Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 94 Annual Top Ten: “Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015”, Jan. 3, 2016

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Hi Blog. My latest Just Be Cause column 94 for the Japan Times Community Page:

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
Battles over history, the media and the message scar 2015
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, JAN 3, 2016

2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents:

10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth

In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts…

Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/

Asahi: Justice Ministry issues first-ever hate speech advisory to Sakurai Makoto, ex-leader of xenophobic Zaitokukai group

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Hi Blog.  Let’s keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online “snitch sites”.  Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai’s activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list in 2014, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor in 2014, and losing big in court in 2013–setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination.

Now the “former leader” of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan’s first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights.  And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech.  Good.  But let’s take into account the limitations of this “advisory”.  One is that it has no legal force (it’s basically, again, an official frowning-at).  The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination.  And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015.  Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as “dignity” and “personal agony”, which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner.  All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown–not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists.

Still, we take our good news as it comes in.  We must, or this becomes a very dismal science indeed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Ministry issues hate speech advisory to ex-leader of Zaitokukai
December 23, 2015, The Asahi Shinbun, courtesy of JK.
By MOTOKI KANEKO/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201512230053

The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights.

The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods.

Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful.

The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.

The ministry asked Sakurai to reflect on his actions and refrain from conducting similar activities.

According to the ministry, Sakurai and other members of Zaitokukai shouted racist slogans at two ethnic Koreans from the front of the gate at Korea University in Tokyo’s Kodaira. These slogans were shouted at the two on three instances, in November of 2008, 2009 and 2011.

The slogans included, “Drive the Koreans out of Japan,” and, “We came to kill Koreans.”

The two ethnic Koreans filed a complaint with authorities.

The ministry’s investigation included interviewing Sakurai.

It concluded that Zaitokukai’s actions “propagated hatred and hostility by assuming ethnic Koreans are criminals and abused their dignity as human beings, something that cannot be overlooked from the viewpoint of protecting human rights.”

Japan does not have any law against hate speech. However, groups of citizens and politicians have been pushing for the enactment of such legislation, and the advisory was welcomed by the targets of the hate speech.

“The fact that the Justice Ministry identified their activities to be unlawful will be a blow to the group,” said Yasuko Morooka, an attorney representing the two ethnic Koreans. “However, the advisory has no legal force. Because hate speeches are unlawful and abuse the dignity of a person, induce a strong sense of terror and cause agony, it’s not something we can allow the government to leave untouched.

“We should keep a close eye on the government’s moves from here on.”

The ruling coalition dropped plans to enact hate speech legislation in the Diet session this year. Differences of opinion arose in discussions on how to strike a balance between restrictions on speech and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution.

Yasuhiro Yagi, the current leader of Zaitokukai, said the ministry’s advisory is a form of a human rights violation against his group.

“Issuing an advisory to us as if we are trying to hold street activities we haven’t even held in four years is in itself a violation of human rights by the Justice Ministry,” he said.

ENDS

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

ヘイトスピーチ、法務省が初の中止勧告
2015年12月22日 23時58分, courtesy of JK
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/20151222-OYT1T50114.html
法務省は22日、東京都小平市の朝鮮大学校前で人種差別的なヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)を繰り返したとして、右派系グループの元代表に同様の行為をやめるよう求める勧告を行った。
ヘイトスピーチに対する勧告は初めてだという。
発表によると、元代表らは2008年11月~11年11月の計3回、同校の校門前で「朝鮮人を東京湾にたたき込め」などと叫んだ。勧告は、こうした行為について「生命や身体に危害を加えられかねないと、校内にいた学校関係者らを畏怖させる違法行為だ」と認定。「在日朝鮮人の尊厳を傷付けるもので、人権擁護のうえでも看過できない」として、今後繰り返さないよう元代表に求めた。

勧告は同省の訓令に基づく措置で、強制力はない。

ENDS

Asahi: Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails “snitching on” Korean nationals, suspends program after nearly 12 years of snitching

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Good news.  After the Immigration Bureau instituted this easily-abusable program of “snitch sites”, where the general public can anonymously rat on “foreigners” for any reason whatsoever, it has finally been suspended (not yet abolished, however) after people really began abusing it.  See, I told you this would happen.  Pity it only took nearly twelve years (it was instituted on February 16, 2004) before Immigration realized it.  Yet another example of callous disregard by the bureaucrats towards the very people they are charged to serve.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails ‘snitching on’ Korean nationals, suspends program
Asahi Shinbun, December 24, 2015, courtesy of JK
By HWANG CHUL/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201512240050

Baffled by a surge of e-mails snitching on resident Koreans as “illegal aliens,” the Immigration Bureau shut down its tipster program on people overstaying their visas and contacted the police for assistance.

“This is a highly regrettable situation,” said an official with the bureau’s general affairs division. “Sending e-mails to slander foreigners does not meet the purpose of the system to inform on illegal residents.”

The bureau, an arm of the Justice Ministry, said that since May it had received more than three times as many e-mails informing on supposed illegal residents than in fiscal 2014. It attributed the surge to misinformation that spread on the Internet claiming Korean nationals would become illegal aliens as of July 9.

The Immigration Bureau adopted the tipster system in 2004 to crack down on people overstaying their visas. It received 460 or so e-mails on a monthly average on the topic last fiscal year. But in May of this year, the figure jumped to 1,821, with 1,562 in June. The number of e-mails received in July through September is still being tallied, but could exceed 10,000, according to the official.

The bureau noted that there was a sharp increase in e-mails about Korean nationals based on false information, and signs that a lone individual was responsible for many of them.

Some online comments said people could claim a reward for ratting out a Korean.

This situation stemmed from a decision to issue special permanent resident certificates to ethnic Koreans and their descendants in place of municipality-issued alien registration cards following their loss of Japanese citizenship after the end of World War II. The deadline for approximately 150,000 Korean nationals to change their certificates was July 8.

Although failure to shift to the new system could eventually be subject to penalty, there are no provisions under Japanese law for deportation over non-compliance.

Citing concerns that the surge in e-mails could snarl up its service provider, the Immigration Bureau stopped accepting further e-mails at the end of October. In November, it asked the police to ascertain whether a criminal case could be made for business obstruction.

The bureau plans to resume accepting tips on people overstaying their visas after they come up with measures to eliminate bogus e-mails.

But there have been calls for the program to be scrapped because of its racist and judgmental overtones.

Information sent to the bureau can be submitted anonymously.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations submitted a memorandum to the justice minister in 2005, a year after the program started, asking for it to be abolished.

It stated: “The program has ordinary citizens essentially spying on people suspected of being illegal aliens, which serves only to advance prejudice and discrimination towards foreigners.”

The citizens group Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan submitted a similar complaint to the Justice Ministry in November, stating that the program “incites discrimination.”

Hiroshi Tanaka, a professor emeritus at Hitotsubashi University who is well-versed in human rights issues concerning foreign residents of Japan, said the Immigration Bureau should abolish, not suspend, the program advocating people to snitch on foreigners.

“With such a system in place, people who make hate speeches like ‘banish the Koreans’ would feel as if their actions are ‘given government approval,’” Tanaka said.

ENDS

Saitama Pref. Kawaguchi City Assemblyman Noguchi Hiroaki (LDP): “We have more foreigners registered than dogs,” querying about potential NJ tax dodgers

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Hi Blog. Lots of people have sent me this one. Comment follows articles:

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

Saitama assemblyman apologizes for remark about number of registered dogs, foreigners
The Japan Times, DEC 13, 2015, courtesy of JK and JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/12/13/national/saitama-assemblyman-apologizes-remark-number-registered-dogs-foreigners/

A 58-year-old official in the city of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, has pointed out that the city’s non-Japanese population is larger than the number of registered dogs. He later withdrew the remark after coming under criticism from other assembly members, according to local media reports.

Hiroaki Noguchi, a Liberal Democratic Party assemblyman, made the remark at an assembly session Wednesday when he was asking questions about the number of foreign residents who had failed to pay their taxes, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported.

After receiving complaints from some assembly members that his remark was inappropriate, Noguchi reportedly apologized, saying he only wanted to illustrate that the number of foreigners living in the city is on the rise. He said he did not mean to discriminate against them, but agreed that the remark was misleading.

He told assembly Chairman Kazunari Inagawa on Thursday that he wished to withdraw the remark, the report said.

On Friday, Inagawa reprimanded Noguchi and decided to delete the remark from assembly minutes and video records, according to the report.

According to the local daily Saitama Shimbun, Noguchi said Wednesday the number of foreign people in the city is increasing, pointing out that the number of dogs registered at the city is 26,000 while the number of foreign residents totals 27,000.

Inagawa told Saitama Shimbun that the remark could be regarded as being discriminatory, adding he believes it is similar to the “Japanese only” banner put up at Saitama Stadium by supporters of Urawa Reds soccer team last year.
ENDS

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

外国人市民「犬より多い」 市議発言、議事録から削除
朝日新聞デジタル 12月12日(土)22時44分配信
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20151212-00000044-asahi-pol
Courtesy of BM and TB

開会中の埼玉県川口市議会で、野口宏明議員(自民)の一般質問に、外国人市民の増加を犬の登録数と比較した差別的な発言があったとして、議会が議事録とネット配信用動画から一部削除する手続きをとったことが12日わかった。

発言があったのは9日の国民健康保険の外国人加入者に関する質問。野口氏は「市内の犬の登録数は今年9月末に2万6399頭。外国人は同時期に2万7028人と、もうすでに外国人のほうが多くなっている」と述べた。

発言の冒頭に「例えは悪いが」と断りを入れたが、「不適切だ」とその日のうちに複数の会派から議長に申し入れがあり、議長が野口氏から事情を聴くなどしていた。この問題は11日の各会派代表者連絡会議で協議した結果、「外国人への差別、侮辱と受け取られかねない発言だった」と結論づけ、犬の登録数との比較部分の削除を決めた。

野口氏は、取材に「誤解を招きかねない表現だった」と話している。(伊藤典俊)

朝日新聞社

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

COMMENT:  I suspect a slow news day.  These sorts of things usually don’t attract this much attention (because they’re so normalized in Japan), and implicit suspicions of NJ as people criminally indisposed to taking advantage of the system (unlike those “stereotypical law-abiding Japanese”; yet there are whole movies out there about the art of tax dodging done by Japanese — it’s normalized to the level of parody).  I’m also pleased that the comment was retracted (they often are not, especially if the person is very powerful), although I doubt there will be any sanction against this person for implicitly putting NJ residents at the level of dogs.  I’m also pleased that there has been a connection made between the “Japanese Only” exclusions at Saitama Stadium and this event (perhaps this is why there was a peg for the issue in the local media) — although a racist tweet by a Urawa Reds supporter last month resulted in no punishments either — mere deletion of the comment.

So all-in-all, mixed feelings.  This kind of comment cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged because it demonstrates the unconscious dehumanization of NJ by Japan’s registry systems (see more on that in my book EMBEDDED RACISM pp. 219-222), where until 2012 animals and fictional characters could be registered as “residents” but not foreign resident taxpayers. And that’s before we get to the explicit attribution of tax dodging to NJ. But all that resulted from this case was that the comment was deleted from the records, and all will continue as before, soon forgotten without recorded reprisal against the xenophobe.  Meaning there is nothing to preempt some other official saying something as thoughtlessly dehumanizing as this.  Clearly, more structural sanction is necessary.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  I found this comment up at the JT amusing: “GIJPeople like this guy Noguchi are the ones who lend credibility to the activities of somewhat over the top social justice warriors like Debito. There is no filter, no restraining mechanism of any kind it seems, for LDP politicians in particular.” Well, yeah.

Here are Noguchi’s deets:

noguchihiroakihomepage

Courtesy of http://www.h-noguchi.jp

 

kawaguchinoguchihiroakiinfosite

Courtesy http://kawaguchi.gsl-service.net/meibo/2015051600176/

JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016

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Hi Blog. Now here’s something I find profoundly disappointing. One bright outcome of Japan’s Right-Wing Swing was the reenergizing of the Grassroots Left, with regular public demonstrations promoting anti-racism and tolerance. However, one group that attracted a lot of attention for opposing PM Abe’s policies, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), made an announcement (at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, no less) last October that their leadership wasn’t just stepping down due to graduation from university — they were disbanding the entire group within a year.

That makes the leadership comes off as human-rights hobbyists. There is no need to make what should be a handing over of the reins to the next generation into a public spectacle of disbandment. Alas, they’re quitting, and taking the brand name with them. Abe must be grinning in great satisfaction. From eroding Japan’s democratic institutions to making investigation of government chicanery illegal to marching Japan back to its martial past (while decimating Japan’s Left in formal Japanese politics), Abe is truly winning this fight. He’s even got these brave kids running scared.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Anti-war student organization to close shop after Upper House poll
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, OCT 28, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/10/28/national/politics-diplomacy/anti-war-student-organization-close-shop-upper-house-poll/

A pro-democracy student group behind this summer’s massive youth protest against Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s security legislation plans to dissolve after next year’s Upper House election, members said Wednesday.

Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) gained widespread attention over the summer for a series of anti-war rallies held near the Diet building to protest the administration’s push to allow the nation’s military to fight abroad for the first time since the end of World War II.

Known for its unconventional demonstrations, which included rap-influenced music and stylish placards, the group was hailed for leading a resurgence in youth activism that sparked hopes in society that the nation’s politically apathetic youngsters may be changing.

“Since we started our activities as an ‘emergency action,’ and many of our members are slated to graduate from universities soon, SEALDs will dissolve after next summer’s Upper House election,” group member Mana Shibata, 22, revealed during a news conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“After that, if individual persons want to take action or create another movement, they are free to do so.”

Before their movement became SEALDs, many members protested the state secrecy law — contentious legislation championed by Abe that many said would impinge on people’s right to know or discover crucial government information. That group called itself SASPL, or Students Against Secret Protection Law.

After the security bills were rammed through the Diet last month, SEALDs will now focus its activities on gearing up for next summer’s Upper House election, members said. Its newest mission: to call on opposition parties to form a united front against the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

Noting that the passage of the bills signals Japan’s democracy is “on the verge of collapse,” member Takeshi Suwahara, 22, said: “What is happening is a crisis. I know opposition parties have their own conflicting interests. But they must listen to voices of the public and cooperate with each other.”

Dismayed at an ever-decreasing voter turnout among the young, SEALDs will also ramp up efforts to encourage younger people to vote in elections.

The nation’s 18- and 19-year-olds will now for the first time be allowed to cast ballots in accordance with a legal revision in June.

Aside from making continued efforts to organize related rallies and symposiums, members will try to establish voting booths in places such as train stations, shopping malls and universities, they said.

“Demographically speaking, young people in Japan are underrepresented and as a result it’s difficult for their voices to be reflected in politics and fulfill their needs for education and social welfare. I believe this election is a chance to change such a trend,” Suwahara said.

ENDS

JT: Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK: So much for “Flyjin” myth.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something else that happened a few weeks ago that warrants mention on Debito.org, if only to show that NJ do sometimes get the justice they seek in Japanese courts (it only took nearly three years).  And given the text of the court decision itself, so much for the accusations made about NJ “Flyjin” deserting their posts.  Rubbish then, verifiably so now.  It was all just bullying, and in this case lying about the record by NHK in court (also known as perjury, but this being both Japan and NHK, nothing will come of it).  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis to get lost salary from NHK
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, THE JAPAN TIMES, NOV 16, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/11/16/national/anchorwoman-fled-japan-fukushima-crisis-get-lost-salary-nhk/

The Tokyo District Court on Monday nullified a decision by NHK to end the contract of a French anchorwoman who temporarily fled Japan during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011.

The ruling also declared that Emmanuelle Bodin’s decision to leave Japan in the face of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear crisis and prioritize her life over work did not represent professional negligence.

“Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” the ruling said.

Although lauding those who remained at work with the public broadcaster following the disasters, the court said NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.

Bodin’s attorneys said it is not clear how the ruling will affect similar cases, if any, that involve non-Japanese often labeled as “flyjin,” a play on the word gaijin (foreigner), who missed work because they fled the disaster.

“My pursuit of justice has finally been vindicated,” Bodin, 58, told a news conference in Tokyo.

“Today, we are reminded once again that it is the responsibility of a company, regardless of how powerful an organization it is, to take good care of its employees and treat them with fairness and compassion,” she said in Japanese.

The court ordered NHK to pay her ¥5.14 million in unpaid salary that she would have received had she been allowed to renew her contract for the following fiscal year.

Bodin, who worked as an anchor and translator for NHK radio programs for more than 20 years, fled Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima crisis in accordance with an instruction issued by the French government to evacuate the country.

Prior to departing on March 15, 2011, Bodin asked her colleague, a veteran French anchorman in his 70s, to substitute for her while she was away to ensure her absence would cause no major trouble for the company.

She then called a superior in her radio news section notifying the person that she was temporarily leaving the country but would return by the end of the month and that she had arranged for her colleague to cover her shifts. The manager responded by giving approval, according to the ruling.

A week after that, NHK sent Bodin a letter notifying her that her contract would shortly be discontinued, providing no detailed explanations as to why.

The terse letter only reminded her of abstract provisions of her contract that stipulate employees can be sacked if “the circumstances demanded so” or if their work performance is deemed “so inadequate it has no sign of improvement.”

Over the course of the nearly three-year-long trial, NHK squarely contradicted Bodin’s claim, even going so far as to say that she did not call her French colleague in the first place, according to her lawyers. It also said Bodin’s call with her superior lasted just 20 to 30 seconds, and that in it she had “unilaterally” conveyed her intention to skip her anchoring duty scheduled for hours later and promptly hung up. The French colleague also testified in favor of NHK, claiming that he had received no such call from her.

However, her phone records, presented to the court by her lawyers, clearly showed she had spoken both to the colleague and her superior for more than five and two minutes, respectively, Bodin’s lawyers said.
ENDS

Asahi & Mainichi: “No Hate” “No Racism”, “Refugees Welcome” say protesters at Tokyo anti-discrimination rally. Bravo.

mytest

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Hello Blog. As has been pointed out by a number of Debito.org Readers, this development is a positive one, both in that it happened (as an annual rally, no less), and that it was reported in the news. Read on. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

First watch this:

東京大行進:ヘイトスピーチに抗議、「差別反対」アピール  (Mainichi Shinbun)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h08UMRWaRZQ

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

Refugees welcome’ say protesters at Tokyo anti-discrimination rally
Asahi Shinbun, November 23, 2015 By MIAKO ICHIKAWA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201511230054

“Refugees welcome” was a rallying cry among 2,500 or so Tokyo Democracy March demonstrators who paraded through the capital’s Shinjuku district on Nov. 22 following the recent Paris terror attacks.

The crowd, protesting all forms of discrimination, urged Japan to welcome those fleeing danger with some waving a banner displaying the asylum seeker-friendly slogan.

“Behind the vigorous rhetoric which says ‘We do not yield to terrorism,’ refugees could lose a place to live,” said one 42-year-old worker from Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward who joined the event.

Causes on the agenda included the prejudice experienced by ethnic Korean residents in Japan, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and people with disabilities.

The third annual demonstration also focused on asylum seekers amid concerns over anti-refugee sentiment in and outside Japan after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured.

The fears stem from the idea that terrorists could masquerade as refugees to enter the country.

The event was first organized in 2013 chiefly as a protest against groups which staged a number of hate speeches targeting the numerous ethnic Korean residents in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district.

The demonstration has so far drawn on various themes, including the display of a discriminatory banner declaring “Japanese Only” at Saitama Stadium during a J.League football match on March 8, 2014.

“We participate in this event because of our desire to improve our society,” said a 30-year-old organizer of the protest.

ENDS

Japanese version:
「差別いらない」反ヘイトデモ、新宿で 「難民歓迎」も
朝日新聞 2015年11月22日22時27分
http://www.asahi.com/articles/ASHCQ5VHJHCQUTIL00T.html

「差別はいらない」「一緒に歩こう」。在日コリアンやLGBT(性的少数者)、障害者らあらゆる差別に反対するデモ「東京大行進」が22日にあり、約2500人(主催者発表)が東京・新宿の繁華街を練り歩いた。パリ同時多発テロ事件を受けて難民に対する排外的な感情が国内外で懸念されるなか、「難民歓迎」を訴える声もあった。

デモは2013年、東京・新大久保で在日コリアンにヘイトスピーチを繰り返す団体に抗議してきた人たちを中心に企画。サッカースタジアムでの差別的横断幕など、これまでさまざまなテーマに広がりをみせてきた。

3回目の今年は、難民が柱の一つになった。「REFUGEES WELCOME(難民歓迎)」などの横断幕を掲げたりした。デモの運営メンバー(30)は「根っこにあるのは、民主主義を肯定し、社会を良くしようという当たり前の気持ち」という。

「難民歓迎 『テロに屈しない』はこれだ」と書いた手作りのプラカードを掲げて歩いた東京都世田谷区の会社員(42)は「『テロに屈しない』という威勢のいい言葉の裏で、難民は行き場をなくす。社会に広がる空気に対し、自分の気持ちを示した」と話した。

スタッフの一人として参加した都内の大学生加藤大吉さん(25)は「差別はいらないという一点でまとまり、ポジティブな気持ちがあふれるデモになった」と話した。(市川美亜子)

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

Photo Journal: Marching against hate
November 23, 2015 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK and Jair
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20151123p2a00m0na006000c.html

Members of the 2015 Tokyo Democracy March hold signs and shout slogans condemning discrimination during a march in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, on Nov. 22, 2015. Organizers announced that some 2,500 people participated. The annual march began in 2013, mainly composed of people opposed to repeated hate speech demonstrations. This year’s democracy marchers voiced opposition to discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or disability, and called for quick passage of an anti-racial discrimination bill under debate in the Diet. (Mainichi)

Japanese version:

東京大行進:「差別いらない」…新宿でアピール
毎日新聞 2015年11月22日 19時45分(最終更新 11月22日 20時36分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20151123k0000m040030000c.html

ヘイトスピーチに抗議し、差別を許さない社会を呼びかけるパレード「東京大行進2015」が22日、東京・新宿で開かれ、約2500人(主催者発表)が「差別に反対する東京」をアピールしながら新宿駅周辺を行進した。

ヘイトスピーチを繰り返すデモに路上で対峙(たいじ)してきた市民らを中心に2013年に始まり、今年で3回目。人種や民族、性的指向、障害などを理由とした差別に反対し、国会審議中の「人種差別撤廃施策推進法案」のすみやかな成立を訴えた。

安保法制審議で民主主義の意味を問いかけた学生グループ「SEALDs」のメンバーも参加。内戦下のシリアから欧州に逃れてきた人々にドイツ市民が示した「難民歓迎」というプラカードを掲げる人の姿も目立った。

実行委員会代表の西村直矢さん(35)は「私たちが生きる社会を守るため今後も声を上げていきたい」と話した。【小泉大士】

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

See also (courtesy of Jair):

http://www.j-cast.com/2013/09/23184404.html
http://www.jcp.or.jp/akahata/aik15/2015-11-23/2015112301_04_1.html
Photo: https://twitter.com/asahi_photo/status/668448212689162240/photo/1

ENDS

UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This is an update to the previous post, but it deserves a separate blog entry for the deceitfulness.  Thanks to Debito.org Readers contacting the organizers in Hong Kong, the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon made it clear to their Japan tour organizers (http://www.hkmarathon.jp) that restricting applications “exclusively for Japanese people” is unacceptable, as the event is open to all nationalities:

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

Case Ref No. FEED-VRSUP2-20151112-0378054 (BaCh/FiCh)

Dear Alex,

Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site . 

Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email. 

Best Regards,

Fion Cheng
Senior Executive, Visitor Services
Hong Kong Tourism Board

Direct line: +852 2807 6108
Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

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

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

This has resulted in changes to the website wording, from

“This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

to

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. 
Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

HongKongMarathonResidentOnly1112152

Sounds better.  Gone is the assumption that foreign nationals living in Japan are not residents of Japan.

However, if you actually go to the website registration page (http://www.hkmarathon.jp/pre.html), the requirement for applicants of Japanese citizenship (item six in the bullet points: 私は日本国籍を有しています) is still there:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly111315

(screen capture as of November 14, 2015 JST)

So although the English has changed for the purposes of placating the English-reading world, the “secret code for domestic consumption only” that is the Japanese written language is maintaining the same “Japanese Only” rules. It is very hard to see this as a mere oversight.

And as written, NJ resident applicants still face refusal and then a non-refund of their deposit payments. It’s gone from mere exclusionism to the potential for misleading applicants into corporate theft. How duplicitous and unprofessional of the Japan-side organizers. Imagine the internet uproar if a Japanese company made a mistake this big for its Japanese customers.  Again, its seems, foreign customers in Japan don’t matter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:

Was tweeted this picture in regards to the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon registration desk for Japanese in Bangkok, Thailand.  Seems to be more systematic than just Japanese organizers within Japan.  More like the organization is excluding foreigners everywhere in the world, including in those nations where Japanese are foreigners themselves.

HongKongMarathonJeseOnlyTwitPic111215

More tweeted details from the same source were: “November 12, 2015 in Bangkok Thailand. Registration for the Standard Chartered BKK marathon. they also had their own ‘bib boards’ i.e. Names and bib numbers not with the rest of the marathon runners, but ‘separate'”.

