Economist Dec 13 06: Alberto Fujimori Update

mytest

Hello Blog. Fascinating article in this week’s Economist (with whom I have had a subscription for close to 20 years now) about the emerging international accountability for leaders for crimes against humanity. It mentions Alberto Fujimori, former Peruvian dictator and refugee in Japan, in passing. I have written at length about this creep in the past. See
http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns10-12.html#12
http://www.debito.org/handout.html (do a word search for “Fujimori” on the page)

Why do I have it in for Fujimori? Because after he became a source of pride for Japanese for reaching an overseas presidency as Yamato diaspora, the GOJ gave him a safe haven when he defected to Japan in 2000 (faxing his resignation from a Tokyo hotel room!) by instantly declaring him a Japanese citizen. Thus immune from Interpol arrest warrants and Peru’s demands for extradition for trial on murder charges, he lived for years not only the life of a free man, but even as an elite in Japan (he reputedly used Ishihara Shintaro’s beach house, and had an apartment in the same complex as Dave Spector). Fujimori thus defied all conventions dealt the non-Yamatoites, who have to go through regular procedures for refugee or citizenship status (which take years, if ever granted at all).
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20051130a4.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20031119b7.html

After being reissued a Peruvian passport (in violation of Japan’s laws against dual nationality), the fool in November 2005 then re-defected back to Chile in a private jet (where one Wide Show reported that he wrote down his citizenship on Chilean Customs forms as “Peruvian”) to declare his candidacy for the April 2006 Peruvian election. He was promptly arrested by Chilean authorities. The Japanese press gave Fujimori some regular pro-Yamato coverage, until rumors surfaced that his newfound young wife, a “hotel magnate” in Peru running in his place, was actually a Zainichi Korean with underworld connections. Then they clammed up completely when he lost the election quite soundly.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20050915a2.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20051109a2.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060314a2.htm
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20051118a2.html
(No article on the JT site on Fujimori’s defeat, tellingly.)

The Economist, as I said, mentions Fujimori in passing–that Chile’s Supreme Court is considering Peru’s extradition request. Lumping him in with dictators and international crooks in this article is apt. Let’s hope he doesn’t get away with it. His crony Vladimiro Montesinos was snagged overseas several years ago with help from the US government, and is currently doing time in Peru.

Japan, in contrast, clearly “protects its own” no matter what–especially if the crook has friends in high places. Eyes on the story. Debito in Sapporo

ARTICLE BEGINS
======================================
Human-rights law
Ending impunity: Pinochet’s involuntary legacy
Dec 13th 2006
From The Economist print edition
http://economist.com/world/la/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8418180

MUCH of the commentary after the death of General Augusto Pinochet lamented that he had not been brought to justice for his crimes. Yet that is to miss the most important point. His arrest in London in 1998, and the House of Lords’ subsequent approval of his extradition to Spain on torture charges, marked a watershed in international law. For the first time, a national court had ruled that there could be no immunity for a head of state, serving or retired, for the very worst crimes, even when claimed to be part of his official functions. The fact that the elderly and supposedly ailing general was not in the end extradited did not matter. Thereafter no tyrant could consider himself safe from charges of crimes against humanity.

Until the Pinochet ruling, most had managed to avoid being brought to account. A few, like Mussolini, were shot without legal niceties. Others, like Hitler, took their own lives. Many, including Stalin, Mao Zedong, Franco, Haiti’s “Papa Doc” Duvalier and North Korea’s Kim Il Sung, died in office. Those who were deposed could count on a comfortable exile, like Uganda’s Idi Amin, who died in Saudi Arabia; Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam, exiled since 1991 in Zimbabwe; and Haiti’s Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, who has lived in France for the past 20 years.

That is now changing in ways once seen as inconceivable. In May 1999 Slobodan Milosevic, Serbia’s president, became the first serving head of state since the second world war to be charged with war crimes. He died of a heart attack in The Hague in March, shortly before the end of his trial. Indicted in 2003, Charles Taylor, Liberia’s president, was caught in March and handed over to Sierra Leone’s Special Court (sitting in The Hague). Last month Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s former dictator, was sentenced to death after being convicted of war crimes by a special Iraqi court. This week, Mr Mengistu was found guilty of genocide in absentia.

In Latin America, too, the climate has changed. Last month Juan María Bordaberry, a former Uruguayan dictator, was arrested for the murder of opposition leaders in 1976. Meanwhile, a Mexican court ordered the arrest of a former president, Luis Echeverría, for the massacre of student protesters in 1968. Brazil has just opened its first investigation of past abuses—against the head of São Paulo’s secret police under its 1964-85 dictatorship. The head of Argentina’s former military junta, Jorge Videla, may also soon be in the dock after a 1990 presidential pardon was overturned.

Chile’s Supreme Court is due to rule soon on Peru’s request for the extradition of its former president, Alberto Fujimori, on charges of brutality and corruption. General Pinochet himself had just been put under house arrest—for the fourth time—on charges of torture, kidnapping and murder. Three dozen of his generals have been sentenced or face charges.

Not all of this was the direct result of the House of Lords’ ruling. The end of the cold war had already brought a new focus on human rights. Ad hoc war-crimes tribunals were set up for ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda; the permanent International Criminal Court was founded in 1998. But the Pinochet case set a precedent, and inspired victims around the world, particularly in Latin America, to challenge the amnesties of the 1980s and 1990s that had shielded dictators and their henchmen from prosecution. In the annals of international law, it is for this that General Pinochet will be remembered rather than for his own lucky escape from justice.
ARTICLE ENDS

CRNJapan.com YouTube on Japan’s post-divorce child abductions

mytest

Hello Blog. Forwarding from Eric Kalmus, courtesy of The Community. This is a filmed blurb on the protest in Los Angeles in front of the theater showing documentary “The Yokota Megumi Story”.

Yokota Megumi was kidnapped by North Korea about a generation ago, one of many nationalities abducted and put to work for uncertain reasons by the Kim Regimes. This movie about her has garnered much attention and many high-profile viewings (a good thing, I must stress).

Eric and company are not protesting the creation or presentation of the movie. They are protesting Japan’s lack of consistancy regarding abductions. It’s not alright for Japanese citizens to be kidnapped by a rogue state (of course). But it’s an issue to be glossed over when Japan, as a state, turns a blind eye to parental kidnappings of children by Japanese parents after an international divorce.

By being the only nation in the G7 not to sign the Hague Conventions on Child Abductions, according to crnjapan.com, Japan has become a safe haven. One parent can repatriate the kids on whatever pretenses possible, then cut off all contact with the other parent. Regardless of whether custody has granted by overseas courts to the estranged parent, or Interpol has issued international arrest warrants for these miscreants in Japan. (See the Murray Wood Case at http://www.debito.org/?p=53)

Copious information on these issues at
http://www.crnjapan.com
More referential links at the bottom of this post.

You might find this, a important movie, an odd thing for them (or me) to hitch a wagon to. But this issue of child abductions by Japanese citizens deserves all the attention it can get; I applaud their efforts to speak out. As it stands right now, Japan has no legal joint custody arrangements or enforcement of child visitations.

This situation should be known about and changed ASAP, because a lot of people, particularly children, are getting hurt.

On to Eric’s post:

ERIC KALMUS WRITES:
==================================

I have completed a Japanese Subtitled version of “Abduction is Abduction”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCV8fFaM5Wc

Larger J subtitles at
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2044320198762796529&hl=en

We will be doing an email blast over the next few days to help get the
word out. Please feel free to forward this address to everyone you
know.

In addition if you have not seen the new updated version of Abduction
is Abduction please check it out. There are new scenes, and some old
ones have been removed.

The quality of the film is much better off of the web, so if anyone
would like a copy on DVD please feel free to email me.

Best Regards, Eric Kalmus ekalmus@yahoo.com

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

PERTINENT LINKS

Divorce Statistics in Japan, courtesy of Health Ministry (Japanese)
http://www.debito.org/?p=50

“Divorce in Japan: What a Mess”, Debito.org June 20, 2006
http://www.debito.org/?p=9

“Child Custody in Japan isn’t based on rules”, SF Chronicle Aug 27, 2006
http://www.debito.org/?p=23

Primers on the issue: Japan Times Community Page July 18, 2006, and Debito.org
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060718z1.html
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce
ENDS

“Japanese Only” sign on Okazaki Internet Cafe

mytest

Hello Blog. Just made a revision to the “Rogues’ Gallery” of Exclusionary Establishments–places nationwide in Japan which explicitly restrict or forbid foreign customers entry.

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

Newest entry (the 22nd municipality found yet so far) is from Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture. An Internet cafe, of all things:

Okazaki City (Aichi Prefecture)
Internet Cafe “Dragon BOZ”
Aichi-shi Kakemachi Amigasa 5-1
ドラゴンBOZ
444-0011 岡崎市欠町網笠5-1(かけまちあみがさ)
Ph 0564-22-2051 or 0564-66-1156
http://www.dragonboz.com/main.html info@dragonboz.com

Sign up in English and Portuguese:

http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Okazaki
dragonbozsignsm.jpg
dragonbozfrontsm.jpg

COMMENT FROM THE SUBMITTER: “This Sunday (December 10th, 2006) I went to an internet café relatively close to where I live, since I have no access to the internet during Sundays and I had an urgent mail to send. I translate Japanese children’s books into Swedish in my spare time, and I had a deadline. Lo and behold, a true “foreigners only” at the desk. I was there with a japanese friend, so they said it would be OK for me to enter anyway: they had had some problem with a foreigner who didn’t speak Japanese two months ago, and felt that the sign was in good order to avoid further problems.

“Being a social anthropologist, I chose not to make a fuss over it in their face and instead came back with at tape recorder and actually got an interview with some middle-management boss about the reason for the rule, the café’s view on it and his personal (at least he said so) view. Surprisingly enough he even managed to come up with the “I realize that I would feel bad if I saw a ‘no japanese’ sign abroad” argument himself, but whether or not he was just being polite or not, I don’t know.

“Talking about it with a friend, I got the link to your homepage. It was quite a shock for me to see such a sign for the first time, and it made me feel much worse that I would have guessed.”
===============================

COMMENT: As it should. Pity the feeling didn’t stretch across the divide enough to convince the management that this sort of policy shouldn’t exist.

Hm. Should probably give these people a call and find out what’s on their little minds… Debito in Sapporo

“No Foreigners” signs in South Korea, too

mytest

Hello Blog. Fascinating blog from a South Korean perspective of “Japanese Only”… er… “Koreans Only” signs up on the Chousen Hantou.

http://www.rjkoehler.com/2006/12/13/oh-no-not-the-no-foreigners-in-the-sauna-thing/
(Thanks to Chris for notifying me.)

They link back to debito.org, so returning the favor.

I’m not going to make a habit of bringing in racism in other countries, however relevant, because it fosters arguments of “see, it’s everywhere, so fugeddaboudit”. But I have long gotten the feeling that South Korea (during my many trips there) is kinda like Japan, just in another dimension. And it’s fascinating to see the parallels to Japan that this blog provides from the perspective of people in Korea.

This blog in particular has a higher level of discussion anyway than most I see in Japan. Must be the kimchi. Have a look. Debito in Sapporo

J Times Dec 7 06: UNHCR “Japan cannot stop immigration”, Kyodo same day: Lawsuit argues “unreasonable to prohibit dual-income immigrant families” (updated)

mytest

Hello Blog. File this under the “Resistance is Futile” category, article number 213 or so. The UN has been saying since 2000 (and the PM Obuchi Cabinet agreed) that Japan must allow 600,000 immigrants per year or else. Currently Japan is only taking in about 50,000 registered foreigners net per annum. And those they are taking in, as I have shown in recent previous articles on this blog (http://www.debito.org/?p=105, http://www.debito.org/?p=99), are given horrendous working conditions and slave wages.

UNHCR grumbles about Japan’s lack of official acceptance of immigrants in Japan Times article below. Then Kyodo News same day (follows Japan Times article) gives the case of a Myanmar man denied the ability to make a livelihood. Facing deportation after being caught working full time as a dependent on his wife’s visa, he filed a lawsuit seeking to stay. He argues it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families from having a dual income. Power to him.

Hellooooo? People waking up yet? Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan can’t stop the tide of people: UNHCR chief
By KAREN FOSTER Staff writer
Courtesy of Matt and Steve at The Community
The Japan Times Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20061207f1.html

As more people migrate worldwide, Japan will not be able to stop
immigration, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, saying he was concerned with Japan’s restrictive refugee
acceptance program and treatment of asylum-seekers.

“One key aspect of the 21st century will be people moving, around the
world. And I don’t think any society will be able not to participate
in this situation,” Antonio Guterres told a news conference Monday.

Guterres, on a three-day visit that ended Wednesday, said the U.N.
agency was troubled with all parts of the process to become a refugee
in Japan.

“I’d say we have three main concerns — first, improvement of the
reception of asylum-seekers and of the procedural mechanisms to make
sure that there is an adequate set of decisions in an adequate time
framework and the forms of assistance that are desirable,” he said.
“And the possibility to open one, even if limited, program of
resettlement.”

“We recognize that every country has the right to define its own
migration policy,” Guterres elaborated in an interview Tuesday with
The Japan Times. “Our concern and the concern that is established by
international law is that for instance in these mixed flows of
populations that we are now witnessing all around the world,
independent of migration policies, countries are supposed to grant
protection to the people that need protection. That means physical
access to protection procedures, namely refugee status determination
and the fair treatment of their requirements.”

The ex-Portuguese prime minister came to talk to the Foreign Ministry
about Japan’s refugee assistance overseas, nongovernmental
organizations and to boost ties with the private sector, and to
discuss with the Justice Ministry the treatment of asylum-seekers.

NGOs here complain that despite changes in the immigration law last
year, the government continues to detain asylum-seekers and does not
provide them with adequate services, even after they are declared
refugees.

The UNHCR’s Country Operations Plan 2007 notes that while people are
applying for refugees status here, they do not have the right to work
and get little community support, including free legal service, which
residents can get under the new legal aid system.

While immigration law changes introduced a new appeals review panel
with nonimmigration counselors — appointed by the government — the
UNHCR report says it is still not independent.

Still, Guterres was upbeat about recent developments: “Japan has an
embryonic asylum system, but that is moving with positive steps.”

The number of people who have been given asylum here rose
dramatically in 2005.

The government finished processing 384 asylum applications in 2005.
Of those 46 were recognized as refugees — 15 of them on appeal —
and 97 were issued special resident permits for humanitarian reasons.

This compares with only 15 people recognized as refugees and nine
granted special permits in 2004 out of 426 applications processed.

Janet Lim, head of the UNHCR’s Bureau for Asia and the Pacific who
also was visiting, said the UNHCR had lots of experience helping
nations deal with refugees, and was ready to share its expertise with
Tokyo.

Robert Robinson, UNHCR chief representative for Japan, told the
Monday briefing he hoped talks at the Justice Ministry speed up
introduction of a border-guard training program. “That’s a critical
move for us,” he said.

In addition to Japan’s moral obligation to help people in danger, Lim
said refugees can help countries that need labor, alluding to Japan’s
shrinking labor force.

“They are here anyway and refugees are not just here as a burden,”
she said. “If we were given the possibility to train them and give
them skills, they could be made to fit the labor need of the country.”
ENDS

============================
Suit targets dual-income curbs on immigrants
Kyodo News, Courtesy of Steve at The Community
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

A man from Myanmar facing deportation after being caught working full time
while here as a dependent on his wife’s visa filed a lawsuit Wednesday
seeking to stay, arguing it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families
from having a dual income.

Nangzing Nawlar, 47, currently detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration
Bureau, came to Japan in October 2001 as a dependent of his Myanmarese wife,
who works as an interpreter, according to his lawyer.

Nawlar initially took care of their son but started working longer than the
legally permitted 28 hours a week at a “yakinuku” (grilled meat) restaurant
after their daughter was born in August 2003.

He said his wife’s income alone was no longer sufficient to sustain the
growing family, while the illness of his relative back home also added to
the family’s financial woes.

Immigration authorities discovered in August that he was exceeding the work
limit and issued the deportation order in October.

The focus is on the visa issued to family members of foreign residents who
come to Japan as dependents.

It limits dependents to working only 28 hours a week, which the Myanmarese
man said is discriminatory because foreign-born spouses of Japanese do not
face this limit.

“Although working couples have become common, the (immigration) system
basically banning spouses from working disregards their personal rights and
violates the Constitution,” Nawlar argued in the lawsuit.

“Our marriage will go under without a double income,” he said. “It is
discriminatory to limit the work of spouses who are dependents of foreign
residents when other foreigners can work with no limit if they are spouses
of Japanese.”

Nawlar’s wife, L. Hkawshawng, told a news conference in Tokyo that there are
limits for her to support the family as the number of children increases. “I
cannot possibly sustain the family alone,” she said.
ENDS

===================================
Continuing on that note:

Government tells Iranian family to get out of Japan
Kyodo News, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20061209a7.html
Courtesy of Matt at The Community

Immigration authorities on Friday denied an application by an Iranian
family for a special residence permit to continue living in Japan,
officials said.

The Justice Ministry gave a one-month extension to Amine Khalil, 43,
his 39-year-old wife and their two daughters, aged 18 and 10, to
prepare for their departure.

The ministry told Amine and his wife of its decision at the Tokyo
Regional Immigration Bureau on the final day of their last monthlong
extension, the officials said.

Amine, his wife and their elder daughter came to Japan between 1990
and 1991. The younger daughter was born here in 1996. Settling in
Gunma Prefecture, the family sought a special residence permit,
arguing they would face difficulties if they returned to Iran.

The elder daughter, Maryam, who wants to become a nursery school
teacher, had planned to begin a two-year junior college course in
Gunma in the spring.

She told reporters she wants to continue her life in Japan with her
Japanese friends. The younger daughter, Shahzad, is in elementary
school.

Amine said Japanese is his daughters’ first language and they cannot
speak Farsi, adding they cannot live in Iran.

In 1999, the family applied to immigration authorities for a special
residence permit. The request was denied and the family was ordered
to leave. The Tokyo District Court repealed the deportation order,
but that ruling was overturned by the Tokyo High Court and the
Supreme Court upheld the high court decision.

The Japan Times, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006
ENDS

============================
QUICK COMMENT
Could somebody please explain me what kind of threat this family could possibly pose to the J body politic by being allowed to stay?

Is Immigration (not to mention the Supreme Court) worried that this would set a precedent, creating a tidal wave of immigrants staying on beyond their visas then claiming residency as a fait accompli? I’m not even sure that this phenomenon even applies in this case.

Given the low birthrate and the labor shortage, shouldn’t Japan be to some degree encouraging people with families who want to stay on as immigrants? Debito in Sapporo

Tokyo Shinbun Dec 3 06, article on abuses of foreign Trainees and GOJ’s Kouno Taro policy prescription proposals

mytest

Hi Blog. From the Tokyo Shinbun Dec 3, 2006. Excellent article rounding up the problems and the possible policy prescriptions regarding treatment of foreign labor in Japan.

We’ve been talking about these things for a long time now, especially on debito.org (see one Japan Times article of note at http://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html, and another from the Yomiuri (Dec 5) forbidding Indonesian women workers basic rights, such as wiring money home or using cellphones: http://www.debito.org/?p=99).

Glad to see we have a Dietmember (Kouno Taro) still speaking out about them. Translating the article for your reference. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ARTICLE BEGINS
//////////////////////////////////////////////////
DESPITE PROGRESS, LACK OF DISCUSSION IN THE GOVT
Where is the improved treatment of foreign labor?
NGOs advocate giving workers “free choice of work sector”

JINKEN SERIES 2006
TOKYO SHINBUN, Sunday, December 3, 2006, page 24
Article Courtesy of Dave Spector (thanks, as always)
Quickly translated by Arudou Debito
Japanese original archived at
http://www.debito.org/tokyoshinbun120306.jpg

Foreign workers, which are propping up the Japanese labor force, are gasping under low wages and being roped into doing extra work outside of their contracts. For some time now human rights watchdogs have been getting involved, to the point where finally the government has begun debating how to improve conditions. Both sides show quite a disparity in their views.

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

“The Government is facing up to the problems for foreign labor.” Such praise can be found in the new book “Basic Ideas for Accepting Non-Japanese” (kongou no gaikokujin no ukeire ni kansuru kihonteki na kangaekata), issued last September by the similarly-titled Ministry of Justice Project Team headed by Kouno Taro, former Vice Minister of Justice.

It continues, “In order to continue letting them invigorate the economy, the Government should look into expanding the acceptance of foreign labor in specialized and technical fields, and debate more policies.”

A coalition of NGOs including Solidarity for Migrant Workers Japan (SMJ, or Ijuuren, headed by Watanabe Hidetoshi, URL http://www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net/) is praising this effort. In particular, they are happy that somebody is finally paying attention to a serious problem.

“These people come all the way from developing countries under specialization and trainee programs to learn something to take back home. But all they find when they get here is unskilled labor jobs. This void between true intention and pretenses has created a lot of bitterness and disappointment between non-Japanese labor and the local regions which are hosting them.”

Dietmember Kouno has written on his blog that the current system as it stands is a “almost all one big swindle” (ikasama).

A Chinese male worker receiving assistance from Ijuuren tells the following story about the low wages being offered:

“I come from a farming family, so I came to Japan with the promise of doing agrarian research, but was put to work doing sheet metal. As “Researchers” (kenshuusei) we get 50,000 yen a month, with 300 yen per hour for overtime. “Trainees” (jisshuusei) get 60,000 yen a month and 350 yen per hour for overtime.”

Another Chinese female workers echoes the same:

“Our monthly salary is 120,000 yen, but the air conditioning in our dorm alone is on a lease and costs about 90,000 yen.”

Noting that these cases of abuse of the Trainee and Researcher visa system are too numerous to mention, Ijuuren’s Watanabe angrily points out:

“This is a slavery system making up for the shortfall in Japan’s labor market. It’s a system which grinds people underfoot.”

Based on these miserable facts of the case, the above mentioned “Basic Ideas” book has hammered out the following prescriptions:

— Make it obligatory for companies to pay foreign employees the same wages and enroll them in the same social security programs as Japanese workers.

— Make Japanese language ability a requirement for even those job fields which are not classified as “specialized” or “technical”.

— Make getting Permanent Residency (eijuuken) easier for foreigners who are contributing so much to Japan.

However, experts caution that, “The Government and industrial leaders can’t reconcile how they are going to fill in the void created by the labor shortage. [NB FROM TRANSLATOR: Read: how they’re going to stay domestically competitive in the global market, keeping their industries from relocating overseas, even if they can’t keep importing foreign labor at slave wages.]

“They should be thinking of this from a new angle: How new Japanese residents from overseas are going to revitalize and reenergize Japan. They should consider how to welcome people from overseas as new members of Japan’s society.”

Based upon this manner of thinking, Ijuuren released to the relevant ministries a policy proposal entitled “Towards a Society Co-Existing with Non-Japanese Residents” (gaikokuseki juumin to no kyousei ni mukete) on November 19, 2006.

They proposed the creation of a “Laborer Visa” (roudou biza) as an official condition of residency. As the “freedom of labor movement” guaranteed by the Japanese Constitution also applies to non-Japanese, Ijuuren stressed that, “It is essential that principles of laborer equality regardless of nationality be established.”

There is one more “Basic Idea” of the MOJ Project Team the human rights groups praise:

“The Government must also accept non-Japanese workers with the intent of educating their children the same as Japanese.”

This is because people talk enough about the “duties” (gimu) of foreign laborers, but the book also explicitly states in writing that the foreign children have a “right” (kenri) to compulsory education.

The copious numbers of Brazilian and Peruvian children of laborers in the northern Kanto and Tokai regions are attending schools in Spanish and Portuguese. However, as these educational institutions are not formally acknowledged as “schools” under the Basic Education Law, thus are not eligible for government subsidies (kokko hojo), they operate in poor facilities. If foreign children were to qualify for compulsory education, there would be positive effects.

As the NGOs ask, “Are foreign workers to be seen as people? Or merely as units of labor?”

