sees foreign residents holding a wide range of jobs: there are Chinese short-order cooks, Indian software programmers, Bangladeshi used-car dealers, Brazilian textile-factory workers, Sri Lankan department-store cashiers. The overwhelming majority of the approximately 15,000 ex-foreigners who now hold Japanese citizenship are Chinese and Koreans—but increasingly one can also meet people like Kaoru Miki (formerly Colin Restall, born in the United Kingdom). “Generally people don’t expect someone who looks like me to be a citizen,” says Miki, 33, who makes his living translating software into English. He was naturalized this spring.

The number of foreigners in Japan has more than doubled over the past 15 years—rising from 886,000 in 1990 to over 2 million today. That amounts to 1.57 percent of the overall population—still small even by Western European standards (not to mention the United States or Canada). But that figure tells only part of the story. The rise in the foreign population is taking place against the background of Japan’s demographic decline; as the population ages, native-born Japanese constitute a diminishing share of the work force. Meanwhile the number of marriages between Japanese and non-Japanese has been rising sharply. So-called international marriages made up 5.5 percent of the total in 2004 (the last year for which data are available).

The numbers also reveal a growing trend toward what one might call “genuine immigration.” For many decades, the bulk of foreigners in Japan were ethnic Koreans, the vast majority of them born in the country but not automatically entitled to citizenship. In recent years, as their members have either died out or increasingly opted for naturalization, their share of the total number of foreigners has been declining. Meanwhile, so-called permanent residents—foreign-born people who have chosen to live in Japan for the long term—are steadily growing. “It shows that immigrants, not generational foreigners, are now becoming the more common permanent residents in Japan, meaning they’re not going to leave,” says human-rights activist Debito Arudou, a former American turned Japanese citizen. “I used to say half of the foreigners in Japan were born here. Now it’s more like a quarter.”

And the fundamental consequence, says Arudou, is clear: “We’re going to see people who don’t look Japanese being Japanese. That’s undeniable.” Essentially, any foreigner who has lived in Japan for five years, can prove he or she is in good financial health and has no criminal record can petition the Justice Ministry to become a citizen. In reality, the naturalization process is more complicated, and can take about 1 to 2 years to complete.

Many Japanese officials seem inclined to address the immigration issue as if it were merely a matter of good public relations with the outside world—let’s be polite to foreigners. In fact, though, immigration is often driven by hardheaded economic realities. Thanks to Japan’s resurgent economy and shrinking population, many industries are suffering from labor shortages, and immigrants are already sustaining sectors where native-born Japanese simply aren’t able or willing to pick up the slack. That’s the case in towns like Hamamatsu, where the local car and motorcycle industries have been buoyed by an influx of foreign labor, and in Ota City, where a Subaru factory and its parts suppliers are located.

Or take Homigaoka, a suburb of Toyota City, where ethnic Japanese from Brazil make up 5,000 of the 9,000 people living in a vast public-housing development. The Brazilians came to Japan thanks to a 15-year-old law designed to alleviate labor shortages in certain sectors of the economy. These days the Aichi prefecture firms that supply parts to Toyota and other local manufacturers are heavily dependent on the cheap labor provided by Brazilians (many of them now permanent residents who are entitled to stay in the country indefinitely). The magazine Weekly Diamond neatly summed up the situation in a headline recently: WITHOUT FOREIGNERS TOYOTA’S JUST-IN-TIME SYSTEM WOULDN’T WORK. Says Hidenori Sakanaka, a former director of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau: “This labor force is contributing to Japan’s ability to make good and cheap cars.”

The problem, though, is that these immigrants may not prove so cheap in the long run. Many of the immigrants in Homigaoka are part-time workers who lack the basic health insurance or social security usually enjoyed by full-time employees. A loophole in the law means that their employers can get away without making any contributions on their behalf. Many of them have only limited Japanese-language skills. And there’s no law that compels them to send their children to Japanese public schools, where they might have the chance to gain the know-how that would give them social mobility. Most foreign children attend schools, but their Japanese language skills tend to be weak, and the government has virtually no provisions for teaching Japanese as a foreign language to students entering the system. As a result, the dropout rate is high. Needless to say, the creation of large groups of unemployable young people is a recipe for social problems in the future.

Or take the burgeoning Indian community in Tokyo’s Edogawa ward. In 1998 the government of then Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori passed a law designed to alleviate a catastrophic shortage of software engineers by easing visa restrictions for programmers from India. Jagmohan Chandrani, 52, who has been living in the area since 1978, says 243 Indians were registered in Edogawa in 2000. Today there are 1,014—a fourfold increase.

In “Indiatown,” as it’s already being called, the classic immigrant dynamic is beginning to take hold. Newcomers who’ve established themselves offer support networks to the ones that follow—for example, by acting as guarantors when the new arrivals sign housing leases. The majority of the newcomers are writing code for financial firms in downtown Tokyo, a short subway ride across the river. They have confounded the stereotype of poor, unskilled foreigners held by many Japanese.

Yet members of the community are still desperately seeking a building to house a school for the burgeoning population of children. Tokyo isn’t helping, even though the Indian government in New Delhi provides facilities to the Japanese community there. Technically the Indians can be sent home when their visas (or jobs) run out—although as the growth of the community demonstrates, some will almost certainly find ways to stay on, and bring their relatives with them.

Five years ago a group of communities with large foreign populations sent a set of urgent policy recommendations to the government. They’re still waiting for an answer. And they’re not the only ones who are worried. Japan’s business leaders are at the forefront of calls for a comprehensive immigration policy. Japan’s Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has predicted that the present work force of 66 million people will decline by 10 million by the year 2030. Before he stepped down earlier this year, the chairman of the Japanese Business Federation, Hiroshi Okuda, made headlines by calling on the country to accept foreign workers “in all business categories.”

Immigration proponents do perpetuate the occasional myth. One common misconception: that immigrants alone can counter the demographic decline. Economists say that just isn’t so. Robert Alan Feldman, an economist at Morgan Stanley, points out that immigrant workers almost always have lower productivity than natives, meaning that vast numbers of foreigners have to be brought in to make up the gap. (The solution, he says, is to find ways to encourage greater productivity from underutilized members of the population, such as women and the elderly.)

And despite the vagaries of life in their new country, most of the foreigners in Japan are living better lives than they would have back home. That’s certainly true of the Brazilians in Homigaoka. Twelve-year-old Editon Arakawa says that he loves living in Japan, even though he can express the thought only in broken Japanese since he dropped out of public school a few years back. “I don’t want to go back to Brazil,” he declares.

He might well get his wish, and manage to stay. But if he does, it’s in Japan’s own interest to respond to the challenge he poses—by making it easier for people who are born in the country to apply for citizenship; by forcing employers to bear some of the costs for social insurance; by making education mandatory for the children of foreigners legally in the country, and by providing resources to ensure that foreign residents learn Japanese. None of those measures may have been all that critical in the Japan of the past. But they’re the only way to the future.

© 2006 Newsweek, Inc.
URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14640269/site/newsweek/page/2/

ENDS

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

(NB: Those who would like to see some substantiation for my quote, talking about this sea change in Permanent Residency, see my essay on this last January at
http://www.debito.org/japanfocus011206.html )

A couple of quick corrections to the article, if I may: The figure of 15,000 people cited as the total number ofnaturalized people in Japan is the rough estimate of the YEARLY intake of naturalized citizens. According to the Minister of Justice, around 300,000 foreigners (mostly the Zainichis) took citizenship between 1968 and 2000. Update the number by 15K per year and you’re closing in on 400,000 newly-minted Japanese of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

And former Finn Tsurunen Marutei is not the only naturalized Japanese in the Diet. As friend Chris pointed out, “Renho, formerly of Taiwanese nationality, and Shinkun Park, formerly of Korean nationality, are two other naturalized Dietmembers.”
http://www.renho.jp/
http://www.haku-s.net/index.html

Newsweek has told me they will be issuing corrections in short order.
ENDS

May 27, 2006: Police patrols, Diene, immigration and foreign workers

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Updates:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) “POLICE PATROL CONTACT CARD” ASKS FOREIGNERS FOR PERSONAL DETAILS
2) SHUUKAN DIAMONDO ON “IMMIGRATION ARCHIPELAGO JAPAN”
3) ANOTHER TAKE ON THE UN RAPPORTEUR DIENE TRIP
4) THE RIGHT WING START GEARING UP AGAINST DIENE REPORT
5) LETTER TO YOMIURI RE FINGERPRINTING LAW
6) OTARU ONSENS MEDIA TAPE
7) YAMATO DAMACY’S CONCLUDING INTERVIEW
8) and finally… THE COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
May 27, 2006, freely forwardable

1) “POLICE PATROL CONTACT CARD” ASKS FOREIGNERS FOR PERSONAL DETAILS

I received this information earlier this week from a friend in Tokyo, who said cops patrolling her area came to her door asking for personal information about her and her wherewithal in Japan.