Interview with ABC News Radio Australia on my book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  ABC NewsRadio in Australia recently interviewed me about my latest book, “Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination”, out now in hardback and eBook.  Enjoy.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan in Focus: A former Fukushima nuclear plant worker gets compensation, a new book explores racism in Japan, and why most married women give up their surnames.

ABC NewsRadio’s Eleni Psaltis presents Japan in Focus, a new program that takes a close look at significant political and cultural developments in Japan.

This week: A former Fukushima nuclear plant worker has become the first person to be awarded worker’s compensation by the Japanese government after being diagnosed with leukemia, Dr Arudou Debito from the University of Hawaii launches a new book on racism in Japan and how it has become embedded in laws and various social structures and the Japanese Supreme Court is considering whether it’s unconstitutional to force people to give up their surnames upon marriage.

Eleni Psaltis speaks to Komei Hosokawa from the Citizens’ Commission of Nuclear Energy, Dr Arudou Debito from the University of Hawaii and Japan Times journalist Masami Ito.
Duration: 15:08
First posted 26/10/2015 12:52:18

http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4338971.htm

ENDS

My latest Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”

mytest

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, NOV 1, 2015

Japan has a dire problem it must address immediately: its embedded racism.

The country’s society and government are permeated by a narrative that says people must “look Japanese” before they can expect equal treatment in society.

That must stop. It’s a matter of Japan’s very survival.

We’ve talked about Japan’s overt racism in previous Just Be Cause columns: the “Japanese only” signs and rules that refuse entry and service to “foreigners” on sight (also excluding Japanese citizens who don’t “look Japanese”); the employers and landlords who refuse employment and apartments — necessities of life — to people they see as “foreign”; the legislators, administrators, police forces and other authorities and prominent figures that portray “foreigners” as a national security threat and call for their monitoring, segregation or expulsion.

But this exclusionism goes beyond a few isolated bigots in positions of power, who can be found in every society. It is so embedded that it becomes an indictment of the entire system.

In fact, embedded racism is key to how the system “works.” Or rather, as we shall see below, how it doesn’t…

Read the rest at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/11/01/issues/tackle-embedded-racism-chokes-japan/

Please comment below, and thanks for reading!

Japan moving on to the next sucker societies for cheap or slave labor: Cambodia and Vietnam

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’ve been contacted by a source in western Honshu (who knows Cambodia very well) that the Japanese Government (GOJ) is now sucking labor from the next sucker society:

//////////////////////////////////////////
October 16, 2015
From XY:
Hi Debito Hope all’s well!
I am getting a LOT of messages these days from friends in Cambodia asking about the opportunities for their friends to work in Japan. I tell them the conditions are tough and the climates a killer (for them) but they say it’s better than the sweatshops in their homeland.

One of my Cambodian friends is in Kumamoto for a year and a half on a study program. He just got here. He is freezing his ass off already and wants me to send him clothes (he doesn’t have money to buy any, he needs his small allowance for food). Poor guy.

Anyhow, I had no idea Japanese companies are doing so much serious recruiting in Cambo and Vietnam these days… The impoverished Cambodians are coming here in droves.

Messaging a businessman in Cambo right now, he wants to provide labor to Japanese companies. Do you think they are treating these foreign workers better than in the past, or is it the same thing?

I responded:
It’s the same thing. Japan’s reputation has run sour in Brazil/Peru, China, The Philippines, and Indonesia. Japan is just moving on to another set of suckers. It would love to get their hands on Burmese too.
//////////////////////////////////////////

Debito.org Readers, let’s keep our eyes open for articles and GOJ policy papers on how Japan’s moving on to the next impoverished country to import and exploit as cheap or slave labor. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times: Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say

mytest

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Hi Blog. This article is nearly a year old, but it is still worth a read, if only to remind everyone of how things have not changed in Japan’s exploitative visa regimes. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan sanctioning mass ‘slave labor’ by duping foreign trainees, observers say
By Harumi Ozawa, The Japan Times, November 23, 2014
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/national/japan-sanctioning-mass-slave-labor-via-foreign-trainee-program/

The first word En learned when he began working at a construction site in Japan after moving from China was “baka,” Japanese for “idiot.”

The 31-year-old farmer is one of 50,000 Chinese who signed up for a government-run program that promises foreigners the chance to earn money while acquiring valuable on-the-job training. Like many of his compatriots, he hoped to leave Japan with cash in his pocket and a new set of skills that would give him a better shot at work at home.

“My Japanese colleagues would always say baka to me,” said En, who spoke only on condition that his full name not be revealed. “I am exhausted physically and mentally.”

His problem is not the bullying by Japanese colleagues, nor the two-hour commute each-way or the mind-numbing work that largely consists of breaking apart old buildings. It is the ¥1 million he borrowed to take part in the Industrial Trainee and Technical Internship Program, ostensibly to cover traveling expenses and other “fees” charged by middlemen.

The loan has left him a virtual slave to Japan’s labor-hungry construction industry. “I cannot go back before I make enough money to repay the debt,” he said.

Japan is desperately short of workers to pay taxes to fund pensions and health care for its rapidly graying population, but it is almost constitutionally allergic to immigration. Less than 2 percent of the populace is classified as “non-Japanese” by the government; by comparison, around 13 percent of British residents are foreign-born.

This results, critics say, in ranks of poorly protected employees brought in through a government-sanctioned back door that is ripe for abuse and exploitation.

“This trainee program is a system of slave labor. You cannot just quit and leave. It’s a system of human trafficking, forced labor,” said Ippei Torii, director of Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan, a nongovernmental group that supports foreign workers.

Around a quarter of Japan’s population of 127 million is 65 or older, and this proportion is expected to jump to 40 percent in the coming decades. The heavily indebted government, which owes creditors more than twice what the economy generates annually, is scrambling to find the money to cover the welfare and health costs associated with the burgeoning ranks of the elderly even as the taxpayer base shrinks.

Japan’s average birthrate of around 1.4 children per woman, far below the level necessary to replenish the national workforce, is ratcheting up the pressure.

In most developed nations, this kind of shortfall is plugged by immigration, but Japan allows no unskilled workers into the country amid fears by some they would threaten the nation’s culture of consensus, an argument others view as mere cover for xenophobia.

But in 1993, as the economy was on the way down from its bubbly 1980s zenith, the government began the foreign trainee program, which allows tens of thousands of workers, mostly from China, Vietnam and Indonesia, to come to Japan and supply labor for industries including textiles, construction, farming and manufacturing.

The program, however, has not been without its critics. Japan’s top ally, the U.S., has even singled it out, with the State Department’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report for years slamming the program’s “deceptive recruitment practices.”

“The (Japanese) government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP,” it said this year, using the program’s acronym.

Past allegations include unpaid overtime work, karoshi (death from overwork), and all kinds of harassment, including company managers restricting the use of toilets or demanding sexual services.

The government rejects claims the program is abusive, yet acknowledges there have been some upstream problems. “It is true that some involved in the system have exploited it, but the government has acted against that,” an immigration official said. “It is not a system of slave labor.”

The official insisted it was not in authorities’ power to control the behavior of middlemen but insisted they were not allowed to charge deposit fees. “It is also banned for employers to take away trainees’ passports,” he added.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has unveiled a plan to expand the program that would allow foreign trainees to stay in Japan for five years instead of three, and says such labor will increasingly be needed, particularly in the construction boom ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Abe is also aware that the nation’s health care sector must increasingly look abroad to fill the shortage of workers.

“It has been said that we will need 1 million caregivers for the elderly by 2025, which would be impossible to handle only with the Japanese population,” said Tatsumi Kenmochi, a manager at a care home near Tokyo that employs Indonesian nurses.

For Kenmochi, foreign staff are a precious commodity and the sector must do as much as it can to make them feel welcome. “It must be hard to leave home and work overseas,” he said. “We make sure that they don’t get homesick, listening to them and sometimes going out to have a warm bowl of noodles with them.”

Torii of Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan said this is just the kind of attitude Japan needs to learn: “The issue is not whether we accept immigrants or not. They are already here, playing a vital role in our society.”

ENDS

JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader JK keeps sending me intriguing tacks on recent articles (thanks), and here’s another bunch:

Debito.org hasn’t talked as much as other topics about the Government of Japan (GOJ)’s attitude towards refugees (in that, the acceptance of refugees is one measure of international contributions by the club of rich, developed countries and UN treaty signatories). But it is safe to say that the GOJ has not been cooperative, accepting fewer people in total over the past sixty years than some countries do in a single year — as the United Nations is aware.

So now the Abe Administration is trying a different tack:  Accepting refugees as temporary students, and then sending them “home” someday.  JK parses that to bits below.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

From:  JK

Hi Debito:

From articles cited at the very bottom:

“The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.”

「留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい 考え。」

…and…

“The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.”

「政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実 質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。」

Translation: GOJ doesn’t want to look bad at the UN in front of the other nations who are actually doing something to help refugees, so what to do?…Ah! Accept refugees as students to make it look like Japan is making a difference — Japan trains the Syrians so that one day they can go ‘home’ and fix everything up, and as students, they’re not in a position to stay for good as would be the case if they were accepted as refugees. It’s a win-win!

My armchair social theory is that the GOJ’s view of NJ is strictly monetary (i.e. get money from NJ tourists, give money to NJ refugees; NJ trainees / NJ bribes, etc.).

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

Translation: Accepting immigrants is the last thing we should do.  Sincerely, JK

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

Sources:

難民:「受け入れ」検討…政府、シリアから留学生として
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150925k0000m010107000c.html

毎日新聞 2015年09月25日 09時00分

シリアなどから欧州に難民が押し寄せている問題を受け、日本政府はシリアから留学生として難民を受け入れる方向で検討に入った。欧州連合(EU)はギリシャなどに着いた12万人の難民受け入れで合意。米国も人数を年々増やし、2017会計年度には10万人を受け入れる方針を表明した。28日からニューヨークの国連総会で行われる各国首脳らの一般討論演説では、難民問題も議題になる見通しで、日本としてシリア問題に貢献する姿勢を国際社会に表明する狙いがある。

関係者によると、難民問題の解決に向けた資金拠出に加え、人的な面でも貢献できないか検討。留学生の受け入れで、将来的にシリアの再建に関わる人材の育成に寄与したい考え。

法務省によると、昨年の難民認定者数は5000人の申請者に対し11人。シリアからの難民申請者も、ほとんどが人道的配慮による在留許可にとどまる。留学生としての受け入れは、通常の難民認定とは異なるが、正規の資格で日本に滞在できる。政府としては、現状の難民認定制度の枠組みや基準に影響を与えない形で、実質的にシリア問題に貢献できる方法を探った形だ。【三木幸治、隅俊之】
【毎日新聞】
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students
September 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150925p2a00m0na002000c.html

Japanese gov’t considers accepting Syrian refugees as students

As refugees from Syria and other countries pour into Europe, the Japanese government has begun to ponder accepting Syrian refugees in the form of students.

The European Union has agreed to accept 120,000 refugees that have arrived in countries including Greece, while the United States has announced its intention to accept an increasing number of refugees over the years, with 100,000 to be accepted in fiscal 2017. During speeches by member nations’ heads of state at the general debate of the United Nations General Assembly in New York starting Sept. 28, the refugee problem is expected to be discussed, and Japan aims to display to the international community its contributory stance in trying to solve the Syria problem.

According to an insider source, in addition to helping fund the solving of the refugee problem, considerations are also being made over whether Japan can contribute on the human side of the issue. The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.

The Ministry of Justice says that last year out of 5,000 refugee applicants, Japan approved 11. Most of the refugee applicants from Syria are only being allowed to stay out of humanitarian consideration. Acceptance as students, while different from the normal system of accommodating refugees, would allow refugees to be in Japan with official authorization. The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe speaks to boost Japan tourism at New York event
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002455922
8:05 pm, September 29, 2015 Jiji Press

NEW YORK (Jiji Press) — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Monday that he wants people to know more about Japan and have more exchanges with Japanese people.

Abe made the comments at a seminar organized at a New York hotel by the Japan National Tourism Organization to promote visits to Japan.

Japan will do more to be well prepared to host foreign guests going into the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo, he said at the seminar also joined by former New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui and U.S. actress Charlotte Kate Fox.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////////

Abe: Japan ready to help refugees, but not take them in
September 30, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150930p2g00m0in032000c.html

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Japan’s prime minister said Tuesday that his nation needs to attend to its own demographic challenges posed by falling birth rates and an aging population before opening its doors to refugees.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced at the U.N. General Assembly that Japan is ramping up assistance in response to the exodus of refugees to Europe from the Middle East and Africa.

He said Japan will provide $1.5 billion in emergency aid for refugees and for stabilization of communities facing upheaval.

But speaking to reporters later Tuesday he poured cold water on the idea of Japan opening its doors to those fleeing.

He said Japan first needed to attend to domestic challenges which he proposes to tackle under a revamped economic policy that aims to boost GDP to a post-war record level, while bolstering the social security system to support families.

“As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.

He added that Japan would “discharge our own responsibility” in addressing the refugee crisis, which he described as helping to improve conditions that cause the exodus.

Abe earlier told the world body that Japan would provide $810 million this year for emergency assistance of refugees and internally displaced persons from Syria and Iraq, triple what it gave last year. Abe said Japan is also preparing about $750 million for stabilization efforts in the Middle East and Africa.

Japan prides itself on being a good global citizen. It is one of the largest aid donors in the world. Last year Japan gave $181.6 million to the UNHCR, the United Nations’ refugee agency, making it second only to the United States in generosity.

But it has offered very few if any resettlement places for refugees from the civil war in Syria.

According to Ministry of Justice data, it accepted just 11 asylum seekers out of a record 5,000 applications last year, although Japanese officials say most of the asylum applicants were from other Asian countries and were already living in Japan.

Some argue that increased immigration could help arrest a shrinking population, which is currently 126 million. Abe says he is determined to ensure that in 50 years the Japanese population has stabilized at 100 million.

ENDS

Honolulu Civil Beat: Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor? Contrast US with J example of exploitative visa conditions

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has long complained about how NJ (especially the “Trainees” being thrust into sweatshop and slave labor) were being exploited by ill-designed and unsupervised visa statuses in Japan. Let’s take a look at the American example and do a bit of triangulating. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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A Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor?
A Japanese woman’s poor working conditions as a Waikiki pastry chef illustrate the dark side of a visa program that brings thousands of temporary foreign workers to Hawaii each year.
April 7, 2015·By Rui Kaneya

http://www.civilbeat.com/2015/04/a-cultural-exchange-program-or-a-ticket-to-sweatshop-labor/

It didn’t take long for the 30-year-old Japanese pastry chef to realize that she was getting the raw end of the deal.

She had arrived in Hawaii only days before, lured by a promise of pastry training as part of a cultural exchange program run by the U.S. State Department. The terms of her stay, under a visa known as J-1, were to spend the next 18 months working in the kitchen of a Waikiki restaurant — six days a week on 8-hour shifts beginning at 6:30 a.m.

But she found herself toiling inside the kitchen in a shift that began at 5:30 a.m. and stretched to 12 hours — without any breaks or overtime pay.

In 2012, a Japanese pastry chef arrived in Hawaii on a J-1 visa, only to find herself working at a Waikiki restaurant in sweatshop conditions. She requested her name and the name of the restaurant not be used.

When she complained, she said no one lent a sympathetic ear.

Initially, she said she was told that none of the restaurants in Hawaii offered any breaks. And, if she were to work on a shorter shift, her salary would have to be reduced accordingly.

Unsatisfied, she went to her American sponsor organization and its Japanese contractors that had matched her up with the restaurant, but she said her pleas for their intervention were met with threats that her visa could be taken away.

Soon, it dawned on her that she faced a Faustian choice: endure the grueling conditions at the restaurant or risk being deported for not showing up to work.

“Because the J-1 terms are so restrictive, if they stop working for a day, they are out of status and deportable, so the employers hold all of the strings.” — Kathryn Xian, Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery

“At the time, I was confused and didn’t know what to do,” the chef said, recalling her ordeal in 2012. Civil Beat granted her anonymity and withheld the restaurant’s name at her request. She said she feared reprisals.

The chef’s story, recounted in an interview conducted in Japanese, provides a rare glimpse into the dark side of the J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program, which was created half a century ago to foster “global understanding” through cultural exchanges but has since blossomed into the source of thriving, multi-million-dollar businesses.

But it’s virtually impossible to determine just how common these experiences are among about 2,000 J-1 visa holders in Hawaii.

That’s in part because the program, as a cultural exchange, isn’t subject to monitoring by the U.S. Department of Labor — unlike other guest worker programs.

The State Department, for its part, recently established a system to keep track of all complaints it receives, but spokeswoman Susan Pittman told Civil Beat that the tally for the entire program isn’t readily available, and a Freedom of Information Act request must be submitted before the data could be compiled.

Kathryn Xian, founder and executive director of the Pacific Alliance to Stop Slavery, says another reason the issue tends to fly under people’s radar is that the victims often choose to escape their situation by simply returning to their home country.

“What’s difficult about J-1 is that these people usually don’t seek help,” Xian said. “Because the J-1 terms are so restrictive, if they stop working for a day, they are out of status and deportable, so the employers hold all of the strings.”
‘Notoriety’ and ‘Disrepute’

Created under the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, the J-1 program was designed to give foreign students and young professionals a temporary work experience and expose them to the American way of life — at no cost to taxpayers.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people pay upwards of $10,000 in fees and insurance to enter the country under the program and work for four to 18 months. The State Department’s latest figures show that more than 297,000 J-1 visas were issued in 2012, including 2,021 visas for those heading to work in Hawaii.

But, in recent years, some participants — and their advocates — have complained that it’s being used as a source of cheap, foreign labor with little federal oversight.

The issue grabbed national headlines in 2012, when hundreds of J-1 visa holders working at Hershey’s packing plant in Pennsylvania staged a raucous protest. About 400 of them were staying in the country for “Summer Work Travel,” the biggest of the 14 categories of the J-1 program allowing students of modest means to work in a temporary job as a way of offsetting the costs of their travel to the U.S.

“In theory, these sponsors are supposed to be helping keep participants safe and avoid exploitations of any kind to take place. But, in reality, a fox is in charge of the hen house.” — Stephen Boykewich, National Guestworker Alliance

They were put to work, often on night shifts, lifting heavy boxes and packing chocolates on Hershey’s fast-moving production line — while being paid substantially below the minimum wage after deductions.

The troubling tales of the summer programs were nothing new to officials at the State Department. In 2010, an investigation by the Associated Press uncovered widespread abuse, finding that some students were taking home less than $1 an hour, while others were being forced to work as strippers — even though the regulations prohibit the students from taking on work that could “bring the Department of State into notoriety or disrepute.”

In response, the State Department conducted a systematic review of the summer program and eventually acknowledged that its “work component … has too often overshadowed the core cultural component.”

The department later issued new rules for the program that significantly reduced the types of jobs the students can perform — to keep them away from most warehouse, construction, manufacturing and food-processing work. The rules also tightened requirements on the sponsor organizations and their contractors that administer the J-1 program on behalf of the State Department, ensuring that students were matched up with jobs that are appropriate and safe.
Ripe for Exploitation

The changes haven’t rooted out all the unlawful labor practices in the J-1 program.

Last week, the Labor Department announced that a Waikiki-based wedding planner called Wave USA Inc. — aka Ka Nalu Wedding — agreed to pay more than $35,000 in restitution to a group of eight Japanese employees, all of whom were here on J-1.

According to the Labor Department, the eight were the company’s “front-line workers” from November 2012 to July 2014 and were paid full-time salaries that varied from $700 to $1,000 a month — a rate well below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Stephen Boykewich, communications director at the National Guestworker Alliance, which helped organize the Hershey’s protest in 2012, said the problems persist because of the program’s flawed setup: The sponsor organizations and their contractors, which are responsible for vetting the hosting companies, are the ones tasked to monitor the working conditions. So, when any problem comes up, they have a vested interest in downplaying it.

“In theory, these sponsors are supposed to be helping keep participants safe and avoid exploitations of any kind to take place,” Boykewich said. “But, in reality, a fox is in charge of the hen house.”

In Hawaii, the issue is compounded by the fact that there are only seven sponsor organizations operating in the islands, and they only place participants into academic institutions — typically as scholars or physicians.

That means those looking for nonacademic work in Hawaii are forced to find their sponsor organization from the mainland, and this arrangement makes the regular, on-site monitoring of the working conditions a logistical nightmare.

John Robert Egan, an immigration attorney who once chaired the Hawaii chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, says the way the system is set up now works to the advantage of unscrupulous employers.

“Part of the problem is that they are bringing in people who don’t speak good enough English and are not familiar with the legal system and don’t know what protections are available. So that’s ripe for exploitation,” Egan said.

‘Alleged Bad Acts’

The Japanese pastry chef came to Hawaii hoping that her training here would bring her closer to realizing her dream of opening her own bakery.

To make her trip possible, she had to work with layers of contractors in Japan. First, she dealt with a company called Global Associates and its subsidiary, Hawaii Exchange Service. They then put her in touch with their affiliate — a Japanese company called the American Career Opportunity Inc. — to help her go through an English proficiency test and work with a California-based sponsor organization called the ASSE International Student Exchange Programs.

In all, she paid about $8,850 in fees and $1,300 for her medical insurance. And she spent thousands of dollars more to make living arrangements in Hawaii.

By the time she arrived and discovered her restaurant’s working conditions, her savings account had been tapped out. “I felt trapped as I had invested so much time and money to come to work on my J-1 visa,” she wrote in her 2012 affidavit to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “I did not believe I could go home as I would realistically never have another opportunity to come back to the U.S.”

But going back to work for the restaurant wasn’t much of a choice for her, either. Luckily, a network of friends, victims’ advocates and pro bono attorneys came to her rescue and got her in touch with officials at the U.S. State and Labor departments.

“I’m terrified of running into the restaurant owners. I’m too scared; I still can’t walk alone in Waikiki.” — Pastry chef from Japan

This, in turn, triggered a barrage of calls from officials at American Career Opportunity and Global Associates. They called her — and her mother in Japan — incessantly, trying to convince her to go back to work at the restaurant. When it became clear that she wasn’t going back, she said they tried to intimidate her into voluntarily returning to Japan.

Fearing that she’d be deported, she fled her apartment and went into hiding. At first, she stayed at the house of a married couple she had befriended during her first week in Hawaii. Then, Xian of the Pacific Alliance found her space at a shelter run by a local church.

As far as the chef knows, the investigations at the State and Labor departments are still pending — more than three years later. Meanwhile, with the help of attorneys, she applied for a T-1 visa, which is set aside for trafficking victims. After about a year, her application was approved, enabling her to stay in the country and start working again.

Ira Kurzban, general counsel for ASSE, says the company wasn’t notified about the case until federal authorities got involved.

“From our perspective, we did everything we could possibly do as soon as we learned that there was a problem,” Kurzban said, adding that the State Department “has never said” that the company engaged in “any of the alleged bad acts that were claimed to have happened.”

Officials from the State and Labor departments declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns.

Officials at American Career Opportunity did not respond to Civil Beat’s request for comment. Global Associates and Hawaii Exchange Service could not be reached.

The chef is trying to move past her bitter experience. With Xian’s help, she managed to recover the fees she had paid for her visa. And, last year, she got a cooking job at the Kahala Mall and has saved enough to move into her own apartment.

But there’s one thing she still can’t shake: “It’s been three years now, but, to this day, I’m terrified of running into the restaurant owners. I’m too scared; I still can’t walk alone in Waikiki.”

ENDS

Reader TH: Refused treatment at neurological hospital by setting overly-high hurdles for J-translation services

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hi Blog. Submitted for your approval (cue Twilight Zone theme):

/////////////////////////////////////////
Date: September 3, 2015
From: TH

Hi Dr Debito, I thought you might be interested in my experience of trying to get an appointment at the top hospital for neurology in Japan. Basically they refuse to see me unless I pay for a specialist medical interpreter – they won’t even see me with a third party volunteer hospital interpreter.

I have a problem with a nerve at the base of my spine. It may or may not be caused by an accident I had early last year in which a taxi hit me when I was riding my bicycle.

I got a referral to the 国立精神・神経センター from my clinic because my research said they were the best in Japan for neurology.

I called them up to organize an appointment. My Japanese isn’t great so they told me in Japanese that I need a Japanese speaker to call on my behalf to make an appointment. I guess this is because they couldn’t get all the info needed to set up the appointment.

I had my Japanese teacher call during a lesson of mine and set up the appointment for me. They told her that I couldn’t come alone because of my language level. If I did come without a Japanese speaker they would cancel my appointment on the spot and not see me. I was surprised at this and as I was put on the spot, I said that’s ok, I’ll get a friend to come with me.

I thought about it and as the appointment time is this Monday at 9:45 am none of my friends could come with me. I searched out a group that organizes a free medical interpretation service telephone line staffed by trained professionals. They were a great help. They have to be engaged from the hospital side so I called the hospital and said in Japanese that I couldn’t get a friend to come so I will need to use this volunteer service.

The lady from the hospital called the volunteer service. The lady from the volunteer service called me back and said that the hospital refused to allow telephone based interpretation during my appointment. I must have a person come with me. I said ok. The lady from the volunteer service organized a volunteer to go with me and then called the hospital to confirm.