ENDS

Yomiuri: Factory has foreign worker sign oath not to pray, fast, use cellphone, write letters, wire money home, ride in a car…

mytest

Hello Blog. Interesting article on how Japan’s factories’ abusive practices towards foreign “trainee” workers are coming to light. (I have another article on this subject on this blog at http://www.debito.org/?p=105)

In this case, a Muslim trainee worker has had to sign a “seiyakusho” (a written oath, mildly translated in the article as merely a “note”) promising not only to not pray on the premises or engage in Ramadan fasts, but also not ride in a car, use a cellphone, wire money home, or stay out past 9PM. These are all violations of Japanese labor laws, not to mention international covenants as mentioned in the article below.

The GOJ has already taken some measures (such as practically abolishing the “Entertainer Visa”, used for the sex trades) to abolish some forms of slavery (not an exaggeration, see http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html) in Japan. Now let’s see if the government can hold more employers accountable for these emerging abuses, which they probably couldn’t foist on Japanese workers. Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Factory denies Muslim basic human rights
The Yomiuri Shimbun Dec 5, 2006

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20061205TDY02007.htm
Original Japanese article at very bottom of this blog entry, courtesy Dave Spector

A sewing factory in eastern Japan required an Indonesian Muslim trainee to sign a note promising to forgo praying five times a day and Ramadan fasting as a condition of her employment, The Yomiuri Shimbun learned Monday.

The firm also prohibited her from owning a cell phone and exchanging letters.

The Justice Ministry suspect the firm’s practice infringes on the woman’s human rights in violation of its guidelines for accepting trainees, which is based on the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

According to the note written both in Japanese and Indonesian, the factory prohibited the woman from worshipping on the firm’s property and fasting while in Japan.

She was also prohibited from exchanging letters domestically, sending money to her family or traveling in vehicles.

In addition, she had a curfew of 9 p.m. at her dormitory and was not allowed to invite friends there.

According to the Advocacy Network for Foreign Trainees, a Tokyo-based support group, the factory asked the woman, who is in her 20s, to sign the note when she came to Japan three years ago.

Although she was not notified about the conditions until she was asked to sign the note, she had no choice but to sign since she had paid a lot of money to come to Japan.

About 10 Indonesian trainees are reportedly working at the plant.

Based on the Koran, Muslims pray five times a day facing Mecca, the Islamic holy place in Saudi Arabia, and refrain from eating, drinking and smoking from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which is in September in the Muslim calender.

The woman trainee told the network that she was not allowed to worship even during breaks, and that the other trainees at her factory also signed similar promissory notes.

“The prohibitions were likely enforced in the service of two aims: raising worker efficiency and prevent them from escaping,” a person in the network said.

According to the ministry’s guidelines, firms that infringe on the human rights of foreign trainees will be banned from accepting trainees.

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee freedom of religion and expression, and freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds.

Amnesty International Japan criticized the factory’s lack of knowledge on human rights issues and said it was a prime example of the problems with the central government’s foreign trainee program.

Of about 83,000 foreign trainees who came to the nation last year, about 4,800 were Indonesians. In Indonesia, 87 percent of the population is Muslim.

(Yomiuri Shinbun Dec. 5, 2006)

=========================
Original Japanese article

東日本の縫製工場、イスラム教徒研修生に「礼拝禁止」

 外国人研修・技能実習制度で来日したイスラム教徒のインドネシア人女性の受け入れ条件として、東日本の縫製工場が日に5回の礼拝や断食を禁止する誓約書 に署名させていたことが、わかった。

 読売新聞が入手した誓約書では、宗教行為のほか、携帯電話の所持や外出など生活全般を厳しく制限している。

 法務省は、入管難民法に基づく同省指針や国際人権規約に反した人権侵害行為の疑いがあるとしている。

 誓約書は、禁止事項として〈1〉会社の敷地内でのお祈り〈2〉国内滞在中の断食〈3〉携帯電話の所持〈4〉手紙のやり取り〈5〉家族への送金〈6〉乗り 物での外出——の6項目のほか、午後9時までに寮に帰宅、寮に友人を招かないという2項目の「規則」も明記している。
(読売新聞) – 12月4日17時24分更新
ENDS

Asahi Dec 1 06: Osaka High Court rules Juki Net unconstitutional. OK, how about Gaijin Cards, then? (with update)

mytest

Hi Blog. Interesting legal precedent set here about constitutional rights to privacy. Hm. What the plaintiffs probably fear happening to them happens on a daily basis to foreigners in this country, who are also supposed to be covered by the Constitution.

More comment afterwards.

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Court, citing privacy, orders data cut from Juki Net
12/01/2006 THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200612010166.html

OSAKA–The high court here ruled Thursday that the “Juki Net” residence registration network infringes on people’s right to privacy if they oppose the system.

For four plaintiffs, it ordered the code that allows access to their data to be taken off the network.

However, it rejected claims for individual compensation of 50,000 yen by 12 other plaintiffs.

Presiding Judge Shogo Takenaka said: “The Juki Net has defects that cannot be ignored in terms of protecting personal information. Applying it to residents who don’t want their personal details on the network is against Article 13 of the Constitution that guarantees the right to privacy.”

The court’s decision is the first by a high court. It overturns an earlier ruling by the Osaka District Court.

The lawsuit was filed by 16 residents from the Osaka prefectural cities of Toyonaka, Suita, Minoo, Moriguchi and Yao.

A number of lawsuits have been filed around the country over the system that started in August 2002.

Each resident is given an 11-digit code and data covers name, address, date of birth and sex.(IHT/Asahi: December 1,2006)
ARTICLE ENDS
////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: Well, how about that. People all up in arms due to a possible infringement on privacy? And even the courts say that is a serious concern, enough to rule that the holding of this information without permission is unconstitutional?

Fine. But this release of personal information to outside parties (police, hotels, employers, video store clerks…) happens on a daily basis to foreigners in Japan, thanks to their very own version of the “Juki Net”–the Gaijin Card. This is something that follows them around, too. They hafta carry their Gaijin Cards 24 hours a day and show them to certain officials upon request, or face arrest and criminal prosecution.

Given this ruling, how about foreigners’ rights to privacy, now?

I am aware that foreigners have fewer rights in any country (such as lack of suffrage). But protection of privacy and from unwarranted police harrassment is not axiomatically something which needs to be made contingent upon holding citizenship.

Police and public officials must have probable cause before investigating people in public in Japan. That is enshrined in law (Keisatsukan Shokumu Shikkou Hou) with no exception made for extranationality. If you don’t have probable cause, that’s an infringement of privacy, something even the Japanese courts yesterday made clear is inviolate under the Japanese Constitution. And sorry, folks, Constitutional guarantees apply to people in Japan regardless of citizenship.

I am also aware that the laws contradict themselves–that under the Foreign Registry Law (Gaitouhou), police can stop anybody at any time who looks foreign and probably get away with it. But which trumps here? One law (and a court ruling) which says privacy is inviolate without permission and probable cause? Or a law which enables random and wanton Gaijin Card checks by certain officials, and is so easily abused by those officials (and the people they suddenly deputize) that it leads to racial profiling and harrassment of even Japanese citizens? Precisely those things that the Japanese Constitution is supposed to protect against?

Would be interesting if somebody were to take this to court and let them decide. (Hey, don’t look at me. I don’t even have a Gaijin Card anymore.)

Now just in case you’re seeing molehills here, a couple of links:

=================================
Abuse of the law by public officials: “CHECKPOINT AT CHECK-IN; Laws are still being bent by authorities to target ‘foreigners'”. By Arudou Debito, Japan Times, October 13, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html

Pertinent laws and how to enforce them yourself:
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html
=================================
ENDS

COMMENT FROM CYBERSPACE:
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
The laws do not conflict. If the Gaitouhou conflicted with the
Constitution it would be null and void, the Constitution being the
supreme law of the land (article 98).

In applying the above case to argue that foreigners should be
protected from intrusive IC chips and gaijin card checks, the issue is
a conflict between 1.) the right to privacy, and 2.) our presence in
Japan, which is not a right and can be denied and regulated. Nowhere
in the constitution does it say you have the right to enter Japan or
live here. Entrance and reentry into this country is at the
immigration bureau’s discretion, and your visa and right to be here is
at the discretion of the state. (For real diehards, this issue was on
this year’s bar exam: year H.18, question 2!
http://www.moj.go.jp/SHIKEN/dainiji_shiken.html )
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

I REPLY:
— In cyberspace, someone wrote:
>The laws do not conflict. If the Gaitouhou conflicted with the
>Constitution it would be null and void, the Constitution being the
>supreme law of the land (article 98).

Yes, if somebody challenged it in court. I’m not sure anyone has. That’s precisely the point
of my post. It’s an interesting question, in light of this recent ruling on privacy rights and
public registration. Anyone want to challenge the Gaijin Card in court? I can’t. Debito
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

FRIEND REPLIES:
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
“Gaijin” card checks have been regularly upheld by the courts, most
recently in a 1997 case where the Supreme Court said a confirmation
system (kakunin seido) as defined in the Foreign Registration Law, for
the purpose of assuring proper foreign registration of non-citizens
(nihon kokuseki wo yuu shinai mono) does not violate the 13th or 14th
Articles of the Constitution. (Sorry, I’m on a docuview program and
can’t provide a link or file, but the case citation is: H.9/11/17 –
H6(a) 687-go. Ruling of the First Petty Bench of the Supreme Court
[saikosai daiichi shouhoutei hanketsu]).

Here’s where the Osaka case may help: if evidence shows that the new
IC card system for foreign registration cards can be exploited and
personal information can be stolen. After all, the fingerprinting
(shimon ounatsu) was removed from the foreigner registration cards on
the grounds that Article 13’s privacy rights did extend to foreigners,
and the state could not take fingerprints from citizens or foreigners
without a just reason.

A google search turned up a short blurb on the case here.
http://www.geocities.co.jp/HeartLand-Keyaki/4352/hanrei/finger.html

Actually, this whole site is a nice collection of court rulings
related to the rights of non-citizens in Japan.
http://www.geocities.co.jp/HeartLand-Keyaki/4352/

Flipping through those links, it’s a catalog of pretty scary stuff.
If this collection doesn’t terrify those of you eligible into
naturalizing, nothing will.

Regarding the legal definition of the right to privacy in Japan:

There is no enumerated right to privacy in the Japanese Constitution.
Article 13 guarantees A.) respect of the individual and B.) the right
to pursue happiness, both to the extent that these two rights do not
oppose the public welfare.

The right to privacy has been inferred to exist from Article 13, but
its definition is defined as:
1.) the right to not have your personal lifestyle (shi seikatsu)
disclosed; or
2.) the right to control information regarding one’s person.

A successful case on right to privacy grounds must argue within the
scope of one of those definitions.

Speaking of which, consider this: the right to privacy was “created”
by the Japanese Supreme Court in 1961 (look at the defendant who lost)
http://www.kyoto-su.ac.jp/~suga/hanrei/10-1.html on a broad
interpretation of Article 13 and respect of the individual; the US
Supreme Court created on the grounds that the “penumbras” of the
Constitution implicitly grants a right to privacy against government
intrusion (in the case Griswold v. Connecticut). Interesting how
Japanese and US law was parallel in that regard. And it wasn’t the
first or last time. More on that in person some time.
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
End

NEWS FLASH
Courtesy of Kyodo News (Thanks Chris)

Monday, Dec. 4, 2006
Juki Net judge in apparent suicide

OSAKA (Kyodo) An Osaka High Court judge died Sunday morning in his
Hyogo Prefecture home in an apparent suicide four days after handing
down a landmark ruling on the controversial resident registry system.

Shogo Takenaka, 64, was the presiding judge when the high court ruled
Thursday that listing people on the Juki Net national resident
registry network without their consent is unconstitutional.

The court, citing a request from his family, did not comment on how
Takenaka died at his home in the city of Takarazuka. But police
sources said he was found hanged in the second floor of the house at
around 9 a.m. and was later confirmed dead.

The ruling, reversing a February 2004 decision by the Osaka District
Court, is expected to affect other lawsuits filed by people opposing
the nationwide network connecting local governments’ databases of
residents. Non-Japanese are covered by a separate registry.

Takenaka ruled that including residents in Juki Net who are opposed to
the system and want their data deleted violates the right to privacy
guaranteed by the Constitution. The high court, acting on a suit filed
by 16 residents of Osaka Prefecture, ordered three city governments to
delete resident registry codes and data on four of the plaintiffs.

A native of Hyogo Prefecture, Takenaka became an assistant judge in
1970 and served on the high court since September 2004.

ends

朝日:住基ネット「同意なければ違憲」。じゃあ「外人カード」は?

mytest

ブログの皆様、こんばんは。朝日からの記事です。私からのコメントは記事の下です。

///////////////////////////
住基ネット「同意なければ違憲」 大阪高裁が削除命令
2006年11月30日23時53分
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/1130/OSK200611300070.html

 住民基本台帳ネットワーク(住基ネット)に生年月日などの個人情報を接続されてプライバシーを侵害されたとして、大阪府内5市の住民16人が各市を相手取り、本人確認情報の提供禁止などを求めた訴訟の控訴審判決が30日、大阪高裁であった。竹中省吾裁判長は「住基ネットには個人情報保護対策で無視できない欠陥があるうえ、提供を拒否する住民に運用することはプライバシー権を保障した憲法13条に違反する」と判断。原告の請求を棄却した一審・大阪地裁判決を変更し、同府箕面、吹田、守口3市の住民4人の住民票コードを同ネットから削除するよう命じた。

 1人当たり5万円の損害賠償のみを求めた12人の訴えは退けた。02年8月に稼働が始まった住基ネットをめぐる訴訟は各地で起こされているが、違憲と認定し、住民側が勝訴した判決は05年5月の金沢地裁判決以来2件目。高裁レベルでは初めて。

 判決はまず、自己のプライバシー情報の取り扱いについて自己決定する権利(自己情報コントロール権)は憲法で保障されているプライバシー権の重要な一つになっているとし、住基ネットが扱う氏名、生年月日、性別、住所の4情報について「私生活上の平穏が侵害される具体的危険がある場合は、自己情報コントロール権が侵害されたことになり、本人確認情報の利用の差し止めはできる」との判断を示した。

 情報漏洩(ろうえい)の危険性については、自治体でセキュリティー対策が施されるなど具体的な漏洩の危険は認められないとしたが、個人情報を利用する国の事務が270種を超えて拡大し続けている現状などを指摘。行政機関が住民票コードをマスターキーのように使い、個人情報が際限なく集積・結合されて利用されていく危険性があるなど、住基ネットの制度自体に欠陥があると断定した。

 こうした欠陥が主原因となり、「多くの個人情報が本人の予期しないところで利用される危険があり、住民の人格的自律を著しく脅かす危険をもたらす」と述べた。

 04年2月の一審判決は「個人情報保護のための種々の措置がとられており、危険なシステムとは認められない」として、同府内の8市の住民計58人の損害賠償請求を退けた。このうち16人が控訴していた。
ENDS

=======================
有道 出人よりコメント:

 住基ネットが個人許可なしでプライバシーの侵害であるならば、24時間常時携帯の「外人カード」(外国人登録証明書)なども違憲でしょうかね。このような情報プラスアルファが載っているカードは戦後でずっと実施され、外国人からいつでも警察官などに要求され携帯しないと刑事法で逮捕となります。

 例えば、英字新聞「ジャパンタイムズ」2005年10月18日記載:「チェックインの際、外人チェックポイント。厚生労働省が法を乱用」旅館業法改定「日本国内に住所を持たない外国人はパスポート掲示」は当局「全ての外国人を」と曲解し、米国大使館からも訂正の指示を無視して謝った通知を 全国のホテルに発行(有道 出人著)
http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805j.html
 
 きっとこういう風になることで人々が住基ネットに反対でありましょうね。しかし、日本国憲法は国籍を問わず日本国内の全ての人々の権利を守りますが、外国人は同様にプライバシーはありませんか。

 この問題のダブルスタンダードをご検討下さい。宜しくお願い致します。有道 出人

J Today Nov 30 06 Disabled Pakistani naturalized Japanese, barred from boarding Sendai bus, wins damages

mytest

Hi Blog. No comment for now, as I’m on the road. Anybody else find some articles on this? Have the Kyodo article in Japanese blogged before this. Debito

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

Disabled Pakistani, barred from boarding Sendai bus, wins damages
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/391965
Thursday, November 30, 2006 at 15:11 EST

SENDAI — The Sendai District Court ordered the local city government
to pay 550,000 yen in compensation to a Pakistani-born physically
disabled man for a city-run bus’s refusal to board him in 2003,
recognizing the treatment as a form of racial and disability
discrimination. “The driver did treat him implicitly in a
discriminatory manner on the grounds of a difference in ethnicity and
the handicap,” Judge Yoshiko Hatanaka said.

The 60-year-old man, who has paralysis on the left side of his body,
tried to take the bus in Sendai in October 2003. The Sendai city
government had argued that the driver thought that the man was
checking the timetable at the bus stop when he started the bus and so
the move was not a discriminatory action, but the judge said, “The
driver’s testimonies have changed and cannot be trusted.”
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////////////////
JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE

Friday, Dec. 1, 2006
Disabled man left at bus stop wins bias suit
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20061201a7.html

SENDAI (Kyodo) The Sendai District Court ordered the city Thursday to pay 550,000 yen in redress to a Pakistani-born disabled man who was denied a ride on a city bus in 2003, ruling the snub constituted discrimination against his race and disability.

“The driver treated him implicitly in a discriminatory manner on the grounds of a difference in ethnicity and the handicap,” Judge Yoshiko Hatanaka said, ruling the treatment hence violates the Constitution, which stipulates equality under the law, and the international treaty against racial discrimination that Japan has ratified.

The Sendai government is considering appealing the decision, city officials said.

The plaintiff, 60, who is paralyzed on the left side, tried to take the bus to meet with a friend visiting from Pakistan in October 2003. He is now a Japanese national.

The bus stopped about 22 meters past the stop where he was waiting. He boarded once and asked the driver to wait so he could go back to the stop and retrieve his luggage, and the driver had reportedly agreed. But once the man left the bus, it drove off.

The Japan Times

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006

mytest

Good evening all. Recent articles on my blog have reached saturation point, so here’s a roundup:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27, 2006
This post is organized thusly:

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL
2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”
3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT
4) J TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE ED
5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO
6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER
7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT
and finally…
8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

This and future material available in real time by subscription at
http://www.debito.org/index.php

1) OTARU ONSENS CASE NOW TEACHING MATERIAL

The Otaru Onsens Case (http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html) refuses to fade into obscurity, thank goodness. Still, the facts of the case are being increasingly bleached out as time goes on. Witness how in this English teaching book discussing the case for educational purposes:

From “Shift the Focus”, Lesson 4: “Discrimination, or Being Japanese…?” pp 18-21, on the Otaru Onsens Case. Sanshusha Pubilshing Co., Ltd. February, 2006. Written by Colin Sloss.

After developing the case to make it appear as if I was doing this all on my own, the dialog continues:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Some foreigners who had been living in Japan for a long time, lets [sic] call them “old Japan hands,” objected to the claim that this was discrimination and should be stopped. Their argument, as I understand it, was that trying to make Japan like other countries would, in fact, make Japan less distinct and more ordinary. Japan, as it is now (regardless of any problems it may possess, such as discrimination and racism), should be appreciated because of its uniqueness. Ultimately, this argument is romantic, condescending and resistant to the globalization of Japan. Lafcadio Hearn could be said to represent an extreme of this kind of thinking. During the late Meiji Period, Hearn was strongly against the Westernization of Japan, which he feared would destroy the charms of old Japan. Such hopes, though understandable, tend to be disappointed with the changing times.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire dialog at http://www.debito.org/?p=88

COMMENT:
While I am happy that the issue has been condensed and replicated for future discussion in an educational setting, I wish the author could have gotten a little closer to the facts of the case. Perhaps included the fact that there was more than one Plaintiff in the case (Olaf and Ken), not just me alone.

I also think he should take less seriously the intellectual squirrelling afforded those postulating pundits he calls “old Japan hands”, found chattering away on places like NBR. They are hardly representative of the foreign resident community in Japan, the proprortionally-shrinking English-language community in Japan, or of anything at all, really. Except perhaps old grouches and bores.

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

2) GAIJIN CARD CHECKS OUTSIDE “SAKURA HOUSE”

Received a mail (I get a lot of these, especially on weekends) from people wanting some advice. This time, a person named Alisa told me about how cops keep hanging out outside the “gaijin guesthouses” of Sakura House (http://www.sakura-house.com) essentially to snare foreigners (this is not the first time I’ve heard about this, by the way):

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Anyway this morning I was stopped by three men in black jackets (windbreakers) and one of them flashed me a badge. They asked me if I had my “card”. Even though I had read your article, I was running late for work and was extremely frazzled at being approached like that. I could feel my Japanese fumbling but did manage to ask “nan de desuka?”. They told me that they had heard that some sakura house people had overstayed their visa and were “just checking”. They went to far as to ask my room number and whether I lived alone. They made double sure to check the address on the back of my card and sent me on my way. I was very insulted and humiliated at being stopped like that…
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Entire email at http://www.debito.org/?p=86

Alisa even took the trouble to print up copies of the law regarding these instant checkpoints for the benefit of fellow residents
(see http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#gaijincard)
and to contact Sakura House about the harassment.

Well, let the hand-washing preclude any hand-wringing. Response from Sakura House:

======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE BEGINS ===============
Dear Ms. Alisa West
Thank you very much for your staying at Sakura House.

In fact, Japanese police officer or imigration [sic] officer has a right to check your passport, visa status and alien registration card. If they ask you to show your passport, you have to show it to them. This is a leagal [sic] action. They do that kind of inspection without informing.

With best regards,
Takuya Takahashi
======== SAKURA HOUSE RESPONSE ENDS ===============

Pity Mr Takahashi doesn’t know the law better. It’s not quite that simple. So much for helping out his renters.

As I’m sure I’ll get nitpickers with short memories or attention spans thinking this is much ado, a few reminders from the record accumulating on debito.org:

Re the developing tendency towards racial profiling in Japan:
“Here comes the fear: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents”
Japan Times May 24, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes052405.html

“Justice system flawed by presumed guilt
Rights advocates slam interrogation without counsel, long detentions”
The Japan Times: Oct. 13, 2005
http://www.debito.org/japantimes102305detentions.html

An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system: presumption of guilt, extreme police powers of detention, jurisprudential incentives for using them, lack of transparency, records or accountability during investigation, and a successful outcome of a case hinging on arrest and conviction, not necessarily on proving guilt or innocence. This has long since reached an extreme: almost anything that goes to trial in a Japanese criminal court results in a conviction.

Point: You do not want to get on the wrong side of the Japanese police, although riding a bicycle, walking outside, renting an apartment etc. while foreign seems more and more to incur police involvement.

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

3) UPDATE ON KITAKYUSHU EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT

At the beginning of this month, I told you about a restaurant in Kitakyushu which refuses service to foreigners. I was tipped off by a victim at a JALT national conference, and sure enough, I too was initially refused service as well. More details at http://www.debito.org/?p=69

Well, after sending letters on November 9 to the Kitakyushu Mayor, the tourism board, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local newspaper, and JALT Central, I am pleased to report that I have had official responses.

The City International Affairs Desk (kokusai kouryuu bu) called me on November 20 to tell me that they had called the restaurant in question and straightened things out. No longer, they were assured, would foreigners be refused there.

The Bureau of Human Rights also called me on November 19 to get some more facts of the case. They would also be looking into them. “Go give them some keihatsu,” I urged them. They said they would.