Entitled the “Junkan Renraku Caado” and issued by the police forces, this A4-sized paper reads, in English (as this form is clearly designed for English-reading foreigners):

———————————————
“This police officer is assigned to work in your area. His duties require him to establish rapport and maintain positive contact with community residents of his beat. As such he will occasionally call at your place of residence. These visits have a long history in the Japanese community and is [sic] not meant to be intrusive in nature. The activity is intended to provide the public with the best crime prevention and traffic awareness services the police can offer. We would also like to hear your difficulties, complaints, and opinions on community affairs, thereby helping us to serve our community better. On his first visit, the patrolman will be asking you to fill out this form. Information provided by you will be mainly used for communication purposes, should you suffer from crime, disaster, or traffic accident. Necessary precaution [sic] will be taken to maintain your privacy. Information provided by you will not be affected [sic] nor disclosed to third parties. We request your assistance in this matter. Thank you for your understanding.”
———————————————
See a scanned copy of it here
http://www.debito.org/junkairenrakucard.jpg

Above this section are boxes in Japanese only asking for “Head of Household” (setai nushi) and patrolman details.

Below it are boxes in English and Japanese for filling out Home Address (in Japan) with phone number, Nationality, and Period of Stay. There are several rows for FAMILY MAKE-UP, with Name in Full, Relationship, Sex, Occupation/School, Alien Registration Certificate Number.

The bottom half has:
a) POINTS OF EMERGENCY CONTACT (Name and address of Householder’s business, Name and address of Householder’s School, Name and address of close friend or next of kin)

b) TENANTS OTHER THAN FAMILY (with the same information required as the above FAMILY MAKE-UP SECTION

c) VEHICLE REGISTRATION NUMBER

Then finally,
d) COMMENTS/SUGGESTIONS/REQUESTS TO THE POLICE.

Okay, here are some things I would write in this section:
———————————————
1) Why are you asking me for this information?
2) What bearing does this information have on the stated goals of public prevention of crime, disaster relief, and traffic awareness?
3) Is filling out this form optional?
4) Do you gather all of this information from Japanese residents too?
5) If foreigners were allowed to have juuminhyou residency certificates, like all other residents of Japan who happen to be citizens, would you police need to come around to my house and collect it yourself?
http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#juuminhyou
———————————————

Actually, in the time period spanning twenty years I have had contact with the Japanese police, I never once have had them come to my door and ask for anything like this. Yet I have heard so far that this has happened to two foreigners residing in Tokyo Nakano-ku and Shinjuku-ku. Anyone else? Let me know at debito@debito.org.

I will pass this on to one of my lawyers and ask whether or not filling this out is mandatory. Given that answering the Japan Census Bureau is completely optional, I have a feeling that filling this out would be optional too, at least for Japanese. (Ask your cop directly yourself: “Kore o ki’nyuu suru no wa nin’i desu ka?”)

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

2) SHUUKAN DIAMONDO ON “IMMIGRATION ARCHIPELAGO JAPAN”

Since a major overseas magazine will soon be doing a large article on foreign labor in Japan, I finally sat down and webbed something I keep referring to in my Japanese writings on immigration and foreign labor in Japan: Fifteen pages of a special report in Shuukan Diamondo (Weekly Diamond) economics magazine, concerning the importance of Immigration to Japan, which ran on June 5, 2004. All scanned and now available at:
http://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html

Highlights:

Cover: “Even with the Toyota Production style, it won’t work without foreigners. By 2050, Japan will need more than 33,500,000 immigrants!! Toyota’s castle town overflowing with Nikkei Brazilians. An explosion of Chinese women, working 22 hour days–the dark side of foreign labor”

Page 32: “If SARS [pneumonia] spreads, factories ‘dependent on Chinese’ in Shikoku will close down”.

Page 40-41: Keidanren leader Okuda Hiroshi offers “five policies”: 1) Create a “Foreigners Agency” (gaikokujin-chou), 2) Create bilateral agreements to receive “simple laborers” (tanjun roudousha), 3) Strengthen Immigration and reform labor oversight, 4) Create policy for public safety, and environments for foreigner lifestyles (gaikokujin no seikatsu kankyou seibi), 5) Create a “Green Card” system for Japan to encourage brain drains from overseas.

Remember that powerful business league Keidanren was the one lobbying in the late 80’s and early 90’s for cheap foreign workers (particularly Nikkei Brazilians) to come in on Trainee Visas, working for less than half wages and no social benefits, to save Japanese industry from “hollowing out”.

Now that Keidanren boss Okuda has stepped down in favor of Mitarai Fujio (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20060525a3.html), it’s time to see what Keidanren’s new tack on foreign labor, if any, will be. At 7:50 AM yesterday morning, NHK interviewed Mitarai, and made much of his 23 years living overseas with foreigners (and his comments were, sigh, directed towards “understanding foreign culture and traditions”; when will we outgrow that hackneyed and sloppy analytical paradigm?). The interview made no mention of foreigners within Japan, however. Do I hear the sound of hands washing?

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

3) ANOTHER TAKE ON THE UN RAPPORTEUR DIENE TRIP

Last update, I gave a synopsis of Doudou Diene’s trip last week to Tokyo, Osaka, and Okinawa, sponsored by IMADR (available at http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#May2006. I received a response from Trevor Bekolay, student at Kokugakuin University and University of Manitoba, who was at a meeting with Diene which I could not attend. Forwarding with permission:

——————————————————
Just to add to your email about meeting with UN Special Rapporteur
Diene, I as well had the opportunity to meet him at the public meeting
on May 13th at IMADR’s building. The meeting consisted of but 20
people [due to the short notice of the schedule]. Most of the points
that he made you already included in your email…

The three-hour meeting included statements from IMADR, the NGO
representative, Dr. Diene himself, then about half of the time was
allotted to questions from those who attended. Here are the notes I
made on what I heard:

“Dr. Diene received a fair amount of negative media coverage after the
initial UN report due to the possibility of omissions which are
believed to be added to Diene’s report. IMADR attempted to address
these problems in their open letter to Dr. Diene, but the purpose of
the meeting really, was for Diene to receive feedback on the report,
especially of issues that were omitted in the original report. He
stressed that one does not have to be in a group, any individual can
inform the Special Rapporteur of individual cases of racism and
discrimination which will immediately be acted upon. Basically, the
UN is starting to police Japan’s government more closely, to determine
if they should remain in Human Rights groups in the UN.

[Inform the Special Rapporteur via sr-racism@ohchr.org
(Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)]

“The report’s goal is to be the first step in starting social change,
not just a report on the current situation. The responsibility of
activist groups like IMADR is to inform Diene of new developments.
Give as much information as possible so he can give a good report to
the UN. Consider how the report can be used as part of the fight
against racism in Japan.

“Question Period: Mainly specific issues, such as pension issues for
disabled Zainichi Koreans. However, a representative for the Civil
Liberties Union seemed to be there to defend the Japanese right to be
racist. He mentioned the issue of freedom of expression vs. racial
discrimination. He claimed that freedom of expression isn’t well
protected in Japan, so only public servants are punished for making
racist remarks in public forums. He gave two examples of problems
with freedom of expression: one in which public servants who were
distributing political leaflets were arrested, and one in which
environmentalists were arrested by SD forces while distributing
political leaflets.”…
——————————————————

Well and good. Especially since the conservatives are now feeling threatened by Diene enough to start organizing and publishing: Witness this:

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

4) THE RIGHT WING START GEARING UP AGAINST DIENE REPORT

A friend who studies conservative politics in Japan called me up just before dinner tonight, to inform me of the “emergency publication” of a new book by “right-wing nutjobs” decrying the spread of human rights in Japan.

Entitled, “Abunai! Jinken Yougo Houan, Semari Kuru Senshinkoku kei Zentai Shugi no Kyoufu”
(“Warning! The Human Rights Protection Bill: The Imminent Terror of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries”, or somesuch), it was just published April 27 and is visible at:
http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4886562825/249-5993086-5621147?v=glance&n=465392

Complete, my friend notes, with manga (what else?) lots of Chinese living in an apartment on top of each other in violation of housing contract, being found out by the landlord, and taking action against him “to defend their own human rights”. Or of a “gaijin” picking a fight with a Japanese in a bar, getting turfed out, then taking action against the bar for “violating his human rights”. Hoo boy.

It zeroes in on the Diene report in specific. Not quite sure how (as I haven’t gotten a copy of the book yet), but will let you know. I ordered two copies today and will send one to Diene at the UN for his perusal.