The hospital said they would not accept a layperson as a volunteer to accompany me. The hospital said that I must engage a professional medical interpreter. I thought this strange – they initially said that I need to come with a friend. A friend would undoubtedly be a layperson as well, so their refusal of a lay volunteer seems contradictory and petulant.

At this point it is too much hassle and will become prohibitively expensive to go to this hospital.

Is it legal to treat me like this?

Kind regards, TH
/////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT: It is NOT illegal in Japan, and that is the problem. We have discussed numerous times on Debito.org about awful NJ hospital treatment (such as saying aloud that your NJ client should die; see here too) and outright NJ refusals (see here, here, and here, for example).  They call into question how well-regarded (or even enforced) the Hippocratic Oath is in Japan.

Moreover, claiming a language barrier as grounds of refusal is a common tactic amongst discriminators in Japan (it adds more plausible deniability than an overt “Japanese Only” sign), and it looks like that is happening in this event too.  But in the case of medical treatment, it is a much more serious issue, as it can be a matter of life and death.

Comments and assistance from Debito.org Readers is welcome below, and TH can respond with more details there as he sees best. Dr. ARUDOU Debito

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I just found this in my “drafts” folder, and I apologize for not getting to it sooner.

Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12

(which states, in toto: “A Japanese national who was born in a foreign country and has acquired a foreign nationality by birth shall lose Japanese nationality retroactively as from the time of birth, unless the Japanese national clearly indicates his or her volition to reserve Japanese nationality according to the provisions of the Family Registration Law (Law No.224 of 1947))

are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad (item 8).

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese.  Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law.  So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad
Asahi Shinbun March 11, 2015 By TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503110080

The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births.

The top court’s ruling on March 10 said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad.

The Nationality Law stipulates that if either parent of a baby born outside Japan is a Japanese national, the child will automatically acquire Japanese nationality and can also obtain the nationality of the country of birth.

But the parents must submit a notification to a Japanese administrative institution within three months of the baby’s birth to maintain the Japanese nationality, according to Article 12 of the law.

In the top court’s first ruling on the constitutionality of the provision, Takehiko Otani, presiding justice of the court’s Third Petty Bench, said, “The legislative purpose (of Article 12) designed to avoid dual nationality is rational and constitutional.”

According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

The Supreme Court said Article 12 is “not irrational nor discriminatory against people born overseas” because it gives the parents three months to submit the notification.

The top court also noted another provision in the law, which allows such children to obtain Japanese nationality before they reach 20 years old if they notify authorities that have a permanent address in Japan.

ENDS

More public-policy bullying of NJ: LDP Bill to fine, imprison, and deport NJ for “fraud visas” (gizou taizai), e.g., visa “irregularities” from job changes or divorces

mytest

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Hi Blog. Some more wicked policy is in the pipeline, giving the government (and the general public) even more discretion to target NJ for criminal penalty.

Consider the policy below in the Japan Times article, creating a new form of criminal called “gizou taizaisha” (“bogus visa holder” in the translation, but more in the spirit would be “fraudulent visa holder”).  This has been discussed on Debito.org before in the context of fabricating a foreign crime wave (where despite statistically plummeting for many years now, the police can still claim foreign crime is rising because in Japan it allegedly “cannot be grasped through statistics”).

Naturally, this issue only applies to NJ, and this means more racial profiling.  But for those of you who think you’re somehow exempt because you’re engaged in white-collar professions, think again.

Immigration and the NPA are going beyond ways to merely “reset your visa clock” and make your visa more temporary based on mere bureaucratic technicalities.  This time they’re going to criminalize your mistakes, and even your lifestyle choices.

Read the article below and consider the permutations that are not fully covered within it:

Which means you’re more likely stuck in whatever dead-end profession or relationship (and at their whim and mercy).  For if you dare change something, under this new Bill you might wind up arrested, interrogated in a police cell for weeks, convicted, fined, thrown in jail, and then deported in the end (because you can’t renew your visa while in jail).  Overnight, your life can change and all your investments lost in Japan — simply because of an oversight or subterfuge.

Source for these issues at Higuchi & Arudou’s bilingual HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN.  NJ in Japan already have very few protected human or constitutional rights as it is.  This law proposes taking away even more of them, and empowering the Japanese police and general public to target and bully them even further.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Immigration crackdown seen as paving the way for state to expel valid visa-holders
The Japan Times, August 19, 2015 (excerpt), courtesy lots of people

[…] Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government has submitted a bill to revise the immigration control law that will stiffen the crackdown on individuals it views as an emerging threat to public safety.

While it is unclear whether the bill will be passed during the current Diet session that ends in late September, lawyers and activists warn it is intended to give authorities leeway to weed out foreigners they consider “undesirable.”

Not only that, the envisaged law is so broadly defined that its impact could in reality extend to any foreigners who have mishandled their paperwork in applying for visas, they said, adding it even risks stoking xenophobia among the Japanese public.

The revision takes aim at what the government tentatively calls bogus visa holders, or giso taizai-sha (those staying under false visa status). The government has no official definition for them, but the term typically refers to foreigners whose activity is out of keeping with their visa status.

“The tricky thing about them is that they are outwardly legal,” immigration official Tomoatsu Koarai said, adding they possess a legitimate visa status and therefore are registered on a government database as legal non-Japanese residents.

Examples include “spouses” of Japanese nationals married under sham marriages, “engineers” whose job has nothing to do with engineering, and “exchange students” who no longer engage in academic activities after facing expulsion, the Justice Ministry said. Unlike visa overstayers, whose illegal status is clear-cut, these bogus visa holders theoretically remain legal until they are apprehended and have their visas revoked.[…]

Under the current framework, bogus immigrants are stripped of their visa if apprehended, but they face no criminal penalty, although they will either be deported immediately or instructed to return home within a month, depending on the circumstances.

The law, if enacted, will subject those who obtained or renewed visas through “forgery and other unjust measures” to criminal penalties, including up to three years’ imprisonment and/or a maximum fine of ¥3 million. The ministry believes imposing criminal penalties will serve as a deterrent.

The envisaged law will also expand the scope of foreigners subject to visa revocation.

Currently, foreign residents are allowed to retain their visa for three months after stopping their permitted activities. The bill calls for scrapping this three-month rule and ensuring that foreigners who discontinue their activities forfeit their residency status the instant they are caught engaging in something different or “planning to do so.” […]

Lawyer Koji Yamawaki, for one, pointed out that requirements for criminal penalties were too broad.

Similar court rulings in the past suggest the phrase “forgery and other unjust measures” does not just refer to cases involving obvious deception and mendacity, he said. It could also include simple missteps on the part of foreigners in filling out application forms, such as failing to notify immigration beforehand of some minor facts concerning their life in Japan, he said.

“For example, it’s often the case foreigners applying for a working visa don’t inform immigration of the fact they live together with someone they are not legally married to, because they thought the information was not relevant. But the reality is many of these omissions have been deemed by immigration serious enough to revoke one’s visa,” Yamawaki said.

What’s worse, after the law’s enactment, these minor lapses could not only cost foreigners their residency status, but hold them criminally liable.

“The point is, under the intended law, even if you’re not being actively deceitful, you could still be prosecuted for simply not mentioning facts that immigration wanted to be aware of — no matter how irrelevant and trivial they may be. The law is that broad,” the lawyer said. […]

One such example is technical interns who work under a state-backed foreign traineeship program called the Technical Intern Training Program.

Under the discredited initiative, allegations are rife that interns have been underpaid, forcedly overworked and abused sexually and verbally by unscrupulous employers. Fed up with subpar wage standards, a record 4,851 interns fled their workplaces in 2014, according to Justice Ministry data.

As the ministry acknowledges, these “runaways” will be considered in violation of the envisaged law once it takes effect, too, because — technically speaking — they no longer are fulfilling their duties as “technical interns” as per their visas.

Full article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/19/national/crime-legal/immigration-crackdown-seen-paving-way-state-expel-valid-visa-holders/
ENDS

Thoughts: How does a society eliminate bigotry? Through courts and media, for example. Not waiting for it to “happen naturally”. Two case studies.

mytest

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Hi Blog. One of the age-old debates about how to eliminate racial discrimination in Japan is a matter of process. Do you wait for society to soften up to the idea of people who are (and/or look) “foreign” being “Japanese”, or do you legislate and force people to stop being discriminatory? Critics of anti-discrimination activists often recommend that the latter apply the brakes on their social movement and wait for society in general to catch up — as in, “You can’t force people by law to be tolerant.”

Well, yes you can. History has shown that without a law (be it a US Civil Rights Act, a UK Race Relations Act, etc.)  and active media campaigns to force and foment tolerance, it doesn’t necessarily occur naturally. As we have seen in the Japanese example, which is approaching the 20th Anniversary of its signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination without keeping its promise to pass a law against racial discrimination.

I submit to Debito.org Readers two interesting case studies of how tolerance towards a) same-sex marriage, and b) transgender issues have been promoted in the American example. The speed at which LGBT tolerance and legal equality in many areas of American society has been breathtaking. Why have walls come tumbling down so fast? One case is with the US Supreme Court, which earlier this year found itself in a position to rule same-sex marriage constitutional because any other position would have been bigotry. Excerpt from a National Public Radio interview, dated July 2, 2015, on Fresh Air with Terry Gross:

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

Was This Past Supreme Court Session ‘A Liberal Term For The Ages’?
NPR Fresh Air July 02, 2015

Full transcript at http://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=419468563
[…]
GROSS: This is FRESH AIR. And if you’re just joining us, my guest is Adam Liptak, the Supreme Court correspondent for The New York Times. And we’re talking about the term that just wrapped up. Now, we’ve been talking about the marriage equality decision. And something that you wrote I found so interesting about this, which is that a lot of law firms wouldn’t touch the anti-marriage equality side. Why not?

LIPTAK: Among a large number of Americans, and certainly Americans on the coast and certainly Americans who come from, call it elite backgrounds – you know, from the fancy colleges and law schools – and certainly what Justice Scalia in a memorable phrase called lawyers who work in high-rise buildings, this issue is done. There’s only one side to it, and the other side is pure bigotry. So that told you something about where at least the legal culture – the mainstream legal culture – was on this question. And, you know, that’s a contrast to, say, Brown V Board of Education, where the leading appellate lawyer of his day, John Davis, one of the founders of the prominent New York firm Davis Polk, argued in favor of segregated schools – or at least that the court should not stop them. So that was a change in the culture that was yet another indication that the court was going to come out the way it did.

GROSS: And it sounds like it was a business decision too – because you write that a lot of law firms were afraid if they took the position against marriage equality that they would lose clients, and they would have a difficult time attracting good lawyers to their firm. Those are business decisions.

LIPTAK: So that is absolutely true as a factual matter. The firms would say this is a matter of principle for them, and they didn’t take account of business realities. But we do have, you know, one example from just a few years ago, where quite possibly the best Supreme Court advocate of our day, Paul Clement, agreed to represent Congress – shouldn’t be a particularly controversial client – in defending the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to married same-sex couples. His firm essentially fired him for agreeing to represent Congress in trying to persuade the court to uphold a duly enacted law signed by President Clinton. So that tells you that this is – this is something where the firms were not inclined to take these cases.

GROSS: So do you think that the marriage equality decision lays the groundwork to opening up gay rights in other areas where it is still in question?

LIPTAK: It’s a huge and important and transformative victory. But in some ways, it’s symbolic and partial because much of the nation still doesn’t have laws against discriminating against gay and lesbian people. So in much of the nation, you can get married in the morning and fired in the afternoon from your job for being gay – and then denied housing because you’re gay. So the court decision only does so much and is limited to marriage. And unless legislatures act to impose general laws against sexual orientation discrimination, the work of the gay rights movement is not yet done. It’s a funny thing, that you get to marriage first and job discrimination later. […]

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

COMMENT: The point is that the proponents of marriage equality (sic — note the terminology) managed to frame the debate in such a way that eventually there was no choice but to support one side (people arguing formerly-normal positions even lost their job), and nobody COULD support the other side without looking bigoted. And that came through in the formal interpretation of the law.  In Japan, however, as proven time and time again by the bigots who cloak their bigotry in nationalism and “culture” (see here and here for example), bigotry is still a tenable position.

The other item of interest is from Entertainment Weekly (which may seem to some a laughable source, but they write very good articles on the power and flow of media). Consider the process they describe in their special LGBT issue that came out last June:

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

The transition will be televised
Subtitle: In an era of increasing inclusiveness, TV proves once again to be media’s most effective agent of social change, this time by sharing rich stories about the transgender community
By Mark Harris
Entertainment Weekly Magazine, June 12 2015 (excerpt)
Full article at http://www.ew.com/article/2015/06/12/transition-will-be-televised

A sports figure comes out as transgender, and the general public is riveted by her story, which is met with everything from bigotry to curiosity to empathy. All at once, the subject seems to be everywhere from op-ed pages to dinner-table conversations. Transgender stories – this time fictional – start to gain a toehold in popular culture. The highest-rated sitcom on network TV takes some tentative steps toward exploring the fluidity of gender identity by having a gay cross-dressing performer as a recurring character. A popular medical drama wins an Emmy nomination for a two-part episode about a doctor who undergoes gender-reassignment surgery.

The year is 1976. Transgender Americans are, for the first time, having a moment. And then interest subsides. The caravan moves on. And the moment is over. How did it take 39 years for us to get all the way back to the starting line?

[…]
Minority representation on TV has always come in phases. Phase 1 is absence – or worse, stereotype. In Phase 2, minorities appear briefly, usually to teach majority characters life lessons or allow them to demonstrate tolerance, and then recede again. In Phase 3 – where we are now – they finally start to get their own stories told. Phase 4 – the characters stick around just because we’re interested in them – is on the near horizon. Phase 5 – we don’t have to write stories like this anymore – is farther off.

It’s not a shock that most of the trans narratives we’re seeing in 2015 are filtered through (or at least share screen time with) the perspective of non-transgender characters. Transparent and Becoming Us are as much about the kids as the parents, and as refreshing as it is to see trans characters woven into the ensembles of Orange Is the New Black and Sense8, there’s no escaping the fact that a large part of why they’re there is specifically to promote understanding – they’re a vehicle for communicating. That’s great, and essential, but it shouldn’t be confused with the finish line—which would be a pop cultural world in which trans people are simply part of the fabric and not used as devices. If you doubt how hard that goal is to reach on TV, consider that gay people, who outnumber trans people by roughly 10 to 1 in the national population, are still struggling for that kind of representation, and that a host of ethnic minorities (particularly Asians and Latinos) continue to fight for the day when they can turn on the TV and routinely see people who look like them.

In that regard, who’s behind the camera may matter at least as much as who’s in front of it. It’s not a coincidence that the most racially diverse prime-time lineup on any network – ABC’s Thursday-night roster of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder – is overseen by a black woman, or that Will & Grace was co-created by a gay man, or that fictional Ellen’s coming-out was tied to real Ellen’s desire to tell her own truth. There’s no substitute for having someone in the room to whom the subject matters – it’s a corrective, it’s an incentive, and it’s a truth detector.

The 1976 flicker of interest in trans issues didn’t last because it was, though well-intentioned, not strong enough to combat an immense set of prevailing prejudices. This time, it might take root, not just because attitudes have changed, but because the current approach is less touristic and more firsthand. One of the creators of Sense8, Lana Wachowski, is trans. Transparent’s writer-director-creator Jill Soloway has a trans father. If Sophia seems like an exceptionally multidimensional trans character, that’s in part because Laverne Cox is on the scene. As she has noted, “It’s really important that trans folks are in positions of power in terms of creating our stories. I think that’s vital.” Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan has argued that a good writer should be able to write any character with truth and depth, and she’s right. But it’s an important breakthrough that there are now a handful of people in positions of power with a deep and personal investment in making sure TV gets this right. Four decades ago, we got off to a false start. Now, better late than never, we’re off to a good one. ENDS

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COMMENT:  The lesson here is that there are stages of “softening up a society”, but what’s crucial is that people who can best promote the tolerance, as in those affected by the intolerance, must be in a position of power within the media structures in order to get their message out.  As I have argued elsewhere, NJ and Visible Minorities are so shut out of Japanese media that they simply cannot do that.  They are seen as basically nonexistent entities in Japanese society both within and without (including outside scholarship on Japan).

All of these things will be discussed in greater detail in my forthcoming book, Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination in Japan, out November.  Stay tuned.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Mainichi: Unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims? Supreme Court decision due Sept. 8

mytest

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Hi Blog. Continuing with historical reflection on the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII-Pacific and the dropping of the atomic bombs, let me turn the keyboard over to Debito.org Reader JK for an interesting insight, this time quite germane to the aims of Debito.org.  Let’s see what ruling gets handed down next month.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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August 11, 2015
JK: Hi Debito. Here’s something you may not have considered — unequal treatment for foreign and/or foreign-residing A-bomb victims.  From the article below:

“But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers.”

And this:

“Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.”

Finally:

“I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

There’s obviously plenty of fodder here for a blog entry on debito.org, but putting that aside for the moment, there’s something subtle I noticed when reading the article, specifically, this:

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を 図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外するこ とは合 理的ではない」などと認定。

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.”

Did you catch it?

It’s this: reasonableness / unreasonableness as the basis for legal opinion (i.e. unreasonable exclusion of foreign medical expenses).

Does this ring a bell for you? I sure hope so!

If not, you may recall the legal opinion of a one Mr. Keiichi Sakamoto with regard to unreasonable discrimination

Now, I am no lawyer, but the problem I see with using the notion of reasonableness / unreasonableness in this way is that it leaves the door open to abuse (e.g. there may be a scenario where excluding medical expenses incurred abroad by foreign A-bomb victims is, in the opinion of the court, reasonable, or discrimination by an onsen refusing to admit NJ *is* reasonable, etc.)

At any rate, here are the references. Regards, JK

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

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150811p2a00m0na005000c.html
Supreme Court likely to rule in favor of Korean A-bomb sufferers over medical costs
The Mainichi Shinbun, August 11, 2015

The Supreme Court has decided to rule Sept. 8 on a lower court decision revoking the 2011 Osaka Prefectural Government’s decision not to cover the medical costs of South Korean survivors of the Hiroshima atomic bombing who received medical treatment in South Korea.

The Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court is likely to uphold the Osaka High Court’s decision on the case as it has not held any hearings necessary to review the high court’s ruling that Japanese authorities must cover all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing abroad.

The plaintiffs are a Korean who returned to South Korea after surviving the Hiroshima atomic bombing and relatives of two other now-deceased Korean A-bomb sufferers. Although the South Korean A-bomb survivors had received an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook, the Osaka Prefectural Government turned down their applications for provision of medical expenses incurred in South Korea. The plaintiffs have demanded that the Osaka Prefectural Government scrap its decision to refuse to pay them the medical costs, among other requests.

In its June 2014 ruling, the Osaka High Court said that the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law “has an attribute of state reparations in which the state is required to take responsibility to give aid to A-bomb survivors. It is not reasonable to exclude medical expenses incurred abroad from the list of medical costs to be covered by the state.” The Osaka High Court upheld the October 2013 Osaka District Court’s decision that called for payment of all medical costs and turned down an appeal from the Osaka Prefectural Government.

The state has been covering all medical expenses for A-bomb sufferers residing in Japan under the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law. But separate from the law, the government sets an upper limit on financial medical aid to foreign atomic bomb sufferers. Such being the case, A-bomb sufferers living abroad have argued that the government’s support for them is not enough.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, there were about 4,300 A-bomb sufferers living abroad who had an Atomic Bomb Survivor’s Handbook as of the end of March 2015. Similar lawsuits were filed with district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but the two courts rejected the demands from A-bomb sufferers living outside Japan.

The South Korean plaintiffs are likely to win the lawsuit being fought in Osaka over whether the provision for medical expense coverage stipulated in the Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law applies to A-bomb sufferers living abroad. Supporters for A-bomb sufferers abroad said A-bomb victims and their bereaved families overseas had felt relieved after hearing the news. But because the district courts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki handed down opposite rulings over similar lawsuits, supporters for foreign A-bomb victims are calling for quickly removing the disparity in medical support between the victims in Japan and those abroad considering the years passed since the atomic bombings.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed in Osaka are Lee Hong-hyon, a 69-year-old South Korean man, and relatives of two other South Korean A-bomb sufferers who already passed away. They filed applications with the Osaka Prefectural Government to receive medical expenses incurred in South Korea. But the prefectural government turned down their applications, saying that medical expenses incurred overseas cannot be covered. Therefore, the South Koreans decided to file the lawsuit.

Junko Ichiba, 59-year-old chair of the Association of Citizens for the Support of South Korean Atomic Bomb Victims, conveyed the latest development to the South Korean plaintiffs on the evening of Aug. 10. Ichiba quoted Lee Hong-hyon as saying, “I want them (Japanese authorities) to treat us the same way as they do to A-bomb sufferers in Japan no matter where we live.”

People concerned with the lawsuits in Hiroshima and Nagasaki expressed hope that the Osaka case would have a positive effect on the cases in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Keizaburo Toyonaga, a 79-year-old A-bomb sufferer who heads the Hiroshima branch of the “Citizens’ Association for Helping Korean A-bomb Survivors,” said, “I am very pleased. The Atomic Bomb Survivors’ Support Law should be revised as soon as possible.” Nobuto Hirano, co-representative of a Nagasaki-based liaison support group for A-bomb victims overseas, said, “It is good news. The state should revise the system promptly.” The group provides support to plaintiffs in the Nagasaki case.
ENDS

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在外被爆者医療費:「全額支給」確定へ9月8日最高裁判決
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20150811k0000m040074000c.html

被爆者援護法の医療費支給規定が海外に住む被爆者に適用されるかが争われた訴訟の上告審で、最高裁第3小法廷(岡部喜代子裁判長)は判決期日を9月8日に指定した。高裁の判断を見直す際に必要な弁論を開いておらず、在外被爆者の医療費の全額支給を認めた大阪高裁判決が確定する見通しとなった。

原告は、広島で被爆し韓国に帰国した被爆者や死亡した被爆者の遺族ら。被爆者健康手帳の交付を受けたが、韓国での医療費の支給申請を大阪府に却下され、処分の取り消しなどを求めていた。

2014年6月の大阪高裁判決は、援護法について「国の責任で被爆者の救済を図る国家補償の性格がある。国外での医療費を支給対象から除外することは合理的ではない」などと認定。医療費の全額支給を認めた1審・大阪地裁判決(13年10月)を支持し、府側の控訴を棄却していた。

国は援護法に基づいて、国内の被爆者に医療費を全額支給している。しかし在外被爆者については援護法とは別枠で上限を設けて医療費を助成し、在外被爆者らは「不十分だ」と訴えていた。

厚生労働省によると被爆者健康手帳を持つ在外被爆者は3月末現在で約4300人。広島、長崎両地裁でも同種の訴訟が起こされていたが、在外被爆者側の請求を棄却(いずれも控訴)しており、司法判断が分かれていた。【山本将克】

mainichi081015

ENDS

==========================================
— UPDATE: GOOD NEWS. DEBITO

Supreme Court rules hibakusha overseas are entitled to full medical expenses
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI STAFF WRITER
THE JAPAN TIMES, SEP 8, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/09/08/national/crime-legal/supreme-court-rules-hibakusha-overseas-entitled-full-medical-expenses/

Japan Times: Debate on anti-discrimination bill begins in Diet; sadly, doomed to failure

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Something important is going on here.  Comment follows article excerpt:

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

Debate on anti-discrimination bill begins in Diet
BY REIJI YOSHIDA
THE JAPAN TIMES, AUG 4, 2015

The Diet started deliberations Tuesday on a bill that would ban racial discrimination, including harassment and hate speech, and oblige the government to draw up anti-discrimination programs that report every year to lawmakers.

The bill, submitted to the Upper House by opposition lawmakers, was crafted to cope with a recent rise in discrimination against non-Japanese, in particular ethnic Koreans.

However, it does not have punitive provisions and whether it will ever be enacted remains unclear, as lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party reportedly remain reluctant to support the proposal.

The Democratic Party of Japan, the Social Democratic Party and independent Upper House member Keiko Itokazu jointly submitted the bill.

Speaking in the Lower House in February, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emphasized that racial discrimination, including hate speech, should never be tolerated in Japan.

But at the same time, he indicated he is reluctant to push for a new law, saying the government instead will use existing laws to deal with discrimination and promote enlightenment and educational activities.

“First, the government will properly apply existing laws to eradicate hate speech and racial discrimination,” Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee.

However, as Komeito lawmaker Toru Kunishige pointed out during that committee session, current laws apply only to defamation and insults against specific individuals, and not to hate speech against unspecified people of a racial group.

In August last year, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged the Japanese government to regulate hate speech by law, following a rise in racist demonstrations mainly targeting Korean residents.

The Upper House bill would ban:

Unjustifiable discrimination based on race.

Insults and harassment because of the race of a person.

Use of discriminatory and abusive language and activities in public against unspecified people of a certain race. […]

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

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/08/04/national/politics-diplomacy/debate-anti-discrimination-bill-begins-diet/

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Well, I’m heartened that somebody in Japanese politics these days still cares about the plight of Japan’s minorities, particularly its Visible Minorities in particular, who will be affected by, as the opposition Democratic Party of Japan put it, “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu).  Good to see that term resurfacing in the letter of the law.

(Here’s the proposal from the DPJ website, in Japanese.)

