Spoke at Washington University at St. Louis Law School Colorism Conference April 3, on skin color stigmatism in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog. I was invited to present at a very high-profile Global Perspectives on Colorism Conference at the Harris World Law Institute, University of Washington at St. Louis School of Law, joining some excellent speakers with impressive backgrounds. The first day had some really informative presentations (much more rigorous and thoughtful than the Ethnic Studies class I took at UH), and I hope to be just as rigorous and thoughtful tomorrow during my fifteen minutes.

wuls2015colorismconfflyer

Title:  Skin color stigmata in “homogeneous” Japanese society
Speaker:  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito, Scholar, University of Hawaii at Manoa

Abstract:  Japanese society is commonly known as a “homogeneous society”, without issues of “race” or skin color stigmata.  This is not the case.  The speaker, a bilingual naturalized Japanese of Caucasian descent, has lived for a quarter century in Japan researching issues of Japanese minorities.  He has found that biological markers, including facial shape, body type, and, of course, skin color, factor in to differentiate, “other”, and subordinate people not only into “Japanese” and “non-Japanese”, but also into “cleaner” and “dirtier” people (and thus higher and lower social classes) within the social category of “Japanese” itself.  This talk will provide concrete examples of the dynamic of skin-color stigmatization, and demonstrate how the methods of Critical Race Theory may also be applied to a non-White society.

Details on the conference at

http://law.wustl.edu/harris/pages.aspx?ID=10184

You can see me speak at

http://mediasite.law.wustl.edu/Mediasite/Play/154d49c8babe4e5ca11ab911dd6c97031d (minute 1:42)

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Renewed GOJ projections of hard and soft power: Yomiuri argues for remilitarization “to protect J-nationals abroad”, Reuters reports GOJ reinvestment in overseas universities, claims “no strings attached”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In the recent vein of the GOJ’s more aggressive stance towards projecting its power abroad, we have two articles of note:  One is on the harder power of militarism “to protect Japanese nationals abroad” (as the Yomiuri capitalizes on the ISIL beheadings to nudge public policy), and the other is on a (renewed) softer power to fund American universities, particularly Georgetown and Columbia, and therefore have more control over future research directions before they become published.  (The institutions below may claim that there are no strings attached, but as the GOJ knows full well through its domestic education monopolies, once you get people hooked on your funding, they have a helluva time dealing with the threat of withdrawal).

One might argue that all countries project power to some degree, and they would be right.  But we as consumers, researchers, and concerned critical thinkers should be aware of it.  Especially in Japan, an economy with this degree of public debt (more than twice its GDP, the highest in the developed world), a tsunami and nuclear meltdown aftermath that still needs cleaning up, and an upcoming porkbarrel 2020 Olympics, these are interesting budgetary choices.  Cherchez l’argent.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Comprehensively bolster measures to protect Japanese nationals abroad
February 04, 2015, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Courtesy of JK
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001906749

To prevent Japanese nationals from being targeted by international terrorism, the government must comprehensively reinforce countermeasures to protect Japanese living abroad, gather information on terrorism and guard key facilities.

The militant group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which is recently believed to have killed two Japanese in Syria, is threatening to continue to carry out terrorist attacks against Japanese. Lacking common sense, the fanatic criminal group will not listen to reason. Other radical groups inspired by ISIL’s latest attack may also target Japanese.

We should realize that the threat of international terrorism has entered a new stage.

The headquarters tasked with promoting measures to handle international organized crime and international terrorism at the Prime Minister’s Office adopted a policy Tuesday of keeping Japanese living abroad informed, through Japanese embassies and other diplomatic missions, about local security conditions.

The government will also step up security for Japanese schools abroad. Such facilities are easy targets for terrorism because they symbolize Japan, so their security systems as well as commuting routes must be checked thoroughly.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made clear Tuesday that the government will increase the number of defense attaches, who are Self-Defense Force officials, at Japanese diplomatic missions abroad.

Following a hostage crisis in Algeria in 2013 that involved Japanese nationals, the government increased the number of defense attaches. At present, more than 50 defense attaches are stationed in about 40 countries.

An SDF official can more easily access classified information held by local military authorities. SDF officials should be proactively deployed in such regions as the Middle East.

In the latest crisis, the issue of keeping Japanese travelers informed of possible risks has become an important task.

Review travel advisories

The Foreign Ministry issues four different levels of travel advisories for potential threats in accordance with local security conditions. The ministry has issued an evacuation advisory, the highest level in terms of risk, to nationals living in Syria or traveling there.

But the advisory has no binding power since the Constitution guarantees the freedom of traveling to a foreign country.

The ministry had repeatedly asked Kenji Goto, who was killed in the latest hostage crisis, to refrain from entering Syria — but to no avail.

The government must examine improvements to the advisory levels according to the risks involved, as well as the best way to communicate and distribute such information.

Terrorist attacks must also be prevented in Japan. Immigration checks need to be tightened further to block terrorists at the water’s edge. Security at governmental organizations, airports, nuclear power plants and other key facilities should be enhanced. It is also vital for the government to cooperate with the intelligence agencies of other countries.

ISIL is trying to spread its radical beliefs beyond national borders by manipulating online resources. It is also necessary to prepare for home-grown terrorism that could be launched by those influenced by such terrorist propaganda.

For example, in Australia, an attacker who had apparently been influenced by ISIL took hostages at a cafe in Sydney in December. The incident ended with two hostages killed.

Are there suspicious people apparently devoted to radicalism, collecting weapons and explosives?

Investigative authorities must vigilantly monitor online activity, detect any sign of terrorism and respond swiftly.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 4, 2015)
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To counter China and South Korea, government to fund Japan studies at U.S. colleges
BY TAKASHI UMEKAWA
REUTERS, MAR 16, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/16/national/to-counter-china-and-south-korea-government-to-fund-japan-studies-at-u-s-colleges/

The Abe government has budgeted more than $15 million to fund Japan studies at nine universities overseas, including Georgetown and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, as part of a “soft power” push to counter the growing influence of China and South Korea.

The program, the first time in over 40 years that Japan has funded such studies at U.S. universities, coincides with efforts by conservative Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration to address perceived biases in accounts of the wartime past — moves critics say are an attempt to whitewash history.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Georgetown University in Washington will receive $5 million each from the Foreign Ministry’s budget for fiscal 2015, which has yet to be enacted, a Finance Ministry official said.

In addition, the Japan Foundation, set up by the government to promote cultural exchange, will allocate ¥25 million per school to six yet-to-be selected universities in the United States and elsewhere, the official said.

That comes on top of $5 million in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 for Japan studies at New York’s Columbia University, where Japan scholar Gerry Curtis will retire late this year.

“The Abe government has a sense of crisis that history issues concerning Japan . . . are not properly understood in the United States, and decided to make a contribution so that Japan research would not die out,” the Finance Ministry official said.

The official said Japanese diplomats will vet professors hired for the programs to ensure they are “appropriate.” However, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said there were no such conditions placed on the funding.

The Foreign Minister “is not placing any such condition as the GOJ’s (Government of Japan) inclusion in the selection procedure of a new scholar,” Takako Ito, the ministry’s assistant press secretary, said in an email.

Georgetown University and MIT declined comment on the funding, while Columbia University spokesman Brian Connolly told reporters by email: “As a matter of long-standing university policy, donors to Columbia do not vet or have veto power over faculty hiring.”

Many Japanese politicians and officials worry Japan has been outmaneuvered by the aggressive public diplomacy of China and South Korea.

After a decade of shrinking spending on public diplomacy, the Foreign Ministry won a total of ¥70 billion for strategic communications in an extra budget for fiscal 2014 and the initial budget for the next year from April, up from ¥20 billion in the initial fiscal 2014 budget.

Those funds are to be used for “soft power” initiatives such as the Japan studies programs at foreign universities and setting up “Japan House” centers to promote the “Japan Brand.”

But the government is also targeting wartime accounts by overseas textbook publishers and others that it sees as incorrect.

One such effort has already sparked a backlash from U.S. scholars, who protested a request by Japan’s government to publisher McGraw-Hill Education to revise a textbook’s account of “comfort women,” the euphemism used in Japan for those forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels.
ENDS

Japan Times: Inflammatory articles (such as Sono Ayako’s “Japartheid” Sankei column) aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  An excellent round-up article by Mark Schreiber in the Japan Times featured some analysis of the media ripples following Sono Ayako’s column advocating a Japan version of South African Apartheid.  He has a good look at not only the domestic reaction to this xenophobic proposal for state-enfranchised segregation (surprisingly favorable towards it, especially in a younger-age group!), but also the battle for Japan’s soul through control of the historical narrative.  He also gives us some statistics on how the most common denominator for fanning xenophobia though the media — profit motive — doesn’t seem to be working:  Sales of the scandalous Shuukanshi Weeklies are significantly down across the board.  Then it concludes with Japan’s rapidly declining press freedoms as measured worldwide, and offers the lack of trust in the media as a possible cause for people not buying it because they don’t buy into it.  It’s an insightful piece into how Japan’s media-manufactured national mentalities are descending into a Pravda-style official groupthink.

Probably one of the best articles the Japan Times will put out this year, already appearing.  Excerpt germane to Debito.org follows, but do read the whole thing. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Inflammatory articles aren’t helping mags’ circulation numbers
BY MARK SCHREIBER
THE JAPAN TIMES, FEB 28, 2015

In a controversial column by 83-year-old author Ayako Sono that appeared in the Feb. 11 issue of the Sankei Shimbun under the headline “Maintain a ‘suitable distance,’” Sono suggested that when and if Japan changes its immigration policies to accept more foreign workers, they should live in racially segregated areas.

Remarks on the article appeared in Shukan Post (March 6), Asahi Geino (March 5), Flash (March 10) and Weekly Playboy (March 9). Sono also defended her column in the Shukan Bunshun (Feb. 26). While the general tone of the responses was supportive of Sono’s right to express her opinions, Weekly Playboy went the extra mile and surveyed 100 adults between the ages of 20 and 79. When asked about her stance, 42.3 percent of respondents replied, “I can understand what she’s saying, in part.” This exceeded the 36.6 percent who responded, “It’s understandable for her to be criticized” and 21 percent who saw no problem with the column’s contents.

The magazine also asked the participants if they agreed that foreign blue-collar workers should be admitted in greater numbers to cope with labor shortages. As opposed to 7.8 percent who said they agreed and 27.5 percent who agreed to some extent, 41.8 percent were opposed to some extent, and 22.8 percent were opposed outright.

Interestingly, the age segment that most strongly opposed the acceptance of foreign workers for nursing care services (and the only segment that provided a majority response) was respondents in their 30s, 53 percent of whom said they’d prefer to avoid non-Japanese nurses. From its in-house survey results — the rather small number of subjects notwithstanding — Weekly Playboy concludes that the Japanese still have a deeply rooted “allergy to foreigners.”

Rest of the article at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/28/national/media-national/inflammatory-articles-arent-helping-mags-circulation-numbers/

Tangent: AFP/Jiji: “Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days.” Good news, if enforceable

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a tangent to what Debito.org usually takes up, let’s consider something interesting that affects everyone in Japan: the pretty insane work ethic.

Caveat: Having a society that works hard pays out enormous benefits in terms of convenience. Who can grumble about being able to, say, get a good meal at any time from a convenience store, or have bureaucrats and postal workers working on weekends? Well, those people working those kinds of jobs. And while I see a similar erosion of working hours in the United States (according to the OECD, both Americans and Japanese work fewer hours per year in 2013 than they did in 2000, but Americans still work more hours than Japanese — not surprising seeing how inhumane the amount of time people in retail have to work, especially here in Hawaii), one big issue is the ability to take vacations. I see people working full-time around here able to take sick days and even vacations without much blowback from their colleagues. Not in Japan, according to the article below. That’s why the GOJ is considering making the vacations mandatory.

This is good news. However, a closer consideration of the stats given below show an disturbing tendency: Western Europeans take almost all of their mandatory paid holidays off (up to more than a month), while Japanese take less than half of the half of the paid holidays days off they possibly could (i.e., around nine days a year, according to the article below). And what are the labor unions pushing for? Eight days. How underwhelming. Earn your dues, unions!

I think anyone reading Debito.org (since so many of us have worked for Japanese companies) understands why Japanese workers take so few days off and sometimes work themselves to death — peer pressure. Hey Kinmu Taro, how dare you duck out of the office for a vacation and thereby increase the workload for everyone else? How dare you even try to leave “early” on a daily basis. After all, “early” is defined as ahead of anyone else — you even have to embarrassingly announce “Osaki ni shitsurei shimasu” (“Excuse my rudeness for leaving ahead of you.”) as you walk out the door as an apparent show of good manners (it’s more a mutual policing strategy). So you work late, even if that means you just sit at the office until 7 or 8 PM waiting for the boss, who often has no real interests outside of the company, to leave first (or ask you out for drinks, although that Bubble-Era experience is probably a dying phenomenon). So you find make-work or skiving strategies to look busy, and thus the company soaks up the overwhelming majority of your waking hours, for six or even seven days a week.  To the point where the overwheming majority of Japanese workers are reportedly bored to bits on the job. I’m not saying anything here you probably don’t know already.  I’m just explaining why I opened this blog entry with calling Japan’s work ethic “insane”.

So of course, what with all this embedded bullying, making the holidays mandatory is the only way to go. If it’s enforceable, that is: you’ll have to be brave enough to take it up with the Labor Standards Bureau if your employer won’t play ball (given how many people already work on national holidays anyway, employers don’t). So this development is good news for everyone, except that it’s not really asking for more than what the average person takes off anyway. Not until people demand Western-European standards of vacationing culture will things change.  Clearly even Japan’s worker-representative labor unions are not about to do that (especially given the argument that the United States works even more hours).

I think Japanese corporate culture has immense trouble understanding that working longer does not equal working harder. Being able to take proper vacations is important in understanding how to work smarter — in order to increase worker productivity during the actual hours worked.  By being able to duck out for a vacation recharge when necessary without the stress of guilt interfering, I think the Americans have a bit more leeway to do that.

Labor productivity studies is not exactly my field, and I’m sure plenty of Debito.org Readers have their own opinions and experiences about the work ethic in Japan.  Opening this topic up for discussion.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Workaholic Japan considers making it compulsory to take vacation days
Japan Times/AFP-JIJI, FEB 4, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/04/business/workaholic-japan-considers-making-it-compulsory-to-take-vacation-days/

Who wouldn’t want a holiday?

In Japan, plenty of workers fail to take their paid vacation allowance. The Abe administration is now considering making it compulsory for workers to take at least five days of paid holiday a year, in a bid to lessen the toll on mental and physical health.

Workers typically use less than half their annual leave, according to a survey by the labor ministry that found employees in 2013 took only nine of their 18.5 days average entitlement.

A separate poll showed that one in six workers took no paid holidays at all that year.

The administration wants to boost the amount of paid leave used to 70 percent by 2020 and is planning to submit legislation in the current Diet session mandating holidays.

In early discussions, employers’ groups have proposed limiting the number of compulsory paid holidays to three days, while unions have called for eight.

The culture of long working hours and unpaid overtime is regularly criticized as a leading cause of mental and physical illness among employees.

The term “karoshi,” which means “death by overwork,” entered the lexicon a few years ago amid a surge in the number of people dying because of stress-related problems or taking their own lives.

According to a poll by the Japanese unit of Expedia, a U.S.-based online travel agency, workers in France enjoyed 37 paid holiday days in 2010 and used 93 percent of them.

Spain had 32 paid vacation days and Denmark 29, with the average employee using up more than 90 percent.

As well as the health benefits, days off encourage workers to spend money on leisure activities, thereby boosting the economy.

Japan has a relatively high 15 statutory holidays annually. In recent years there has been a move to shift the days so that they fall adjacent to the weekend, making domestic holidays more of a possibility.

This year for the first time there will be a five-day weekend in May and in September, to which it is expected some employees will add a few days’ leave to make their vacations longer.
ENDS

IPC Digital et al.: Shizuoka Iwata City General Hospital doctor refuses care to Brazilian child, curses out parents and tells them to “die” (kuso, shine)

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Sorry to have gotten to this so late (projects loom), and thanks to all of you to sending me this information.

Have a look at this.  A Japanese doctor in Shizuoka, Iwata City General Hospital (shiritsu sougou byouin), is extremely unhelpful and disrespectful towards his Brazilian patients (not to mention refuses treatment).  It has made the news.  Unlike, say, this “Japanese Only” hospital reported on Debito.org back in 2012, which wound up being ignored by the local media.  It pays to video these things — they go viral, and force apologies.  Not sure how this will stop it from happening in future, but glad that somebody is paying attention this time.

Portuguese videos first, then Portuguese article, Google translated English version, and finally Japanese articles.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(NB:  I do not endorse the quality of the commentary given by vlogger Gimmeaflakeman.  I am not a fan.  I include it here only because it is cited in the Portuguese article below.)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pnme3ldROow


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vR6ZkFcyrd4&feature=share

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Vídeo de suposta discriminação em hospital repercute entre internautas japoneses
ComunidadeJapãopor Paulo Sakamoto – IPC Digital 26/01/15
http://www.ipcdigital.com/japao/video-de-suposta-discriminacao-em-hospital-repercute-entre-internautas-japoneses/
Courtesy of lots of people.
O vídeo que mostra um brasileiro acusando um médico de ter recusado o atendimento e ofendido a sua filha com xingamentos, desejando a sua morte (Kuso, Shine), repercutiu em fóruns de discussões e blogs japoneses.

Dezenas de postagens em blogs do livedoor.biz e outros fóruns, destacaram o acontecimento com o título:(ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro leva filha doente ao hospital durante a noite e médico japonês diz “morra,****” para a criança”. A grande maioria dos comentários foram contra a suposta discriminação.

Alguns internautas japoneses destacaram que, mesmo diante da aparente exaltação do pai, o médico deveria ter atendido o pedido de transferência e que jamais deveria ter usado essas palavras com a criança.

Mesmo em fóruns anônimos, onde não é necessário se identificar para postar um comentário, a maioria dos internautas mostraram indignação com a suposta atitude do médico, dizendo que “certamente, deveria ser despedido” e que “a universidade deveria ser responsável pelas atitudes erradas dos médicos”.

O canal do YouTube Gimmeaflakeman, de cultura e língua japonesa, usou o vídeo como tema para uma aula de japonês. O autor do vídeo usa as palavras ditas pelo brasileiro e pelo médico como exemplos. Confira o vídeo abaixo:

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(Google Translate version follows)

Video of alleged discrimination in hospital resonates with Japanese Internet
Community Japan by Paul Sakamoto – 01/26/15, IPC Digital

The video shows a Brazilian accusing a doctor of refusing care and offended her daughter with curses, wishing his death (Kuso, Shine), reflected in forums of discussions and Japanese blogs.

Dozens of posts in livedoor.biz blogs and other forums, highlighted the event with título: (ブラジル人が子供の病態悪化のため夜連れて行った病院先で、日本人医師が子供に「クソ、死ね」という暴言を吐く) “Brasileiro takes sick daughter to the hospital overnight and Japanese doctor says “die, ****” for the child. ” The vast majority of comments were against the alleged discrimination.

Some Japanese netizens pointed out that, despite the apparent exaltation of the father, the doctor should have attended the transfer request and that should never have used those words with the child.

Even in anonymous forums where it is not necessary to identify to post a comment, most Internet users showed outrage at the perceived attitude of the doctor, saying that “certainly should be fired,” and that “the university should be responsible for the wrong attitudes of physicians. “

The YouTube channel Gimmeaflakeman , culture and Japanese language, used the video as the theme for a Japanese class. The author of the video uses the words spoken by the Brazilian and physician as examples. Check out the video below:

[as above]

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The Asahi:

医師がブラジル人患者家族に「クソ、死ね」 静岡・磐田
朝日新聞 2015年1月28日22時47分
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASH1X3GHYH1XUTPB009.html

静岡県磐田市立総合病院の20代後半の男性医師が緊急外来で受診したブラジル人の女児(6)や家族と応対中に「クソ、死ね」と口にしていたことが、28日明らかになった。医師は不適切な発言を認め、家族に謝罪したという。

病院によれば、昨年12月24日午前0時過ぎ、同県菊川市在住の女児が両足の不調を訴えて緊急搬送され、受診した。血液検査などの結果、治療や入院の必要はない軽度のウイルス性紫斑病と判断し、当直医だった医師は十分な栄養と安静を求めて帰宅を促した。

父親は「入院させてほしい」「万一のことがあったら責任を取れるのか」などと医師に詰め寄り、2時間以上にわたって押し問答となった。その際に医師が不適切な言葉をつぶやいたという。

病院は朝日新聞の取材に対し、「当直医は他の緊急患者にも対応しなければならず、なぜ分かってくれないのかといういらだちからつぶやいてしまったようだ。差別する意図はなかった」と説明した。医師はその日のうちに家族に謝罪し、院長から厳重注意を受けた。
ENDS
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The Sankei via Yahoo:

搬送女児のブラジル人父に医師が「くそ、死ね」
産経新聞 1月28日(水)7時55分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20150128-00000114-san-soci

静岡県の磐田市立総合病院で昨年12月、呼吸器内科の20代の男性医師が、救急搬送されてきた女児に付き添っていたブラジル人の父親に「くそ、死ね」などと暴言を吐いていたことが27日、病院への取材で分かった。病院側は事実関係を認め、「男性に事情を説明して謝罪したい」としている。

病院側によると、昨年12月24日未明、同県菊川市に住む女児(6)が足の不調を訴え、同病院に運び込まれた。当直医だった男性医師が診察し緊急を要しないと判断、付き添いの父親に診察時間内に来るよう指示した。だが、父親は納得せずに口論となり、その中で男性医師が「死ね」などと発言したという。

男性医師は「片言の日本語でコミュニケーションがうまく取れず、腹が立ってつぶやいてしまった」などと話しているという。

男性医師の暴言をめぐっては、動画投稿サイト「ユーチューブ」にやり取りを記録した動画2本が配信され、インターネット上で話題になった。暴言の場面はないが、男性医師が「小児科に行け」と語気荒く指示する姿が記録されている。

同病院によると、男性医師は病院長から厳重注意を受けた。同病院医事課の担当者は「医者として不適切。再発防止に向けて教育を徹底したい」と話した。

ENDS

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

Others.

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

ブラジル人が娘を病院へ連れて行き日本人医師が”クソ 死ね”と発言して問題に

日本在住のあるブラジル人男性が娘の容体が悪化したために病院へ
日本人医師が患者に向かって”クソ 死ね”と発言したことがネット界を騒がせている
これは絶対あかんぞ!

静岡県の磐田市に住むあるブラジル人男性が22日に2つの動画を自身のFACEBOOKで公開し、病院と医師たちを訴えるとコメントした

1つ目のビデオ

Medico Japones Humilha Filha de Brasileiro(日本人医師がブラジル人の娘を侮辱、クソ死ねと発言)
というタイトルでアップされた動画はブラジル人男性が通訳に”医者が患者に向かいなんと発言したか?”を確認する場面から始まっている

動画の中では問題の”クソ 死ね”発言の瞬間は映ってはいないが、医師たちが皆頭を下げて謝罪している様子がうかがえる

このブラジル人男性は牧師である
ある夜礼拝から帰る途中に娘(6歳)の容体が悪くなり、救急車でこの病院に搬送

私たちはとても雑に扱われ、差別された。これは偏見である。真夜中2時に訪れたが帰るよう要求され、他で診察してくれる病院を紹介して欲しいと頼んだがそれも聞き入れてくれなかった

動画の中では娘の体中から内出血のような症状が確認できる

その後他の病院へ連れて行き感染症と内出血により入院
3週間後に容体は回復したものの、診察した医師によるともう少し遅ければ命を落としていた可能性もあったとのこと

2つ目のビデオ

今回なぜ私がこの件をブログに書こうかと思ったか?
実は私もかつてブラジル人の通訳で同行した際に、まさしくここと同じ病院で同様の扱いを受けたからである!
某掲示板では既に病院名や医師名までもが特定されているようです
私の場合は女性医師でしたが、私は後日病院へ抗議の電話を入れ女性医師にちゃんと謝罪させました
我々の命と健康を救ってくれるお医者様は偉大ですが、横柄な態度は許せません!
ENDS

Nobel Prize winner Dr. Shuji “Slave” Nakamura urges Japan’s youth to “get out of Japan”

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from Dr. ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. A discussion about the following article has already started here, so I thought it prudent to promote it to its own blog entry for proper discussion. First the article, then my comment.  (N.B.: people who commented before who wish to repost their commment here, go ahead.)

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

Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
RocketNews, January 23, 2015
Nobel Prize-winner Shuji Nakamura to Japan’s young people: “Get out of Japan”
Courtesy of lots of people

In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world.

If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave.

Although Nakamura praised the Japanese culture of cooperation, hard work and honesty, he called out the education system for focusing too much on the limited goals of exams and getting into big companies. He pointed out that it is failing to give young people the English skills they need to function on a global level.

“Zero incentive”

“In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” he said. “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.”

He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government.

Nakamura slammed Japan for failing to ensure that inventors are fairly compensated for their work, something that stifles innovation and provides “zero incentive” for employees to be creative.

Article 35 of the patent law says that patent rights belong to the inventor, but in practice, companies dictate the terms of compensation to their employees. In fact, Nakamura’s former company paid him the equivalent of just US$180 for his Nobel-winning invention. Nakamura sued in 2001 and a Tokyo court determined that his patent had generated about US$1 billion in revenue. Nakamura settled with the company for US$8 million.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and…see Japan from outside the country.”

Since the litigation, many companies have switched from giving employees a flat fee for patent rights to a percentage of royalties, but the Japan Business Federation has also begun lobbying the government to clarify the law and place patent rights squarely with companies. Prime Minister Abe has hinted that he would like to do so.

“If the Japanese government changes the patent law, it means basically there would no compensation [for inventors]. In that case, I recommend that Japanese employees go abroad,” said Nakamura.

In general, Nakamura encouraged young Japanese to leave, whether to get a better education, to expand their world view or to be better compensated for their work. Despite his criticisms, he is not advocating a wholesale abandonment of Japan either. Rather, a more internationalized population could be the key to meaningful reforms.

“The most important thing is to go abroad and they can see Japan from outside the country. And they understand, …oh, now I can understand bad thing of Japan. That’s the most important thing, no? Japanese people have to wake up about Japanese bad things, you know. I think that’s very important.”

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

COMMENT:  Wow.  “Slave” Nakamura not only refused to settle for the pittance regularly doled out to inventors in Japan that transform innovation and profit for Japan’s corporate behemoths (yes, he sued — millions of people do in Japan every year — and he won!), but also he wouldn’t settle for life in Japan as it is.  He emigrated and now publicly extols the virtues of not being stifled by Japan’s insularity (and governmental mind control!?).  Pretty brave and bracing stuff.  Bravo.