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

5) LETTER TO YOMIURI RE FINGERPRINTING LAW

Last week I forwarded you an article from the Yomiuri entitled:
New ID card system eyed for foreigners
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2006, still up temporarily at:
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060514TDY01001.htm

Well, here’s a letter I sent to the Yomiuri shortly afterwards:

—————————————-
Sir, Your article, “New ID card system eyed for foreigners” (May. 14, 2006), makes an unfortunate omission and even an error.

In its haste to portray the change in the Alien Registration system as little more than a centralization and rationalization of power, your article neglects to mention the new “Gaijin Cards” will have imbedded IC computer chips.

These chips will be used, according to government proposals, to track even legal foreigners in Japan through swiping stations nationwide. [*1] This is an unomissible change.

Your article errs when it reports, “an increasing number of foreigners do not register themselves at municipalities after gaining admission at the bureau or fail to report an extension of their stay”. In fact, according to Immigration, the number of illegal foreigners has gone down every year uninterrupted since 1993. [*2] Even the figure cited within the article, “at least about 190,000 illegal aliens as of January”, is still lower than the 2003 figure of 220,000 overstays.

In this era of exaggeration of foreign crime, please endeavor to provide us with accurate reportage.
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

—————————-

[Note 1 for editors: Source, Japan Times, “Computer-chip card proposals for foreigners have big potential for abuse”, November 22, 2005.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?appURL=fl20051122zg.html ]

[Note 2 for editors: Source: http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html , very bottom for an orange bar chart indicating the number of illegal aliens in Japan (courtesy of Immigration)]
—————————————-

Well, AFAIK it didn’t get published. Ah well. To be expected.

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

6) OTARU ONSENS MEDIA TAPE

For the Diene visit, I put together a tape of media (TV shows and news broadcasts) concerning the Ana Bortz Case, the Otaru Onsens Case, and NHK’s portrayal of foreign crime. (Synopsis of the tape’s contents at http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#video ).

If you would like a copy sent to you (for a nominal fee of, say, 1000 yen to cover tape, postage and handling, see http://www.debito.org/donations.html), please be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Quite a few teachers are using this as classroom educational material on the subject of human rights. Be happy to help.

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

7) YAMATO DAMACY’S CONCLUDING INTERVIEW

What is shaping up to be the last and best bilingual interview of the bunch just came out yesterday on Yamato Damacy.
http://yamato.revecess.com/?lang=en&episode=23
Touching upon survival strategies in Japan, the future, and a special appearance of Tama-chan–probably the most successful issue we ever took up on The Community!

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

8) and finally… THE COMPLIMENT OF THE YEAR

When I was having dinner with M. Diene on May 17 in Osaka, in attendance was a former vice-rector of a major Japanese university who paid me a wonderful compliment:

“I am in fact a quarter French. When I was younger, I really disliked the three-quarters of the Japanese side of myself that ridiculed my foreign background. But now no longer ashamed of my French roots. I’m even proud to be a Japanese. Because we have Japanese now like Arudou Debito who say the things I could never say.”

That was a tearjerker. Here I am just doing my thing, and it somehow helped an elderly gentleman overcome longstanding hurts he’d had for decades…

Arudou Debito
Sapporo
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
UPDATE DATED MAY 27, 2006 ENDS

Jul 4, 2006: MOJ’s new proposal for immigration. Feedback requested.

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Something you should know about ASAP:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
“ON HOW TO ALLOW FOREIGNERS ENTRY FROM NOW ON”
MOJ “PROJECT TEAM REPORT”
TRANSLATION FOLLOWS, YOUR FEEDBACK TO MOJ BY JULY
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
July 4, 2006. (revised slightly July 5) Freely forwardable

Last newsletter, I wrote you about how Dietmember and Senior Vice Minister of Justice Kouno Taro and folks at the Ministry of Justice have issued a statement regarding future policy regarding immigration and foreign workers. They are accepting feedback on this until Saturday, July 15, so time is of the essence here.

I sent you a blurb of three bullet points, but of course there are more. So before bed last night I pored over the document (available at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51-1.pdf ). At seven pages, it’s not a bad read. And it’s not all bad news. Allow me to summarize the recommendations immediately below.

(These are not direct translations. All errors, and there may be several in this hasty translation, are mine. Please see original document if you need to check or clarify any sections.):

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1. BASIC PREMISES
(1) Cap the foreign population at 3% (not including the Zainichis).
(2) Increase foreign tourism, exchange students, and working holidays.
(3) Increase foreign workers to fill the gaps in sectors where there are labor shortages, expanding the Japanese labor force to include women, the elderly, and part-timers. Change (henkou) policy regarding low-wage labor (particularly regarding systems to accept trainees, researchers, and Nikkei workers). [NB: Unclear what direction this “change” will take.]
(4) While expanding foreign labor, increase administration of their residency (zairyuu kanri).
(5) Require foreign laborers to have equal wages with Japanese unemployed (hikoyousha), along with equal social insurance. Punish noncomplying companies.
(6) Have compulsory education for the families of foreign workers.
(7) For a diversifying (tayouka) Japanese society, give due consideration to the nationalities of resident foreigners, without favor towards any one particular country.
(8) Make Immigration procedures rational and efficient.

2. SPECIFIC POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS
(1) REGARDING TRAINEES AND RESEARCH LOW-WAGE WORKERS
— Require Japanese language ability and study for foreign trainees and researchers. Make continuation of employment contingent on improvement in language ability.
— Allow for exceptions under bilateral agreements with countries.
— Restrict these workers to specific economic sectors deemed to need them.
— Restrict this system to allow workers from countries with good guest worker programs (soushutsu taisei).
— Pay workers the equivalent of a Japanese worker if the level of skill is equivalent.
— Create a revolving-door system for foreign workers if they do not plan to stay in Japan.
— Create a system for resident foreign workers to bring over their families, and require a degree of Japanese language ability from them.

(2) REGARDING RESIDENCY FOR FOREIGNERS IN GENERAL
— Create a system for understanding their lifestyles and statuses of residency.
— Require them to advise the authorities whenever they change jobs. This requirement also includes employers to do the same, in order to avoid overstayers.
— Create a similar system for understanding the situations for overstayers.
— Punish offenders and organizations severely.
— Create an information bank between administrative organs overseeing foreigners, in order to serve them better.
— Create a super Gaijin Card which will service foreigners beyond just administrative registering.
— Increase awareness (haaku o okonau) that Zainichis are also residents. [NB: Does this mean they will get a Juuminhyou residency certificate at last?]
— Create a system for severe enforcement and policing of employers who employ foreign overstayers.

(3) REVISING THE NIKKEI WORKER SYSTEM
— Stop importing Nikkei just because they are blood related to Japanese. Increase the technical quality of Nikkei workers from the start.
— Acknowledge that Nikkei families (including those with Japanese citizens) who have been here long-term have increased qualifications to be here.
— Require language ability for their continued residency and employment.

(4) REVISING THE ENTERTAINER VISA SYSTEM
— Crack down on the water trade business expressly importing “entertainers” for prurient purposes.

(5) REGARDING GUEST WORKERS AND EXCHANGE STUDENTS
— Crack down on exchange students becoming overstayers by limiting schools whose population of foreign students gone AWOL is between 1 and 10% of foreign students.
— Make it easier for the real educational institutions to bring in foreign students.

(6) REGARDING PERMANENT RESIDENCY AND NATURALIZATION
— Encourage (sokushin) foreigners who are contributing to our economy to become established (teichakuka), and loosen restrictions for them to become Permanent Residents.
— Give due consideration those nationalities which will increase our country’s diversity (tayouka) [CODE: Probably this means there will be no particular preference given to Zainichi naturalization applicants].
— Make naturalization more difficult for those applicants who do not have Permanent Residency or Zainichi status.
— Even after granting Permanent Residency, check on their residential status (zairyuu joukyou) and punish offenders (i.e. those who have PR but aren’t living in Japan and/or working earnestly)

(7) REGARDING CREATING A MORE SECURE LIFESTYLE BASIS (seikatsu kibon)
— Accept foreigners as part of Japanese society, and guarantee their reasonable rights (gouriteki na kenri no hoshou) and make them pay taxes. [NB: Naturally, I’m wondering what kind of rights are involved and how they will be guaranteed.]
— Give foreigners the same social security (nenkin, shakai hoken etc) as unemployed Japanese. Also, take responsibility for their housing and living environment (juukyo tou seikatsu kankyou).
— Enforce compulsory education for families of foreigners, and shorten residency for noncompliers. [NB: I see lots of problems here–see comments below.]

(8) PROMOTING INTERNATIONAL COMMUNICATION AND COOPERATION
— Greatly (oohaba ni) increase the number of working holidayers and tourists.
— Increase scholarships, confer credits from international universities, and bring higher-quality students here.
— Increase the brain drain by bringing foreigners with educational qualifications higher than baccalaureate. [NB: Humph. Watch the universities and Monkashou shoot this down promptly by refusing to reform Japan’s academic apartheid. http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei ] Also allow those with overseas licences (such as doctors, lawyers, etc.) work in Japan as qualified in their field.
— Enliven Japan’s international business knowhow by allowing longer-term visas for business expats.
— Increase worker flow from the US and South Korea by considering making border controls more automatic.