Sadly,

  1. The DPJ hasn’t a snowball’s chance of getting this passed.  The numbers simply aren’t there given the Liberal Democratic Party coalition’s overwhelming majority in both houses of the Diet.  And,
  2. It’s already front-loaded for failure, what with:
  3. a) the caveats of “unjustifiable discrimination based upon race” (ah, it’s so sad that there are concessions made for the obviously “justifiable” examples of racial discrimination in Japanese society), and
  4. b) the lack of any punitive measures for offenders.  In other words, the same old law that has no enforcement power, such as the Equal Employment Opportunities Law that has not affected the equal employment of women (in terms of equalizing salaries) one jot in Japan.

Anyway, I’ve tried doing something like this in the past (now over a decade ago; how time flies).  I think it’ll probably end up just as ignored.  Nice try DPJ, and I salute you for it.  It’s a pity you’ve already added the caveats that will void the bill even before it’s killed in debate.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times JBC 90: “Claiming the right to be Japanese AND more”, Aug 3, 2015

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Thanks to everyone for reading and commenting to my next Japan Times JBC Column 90, disputing the discourse that people 1) have to “look Japanese” in order to be “Japanese”, and 2) cannot be Japanese AND something else (such as a different nationality, “race”, or ethnicity).  I make the case that many things such as these, once ascribed from birth, are now a matter of personal choice — and that person must claim it (in the face of constant identity policing) in order to own it.

As noted in the column, this think piece is grounded in a debate I had earlier this month regarding an incident with a bank teller in Canada who expressed incredulity at me having a Japanese passport.  Thanks for making it the most-read article on the JT Online for two days again this month.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

PS:  Sneak preview of the article’s illustration, by Adam Pasion:

DebitoJT0803151

JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

Claiming the right to be Japanese AND more

By Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
JUST BE CAUSE column 90 for the Japan Times Community Page
August 3, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2015/08/02/issues/claiming-right-japanese/ 

“A Japanese passport? You don’t look Japanese.”

I get this all the time. Understandably: Most people don’t expect a Caucasian to have Japanese citizenship.

It’s just a shame they so carelessly articulate their surprise. No matter where I go, a natural curiosity about my background soon turns into vocalized judgment.

“What an unusual name. Where are you from?”
Me: “Japan” (or, “Born in the U.S., lived in Japan,” if I’m feeling chatty).
Their most common response: “But you don’t look Japanese.”

Or Customs and Immigration at any border: “What’s with the Japanese passport?”
“I’m a naturalized Japanese citizen.”
Again, “You don’t look Japanese.” (That’s the milder reaction. In Jamaica, officials took my passport around the office for a laugh. In the U.S., they rendered me to secondary for a few hours of waiting and inquisition until I missed my next flight. Seriously.)

Trying to dodge these questions by saying “It’s a long story” often doesn’t cut it. (American official: “Oh? We’ve got time.”) Having to school everyone about my background on a daily basis gets tiring, and biting my lip through many an intrusive and sometimes humiliating experience leaves psychological “triggers” after a while.

I realized that last month on vacation in Canada, when a bank teller asked for my ID. Passport presented, out it popped: “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.” I snapped back: “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Afterwards, I asked the teller (an Asian gentleman), “How would you like it if you produced a Canadian passport and I said, ‘That’s funny; you don’t look Canadian’?” He said, not much, and apologized.

There are a few important details to this story I don’t have space for (see www.debito.org/?p=13381), but the conclusion was that the manager sent the teller home for the day (a surprise to me, as I never asked for any sanction) and then invited me to his office for a chat.

“I understand your frustration,” said the manager, “because I am Metis.” He was referring to his official minority status in Canada as a descendent of First Nation aboriginals and colonial settlers.

“I hate it when people I’m doing business with tell me that I don’t ‘look Metis,’ even after I show my status card.” He said that this kind of behavior was unacceptable at his bank, and in Canada.

Refreshed by this experience, I blogged and Facebooked about this no-nonsense zero tolerance. And then the topic blew up in my face.

Some readers wrote in to say I had overreacted. Instead of jumping straight to “racism,” I could have defused things with a quick explanation of my background or a joke.

Others said that I was defying common sense. A white guy with a Japanese passport expecting no surprise? Unreasonable. (Surprise I do expect. Vocalizing that surprise in a professional setting and calling a customer’s identity “funny” is problematic.)

The critics that really got my goat were those that expressed disgust at my acting so “un-Japanese” (as in, not avoiding conflict) and went on say that, to them, I no longer qualified as a Japanese. (I unfriended them because that’s pretty thoughtless. By their logic, I could murder somebody and still qualify, since some Japanese do murder.)

The most interesting argument accused me of exercising my “white privilege”: “You get to be white and Japanese? You’ve taken this too far!” I had victimized the Asian teller because I had the power in this relationship as a white in Canada’s white-dominated society. (The critic’s thoughtful essay and my answer are archived at www.debito.org/?p=13404.)

For the record, I don’t doubt the existence of white privilege. (You can even find an example on our Community pages: Gregory Clark’s Dec. 4, 2014 “Kick out the touts who rule Roppongi” Foreign Agenda column.) I acknowledge that I have received advantageous treatment worldwide due to my lighter skin color and white background.

But the two of us parted paths at the point where the critic said I could not be “white and Japanese.” I do not believe that they are mutually exclusive. (Neither does Japan: In apartheid South Africa, Japan successfully lobbied to be Japanese and “honorary whites”.)

I’m Japanese and white because I earned it — through decades of study and self-education, acculturation, living and contributing to Japanese society, dedication and sacrifice (including my American citizenship and even my very name), and close scrutiny by the Japanese government of my “Japaneseness” in ways not seen in other countries’ naturalization processes.

I am certifiably Japanese because the Japanese government says I am, and they gave me a tough test to prove it. I am not Japanese but white. I’m claiming the “and.”

So why write a column about this? After all, I got myself onto this sticky wicket by naturalizing into a country with few “non-Asian-looking” citizens.

Because this goes beyond me. What about the people who didn’t have a choice — like our Japanese kids?

It shouldn’t be an issue. They are Japanese children, full stop. And they can be something else yet 100 percent Japanese. It’s not a zero-sum game. (That’s why I am not a fan of the term hāfu.) I say claim the “and.” For them.

Mountains out of molehills? OK, how will you react the 100th time (or the fifth time in a day) that you hear, “Oh, what cute gaijin kids!” Will you stand idly by when people openly doubt your kids’ identity as they grow up and risk being denied equal opportunities in society?

We’re fully formed adults — we can take these sucker punches — but kids need someone in their corner, pushing for their right to be diverse yet belong.

The push must happen until the point where the surprise is switched around — into shock at someone daring to imply that a citizen or resident with a surprising background is not a “real” or “normal” member of society.

Admittedly, careless comments from individuals are not something you can immediately fix, but alienating attitudes about people’s identities should not be expressed in a corporate or official capacity. To anyone. Anywhere. That’s where the push starts.

Don’t get me wrong: People can think what they like. But if they articulate thoughts inaccurate, unkind or alienating about us or the people we care for, we should reserve the right to push back accordingly — and not succumb to the majoritarian identity policing that goes on everywhere.

But let’s come down from ideals and return to the bank counter. The main issue there was not the law of averages determining “normal” or “triggers” or “privilege.” It was one of self-identification.

Pause for a second and take stock of where things are going these days: Somebody can self-identify as Japanese and African-American, and represent Japan at the Miss Universe contest (like Ariana Miyamoto). Or be male and then female or vice versa (like Caitlyn Jenner, Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox and Lana Wachowsky). Or be LGBT and married. Or, like Rachel Dolezal, be white and “culturally black” enough to head a chapter of America’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

A future is emerging where the major social statuses assigned us from birth — e.g., gender, “race,” nationality, even ethnicity — are breaking down. They can be a matter of personal choice.

That’s a good thing. With the unprecedented porosity of international borders nowadays, the notion of a “normal” person is ever eroding. That’s why I believe that anyone should be allowed to shape, control and, yes, claim their own identity.

Now, you might think that Japan, the island society, is unaffected by these trends. I would disagree. As I describe in my forthcoming book, “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination,” the pressure of Japan’s aging demographics is unrelenting. If Japan cannot get over the conceit of having to “look Japanese” to be treated as one, then it cannot make “new Japanese,” and the country will continue to sink into an insolvent economic abyss.

Thus, if our Japanese kids cannot self-identify, hundreds of thousands of them (eventually millions, as people continue mixing) will spend their lives having their identities policed back into being “foreign,” not fitting in when they should be welcomed for all their potential as individuals with more worldly insights.

Let’s knock off the identity policing. Stop telling people who they are. Let them tell us. Let them claim the “and.”

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

Debito’s 20-year-old historical archive of life and human rights in Japan is at www.debito.org. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Monday Community Page of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp

ENDS

Mainichi: “Not Japanese Enough?” Bog-standard article about Miss Japan Miyamoto Ariana’s fight against racial discrim in Japan, not in Japanese for J-audience

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I’ve been withholding comment on the very good news about Miyamoto Ariana’s ascension to the role of Miss Japan (I’ve only brought it up on Debito.org here so far), and for the role that she is taking on of her own volition to fight “racial discrimination” (yes, explicitly jinshu sabetsu — something that the J-media generally refuses to even acknowledge exists in Japan).  What I’ve been waiting for is how the J-media (as opposed to the predictable reaction from the J-xenophobes) would react to her activism.  And here’s a good example from the Mainichi Shinbun (comment follows article):

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

Not Japanese Enough? Miss Universe Japan looks to fight prejudice
July 25, 2015 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20150725p2g00m0fe023000c.html

TOKYO (Kyodo) — At first glance, Ariana Miyamoto does not look like an ordinary Japanese woman. But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age. In March, she became the first mixed race contestant to be crowned “Miss Universe Japan,” but not everyone cheered the result.

Because of her darker skin she was criticized online for “not being Japanese enough” and there were those who wanted to know why a “pure” Japanese had not been chosen.

Even Ariana had her doubts when she was declared the winner out of 44 finalists. “Is it really all right that it’s me?” was her first reaction. She admits she worried a lot about what people thought.

But when she came to see that there were far more people supporting her than putting her down, she became brighter about the future and the kind of role she could play. “I’d like to participate in movements that fight against racism and stereotypes,” she says.

“My mother is Japanese and my father is African-American. Probably that’s why I got so much attention,” Ariana says with a laugh. Some of her classmates in Sasebo, Nagasaki, used to bully her, saying things like, “Don’t swim in the same pool ’cause your skin will rub off on me.”

As a biracial child wondering where she should fit in, Ariana would frequently turn to her mother, who would encourage her by saying, “Everyone envies you for your beauty.”

Ariana’s parents divorced when she was very young. When she went to the United States to visit her father, she felt comfortable because she found people of many different ethnicities.

After attending a local high school in Arkansas for two years, she returned to Japan. Arriving at Narita airport, she said she was shocked to discover how really Japanese she felt. Every Japanese sign she saw made her feel she was back home.

In a world where racial discrimination and hate speech show no signs of abating, whether in Charleston, South Carolina where nine African-Americans were gunned down in a church, or streets in Shin-Okubo in Tokyo where discrimination is aimed at ethnic Koreans, she wants to make a difference.

Taking advantages of her new fame as Miss Universe Japan, she hopes in the future to campaign for a Japan and a world without prejudice. “I think Japan is showing some signs of change. We see more and more ‘haafu’ (biracial) TV personalities coming onto the scene. I think we can really change,” Ariana said.

Ariana is still unsure about the exact role she will play.

“Now I’m concentrating to be fully prepared for the Miss Universe world event which will take place sometime in 2015. I wish I can participate in some activities to raise awareness and fight against racial discrimination after that.”

The date for the Miss Universe contest, the international beauty pageant owned by Republican candidate Donald Trump, who himself is embroiled in controversy over racially insensitive remarks he made about Mexican immigrants, has not yet been decided.

Hopefully, Ariana’s victory in Japan is a signal that Japanese society is opening to accept more diversity. An added bonus is the pride she will feel by representing her country in the same light when she steps on the world stage.

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Okay, a few points:

1) The opening paragraph, where the article says, “But the 21-year-old model and former bartender speaks the language like a native and thinks and acts like a typical Japanese her age.”  Well, she IS a native speaker of Japanese, and she IS a typical Japanese her age.  Because she IS a Japanese.  100%.  Even she says so.  Front-loading the articles to reinforce the narrative that she isn’t a Japanese because she has mixed roots is one major problem in this unnecessary debate about Miyamoto-san’s identity.

2) The article is better than many (for example this one or this one) because it doesn’t have the “Duhhhh, duhhhh, she’s just soooo beautiful…!” fawning objectification that a lot of the stunned (male) reporters do when discussing her role and her future.  However,

3) The article is basically bog-standard in terms of talking about Miyamoto, with no new news that hasn’t been reported elsewhere.  One might say that it’s good that her voice is making a Japanese newspaper.  But it really didn’t.  This article didn’t appear in the Japanese version of the Mainichi.  There is no link provided to the Japanese version like it is for other articles on the site (well, it is a Kyodo wire services article, not done by Mainichi reporters; and that’s also indicative).  A search of the Mainichi revealed that it was basically sequestered to a foreign-language-reading audience.  Once again, it’s basically showcase boilerplate for the Gaijin without making a domestic dent.

Anyway, Debito.org wishes Miyamoto-san well.  I hope that she doesn’t get ground down by the boredom of the same questions over and over again, by the nasty people who police her identity, or by the frustration she may soon feel when she realizes that her optimism about Japan changing was just her being youthful.

Given that her narrative about fighting racial discrimination is basically only showing up in the foreign-language media, the only way I see her really making a change is if she wins Miss Universe.  Then of course Japan and the media will fall all over themselves to claim her as “Japanese” (as they do Nobel Prize winners who move overseas and take foreign nationalities).  And then she’ll have greater leverage.  For that reason, among others, I hope she does win.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Japan Times: Govt “Snitch Sites” being used to target Zainichi Koreans for harassment

mytest

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Hi Blog. In the previous blog entry, I pondered aloud a future Japan after the rule of law and the Japanese Constitution is further eroded for the sake of reactionary nationalism. Under Debito.org’s purview, without clearer evidence I wasn’t able to speculate how this would affect NJ residents of Japan. Now there is some evidence (which was brought up elsewhere on Debito.org within Comments starting from here) within a Japan Times article excerpted below.

Not all that long ago, NJ residents of Japan were basically seen as misunderstood guests. As I describe in great detail in my upcoming book “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (out in November), thanks to GOJ campaigns in the 2000s the narrative officially shifted to seeing NJ as a source of crime, illegal overstaying, infectious diseases, and terrorism.

As can be seen in the JT article, this attitude has percolated down to the interpersonal level. Again, not that long ago, Japanese in general were quite unaware that NJ had to carry “Gaijin Cards” 24-7 or face arrest, detention, and financial penalty (many I talked to were even more flabbergasted when they realized that NJ fingerprinting — the hallmark of criminal tracking in Japan — was once involved).

This has clearly changed:  anonymous xenophobes-cum-bullies empowered by the Internet are now aware enough of NJs’ vulnerable status as something trackable by Gaijin Cards (thanks to official NJ-targeting campaigns such as this one, found in places like subway stations back in 2011) that they are now spreading false rumors about Gaijin Card conversion (from the ARC to the remotely-trackable Zairyuu Card) and visa overstaying (in this case targeting the Zainichi Korean “generational foreigners” ethnic minority in Japan).  They are now “overwhelming Immigration” with “tips from bounty seekers”.

The kicker to this incident is that the internet bullies have been empowered by a system of “snitch sites” that the Japanese Government set up long ago (and Debito.org has long decried as incredibly open to abuse: see also here) to anonymously rat on any NJ based upon any reason whatsoever. Did the fools who set up this system really think that sooner or later this wouldn’t happen?  What’s next, as Japan’s general public starts to get involved in this GOJ-sponsored “Gaijin Hunt”? Dr. ARUDOU Debito

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

Xenophobic wave of tips target ‘illegal’ Korean residents; immigration bureaus overwhelmed
by Tomohiro Osaki, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, Jul 21, 2015 (excerpt)

An Internet rumor that hundreds of thousands of ethnic Korean residents are to be deported has seen immigration bureaus nationwide deluged with “tips” from bounty seekers and others about neighbors who in fact remain legal residents.

It has so overwhelmed local offices that the Justice Ministry has spoken out to deny claims that Zainichi ethnic Koreans with “special permanent resident” status are now subject to deportation. The group comprise mostly ethnic Koreans and their descendants.

It is unclear whether the rumor arose by mistake or was maliciously devised by racists and right-wingers, but it appears to have tapped a national thread of xenophobia, given the volume of callers trying to turn their neighbors in.

The rumor says ethnic Koreans forfeited their residency status after July 8. Although Zainichi identity papers are in fact being upgraded to a new system, that date was only a deadline for foreign citizens to swap certificates of alien registration for a new identification card.

Within days, immigration bureaus witnessed a surge in calls, letters and emails from members of the public informing against special permanent residents, according to Justice Ministry official Masashi Shimazu.

“The reports came unexpectedly and the situation needs to be corrected,” Shimazu said.

Typical messages inciting tipoffs could easily be found on the Internet on Tuesday. Tweets and comments on discussion forums said that denouncing one Korean residing in the country illegally would lead to a bounty of ¥50,000. These postings pointed readers to a website operated by the ministry soliciting tips on the whereabouts of illegal immigrants.

Shimazu acknowledged that the ministry site received some emails seeking to inform on people in the country legally, but declined to divulge the number.

The ministry moved fast to try to counter the misunderstanding. Last Thursday it posted a notice on its website assuring ethnic Koreans and other special permanent residents that failure to obtain the new ID by the July 8 deadline “would not lead to deprivation of their status as a special permanent resident.”

The ministry also plans to define in clearer terms who it refers to as “illegal immigrants,” Shimazu said, adding that the chief target is people who overstay their visa. […]

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

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/07/21/national/xenophobic-wave-tips-target-illegal-korean-residents-immigration-bureaus-overwhelmed/

ENDS

Update to Canada bank racism issue: Fascinating FB conversation gets me to capitulate

mytest

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Hi Blog. A couple of weeks ago, shortly before bedtime when I was tired and on vacation, I tossed off a blog entry on Debito.org about my recent experience with what I considered to be racism towards me at a Canadian bank for not having a passport that matched the bank teller’s expectation of phenotype. In other words, the teller said my having a Japanese passport was “funny” to him, as I didn’t “look Japanese”.

This was quickly dealt with in a way that I had never seen done in, for example, Japan (where this behavior would in my experience be explained away as a cultural misunderstanding, oversensitivity on my part, etc.).  In Canada, the manager intervened, and (unbeknownst to us at the time) sent the teller home.  The manager, who happened to be a minority in Canada, then said he well understood my distaste for identity policing of this ilk. In sum, the blog post was to give kudos to Canadian society for stopping this sort of thing in its tracks.

I had thought this was a pretty summary case, and wrote it up as such. However, I had no idea that it would blow up in my face.

So much so that I had to add an addendum to the post from a person accompanying me to that bank, filling in a number of things I hadn’t bothered to mention — such as the fact that we called the manager because we had a separate issue of business that needed a manager’s attention, and the teller in fact interfered with that request, and more. (I encourage people who haven’t read the original Debito.org blog entry to go here and do so before reading further.  In fact, sorry to do this:  since I don’t want to just rehash the debate below, comments that don’t reflect a careful reading of that post and the subsequent text will not be allowed through.)

This blog post is to archive the essence of a very informative discussion on my Facebook that was occasioned by this blog entry.

The discussion cleaved into several quite distinct camps, essentially:

  1. Support for what I did.
  2. Criticism for my overdoing it — surely this could have been handled better by me, e.g., by deflecting it with a quick explanation of my background or a bit of humor.
  3. Disbelief at my inability to use common sense:  To them, of course I don’t “look Japanese” (especially in a society with so few Caucasian Japanese), so my apparent expectation of the teller’s lack of surprise is unreasonable.
  4. Anger (especially from Canadians) of my acting like a typically-loud and conflict-encouraging American in Canada.
  5. Disgust at my acting so atypically Japanese that I no longer qualified as a Japanese in that person’s eyes (and that was it for us:  Unfriended. Anyone who says I’m not “Japanese” because I don’t look or act “Japanese” in their view is neither a friend nor a person I care to talk to again.  That’s taking the identity policing too far.  After all, I could have committed a murder, and that would not have disqualified me — since some Japanese people murder, and don’t lose their “Japanese” status; my objecting to a teller’s inappropriate statement is somehow worse than that?)
  6. Outrage towards my victimizing the teller (who as, I pointed out in my blog post, I deduced to be of native Korean background).  To them, I was oblivious towards my White Privilege in a White-majority and White-dominated society.

The most articulate proponent of Camp 6 was a person I will call JG, and he posted a comment so well-argued that I thought it worth archiving in full at Debito.org.   I answered it after a few days (again, I had a number of other commitments while on vacation, and didn’t want to just toss something off again), but here it is:

(N.B. There is one more bit at the very end, after JG’s and my exchange, where I essentially capitulate and agree that I overdid it this time.  Do read to the bottom if you’re convinced that I never admit I’m wrong.)

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

Debito:  Hi Everyone. At long last, here is my reply to JG essay. I am sorry for taking so long — these things take time to compose, so thank you for your patience. For completeness’ sake, I will quote it in full with my answers after each one of his paragraphs:

JG: Sorry, this smells of white-privilege, dude! You get to be white AND Japanese! You’ve taken this TOO far! […] I mentioned in another sub-thread that your actions smacked of “white-privilege”, but I think that you missed my point, or choose to ignore it, which is a very symptom of said privilege. What I mean by “white-privilege” in this context is that when one speaks about discrimination, one cannot ignore the part that power plays in the situation. In this case, you are in Canada, NOT in Japan, so the context of power changes. In Canada, you are perceived as WHITE, which in North America is the gold-standard (it is also the case in Japan, but that is another discussion). People who are perceived as White have certain advantages that others who are not perceived as White. Please note that I am not talking about ethnicity or culture here, but the socially-constructed notion of RACE that is defined primarily by stereotypical physical attributes and phenotypes interpreted through the lens of the observer. So while you may “feel” that you are Japanese, others will see you as WHITE; and this is especially salient in the North American context where being labeled as WHITE affords you privileges not afforded to others, even though they may be citizens through birth or naturalization.

Debito: I do not dispute either in concept or form the existence of White Privilege. I acknowledge that being White has assisted and does assist me and others who look like me from society to society, and that the treatment of people deemed to be “White” by society provides systemic advantages in societies that are both White-majority and Non-White-majority dominated. And I acknowledge that people will see me as “White” anywhere I go.

Where you and I part company in this paragraph is my wish to be White AND Japanese. I do not believe that they are (or should be) mutually exclusive. Just as Japanese themselves in Apartheid South Africa successfully lobbied to be Japanese AND “Honorary Whites” under the law. And this was not a case of naturalization in the ASA example, either. My being naturalized as a Japanese gives me even more standing to claim that I am Japanese AND White; I’ve earned this qualification through decades of study and self-education, acculturation, time spent in and contributions to Japanese society, dedication and sacrifice (including my American passport and even my very name), and close scrutiny by the Japanese government of my “Japaneseness” in ways not seen in other countries’ naturalization processes. I am certifiably Japanese because the Japanese government says I am, and they gave me a tough test to prove it.

Moreover, I am not willing to have my identity policed by others, unaware of this degree of dedication, into being Japanese BUT White anywhere I go. I am a Japanese, full stop. As are my Japanese children, full stop. As are yours, full stop. Regardless of how our children look, anywhere in the world, they are ALSO Japanese. It is up to us to claim that for ourselves and them, and not succumb to the majoritarian identity policing that goes on everywhere. Otherwise we’d still have people saying in other societies that they were not “real” members of (insert society here). This must stop, as borders nowadays with international migration and immigration are porous like never before. I believe that introducing White Privilege into the mix here distracts and detracts from the main issue, which is: self-identification. I believe that a person has the right to shape and control their own identity, and claim it when necessary without being unduly accused of an abuse of social power.

JG: Now, in consideration of the above, can you see how YOU were the one with the power in this exchange? Sure, the statement that the guy made may have been insensitive or, giving him the benefit of the doubt, he may have not experienced a “white” person who identified himself as part of a group that has been historically “non-white”, especially when identifying as “white” affords so much advantage and social capital. Also, considering that he himself was a visible minority, might take a bit of offense to someone with such obvious social advantage, identifying himself as a part of the Asian community. In other words, “Why is this White guy trying to be like us? Is he trying to appropriate our culture like the other whites in the past took the land, culture, and livelihood during colonization?”

Debito: Yes, now let’s talk about the power relations here in this particular case regardless of self-identification. You made the case that I, as a White person, had the power in this relationship. That could very well be the case, and I won’t deny it as a possible factor. (Not mentioned is that I also had the power in this relationship as an account holder and a customer.) He was no doubt surprised by a person like me having a passport like that (I don’t blame him for that — it’s an understandable reaction). And his reaction was probably innocuous and not ill-intentioned. All agreed so far.

That said, the issue in this situation I believe is the remark he made. If the teller had also been identifiable and self-identified as “White”, I would have reacted the same way to this social othering. It doesn’t matter what the teller’s background is: It’s an inappropriate remark.