Now, all we need is a letter from the Mayor’s Office and/or from JALT Central and we have a hat trick. I appreciate the concern given this matter (I have known many Bureaus of Human Rights, such as Sapporo’s, which couldn’t give a damn–even if it’s something as clearly discriminatory as the Otaru Onsens Case). Probably should write this up as a website later on to give people templates on how to work through administrative channels to deal with discrimination. Sure would help if we had a law against this sort of thing, though…

On that note:

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

4) JAPAN TIMES ON TOURISM PROMOTION, WITH LETTER TO THE EDITOR

On November 10, Kyodo reported that Japan is going to add to Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign to bring over more tourists from Europe:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan–Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights…

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=87

That’s fine. But as a friend of mine pointed out in a letter he got published in the Japan Times:

============== LETTER BEGINS ====================
Obstacle to increased tourism
By HIDESATO SAKAKIBARA, Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061119a6.html

Regarding the Nov 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”:

While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing–the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japanユs many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?”
============== LETTER ENDS =====================

Well done. We need more people pointing out this fact as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but I say it so often (and alone) that to some I probably sound like a health warning on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks for doing so, Hidesato.

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5) TBS: FUJIWARA NORIKA BUMPS ARUDOU DEBITO

No, it’s not what you might think. I reported last newsletter that TBS noontime program “Pinpon” would be doing a segment on Nov 18, regarding Internet BBS and frequent host of libel “2-Channel” (http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html). Thought the issue had reached a saturation point. Hell, they even flew up a producer and hired a camera crew on a moment’s notice all the way up to Sapporo just for an interview.

Well, guess what–the story got bumped for extended segments on Clint Eastwood’s new movie on Iwo Jima and supermodel Fujiwara Norika’s on-again/off-again engagement to some dork, er, nice guy.

Anyhoo, I called up the producer again ten days later. She says that the network wants a response from 2-Channel’s Administrator Defendant Nishimura Hiroyuki before airing. They’re still waiting for a response, unsurprisingly.

Ah well, that’s it then. Nishimura communicates with the press only by blog, as a recent story in AERA (http://www.debito.org/?p=48) indicates. He’s not going to make a TV appearance on this.

Meanwhile, the story cools, by design. S o might as well assume the TV spot is cancelled. Sigh. Sorry to inflict lunchtime TV on you, everyone.

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6) KYODO: MOCK JURY TRIAL SPRINGS FOREIGN MANSLAUGHTERER

This was sent to me by a reporter friend which caused bewilderment in both him and me.

Japan will be reinstituting trial by jury (they had it before between 1928 and 1943, according to Wikipedia entry for 陪審制) in 2009. This will be for criminal cases, and there will be six laypeople and three judges on the jury (given the GOJ’s nannying instincts, you can’t trust the people with too much power, after all).

Kyodo reported extensively on Nov 23 about a mock trial to test the system. But what an intriguing test case to use:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Citizen judges on Thursday came out with a mixed verdict on a Briton, who was indicted for bodily injury resulting in death, at a mock trial in Osaka.

Paul Lennon, 36-year-old English teacher, stood trial at the mimic court, sponsored by the Osaka Bar Association, on the assumption that he kicked a Japanese man because he thought the man had assaulted a woman, although the man was just caring for his drunken girlfriend. The man died after falling down on a street and hitting his head…

Some citizen judges argued the defendant’s act was excessive as he should have realized its danger as a karate master, while others said it was not excessive, based on testimony of the witness that the victim collapsed dizzily, arguing that he would have fallen fast if the karate grade-holder had kicked him hard.

While the citizen judges did not reach a consensus, Takashi Maruta, a professor at Kwansei Gakuin University law school, said after observing the conference, “The mock trial showed ordinary citizens can develop reasonable and persuasive debates.”
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=83

I don’t know what the Osaka Bar Association is anticipating by putting a foreigner on mock trial like this, but there you have it. My reporter friend writes:

“Not sure what to make of this. Should I be disappointed that they chose a foreigner as the defendant in their mock trial or pleased that the jury didn’t necessarily lock him up and throw away the key just because he wasn’t Japanese?”

Quite. A real head scratcher. Anyway, what odd things make the news. With all the events jockeying for your attention, why so much space devoted to this highly-contrived fake court case? And I fail to see how this is any harbinger of the future of Japanユs upcoming jury system. Surely they could have come up with a more average case to test a jury with?

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7) JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ON ACADEMIC EMPLOYMENT

I mentioned the JALT meeting above. Our interest group PALE (http://www.debito.org/PALE) held a roundtable on Nov 3 to discuss future employment issues in Japan’s academia. Panelists were Jonathan Britten, Michael “Rube” Redfield, Pat O’Brien, Evan Heimlich, and Ivan Hall. Introduction to a collation I made of the event:

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
Continuing the Roundtable forum that packed the hall at JALT 2005, five PALE members paneled a meeting to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the conference’s theme of “Community, Identity, and Motivation”. All presentations touched in some way upon employment issues, including issues of job security, union representation, the relationship of nationality to job description and employment terms, and the growing role of dispatch teaching arrangements in Japanese universities. They dealt explicitly or implicitly with the proper roles and responsibilities of PALE and JALT in managing these issues.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Full writeup at http://www.debito.org/?p=80

and finally…

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8) WASH POST: GOJ CREATING SUSHI POLICE FOR OVERSEAS J FOOD

This article is making the rounds of the communities out there (at least three people have sent me the link), so I’ll forward this on to fill the gaps.

Yes, the Japanese Government will be establishing a bonafide committee to police the quality and authenticity of Japanese food restaurants overseas.

======== EXCERPT BEGINS ===================
TOKYO – On a recent business trip to Colorado, Japan’s agriculture minister popped into an inviting Japanese restaurant with a hankering for a taste of back home. What Toshikatsu Matsuoka found instead was something he considered a high culinary crime–sushi served on the same menu as Korean-style barbecued beef.

“Such a thing is unthinkable,” he said. “Call it what you will, but it is not a Japanese restaurant.”

A fast-growing list of gastronomic indignities–from sham sake in Paris to shoddy sashimi in Bangkok–has prompted Japanese authorities to launch a counterattack in defense of this nation’s celebrated food culture. With restaurants around the globe describing themselves as Japanese while actually serving food that is Asian fusion, or just plain bad, the government here announced a plan this month to offer official seals of approval to overseas eateries deemed to be “pure Japanese.”…

A trial run of sorts was launched this summer in France, where secret inspectors selected by a panel of food specialists were dispatched to 80 restaurants in Paris that claimed to serve Japanese cuisine. Some establishments invited the scrutiny, while others were targeted with surprise checks. About one-third fell short of standards–making them ineligible to display an official seal emblazoned with cherry blossoms in their windows or to be listed on a government-sponsored Web site of Japanese restaurants in Paris.
======== EXCERPT ENDS ===================
Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=84

I think you can imagine where I’ll be going with my comment on this, but anyway:

Certification as “real” and “pure Japanese”, hmmm? Sort of like the beauty contests in the Japanese community in Hawaii I read about a decade ago open only to people with “pure Japanese blood”?

Anyway, I know Japan is a nation of foodies, but fighting against overseas restaurants tendency towards “fusion food”? Especially since, as the article notes, so much of Japanese food is from overseas, anyway? Tenpura, castella, fried chicken (“zangi” where I come from), even ramen!

And what if J restaurants innovate, and want to offer something from another country on the menu (such a Chinese or a Vietnamese dish)? Will it have to be offered in J restaurants first in Japan before it can be offered in J restaurants overseas as “authentic Japanese cuisine”? Silly, silly, silly.

This culinary Balkanization seems to be yet another way to give some retired OBs some work after retirement. What better way than for them to take money from either the restaurants or the J taxpayer than by offering the good ol’ “certifications”?

Anyway, food for thought. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

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

That’ll do it for this newsletter. Thanks for reading.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 27 2006 ENDS

J Times Nov 10 06 on tourism promotion, with great Letter to the Ed Nov 19

mytest

Hi Blog. Here is an article about another promotion to bring more foreigners over to Japan to spend money as tourists (remember Koizumi’s “Yokoso Japan” campaign?), specifically mentioning onsen as one of the places they want more foreigners to frequent.

Funny they should mention onsens. Friend Hidesato Sakakibara makes a great rejoinder in a Letter to the Editor, questioning the effectiveness of such a campaign when there is no law to protect their rights from racial discrimination once tourists get here.

For the record, the article, Hidesato’s rejoinder, and a comment from me with some links follow.

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

Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans
The Japan Times, Friday, Nov. 10, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20061110b2.html
By WILLIAM HOLLINGWORTH

LONDON (Kyodo) In an effort to woo younger European travelers, Japanese tourism officials launched a campaign highlighting the country’s contribution to contemporary arts and culture.

Staff at the Japan National Tourist Organization are also hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many “onsen” (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.

The campaign “Cool Japan — Fusion with Tradition” officially kicked off at this week’s World Travel Market in London, an annual trade fair that attracts more than 5,000 exhibitors. This year, 202 countries will be there.

The latest promotion follows the successful “Visit Japan Campaign” in Europe in 2003, which helped boost number of tourists traveling to Japan. Britain currently sends the most visitors to Japan from Europe, followed by Germany and France.

As part of the “Cool Japan” campaign, staff are sending out brochures on “manga” (comic books) and animation-related attractions, along with information on Japan’s cutting-edge architectural sights.

This year’s exhibit also highlights the country’s fashion designers and high-tech gadgetry. The information has been compiled into a booklet in association with the Time Out magazine, which has a young readership.

With Japan, however, it’s not all about what’s new and trendy.

This year, representatives from a ryokan are on hand to advise travel agents and tour operators on how to promote traditional forms of leisure. Many Europeans do not think of Japan as place to relax and staff at JNTO are keen to change that.

Kylie Clark, public relations manager at JNTO in London, said the campaign was launched “to make people aware that Japan is much more than geisha, sumo, gardens, temples and Mount Fuji.”

“Through the campaign we wish to highlight that Tokyo, along with New York, Paris and London, is now one of the world’s leading cities when it comes to trends in foods, fashion and popular culture.”

Clark said the aim of the campaign was to “diversify” the types of travelers going to Japan. Currently, the main market is couples over 50 with an interest in Japanese traditional culture such as gardens and temples. JNTO hopes to attract more young couples, singles and families with this year’s promotion. It has already been running an “underground” ad campaign for several weeks.

And in an effort to attract the younger market, JNTO is also promoting the country’s ski resorts. After a series of good reviews by British journalists who tested Japan’s slopes, several tour operators are offering holidays to Japan next year.

JNTO is also keen to encourage more visits by British students and will soon be releasing a booklet they hope will make it easier to set up exchanges between educational institutions in the two countries. (The Japan Times)

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

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
READERS IN COUNCIL
Obstacle to increased tourism

By HIDESATO SAKAKIBARA
Jamaica, New York
The Japan Times, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/rc20061119a6.html

Regarding the Nov. 10 article “Japan works on a makeover to attract more Europeans”: While it is admirable to see the the Japan National Tourist Organization making efforts to draw more foreign tourists, our government officials are omitting one important thing — the promulgation of a law making it illegal to discriminate on the basis of race or nationality.

The article states that JNTO staff are “hoping to attract spa-lovers by promoting Japan’s many onsens (hot springs) and Buddhist retreats.” But what about the many onsen that refuse entry to those who don’t look Japanese (including Japanese citizens)? What impression will “young tourists” get when they seek to enter discriminatory bars, hotels, discos, pubs (izakaya) and other spots only to be greeted with the words “Japanese Only?” (The Japan Times)

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

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO

Well done, Hidesato. We need more people pointing this fact out as often as possible. I keep on doing it, but to some I say it so often (and alone) I probably sound like a warning about cancer on a cigarette box. If others say it as well, it makes the message come from more quarters, and increases credibility (i.e. I’m not just a lonely voice out in the wilderness).

I encourage everyone to keep pointing out the elephant in the room thusly. Thanks again, Hidesato! Debito

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

PERTINENT LINKS:

The “Yokoso Japan” Campaign, official site
http://www.japanwelcomesyou.com/cssweb/

Essay for Miyakodayori (May 23, 2003) on Japan’s nacent tourism drive
http://www.debito.org/miyakodayori70.html

Identical irony pointed out by The Guardian (Manchester):
“Suspicious minds: Japan is hoping to boost foreign investment and tourism by promoting the country as a land of hospitality. However, institutional racism and the media’s tendency to blame foreigners for rising crime means many visitors find themselves less than welcome?”
THE GUARDIAN By Justin McCurry Wednesday March 10, 2004
http://www.debito.org/immigrationsnitchsite.html#grauniad

Otaru Onsens Case
http://www.debito.org/otarulawsuit.html

Photo gallery of places which refuse foreigners entry:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html
ENDS

Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant: Calls from City Int’l Affairs Desk and Bureau of Human Rights

mytest

Hello Blog.  Returning home tomorrow after a long four days on the road, with three days of eight-hour classes on Debate to about 65 students in Nagoya.  Gave a speech today at Japan Women’s University in Tokyo.  Nice crowd.  Writing you from an internet cafe in Shinjuku.

Updating the Kitakyushu exclusionary restaurant issue a few weekends ago (see http://www.debito.org/?p=69), I got a call this afternoon from the Kitakyushu City International Affairs Desk (kokusai kouryuu bu), who got the letter I sent to the tourism desk. 

They said that they called the restaurant in question and got an assurance from the manager that this sort of thing will not happen again.  Very good.  Thanks.  Glad they’re responding both to the problem and to the letter.

Bests, Debito in Shinjuku

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

UPDATE NOV 19 AND 27 2006

The Bureau of Human Rights at the Kitakyushu Ministry of Justice (093-561-3542) also phoned me to get details on exactly who was refused and to clarify details. I told them the exact name on Nov 27 after receiving permission from the victim. So there you go. All we need now is a letter from the Mayor’s office and we’ve got a hat trick. Debito in Sapporo

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

UPDATE DEC 11 2006

(Just sent this to the person who got refused at the restaurant.–Debito)

I just got a call from the Fukuoka Houmukyoku Jinken Yougobu Kitakyushu Shikyoku (Fukuoka Ministry of Justice Kitakyushu Division of the Bureau of Human Rights, and talked to a Mr Uehara.

He says he wants to talk to you directly about what happened. I told him I didn’t know your language level etc. or exactly where you live. But his contact details are 093-561-3542. Call him if you like and he will call you back.

In the course of our conversation, it became clear that he hadn’t talked to the restaurant yet, more than a month after this whole thing happened. He wanted to get our story straight before he approached them. I told them that I was too initially refused, so whether or not you talked to the Bureau directly should be irrelevant. He’s talking to me, and I was refused too, so talk to the restaurant to confirm our story already, it’s been a month. He said that he wanted to talk to you first too. This went on for about twenty minutes or so, so I at least said I would pass this information on to you. Here you go.

I hate dealing with bureaucrats who have no stomach for their job. They say they need to hear both sides. But then they say they won’t hear the other side until they are satisfied that they heard all of one side. I said I should suffice as one side, in any case. They disagree. So there you go. Please let me know whether or not you are amenable to talking to these bureaucrats?

Don’t worry–they’ll hold your name and information in confidence. Trust me–the BOHR has even refused to let me see my own file for a separate case cos they argued that I would violate my own privacy…

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

Absolutely useless organization, this. Debito

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

UPDATE DEC 22, 2006

I got yet another call from the Fukuoka BOHR this afternoon–yes, Mr Uehara again!

He says that he wants to talk to my contact, and wouldn’t I please contact him again? I said I would. And asked him to contact the goddamn restaurant. He won’t until he gets all the information from my contact. And if my contact doesn’t contact him by January 10? Then he’ll listen to my side of the story as evidence.

Soon be two months and counting. I’ll say it again–the BOHR is absolutely useless. Debito

JALT PALE Roundtable of Nov 3 06 Report re Japan’s future academic work

mytest

SUMMARY OF PALE ROUNDTABLE
PROFESSIONALISM, ADMINISTRATION, AND LEADERSHIP IN EDUCATION (PALE) Special Interest Group
JAPAN ASSOCIATION FOR LANGUAGE TEACHING (JALT)
Friday, November 3, 2006, 1:15-2:50 PM, Room 21A, Kitakyushu International Hall
Full details on both organizations respectively at
http://www.debito.org/PALE and http://www.jalt.org
By PALE Members, collated by Arudou Debito

Continuing the Roundtable forum that packed the hall at JALT 2005, five PALE members paneled a meeting to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the conference’s theme of “Community, Identity, and Motivation”. All presentations touched in some way upon employment issues, including issues of job security, union representation, the relationship of nationality to job description and employment terms, and the growing role of dispatch teaching arrangements in Japanese universities. They dealt explicitly or implicitly with the proper roles and responsibilities of PALE and JALT in managing these issues.

PALE Program Chair JONATHAN B. BRITTEN (jbritten@cc.nakamura-u.ac.jp) moderated. He introduced the goals and current projects of PALE, and spoke briefly on the growing role of PALE as the primary means for JALT members to obtain advice and assistance with employment problems and other labor-related issues.

——————————

MICHAEL “RUBE” REDFIELD (rube39@mac.com) developed a history of the “academic ideas” behind the use of dispatch teachers, i.e., the idea that Japanese linguists teach the language, and non Japanese basically function as native-speaking “informants”. This shift away from content-based teaching for “native speakers” is an unwelcome trend. He surveyed the ‘foreign experts’ use in Meiji, went thru Harold Palmer and the Coleman Report (20’s), AS Hornsby and Structural Linguistics (30’s), Fries, Lado and the Ford Foundation (50’s) in bringing us up to the present. He showed how historically Japan has welcomed foreign ideas (when deemed relevant) but not foreign people. He finished up with a discussion on how the past has influenced the present, and then compared foreign academics to lab animals; when they have been sufficiently abused or have mastered the maze, it is time to bring in a “fresh specimen”.

——————————

PATRICK O’BRIEN (pobrien@hawaii.edu) echoed this with his case of academic substitution, where non-Japanese are being taken out of content courses. Despite having a PhD in American Studies, he has been deprived of any classes in his workplace (Hokkai Gakuen University) dealing with his field, and confined to teaching ESL only thanks to his “native speaker” status. His classes have instead been to Japanese instructors. The statistics bear this out: According to the Japan Association for American Studies, 98.5% of positions devoted to teaching US culture are taught by Japanese. When Pat brought this situation up with the American Studies Association, they showed a remarkable incuriousness.

Pat also had a situation where elements within his school launched a campaign to get him fired. Trumped-up sexual harassment charges against him, which even made the local newspapers, fortunately came to naught, but the question lingers: When communication breaks down within the department or university, to whom might the individual educator turn? Is a Japanese union the best choice? Is a professional association such as JALT tasked to represent members in such disputes? To what extent is pressure from outside Japan (gaiatsu) a realistic option? (The American Studies Association, for example refused to help.) What worked for Pat was standing his ground, getting a lawyer involved to negotiate on his behalf, and ultimately, joining a Japanese labor union.

Pat further summarized his speech as follows:
========================================================
As a foreign instructor in Japan, I’ve lately felt part of the PALE community, which now, I feel, includes Dr. Ivan Hall. Hall’s “Cartels” and “Bamboozled” provide the intellectual framework for our efforts on employment in higher education here. Due to the lack of interest in the academic credentials of Westerners, Japan ends up employing only a low number of content instructors, giving such classes to Japanese professors. Unfortunately, the identity politics so prevalent in today’s academic circles in America makes it difficult for me to appeal to them for support (the white male still being seen as a colonizer and hegemonist). Two additional challenges facing us here in Japan are 1) Brian McVeigh may be right that “daigaku” is not the equivalent of “university” and 2) thus far the Ministry of Education (Monkashou) has been absent from any discussions on foreign content instructors. Though PALE is part of JALT, foreign content teachers can turn to PALE for support.
========================================================
——————————

EVAN HEIMLICH, a Specially Appointed Foreign Associate Professor of Cross-Cultural Studies, was brought to Japan from the US by Kobe University in 1997, but whom–with its entire contingent of five foreign professors–the Faculty of Cross-Cultural Studies is now purging. He requested JALT support teachers, especially foreign language teachers, by defending their professional interests against such systemic abuses, which are becoming much too common.

Japan’s cultural nationalism, Heimlich argued, is unacceptedly disciplining Japan’s language teachers, whose professional interests have almost no collective defense politically, legally, diplomatically, nor even from the labor movement. While politically teachers in Japan no longer have a very powerful voice, foreign teachers, if noncitizens, do not have any political representation at all; and most faculty councils ban them. The embassies, Heimlich added, hardly regard teachers as a significant constituency. Legally, Heimlich claimed, many foreign teachers cannot retain legal representation either–partly because employers label about ninety percent of them as “temporary workers,” exploiting manifold loopholes to evade legal protections on language teachers’ employment.

Trade unions–the main shield of employment–Heimlich said must be joined and strengthened. Yet he argued that teachers’ professional interest as ‘intellectual workers’ tends to make a poor fit with the goals of the labor unions. Labor unions focus on retaining employment for all members, rather than on the tourniquets banning the promotion of foreigners from “special” or “ALT” status to the same status as their Japanese colleagues.

Meanwhile professional associations command some respect in Japan–and some, notably the dentists’ association, have dramatically advanced members’ professional interests—so Heimlich concluded that JALT can help protect its members against the worst, systemic abuses against language teachers. He identified these as follows: the revolving-door policies of employment; the tourniquet-policies blocking foreign language teachers from joining the main body of the teaching profession; and the periodic, categorical purges safeguarding professional segregation.

In answers to questions from the floor, Heimlich mentioned legal action against the national government, such as a civil lawsuit which Arudou Debito is organizing (http://www.debito.org/kunibengodan.html) to raise awareness; and international lobbying both through other professional associations, as well as through the ILO and the United Nations, which Stephanie Houghton and others have been researching. Finally, Heimlich pointed to a website, http://faqracismjapan.blogspot.com, an FAQ on criticism of Japan’s institutional racism.

——————————

Finally, IVAN P. HALL, invited guest speaker for PALE this year, and author of the influential book CARTELS OF THE MIND, rounded out the roundtable with concluding comments. He mentioned “the sixth cartel”, referring to the five “intellectual cartels” shutting out foreign ideas from the Japanese polity, particularly in the fields of journalism, academia, and law. The sixth cartel he called the “enfranchisement of the overseas cocktail circuit”, where embedded academics and policymakers overseas, often chairing institutions with Japan-sourced grants, themselves turn a blind eye to the problems on the ground over here, and with the help of US-Japan cultural-bridge associations (which Dr. Hall is a veteran of), do a very good job at keeping the US out of understanding Japan.

Dr Hall also gave a two-hour speech later on in the day on the issues he calls “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s academia. We hope to make a transcript of that speech public in the near future.

SUMMARY OF NOV 3 JALT PALE ROUNDTABLE ENDS

Quick Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant Issue

mytest

Hello Blog. Just got word today (Nov 17) from the Kitakyushu Branch of the MOJ’s Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougobu) by phone today, re the “No foreigners allowed inside because they make the manager feel linguistically inadequate” Restaurant “Jungle”, in response to my Nov 9 letter to them. (http://www.debito.org/?p=69).

They are looking into it, they say. Is all for now. More when I know more. Glad they at least contacted me. Doesn’t always happen, trust me. Bests, Debito in Nagoya

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOV 15 2006

mytest

Hello All. Time for another
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER, NOVEMBER 15, 2006

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) TBS INTERVIEW RE 2-CHANNEL BBS, THIS THURSDAY LUNCHTIME
2) NOOSE TIGHTENS: ZAKZAK AND MUTANTFROG ON NISHIMURA & WASEDA SPEECH
3) ASAHI: NORIGUCHI PONTIFICATING ON LANGUAGE TEACHING AGAIN
4) LETTER TO KITAKYUSHU AUTHORITIES RE EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT
5) EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JAPANESE PRISON VISIT
6) FOREIGN MARRIAGES NOT ALLOWED FOR POLICE AND JSDF?
and finally
7) CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN TO HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS!
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

freely forwardable
blogged in real time at http://www.debito.org/index.php

1) TBS INTERVIEW ON 2-CHANNEL BBS THIS THURSDAY LUNCHTIME

I had an interview yesterday morning with one of Japan’s major networks, TBS (the network which brought you “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin”, and still brings sunlight and subliminal musical jokes to Sunday mornings with “Sunday Japon”).

It’ll be a brief segment on the 2-Channel libel lawsuit, with me speaking as one of the many victorious plaintiffs which BBS administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refuses to pay, despite court rulings.