(9) RATIONALIZING IMMIGRATION PROCEDURES
— Unify application and renewal procedures.
— Allow for Internet applications and announcements.
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
ENDS

COMMENTS
It’s surprisingly not all bad news. There are proposals and ethos that we have been saying repeatedly over the years (particularly about foreigners being taxpayers and contributors to society–bravo!). So let’s give praise where due and criticisms where not.

——————————————
GOOD POINTS:
I basically agree with compulsory education of immigrants. I think anyone who lives in Japan should become as fluent in the Japanese language as possible (as the alternative–functional illiteracy and a lifetime of limited communication ability with society–limits one’s world and severely impinges upon one’s ability to control their own fate). The emerging underclass of uneducated Nikkei youth gangs down south illustrates this quite well.

HOWEVER:
The requirement of improvement of language in order to continue employment, or compulsory education for minors with reduction in residency for noncompliers is definitely open to abuse.

a) Who controls the education of workers, and who assesses their ability and improvements? If it is the employer, any nasty boss could simply report that the level has improved insufficiently and use it as a means of sanction or firing (I personally have experience with this situation). Standards and qualifications should be made clear even at this stage. Nihongo Kentei Shiken at least.

b) What systems are in place for children of foreigners who face bullying and ostracization at school, and cannot for psychological reasons attend? Will they and their families be exiled back to their native country simply because their kids got a raw draw of classmates or teacher? I suggest the Ministry of Education offer ethnic alternatives (such as accrediting the ethnic schools found nationwide) for children who do not, for whatever reason, fit in.

——————————————
MORE GOOD POINTS
I herald increased enforcement of laws regarding overstayers as long as they zero in more on the employers which encourage the practice, by specifically employing foreign labor from a standpoint of weakness (confiscating passports, etc.), and threatening them with exposure if they complain about slave work conditions. Not all overstaying is deliberate, or avoidable, and there has been too much punishment of the victims in Japan. Consequently Japan, as the US State Dept. has famously pointed out, is an egregious human trafficker. Glad to see a crackdown on that at last.

However, this crackdown is also open to abuse with nascent policing (including Permanent Residents) all over again. Central control and notification of even change of employment is open to abuse, with people squealing on foreigners already (through Immigration Snitch Sites, see http://www.debito.org/immigrationsnitchsite.html), and opening them up to all manner of harassment. There has to be a check on police powers here or else there will be wanton raids and racial profiling.

——————————————
I also cheer the lowering of the bar for receiving Permanent Residency and citizenship, and hope that awareness raising campaigns (if any) will be successful in encouraging the popular view that citizenship and residency are not a matter of race. However, there is no clear sign that foreigners will yet get a “juuminhyou” residency certificate. When will Japan do away with the requirement of citizenship for formal registry registration? (http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#checkpoints)

——————————————

I also am happy with the news that human rights (whatever “reasonable rights” is supposed to mean) should be guaranteed. However, given that Japan’s government recently applied to the newformed Human Rights Committee (and received a seat) without mentioning ONCE a single thing about guaranteeing foreigners’ rights in their application, I think I will take a “wait and see” attitude. More on this later in a Japan Times article.

——————————————
FINAL POINT–SIMPLIFY THINGS, PLEASE!
If Dietmember Kouno and the MOJ were really interested in getting feedback from the public, particularly the international residents whom it will affect, one would hope they would make the Japanese as easy as possible (with furigana as a minimum, and simplified Japanese as a nicety). Not to sound provincial, but an English translation would also have helped. Instead, the proposal starts out with flowery bureaucratic language (such as “honne to tatemae no kairi” (乖離), the last word I spent at least twenty minutes just trying to find!), completely unnecessary for public (not to mention international) consumption. If you want more feedback from the public, make the policy proposal easier for the public to understand!

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ve commented on the arbitrary and unreasonable 3% population cap, so others can point that sort of thing out themselves to the MOJ. I encourage you to do so. By July 15.

——————————————
Address: 100-8977 Houmushou Nyuukoku kanrikyoku Kanri Kikaku Kanshitsu
Fax: 03-3592-7940
Email: nyukan42@moj.go.jp
Questions to 03-3580-4111 ext 5685
It’s all up at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html in Japanese.
Or you can contact Dietmember Kouno Taro directly (he reads English)
at http://www.taro.org
——————————————

Thanks for reading. Back to work.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
July 4, 2006 (revised slightly July 5)
ENDS

Jul 2, 2006: Immig feedback, MOFA, Kimigayo, El Barco

mytest

//////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON IMMIGRATION.
GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK
2) MOFA HAS NEW HEARING ON FOREIGNERS’ RIGHTS JULY 28
3) “NO DANCING LICENCE”: POLICE RAID HIROSHIMA FOREIGNER PUB EL BARCO
4) ASAHI: WITCH HUNT FOR PARENTS WHO REFUSE TO SING “KIMIGAYO”
5) LINKS TO HANDOUTS FROM RECENT SPEECHES
6) JAPAN TIMES JUNE 27 ON UN REP DIENE VISIT AND AFTEREFFECTS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
July 2, 2006 Freely forwardable

1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO’S RECOMMENDATIONS ON IMMIGRATION
GIVE YOUR FEEDBACK

I reported on June 6 about Kouno Taro, Dietmember and Senior Vice Minister for the Ministry of Justice, and his suggestion to cap foreigners at 3 percent of the population. Backlogged at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=10

Well, there’s a full report available online, at
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html
http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51-1.pdf

As a friend reported:
—————————–
The Ministry of Justice is currently seeking public comment on a proposal to revise Japan’s immigration laws. Among the ideas are

1. Cap foreigners at 3%.

2. Continue to monitor foreigners even after they are permanent residents, requiring continuing reports on their activities, employment, etc.

3. Intervene to change the mix of nationalities among resident foreigners, presumably by denying visas to some nationalities with large numbers in Japan.
—————————–

There’s more. You can send your thoughts about it directly to MOJ Immigration Bureau by July 15 by snailmail, email, or fax:

Address: 100-8977 Houmushou Nyuukoku kanrikyoku Kanri Kikaku Kanshitsu
Fax: 03-3592-7940
Email: nyukan42@moj.go.jp
Questions to 03-3580-4111 ext 5685
It’s all up at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html in Japanese.
Or you can contact Kouno Taro directly (he reads English) at http://www.taro.org

As I wrote before, my feelings about these sorts of immigration caps is that they are largely unworkable, as history has shown repeatedly, in variable migration policies in the US, Australia, Canada, etc. Examples of distortion in the labor markets, not to mention the often awful eugenics treatment of immigrants both present and potential, should send up a few flags. Moreover, not only are we going to have to police the birthrates of those foreigners already here (to somehow keep the total under 3%), but I also wonder how Toyota, Suzuki, Yamaha, Nissan, et al would feel about this proposed labor force cap. Close to two decades of “Foreign Trainee” workers, working for less than half wages, no social benefits, and no job security, are what’s keeping Japan’s labor costs down, stopping many of Japan’s major industries from relocating overseas. How about Toyota? In its national-pride push to finally overtake GM as the word’s leading automaker, it’ll need even more cheap labor for the foreseeable future. More on all that at
http://www.debito.org/shuukandiamondo060504.html

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

2) MOFA HAS NEW HEARING ON FOREIGNERS’ RIGHTS JULY 28

In an apparent follow-up to its hastily-patched-together hearing of NGOs and human-rights groups on March 7, 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be holding another hearing between 3 and 5 PM in the Tokyo MOFA building on Friday, July 28. It’s open to the public, but you have to apply in advance, and it’s best if you have something to say (and optimal if you send MOFA a statement in advance). Deadline for application is 5PM July 13. Particulars follow:

Address: 100-8919 Gaimushou Daijin Kanbou Kokusai Shakai Kyouryokubu Jinken Jindou Ka
(Jinshu Sabetsu Teppai Jouyaku Iken Koukan Tantou), Subject: Iken/Youbo Soufu)
Email: cerd2@mofa.go.jp (put Iken/Youbo Soufu in the Subject line)
Questions to 03-3580-3311, but they don’t accept applications by phone.
It’s all up at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html in Japanese.

I’ll also put in an application to be there.

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

3) “NO DANCING LICENCE”: POLICE RAID HIROSHIMA FOREIGNER PUB EL BARCO

Courtesy of Matt at The Community, the following appeared on the Get Hiroshima website:

===========================
El Barco raided by 50 officers, Proprietors arrested
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/gethiroshima/Hype/2006/05/18/barcoraid

El Barco Ltd directors Richard And Hideko Nishiyama were arrested in a raid on the El Barco nightclub in the early hours of Sunday, May 14 for a permit violation under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act (Fuuzoku eigyou no kisei oyobi gyoumu no tekiseika tou ni kansuru houritsu). The raid, taking place on the club’s busiest night of the week, involved over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police.