Where we part company further is in seeing everything revolving around a person socially-identified as “White” as riddled with White Privilege that is actually being enforced consciously or unconsciously. My existing as a White Japanese possibly (as you argued) being seen as an appropriator of his culture is his baggage. And if he wants a job dealing with people in a customer-client relationship, he must lose that baggage, or at least not act or remark on it — just as anyone “White” who has to deal with any Visible Minority must lose their personal baggage, as part of company policy as a company representative.

Whether or not that baggage can ever be properly “loseable” is something we can debate (I also concur that racialization processes make that impossible to reduce to zero), but I don’t think its existence should be used as an excuse to empower hypocrisy. By that I mean, if I can’t do it to him, he can’t do it to me. And to imply that he can just because I’m apparently White and he’s not is unduly switching the victimization. That goes for anywhere that has any claims (including the Non-White majoritarian societies) to having anti-discrimination rules and practices.

(Further, if legacies of colonization that you brought up were an issue for this gentleman, the Japanese colonized Korea, so Whiteness is quite probably not a factor in this.)

If the very sight of me somehow, as you put it, “offends” him (which I think is unlikely, but that’s how you couched this issue), I don’t think he should be doing this particular job. But anyway, I really don’t think that’s what happening here. I’m sure he’s a fine teller that just let his tongue slip and vocalized the first thing that popped into his head. You can make the case that I overreacted to it (and I’m fine with that interpretation), but to say that I victimized him just because I happened to be White and he didn’t is in my opinion, in this case, a stretch.

JG: Regardless of what was going on in his head (because it is impossible to know), the facts as you have stated yourself, are that despite his initial shock of finding out that you were “Japanese”, he STILL provided you with service and did not challenge your identity in any meaningful or legal way that denied you anything; which is what TRUE discrimination is. As we understand it, you were not refused or denied service, you were not suspected of misrepresentation or of being a criminal, and the authorities were not called. It only seems that your feelings were hurt because this guy could not immediately recognize from your appearance that you were Japanese (or part of the larger imagined Asian community). And your response to this, instead of using this opportunity to educate him of the larger, diverse, growing imagined Asian diaspora to which you seem to be laying claim; and maybe making an ally in the process; you go for the nuclear option and call his boss on him, claiming “racism”!

Debito: Quite so. This is the better case to make that I overreacted, and, again, that interpretation is quite solid. He did not deny me service (although, as my accompanying eyewitness attested, he did interfere with us seeing the manager — but this information came later and you couldn’t have known it; you later still doubted I my second eyewitness was telling the truth, but more on that later).

However, let’s at least admit that he did deny me a comfortable space for doing business as a customer by socially-othering me. People may say that they wouldn’t react in the same way (that’s their prerogative, of course). Maybe that comment wouldn’t even make them personally uncomfortable. But again, I say, how much of this do you tolerate before you say enough?

One of the issues I have had to deal with just about every day no matter where I go in the world is the natural curiosity about my background turned into vocalized judgment. Where are you from? “Japan.” (Or, “Born in the US, but lived in Japan” if I’m feeling chatty.) Common response: “But you don’t look Japanese.” Or, “Interesting last name, where’s it from?” “Japan.” (Or some more elaborate variant.) “But you don’t look Japanese.” Customs official whenever I cross a border (except, amazingly, in Canada or Japan): “What’s with this Japanese passport?” “I’m a naturalized Japanese citizen.” “But you don’t look Japanese.” And that’s the milder version (at the Jamaican border they actually took my passport to their back room and had a laugh at it), before the Americans in particular render me to Secondary for a few hours’ of wait and inquisition until I miss my flight. I’m serious. Just saying “It’s a long story,” just doesn’t cut it, having to “school” everyone on a daily basis gets tiring, and having to bite my lip through a number of these intrusive and humiliating situations leaves a psychological mark after a while. It causes “triggers”, and that’s what I think was at play with this teller in Canada. That’s why I’m such a big fan of microaggressions as a social diagnosis — I face them every day and know the signals for my situation inside and out.

You might say I got myself into this situation by naturalizing into a country where there are few Non-“Asian”-looking citizens. Fine. But I’m not a unique case. What do you do when it starts happening to your Japanese kids who don’t look so-called “Asian”? How will you react the hundredth time (or the fifth time in a day): “Oh, what cute gaijin kids!” And will you stand by when people doubt your kids’ identity as they grow older and start dealing with society’s veto gates? Alienating comments like these between individuals are not something you can do much about. But these alienating attitudes being expressed in a corporate or official capacity should not happen. To anyone.

Further, as I have said before, I was not in the bank that day to school the teller. That’s not my job. Just like it was not my job to correct everyone’s English everywhere, anyplace, when I was an English teacher. My job is to complete the transaction and get on with my day, and I’d like that to happen without having to deal with vocalized prejudice.

JG: Please do not get me wrong, as a permanent resident of Japan for almost 18 years with a Japanese wife and child, as well as considering Japanese citizenship myself, I understand that if this happened in JAPAN, one MIGHT understand the desire to call the boss in. However, this happened in CANADA, NORTH AMERICA! Why would you hold the same standard of being treated as a Japanese to a person who is not Japanese, in a place that is NOT Japan?

Debito: Sorry, we’re not going to agree on this, but I don’t believe this should happen anywhere regardless of whatever humans we’re dealing with, or what “race/ethnicity/group/etc.” is dominant in a society. That includes Japan, Canada, wherever. When it happens to you as a Japanese citizen enough times, you might react differently. I don’t know you and I’m not sure, of course, but you don’t know me either, and I wouldn’t be so summarily dismissive of my position (and just put it down to “White Privilege”) when you’re not in it yet.

JG: The most critical point to my argument is this: YOU were the transgressor in this situation, NOT the teller. I am sure that the boss took your complaint seriously, openly scolded the teller, and summarily dismissed him in your presence; but guess what? It wasn’t because you were JAPANESE, it was because you were WHITE! You were in a bank in North America, where white people have social advantage due to physical attributes that are interpreted by the majority as being advantageous, where the system is tilted more to the side of said people, and where visible minorities have historically (and are still) at a disadvantage.

Debito: You might be right that I got preferential treatment because I’m White, I don’t know. But I rather doubt it in this case. Remember, you’ve got the facts of the case wrong (and wouldn’t believe further testimony): 1) the teller was not dismissed in our presence (he was after we left the building the first time), 2) we didn’t ask for the sanctions that he got (in fact, we didn’t ask for any sanctions at all), and 3) we would not have even KNOWN that those sanctions had happened if we hadn’t gone back and talked to the manager (meaning his sanction was not done for our benefit to curry favor with the White privileged). Moreover, 4) if White Privilege was a factor, wasn’t the fact that the manager was a minority himself in a position of power have any bearing here? Might one not be able to make the argument that since both the teller AND the manager were minorities in Canada, that they might have banded together to protect each other against the White Privilege? I don’t know. But I can’t conclude definitively that White Privilege was at play here, and I hope that you won’t simply say, “You can’t conclude because you’re White.” The evidence just isn’t conclusive either way.

JG: I notice that you have fallen in love with the term “microaggression” in your writings and I would like to say that your understanding of the term falls extremely short, and this situation is stark evidence of it! Again, as as WHITE person, no, better yet, a WHITE MALE in North America, who (whether you are aware of it or not) has social capital and power afforded to him by his physicality, you basically bullied a visible minority Korean-Canadian into accepting the way YOU see the world and you possibly endangered his carreer and future job prospects! How can you call yourself a crusader for visible minorities when you used your WHITE-PRIVILEGE to take the livelihood of a person with less power than you over a simple comment?!?

Debito: I think the bank was the one who told the teller how the company sees the world and how he should represent the company, not us. I know, you’ll couch it as the bank trying to appease the Dominant Whites, but I think this would have happened to any teller of any background who said this. Agree to disagree.

Also, I somewhat doubt this teller’s career is in danger, and I base this on a conversation I had with another Canadian manager friend I consulted with two days ago who has experience in these customer-service situations. Although my friend would not have taken the measure of sending the teller home (and he doubts that it involved a day without pay, either), he said that after a reprimand and a promise not to do it again, this would be seen as a teachable moment and forgotten shortly thereafter as long as it didn’t happen again. He strongly doubts that there would be any career endangerment.

Of course, this is all speculation. But so is the speculation about career endangerment, as is the speculation that White Privilege was involved here. We simply don’t have enough data about the event to say definitively what power relations were at play.

JG: And since you tend to use personal anecdotes as “facts” for your arguments, allow me to follow suit: I am a Irish-Scottish-Chickasaw-Chotaw-Jamaican-African American. I am most often identified as “black” by others (although I have been called Indian, Arab, Mexican, or just “foreigner” in my time in the US) mainly due to skin color. When I go back to the US to visit, I shop with my Japanese credit card and sign the card in Japanese because that is the name I use in Japan. I almost ALWAYS get looks when I do this, just as I do here in Japan. Both here and in other countries I sometimes even get, “Are you SURE this is your signature?” and I simply reply with a matter-of-fact, “Yes” or “Sou desu”, for whichever the situation calls. I do not call for a manager and complain as it is not necessary. I know that you are more Japanese than I am, but from my understanding, the prevailing culturally appropriate attitude for most Japanese is to avoid conflict when at all possible.

Debito: Okay. That’s how you deal with it; I respect that. Not necessarily how I would always deal with it. Perhaps you think we have different coping strategies because you are seen as “black” and I am seen as “white”. Perfectly feasible. But saying that I can’t react a certain way because I’m seen as “white” is a bit disempowering when facing discrimination. I’d rather deal with discrimination using ways granted to us as human beings within a society by the law, regardless of my (or anyone’s) skin color.

JG: Now imagine that I, as a “black” person, reacted the way YOU did at the bank in Canada. Do you honestly believe that I would be treated with the same respect? Well, in Canada, maybe. But in the US, it could very well turn into a story on the evening news! Let me give YOU a teaching point that you failed to give the Canadian teller: Visible minorities go through this ALL THE TIME! When a black person experiences and awkward moment or a “mistake” happens, we always have to question whether it was just an innocent misstep or was there actual discrimination going on. Where the PRIVILEGE comes in is that you, as a WHITE MALE, you have the freedom to question and complain, while a black person risks being called “ghetto”, “uncivilized”, or “an angry black man”! Your white-privilege shelters you from this reality. I am not blaming you for it, but as a so-called social activist you should be aware of it!

Debito: I see your point very well. I am aware that Visible Minorities have had (and still have) it pretty rough in various societies, and that Whites have had it pretty damned good for centuries. I would hope that if a person identified as Visible Minority in any society had this happen to her/him, that they too would stand up for themselves as I did, regardless of the social opprobrium and unfair facile labeling that frequently befalls them. That they have done so bravely for so long is inspiring and instructional, not to mention progressive. But clearly the “White Privilege” really hasn’t shielded me this time, in this discussion. Nor has it shielded me over the years, as people have seen me as the “outraged man tilting at windmills” etc., and assumed that just about everything I do is something I do with anger and out of anger etc. (See examples of criticism at http://www.debito.org/?p=12274, and proof of my style of activism at http://www.debito.org/?p=13365). Anyway, your point about having to question whether it was an innocent misstep or actual discrimination going on is well taken.

JG: It is natural for people culturally, socially, and economically “double-dip” if it is advantageous and if they can get away with it, but PLEASE do not insult the intelligence of the people here by telling us that you are “doing it for the greater good” and “doing it for us”!

Debito: Did I tell you that? Are you quoting me? I’ll answer that: No. I did not say that. Please do not cite things I did not say as some kind of evidence.

JG: I know by telling you all of this, I run the risk of being blocked and unfriended, as you have demonstrated by doing it to others who disagree with you. This is why I find your earlier comment about how society and the law agrees with you very ironic, since you quite liberally exercise your power to divorce yourself from dissenters. However, I hope you choose not to, as I hope that we can learn more from one another though this exchange.

Debito: No, you did not run the risk of being blocked for telling me all this (in fact, as I’ve said repeatedly, it’s a very thoughtful, well-crafted, earnest essay; thanks for it). What I do block people for is for being abusive. You were not abusive here. You were abusive later, which is why I eventually blocked you, long after you refused my request for retracting the angry comments you made later:

(For the record, what I requested of JG: “I would like you to retract the statements you make above basically accusing me of lying about having another eyewitness to this issue, not to mention bad faith and profiteering. These: “Even if your “eyewitness’s” account of what happened is accurate”,” “dodge the issues by posting a mysterious anonymous eyewitness account and advertising your book”. “conveniently-timed “anonymous” eyewitness who refuses to be identified because you have “stalkers”” (I do have stalkers, JG). All of those statements are grounded in anger, not reason. If you cannot retract them, I cannot engage in discussion with you, as you seem unable to fundamentally trust me. Usually when somebody becomes this abusive towards me, I block and unfriend them. But your essay on White Privilege was earnest and thoroughly-argued enough to warrant a response, so I didn’t unfriend you. But after this subsequent unfair indictment of my character, motives, and my friend’s testimony, I do not feel as inclined to discuss until these are retracted. I want a civil discussion. These accusations are not civil. So please retract, or end of discussion with me.”)

If someone wants to forward this response to JG, go ahead. But I don’t think there is any room for discussion between him and me as individuals. As to the points he raises, I hope my attempt to answer them to all of you in a calm, reasoned manner will be seen as earnest and well-intentioned on my part. I apologize in advance for any blind spots I may have due to my personal background being raised and living in several racialized societies, but I hope that, as JG said, we can all learn from one another through this exchange. I know I feel I have. Thank you for reading and discussing. Debito

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Final thoughts from Debito:

One of the reasons I like having discussions like these, even those that sometimes bruise the Ego, is that they make me think and self-reflect, even help me lose some bad habits.  The best comment came from a person whose tone of criticism proved his very point. From SMC:

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

SMC: You presuppose a lack of empathy on the teller’s part. But an awkward, inappropriate remark is not the same thing as a lack of empathy. I wasn’t there, so I cannot say anything about the tone, volume, etc., of the teller’s remark that might give me a better idea of the nature of the exchange between you and him.

But it would appear that you chose to respond to a perceived (and probably unconscious) lack of empathy by being consciously non-empathetic, and dealt with the situation in a legalistic, self-validating way.

The Buddhists have an interesting concept called “skillful means”; in other words, having the wisdom to know how to adjust one’s tactics to make one’s point in the most effective way possible.

In a legal/juridical context the kind of approach you took would be appropriate, but in this case it appears that you missed the chance to help educate and enlighten a fellow human being with a few well-chosen words. You’ll probably do better next time, friend.

Respect, SMC
========================================

Yep, quite so. I admit that I overreacted, and in an unproductive way.  I capitulate. Thanks to everyone who explained that to me so patiently. It eventually sunk in. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Tangent: How anti-discrimination measures are enforced elsewhere: Racism towards me at a bank in Canada

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Got an interesting story to tell.

(UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  PLEASE READ TO THE BOTTOM FOR A RETELLING OF THE STORY BY ANOTHER EYEWITNESS.)

Recently I had business at a Canadian bank, so I went to a branch of it within Canada.  My transaction required me to show government ID, so I showed my Japanese passport, of course.  That’s all I have.

The teller verified my ID, but then made the comment, “It’s funny that you should have a Japanese passport.  You don’t look Japanese.”

I said, “Let’s not go there.  Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Well, after the transaction was complete, I called for his manager.  When the manager appeared, I indicated that his employee had made an untoward comment about my physical appearance and legal status.  “How would you like it,” I said to the teller, “if I said to you, ‘It’s funny you have a Canadian passport.  You don’t look Canadian.’?”  (It it important to add at this juncture that the teller was a Korean-Canadian immigrant — I know because I requested his name from the manager later.*)

The manager ascertained that the teller had said what he had said, and then was told that this behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws.  He was then sent home for the day, presumably without pay.

The bank manager and I then sat down in his office where he offered his sincere apologies.  And he told me over the course of a relaxed and empathetic discussion that he understood very well where I was coming from.  He himself is Metis, a minority in Canada of mixed First-Nations and settler peoples, but he apparently doesn’t “look Metis” to Canadians.  This becomes an issue whenever he, for example, bargains for a car at an automobile dealership, but has his identity policed by the dealer whenever he indicates that his indigenous status in Canada exempts him from Canadian taxes.  “I produce my First-Nations ID card, of course, but I hate it when people doubt my identity just because I don’t ‘look Indian’ to them, especially when they say so carelessly out loud.  This is unacceptable behavior for them, and it’s unacceptable for my employees too.”

That’s the way it’s done.  None of these crappy “cultural/linguistic misunderstandings” excuses, no shallow apologies and then everyone gets back to work undisturbed, and zero tolerance for assuming that people have to “look” a certain way to be a “real” member of a people or nation/state.  Justice was commensurate, swift, and public.  Well done Canada.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

(*CLARIFICATION JULY 3, 2015:  I also deduced that the teller was a landed immigrant because a) he worked in this local branch of a Canadian bank, and you would probably need landed status in Canada in order to get that kind of job, and b) based on his Korean accent, English wasn’t his first language.  However, I made no issue of these assumptions whatsoever during our exchange.  I only asked for his empathy by putting the shoe on the other foot, saying, “How would you like it if…”.)

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UPDATE JULY 4, 2015:  A RETELLING OF THE SITUATION FROM ANOTHER EYEWITNESS:

Hello. I would like your readers to know that I was also there as an eyewitness, and the blog post doesn’t really tell what I think to be the whole story. It’s important that you see that there was more to this case than Debito quickly typed up while on vacation, because some people are really misunderstanding what happened.

Reveal: I am a Canadian who has lived here for more than 40 years. I’ve also lived in Japan and the United States, and, for the record, I am a white woman. I can’t reveal any more than that because Debito has stalkers.

Debito’s recounting of the story is correct until the part where he writes that, “The manager had ascertained that the teller had said what he had said.” What happened was this:

The teller asked for Debito’s ID in order to complete our requested transaction. Debito showed his Japanese passport. The teller verified his ID, looked back and forth at Debito’s face and the passport, and then made the comment, “It’s funny you have a Japanese passport. You don’t look Japanese.”

Debito said, “Let’s not go there. Lose the racism and complete the transaction.”

Note that Debito did NOT raise his voice, nor did he accost anybody. MY reaction was one of shock, disappointment, and embarrassment to be a Canadian. I said to the teller, “I’m sorry, but we have laws against this sort of racial discrimination in Canada. You shouldn’t be saying that.”

The teller then apologized. “You are right, I should not have said that.”

And then we asked to speak with the manager. This was NOT about this issue, but a separate one regarding the original transaction. But the teller then proceeded to tell us that we didn’t NEED to speak to the manager. The transaction was complete.

I then requested, “I WANT to speak to the manager.” He again told us again that we didn’t need to, the transaction was complete.

It was at that time where the manager, whose office was within earshot of the teller’s booth, came to our assistance. I asked the manager about the original transaction issue, and he gave us an answer. But because I was so agitated by the terrible customer service, we THEN brought the other ID issue up with the manager. And I said to the manager, “This kind of comment is against Canadian law.” And the manager AGREED and apologized on behalf of the teller, himself, and the bank.

We then exited the bank, but when we got to the car, I said to Debito, “You know, that was weird. As a member of this bank for more than 35 years, I’d like to go back and get the name of the teller and the manager so I can write the bank about this.”

When we re-entered the bank, the manager greeted us. It was THEN that we were told that because the teller’s behavior was inappropriate under Canadian rules and laws, the manager had sent him home for the day. (Note that we did NOT request that the teller be sent home for the day. We had no idea about what would occur. If we hadn’t gone back, we wouldn’t even know that that had happened, and it wouldn’t be part of this discussion. We also still don’t know anything about pay deduction, official reprimand, etc. After all, we did not request anything like that.)

The manager then invited us to sit down in his office, where he took the time to relay his own story about his identity being policed as a First-Nations person, as Debito wrote. He also told us that he too had been to Japan and had to deal with a lot of ID policing as well.

In fact, the manager ENCOURAGED us to write a letter about this employee to bank headquarters. He gave us the teller’s card and his own.

Now I want to make clear what everyone seems to be getting wrong about Debito: At NO time did he have a temper tantrum, threaten or attack anyone, push anybody around, or even raise his voice. He had a very graceful, calm discussion at all times. This kind of myth that you have about Debito, going in and bullying people do to things, is TOTALLY unfounded. If you’ve never personally been with Debito in a situation like this, then you shouldn’t make comments or assumptions like these.

I left the situation feeling proud a) to be a Canadian, and b) that we have this type of system. Unlike what I’ve experienced many times in situations in Japan, I left this humiliating bank situation FEELING LIKE A HUMAN BEING.

I’ve grown up with various Visible Minorities in Canada — Asians, Africans, First Nations, etc. — where I was not in the majority. I have never experienced this kind of blatant policing of identity in Canada. Never in Canada – not even at the Canadian border – has anyone so blatantly questioned Debito’s passport or policed his identity like what I witnessed at this bank.

What’s even more appalling to me is not what happened at the bank, but the way you all have judged Debito, and seeing the teller, who broke the law, as the VICTIM. The law in Canada is set up to protect people from this situation, and it’s one of the reasons why Canada is an easier place to live. But why are many of you, particularly when you’re living in Japan as second-class residents, seeing the teller who started all this as the victim here?

This is not how our customer service industry behaves. It’s not the teller’s naivete. It’s his own personal stuff that he’s pushing on us. The teller personally took a risk in making that comment. If the roles were reversed, and I made a comment like that, the same punishment would befall me. It should.

Happy Canada Day!
ENDS

UPDATE JULY 14, 2015: I GET MY COMEUPPANCE IN A FASCINATING DEBATE, BLOGGED SEPARATELY HERE.

Film record of Debito in action negotiating with a “Japanese Only” establishment in Shinjuku: excerpt from documentary “Sour Strawberries” (2009)

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a follow-up to the previous blog entry, where I cited somebody who (ironically) accused me of dealing with people by “launch[ing] immediately into angry, confrontational accusations“, here’s an actual movie record of me in action.

This is part of a documentary by Daniel Kremers and Tilman Koenig named “Sour Strawberries: Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers” (2009), talking about how Japan’s NJ, as a labor force and a resident population, are being treated in Japanese society. It is an excellent film that touches upon many important subjects, and it can be previewed and purchased here.

I appear for about five minutes within negotiating with a “Japanese Only” establishment, one of the dozens upon dozens I have talked with over the years, to confirm the facts of each case (recorded for posterity at the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments) and investigate the firmness of the exclusionary policy. See it for yourself:

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

“The problem I have with David Aldwinkle [sic] is…” A stock criticism of me and my methods, then my answer.

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’ve been doing Debito.org for decades now, and one thing that I admit I find annoying is how people talk shite about me. I don’t mind if people disagree with me — as I note below, it’s the nature of the beast when dealing with issues this contentious. But what really rankles is how some types will criticize me for things I didn’t say and didn’t do. Even when there’s ample record out there (decades of archives and thousands of articles on Debito.org and elsewhere) for people to properly cite and research, some people still cling to preconceptions and prejudices they formed either long ago, or based upon information they got second- or third-hand from other people of their ilk also talking shite. And since there are lots of them and one of me, I largely have to remain silent towards these criticisms or else I’d have no time to get anything done.

But I had an exchange some time ago when someone shared my blog entry on the Ten-Take tempura restaurant’s “JAPANESE ONLY” sign in Asakusa, Tokyo on a social networking site.  As you will see below, the critic is clearly someone who is articulate and should, based upon his education, be able to research better. He voiced his criticisms in much the same way the garden-variety trolls do, but with a degree of persuasiveness that I thought deserved an answer.

Let this exchange be a stock answer to all the people who think I’m making matters worse through my actions to fight racism and discrimination in Japan.  Naturally, I’m gonna disagree, and here’s why.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

This is how the conversation began, being the first response to the shared post:

April 6, 2014:
[Name changed, rendered as Billy] writes:

The problem I always have with David Aldwinkle [sic] comes in his suggestion at the end. Asking people to start harassing the restaurant owner with phone calls? Way to reinforce the 迷惑 stereotype of foreigners that this restaurant owner already has. Aldwinkle often seems to want to head up some kind of gaijin mafia hit squad that goes around naming, shaming, hounding, and publicly humiliating anyone suspected of mistreating foreigners in Japan. It’s ugly mob tactics, and it makes him look just as ugly, if not uglier, than the people with the “Japanese Only” signs. In many cases, Aldwinkle’s attitude and tactics earn some sympathy for those signs.

Aldwinkle’s crude approach especially comes to light in the fifth comment on that blog post. Someone suggests a sensible, conciliatory approach with the restaurant owner, offering to translate menus for him and to resolve other problems. Aldwinkle won’t let this comment go up on his blog without attaching to it a snarky, bolded response that aims to humiliate the comment’s author. Maybe Aldwinkle would be proven right in the end that this restaurant owner wouldn’t budge, but Aldwinkle isn’t particularly interested in finding out. His first pass in these situations is to accuse and attack, immediately putting anyone in his path on the defensive. He tosses hand grenades in situations where gentle words might have more effect.

Arudou Debito…the guy who took Japanese citizenship so that he could try to force Japanese people to behave more like Americans.