It isn’t the first time this sort of thing has happened within Japan’s intelligentsia.  How many readers remember the “Tonegawa Shock” of 1987?

When the 1987 Nobel Prize was given to [Susumu] Tonegawa, who had moved to the US so he could be inspired and free to carry on his research, Japanese academics took notice and some were humiliated. Tonegawa had asserted that if he had remained in Japan, he would have had to spend years courting favor with mentors and dealing with disinterested colleagues, lagging unchallenged and unmotivated, certainly never to attain Nobel laureate. The press labeled the phenomenon as “Tonegawa Shock” which described the actions of similar Japanese scientists, such as Leo Esaki, a 1973 laureate in physics, who left Japan to work at IBM in the US. [Source]

The Tonegawa Shock set off a chain of events that led to the despotic Ministry of Education deciding to “enliven” (kasseika) Japan’s education system by doing away with tenure.  Sounds great to people who don’t understand why tenure exists in an education system, but what happened is that the MOE first downsized everyone that they could who was not on tenure — the NJ educators on perpetual contract eemployment (ninkisei) — in what was called the “Great Gaijin Massacre” of 1992-1994 where most NJ teachers working in Japan’s prestigious National and Public Universities over the age of 35 were fired by bureaucratic fiat.  It was the first activism that I took up back in 1993, and the underlying “Academic Apartheid” of Japan’s higher education system exposed by this policy putsch became the bedrock issue for Debito.org when it was established in 1996.

With this in mind, I wonder what reverberations will result from Dr. Nakamura encouraging an exodus?  Hopefully not something that will further damage the NJ communities in Japan.  But if there is more NJ scapegoating in the offing, you’ll probably hear about it on Debito.org.  That’s what we’re here for.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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Please see letter attached.

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

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

<03 – Ltr debito.org 28.7.09.pdf>

Nationwidenews01072809

Nationwidenews02072809

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

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

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

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

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

Arudou Debito (ne David Aldwinckle) in Sapporo, Japan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

—–Original Message—–

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

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

Dave Aldwinckle
Sapporo

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

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

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

> Regards
> Mairead Sweeney
> The Australian Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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From: “Magazine,  Australian” <ausmag@matp.newsltd.com.au>
To: “‘debito@debito.org‘” <debito@debito.org>
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Dear Dave
Apologies for the delay in getting back to you.
There is no problem reproducing the article, as long as credit is given to
The Australian Magazine.

Happy Christmas.
Regards
Mairead Sweeney
The Australian Magazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migration info database eyed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More robots in service industry planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

eBooks, Books, and more from ARUDOU, Debito (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hello Blog.  Let’s start 2015 with a discussion about Japan’s tourism policy and some of the memes within.  Submitter JDG offers these thoughts about a recent Japan Times article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

 | 

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

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

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

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

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

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

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

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

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

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

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

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

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

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

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

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

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

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

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

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

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

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

6) Muslims compensated for leak

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

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

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

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

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

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

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

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

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

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

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

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

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

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

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

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

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

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

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

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

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

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

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

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

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


Bubbling under:

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

“Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog.  Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent:  nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

1) Nightclub “W”
名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F
TEL 052-242-5705
IDX グループ 株式会社IDXのHP
Official FaceBookページ http://www.facebook.com/nagoya.w
Twitterアカウント @w_052

It’s a pretty big place:
NagoyaWfront
Courtesy http://w-nagoya.com/access

and it has this sign, courtesy of SM and MS, as of October 25, 2014:
BarWNagoyaJapaneseonlyOct252014

Funny, that, because one of the the first images that currently greets you when you go to their webpage (http://w-nagoya.com) is this:
clubwnagoyaanimalnight112814

SM adds: Hello Debito, on MS’s wall you asked for a bit of background re: this photo I had posted on my own wall today. Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called “W.” There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I’d be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn’t try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way.

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

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)

住所 広島市中区流川町7-6
第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777
It also has a pretty impressive website:
http://clubleopard.jphttps://www.facebook.com/pages/CLUB-Leopard/650751705033353

And an equally impressive set of rules to follow, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardNov2014
Look at the very bottom for the “DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE”.
(Love how they render a “foreigner” in silhouette: That tuft of hair, so “foreign”! Ironic given how much time you see the J-guys who frequent nightclubs spend on THEIR hair…)

Interestingly enough, that set of rules has now been amended, according to their website as of today:
http://clubleopard.jp/rule/
CLUBLeopardrevisedNov2014

That’ll keep out those darn pickpockets!

So will they, or won’t they, let in NJ patrons? Somebody in Hiroshima, go on down and check out DJ Kaori (of American Idol fame) on December 6!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 25, 2014:

As of November 17, the “Japanese Only” restriction is on CLUB Leopard’s advertising trucks, courtesy of GH:

CLUBLeopardtrucksidead111714

What a fun-sounding place.  Advertising yourself so prominently based upon what you can’t do when you’re there!

Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Readers VW and TO have just submitted the following ad campaign from P&G Japan (as in Procter & Gamble), with the following comment:

==================================
Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan.

Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent?

Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws
Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/

There’s also a mini, 20 second ad on YouTube that is being promoted right now when people load other, unrelated videos (which is how I ran across this). I hope it may be of interest to you or your readers.
==================================

Thank you. First, let’s embed the ad with stills:

Synopsis: In a 3 1/2-minute retelling of the Cinderella story, a flower-sniffing Prince Charming announces to his Queen mother that he wants to find a woman to be his bride (hanayome).

P&GPrinceQueenestablishshot

This announcement is sent throughout the land that there will be a royal ball (butoukai) to accomplish this, and a message arrives at Cinderella’s home, where she expresses a wish to go.

P&Gcinderellaopening

But her nasty stepsisters and stepmother saddle her with a heap of laundry (done in a modern Japanese-style washing machine) and go instead.

P&Gcinderellawashingmachine

Fortunately, the Fairy Godmother comes by with Bold detergent in a gel form, which enables her not only to escape the drudgery and go to the ball, but also become perfumed, in a way that makes her nose grow longer and twitchy.

P&GCinderellanosetwitch P&GCinderellanoserainbow

Cut to the evening gala, where all the women are trying to make their noses longer.

P&Gnoselengthen3 P&Gnoselengthen2 P&Gnoselengthen1

When Prince Charming asks why, she says that PC wanted a nose (hana) ball. No, says PC, he was referring to flowers (hana).

P&Gprincecharmingflower

No matter, in walks Cinderella, and her fragrant clothes entrance the Prince and make their noses mutually longer and flappier.

P&Gprincecharmingnosegrow

P&Gcinderellaprincecharmingdance

They have their flappy nose dance until midnight, when suddenly she has to leave (no carriage, but a mama-chari bicycle).  But she leaves behind a fragrant article of clothing which the Prince finds and flaps his nose at.

P&Gprincecharmingbeforesniff P&Gprincecharmingaftersniff

At the end of the ad, the Prince commands his kingdom to “Find Cinderella!!” And now the viewer is left with the question: “Is this a chance for you also to become Cinderella!?”

P&Gfindcinderella

And an accented voiceover tells the viewer to go to P&G’s website for more (complete with exaggerated “Western” facial features, and a Cinderella with a flappy nose).

P&Gcinderellawebsitecampaign

COMMENT:  It’s a clever ad.  Procter & Gamble Japan clearly spent a lot of money on it, with elaborate costumes and many extras, all very milk-white and European, and most quite well trained (especially the Queen) in speaking phonetic Japanese without obnoxious katakana subtitles (Cinderella herself speaks without accent, although the transitional voice-overs have a Japanese native narrator speaking in a foreignized accent).  And the reason I say it’s clever is because it’s making clever puns with flower/nose and retelling the old tale quite afresh (the product itself is very much subsumed to the plot-line).

But it’s still a racialized telling of the tale, what with those damned elongated and flappy noses.  Debito.org has brought up other examples of racialized marketing in Japan (see archive at https://www.debito.org/?p=12077), particularly in terms of nose imagery, and how obnoxious it can get:

nagasakitabinetto ANAHanedabignose vibesumadara3 toshiba2013suipanda6 toshiba2013suipanda1 MandomAd2 gaijinmask082112 090813mrjamesfull

After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its “change the image of Japan” (into a long-nosed Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized bread maker ad (see here), and McDonald’s Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their “Mr. James” burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan’s advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form.

Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an “Asian” product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all “Asian buck teeth” reaching out to eat it?  No doubt Japan’s patrol of internet PC police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan’s missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign.  People making fun of Asian “slanted eyes” has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies.

So what about this?  What do Debito.org Readers think?  Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

SakuraiYoshikoJINFYomiuriAd

Searchable text:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

SundayMainichi1019141

SundayMainichi1019142

ENDS

“No Foreigners” (and no women) Capsule Inn Omiya hotel in Saitama (UPDATE AUG 21: No-foreigner rule withdrawn, but lots more exclusionary hotels found on Rakuten)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Joining the ranks of hundreds of other places nationwide that have “Japanese Only” rules in place is this capsule hotel called “Kapuseru In Ohmiya” in Miyamachi 5-3-1, Ohmiya-ku, Saitama, close to JR Omiya Station East Exit, phone 048-641-4122.  Incidentally, and also in violation of Japan’s Hotel Management Law, it does not allow women to stay there either.  Here’s a screen capture of their entry on Rakuten as of August 18, 2014, with all their contact details.  Courtesy of MF.

(Click on image to expand in your browser.)

Front door with directions there:

JapaneseOnlyCapsuleInnSaitamafront

Entire site with “No Foreigners” and “No Women” rules listed at very bottom:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInn081714

Anyone want to give them a call, and/or to report them to the authorities?  Here’s how.

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2014:  THEIR RAKUTEN ENTRY HAS REMOVED THE “JAPANESE ONLY” RULE, AMENDED IT TO A “BRING A JAPANESE SPEAKER IF YOU DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE, AS THE STAFF DOESN’T SPEAK FOREIGN LANGUAGES”.  THE “MEN-ONLY” RULE REMAINS. RAKUTEN PAGE SCREEN CAPTURE BELOW:

JapaneseOnlySaitamaCapsuleInnrulerepealed082114

ENDS

Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here:  A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India.  Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”.  Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality.  It’s a function of racialized tribalism.

In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people:  Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”.  Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners.  But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants.  So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.

Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction.  And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception.  Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do.  Articles follow.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

‘Only Japanese, no Indian people, ma’am’
Bangalore Mirror Bureau | Jun 24, 2014, 02.00 AM IST

Howard Murphy, a Brit, too was barred from the restaurant in Uno-In. ‘It is just racist,‘ Murphy told Bangalore Mirror
By : Tapasya Mitra Mazumder & Afsha Khan, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bangaloremirror.com/bangalore/cover-story/Only-Japanese-no-Indian-people-maam/articleshow/37097278.cms,

Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians

The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals.

Adjacent to the KTM showroom, Uno-In started two years ago with the sole aim of catering to Japanese nationals visiting the city for work or tour. It’s clear the hotel is not eager to advertise its presence as a hand-painted sign on the mouth of the road is the only giveaway to the place situated at the cul-de-sac.

Based on an incident (we will come back to it later) that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel.

BM Reporter: Hi. We are here for Teppen.

Hotel Staff: Yes, but only Japanese people allowed ma’am. No Indian people.

Reporter: No, we were not told that. A friend of ours recommended the place to us and said it has amazing Japanese food.

Hotel: Hi, I am Nic. This is a dedicated place for Japanese people alone.

Reporter: No, but we heard so much about this place from our Japanese friends.

Hotel: I know but we really don’t do that. It is really hard to maintain the quality system and we just have Japanese corporate people visiting us. We are the Nippon group and we have tie-ups with our own Japanese companies. Their people come to us. The entire hotel is for the Japanese alone and we don’t entertain anyone else.

After about five minutes of cajoling, we were allowed in with Iqbal stating, “I run the whole show so you can go in as my guests.” The afterthought of a welcome seemed to be directly linked to the absence of any Japanese guests (and hence no one at all) in the restaurant.

Recalling an ‘incident’ in March, Amisha Garg Agarwal, director (strategy planning), Percept/H said, “A couple of months back some colleagues accompanied our Japanese clients to the hotel for lunch. But they didn’t allow my colleagues in, stating, ‘Indians are not allowed’, despite the clients insisting they be permitted into the restaurant.”

She says when they sought an explanation, they were told Indians demanded Indian and vegetarian food. “We have heard about many more such cases from our Japanese friends in the city,” she said.

Ishiro Takazuma (name changed on request), a Japanese advertising professional who frequently travels to Bangalore for work, said that during one of his initial sojourns, he had stayed at the Uno-In and knew the food there was good. So when some Japanese colleagues were in the vicinity along with a couple of Indian colleagues a couple of months back, he recommended Uno-In’s restaurant. “We have never had any problem there before but our Indian colleagues were stopped from accompanying us into the restaurant. They relented on our insistence, though. I understand their policy of catering only to Japanese clients and their rights to reservation, but they should not have stopped our Indian friends from entering the place when they were with us.”

The ‘rights of admission reserved’ rule is in the realm of ambiguity at best. When we asked the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the issuing authority for trade licences, about how far an establishment can go in its ‘right of admission reserved’ rule, the officials had no clue. ”We have never come across it till now. We issue licences, check if the health, safety and cleanliness standards are being maintained. Nothing beyond it,” said an official.

When Bangalore Mirror contacted Uno-In’s Iqbal for comment, he said they had no qualms in admitting any customer, but they mainly catered to the needs of those residing in their corporate houses, mostly comprising the Japanese. “It is not a walk-in restaurant which is why we haven’t even publicised it as a restaurant. We do not have the infrastructure to function as a full-fledged restaurant which is why we have limited it to only Japanese delegates. And we do not entertain anyone else apart from Japanese people. However, if people come and request to have a Japanese meal, we do not mind catering to their requests.” That, based on experiences earlier by some Bangaloreans and the reporters is bunkum.

‘IT IS JUST RACIST’

To its credit, Uno-In seems to be ‘fair-handed’ in its racism. BANGALORE MIRROR sent a Brit to see if they will have a different set of rules, in typically Indian fashion, for the whites. Howard Murphy , founder of Amurco and from Manchester, was told on Monday lunch hour by the receptionist that the place is ”restricted to Japanese” and denied him entry. “Later another person — I presume he was the manager — came and said the same thing…that the place is meant only for Japanese. It’s just racist.”

An African PhD student, Charles Mwiriji Keega, was our next decoy. His experience: “We parked the bike outside.A guard opened the gate for us and I said I want to eat lunch here. He guided me to the place where the restaurant was. An executive officer came to me here and along with him four other people who seemed like heads at the restaurant came. They (all Indians) saw me and said that it’s not a restaurant first. I could see the tables there. So told them that. Then one guy came and told me that this is only for Japanese. He got a bit angry and tried to chase me out. They told me to go eat elsewhere. I said that I wanted to have Japanese food. He got annoyed with me and started to bully me out.”

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU?

With entry banned to non-Japanese, Bangalore Mirror just had to eat at Uno In’s open-air cafe to satiate its curiosity pangs. Having virtually begged to be let in, here goes the accidental review, without any fear or favour. Not that it will help you, unless you are a Japanese reading this

So how does this exclusively-for-Japanese restaurant look inside? Teppen, an open-air cafe on the fourth floor of Uno-In, exudes the air of an office cafeteria. Since we were the only customers — and Indians at that — the staff was initially a touch wary but eased up after we returned their bow and smiled. The menu carried just the Japanese names of the dishes which is understandable considering its clientele. A waiter pointed out the chicken items, and even a vegetarian dish, he thought we may prefer over-fried pork with the skin on.

As we had heard of Daikon (radish), we decided to order that hoping it might be served with a dressing of vinegar and sesame. But the bowl of raw, shredded radish placed in front of us was unseasoned. We, thus, sincerely apologise if this isn’t Japanese etiquette, but we doused it in the soya sauce placed on our table to alter it to suit our palate. What we could make out was that most items on the menu were set meals – essentially a protein served on a platter with rice, miso soup, pickled cucumber and raw vegetables.

It suffices here to say that we left with the knowledge that we had got a taste of authentic Japanese food. For what it’s worth, the fried jumbo shrimps enveloped in thick hot and crispy batter and the miso soup with tofu cubes went down well, but if anybody wants to have sushi, they will need to come here for dinner as they aren’t available at lunch.

ENDS
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Bangalore shuts down ‘Japanese only’ hotel
The Mail Online India, By ARAVIND GOWDA
PUBLISHED: 18:40 EST, 2 July 2014
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2678420/Bangalore-shuts-Japanese-hotel.html

All over: Uno-in hotel in Bangalore, a Japanese-only restaurant, has been closed down

A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.

The Uno-Inn Hotel – set up two years ago in central Bangalore by a local entrepreneur in association with the Nippon Infrastructure Company to cater to the growing number of Japanese visitors – shot to limelight after it allegedly stopped Indians, British and Africans from entering the roof-top restaurant.

The 30-room hotel and the restaurant were meant exclusively for Japanese tourists and businessmen visiting the city.

Last week, a few Bangaloreans, who decided to try out the Japanese restaurant at the hotel, were shocked when they were reportedly informed that they were unwelcome there.

This shocked the locals, who duly brought the matter to the notice of the GBCC.

Recently, GBCC officials visited the hotel and detected various violations by the management.

Consequently, the GBCC locked 10 out of the 30 rooms of the hotel and issued a notice to the hotel to comply with the local laws.

But the hotel management contended that Indians and other foreign nationals were welcome at their restaurant.

The GBCC is not authorised to initiate any action against the hotel management for its alleged racial discrimination, and only the law enforcement agencies were entitled to initiate action against the hotel.

ENDS

Unsuccessful protest against instatement of NJ CEO at Takeda Pharma: Note weird narratives of exclusionism

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m coming to this story a bit late (it was first brought up here within comments to a different post), so my apologies — I’m running this blog on a 4-5 day cycle so I can have a life outside of cyberspace. Anyway, check this out, for the record:

Japan’s largest drug maker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., last month tapped a NJ (a Frenchman by the name of Cristophe Weber) to be its next CEO. This occasioned protests by the founding Takeda family and dissident shareholders, because hiring a NJ to be its leader would allegedly be abhorrent.

Relativism first: We’ve of course had protests and government interventions in other countries when foreigners buy up a strategically-important company. (Let me date myself: I remember the Westland helicopters scandal when I was living in England back in the 1980s!) So business xenophobia is not unique to Japan, of course.

But check out the narratives of justification for the exclusionism being proffered with straight faces:

  1. A NJ CEO of a Japanese company would be “bad for the morale of Japanese employees”. (Why?)
  2. A NJ CEO would necessarily result in “technological transfer overseas” (i.e., NJ are untrustworthy).
  3. This would mean “finances or research and development would be entrusted to NJ” (Would it? This is an unaccountable dictatorship? This is not an issue of NJ-dom: Remember the corruption of the Olympus case, and they were all Japanese at the helm — until a NJ became the whistleblower.)
  4. A NJ CEO is tantamount to a hostile “takeover by foreign capital” (again, those trust issues).
  5. This particular NJ is unknowledgable of Japan’s health care industry of the “traditions and corporate culture” of Takeda (i.e., NJ are ignorant about Japan and Japan’s permutations of industry).

Imagine those arguments being made if a Japanese helmed an overseas company (we already had a Japanese in 2009 placed at the helm of, for example, the Japan Society in New York — an organization founded in 1907 by powerful Americans to explore Japanese society). Accusations of racism would probably fly. But in Japan, not so much. These knee-jerk exclusionary discourses are that hegemonic.

Anyway, the exclusionists (who only hold 1-2% of total shares, so they’re basically soukaiya) did not win out, and Weber became CEO. Nyah. Some referential articles about the Takeda Pharma Case follow. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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Takeda family protests putting foreigner at drug maker’s helm
June 22, 2014 The Yomiuri Shimbun
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001369207

The founding family of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., the nation’s largest drug manufacturer, is in revolt against the management’s plan to install a Frenchman as the company’s first foreign president.

The firm’s former executives are joining the founding family to thwart a plan to appoint Christophe Weber, 47, president at a shareholders meeting on Friday. But there is little possibility the decision will be reversed. The revolt indicates a deep-rooted aversion among some Japanese toward foreigners assuming top corporate posts.

Weber was headhunted from major British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

As a result of its repeated acquisition of huge foreign makers, non-Japanese account for two-thirds of Takeda’s employees. The installation of Weber as president and chief operating officer of the 230-year-old company is seen as a symbol of the firm’s expectations for his international perspective.

About 110 people comprising members of the founding family and the firm’s former executives in April submitted a jointly signed letter of protest to the company. They warned:

—If Weber becomes president and Takeda is acquired by a major foreign firm, Takeda’s superior drug-making technologies may be lost if transferred overseas.

—There is a feared brain drain of Takeda’s researchers, as this could lead to the firm making the same mistakes as major Japanese electrical appliance manufacturers.

Judging Weber’s appointment as president as tantamount to a “takeover by foreign capital,” they stressed that they would never allow finances or research and development to be entrusted to a non-Japanese.

Comparing a foreign president to a takeover by a foreign capital may very well be a leap of logic. Those who submitted the letter of protest hold a mere 1 percent to 2 percent of total shares.

One of the Takeda founding family members, who signed the letter, said: “Weber does not know anything about the Japanese health care industry. He does not know about the tradition and [corporate] culture of Takeda Pharmaceutical, either. It is absurd to install such a person as president.”

As a reason for Weber’s appointment, Takeda Pharmaceutical said: “It was a result of screening candidates from both inside and outside the company with an eye to fairness. Employees will be able to learn a great deal from working under his leadership, as he has been active in global business.”

The company declined to comment on the specific points made in the letter of protest, referring only to the upcoming shareholders meeting.

Takeda Pharmaceutical was established in 1781 in Osaka as a brokerage firm for crude drugs. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868, Takeda began importing Western drugs ahead of domestic competitors.

The current president, Yasuchika Hasegawa, took over the post in 2003 from Kunio Takeda, a descendent of the founding family. Hasegawa has promoted globalization of the company’s operations by acquiring foreign companies and headhunting non-Japanese from rival firms to appoint them to executive posts.

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Interview: New Takeda President Sees Developing Talent as Priority
By ERIC PFANNER and KANA INAGAKI
The Wall Street Journal, July 1, 2014
http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/07/01/interview-new-takeda-president-sees-developing-talent-as-priority/

PHOTO: Christophe Weber, president and chief operating officer of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., speaks during a news conference in Tokyo on April 2, 2014.

Days after shareholders of Japan’s largest drugmaker, Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., approved the company’s first foreign president, the company said it was moving to develop internal talent so it wouldn’t necessarily have to look outside its ranks for a successor the next time around.

The new president, Christophe Weber, who is French, said Tuesday in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that talent development and retention was one of 10 management priorities he and a team of Takeda executives had identified for the coming months. Mr. Weber’s appointment had raised concerns that Takeda lacked managers with the skills to oversee the company’s international expansion.

The news followed a stormy annual meeting last week, where a group of more than 100 shareholders questioned Takeda’s globalization strategy, which has included acquisitions of drugmakers like Nycomed of Switzerland and Millennium Pharamaceuticals of the United States. The appointment of foreign managers like Mr. Weber was bad for the morale of Japanese employees, the dissidents said.

Shareholders overrode those concerns by an overwhelming margin in a vote that Mr. Weber and Yasuchika Hasegawa, the company’s chief executive, described as an endorsement of Takeda’s globalization strategy. While many Japanese companies have been moving to expand internationally as the domestic market stagnates, few have taken the radical step — for a Japanese company — of hiring foreign top executives.

“The globalization of Takeda is good for Japanese employees and it is good for Japan,” Mr. Weber said. “I hope that we’ll have my own internal successor as well.”

Mr. Weber, who joined the company in April, said he had spent his first three months listening to Takeda employees’ concerns and planned to announce a strategy by the end of the year.

“There is a certain fear of the unknown,” he said. “My hope is that they will see that what we’re doing is good for everybody, especially for Japanese employees.”

Mr. Weber is joining Takeda at a sensitive time for pharmaceutical companies in Japan, amid heightened regulatory scrutiny on ethical issues.

Prosecutors in Tokyo said Tuesday they had charged the Japanese unit of Novartis AG with altering research data to make a blood pressure drug, Diovan, appear more effective than competing products. Novartis said it would review the charges and that it had taken steps to improve oversight in Japan.

Takeda, too, has faced scrutiny of its drug promotions, and in March admitted to using “inappropriate expressions” in ads for a hypertension medicine, Blopress, after questions were raised about the accuracy of a graph.

“I think our case is quite different from the Novartis case,” Mr. Hasegawa said, adding that the company had put in place measures to improve oversight.

“The challenge is always how are we sure that 100% of our employees have the same understanding” of the company’s values, Mr. Weber said.
ENDS

Reuters Special Report on Japan’s “Trainee System” as “Sweatshops in Disguise”: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage

mytest

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Hi Blog. Making an enormous impact was this Reuters expose that came out a little over a week ago exposing the corruption and exploitation of Japan’s deadly foreign “Trainee” System, in place since 1993.

Debito.org has talked at length about this deadly system many times before, start here. But Reuters collates the issues in a very accessible manner in its article below. A PDF with even more information and graphics, entitled “Sweatshops in Disguise”, is available at http://graphics.thomsonreuters.com/14/06/JAPAN-LABOR.pdf (archived just in case on Debito.org at ReutersTraineesJapansSweatshopsinDisguise061214).

Once comment on the Reuters website that resonated with me was, “Japan is in this regard no more than a clean Third-World country.”  This horrible system should have been the shame of Japan and stopped long ago.  Instead, as it approaches its 25th anniversary, it’s gearing up for an expansion under the Abe Administration.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

 

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Special Report: Foreign interns pay the price for Japan’s labor shortage
BY ALEXANDRA HARNEY AND ANTONI SLODKOWSKI
HAKUSAN, Japan/HAIMEN, China, June 12 Thu Jun 12, 2014 
Courtesy: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2014/06/12/us-japan-labour-special-report-idUKKBN0EN06G20140612

Labor-short Japan expanding foreign trainee program

(Reuters) – Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 was a regular work day at Kameda, a family-owned apparel factory housed in rusting corrugated metal buildings in the western Japanese city of Hakusan. For three Chinese women, it was a day of escape.

At about 6:30 that morning, Ichiro Takahara, a Japanese union organizer, rolled up outside the dormitory where the women lived. Lu Xindi, Qian Juan and Jiang Cheng were waiting – they had been secretly plotting this move for months. Takahara drove them to a convenience store and then to the local labor standards office.

The story behind their flight began three years earlier and more than 900 miles (1,440 km) away in eastern China’s Jiangsu province. There, they signed up with a labor export company to work in Japan’s “foreign technical intern” program, which Tokyo insists is designed to help workers from developing countries learn advanced technical skills.