Richard Nishiyama’s wife, Kiyomi, has posted an explanation of the situation and a plea for support on the company website. Her original Japanese post can be seen here and I have published a rough translation of the whole piece on the GetHiroshima Blog here. Here is an excerpt explaining the situation:

—————————–
The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (mayonaka eigyou), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter of concern for all late night dance clubs across Japan. We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation…
(continues at above website link)
—————————–
===========================

This might be defended as a routine raid by Immigration, but what happened next to Richard is more grist for a case of how the Japanese police target foreigners, and abuse their powers of interrogation:

===========================
El Barco co-owner speaks after being released from custody
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/gethiroshima/Hype/2006/06/06/barcostatement

GetHiroshima spoke with proprietor Richard Nishiyama a couple of days after he was released from 10 days in custody at a holding center in Higashi-hiroshima. Anyone who knows the Peruvian-born Richard will know he is friendly, tolerant and non-confrontational… Taken into custody in the early hours of the morning, he was continually questioned and “asked” repeatedly to sign a prepared statement until three in the afternoon. Interrogation continued for several more days, but he remained composed, refusing to be provoked by insinuations made about his sister, who was also in custody, or threats against his family….
(continues at above website link).
===========================

More on the pub at
http://www.gethiroshima.com/en/Places/Nightlife/Bar/details?placeid=50345
Go there and offer Richard some moral support, if not some business. Just be careful not to dance.

Speaking of purposeful enforcement of “laws”:

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

4) ASAHI: WITCH HUNT FOR PARENTS WHO REFUSE TO SING “KIMIGAYO”

The Hinomaru and the “Kimigayo” were restablished as the national flag and anthem respectively during the Obuchi Administration in 1999. Fears of enforced patriotism (grading students on “love of country” in grade schools in Kyushu, for example) are steadily coming true.

Forwarding an article from the Asahi with comments from friend EH, who depicts a recent witchhunt in Toda, Saitama, as part of an emerging swing towards the right in Japan. The patriotism is no longer just being enforced upon the students. It is also being forced upon adult guests and parents.

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

“The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing.” The hunt is on. In fact, after Japan plays Brazil in the World Cup, I bet government officials will hunt down those who failed to stand and cheer loudly enough for the national side. You heard it here first. Seriously though, this news from Saitama is yet another horrible development:

—————————–
Board seeks guests who sat during ‘Kimigayo’
06/21/2006

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200606210153.html

TODA, Saitama Prefecture–The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing the “Kimigayo” anthem during spring graduation and enrollment ceremonies at public schools.

The board will question school staff members if they remember any of those guests at the 12 city-run elementary schools and six public junior high schools, the officials said.

The “investigation” will cover PTA officials, public welfare workers and city assembly members, but not the parents and guardians of the students, the officials said. The board will also ask principals of the 18 schools
about the results.

At a Toda assembly meeting on June 13, Ryoichi Ito, the head of the education board, was informed that some guests did not stand up and sing the anthem at the ceremonies.

“It makes me seethe with anger,” Ito replied. “It disrupts the order of ceremony. If it is true, then we must know (who did not stand).”

The education board has asked guests to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” since the education ministry’s curriculum guidelines made it practically mandatory to sing the anthem and hoist the Hinomaru rising-sun flag during school ceremonies.

But many view the song and the anthem as symbols of Japanese militarism in World War II. Some teachers, particularly in Tokyo, have refused to stand or sing “Kimigayo” during ceremonies, leading to reprimands and other punishments.

Some Toda assembly members have protested the investigation, saying that it infringes upon people’s freedom of thought.
(IHT/Asahi: June 21,2006)

(original article in Japanese at
http://www.asahi.com/edu/news/TKY200606200237.html )
—————————–

COMMENTS FROM EH:

1. The investigating officials say they aren’t hunting students’ parents. Like Koizumi’s assurance that nobody is being coerced, that claim is doublespeak.

2. The investigating officials say they are targeting the PTA, which of course by definition features students’ parents.

3. The investigating officials turn employees into informers–against anyone who is undemonstrative, lazy, uncooperative, un-genki, or dissenting; or indeed against anyone they care to finger. This is the worst part.
===========================

ONE MORE COMMENT: To cite friend Jens W., we always find mysterious how they will grade “patriotism” in the increasing number of children in Japan with foreign citizenships or international roots. Will they force children to choose which country to love more? Also, don’t people know that any type of “love”, including “love of country”, is something earned, not commanded? Anyone who’s experienced a relationship will know that. Perhaps this says something about the family backgrounds of the party kingpins who create such heartless policy…

Anyhoo, no follow-up article can I find in the Asahi on this. Eyes peeled. Still, the fact that the Asahi is making a big deal about this is good news (as long as they don’t drop the thread…).
Related articles at
http://makeashorterlink.com/?G35523B5D

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

5) LINKS TO HANDOUTS FROM RECENT SPEECHES

1) June 24, 2006: “The Need for a Racial Discrimination Law”, part of Workshop 5: “Basic Human Rights for Foreigners and Policy for the Prohibiting of Racial Discrimination”, with human rights lawyer Niwa Masao and Gaikiren Catholic NGO coordinator Satou Nobuyuki. Sponsored by Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net), Sixth Annual Forum in Sapporo.

Powerpoint presentation (Japanese) at
http://www.debito.org/nazesabetsuteppaihou.ppt

2) June 25, 2006: “Working at University: Securing Our Future”. Forum with Louis Carlet of the National Union of General Workers (www.nugw.org), and Bob Tench of NOVA Union, June 25, 2006, 1PM-5PM, Tokyo Shigoto Center, Iidabashi, Tokyo. Sponsored by University Teachers Union (UTU, www.utu-japan.org).

Handout available in Word format at
http://www.debito.org/UTUSpeechHandout62506.doc

All presentations and publications available at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html

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

6) JAPAN TIMES JUNE 27 ON DOUDOU DIENE VISIT AND AFTEREFFECTS

My most recent article for the Japan Times Community page (excerpt):

===========================
In July 2005, Doudou Diene, a special representative of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, came to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese government.

He visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hokkaido to see if Japan, an aspirant for a U.N. Security Council seat, was keeping its treaty promises regarding racial discrimination.

His trip caused quite a reaction. Although the regular domestic press largely ignored his reports, they inspired a vivid debate in the new media. This column will chart the arc of the issues, and demonstrate a potential sea change in how the U.N. holds countries accountable for human rights…
===========================

This newsletter is long enough already, so let me send the link to the website, which has the full text with links to substantiation for claims made in the article:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes062706.html

I’ll send the whole article to select lists in a few days.

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

All for now. Will be trying to finish a rough draft of our book over the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be going quiet for a little while. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
July 2, 2006 NEWSLETTER ENDS

Jun 6 2006: 2 mil gaikokujin, foreign crime, Kouno Taro, Sorimachi Katsuo

mytest

Subject: Updates: 2 million gaikokujin, foreign crime, PM hopefuls speak out

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Yet another set of updates:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) FOREIGN POPULATION TOPS 2 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME
2) PM CANDIDATE KOUNO TARO WANTS TO LIMIT FOREIGN POPULATION TO 3%
3) PUNDIT SORIMACHI KATSUO BLAMES FOREIGN CRIME ON A LENIENT JUDICIARY
4) EXCERPTS OF “DANGER! HUMAN RIGHTS BILL” BOOK ONLINE
5) NEW ALIEN REGISTRATION DETAILS
6) UPDATE ON TRAVEL AGENCIES: ESTIMATES NOW COST MONEY?
7) UPDATE ON POLICE HOME VISITS: ANSWERING QUESTIONS IS OPTIONAL
8) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON MULTICULTURALISM BY IJUUREN, SAPPORO 6/24-5
9) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON LABOR RIGHTS BY UTU, TOKYO JUNE 25
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
June 6, 2006

1) FOREIGN POPULATION TOPS 2 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME

Well, guess what, it happened: Registered foreigners last year passed a benchmark. Pre-2000, this would have been heralded with media fireworks and ruminations on how international Japanese society is becoming. Nowadays however, since foreigners are constantly being portrayed as a source of social discord by the media and the profiting police forces, well… we’ll instead whisper the inevitable:

—————————————————————-
Mainichi Shinbun, Tokyo morning edition, May 27, 2006
(translation by Arudou Debito, not reported in English)
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20060527ddm012040087000c.html

According to Immigration statistics released on May 26, as of the end of 2005 the number of registered foreigners was 2,011,555 (a 1.9% rise over 2004), the first time it has broken 2 million. This was a rise of 0.02%, to 1.57% of the total Japanese population. By nationality, North and South Koreans were at the top, with 598,687 people. There are also 519,561 Chinese, 302,080 Brazilians, 187,261 Filipinos, 57,728 Peruvians, and 49,390 Americans.
—————————————————————-

COMMENT: Notice that the largest growth in the foreign community is Brazilian. Rising from 286,557 souls last year to break 300,000, this means close to half of last year’s net increase of foreigners (15,523 of the 37,808) were Brazilians. As this is largest increase of Brazilians since 2001, the trend is accelerating.

