Debito’s SNA VM37: “Reforming Japan’s Dickensian Foreign Trainee Program,” Aug 22, 2022, and why I remain skeptical that reforms will actually happen

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Visible Minorities: Reforming Japan’s Dickensian Foreign Trainee Program
August 22, 2022, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — News Item: video footage surfaced in 2020 of a Vietnamese “trainee” being physically abused by Japanese co-workers at a construction company in Okayama Prefecture, resulting in injuries including broken ribs and a broken tooth. Despite a criminal complaint, the Okayama Prefectural Police Prosecutor’s Office declined to prosecute the four Japanese co-workers involved.

Here is the video footage that started it all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK1HhnvktOc&t=76s

This Vietnamese trainee is not alone. Despite the strict Covid border controls, currently 280,000 foreigners toil as temporary low-wage workers in Japan’s farms and factories nationwide. Given Japan’s often nasty work environments, which generally combine exploitative work ethics with a normalized bullying culture, this means that more than a quarter of a million foreigners are here and in harm’s way under a system of unfettered abuse…

[…]

Fortunately, there are some stirrings that reforms might happen. Even the conservative Yomiuri Shinbun said in an August 20 editorial that reforming the system is “unavoidable.” Moreover, the government announced last month a full-scale review of the program, intending to “bring this long-standing issue to a historical conclusion.”

I am skeptical these reforms will achieve what is promised, which is basically to resolve the ongoing human rights abuses which have always characterized the trainee system. One reason for my doubts is because…
==================================

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/08/22/visible-minorities-reforming-japans-dickensian-foreign-trainee-program/

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Asahi: Okayama public prosecutors drop co-worker violence claim by Vietnamese “Trainee” despite video evidence. No wonder Japan’s violent bully culture thrives! (UPDATE: Out-of-court settlement was reached)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a handy site I just found on Facebook (GoEMON Global) that offers news and translation of interest to Debito.org.  Something of note (with my comment afterwards):

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

OKAYAMA PREFECTURAL PUBLIC PROSECUTORS OFFICE DECIDES TO NOT CHARGE FOUR JAPANESE PEOPLE WITH THE ALLEGED ASSAULT OF A VIETNAMESE TRAINEE TWO YEARS AGO

Courtesy TT and GoEMON (https://goemon-jp.com/)

Two years ago, a 41-year-old male Vietnamese technical trainee was abused by his four Japanese coworkers while working. The act was then discreetly recorded by another Vietnamese trainee, causing a buzz within the public at that time. The result of the case was recently disclosed by the Okayama Prefectural Public Prosecutors Office.

The technical trainee filed a case to the Okayama Prefectural Public Prosecutors Office, claiming that he had been assaulted during the past two years working at the company, in which the four coworkers, all in their 30s, were referred to prosecution on suspicion of causing injuries and other charges. The Prosecutor’s Office, however, announced that the four cannot be prosecuted, due to a lack of information.

The indictments were dropped against two for injury, one for injury and violation of the Violent Acts Punishment Law, and one for violation of the Violent Acts Punishment Law.

Original article:

ベトナム人実習生暴行容疑で書類送検の4人、不起訴に 岡山区検

朝日新聞 2022年8月4日

https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ8466HSQ84PPZB012.html

Video evidence:


Courtesy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PK1HhnvktOc&t=76s

技能実習生のベトナム人男性(41)が実習先の岡山市の建設会社で2年間にわたって暴行を受けたと訴え、岡山県警が同社の元従業員の男性4人(いずれも30代)を傷害などの疑いで書類送検していた事件で、岡山区検は4日、4人全員を不起訴処分とした。理由は明らかにしていない。
不起訴となったのは傷害容疑の2人と、傷害と暴力行為等処罰法違反容疑の1人、暴力行為等処罰法違反容疑の1人。

訴える(うったえる): Prosecute
暴行(ぼうこう): Abuse
不起訴(ふきそ): Cannot be prosecuted
違反容疑(いはんようぎ): Alledged
傷害(しょうがい): Injury
—————————————
GoEMON is a sharing and community connection platform in Japan. We want to build a community to help foreigners have a better life in Japan by sharing the real experiences of foreigners in Japan.
#GoEMON #News

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: “A lack of information”!? [Well, in the original Japanese, it just says, “For reasons left unclear.”] Anyway, watch the video above.  Yet another example (see the McGowan Case for another) of how even when you have photographic or audio evidence of abusive behavior, the laws are only as good as the people enforcing them.  If public prosecutors will not do their job and prosecute, the laws specifically against violent acts mean nothing.

Consider this: How many of you out there have been in a situation where the bullying in Japan escalated from verbal to physical?  Personally, I have, many times.  And it’s no wonder why — as evidenced here, there’s nothing official to stop or hold abusers accountable.  This is despite all the public promises of reform of Japan’s already abusive, exploitative, and deadly “Trainee” system.  In a sense, this poor guy is lucky he didn’t end up laid up in the hospital or worse!  Debito Arudou, PhD

=====

PS:  I got out of my bullying situations by fighting back.  But that usually had mixed results — too many times in Japan the victim gets blamed for either “overreacting”, or for disrupting things by reacting at all.  And it’s one reason why Japan remains a society where bullies dominate.  Because who dares, wins.  D.

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

UPDATE AUGUST 19, 2022:  Other media gave more detail that the case was dropped due to a settlement.  Article follows, translation mine:

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

ベトナム人技能実習生への暴行事件 建設会社の元従業員4人を不起訴に 岡山区検
YahooNews.co.jp, 2022.8.4(木), courtesy of LP
https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/faa361ab11a2bc6d7c7c865e7044a2e57d3eb716

岡山市の建設会社で働いていたベトナム人技能実習生に暴行し、けがをさせたとして書類送検されていた元従業員4人を岡山区検察庁は不起訴処分としました。

この事件は2019年秋に来日したベトナム人技能実習生の男性が、職場の岡山市の建設会社で約2年間、日本人従業員から暴行を受け肋骨を折るなどのけがをしたと訴えていたものです。

2022年6月、岡山県警は傷害などの疑いで当時従業員だった4人を書類送検していました。

岡山区検は不起訴処分とした理由について明らかにしていません。

実習生を保護していた労働組合によりますと、建設会社と監理団体から実習生に謝罪がありその後、解決金が支払われ示談が成立したとしています。ENDS
============================

Translation by Debito:

Violence against a Vietnamese Trainee:  Okayama Public Prosecutors decide not to prosecute four former [Japanese] employees at construction company

Yahoo News, August 4, 2022

A case sent to Okayama District Public Prosecutors, where four former [Japanese] employees at an Okayama city construction company were violent towards a Vietnamese Trainee co-worker, causing him injuries, has been dropped from prosecution.

The Vietnamese male Trainee, who had arrived in Japan in the Fall of 2019, reported that over the course of about two years, he had endured violence from Japanese co-workers at an Okayama construction company workplace, including injuries such as broken ribs.

In June 2022, Okayama Police sent the four Japanese workers to prosecutors for injurious damages.  Public Prosecutors did not give a reason why they decided not to prosecute.

According to the labor union protecting the Trainee, there was an apology from the construction company and the administering agency (kanji dantai), with restitution (kessaikin) paid through private settlement.  ENDS

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FURTHER COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Well, if the “Trainee” feels that honor has been satisfied through apologies and restitution, so be it.  And according to this article, his abusers seem to have gotten fired.

But let’s consider how this should have proceeded:

  1. The violence shouldn’t have gone on for two years.  There should have been a way to report it to authorities at the first sign of violence, particularly to those authorities who got the “Trainees” here in the first place, and gotten him transferred him out of there immediately.
  2. It shouldn’t have taken the painstaking amount of effort on the part of the victim to make a video and get a labor union involved before authorities sat up and took notice.  Even broken ribs wasn’t enough evidence?  How many months of everyday hell and pain did this poor “Trainee” have to endure?
  3. The workplace should have been screened better as an acceptable workplace, and then monitored afterwards.  This isn’t the first case of foreign “Trainee” or “Researcher” workplace abuse by any stretch.  Abuse, according to the labor unions, is in fact the norm.  According to labor union leader Torii Ippei, companies that are NOT abuse their foreign workers are “very rare” (goku mare).

This case shows just how much, despite calls for reform of the system for decades, things have NOT progressed.  By now, things like this shouldn’t still be happening.  But official negligence is the norm here. Again, good thing the “Trainee” had the video of the savage treatment that resulted in broken ribs and untold mental damage. But he shouldn’t have had to. Debito

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

Even more detail here (excerpt):

ベトナム人技能実習生への暴行で示談成立 建設会社・監理団体が謝罪
西本秀 朝日新聞 2022年5月7日
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ5675PYQ4XPITB003.html

ベトナム国籍の技能実習生の男性(41)が実習先の岡山市の建設会社で2年間にわたって暴行を受けたとし、動画を公表して訴えていた問題で、男性を保護した労働組合・福山ユニオンたんぽぽ(広島県福山市)は、会社や、実習生を仲介した監理団体との間で示談が成立したことを明らかにした。

ユニオンによると、建設会社シックスクリエイトは、暴行があったとし、監理団体の岡山産業技術協同組合は、保護責任を果たせなかったとしてともに男性側に謝罪し、補償金を支払うという。

シックスクリエイトの代理人弁護士は「取材は受けない」とした。監理団体は「示談により問題が円満解決に至った」としつつ、内容は「関係者のプライバシーに関わり、詳細を明らかにすることを差し控えさせていただきます」とコメントした。

国も問題視 計画認定取り消しに
男性は2019年10月に来… rest at https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASQ5675PYQ4XPITB003.html

======================
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Japan Times on neighborhood sento bathhouse restoration activists: Omits history of how Japan’s already-declining public bath industry hurt itself with “Japanese Only” signs

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Hi Blog. Particularly dear to my heart is the issue of public baths in Japan (onsen and sento), as racist exclusionism is something my friends and I have dealt with for decades (including a successful civil suit in Otaru that went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, a couple of books in English and Japanese, and even a doctoral dissertation). Despite all these years of recording their “Japanese Only” signs and activities, already people seem to be trying to forget, or remembering not to remember, how this industry already in decline did itself no favors by being racist.

The most recent example of historical revisionism was in a Japan Times article about “Sento Samaritans”, where it didn’t even mention that past.  The article is excerpted below. I wrote in their Comments Section in reply:

======================
Debito: I applaud the efforts of these movements to keep neighborhood sento open. However, the writer of this article (and perhaps the activists themselves) neglected to mention an important part of history, where public/private baths have refused entry to foreign and foreign-looking residents and customers. If offering this communal experience is “an important channel of communication between neighbors”, then it’s also important to recognize the fact that sometimes sento and onsen have undermined themselves by putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and not recognized “foreigners” as fellow neighbors. Openness to all members of the community should also be part of their slogans.
======================

The JT article is excerpted below.

Also, The Japan Times in general seems to be forgetful of this discriminatory history as an editorial policy, as their archive on recent articles regarding Sento demonstrates. The JT laments the decline of the industry (for example, here) without getting into how some of their decline is their own fault. That’s particularly galling, considering I wrote for the Japan Times for two decades a regular column, in addition to other stringer articles, on this very subject.