The attention this issue is getting in recent weeks is very welcome. The more the better, as it may prod the creation of some legislation. Japan should at least strengthen “contempt of court” punishments for court delinquents, making evasions of this type a criminal offense prosecutable by police.

As it stands right now, a thwarted Plaintiff in Japan has to chase down the Defendant for payment, at his or her own time and expense.

As I found out two weekends ago, you can’t even “serve papers” to a Defendant (notifying him of his legal obligations and eliminating plausible deniability) yourself, say, in a pizza box or at a public event. I refer to Nishimura’s blythe speech at Waseda (more on that in the next section), where my lawyer said I could approach the podium with papers, but it would be a publicity stunt, not a legally-binding action. “Serving” must go via the court through registered post; and all the deadbeat has to do is not retreive his mail!

But I digress. The show will be broadcast as follows:
=============================
SEGMENT ON BBS 2-CHANNEL, TBS show “PINPON”
http://www.tbs.co.jp/program/pinpon.html
Thursday, November 16, 2006 (as in tomorrow)
I’m told sometime between 12 noon and 1PM.
However, the show starts at 11AM, so set your VCRS.
TV network: TBS (HBC in Hokkaido)
=============================

Final thought: Quite honestly, I find appearing on TV terrifying. It’s like dancing (which I can’t do either–I think too much to have any rhythm). It takes all my brainpower just to manage my thoughts digestably, and then worrying about how to manage my face and eyes and all overloads the system… Anyway, tune in and see how I did.

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

2) THE NOOSE TIGHTENS:
ZAKZAK AND MUTANTFROG ON NISHIMURA & WASEDA SPEECH

Scandal paper Yuukan Fuji (and its online feed ZAKZAK) has been doing a series on Nishimura and 2-Channel, mentioning my case by name as well (which is what occasioned TBS coming up north to talk to me yesterday).

You can see two of the articles from last week translated into English by Adamu at Mutant Frog (thanks!) at

Don’t mess with 2ch: ZAKZAK, Sankei Sports report


The rupo on the Waseda speech deserves excerpting:

———————- EXCERPT BEGINS ——————————–
The focus was, as could be expected, the issue of Nishimura’s litigation-related disappearance. Last month, in a suit brought by a female professional golfer (age 24) alleging she was slandered and harmed by the bulletin board seeking deletion of the posts and damages etc, Nishimura was ordered to delete the posts and pay 1 million yen in compensation. However, he ignored the call from the court to appear in this case, and never showed up in court even once.

As to the reasons for that, Nishimura admitted, “Actually, there are similar cases going on from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.” He bluntly explained, “Well, lawyer fees would cost more than 1 million yen. Hey, I’ll go if I get bored.”

He explained that “I deleted the problem section (from the site),” but added his horrifying assertion that “there is no law to make me pay compensation by force, so it doesn’t matter if I win or lose in court. It’s the same thing if I don’t pay (the compensation).” When asked about his annual income, he boasted “a little more than Japan’s population (127 million).” So he’s not having money issues.

In response to Nishimura’s assertion that “there is no law forcing me to pay compensation,” Nippon University professor of criminal law Hiroshi Itakura points out, “a court’s compulsory enforcement (kyousei shikkou) can be used to ‘collect’ compensation.” He says that running from compensation is impossible. Also, if someone hides assets etc. for the purposes of avoiding compulsory execution, then “that would constitute the crime of obstructing compulsory execution,” (kyousei shikkou bougai zai). Itabashi wonders, “It is strange that the courts that ordered the compensation have not implemented compulsory enforcement. It’s not like Nishimura doesn’t have any assets.”
———————- EXCERPT ENDS ———————————–

Originals in Japanese at

2ちゃんねるの西村ひろゆき:早稲田にて「強制的に(賠償金を)払わせる法律がない」(追加:ZAKZAK 記事)


Two more ZAKZAK articles in Japanese which came out this week at

TBSテレビ番組「ピンポン」で2ちゃんねるについてインタビュー(木16放送)及びZAKZAK記事連載


(Adamu, feel free to translate again, thanks!)

And an article photocopied (literally) and sent from Dave Spector while shinkansenning (thanks!), from Tokyo Sports, Nov 9, 2006. Headline notes how the police are starting to get involved:
http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/11/tokyosports110906.jpg

I wonder how long Nishimura thinks he’s going to be able to get away with this…

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

3) ASAHI: NORIGUCHI PONTIFICATING ON LANGUAGE TEACHING AGAIN

Professor Noriguchi at Kitakyushu University is becoming a regular pundit on English language education in Japan.

After saying not two months ago in the Asahi Shinbun’s prestigious “Watashi No Shiten” column, that one problem with non-Japanese teachers is that they stay in Japan too long (http://www.debito.org/?p=34), he’s back again with a response to his critics (or, as he puts it, his supporters).

Article is archived at

Kitakyudai’s Noriguchi again in Asahi on English teaching (Nov 4, 2006, with updates)

Let me rewrite a few of Noriguchi’s points and weave in comment and interpretation. He essentially asserts this time that:

So much energy devoted to the study of English (as opposed to other languages) is not only unneighborly, it is a reflection of a Japanese inferiority complex towards the West.

One consequence of this much focus on English is a lot of swindling and deception of the Japanese consumer, with bogus advertising about the merits and the effects of English language education.

In any case, English is hardly necessary for life in Japan, so why require it on entrance exams? Especially after all the trauma that Japanese go through learning it.

This is no mystery. Japanese have a natural barrier to learning English, given the “Japanese mentality”, the characteristics of the language, and the homogeneity of the country.

More so than other Asian countries, he mysteriously asserts. (Koreans, for example? And won’t the same barriers apply to other Asian languages if the Japanese are indeed so unique?)

Meanwhile, let’s keep the door revolving on foreign English-language educators by hiring retired teachers from overseas, who not only will bring in more expertise and maturity, but also by design (and by natural longevity) will not stay as long in Japan and have as much of an effect.

(NB: The last point is not his, but it’s symptomatic of Noriguchi’s throwing out of ideas which are not all that well thought through in practice. After all, nowhere in his essay does he retract his previous assertion that part of the problem is foreign teachers staying here too long.)

As before, Professor Noriguchi is reachable at
snori@kitakyu-u.ac.jp
He says that far more people support his views than not, so if you want to show him differently, write him.

Meanwhile, those two Watashi No Shiten articles seem to be having an effect on domestic debate. As a friend of mine (who is in academic admin) said earlier today on a different mailing list:

============== BEGINS ====================
[Noriguchi’s] articles are not merely “problematic”–they are DEVASTATING to the cause of foreigners here. I’ve had to discuss his crackpot ideas (given a kind of pseudo authority because they appeared in the Asahi and because the author is Japanese) on two occasions over just the LAST WEEK–once with a university president, and once with the head of this city’s board of education. Both see in these articles justifications for firing experienced foreign faculty and bringing in cheaper newbies. After all, as Noriguchi … [has] made clear, we are only language “polishers” and “cultural ambassadors,” not teachers.

Some unintentional humor from [The Ministry of Education]. On my desk right now is a document [entitled Gaikokujin Chomei Kenkyuusha Shouhei Jigyou].

The plan as described: Bring in NOBEL PRIZE WINNERS to accelerate (and elevate) the pacing and quality of academic research here. The catch? These stars will be on contracts capped on principle at 1-3 years!

Wouldn’t want these “cultural ambassadors” to become stale….
============== ENDS =====================

Concluding thoughts: There is a large confluence of events in recent weeks which makes me wonder whether the Ministry of Education is gearing up for another cleanout of foreign faculty in Japanese universities (as happened between 1992 and 1994, see Hall, CARTELS OF THE MIND). I’ll develop that theory a bit more if you want in my next newsletter.

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

4) LETTER TO KITAKYUSHU AUTHORITIES RE EXCLUSIONARY RESTAURANT

I mentioned last newsletter about an addition to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Enterprises: An exclusionary restaurant, discovered in Kitakyushu on November 3, had an owner so fearful of foreign languages that he turned people away that maychance speak them.
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura
If he can’t greet customers because of his own complexes, perhaps he’s in the wrong line of work?

Well, I sent a letter on this dated November 9, in English and Japanese, to the Kitakyushu Mayor’s Office, the City Bureau of Tourism, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local Nishi Nihon Shinbun newspaper, all my Japanese mailing lists, and JALT Central. Text available at

Letter to Kitakyushu authorities re exclusionary restaurant, Nov 9 06

No responses as of yet. Few things like these are taken care of overnight. Wait and see.

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

5) EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT OF JAPANESE PRISON VISIT

One of the advantages of doing what I do is that I get very interesting emails from friends. The other day, I got a report from a friend who paid a visit to a Japanese prison, to offer moral support to someone incarcerated. I don’t really know much about what the incarcerated has done to justify his imprisonment, but that’s not the point of the story. Interesting are the bureaucratic tribulations he (the author, not the prisoner) had to go through just to get a short audience (limited to 15 minutes), worth recording somewhere for the record. In the end, I couldn’t help thinking: Is all this rigmarole necessary? What purpose could it possibly serve?

Read the report at

Eyewitness account of a visit to a Japanese prison (with comment)

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

6) FOREIGN MARRIAGES NOT ALLOWED FOR POLICE AND JSDF?

A friend notified me of a blog entry (not exactly the most trustworthy source, I know) about German woman who wants to marry a Japanese man. The problem is, he’s a policeman, and apparently he was told by his bosses that Japanese police who want a future in the NPA cannot marry foreigners. There’s a security issue involved, it would seem.

Hm. Might be a hoax, but had the feeling it warranted further investigation. After I reported this to The Community mailing list (http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity), I got a couple of responses, one saying that international marriage is in fact not forbidden by the NPA (and this supervisor bullying should be reported to internal affairs).

But the other response said that somebody married to a former member of the Japanese Self Defense Forces also had to quit his job because of it. He was involved in a “sensitive” area, apparently.

Hm again. I know that certain jobs (such as Shinto Priests) are not open to foreigners, due to one of those “Yamato Race” thingies. (Buddhism, however, seems to be open, as I know of one German gentleman on my lists who has an administrative post within a major Japanese sect.)

But imagine the number of people in, for example, “sensitive” jobs in the US State Department who would have to make a choice between their job and a foreign spouse?

I’m blogging this issue for the time being at

Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)


with comments and pings open for a change.

Any information? Let us know. Thanks.
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

and finally:

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

7) CONGRATULATIONS AGAIN HOKKAIDO NIPPON HAM FIGHTERS!

For those of you under still under rocks: Our home team is unstoppable!

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, after reaching the top in Japan last month, on Sunday won the Asian Series, 1-0, vs Taiwan.

This makes them the best team in Asia this year. Our first baseman Ogawawara was just made MVP for the Pacific League, too! (Pity it looks as though we’re going to lose him to the rich but insufferably arrogant Tokyo Giants…)

Now if only we’d create a REAL world series, so the North Americans can’t lay claim to the title of “World Champion” every year!

Some articles of interest:
On Hillman and Fighers’ team spirit
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sp20061114se.html
On Ogasawara
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sb20061114j1.html
Wrapping up the season
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sp20061114el.html
//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

As always, thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
November 15, 2006
NEWSLETTER ENDS

Eyewitness account of a visit to a Japanese prison (with comment)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. One of the advantages of doing what I do is that I get very interesting emails from friends. Forwarding an excerpt from a friend who paid a visit to a Japanese prison to offer moral support to someone incarcerated. The tribulations he (the author, not just the prisoner) went through just to get a short audience are worth recording somewhere for the record. I don’t really know much about what the incarcerated has done to justify his incarceration, but is all this rigmarole necessary? What purpose could it possibly serve? Debito in Sapporo

==============================
(excerpted for the purposes of this blog)

Hello, all. Would like to give you a brief report on my visit to a Mr YZ. Staff of XXXX consulate helped arrange my visit in Osaka Penitentiary.

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

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 6

Classes finish and I get on the phone to XXXX Consulate to find out what day I am scheduled to visit the prison. I’m told tomorrow or Friday is OK — there will be an English speaking guard available on both days to monitor our conversation (somedays this service is not available, hence cannot visit a foreigner). Decide I’ll go tomorrow.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7

I watched a video of an NHK documentary on how authorities at Fuchu Prison in Tokyo are coping with the rapid rise in the number of foreigner prisoners. Great preparation. (As an aside, my feeling about the show is: I am not comfortable with anything that associates foreigners and prisons in the minds of the Japanese. I thought that the documentary did convey the high stress foreigners endure at Fuchu. It portrayed prison staff providing psychological counselling in prisoners’ native language — eg, we see a Japanese guard sitting down at a table with a prisoner, calming him down and speaking to him in Chinese. In my estimation the documentary implies a higher level of counselling service at Fuchu than I suspect exists in actuality. But I concluded, that perhaps it is good that NHK is at least addressing the problem which in the past has had very little exposure.)

2:00 I arrive at the prison. Confronted by a guard at front gate who begins to interview me right there on the sidewalk in the chilly wind. Phone call is made to the inside. Must be OK because I’m led into a waiting room and told to fill in a visit application form. When I complete this, the guard notes that I have not answered the question as to purpose of my visit! I’m momentarily dumbfounded. Haven’t they ever heard of the notion of humane feeling? I try to explain in my ever halting Japanese that his family in England has asked me to visit XY because they simply cannot.

I am now becoming apprehensive as to whether or not I will be allowed the visit (despite what the Consulate arranged) because I can only identify myself as, at best, a “friend”. Until recently, this would not have been acceptable.

The guard takes a piece of paper, writes a few “kanji” that are a bit unfamiliar to me and tells me to copy this onto the form.

ANPI UKAGAU

(When I get home, I check this out — it seems to be a rather archaic phrase that translates into “to enquire about a person’s health”. )

I’m told to take a seat and wait for further direction. And wait I do! I look about the waiting room — it is small and crowded — more than 20 other visitors waiting, and a cross-section of Japanese society it would seem — young women in too much make-up talking into their cell phones, a man on crutches, another man who is dressed like a gangster, an old woman in a wheel chair who has to be assisted by accompanying family member to use the toilet facilities, a baby crying (there’s even a crib provided in a corner of the room and, of course, there is a TV blaring out a daytime soap opera.)

Well, after about 15 minutes, I sigh and take out some papers — student essays. Great thing about visiting detention center or prison, it gives me a chance to get caught up on some of my marking! After one hour, I am finally approached by an officer who checks my identification and visit application form. He seems aghast at the

ANPI UTAGAU part, pulls out his pen, crosses this out, and substitutes

SHUSHOGO NO SEIKATSU NO HANASHI

as the purpose of the visit. I can immediately recognize this as

“talking about life plans after release from prison”

I quickly make a note of this for my next visit. I’m then told that I cannot bring in any cell phone, camera, or recording device. Note paper is allowed. I’m given a number badge to wear for the duration. I pass through a metal detection screening, taken outdoors, and pointed in the direction of the visitor lobby about 40 meters away.

On arrival there, I’m met by another guard who again checks my ID and application form which has been stamped HAJIME which means that I am a first time visitor. So, he tries to give me a bit of orientation, not the least of which is to inform me that I will have only 15 MINUTES to visit and that the visit won’t begin for another 30 to 45 minutes. I politely ask if I can’t possibly have 30 minutes. He responds, also politely, but speaks a little too fast for me to comprehend owing not only to limit of my Japanese proficiency but also my stresslevel at this point. He seems to be speaking to me at two different levels — first, if they gave everybody 30 minutes, he tells me, the staff who must moniter conversation between visitor and prisoner would be working up to 8 00 or 9 00 PM, but he also seems to hint that 30 minutes might be given to me in future at request of the Consulate. So, I sit down again to wait. I review what I want to cover since I have only 15 minutes. I also reflect upon how tightly even visitors are controlled in a Japanese prison — the stages of movement from front gate waiting room to visitor lobby to actual interview room to check out at front gate, all quite regimented. I also note that, despite the massive size of this institution, there are ONLY SIX interview rooms. I guess that is so family members can also share in the punishment? I also observe that this visitor operation seems to be rather “overstaffed” — my tax yen at work! I am surprised that this staff include women; I never encounter any female staff at Tokyo Detention Centre.

Finally, at approximately 3 35 PM, I am called to enter Room No. 6. It is empty. A minute or so later, XY is led into the room by a guard and, a bit to my surprise by a woman in her late 20s, who, come to think of it, didn’t seem to be in uniform. XY sat on a folding chair in front of the glass screen, the guard on a stool in the back corner of the room, and the woman who seemed rather friendly (BTW, all guards and staff treated me courteously.) sat next to XY at a raised lectern. It was obvious to me that she was the English speaker who was there to monitor the conversation. XY was dressed in a mint green two piece uniform on which were sown identifying badges, IIRC. His hair is close cropped and he appeared quite clean.

I thank Iris Baker for including me in her e-mail (NOV 3) before she left Japan in which she commented on Nick’s weight loss. (http://www.justicefornickbaker.org/) This helped prepare me for the inevitable. I had seen Nil’s photo at http://XYtaft.foreignprisoners.com and I would describe him as a bit stocky, but today he appears comparatively gaunt. In our conversation, XY did tell me that since his arrest (AUG, 2004 ?), he has lost 20 kilograms. The ANPI UKAGAU incident notwithstanding, I did ask XY directly about the state of his physical health. He answered that it was good.

I relayed messages specifically received from John and Johan Taft (father and brother) in recent e-mails. He acknowledged receipt of money recently from John via the Consulate.

When I told him that Johan had told me that a Zen Master, Rev Kobutsu MIGHT visit, his spirits seem to soar immediately. Now, I don’t know how this priest can get into see XY — I assume he, unlike myself, is not on the “approved visitors” list — but I think it would be very therapeutic if XY could meet him and I would ask the Consulate to help facilitate such a visit. Can somebody get back to me on this ? I’d be happy to help in any way I can.

What else? He is currently assigned to work on a sewing machine. He claims to have opportunity for recreation. I noticed he said “arigato” and bowed to guards and translators at beginning of our meeting, perhaps prompted by my having done same. So later, in interview, I asked him if he has acquired much Japanese language to which he said no, that his interactions are somewhat limited.

At one point I referred to his “cell” to which he corrected me, preferring to call it a “room” — it’s not all that bad? He is in the room alone.

As for English newspapers (earlier guard told me English newspapers are available in prison library) he seems to be not very interested in following events in outside world beyond his control. He prefers to meditate and read books.

Well, we couldn’t cover too much in this initial 15 minute visit but it was sufficient time to give me the impression that XY is a person who has come to regret some of his past experiences and behaviour and the values that propelled them. He has a sensitivity to others as exemplified by his profuse expression of appreciation for my coming, going so far as to say that he recognized that it is a time consuming and stressful undertaking for a person to make a prison visit. I, in turn, appreciated that sensitivity very much and told him that visiting him would probably be, for me, the most meaningful thing in my life today, or maybe all this week. I usually do not open up that much to a person whom I’ve just met 10 minutes ago.

The visit ended. We both bowed to thank guard and monitor lady. I walked back to front gate waiting room, turned in my application, thanked officers, and walked out the gate, quite stressed but feeling a bit emotionally richer for the experience. Called his father later and told him what transpired. He seemed relieved and appreciative.

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

I’ll try to visit XY again around the end of the month. My Amnesty International group meets this coming Sunday. I’ll tell them about this experience and ask interested and caring people to sign a card and I’ll mail it off to XY.

==============================
COMMENT FROM CYBERSPACE

Debito, I read your entry about visiting foreigners in prison.

I have been visiting people in detention since 1999 and was granted special permission to visit a woman prisoner in 2003. To get the special permission I was interviewed at my house for about 30 minutes. Then, every six months I was visited again to check if my situation had changed. Each visit took about 30 minutes. Prior to the change in the prison law this last spring I was initially allowed only one 30-minute visit per month and she could only send one letter per month. over time that increased to two visits per month and two letters per month. All of our meetings were recored by the officer on duty.

The main reason the officer records the meetings is to determine if the prisoner shows any sign of 反省 (hansei) for the crime. Lack of 反省will mean that the person will not be released early. This woman was involved in 冤罪事件 (a frame-up) and thus had nothing to say sorry for. She will be released next month after being imprisoned for over 9 years on an 8 year sentence.

When she gets out, she will have an incredible story to tell about life behind bars.

I currently live directly across the street from the Tokyo Detention Center. I see lots of interesting people come and go. If you have any questions about detention or prisons, let me know and I am happy to share my experience.

Charles E. McJilton
Tokyo, Japan

Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)

mytest

Hello Blog. Something interesting here. Friend passed on a link to a blog post as follows:

===================================
Hello. I am really down so I hope to get some help here. My boyfriend is japanese and I am german. We met in Japan ( working holiday…)and want to merry next year, because we are really sure about our love. The big problem we have is his job. He is a policeman. Policemen in Japan have to report their girlfriends when they become serious about their partnership. So my boyfreind reported me. After that we really had a lot of problems, because his organisation said that he can not have a relation with a foreign women. If he will go on with me, he will never get a promotion again and they will bully him at work. Yeah, that’s what they told him. The reason they gave us is to protect the Japanese Police Organitation and that after our marrigae is will be difficult to stop other policemen to merry with foreign women. For me it is simply racism! How could I be dangerous to the Police? I mean I am just a young women who wants to merry with love. What can we do? Of course my boyfriend thougth about chaning his job, but in this case they will get what they want. And there will be the same stupid old mind and discrimination in the Japanese Police like always. It should not be like that. Can`t we do anything against it? Is racism and discrimination really tolerated in Japan?
===================================
Original post and more discussion at
http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0 30435

This of course might be a hoax (you have to be careful about non-verifiable postings like these, and if it turns out as such, I’ll delete this issue from my blog with apologies). Still, might be worth checking into. Not all that difficult. Place a call to the NPA and see. Or ask around. Anyone have any friends in the police forces in Japan or other countries? Anyone know if there is a problem with police marrying non-citizens here or elsewhere?

Watch this space. I will add to this blog entry directly if there is something blogworthy. Debito in Sapporo

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

REPLY: Nov 14, 2006, from The Community mailing list:

Apparently there is no bar whatsoever to police marrying foreigners. I have it on authority from a member of Tokyo Metropolitan Police who says there are 5 officers she knows of who are married to foreigners. If this girl’s boyfriend was threatened with bullying over a matter which is not a case of breaking rules, he should report whoever made the comments to an appropriate body.

==============================
ANOTHER REPLY FROM THE COMMUNITY MAILING LIST
Nov 14, 2006
I am married to a member of JASDF but he had to change his job when
we met because he was in a “sensitive” field at the time. It was
tough for him as he loved what he had been doing and had to switch to
something he does NOT love. He also has a friend who quit JASDF to
marry his Chinese girlfriend. I don`t think it`s policy for all jobs
within the Force but it definitely happens sometimes.
==============================

ENDS

UPDATE:  A few more related articles have come out since this blog entry was written:

J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)
http://www.debito.org/?p=460

Also related
The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
THE ZEIT GIST
The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20070828zg.html

Letter to Kitakyushu authorities re exclusionary restaurant, Nov 9 06

mytest

Hi Blog. This is a slightly edited version of a letter I snailmailed today to the Kitakyushu Mayor’s Office, the local Bureau of Human Rights, the local Nishinihon Shinbun, and JALT Admin. It’s pretty self-explanatory, so read on. Debito in Sapporo

LETTER BEGINS
=============================
ARUDOU Debito, Associate Professor
(contact details deleted)
November 9, 2006
To JALT National, Steve Brown, President
JALT Central Office
Urban Edge Bldg 5F, 1-37-9 Taito
Taito-ku, Tokyo 110-0016, Japan
Tel: 03-3837-1630 Fax: 03-3837-1631

Dear President Brown and JALT National Leadership,

First of all, let me express heartfelt gratitude for the most recent national conference in Kitakyushu. I consider it to be a great success, and look forward to more future conferences.

The reason I am writing is to notify you of an incident which occurred in Kitakyushu during the JALT conference to a JALT member.