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

April 6, 2014 (in response to some comments):
Billy writes:

In my experience, people don’t attack Debito-san for “their own reasons” so much as they criticize him because he is a highly abrasive person who burns bridges and seeks to cause offense. Debito-san always turns these criticisms into attacks against him, and then proceeds to alienate his critics even further. Whatever good points he sometimes has are often lost to his heavy-handed language used to bully people into his viewpoint. This is a guy who publicly stated to a room full of people that he got Japanese citizenship so he could rub it in their (Japanese people’s) noses.

Bully really is the best word to describe him. That, and hot-head. He takes offense at everything, and he tears into anyone who offends him. I’ve seen him in action. He lived for years in my wife’s hometown. If Debito called a restaurant about a sign, I’m fairly certain he launched immediately into angry, confrontational accusations. If a Japanese restaurant owner feels that he can’t deal with foreigners, encouraging a lot of foreigners to call is only going to engender bitterness.

But Debito doesn’t seem to care about how people feel. He doesn’t want to win over hearts and minds. His own abrasive demeanor can’t do this, and so he’s concluded that it’s impossible for anyone to succeed in Japan by being kind. When I’ve spoken to him before, his version of winning seems much more oriented toward orchestrating a public shaming against someone, after which Debito engages in some crowing about how his stance is morally superior to anyone else’s. Threatening and forcing people into submission is much more his style. From my limited interactions with him, I’ve had to conclude that he’s simply not a nice human being, nor a happy person. Even when he does have a legitimate complaint, his approach typically only reinforces whatever negative stereotypes he’s complaining about.

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

April 6, 2014 (in response to more comments):
Billy writes:

That sentiment that society needs to change is, in itself, not a particularly Japanese one. Society is changing nonetheless, but Japan has spent much of its history trying either to avoid change or to carefully manage it within strict (Japanese) boundaries.

We can think Japan needs to change, but short of a massive influx of foreigners into Japan who gain citizenship and through raw numbers effect rapid change, the pace of change is going to be controlled by Japanese people more than by anyone else. Any approach that doesn’t involve changes happening from within the belly of Japanese society might win a few superficial battles (a court settlement against an onsen, for example), but it’s not going to bring about any real change.

In the case of this restaurant sign, I can think of three approaches that might possibly work:

The first is polite confrontation that involves questions instead of accusations and offers to help (menu translations, etc.) It’s hard to say with certainty the odds of this working, but it sometimes does.

The second is simply to walk into the restaurant, sit down and order, and if challenged, reply in Japanese, “Your sign said no one under five years old. I’m over five, so is there a problem?” Focusing on what the Japanese says and pretending the English isn’t even there forces the owner to initiate the confrontation, which many Japanese people won’t do. It may not get the sign taken down, but enough instances of this will render it meaningless in the owner’s mind.

The third way, and probably the most effective in Japan, is to subtly draw attention to the sign and the restaurant to Japanese friends and allies. Make a lot of friends, and make those friendships the sort where those Japanese people will be aghast that you might be barred from an establishment. Many of those Japanese friends might, as Japanese people tend, opt to avoid any conflict, but many will talk. They’ll express in passing how awful a sign like that is to other Japanese people, and then those people will steadily begin to take note of such signs and find them odious, too. It’s a long-game approach. It won’t get the sign taken down today. But it’s probably the best chance at actually changing anything in Japan.

I quite vividly remember eating a very good sushi meal in Abashiri one spring a number of years back with some friends after the owners tried to keep us out. In that case, there wasn’t a sign, but we were told that we wouldn’t be served as soon as we walked in the door. After asking just a couple questions trying to clarify the restaurant’s policy (within earshot of a dozen or so customers at various tables who were in various stages of eating), we were quickly seated. The owners saw their Japanese customers starting to look uncomfortable at our being turned away, which we drew attention to with our questions, and that unspoken pressure from the other customers was enough to resolve the situation favorably. We got good sushi. They got some friendly, polite customers who spent a fair amount of money, and the service grew less awkward and reluctant as our meal progressed.

But Debito? He probably would have opted for a press conference in front of the place rather than eat a meal there, which would have benefited no one.

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

April 7, 2014:
[Another poster Curtis; name changed] writes:

When [my wife] and I first took over [our workplace], the first teacher we hired was initially denied the apartment we had found for her for being foreign. I contact Debito and his advice and support were very practical and measured. Thanks to his help we ended up getting the teacher into the apartment. I think he has become somewhat more forceful recently–probably out of understandable frustration and in response to attacks that are very often unreasonable and apologist in nature–but the stereotype I hear of him doesn’t match the Debito I’ve encountered in real life. From what I’ve seen in person, I think he would handle an encounter with the restaurant owner in a measured and reasonable fashion.

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

April 7, 2014:
Arudou Debito writes:

Thank you, [Curtis]. And that’s exactly what I did, in a measured and reasonable manner. I called Ten-take, simply asked if they had a Japanese Only rule in place (they do), and asked why — as I always do. They gave me the three reasons why as I reported them on my website (they wouldn’t have given them if all I did was accused them). When I asked if he thought all foreigners would behave in the manner he gave as reasons, he said that he just couldn’t handle them (tai’ou shi kirenai) due to a language barrier. When I asked him if this was not in some way discriminatory (kore wa sabetsu de wa nai deshou ka), he hung up on me.

You might ask the other person who was in the room with me when I made this call, but there was no confrontationalism, no shouting, no raising of voices on either side, no taking offense at “everything” — in fact, nothing of what [Billy] is accusing me of without any evidence whatsoever (which is quite unbecoming of a PhD-level researcher and former educator of his stature over at [XXXX]).

Frankly, I don’t think he’s ever seen me in action. If he would do some research over at the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments and read up on some case studies I have recorded there as my doctoral fieldwork, he would see that I have at various junctures taken every one of the steps that he suggests above. Further, if he would read my book JAPANESE ONLY, he might see that we spent more than fifteen months trying to win over hearts and minds during the Otaru Onsens Case before we finally resorted to going to court and holding those inevitable press conferences.

Moreover, I don’t recall ever having the pleasure of ever meeting or talking with [Billy]. And I certainly don’t recall ever saying to any room that I took Japanese citizenship so I could rub it in their noses (the narrative for my naturalization I have always used has been the same as I have said here: http://www.debito.org/japantodaycolumns1-3.html); anyone who has read my essays or seen my speeches online or live knows that sort of language is just not in my vocabulary. Given the length and degree of confrontationalism within this very exchange, I think [Billy] is the one with the anger issues.

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

April 7, 2014:
[Curtis]: I also want to stick up for [Billy]. While I disagree with the Debito comments and believe they would be hurtful, he is also usually very measured in his responses and I have difficulty imagining him having issues with anger management.

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

April 7, 2014:
Billy: You never know, [Curtis]. I might be seething deep down inside.

But I am glad, Debito, that you joined this thread. I’d much rather have a discussion of your tactics with you here.

No, I wasn’t present for the phone call to this restaurant. But your description doesn’t do much to alleviate my concerns. I don’t know what the tone was on your initial questions or how the conversation started, but where it ended strikes me as highly confrontational. Accusing someone of racism in any language or culture is probably going to cause them to clam up, circle the wagons, or just walk away.

Yes, the sign is plainly discriminatory. But I question how likely an accusation of discrimination is to resolve the situation. My experience is that the language you use in that conversation, “差別,” is inflammatory, not likely to resolve the situation, and potentially likely to make it worse. At the very best, it will force a superficial change in the behavior (the sign comes down), while leaving a sour impression among those involved. Externally pressuring people to keep their racist tendencies hidden under the surface maybe gets a person into an establishment today, but does it ultimately make the culture or the individuals involved better?

And in Japan, word about such things gets around, and being on the right side of sympathy helps a lot. I’ve had about half a dozen conversations with various Japanese people over the years, some whom I’ve known very well and regarded as good friends–people who are not at all sympathetic to racism–about you and your tactics, Debito. They’ve brought up the topic of you, often knowing I’d lived in Hokkaido and wondering if I knew you or knew of you. What I’ve heard said in some form or another in every conversation is that, while you identify many real problems, your approach decidedly does not fit with Japanese culture, and it probably earns the people putting up those signs more sympathy than they’d otherwise get. That’s the public image that you often project, Debito. Maybe you’re O.K. with that; maybe you disagree that it’s how many Japanese people think about you. But I’ve heard it from enough people that I’m not making off-the-cuff remarks here.

Finally, yes, Debito, you are unlikely to recall, but we have crossed paths on a few occasions. The one at which you made the rather indelicate comment about why you opted for Japanese citizenship was at a JET recontracting conference in Kobe about 14 years ago. I asked a question or two to you during your session and talked briefly with you afterward. Your comment was made in response to someone else asking you why bother with Japanese citizenship if you are so critical of so much in Japan. You gave two three reasons, as I recall, the first two being that it made sense since you owned a home and were invested here that you have the commensurate status and political rights and that some day it might allow you to run for political office if the opportunity presented itself. But then you said that the other reason is to–whether your exact phrasing at the time was to rub or to hold, my memory is fuzzy, but “noses” was definitely a part of it–wave that passport under their noses when they tried to exclude you as non-Japanese. The statement drew quite a reaction from the people sitting around me–it struck all of us as a very crude reason to get citizenship, one in which the goal was less to become part of this other culture and nation and more to gain political standing (power) in this nation in order to force people to bend to your sensibilities.

And, of course, there you are, pictured in your rogue’s gallery, passport in hand, putting pressure on managers to give you entrance. Should they open their doors to all customers? Yes. But I’m not particularly clear how trying to impose on these Japanese people Western ideas of nation-state citizenship when their idea of “Japanese” is cultural and ethnic is really going to solve the problem. In some cases, you’ve definitely gotten policies reversed. You’ve definitely drawn attention to the problem. But is it really progress when a lot of this has to be accomplished by force through courts, human rights offices, and tourist bureaus? I remain skeptical.

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

April 7, 2014:
Arudou Debito: Thank you for your response, [Billy]. I can see better where you’re coming from now.

1) First, about the discrimination. I’m glad that we can agree that the sign is discriminatory. What you’re objecting to is me and my alleged tactics. So let’s focus on that.

2) When it comes to me, I can only see that you’re basing your information on what I do and have done on the embers of a memory, i.e., a speech I gave for the Hokkaido Association of Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (HAJET) and AJET, on “Survival Strategies, and How You Can Make a Difference in Japan” (Hakodate February 27 and Kobe May 29, 1999, respectively — before I had even “bothered with” Japanese citizenship or gone to the Otaru Onsens). You can read my write-ups for the occasion (which serve better than your memory — since I will again categorically deny that I said anything like what you claim) at http://www.debito.org/residentspage.html#survivalstrategies.

3) Despite this, and despite testimonials from others who said that I do not behave as you claim, and despite the fact that I have recorded doctoral-quality fieldwork up at the Rogues’ Gallery (again, if I went in there only making accusations, I would not have engendered such detailed information about why the excluders were excluding), you still cling to this self-admittedly “fuzzy” memory as proof of my malicious character (viz. “not a nice human being”). Then you wonder why “Debito always turns these criticisms into attacks against him.” Because instead of dealing with the issue of the discriminatory sign, the first sentence you open up with in this exchange is a volley against me: “The problem I always have with David Aldwinkle [sic]…” QED.

4) Understandably, much of this invective is the nature of the beast, as we are dealing with contentious issues (racism, which many people deny even EXISTS in Japan), and so doing anything that goes against the status quo (especially in Japan) will cause controversy. Doubly so for somebody trying to get an exclusionary sign down. Trying to get sympathy for that is pretty challenging when we don’t have empathy to begin with — most people who ever see that sign are not being targeted by it, and even if they feel it’s wrong, many conflict-avoiding habits would encourage them to simply ignore it and take their business elsewhere. But as the Rogues’ Gallery demonstrates, that simply encourages copycatting elsewhere, nationwide; the sign must come down, for it legitimizes and normalizes overt exclusionary behavior.

But again, let’s recognize this field of racism for what it is — a minefield — and understand that nobody is going to agree on one solution for how to deal with it. I have basically tried everything (including all the tactics you have suggested), with varying degrees of success. In some circumstances, it MUST be accomplished through courts, human rights offices, and tourist bureaus. Why else do you think these means of mediation exist? Because every society has bigots who simply will never change their minds and treat people without their own racialized baggage. Short of a law to criminalize discriminatory behavior, that is how anyone can (and sometimes must) seek recourse in Japan.

5) Now, usually I don’t bother with this type of bullyragging from people like you who play the man instead of the ball, but I see you have a Ph.D. (in English), and should be able to engage in better research. So I steered you towards some information sources to research. However, all you cite within them is a photograph of me “passport in hand” (for the record, it was taken after I had been refused entry, so forgive me for looking a bit indignant), without citing anything from the sources that would weaken your case (such as the many hours I spent with many of these discriminators calmly trying to convince them to repeal their rules). You thus steadfastly maintain your standpoint by collecting only the information that supports it. This is called confirmation bias, and as such goes against your doctoral training.

6) Finally, if you want to use the old “Japanese culture” meme to level criticism at me, then we’ll have to agree to disagree there (not the least because of the difficulty in defining “culture”). Since you cited some anonymous people who disagree with my alleged methods as some sort of cultural representatives, well, I’ll cite back all the Japanese people who have told me they’re very glad I’m doing what I’m doing and how I’m doing it — partially because they never could (they themselves say they don’t have the mettle), and partially because they’re not in my position as a Caucasian Japanese, fighting for my children’s future of equal treatment here. You don’t agree with that, fine. But don’t serve this soft science to further ground unfounded accusations about my tactics and character.

Let’s put the shoe on the other foot: I can’t help but think that what’s really bugging you is that you’re seeing a White guy doing all this (you even started out this conversation refusing to use my real name, let alone research it sufficiently to spell it correctly). If a native Japanese speaker went in and said, “Sabetsu de wa nai deshou ka?” (which I have heard said by native speakers on these occasions many times; it is a question, not an accusation), I bet you wouldn’t dare accuse him or her of defying Japanese culture or of imposing Western values. Because he’s not Western, in your eyes. Ooh, that sounds a bit racist on your part.

Now, how does that feel? Rather presumptuous, no?

But I have no evidence (short of that interaction you said we had long ago, and we are having now) to impugn your character like that. [Curtis] (a man I have great respect for) vouches for your anger-free character (as I hope he would, since he hired you). So I won’t make a claim that you are being racist. But the evidence is certainly present in this exchange that your spurious judgments about me as a person have overpowered your research training. I can only conclude that if it is not prejudicial in nature towards people like me fighting racial discrimination in my country, then it is based upon a latent anger on your part being facilitated by the Internet that needs pacifying with evidence and reason.

Let’s hope that this exchange ultimately brings your training as an educator and researcher out of you. If not, thanks for the debate, and let’s get back on with our lives.

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

We did so.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

ENDS

AOL News: J-League soccer ref speaks English to, then denigrates Japanese-German player, denies anything discriminatory. But then official protests from club!

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Hi Blog.  Read this article and then I’ll comment:

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

Japan Soccer League 2: Did referee Takayama use discriminatory language towards Avispa Fukuoka’s Sakai Noriyoshi? Outrage on the Internet.
AOL News, June 10, 2015, courtesy of MMT, article below, translation by Debito

In the June 6 J2 match between teams Avispa Fukuoka and Tokushima Vortis, it has come to light in a club statement that Referee Takayama Hiroyoshi used discriminatory language against Fukuoka player Sakai Noriyoshi.

Sakai Noriyoshi is the younger brother of Japan soccer representative Sakai Goutoku, who is half-Japanese, half-German. In the 35th minute of the second half during a foul, Referee Takayama asked in English “Are you OK?”, to which Sakai answered in Japanese, “Daijoubu desu”. Takayama then apparently said, “What the… you [using omae, a masculine, informal, often disparaging or belligerent way to say “you”], you can speak Japanese after all.” To which the bystanding players protested.

At that time Referee Takayama promised that he would apologize after the game, but no apologies were forthcoming. The club protested to the commissioner, but during investigations Takayama denied that there was any discriminatory statement made.

Although some on the Internet held the opinion that “This was a simple misunderstanding”, many more were critical of Takayama, saying “Even if a mistake had been made, the problem is this attitude afterwards of denying anything discriminatory was said at all”, “Above all else, this very discourse of ‘omigod you can speak Japanese’ is tantamount to an insult, isn’t it?”, “After 10 years of blowing whistles for the J-League, it’s incredible that [Takayama] wouldn’t know who Sakai is”.

Working as a J-League referee from 2002, Takayama is a veteran international ref. After this incident the J-League fans’ comments turned to criticisms of Takayama’s past mistaken calls. The club itself sees this incident as something serious, and Avispa Fukuoka plans to issue a statement on this to the J-League.
ENDS

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

COMMENT:  Did you just see what I saw?

1) A ref basically dealt with a player in a racialized manner (assuming that a player who to him looked “foreign” had to be spoken to in a foreign language; English of course — what else do “foreigners” speak?).

2) The ref made a sarcastic statement of surprise about someone looking foreign speaking Japanese (a common microaggression).

3) Bystanding players made an issue of it.  (Amazing in itself, given how people who suffer from these types of microaggressions are usually told to grin and bear them.)

4) The ref broke his promise to apologize, in fact denied the fundamental fact of the case.

and… this is the most important bit:

5) The club stood by their player and made an issue of it too.  They’re not just sweeping this under the carpet and telling Sakai that he has to grow a pair and be less sensitive.  They are telling Takayama (and Sakai, and the authorities, and the public) that this is irresponsible and unprofessional behavior.

One more pleasant surprise was how the Internet reacted (or was reported to have reacted — often the reporters themselves buy into the microaggression and write a biased article misrepresenting the issue).  They saw the microaggression for what it is — a means to police someone’s identity into a disempowered place.  It also helped that the Takayama misjudged how his reflex to deny everything would only make the problem worse.  Great call.

As far as Debito.org sees things, this is definite progress, and hopefully the arc being traced since the J-League punished the “Japanese Only” J-League exclusionism in March 2014.  Bravo to the players, the reporter, and the club for doing something about this. As FIFA themselves say, racism has no place in sports, and cracking down here even on a seemingly minor (but significant in terms of zero tolerance) incident makes for a rare positive precedent in Japan’s egregiously racialized sports leagues (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here).

Let’s see if Takayama actually grows a pair of his own and apologizes.  Perhaps if this issue leaks into the foreign-language media (this guy is an international ref, after all), he might.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Original Japanese:

J2アビスパ福岡・酒井宣福に高山主審が差別発言?ネット上でも物議を醸す
AOLニュース 2015年6月10日 12時00分 (2015年6月11日 10時03分 更新)
http://www.excite.co.jp/News/entertainment_g/20150610/Aol_celebrity_j2fukuoka.html

6月6日に行われたJ2第17節、アビスパ福岡対徳島ヴォルティス戦で、高山啓義主審が、福岡の酒井宣福に差別発言を行いクラブ側が意見書を提出する方針であることが明らかとなった。

酒井宣福は、日本代表・酒井高徳の弟で日本人とドイツ人のハーフだが、試合後半35分のファールの際に主審が「Are You OK?」英語で質問したところ日本語で「大丈夫です」と返した酒井に「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と応じ、居合わせた選手から抗議を受けていたという。

その場は高山審判から「後で謝罪する」と約束したものの、試合後も謝罪の言葉がなかったことから、クラブ側がコミッショナーに抗議、事情聴取で発言自体を主審が否定しているという。

ネット上でも「単純に勘違いしたんだろ」との意見はあるものの「間違ったにしても、その後の発言自体を否定する態度に問題がある」「そもそも日本語が話せるんだという物言い事態が侮辱にあたるのでは?」「10年もJリーグの笛を吹いていて酒井のことを知らない自体がおかしい」など高山審判への批判の声は多い。

高山主審は2002年からJリーグで主審を務めるベテラン審判で国際主審、この事件発覚後、Jリーグのファンから過去の誤審問題なども例に挙げられ批判を受けているが、クラブ側も今回の事件を重く見てアビスパ福岡はJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めたという。

ENDS

=========================
Similar Sports Nippon article:

日独ハーフのMF酒井に主審が差別的発言 J2福岡が意見書提出へ
スポニチ 2015年6月10日 06:30
http://www.sponichi.co.jp/soccer/news/2015/06/10/kiji/K20150610010513970.html

6日に開催されたJ2リーグの福岡―徳島戦(レベスタ)で高山啓義主審(41)が選手に対して差別的な発言をした疑惑が浮上した。

問題のシーンは後半35分、接触プレーで倒れ込んだ福岡のMF酒井宣福(のりよし=22)に「Are you OK?」と英語で質問。「大丈夫です」と日本語で返されると「なんだ、お前、日本語を話せるんだ」と嘲笑しながら応じたという。やり取りを見ていたチームメートから「審判それはないでしょ」と突っ込まれると「後で謝る」と約束したが、謝罪はなかった。

酒井から報告を受けたクラブ側は試合後にマッチコミッショナーに抗議。事情聴取を受けた高山主審が「そんなことは言ってない」と説明したため、近日中にJリーグに意見書を提出する方針を固めた。

酒井は日本人とドイツ人のハーフでシュツットガルトの日本代表DF酒井高徳の弟。クラブ関係者は「外国人風の見た目ではあるが、Jリーグで何度も笛を吹いている審判なら宣福のことは知ってるはず。差別的な発言とも取れる」と問題視した。高山主審は02年からJ1リーグで主審を務めており、国際主審でもある。
ENDS

Arimura Haruko, Minister for the Empowerment of Women: Immigration is a “Pandora’s Box”, offers weird Team Abe arguments to justify

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Now let’s get to the narrative by Team Abe on immigration.  Despite calling for the expansion of the officially-sanctioned system of often-slavery that the “Trainee” Program constitutes (even cynically saying that we need cheap temporary foreign labor for constructing the 2020 Olympics), and the recognized need for caregivers below, we have a government official below charged with empowering people (a worthy goal in itself) also advocating the disempowerment of others — not giving people who would be contributing to Japan any stake in its society.

BloombergArimura051215

That’s one thing.  Another is how this Minister for the Empowerment of Women Arimura Haruko is justifying this organized disenfranchisement of NJ.  Despite being married to a NJ herself, she uses him as a fulcrum (his family in Malaysia forcing their Indonesian nanny to sleep on the floor), alleging that mistreatment of immigrants is something that naturally happens (okay, without their proper enfranchisement, yes) and that it would be “unthinkable in Japan” (oh, is she as a government official ignorant of the much bigger abuses of that “Trainee” program that have been going on for more than two decades)?


https://youtu.be/wt__lHCuH5g

Completing the effect of working backwards from preset conclusions, Arimura then brings the song home by blaming foreigners for their own disenfranchisement:  alleging their terroristic tendencies (a common trope for the past decade since PM Koizumi in 2005), and how bringing them here would be a “Pandora’s Box”.

Suck on the bitter lozenge that is Team Abe’s world view, and read on to see how this probably otherwise well-intentioned minister married to a NJ has to play Twister with illogic and weird social science to justify a warped narrative.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Japan Cabinet minister wary of opening ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration
by Isabel Reynolds and Maiko Takahashi
Bloomberg, May 12, 2015
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-05-12/japan-minister-says-get-women-working-before-immigration-option
Commentary by the usual suspects at The Japan Times May 13, 2015 at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/13/national/social-issues/japan-must-put-women-work-opening-pandoras-box-immigration-female-empowerment-minister/

Japan should fix its shrinking workforce by enabling women to work, before turning to the ‘Pandora’s box’ of immigration, the country’s minister for the empowerment of women said in an interview last week.

Haruko Arimura, a 44-year-old mother of two, said Japan must act fast to change a trend that could otherwise see the workforce decline by almost half by 2060. But she warned if immigrants were mistreated — something she’d witnessed overseas — it raised the risk of creating resentment in their ranks.

“Many developed countries have experienced immigration,” she said in her Tokyo office. “The world has been shaken by immigrants who come into contact with extremist thinking like that of ISIL, bundle themselves in explosives and kill people indiscriminately in the country where they were brought up,” Arimura said.

“If we want to preserve the character of the country and pass it on to our children and grandchildren in better shape, there are reforms we need to carry out now to protect those values.”

Some economists have urged the government to accept more foreigners to make up for a slide in the working age population. While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has noted there is a need for workers from overseas to help with housework and care of the elderly, he’s promoted female workers instead — appointing Arimura to the new post last year to spearhead the effort.

Arimura, whose husband is from Malaysia, said more immigration could add to social tension. For example, she felt uneasy when she saw one of her husband’s relatives make an Indonesian nanny sleep on a hotel floor while family members slept in beds.

“It’s a matter of course over there, but it would be unthinkable in Japan,” she said. “It would build up dissatisfaction with society.”

Few Foreigners
Japan’s working-age population may fall as low as 44.2 million by 2060 from 81.7 million in 2010, according to a projections from the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research. At the same time, people aged 65 or over will rise to almost 40 percent of the population.

Relying only on women to make up the shortfall may be difficult, given that one in three wants to be a full-time housewife, according to a survey published by the government in 2013. About 60 percent leave their jobs when they have their first child.

Increased immigration poses its own challenges in Japan. Cultural barriers to outsiders are rooted in a two-century isolationist policy under the Tokugawa Shogunate, which banned most immigration until 1853. A genre of writing called nihonjinron focuses on the theory that the Japanese are a unique people.