In a lawsuit filed in a Japanese court, Lu, Qian and Jiang claim that rather than training them, Kameda forced them to work excessive hours at below minimum wage. In 2011, their busiest year, the women were working 16 hours a day, six days a week, with 15 minutes for lunch, according to the lawsuit and work records. For that, they were paid around $4 per hour, according to records reviewed by Reuters.

Other former interns have made similar allegations in dozens of lawsuits filed in Japan. Their case stands out because during the time Lu, Qian and Jiang were working there, Kameda was putting pleats in Burberry BRBY.L clothes.

Japan is a key market for the British luxury brand, generating 12.8 percent of Burberry’s pre-tax profit, or around 55 million pounds ($92.5 million), in the year to March 31, 2013.

The profits came from licensing arrangements, some of which date back decades. Today, Burberry maintains licensing arrangements with four Japanese companies. The largest of these is with apparel manufacturer and retailer Sanyo Shokai, a relationship that began in 1970. Though most of what Burberry produces in Japan is sold there, factories in Japan also supply two stores in Hong Kong that sell the Burberry Blue and Burberry Black lines. Kameda was putting pleats in shirts and skirts sold by Sanyo Shokai under the Burberry Black line.

Burberry declined to allow Reuters to speak to any executives directly about the Kameda case. Through a public relations agency, it issued a statement saying Burberry had asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate its relationship with Kameda in late 2012 because Kameda was not complying with Burberry’s ethical standards.

Among Kameda’s other clients at this time were some of Japan’s largest trading houses: Itochu 8001.T and Mitsui Bussan Inter-Fashion (MIF), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsui & Co 8031.T. Mitsui said it was unaware of the lawsuit until Reuters contacted the company for comment; MIF said it would monitor the lawsuit and then decide about the company’s relationship with Kameda. Itochu said it was not aware that Kameda employed foreign technical interns.

Kameda’s website lists department store Isetan 3099.T as a client. A spokesman for the retailer, now known as Mitsukoshi Isetan, said that it has only been buying women’s apparel from Kameda since January.

The most recent government data show there are about 155,000 technical interns in Japan. Nearly 70 percent are from China, where some labor recruiters require payment of bonds worth thousands of dollars to work in Japan. Interns toil in apparel and food factories, on farms and in metal-working shops. In these workplaces, labor abuse is endemic: A 2012 investigation by Japanese labor inspectors found 79 percent of companies that employed interns were violating labor laws. The Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said it would use strict measures, including prosecution, toward groups that repeatedly violated the laws or failed to follow its guidance in their treatment of technical interns.

Critics say foreign interns have become an exploited source of cheap labor in a country where, despite having the world’s most rapidly ageing population, discussion of increased immigration is taboo. The U.S. State Department, in its 2013 Trafficking in Persons report, criticized the program’s use of “extortionate contracts”, restrictions on interns’ movements, and the imposition of heavy fees if workers leave.

Japan faces a worsening labor shortage, not only in family-run farms and factories such as Kameda but in construction and service industries. It is a major reason that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s administration is planning a further expansion of the trainee program.

TRAINEES, NOT WORKERS

Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived in Osaka by boat on Nov. 19, 2009. Lu was 30, Qian 28, and Jiang just 19.

The women had signed up to work in Japan with a labor export company in the city of Haimen, not far from Shanghai, called Haimen Corporation for Foreign Economic & Technical Cooperation.

A woman at the company’s office who gave her name as Chen confirmed that the company sent workers to Japan to work in apparel factories. But she declined to discuss the Kameda case, or even confirm that the company had sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

The Haimen firm then signed an agreement with Shanghai SFECO International Business Service, a subsidiary of state-owned company China SFECO Group, according to Guan Xiaojun, head of the Japan trainee department. Shanghai SFECO signed a contract with the Ishikawa Apparel Association and sent Lu, Qian and Jiang to Japan.

Guan said Lu, Qian and Jiang probably paid about RMB30,000, or more than $4,800, in “service fees”, as well as a separate fee of RMB4,550 that would be returned to the women after three years as long as they did not violate Japanese law. Asked about the accusations in the lawsuit, Guan said her company had only dispatched the workers. “Labor disputes have nothing to do with us,” she said.

The rules of the program specified that Lu, Qian and Jiang’s first year in Japan was to be devoted to training. Japanese law bars employing foreigners as unskilled laborers. But quietly, the country has been bringing in foreigners since at least the 1980s, originally to train staff of companies with operations overseas. The practice was formalized as the technical intern program in 1993.

The women received 18 days of Japanese language training in Osaka. Then, the Ishikawa Apparel Association put them on a bus for the drive to Kameda, said their lawyer, Shingo Moro.

Kameda specializes in making pleats. It had relied on foreign interns for about a decade because it couldn’t find enough workers in Japan, Yoshihiko Kameda, its president, told Reuters.

The conditions the lawsuit describes are a world apart from the clean, efficient image Japan projects to the world, and a far cry from the quintessentially British reputation on which Burberry trades.

Not long after their arrival, the apparel association took the women’s passports and passed them to Kameda in violation of Japanese law protecting interns’ freedom of movement, according to the lawsuit. An Ishikawa Apparel Association spokeswoman, who declined to give her name, said the group does not conduct inappropriate supervision and training, but declined further comment citing the lawsuit.

At the factory, Lu, Qian and Jiang’s overtime stretched to more than 100 hours a month, the lawsuit says. A timesheet prepared with data supplied by Kameda to the Japanese labor standards bureau shows Lu logged an average of 208 hours a month doing overtime and “homework” during her second year in Japan. That is equivalent to almost 16 hours a day, six days a week. Japanese labor policy considers 80 hours of overtime a month the “death by overwork” threshold.

For this, Lu earned about 400 yen, about $4, an hour at Kameda, the timesheet shows. The local minimum wage at the time was 691 yen an hour, and Japanese law requires a premium of as much as 50 percent of the base wage for overtime.

In addition, during lunch breaks and after work, the women were asked to do “homework”. For this, they were paid by the piece, rather than by the hour.

At night, Lu, Qian and Jiang slept in an old factory building, their lawyer says. To catch rats, Kameda brought in a cat, which brought fleas. Lu and Qian suffered so many flea bites they developed skin conditions, the lawsuit says. Evidence compiled for the lawsuit shows the women’s legs covered in bites.

REHEARSING THE INSPECTION

Like Lu, Qian and Jiang, most interns come through a program supported by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO), a foundation funded by the Japanese government and member groups. JITCO is also tasked with ensuring its members’ internship programs are properly run.

Kameda’s factory is in Hakusan, an industrial town of about 100,000 people on Japan’s west coast, a center for Japan’s once booming apparel industry. That industry has largely been reduced to family-run factories, such as Kameda’s, which mostly do small orders with quick turnarounds at low margins. Around the Kameda factory are several others that employ foreign trainees from China and Southeast Asia.

In November 2011, Kameda told the interns the plant was going to be inspected by JITCO, according to testimony the women gave Takahara’s activist group. The inspection came after four Chinese interns at a nearby apparel factory – also a member of the Ishikawa Apparel Association – fled to Takahara’s shelter and filed a complaint about labor issues.

Kameda, who lives in a large house with a manicured Japanese garden opposite the factory where he used to house the women, tried to hide their working conditions from JITCO inspectors. Kameda threatened to send them back to China if they didn’t do as they were told, according to their testimony.

The day before the inspector arrived, Kameda gave Lu, Qian and Jiang fake payslips, according to their testimony. Together with an interpreter and a representative from the apparel association, Kameda told them how to respond to questions from the inspector. They rehearsed their answers twice. The next day, when the inspector asked them if they still had their passports, the women knew to say that they did.

JITCO declined to comment on the Kameda case.

Asked about alleged abuses in the program, JITCO said in a statement that it will continue to provide legal protection for interns. JITCO will also help supervising organizations adhere to immigration and labor laws and regulations “by providing all kinds of advice, and through public relations such as seminars and teaching materials”.

In the interview with Reuters, Kameda said the interns approached him about how they should respond to the JITCO inspection several times. He denied coaching or threatening to send them home if they did not answer as instructed. But he acknowledged telling Lu, Qian and Jiang that they might be sent home, as workers at the nearby factory had been.

He also recalled telling the workers their overtime – which he said exceeded 100 hours a month at that time – might be a problem for the JITCO inspector. In fact, JITCO even warned him the interns were working too much overtime, Kameda said. Asked about this inspection, JITCO said it would not comment on individual cases.

Kameda acknowledged keeping some of his workers’ passports, but said it was at their request. He said the women sometimes worked 100 hours of overtime a month and may have put in as many as 173 hours.

Kameda also said he initially paid them less than the legal wage. But he insisted the underpayment was the result of an administrative error. The additional hours and homework, he said, were provided at the women’s behest. Kameda warned the workers that the hours they were working were longer than Japanese labor law allowed, but the workers expressed a “strong desire” to continue working long hours, he told Reuters.

No one from the Ishikawa Apparel Association visited Kameda prior to a JITCO inspection, the apparel group’s spokeswoman said. She said she was not aware of any use of falsified payslips, or of any coaching of Kameda interns. She confirmed that the interns had complained to the association about their housing. The association, she said, asked Kameda to respond to the interns’ concerns.

Lu, Qian and Jiang, who have since returned to China, declined requests for an interview. Interns who have sued their former Japanese employers can face difficulties upon returning home, including intimidation, lawsuits and penalties from the Chinese companies who sent them to Japan – and also pressure from family members ashamed of their problems overseas.

THE UNDOING

The women complained several times to Kameda about their living conditions, labor organizer Takahara says, but nothing changed until they complained to the Ishikawa Apparel Association. After the group passed on this complaint, Kameda moved the women into temporary housing while he cleaned the converted factory where they slept. It was two months before they could move back into the factory, according to Takahara.

Around August 2012, the workers reached out to Takahara’s group. Could he help the workers negotiate a settlement like the one the Chinese interns received at the nearby apparel factory? Through a colleague who spoke Chinese, Takahara told them they would not be able to continue to work after they filed their complaint. He advised the interns to keep working and collect evidence. Over the next few months, Takahara and his colleagues worked out a plan with the Kameda interns.

Takahara, now 62, had been involved in brokering settlements for foreign workers for more than a decade in western Japan. Over the years, Takahara, who also works as a gardener, had worked out a script that he followed several times a year with foreign interns with grievances.

Because workers who complain have been forcibly deported, Takahara and other union representatives encourage interns to fulfill their contracts. They are meticulous in their documentation: keeping time cards, sending faxes from convenience stores so there is a dated record of the communication, alerting local labor inspectors before bringing in interns to report alleged violations to make sure staff are on hand.

The morning of their escape, Takahara drove the women from Kameda to a convenience store. There, they sent a fax to the factory requesting paid holiday until Nov. 19, the day their contract expired. Takahara then took them to the local labor standards office to testify about their experience at the factory. The inspectors were expecting them.

In late 2012, Kameda agreed to pay 1.3 million yen each to Lu, Qian and Jiang. In addition, the labor standards bureau ordered Kameda to pay 260,000 yen collectively to the three women for the “homework” they had been required to do on a piece rate. In the end, the women each received about 1.4 million yen, or nearly $14,000 at current exchange rates, Takahara says.

Kameda told Reuters he paid the full amount the labor standards bureau demanded and did everything asked of him. He blames Takahara’s group for stirring up resentment among the workers. “They were completely happy until they left and sued us,” Kameda said.

Moro, the women’s lawyer, says Kameda only paid what he owed the women for the second and third year of their time at his factory, and the homework settlement was not based on an accurate calculation of the hours the women worked.

On October 9, 2013, Moro filed suit on behalf of the three Chinese interns in a court in Kanazawa, naming Kameda and the Ishikawa Apparel Association as defendants. The suit asks for unpaid wages, expenses and damages for pain and suffering amounting to about 11.2 million yen, or about $109,000.

EXPANDING THE PROGRAM

It wasn’t until late 2012, after Lu, Qian and Jiang had left the factory and their complaints reported in the Mainichi newspaper, that a Burberry executive visited Kameda. Burberry asked Sanyo Shokai to terminate the relationship with Kameda “due to non-compliance and a lack of cooperation in the implementation of Burberry’s ethical standards,” Burberry said in its statement.

Burberry’s code of conduct, which covers licensees such as Sanyo Shokai, prohibits homework and bans the use of bonded labor and the payment of “deposits” to employers. It requires factories to pay at least the national legal minimum wage and provide safe, clean accommodation for workers. Workers should not be required to work more than 48 hours a week or 11 hours a day, the code says. Overtime should be both voluntary and no more than 12 hours a week; it should not be demanded on a regular basis. Burberry also requires all factories to make sure workers keep their “passports, ID cards, bank cards and similar documents to facilitate their unhindered freedom of movement”.

The luxury brand only began auditing Japanese suppliers for ethical compliance in 2009, the year Lu, Qian and Jiang arrived. Burberry’s two auditors started, according to a person familiar with the company’s activities, with the largest factories and those that produced finished goods.

Burberry’s current licensing arrangement with Sanyo Shokai and Mitsui will expire in June 2015. Under the terms of a new license agreement, the Burberry Blue and Black labels will continue as Blue Label and Black Label, dropping the Burberry name. Burberry will continue to audit the supply chain.

Today, about 37 of the approximately 270 factories that supply Burberry branded items to licensees in Japan use foreign interns supported by JITCO. These factories employ around 307 JITCO interns. Burberry now offers training and access to a hotline in Chinese.

“Burberry takes the welfare of workers in all areas of its supply chain extremely seriously,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “In the case of foreign contract workers in particular, we are very focused on ensuring that they operate in conditions that adhere to the Burberry Ethical Trading Code of Conduct.”

Japan strengthened protection for interns in 2010, putting them under Japanese labor laws for all three years of their internship. But the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, which represents more than 30,000 attorneys, argues the intern program should be scrapped on human rights grounds.

Kameda says his factory no longer employs foreign interns. He thinks Japan should drop the pretense of internships and allow foreigners to work as laborers. “Regardless of the women’s requests, I regret that I didn’t do things properly,” he wrote in an emailed response to questions from Reuters. He intends to counsel partner factories that employ interns “so what Kameda is experiencing won’t happen again.”

(Additional reporting by Kevin Krolicki, James Topham and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo, and the Shanghai newsroom; Editing by Bill Tarrant)
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

Sapio_June.Cover

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

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

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

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

gaijinhanzaipg11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sapio_June1 Sapio_June2

 

ENDS

 

Reuters: Abe Admin seeks to expand, not contract, the deadly exploitative NJ “Trainee” program

mytest

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Hi Blog.  When Debito.org last seriously talked about the issue of Japan’s foreign “Trainees” (i.e. NJ brought over by the GOJ who are allegedly “in occupational training”, therefore not qualifying as “workers” entitled to labor law protections), it was back in July 2010, when news broke about the death of 27 of them in 2009.  The news to me was that it was only the SECOND worst casualty rate on record. Even more scandalous was that about a third of the total dead NJ (as in eight) had died of, quote, “unknown causes” (as if that’s a sufficient explanation; don’t they have autopsies in Japan to fix that? Oh wait, not always.). Kyodo News back then lazily (or rather, ignorantly) observed how problematic the system has been, stating that “a number of irregular practices have recently been observed, such as having foreign trainees work for long hours with below-minimum wages”. Hardly “recent” even back then:  Despite years of calls to fix or abolish the program entirely, with official condemnations in 2006 of it as “a swindle“, and the UN in 2010 essentially calling it slavery (see below), it was still causing deaths at the rate of two or three NJ a month.  (The irony was that karoushi (death from overwork) was a big media event when Japanese were dying of it. Clearly less so when NJ die.)

Now sit down for this news:  The GOJ is seeking not to reform the “Trainee” system, but rather to EXPAND it.  As the article indicates below, we’ve gotta get more cheap, disposable, and ultimately expendable foreigners to build our Tokyo Olympics in time for 2020.  And then we can round them up once their visas expire and deport them (that is, if they’re still alive), like we did back in Nagano for the 1998 Olympics.

This is precisely the type of exploitative capitalism that creates Marxists.   But again, who in Japan empathizes with NJ workers?  They’re only here to earn money and then go home, right?  So they deserve to be exploited, runs the common national narrative.  And under that discourse, no matter how bad it gets for them (and so far it really, really has), no amount of domestic or international condemnation will stop it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan moves to expand controversial foreign worker scheme
BY ANTONI SLODKOWSKI
REUTERSAPR 2, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/04/02/national/japan-moves-to-expand-controversial-foreign-worker-scheme/

Japan is considering expanding a controversial program that now offers workers from China and elsewhere permits to work for up to three years, as the world’s fastest-aging nation scrambles to plug gaps in a rapidly shrinking workforce.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party on Tuesday submitted a proposal to let workers to stay for up to five years, relax hiring rules for employers and boost the number of jobs open to them.

“We will strengthen the governance of the program,” LDP lawmaker Yasuhisa Shiozaki, who authored the proposal, told reporters. “We are aware of the concerns and we allowed people who had objections to voice their objections.”

Shiozaki said the LDP wanted to see harsher penalties for companies that abused foreign workers and would use external inspectors and local governments to monitor compliance.

The program, started in 1993, sponsors around 150,000 workers, mostly Chinese, for jobs in areas such as the garment industry and farms.

In theory, the foreign workers come to Japan as trainees to acquire technical expertise, but lawyers and labor activists say many face abuse, from illegally low wages to the confiscation of their passports.

Such conditions “may well amount to slavery,” the United Nations said in 2010, and called on Tokyo to scrap the program.

But Japan is desperate for more workers, especially in industries such as construction and farming. With just under half its population expected to be aged 65 or older by 2060, Japan faces a severe labor shortage that promises to hamper Abe’s ambitious economic revival plans.

Shoichi Ibusuki, a lawyer who has represented foreign workers based in Tokyo, said the proposed safeguards would not go far enough and urged the government to abolish, rather than expand, the program.

“The workers can’t freely choose their workplace after coming to Japan. They are refused the right to sign and cancel contracts, so they have no freedom as laborers,” said Ibusuki.

“If you don’t fix this structural problem, it doesn’t matter how much you tighten regulations, it won’t go away,” he said.

Nearly 200 companies were found to have mistreated trainees in 2012, a jump of 21 percent from two years earlier, government data show. There were 90 cases of failure to pay legal wages and more than 170 cases of violations of labor regulations.

The shortage of workers is most acute in the construction industry, whose workforce has shrunk by a third from 1997, when public works peaked. By 2010, about a fifth of all construction workers were older than 60.

The lack of workers has left construction companies struggling to meet demand for new projects tied to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and reconstruction work in areas destroyed by the 2011 tsunami.

Shiozaki said two government panels reporting to Abe will discuss the proposal and consider it as part of a growth strategy to be announced in June.

Foreign-born workers make up less than 1.3 percent of the workforce, according to the 2010 census.

ENDS

Asahi: ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan (E&J)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Big news this week I hadn’t gotten around to blogging was Monday’s front-page story in the Asahi Shinbun, about Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs, with a sizable chunk of the article devoted to the research that Debito.org has done on them.

It made a huge splash in the media.  So much so that TV Asahi will be doing a segment on it on Sunday during their show『報道ステーションSUNDAY』(毎週日曜日10時~11時45分)for being one of the Asahi’s most viewed online articles of the week. So switch it on and have a watch. Anyone want to record the segment for replay on Debito.org?

Here’s the article from the English version of the Asahi (significantly different from how it appeared in Japanese), followed by the original Japanese.  Have a read.  And thank you, everyone, for reading and supporting Debito.org.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

AsahiJapaneseOnly0428141

 ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan

April 28, 2014, AJW: THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201404280062

A “Japanese Only” banner at a professional soccer game made international headlines and led to unprecedented penalties. But such signs are not new in Japan, and some have even appeared at tourist hotspots.

It is true that some signs like these have been put up by people who genuinely dislike citizens of other countries. But many others say they had no intention to be discriminatory, and that their “Japanese Only” displays stem from the language barrier and problems with foreign customers unaware of Japanese rules and customs.

Two apparent reasons why these signs keep showing up is a general sense of apathy among the public and a lack of understanding at how offensive the words can be for foreigners in Japan.

That behavior was evident on March 8 at Saitama Stadium, where a large “Japanese Only” banner was set up at an entrance to seats at the Urawa Reds’ home opener.

A 33-year-old company employee from Tokyo asked security guards to tell the soccer team to remove the banner. It remained on display throughout the game.

“Even though it was clearly discriminatory, people did not notice, or they just ignored it because they did not want to become involved,” the man said. “The stadium on that day may have been a microcosm of Japanese society today.”

The man said responsibility should be shared by those who displayed the banner, as well as the team and fans who ignored the banner. He also blamed himself for lacking the courage to remove it.

The J.League penalized the Urawa Reds over the banner by requiring it to play a match at an empty Saitama Stadium.

The Urawa Boys Snake, the group that made the banner, along with other fan groups that regularly cheer the Reds behind the goal, were disbanded.

The offending banner was apparently planned well in advance.

In February, a member of the Snake fan group tweeted: “We may have to take matters into our own hands and further worsen Japan-South Korea relations.”

Hours before the March 8 match, three members of the group, intoxicated, brought in a white cloth measuring 70 centimeters high and 2.5 meters wide. They put the cloth on the concrete and spray-painted “Japanese Only” in black letters. The banner was set up beside a Hinomaru national flag.

Why was the banner set up?

The small amount of information still left on the Internet led to a college student, who said he was a Snake member but denied any involvement in the creation of the banner.

At his Tokyo campus in mid-April, the student, in his 20s, said he joined the group when he was in senior high school. He said there were about 20 members, including company employees and civil servants.

The student said he gradually began disliking China and South Korea because of the jeering from their fans at soccer matches.

“Their cheers are clearly ‘anti-Japanese,’” the student said. “It is obvious to anyone who attends the games.”

The Reds fans considered the area behind the goal as their domain, and some wanted to keep foreigners out of that space, the student said.

Although nationalistic emotions are common at sporting events, “Japanese Only” signs have appeared in areas of Japan that are geared toward tourists from overseas.

On Christmas Day in 2013, a 25-year-old American on his third trip to Japan visited the Imperial Palace and the popular Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa with a Japanese senior high school student. The two became friends when the student was studying in the United States.

On that day, the American said he wanted to eat “tendon,” tempura placed over a bowl of rice, so they waited in line for five minutes at a well-known tempura restaurant in the Asakusa area.

However, the American noticed the “Japanese Only” sign at the entrance and asked what it meant. They eventually decided not to enter.

After business one day, the owner of the restaurant explained the purpose of the sign.

“It only applies when we are busy,” the owner said. “We have no intention of discriminating.”

The owner explained that the sign was put up mainly because of trouble caused by groups of Chinese tourists who stepped on the tatami mats with their shoes on or who ventured up to the second floor without asking permission.

“If we have to close business because of public hygiene problems, we will be the ones facing trouble,” the owner said. “Who will take responsibility when that happens?”

The owner, who received a phone call saying the sign was inappropriate, showed a new sign that will be displayed at the entrance. It says, “Japanese Language Only.”

Debito Arudou, 49, who was born in the United States but became a naturalized Japanese in 2000, has carefully followed the display of such signs for more than a decade.

Arudou said he found more than 50 examples from around Japan of signs saying “Japanese Only” or “Foreigners are not allowed.” They were posted at a pachinko parlor in Hokkaido, bars in Gunma, Aichi and Hiroshima prefectures, a real estate agency in Osaka and a karaoke shop in Okinawa.

Arudou, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about discrimination in Japan at the University of Hawaii, asked whether the Japanese have ever imagined how many foreigners have been hurt by such words.

His interest in discrimination in Japan began in 1999, when he was teaching at a private university in Hokkaido. He was denied entry to a hot spring in Otaru, which he visited with his family.

In 2001, he filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the hot spring operator and the Otaru municipal government. The following year, the Sapporo District Court found the “Japanese Only” sign posted at the hot spring to be discriminatory.

Whenever he found such signs in other areas of Japan, Arudou talked to the owners to ask their reasons. Some said foreigners made other customers nervous, while others claimed foreigners did not abide by Japanese manners. Half of the owners refused his request to take down their signs.

A bar in Kobe displayed a sign that said “Japanese People Only,” but removed it after receiving advice from a stranger.

“A very kind individual told me that the sign was not appropriate,” said the 51-year-old owner.

Kobe is home to many foreigners because consulates and universities are located in the area.

“There were fights or rowdy customers so I decided to ban those who did not speak Japanese since I was not fluent in English,” the owner said.

Two years ago, the owner received an e-mail from a Japanese he did not know, saying the sign should be changed.

“I never thought it could be taken as discriminatory,” the owner said.

After removing the “Japanese Only” sign, the owner placed a new sign in English that laid out the bar rules, including the various prices charged.

“I was lazy even though I knew that something could have been done if I just spoke to the customers,” the owner said. “Nationality is irrelevant when it comes to loud or rowdy customers.”

Both Japanese and foreigners now frequent the bar.