Seems The Japan Times doesn’t prioritize this type of issue anymore. So much for reporting “in the public interest”.  This is how history gets unlearned and eventually repeats itself.  Just wait for the next moral panic blamed on “foreigners”, and communal doors to a public service will shut all over again.  Even if if drives the excluder out of business.  Talking about preservation without including this issue is in fact counterproductive for the industry.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Sentō Samaritans: The fight to save urban bathhouses
Activists believe bathing for a coin means soaking up culture
The Japan Times, August 6, 2022 (excerpt)
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2022/08/06/general/sento-bathhouse-historians/

Dozens of elderly regulars, families with children and young Tokyoites from all over the city strip, shower off and soak.

This was the scene during a scorching weekend in July at Inari-yu, a rejuvenated sentō (public bathhouse) in Kita Ward’s Takinogawa neighborhood. Together in baths ranging from warm to very hot, bathers admired the bright blues and greens of a recently repainted mural of Mount Fuji over their heads.

Built in 1930, Inari-yu is a rare surviving example of the shrine-like miyazukuri architectural style typical of Tokyo’s prewar bathhouses. The main attraction for visitors, though, was the reopening of the century-old nagaya, a type of Edo Period (1603-1867) rowhouse, adjacent to the sentō. Inari-yu’s staff originally lived in this building, but it had been abandoned for decades — until three years ago, when Sento & Neighborhood, a nonprofit that aims to revive historic bathhouses, started working with Inari-yu’s fifth-generation owners to restore the nagaya.

At the inaugural event, Sento & Neighborhood organized activities such as a lecture by an architectural historian, a community breakfast and a neighborhood walking tour. Next to Inari-yu’s entrance, a market with local food vendors added to the colorful and festive atmosphere.

Unmissable for the attendees, of course, was also a visit to the bathhouse. Stepping out of the heat and into Inari-yu’s cool, soothing interior, bathers shed their clothes and their fatigue in the spacious changing rooms with simple wooden decor overlooking a small, outdoor koi pond.

“Bathhouses are a space where I can ground myself,” says Sam Holden, who first found solace in sentō when he was a graduate student in Tokyo.

Holden, who labels himself an urban activist, is a writer, translator and renovation specialist. He founded Sento & Neighborhood together with four associates in 2020 with the idea of “changing historic bathhouses as little as possible but finding a way for them to become sustainable,” Holden explains, hinting at the financial difficulties that many sentō face…

[History of Sentos redacted]

To Holden, visiting bathhouses means exploring the back alleys that embody a deeper layer of Japan’s urban fabric tucked away from busy and anonymous main streets — and one that has been part of Japanese cities for centuries.

“Across the street from the bathhouse you have the liquor shop where the grandpas gather, the vegetable grocer and tofu shop and all sorts of local eateries,” Holden says. “Preserving a bathhouse means not only preserving that building, but this neighborhood network.”

Read the full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2022/08/06/general/sento-bathhouse-historians/

======================
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Migrant Integration Policy Index rates Japan as “Integration Denied”, and “Critically Unfavorable” in terms of Anti-Discrimination measures. And this is for 2019, before Covid shut Japan’s borders.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an interesting website called the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX, www.mipex.eu).  Who are they? According to its website (excerpt, full text here),

The Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX) is a unique tool which measures policies to integrate migrants in countries across six continents, including all EU Member States (including the UK), other European countries (Albania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Moldova, Norway, Serbia, Switzerland, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine), Asian countries (China, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Arab Emirates), North American countries (Canada, Mexico and US), South American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile), South Africa, and Australia and New Zealand in Oceania.

Policy indicators have been developed to create a rich, multi-dimensional picture of migrants’ opportunities to participate in society. In the fifth edition (MIPEX 2020), we created a core set of indicators that have been updated for the period 2014-2019 (see Methodology). MIPEX now covers the period 2007-2019. The index is a useful tool to evaluate and compare what governments are doing to promote the integration of migrants in all the countries analysed.

The project informs and engages key policy actors about how to use indicators to improve integration governance and policy effectiveness…

Thus it offers comparatives for how proactive countries are with their immigration policies.  It released its rankings for Japan covering the year 2019, in which it concludes (underlined emphases by Debito):

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

Conclusions and recommendations

Japan scores 47/100, slightly below the average MIPEX country (49/100) because Japanese policies still refuse to recognise that Japan is a country of immigration. This denial leads to contradictory policies that create as many obstacles as opportunities for foreign nationals. Japan’s approach to integration is categorised as “Immigration without Integration”. While Japan is a leader far ahead of the other countries in this category, its policies still deny basic rights and equal opportunities to newcomers. Foreign nationals can find some ways to settle long-term in Japan. However, Japanese policies only go halfway to guarantee them equal opportunities, (e.g., on health and education), while also denying them several basic rights, most notably protections from discrimination.

Japan needs to invest more on all the three dimensions, especially to guarantee immigrants with the same basic rights as Japanese citizens. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Japan’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as subordinates and not their neighbours.

Foreign residents in Japan enjoy relatively favourable access to family reunification, permanent residence and the health system. However, foreign nationals and their children still face major obstacles to education, political participation and non-discrimination. Immigrants’ children receive little targeted support in the education system in Japan, similar to the situation of other countries with low number of migrant pupils. Furthermore, potential victims of ethnic, racial, religious or nationality discrimination have little chance to access justice in Japan. Japan is one of the only MIPEX countries still without a dedicated anti-discrimination law and body. Japan is the among bottom three countries for anti-discrimination policies, together with other ‘immigration without integration’ countries.

Japan’s approach is slightly ahead of poorer Central European countries with equally small and new immigrant populations, but far behind other developed countries, including Korea. In comparison to neighbouring Korea, foreign nationals in Japan face weaker integration policies in the labour market, education, political participation, and anti-discrimination. Besides Korea, Japan’s policies are most similar on MIPEX to Israel and stronger than the other MIPEX Asian countries (China, India and Indonesia).

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For those who succumb to TL;dr, MIPEX provides solid visuals (https://www.mipex.eu/japan):

COMMENT: It’s as we’ve been saying here on Debito.org for decades:  This is what happens when you are the only developed country without a national law against racial discrimination.  And remember, this is the report as of 2019.  I look forward to seeing the next report, where it takes into account Japan’s racist policy of closed borders (even to lawful and Permanent Residents, for a time) due to Covid.  I strongly doubt Japan’s numbers will improve.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Tokyo Musashino City fails to get local referenda voting rights for its NJ Residents (Dec 2021). Absorb the arguments of the national-level xenophobic campaign against it.

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Hi Blog.  Sorry to be getting to this issue so late, but here’s yet another example of a local government, a suburb of Tokyo called Musashino, trying to do what’s right for ALL of its residents (including those without Japanese citizenship) by getting their voice heard by voting in local referenda.

To stress:  These are votes on local, repeat, local referenda (they’re not actually *electing representatives*) — and the results are not even legally binding.  Moreover, according to the Takao source below, 73% of the public supported the move (that is, before the xenophobes and alarmists stepped in on a national level to bully and scare the public).

Witness the typical alarmism behind sharing any political power in Japan.  The tactic is simple:  portray the granting of any voice in governance to non-citizens as a security issue.  The assumption then becomes that enfranchised foreigners will inevitably use their power to hurt Japanese citizens.

(See other examples on Debito.org of local governments trying to help their foreign residents — since the national government refuses to — and their successes and failures here and here.)  

Substantiating articles follow.  Trace the arguments pro and con within and see what I mean.  The article from the right-wing rag Japan Forward is of particular notice, reprinting the right-wing Sankei Shinbun’s blatant xenophobic editorial policies; as always it gives us a distillation of intellectualized racism.  An academic article as counterweight to the Sankei follows that.  A quote of note:

Takao:  “This backlash [to the Musashino policy proposal] highlights the LDP’s intention to allow more foreign workers to stay in Japan — to address labour shortages — while also suppressing their rights to maintain the image of a ‘homogeneous’ nation. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has indicated that Japan will need to quadruple the number of foreign workers to over 6 million by 2040 to sustain economic growth.

“But the civic and political participation of foreign residents in Japan is necessary for the sake of smooth social integration. Despite conservative protests, it is local authorities who are forced to step up, fill the vacuum and cope with the increasing pressure of foreign workers’ needs, which are not well addressed by the national government. Prospects for the further protection of foreign residents’ rights in Japan will hinge on effective policy coordination and leadership at the local level.”

For the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Musashino’s foreign vote plan squeaks through assembly panel
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, December 14, 2021
https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14501973

A Musashino city assembly committee on Dec. 13 narrowly approved a proposal to allow short-term foreign residents to vote in local referendums, an issue that has divided this western Tokyo suburb.

The six members of the general affairs committee were evenly split on the plan. The committee chair then cast a ‘yes’ vote to break the tie.

The proposal will be sent to the city assembly’s floor for a vote on Dec. 21.

If approved by the assembly, Musashino will become the third municipality to allow foreign residents listed in a city’s registration system for three straight months to vote in local referendums, following Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka Prefecture.

The 108-seat public gallery at the assembly chamber was nearly full by the time discussions started just after 10:30 a.m. The talks continued until 8:30 p.m., with a rest break included.

Under the proposal, residents, including foreign nationals, who are at least 18 years old and have been listed in the city’s basic resident registration system for three straight months can vote in local referendums.

The main issue of dispute at the committee was the three-month requirement for foreign residents.

Two committee members belonging to a Liberal Democratic Party group of the city assembly strongly opposed the proposal.

“From a commonsense perspective, it is nonsense to treat people who have lived in Japan for a long time and foreigners who have only stayed in Japan for three months at the same level,” said one of the opposing members, Taro Kikuchi.

Kikuchi also pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the opportunities for residents to hear the city’s explanation of the issue.

The proposal “is controversial and has divided the city in half,” he said.

Hidenori Dojo, another opponent, warned that the proposal could give short-term foreign residents a say on national security issues or energy policies in a public referendum.

The city’s public referendum ordinance proposal “is in a broad sense an enfranchisement,” Dojo said.

He explained that his stance is not about “excluding and discriminating against foreigners” but he believes “a distinction is necessary.”

A representative of the city government countered Dojo’s argument.

“It is not appropriate to prohibit a resident’s will to express a certain opinion on a matter even if the city does not have jurisdiction over that matter,” the representative said.

Shori Ochiai, the third opponent of the proposal who belongs to junior coalition partner Komeito, said various opinions were expressed over the issue of granting voting rights to foreigners when the basic autonomy ordinance was established to promote decentralization.

Ochiai said those discussions went nowhere.

He also questioned the timing of Musashino city’s proposal.

He noted that the city started designing institutional arrangements for public referendums after the basic autonomy ordinance took effect in 2020.

“Residents have since struggled in their daily lives during the COVID-19 pandemic. And now, with all this hubbub, many of them are wondering for the first time, ‘What is going on?’”

A city representative acknowledged the need to pass more information about the ordinance to residents.

The three committee members who voted in favor of the proposal included a member of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan and a member of the Japanese Communist Party.

They spent much of their time asking the city questions about how it can ease concerns about possible ramifications from granting voting rights to foreign nationals in referendums.

Taro Yabuhara, the CDP member, asked about the processes that Zushi and Toyonaka went through to establish systems that allowed voting by foreign nationals listed in the basic resident registration system for at least three months.

A Musashino representative said both cities did not face exceptional opposition to their plans from residents or assembly members, and the municipalities also did not see a sudden increase in foreign resident numbers.

Some xenophobic groups have argued that Musashino’s ordinance would result in an influx of special-interest foreign nationals seeking a say in Japanese policies.