And I don’t see it stopping on its own. Reported a friend on another list, who heralds from near Nagoya:
—————————————————————-
[The foreign population] is already over 3% in at least 6 cities in Aichi, and Toyohashi (until the recent mergers,usually the 2nd largest city in Aichi) is pushing close to 5%. Okazaki’s population is growing at about 300 a month, very little of it from natural increase, and 20% of the growth from new foreign arrivals.
http://www.declan.tv/okazaki_notes/kokusekibetsu.html
The % of foreigners dropped below 3% due to a merger, but should be reached again well within 12 months. At least 4% by 2012.

Brazilian (and other foreign born) factory workers in Okazaki, Toyota and Toyohashi cities usually earn 33-380,000 a month including overtime, lower tier manufacturers simply cannot find native born workers willing to do these jobs in sufficient numbers.
—————————————————————-

Which makes a recent statement by one of the allegedly “more left-wing LDP members”, Kouno Taro, who is currently in the running to be then next Prime Minister, all the more ironic:

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

2) PM CANDIDATE KOUNO TARO WANTS TO LIMIT FOREIGN POPULATION TO 3%

—————————————————————-
Mainichi Daily News, May 31, 2006 (English original)
http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/national/news/20060531p2a00m0na009000c.html

A Justice Ministry panel studying an overhaul of Japan’s immigration administration is set to propose that the proportion of foreign residents to the nation’s population should be kept at 3 pct or below, Senior Vice Justice Minister Taro Kono said Tuesday.

The proposal will be included in a draft package of immigration policy reform measures to be drawn up shortly, Kono, who heads the panel, told a press conference.

According to the ministry, foreign residents accounted for 1.2 pct of Japan’s population at the end of 2005.

By contrast, the proportion stood at 8.9 pct in Germany in 2001, at 11.1 pct in the United States in the same year and at 5.6 pct in France in 1999.

The panel is also considering requiring foreign nationals of Japanese ancestry to be fluent in Japanese and have regular jobs as conditions for their residency in Japan, Kono said.

Such people are currently allowed to live in Japan if they have relatives in the country.

The panel now believes it necessary to toughen the criteria because the number of problems caused by such residents has been increasing. (Jiji Press)
—————————————————————-

I see. So I guess it begs the question how this is going to be enforced. Compulsory birth control for the increasing number of foreign worker couples who decide to have children? Just kidding. I’m sure Mr Kouno just wants to man the barricades, for whatever reason (though I would like to know what these “increasing problems by such residents” are).

Pity he (and his ministry, which should know better) gets the figure for the percentage of the foreign population wrong. It hasn’t been 1.2 percent since around 1998! Worse yet is that the Mainichi Shinbun (which should also know better, as it reported the accurate figures not four days before), just parrots the incorrect information all over again. Shame on them. I’ve already sent a scolding through my Japanese mailing lists.

You can make your feelings known to Dietmember Kouno in four languages (see how “progressive” he is?) through his flash website at http://www.taro.org . One would hope, though, that somebody aspiring for international leadership would at least make policy pronouncements grounded on accurate information.

Still, I wonder how Toyota, Suzuki, Yamaha, Nissan, et al would feel about this proposed labor force cap. Close to two decades of “Foreign Trainee” workers, working for less than less than half wages, no social benefits, and no job security, are what’s keeping Japan’s labor costs down, stopping many of Japan’s major industries from relocating overseas. How about Toyota? In its national-pride push to finally overtake GM as the word’s leading carmaker, it’ll need even more cheap labor for the foreseeable future…

Anyway, back to the “increasing problems” chestnut:

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3) PUNDIT SORIMACHI KATSUO BLAMES FOREIGN CRIME ON A LENIENT JUDICIARY

Forwarded to me by a reporter friend, here is one of the most laughably fatheaded pieces on foreign crime I’ve ever read. Entitled “Sorimachi Speaks: Japan’s Criminal Justice System and Crimes Committed by Foreigners”, Sorimachi writes some pretty amazing social science (and in English too, perfect for forwarding to the UN). Some choice excerpts:

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“The substantive and procedural laws of Japanese criminal justice presuppose a monolingual nation. It is axiomatic that this kind of nation will be very lenient towards offenders… However, Japan’s criminal justice system is on the verge of a crisis, faced with the internationalisation of crime and the underworld activities of foreign criminals resident in Japan brought about by globalisation…

“Examining the crime of theft, bold methods hitherto unimagined by Japanese offenders and not out of place in an action movie stand out. These include the widespread and systematic use of lock picking tools in theft following breaking and entering (so that access is gained in seconds), the use of cranes to steal automatic vending machines…”

[I guess that means the newly-imaginative Japanese also committing these crimes have been inspired by the more creative foreigners. How a rote-memorization education hitherto pacified an entire society!]

“It is not possible to get a grip on these cases using the investigative methods based on presumptions about fellow Japanese. New legislation has become necessary. It is desirable that the Wiretapping Law passed in August 1999 be made particular use of in the investigation of crimes committed by foreigners in Japan…”

[Yes, you read that right.]

“Japanese justice is said to be precise justice… It is doubtful whether this kind of process is entirely appropriate for the crimes of foreigners in Japan whose culture, code of conduct and standard of living are completely different… It is impossible to avoid the impression that, whilst in Japanese justice we see a model with a deep and rare lenient tinge, it is more and more the case that this precise justice is far removed from the prevention of recidivism in and rehabilitation of foreign offenders in Japan… Japan’s penalties are amongst the lightest in the world. This is because we have assumed offenders in Japan will be fellow Japanese.

“…The reality of crime committed by foreigners in Japan, which incurs waste in terms of time and money of Japan’s human and material capital is precisely that, activity interfering with the enjoyment of the nation. To put it in the extreme, it may be appropriate to classify all crime committed by foreigners in Japan as crime relating to the national legal interest.”
—————————————————————-

Grab a coffee and read the rest at:
http://www.lec-jp.com/speaks/info_013.html

Who is this guy? Some pundit in a policy thinktank/private-sector quasi-university, who according to a Google search seems to have the ear of quite a few people. Sorimachi’s profile in English:
http://www.lec-jp.com/corporation/english/greetings.html
http://www.lec-jp.com/corporation/english/profile/index.html

Giving Sorimachi’s thesis its due, he essentially maintains that Japan’s “precise” justice system is not suited to dealing with foreigners. He then proposes that the policing and incarceration of them be toughened up, and that repatriation for trial back in their home countries be required as an adequate deterrent (as Japan’s jails are too sweet on their inmates).

Yow. Where to start. Okay, here: The major blind spot of these types of people people who wish to single out foreign crime for special attention is, well, what do you also say about the corresponding (and far higher numerically) rises in Japanese crime? Are foreigners to blame for that too? Alas, Sorimachi offers no insight or comparison, except to say that Japanese can be rehabilitated (it’s axiomatic, remember), while foreigners are incorrigible, and thus a threat to the “enjoyment of the nation” at large.

I’ve seen to it that the UN’s Dr Diene gets a copy of this screed, of course.

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4) EXCERPTS OF “DANGER! HUMAN RIGHTS BILL” BOOK ONLINE

Last update I wrote about the “emergency publication” (kinkyuu shuppan) of a book on why Japan should have no human rights law, or a human rights committee to enforce it. Well, I had a better look at it. The authors’ thesis is one of garden-variety alarmism, that giving foreigners and general malcontents any power would lead to abuse.

For example, according to a quite well-rendered manga within, if you create any means for people to enforce their constitutional rights, you will get:

a) foreigners getting kicked out for picking fights in bars and then siccing the Human Rights Committee on the barkeeps,
b) colored foreigners forcing companies to hire them, then lying down on the job and getting away with it because of the HRC,
c) yakuza forcing their way into bathhouses, extorting money in the name of the HRC,
d) bigoted landlords being forced to rent their apartments to Chinese [yes, you read that right],
e) politicians (quoting another PM hopeful Abe Shinzou) unable to criticize Kim Jong-Il anymore…

It even compares the UN Diene Report (pg 154-155) to Iris Chang’s RAPE OF NANKING, and calls upon the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to buck up and combat this insult to “our country” and “our people”.