The number of registered foreign residents has been flat since 2006 at just over 2 million. That’s out of a population of about 127 million.

‘Precious’ Lifestyles
Public attitudes toward new arrivals may be changing. About 51 percent of Japanese support a more open immigration policy, according to a survey published by the Asahi newspaper last month. Some 34 percent oppose the idea.

“There are things we should do before we talk about that Pandora’s box,” Arimura said.
Her task is to convince voters that putting more women to work is the best solution. She said she realized the policy could cause confusion among backers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party given its past support for traditional family arrangements.

The government has no intention of interfering with the “precious” lifestyles of women who want to devote themselves to their families, Arimura said. Instead, she said it wanted to support those who might otherwise be forced to abandon careers because of family responsibilities, or who wish to resume working after raising children.

Female Managers
Arimura described as “a good start” a new draft bill obliging employers with more than 300 staff to publish gender breakdown statistics and plans to promote women. While non-compliance carries no penalty, she said the legislation would give a picture of how women are faring at work and pointers on the problems they face.

While Abe wants women to fill 30 percent of management positions by 2020, he faces an uphill task. Women accounted for just over 8 percent of management positions in private-sector companies employing more than 100 people last year, according to government data.

“In terms of tackling the low birth rate and promoting women, the next five or 10 years will decide the trend for Japan, whether it goes up or down,” Arimura said. “In a way, it’s the last chance.”

ENDS

Tokyo sushi shop Mizutani, with 2 Michelin stars, refuses NJ customers; awaiting Michelin Guides’ response

mytest

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Hi Blog. Thanks to everyone who submitted these articles. Here’s yet another place in Japan that refuses NJ customers entry, and once again giving a reason against the group based upon the alleged actions of a select few (Japanese never renege on their reservations, after all, right?). And of course bring in the boilerplate language barrier (which was not an issue in these refusals in the first place).  Anyway, what makes the Sushi Mizutani case particularly noticeable is that Michelin has recommended this place, and so far Michelin have not commented on whether these kinds of exclusionary policies are grounds for removing that recommendation. But given the relativism and exceptionality that pervades the world’s treatment of Japan (giving it a free pass for some pretty egregious examples of racism), I would be rather surprised if Michelin took their stars away. They have been advised of this situation, so let’s wait and see. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Michelin restaurant in Ginza refuses reservations by foreigners
The Tokyo Reporter, By Kenji Nakano on April 26, 2015, courtesy of lots of people
Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu finds the policy of Sushi Mizutani to be ‘discriminatory’
http://www.tokyoreporter.com/2015/04/26/michelin-restaurant-in-ginza-refuses-reservations-by-foreigners/

On April 8, the secretary for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu telephoned Sushi Mizutani, a 10-seat restaurant located in Tokyo’s ritzy Ginza district, to make a reservation for four people.

The reservation was on behalf of Bangfu, who was hosting three guests from the Communist nation. The secretary, a Japanese female, was told that seats were available on the requested day.

However, once the course of conversation revealed that the party would in fact consist of foreigners she was informed that the restaurant has a policy of refusing reservations from non-Japanese.

Mo, a 30-year resident of Japan, then telephoned the restaurant himself and received the same information. “It was disappointing,” Mo told evening tabloid Nikkan Gendai (April 26).

With Sushi Mizutani having received a two-star ranking in the Michelin Guide Tokyo 2015, the paper finds the policy disturbing as Japan is continuing a push to attract more visitors from overseas.

In a phone conversation with the head of the restaurant, whose typical meals runs around 20,000 yen, Nikkan Gendai learns that issue involves problems that occurred in the past.

“In order to preserve the atmosphere of the restaurant, we try to maintain that the total number of guests are split between Japanese and foreigners,” says the representative. “Since we’ve had foreigners make reservations and not show up and other problems, we only take reservations through a hotel concierge or (through a service provided by) a credit card company.”

Mo’s status as a permanent resident is irrelevant, according to Sushi Mizutani.

“Whether one is a tourist or not cannot be determined over the phone,” the representative says. “So this is an across-the-board policy.”

The appeal of Japanese cuisine has been one factor in the recent rise in travelers from overseas coming to Japan. Earlier this month, the Japan National Tourism Organization said that the 1,526,000 tourist arrivals for March set a record.

That record will likely fall again soon. For the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, the government expects 25 million foreigners to arrive in Japan. By comparison, last year the figure stood at 13 million.

Perhaps ironically, Mo works as a tourism adviser for Yamanashi and Kagawa prefectures. He finds the behavior of Sushi Mizutani baffling, though he does have some sympathies regarding problems that may have taken place in the past.

“However, I, a permanent resident, find the conscious separation of foreigners and Japanese to be discriminatory,” he says.

The matter is not just a problem just for Sushi Mizutani, the journalist continues.

“For the betterment of the entire image of Japan for visitors, conscious change may be necessary,” he says. (K.N.)

Source: “Sabetsu? Yoyaku kyohi sa reta gaikoku hito ga ikidoru mishuran sushi-ten no taio,” Nikkan Gendai (April 26)

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

Michelin-star sushi restaurant in Tokyo defends foreigner rules
Japan Today NATIONAL APR. 28, 2015 – 03:50PM JST ( 133 ), Courtesy of lots of people
http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/michelin-star-sushi-restaurant-in-tokyo-defends-foreigner-rules
TOKYO —A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer.

Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.

“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons.

“We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up.

“We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said.

The confirmation came after a report that the restaurant, located in Tokyo’s glitzy Ginza district, had refused to take a reservation for Chinese journalist Mo Bangfu.

Mo, a resident of Japan for 30 years who is fluent in Japanese, intended to host three guests at the high-end restaurant, where prices start at 20,000 yen per person, the Nikkan Gendai tabloid reported.

The magazine said that as soon as his secretary—a Japanese woman—told the restaurant Mo’s name and contact number, the person taking the booking suddenly changed his attitude and said “some arrangements were necessary”—indicating the reservation was not acceptable.

“We have an increasing number of cases in which people are abandoning their reservations,” a restaurant worker told AFP, adding Japanese-speaking customers are called for reconfirmation a few days before their reservation.

The number of foreign tourists coming to Japan has rocketed in recent years as the value of the yen has fallen and as tensions have eased between Beijing and Tokyo.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he wants to attract 20 million foreign visitors a year by 2020, when Tokyo hosts the Olympics.

Despite decades of exposure to non-Japanese tourists, many facilities, even in cosmopolitan Tokyo, have difficulties dealing with people who they assume cannot speak the language.

Tokyo has a huge selection of top-class eateries, and regularly tops the global list for Michelin-starred restaurants.

No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.
ENDS

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

And as for the ability for NJ clients to get around this exclusion by using a concierge service:
=====================
Wes Thorpe: I called trying to make a reservation tonight, and was told that because I was a foreigner I would need to make a reservation through my hotel or my credit card’s concierge service. I explained (in Japanese) that I’ve lived in Japan for 23 years and am a permanent resident, and that as I don’t have a platinum card I’m unable to use Visa’s concierge service. They told me I’m out of luck. Truly despicable.
=====================

ENDS

Sushi Mizutani
8-7-7 Ginza Chuo, Tokyo 104-0061
03-3573-5258
Sushi Restaurant
Today 11:30 am – 1:30 pm, 5:00 – 9:30 pm

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

差別? 予約拒否された外国人が憤るミシュラン寿司店の対応

日刊 ゲンダイ 2015年4月26日
http://www.nikkan-gendai.com/articles/view/news/159356

ショッキングな話である。2015年の「ミシュランガイド東京」で2つ星を獲得した銀座の「鮨 水谷」が、予約をしようとした外国人に差別的な対応をしたという。実際に店側とやりとりし、「がっかりした」と話すのは、在日30年の中国人ジャーナリスト・莫邦富氏だ。

今月8日、莫氏の秘書(日本人女性)が「水谷」に電話をし、5月12日に4人で訪れたいと伝えたところ、「空いています」との返事だった。ところが、連絡先や氏名を伝えると、「えっ、海外の方ですか?」と聞かれ、日本在住であることを伝えても、「日本人は同行しますか」「調整が必要です」の一点張り。莫氏本人が電話を代わり、4人とも中国人で、しかし自分は来日30年でジャーナリストとして仕事をしていること、今回の食事が莫氏側の招待であること、招待客の1人は日本に留学経験があり、日本の政官界とも仕事をしている社長であることなど、本来なら伝える必要のない個人情報まで明らかにしても、「調整が必要です」とハッキリしない態度だったという。

「水谷」はカウンター10席で、夜のおまかせコースが2万円からという超高級店。常連客によると「金持ちの白人がしょっちゅう来て、大声でしゃべっている」という。外国人を受け入れている店なのに、莫氏へのヒドい対応は何なのか? 莫氏の電話を受けた店の担当者に取材すると、こんな言い分だった。

「店の雰囲気づくりのため、海外の客と日本人客の比率を半々にしています。海外の客については予約をしたのに来ないなど、トラブルが多発したので、ホテルのコンシェルジュ、もしくはカード会社を通じた予約だけに限定しています」

ただ、莫氏は海外からの旅行客ではなく、日本に永住している。

「旅行客かそうでないかは、電話だけでは判別できません。海外の客には、一律でこういう対応をしています」

■外国人観光客増加を目指す日本の課題

莫氏は、石川県や山梨県などのインバウンド(訪日外国人)誘致のアドバイザーの仕事もしている。

政府は東京五輪の2020年までにインバウンド2500万人(14年は1300万人)を目指しているが、莫氏はそんな日本の高級店の不可解な対応に、こう憤る。

「外国人客の困った事態があったのかもしれませんから、『水谷』さんの立場は理解します。ただ、私は日本に永住していますし、そもそも外国人と日本人を分断する意識は差別としか言いようがありません。『水谷』さんだけの問題ではなく、日本のインバウンド全体のイメージをよくするために、意識改革が必要なのではないでしょうか」

水谷は、ケネディ米大使から予約電話があっても、「ホテルのコンシェルジュかカード会社を通して」と拒否するのだろうか?
ENDS

Kyodo: Summary Court overturns fine levied on Filipino-Japanese man after Osaka police botch assault probe — that punished him for defending himself against drunk Japanese assailants!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Check this article out, followed by a comment by Debito.org Reader and submitter JDG:

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

NATIONAL / CRIME & LEGAL
Filipino-Japanese exempt from fine after Osaka police botch assault probe
KYODO NEWS/JAPAN TIMES APR 24, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/24/national/crime-legal/filipino-japanese-exempt-from-fine-after-osaka-police-botch-assault-probe/

OSAKA – The police investigation into a street brawl in Osaka in 2013 that resulted in a fine for a Filipino-Japanese man was superficial and should never have caused charges to be filed, a court in Osaka has ruled.

In a rare ruling, the Osaka Summary Court decided to exempt the 23-year-old defendant from punishment despite finding him guilty of assault, after hearing that the police failed to provide him with a Tagalog interpreter. The man can only speak limited Japanese.

According to the ruling, two drunken men began a quarrel with the defendant on a street in Osaka in June 2013. When one of them grabbed his collar, the Philippine-Japanese man punched him in the face, causing a broken bone.

Neither of the drunks was indicted. But the court initially ordered the Filipino-Japanese man to pay a ¥300,000 ($2,500) fine in January 2014. The defendant filed a complaint and sought a formal trial, leading to a ruling that effectively canceled the fine on Feb. 26.

The ruling was finalized on March 13 after the appeal period expired.

“This is de facto innocence,” said Masanori Matsuoka, the defendant’s lawyer. “It’s an excellent ruling that criticized the investigation of a man who cannot speak Japanese sufficiently.”

Judge Akinori Hatayama said it is unfair to punish only the Filipino-Japanese man, given that the drunken man was not indicted for assault.

The judge criticized the prosecutors for charging the defendant without properly considering the case and based purely on the degree of physical injury that resulted from the scuffle.
ENDS

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JDG: Well, this is an interesting case. Now, if we take the poor reporting to mean that ‘Filipino-Japanese’ = naturalized Japanese citizen of NJ descent, this story is quite telling.

Naturalized Japanese citizen is stopped in Osaka by two drunk Japanese guys, who grab his shirt collars whilst shouting at him. The naturalized Japanese punches one in the face in self-defense and is arrested, charged, goes to court, and is fined.

The Japanese assailants, since they are ‘victims’ of their own victims self-defense, are not apprehended, and win compensation from their victim!

Thankfully, this was over-turned at a [summary] court. But the fact that it played out like this clearly shows the intense institutional racism of the Japanese police and legal system. In effect, if you are Japanese, you can commit assault (by western standards) on NJ (well, anyone who was not born Japanese), and the legal system recognize you as the victim if you are injured whilst attempting assault!

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

Quite.  And, I might add, if he hadn’t taken it outside the criminal justice system (I assume) into Summary Court, he would have never gotten this ruling on the record either.

Clearly somebody had to go down for this incident in the cops’ eyes.  And since they saw what they considered to be a NJ involved (naturalized or not), they charged and convicted him.  Wrongly so, as this court ruling demonstrates — nearly two years later!  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Kyodo: Ryukoku U exchange student denied “No Foreigner” Kyoto apartment in 2013; MOJ in 2015 decides it’s not a violation of human rights!

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’m sorry for taking some time to get to this: I’ve been rather busy recently, and I was hoping that an English-langauge article would take this issue up and save me the need to carve out some time translating from the vernacular press. Found a couple references (a passing one here and a more elaborate contextualizing in the Japan Times here), but they’re missing a couple of important nuances, so here goes:

47News.jp (article below) reports that the Ministry of Justice Legal Affairs Bureau has refused to acknowledge a “No Foreigners” apartment as a violation of human rights.  This is the outcome of a case back in 2013, where an exchange student at Ryuukoku University was denied a flat despite going through the Student Union, and he took it to the Bureau of Human Rights for the official word on the subject.  Now more than two years later (presumably the poor chap wasn’t living on the street in the interim), the MOJ determined that the foreigner-averse landlord had not violated anyone’s human rights, refusing to elaborate further.  Great.  Job well done and great precedent set, BOHR.

Two things of note before I get to the article:  One is a media bias.  Note how once again the 47News.jp article portrays the issue incorrectly in its sidebar illustration:

foreignerdiscrim47Newsjp033015

(from 47News.jp, March 30, 2015)

It’s not “Foreigner Discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu no jirei). It’s racial discrimination, because the first case they cite (the Otaru Onsens Case in 1999) eventually has a Japanese being refused too.  Yet the Japanese media will almost always refuse to undermine the incorrect narrative that racial discrimination never happens in Japan.

Second thing is that Japan’s generally ineffective Potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu) has a long history of blind-eyeing the very thing it’s charged with protecting against.  As further evidence of its ineffectuality – even complicity with discriminators – here is an example where the Sapporo BOHR advised a local government (Otaru) that it has no legal obligation to pass ordinance against racial discrimination, only suggesting that the city make such an ordinance if it considers it necessary.  This from my book “Japanese Only:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” (Tokyo: Akashi Shoten) , pg. 347 in the English version:

jinkenyougobu112999

(Annotations within the document by the Sapporo BOHR.)  Further, the BOHR has denied information to claimants on the pretext of protecting claimants from their own privacy, so I wholeheartedly agree with the exchange student’s complaints about the lack of transparency.  So this latest event of saying a blanket exclusionary policy as not a violation of human rights is but one more example to record on Debito.org for posterity.

Translation of the article without footnotes follows, with full article in Japanese. Any errors are mine.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

(Foreigner Apartment Refusal) Ministry of Justice on “No Foreigners” apartments:  not acknowledged as a violation of human rights.  Student Union that introduced the apartment apologizes to student.

47News.jp, from Kyodo, March 30, 2015, provisional translation by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

A European exchange student in his twenties who wished to rent an apartment in Kyoto could not get a rental contract because the apartment was “No Foreigners”.  He asked for recourse from the Ministry of Justice’s Legal Affairs Bureau in Kyoto for discrimination against foreigners, but the Legal Affairs Bureau refused, stating, “We cannot determine that the facts constitute a violation of human rights.”

The Student Union at Ryukoku University in Kyoto, who acted as the interlocutor to the realtor, apologized to the student, and has ceased introductions to places that refuse foreigners.  The university has advised the Student Union to improve its services.  The student’s supporters have voiced the need for seeing how the Legal Affairs handled the issue as a problem.

Lack of Transparency

The Ministry of Justice has called for the end of street demonstrations expressing discrimination against foreigners that may be called hate speech [sic].  On its online home page it introduces a case of “a barber who refused customers on the basis of them being foreigners” as a violation of human rights.  As to this case of the refused student, the Ministry of Justice refused to explain further why this was not acknowledged as the same.  The student criticized the situation, saying “the Legal Affairs Bureau’s handling lacks transparency.”

The student attempted to rent the apartment in Kyoto through the Student Union in January 2013, but was told at the Union that the landlord refused. In September 2014, the Bureau notified him that “We decided that it was unclear that there had been a violation”.  “We admonished (keihatsu, or “enlightened”) the Student Union.”  According to Ministry of Justice guidelines, even in cases where there has not been a violation of human rights, admonition can be carried out.  

However, the exchange student raised the question, “Wouldn’t most Japanese think that this is discrimination?  Would only admonishing without any legally-binding force actually stop this from happening again?”  He repeated, “I had the chance to learn and grow from learning Japanese culture, but I was quite hurt by this problem.”

Easing the Unease

Ryuukoku’s Student Union leader Doumen Yuuko sees that this landlord’s refusal to rent to foreigners is but a “vague feeling of unease” (bakuzen to shita fuan).  Thanks to this case, the Student Union no longer refers students to renters that have “no foreigners” policies.  She said that recently the Union is politely explaining to landlords that the former will handle any troubles that result from unpaid rents and differences in lifestyles.  Ms. Doumen added, “As a university, we accept many kinds of people.  It’s important that we see diversity not only in regards to foreign exchange students.”

When contacted by Kyodo News for a comment, the representative for the Bureau, a Mr. Ohyama Kunio, responded, “We cannot comment on that case, or on whether we took up that case.”  For the sake of preserving privacy, the Bureau does not publicly speak as a matter of principle on cases that have been raised for relief.

Ms. Moro-oka Yasuko, a lawyer that takes on cases of foreigner discrimination, suggested, “They probably are thinking that because the landlord refused the exchange student before it got to the contract stage, that’s why it didn’t become an explicit violation of human rights.”  

The Japanese Government, a signatory to the UN Convention for the the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has the duty to forbid discrimination.  However, Japan’s human rights organs have a deep-rooted image of having “insufficient enforcement power”.  Ms Moro-oka charged, “As agreed to in the treaty, Japan must make a law to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.”

MAIN ARTICLE ENDS.  (Footnotes untranslated.)

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【外国人入居拒否】 法務局、人権侵犯認めず アパートの「外国人不可」 仲介の大学生協は謝罪
47News.jp 2015/03/30 Courtesy of HT
http://www.47news.jp/47topics/e/263652.php

入居を希望した京都市のアパートが「外国人不可」のため、賃貸契約できなかった欧州出身の20代の留学生が、法務省の京都地方法務局に外国人差別だとして救済措置を求めたところ、法務局は「人権侵犯の事実があったとまでは判断できない」と退けた。

不動産相談窓口でアパートを仲介した龍谷大(本部京都市)の生協は留学生に謝罪し、「外国人不可」の物件紹介を中止。大学側も生協に改善を促した。留学生の支援者らから、法務局の対応を疑問視する声があがっている。

▽透明性欠く
法務省はヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)と呼ばれる外国人差別の街頭宣伝をなくそうと呼び掛けており、ホームページでは「外国人であることを理由に理容店が客を拒否した」というケースを人権侵害として紹介している。救済を求めた留学生に対しては、申し立てを認めなかった理由の説明を断った。留学生は「(法務局の対応は)透明性を欠いている」と批判している。

留学生は2013年1月、生協の窓口で京都市内のアパートを借りようとしたが、外国人を拒む家主側の意向を生協で伝えられた。法務局は14年9月、「侵犯事実不明確の決定をした」と留学生に通知。「生協には啓発を行った」とも伝えた。法務省の規定では「啓発」は人権侵犯がない場合も実施できる。
だが、留学生は「多くの日本人はこれが差別だと思っていないのではないか。法的拘束力もない啓発だけで再発が防げるのか」と疑問を投げかけ、「日本文化を学んで成長の機会を得られたが、この問題では傷ついた」と振り返った。

▽不安解消
龍谷大生協の 堂免裕子 (どうめんゆうこ) 専務理事は、家主側は部屋を外国人に貸すことに「漠然とした不安」を感じているとみている。今回の問題をきっかけに、「外国人不可」の賃貸住宅の仲介をやめた。最近は、未払い家賃の補償制度や生活習慣をめぐるトラブルへの対応を、家主側に丁寧に説明しているという。堂免さんは「大学はいろいろな人を受け入れる。留学生に限らず多様性(ダイバーシティ)という観点が重要だ」と話す。

法務省人権擁護局は共同通信の取材に対し「そうした事案を取り扱ったかどうかも含めてお答えできない」( 大山邦士 (おおやま・くにお) 調査救済課長)と答えた。同省はプライバシーの保護などを理由に、人権救済の申し立てへの対応は原則として公表していない。

外国人差別問題に取り組む 師岡康子 (もろおか・やすこ) 弁護士は「留学生に対し家主が契約の段階で断るといった行為がないと人権侵犯には当てはまらない、と考えているのではないか」と推測する。

日本政府は「人種差別撤廃条約」に加入し、政府は差別を禁止し終わらせる義務を負っている。だが人権団体の間では「実行が不十分」という見方が根強い。師岡氏は「条約に合致するよう、あらゆる差別行為を禁じる『人種差別撤廃法』をつくるべきだ」と訴えている。 (沢康臣)

◎人種差別撤廃条約

人種差別撤廃条約 人種差別をなくすため、日本を含む170カ国以上が結んでいる。あらゆる人種差別を撤廃する政策をとり、差別を禁止することを義務付けている。1965年に国連総会で採択され、69年に発効。日本は95年12月に批准した。しかし留保条件を付け、人種差別思想の流布や差別の扇動を罰する法律をつくる義務については、憲法の表現の自由との関係で履行しない余地を残した。
◎人権侵犯

人権侵犯 各地の法務局は差別などの訴えを受け付けると、「人権侵犯(侵害)」に当たるかどうか調べ、救済や再発防止をはかる。調査や救済措置に強制力はない。人権侵犯があったと認定した場合、加害者を対象にした「勧告」「説示」や、関係機関への「要請」などの救済措置をとる。悪質な場合は警察に告発する。人権侵犯がなければ「不存在」、有無を確認できなければ「不明確」と決定する。
(共同通信)

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

mytest

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

wuls2015colorismconfflyer

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

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

Details on the conference at

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

You can see me speak at

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

Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

JT: “Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?” Renewed political opportunism to further erode Postwar civil liberties, go soft on right-wing groups

mytest

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Hi Blog. Related to the increasingly tightening domestic security over Japanese society in the wake of attacks on Japanese citizens abroad, here is an overlooked article by Eric Johnston in the Japan Times a few days ago. It’s a long one, with contents excerpted below as germane to Debito.org. As we have talked in detail in the wake of other wakes, e.g., the G8 Summit in Hokkaido, the G8 Summit in Nago, the 2002 World Cup, other anti-democratic habits brought out in Japanese society whenever Japan holds an international event, and also a longstanding theory that Gaijin are mere Guinea Pigs (since they have fewer civil or political rights) to test out pupal public policy before applying it to the rest of the Japanese population, I believe what’s going on here is a long arc of further eroding Postwar civil liberties in the name of security and ever-strengthening police power in Japan in favor of rightist elements (see below). Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Security blanket: Should Japan beef up its anti-terrorism measures?
by Eric Johnston, Staff Writer
The Japan Times, March 21, 2015 [excerpt], courtesy of JDG
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/21/national/security-blanket-japan-beef-anti-terrorism-measures/

[…] Since the exercise in Fukui nearly a decade ago, more than 100 drills in response to some form of security threat have been conducted at prefectures throughout the country. Assumptions behind the threats the drills are based on range from unidentified armed groups landing on the Japan Sea coast and bombing hospitals and medical facilities to railway station bombings in major cities and a widespread chemical weapons attack in central Tokyo.

While the law has prodded various local and central government agencies to coordinate a response, the Aum threat and the 2001 terrorist attacks in the U.S. began a process of rethinking about domestic security that first manifested itself at the 2002 World Cup and later in Hokkaido at the Group of Eight summit in 2008. In recent weeks, support for further measures picked up steam with the deaths of journalists Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa at the hands of the Islamic State group in the Middle East. The deaths of three Japanese tourists in Tunisia last week will simply accelerate what is already a fast-moving debate.

Suddenly, it seems, the domestic media, public and the political world are obsessed with threats, real and imagined, to the country’s security and to Japanese who venture abroad. Next year’s G-8 summit (sans Russia) will return to Japan, and seven cities — Hiroshima, Kobe, Nagoya, Shizuoka, Karuizawa, Niigata and Sendai — hope to host the world leaders of Japan, the United States, Great Britain, France, Canada, Germany and Italy.

The candidate cities have emphasized, in addition to their various cultural assets, their preparedness in the event of a security threat. Meanwhile, this year’s Tokyo Marathon saw an unprecedented level of police protection for the runners and those watching them, while security for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics could be some of the toughest ever seen. […]

Enemies of the State?