But a Musashino official said that such an attempt would be unsuccessful “in a city with a high population density.”

Natsuki Sakurai, an independent politician on the committee, said of such criticism: “Residents of foreign nationalities are shared members of the community. I feel uncomfortable with discussions on whether they are suitable for acceptance in this community or not.”

Sakurai also asked Musashino officials if there are any administrative services that are limited to people with Japanese nationality, a requirement for voting in mayoral and city assembly elections.

“There is no distinction by nationality in terms of services,” a city representative said.

Shigeki Hashimoto, the JCP member, said statements made by city assembly members who oppose the proposal as well as certain media “have misled citizens” by saying that the right to vote in public referendums “is practically a right to vote in local elections.”

A city official agreed with Hashimoto, saying, “Public referendums are close to petitions, defined under Article 16 of the Constitution, and this is different from local election voting rights.”

Ultimately, Tatsuya Fukazawa, a CDP member who chairs the committee, voted for the proposal, making it a 4-to-3 win for the city.

The committee also rejected a petition with 5,277 signatures asking that the proposal be scrapped or tabled for further discussions.

Munenori Kaneko, who heads a group that organized the petition, said about 70 percent of the signatories live in Musashino.

The group has argued that granting foreign residents the right to vote could result in the adoption of opinions that are different from those of the electoral constituencies.

“It can lead to a decline in the functions of the city assembly, whose members are elected by residents with Japanese nationality,” the group said.

(This article was written by Keiichiro Inoue and Atsushi Takahashi.) ENDS

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Tokyo’s Musashino rejects proposal to let foreign residents vote
Kyodo News/Japan Times, Dec 21, 2021
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2021/12/21/national/politics-diplomacy/tokyo-musashino-rejects-foreign-residents-vote/

The municipal assembly of Musashino in Tokyo on Tuesday rejected a proposed ordinance that would have allowed foreign residents to vote in local referendums.

When first submitted, the proposal divided opinions in the assembly of the suburban city with a population of nearly 150,000. It also drew flak online, with critics saying it could be a step toward granting foreign residents the right to vote in national elections.

The city, which has the popular shopping and residential district of Kichijoji, failed to join two cities that have granted voting rights to foreign nationals in referendums without special conditions — Zushi in Kanagawa Prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka Prefecture.

The proposal was voted down by 14 to 11.

Following the assembly vote on Tuesday, Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita said spreading information about the proposal to residents in the city was insufficient, adding that she will listen to citizens’ voices and consider submitting a revised proposal in the future.

The city assembly’s general affairs committee gave the green light to the controversial proposal last week.

Matsushita submitted the proposal to the assembly in November for holding referendums that would have allowed foreign nationals age 18 or above to vote if they have lived in the city for at least three months — the same conditions that would apply to Japanese residents.

“I am aiming to create a city that accepts diversity,” Matsushita said during the committee’s deliberations last week. “Those who have just come to Japan are also part of the community.”

Assembly members with ties to the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan supported the proposal, while members associated with the Liberal Democratic Party opposed it, with one arguing the plan had been hastily decided.

“Explanations to citizens have been insufficient,” the LDP assembly member said.

Other than the cities of Zushi and Toyonaka, about 40 municipalities in Japan allow foreign nationals to vote in referendums, but with some conditions applied such as having the status of permanent residency. ENDS

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Musashino assembly rejects proposal to let foreigners vote
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, December 21, 2021
https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14507138

The Musashino municipal assembly in western Tokyo on Dec. 21 rejected the city’s proposal to allow foreign nationals, including short-term residents, to vote in local referendums.

Fourteen assembly members voted against the proposal while 11 were in favor.

The issue has divided the city.

Proponents said the plan would lead to a more diverse society and gives a voice to more people living in the city.

But critics argued that the required period of stay in the city was far too short for the right to vote. They also said information about the proposal had not been effectively distributed to the public.

The proposal said those eligible to vote in public referendums must be 18 years old or older and listed in the city’s basic resident register network system for at least three straight months.

The plan included foreign students and technical trainees.

“I have seriously taken the result of the vote to heart,” Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita said at a news conference after her proposal was rejected.

“I have listened to various opinions from the assembly and residents,” she said. “But I have noted that (such an effort) is not enough, and the issue needs more publicity before we can implement a public referendum system.”

Matsushita also addressed criticism of the three-month-stay requirement and indicated that she will submit another proposal after a review.

“There are voices that say certain conditions are needed, such as the length of stay or a permanent resident status,” she said. “I want to think about that together from now on and find a better way.”

In an earlier vote on Dec. 13, the city assembly’s six-member general affairs committee was evenly split on the proposal. The committee chair tipped the scale by voting “yes,” sending the proposal to a full vote from the assembly.

After the city announced the proposal in November, Diet members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and others voiced opposition. Some argued that such a plan “will grant quasi-voting rights to foreigners without any careful consideration.”

Xenophobic groups have also rallied in the city’s downtown area and around city hall, using a propaganda vehicle to blare out their opposition.

Supporters of the proposal said of such rallies, “Coercive promotions and extortion-like behavior have been prevalent.”

(This article was written by Keiichiro Inoue and Atsushi Takahashi.) ENDS

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EDITORIAL | Musashino City Council Did the Right Thing in Rejecting Foreigner Voting

Under the now-rejected ordinance, non-Japanese living in the city for only three months could have voted, raising fears of foreign influence on local decisions impacting national security.

December 28, 2021 By Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun
https://japan-forward.com/editorial-musashino-city-council-did-the-right-thing-in-rejecting-foreigner-voting/

A draft ordinance that would have allowed voting on local referendums without distinguishing between foreign residents and Japanese nationals was voted down in a plenary session of the Musashino City Council in western Tokyo on December 21, 2021.

The city council has shown good judgment, and we applaud the decision. If the proposed ordinance had been approved, its ripple effect could have spread to other municipalities.

Local referendums have the potential for exerting influence over issues affecting the national interest, such as national security and energy policy. In light of the gravity of the matter, it is only natural that the city council has rejected the draft ordinance. The city government of Musashino, which proposed the ordinance, must take the outcome to heart.

The ordinance would have granted foreign residents, such as students and technical intern trainees, the right to vote in referendums if they have lived in the city for three months or more, and are at least 18 years old. The council’s general affairs committee passed the city government-sponsored ordinance on December 13. Pros and cons of the draft were debated before the proposed ordinance was brought to a vote on December 21, with arguments divided on points such as whether it would “boost diversity” in Musashino, and the “need for certain standards” before voting. The outcome was that the proposed ordinance was rejected by a majority vote.

After the vote, Musashino Mayor Reiko Matsushita stated, “There was a view that the city government had done an inadequate job of informing citizens about the ordinance,” suggesting that she might push for its consideration again. The mayor, however, should abandon any such effort.

Although the mayor insisted that referendums voted on by residents would not be legally binding, the bill explicitly said, “Both the city council and the mayor should respect the result.” If the mayor and council look to the vote for guidance, fears that the referendum could impact the political decision making process would be realized, and non-Japanese would have acquired suffrage.

Fears arose of the city administration and council being swayed by the results of such referendums, impacting political decision making and ending in the foreigners acquiring voting rights.

Seventy-eight municipalities across the country have adopted ordinances on holding local referendums. Of those, 43 have granted voting rights to foreign residents. Unlike Musashino City, however, most have clear stipulations on who can participate in voting, such as limiting eligibility only to non-citizens with permanent resident status.

In its 1995 ruling, the Supreme Court declared that enfranchisement of foreign residents was not permitted under the Constitution. But at the same time the court acknowledged that voting at a local level should be allowed by “those having particularly close relationships with local entities.” The court also set limitations, such as permanent foreign residents of the city.

The Supreme Court decision did not pave the way for voting by foreign nationals, such as students and technical intern trainees who have lived in a city for only three months.

Some pointed out that there have been no particular problems with similar ordinances to the one proposed in Musashino, such as a 2006 ordinance in Zushi, Kanagawa Prefecture. In another case, however, a 1998 referendum in Okinawa Prefecture on the Japan-US Status of Forces Agreement shook national security politics.

Moreover, there can be no guarantee that these ordinances will be non-problematic in the future simply because there have been no major problems so far.

Musashino City should instead place top priority on improving its own efforts to meet the diverse needs of its foreign residents. It could start, for instance, by increasing the number of services which offer access to interpreters. ENDS

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Civic rights for foreign residents sparks backlash in Japan
East Asia Forum, 12 February 2022
By Yasuo Takao, Curtin University
https://www.eastasiaforum.org/2022/02/12/civic-rights-for-foreign-residents-sparks-backlash-in-japan/

The number of foreign residents living in Japan has dramatically increased in the past decade, marking a change for a population traditionally perceived as ‘homogenous’. One local municipality’s debate on civic participation for its foreign residents recently sparked a nation-wide backlash from conservatives and nationalists.

The inflow of foreign residents into Japan increased from 287,100 in 2010 to 592,000 in 2019 — the fourth largest inflow in the OECD. As of October 2021, there were 2.8 million residents of foreign nationality registered in the country.

The debate on how to integrate these new residents into Japanese society is ongoing. By the end of 2021, 42 of Japan’s 1718 municipalities (excluding Tokyo’s Special Wards) had passed public ordinances establishing permanent local referendum systems and granted foreign residents voting rights in them. Zushi in Kanagawa prefecture and Toyonaka in Osaka prefecture even permitted foreign residents to vote without any special ‘period of stay’ conditions.

But in December 2021, the city assembly of Musashino in suburban Tokyo voted against (14 to 11) an ordinance that would have granted foreign residents such voting rights. Progressive Mayor Reiko Matsushita had proposed establishing a permanent local referendum system that would include foreign residents aged 18 or older who had been on the residential register for at least three months. While the referendum results would not be legally binding, the ordinance would require the mayor and the assembly to ‘respect’ them.

In March 2021, Musashino conducted a survey which found 73.2 per cent of respondents agreed that foreign residents should be able to vote in local referendums. Prior to the vote, the city was divided — a backlash from conservative and nationalist politicians and newspapers resulted in street protests against the proposal, while many grassroots community groups were supportive. Voting rights for foreigners had not been an issue in the national lower house election in October 2021, yet Musashino’s proposal gained the attention of the conservative mass media and soon became an issue of national import.

So, how did this whole controversy come about? The issue of non-citizen voting has its roots in the broader policy of local autonomy for Japan’s municipalities.

Ongoing decentralisation in favour of local councils was a key part of public sector reforms in the 1990s, and the Omnibus Law for Local Devolution came into force in 2000. This saw the first local autonomy ordinance (jichi kihon jorei) established in Niseko in 2001, and by 2012 there were 284 such laws — which are known as the ‘constitutions of municipalities’.

The dynamic changed in 2012 when national elections returned the old guard Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to power. In 2014 the LDP directed its local branches to ‘respond carefully’ to any initiatives for the enactment of basic local autonomy ordinances. In particular, the LDP Policy Affairs Research Council warned some discretionary power of local authorities went ‘too far’ beyond Japan’s constitutional framework. Consequently, the number of new ordinances dropped from 25 in 2014 to one in 2020.

After a basic local autonomy ordinance came into force, municipalities — including Musashino — regularly started making institutional arrangements for inclusive public referendums. Most proposals for the participation of foreign residents in local referendums were based on these laws.