On November 3, 2006, said JALT member was refused entry to a restaurant named “Jungle” (Kitakyushu-shi Kokura Kita-ku Kajimachi 1-7-4, Kajimachi Kaikan 3F, Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124). The reason given was that the establishment was full, even though to the JALT member it visibly had open tables. Arudou Debito was then informed about this situation.

On November 4, at around 9PM, five friends and I went to Jungle. I first went in alone and the manager, a Mr. Matsubara Tatsuya, indeed tried to refuse me entry by claiming the restaurant was full. I then took a quick walk around the restaurant to confirm that the establishment, with at least eight large tables plus counter space, was in fact almost completely empty. When it was clear that Matsubara and I could communicate in Japanese, Matsubara then offered me counter space. I then brought in my friends and confirmed that we could have a table.

We then confirmed (after being seated and ordering drinks) that a) Matsubara did refuse foreigners entry, b) because he cannot communicate in English–he finds it his “nemesis” (nigate), c) and because he finds foreigners frightening (kowai). When asked if he had ever had any bad experiences or altercations with non-Japanese customers, Matsubara said no. He just (for reasons never made very clear) did not want to have to deal with them.

When we softly and calmly pointed out that a) non-Japanese are customers too, with money, not to mention language abilities (or at least forefingers to point to items on the menu), b) refusing them entry hurts their feelings, as it did the person refused the previous evening, c) that welcoming customers was part of Matsubara’s job description in his line of work (kyaku shoubai), he apologized and said he would try harder not to refuse non-Japanese customers in future.

The irony of the situation was that at the end of our drinks, one of the waiters who attended us (a student at the local technical college) talked to us in very good English. Why couldn’t Matsubara just have passed any customer with whom he was unable to communicate on to his staff?

I have since put “Jungle” up on a website cataloging the spread of exclusionary establishments around Japan.
Please refer to www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura

We look forward to future reports from readers of this website who might wish to investigate this restaurant in future to see if Matsubara keeps his promise.

I would like to ask JALT to send a letter of concern to the appropriate offices within the City Kitakyushu, particularly Mayor Sueyoshi Kouichi, who wrote the kind message of welcome for this JALT Conference. I am also sending this message in Japanese to Mayor Sueyoshi’s office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bureau of Human Rights, and the Nishi Nippon Shinbun. I hope they also will look into this matter, and take sufficient measures so that something like this does not happen again.

Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Sincerely yours,

____________________________
Arudou Debito
LETTER ENDS

北九州市の「外国人拒否」するレストランについて市長、人権擁護部と西日本新聞に送った手紙

mytest

 ブログの皆様こんがんは。有道 出人です。いつもお読みいただいてありがとうございます。
 さて、夕べこの手紙を書いて郵送しました。念のためにアーカイブに入れます。
 宜しくお願い致します。
==========================
〒803-8501 北九州市小倉北区城内1番1号
電話:093-582-2127 FAX:093-562-0710 hisho@mail2.city.kitakyushu.jp
北九州市長 末吉興一秘書室 御中 市長 末吉 興一 殿
〒803-8513北九州市小倉北区城内5番3号(小倉地方合同庁舎)093(561)3542
法務省人権擁護部北九州支部 御中
(西日本新聞社及びJALT管理者にも送信)

市内「外国人お断り」のレストランの件、啓蒙のお願い

拝啓 晩秋の候、ますますご清栄のこととお喜び申し上げます。
 突然で失礼ですが、自己紹介させていただきたいと思います。私は北海道情報大学助教授の有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。本年11月3日から3日間に渡り全国語学教育学会(JALT)の総会がきっかけで北九州市に訪れ、市民のホスピタリティを厚く御礼を申し上げます。
 しかし、標記の件ですが、11月3日の夜、JALTの外国出身メンバーがレストランに行きましたが、空席があったものの、支配人に「満席だから入らないで」と言われたようで、そのレストラン名は「ジャングル」(経営者は(有)ピー・ケイ・ティー)との事です。
北九州市小倉北区鍛冶町1-7-4 かじまち会館3F
Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124
 断られた者が私に報告し4日の夜に再び、私と友人5名で「ジャングル」を尋ね、支配人の松原達也氏と話し合いました。彼は私にも(私は白人で帰化した日本人ですが)「満席です、入らないで」と言ったが、殆ど空席の状態が目立っていたので交渉し始めました。日本語で交渉してから入店できたが、松原氏が認めたことは:
 ①前日、その外国出身のJALTメンバーの入店お断りした
 ②その理由は「英語が苦手、外国人が怖い」
 ③以前、当店では外国人との問題が一切なかったので、個人的には外国人に対してトラウマは特にない
 ④「入店されたくない」のみで、ここまでの「外国人アレルギー」の原因は不明
しかし、これに対して私たちは松原支配人の意識高揚を行ってみました:
 ア)こうやって「ガイジンダメ」を言うのはお客に傷つけ、明らかに差別
 イ)言語の障壁があっても関わらず、メニューの注文はどうにかはなる
 ウ)出身を問わず、客商売とは全てのお客を持て成すことではないか
 よって店の対応の改善を求めてから、松原支配人が謝って下さいまして、これから改善しますとのことだったが、正直に言ってこれから門前払いが取り止められるかどうかは、私は若干自信がありません。なぜかは、飲み物を飲んでから勘定を支払った際、別のウェーターと話した際英語が達者だと分かりました。言語の障壁について心配した支配人は何故そのウェーターに応対させなかったのかは疑問です。
 お願いしたいのは、当店及びその付近の店舗にも差別撤廃のために啓蒙を行っていただければ幸いです。ある者にとってこの待遇は北九州市全体のイメージダウンとなります。私は既に「排斥する店舗のギャラリー」のウェブサイトに載せさせていただきました。
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura

意識高揚の結果、ぜひ、ご連絡いただければと存じます。宜しくお願い致します。
書中をもってご挨拶申し上げます。敬具
平成18年11月7日
有道 出人(連絡先を省く)
==========================
ENDS

Zakzak and Sankei on 2-Channel libel (thanks Adamu)

mytest

Hi Blog. Found that fellow blogger Adamu at Mutantfrog has translated two articles on internet BBS 2-Channel, a hotbed for information, rumor, and (as court rulings have borne out) libel.

I have the original articles archived in Japanese

Meanwhile, let’s archive Adamu’s translations.

Tokyo Sports Nov 9, 2006 on 2-Channel BBS
Photocopy (literally) of article courtesy Dave Spector. Thanks. Click on it for a larger image.

More on the problems with 2-Channel

Thanks very much, Adamu! Debito in Sapporo

ADAMU’S TRANSLATIONS BEGIN
================================
2-Channel in a state of lawlessness – Attacks on individuals left on the site
ZAKZAK, quoting Sankei Shinbun, November 7, 2006
http://www.zakzak.co.jp/top/2006_11/t2006110728.html

A 30-year-old customer service worker recalls her painful memories:

“I went back to my parents’ house after my home address was revealed on the Internet, but harassing phone calls kept coming into my office. Even my customers started to distrust me, thinking that I had someone (harassing me).”

The woman took the brunt of insults such as “ex-prostitute,” “too much plastic surgery,” and threats including “I’ll kill you,” and “Just die.”

There were rumors that “an old acquaintence in the same business posted the offending material around the time when (the woman) opened her own store,” but the “culprit” could not be identified. The woman filed a civil law suit holding message board’s moderator Hiroyuki Nishimura (age 29, pictured) responsible.

The Tokyo Regional Court ordered deletion of the posts and 1 million yen in compensation, but the court victory spawed a second round of attacks. On 2ch, there were several posts including “don’t get bent out of shape over such things,” “I’ll beat you to death,” and “Hurry up and hang yourself.” Her workplace’s web site was also flooded with similar posts, shutting it down. The woman took leave from work for a while due to the stress.

Nishimura’s reaction at the time was, “Since it wasn’t just a demand to delete the posts, but litigation to take money from the message board’s moderator, I think it happened because it provoked protest from regular users.”

The woman explains, “As of now the person who gets posted about is the loser. The person who actually posts is never ultimately found, and even if you sue it doesn’t make you feel better. I don’t even want to hear the word ‘2ch.’”

Hokkaido Information University professor Debito Arudou (age 41), who became a naturalized Japanese citizen from the US in 2000, has sued to eliminate racial discrimination at public baths etc that are “Japanese only.” Meanwhile, at 2ch, posts made the rounds starting 2 years ago claiming that “American white David Aldwinckle” (the professor’s former name) made claims like the following:

“20,000 Iraqi citizens massacred due to invasion supported by Aldwinkle (American citizen)”

“For the profits of American whites, there is no problem with the massacre of a few hundred thousand nonwhites.”

Prof. Arudou is furious: “I said nothing of the kind. It’s a fabrication aimed to hurt my image and destroy my position as a human rights activist.” He was victorious in litigation seeking to have the posts deleted, but Nishimura is ignoring the decision. The false statements are still on the Internet in thousands of posts.

[NB: You can see for yourself by doing a Google search, by entering “アルドウィンクル” , “イラク” and “2ch”. Tried just now and got 1060 hits, up from 1050 three days ago, and from around 500 from when the libel court decision came down in my favor back in January. The situation is thus getting worse.)

A male business owner (age 40) of Chiba prefecture had his address, telephone number, the names of his family members, and even photos of his house and car registration documents exposed on 2ch. Phone calls asking for confirmation of orders he has no recollection of taking come constantly.

“I think I was targeted because I criticized the status of 2ch on the Internet. If you make an enemy of 2ch then terrible posts will be made [about you] and left there. I don’t know whether the people who push their way into my house are from inside 2ch or 2ch followers, or… I just give up because there’s nothing I can do.”

(From ZAKZAK’s 2ch reporting team)
========================

Now for Sankei Sports:
November 5, 2006

Original Article

Here’s Hiroyuki! 2-channel moderator gives lecture at Waseda University

Hiroyuki Nishimura, better known simply as “Hiroyuki,” moderator of enormous, anonymous bulletin board website 2-channel, who has been “missing” since last August, gave a lecture at Waseda University (located in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo)’s school festival on Nov. 4.

Nishimura has faced continual lawsuits over slanderous and hurtful posts on his website. Just last month, he was ordered to pay compensation of 1 million yen without ever setting foot in the courtroom, but he said “I’ll go to court if I’m bored.” He showed a consistent stance of having no intention of paying the damages.

He spoke freely of what he was thinking while “missing” at a lecture during the Waseda Festival. The theme was “the information society as seen from 2-channel.” 650 people, including standees, crammed the large classroom used for the event.

When Nishimura appeared in a black t-shirt over a gray long-sleeved shirt, the crowd oohed and ahhed. In response to the host’s comment that “It was reported you were missing…” Nishimura lazily played the stooge, saying “No no, you see, I’m a shadow warrior.” The crowd roared with laughter.

The focus was, as could be expected, the issue of Nishimura’s litigation-related disappearance. Last month, in a suit brought by a female professional golfer (age 24) alleging she was slandered and harmed by the bulletin board seeking deletion of the posts and damages etc, Nishimura was ordered to delete the posts and pay 1 million yen in compensation. However, he ignored the call from the court to appear in this case, and never showed up in court even once.

As to the reasons for that, Nishimura admitted, “Actually, there are similar cases going on from Hokkaido in the north to Okinawa in the south.” He bluntly explained, “Well, lawyer fees would cost more than 1 million yen… Hey, I’ll go if I get bored.”

He explained that “I deleted the problem section (from the site),” but added his horrifying assertion that “there is no law to make me pay compensation by force, so it doesn’t matter if I win or lose in court. It’s the same thing if I don’t pay (the compensation).” When asked about his annual income, he boasted “a little more than Japan’s population (127 million).” So he’s not having money issues…

Nishimura smiled when he received his favorite snack candy “Yummy sticks” (Umai bo) from the host. However, at the end an accident occurred. During a part of the program where Nishimura answered questions for him posted on his website and displayed on a large screen, there was a post saying “Die, Hiroyuki!”

Nishimura shook it off: “That’s a lazy greeting.” Finally, the lecture ended with a message to people looking at their PCs right now: “Go outside!”

In response to Nishimura’s assertion that “there is no law forcing me to pay compensation,” Nippon University professor of criminal law Hiroshi Itakura points out, “a court’s compulsory enforcement (kyousei shikkou) can be used to ‘collect’ compensation.” He says that running from compensation is impossible. Also, if someone hides assets etc for the purposes of avoiding compulsory execution, then “that would constitute the crime of obstructing compulsory execution,” the professor tells us. Itabashi wonders, “It is strange that the courts that ordered the compensation have not implemented compulsory enforcement. It’s not like Nishimura doesn’t have any assets…”

ARTICLES END

Japan Times column Nov 7 2006 on Japan’s half-truth claims to the UN

mytest

Hello Blog. I have just put up my most recent column (my 33rd) for the Japan Times Community Page on my regular website. Published today, November 7, 2006, this is the “Director’s Cut”, with sentences excised from the print version for space concerns, and links to sources for claims within the article.

Rather than having the same article twice at this domain–both at debito.org and on the blog–I’ll just send the blog a link.
http://www.debito.org/japantimes110706.html

In the article I talk about Japan’s pattern of half-truth claims and empty promises regarding the United Nations, and most recently its membership on the newformed (and stumbling) Human Rights Council. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
END

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 7, 2006

mytest

Hi All. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Lots been going on recently. Another newsletter to fire off to you:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 7, 2006
Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) NEW JAPAN TIMES COLUMN TODAY (NOV 7) ON JAPAN’S BROKEN UN PROMISES
2) EXCLUSIONARY KITAKYUSHU RESTAURANT ADDED TO ROGUES’ GALLERY
3) ECONOMIST SOFTBALL OBIT: “TOKYO ROSE” DIES
4) PODCAST ON GOV. ISHIHARA
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
(freely forwardable)

1) NEW JAPAN TIMES COLUMN TODAY (NOV 7) ON JAPAN’S BROKEN UN PROMISES

Let me start with this since it’s the briefest entry:

My latest article in the Japan Times Community Page will be coming out today, as in a few hours. Teaser summary:

=================================
Now that the UN’s corrupt Human Rights’ Commission has been replaced with the “Human Rights Council”, with more accountability for its members vis-a-vis their own human rights record, the Japanese government got elected last June as its richest member. Interestingly, I was able to obtain a copy of Japan’s submission to the UN when it declared its HRC candidacy. In it, Japan pulls the wool over the UN’s eyes, with half-truth claims regarding Japan’s willingness to comply with international standards of human rights (with prominent treaties left unsigned and signed treaties left unfollowed). Moreover, nowhere mentioned in the sales pitch is any form of commitment towards improving the rights of Japan’s international residents.

Maybe this ability for unqualified candidates to get elected is what’s causing writers on the UN, such as James Traub (author, “The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power”) to call the Human Rights Council “a failure” (NPR Fresh Air, October 31, 2006) already, mere months after its birth…
=================================

Anyway, pick up a copy of the Japan Times today and have a look.

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

2) EXCLUSIONARY KITAKYUSHU RESTAURANT ADDED TO ROGUES’ GALLERY

These sorts of things just seem to keep on happening whenever I attend a JALT conference (http://www.jalt.org). Last year, it was me finding out how the Japanese police were bending newly-revised hotel laws, by misrepresenting the law to make it seem as though all foreigners (residents of Japan or not) must show their passports at check-in. (Wrong–it only applies to tourists.) See the Japan Times (“Checkpoint at Check In”, October 13, 2005) article that came out of that at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html

This year, the following happened:

===================================================
ROGUES’ GALLERY OF EXCLUSIONARY ESTABLISHMENTS NOW INCLUDES ITS 21ST CITY:

Kokura, Kitakyushu City (Fukuoka Pref)
Restaurant “Jungle”
Kitakyushu-shi Kokura Kita-ku Kajimachi 1-7-4, Kajimachi Kaikan 3F
Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124
Photo of storefront available at
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Kokura

On November 3, 2006, during the JALT National Conference at Kitakyushu, a JALT member was refused entry to the above restaurant. Reason given was that the establishment was full, even though to the refusee it visibly had open tables. The person who was refused informed Rogues’ Gallery moderator Arudou Debito at the conference after one of his presentations, and volunteer Jessica tracked down the site.

On November 4, at around 9PM, Arudou Debito, Jessica, and four other friends (including Ivan Hall, author of CARTELS OF THE MIND) went to the restauant in question. Arudou first went in alone and the manager, a Mr Matsubara Tatsuya, indeed tried to refuse him entry by claiming the restaurant was full. A quick walk around the restaurant confirmed that the establishment, with at least eight large tables plus counter space, was in fact almost completely empty. When it was clear that Arudou and Matsubara could communicate in Japanese, Matsubara then switched tacks and offered him counter space. Arudou then brought in his friends and confirmed that they could now have a table.

Arudou and friends then confirmed (after being seated and ordering drinks) that a) Matsubara did refuse foreigners entry, b) because he cannot communicate in English–he finds it his “nemesis” (nigate), c) and because he finds foreigners frightening (kowai). When asked if he had ever had any bad experiences or altercations with non-Japanese customers, Matsubara said no. He just (for reasons never made very clear) did not want to have to deal with them.

When Arudou and friends softly and calmly pointed out that a) non-Japanese are customers too, with money, not to mention language abilities (or at least forefingers to point to items on the menu), b) refusing them entry hurts their feelings, as it did the person refused the previous evening, c) that welcoming customers was part of the job description of his line of work (kyaku shoubai), he apologized and said he would try harder not to refuse non-Japanese customers in future.

The irony of the situation was that at the end of our drinks, one of the waiters who attended us (a student at the local technical college) talked to us in very good English. Why couldn’t Matsubara just have passed any customer with whom he was unable to communicate on to his staff?

We look forward to future reports from readers of this website who might wish to investigate this restaurant in future to see if Matsubara keeps his promise.
===================================================
ROGUES’ GALLERY ENTRY ENDS

I should think that if I find some time, I should write a letter on this case to JALT, the Kitakyushu Mayor’s office (after all, he did officially welcome us in the JALT brochures), the local Bureau of Human Rights, and maybe the local newspaper, and let them know that this sort of thing happened and should not anymore. JALT is like a mountain in that it is big enough to influence the weather–with a couple thousand attendees surely a windfall for the local economy. Might as well ask to use the authority if we have it.

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

3) ECONOMIST SOFTBALL OBIT: “TOKYO ROSE” DIES

Here’s an article I stumbled across while reading back issues of The Economist, left fallow on my desk due to all my travels:

OBITUARY: TOKYO ROSE
Iva Toguri, a victim of mistaken identity, died on September 26th, aged 90
From The Economist (London) print edition, Oct 5th 2006
Courtesy http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_SJJSDST

=================== EXCERPT BEGINS =======================
MANY years after the end of the war in the Pacific, a former tail-gunner who had been stationed in New Guinea wrote a letter to a veterans’ magazine. He wished to share his memories of a voice. Every night in the spring of 1944, huddled in a tent with his comrades, he would hear a woman speaking behind the crackle and whistling of the Halicrafter radio. “Hi, boys!” she would say, or sometimes “Hi, enemies! This is your favourite playmate.” She would play swing and jazz, introduce “some swell new records from the States” and then, almost as an afterthought, mention that a Japanese attack was coming: “So listen while you are still alive.”

They listened happily, as did American troops all over the Pacific. It was rare and good to hear a female voice, even through several layers of interference and even with the sneer of death in it. Whether it was one woman, or many different women, did not matter. They could picture her: a full lipstick smile, ample curves, perfect skin, part Hedy Lamarr and part the sweetheart left at home. She was a temptress and a vixen, and her name was Tokyo Rose. For even myths must have names and addresses…
=================== EXCERPT ENDS =======================
Rest of the article also at

Economist Oct 5 Obit: “Tokyo Rose” dies (with replies)

COMMENT: I think the author of article tries a little too hard to let Ms Toguri off the hook. Unwilling or subversive participant perhaps, the fact that she still participated is something that should be discussed. The author should have dealt with her motivations a little more, and instead of merely dismissing “incriminate Tokyo Rose” campaigner Walter Winchell as a “populist ranter”, brought up more of his claims and counterargued them better. Her popularity with the troops and celebrity status does not in my view exonerate her participation in the propaganda, and she herself should have told us a bit more about what went on before she died. If there is any “mistaken identity”, as the article claims in the title, I feel it is in part because she did an insufficient amount to correct it herself.

The Economist has done this sort of thing before, by the way. In an article on the Emperor Hirohito death in 1989, there was a Leader (editorial) dismissing British newspaper claims that he was “truly evil”. The Economist instead made the case that “Hirohito was one of the people in the 20th Century who delivered us” (IIRC–it’s been 18 years). I had trouble buying it then, and, given the revelations of Shouwa Tennou’s wartime involvement (see Herbert BIX’s book on it), I buy it even less today.

Contrast these with what passed as an Obit in The Economist for Leni Riefenstahl, another woman with wartime complicity. Also available at

Economist Oct 5 Obit: “Tokyo Rose” dies (with replies)

Maybe this is just something The Economist does: Focus on the output and not on the motivations of the artist. Pity it means glossing over archetypal historical figures in retrospective. I say: Less gush for people with possible complicity in wartime, please. There are issues here which should be discussed.

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

4) PODCAST ON GOV. ISHIHARA

Shortly before writing this newsletter, I was interviewed tonight by “Bicyclemark’s Communique”, an introduction through ResPublica’s Lee-Sean Huang, by Mark, a Portuguese-American activist blogger, podjournalist, and vlogger living in Amsterdam. He asked me about Governor Ishihara, a topic I have probably B-minus knowledge about, and the emerging right-wing shift in Japan’s internationalist future. I’m pretty tired, so I made a couple of goofs, but have a listen anyway. I think it came out quite alright:

http://bicyclemark.org/blog/2006/11/bm164-ishiharas-tokyo/

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

Thanks as always for reading!
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 7, 2006 ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2006

mytest

Hi Blog. Just a quick note before bedtime:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2006
ACADEMIC APARTHEID SPECIAL

///////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) IVAN HALL ET AL SPEAKING AT JALT KITAKYUSHU
2) BERN MULVEY ON MORE MINISTERIAL MOVES AGAINST ACADEMIC TENURE
3) U HODEN LAWSUIT RE SCHOOL BULLYING DUE TO CHINESE ETHNICITY
4) “AMERICANS FOR EQUAL TREATMENT” UNION FORMING
5) RES.PUBLICA JOB ADVERT FOR FULL-TIME JAPAN-BASED ACTIVIST
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org), Freely forwardable

1) IVAN HALL ET AL SPEAKING AT JALT KITAKYUSHU

The Japan Association for Language Teaching (JALT http://www.jalt.org) will be holding its annual meeting in Kitakyushu this weekend (http://conferences.jalt.org/2006) . I’ll be there too at the PALE Group (http://www.debito.org/PALE) labor-issues booth most of the time selling books and hobnobbing, so if you’re in the area, stop by.

But a major coup for us this weekend is getting Ivan Hall to speak for us. One of the granddaddies of the movement against unequal treatment for foreign academics in Japan, Dr Hall is the author of book CARTELS OF THE MIND, a seminal work on how Japan keeps intellectual closed shops in five different job arenas, one of them higher education. He was the person who first got me into activism more than a decade ago (regarding “Academic Apartheid”, where foreigners get insecure contract work while Japanese get tenure), and you can see my archive on the issue at http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei I talked to Dr Hall for two hours this morning by phone, and his speech sounds excellent. Don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear one of the true troopers for human rights in Japan.