ENDS

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

ORIGINAL JAPANESE

「ジャパニーズオンリー」店にも 貼り紙に傷つく外国人
朝日新聞 2014年4月28日07時17分

http://digital.asahi.com/articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html?_requesturl=articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html&iref=comkiji_txt_end_s_kjid_ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W
AS20140427001051SaitamaJapaneseonly
埼玉スタジアムに掲げられた「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕=サポーター提供

キックオフの2時間前。酒に酔った30代の男たちが、1階通路に集まっていた。3月8日午後2時すぎ、快晴の埼玉スタジアム。Jリーグ浦和レッズのサポーター集団「ウラワボーイズ・スネーク」の3人だ。本拠地開幕戦だった。

縦70センチ、横2・5メートルの白い布と、スプレー缶を持ち込んでいた。コンクリートの床に敷き、黒い文字で、英語を吹き付けた。

JAPANESE(ジャパニーズ) ONLY(オンリー)

午後4時前。ゴール裏の観客席は、浦和のユニホームを着た熱心なサポーターで、真っ赤に染まっていた。席の出入り口に、3人はつくったばかりの横断幕を掲げた。隣には、日の丸が掲げられていた。

「同じ言葉だ」

6日後、東京都内の高校3年金居弘樹さん(18)は新聞の写真に目を奪われた。3人の横断幕で、浦和に無観客試合の処分が下されたと報じていた。

3カ月ほど前、浅草で「Japanese Only」を目にしていた。

クリスマスの日。アメリカ留学時に親友となった米国人男性(25)に、東京を案内していた。日本びいきで3度目の来日。皇居、浅草寺、仲見世通り……。お昼どき、友は「天丼が食べたい」と英語で言った。

老舗(しにせ)の天ぷら屋へ。寒空の下、5分ほど並び、店に入ろうとした時、友がささやいた。「どういうことだ」。視線の先には引き戸に貼られたA4ほどの紙。「Japanese Only」と書かれていた。

「やめたほうがいいかな」。悲しげな友の表情。ショックで、何と返事したのか、覚えていない。入らずに帰宅して、思った。

「オリンピックを開く東京が、これでいいのか」

茨城県常総市に住む日系3世のペルー人男性(31)も同じ経験をした。4月5日。昼の行列に並び、その紙に気づいた。一緒にいた日本人の友人が、真意を尋ねようと店に入った。

数分後。「信じられない」と怒りもあらわに、友人は戻ってきた。「日本に来て6年以上。日本が好きでマナーも文化も分かる。こんなことが放置されているのに失望しました」

記者が店を訪ねてみると、観光客の列の先に、その貼り紙はあった。

「忙しい時だけ。差別のつもりはないよ」

閉店後、片付け中の店主に声をかけた。白い調理服姿で店の外へ出てくれた。

「貼り始めたのは、だいぶ前」「はっきり言って中国人だよ。団体客に困ってたんだ」「土足で畳に上がったり、勝手に2階に上がったり。衛生面で営業停止になったら困るのはうちだ。誰が責任をとってくれるんだい」。早口で話した。

貼り紙に気づいた人から「不適切ではないか」と電話で注意も受けたという。

「こっちの立場にもなってほしいよ」。そう言い、一枚の紙を記者に見せた。

Japanese Language Only

「日本人だけ」が「日本語だけ」になった。

「これからは、これ貼るから。もういいだろ」

店の奥へ引き返した。

元私立大教員の有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)=米ハワイ州在住=は10年以上、日本での人種差別を研究してきた。米国出身。2000年に日本国籍を得ている。

「Japanese Only」「Foreigners are not allowed」。北海道のパチンコ店、群馬のパブ、愛知のクラブ、大阪の不動産屋、広島のバー、沖縄のカラオケ店……。いたる場で、「外国人お断り」を意味する看板や案内を確認した。その数、50以上。

「あちこちにあるこの言葉が、どれだけの外国人を傷つけているか。想像したことはありますか?」

■「今の日本社会の縮図かも」

「日韓関係を俺たちがさらに悪化させるしかねーだろ」。埼玉スタジアムに「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕を掲げた「スネーク」。メンバーの一人が2月、ツイッターで、そうつぶやいていた。

ネット上に残された数少ない記録をたどると、東京都内の20代の男子大学生に行き着いた。4月中旬。その学生は、ビル群に囲まれたキャンパスを歩いていた。声をかけた。横断幕を掲げたのか、と。

「自分じゃないですよ」。記者をにらみつけた。「メンバーでしたけど」

少しずつ口を開き始めた。スネークには、高校時代から参加していること。会社員や公務員、大学生などがいる20人程度のグループであること。スタジアムで知り合った人が大半で、結束は強かったこと――。

中国や韓国での試合にも駆けつけた。相手サポーターからブーイングが飛ぶこともあった。次第に、中韓が嫌いになった。

「向こうの応援は『反日』をがんがんやってくる。行けばわかりますよ」。口調が強くなった。

ゴール裏は自分たちの「聖地」だ。「外国人を退けようとする空気は、ほかのメンバーにもあった」

元リーダーの男性(40)にも会った。埼玉県内の自治体の中間管理職。終業後の夕方、駅へ向かう男性に尋ねた。「あの日ゴール裏で応援していたが、横断幕には気づかなかった」。足早に、改札を抜けた。

日本から南東に約6200キロ。「米国籍を放棄した私が、ここでは外国人です」。有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)がほほ笑む。米国のハワイ大学で、博士論文「日本の人種差別」をまとめた。

米国生まれの白人。北海道の私大の教員だった1999年、家族で訪れた小樽市の温泉で、入浴を拒否された。「Japanese Only」の表示があった。

2001年、店と小樽市に損害賠償を求めて提訴。札幌地裁は翌年、判決で「人種差別」と認定した。

日本全国で「外国人お断り」の情報を集め、経営者にわけを聞いた。「外人は不安を与える」「日本のマナーに従わない」。半数以上は撤去に応じなかった。

「Japanese People Only」と書いた紙を貼っているバーが、神戸市にあるという。今月18日夜、記者はJR三ノ宮駅近くの店を訪ねた。

しかし貼り紙が見当たらない。扉を開け、もう貼っていないのかと尋ねた。「親切な人がいてね。この表示はよくない、って教えてくれたんですよ」。男性オーナー(51)が答えた。

領事館や大学があり、外国人の客も多い土地柄。

「けんかしたり、騒いだり。こちらも英語が苦手だから、日本語が出来ない方をお断りしていた」

2年前、面識のない日本人から、正すべきだとメールが届いた。「差別だなんて、思ってもみなかった」

店の前に貼っていた紙を外し、代わりにチャージ料金など店のルールを英訳し、貼り付けた。「話せば何とかなるのに、さぼっていた。騒ぐとか暴れるとかに国籍は関係ないよね」

ミラーボールが回り、ソウルミュージックが流れる店には今、夜ごと日本人と外国人が集っている。

「スネーク」は横断幕を張り出した数日後、解散した。ゴール裏で応援を共にした11のサポーターグループも解散を決めた。

あの日、横断幕は最後まで掲げられていた。試合中に気づき、警備員を通じてクラブに外すよう求めたサポーターもいた。東京都内の会社員男性(33)はその一人だ。掲げた人、見過ごした観客やクラブ、はがせなかった自分。男性はそれぞれに責任があると思う。

「明らかな差別なのに気づかない。あるいは面倒だから放置する。あの時のスタジアムは、今の日本社会の縮図なのかもしれない」

ENDS

New facial recognition systems at J border: Once again, testing out the next-gen loss of civil liberties on the “Gaijin Guinea Pigs”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  First, take in this:

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

Face recognition system to be tested again at Japanese immigration
Kyodo News, April 19, 2014, courtesy of JK
http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/kyodo-news-international/140419/face-recognition-system-be-tested-again-at-japanese-im

The government plans to restart from August a test on a facial recognition system to speed up immigration checks at airports and prepare for an expected surge in visitors for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, officials said Saturday.

The Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau will reintroduce the system on a trial basis for Japanese passengers at Haneda and Narita airports for about five weeks, after a series of errors in the first test in 2012 led the ministry to forgo its plan to adopt the system.

Facial recognition systems check passenger photos taken during inspections against data in a chip in their passports. Britain and Australia have introduced such systems.

The bureau conducted the first test on roughly 29,000 people between August and September 2012, but the system failed to recognize about 17 percent of the passengers.

A panel of experts told the Justice Ministry in May last year it should introduce the facial recognition system to increase use of automated gates to leave and enter the country, quicker than conventional immigration inspections.

Automated gates at major airports equipped with fingerprint recognition technology are unpopular with passengers as they require prior registration. The facial recognition system will not need it.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Now let’s survey the narratives of justification in this article.  We have the argument that it’s allegedly for a looming event (NJ swarm from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, even though it’s more than six years away!), the convenience factor (faster processing of people, this time without even registering!), and the bandwagon argument that others are implementing it (Britain and Australia, whose civil societies have had more robust debates on the issues of privacy and civil liberties).  All of these arguments were made during the reinstitution of NJ fingerprinting in 2007, and that time it wasn’t for a specific event, but rather for anti-terrorism [sic] in general.  And as Debito.org has argued many times before, once you get the public softened up on the idea of taking away civil liberties by testing it on one sector of the population (in this case, the Gaijin Guinea Pigs, since foreigners in every society have fewer civil and political rights), it gets expanded on the rest of the population.

Let’s enter the No-Brainer Zone:  I anticipate the facial recognition software will be implemented nationwide more seamlessly than any other intrusive technology yet, since it is so convenient and doesn’t require individual registry or even much hardware installation.  There’s even a profit motive.  Consider this:

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

EDITORIAL
Stores sharing shoppers’ faces
The Japan Times, APR 12, 2014, courtesy of JK

Over 100 supermarkets and convenience stores in the Tokyo metropolitan area have been recording images of shoppers’ faces as part of antishoplifting measures. Though the stores have posted signs stating cameras are in place, the stores have been sharing the biometric data of customers without their knowledge.

Such sharing should be considered an invasion of privacy and going against the intention of Japan’s Personal Information Protection Law.

After 115 stores of 50 separate companies installed a shoplifting prevention system, they obtained the power not only to record every customer’s face but also to share that record in a network.

If a person shoplifts or makes unreasonable complaints, camera footage of the person is turned into biometric data and classified into categories such as shoplifter or complainer. That data is then stored on the firm’s server and made available to other stores.

When the same face is recognized at another store, the staff is notified that the blacklisted person is in their store.

Because the accuracy rate of current recognition software has become extremely high — 99.9 percent accurate by some accounts — the data is more or less equivalent to the original image. That means that even when the original images of the faces are not made available, a nearly complete replication of that face, in data form, is being shared.

The problem is the lack of checks on the system. Seemingly whoever has access to the network could classify customers according to an arbitrary criterion. But what constitutes an “unreasonable” complaint is open to question. And whether an act of shoplifting is reported to the police and whether the suspect is convicted of the crime is a matter of the law. It should not be a matter of how an employee feels about it.

Unfortunately with this technology, stores are now able to put people on a blacklist for any reason whatsoever.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/04/12/editorials/stores-sharing-shoppers-faces/

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

Comments at the JT to this article were very poignant regarding the probable treatment of Visible Minorities:

Steve Jackman
I suspect that this technology and sharing of data is also being used to target shoppers who are visible minorities for extra surveillance. If so, that would explain accounts I have heard from some foreign residents of Japan that security guards seem to suddenly appear out of nowhere when they are visiting shops (especially, certain large department stores in the Tokyo area).

=============================
phu
While I’d stop short of absolutely connecting this to such accounts, it was also my first thought that the abuse of this system would immediately (or at least very promptly) swing to surveillance of minorities.

The article uses the term “blacklist” without explicitly stating that the customers HAVE been blacklisted, as in disallowed from entering one of the stores in the network. In the absence of that actual claim, and based on what should be the illegality of this practice, I’m not convinced that’s actually happening: As presented, the whole thing seems more arbitrary than barring a convicted criminal from the premises of one store (which would be reasonable in some circumstances) and closer to cooperative discrimination, whether legally justified or not, and whether directed at minorities or at ethnic, resident Japanese.

=============================
Steve Jackman
The risk and a likely scenario of a system like this, which lacks proper checks-and-balances, is that the actions of a single shop employee at a store can result in a shopper getting forever blacklisted and tagged for extra surveillance at many other stores.

What if this employee is inherently suspicious of all foreigners in general, or harbors racist feelings towards anyone who does not appear Japanese? Such an employee can end up blacklisting and tagging a foreign shopper not for anything specific that the customer has done, but rather out of the employee’s own paranoia against non-Japanese shoppers.

=============================
phu
Certainly. In places where minorities are either accepted or largely ignored, this would still be unacceptable (as you say, it puts too much power in arbitrary and unchecked hands, regardless of how it’s used), but Japan’s pronounced discrimination problem does make it hard to ignore the likelihood of abuse skewing towards minorities.

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

Food for thought as the dragnets draw ever tighter. Although the 2020 Olympics have been used as justification for positive pro-NJ rights issues (see for example here and here), here’s an example of where it’s doing the opposite. Japan’s policymakers get weird whenever the outside world is going to drop by for a visit. Not only when they’re being called over to stay awhile. ARUDOU Debito

Mainichi: Discrimination against NJ in housing rentals highlighted in Tokyo Govt survey; like “Tokyo Sharehouse” with its new Tokyo-wide system of Japanese-Only rentals?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A number of people sent me this article about the Tokyo Metropolitan government surveying NJ discrimination levels (I guess it takes an Olympics before people start caring about foreigners; watch this best behavior dry up afterwards).  It is indeed good to see people acknowledging that discrimination towards NJ exists, and that the media is covering it.  And that the most common answer by respondents chosen (since it is probably the most normalized and systemic NJ discrimination) is in residence rentals (not to mention the rise in awareness of hate speech; hurrah).  I’ll return to the subject of realtors again right after the articles.

But one just has to love the methodology when it comes to the “how to improve things” section part of the survey:  The leading questions assuming that Japanese and foreigners are “different”.  After all, Japan is unique, therefore anyone who is not a Japanese is not a member of the unique J-culture club, therefore foreigners must be different because they aren’t, er, unique like us Japanese (as opposed to everyone being treated like a human being with similar interests and needs, such as, er, shelter and equal access to housing?).  And those “differences” must be explained (as opposed to legislated away with anti-discrimination laws?) to them and us, no matter how long that takes, and regardless of how vague a concept these “cultural differences” are.  Such a convenient patsy for differential treatment is “culture”, yes sir.

Anyway, here is the article in E and J.  Further comment follows:

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

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments highlighted in survey
April 10, 2014 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140410p2a00m0na005000c.html

Discrimination against foreigners in renting apartments or other residences was given as an ongoing violation of their human rights by almost half of respondents to a survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

The survey was conducted in November and December last year with preparations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Games in mind. The survey was offered to 3,000 randomly chosen Tokyo residents, with responses gathered from 1,573 people.

A representative of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s human rights division said, “Violations of foreigners’ human rights continue, and we’d like to improve awareness of the issue within six years from now (when the Olympics are scheduled.)”

In a multiple-answer question on human rights violations against foreigners, “the difficulty of renting apartments or other residences” was the most common answer chosen, with 45.6 percent of respondents selecting it. Next was “receiving disadvantageous treatment at work or during job hunting” at 34.5 percent, followed by “insufficient acceptance in community activities and places of communication” at 21.9 percent and “bullying or harassment at work or school” at 21.1 percent. With the repeated instances of hate speech directed at foreigners going on around the country, 19.9 percent of respondents chose “discriminatory speech and actions.”

Regarding what is necessary to get along with foreigners, 60.1 percent answered “inform foreigners of the differences between traditions and habits in their country and Japan,” 44.3 percent answered, “create more opportunities for communication such as by encouraging participation in local society,” 41.1 percent replied, “inform Japanese of the differences between traditions and habits in Japan and foreigners’ countries,” and 24.3 percent responded, “improve foreign language support at help organizations.”
ENDS

Original Japanese:

都民人権世論調査:外国人への人権侵害、「アパート入居困難」半数近く 「差別的な表現や言動ある」は2割 /東京
毎日新聞 2014年04月10日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20140410ddlk13040128000c.html

都は、2020年東京五輪の開催決定を受け、都民の人権意識に関する調査を行い、その結果を公表した。外国人に対してどのような人権侵害が起きているかという質問に、半数近くが「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」と回答した。都人権部の担当者は「外国人への人権侵害は依然として残っており、(五輪が開かれる)6年後を目標に人権意識を高める啓発を強めたい」としている。

調査は昨年11〜12月、住民基本台帳から無作為に抽出した3000人の都民を対象に行い、1573人から回答を得た。

「外国人への人権侵害」は、複数回答で「アパートなど住宅への入居が困難なこと」が最多の45・6%。「就職・職場で不利な扱いを受ける」34・5%▽「地域社会の活動や交流の場での受け入れが十分でない」21・9%▽「職場・学校等で嫌がらせやいじめを受ける」21・1%−−と続いた。また、ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)が各地で相次いでいることなどを受け、19・9%が「差別的な表現や言動が行われること」を挙げた。

また、外国人と共存するために必要と思う取り組みは、「外国人に日本の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」60・1%▽「地域社会の活動に参加を促すなど交流の機会を増やす」44・3%▽「日本人に外国の風習や習慣の違いを周知する」41・1%▽「各種の相談機関で外国語対応を充実させる」24・3%−−となった。【和田浩幸】

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

COMMENT:  Now consider this recent email from John F.:

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

April 10, 2014
Dear Debito, First of all, I would like to thank you for your tireless efforts in fighting discrimination in Japan. I especially appreciate how you choose to try and educate those who engage in discrimination rather than simply expressing condemnation. As an American living in Tokyo, my personal experiences with discrimination have fortunately been few and far between. From time to time, though, I have felt as if my human dignity was violated. I wish I were more courageous in rationally approaching such incidents of discrimination rather than keeping my feelings bottled up.

I would like to share with you a few specific examples of housing discrimination in Tokyo concerning share houses, and how a certain popular website advertises share house properties on the Internet. The link to the website I am referring to is tokyosharehouse.com

I had a rather unfortunate experience visiting a property advertised on that website last August. The property is called ‘Share Vie Mizue’, located in the Edogawa Ward of Tokyo. Here is the link to the property’s description: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/470/

I discovered the property’s website while reading a review of it on Gaijinpot. As the property is advertised in English, I was very enthusiastic about checking it out. Naturally, I supposed it would be very welcoming towards international residents. To make a long story short, the representative who showed me the property reluctantly informed me that the owners did not welcome international residents. He did his best to dissuade me from attempting to rent a room there, and tried to offer me a place at another location. It seemed as if he was personally embarrassed that the owner of this particular property would discriminate against international guests. I wasn’t angry with him, but I was extremely upset that I took the time to visit the property on the assumption that I would be welcome due to the website being advertised in English. The website made no indication that international guests were not welcome at this property. Perhaps, hopefully, they have changed their policies since. However, the website still makes no indication that international guests are not welcome at that particular property.

Having recently returned to Tokyo from five months back in New York, I am again searching for a share house to live in. I have come across tokyosharehouse.com again, and what I discovered while browsing other properties on their website still disturbs me.

Please have a look at this link: http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1324/

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiri041414

Now I am not female, but I find it rather painful to see the requirements for the ‘La Felice Ikejiri’ property. The requirements for renting a room are listed as ‘Female / Foreigner_x’.

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejiricrop041414

At first I was a bit confused as to what this means. Is it a ‘Foreigner Only’ house for females? If you scroll down further to ‘Move-in Conditions and Managing Style’ section, you’ll notice that there is no category of requirements for foreigners. The description of the property is accompanied by a side bar on the right describing whom I assume to be the property owners, ‘Tokyo Sanku Monogatari Co., Ltd.’ or ‘Many Smile Co.’

I am sorry to write you such a long email, but coming across these listings really makes my blood boil, especially after the personal experience I had. Although language is not specifically a problem, I find it rather unusual that a real estate website would choose to advertise properties in English where non-Japanese renters are not welcome. There are other properties on the site with similar discriminatory policies. This website has been advertised on Gaijinpot in the past as well. The owners of this website should be ashamed of themselves for advertising such properties, especially when they sheepishly use euphemistic descriptions like ‘Foreigner_x’ rather than what they really mean – ‘No Foreigners Allowed’.

I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way. As share houses become more mainstream, I am afraid more and more non-Japanese apartment seekers on low budgets will be met with housing discrimination. Thank you for taking the time to read my email, and thank you for helping to restore dignity to those who have been victimized by discrimination.  Best regards, John F

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

COMMENT CONTINUES:  Y’know, that’s funny.  Why would this company go through all the trouble to put up a website in English and then use it to refuse NJ?  So they’d look international?  Or so they’d look exclusionary to an international audience?  Especially since there’s no room for misunderstanding (not to mention, no room, har har) when you look at the Japanese version of these websites:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirijcrop041414
(Complete tangent, but it’s also funny how the “foreigner” image is somehow redolent of Saturn…)

Yep, that’s “Gaikokujin Taiou Fuka“.  Foreigners will not receive service.  Japanese Only.  No cutesy “Foreigner_x”.  Whole page, for context:

tokyosharehouselafeliceikejirij041414

Other places within this rental system with “No Foreigners” rules (gotta love how they pretentiously put the names in faux French, yet won’t take French people):

  1. Claris Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1325/ (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1325/
  2. Domondo Sangenjaya (English) http://tokyosharehouse.com/eng/house/detail/1095/, (Japanese) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1095/
  3. Aviril Shibuya (Japanese Only in both meanings):  http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/1431/
  4. Pleades Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/847/
  5. La Vita Komazawa  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/500/
  6. La Levre Sakura Shin-machi (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/846/
  7. Leviair Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/506/
  8. Flora Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/502/
  9. La Famille (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/503/
  10. Pechka Shimo-Kitazawa (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/507/
  11. Amitie Naka-Meguro (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/508/
  12. Cerisier Sakura Shin-machi  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/504/
  13. Stella Naka-Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/501/
  14. Solare Meguro  (Japanese Only in both meanings) http://tokyosharehouse.com/jpn/house/detail/509/

So, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, thanks for those surveys saying how sad it is that NJ are being discriminated against in housing.  But what are they for, exactly?  Mere omphaloskepsis?  How about doing something to stop these bigots from discriminating?  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 26, 2014: HERE’S ANOTHER TOKYO EXAMPLE SUBMITTED BY DEBITO.ORG READER XY: NOTE HOW FOREIGNERS (HELPFULLY REFUSED IN ENGLISH) AND CATS ARE BANNED (BUT SMALL PETS ARE ALLOWED). MAYBE IF NJ ANNOYINGLY YIPPED A LITTLE MORE LIKE POMERANIANS OR OTHER PURSE DOGS…?
rentalhaihoumuTokyoJapaneseOnly042614

“Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues

mytest

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Hi Blog. Another to add to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments. This time, a restaurant, as submitter Yoshio Tanaka notified me via email and photographs:

====================================
April 5, 2014, Yoshio Tanaka wrote:

Please would you mind helping me? Today I went to a restaurant in Asakusa with my wife and some Japanese friends. They didn’t allow us to enter, because me and my wife are not Japanese. In the entrance there is a paper that says “Japanese only” in English, and other advertisement in Japanese. My Japanese friend, entered to the restaurant and kindly asked the manager if me and my wife could enter, too. The manager said they doesn’t allow foreigners, no matter if they speak Japanese nor have been living in Japan for long.

I hope you can help me, and write some article about this discrimination. I think discrimination is one of the worst problem in our world, so we must stop it immediately.  Thank you for your time!!!
====================================

(All photos taken April 4, 2014.)

asakusatentakesign040514
(NB:  The Japanese below the JAPANESE ONLY text on the sign reads, “The inside of this restaurant is very small.  In order to avoid accidents, we are sorry, but we refuse entry to all children below the age of 5.  We ask for our customers understanding and cooperation.”)

asakusatentakefront040514
Storefront

asakusatentakebanner040514
Noren of restaurant with the phone number.

天健 (てんたけ)
ジャンル 天ぷら、天丼・天重
住所 〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-4-1
TEL・予約  03-3841-5519

“Ten-take” tempura restaurant, Tokyo-to Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-4-1, Phone 03-3841-5519

Contact details courtesy http://tabelog.com/tokyo/A1311/A131102/13010522/, last updated January 2014, with no mention of its “Japanese Only” rules.  (It does mention the no children under five:  店内が非常に狭いため、事故防止の観点から5歳未満の子連れ不可の張り紙あり」.  Interesting how a “no foreigners” rule somehow escapes mention.)

COMMENT: I called Tentake today (April 5) to confirm with the management that yes, they do have a “Japanese Only” restriction.  Their reasons given:  1) Hygiene (eiseimen), which were, when asked, issues of “foreigners” not taking off their shoes when entering, 2) NJ causing problems (meiwaku) to other customers, and 3) a language barrier, as in NJ not speaking Japanese.  Basic Otaru Onsen exclusionary excuses.  When asked if he didn’t think these were prejudicial generalizations about all NJ, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t deal with “foreigners” (tai’ou o shi kirenai).  Then he hung up.

That’s as much information as I could get out of the management regarding the reasons for the exclusionism.  Readers who feel that this restaurant is behaving inappropriately for a business open to the general public are welcome to phone them at the number above, or drop by and say so directly.  Douzo.  ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2014:  The sign is down and the shop is open to NJ customers again.

Papa John’s Pizza NY racism case 2012: “Lady chinky eyes” receipt gets employee fired

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Still deep into my project at the moment, so I’ll be brief.  Going into my Drafts folder once more, I uncovered this little gem of “Pinprick Protest” from more than two years ago — the Papa John’s “lady chinky eyes case” where an individual took action against another individual (representing a corporation) for a racial slur at a pizza chain, and through the pressure of public outrage and social opprobrium made somebody take responsibility.  As in getting that idiot fired for making the slur.

Not sure this would happen as successfully (or at all) in Japan — where the tendency would be to dismiss this as some kind of cultural/linguistic misunderstanding (or else — shake your head — claim that this differentiation was meant in a positive light; hey, we like chinky lady eyes/big gaijin noses etc., and there was no intention to discriminate).

The best example I can think of right now where social opprobrium worked was in the Otaru Onsens Case, where media pressure got two racist bathhouses to remove their signs.  Eventually.  The third bathhouse, of course, left their signs up.  And it took a court case to get theirs down.  And there are lots more exclusionary signs and rules around Japan, so social opprobrium clearly isn’t enough.

Anyway, here’s the story.  I cite this as a template for nipping discriminatory speech in the bud.  Arudou Debito

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

‘Lady Chinky Eyes’: Papa John’s Store Calls Woman Racial Slur In Receipt (PHOTO) (UPDATE)
The Huffington Post, Laura Hibbard
First Posted: 01/07/12 03:22 PM ET Updated: 01/08/12 12:08 AM ET

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/07/lady-chinky-eyes-papa-johns-store-uses-receipt-to-call-woman-racial-slur_n_1191434.html

Minhee Cho went to Papa John’s for some fast food goodness. Little did she know, she would get it served with a side of racism.

At around 12:30 p.m. today, Papa John’s customer Minhee Cho tweeted a photo of a receipt she received at a Papa John’s restaurant in uptown, New York City.

In it, under the customer’s name section, the restaurant employee who rang up the order used the racial slur “lady chinky eyes” to describe her.

ladychinkyeyespapajohns2012
Minhee Cho @mintymin
Hey @PapaJohns just FYI my name isn’t “lady chinky eyes” http://t.co/RLdj2Eij
January 7, 2012 5:06 pm via Twitpic

Cho posted the photo to her Twitter page, where it was quickly retweeted by hundreds of people. By 3 p.m., the photo had been viewed over 25,000 times.

When The Huffington Post reached the Papa John’s in question for comment, the assistant manager — who only gave her first name as Marjani — said she was unaware of the incident.

“I apologize,” she said in a phone interview. “I’m sure they didn’t mean any harm but some people will take it offensive.” She added that she “had an idea of who it was,” based on the time of the receipt.

Marjani went on to say that this was the kind of behavior that would result in disciplinary action, but declined to go into further detail on what she planned to do.

Papa John’s has yet to respond to the incident in a statement or its Facebook and Twitter accounts, but with such a PR disaster on their hands, they most likely will soon.

UPDATE: Papa John’s has responded to the incident on Facebook. A post on its official page reads:

We were extremely concerned to learn of the receipt issue in New York. This act goes against our company values, and we’ve confirmed with the franchisee that this matter was addressed immediately and that the employee is being terminated. We are truly sorry for this customer’s experience.