While some local ordinances followed national guidelines released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, local authorities also drafted many on their own. The LDP tried to break this momentum by arguing ‘jichi kihon jorei represents a denial of the nation’.

In this political climate, Musashino’s proposal was singled out for attack by conservative groups. A group of LDP nationalist politicians, led by Seiichiro Murakami and Shigeharu Aoyama, warned that foreign residents’ rights to vote in referendums could undermine Japan’s national security as the agenda items for referendums are virtually unlimited. In opposing the city’s proposal, Murakami and Aoyama argued it ‘would lead to easily granting foreign nationals rights equivalent to suffrage’. Subsequently, 14 Musashino council members heeded these conservative attacks and voted against the proposal.

This backlash highlights the LDP’s intention to allow more foreign workers to stay in Japan — to address labour shortages — while also suppressing their rights to maintain the image of a ‘homogeneous’ nation. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has indicated that Japan will need to quadruple the number of foreign workers to over 6 million by 2040 to sustain economic growth.

But the civic and political participation of foreign residents in Japan is necessary for the sake of smooth social integration. Despite conservative protests, it is local authorities who are forced to step up, fill the vacuum and cope with the increasing pressure of foreign workers’ needs, which are not well addressed by the national government. Prospects for the further protection of foreign residents’ rights in Japan will hinge on effective policy coordination and leadership at the local level.

Yasuo Takao is Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at the School of Media, Culture and Creative Arts, Curtin University, Perth. ENDS

More articles and opinion on the subject at https://www.google.com/search?q=musashino+foreigners+voting

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My SNA VM35: “Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers” (June 20, 2022) including the Sandamali, Suraj, Fernando, Okafor, Ekei etc. Cases.

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Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers
Shingetsu News Agency, June 20, 2022, by Debito Arudou

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/06/20/visible-minorities-torture-and-murder-in-japan-detention-centers/

SNA (Tokyo) — News Headline: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman.”

In August 2020, a Sri Lanka national named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali was arrested for overstaying her visa, and detained in a Nagoya Immigration Detention Center. She had arrived in Japan in 2017, but her student visa was cancelled in 2019 because she couldn’t afford tuition fees. While in detention, she opted not to return to Sri Lanka, reportedly due to reduced flights during Covid and an abusive boyfriend back home.

During her seven months in custody, however, Sandamali’s health steadily declined due to a stress-induced stomach condition. According to the Straits Times, Sandamali “was vomiting blood in her final days, and was so weak that she had no control of her arms and legs. The immigration authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to medical expert advice to put her on an intravenous drip or to grant her provisional release to ease her stress. A report by public broadcaster NHK suggested that officials tend to suspect malingering for minor illnesses in their reluctance to grant provisional release.”

That’s a questionable decision, since she had lost 20 kilograms from her small frame over seven months—hard to dismiss as mere “malingering” or “minor illness.” And her decline was not sudden: According to the Asahi Shinbun, she had notified her jailers from mid-January about nausea and lack of appetite. Nineteen days before her death, a urine test indicated she was in a state of starvation. The New York Times noted that in her final days she could ingest little more than water, sugar, or morsels of bread, and could barely make a fist or speak. Yet she was again refused provisional release for hospital treatment.

On March 6, 2021, Sandamali died in her cell, aged 33. An August 2021 postmortem probe by Japan’s Immigration Services Agency ruled that Sandamali had been “mistreated” by the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau, formally reprimanding the bureau’s director and three other supervisors for not reporting her requests for examination and treatment to an outside doctor.

But overlooked was cruelty of her captors. According to Nikkei Asia, “one immigration officer allegedly mocked Wishma when she was unable to swallow her drink,” and the Mainichi Shinbun reported that other Immigration officers misled a doctor about her condition two days before her death, dismissing her illness as merely “psychosomatic.”

By the time Sandamali’s family received her body, “her skin was wrinkled like an old person, and it was stuck firmly to her bones.” In November 2021, Sandamali’s family lodged a criminal complaint against officials at the Nagoya facility, accusing them of murder through willful negligence.

Unfortunately, as noted above, last week the Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the Sandamali case, citing an inability to establish criminal liability or even a cause of death, blaming it on “multiple factors.”

Multiple factors indeed. Sandamali’s case is not unprecedented. According to CNN, since 1997 at least 27 foreign detainees have died in Japan’s Immigration detention centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks,” because they detain foreigners only).

The main factor here is the cruel and unusual punishment by public officers, expressly forbidden under Article 36 of the Constitution.

Yet nobody has ever been held criminally liable for foreigner deaths in detention. That’s what makes Japan’s Gaijin Tanks so cruel and unusual.

Let’s consider a few more cases, then talk about the system that killed them…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/06/20/visible-minorities-torture-and-murder-in-japan-detention-centers/

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Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable

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Hi Blog. The Wishma Sandamali Criminal Case has sadly reached a predictable end: Japanese prosecutors have dropped their case against the people in charge of the Immigration “Gaijin Tank” Detention Center that killed her through negligence.

We’ve talked about the Sandamali Case here on Debito.org before, as we have the many other cases of death and destruction in Japan’s cruel Detention Centers. One of the reasons they remain so cruel is that they face no accountability, as seen here.  And prosecutors declining to prosecute those who kill foreigners have been discussed at length in my book Embedded Racism, Chapter 6, “A ‘Chinaman’s Chance’ in Japanese Court” (with 2022 updates of more cases, including Sandamali’s, in the Second Edition).

The Civil Case for damages brought by the Sandamali family is ongoing.  But I am not optimistic about justice being done there either.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, June 17, 2022, courtesy of lots of people.
https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14647083

Public prosecutors will drop their case against senior officials from the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau over the death of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration detention facility, according to sources.

Wishma Sandamali, 33, died in March 2021 at a facility run by the bureau, in a case that sparked widespread outcry over her mistreatment.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office launched an investigation into whether the senior officials in charge at the time had committed murder or negligence as a guardian resulting in death, responding to criminal complaints against them from Wishma’s family and others.

Sources said the prosecutors office concluded it cannot establish criminal liability in this case following discussions with another prosecution office that is higher in rank.

The decision is expected to be communicated to those who made the criminal complaints, including Wishma’s family members, on June 17 at the earliest.

This will effectively end the investigation into criminal liability of the senior officials.

According to a report compiled by the Immigration Services Agency in August last year, Wishma came to Japan as a student in June 2017.

She was held at the detention facility after being arrested for overstaying her visa in August 2020.

Her health rapidly deteriorated in the facility and she started to complain about loss of appetite and nausea from mid-January 2021.

Her urine test showed that she was in a state of starvation on Feb. 15, 2021, 19 days before her death.

After that, she became even more ill and died on March 6, 2021.

The report admitted that Wishma died of an illness, but also said that “multiple factors might have caused her death and it is difficult to determine which one was the cause.”

Her family members maintain, however, that she would not have died had she received proper medical treatment, such as with an intravenous drip or hospitalization.

In November 2021, they lodged a criminal complaint with the Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office against the then chief of the bureau, the person who acted as the chief guard at the detention facility on the day of her death, and other officials.

They argued that the officials committed murder thorough willful negligence and did not care if she died.

Earlier, in June 2021, a member of the teaching staff at a university in Nagoya had lodged a criminal complaint with the same district public prosecutors office against the bureau’s officials, alleging their conduct amounted to death through aggravated abandonment.

Wishma’s family members are also seeking around 156 million yen ($1.17 million) in damages from the state and that court case is still ongoing at the Nagoya District Court. ENDS

======================
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MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners

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Hi Blog. For all of the positive things about Japan’s near-universal health coverage system, there’s still no accounting for the rude, if not outright exclusionary, treatment that NJ often get from Japan’s health care practitioners. We’ve covered this many times on Debito.org (see several stories here, for example). Here’s another testimonial from a NJ patient I’ll call MRI. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: MRI
Subject: Issues with doctors in Shizuoka City
Date: May 6, 2022
To: debito@debito.org

Hello Dr. Arudou, I am another concerned foreigner living here in Japan.

I have been working and living in Shizuoka City for [close to a decade] now. I have not had any serious illnesses other than a mild case of chronic gastritis but in recent years, I know it has become more serious due to my symptoms becoming more severe regardless of the Takecab that I take daily for it. Due to this health issue becoming more serious, I have been needing to visit various clinics and I have been experiencing what I call indirect refusal.

So, I know that in the past, many foreigners were refused medical care due to not having kokumin kenkou hoken but even though I have a valid card, the doctor will always ignore me while I am trying to explain my symptoms and reason for my visit. Both the doctors and staff of various clinics here in Shizuoka City have almost systematically acted cold, uncaring, unresponsive and even downright rude to me.

After this happened the first couple times, I thought it was just that one particular nurse or doctor that was the problem, but after numerous experiences just like this at a number of other clinics, I realized that this is a big problem that needs to be brought to light.

Every time I am waiting in the lobby of a clinic or hospital here in Japan, I have a constant feeling that I am wasting my time and money. I almost always leave a clinic kicking myself because the doctor did indeed do everything they could to avoid helping me.

There have been times where doctors will “do a test” for a couple minutes and then quickly tell me that “I am healthy” and that “there is nothing wrong with me”. When I explain that my symptoms are sometimes terrible, they just laugh it off and tell me that they can prescribe me some medicine. The ineffective “put a band-aid over a shotgun wound” solution it seems.

These experiences have left me completely jaded with regard to the medical care system for foreigners here in Japan. It almost seems as if they couldn’t care less if we become ill and die because we are just foreigners after all. I guess the Hippocratic oath here in Japan only applies if you are of Japanese decent! I find it ironic that the stress of dealing with these doctors in pursuit of treating my health issue is actually causing my health issue to become worse!

My first experience was at Watanabe Clinic (わたなべクリニック) located in Minami-cho just south of Shizuoka Station. When I went to sit down there was a woman that had her handbag sitting on the chair next to me and after I sat down she clutched her handbag and looked at me as if I were some kind of criminal. I merely stated that she doesn’t need to clutch her handbag because I am not a thief. The doctor must have overheard me say this to the woman because he actually wrote down on the referral paper to another doctor that I am “kind of a strange person”. I did not bother reading the referral written in Japanese at the time because I just assumed he wrote a professional referral stating only the facts and the reason why I needed to have an MRI.

Of course, the hospital staff were unusually cold and uncaring toward me and it was a bit confusing during my visit. It wasn’t until I actually read the referral that I realized what he had written down. I was shocked and so was my Japanese girlfriend. She couldn’t understand how a doctor could get away with writing such unprofessional things about someone and not face any trouble for it.

I just experienced another strange occurrence today at a famous gastroenterology clinic here in Shizuoka City called Takano Surgery and Gastroenterology Clinic (高野外科胃腸科医院). This clinic is headed by director Satoshi Takano. Satoshi Takano performed an endoscopy on me 7 years ago and diagnosed me with chronic gastritis. Since then I moved to a different area and I have been receiving my prescription of Takecab from another clinic, which has not been giving me trouble so far since I only go there to pick up refills of my medicine.

So during today’s visit at Takano Surgery and Gastroenterology Clinic, I was trying to explain my worsening symptoms and mentioned that he diagnosed me with chronic gastritis 7 years ago. He looked at the old photos of my endoscopy and said in an irritated tone that I do not have chronic gastritis. Then I presented him a photograph from the endoscopy where he had written that I have gastritis on the backside. Then he let out a sigh and rechecked the photos again and then said that I do have chronic gastritis and that he just did not check all the images closely enough. He didn’t even apologize!