I should have a translation of the pertinent bits (maybe even a parody of the manga, a la Chibi Kuro Sanbo) out relatively soon. But for now, for you Japanese readers, scanned pages with comments at:
http://www.debito.org/abunaijinkenyougohouan.html

I’ve already passed the information on to my Japanese lists, with a list of books they can present policymakers as a counterweight to this propaganda.

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5) NEW ALIEN REGISTRATION REGULATIONS

I’ve written a number of articles in the past about the new proposed regulations for fingerprinting and registering foreigners (in the name of terrorism and disease prevention, natch). For example:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes062904.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html
http://www.debito.org/japantimes112205.html

There’ll also be a pro-and-con article on this in today’s (Tuesday) Japan Times Community Page.

Well, now that the proposal has become law as of three weeks ago, here’s how things are starting to shape up. Forwarding from a friend who has Permanent Residency:

—————————————————————-
Check out these overviews of recently passed amendments to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act. Apparently people like me and other registered aliens will be able to pass through automated gates on the basis of having complied with specific prior to departure. This is related to introduction of smart alien reg cards. Such automated gate passing has already been initiated in some other countries for nationals who apply and qualify.

第164回国会において成立した「出入国管理及び難民認定法の一部を改正する法
律(平成18年5月24日法律第43号)」について (Japanese)
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/keiziban/happyou/20060524_law43.pdf
2006-06-01

Law for Partial Amendment of the Immigration Control and Refugee
Recognition Act (Law No. 43 of May 24, 2006) Enacted at the 164th Diet
Session
http://www.immi-moj.go.jp/english/keiziban/happyou/law43_20060524.pdf
2006-06-01
—————————————————————-

I haven’t given these documents a thorough going-over yet, but there’s the information out there for those who need it.

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6) UPDATE ON TRAVEL AGENCIES: ESTIMATES NOW CHARGED?

Through March and April, friends exposed domestic travel agents (such as No.1 Travel and HIS) and their “Japanese Only” tickets and different pricing structures based upon nationality.
http://www.debito.org/HISpricing.html

One thing suggested by some Internet BBSes was to make reservations with them, then cancel out of protest of this policy.

I’m wondering if this hasn’t caused some sort of reaction within the industry. I just tried to get an official travel estimate from Twinkle Plaza in Sapporo Station (I think it’s a member of the JTB group). And they tried to charge me 2000 yen just to put something on paper. I took my business elsewhere, of course, but is this happening to anyone else?

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7) UPDATE ON POLICE HOME VISITS: IT’S OPTIONAL

I wrote last time about the “Police Patrol Card” (junkai renraku caado), where cops visit your home and ask detailed questions about the occupants, their work and legal status, etc.
http://www.debito.org/junkairenrakucard.jpg

I got quite a few answers back from people who had experienced the same thing. Most, however, said they cooperated with the survey, seeing it as a valuable service (in case of emergency), or the mere expression of Japan as a “benign police state”. It tended to happen most often in the Kantou Area around Tokyo, less in the provinces. It’s never happened to me or any of my friends AFAIK up here in Sapporo.

However, the Japanese who responded, if they had been asked, refused to cooperate. Now, given my audience (mostly socially-conscious people) this is not a representative sample. Still, they found this procedure just as intrusive as I would, and said many of the details they would and should not be bound to divulge.

I talked to a lawyer. Responding to this police request for information is in fact optional. Which means: If the police show up at your door and you don’t feel like divulging this information, just take the card and say you’ll get back to them someday. Rinse and repeat. That’s what my Japanese respondents did, FYI.

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8) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON MULTICULTURALISM BY IJUUREN, SAPPORO
This series of talks on recreating and recognizing Japan as a multicultural society will take place on Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, 2006, at Hokusei Gakuen University, Atsubetsu, Sapporo.

Information in their website in Japanese
http://www.ijurenkita2006.com/
How to get there (English)
http://www.hokusei.ac.jp/en/support/access/

Sponsored by Solidarity for Migrant Workers Japan (Ijuuren). More on them at:
http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/English/English.html
Recommended. I’ve been asked to speak there as well.

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

9) UPCOMING CONFERENCE ON LABOR RIGHTS BY UTU, TOKYO JUNE 25

A University Teachers Union (UTU) Forum

“Working at University: Securing Our Future”

1.10 – 5.00 Sunday 25th June 2006
Tokyo Shigoto Center, Iidabashi 3-10-3, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

1.10 – 1.30 Registration
1.30 – 2.30 Forum and Discussion
“Rights and Wrongs – The Issues Teachers Face Today”

Guest speakers:
Arudou Debito
Louis Carlet
(Deputy General Secretary NUGW Tokyo Nambu)

The job security of college and university teachers is under increasing threat – from cuts in salary, the non-renewal of contracts, outsourcing and attacks on our right to organise to protect and improve our working conditions. In the face of such threats, what are our rights? What can we learn from past and present disputes? How can we stop the tide of outsourcing? How, as committed professionals and trade unionists, can we secure our future? Our two opening speakers will set the context, followed by questions and answers, and an open forum to discuss the issues.
_____________________________________________________

3.00 – 4.00 Workshops

*Power Harassment
*Challenging Conditions on Campus
*The NIC Strike – Learning From a Dispute

4.00 – 4.30 Reports and Final Comments
_____________________________________________________

All welcome! Admission: 500 yen voluntary contribution

To register in advance, further details of the event and information about UTU,
email: utu.forum@yahoo.com

Venue map:
http://map.yahoo.co.jp/pl?nl=35.41.49.133&el=139.45.10.929&la=1&fi=1&skey=%2
52&sc=3

More on UTU at http://www.utu-japan.org/

The University Teachers Union is a member union of the National Union of General Workers Tokyo Nambu
http://www.nugw.org

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

All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
June 6, 2006
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////

SUCCESS STORIES: Article on Divorce in Japan

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito here. What follows is a version of an essay recently published by executive newsletter Success Stories (http://www.successstories.com), and is written with that audience in mind.

Excerpted and adapted from our upcoming book, “Guidebook for Newcomers: Setting Down Roots in Japan” (working title), to be published in early 2007. I’d like to say “enjoy” as usual, but it’s not that kind of topic. Be advised, however, that the information within is very important to those hoping to stay and and create firmer roots in Japan. Because if a marriage with a Japanese goes sour, the system is not designed to protect both parents, and you as a foreigner could really lose big. FYI. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

DIVORCE IN JAPAN
WHAT A MESS
By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org
(All substantiation for claims made within can be found in the Referential Links section at the very bottom.)

For many readers of Success Stories, understanding the demographics of the Japanese market is essential to your business. This essay will deal with one fundamental facet, which affects consumer preferences, disposable income, and the stability of the oldest business proposition in existence: Marriage and the Family Unit.

Given the strong image of “docile Japanese wives” and “Japan’s selfless corporate workers”, many readers might be envisioning Japan as a homogeneous land of stable families and low divorce rates. But let’s look at the figures:

According to Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare, there have been fewer marriages between Japanese in recent years: weddings steadily dropped from 764,161 in 1995 to 680,906 in 2004, an 11% decrease.

In the same time period, international marriages, where one partner is Japanese, have jumped from 27,727 to 39,551 couples, or a 43% increase. (And let’s answer the inevitable question of “Who’s marrying whom?” Perhaps counterintuitively (but not so when you consider how many farmers import brides), overwhelmingly more Japanese men marry foreigners than the other way around–at a ratio of nearly eight to two, and growing!)

However, perhaps because people prefer to leave the altar with smiles and hope for happy endings, less attention is paid to divorce figures. Between 1995 and 2004, broken unions in Japan also increased nearly without pause: from 199,016 to 270,804 divorces, a 36% increase. Of those, however, divorces between Japanese have plateaued, even decreased, in recent years. International divorces, however, have increased steadily, nearly doubling within the same time period (for Japanese men-Foreign women: from 6,153 to 12,071 divorces; for Japanese women-Foreign men: from 1,839 to 3,228 divorces).

This essay chooses not to speculate on the possible “cultural” or “sociological” reasons behind these numbers (since it is difficult to even accurately calculate a “divorce rate”). Suffice it to say that marriage in any society to anyone is risky.

However, marriage within the Japanese system is especially risky, because if it goes sour, people regardless of nationality can lose big. Enforcement of laws connected to alimony, child support, visitation rights, court orders, and custody in Japan is very weak. If you marry a Japanese, have children, and then get a divorce, you–and especially you as a foreign parent–could lose custody and all access to them. This may affect not only your bottom lines, but also your future personal plans in Japan.

————————————–
PARTING IS SUCH BITTER SORROW

Divorce in Japan, like marriage, is easy if both parties agree to it. All you have to do is head for the Ward Office and fill out a Divorce Form (rikon todoke–essentially the opposite procedure for getting married using a kekkon todoke). Spouses put their inkan stamp on the todoke (signatures are not valid), and file it with the Ward Office. That is all. They are divorced. This is called kyougi rikon, or “divorce by mutual consent”, which happens, estimates a lawyer friend who specializes in these cases, in about 80% of divorces. Assets, possessions, or property are divided up either informally or through the legal community, and you make a clean sweep of it and get on with your lives.