The company has also addressed the matter on its Twitter feed, tweeting to multiple people that “We have issued an apology, are reaching out to customer & franchise employee is being terminated.”
ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 72: “Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad”, Jan 25, 2014, “Director’s Cut”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Thanks as always for reading and commenting to Debito.org. Arudou Debito

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Don’t let ANA off the hook for that offensive ad
BY  ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times, JAN 24, 2014, Column 72 for The Community Pages
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/24/issues/dont-let-ana-off-the-hook-for-that-offensive-ad/

Making headlines recently has been a commercial by ANA, one of Japan’s flagship airlines.  Released last Saturday, its 30-second spot shows two Asian men (one a comedian named Bakarizumu, but let’s call them A and B) standing at an airport window speaking English with Japanese subtitles.

(See the ad at debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.)

Looking out at the jets, A says, “Haneda Airport has more international flights nowadays.”  B replies, “Finally.”  Then their exchange goes, “Next stop, Vancouver.”  “Next stop, Hanoi.”  “Exciting, isn’t it?”  Then B says, rather oddly, “You want a hug?”  When A only gives him a nonplussed look, B continues, “Such a Japanese reaction.”  When A explains, “But I am Japanese,” B counters, “I see.  Let’s change the image of Japanese people.” And A, smiling broadly, agrees to it.

Alright so far.  Except that, as you can see in the picture below, A is now wearing a strapped-on long nose and a big blond wig.  Off they fly to their destinations.
ANAHanedabignose

This has occasioned considerable debate and media coverage.  Many commenters in the English-language online forums have called this advertisement “racist” (one even said “Debito bait”; I’m chuffed), and have made motions to take their business elsewhere.  Others have said the advertisement isn’t racist, just lame.  A few managed to find a deep pocket of latent irony, saying it’s actually poking fun at the Japanese people and their insular attitudes.  Meanwhile, within Japanese-language forums, according to a Yahoo Japan poll, 82% of respondents see no problem with it.

ANAYahooJapansurvey2014
http://polls.dailynews.yahoo.co.jp/other/10721/result
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20140120-00000038-jij_afp-bus_all)

(NB:  Note look how the question is worded. It introduces the issue by saying that a comedian (Bakarizumu) performed the act (read: it’s a joke!), and says that the complaints came “from foreigners” (read: not from Japanese) of “racial discrimination” (read: misleading representation of the issue). So we’ve set up the question as “we joking Japanese” vs “those kvetching foreigners” “taking a madcap jape” too seriously, and bingo, you get a vast majority of people wondering what the problem is.)

It probably comes as no surprise to you that JBC objects to this ad.  If ANA had really wanted to “change the image of Japan,” it should have avoided racializing their product.  Instead, it’s just business as usual.

Consider some other racist marketing strategies from not so long ago (visuals and reports archived at debito.org/?p=12077):

Last year, Toshiba marketed a bread maker with an obnoxiously overexuberant Japanese girl speaking katakana Japanese, wearing a blond wig and a big nose.  (Ad archived at debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4.)

toshiba2013suipanda1

In 2010, Nagasaki Prefecture promoted its “foreign” buildings by showing Japanese tourists wearing—you guessed it—blond wigs and big noses.  (Ad archived at debito.org/?p=7523.)
nagasakitabinetto2

In 2005, Mandom sold men’s cosmetics with a Rasta-man motif, juxtaposing black people with a chimpanzee.  (Ad archived at debito.org/mandomproject.html.)
MandomAd2

Dare I mention the resurrection of book “Little Black Sambo” in 2005, which inspired overtly racist nursery-school songs in Saitama about black butts?  (See Matthew Chozick, “Sambo racism row reignites over kids’ play,” Zeit Gist, April 13, 2010.)
Sambooriginal

And how about the Choya plum saké commercials in 2008, featuring three girls (two Caucasian, one Japanese), the latter sporting a big plastic nose and stick-on paper blue eyes?  Although most of these ads were soon pulled after complaints, you can still go to Amazon Japan or Tokyu Hands and buy your own “gaijin” stick-on blue eyes and nose (with the caption “Harō Gaijin-San”) to sport at parties!

Har har.  Can’t you see it’s all just a joke, imbued with a deep sense of irony subversively directed at Japanese people?  Except that, as I’ve pointed out in JBCs passim, irony as humor is not one of Japan’s strong suits.

Moreover, remember when McDonald’s Japan was using a nerdy white guy to hawk newfangled burgers?  JBC argued (“Meet Mr. James, Gaijin Clown,” Sept. 1, 2009) that stereotyping of this nature only works as humor if, among other things, there is a “switch test” – i.e., everyone is fair game for parody.

But in Japan it’s not fair game.  Japanese society and media takes quick umbrage to being lampooned by the outside world, especially in a racialized manner.

Case in point:  To commemorate the publication of “Little Black Sambo,” I drew up a parody called “Little Yellow Jap” to put the shoe on the other foot (debito.org/chibikurosanbo.html).  I made the protagonist as stereotypically exaggerated as the ink-black gollywogs in the book:  bright yellow skin, round glasses, buck teeth, and clad in a fundoshi loincloth.  I pointed out on every page that this was a parody of Japan’s Sambo, and contextualized it with a full explanation in Japanese of why racialized books for children are bad.

Yet for years now in the Japanese version of Wikipedia’s entry on me, this parody is cited as an example of my “discrimination against Japanese.”  Clearly turnabout is not in fair play.

Or consider the case of British TV show QI (Philip Brasor, “Cultural insensitivity no laughing matter,” Media Mix Jan. 30, 2011, discussed here).  Producers were forced to apologize for a joke about a recently-deceased Japanese who in 1945 unluckily travelled to Nagasaki, after experiencing the first atomic bombing, to catch the second one.  A panelist had dryly quipped, “He never got the train again, I tell you.”

That’s not funny!  That’s insensitive.  And insulting!  And racist, according to the more unified online communities in Japan, backed up by protesting Japanese government officials, all of whom clearly understand irony.  (For the record:  I’m being ironic.  Please laugh.)

Back to ANA.  I bet the omnipotent gerontocracy at corporate headquarters didn’t think anything amiss (obviously; they approved the ad), because, as is often claimed in these situations, Japanese in fact “admire” (akogareru) white people.  This ad is, if anything, a paean.  After all, look at him!  He looks like Robert Redford, one of the prototypical kakkō-ii foreigners of our generation!  (They could do with a Brad Pitt update, I guess.)

In tepid apology letters, ANA uses the standard disclaimer:  “We didn’t mean to offend anyone.”  Okay.  And I’m sure many of your potential customers didn’t “mean” to be offended either.  But many were.  And if you have any pretentions to being an international company, you wouldn’t get in these sticky wickets in the first place.

(Two apology letters https://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431421
https://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431434
UK Independent on the apologies https://www.debito.org/?p=12077#comment-431419)

To be fair, this campaign was probably cooked up not by ANA, but by one of Japan’s advertising oligarchs (no doubt Dentsu, with nearly a third of Japan’s market share).  Anyone with an eye on the Japanese media knows how they make silly amounts of money on silly stereotypes (including the one that Japanese don’t hug), while reaffirming the binary between “Japan” and “the rest of the world.”

Nevertheless, ANA deserves its lumps, because reps simply don’t know what they’re apologizing for.  In fact, they clumsily reinforced the binary, stating in press releases that complaints have “mostly come from foreign customers” (as opposed to real customers?), before finally pulling the ad last Tuesday.

Now consider this:  Gerry Nacpil, Supervisor of ANA Sky Web, wrote in his apology: “The intention of this commercial was… to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

So… “global citizens” equals White people?

Now the ad is even more problematic.

To quote a friend, in an open letter to ANA:

“Dear ANA:  Are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur?  And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?  Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.  And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions.  Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks-in-mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th-century, ‘we are so different from you funny-looking white gaijin’ Meiji-Era mentality.

“Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers.  They may surprise you.  Sincerely, A Big-Nosed White Guy who speaks Japanese.”

Touché.  Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards.

For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep.  ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”

Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies.  NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages.

This is a prime opportunity.  Don’t let ANA off the hook on this.  Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”

ENDS

ANA ad on Haneda Airport as emerging international Asian hub, talks about changing “the image of Japan” — into White Caucasian!

mytest

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Hi Blog. It’s times like these when people seem glad that a forum like Debito.org exists.  I say this based on the large number of people who submitted information about the new ANA commercial on Haneda Airport’s increased international flights. Seems that somebody, anybody, should express outrage.  Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here it is (courtesy lots of people; thanks!):


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jgzAOCmWA0

(UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA has pulled the ad, so the link above is dead.  I have archived it for posterity as an .mp4 at https://www.debito.org/ANAHanedaAd2014.mp4.  Thanks JK!)

Well, let’s have a think. With two Asian guys speaking only in English (one saying he’s Japanese — the noticeably shorter guy) noting that Japan will have more international access (Vancouver and Hanoi are mentioned as their destinations), the message of the ad is that the image of Japan will change. “Exciting, isn’t it?”, says the Japanese bloke. The taller dude says, “You want a hug?” When nothing happens (i.e., no hug), he oddly says, “Such a Japanese reaction.” When the tall dude says, “Let’s change the image of  Japanese people,” the short dude agrees to it. And this is what happens to him:

ANAHanedabignose

Yeah, that’ll do it.  Put on a wig and a fake nose, and that’ll change Japan’s image.

Actually, no it won’t.  This is in fact business as usual, given how Japan has a nasty habit of racializing commodities.  Check out but a few examples of racist Japanese commercial campaigns from Debito.org’s archives (click on images to see more information).  Then I’ll comment about the ANA one:

Traveling to Nagasaki (let’s gaijinize ourselves!) (2010):
nagasakitabinetto nagasakitabinetto2

Toshiba sells breadmakers! (2013)
toshiba2013suipanda1

McDonald’s Japan sells burgers! (2009)
mcdonaldsmrjames001

Selling sweets! (2013)
vibesumadara3

Mandom sells men’s cosmetics! (2005)
MandomAd2

Mini Stop Konbini sells Afro Melon Bread! (2010)

Publisher Zuiunsha resurrects “Little Black Sambo” without historical context! (2005)
Sambooriginal

Selling party favors! (Tokyu Hands 2008, still on sale on Amazon)

COMMENT ON ANA’S AD CAMPAIGN:

Well, I have the feeling that once again, a major Japanese company left their advertising to one of the big-name ad firms (as Toshiba above did), and they once again just thought they were being cute by sticking a wig and a big nose on somebody and making them look “foreign”.  After all, who would complain?  Japan is after all a homogeneous society with no racial issues (not!).  Chuckling old-timey OBs on the board who make all the decisions and expect everyone to knuckle under thought nothing of it, especially since (check out that screen capture again):

ANAHanedabignose

the guy looks remarkably like Robert Redford!  Who to a lot of Japanese (especially to the generation who haven’t had a Brad Pitt update yet) is the prototypical and idealized Westerner!

But some people, myself included, take a dim view of this campaign.  Let me quote an esteemed friend of mine:

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

Dear ANA,
I’m not sure you know this, but are you aware that most of your foreigner customers are from places like Seoul, Shanghai, Taipei, Hong Kong, Singapore, Manila, and Kuala Lumpur? And that most of them probably don’t have blond/orange hair?
Oh, and even the ones with blond hair probably don’t have noses like a tengu goblin.
And pretty sure that Japanese people enjoy being hugged and have emotions. Well, at least the Japanese who aren’t sticks in mud CEO boardroom types with no sense that the world doesn’t really resemble their 19th century, “we are so different from you funny looking white gaijin” Meiji Era mentality.
Look forward to seeing your 2020 customers. They may surprise you.
Sincerely,
A Big Nose White Guy who speaks Japanese

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

Quite.  If ANA really wanted to change the image of Japan, they should have had the guys hugging!  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 20:  Stating that they are now pulling the ad, ANA officially comments in a reply to complaints below (English original):  The intention of this commercial was to highlight how international flights from Haneda Airport will increase from March 30, 2014 and to encourage Japanese to travel abroad more and become global citizens.”

Interesting mindset.  Good to know what ANA was thinking.  But do you think this advertisement accomplishes that?  Are “global citizens” therefore Robert Redford lookalikes?  In light of this, the advertisement is to me even more problematic.

UPDATE JANUARY 22:  ANA’s campaign expands to the Hibiya Line in Tokyo (Courtesy of JK, click on photo to expand in browser):

ANAHanedaHibiyapic012214

UPDATE TWO, JANUARY 22: FYI, the Japan Times has tapped me to do my next Just Be Cause column early on, you guessed it, the ANA advertisement.  Already filed, it will come out Saturday, January 25 JST.

UPDATE: HERE’S THE JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE.

DVB News: Japan’s lack of transparency threatens Burma’s development (as PM Abe seeks to contain China)

mytest

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Hi Blog. A bit of a tangent today. The author of this article asked me for some input some months back, and I steered him towards some resources that talked about Japan’s historical involvement with Burma (and deep ties between the ruling junta and Japan’s WWII government — to the point of using the Imperial Army’s public order maintenance style over its colonies as a template to repress domestic dissent). Even with recent changes in Burma’s government, Japan’s engagement style is reportedly not changing — it’s still up to its old nontransparent policymaking tricks.  I put up this article on Debito.org because it relates to the Abe Administration’s perpetual use of China not only as a bugbear to stir up nationalism and remilitarization, but also something to encircle and contain, as Abe visits more Asian countries in his first year in office than any other PM (without, notably, visiting China). Nothing quite like getting Japan’s neighbors to forget Japan’s wartime past (and, more importantly, Japan’s treatment of them as a colonizer and invader) than by offering them swagbags of largesse mixed with a message of seeing China instead as the actual threat to regional stability.  Result:  Who will agitate for the offsetting of Japan’s historical amnesia if the descendants of their victims (or their governments, lapping up the largesse) will not?  These are the “arrows” Abe is quietly loosing, and this time outside Japan in support of his revisionism.  Arudou Debito

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

Japan’s lack of transparency threatens Burma’s development
Demographic Voice of Burma News, October 31, 2013, By Jacob Robinson,courtesy of the author
http://www.dvb.no/analysis/japans-lack-of-transparency-threatens-burmas-development-myanmar/34024
Excepted below

Japan’s traditional approach to diplomacy – characterised by “quiet dialogue” – is becoming a threat to Burma’s fragile reform process. In recent weeks, the Japanese government has demonstrated an alarming lack of transparency regarding both its role in Burma’s peace process and land grabbing problems at Thilawa, Japan’s flagship development project near Rangoon. Eleven News also reported on Tuesday that a Burmese parliament member demanded greater transparency about how Japanese financial aid is distributed to Burma’s health sector.

Perhaps of greatest concern is Japan’s abysmal response to land grabbing problems at Thilawa. When landgrabbing reports first surfaced in January 2013, a Japanese company developing Thilawa responded to media inquiries by saying that land issues were the sole responsibility of Burma’s government. The following month, a spokesman for Japan’s embassy in Burma took the same position, saying that Thilawa land issues were “very complicated” and that Burma’s government was solely responsible for land grabbing issues.

This kind of detached and dismissive response from Japan was nothing less than a public relations disaster. It also set off alarm bells among members of the international community who were hoping that Japan would play a responsible role in Burma. It wasn’t until this October – over 10 months after the initial land grabbing report – that Japan’s government finally decided to take some responsibility for land grabbing by holding a meeting with Thilawa landowners. Not surprisingly, The Irrawaddy reported that the meeting was off-limits to the media and held behind closed doors.

Japan’s secretive approach to such an important issue is an ominous sign that Japan is stubbornly clinging to its “quiet dialogue” approach to diplomacy, whereby Japanese officials “gently encourage” foreigners to capitulate in stuffy private meetings that are tightly controlled and choreographed by Japan. Japanese officials just don’t seem comfortable doing business any other way. But being uncomfortable isn’t an excuse. There’s a good reason why transparency has become a rallying cry for Burma’s opposition, and Japan will need to adapt. A lack of transparency breeds corruption, and corruption stifles development. So if Japan really wants to foster sustainable development in Burma it simply has to change its ways…

In other words, Japan is starting to destroy an amazing opportunity that practically fell into its lap when Burma’s military decided to give Japan a prominent role in developing the “new and improved” Burma. One reason why Japan has been so favoured lately is because it’s viewed as a “friendly” alternative to China. But if people start to equate Japan’s tactics with those of China, the whole game changes and Burma will be less willing to grant Japan special privileges.

Japan also made a huge mistake by asking Yohei Sasakawa to serve as Japan’s official peace ambassador in Burma. Sasakawa is a member of Japan’s far-right historical revisionist movement which still somehow thinks Japan was the victim rather than the aggressor of World War II. Sasakawa also cultivated personal ties with Burma’s former military dictatorship, and not surprisingly Sasakawa has yet to disavow his father’s controversial support for fascism.

In his blog, Sasakawa even sings high praises for former junta leader Than Shwe, an outrageous position which immediately puts him at odds with millions of Burmese citizens. As a personal friend and apologist of Than Shwe, it’s clear that Sasakawa should have been disqualified from the peace process from the beginning…

Full article at http://www.dvb.no/analysis/japans-lack-of-transparency-threatens-burmas-development-myanmar/34024
ENDS

Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Saw this interesting poster in, of all places, an elevator in Narita Airport last September:

DonaldKeeneCenter

Yes, that’s our Donald Keene, currently aged 91, whose center last September 21 was opened up in Kashiwazaki (for those who unfamiliar with that part of Niigata Prefecture, K-town is in between Nagaoka and Joetsu; nice beach) in order to transmit “the excellence of Japanese literature” (watashi wa ninon bungaku no subarashisa o tsutaetai).

This is an important event, as it counts as an established NJ legacy on the scale of Edwin Dun and of course Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo (both of whom have their lives immortalized in building form).

Now, where Debito.org has taken issue with Keene is with not with his scholarship or contributions to the field of Japanese studies (indeed admirable), but with his naturalization while publicly denigrating NJ.  As chronicled here and in the Japan Times, he himself made a big fuss about how he was becoming a Japanese citizen for selfless reasons, e.g., to “become one of them“, to show “solidarity with the Japanese people” in their time of great need, so that he might help victims of the Tohoku Disasters in some way.

Fine.  But he also threw in all sorts of irrelevancies and nastiness, such as making himself out to be morally superior to other NJ residents (contrasting himself with those allegedly fleeing Japan like the mythical “Flyjin”, mentioning how he wasn’t committing crimes like they were — despite actual NJ crime trends).  It was a poor show of social science by a trained researcher.

If he’s going to be mean, then he’s going to have his record scrutinized like everyone else.  So, despite his promises to “contribute to areas affected by the [Tohoku] disaster“, by now what has he done?  Put his Donald Keene Center in Tohoku to attract tourists?  Sorry, Kashiwazaki is quite far away from the disaster areas, and the Donald Keene Center website doesn’t even mention the events in Tohoku as any form of motivation.  Visited Tohoku like other NJ to help out with relief efforts?  Well, according to his English Wikipedia entry, he gave a speech in Sendai; thanks, but…  Or opening up his library for free to the public?  No, sorry, that’s not how business is done:

DonaldKeeneCenter2

Not sure where profits are going.  Again, no mention of contribution to disaster relief on the Center’s website.

And of course, there is one very big contribution to Japan he could still yet make.  One very big open secret about douseiaisha in Japan is that even if they can’t get officially married (due to Japan’s koseki system), they can still adopt one another and establish inheritance rights.  That’s precisely what Keene did by naturalizing, getting his own koseki, and then adding his partner to it.  So in this worldwide wave of tolerance/reactionary intolerance towards gay marriage, gay rights is another issue Keene could use his influence to raise awareness about (and before you say he’s too old to do so, consider George Takei).  But no.

Again, these are all a person’s life choices, and I will respect Keene’s.  Except for the fact that he doesn’t respect others’ life choices (he should read “Yes I Can” by Sammy Davis Jr., and learn something about not denigrating other minorities in his position to advance himself, and then pulling up ladders of opportunity behind him). He doesn’t seem to be keeping his public promises.  His pandering to stereotypes about NJ, plus public gestures of self-hugging while making a show of his apparent self-sacrifices, are disingenuous upon closer inspection.

I’m not in the habit of paraphrasing Depeche Mode (I’m famously a proud fan of Duran Duran), but maybe it’s time to start.  A stanza of “Everything Counts” applies here:

“All for himself, after all.”

That is not the best legacy for immigrants and former NJ to leave behind.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE OCTOBER 8, 2014:  Dr. Donald Keene reiterates his belief that NJ left in significant numbers after the 3/11 Disasters in Tohoku in a recent Yomiuri interview. Even though I demonstrated in a Japan Times column that this was not the case in April 2012.

https://www.debito.org/?p=10081
So much for his role as a scholar… 

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

Message Special / Donald Keene / My life now is the happiest that I ever had: Scholar
Kunihiko Miura / The Yomiuri Shimbun
11:11 pm, October 05, 2014
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001615967

When the terrible things happened in Tohoku, and especially when I read that many foreigners who had lived in Japan, worked in Japan, were leaving the country, I was very angry, and I wondered what I could do to show I was different. (REST OF THE ARTICLE IN COMMENTS SECTION BELOW).

Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009

mytest

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Hi Blog.  In an apparent policy U-turn, the GOJ decided last week to lift the ban on certain South Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) from re-entering Japan.  This after bribing them to leave in 2009 so that they would not become an inconvenient unemployment statistic (not to mention that it was cheaper to pay their airfare than to pay them their social welfare that they had invested in over the decades, or pay them their pensions in future when reaching retirement age).

The reasons for this U-turn are being discussed in a recent Japan Times article, excerpted below.  The article speculates that a couple of embarrassing lawsuits and visa-denials might have tipped the GOJ’s hand (I for one doubt it; Japan’s visa regimes, as can be seen for example in its perennial stance towards refugees, are generally impervious to public exposure and international pressure).  I believe it was more an issue of the GOJ facing reality (as happened more than one year ago at the highest policymaking levels, where even the GOJ still maintained the stance that if immigration was an inevitability, they had better bring back people with Japanese blood; after all, the only ones in attendance were all Wajin and one token Nikkei).

Debito.org has spoken out quite hot-tonguedly about how ludicrous the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe was, not the least because of its inherently racialized paradigms (because they only applied to Nikkei — people who were also in even more dire financial straits due to the economic downturn, such as the Chinese and Muslim factory workers laboring in conditions of indentured servitude, were left to fend for themselves because they lacked the requisite Japanese blood).

So as a matter of course Debito.org cheers for the lifting of the ban.  But the Bribe and the Ban should never have happened in the first place.  So the GOJ can also take its lumps even if they are ultimately making the right decision.

Does this mean that the numbers of registered NJ residents of Japan will start to increase again?  I will say it could happen.  I stress: could, not will happen.  But if it did, that statistic, not any asset bubbles and transient stock-market numbers that people keep championing as the putative fruits of “Abenomics”, will be the real indicator of Japan’s recovery.   That is to say, if Japan ever regains its sheen as an attractive place to work for international labor, then an increase in Japan’s NJ population will cause and signal a true leavening of Japan’s economic clout and prowess.  But I remain skeptical at this juncture — as I’ve said before, the jig is up, and outsiders generally know that Japan has no intention or enforceable laws to treat immigrants as equals, no matter how much of their lives and taxes they invest.

At this time, I believe international migrant labor will continue to vote with their feet and work elsewhere.  So good luck with significant numbers coming to Japan even with this ban lifted.  Arudou Debito

==========================
Referential article:

Ban lifted on ‘nikkei’ who got axed, airfare
But Japanese-Brazilians must have work contract before coming back
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, The Japan Times OCT 15, 2013
EXCERPT:
In what could be a significant change in policy affecting “nikkei” migrant workers from Brazil, the government Tuesday lifted a ban on the return of Japanese-Brazilians who received financial help in 2009 to fly home when they were thrown out of work during the global financial crisis.

Ostensibly an attempt to help the unemployed and cash-strapped Latin American migrants of Japanese ethnic origin escape the economic woes here, the 2009 initiative offered each an average of ¥300,000 to be used as airfare. It eventually resulted in an exodus of around 20,000 people, including 5,805 from Aichi Prefecture and 4,641 from Shizuoka Prefecture.

Although some of the migrants were genuinely thankful for the chance to get out of struggling Japan and find jobs back home, others were insulted because accepting the deal also meant they couldn’t come back to Japan at least “for the next three years” under “the same legal status.” This was seen as an outrageous move by the government to “get rid of” foreign workers as demand for their services fizzled out.

The migrants were initially banned from re-entering Japan for an unspecified period of time, but after a storm of both domestic and international condemnation, the government eventually said it might green-light their return after three years, depending on the economy.

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/15/national/ban-lifted-on-nikkei-who-got-axed-airfare/
ENDS

Latest addition to Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments: “Japanese Speaker Only” Okinawa Moromisato Karaoke Maimu

mytest

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Hi Blog. The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, an information site constructed by Debito.org and its supporters to catalog the spread of “Japanese Only” establishments nationwide, has added yet another karaoke parlor to its collection. As per the entry:

https://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Uruma

Okinawa City Moromizato (Okinawa Pref)
Karaoke Hall Maimu
(沖縄市諸見里1−1−2 Ph (098) 931-9114、カラオケの店舗)

Website: http://www.top-music.co.jp/sub_30.html (which does not mention their exclusionary rules)
okinawakaraokemaimustore

 

(Courtesy of Maimu Website)

okinawakaraokemimefront071413

(Note exclusionary sign on left wall before the staircase.  Photos taken July 14, 2013, courtesy of Justin. Click on photo with sign to expand in browser)

okinawakaraokemimesign071413

SIGN:  “THIS PLACE IS ONLY FOR JAPANESE SPEAKER!”

Submitter Justin rightly notes: “Shop is located near Kadena US Air Force base. While these signs are a step up from completely discriminating against all NJ, it is ridiculous that they can get a sign saying people who can’t speak Japanese are not admitted, but can’t have someone translate a paper listing the ‘rules and regulations of the shop’ in English.”

Quite. Plenty of hotels (especially the pre-disaster Fukushima ones) use the same excuse.  And Maimu’s English translation is quite good, so this “language barrier” feels more like an excuse just to exclude like the ones proffered by Onsen Yunohana back in 2001.

The Rogues’ Gallery Moderator also wonders how Maimu will be testing customers’ language ability, what the sufficient linguistic thresholds are to “pass”, and if it will be only be enforced on people who “look foreign”.  Also, since their website also says children are welcome (and has no rules to bar deaf or blind people), I wonder if Maimu is as worried about potential communication problems during emergencies with them?  No, I bet it’s just “foreigners” that cause “inconvenience to our customers”.

Another one duly recorded.  Any more places like this out there, Debito.org Readers?  Submissions welcome as per the parameters up at the Rogues’ Gallery.  Arudou Debito

WSJ: Abenomics’ Missing “Third Arrow: The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem”

mytest

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As I will be discussing in my next Japan Times column due out next week, one of the things that the LDP has been good at during this election cycle has been controlling the agenda.  By diverting attention away from contentious constitutional reform by talking about economic reform (or at least the promise of it), Abe and Co. have used imagery of loosing “three arrows” (monetary easing and fiscal stimulus, then eventually structural reforms).  The Economist (London) on June 15 wondered if “Abenomics” had “failed before it even properly began“.