He still had the nerve to act like I was the one being troublesome. He kept trying to rush me and wouldn’t even let me explain my current symptoms. He seemed impatient with me and he kept asking if I want an endoscopy or what and this was before I could even explain my symptoms and get his feedback.

It was busy at the clinic today, but I have experienced doctors and staff rushing me even on days where the clinic was not busy at all. It is as if their mission is to get the foreigner out of the clinic or hospital as quickly as possible without actually seriously addressing their health issues.

So, today I basically paid 1,200yen to have an argument with a xenophobic doctor who was anything but professional.

Another terrible experience was at a clinic here in Shizuoka City called Ohya Hazama Clinic. After I moved to Oya Town, I came to this clinic for an attempt at an endoscopy. Before the endoscopy, I was given anesthetic that was supposed to put me under while he did the procedure. I guess he must not have given me enough because I did not pass out or fall asleep. I remained awake and the staff seemed annoyed by this. They came back into the room with a pillow and a blanket and turned off the light for about 20 minutes and told me to try to fall asleep. Well, I tried but I was unable to do so. Both the doctor and the nurses almost seemed irritated with me. Ridiculous as it sounds, it seems as though they were blaming me not falling asleep from the anesthesia as my fault! The doctor said to me that I can reschedule another day for an endoscopy and I told him that I will do that and left. I never returned there since.

Another wonderful experience I had was at a clinic called Shizuoka ENT Clinic (静岡ENTクリニック). While waiting to be seen by the doctor at this clinic, I noticed how friendly the staff and nurses were with all of the Japanese patients by making eye contact, smiling, answering their questions, thanking them and telling them to take care of themselves.

When it was my turn to go up to the front desk, I received none of the above. All of the staff immediately stopped smiling, they would look down while speaking with me, they seemed annoyed when I asked a couple questions, they seems cold and almost unwilling to even help me. One of them assumed that I couldn’t even speak Japanese and asked me if I could fill out a form and was explaining where I write my name and basic information. The entire experience only lasted a couple minutes but their ignorance and xenophobia was mind blowing.

When I finally had a chance to see the doctor, I explained all this to her. She couldn’t care less of course and just brushed it off. Although this doctor prescribed me the medicine I needed for my sinus infection, the overall experience was so terrible that I will never return there. I feel the same way about these other clinics. I am almost at the point where I feel like I might die of a serious illness such as cancer because none of these doctors seem willing to even look into what is going on in my body. It is a bit ridiculous that as a tax payer here in Japan, I even need to entertain thoughts about returning to my home country just to receive basic health care and visit a doctor that will provide me with proper medical care.

I apologize for the long-winded email, but I read one of your articles and I felt the need to contact you about some of my worst experiences here in Japan. I have even more horror stories than this, but these are the worst of them.
Best Regards, MRI

======================
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Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

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Hi Blog.  Here’s another person challenging Japan’s ban on dual nationality.  Her case makes the following circumstances clear:

  1. If you’re born in Japan with Japanese blood, you’re a Japanese citizen.
  2. If you’re born in Japan (or overseas) with Japanese and Non-Japanese blood, with proper registry with the GOJ after birth, you’re a citizen of both countries until age 20.  Then as per the ban on dual nationality, you have to choose one.  But if you choose Japanese citizenship, there is no penalty for those who do not give up their foreign nationality.  As long as the GOJ doesn’t know, and they don’t try too hard to find out.
  3. If you’re born in Japan without Japanese blood, you’re a foreigner unless you naturalize.  But if you naturalize, you must give up your foreign nationalities.  (However, I know at least one naturalized Japanese citizen who did not give up their NJ nationality, and still maintains both unbeknownst to the GOJ.)
  4. If you’re born in Japan (or overseas) with Japanese blood and then move permanently overseas and take another citizenship, and the GOJ finds out about it, you will unilaterally lose your Japanese citizenship, as the article below makes clear.
  5. The wild card:  If you are famous, like Nobel Prize winners or famous elites like Alberto Fujimori, former authoritarian President of Peru.  Then you can get your Japanese citizenship back in an eyeblink.  Again, for purposes of national pride, the rule of law doesn’t apply:  “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”

Anyway, Japan’s Nationality Law makes things unnecessarily arbitrary, racialized, and complicated, as described in more detail in my book “Embedded Racism“. And it does not pay to be honest.  Let’s take a closer look at the case described in Case 4 above.  Arudou Debito, Ph.D.

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Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban
KYODO NEWS – Jun 2, 2022, courtesy of EYS
https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/d25c7dd60667-japan-born-american-files-suit-against-japans-dual-nationality-ban.html

A Japanese-born American said Thursday she has filed a lawsuit with a Japanese court claiming that the country’s nationality law, which bans its citizens from also holding a foreign nationality, violates the Constitution.

Yuri Kondo, 75, who currently lives in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan and filed the lawsuit at the Fukuoka District Court, said at a press conference with her legal team that acquiring U.S. citizenship should not have automatically stripped her of her Japanese one.

Kondo, who was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, moved to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school and began practicing law in Arizona in 1997.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004, she attempted to renew her Japanese passport in 2017 but her application was rejected. She is currently in Japan on her U.S. passport.

Kondo claims that Article 11 of the nationality law, which stipulates that Japanese citizens automatically lose their nationality upon gaining a foreign nationality, violates the right to pursue happiness and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

“Nationality is an important human right, and it is illegal to automatically take it away from someone without their consent,” she said.

The Tokyo District Court in January 2021 rejected a similar lawsuit filed by eight men and women residing in Europe, ruling that Japan’s nationality law is constitutional. The plaintiffs have appealed.  ENDS

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Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

mytest

(Photo courtesy of Japan Today)

Hi Blog.  Since Japan Today has a history of “expiring” its articles (in addition to some irresponsible journalistic practices) and this one is important enough to warrant public archiving, Debito.org includes its full text below for the record.  As Japan’s xenophobic and extreme border controls continue to treat foreign outsiders like the plague despite some signs of opening (as we have discussed here, here, and here), officialdom treats foreigners it has incarcerated like animals or worse (as we have discussed here).  What follows is some excellent original reporting on yet another death in custody, and the political ramifications that conspired to maintain the deadly status quo.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Opinions
How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants
Japan Today, Feb. 22, 2022, By Dreux Richard, courtesy of JDG
https://japantoday.com/category/features/opinions/how-the-media-failed-japans-immigrants?comment-order=popular
TOKYO
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strange institution. It’s responsible for the way Japan is perceived abroad, and it decides who receives the opportunity to immigrate. But its jurisdiction over the lives of immigrants largely vanishes when they reach Japan. It’s also the most influential agency that does not play a meaningful role in developing the government’s legislative agenda. Senior MoFA officials can only watch in dismay as less prestigious agencies, including some of Japan’s most corrupt, devise legislation that erodes the rights of immigrants and damages Japan’s international reputation.

A proposed overhaul of Japan’s detention system, scuttled in 2021 after the death of detainee Wishma Rathnayake and a resulting wave of protests, was especially unpopular with Japanese diplomats. The Kishida administration has revived it anyway, with parliamentary debate anticipated this summer. Until recently, MoFA relied on the press to guard against legislative aggression toward immigrants, quietly passing sensitive information to reporters who covered the Ministry of Justice, which enforces immigration law.

According to MoFA officials who acted as my sources during the 10 years I covered immigration, their current reluctance to cooperate with journalists is related to the sense, among the agency’s staff, that the media has become “much louder, but much less effective” on issues of immigration.

The officials I spoke with traced this problem to 2019, when a detainee starved to death at a detention center in Nagasaki, following a four-week hunger strike.

The Ministry of Justice cleared the detention center of wrongdoing, issuing a report that contained several defamatory statements about the detainee. He was not, as the ministry’s findings suggested, a hardened criminal or a deadbeat father—not according to court records, not according to his family.

The report went on to claim that it wasn’t possible to return the detainee to Nigeria because he refused to cooperate with the deportation process in January 2019. But the report also documented a meeting in May of 2019 where the detainee begged to be deported. As one MoFA official dryly observed, “May comes after January.”

The death was covered in Japan’s major newspapers, as well as a variety of global outlets. All of them printed the government’s claims without attempting to verify them. Not a single reporter succeeded in confirming the identity of the detainee, a native of southeastern Nigeria who came to Japan 19 years earlier to look for work in the leather tanneries of Hyogo Prefecture. His name was Gerald “Sunny” Okafor.

An important story about the destruction of a family was overlooked. Okafor’s widow, who is deaf, struggled to raise her daughter alone after her husband was detained, pushing her to the brink of psychological collapse. Immigration officials took advantage of her vulnerability, pressuring her to file for divorce and promising—disingenuously—that it would expedite Okafor’s release.

The media also failed to uncover administrative malpractice at the detention center, which led Mr. Okafor to believe that steps were being taken to expedite his return to Nigeria. After learning this wasn’t true, he refused to receive intravenous fluids, precipitating his death. The Nigerian embassy helped the Ministry of Justice cover up these mistakes, leaving a paper trail in Okafor’s immigration file.

The success of this cover-up has undermined the best opportunity to sink the proposed immigration reforms, which were developed in response to Okafor’s death. The reforms are based on the insulting notion that the detention center could have saved Okafor if it had possessed greater powers of coercion—the power to sanction his attorneys, for instance, if they pushed too aggressively for their client’s release.

But the press has helped to turn Okafor’s death into a non-story, by disseminating state propaganda that diminishes the death’s significance, then responding to that propaganda with opinion essays instead of investigations.

“The media approaches the immigration debate as an ideological matter, rather than a test of the integrity of Japan’s institutions,” observed one MoFA official who monitored Mr. Okafor’s case. “That’s not helpful to people in government who are trying to fix the system, because it doesn’t change anybody’s mind. It only inflames existing disagreements.”

If disobeying the instructions of immigration officials becomes a criminal offense, as the government has now proposed, it will be made possible by the collapse of non-partisan relationships between trustworthy elements of Japan’s government and their counterparts in the press.

Mr. Okafor’s body shortly after his death. “Japan never saw what starvation did to that man. It should haunt them,” said Stanley Egbogota, chairman of an Igbo civic association that raised money for Mr. Okafor’s family. Photo: With permission from the family of Gerald Okafor


In an era of journalism where editorial decisions are shaped by web traffic and algorithms, the loss of knowledgeable sources may not strike every media professional as a matter of concern. Reporters didn’t need to speak with anyone who knew Mr. Okafor in order to write about him, or to decide that it was no longer necessary to write about him — even as parliament debated legislation that resulted from his death.

“They got the answers they needed,” Okafor’s widow observed in our most recent correspondence. “And in such a convenient way: from no one, from nowhere.”

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

For six years, Dreux Richard covered Japan’s Nigerian community for a daily newspaper in Tokyo. His first book, Every Human Intention: Japan in the New Century, was published by Pantheon in 2021. ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/ 
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My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

Article follows, then my comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022: Tokyo Asakusa “Suzuya” theatrical prop store bars “foreign customers” to “prevent COVID infection”. (Plus Momosaku, another repeat offender in Asakusa.)

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Hi Blog. Happy New Year 2022! May this be a healthy and happy one for all Debito.org Readers.

Let me open the year inauspiciously with a post about new “Japanese Only” signs.