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #662: Ivan Hall: Communities, or Cartels of the Mind?
Presenters: Ivan Hall, Jonathan Britten
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Forum
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 16:45 – 18:20 (4:45 PM – 6:20 PM); Room: MAIN HALL
——————————————

I might add that PALE will be sponsoring two other events:

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #523: PALE Roundtable Discussion
Presenters: Jonathan Britten, Rube Redfield, Evan Heimlich, Patrck O’Brien
Content & Format: College and University Education (CUE); Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Forum
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 13:15 – 14:50 (1:15 PM – 2:50 PM); Room: 21A

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #661: PALE AGM
Presenter: Jonathan Britten
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Meeting
Scheduled: Friday, November 3rd, 15:00 – 16:00 (3:00 PM – 4:00 PM); Room: 21A
——————————————

And I will also be speaking, although not in a room (I couldn’t get one, alas):

——————————————
PRESENTATION DETAILS
Presentation #107: “JAPANESE ONLY”: Racial Discrimination in Japan.
Presenter: Arudou Debito
Content & Format: Universal; Administration, Management and Employment Areas (PALE); Discussion
Scheduled: Saturday, November 4th, Poster set-up Room: FOYER
——————————————

Again, if you can make it to JALT this weekend, walk on by.

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

2) BERN MULVEY ON MORE MINISTERIAL MOVES AGAINST ACADEMIC TENURE

Dr. Mulvey, a longtime friend and Dean of Faculty at Miyazaki International University, has stumbled upon some Ministry of Education plans to further undermine lifetime employment (“permanent academic tenure”) in Japanese academia.

By playing with titles, and only allowing the very top (“kyouju’, or Full Professor) to have any non-contracted tenured status, the Ministry is continuing its efforts to make full-time employment in Japanese academia insecure.

============= EXCERPT BEGINS ====================
There are indeed only THREE official ranks currently–Kyouju, Jokyouju, and Joshu (assistants), with Koushi being a somewhat nebulous term for everyone else.

[Kyouju = Full Professor, Jokyouju = Associate Professor,
Koushi = Assistant Professor, Joshu = something below that]

This will now change to FOUR official ranks: Kyouju, Junkyouju, Jokyou and Joshu. … None of the [ministerial]documents, however, make it really clear why it was necessary to add this new category of assistant–not to mention change “Jokyouju to “Junkyouju.” However, the Sennin Koushi discussion, not to mention the repeated mentions that Jokyou need not be “tenured”, suggest that one possible motivation IS to give universities an out/excuse for dumping current Sennin Koushi and/or hiring even Japanese as contract Kyoujo.
============== EXCERPT ENDS =====================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=58

For those who need more information on what’s wrong with contract employment in academia with no review or hope of tenure, see http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei , or a quick roundup at http://www.debito.org/?p=58 . Again, it dovetails with the Academic Apartheid issue people like Ivan and I have been raising all these years now.

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

3) U HODEN LAWSUIT RE SCHOOL BULLYING DUE TO CHINESE ETHNICITY

In the current press’s frenzied return to the problems of bullying (ijime) within Japanese schools, sometimes one’s ethnicity (in this case, a Chinese-Japanese grade schooler) becomes the bullying bone to pick. Years of negligence by both teachers and parents at a grade school in Kawasaki ultimately led to a public acknowledgment of the problem, an apology from the Board of Education and the school, and a demand for restitution. However, the bullies’ parents refused to own up to anything, so Plaintiffs took them to court. U Hoden, Professor at Japan Women’s University and a naturalized Japanese is the father of the victim and the named Plaintiff in this case:

============= EXCERPT BEGINS ====================
One of the perpetrators was a male classmate of the Plaintiff’s daughter, who began taunting the victim in first and second grade with calls of “Chinky” (chuugokujin, or “Chinese”). In third grade, this boy was put in her class, and led a gang of three boy and three girl classmates to taunt her. They carried out this bullying in the open, in front of the teacher. From around May 2000, on a daily basis they began calling her “dimwit” (noroma) and “shithead” (unko), and held their noses whenever they came close to call her “stinky” (kusai). Moreover, the ringleader of this bullying gang (“A-kun”) began to inflict repeated violence, such as hitting her head, kicking her legs, and pulling on her hair. Even in class, when the victim stood up to answer a question, A-kun would heckle her, and terrorize her with public comments like “Everyone in this class hates an asshole like you!” (omae wa minna kara kirawarete iru).

Thus from the tender age of eight, Plaintiff’s daughter was plagued with thoughts such as, “Does the Chinese blood I have flowing inside of me make me such a bad person? Am I a sullied person (kitanai ningen) because of it?” During the first year of bullying, the victim’s body stopped growing and developing. Her health deteriorated from the fear she felt, and she regressed mentally back to an infantile state and became isolated and withdrawn (kankaku shougai). A doctor diagnosed her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and prescribed her with daily tranquilizers to help her sleep, which she still takes to this day.
============== EXCERPT ENDS =====================
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=59

his is an ongoing lawsuit, decision due sometime next year. Will keep you posted. Plaintiff can be reached at yuxinghong@msn.com

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

4) “AMERICANS FOR EQUAL TREATMENT” UNION FORMING

Email from a friend:

=========================================
Dear Debito,

AETU is going to create a union in Japan by November 11, 2006. It will be the first time that a union was created in Japan made up of Americans. Can you get the word out to all Americans you know in Japan and the U.S. to take part in this historic event? We need some people to volunteer to be officers. There will be no union fees. We will seek donations from the U.S. For further details, please ask them to contact AETU at americansforequaltreatment@yahoo.com

Masao Sasaki (americansforequaltreatment@yahoo.com)
http://www.geocities.com/americansforequaltreatment/
=========================================

COMMENT: I send this to you because I know Masao personally and know his heart is in the right place. I have heard random scoffs from cyberspace about why this group fighting for rights should be “restricted to Americans”. The reason is because of the special relationship between Japan and the US, and Americans in particular could use their clout (for whatever it matters to the USG, which usually takes little notice of their citizens abroad unless there is an overriding geopolitical interest) to push for reforms for foreigners in Japan. It worked with Ambassador Mondale ten years ago pushing the doors open for Ivan Hall and company
( http://www.debito.org/JPRIfaxfrommondale.jpg and http://www.debito.org/JPRImondaleletter.html )

I say people should use whatever is peacefully at their advantage to push for the rights of all. Because whatever gains Masao makes in Japan will not be restricted to Americans. Check it out.

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

5) RES.PUBLICA JOB ADVERT FOR FULL-TIME JAPAN-BASED ACTIVIST

Forwarding this message. People who might be interested in a paying job as an activist here in Japan (those jobs are quite rare, believe me; I certainly can’t make a living out of what I do) ought to check this out:

==================================================
Arudou-san,

My name is Lee-Sean Huang, I am a former ALT on the JET Programme, and
I have been following your activism work for sometime now.

I am currently working for TheResPublica.org, a non-profit NGO based
in New York City. We are currently working on a new online global
activist community that will support multilingual, country-specific
content. One of our potential launch markets is Japan, and I was
wondering if you could help us out with our fact-finding and
recruitment.

The aim is to bring together millions of people around the world who
favor a more progressive globalization by building a well-organized
public constituency for key global issues like poverty, climate
change, global governance and peace. We will use the latest techniques
in online organizing, text messaging and more traditional campaigning
to do this. We plan to launch the organization in the next three
months.

Right now we are in the intensive recruiting phase of the project. We
are currently looking for several senior staff (we’ll be headquartered
in New York but we expect senior staff to be spread around the world),
as well as country coordinators in the UK, France, Germany, South
Korea, Japan, Brazil, India and China, and regional contact points for
each of the Middle East, Latin America, Southeast Asia and Africa.

We are looking for the following:

– A Chief Operating Officer who will be responsible for operations and
financial management
– An International Organizing Director who will
coordinate a growing group of national contact points that will
localize and amplify our global campaigns
– An Advocacy Director who will be a senior campaigner and play a key
role in communications
– An Online Director who will be steward of our technology strategy,
and will also likely have campaigning responsibilities
-Country/Regional Directors who will be responsible for building and
managing one of the organization’s country/regional teams.

I can provide a more detailed description of the project and job
descriptions, which should give a better sense of what we are
looking for. Would you be able to think about the most talented people
you know and whether you think they might be a good fit for this
project? We are looking for top-class, entrepreneurial, energetic,
international and accomplished people who are interested in being part
of this from the ground up.

Lee-Sean Huang
lee-sean@therespublica.org
260 Fifth Avenue, Level 9
New York, NY 10001
http://www.therespublica.org/
==================================================

I know very little about the organization itself right now, but those interested, please have a look.

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

Enough for tonight. Thanks as always for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG OCT 31 2006 NEWSLETTER ENDS

IJIME LAWSUIT: THE U HODEN CASE, 2000-present

mytest

Hi Blog. Just got finished translating the following for a friend. Debito in Sapporo

THE U HODEN CASE
HEISEI 16 (WA) DAI 247-GO SONGAI BAISHOU SEIKYUU JIKEN
YOKOHAMA DISTRICT COURT KAWASAKI BRANCH, CIVIL COURT B
SEEKING DAMAGES FOR POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER

Writeup based on Japanese original dated July 20, 2006, available at http://www.debito.org/kawasakiminzokusabetsu.htm
Translation by Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

COURT CASE: HEISEI 16 (2004) (WA) DAI 247-GO SONGAI BAISHOU SEIKYUU JIKEN
PLAINTIFF: U HODEN et.al (Faculty, Japan Women’s University (Nihon Joshi Daigaku)
DEFENDANTS: SATOU Naoki, SATOU Tomoko, MORITA Masako.
COURT: YOKOHAMA DISTRICT COURT KAWASAKI BRANCH, CIVIL COURT B, reachable at Ph: 044-233-8171

I THE GIST OF THE CASE
“The results of the Board of Education Survey are as follows: For approximately one year starting from April 2000, a third-grade female student, who has a Chinese father and a Japanese mother, was the victim of bullying of both a violent and insulting nature, grounded in ethnic discrimination (minzoku sabetsu). We recognize that this bullying, even taking into account all other cases in our district (zenshi teki ni mite mo), is rare and extremely malicious example. We are deeply aware of how great the responsibility of the school board has to show guidance both in the case of schools in their district in general, and the Kawasaki City Minamisuge Primary School in specific.”

The above is a paragraph from “RE Bullying Connected to Ethnic Discrimination: Statement of awareness and what schools should do from now on”, which was announced by Kouno Kazuko, Director of the Kawasaki City Board of Education, and directed at the principal of Kawasaki City Minamisuge Primary School.

One of the perpetrators was a male classmate of the Plaintiff’s daughter, who began taunting the victim in first and second grade with calls of “Chinky” (chuugokujin, or “Chinese”). In third grade, this boy was put in her class, and led a gang of three boy and three girl classmates to taunt her. They carried out this bullying in the open, in front of the teacher. From around May 2000, on a daily basis they began calling her “dimwit” (noroma) and “shithead” (unko), and held their noses whenever they came close to call her “stinky” (kusai). Moreover, the ringleader of this bullying gang (“A-kun”) began to inflict repeated violence, such as hitting her head, kicking her legs, and pulling on her hair. Even in class, when the victim stood up to answer a question, A-kun would heckle her, and terrorize her with public comments like “Everyone in this class hates an asshole like you!” (omae wa minna kara kirawarete iru).

Thus from the tender age of eight, Plaintiff’s daughter was plagued with thoughts such as, “Does the Chinese blood I have flowing inside of me make me such a bad person? Am I a sullied person (kitanai ningen) because of it?” During the first year of bullying, the victim’s body stopped growing and developing. Her health deteriorated from the fear she felt, and she regressed mentally back to an infantile state and became isolated and withdrawn (kankaku shougai). A doctor diagnosed her with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and prescribed her with daily tranquilizers to help her sleep, which she still takes to this day.

The bullying and mental duress the victim received did not affect her alone–it affected her family as well profoundly. Her father, a university professor, felt from all the stress as if something was lodged in his throat, and became unable to speak properly. Her mother was unable to keep her mind on her cooking, and her siblings were unable to get a good meal for so long that they ended up receiving medical treatment. Eventually the father decided to move his family away. Afterwards, however, Defendants steadfastly refused to cooperate with Kawasaki City Board of Education investigations to confirm the facts of the case, even though the Defendants confirmed for the record (see Affidavit) that their son’s bullying drove the father to distraction.

The parents of the victim have since brought suit against the parents of A-kun and also against the parents of a female classmate, “A-chan”. However, they have never acknowledged the existence of bullying. Also, rumors have been flying around the school that the victim was a problem child and thus deserved the bullying, that the victim’s father is violent, that her siblings also got bullied [and thus she hasn’t been singled out], and that the victim’s family is doing this for money. Plaintiffs also suffered from phone call harassment at the workplace and the new Yokohama apartment. This kind of malicious and anonymous protest towards the victims has continued to this day without letup.

II THE BACKGROUND TO THE ISSUE

What makes this case particularly egregious is not only the malicious nature of the ostracization by A-chan, nor the behavior of the bullies, but rather the fact that this happened repeatedly in front of the teacher. When the bullying began in the spring of 2000, the teacher was aware that bullying was going on, but just passed it off as “playfulness” (fuzake ai) or “a snit” (kenka). Whenever the bullying happened, the teacher either just told them to knock it off, or worse yet, turned a blind eye. When the victim told the teacher that she was feeling unwell, the teacher halfheartedly said, “What, again?” “Okay, go to the nurse’s office,” and thus further encouraged the abuse.

The parents of the victims filed complaints about the teacher’s negligence, and in December the issue was talked about in a school meeting. However, the mother of A-chan said “Doesn’t the problem somehow lie with your daughter, not mine?” This statement had no basis in fact, and just confused things further. The school’s administrators used this argument as justification for avoiding further responsibility.

Even after the school administration said it was aware of the bullying, it did not officially inform their schoolteachers about what was going on, nor did they caution the parents of the bullies what they should do about it. Because of this delay in formally dealing with it, the abuse continued. The Board of Education’s notice to the principal of Minamisuge Primary School opened with the following:

“A school must be a place where all children can have a relaxing, healthy, fun, and secure lifestyle. However, this time, the school’s teachers and staff did not take appropriate measures, and did not take care of the mental state of the victim. Also, the fact that the school did not caution the children in question made the bullying lengthy and repeated. As a result, the victim’s mental state deteriorated to the point where she could not come to school, and the parents had to move out of the school district. There is no possible way to explain away these facts of the case.”

III INVESTIGATION INTO THE CIRCUMSTANCES BY THE BOARD OF EDUCATION

In May 2001, the principal of Minamisuge Primary School reported the bullying to the Board of Education, and the BOE launched an investigation into who was responsible.

The investigation centered on the victim’s classmates, questioning the faculty, and asking for the cooperation of other classmates to back up the victim’s testimony. However, the parents of the bullies vigorously objected, saying, “The victim may have suffered, but so have the children around her. This investigation will only reopen old wounds.” They tried to drive a wedge between the BOE and the children, with some teachers’ support. However, the BOE’s investigators faced up to the difficulties, continued their investigations tenaciously, and managed to get testimony from classmates who witnessed several cases of bullying. They also managed to get written diaries about the events from the bullies, which led to reinvestigation and the eventual outing of all of the facts of this cruel, unbelievable case.

The investigation was launched in 2001, but thanks to the obstruction of schoolteachers and parents to the bullies’ diaries, it was not until September 2002 before it was concluded.

On January 19, 2003, the Director of the Kawasaki City BOE sent the results of the investigation to the Minamisuge Primary School principal and the BOE. On January 28, the Director apologized in a press conference. On March 11, the BOE issued a punishment (shobun) to the teacher involved, but ironically he had by now already quit the school and moved on to a private-sector job.

IV STEPS TO A LAWSUIT

Even though the bullies’ parents caused great harm to the victim, and even after the victim had changed schools, the vicious rumors and the obstruction to investigations continued. Although the school and the BOE apologized to the victim and her family, the bullies and their parents steadfastly refused to. This is why we took the step of launching a Civil Court lawsuit against two of the families.

At the press conference announcing the start of our lawsuit, the lawyers of the parents said, “Bullying is a problem lying with the bullies, and something they should not evade responsibility for. We will make it clear that there is no possible way to justify bullying.” The father of the victim added his opinion: “The head of the BOE and the school apologized, but not the bullies or their parents. This is unbelievable and not something I will just forgive and forget. I want a fast resolution to this situation for my daughter who suffered so much.” The mother: “The ethnic discrimination (which is the undercurrent of this bullying) is something I as a Japanese wish to appeal to society.”

What the Plaintiffs want out of this is: A society and a legal system which conscientiously tries to root out the causes of bullying. A society where parents who will not teach their children right from wrong are made to take responsibility and stop their children bullying. A society where bullying is justifiable under no circumstances.

Parents of the bullying children are still trying to twist and cover up the facts of this case, and claim that the BOE’s investigation represents only one side of the story–the Plaintiffs’. They also refuse to believe that the victim’s PTSD has anything to do with bullying, and have demanded the Plaintiffs make public her medical records. Defendants even deny the very existence of violence or verbal harassment. They claim in court that the problem lies with the bullied victim. But there is a contradiction between those classmates’ parents who claim that the teacher did enough to stop this bullying, and those who say the bullying did not exist at all. These divisions are causing the court case to be drawn out, and the victim and her family to face even more social opprobrium.

It is now 2006, and the phone calls still keep coming in. Plaintiff’s place of employment receives anonymous calls saying “Fire that guy.” “He has the evil character of an foreign country.” (hidoi kokuminsei da).

However, on the other hand, after we filed suit, we now have a support group with 120 names listed. Also, our standing up for ourselves has helped others do the same, and we meet with other bullied families to share our grief and solidarity. This case, which seeks to protect the dignity of the human spirit, is being widely watched.

PLAINTIFF U HODEN et al.
yuxinghong AT msn.com
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

mytest

debito.org NEWSLETTER OCT 24 2006

Hello everybody. Arudou Debito here, emailing you during a layover at Narita Airport. Just got finished with my travels (Oct 4-22), so here’s an update on what’s transpired:

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) ERIC JOHNSTON ON MCGOWAN LAWSUIT APPEAL VICTORY
2) AERA/MAINICHI ON 2-CHANNEL’S NISHIMURA
3) SHUUKAN PUREIBOI/JAPAN TIMES ON GAIJINIZING THE PUBLIC:
POLICE CHECKPOINTS NOW HAPPENING TO JAPANESE
4) WORLD TOUR II: TOKYO, CANADA, AND SEATTLE,
AND THE MURRAY WOOD CHILD ABDUCTION CASE DOCUMENTARY
/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Debito.org newsletter dated October 24, 2006
Freely Forwardable

1) ERIC JOHNSTON ON MCGOWAN COURT VICTORY

This article comes from Japan Times Reporter Eric Johnston specially for this newsletter and debito.org. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article are his, and not necessarily those of The Japan Times. I enclose his article in full, because you won’t get this degree of analysis anywhere else:

——————–ARTICLE BEGINS————————–
McGOWAN COURT VICTORY AVOIDS THE REAL ISSUES
By ERIC JOHNSTON
Special to Debito.org

On Oct. 18th, the Steve McGowan case ended with a partial victory, when the Osaka High Court awarded him 350,000 yen. McGowan had sued Takashi Narita, the owner of an eyeglass store [G-Style, see http://gs-gstyle.jp ] in Daito, Osaka Pref. for racial discrimination, after Narita barred him from entering his store and told McGowan he didn’t like black people.

The court’s decision was welcomed by McGowan and his lawyers were, if not completely satisfied, at least relieved that the High Court did not simply repeat the District Court ruling which, as Debito has detailed so well elsewhere on this site (http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html), can be summed up as: McGowan “misunderstood” Narita and there is no evidence of racial discrimination.

But many of those who followed the case, especially human rights activists, remained worried. The High Court avoided ruling whether or not Narita’s words and actions constituted racial discrimination, a point that both McGowan’s lawyer and some of his supporters hammered home to reporters in the post-verdict press conference.

So what was the verdict? It was a very, very carefully, vaguely worded ruling that said Narita’s words and deeds were an illegal activity outside social norms. But, and this is the crux of the problem, it cited no written precedents. The phrase “outside social norms” smacks of paternalism, of a stern father privately scolding the bully. What social norms are we talking about, Dad, and could the court please provide all of us a list of the ones that are legal and illegal?

Furthermore, the phrase used in ruling about the social norms, “fuhou koui” can mean both “illegal activities” or “activities not covered by the scope of current laws on the books.” In this case, given the overall tone of the ruling and because the court ordered Narita to pay, the closer meaning in spirit is “illegal activities “.

But anybody familiar with the way Japan works can see the potential problem ahead. What is going to happen when the next person, Japanese or not, is barred entry into a store whose Japanese owner tells them to leave and then says they don’t like the color of their skin? Using the McGowan High Court ruling as a precedent, some future High Court can simply decide what the “social norms” are based only on what the judge or judges feel the norms are. They then have the power to decide, in the absence of clear, written precedents, whether or not those social norms have been violated to the extent that–even though there is nothing on the books–somebody should be punished.

In fact, using the logic of the Osaka High Court, the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. In other words, the High Court could have simply chosen to use the second possible definition of “fuhou koui”, and say that, although Narita’s comments may have been outside social norms, there is nothing on the books. Therefore, we cannot say that what happened was “illegal”. Therefore, plaintiff’s motion denied.

It is to the eternal credit of the Osaka High Court that their judges made a decision far more moral and ethical than the District Court. However, good intentions often make bad law. By avoiding ruling on the crux of McGowan’s complaint, that Narita’s remarks were, in fact, a form of illegal discrimination, the more fundamental issue remains unaddressed. Namely, whether or not the McGowan case constitutes racial discrimination in a written, legal sense, as opposed to unwritten “social norms” where determination about their violation, and authority for their punishment, is controlled by the whims of a few judges.

The McGowan ruling simply reinforces the importance of having a national, written, easily understandable law banning racial discrimination, a point made by a range of people from McGowan, to 77 human rights groups, to the United Nations itself. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that McGowan will appeal to the Supreme Court to push for a clear ruling on the question of racial discrimination. Many of his supporters pushing for a national law banning discrimination don’t appear to be eager to take his case further and are, rather, content to let McGowan remain a symbol of the need for such a law. In the meantime, the basic question about what constitutes racial discrimination in Japan and what does not remains unanswered.
——————–ARTICLE ENDS—————————-

COMMENT FROM ARUDOU DEBITO:

Agreed. As I argued in my Japan Times article of Feb 7, 2006
(http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7)
the previous Osaka District Court ruling was made by a cracked judge. He established (deliberately or inadvertently) a precedent which would effectively deny any foreigner his right to sue for racial discrimination in Japan. Fortunately, this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, but lowers the market value for suing for this kind of thing (it was 1 to 1.5 million yen; McGowan’s award of 350,000 yen, or about $3500 US, won’t even cover his legal fees!) while ignoring even the existence of racial discrimination

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if McGowan did not appeal. Just goes to show that if you want to win one of these things, you’d better have a completely watertight case. Default mode for Japanese judges is siding with the alleged perpetrator.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Send best wishes to him at
stevetsuruinc@msn.com

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

2) MAINICHI ON 2-CHANNEL’S NISHIMURA

2-Channel, the world’s largest online BBS, and a hotbed for freedom of speech gone wild to the point of libel, is facing hard times. With owner and administrator Nishimura Hiroyuki refusing to even show up in court, let alone pay court-awarded damages for libel (see my court win against him at http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html), he’s apparently dangerously close to declaring bankruptcy, even disappearing from society altogether. Ryann Connell translates an article for the Mainichi. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-
Operator of notorious bulletin board lost in cyber space
http://mdn.mainichi-msn.co.jp/waiwai/news/20061010p2g00m0dm020000c.html

…Nishimura has been reported by Japan’s tabloid media as “missing” — with the strong implication that he’d run away from massive debts brought on by a huge number of lost lawsuits that he consistently refused to contest by showing up in court. But the women’s weekly says it has managed to track him down and find out about the rumors of his disappearance.

“I’m just hanging out like I always do,” Nishimura tells AERA with a blog posting that serves as answers to its e-mailed questions.

Nishimura defends his decision not to contest the myriad of lawsuits filed against Ni-Chaneru.

“I’ve been sued in the north as far as Hokkaido and the south as far as Okinawa. It’s simply not possible to attend every court case where I’ve been named as a defendant. I figure if I can defend myself in every case, it’s exactly the same as not turning up in my defense,” he tells the weekly indirectly.

[ED’S NOTE: Huh???]