As Debito.org and others have been saying for years now, you can’t have sustained growth without a healthy and energetic workforce, especially as society ages, pensioners crowd out taxpayers, and public works continue to fill in the gaps and crowd out entrepreneurship.  And if you want youth, energy, and entrepreneurialism, you cannot beat immigration and the Can-Do Make-Do Spirit of the Immigrant.

But the strong xenophobic tendencies of the LDP and the dominant fringes within the ruling side of Japan’s politics have made this currently politically untenable.  And here’s the Wall Street Journal giving us their take on why a serious immigration policy should have been one of the GOJ’s “arrows”.  Arudou Debito

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

Mr. Abe’s Missing Arrow
The absence of immigration reform from Abenomics bespeaks a deeper problem.
By JOSEPH STERNBERG
Tokyo
WSJ BUSINESS ASIA June 26, 2013
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324637504578568613127577972.html

If there’s one reform that’s symbolic of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s eponymous program to rejuvenate the Japanese economy, it’s immigration.

By importing new consumers and workers, immigration is crucial to stimulating domestic capital investment by companies. By expanding the taxpaying population base, it improves the government’s fiscal position. Immigration will facilitate foreign direct investment, boosting productivity.

All of that makes immigration reform precisely the kind of bold and deep change Mr. Abe promises. But the thing that makes immigration reform most emblematic of Abenomics is that despite its importance to Japan’s future, it is almost entirely absent from the agenda.

No one should underestimate the economic damage done by the country’s demographic emergency. Deaths have outnumbered births since 2005, and now that the inflow of expatriates is slowing, the net population has contracted for two years in a row. The age distribution skews ever older. As of 2010, Japan already had the lowest proportions of its population in the 0-14 years and working-age 15-64 years brackets of any developed economy, at 13.2% and 63.8% respectively. By 2050, those age cohorts will have shrunk further, to 9.7% and 51.5%, according to Statistics Bureau estimates.

Fewer people means fewer consumers. This is one of several interconnected explanations for why Japanese companies are so reluctant to invest at home. It also means fewer workers. One implication is that unless Japan could radically increase productivity per worker—by as much as 3% or 4% per year, an unusual level for a fully developed economy—it will be impossible to deliver the sustained 2% GDP growth Mr. Abe has promised.

IMAGE: Softbank Corp President—and third-generation immigrant— Masayoshi Son.

Yet Abenomics only hints at these realities, never quite facing them head-on. Mr. Abe’s emphasis on boosting the embarrassingly low female labor force participation rate is an acknowledgment that Japan needs more workers. But that is only a temporary measure in light of inexorable demographic change, which policy makers seem to forget affects women as much as men.

Japan needs as many as 10 million immigrants by 2050 to offset natural population decline, according to Hidenori Sakanaka of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute. Many of Mr. Abe’s other goals ultimately depend on immigration. For instance, unanswered in Mr. Abe’s plan to open thousands of new child-care centers so that mothers can return to their careers is the question of who will staff them. Immigrants are the most plausible solution.

Abenomics is not entirely silent on immigration. Mr. Abe proposes revising the points system used to evaluate the visa applications of high-skilled immigrants to make it easier for them to enter, and also to reduce to three years from five the amount of time a foreigner must live in Japan before qualifying for permanent residency.

Both of these would be useful changes, but don’t represent the bigger conceptual leap Japan needs to make. Tokyo can’t afford human resources “winner picking” any more than it can afford to continue the industrial winner picking of yore. Since immigration imports entrepreneurial talent, immigrants also will be vital to achieving the productivity growth Japan needs.

Successful entrepreneurs, like successful business ideas, pop up where and when a bureaucrat least expects them. Masayoshi Son, founder of SoftBank and one of Japan’s most successful living entrepreneurs, is the grandson of otherwise unremarkable pig-farming illegal immigrants from Korea. Japan needs to cast as wide a net as possible for more families like that.

***
The problem, of course, is that immigration will be hugely disruptive to Japan’s way of life, which is undeniably comfortable. Per capita GDP, especially when adjusted for falling prices, is healthy, thank you very much, despite anemic growth in the economy overall. Unemployment is low, even if an inefficient labor market and low productivity suppress wages. Crime is practically unheard of.

The social stability Japanese prize is not noticeable in high-immigration developed economies such as the U.S. or Western Europe. Hearing a foreigner from a place where Latin American drug cartels are active or unassimilated Muslim immigrants burn cars in the suburbs argue for more immigration, the Japanese not unreasonably say, “You must be kidding.” In theory, Japan may have no alternative to immigration if it wants to return to sustained growth. In reality, you’re asking people to upend their society in pursuit of an abstract economic goal.

Investors have lately panned Abenomics, rightly, for its lack of daring. Optimists hope this is a political calculation that a month before a major election is no time to introduce bold reforms, and that more and better is on the way later. But reflection on the immigration problem raises a different prospect. Any meaningful reform will be deeply disruptive—whether in terms of new immigrants let in, small farms consolidated and old farmers retired, new businesses started and old firms bankrupted. In all the hubbub about Abenomics, everyone forgot to ask whether Japan really wants the upheaval needed to restart growth. Unless and until Japanese are willing to tolerate such changes, Abenomics will be more wish than reality.

Mr. Sternberg edits the Business Asia column.
ENDS

Racist 2013 Toshiba commercial for product APB-R100X, SuiPanDa combination ricecooker/breadmaker

mytest

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Hi Blog. A bit of a racist slam-dunk today. World-class company Toshiba seems to think that domestic commercials will only be seen within the putatively hermetic Japanese domestic market. And that there are no people in Japan who might take offense at being racially caricatured.

toshiba2013suipanda1

The advertised product in question:  A rice cooker that can also double as a bread maker — Toshiba SuiPanDa Model APB-R100X.  The issue:  Gaijinizing the user to promote bread consumption.  As submitter RS put it:

====================================
Hello Debito, I’m not sure if you have seen this commercial or not, but perhaps you may be interested in it.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TaAXIenMJPI

UPDATE: (Link is now dead, but video archived at Kotaku.com here, thanks:)
http://kotaku.com/toshiba-commercial-called-racist-606881529

And if you want your own copy, here’s the ad in mp4 format:
https://www.debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4

It’s clearly racist, and even kind of seems like the minstrel shows in the US in the 1800’s (which were incredibly racist). It’s pretty unbelievable that this commercial seems to be new, and is from such a major corporation…
====================================

Just in case it gets taken offline, some stills, for the record:

toshiba2013suipanda2 toshiba2013suipanda3 toshiba2013suipanda4 toshiba2013suipanda5 toshiba2013suipanda6

Note the accented speech rendered in katakana subtitle for the Gaijinized Japanese actress, complete with blond hair, appended big nose, and overexuberant gestures and speech patterns.  Not to mention the dichotomous stereotype that people who eat bread (as opposed to potatoes or some other kind of starch) are automatically “Western” (youfuu).

COMMENT: Well, to me, not so unbelievable. Debito.org has collected a veritable rogues’ gallery of  Japanese commercials and product lines that use biological memes of racism to hawk product — some of which were taken off the air when people protested (click on photos for more information):
vibesumadara3
nagasakitabinetto2
blackmelonpan
090813mrjamesfull
Sambooriginal
MandomAd2

Of course, you are welcome to protest this as well. Here’s the Toshiba website with the product in question:
http://www.toshiba.co.jp/living/kitchen_appliences/abp_r100x/

And here’s Toshiba’s online feedback: https://www.livingdoors.jp/csqa/form.php
Phone and Fax numbers here: http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csqa/contact/support/living_sonota/index_j.htm#contactInfoArea

Many Japanese advertisers just never seem to learn.  It’s up to us to tell them.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JUNE 29: Here are two other commercial spots for other Toshiba products, featuring the same businesswomen actresses in the same vein, but without the racialization. As a friend pointed out elsewhere, “Toshiba could have communicated the same message more effectively by interviewing a master baker or some other expert.”

Courtesy of Kotaku. Note that in these videos, these people are co-workers who know each other. Gaijinized in the breadmaker commercial, she’s an unknown stranger. Once again, Gaijin are the perpetual “Other” who don’t belong, even with all the NJ working for Japanese corporations.

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

UPDATE TWO: Toshiba is clearly aware that this commercial is problematic because they’ve immediately removed it from their website.

http://www.toshiba.co.jp/eco/ch/homebakery/index_j.htm

That’s kinda funny.  A world-class electronics company thinking that it can just remove their racist advert without comment, retraction, or apology, and that would be it?  Not very media- or tech-savvy, are they?

Download your own copy from Debito.org in mp4 format, for posterity.
https://www.debito.org/Toshibasuipanda.mp4

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

UPDATE THREE:  Even funnier, Toshiba’s racist advertisement goes against its own Corporate Standards of Conduct!

toshibacorppolicyadvertising2013

 

14. 広告活動
2. 東芝グループ役員・従業員の行動基準
3. 政治、宗教等については広告表現の対象とせず、また、人種差別、心身障害者差別等を想起させ、人間の尊厳を傷つけるような表現を用いません。
http://www.toshiba.co.jp/csr/jp/policy/soc.htm#SOC01_14

FGU on how Japan’s employers are circumventing new contract law protections: poison pills in contracts

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We’ve talked about Japan’s Academic Apartheid at the university level (i.e., NJ on perpetual contracts, J on permanent tenure) for decades now on Debito.org (especially since employment standards of NJ in academia set precedents for employment everywhere).  And thanks to decades of pressure, as of April 2013 the GOJ built in safeguards to stop perpetual contracting — where working five years continuously on fixed-term contracts now gives the contractee the option for more stable contract work.  But employers are now getting around that by capping their contracts at five years with a “non-renewal clause”, building in a poison pill for employees no matter how hard they work or contribute to the company.  It’s one more reason to reconsider ever working in Japan.

Keep an eye out for it in your next contract, and don’t sign one that has it. Text, translation, and commentary courtesy of CF at the Fukuoka General Union. Arudou Debito

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

CF at PALE: There was an article in today’s Nishinippon Shinbun which stated that many of the “main” universities in Kyushu (most of the national universities) have changed their work rules to make all fixed term contracts (ie non-tenured) limited to only 5 years. This means that they can sack you (non renew you) just before you become eligible for non-fixed term contracts after 5 years of continuous employment.

This will drastically affect all non-tenured teachers, while tenured teachers are not affected. The new contract law which gives more security to those on fixed term contracts will be circumvented by this movement. I think there will definitely be a flow on effect to private universities in the “National universities are doing it so we have to too” approach.

==============================
Universities to non-renew after 5 years
“Goes against the purpose of the law” say experts
Avoiding Permanent Employment of Educational and Administrative staff
A Number of Major Universities in Kyushu Countering the New Law
By Taketsugu Minoru, Nishinippon Shinbun 23 June 2013
Courtesy http://fukuoka.generalunion.org/news/limit.htm
Original Japanese scanned at http://fukuoka.generalunion.org/news/LIM-CONTRACTS..pdf

With the amendment of the Labour Contract Law which came into effect on April first this year which stipulates that those who have worked for more than 5 years continuously on fixed term contracts may request to change their status to a contract with no fixed term (no-limit status transfer), a number of major universities in Kyushu are amending their work rules to insert a “non-renewal” clause. With government subsidies to universities are decreasing, the aim is to avoid locking in permanent personnel costs. Experts have criticized the move saying it “Goes against the purpose of the amendment of the law which is to provide stable employment to workers on fixed-term employment contracts”.

The amendment to the law does not apply to any specific industry, but to all workers. These countermeasures may have a flow on effect to other industries. Whereas the reason that universities have taken such protective measures in advance is that that already have a large number of teachers on fixed-term contracts who will be subject to the amendment to the law. Work rules (amendments) have been drafted for such teaching and administrative staff.

The Nishinippon Shimbun interviewed private and 7 National universities Kyushu, Saga, Nagasaki, Kumamoto, Oita, Miyazaki and Kagoshima. Of these all except Kumamoto said that they had taken measures to deal with the amendment that came into force in April. Kyushu University has amended related regulations to state, “Employees on fixed term contracts cannot be employed for a period that exceeds 5 years”. Previously, the rules stated “Limited to 3 years and 5 years with the possibility of renewal”, with continuous work over 5 years possible.

Saga University has followed Kyushu University in amending their work rules relating to fixed-term contracts in April. The University explained “We understand that the purpose of the law is to improve working conditions for workers, but with the limited amount of government funding, managing human resources costs is our top priority”.

However, each faculty in the University of Kagoshima held discussions and in the faculty of Agriculture and Veterinary Science etc. have abolished the upper limit on fixed term contracts, leaving the possibility of transfer to no-limit status. Nagoya University has taken a similar line, but on a national scale it seems to be the exception. The Ministry of Education said they do not have a grasp of the actual situation.

With the amendment to the law, even a person on a 1 year fixed contract, which is renewed, in the 6th year the employee can demand non-fixed term status, which comes into effect in the beginning of the 7th year.

However, the Labour Contract Law, different to the enforceable Labour Standards Law, has no penalties or ability to issue breach notices like the Labour Standards Law. The Ministry of Health Labour and Welfare has stated that “It is not illegal for a company to set a limit on the number of years a worker can continuously work, but I really hope that if at all possible this it would be avoided.” The Vice Minister made this statement in the Diet last year.

According to labour law specialist lawyer Natsume Ichiro (Tokyo), “If you don’t make an issue of this clause now you won’t be able to fight it in court. I think teacher’s unions should make more of an issue of it.”

ENDS

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

XY at PALE: Teachers at Waseda University are suing over this, according to this Mainichi Shinbun article from a few days ago.

早大:非常勤講師15人が刑事告訴 就業規則巡り
毎日新聞 2013年06月21日 20時54分(最終更新 06月21日 23時50分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130622k0000m040066000c.html

早稲田大学が今春から非常勤講師に適用している就業規則を巡り、早大の非常勤講師15人が21日、鎌田薫総長や同大理事ら18人を労働基準法違反で東京労働局に刑事告訴した。既に首都圏大学非常勤講師組合の松村比奈子委員長らが告発状を提出している。

松村委員長によると、非常勤講師には今年3月25日以降に契約更新の上限を5年とする新しい就業規則が郵送された。大学側は労基法に基づき、過半数代表を選出して意見を聞いたとしているが、講師らは自分たちが大学に立ち入れない入試期間中に代表を選出したことになっていることなどから、正当な手続きを経ていないと主張している。松村委員長は「契約に上限をつけ不安定にする制度を作るなら、少なくとも本人たちの意見は聞くべきだ」と話している。

早稲田大学広報課は「詳細が不明なのでコメントを差し控えたい」としている。【東海林智】

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

CF REPLIES: Ah yes, this is sneaky, changing the work rules by nominating a company brown-noser to sign off on behalf of all employers. Also it is the tenured teachers protecting their territory and throwing the contracted teachers to the wolves. Everyone should be careful when work rules (shugyo kisoku 就業規則 are changed and find out what the changes are.

ENDS

Tangent: Julian Ryall on how Japanese employees educated abroad are denied opportunities by Japanese companies

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A bit of a tangent this time, but what do you think about this article?  It suggests that diversity in Japan’s corporate culture is being suppressed, and overseas experience is in fact a DEMERIT to placement and advancement.  If true, then how the heck are NJ supposed to get ahead in Japanese companies if even Japanese face the same resistance?  And what does it say about Japan’s future in the global market?  Arudou Debito

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LABOR MARKET
Firms’ conservative hiring holds back Japan
By Julian Ryall, DW.com, May 31, 2013
Courtesy http://www.dw.de/firms-conservative-hiring-holds-back-japan/a-16851451 and MS

Many young Japanese students go abroad to study with high hopes. They return home with foreign degrees and even higher hopes, only to be shot down by conservative company ideals.

On the very first day in her first job after graduation, Tomoko Tanaka says her dominant emotion was of disappointment.

Tanaka, who does not want her real name or the name of her company used in this article because it could affect her career, began work in April of this year and had high hopes that the years she spent studying overseas would make her a popular candidate with Japanese employers.

Instead, it seems, the effort and money that went into perfecting her English skills in the UK may have been wasted as Japanese firms do not always welcome potential recruits who have been exposed to foreign ways of thinking and behaving.

“I did not have a clear dream for my career, but I did want to work for a big and famous company,” 23-year-old Tanaka told DW. “I studied in the UK for one year, I learned about the difficulties of living with people from various countries, from different cultures, and the importance of taking action in order to change something and to make myself understood.

“And I felt more confident after living abroad because I could overcome many difficulties,” she added.

High test scores
Initially, Tanaka was encouraged by her job interviews as employers seemed to value a high score in language assessment tests.

After securing a job that appeared to offer good career prospects, Tanaka learned that she was being sent to a rural part of Japan and would be working in the administration department. Since she started, she has not yet had an opportunity to use her English skills.

“In my opinion, most Japanese companies want young people who have a ‘Japanese background’ and international communication skills, but I think that is global human resources in a very limited sense,” she said.

Graduates from foreign universities find it difficult to get a job

“It seems that Japanese companies want young people to obey their rules, but only to use their skills when the company needs it,” she added.

But this runs counter to what Japan needs in the rapidly evolving world of international trade, commerce and international relations.

In March, Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced that Japan would take part in negotiations to construct the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement and indicated that opening up to the rest of the world offers the best chances of growth for the nation.

Japan has also actively been seeking a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, the government is planning to revise parts of the constitution that will enable Japanese troops to play much larger roles in international peace-keeping operations and companies are being encouraged to go further afield to secure the resources and markets that will provide for the nation’s future.

Companies lagging behind
Many companies here, however, are not keeping up with that vision.

A survey conducted in March 2012 by Disco, a Tokyo-based recruitment company, determined that less than one in four firms planned to hire Japanese applicants who had studied abroad.

Even among major, blue-chip companies, less than 40 percent said they would employ Japanese who had attended a foreign university.

Aware of the problems they face if they have invested their time and funds on an education overseas, more are staying closer to home. In 2004, there were 82,945 Japanese at colleges overseas; in 2010, the figure had contracted to less than 60,000. In the US alone, the number has fallen from a peak of 47,000 in the 1997-’98 academic year to just 19,900 in 2011-’12.

Inevitably, as places are freed up at foreign institutions, they are being snapped up by students from developing nations with a thirst for knowledge, with China and India in the forefront of the surge.

“It seems to me that for the first few years of young Japanese graduates’ careers, they are effectively being ‘trained’ in the corporate culture and requirements of their company,” said Chris Burgess, a lecturer in English and Australian Studies at Tsuda College in Tokyo.

Talent going to waste
“That means that despite all the rhetoric from the government, these companies are wasting so much talent,” he said.

PM Kan indicated that opening up to the rest of the world could help the country’s growth

“They are usually long-standing institutions with structures that are very difficult to reform,” he said. “There is an inbred corporate culture and they are very reluctant to evolve, even when they need to do precisely that to survive in an increasingly competitive business world.”

It is an alarming statistic that fully 25 percent of new employees at Japanese companies resign within the first three years, he said, simply because they are not satisfied with what they are doing.

“I felt confident and really motivated when I started my job interviews,” said 26-year-old Yumi Hara, from Yokohama, southwest of Tokyo.

Two years in London and a degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Virginia that gave her Chinese and Korean on top of her English would make her an attractive option for a Japanese company that had ambitions of expanding its operations overseas.

“But in the interviews, they didn’t really want to know what I thought, but whether I was able to give them the perfect answer, to tell them what they wanted to hear,” she said.

Hara admits she was “devastated” at the constant rejections – particularly when she discovered that friends who had opted to go to Japanese universities and had very limited language abilities were getting the very jobs that she wanted.

She shrugs.

“Today I’m teaching English in a small school and I’m pretty happy doing this as it’s a small company and I have the responsibility to start new things,” she said. “I don’t think I’ll be going to work for a big Japanese company any time soon.”
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Times: “Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed”, and how NJ tie themselves in mental knots

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Hi Blog. This JT article has been sent to me by lots of people and has stirred up quite a bit of debate in cyberspace. Frankly, I’m a little surprised (albeit happily) that this was in any way treated as news. I thought that this sort of thing was so normalized a practice that people largely ignored it, treated it as part of the background noise/inconvenience of living in a place like Japan. Kudos to the reporter and the Ryuugaku student for taking it up afresh.

It has always been to Debito.org’s great chagrin that we have no page (aside from some “pinprick protest” posts and solutions herehere, here, here, here, and here) dedicated to exclusionary businesses within the rental market. Partially because landlords don’t hang up a shingle saying “Japanese Only” that we can take a picture of to name and shame (like we can and have done for exclusionary businesses open to the public). Racist landlords can instead launder their discrimination through third parties like realtors, keeping incidents scattered and individualized and more or less on the downlow, and making Japan’s rental market a racialized minefield for NJ residents.

One thing that can be done (in the Ryuukoku University case mentioned in the JT article below) is for the university co-op to simply refuse to do business with or advertise apartments to anyone on campus for places with exclusionary practices or landlords. Deny them the lucrative student market. This has to be done systematically back to combat the systematic practices in place. This should be standard practice at all universities, and it is something students (Japanese and NJ) should push for.  I know of one place that is considering doing so (more later).

But one of the reasons why this situation persists is not only due to the lack of a law in Japan protecting people from discrimination by race and national origin in the private sector.  It is also due to the pedants, apologists, and self-hating gaijin (see the copious comments below the JT article) who riddle debates with cultural relativism, general relativism (e.g., “discrimination happens to everyone in Japan and everywhere in the world”), apologism based upon culturally-based conflict and guilt by association, chauvinism and “the foreigner must have done something wrong” merely by existing in Japan, and red-herring points including privacy and landlord rights (overlooking the fact that landlords already have quite significant power already just as property owners in this situation — before you get to their carte-blanche privilege to be racists).  These cyberspace sharks argue against themselves and deter people from banding together and helping each other.  They also help to keep discrimination in Japan normalized.  We had the same debates during the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, immortalized in all their glory within our new Tenth Anniversary eBook “Japanese Only” on Amazon for $9.99), but fortunately they did not carry the day back then because we won our lawsuits against the racists.

Back to this issue:  I look forward to Debito.org Readers sharing their stories of exclusionary landlords and realtors in the Comments Section. Do try to give names, places, and dates if you can. And if you have any visuals of clear exclusionary rules, please send them to me at debito@debito.org and I’ll find ways to include them with your comment. Arudou Debito

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Student seeking Kyoto flat told: No foreigners allowed
Campus cooperative says it is powerless to prevent landlords from discriminating
BY SIMON SCOTT
The Japan Times April 23, 2013, courtesy of lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/23/issues/student-seeking-kyoto-flat-told-no-foreigners-allowed/

After spending 2½ years living the quiet life in buttoned-down Shiga Prefecture, Ryukoku University student Victor Rosenhoj was looking forward to moving into bustling central Kyoto, where things promised to be more lively and international. First, though, he needed to find a suitable apartment, so he picked up a copy of the student magazine, Ryudaisei No Sumai, from the cooperative store on campus.

Thumbing through it, Rosenhoj, originally from Belgium, came across an attractive and affordable place just a stone’s throw from Gojo Station in the downtown area. His heart set on the apartment, he made an appointment at the student co-op on the university’s Fukakusa campus, which arranges accommodation for students in the Kyoto area.

When he pointed to the apartment he was interested in, the shop manager told him that no foreigners were allowed to rent the place.

“Well, the very first moment I was told that, I thought I had misheard something. But it soon became clear that it wasn’t a misunderstanding,” Rosenhoj said. “I felt both hurt and angry at the same time, though it took a while for those feelings to really reach the surface.”

Rosenhoj said one of the things that surprised him the most was the “matter-of-fact way” the manager informed him that the apartment was off-limits to foreigners. After Rosehoj confronted the manager about the issue, he says he was somewhat apologetic about it, but at the same time dismissive of the idea that it could be construed as racial discrimination by a foreign customer.

Rest of the article and comments at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/04/23/issues/student-seeking-kyoto-flat-told-no-foreigners-allowed/
ENDS

JT on “Kyakkan Setsu vs. Nibun Setsu”: Grey zones in compensation for “work hours” in Japan

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Hi Blog.  As our last post talked about labor law issues (and the proposal to abridge Labor Standards in favor of greater “flexibility” to dismiss labor without reasons), here’s an important article that came out in the Japan Times last December that I was waiting to get to, discussing issues once again of employer power over employees:  When is a person under the authority of his or her employer, deserving compensation as “work time”?  Okunuki talks about important cases in a very enlightening article about just how grey “work hours” are, and underscoring how powerless Japanese employees are regarding all that overtime going unpaid — how many people take things to court or to labor unions to fight under this precedent, or are even aware of “kyakkan setsu vs. nibun setsu”?.  And the proposal we discussed last blog entry is to give even more power to employers?  Arudou Debito

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Japan Times Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012
THE COMMUNITY PAGE LIFELINES: LABOR PAINS
When is an hour at work not a work hour?

The Japan Times, December 18, 2012
By HIFUMI OKUNUKI
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121218lp.html

It was 1988, in an ad for Regain energy drink. Actor Saburo Tokito, wearing a suit and carrying an attache case, asked a question that would go down in TV history: “Can I work 24 hours straight?”

Japan was reveling in the go-go years of the bubble economy, its people sacrificing their health, families and private lives in a mad devotion to work, work and more work. But beneath all the bright economic indicators lurked a dark underbelly of millions of hours of unpaid overtime and innumerable cases of karōshi, or death from overwork.

As 2012 winds down, economic and political stagnation drags on, while our society increasingly feels somehow claustrophobic. If we cannot have permanent economic growth, then shouldn’t we at least do away with the 24/7 work ethic? Yet the Japanese disease of “all work and no play” unfortunately seems to be here to stay. With job security fading fast, things are worse than ever.

I’d like to close 2012 with a major labor law theme: work hours. When is an hour a work hour? It’s not as straightforward as it might seem. To ensure that work hours are a pleasant and humane experience, we first need to define them.

The Labor Standards Law sidesteps a proper definition, and labor law scholars fall into two camps over how a work hour should be defined. One subscribes to what is known as kyakkan-setsu, roughly translating as “objective theory.” This camp argues that work hours are the entire time during which the employee can objectively be considered to be under the authority of her or his employer.

The nibun-setsu (two-part theory) camp, on the other hand, splits work hours into “core” and “peripheral” work hours, with the status of the latter gray area between strictly defined work hours and break time to be determined through agreement between the employer and employed.

The gold standard in case law regarding work hours is the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Nagasaki Shipyard case. The Supreme Court’s Petty Bench on March 9, 2000, rejected outright the nibun-setsu approach and backed the kyakkan-setsu interpretation. Let’s examine the case.