The first one is from a store called “Suzuya Buyou Kodougu” (Suzuya Traditional Dance Props) in Asakusa Kouen Nishisandou. Courtesy lots of people, but notably SD, RO, and MW.

Entertainment Goods 浅草公園西参道
有限会社すずや舞踊小道具店
電話 03-3844-3798
〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-7-13
営業時間 am10:00~pm6:00(火曜日定休)
お問い合せ、ご注文はお電話でお願いいたします。
http://asakusasuzuya.co.jp/shop.html
Mapped at https://itp.ne.jp/info/133487635100000899/

Feel free to contact them and tell them what you think about their sign, particularly since no foreign tourists (and very few foreign residents) are being allowed into Japan to spread Covid. Yet that doesn’t stop racist signs depicting foreigners already here (who like regular Japanese residents probably haven’t travelled abroad) as more infectious than Japanese from appearing on stores (again).  Because (again) there’s no law against racial discrimination in Japan stopping anyone from putting up a “Japanese Only” sign for any reason whatsoever.

Meanwhile, eagle-eyed Debito.org Readers are sending in other exclusionary signs they’ve discovered:

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

From: XY
Subject: Discriminatory posting spoted in the wild
Date: December 27, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

Since you post things like this from time to time, I thought I’d send over a photo of a sign I saw tonight when I was out looking for a place to grab a bite. It’s an izakaya in Asakusa called Momosaku.

Why post that you only have service/menus in Japanese when you can reach straight for the discrimination, I guess, eh? — XY.

Name: 100 (izakaya) (Momosaku 百作)
Address: 4 Chome-7-12 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032
http://tinyurl.com/yb9uv3tz

[Japanese version: None of our staff at this establishment speak foreign languages, so we refuse entry to all overseas people (kaigai no kata)].

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

No “overseas people” could possibly speak Japanese to their staff, of course.

The funny thing is, we featured Momosaku on Debito.org back in April 2018.  Back then, the submitter pulled down that sign, and it was replaced a day later.  Clearly Momosaku’s managers don’t like foreigners, Covid or no Covid.

Feel free to drop by and let them know how you feel about their “Japanese Only” sign.  Perhaps pull it down again.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hello Debito,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senaiho

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

The bullying haircut as demonstrated in court

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://debito.org/EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer.pdf

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[skip down to page seven]

Situation of non-citizens

33.The Committee is concerned that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath? UPDATE: The “Japanese Only” rule has been removed.

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Hi Blog. Another casualty of the Covid scare in Japan has been the Hippocratic Oath, where this English-language medical service called Fast DOCTOR (see Japanese site, and English site) (where a doctor will make house calls for a flat fee of 50,000 yen) is now closed to all foreigners. Screen captures of the English site follow.

You can comment below about the rather odd things about the English site (including the iStock photos of non-Asian practitioners, and the testimonials at the bottom without a single recommendation in English). But the fact remains that this medical service is contravening their medical oath to treat all patients. Second, the “foreign” patients they are likely to treat (especially in this time of strict Covid checks at the border and better vaccination programs overseas) at this time are less likely to be infected by the pandemic than the average Japanese patient. Finally, it of course assumes that foreigners who read English are travelers, not Japan residents. Given all of these things that defy both good physical and social science, I wonder what kind of medical care they offer in the first place. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

UPDATE: A defender of these practices steps forward below to gaslight, claiming “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” See comments section for this blog entry.

(Screen captures of their English site follow, courtesy of EG. FYI, their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fastdoctor.tokyo/)

 

UPDATE AUGUST 29, 2021:  FastDoctor’s website has been amended to remove their “Japanese Only” rules.  I have received no notification or justification for this from the company.  (I simply rechecked their website as a followup.  But it’s gone.  File under another exclusionary sign disappearing when social shame is brought to bear.  –Debito

Screen capture from https://fastdoctor.jp/global/ 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

SNA: Why exactly did you withdraw it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.

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Hi Blog. I’ve written at length about how demonizing foreigners will lead to official racial profiling, and how deputizing the general public to target NJ will lead to abuse.

Well, SITYS. (See I told you so.) Check out this article from Nikkan Sports. (Translation mine, corrections welcome.)

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

Muslim Woman in Her Forties is Subjected to Wrongful Questioning by Police: Submits Complaint to Tokyo Public Safety Commission.
Nikkan Sports, July 6, 2021, courtesy of lots of people

A Muslim woman in her forties from South Asia living in Tokyo, who was subjected to wrongful voluntary questioning by officers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and had her name, address, and other private details leaked to a third party, submitted a formal complaint to the Tokyo Public Safety Commission on July 5. Her legal representation criticized, “This is a use of public power grounded in discriminatory attitudes towards foreigners.”

According to documents from her legal group questioning the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and other connected people, on June 1, the woman was letting her 3-year-old daughter play in a neighborhood park when a man rushed up to her and claimed her daughter had knocked his son down. “Gaijin”, “show me your Zairyu Card”! He then called the police, and six officers rushed in and used rough language towards the woman (who has limited abilities in Japanese), saying things like, “Hey you (omae), you want us to believe you really can’t speak Japanese?” Following that, they took the woman and her daughter only to the nearest police station, and voluntarily interrogated them about two and a half hours.

The woman and her daughter denied that she had knocked anyone down. However, they were not allowed to go home until they had acknowledged there had been some physical contact (boukou), and they had agreed to release their contact details and phone number to the man involved. On a later date, the police told the man more personal information, such as the names, ages, and address of the woman and her daughter so he could begin a civil lawsuit against her. It is said that Child Services were also contacted in case the woman would be unable to take care of her daughter.

The woman claims that being alone and interrogated by four officers during questioning has made her unable to sleep due to PTSD.

Her lawyer, Nishiyama Atsuko, pointed out that even though these are “voluntary” interrogations, foreign suspects often feel they cannot refuse police due to fear of forced deportation. Moreover, “Being a foreigner in itself is enough to justify wrongful treatment by the police. This situation is but the tip of the iceberg.”

The woman herself made the following statement to the press: “My daughter absolutely did not do what they said she did. Now that my address has been leaked, I’m uneasy and cannot live my life in peace. I want the police to be admonished so that they cannot repeat this sort of discriminatory behavior over and over again.”

ENDS (Original Japanese below comment.)
////////////////////////////

(More commentary by Debito.org Readers on a separate site from here.)

COMMENT: Look, it’s as I’ve said here for decades, and in a number of books: When you train police to see foreigners as social destabilizers, that’s how foreigners will be treated in most circumstances involving them. When the only tool in your training is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

Nowadays, when you get people who aren’t trained police at all made aware that foreigners have Gaijin Cards (more specifically Zairyuu Cards), and who are now not only encouraged but also empowered by official online apps to demand them, then you have people in a social status so weak that there will be abuses by bullies, or by anyone on a power trip.

And that’s clearly what happened here.  Let’s recap:  A man accuses a three-year-old kid of assault, gets aggressive with a Muslim woman (and reportedly SPECIFICALLY demands her Gaijin Card), and then siccs six also-aggressive cops on her.  Then the cops cart only her and her toddler daughter off to the nearest cop shop for hours of interrogation, and hold her hostage until she releases her private information to this strange man.  And later cops give that man even more information in case he decides to sue a three-year-old!

Clearly this has been blown out of proportion.  And the cops abetted it!  What a nightmare.

I’m pleased the woman sought out legal representation and filed the formal complaint with the Public Safety Commission.  But that will probably result in nothing.  (I’ve done the same for over-the-top police reactions in the past, and never gotten any satisfactory conclusion.)  You can’t expect much when it’s wolves policing other wolves.

So I hope she files an actual civil suit against the police and the person who harassed her and her daughter, so we can get some legal precedent behind this complaint. We need some kind of damper put on all the social damage done by the Japanese police demonizing foreigners for decades, and then deputizing the general public to target them.

Finally, kudos to Nikkan Sports and Kyodo News for taking this issue up.  Here’s hoping more media pays attention to this case.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Original Japanese:

40代ムスリム女性に警察官が不当聴取 都公安委に苦情申し出
[日刊スポーツ 2021年7月6日1時3分]

https://www.nikkansports.com/general/news/202107050001193.html

東京都内に住む南アジア出身で40代のイスラム教徒(ムスリム)の女性が、警視庁の警察官から不当な任意聴取を受け、他人に氏名や住所などの個人情報を漏らされたとして5日、都公安委員会に苦情を申し出たことが分かった。代理人弁護士は「公権力による外国人への差別意識が根底にある」と批判している。

弁護団が警視庁や関係者に問い合わせるなどした結果に基づく申し出書によると、女性は6月1日、近所の公園で長女(3)を遊ばせていた際、園内にいた男性から、息子が長女に突き飛ばされたとして「外人」「在留カード出せ」などと詰め寄られた。男性の通報で警視庁の警察官6人が駆け付け、日本語が不自由な女性に「おまえ本当に日本語しゃべれねえのか」などと発言。その後女性と長女のみ最寄りの警察署で約2時間半、任意聴取された。

女性と長女は突き飛ばしたことを否定。だが警察官に暴行を認めるよう言われ、男性側に連絡先の電話番号を伝えることに同意するまで帰してもらえなかった。警察側は後日、民事訴訟を起こすとする男性に女性と長女の氏名や年齢、住所などの個人情報を伝達。女性が長女を監督できていなかったとして児童相談所に通報したという。

長女は単独で4人の警察官から聴取された場面もあり、現在、トラウマ(心的外傷)による不眠の症状を訴えている。

代理人の西山温子弁護士は、任意の聴取でも、外国人は容疑をかけられ強制送還されることを恐れて警察に逆らえないことが多いとし、「外国人というだけで警察に不当な扱いを受けることがあり、この問題は氷山の一角だ」と指摘する。

女性は取材に「娘は絶対にやっていない。住所を漏らされ、不安で平和な生活ができない。差別的な行為が繰り返されないよう、警察にはしかるべき対処をしてほしい」と話した。(共同)

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those are the headlines. Now for the sources:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

死の直前「漢字勉強したい」カメルーン出身者は救えなかったのか

From the article:

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

“Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.”

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

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

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

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

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

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

How nice.

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

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

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

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

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

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

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)

Overview

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

Distribution

For PC

Windows
Please follow the link provided below.

Click here for downloads for Windows systems

macOS
Can be found on the Mac App Store.

Download on the Mac App Store

For mobile

Android
Can be found on Google Play.

Get it on Google Play

iOS
Can be found on the App Store.

Download on the App Store

Operation manual

Operating environment

  • Operating environment

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

  • Necessary hardware

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

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

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

    NFC-compatible device (if using a cell phone)

Frequently asked questions

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

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

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

Question list

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

Return to question list

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

Return to question list

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

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

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

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

Return to question list

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

Return to question list

Privacy policy

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

Disclaimers

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

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

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

(click on scans to enlarge in browser)

\

 

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Responses (anonymized and excerpted in places)

LACK OF OFFICIAL FOLLOWUP:

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

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

EF: I never received a phone call from anyone.