However, if both parties do not agree to divorce, things can get very messy. According to Japan Civil Code Article 770, there are five grounds for unilateral divorce:

1) infidelity
2) malicious desertion (which for foreign spouses can include being deported)
3) uncertainty whether or not the spouse is dead or alive for three years or more,
4) serious mental disease without hope of recovery, or
5) a “grave reason” which makes continuing the marriage impossible.

What is considered a “grave reason” is unclear, and at the discretion of a judge if things go to court. One reason can be the wife refusing the husband sexual relations for a long period of time (a reason only men can claim). Another can be the husband refusing the family unit his financial support (which only women can claim). However, the simple fact that you do not like each other anymore, i.e. a matter of “irreconcilable differences”, is not, according to lawyer Mizunuma Isao of IGM Law Offices, Sapporo, considered to be sufficient grounds.

Here things begin to pinch. If one side refuses to agree to the divorce, you will have to negotiate until you do, which can take many years. You can legally separate, but this is not a divorce, and you cannot remarry. Moreover, if there is a secret relationship behind the breakup, a spouse in Japan can sue your new partner for damages, demanding both you and your partner pay consolation for wrecking the marriage!

If you after talking things out you still cannot agree to divorce, you go to Family Court. The first step is called choutei (mediation), where you sit down with three representatives, i.e. two “upstanding members of the community” (who are generally not certified counselors) and one representative of the court. This mediation system is designed to give disputing couples a forum for their grievances without snarling up the courts. However, the role of the choutei is not to find fault on either side, rather to help both sides reach an agreement–i.e. reconcile or divorce. Meetings take place around every month or two, generally in separate rooms for a few hours, and can continue for years.

————————————–
TELL IT TO THE JUDGE

If the couple cannot reach an agreement even after court mediation (which is estimated to happen in around 5% of all divorce cases), then the next step is a lawsuit in Family Court. There, a judge will only rule that a contested divorce is legitimate if you can prove that the marriage has completely “collapsed” (hatan).

This is one of the reasons why divorces in Japan get messy. Since judges hardly ever grant divorces to the person who did wrong, you must show that your partner was at fault. In other words, you cannot separate amicably–you have to dredge something up. This does not create a constructive atmosphere; it can cause even more feelings of ill-will and a future desire for revenge. Also, since laws governing perjury in Japan are at best weakly enforced in civil cases, your spouse may make some exaggerated claims about your past in court with impunity. If it goes to court, it will get very nasty.

After all that, if the judge does not rule the marriage has actually “collapsed”, all you can do is wait. Sometimes former couples still reside together yet live divorced lives (katei nai bekkyo) of no contact. Separations of at least five years (ten to twenty years are not extraordinary in Japan) are necessary before a contested divorce may be granted by a court. Meanwhile, if there are children who need feeding, child support will be assessed by looking at a fee schedule created by the Bar Association, which measures both parents’ income and determines an appropriate monthly sum.

————————————–
BUT WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN?

Divorce proceedings and the aftermath are tough on the kids in any society, but Japan further complicates things through legal negligence. During separation, divorce court, and onwards, the parent who does not have custody may have problems meeting the children for more than a few hours a month, if at all. Visitation rights are not granted before the divorce is complete, but even then, Japan has no legal mechanism to enforce visitation rights or other court-negotiated settlements afterwards.

Also, enforcement mechanisms for the payment of alimony or child support have loopholes. For example, if your spouse owes you money but refuses to pay, you must know the home address, the workplace, and bank account details of your spouse in order to seek redress. However, if your spouse changes any of these things and happens not to notify you, you will have to track down those details yourself, which often requires hiring your own private detective. The police or government officials will not get involved.

————————————–
MULTINATIONAL MARRIAGES COME OFF WORST

What makes this situation especially difficult for international, and especially intercontinental, divorces is that foreign partners have extreme difficulty being granted custody of children in Japan. In a March 31, 2006 interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, lawyer Jeremy D. Morely, of the International Family Law Office in New York, stated:

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“Children are not returned from Japan, period, and it is a situation that happens a lot with children of international marriages with kids who are over in Japan. They do not get returned. Usually, the parent who has kept a child is Japanese, and under the Japanese legal system they have a family registration system whereby every Japanese family has their own registration with a local ward office. And the name of registration system is the koseki system. So every Japanese person has their koseki, and a child is listed on the appropriate koseki. Once a child is listed on the family register, the child belongs to that family. Foreigners don’t have a family register and so there is no way for them to actually have a child registered as belonging to them in Japan. There is an international treaty called the Hague Convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction, and Japan is the only G7 country that is not a party to the Hague Convention.”[1]
—————————————-

This means that if things go intercontinentally ballistic (say, a Japanese spouse abducts a foreigner’s children back to Japan), the foreigner will lose all contact with them, according to the Children’s Rights Network.

Even if the foreigner tries to go through proper domestic channels, he loses. One clear example is the Murray Wood Case. Wood, a resident of Canada, was awarded custody of his children in 2004 by Canadian courts. Yet when his children were abducted to Japan by ex-wife Ayako Wood, he found himself powerless to enforce the court order. Not only were the Canadian Government’s demands to extradite Ayako ignored by the Japanese government, but also Japan’s Saitama District and High Courts awarded custody to her, essentially declaring that “uprooting the children from the current stable household is not in the child’s best interest”. What then? If the foreigner takes the law into his own hands and abducts them back, he will be arrested for kidnapping by the Japanese police, as was witnessed in a recent case handled by the American Embassy. Consequently, Japan has become a safe haven for international child abductions.

————————————–
CONCLUSION

The author does not wish to give the impression that divorce is any more likely if the spouse is a Japanese. “Any marriage,” my lawyer sources dryly indicate, “is a gamble.” However, what raises the stakes of the transaction is the fact that Japan has weak-to-nonexistent recourse to prevent potential abuses. According to Colin P.A. Jones J.D., Associate Professor at Doshisha University Law School, the system is geared to support the distaff side of the divorce. The woman, as wife and mother, is given overwhelming priority in divorce cases, as opposed to viewing each divorce on a case-by-case basis (spawning a cottage industry of guidebooks on wringing the most out of your man). Yes, weak-to-nonexistent enforcement of laws and court rulings mean that men in the Japanese system (as compared to, for example, the American) do not stand to lose enormously financially. They will, however, lose their children.

Veterans of broken Japanese marriages very often lead separate lives without any connection to each other or the children for decades. (Prime Minister Koizumi’s nonexistent relationship with his youngest son Yoshinaga is a prime example.) It is a system that encourages “fortress Moms”, “deadbeat Dads”, and “who dares, wins” custody battles. With all this, it is no wonder why marriage is not an option for some people, and why Japanese divorce statistics may in fact be artificially low (although we should see a jump from 2007, due to a reform where wives will be able to claim part of their ex-husbands’ pension).

In this era of modernity and more lifestyle choices, if Japan ever aspires to the ideals of “upholding the sanctity of marriage” and “strengthening the family unit”, it will have to reform this system to make all parties more accountable for relationships gone sour. Keep this information in mind if your business involves this sector of the Japanese market.

[1] Interview, Canadian Broadcasting Company, March 31, 2006, http://www.crnjapan.com/articles/2006/en/20060331-japanambassadorinterview.html

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Referential Links:

Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare statistics on marriage and divorce in Japan:
http://www.mhlw.go.jp/toukei/saikin/hw/jinkou/suii04/

Regarding Issues of Divorce and Child Custody in Japan:
http://www.crnjapan.com/en/issues.html

The Children’s Rights Network Japan
http://www.crnjapan.com

The International Family Law Office (Lawyer Jeremy D. Morely, Esq.):
http://www.international-divorce.com

Regarding PM Koizumi Junichiro’s divorce–the perfect case study of nonaccountability:
http://www.crnjapan.com/pexper/juk/en/

The Murray Wood Case
http://www.crnjapan.com/pexper/wom/en/

About the author of this article:
http://www.debito.org

AUTHOR BIO: ARUDOU Debito, a naturalized Japanese citizen, is an Associate Professor at Hokkaido Information University, and a columnist for the Japan Times. His books, ‘JAPANESE ONLY’–The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan (Akashi Shoten Inc., revised 2004 and 2006) are available in English and Japanese. His latest book, “Guidebook for Newcomers: Setting Down Roots in Japan” (working title), is being co-authored with a Japanese lawyer and will be available in early 2007. This essay is an excerpt and adaptation from Chapter 4 of the Guidebook. The author may be reached at www.debito.org and debito@debito.org.

ENDS
June 20, 2006