Nishimura also strongly denies suggestions that he’s gone bankrupt, which many have speculated may be the main reason nobody seems able to find him now….

The plaintiff took the drastic step because Ni-Chaneru has consistently refused to pay up when courts have declared it a loser in court cases. It has already been ordered to fork out more than 20 million yen over lost lawsuits.

“If they put the Ni-Chaneru domain up for auction, it’d reap tens of millions of yen for sure… There’s bound to be a company out there that would buy it.”
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=48

QUICK COMMENT: I’m beginning to think that Nishimura’s pathological aversion to responsibility has nothing to do with his self-proclaimed role as a guardian of Japan’s freedom of speech (http://www.ojr.org/japan/internet/1061505583.php). More as the story unfolds. Thanks to Mark as always for keeping me informed.

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

3) GAIJINIZING THE PUBLIC: POLICE CHECKPOINTS NOW HAPPENING TO JAPANESE

I have reported on police random ID checks of foreign-looking people (justified by the authorities as a means to curb illegal aliens, terrorism, and infectious diseases) at length in the past. Cycling, walking, appearing in public, staying in a hotel, even living in a place for any amount of time while foreign have been grounds for spots ID Checks and police questioning in Japan. More at:
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police

One of my pet theories is that Japan has a habit of “guinea-pigging the gaijin” with policy proposals. In essence, before you institute a new national policy, foist it on the foreigners–since they have fewer rights guaranteed them by law. Then propose a new-and-improved version for the nationals. It worked for increasing surveillance cameras for the general public (first Kabukichou, then onwards), and for undermining tenure with contract employment in tertiary education (http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei). It didn’t work for universal ID cards (remember the moribund Juki-Net system?). Now the police are working on expanding their authority further, to include Japanese citizens in their random ID checks.

I’ve come to see Japan as a benign police state. Remember–this is the land of the prewar Kempeitai thought police, “katei houmon” home visits by school teachers (with the express aim to snoop on students’ lifestyles, see http://www.debito.org/kateihoumon.html), and neighborhood watch systems still visible as the defanged “chounaikai”. Well, this new police putsch is receiving news coverage with advice. Excerpt follows:

—————-EXCERPT BEGINS————————-

Police shakedowns on the rise
By MARK SCHREIBER
Original article appeared in Weekly Playboy (Oct. 16)
Translation appeared in The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20061008t2.html

Last January, I was rushing past the koban [police box] at the west exit of Shinjuku Station en route to a meeting and suddenly this cop halts me, saying, ‘Will you please submit to an inspection of what you’re carrying on your person?’ ” relates editor Toshikazu Shibuya (a pseudonym), age 38. “I happened to be carrying this Leatherman tool, a pair of scissors with a 3-cm-long folding knife attachment in the handle. The next thing I knew, he escorted me into the koban.”

Shibuya vociferously argued that he used the tool for trimming films and other work-related tasks. “There’s no need for that gadget, you can find something else,” the cop growled, confiscating it.

Several weeks later Shibuya was summoned to Shinjuku Police Station to undergo another round of interrogation. After an hour, he was let off with a stern warning that possession of such scissors was illegal, and made him liable to misdemeanor charges.

Weekly Playboy reports that police have been conducting these shakedowns of the citizenry as part of an “Emergency Public Safety Program” launched in August 2003. In 2004, the number of people actually prosecuted for weapons possession misdemeanors uncovered during these ad hoc inspections, referred to as shokumu shitsumon (ex-officio questioning), reached 5,648 cases, double the previous year, and up sixfold from 10 years ago.

“I think you can interpret it as an expansion of police powers,” says a source within the police. “They are taking advantage of citizens’ unfamiliarity with the law to conduct compulsory questioning.”

In principle, police are not empowered to halt citizens on the street arbitrarily. The Police Execution of Duties Law, Section 2, states that an officer may only request that a citizen submit to questioning based on reasonable judgment of probable cause, such as suspicious appearance or behavior.

Moreover, Weekly Playboy points out, compliance to such a request is voluntary, i.e., you have the right to refuse….

What should you do if you’re stopped? Weekly Playboy offers several suggestions, including recording the conversation and carrying a copy of the relevant passage of the law to show you know your rights. Since cooperation is voluntary, you can refuse; but an uncooperative attitude might be regarded with suspicion. Raising a ruckus in a loud voice might cause a crowd to gather and convince the cop you’re more trouble than it’s worth….
—————–EXCERPT ENDS————————–
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=47

COMMENT:
Hm. Good advice. Exactly the advice I’ve been giving for close to a decade now on debito.org, as a matter of fact. See
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint
But I wouldn’t recommend you raising a ruckus if you’re a foreigner. I’ve heard several cases of people (foreigners in particular) being apprehended and incarcerated for not “cooperating” enough with police, so beware. Point is it’s getting harder to argue racial profiling when Japanese are also being stopped and questioned. However, the difference is that the article’s advice doesn’t apply as well to foreigners–all the cop has to do is say he’s conducting a Gaijin Card search and you’re nicked.

Enjoy life in Japan. Keep your nose clean and short.

/////////////////////////////////////////////////////
Finally, put last because this is the most personal part of the newsletter…

4) WORLD TOUR II
SPEECHES AND PRESENTATIONS IN TOKYO, VANCOUVER, KAMLOOPS BC, AND SEATTLE
AND THE MURRAY WOOD CHILD ABDUCTION CASE DOCUMENTARY

This was my second excursion abroad to talk about issues in Japan (last March was the first, at U Michigan Ann Arbor, NYU, Columbia Law et al), and on this eighteen-day journey I gave a total of seven presentations (two of them papers), at Temple University Japan, Tokyo University, Thompson Rivers University (Kamloops, Canada), University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and University of Washington Jackson School of International Studies. You can see what I said where on this trip, along with other links to older speeches, powerpoint presentations and papers (now totalling 100 since 1995) at
http://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES
They all went really quite smoothly–well-attended, full of questions and comments, accompanied by great hospitality from all my hosts (and I had hosts and places to stay in every port of call; thanks forthcoming to them individually).

Of particular note was the atmosphere at the Japan Studies Association of Canada (JSAC) annual meeting in Kamloops. Despite some initial trepidation, people turned out to be welcoming of an activist (I guess it made a difference from often bone-dry academia); I sold more books there (more than thirty) than ever before. Also, in addition to presentations on “communities within communities in Japan (my aegis), JSAC hosted sections on demography and future welfare, education, security issues, history, and artsy-fartsy stuff. It was enjoyable to coast between presentations and feel the different atmospheres depending on disciplines: Luddite handouts and OHPs with the “continuous-retread touchy-feeley” cultural studies, cloak-and-dagger “what if” theories of the security hawks (North Korea, after all, had just been confirmed as nuclear), and the “See I’m telling you so! Here comes the brick wall” portentous presentations of the demographers. Kudos to friend (and host) Joe Dobson and company for putting this thing on.

The best part of JSAC for me was the fact that the Canadian Ambassador of Japan, Joseph Caron, not only put in an appearance–he stayed two nights and even chaired two sessions at the conference! (Imagine the American Ambassador doing that!) Ambassador Caron proved himself a true gentleman at our farewell dinner, where I got to ask a question and got an impressive answer. But first a segue for context:

—————SEGUE BEGINS: THE MURRAY WOOD CASE——————-

When I first arrived in Vancouver on October 8, I was met by Murray Wood, his partner Brett, and two cameramen. They were all here to film a documentary on the Murray Wood Case, a cause celebre gathering steam in Canada as a major human rights case.

I have mentioned this case briefly in previous newsletters, but let me synopsize again: The Murray Wood Case started when Murray and Ayako Maniwa met, married, and had two children. A former flight attendant at Air Canada, Ayako was by all accounts (Murray’s family was most open with their criticisms as we enjoyed Canadian Thanksgiving dinner in front of the cameras) unconcerned with the welfare of her children–so much so that even the Supreme Court in British Columbia awarded Murray custody of their kids after they split up. However, Ayako, under a ruse to visit her family in Saitama, abducted the children and severed all contact with their father. This is not a matter of he-said she-said: The Canadian police have a warrant out for her arrest if she ever comes to Canada again.

Given Japan’s unenforcable or nonexistent child-custody and visitation laws after divorce, and the dubious honor of being the only G7 country not to sign the Hague Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan has become a safe haven for international abductions. However, what makes this case interesting is that Murray actually tried to work through Japan’s judicial system to get custody back. However, Saitama’s Family District and High Courts were unaccommodating. They ignored Canadian court judgments in their entirety and awarded Ayako custody–essentially because a) the children should not be uprooted from their present surroundings, and b) “fairness”. Judges claimed in their ruling (which I read but cannot provide a link to at this time) that Ayako had not said her piece in Canadian court (she never showed up to give it); but since she appeared in Japanese court, the judges ruled that their opinion (in her favor) more adequately reflected both sides! The Government of Canada is not happy with this outcome, and Murray has gotten a lot of press across Canada. As so he should. More substantiation on all these claims from
http://www.crnjapan.com/people/wom/en/
http://www.debito.org/successstoriesjune2006.html
http://www.google.com/search?num=100&hl=en&lr=&safe=off&q=Murray+Wood%2C+Ayako&btnG=Search
Murray Wood reachable at amw@telus.net.

The case has garnered enough attention for two cameramen, one named David Hearn (reachable at david@ghosty.jp), to come all the way from Los Angeles and Tokyo to film it. Over the course of three days, they interviewed more than a dozen people of authority, family members, and friends (even me) on what happened and what this meant to them. We have a good feeling about what got captured on video, and I’ll keep you posted on any developments. In the age of the powerful documentary, this could be a good thing indeed.

————————–SEGUE ENDS—————————–

Back to JSAC’s final dinner with Ambassador Caron speaking. The Consul General of Japan at Vancouver and his staff were there (I happened to be seated next to Consul Assistant Keith Fedoruk, a rather chinless local hire, and we talked, however briefly and uncomfortably, about the Otaru Onsens Case and racial discrimination in Japan. He said, “Can’t you use your language abilities and position as a citizen in Japan more constructively?” as he broke off conversation.) It was clear that people wanted things to remain nicely, nicely. Perfect timing for one of my questions. Something like:

“Thank you Ambassador Caron. As you know, it is my job to raise the difficult issues, so let me not act out of character. The Consul General mentioned in his earlier speech tonight about the communality between Canada with the high regard for human rights and the rule of law. I would like to raise the issue about the Murray Wood Case. Given that this case involves Canadian court decisions ignored to deny custody to Canadian citizens, I would like to know if your office will continue to pursue this. Your government has been very publicly supportive or human rights. Your predecessor, Ambassador Edwards, kindly gave us a strong letter of support during the Otaru Onsens Case. Child abductions after divorce are a serious problem which affects the rights of both of your countries’ citizens. What will you do in future to promote human rights between your countries?”

Yes, it was a long question, and I had no time to develop Murray’s Case. I expected a standard answer of “We know nothing. We’ll look into it.” But no!

Ambassador Caron actually knew Murray’s case, and even took time to describe it in more detail to the audience! He mentioned how important he considered it in particular and the issue in general, and he said that he would continue pushing Japan to sign the Hague Convention!

Breathtaking. When the party ended, chinless wonder sitting next to me (who had earlier agreed to at least show my donated J and E JAPANESE ONLY books to the Consul General for consideration for the Vancouver Japan Consulate library) simply walked away, leaving the books behind on the dinner table. Bit of a shock, but again, not out of character. I sold them later that night anyway. Ambassador Caron (who also knew the Onsens Case) gladly took a copy as well.

Let’s hope the Murray Wood Case continues to build up steam, since like the Otaru Onsens Case, it’s a watertight representation of a problem with all other alternatives at resolution exhausted.

———————————-

Lots more happened during this trip, but that was the highlight which is germane to this debito.org newsletter. If you want me to spin a few stories for the Friends’ email List (I still haven’t written out what happened on last March’s World Tour I), let me know at debito@debito.org. Always helpful to know if people out there are enjoying what they read.

Enough for now. I hear my plane back to Sapporo revving its engines.

Arudou Debito
Narita, Japan
October 22, 2006
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org

NB: If you wish to receive updates in real time on important issues and articles, you can view and/or subscribe to my blog at http://www.debito.org/index.php Newsletters will necessarily lag as they collate important information for the general public and media.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF OCTOBER 24, 2006 ENDS

Reporter Eric Johnston on McGowan victorious appeal

mytest

From: japantimes Osaka
Subject: Re: Breaking News: McGowan wins High Court appeal
Date: October 19, 2006 12:29:18 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org

Debito,

If you wish, you’re free to post this on your site:

By ERIC JOHNSTON
Special to Debito.org

On Oct. 18th, the Steve McGowan case ended with a partial victory, when the Osaka High Court awarded him 350,000 yen. McGowan had sued Takashi Narita, the owner of an eyeglass store in Daito, Osaka Pref. for racial discrimination after Narita barred him from entering his store and told McGowan he didn’t like black people.

The court’s decision was welcomed by McGowan and his lawyers were, if not completely satisfied, at least relieved that the High Court did not simply repeat the District Court ruling which, as Debito has detailed so well elsewhere on this site, can be summed up as: McGowan “misunderstood” Narita and there is no evidence of racial discrimination.

But many of those who followed the case, especially human rights activists, were worried. The High Court avoided ruling whether or not Narita’s words and actions constituted racial discrimination, a point that both McGowan’s lawyer and some of his supporters hammered home to reporters in the post-verdict press conference.

So what was the verdict? It was a very, very carefully, vaguely worded ruling that said Narita’s words and deeds were an illegal activity outside social norms. But, and this is the crux of the problem, it cited no written precedents. The phrase “outside social norms” smacks of paternalism, of a stern father privately scolding the bully. What social norms are we talking about, Dad, and could the court please provide all of us a list of the ones that are legal and illegal?

Furthermore, the phrase used in ruling about the social norms, “fuho koi” can mean both “illegal activities” or “activities not covered by the scope of current laws on the books.” In this case, given the overall tone of the ruling and because the court ordered Narita to pay, the closer meaning in spirit is “illegal activities”.

But anybody familiar with the Japan works can see the potential problem ahead. What is going to happen when the next person, Japanese or not, is barred entry into a store whose Japanese owner tells them to leave and then says they don’t like the color of their skin? Using the McGowan High Court ruling as a precedent, some future High Court can simply decide what the “social norms” are based only on what the judge or judges feel the norms are. They then have the power to decide, in the absense of clear, written precedents, whether or not those social norms have been violated to the extent that, even though there is nothing on the books, somebody should be punished.

In fact, using the logic of the Osaka High Court, the decision could have just as easily gone the other way. In other words, the High Court could have simply chosen to use the second possible defination of “fuho koi”, and say that, although Narita’s comments may have been outside social norms, there is nothing on the books. Therefore, we cannot say that what happened was “illegal.” Therefore, plaintiffs motion denied.

It is to the eternal credit of the Osaka High Court that their judges made a decision far more moral and ethical than the District Court. However, good intentions often make bad law. By avoiding ruling on the crux of McGowan’s complaint, that Narita’s remarks were, in fact, a form of illegal discrimination, the more fundamental issue remains unaddressed –namely, whether or not the McGowan case constitutes racial discrimination in a written, legal sense as opposed to unwritten “social norms” where determination about their violation, and authority for their punishment, is controlled by the whims of a few judges.

The McGowan ruling simply reinforces the importance of having a national, written, easily understandable law banning racial discrimination, a point made by a range of people from McGowan, to 77 human rights groups, to the United Nations itself. As of this writing, it appears unlikely that McGowan will appeal to the Supreme Court to push for a clear ruling on the question of racial discrimination. Many of his supporters pushing for a national law banning discrimination don’t appear to be eager to take his case further and are, rather, content to let McGowan remain a symbol of the need for such a law. In the meantime, the basic question about what constitutes racial discrimination in Japan and what does not remains unanswered.

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

Eric Johnston covered the Steve McGowan case for The Japan Times. The opinions expressed in this article are his, and not necessarily those of The Japan Times.

ENDS

McGowan Case: Steve wins case on appeal at Osaka High Court

mytest

Good news at last. Comment follows at bottom:

ARTICLE BEGINS
==========================

African-American wins Y350,000 in damages for being denied entry into Osaka shop
Japan Today, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 19:41 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/387820/all
Courtesy Kyodo News

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court ordered an Osaka optical shop owner to pay 350,000 yen in damages to an African-American living in Kyoto Prefecture for denying him entry to the shop in 2004, altering a lower court ruling in January which rejected the plaintiff’s damages claim.

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka recognized the owner told Steve McGowan, 42, a designer living in the town of Seika, to go away when he was in front of the shop, and acknowledged damages for McGowan’s emotional pain, saying the entry denial “is a one-sided and outrageous act beyond common sense.”

However, the remark “is not enough to be recognized as racially discriminatory,” he said. McGowan had demanded 5.5 million yen.

According to the ruling, the owner told McGowan to go away to the other side of the road in a strong language several times when he was about to enter the shop with an acquaintance in September 2004.

The plaintiff had claimed the owner said, “Go away. I hate black people,” but the ruling dismissed the claim, as the possibility that he misheard the owner cannot be eliminated.
A plaintiff attorney said, “It’s unreasonable that discrimination was not recognized, but the court ordered a relatively large amount of damages payment for just demanding the plaintiff leave the shop. It seems that the court shows some understanding.”
==========================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT:
I am very happy Steve McGowan appealed his case, as it shows just how ludicrous the previous District Court ruling was last January.

Full information on the case at
http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html

The previous decision disqualified McGowan and his wife as credible witnesses to any discrimination, by ruling:

1) McGowan’s testimony inadmissible, as he apparently does not understand enough Japanese to reliably prove that the store-owner used discriminatory language toward him.

2) McGowan’s wife’s testimony as negatively admissable. In her follow up investigation, McGowan’s wife didn’t confirm whether the store-owner had excluded McGowan because he is black (“kokujin”); she apparently asked him if it was because her husband is *foreign*.

Put another way: A guy gets struck by a motor vehicle. The pedestrian takes him to court, claiming that getting hit by a car hurt him. The judge says, “You weren’t in fact hit by a car. It was a truck. Compensation denied.”

This was a huge step backward. As I argued in a Japan Times column (Feb 7, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7), the McGowan decision thus established the following litmus tests for successfully claiming racial discrimination. You must:

* Avoid being a foreigner.

* Avoid being a non-native speaker of Japanese.

* Have a native-speaker witness with you at all times.

* Record on tape or video every public interaction you have 24 hours a day.

* Hope your defendant admits he dislikes people for their race.

Actually, scratch the last one. The eyeglass shop owner did admit a distaste for black people, yet the judge still let him off.

Now this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, although it pays McGowan a pittance (35 man yen will not even cover his legal fees!) and will not acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination.

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if he did not appeal. Gotta pray for the small favors.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Arudou Debito in Seattle, USA

J Times Oct 8 06: Police “instant checkpoints” on rise

mytest

COMMENT: Article courtesy of the author. This is to me a continuing trend of “gaijinizing” the general population, first seen in my experience with the “Sentaku Ninkisei” issue (perpetual contract employment in academia for foreigners expanded to Japanese from 1997: http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#ninkisei). According to this article, police random street-stops-and-searches of citizens (which are illegal as such, according to the article below) are now being enforced. This has been up to now generally the domain of the “gaijin” targeting of “anti-terrorism and disease control” racial profiling running rampant around Japan these past years.

I have given advice on what to do about this similar to Weekly Playboy’s (below) in the past (http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint). Carry the law with you. Japan (always in my view a dormant benign police state, given the police’s far-reaching powers of search, detention, interrogation, and prosecution enabled by the law), is once again stretching their police’s powers, which we ignore at our peril. –Arudou Debito, Vancouver, Canada

The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006
Police shakedowns on the rise

By MARK SCHREIBER
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20061008t2.html
Weekly Playboy (Oct. 16)

Last January, I was rushing past the koban [police box] at the west exit of
Shinjuku Station en route to a meeting and suddenly this cop halts me,
saying, ‘Will you please submit to an inspection of what you’re carrying on
your person?’ ” relates editor Toshikazu Shibuya (a pseudonym), age 38. “I
happened to be carrying this Leatherman tool, a pair of scissors with a
3-cm-long folding knife attachment in the handle. The next thing I knew, he
escorted me into the koban.”

Shibuya vociferously argued that he used the tool for trimming films and
other work-related tasks. “There’s no need for that gadget, you can find
something else,” the cop growled, confiscating it.

Several weeks later Shibuya was summoned to Shinjuku Police Station to
undergo another round of interrogation. After an hour, he was let off with a
stern warning that possession of such scissors was illegal, and made him
liable to misdemeanor charges.

Weekly Playboy reports that police have been conducting these shakedowns of
the citizenry as part of an “Emergency Public Safety Program” launched in
August 2003. In 2004, the number of people actually prosecuted for weapons
possession misdemeanors uncovered during these ad hoc inspections, referred
to as shokumu shitsumon (ex-officio questioning), reached 5,648 cases,
double the previous year, and up sixfold from 10 years ago.

“I think you can interpret it as an expansion of police powers,” says a
source within the police. “They are taking advantage of citizens’
unfamiliarity with the law to conduct compulsory questioning.”

In principle, police are not empowered to halt citizens on the street
arbitrarily. The Police Execution of Duties Law, Section 2, states that an
officer may only request that a citizen submit to questioning based on
reasonable judgment of probable cause, such as suspicious appearance or
behavior.

Moreover, Weekly Playboy points out, compliance to such a request is
voluntary, i.e., you have the right to refuse.

Hiromasa Saikawa, an authority on the police, states that officers are being
browbeaten to come up with results, or else.

“Officers are under pressure to meet quotas for nabbing suspects who can be
prosecuted,” he says. “Low achievers might be passed over for promotion or
denied leave time.”

What should you do if you’re stopped? Weekly Playboy offers several
suggestions, including recording the conversation and carrying a copy of the
relevant passage of the law to show you know your rights. Since cooperation
is voluntary, you can refuse; but an uncooperative attitude might be
regarded with suspicion. Raising a ruckus in a loud voice might cause a
crowd to gather and convince the cop you’re more trouble than it’s worth.

But on the other hand, a show of good manners is probably a wiser strategy.
Keep smiling, but be resolute. Policemen are human too, and a disrespectful
attitude will probably just aggravate matters.

“A cop already knows that almost everyone he stops for questioning will be a
law-abiding citizen,” a retired policeman tells Weekly Playboy. “If you
refuse, they’ll suspect there’s a reason. They can summon assistance and
gang up on you, or in a worst case even make a false charge that you
interfered with official duties.”

For the time being, the magazine concludes, it’s probably a good idea to
eschew carrying knives and other potential weapons on one’s person.

The Japan Times: Sunday, Oct. 8, 2006

More on this issue at
http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#checkpoint
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2006

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2006

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) J TIMES: DEVELOPMENTS IN FOREIGNER TRACKING AND QUALIFICATION
2) SPORT: BASEBALL “ANTI-GAIJIN” COMMENTS RE FOREIGN COACHES
3) J TIMES: ENFORCED “KIMIGAYO” PATRIOTISM RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL
4) ROGUES’ GALLERY: “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGN IN OHTA-SHI, GUNMA PREF.
5) ADDITIONS TO UNIV BLACKLIST: RITSUMEIKAN, KYOTO SANGYO, KITAKYUSHU
6) ADDITIONS TO UNIV GREENLIST: UNIVERSITY OF AIZU
7) J TIMES ON LINGUAPAX ASIA CONFERENCE THIS WEEKEND AT TOKYO UNIV
(I’M SPEAKING THERE TOO:
LINKS TO MY PAPER AND POWERPOINT PRESENTATION BELOW)
/////////////////////////////////////////////////

Back issues, archives, and real-time updates at
http://www.debito.org/index.php
This post is freely forwardable.