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

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

CONFUSION ABOUT THE SYSTEM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE LACK OF A COMPREHENSIVE LAW FORBIDDING DISCRIMINATION

Asahi Shinbun, April 11, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Editorial Department, Kitano Shouichi

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

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

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

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Founder, Debito.org 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hi Debito,

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

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

And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:

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

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

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

By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

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

Roll call in the morning with spit test

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

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

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

Food supply under surveillance

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

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

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

Complicated way home

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

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

Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

This means:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

そのうえで国籍法の規定は憲法に違反しないと判断し、訴えを退けました。

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

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

mytest

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

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“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/30/national/japan-pandemic-foreign-residents/
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My Japan Times JBC 119: Top 5 Human Rights Issues of 2020: “A Watershed Year for Japan’s Foreign Residents” (Dec. 31, 2020)

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

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

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justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

======================
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United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

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My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society, Nov. 16, 2020

mytest

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Visible Minorities 16: US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

======================
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Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED).

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Long-time readers of this venue know that I surrender to no-one in terms of criticizing the GOJ in its handling of NJ residents, especially in how they treat taxpaying long-term residents on par with (or even value less than) foreign tourists.

That said, an image sent to me by a number of people has been this:

Now, I’m not sure where this screenshot is coming from (Debito.org Reader MF has noted that it came from the Fuji TV network itself), but the chyron would indicate that this government panel is saying that “Foreigners have different languages and customs, so we can’t thoroughly enforce policies against the spread of [Covid] infections.”  By implication, this means that foreigners are being seen as an obstacle to the safety of Japanese society because of their differences.  This image is starting to multiply around the media sphere, for example https://www.facebook.com/memesugoi/posts/1032954460504017, which is why people are sending it to me.

However, news network FNN has a different take. Debito.org Reader JLO submitted the following video:

FNN says, at minute 1:30, “Bunkakai de wa, kurasutaa e no taiou ya, kotoba no chigai de soudan ya jushin ga okureru gaikokujin no tame ni ichigenteki na soudan madoguchi o setchi suru koto ni tsuite giron shiteimasu.”
Or (my translation):
“At this panel, they are debating about whether to set up a unified consultation center to deal with clusters and with foreigners and who face delayed medical consultations and treatments due to language differences.”  Screen capture:

#新型コロナウイルス

“第3波”感染拡大止まらず クラスター・外国人支援など協議

2,864 views Nov 11, 2020

That’s quite a different take from that other chyron!  According to FNN, this panel seems to be trying to assist, not exclude or blame.

I welcome others who find more clarifying media about this event.  Meanwhile, my point is to be careful.  Foreigners have been so perpetually offset and treated as exceptions from the regular population that this could reflexively feel like a repeat performance.  But let’s be careful that this reflex does not lead to disinformation.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE NOV 14:

Ph.D. Candidate Anoma van der Veere has kindly tweeted out his research indicating some media sensationalism is going on here.  Access the thread beginning at https://twitter.com/anomav/status/1327117586249568256?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0gIPlDs9K6X8tH87UWEuafZDYEM9XrgLobf7LI2luRRJgnStztEdka9n4

(Courtesy of JLO).  Screen captures follow, for the record.  Debito

THREAD ENDS

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

======================
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W on Japan’s Kafkaesque and faulty re-entry procedures (even after October revisions to “open borders to Re-entry Visa foreign residents”): More elaborate racist barriers now.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  What follows below is an eyewitness account (redacted to remove personal identifiers) of a Permanent Resident of Japan, married to a Japanese for decades, who as a European went through re-entry procedures that apply to foreigners only (regardless of visa status) and not Japanese.  The Japanese Government claims they have made things easier for Non-Japanese re-entrants since October 1, but Debito.org Reader W would beg to differ below.

This Kafkaesque account will no doubt resonate with those who are used to Japanese bureaucracy, and doubly so when they see how racism (the belief that having a Japanese passport somehow makes you less contagious) is as usual part of the mix.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: W
Subject: My Investigation Story – W (posts on Debito blog)
Date: October 17, 2020 (revised version)
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Dear Debito,

Thank you for follow up on re-entry ban issue. It is very important that someone is trying to do something with this discriminatory measures. Here is my personal investigation. I have had enough with lack of clarification and just assumptions by posters around various news venues.

I spoke with one of the Japanese Embassies in Europe to ask about the procedure. They were very kind and helpful. I would advise everyone to contact them in the country you are staying, not to read the “assumptions” in other media.  I also asked about my Japanese spouse who is always with me in the same country where we spent the last half year. Let me start from her, because her case is short.

Well, my spouse doesn’t need anything even though we would re-enter together from the same country where we lived together. Japanese don’t need to prove negative Covid exposure (through a PCR test) prior to return to Japan. However, I as a foreigner need a) a PCR test, administered in the foreign country 72 hours before departure, and b) a “Confirmation Letter” with “Certificate of Testing for COVID-19” signed and sealed by the lab by the foreign country that conducted this PCR test. ( I sent you screenshot proof).  In spite of the kindness over the phone, I realized that their attitude is that only we foreigners carry viruses after all.

One of my questions was about PCR lab because officially without minor symptoms one cannot be tested in my foreign country.  The Embassy told me the whereabouts of some labs that do test without symptoms, and I was given the names. I was reminded that unlike regular PCR tests, these is not free and I will have to pay for it.

I continued to ask further questions about how it works, because it would be rather impossible to set up everything within 72 hours, including a getting that Confirmation Letter and “PCR Certificate” from the Embassy which takes a couple of days to receive.  That looks like this (PDF):

PCR Certificate for Japan

Also see example from the Japanese Consulate, Boston, USA. https://www.boston.us.emb-japan.go.jp/files/100098498.pdf

I also asked why do I need such letter at all when I already have a re-entry seal? The answer I received was:

The Confirmation Letter is necessary to control inflow of foreign re-entrants, so they can follow up with testing capacity at the airport. If too many of them ask to re-enter then the Government may ask to temporary stop issuing those letters. (This sounds like the option for a re-entry ban again).

Anyway, I continued with questions about timing. And this is where it shows totally different story from what people “assume” on various posts.

Test result time varies by countries. I want to point that I`m against of PCR test if it doesn’t involve everyone regardless of their nationality.

Interestingly, we don’t have to show to Embassy our PCR result in order to receive Confirmation Letter. I was advised to begin process with the letter, which takes couple of days to receive it and then do the test after that. If it comes up negative then I can purchase a ticket. (72 hours before takeoff the ticket price would probably be tripled.)

Anyway, I wanted to be sure, so I asked questions again:

Me Q: Does this mean I don`t have to bring PCR to show you in order to apply and receive Confirmation Letter?

Emb A: No, because you won`t be allowed in without PCR result with only the letter itself. This is why you can apply as soon as you want to.

Me Q: Do I have to come to the Embassy? It takes about an hour drive one way.

Emb A: Yes, we need your Passport and ID. (ONE MUST HAVE VALID RE-ENTRY)

Me Q: Fair enough. Do I have to pick up in person too?

Emb A: Yes, you have to come again to pick it up. (Note: another 2 hours lost from the 72-hour window)

Me Q: What happens when I arrive in Tokyo? I know there is another test and then…?

Emb. A: We don`t have such information, I will give you phone number so you can call to ask in Japan
Me: OK,Thank you.

I received the number, and my spouse called that number next day. I can say that the staff was extremely helpful and explained to us everything. We also called Japanese Immigration too. They also were very helpful.  A lot of hassle, but at least we had very kind people on the other side of the line.

Initially I gave up on returning to Japan for time being. My spouse was crying, because going back alone was not what we always do. We live and travel together. In our long marriage we are never separated. We are a happy couple. I cannot blame my spouse for what the Japanese Government does to separate international families.

Whenever we enter Europe, my spouse always goes with me to almost empty immigration line for EU Citizens, because residency permit holders can do it.  However in Japan at the entry point we are separated.  I`m fingerprinted and photographed as a suspicious resident — and now this extra set of hoops to jump through, because I may be a threat to Japan’s National Security. (The Covid re-entry ban is based on such an assumption.)  I admire Japan and people and always follow the rules, never had any problems and I don’t see myself having any wherever I go. National Security would some kind of real accusation IMO.

Now, back to testing abroad, which differs from the requirements for Japanese people:

I didn’t want to be separated from my spouse, so I decided to go ahead and go through all the hassle.

The PCR test certificate must be filled in on a specific document prepared by MOFA.  You can’t download it.  You have to go to the Embassy and get it.  On their paper. It’s the best if the PCR testing lab fills it in and stamps it. Foreign-issued certificates are not accepted, because they do not specify the exact method that the test has been done. They show COVID-19 Test – NEGATIVE or POSITIVE – and whether the sample was from nose or throat. That’s it.

The European labs I spoke with told me that they send test results within 24 hours, with the certificate either by email, or one must login to the lab portal and download it. I sent them the Japanese template sample and asked if they would fill in the form for me, as this is specific for Japan. They told me NO, because we send all certificates by email. Our certificate has been approved and accepted in many other countries that require all arrivals to bring negative PCR test result (not just foreigners). If I want, I can find another lab.

According to MOFA, the requirements must be specifically followed or one will not be allowed in. Besides, I checked drive-through testing that one can see on the edge of many European cities. I looked from the distance and found that all tests are done from throat swab. But these tests are for people who have Covid symptoms and are referred there by health authorities (free test).  But, again, they won’t test me unless I’m symptomatic.  I’m not.

Japanese PCR test rules from Japan Times (Aug 31, 2020):
====
Only negative results for molecular diagnostic tests conducted via nasopharyngeal swab or saliva samples using the real time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction method (RT-PCR), loop-mediated isothermal amplification method (LAMP) or an antigen test using the chemiluminescence enzyme immunoassay (CLEIA) method will be recognized as valid. Such tests need to be conducted within 72 hours prior to departure and documents confirming the procedure need to be filled out entirely in English and need to be signed by a doctor from the medical institution where the test was conducted or have the institution’s stamp. The officials suggest using the certification form for COVID-19 tests, which can be found on the justice ministry’s website.
====

I found a lab which was new in my area and they would help me. After retrieving the Confirmation Letter from the Embassy, I scheduled PCR test 2 weeks later. Meanwhile, I took the risk to lose money by purchasing a plane ticket at the same time as the PCR test without the option to cancel it regardless of the situation. My Travel Insurance confirmed that they would not reimburse me either due to positive PCR test. I took the risk of a negative outcome because if I bought it after a negative PCR test, it would probably cost me triple within that 72-hour window. My spouse was incredibly happy that we will go together. I said to her: Darling, hold on, we need test result first. The same day late evening it arrived. NEGATIVE! Baby, we go together as planned.

It was not the end of story yet.

I received foreign certificate pdf which was signed and stamped by a doctor with blue pen. It was not enough though. Not enough for Japanese requirements. I was lucky that the lab was kind enough and told me to come back next day to give me a printed “negative “certificate they issued, my passport and Japanese printed form. They will do for me what I need.  It just cost me well over 100 Euros.

I went there the next day with pre-filled form with my details only to ask for REAL stamp and doctor’s REAL signature. Now I had everything that I needed to re-enter Japan.

My lab was close enough, but imagine if someone live far away or if they didn’t open new lab closer to me, then I would have to drive 1-2h to do the test in another city and then next day to waste the same time to get “REAL” certificate signed. I can tell you that immigration in Japan did not accept foreign issued document. I pulled it up first to see what happens. Well, I had to give them the form required by MOFA. They took away from me both. What if I didn’t have the Japanese version? Would I be sent back?