The plaintiffs built and repaired vessels for Mitsubishi Heavy. The shūgyō kisoku (work rules) stipulated work hours and break time, as well as rules regarding changing into work clothes before and after work.

Workers were expected to be on site at the start and end of each shift in proper work clothes and gear. The preparation had to be done in the changing room and failure to do so before the start of each shift could result in disciplinary action, including poor evaluation, pay cuts or suspension.

The plaintiffs sued the plant, claiming that the following periods, numbered 1 through 8, were working hours and therefore should be paid as overtime and at overtime rates.

1) Time in the morning to get from the shipyard gate to the changing room.

2) Time in the changing room to don work clothes and special equipment, then to move to the preshift calisthenics area.

3) Time spent taking out equipment and materials from the warehouse before and after work and hosing down the yard before the shift.

4) Time to get from the shipyard to the cafeteria and then remove some gear and clothing for lunch break.

5) Time to move from the cafeteria to the calisthenics area and then put gear and clothing back on after lunch.

6) Time to get from the work site to the changing room and remove clothing and gear after work.

7) Time spent washing or taking a shower and then changing into ordinary clothes.

8) Time to get from the changing room to the gate of the shipyard at the end of the shift.

Nagasaki District Court in 1989, the Fukuoka High Court in 1995 and the Supreme Court in 2000 all ruled that 2, 3 and 6 constituted work hours that must be paid, while the others did not, for the following reasons: Workers were not under company authority during time periods 1 and 8; workers were free to use their break time as they chose for periods 4 and 5; and period 7 involved actions that were not required of workers and did not interfere unduly with their commute home.

This case was the first to take up the definition of work hours and is thus extremely important. Much attention is paid to the wording in the verdict that “time to do activities that are unavoidable or ordered by the employer constitute work hours.” This applies even if the order is tacit.

This case gives a sense of the courts’ thinking on work hours. If more workers understood this jurisprudence, we would surely see more workplaces that are “healthy in body and mind.”

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121218lp.html

Asahi: Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification: i.e., the gaijinization of all workplaces

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org has previously discussed the curious phenomenon of “Gaijin as Guinea Pig“, where future reforms that put the general public at a disadvantage to the elite are first tested out and normalized through application on Japan’s foreigners.  For example, “Academic Apartheid” (the practice of contracting all NJ educators while granting Japanese educators tenure from day one in Japan’s higher education system) gave way to contract employment for every educator in 1997.  More examples here.

Now according to the Asahi we have the previous legally-enshrined practice of making all workers (roudousha) protected by Japan’s labor laws being chipped away at.  Previously seen in the labor-law exemption given NJ workers under “Trainee” Visas (e.g., foreign factory workers, farm laborers, caregivers), we are now seeing a similar push to exempt all Japanese workers from labor law protections.

Japan hopes to make themselves more attractive to international labor migration when they’re in process of making an exploitative labor market even more so, for everybody?  Again, deserves to be known about.  Arudou Debito

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

Business leaders call for law to allow firing of workers without justification
Asahi Shimbun AJW, March 16, 2013, courtesy of MP
By TAKUFUMI YOSHIDA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201303160063

Business leaders at a government panel have proposed that employers in Japan be allowed to fire workers at their discretion as a way to improve the nation’s economic growth.

Members of the Industrial Competitiveness Council called March 15 for rules that will, in principle, allow employers to dismiss regular employees freely if the workers are compensated with “re-employment support.”

The council is chaired by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The proposal was made by Yasuchika Hasegawa, chairman of Keizai Doyukai (Japan Association of Corporate Executives), and president of Takeda Pharmaceutical Co., and others.

Article 16 of the Labor Contract Law stipulates that there must be reasonable grounds for a dismissal. Employers are not permitted to sack workers unless they have valid reasons, such as poor performance, disciplinary offenses or reducing the work force as a result of financial trouble.

Hasegawa and other members suggested that the Labor Contract Law should be amended to allow employers to dismiss workers at their discretion.

They also called for the establishment of a system in which employers would be able to fire workers without a valid reason as long as they provide them so-called monetary re-employment support.

In addition, they said the Labor Contract Law should make it clear in what instances dismissals would not be permitted.

In many European countries, if a court determines that a dismissal is unlawful, the employer can still dissolve the employment relationship by paying the fired employee compensation–usually one to two years worth of salary.

But if a similar court decision was made in Japan, workers would have few options other than returning to their former workplaces.

The system the panel in Japan is pushing differs from the European labor practice in that employers would be able to freely sack workers without reasonable grounds as long as they pay compensation.

Panel members said the proposed system would not only increase liquidity in the labor market, but benefit workers, depending on the amount of compensation paid.

The panel includes 10 leaders from the private sector and is expected to come up with a proposed economic growth strategy by June.
ENDS

The 25-year “Special Reconstruction Tax” of Jan 1, 2013 — yet another GOJ leech on the Japan workers’ payroll?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A couple of weeks ago I received this:

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

January 30, 2013
Dear writers,
Thank you very much for contributing your articles to The Japan Times.
We would like to inform you that the special reconstruction income tax, introduced by the government to secure financial resources for reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, took effect on January 1, 2013. This tax is imposed on individuals and corporations – both Japanese and foreign – at a rate of 2.1 percent over a 25-year period through 2037.

As a result, the total withholding tax rate deducted from the manuscript fee will rise from 10 percent to 10.21 percent for residents in Japan, and from 20 percent to 20.42 percent for overseas residents, starting with the February payment for articles carried in The Japan Times in January.
Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Sincerely,
The Japan Times

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

This post is not to criticize The Japan Times (who clearly have no control over this circumstance whatsoever).  But have others also received word of yet another tax on income to go towards “reconstruction”?

We’ve already seen where money earmarked for “disaster relief” has been going — to fund corrupt bureaucratic practices within the GOJ (e.g., “road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling“).  I’ve also heard of pay cut after pay cut in the academic communities for “reconstruction”, with little to no accountability over the funds afterwards (one case I’ve heard of is where the gakuchou of a major national university has been sequestering monies into an account to earn interest for his own purposes).

What say other readers of Debito.org?  We’ve already discussed extensively how the Post-Fukushima Debacles have laid bare just how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is (see related articles herehere (item #2), hereherehereherehereherehere, and here).  Are you also seeing more skimming, both GOJ and non-GOJ related, from your paychecks for “reconstruction”?  Just how bad do things have to get before people say “enough”?  Arudou Debito

Mainichi: NJ medical intern death from overwork finally officially recognized as karoushi after 2 years

mytest

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Hi Blog. In a sad precedent, we have a clear case of death through overwork being officially recognized as such for a NJ doctor.  It’s sadder that it has taken so long (more than two years) for that official recognition to come through.  I’ve long realized that Japan has at times some pretty crazy work ethics (and a peer group atmosphere that encourages people to give their all, even until they die), but it seems even more crazy for NJ to leave their societies to come to a place that will work them to death.  Especially as a NJ “trainee”, where they have even fewer labor-law rights than the locals who are in similar work circumstances.  This situation has to be known about, since Japan’s immigration laws aren’t allowing a labor market where enough doctors (even imported ones) can satiate the perpetual labor shortage being referred to below.  Only when GOJ authorities realize that the jig is up, because the international labor force is avoiding Japan as a harsh labor market to work within, will things change.  Arudou Debito

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

Death of Chinese medical intern recognized as work-related
December 26, 2012 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of Yokohama John
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20121226p2a00m0na015000c.html

A regional labor standards inspection office in Aomori Prefecture has recognized that a Chinese trainee doctor who was working at a municipal hospital died from overwork, a lawyer representing the victim has disclosed.

It is reportedly the country’s first case in which a foreign doctor working in Japan has been recognized by a labor standards office as having died from overwork.

The Hirosaki Labor Standards Inspection Office in Aomori Prefecture acknowledged that the 2010 death of Lu Yongfu, a Chinese trainee doctor at a municipal hospital in Hirosaki, was work-related, in a decision on Dec. 20. Lu died at the age of 28 after working up to 121 hours overtime a month.

Ayako Hiramoto, a lawyer representing the victim, revealed the labor office’s decision during a news conference on Dec. 25.

According to the office, Lu had worked between 84 and 121 hours overtime per month before he died of an acute circulatory disorder in November 2010. His average monthly overtime hours surpassed 80 hours — the criteria for certifying death from overwork, or “karoshi” in Japanese.

The trainee was on duty almost all weekends except for the summer break, and had two to four night shifts a month that left him working on day shifts the following day without enough sleep, according to the labor office.

Lu had arrived in Japan in 2002 and graduated from the school of medicine at Hirosaki University in Aomori Prefecture before starting his internship at the hospital in April 2010.

Hiramoto said there were at least six other cases in Japan in which trainee doctors had died from overwork in the past.

“Regional areas are suffering from a serious shortage of doctors, while the management of their work hours is sloppy. Drastic measures need to be taken,” she said.
ENDS

=================================
Original Japanese story

過労死:中国人研修医に初認定、残業最大121時間
毎日新聞 2012年12月25日 19時01分
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20121226k0000m040047000c.html

青森県弘前市の同市立病院で研修医として勤務中の10年11月に急性循環器不全で亡くなった中国人の呂永富さん(当時28歳)について、弘前労働基準監督署が、長時間過重労働が原因だとして労働災害を20日付で認定した。代理人の平本紋子(あやこ)弁護士が25日、記者会見して明らかにしたもので、日本で働く外国人医師の過労死が認められたのは初めてという。

平本弁護士などによると、呂さんは02年に訪日し、弘前大学医学部を卒業。10年4月から同病院で研修医として外科や内科、救急部門の外科で勤務した。労基署の認定によると、この間最も短い月で84時間、最長で121時間の時間外労働をし、平均は過労死認定基準の80時間を超えていた。夏休み以外はほとんどの土日に出勤し、月2〜4回の宿直で十分な睡眠を取れないまま日直勤務についていた。

研修医の過労死は平本弁護士が把握しているだけでも過去6件。同弁護士は「地方の医師不足は深刻な上、研修医の労働時間管理はずさん。抜本的な対策が必要だ」と話している。

弘前市立病院の東野博院長は「労災認定されたことを重く受け止め、労働環境の再点検を行いたい」と話した。【東海林智】
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

asahiforeignlandbuys122512

Source:  Asahi Shinbun 12/25/12

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

[…] MARKET OVERVIEW

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

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

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

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

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

WHO BUYS IN JAPAN

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

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

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

BUYING BASICS

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

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

WEB SITES

Japan Tourism: jnto.go.jp/

Tokyo Travel Guide: gotokyo.org/en/

Mount Fuji tourism: yamanashi-kankou.jp/

EXCERPT ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NishiyamaHidehiko

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.

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

Some local residents are losing faith in the decontamination effort.

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

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

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

In Japan Rarity, Nuclear Spokesman Replaced After Affair Allegations

By Yuka Hayashi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2011

Bureaucratic Fallout

By Yoree Koh and Yuka Hayashi

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Separately, the environment ministry has taken in a familiar face to help oversee the soil decontamination effort. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a former government nuclear spokesman disgraced by a sex scandal,  has been named deputy chief of a special team for decontamination of Fukushima, set up within the ministry of environment, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.

Mr. Nishiyama, once a rising star at the METI, became a television star soon after the March accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant as a well-spoken, never-tiring spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the ministry’s nuclear regulatory body. But he lost the high-profile job in June after a weekly magazine carried a detailed account of his extramarital affair with a female staffer of the ministry. Mr. Nishiyama apologized at the time for the trouble the allegations had caused. On Sep. 30, the ministry formally suspended  the 54-year-old career bureaucrat for one month for having been engaged in “inappropriate” sexual conduct during working hours at the height of the nuclear crisis.

Mr. Nishiyama still remains an employee of the METI but will now be on lease to the environment ministry.  The 54-year-old elite bureaucrat joined the ministry in 1980 after graduating from Tokyo University. Mr. Nishiyama wasn’t available for comment.

ENDS

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

COMMENTS:

AB: Like the classic “gaijin skis won’t work on Japanese snow” absurdity van Wolferen (?) wrote about 20 years ago. Unbelievable this crappola is still going on. Only gonna get worse with LDP back in the saddle. To paraphrase de Tocqueville “a people gets the government it deserves”

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

CD: i wonder the extent to which this statement is a convenient misdirection. it’s much easier to spew out some xenophobic nonsense than to publicly admit that fukushima has been written off. i mean, the place was written off the moment they built the plants. but what japanese politician or bureaucrat is going to admit to that? much easier to say grandma and grandpa might get scared by gaijin.

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

AB: No one — at least no one IN JAPAN — is EVER going to admit this (even though it’s true). It’s like the same-old same-old — everyone afraid of being tarred with the “Hikokumin brush” and being called “defeatist” or a “dream-destroyer” (yume wo kowasu hito).

Same dynamic that kept everyone with half a brain enough to see what was going on otherwise silent as Imperial Japan lurched toward — then plunged into — a suicidal war in 1941.

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

EF: This is private life, [Nishiyama] does with his tin-tin whenever he wants. What concerns us is his racist profile and he attacking foreigners this way again after all foreigners have done for the victims in Fukushima because, at the time of the hard cleaning up, many foreigners were there removing the corpses along with the Japanese and no one seemed scared by our presence.

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

GH: [Nishiyama’s] comments are already noted on his Wikipedia page under 日本人論的・差別的発言.

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

IJ: Pathological racism. Just like how they couldn’t use the U.S. military’s rescue helicopters in Kobe. The Japanese air is different so the pilots might not have been able to fly in Japanese airspace… and the U.S. and French doctors might have scared the earthquake victims to death. But it was really the swiss search dogs that would have been the biggest problem. Japanese dog food is so different. LOL … What a frigging mess Japan is in. Gladder and gladder I voted with my feet years ago.

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

KL: So the local victims have to suffer because of the racism of the authorities?! But I guess the little people don’t matter…

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

MN: I know the real reason foreign companies were not invited to take part. I have a relative who works for a major general contractor (maybe even one mentioned in the article). He tells me that ALL (not some, ALL) of their business is carried out in cash for the single purpose of ensuring bribes go smoothly. Foreign companies are not above this. They just don’t know how to play the game.

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

JDG: Yet another microcosm for all that is wrong with Japan. If the J-public (especially the victims of the disaster) are going to persist in taking it lying down (and unlubricated!), then I can’t see much hope for the future.

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

GP: Instead, there are now armies of cheap laborers washing down buildings with water and scraping topsoil off schoolyards and dumping it in local rivers – simply spreading the contamination even further while they toil to line the coffers of companies with the juicy cleanup contracts – companies that just conveniently are linked to the nuclear industry. And this is a first world country?

The final comment from the environment ministry really said it all though. This almost reads like a sarcastic joke referencing the “Japan has different snow” tactics of yester-year, with a fine dash of xenophobia thrown in for good measure. Can’t have any nasty furriners scaring the oldies!! (Let’s conveniently ignore the fact that hundreds of foreigners if not thousands have already given their time, money and labor to cleanup and rebuild in Tohoku, and by all accounts their assistance was warmly welcomed).

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

JDG: ATTENTION APOLOGISTS!

Since you obsessively check this site, please read Debito’s post #23 and explain to me;

  1. How this is simply one small isolated case of government and business collusion in corruption, and does by no means indicate that ‘Japan Inc.’ is broken?
  2. How does this prove that the Fukushima situation is fully safe and under control, and being managed in a transparent fashion?
  3. How does the following statement;’“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”’, prove that rather than racism being endemic in the heart of the Japanese state, I am simply an over sensitive moaner who can’t understand Japan’s unique culture?
  4. How does this article prove that all Japan reporting is shoddy in nature, and biased unfairly against Japan?
  5. How does this statement by a displaced Fukushima resident; ‘“It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”’ clearly reek of unfair and scientifically unsound anti-nuclear lobby alarmism?

By all means, please take this opportunity to show us all where we have being getting it so wrong for all these years in our criticism of Japan.
=======================

ENDS

Al Jazeera: “The mighty downfall of Japan’s tech giants” due to the lack of diversity in thought and innovation

mytest

Books etc. by ARUDOU Debito (click on icon):
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Hi Blog.  A bit of a diversion today, as we get into business issues.  The reason why this article is germane to Debito.org is the claim that the lack of diversity within Japanese company ranks, as well as within corporate outlooks, is partially to blame for two of Japan’s mighty tech giants being downgraded to “junk” status in terms of credit rating.  While I’m not an expert on tech business or marketing, I find the quote below by Gerard Fasol, that “even today, many of these Japanese companies have a complete focus on Japan. All the board members are Japanese men in their 60s and 70s. All the core members are Japanese and anybody who is not Japanese is automatically a second-class citizen in these companies,” rings true.  Especially in light of what happened to former Olympus CEO Michael “incompatible with traditional Japanese practices” Woodford.  Most of “traditional Japan” (which places great cultural value on hierarchy) reflexively will not surrender power to “a foreigner” under any circumstances.  And as this article seeks to point out, that habit stifles innovation as Japanese society ages.  Arudou Debito

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

The mighty downfall of Japan’s tech giants
Credit ratings for Sony and Panasonic were recently downgraded to ‘junk’ status, showing how far the firms have fallen.
By Michael Penn.  Al Jazeera.com: 22 Dec 2012, courtesy of CC
http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/12/20121218115851610878.html

Tokyo, Japan – Once the titans of electronic gadgetry, Japanese brands Sony, Panasonic and Sharp, have seen their fortunes dramatically change in recent years as their once-dominant technological innovation has dried up, a bad sign for an economy struggling to shake two decades of recession.

Sony’s announcement this month that it is ending production of the Walkman, its iconic device first launched in 1979 and a testament to Japanese postwar ingenuity, symbolises the passing of an earlier era.

In this contemporary age of smartphones and tablets, the consumer electronics of Japan’s golden age of the 1980s look positively quaint, as no doubt the iPhone 5 will look to shoppers in the 2040s.

But one question that haunts people in this proud East Asian nation is whether a substantial portion of those future electronics giants will still be Japanese firms, or whether they will be largely supplanted by rivals in Asia and around the world.

The hard truth is that Japanese electronics companies have done nothing more than tread water for a decade and a half, as Gerhard Fasol, founder and CEO of Eurotechnology Japan, points out.

“If you just look at the sales, the top eight companies of the Japanese electrical sector have about $600bn in sales combined… but for 15 years they have had no growth… so it is very clear that their business model doesn’t work anymore.”

Economic stagnation

Public opinion polls say what Japanese voters most desire from their newly elected leaders of the Liberal Democratic Party is to revive the struggling national economy.

The most recent figures suggest that Japan has once again fallen into an economic recession in the second half of 2012, in spite of earlier projections that massive budgets for rebuilding the earthquake-and-tsunami-hit north would stimulate growth.

All of this comes on top of what the Japanese now routinely call the “two lost decades” of the 1990s and 2000s, in which their once world-beating technological prowess slipped into the middle of the pack as global firms such as Apple, based in the US, and Samsung of neighbouring South Korea now dominate the highest ranks of the electronics industry.

National champions such as Sony Corporation and the Panasonic Corporation recently suffered the indignity of having their credit ratings lowered to “junk status” by Fitch, a move that may be followed by other ratings agencies in the near future.

“People in Japan understand that the competitiveness of Japanese electronics companies has deteriorated, and this downgrade has strengthened that impression,” says Masamichi Adachi, executive director of economic research in Tokyo for JP Morgan.

Explaining its decision on Sony and Panasonic, Fitch analysts noted, “The future of both companies will depend on their ability to curb loss-making segments and re-discover the kind of technological leadership which historically enabled them to develop must-have products.”

Fasol is among the relative optimists, believing that Japanese electronics companies could recapture much of their former glory if they effectively restructure themselves, end their focus on the Japanese domestic market, and take better advantage of global scales of production.

As in so many other fields, Japan has defeated itself in the cutting-edge electronics sector through its habit of looking inward rather than embracing a genuine form of internationalisation. Fasol observes that “even today, many of these Japanese companies have a complete focus on Japan. All the board members are Japanese men in their 60s and 70s. All the core members are Japanese and anybody who is not Japanese is automatically a second-class citizen in these companies.”

Some analysts are now asking whether it may already be too late for Japanese electronics giants to make up the lost ground.

Cash-strapped Sharp Electronics Corporation is in the most desperate condition. This firm bet heavily on large-sized televisions and panels and has been losing billions as a result of sluggish sales in a highly competitive market.

On November 1, many were stunned when Sharp reported to the Tokyo Stock Exchange that there was “material doubt” about the company’s ability to survive over the next year. Since then, however, Sharp has recovered somewhat through the combination of a more favourable yen-US dollar exchange rate and help from foreign investors.

But even the more formidable companies like Sony and Panasonic are slashing jobs and selling off assets in order to improve their cash flow. Among the properties that Osaka-based Panasonic may let go of is its main building in the capital city of Tokyo.

Analysts agree that, in order to achieve a turnaround, Japanese electronics giants must develop next-generation products that enthrall consumers once again, rather than playing catch-up to companies like Apple and Samsung on already available technologies.

A major factor in Fitch’s decision to cut the credit ratings of Sony and Panasonic is a lack of faith that they still have the financial resources for research and development to match their larger rivals. As the Fitch analysts put it: “At the moment their weak financial performance does not enable them to invest in new technologies anywhere near the extent of their competitors.”

But Fasol believes that this analysis misses the most crucial point: The money is not as important as the people.

“They still think in terms of having big factories and having big friends in government,” he notes. “What they don’t realise is that the core is to have the best possible A-players around the globe [on your team], independently of whether they are Japanese or not.”

A related possibility suggested by Sandeep Tewari, the State Bank of India’s country head for Japan, is that Japanese companies may increasingly lend their highly recognisable brand names to lesser-known partners in other Asian nations, leading the Japanese giants to be “reborn in other countries”.

What these perspectives suggest is that Japanese electronics firms do indeed have a reasonable chance to become world-beaters again, but only if they can find the wisdom and courage to transform themselves into something less “Japanese” than they have been before.

In the end, that may prove too high a hurdle for the tradition-bound leaders of the last generation like Sony, Panasonic, and Sharp. But there may yet be hope for younger, emerging firms like Softbank, Rakuten, DeNA, Gree, and others whose names we have yet to hear.

ENDS

“Japanese Only” hospital Keira Orthopaedic Surgery in Shintoku, Tokachi, Hokkaido. Alleged language barrier supersedes Hippocratic Oath for clinic, despite links to METI medical tourism

mytest

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Hello Blog.  As part of a long list of “Japanese Only” establishments, which started with bars and bathhouses and has since expanded to restaurants, stores, barber shops, internet cafes, hotels, apartments, and even schools denying NJ service, has now taken the next step — denying NJ medical treatment.  Read on.  Comment and confirmation from me follows.  Forwarding with permission.

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

December 17, 2012
Re: Advice regarding discrimination at a hospital

Dear Sir, My name is Hilary. I am originally from Canada and I’ve been employed by the Town of Shikaoi in Tokachi, Hokkaido as an Assistant Language Teacher for the past four years.

Today, I was experiencing a problem with my foot; I thought I broke a toe over the weekend. I spoke with a Japanese Teacher of English with whom I work with and she offered to call a clinic in neighbouring Shintoku and accompany me to the clinic after school for treatment. She made the telephone call in Japanese and was advised of their location and hours of business and took down their information. Once we arrived there, she spoke with reception and a man (presumably a doctor) motioned to me, making the “batsu” gesture and said (in Japanese) that the clinic’s system doesn’t allow for the treatment of foreigners because of our inability to understand Japanese. I looked at my colleague for confirmation on what I heard and she looked completely dumbstruck.

She turned to me and asked if I understood what they said. I said yes and repeated what the man said back to her in English. Her mouth just hung open and she said “I’ve never heard of such a policy”. The man leaned into my colleague and asked her if I understood Japanese, to which I replied, yes I do. He then said that he would check with the attending physician but doubted that I could receive treatment.

As he went to talk with the attending physician, a receptionist said to my colleague that she (the receptionist) explained the clinic’s policy to my colleague over the phone. My colleague started to tear up as the man returned and said that I could not receive treatment from this clinic due to the reasons he already stated. At that time, the receptionist told the man that she did explain that to my colleague over the phone. My colleague asked the man what we should do and he gave us the telephone number of another hospital in a different town and advised us to go there. I gripped my colleague by the arm and simply said “let’s go”. As we walked out of the clinic, my colleague was very distraught and she said to me “they never told me that on the phone”. I said to her “of course they didn’t. The receptionist was lying”.

We returned to our hometown and went to our local hospital. I received very good care from an English speaking doctor who told us not to worry about the other hospital. However, I was advised by an independent friend that you would be the best person to contact over such a situation.

If needed, this is the clinic’s information:

keiraseikeigeka

Keira Orthopaedic Surgery (Seikei Geka Iin)
けいら整形外科医院
13 Jominami 5 Chome
Shintoku, Kamikawa District
Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
0156-69-5151

If you could advise me as to what, if anything, I should do, I would appreciate that very much. Best regards, Hilary

Hospital details (courtesy http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php)
けいら整形外科医院
院長 計良 基治
診療科 整形外科
病床数 無し
所在地 〒081-0013 北海道上川郡新得町3条南5丁目
電話 0156-69-5151
FAX 0156-69-5152
URL 無し
診療時間
月、金曜日:8時から12時、13時30分から18時30分
火、水、土曜日:8時から12時
休診日
火、水、土曜日午後・木曜日・日曜日・祝祭日・年末年始

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I called Keira Seikei Geika Iin first thing in the morning JST on December 18, 2012, and talked to a man who did not give his name.  He apologetically confirmed that his institution does not take foreigners.  The reason given was a language barrier, and that it might cause “inconvenience” (meiwaku).  When asked if this did not constitute discrimination, the answer given was a mere repeat of the meiwaku excuse and apology.  When asked about having an interpreter along to resolve any alleged language barrier, the answer became a mantra.  I thanked him for his time and that was the end of the conversation.

Feel free to telephone them yourself if you wish further confirmation.  I think Hokkaido Shinbun should be notified.  For if even Japanese hospitals can get away with defying the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next?  I have said for at least a decade that unchecked discrimination leads to copycatting and expansion to other business sectors.  Now it’s hospitals.  What’s next?  Supermarkets?  And it’s not even the first time I’ve heard of this happening — click here to see the case of a NJ woman in child labor in 2006 being rejected by 5 hospitals seven times; it only made the news because it happened to pregnant Japanese women a year later.

Postscript:  Hillary fortunately did not have a broken toe.  It was chilblains.  Wishing her a speedy recovery.  Arudou Debito

Postpostscript:  The information site for this clinic has links to a METI-sponsored organization for international medical tourism, through a banner saying, “We support foreign patients who wish to receive medical treatments in Japan.”  Click here for more info.

AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”

mytest

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Hi Blog. This story has hit a lot of newspapers worldwide.  I’ll just blog the first article I saw, and other Debito.org Readers who find articles that cover points not mentioned here can add them to the Comments Section.

For all the talk we have had in the past of Japan’s efficient government and incorruptible bureaucracy (dating from, oh, perhaps Chalmers’ MITI AND THE JAPANESE MIRACLE — even Transparency International still ranks Japan higher than say, oh, the US, France, or Spain in its “Corruption Perceptions Index 2011”), one major factor that not only despirits a nation but also steals its wherewithal is an unaccountable administrative branch robbing the public coffers blind.  In this case, the GOJ is reportedly siphoning off disaster funds that had been earmarked to save people’s lives and livelihoods and diverted to support completely unrelated projects.

The news below goes beyond the fact that TEPCO and the GOJ have finally admitted their collusion to cover up their malfeasance in preventing the nuclear meltdown (article archived below — note that the investigative committee was led by a NJ).  It shows, as Debito.org first mentioned back in December 2011 (and repeated in a different incarnation last July) that our first “see I told you so” moment (where even our critics would not capitulate for being wrong about corruption and coverup) stating that Japan’s control-freak governance system in Japan is irredeemably broken, was ever more right all along.

And more Japanese elites, as I am hearing through as-yet inconclusively-researched channels, are moving overseas to set up transplant Japanese communities away from this strangler-fig bureaucracy.  More on that later if we get something conclusive.  Arudou Debito

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

Where Japan’s rebuild cash really went
Associated Press/The New Zealand Herald, Wednesday Oct 31, 2012
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10844050

About a quarter of the US$148 billion budget for reconstruction after Japan’s March 2011 tsunami and nuclear disaster has been spent on unrelated projects, including subsidies for a contact lens factory and research whaling.

The findings of a government audit buttress complaints over shortcomings and delays in the reconstruction effort. More than half the budget is yet to be disbursed, stalled by indecision and bureaucracy, while nearly all of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone remain uncertain whether, when and how they will ever resettle.

Many of the non-reconstruction-related projects loaded into the 11.7 trillion yen budget were included on the pretext they might contribute to Japan’s economic revival, a strategy that the government now acknowledges was a mistake.

“It is true that the government has not done enough and has not done it adequately. We must listen to those who say the reconstruction should be the first priority,” Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said in a speech to parliament on Monday.

He vowed that unrelated projects will be “strictly wrung out” of the budget.

But ensuring that funds go to their intended purpose might require an explicit change in the reconstruction spending law, which authorizes spending on such ambiguous purposes as creating eco-towns and supporting “employment measures.”

Among the unrelated projects benefiting from the reconstruction budgets are: road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling, ostensibly for research, according to data from the government audit released last week.

A list of budget items and spending shows some 30 million yen went to promoting the Tokyo Sky Tree, a transmission tower that is the world’s tallest freestanding broadcast structure. Another 2.8 billion yen was requested by the Justice Ministry for a publicity campaign to “reassure the public” about the risks of big disasters.

Masahiro Matsumura, a politics professor at St. Andrews University in Osaka, Japan, said justifying such misuse by suggesting the benefits would “trickle down” to the disaster zone is typical of the political dysfunction that has hindered Japan’s efforts to break out of two decades of debilitating economic slump.

“This is a manifestation of government indifference to rehabilitation. They are very good at making excuses,” Matsumura told The Associated Press.

Near the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, which suffered the additional blow from the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, recovery work has barely begun.

More than 325,000 of the 340,000 people evacuated from the disaster zone or forced to flee the areas around the nuclear plant after the March 11, 2011, disaster remain homeless or away from their homes, according to the most recent figures available.

In Rikuzentakata, a fishing enclave where 1,800 people were killed or went missing as the tsunami scoured the harbor, rebuilding has yet to begin in earnest, says Takashi Kubota, who left a government job in Tokyo in May 2011 to become the town’s deputy mayor.

The tsunami destroyed 3,800 of Rikuzentakata’s 9,000 homes. The first priority, he says, has been finding land for rebuilding homes on higher ground. For now, most evacuees are housed, generally unhappily, in temporary shelters in school playgrounds and sports fields.

“I can sum it up in two words speed and flexibility that are lacking,” Kubota said. Showing a photo of the now non-existent downtown area, he said, “In 19 months, there have basically been no major changes. There is not one single new building yet.”

The government has pledged to spend 23 trillion yen over this decade on reconstruction and disaster prevention, 19 trillion yen of it within five years.

But more than half the reconstruction budget remains unspent, according to the government’s audit report.

The dithering is preventing the government, whose debt is already twice the size of the country’s GDP, from getting the most bang for every buck.

“You’ve got economic malaise and political as well. That’s just a recipe for disaster,” said Matthew Circosta, an economist with Moody’s Analytics in Sydney.

Part of the problem is the central government’s strategy of managing the reconstruction from Tokyo instead of delegating it to provincial governments. At the same time, the local governments lack the staff and expertise for such major rebuilding.

The government “thinks it has to be in the driver’s seat,” Jun Iio, a government adviser and professor at Tokyo University told a conference in Sendai. “Unfortunately the reconstruction process is long and only if the local residents can agree on a plan will they move ahead on reconstruction.”

“It is in this stage that creativity is needed for rebuilding,” he said.

Even Sendai, a regional capital of over 1 million people much better equipped than most coastal communities to deal with the disaster, still has mountains of rubble. Much of it is piled amid the bare foundations, barren fields and broken buildings of its oceanside suburb of Arahama.

Sendai quickly restored disrupted power, gas and water supplies and its tsunami-swamped airport. The area’s crumbled expressways and heavily damaged railway lines were repaired within weeks.

But farther north and south, ravaged coastal towns remain largely unoccupied.

More than 240 ports remain unbuilt; in many cases their harbors are treacherous with tsunami debris.

Like many working on the disaster, Yoshiaki Kawata of Kansai University worries that the slow progress on reconstruction will leave the region, traditionally one of Japan’s poorest, without a viable economy.

“There is almost no one on the streets,” he said in the tiny fishing hamlet of Ryoishi, where the sea rose 17 metres. “Building a new town will take many years.”

Even communities remain divided over how to rebuild. Moving residential areas to higher ground involves cumbersome bureaucratic procedures and complicated ownership issues. Each day of delay, meanwhile, raises the likelihood that residents will leave and that local businesses will fail to recover, says Itsunori Onodera, a lawmaker from the port town of Kesennuma, which lost more than 1,400 people in the disaster.

“Speed,” he says, is the thing most needed to get the region back on its feet. -AP

ENDS

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

TEPCO ADMITS FUKUSHIMA CRISIS COULD HAVE BEEN AVOIDED
By Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press
NATIONAL OCT. 13, 2012, courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-admits-fukushima-crisis-could-have-been-avoided

TOKYO — The utility behind Japan’s nuclear disaster acknowledged for the first time Friday that it could have avoided the crisis.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said in a statement that it had known safety improvements were needed before last year’s tsunami triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, but it had feared the political, economic and legal consequences of implementing them.

“When looking back on the accident, the problem was that preparations were not made in advance,” TEPCO’s internal reform task force, led by company President Naomi Hirose, said in the statement. “Could necessary measures have been taken with previous tsunami evaluations? It was possible to take action” by adopting more extensive safety measures, the task force said.

The task force said TEPCO had feared efforts to better protect nuclear facilities from severe accidents such as tsunamis would trigger anti-nuclear sentiment, interfere with operations or increase litigation risks. TEPCO could have mitigated the impact of the accident if it had diversified power and cooling systems by paying closer attention to international standards and recommendations, the statement said. TEPCO also should have trained employees with practical crisis management skills rather than conduct obligatory drills as a formality, it said.

The admissions mark a major reversal for the utility, which had defended its preparedness and crisis management since the March 2011 tsunami. The disaster knocked out power to the Fukushima plant, leading to the meltdowns, which forced massive evacuations and will take decades to clean up.

The statement was released after TEPCO held its first internal reform committee meeting, led by former U.S. nuclear regulatory chief Dale Klein. His five-member committee oversees the task force’s reform plans.

“It’s very important for TEPCO to recognize the needs to reform and the committee is very anxious to facilitate the reform necessary for TEPCO to become a world-class company,” Klein told a news conference. “The committee’s goal is to ensure that TEPCO develops practices and procedures so an accident like this will never happen again.”

The reform plans aim to use the lessons learned at TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in northern Japan. The cash-strapped utility wants to restart that plant, but TEPCO officials denied the reform plans are aimed at improving public image to gain support for the plant’s resumption.

“The reforms are intended to improve our safety culture, and we have no intention to link it to a possibility of resuming the (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa) plant,” said Takafumi Anegawa, the TEPCO official in charge of nuclear asset management. “We don’t have any preconditions for our reforms.”

The Fukushima Daiichi plant has been substantially stabilized but is still running on makeshift equipment as workers continue their work to decommission the four damaged reactors, which could take several decades.

Additional safety measures have been installed at nuclear power plants nationwide since the accident under the government’s instructions, including enhancing seawalls, adding backup power and cooling water sources, and developing better crisis management training. But plant operators will be required to take further steps as a new nuclear regulatory authority launched in September steps up safety requirements.

Investigative reports compiled by the government and the parliament panels said collusion between the company and government regulators allowed lax supervision and allowed TEPCO to continue lagging behind in safety steps.

Despite records indicating a major tsunami had once hit off Japan’s northern coast, TEPCO took the most optimistic view of the risk and insisted that its 5.7-meter-high seawall was good enough. The tsunami that struck Fukushima Dai-ichi was more than twice that height.

The company had said in its own accident probe report in June that the tsunami could not be anticipated and that the company did the best it could to bring the critically damaged plant under control, although there were shortfalls that they had to review. TEPCO bitterly criticized what it said was excessive interference from the government and the prime minister’s office.

TEPCO’s Anegawa said the task force plans to compile by the end of the year recommendations “that would have saved us from the accident if we turn the clock back.”
ENDS

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent Chinese etc. protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.”  But one thing I like to remind people is:  Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed.  Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht. See here:

============================
The Japan Times, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
BIG IN JAPAN
Tabloids return fire, urge China business pullout

By MARK SCHREIBER
On Sept. 29, the 40th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Sankei Shimbun editorial writer Ryutaro Kobayashi asked how it would be possible for Japan to continue discussions with a China that had “lost its national dignity.”

Kobayashi was referring to the sometimes-destructive renhai (human wave) demonstrations in over 100 cities in China protesting Japan’s nationalization of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which resulted in billions of yen in damages to Japanese-owned businesses.

Scenes of angry mobs trashing stores and factories have led, not surprisingly, to viscerally emotional reactions in Japan’s media. One common response has been a palpable sense of victimhood, of which perhaps the most extreme example appears in a 98-page “mook” (a short book in glossy A4 magazine format) from Shukan Asahi Geino devoted entirely to China, under the headline “Chugoku, fuyukai na shinjitsu” (“China: The unpleasant facts”). Superimposed over a photo of the ransacked branch of the Heiwado supermarket in Changsha, Hunan Province, is a caption that reads, “Sept. 16, 2012 will be inscribed in history as China’s version of the Kristallnacht” (a reference to the notorious pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria on Nov. 9, 1938).

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20121007bj.html
============================

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.) Arudou Debito

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

Nationalists converge on Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown
JapanToday.com KUCHIKOMI SEP. 18, 2012
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/nasty-nationalists-converge-on-shin-okubos-koreatown

Sandwiched between two major streets running parallel, the “Shin-Okubo Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is home to dozens of Korean-style restaurants and retail shops proffering goods that range from Korean cosmetics to items appealing to fans of “Hanryu” dramas.

Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 14) reports that on Aug 25, a large demonstration of rightists—who are upset over South Korea’s territorial claims to Takeshima island (referred to as Dokdo in Korean)—marched through the neighborhood. The demonstration, whose organizers had tabbed “The Citizens’ Great March to Subjugate South Korea,” consisted of an estimated 500 demonstrators, many of who waved the militaristic “kyokujitsuki” (rising-sun flag), and who chanted such slogans as “Kankokujin wa kaere” (South Koreans go home) and “Chosenjin wa dete yuke!” (Koreans get out).

Things got even nastier after the march ended, when the marchers broke off into smaller groups of around 10 and moved from the main drag to the neighborhood’s many small lanes, where they confronted shopkeepers with even more hostile remarks, such as “Chon-ko wa karere” (Go home, you Korean bastard”) or “We’ll kill you.” They also intimidated compatriots they encountered with veiled warnings like “If you’re a Japanese, then don’t come to this area.”

“It’s very aggravating,” a worker of a street stall selling confections is quoted as saying. “Some young visitors from South Korea got harangued by the protesters. Since that day, the number our customers has tapered off.”

“It appears that the Zaitokukai (short for Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or group opposed to special rights for Koreans in Japan) thinks it can build momentum for its movement by harping on the Takeshima and Senkaku issues,” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who authored a book titled “Pursuing the ‘darkness’ of Internet patriots, the Zaitokukai” (Kodansha), about the noisy group that has been boosting its membership through skillful use of the Internet.

“While I don’t see any signs yet that they are increasing their influence, they still bear watching,” Yasuda adds. “As far as they are concerned, discriminating against the ‘zainichi’ (Koreans in Japan) is everything, and they aren’t terribly concerned about what will become of the disputed territories in the future. But they can use the timing of the dispute as a pretext for pushing their own agenda.”

Some rightists also provoked clashes in the Chinese enclave adjacent to the north exit of JR Ikebukuro station, resulting in police being summoned.

When such run-ins occur, however, Shukan Kinyobi notes that it has been rare for Japan’s mainstream media to devote much coverage. And even those who are confronted by the rightists tend to refrain from seeking sympathy from society, perhaps out of fears that any negative publicity will drive away their customers.

When the Shin-Okubo Merchants’ Association was approached by Shukan Kinyobi for a comment, it declined on the grounds that “We haven’t grasped the details.” The Shinjuku branch of the Zainichi Korean Association replied, “There’s nothing to discuss.” The Chinese in Ikebukuro were also reluctant to speak to reporters.

A staff member at one Korean firm in Shin-Okubo confided to the magazine, “The South Korean embassy here sent out a warning advisory to Korean businesses and groups to the effect that from Aug 25, we should not approach demonstrators or make inflammatory remarks. ‘Refrain from any activities that would put your safety at risk,’ it advised.

“If trouble were to break out, nothing good would come from it, as far as we’re concerned,” he added.

As long as this country has no statute against hate crimes, Shukan Kinyobi opines, this kind of ethnic and racial discrimination will remain out of control. Sixty-seven years since the end of the Pacific War, the issue of “territorial disputes” is being used as a new pretext to abet what are long-term trends.

ENDS

Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader MMT writes in (he says it all, really, so I won’t comment further):

September 30, 2012: An interesting bit of news that was on the JT homepage this week. It seems that although the alien registration card is considered equal to the new zairyu card until July 2015 by the government, it appears not for certain government agencies. Japan Post has a notice on their homepage stating that foreign residents can no longer use the alien registration card as of July 9th, 2012 (or in other words, the same day the zairyu card became available). How the post office can reject ID which is still valid and basically force longer-term residents into changing over their cards immediately is beyond my comprehension.

http://www.post.japanpost.jp/service/fuka_service/honnin/

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20120925at.html

JT:  “Even though alien registration certificates are valid until 2015, Japan Post decided effective July 9, 2012, to no longer accept such cards. Please see this website,” he writes.

“I found this out when needing to show identification for receiving a restricted delivery mail service document. I am a permanent resident. I find it odd, perhaps discriminatory, and certainly a bureaucratic overreach on the part of the postal service.”

We confirmed this with Japan Post; it’s true that they are now only accepting the new resident cards (zairyūkādo), which have replaced alien registration cards, despite the fact the latter are still valid until renewal or 2015 (whichever comes first). If you have another form of picture ID, such as a driver’s license, this should work, or a passport if your address doesn’t need to be confirmed.

October 1, 2012: As a further bit of news regarding this story, I called the immigration help line on October 1, 2012, to see if they were aware of this development. The staff informed me that yes, the alien registration card is still valid, as stated and acts as one’s zairyu card until July 9th, 2015. When I asked if they were aware that the Japan Post officially began rejecting the alien registration card the very same day the zairyu card became available, they replied that perhaps in cases such as with banks and the post office, you may have to switch over to the new card in order to have acceptable ID. I quickly pointed out that since the government (namely, the Ministry of Justice, no less) has deemed this ID to be equal to the zairyu card for a further three years, shouldn’t it be unacceptable (unlawful?)  for any any semi-government agency or private business to reject it? They agreed that my argument “made sense.”

The immigration staff then suggested that if my alien registration card is rejected by the post office or other place of business that I should give them the number for the Tokyo Immigration administration office (03-5796-7250) so that the post office can call them and get a clarification. It was at that point that I hinted that perhaps it was the job of the immigration department to inform all relevant agencies to stop making arbitrary rules regarding which government-issued ID they will choose to accept: to which I got no answer. Strange, indeedCheers,  MMT

Okay, I’ll comment:  It’s just evidence of how secondarily the concerns of NJ are taken in Japan.  Even the bureaucracy that governs and polices them won’t fight for them when one branch of it arbitrarily denies them privilege or assistance.  Arudou Debito

Success, of a sort, as a “Gaijin Mask” maker amends their racist product to “Gaikokujin Masks”. Same racialized marketing, though.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Been doing some writing and inserting into my research the definition of “gaijin” in Japan in terms of marketing.  You might remember this little tidbit from Debito.org, March 25, 2009:

Well, when I was looking up the maker and sales price on Amazon Japan last night, guess what I discovered.  The product has now been changed, as of August 2012:

Note the stereotypical racialized characteristics for both “dokkiri” party goods include large a large nose, blue eyes, cleft chin, blond hair, “Hollywood smile,” and grand gesticulations.  The default language for the “foreigner” (as seen by the harō and ha-i!) is English (if not katakana Japanese for the desu copula).  However, “gaijin” has been adjusted to “gaikokujin” (as if that makes the commodification of racism all better).

Note also that even though this apparently has been a recent change (information was received by Amazon Japan only last month), it’s suddenly “currently unavailable” and “can not be shipped outside Japan“.  (I wonder if anyone looking at the product with an IP in Japan is also unable to purchase it.)  See screen capture here:

(Screen capture as of September 22, 2012.)

Same thing with the racialized Little Black Sambo dolls I found on Amazon Japan last night (which have been on sale since shortly after unbook Little Black Sambo was resuscitated in Japan, extending racism into the next generation):  It’s also “currently unavailable.”  And anyway not for sale outside of Japan.  So methinks the producers are well aware that they could get in trouble if marketed to an overseas audience.  But no matter — there’s money to be made here — who cares if the product is racialized when the domestic market from childhood thinks racism of this sort is unproblematic? (Moreover believes it only goes one way — given the Perpetual Victim Complex, Japanese are more likely to be the victims of racism than the perpetrators of racism, of course.)

Anyway, I think Debito.org can claim credit for the “gaijin” => “gaikokujin” change.  Who else is covering this issue and archiving it?  I have the feeling that they saw it (as news anchor Kume Hiroshi did back in 2006, when he apologized ten years later for an obnoxious remark he made on national TV about “gaijin” back in 1996) and felt embarrassed enough to make some adjustments.  Not embarrassed enough to take it off the market, of course (as Mandom did their racist product back in 2005).  But we’re working on that.

Thanks for your support, everyone.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE Sept 24:  Here are a couple more, courtesy of the same company (thanks Debito.org Readers):  The “Kurohige Gaijin-san” (beard seems to be chiseled to look a bit like Tony “Darling Foreigner” Laszlo‘s comic character) and the “Hana Megane Gaijin-san.”  

http://www.kk-jig.com/products/orderno_6156/

http://www.kk-jig.com/products/orderno_6084/1/

However, the packaging for the Gaijin Beard mask is significantly different if you find it on the store shelves.  The image is less Tony Laszlo, more mullah.  Courtesy of DMG, taken at Tokyu Hands Shibuya, September 23, 2012.

Funny how the mullah glasses even have UV protection…

Weird “Japanese Only” advertisement in U Hawaii Manoa Ka Leo student newspaper by Covance asking for medical-experiment volunteers

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’m currently researching on the University of Hawaii Manoa Campus, and late last month I found this weird advertisement in the Ka Leo student newspaper (August 20, 2012, the debut issue for the start of the semester for maximum exposure):

“Have you ever wanted to help Japanese people in a way that could make a meaningful difference?  Participating in a clinical trial can be a deeply rewarding way to possibly help advance medical breakthroughs in Japan.

“Volunteers should be:  Healthy, between the ages of 18 and 60, born in Japan, or have both parents or all 4 grandparents born in Japan…

“Think you can volunteer?  Great!  COVANCE, Honolulu, Hawaii”

(Page 66.  Click on the image to expand in your browser.)

Covance is the “Contract Research Organization for Drug Development Services”, according to their website (www.covance.com).  Also, the link they provide in their advertisement above asks three locations (UK, United States (Global), and specifically Honolulu), and has only two languages:  English and Japanese, indicating their strong links to Japan (and no doubt the subcontracting for Japanese-oriented research — tool around the Japanese version for awhile; fascinating reading).

The upshot:  We want healthy “Japanese” for “medical breakthroughs in Japan” (as opposed to breakthroughs in medical science anywhere).  I smell patents, or at least patently racist language of “testing Japanese for Japanese since Japanese bodies are different” that infiltrates Japan’s physical and social sciences. (see for example here and here).

What I find especially interesting about this ad is the imported racialized conceits about what defines a “Japanese”:

No doubt due to the sensitivities of the English-language audience, there is no mention of “Japanese blood” as a qualifier.  No matter, that’s indirectly stated:  Born in Japan, both parents born in Japan, or all four grandparents (we wouldn’t want a Non-“Japanese” grandparent sullying the mix, after all) for proper thoroughbred status.

I’m a Japanese, but I don’t qualify.  Naturalized.  So wrong blood.  Sorry.  And it still would be wrong, under the paradigms above, even if I had been born in Japan (say, to a family of diplomats or missionaries; they exist).  Imagine Covance making the same stipulations for, oh, I don’t know, sickle-cell anemia research by asking for only “African-Americans” (or bona fide “Africans”) who have been born only to “pure-black” families stretching back three generations?  That would raise some eyebrows.  But not when we transpose it onto Japan-based conceits, where the racism is embedded.

What a pity.  Nothing quite like getting fresh young people to “volunteer” their time and bodies for big pharma’s future profits.  But what a way to do it:  By advertising in a college campus newspaper drawing lines between people under questionable scientific rubric.  I think we need better screening procedures not only within the medical community, but also within the media, so less of this racialized social science leaks into the physical sciences.  Arudou Debito

Kyodo: “Foreign caregiver program faces tightening”: Death knell of program as J media finds ways to blame the gaijin?

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now let’s get back to some of Debito.org’s roasting chestnuts.  Let’s have a look at what’s becoming of Japan’s latest “revolving door” labor visa regime scam (after the “Trainees”, the “Nikkei Returnees”, and the “Points System”):  the “foreign caregivers“, which has ground to a halt due to the (otherwise fully-qualified) NJ health professionals themselves realizing that the systematic barriers were creating an exploitative regime.  So now according to Kyodo News it looks like it’s being scaled back.  But not without kicking someone in the ribs first.  As submitter JDG notes:

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

The foreign caregiver program was launched because there was a realization that the looming shortage of caregivers to meet Japan’s aging population had already arrived. However, as you have documented, from it’s inception it has been riddled with unrealistic expectations, low pay, harsh conditions, few incentives, and subject to some strange accounting.

Well, here is the logical conclusion:  foreign caregivers are ‘gaijin criminals taking advantage of the system’. Rather than examining what is wrong with the system, the (of course) natural response by officials is to make the program even tougher to live with for caregivers. Only a Kyoto University Prof. seems to have any sense about him. I would say that this development will mark the end (in real terms) of the program. Of course, it’s all the NJ’s fault…

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

Read on.  Arudou Debito

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

Foreign caregiver program faces tightening
Kyodo News, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120804f1.html

The program to enable Filipino and Indonesian care workers to work in Japan under free-trade agreements is at crossroads four years after its launch as Tokyo wavers over whether to tighten requirements for candidates in light of unexpected incidents that have run counter to the plan.

In the latest case, a 37-year-old Indonesian candidate was arrested and deported for working illegally at an auto parts plant in Aichi Prefecture instead of at the nursing home in Okinawa to which she had been assigned, apparently because she had difficulty mastering the Japanese language.

This came amid heightened public scrutiny of the program after it was reported that a number of candidate care workers had quit and returned to their home countries despite passing the qualification exam. They had been expected to work in Japan.

“Work at the special nursing home for the elderly was tough,” the Indonesian caretaker was quoted as saying when questioned by immigration officers in Nagoya after her arrest.

The woman came to Japan under the program in August 2010. After undergoing training, she began working at a special nursing home in Okinawa along with four other candidates in December of that year.

Last December she briefly returned to Indonesia, saying she wanted to spend Christmas and New Year’s in her home country.

She later re-entered Japan, but did not return to her workplace in Okinawa. Instead, she started working at the auto parts plant in Aichi in March.

“We had no problem with her working attitude, although it seems she was troubled by the fact that she was lagging behind other candidates in terms of learning Japanese,” a staff member at the nursing home said. “I wish she would have come to us for consultation.”

Caregivers who come to Japan under the program are allowed to stay in Japan for a maximum of four years until they pass the national exam. Before this summer, it was easy for them to apply for re-entry permits prior to making short trips to their home countries or for other travel outside of Japan.

Under the new immigration control system that came into effect in July, foreigners working in the country are now allowed to exit and return within a year without obtaining re-entry permits.

“A blind spot in the system has been taken advantage of,” a government official said on condition of anonymity. “Illegal employment absolutely came out of the blue.”

Similarly, an immigration official in charge lamented that when an application for a re-entry permit is submitted, it is “impossible” to detect whether the applicant is going to engage in activities beyond the scope permitted under the applicant’s visa status.

To remedy the situation, the government is considering revising the program’s prerequisites for entry into Japan, including requiring candidates to have a certain level of Japanese language skill. On the other hand, some are concerned that making the rules too stringent will go against the original aim of opening doors to foreign caregivers.

Commenting on the issue, Wako Asato, a special associate professor at the graduate school of Kyoto University, criticized the government for failing to come up with a consistent policy as it sits on the fence between those supportive of the program and others wary of it.

“How should Japan welcome and make good use of talented care workers from abroad? If the government does not present a clear stance on this, I believe we’ll be seeing more candidates giving up halfway or quitting to return home even after passing the exam,” the expert on migration said.

According to Japan International Corporation of Welfare Services, the program’s intermediate coordinator agency based in Tokyo, a total of 1,562 care workers and nurses have come to Japan under the program. Of them, five became unaccounted for and authorities have not been able to confirm if they left the country.
ENDS