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

1) J TIMES: DEVELOPMENTS IN FOREIGNER TRACKING AND QUALIFICATION

These are some important developments in the future of immigration to Japan. Some proposals are quite sensible, if done properly. Article excerpts with comments follow:

“Foreigners to need ‘skills’ to live in Japan
Justice panel takes aim at illegal aliens”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/mail/nn20060923a1.html
Japan Times, Sept 23, 2006

————-ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
A Justice Ministry panel discussing long-term policies for accepting overseas workers said Friday the government should seek out those with special skills and expertise to cope with the shrinking labor force in Japan….

The proposal by the panel headed by Kono also claimed that reducing the number of illegal foreign residents will help the country regain its reputation as “the safest country in the world,” ultimately creating an environment where legal foreign workers can become a part of society. As suggested in the panel’s interim report released in May, the panel said foreigners who want to work in Japan, including those of Japanese descent, must have a certain degree of proficiency in the Japanese language to be granted legal status.
————-ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

COMMENTS: I am largely in favor of these proposals, as long as the government (as I said in previous writings) keeps the language evaluation independently certifiable–not letting it become another means for labor force abuse (by allowing bosses to wantonly decide whether or not workers are “jouzu” enough).

Also glad to see they dropped the hitherto proposed “3% foreigner population cap” as unworkable. Inevitably they would end up kicking foreigners out as the Japanese population dropped. See the original proposal and a critique at
http://www.debito.org/japantimes071106.html

Also, got this comment from a friend:
—————————————————————
Did you see the results of the public comment drive for the Kono report? According to the report (available on the Justice Ministry website at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51-2-1.pdf), they got 437 responses (well, that they officially validated, but that’s another plate of sushi).

Of these, 426, or 98 percent, were opposed to expanding the number of foreign workers. Even those few who wanted to expand the the number of foreign workers apparently said that solving the problem of “public safety” was a condition for their agreeing. Proof, as if we need more, that the foreigners-as-dangerous-criminals-propaganda over the past five years or so has been chillingly effective.

I’d be curious to learn how many people you know or know of wrote in. If it was more than a dozen, I think a fair question to Mr. Kono would be whether the opinions of resident foreigners were included in the survey.
—————————————————————

Did anyone else respond to the MOJ request for info?
Please let me know at debito@debito.org.

Now for the next article concerning immigration:

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

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

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

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

It’s a wait-and-see thing for me, as there is no way to determine how it will be enforced until it is enforced. Witness the April 2005 revisions of hotel laws, requiring passport checks of tourists, which gave the NPA license to order hotels nationwide to demand passport checks of ALL foreigners (regardless of residency):
http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html.

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

2) SPORT: BASEBALL “ANTI-GAIJIN” COMMENTS RE FOREIGN COACHES

Story about frustrated player making anti-gaijin remarks about his coach, our own Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters Trey Hillman, who has had a simply incredible season (and may take the pennant for the first time for this new team). Excerpt follows:

————-ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
At this stage of the season, the only thing any player should be thinking about is winning the pennant…

However, that was vastly overshadowed by the actions of Fighters starter Satoru Kanemura, who threw a major hissy fit due to being pulled by manager Trey Hillman in the fifth inning needing just one out to become the first Nippon Ham hurler to rack up five straight ten win seasons since Yukihiro Nishimura.

After the game, he told the press that. yanking him was “absolutely unforgivable” and then took a racial shot at Hillman, grumbling that, “because he’s a foreigner, he doesn’t care about players’ individual goals.” He then challeneged reporters to print his remarks. “I don’t even want to look at him,” Kanemura said of Hillman.

[Original Japanese: “Zettai ni yurusanai. Gaikokujin wa kojin kiroku wa dou de mo ii n deshou. Shinユyou ga nai tte iu koto. Kao mo mitakunai.”) (Doshin Sept 25)
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/Php/kiji.php3?&d=20060925&j=0034&k=200609254200 ]

In addition, he accused the former Rangers farm director of being more indulgent with Iranian-Japanese righthander Yu Darvish than him. In the context of this little explosion, that also has a racial tinge to it. Kanemura also beefed that he didn’t think Hillman trusted him….

Kanemura… was immediately taken off the roster for the duration of the playoffs and told to not even show up at practice Monday…
————-ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–
Entire article at
http://www.japanbaseballdaily.com/pacificleague9-24-2006.html

Funny to hear a Japanese accuse a foreigner holding the group in higher regard than the individual…

Where this went next:

————-ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Kanemura suspended, fined Y2 million for criticizing Hillman
Japan Today, Tuesday, September 26, 2006
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/385253

TOKYO Nippon Ham Fighters right-hander Satoru Kanemura received a suspension until the end of the playoffs and a 2 million yen fine Monday for criticizing the decision of team manager Trey Hillman, officials of the Pacific League club said. Nippon Ham removed Kanemura from the active roster the same day, following the 30-year-old’s comments from the previous day…. (Kyodo News)
————-ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

COMMENT: While I support the sanctions meted out (for “criticizing the manager’s decision”, not for a “gaijin coach slur”, note), why am I not surprised by this development? Is it a given or a natural law that sooner or later, somebody’s foreignness is inevitably made an issue of here? I know Japan isn’t alone in this regard by any means, but one can hope that things can improve. Especially given the degree of fan service and overall relaxedness that the Fighters under Hillman have displayed–and still look likely to win the pennant! Nice guys can finish first. It’s just a shame that in the heat of the moment, the race card (or gaijin card, whichever interpretation you prefer) has to surface.

Bravo to showing zero tolerance for this sort of thing. Kanemura apologized on his blog (not for the “foreign coach” thingie, however–see http://satoru-kanemura.cocolog-nifty.com), and the apology was accepted by Hillman.

But let’s go deeper. There are plenty of books and articles out there talking about how foreign players, umpires, even coaches are treated in Japan without the due respect they deserve, suffering great indignities due to their “gaijin” status.

And it wasn’t just Hillman last week. During the September 25 high school draft picks for professional teams, one of the stars, Ohmine Yuuta, got his hopes up to be picked by Softbank Hawks. It was supposed to be a done deal, but Bobby Valentine, coach of Chiba Lotte, put in a bid as well for him. As is the established precedent, both Softbank and Lotte drew from a lottery, and Lotte by chance won. Suddenly. Ohmine declined to join Lotte, which is quite a scandal in itself.

But you just gotta pick on the gaijin. The HS coach of Ohmine’s team, a Mr Ishimine Yoshimori, refused to even meet with Valentine on September 26, citing the following reason:

“Americans won’t comprehend our words or feelings.”
(amerikajin to wa, kotoba mo kimochi mo tsuujinai)

Thus Coach Ishimine publicly rebuked Valentine due to some kinda foreign “language barrier”. What an example to set in front of his students! Courtesy Sports Houchi September 27, 2006:
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/baseball/npb/news/20060927-OHT1T00081.htm

Amazing. Major coaches with worldwide reputations, like Valentine, are thus in the end still just gaijin, shown rudeness unthinkable between Japanese in this context. Remember who Valentine is: He brought Lotte to its first pennant win last year in a generation–31 years–the first foreign coach ever to do so.
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/353246
It looks like Trey Hillman may be the second, two years running.

Final word: Shortly after I posted about Hillman, a friend brought up the argument that he didn’t see anything particularly racist or xenophobic about Kanemura’s comments. I answer that on my blog at
http://www.debito.org/?p=42

If the World Cup 2006 can explicitly make “no racism” an official slogan, isn’t it time for Japan’s sports leagues to stop sweeping this issue under the carpet, and make an official statement banning it as well?

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

3) J TIMES: ENFORCED “KIMIGAYO” PATRIOTISM RULED UNCONSTITUTIONAL

This matters to this newsletter because enforced patriotism (particularly in the ways emerging under the creep towards the right wing in Japan) is anathema to multiculturalization and multiethnicity. What are the children of immigrants to say when asked how much they love their country, and be graded on it? (As is happening in grade schools in Saitama and Kyushu.) The “Kimigayo” Issue, where here people are exposed to punishment and job dismissal if they don’t stand and sing the national anthem, is a bellwether. Fortunately, some people are willing to stand up for themselves. Consider some Tokyo educators:

“City Hall to appeal ‘Kimigayo’ ruling”
Japan Times, Sept 23, 2006
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060923a2.html

————-ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
In Thursday’s ruling, presiding Judge Koichi Namba said the Tokyo school board cannot force teachers to sing “Kimigayo” before the flag or punish them for refusing to do so, because that infringes upon the freedom of thought guaranteed by the Constitution…

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday that City Hall will appeal Thursday’s 12.03 million yen district court ruling against the “Kimigayo” directive, which obliges Tokyo’s teachers to sing the national anthem before the national flag at school ceremonies.

He also said punishing teachers for not obeying the directive from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government board of education was “only natural because they neglected their duties as teachers.”
————-ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

COMMENT: Quite a blow — Tokyo District Court, usually quite conservative, actually ruled against the government. Bravo. No word, however, on whether this ruling actually reinstates the suspended teachers or reverses their punishments (I suspect not).

More on this issue in the LA Times at
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-flag22sep22,1,314185.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

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

4) ROGUES’ GALLERY: “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGN IN OHTA-SHI, GUNMA PREF.

The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Businesses, excluding customers by race and nationality (or a salad of the two), has just had an update. Joining the 19 cities and towns with a history of exclusionary signs is:

“Pub Aliw”, Iida-Chou, Ohta City, three blocks from JR Ohta:
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Ohta
This in a town full of Japanese-Brazilians, and a Filipina pub to boot (looking for foreign arubaito, according to a notice on the lower part of the door–in English!). No foreigners allowed–unless they work here!

Nice lettering on the exclusionary sign, though. Nothing like being told “Get lost Gaijin!” in a nice font.

But all is not bad news replete with irony. Also added a photo of a yakiniku restaurant in egregious excluder Monbetsu City last summer (“Mitsuen”–Monbetsu Ph 01582-4-3656). You can see a picture of me tip-top condition (having cycled 800 kms to get there) getting a “JAPANESE ONLY” sign down from there. You can also see a cat posing with me, as she had just been fed by the owners. Cats welcome, foreigners not.
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#monbetsuaug06

Luckily, when we asked owners to take the sign down, they quickly complied! Pity it only took six years and a personal coaxing from us.

Also, and I might have mentioned this before, but what the heck: It’s irony that works in our direction…

An exclusionary sign also technically came down in egregious excluder Wakkanai City as well. Actually, public bath Yuransen (which not only illegally refused foreign taxpayers entry–it opened a segregated “gaijin bath” with a separate entrance, and charged foreigners more than six times the Japanese price to enter!) technically took its sign down because it went out of business. Photo at
http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#wakkanaiaug06

So much for the claim by the management that letting foreigners in would drive them bankrupt…

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

5) ADDITIONS TO UNIV BLACKLIST: RITSUMEIKAN, KYOTO SANGYO, KITAKYUSHU

The Blacklist of Japanese Universities, a list of institutions of higher learning which refuse to provide permanent tenure to their foreign full-time faculty, has been revised again for the time being. It is a good indicator of how language instruction in Japan is being even further ghettoized in Japan’s tertiary education.

Joining the crowd of 98 Blacklisted universities is world-famous RITSUMEIKAN UNIVERSITY, which is upping its own ante to show the world how rotten they can make things for their foreigners. According to their most recent job advertisement, they are disenfranchising their foreign faculty further (with “shokutaku” positions), adding more languages to the roster of disenfranchised positions, and even cutting their salary (compared to a job ad of few years ago) by nearly a third!
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#ritsumeikan

KYOTO SANGYO UNIVERSITY is doing much the same thing, with contract positions containing a heavy workload and unclear extra duties:
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#kyotosangyo

Finally, long-Blacklisted KITAKYUSHU UNIVERSITY has arguably improved things, revising its job description to offer longer contract terms, with the possibility (they say) of permanent tenure for foreign faculty.
http://www.debito.org/blacklist.html#kitakyushu

We’ll just have to wait and see, as the programs were inaugurated in April 2006. Fortunately, according to foreign faculty at the school, KU does currently have tenured foreigners, which means that it has also been moved to the Greenlist.
http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html#kitakyushu

If you want an example of how things could be done more equitably in Japan’s university system, go to the GREENLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES at
http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html

A good example of a nice job offer can be seen in the job advertisement for AIZU UNIVERSITY, which joins 31 other Greenlisted schools.
http://www.debito.org/greenlist.html#aizu

Bravo. Submissions to either list welcome at debito@debito.org.
Submission guidelines available on the lists.
(It may take some time for me to get to listing things, sorry. Volunteer work is like that.)

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

6) J TIMES ON LINGUAPAX ASIA CONFERENCE THIS WEEKEND AT TOKYO UNIV (I’M SPEAKING TOO)

Got some spare time on Saturday, October 7? Come to the Tokyo University Komaba Campus and see me and others speak on language issues. The Japan Times even covered it last weekend:

————-ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS———————
Personality Profile–Frances Fister-Stoga and Linguapax Asia
Japan Times Saturday, Sept. 30, 2006
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060930vk.html

The Linguapax Institute, located in Barcelona, Spain, is a nongovernmental organization affiliated with UNESCO. Linguapax Asia, associate of the Linguapax Institute, carries out the objectives of the institute and of UNESCO’s Linguapax Project, with a special focus on Asia and the Pacific Rim. The objectives cover issues ranging over multilingual education and international understanding, linguistic diversity, heritage and endangered languages, and links between language, identity, human rights and peace. Frances Fister-Stoga, lecturer at Tokyo University, is director of Linguapax Asia…

This is the third annual international symposium organized by Linguapax Asia. It is open to the general public as well as to those with professional interest. Registration is not in advance, but at 8:30 a.m. on the day, Oct. 7, in building 18 of the Komaba campus of Tokyo University. The fee is 1,000 yen. The session will begin at 9 a.m.

Keynote speaker in the morning session will be Charles De Wolf, professor at Keio University, translator, writer and expert on East Asian and Oceanic languages. He will discuss multilingualism and multiculturalism. The afternoon keynote speaker will be Arudo Debito, a professor at Hokkaido Information University and author on human rights issues. He will discuss the question of language and nationality. A dozen other distinguished speakers and two workshops will round out the day.

Web site: http://www.Linguapax-Asia.org
————-ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS———————–

For those who are unable to make it, you can download my paper (still in draft form) in Word format at
http://www.debito.org/arudoulinguapax2006.doc

Download my accompanying Powerpoint Presentation at
http://www.debito.org/arudoulinguapax2006.ppt

My paper’s abstract:
============ABSTRACT BEGINS=============================
In Japan, a society where considerations of “nationality” and “language possession” seem to be closely intertwined, the author finds from his personal experience that having Japanese citizenship is an asset to communicating in Japanese to native Japanese. More indicative is the author’s survey of over two hundred Japanese college students on “What is a Japanese?” over the course of ten years. His findings are that people who have Japanese language ability are more likely to be viewed as “Japanese” than if they do not–even if the fluent do not have citizenship. The author feels this non-racially-based construct for determining inclusion in a society is a very hopeful sign for Japan’s future as a multicultural, multiethnic society.
===========ABSTRACT ENDS================================

I think that’s about enough for today. Thanks as always for reading! I will be slower to respond while I’m on the road for the next three weeks…

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 3 2006 ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yomiuri Shinbun (Sep. 23, 2006)
ENDS

J Times Sept 23 2006: Tokyo Court rules against “forced patriotism” in schools

mytest

COMMENT: A blow against the tendency (especially in Tokyo, as you can see in Ishihara’s comments below) towards (re-)enforced patriotism in schools. Tokyo District Court, which is usually quite conservative, actually ruled against the enforced (with noncompliers punished) standing and singing the Japanese national anthem etc., calling it “a violation of the freedom of thought guaranteed by the Constitution”. Bravo. No word, however, on whether this ruling actually reinstates the suspended teachers or reverses their punishments (I suspect not). More in the LA Times at http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-flag22sep22,1,314185.story?ctrack=1&cset=true — Arudou Debito

========================
City Hall to appeal ‘Kimigayo’ ruling
Japan Times, Sept 23, 2006
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20060923a2.html

KYODO PHOTO Tokyo teachers face the media with their lawyers Friday after filing a request for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government to retract disciplinary actions them, based on a court decision that confirms are not obliged to sing the national anthem while facing the national flag. KYODO PHOTO

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said Friday that City Hall will appeal Thursday’s 12.03 million yen district court ruling against the “Kimigayo” directive, which obliges Tokyo’s teachers to sing the national anthem before the national flag at school ceremonies.

“We will appeal as a matter of course,” the well-known nationalist said at a regular press conference. “The judge should see what the situation is like at places such as metropolitan high schools.”

He also said punishing teachers for not obeying the directive from the Tokyo Metropolitan Government board of education was “only natural because they neglected their duties as teachers.”

Having students and teachers “pay respect to the national flag and anthem is one way to restore discipline” to the schools, the governor said.

Meanwhile several ministers said they were surprised by the ruling.

Justice Minister Seiken Sugiura said Friday that it was “unbelievable” a lawsuit could be filed over the raising of the national flag and the singing of the anthem.

While saying it was his “personal view as a lawmaker,” the justice minister told a news conference that “Kimigayo” and the Hinomaru have been accepted as Japan’s national anthem and flag since the 1868 Meiji Restoration.

The Hinomaru did not officially become the national flag until 1999, when “Kimigayo” became the official anthem.

Referring to the part of the ruling that said, “The Hinomaru flag and ‘Kimigayo’ anthem were the spiritual backbone that supported imperialism and militarism until the end of World War II,” the minister said the flag and anthem have nothing to do with events that led to the war.

Sugiura, who is also a member of the House of Representatives from the Liberal Democratic Party, also said that Britain’s national flag is called “the bloodstained Union Jack” but that the British people have never changed it.

In recent years, the government and politicians have been making steady efforts to promote patriotism.

Education minister Kenji Kosaka said at a separate news conference that the court’s decision was unexpected, given past rulings in similar lawsuits.

Kosaka declined to comment on the disciplinary action Tokyo metes out to teachers who refuse to obey the directive. “It is up to the judicial authorities to decide whether it is legal,” he said.

Meanwhile, about 50 of the 401 plaintiffs in the lawsuit and their lawyers went to the metro board of education Friday to demand it repeal punishments imposed on 345 teaching staff. They also asked the board not to appeal the district court ruling.

In Thursday’s ruling, presiding Judge Koichi Namba said the Tokyo school board cannot force teachers to sing “Kimigayo” before the flag or punish them for refusing to do so, because that infringes upon the freedom of thought guaranteed by the Constitution.

The Japan Times: Saturday, Sept. 23, 2006
ENDS

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 23 2006

mytest

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

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

Newsletter dated September 23, 2006
Freely forwardable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of internationalization tensions:

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

3) YOMIURI: CRACKDOWN ON FOREIGN BUSINESSES IN COUNTRYSIDE

Here’s a harbinger of future foreign entrepreneurialism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of universities:

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

7) AKITA INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY ADDED TO BLACKLIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

毎日Aug 28 06:風に吹かれて:in the U.S.A. 増える「拉致」=國枝すみれ

mytest

風に吹かれて:in the U.S.A. 増える「拉致」=國枝すみれ
http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/archive/news/2006/08/28/20060828dde012070009000c.html

 ハリウッドの映画館で、北朝鮮に拉致された横田めぐみさんのドキュメンタリー「アブダクション(めぐみ−−引き裂かれた家族の30年)」を見た。クリス・シェリダン監督が言う。「日本人は拉致問題を政治問題とみるが、私は人間の問題ととらえた。13歳の子どもを奪われた家族の苦しみは、どんな国の人間でも理解できる」
 映画館を出ると、米国人男性が観客一人一人に「アブダクションを見ましたか」と声を掛けていた。「見た」と答えた人には「日本人も子どもを拉致しています」とちらしを手渡す。
 パトリック・ブレイデンさん(46)。日本人女性と交際して、昨年4月に娘が生まれた。しかし、関係は妊娠中から冷え始め、女性は親権裁判の途中で生後11カ月の娘を連れて帰国してしまったという。
 もちろん、北朝鮮当局に拉致されためぐみさんとは次元が違う。しかし米国では、一方の親が他方の承諾なく子どもを連れ去ったら、れっきとした犯罪。誘拐犯として手配されてしまう。
 結婚の半分が破たんする米国では、別れても子どもは両親二人のもの、ともに養育責任があると考えるのが普通だ。親権裁判の泥仕合を何度も見たカウンセラーも言っていた。「恋愛関係が壊れ、心に傷を負った人間は、子どもに会わせないことで相手に報復しようとする。そういう人には、壊れたのはあなたとの関係で、子供との関係ではない、と何度も言って聞かせる」
 外国での親権裁判で不利な判定が出ることを恐れ、子どもを連れ去る日本人女性は、米国の法と文化を大きく踏み外すことになる。実際、FBI(米連邦捜査局)のお尋ね者リストには日本人女性の写真が並んでいる。
 米国務省によれば、日本人による子どもの連れ去りはこれまで37件報告され、うち18件は昨年以降に起きている。国際協定「子の奪取に関する条約」の加盟国は、連れ去られた子どもを元の国に戻すよう協力する義務があるが、日本は加盟していない。欧米諸国は日本を「連れ去り天国」と批判し、条約に加盟するよう圧力をかけている。
 映画終了から1時間たっても、ちらし配りを続けるブレイデンさん。北朝鮮の拉致問題と一緒にするのはちょっと強引だとも思ったが、「子どもを奪われた気持ちは同じ。勝手に連れ去るのは、僕と赤ん坊にとって公平じゃない」という父親の気持ちは分からないでもない。(ロサンゼルス支局)
毎日新聞 2006年8月28日 東京夕刊

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OF SEPT 10, 2006

mytest

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

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

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

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1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS
2) YOU TUBE: “JAPAN DOESN’T LIKE YOU!” VIDEO ON EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS
3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON NATURALIZATION IN JAPAN
4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI
5) ASAHI: RACIALLY-MOTIVATED BULLYING FUKUOKA COURT CASE RULES FOR VICTIM
6) SF CHRONICLE: CHILD CUSTODY IN JAPAN IS NOT BASED ON RULES
7) KYODO: NEW “FOREIGN CRIME” CAMPAIGN HITS SNAG: DISSENT
8) CALLING ALL NATURALIZED CITIZENS: NEW BOOK FORTHCOMING
… and finally… NEW DEBITO.ORG BLOG
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

September 10, 2006, Freely forwardable.
Full text of all articles below blogged at
http://www.debito.org/index.php

1) PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3) NEWSWEEK JAPAN ON JAPAN NATURALIZATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4) METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN MARUTEI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8) NEW BOOK ON NATURALIZED CITIZENS FORTHCOMING

Calling all naturalized Japanese readers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

Child custody in Japan isn’t based on rules

-By Colin P.A. Jones

San Francisco Chronicle, Sunday, August 27, 2006

[COMMENT AT VERY BOTTOM]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

——————————

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

Page E – 3

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

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

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

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

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

end

METROPOLIS: DIETMEMBER TSURUNEN INTERVIEW AUG 9, 2006

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Task is to improve Japanese lifestyles

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

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

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

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

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

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

Goal is to get right to vote for foreigners

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

War-renouncing Constitution is outdated

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

August 9, 2006
ARTICLE ENDS

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

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

END

PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS: Sept 10, 2006

mytest

PROGRESS ON “JAPANESE ONLY” ESTABLISHMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

==Kyodo
ARTICLE ENDS

Newsweek Japan on Naturalized Japanese–Sept 11, 2006 issue

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

1. Cap foreigners at 3%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of purposeful enforcement of “laws”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMMENTS FROM EH:

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) LINKS TO HANDOUTS FROM RECENT SPEECHES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

1) FOREIGN POPULATION TOPS 2 MILLION FOR FIRST TIME

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, back to the “increasing problems” chestnut:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Yes, you read that right.]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5) NEW ALIEN REGISTRATION REGULATIONS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6) UPDATE ON TRAVEL AGENCIES: ESTIMATES NOW CHARGED?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A University Teachers Union (UTU) Forum

“Working at University: Securing Our Future”

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

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

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

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

3.00 – 4.00 Workshops

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

4.00 – 4.30 Reports and Final Comments
_____________________________________________________

All welcome! Admission: 500 yen voluntary contribution

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

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

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

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

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