At the airport in Japan

Here, everyone of course goes through a lot of paperwork, stamps, signs etc. It should be more digitized to allow more arrivals. Anyway, after they take your foreign PCR test, Japanese Immigration then tests you again via PCR from saliva. One needs to spit 1mm into given small container. (it’s not always as easy as it seems). Then, next step is to go through another round of paperwork and then to a special room where you have an assigned chair with your number received earlier. The PCR result comes within about 30 minutes to 1 hour. Once the result arrives, there is another small round paperwork, with all the documents such as PCR Certificates from abroad, PCR result from airport, 2 documents that everyone had to fill in in the plane plus passport being presented to the Immigration.

Japanese Citizens are free to go after showing a passport and taking a PCR test administered by Japanese Immigration, while foreign residents are stopped for a little bit longer than usual.  I spent about 10 minutes longer because of checking all document, having my photo and fingerprints taken.  Then one must go to another booth where another officer re-confirms again if all these docs are in order, then stamps it, signs it and at the end you are free to enter.

I don’t mind doing this procedure as long as everyone is treated equal regardless of their nationality.  Including Japanese. However, most of the European countries do the Covid test upon arrival. In Germany, for example, if you show negative test from your country you let through without additional tests at the border. (I’m not sure if this is the same for all countries). I do wish that Japan would change their stance towards residents such as at least Spouses of Japanese (first of all when traveling together to/from the same place) and PRs.

The biggest obstacles for some of you might be to return to the lab again to have the Japanese form filled in. Good Luck!

In the end, let me summarize what I went through:

Step 1:
Japanese Embassy – Apply for Confirmation Letter. 1h drive one way (probably not required anymore since Suga became PM).

3 Days later
Japanese Embassy – Pick up confirmation letter. 1h drive one way

Step 2:
PCR test (lucky they opened just recently a lab close to me)

Step 3:
Next day go back to the lab to stamp and sign the Japanese document by a doctor. This is only when test comes back negative.

Step 4 (when all above is done):
Airlines require to fill in (or rather tick boxes) on their own document. This must be done prior to boarding.

Step 5:
Japan now requires another form to be filled in once inside the plane to “catch” early those at high risk who may be infected and may need hospitalization. (This is not a failsafe; anyone can lie on any forms, including these given by airlines.)

Step 6:
Another PCR in Japan at the airport upon arrival. (Other countries, such as Germany, respect certificates issued elsewhere when showed at the border, and next PCR is not necessary then.)

Anyway, I hope this is quite clear what`s happening. I do hope you still fight for changing things. I don’t mind PCR testing in principle, but then test everyone the same, including Japanese, or at least accept foreign certificate sent by email as other countries do.

Sincerely, W

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Oct 1, 2020’s new govt regulations for NJ Resident Re-Entry: Not much of a change. Racialized barriers still up; instead, “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” may soon be prioritized

mytest

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Hi Blog.  October 1, 2020 was announced to be a new day for Japan’s racist border controls.  From last April until then, all foreigner border crossers were legally treated as if they were a special source of contagion, affected differently by COVID than somehow-immune Japanese, and banned from entry.  Further, unlike any other advanced industrialized country, the Japanese Government banned re-entry even to all Non-Japanese Residents with valid visas.  Naturally, as covered before on Debito.org (see herehere, here, here, and here), this racist policy has separated families and destroyed NJ lives and livelihoods.

People have protested this, and media has questioned the actual science behind this differential treatment.  So on October 1, the government “changed” its policy to allow in “mid- to long-term visa” holders.  But as protest petitioner Sven Kramer points out:

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https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27821948

On the reopening of the border for all non-Japanese nationals holding mid- and long-term visas

クラーマー スベン

Japan

OCT 2, 2020 — 

On October 1, 2020, the government of Japan reopened the border for all holders of mid- and long-term visas. Getting a negative PCR test result 72 hours before departing for Japan is a necessary requirement. I strongly welcome this reopening. As I have implied in the other status update one month ago, I personally can accept this overseas test requirement for foreign nationals who want to newly enter Japan. But it should be limited to new entries only. However, the government still is bestowing this requirement on all foreign residents, not distinguishing between new entry and re-entry (only special permanent residents and diplomats are exempt). It is my sincere belief that, at least when it comes to epidemiological issues, the procedure for re-entry should not be different per nationality. This is why I unfortunately have to announce that despite this very welcomed reopening of the border, this petition will stay up until every re-entrant gets treated equally at the quarantine booth.

The new official material by the government of Japan: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001329914.pdf

 

中長期在留資格を獲得した外国人の新規入国の再開に当たって

令和2年10月1日から日本国政府は、中長期在留資格を新しく獲得した外国人の新規入国を認めるようになりました。日本へ出発する前72時間以内の陰性のPCR検査結果を手に入れるのが条件です。この緩和を強く歓迎します。1か月前の進捗報告で示唆した通り、新規に入国しようとする外国人にこの条件をかけるのを少なくとも私が容認できます。ただあくまで新規に入国する外国人の場合だけです。しかし、この条件はもう日本に住んでいて一時的に出国した外国人にも相変わらずかかっています。言い換えれば、外国人(「特別永住者」、「外交」および「公用」の在留資格保持者を除く)に限って再入国と新規入国を同じに取り扱うわけです。しかし、私の深い信念では、防疫問題において国籍を根拠に再入国の手続きを違うものにすべきではありません。このため、残念ながら本陳情書をまだ閉じることができません。引き続きご賛同をよろしくお願い申し上げます。

法務省よりの資料: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf

Review and sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27821948

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Ironically, there’s also the issue of the Japanese Government now considering prioritizing “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” for special entry exemptions.  However, as usual, it seems our actual taxpaying NJ Residents (including “Green-Card”-holding regular Permanent Residents) with families and lives in Japan don’t matter as much.

On top of that, there’s an issue with how these PCR tests for clean bills of health have been enforced, from eyewitnesses at the border writing in to Debito.org.  I will get into this in my next blog entry. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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Dejima Award #9: Again to Japan Rugby Football Union, for classifying naturalized Japanese players as “foreign”, in violation of Japan Nationality Law.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Consider this litmus test of “Japaneseness”:  Are you “Japanese enough” to play for the national team?  Not if you naturalized.  Read on, then I’ll comment:

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Japan Rugby Football Union
JRFU rules certain Japan passport holders will be regarded as non-Japanese
Sep. 26 2020 By Rich Freeman. Courtesy of lots of people.
https://japantoday.com/category/sports/rugby-jrfu-rules-certain-japan-passport-holders-can’t-be-treated-as-locals
Also https://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2020/09/26/rugby/rugby-team-japanese-citizens-rights

TOKYO (Kyodo) Three naturalized Japanese citizens found themselves on the wrong side of a decision that essentially restricts their ability to work as professional rugby players in their adopted homeland.

The Japan Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed that the three, including two who are eligible to play for Japan in the Olympics, will continue to be denied Japanese status within the Top League simply because they are not eligible to play for Japan’s national rugby 15s side, the Brave Blossoms.

The purpose of the rule passed in 2016 to restrict Japanese status to those eligible to play for the Brave Blossoms was, according to Top League Chairman Osamu Ota, to bolster the strength of the national team. The argument that it discriminates against Japanese citizens was not enough to sway the JRFU.

The ruling leaves former All Black Isaac Ross, ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke and former Australia sevens player Brackin Karauria-Henry to be treated in the Top-League as ‘non-Japanese.’

Both Karauria-Henry and Bourke are being considered for Japan’s Olympics sevens team because the Olympic Charter defines a different set of eligibility conditions for naturalized citizens.

Ota said that the ruling could not be changed immediately as “it was not possible for teams to change their budgets and contracts ahead of the new (Top League) season,” which is set to start in January 2021.

The only thing the union did agree to change, for now, was the names of the player categories to remove any discriminatory terms such as Japanese, foreigner and Asian, and replace them with Category A, B, C etc.

“This does not affect the eligibility of the players and is nothing more than a cosmetic change,” said a source who had knowledge of the meetings between the players and the union.

Ota said the rule would be reviewed before Japan’s new league kicks off by early 2022, but that did not appease Ross. The 35-year-old became a citizen in 2017, having started the process in 2015 before the rule took effect.

The eight-time All Black was recently released by NTT Communications Shining Arcs after nine seasons, in part because his continued status as a non-Japanese means he only got limited playing time.

He is particularly upset that clubs are making use of the “eligible to play for Japan” status, even though many of those to whom it applies have no intention of playing for the national team.

World Rugby regulations state that a previously uncapped player must reside in a country for at least three years before they can play for it. But the JRFU deems anyone who has not played for another test team eligible for Japan.

“We had a player at NTT who was in Japan for just two years. He kept a Japanese player out of the starting team even though he himself was never going to play for Japan,” said Ross. “And yet someone who has shown their commitment to Japan like me has shown loyalty and benefited the Japanese game is being punished.”

Hideki Niizuma, a lawmaker in the House of Councilors, said the ruling was wrong.

“It is unreasonable that a player with Japanese nationality due to naturalization must be registered as a foreign player just because he has a history of representing a foreign country,” he told Kyodo News by email.

The 50-year-old Komeito party member, who played rugby at the University of Tokyo, said he would be seeking the opinion of “specialized agencies and experts such as the Japan Sports Law Association and the Japan Sports Arbitration Agency.”

While Bourke and Karauria-Henry look set to carry on in a league run by a union that, as Bourke puts it, “sees me as a foreigner but at the same time Japanese enough” to play for the hosts at the next Olympics, Ross is forced to continue his career overseas.

“The JRFU’s motto of ‘One Team’ and the Top League’s ‘For All’ aren’t consistent with their actions,” he said.
ENDS

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COMMENT:  All this hair-splitting aside, the line to draw is simple:

Do you have legal Japanese citizenship or don’t you?

If yes, then you are a Japanese, and you are to be treated as one like everyone else, regardless of whatever career path you take (or how many “real Japanese” get shut out of NTT).

That’s what the Japanese Nationality Law says.  And any further caveats or qualifiers render the status (and the entire point) of naturalization in Japan meaningless.

Moreover, it is extremely disrespectful towards the naturalized, who are compelled by the Nationality Law to give up any other citizenships.  What is the point of that sacrifice if naturalization performatively does not award equality?

Sadly, this decision is not surprising for the Japan Rugby Football Union, given their long history of outright racism.  In 2011, they blamed a poor showing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup on “too many foreign-born players on the team”and then ethnically-cleansed their ranks.  Japan JFRU former president Mori Yoshiro, an unreconstituted racist (and extremely unpopular former Prime Minister) who considered the Reid Olympic figure-skating siblings to be “naturalized” (despite having Japanese citizenship since birth) and therefore unworthy to represent Japan, just happens to also head up Japan’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic efforts.  I have little doubt he had a hand in this.  Gotta protect the Kokutai of the “Kami no Kuni” (not to mention “bolster the strength of the national team”) from foreign impurities, after all.  (As seen above, JRFU already had the Apartheid system of classifying athletes as “Japanese, foreigner and Asian”, performatively preserved as “Category A, B, C etc.” Phew, that’s much better!)

So once again, we are in a position to award a rare “Debito.org Dejima Award“, reserved only for the most head-spinningly obvious examples of racism in Japan, to the JRFU.  This is only our ninth awarded, but it’s the second time the JRFU has received it.  And four of the nine Dejimas have been for official racism within Japanese sports.

Might it not be time for Japanese-Haitian-American tennis champ Osaka Naomi (already quite vocal over BLM) to consider speaking up against discrimination against her fellow Visible Minorities in Japan’s athletics?  Would be nice.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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