[…] However, former Aum members are not the [Public Security Intelligence Agency’s] only concern. Another four pages are devoted to the activities of groups trying to stop the construction of a replacement facility at Henoko for the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa, voicing support for keeping the 1995 Kono Statement regarding the “comfort women,” criticizing the government’s pro-nuclear energy policy, or protesting collective self-defense and the state secrets law that went into effect late last year.

In the case of the Henoko protesters, the Public Security Intelligence Agency says “Japan Communist Party … members and other anti-base activists from around the country are being dispatched to the Henoko area to engage in protests against the new facility.” The agency also says the Japan Communist Party mobilized supporters to assist two anti-base candidates in local elections last year: Susumu Inamine won the January 2014 Nago mayoral election, while Takashi Onaga won the November gubernatorial election running on anti-base platforms.

Over three pages, the Public Security Intelligence Agency claimed “extremist” groups were cooperating with overseas organizations to criticize the government’s position on the comfort women issue, and that the Japan Communist Party was involved in anti-nuclear demonstrations in Sendai, Kagoshima Prefecture, and in front of the Diet and the prime minister’s office. It further added that extremist groups were infiltrating anti-nuclear demonstrations and passing out flyers that called for all nuclear reactors to be decommissioned.

Two pages were devoted solely to the Japan Communist Party’s leadership and membership, and its criticism of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government. The Public Security Intelligence Agency said the Japan Communist Party’s total membership is around 305,000, down from 410,000 back in 2010, while the average age of all members was 57 years old, up from 55.7 years old five years earlier.

By contrast, only 2½ of the report’s 75 pages were devoted to right-wing groups. The agency said right-wing groups had been involved in protests over the Senaku Islands, had called for the retraction of the Kono Statement on comfort women and had used the Asahi Shimbun’s apology in August over a story on wartime forced prostitutes as an opportunity to conduct protests at the newspaper’s branches nationwide.

There was no mention, by name, in the Public Security Intelligence Agency report of Zaitokukai, merely of a “right-wing-affiliated group” that made racist remarks. However, a separate report put out by the National Policy Agency earlier this month mentioned Zaitokukai by name and noted that 1,654 members of right-wing groups were charged with breaking the law in 2014. This included 291 people who were charged with extortion, although many charges were for traffic-related violations. […]

Among other things, the law attempts to promote increased police monitoring of whomever the government deems a potential threat by making secret materials or plans to prevent “designated harmful activities.” What’s a “designated harmful activity”? That’s the first of many questions as yet unanswered.

It’s the same with measures designed to prevent “terrorism,” an ill-defined legal concept, and critics of the law have warned that, under the pretext of “security,” Japan will see more police monitoring of any individual or group the state deems to be a threat.

Last July, a lawyers’ group for victims of police investigations of Muslims submitted a report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on systemic surveillance and profiling of Muslims. In 2010, a report leaked on the Internet showed police collected and stored detailed personal information on Muslims in Japan. Seventeen victims sued the Metropolitan Police Department and the National Policy Agency over the issue.

In January 2014, Tokyo District Court ordered the metropolitan police to pay for violating the plaintiffs’ privacy by leaking personal data. However, the court also said police information gathering activities on Muslims in Japan constituted “necessary and inevitable measures for the prevention of international terrorism.”

The case is being appealed in the Tokyo High Court, but the initial ruling came down well before Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto were captured and executed by Islamic State militants earlier this year. Given the public shock and political reaction to those killings, extreme security measures of questionable legality are cause for worry, says Lawrence Repeta, a law professor at Meiji University.

“Despite the fact that the police had no evidence of illegal activities, the record shows they engaged in religious profiling of the Muslim community,” Repeta says. “Now that this intrusive police surveillance has been approved by the court, we should expect it to continue in coming years, as Japan hosts international events like next year’s Group of Seven conference and the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.”

[…] One bright spot was that, despite years of official bureaucratic and right-wing political warnings about the dangers of foreign crime, only 28 percent of respondents in 2012 cited this as a reason for what they felt was a worsening security environment. This is down from the 55 percent who cited it as a major reason for their unease in the 2006 survey.

Read the full article in order at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/21/national/security-blanket-japan-beef-anti-terrorism-measures/

ENDS

NYT Opinion: Mindy Kotler on “The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth”, an excellent primer on the issue

mytest

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Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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Hello Blog. One more post on the “Comfort Women” (since my last two publications here and here dealt with it) and then we’ll start getting back to regular topics. The Opinion Page on the NYT last November offered an excellent primer on the issue, including motives for why Japan’s ruling elites would seek to rewrite history (e.g., to sanitize their family honor and complicity in a dark past), both within and outside of Japan: Political subterfuge at the expense of history, all re-empowered by Japan’s rightward swing, in order to destabilize the region and re-aggravate the wounds of past conflicts, and to project deceitful historical revisionism worldwide.  How dishonest and selfish of a select powerful few.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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The Comfort Women and Japan’s War on Truth
By MINDY KOTLER
The New York Times, NOV. 14, 2014
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/15/opinion/comfort-women-and-japans-war-on-truth.html

WASHINGTON — In 1942, a lieutenant paymaster in Japan’s Imperial Navy named Yasuhiro Nakasone was stationed at Balikpapan on the island of Borneo, assigned to oversee the construction of an airfield. But he found that sexual misconduct, gambling and fighting were so prevalent among his men that the work was stalled.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s solution was to organize a military brothel, or “comfort station.” The young officer’s success in procuring four Indonesian women “mitigated the mood” of his troops so well that he was commended in a naval report.

Lieutenant Nakasone’s decision to provide comfort women to his troops was replicated by thousands of Imperial Japanese Army and Navy officers across the Indo-Pacific both before and during World War II, as a matter of policy. From Nauru to Vietnam, from Burma to Timor, women were treated as the first reward of conquest.

We know of Lieutenant Nakasone’s role in setting up a comfort station thanks to his 1978 memoir, “Commander of 3,000 Men at Age 23.” At that time, such accounts were relatively commonplace and uncontroversial — and no obstacle to a political career. From 1982 to 1987, Mr. Nakasone was the prime minister of Japan.

Today, however, the Japanese military’s involvement in comfort stations is bitterly contested. The government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is engaged in an all-out effort to portray the historical record as a tissue of lies designed to discredit the nation. Mr. Abe’s administration denies that imperial Japan ran a system of human trafficking and coerced prostitution, implying that comfort women were simply camp-following prostitutes.

The latest move came at the end of October when, with no intended irony, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party appointed Mr. Nakasone’s own son, former Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, to chair a commission established to “consider concrete measures to restore Japan’s honor with regard to the comfort women issue.”

The official narrative in Japan is fast becoming detached from reality, as it seeks to cast the Japanese people — rather than the comfort women of the Asia-Pacific theater — as the victims of this story. The Abe administration sees this historical revision as integral to restoring Japan’s imperial wartime honor and modern-day national pride. But the broader effect of the campaign has been to cause Japan to back away from international efforts against human rights abuses and to weaken its desire to be seen as a responsible partner in prosecuting possible war crimes.

A key objective of Mr. Abe’s government has been to dilute the 1993 Kono Statement, named for Japan’s chief cabinet secretary at the time, Yohei Kono. This was widely understood as the Japanese government’s formal apology for the wartime network of brothels and front-line encampments that provided sex for the military and its contractors. The statement was particularly welcomed in South Korea, which was annexed by Japan from 1910 to 1945 and was the source of a majority of the trafficked comfort women.

Imperial Japan’s military authorities believed sex was good for morale, and military administration helped control sexually transmitted diseases. Both the army and navy trafficked women, provided medical inspections, established fees and built facilities. Nobutaka Shikanai, later chairman of the Fujisankei Communications Group, learned in his Imperial Army accountancy class how to manage comfort stations, including how to determine the actuarial “durability or perishability of the women procured.”

Japan’s current government has made no secret of its distaste for the Kono Statement. During Mr. Abe’s first administration, in 2007, the cabinet undermined the Kono Statement with two declarations: that there was no documentary evidence of coercion in the acquisition of women for the military’s comfort stations, and that the statement was not binding government policy.

Shortly before he became prime minister for the second time, in 2012, Mr. Abe (together with, among others, four future cabinet members) signed an advertisement in a New Jersey newspaper protesting a memorial to the comfort women erected in the town of Palisades Park, N.J., where there is a large Korean population. The ad argued that comfort women were simply part of the licensed prostitution system of the day.

In June this year, the government published a review of the Kono Statement. This found that Korean diplomats were involved in drafting the statement, that it relied on the unverified testimonies of 16 Korean former comfort women, and that no documents then available showed that abductions had been committed by Japanese officials.

Then, in August, a prominent liberal newspaper, The Asahi Shimbun, admitted that a series of stories it wrote over 20 years ago on comfort women contained errors. Reporters had relied upon testimony by a labor recruiter, Seiji Yoshida, who claimed to have rounded up Korean women on Jeju Island for military brothels overseas.

The scholarly community had long determined that Mr. Yoshida’s claims were fictitious, but Mr. Abe seized on this retraction by The Asahi to denounce the “baseless, slanderous claims” of sexual slavery, in an attempt to negate the entire voluminous and compelling history of comfort women. In October, Mr. Abe directed his government to “step up a strategic campaign of international opinion so that Japan can receive a fair appraisal based on matters of objective fact.”

Two weeks later, Japan’s ambassador for human rights, Kuni Sato, was sent to New York to ask a former United Nations special rapporteur on violence against women, Radhika Coomaraswamy, to reconsider her 1996 report on the comfort women — an authoritative account of how, during World War II, imperial Japan forced women and girls into sexual slavery. Ms. Coomaraswamy refused, observing that one retraction did not overturn her findings, which were based on ample documents and myriad testimonies of victims throughout Japanese-occupied territories.

There were many ways in which women and girls throughout the Indo-Pacific became entangled in the comfort system, and the victims came from virtually every settlement, plantation and territory occupied by imperial Japan’s military. The accounts of rape and pillage leading to subjugation are strikingly similar whether they are told by Andaman Islanders or Singaporeans, Filipino peasants or Borneo tribespeople. In some cases, young men, including interned Dutch boys, were also seized to satisfy the proclivities of Japanese soldiers.

Japanese soldiers raped an American nurse at Bataan General Hospital 2 in the Philippine Islands; other prisoners of war acted to protect her by shaving her head and dressing her as a man. Interned Dutch mothers traded their bodies in a church at a convent on Java to feed their children. British and Australian women who were shipwrecked off Sumatra after the makeshift hospital ship Vyner Brooke was bombed were given the choice between a brothel or starving in a P.O.W. camp. Ms. Coomaraswamy noted in her 1996 report that “the consistency of the accounts of women from quite different parts of Southeast Asia of the manner in which they were recruited and the clear involvement of the military and government at different levels is indisputable.”

For its own political reasons, the Abe administration studiously ignores this wider historical record, and focuses instead on disputing Japan’s treatment of its colonial Korean women. Thus rebuffed by Ms. Coomaraswamy, the chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, vowed to continue advocating in international bodies, including the United Nations Human Rights Council, for Japan’s case, which is to seek to remove the designation of comfort women as sex slaves.

The grave truth about the Abe administration’s denialist obsession is that it has led Japan not only to question Ms. Coomaraswamy’s report, but also to challenge the United Nations’ reporting on more recent and unrelated war crimes, and to dismiss the testimony of their victims. In March, Japan became the only Group of 7 country to withhold support from a United Nations investigation into possible war crimes in Sri Lanka, when it abstained from voting to authorize the inquiry. (Canada is not a member of the Human Rights Council but issued a statement backing the probe.) During an official visit, the parliamentary vice minister for foreign affairs, Seiji Kihara, told Sri Lanka’s president, “We are not ready to accept biased reports prepared by international bodies.”

Rape and sex trafficking in wartime remain problems worldwide. If we hope to ever reduce these abuses, the efforts of the Abe administration to deny history cannot go unchallenged. The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — all of whom had nationals entrapped in imperial Japan’s comfort women system — must make clear their objection to the Abe government’s perverse denial of the historical record of human trafficking and sexual servitude.

The United States, in particular, has a responsibility to remind Japan, its ally, that human rights and women’s rights are pillars of American foreign policy. If we do not speak out, we will be complicit not only in Japanese denialism, but also in undermining today’s international efforts to end war crimes involving sexual violence.

======================
Mindy Kotler is the director of Asia Policy Point, a nonprofit research center.

PNS: Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police: At least 5 in past year

mytest

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Deaths of unknown persons in the custody of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police
Edwin Stamm, Progressive News Service, Tokyo, March 9, 2015
Special to Debito.org
A troubling pattern of deaths of suspects in police custody is emerging in Tokyo, Japan. At least five people have died in police custody in the last year, with little publicity or investigation. The names of the victims have not apparently been released, which puts Japan at odds with international norms of transparency and police accountability.
  • Unknown man arrested May 12, 2014 in Meguro Ward
A 37 year-old male in a state of mental confusion was subdued in a hotel room at about 2:35 a.m. after reports that he was shouting and throwing things. He soon had a heart attack and was transported to a hospital, where he was confirmed dead at about 10:55 p.m. Police suspect drugs were involved.
精神錯乱状態の男性、警官保護後に死亡 都内ホテル、室内に粉末も
東京都内のホテルで精神錯乱状態に陥り、警視庁目黒署に保護された男性(37)が約20時間後に死亡していたことが12日、警視庁生活安全総務課への取材で分かった。ホテルの室内から覚醒剤のような粉末などが見つかっており、同課は成分の鑑定を急ぐとともに、13日にも男性を司法解剖して死因を調べる。
・・・・・・11日午前235分ごろ、東京都目黒区内のホテルの一室で、大声を出し、腕時計を投げつけるなどしていたのを目黒署員が発見。同署員は精神錯乱状態と判断し、保護バンドを手足に巻くなどして保護した。
男性は間もなく心肺停止状態になり、都内の病院に搬送されたが、同日午後1055分ごろ、死亡が確認された。
・・・・・・室内からは覚醒剤のような粉末が入ったポリ袋のほか、茶色い粉末入りの袋や空の袋も見つかり、同課は男性が何らかの薬物を摂取していたとみている。
産経ニュース2014.5.12 18:54 [Sankei News http://www.sankei.com/]*
Original story appears to be gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested May 25, 2014 in Shinjuku
A 30 year-old man who was found lying on the street in Nishi Shinjuku at about 6:30 p.m. having convulsions was taken to a police station instead of to the hospital. His hands and feet were bound and his entire body was wrapped in a mat. After about 30 minutes “his condition worsened” so an ambulance was called. He died at the hospital on May 27th at about 5:30 p.m.
警察署で保護した男性死亡、対応に問題なかったか調査
TBS系(JNN) 528()623分配信
東京・新宿区の路上で倒れているのが見つかり警察署の中で保護されていた男性が、
その後、死亡していたことがわかりました。警視庁は、当時の対応に問題がなかったか調べています。
今月25日午後6時半ごろ、新宿区・西新宿の路上で30歳の男性が痙攣した状態で倒れているのを
通行人が見つけて通報しました。東京消防庁の救急隊が駆けつけ男性の容体を調べましたが、
「異常が見られなかった」として救急搬送しませんでした。
しかし、その後も男性の錯乱状態が続いたため警察官が手足をバンドで縛り保護マットにくるんで警察署内で保護しましたが、
男性はおよそ30分後に容体が悪化し病院に運ばれました。そして男性は27日午後5時半過ぎ、死亡しました。
警視庁は、男性の死因を調べるとともに当時の対応に問題がなかったか調査する方針です。(2723:52
Original story is gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested May 31, 2014 in Konan
In response to reports of a man yelling and running around without clothes, at about 4 p.m. police from the Takanawa Police Station arrested a 37 year old, unemployed man. He was restrained and wrapped in a protective sheet. He was then held in a patrol car for about 25 minutes. Just before being placed into a “special detention room”, police noticed that the man had gone limp and stopped breathing. He died at around 7:40 p.m. that evening.
<ニュースから>*****
警察官保護の男性死亡=死因を調査-警視庁
警視庁高輪署は1日、東京都港区港南の路上で、奇声を上げ暴れていた無職男性(37)を同署で保護したところ、ぐったりして呼吸がなくなり、搬送先の病院で死亡したと発表した。同署は司法解剖して詳しい死因を調べる。
同署によると、531日午後4時ごろ、「全裸で男が暴れている」との通報が相次いだため、署員3人が駆け付け衣服を身に着けていない男性を確保。体を保護シートにくるんでパトカーで同署に移したが、保護室に入れる直前に、ぐったりしているのに気付き119番した。男性は同日午後740分ごろ死亡が確認された。
保護シートにくるまれていた時間は約25分だったという。男性は4月にも同署に保護されたことがあった。
時事ドットコム【時事通信】(2014/06/01-12:12[Jiji.com http://www.jiji.com/]
Original story appears to be gone, but is reproduced here:
  • Unknown man arrested August 25, 2014 in Shinagawa
An unemployed 47 year-old man was arrested at a supermarket by four police officers. He was bound hand and foot, wrapped in a sheet, and transported face down to the Osaki Police Station. When the prisoner arrived in the interrogation room, it was discovered that he was unconscious and he was taken to the hospital, where he died on September 3, 2014.
2014.9.4 18:21 傷害容疑で逮捕の容疑者死亡 危険ドラッグ店のカード所持 警視庁、死因など調べる
 東京都新宿区の無職の男(47)が警視庁大崎署に傷害容疑で逮捕された直後に意識不明の状態となり、9日後の今月3日に死亡していたことが4日、警視庁への取材で分かった。男に目立った外傷はないことなどから、警視庁は薬物を摂取したことによる中毒死の可能性があるとみて死因などを調べている。
 男は8月25日午後0時半ごろ、品川区内のスーパーで突然、暴れ出し、40~50代の男性従業員2人に商品を投げつけ、顔を殴るなどしたとして駆けつけた大崎署員4人に傷害容疑で現行犯逮捕された。
 同署員らは男の両手足に手錠をはめ、保護シートで包んで同署に車で移送。同1時ごろに取調室に連れて行ったところ、意識がなくなっていることに気づき、同区内の病院に搬送したが、意識が戻らないまま今月3日午後5時35分ごろに死亡したという。
 男は危険ドラッグ(脱法ドラッグ)店のものとみられるカードを持っていたが、自宅などから危険ドラッグは見つかっておらず、尿検査でも薬物は検出されなかった。司法解剖でも死因が分からず、さらに血液と尿検査を進めている。警視庁幹部は「対応は適正だった」としている。
関連ニュース
  • Unknown man arrested February 11, 2015 in Akasaka
Police were called when a “violently agitated foreigner” was observed in Akasaka. Six police officers from the Akasaka Police Station subdued the man, who then went into cardiac arrest and was taken to a hospital, where he remained in a coma until he died on March 1, 2015. Police say there was no evidence of any physical trauma. He was 29 years-old American citizen employed as an English teacher who lived in Setagaya Ward. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government and U.S. Embassy have not responded to requests for additional information.
保護した米国人男性死亡=2月路上で暴れ、病院搬送-警視庁
 警視庁は2日、2月に東京・赤坂の路上で暴れて保護され、病院に搬送された米国籍の男性が死亡したと発表した。同庁赤坂署によると、男性を解剖したが死因は不明。
 死亡したのは東京都世田谷区に住む英会話教師の米国人男性(29)。
 赤坂署によると、2月11日午後5時半ごろ、港区赤坂の路上で「外国人が錯乱して暴れている」などと110番があった。駆け付けた署員が話し掛けると、男性が暴れ出したため署員6人で両手両足を押さえ付けるなどして拘束。男性は心肺停止状態となり、病院に搬送された。
 男性は意識が戻らないまま、今月1日に病院で死亡した。同署によると、目立った外傷はないという。(2015/03/02-16:30
same story reproduced by Wall Street Journal – Japan edition:http://jp.wsj.com/articles/JJ12415624575840664012717795297010215212790
English news sources:
Tokyo Reporter:
Tokyo Weekender:
ENDS

Japan Times: UK inspectors say Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers are like “prisons”. In fact, they’re worse.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Getting back to another issue in Japan that has long needed fixing — the judiciary (see also here) — here are some overseas experts talking in a comparative perspective about Japan’s Immigration Detention Centers (aka Gaijin Tanks) that they liken to “prisons”.

In fact, they’re worse than prisons, because they don’t come under the same judicial oversight for minimum standards that Japanese prisons do, and detainees, unlike the criminally-incarcerated, do not have a “prison sentence” with a limited time-frame attached to it. Not to mention Gaijin Tanks add a second layer of incarceration for NJ only, where even the NJ exonerated of a criminal offense get released from prison only to wind up in a Gaijin Tank for “overstaying” the visa they couldn’t renew because they were incarcerated. For people in Gaijin Tanks, detention can be perpetual, and that’s before we get to the horrible (even lethal) treatment they suffer from while in custody. Read on. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Immigration detention centers like prisons, U.K. inspectors say
BY TOMOHIRO OSAKI, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, FEB 6, 2015
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/06/national/immigration-detention-centers-like-prisons-u-k-inspectors-say/
Courtesy of SA

When British incarceration inspection expert Hindpal Singh Bhui last month paid his first visit to a Japanese immigration detention center, his overriding initial impression was that it looked like a prison.

“The fact that if someone comes to visit detainees, the starting point is that you’re behind a glass screen and you can’t touch someone — that feels quite restrictive,” Bhui, team leader for London-based Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons, told The Japan Times during a recent visit to Japan.

“It’s something which perhaps is a prison-style approach and which was surprising to see in immigration detention centers,” Bhui said of his visit to the government facility in Ushiku, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Established in 1982, HMIP is an independent inspectorate with unchallenged authority to probe state-run institutions, from prisons to immigration and military detention centers.

The British system stands in contrast with Japan’s immigration inspectorate, which is poorly funded and regarded as having little independence from the government, Japanese lawyers say.

The HMIP’s underlying philosophy that detainees should enjoy “as much openness as possible” also sends out an important message to a nation where neglect is suspected in the successive deaths of two immigration detainees in recent years.

Although funded significantly by the British government, HMIP is nonetheless granted full autonomy to carry out “independent, rigorous” inspections, Bhui said.

Its team members can arrive at target institutions unannounced, go anywhere within the premises and speak to anyone they encounter. The organization also has “unfettered” ability to publish its findings and make recommendations both to center managers and the government entities in charge to urge them to rectify malpractice.

The group’s inspections over the years have led to significant changes in policy and “general improvement in treatment and conditions” at British immigration facilities, according to HMIP inspector Colin Carroll.

Unlike the past, the Home Office, which overseas immigration policies in Britain, no longer tolerates the use of physical force to deport pregnant women and children, Carroll said.

Also, detainees in Britain now can freely chat with visiting family members in an open lounge and hug and kiss them, Bhui said. They are also permitted to carry mobile phones and surf the Internet to stay in touch with their lawyers and keep abreast of developments in their home countries.

Some even watch movies, work on art projects or practice music with fellow detainees.

“People in immigration centers tend to be far more frustrated and dislocated, physically or mentally. They’re away from family, away from support. So the opportunity to make phone calls to the family makes a big difference,” Bhui said.

“Detention centers in the U.K. understand it’s better for the safety of their own center if detainees can contact people outside. Because (that way) they’re less frustrated, and if they’re less frustrated, they’re less likely to misbehave within the center.”

Detention inmates, Bhui continued, haven’t committed specific criminal offenses and are often trying to enter the country to make a better life for themselves and their families, which he said is a “laudable positive sentiment.”

“They’re not there to be punished. They’re not there because they’re criminals,” he said.

This notion of openness, however, appears nonexistent in Japanese immigration centers, where detainees frequently go on hunger strikes or attempt suicide to protest what critics describe as their almost inhumane living conditions behind closed doors.

The lack of adequate medical services, in particular, has taken a tragic toll on detainees in recent years, highlighting the nation’s doctor shortage.

In the past two years, a man from Sri Lanka and another from the persecuted Rohingya ethnic minority in Myanmar who were detained at the Tokyo Immigration Regional Bureau in Shinagawa Ward died in separate incidents after staff failed to respond promptly to their medical emergencies. Two others died at the immigration center in Ushiku last March.

Bhui declined to comment directly on each of these cases, but added: “We have a system in the U.K. where if there is any death in detention, there will be an inquest by a coroner, who can call witnesses. Also, the ombudsman will do its own separate investigation into any death,” he said.

Bhui further noted that HMIP will follow up with detention centers to see if they have implemented preventive measures as recommended by the ombudsman. He called it a system to “identify problems, see why death happened in the first place and try to prevent that from happening in the future.”

“I think if there were system like that (in Japan), that would be good.”

Shortly after the death of the Sri Lankan man, the Tokyo Bar Association issued a statement in which it condemned the Justice Ministry’s repeated failure to identify the cause of detainees’ deaths and stressed the need for a third-party inquest system to prevent them.

Japan’s own inspectorate, or “nyuukokusha shuuyoshoto shisatsu iinkai” in Japanese, is under the jurisdiction of the Justice Ministry, despite its purported third-party status. Every aspect of its visits to immigration centers is rigidly controlled and pre-arranged by the ministry, according to Koichi Kodama, a lawyer well-versed in foreigners’ rights.

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/02/06/national/immigration-detention-centers-like-prisons-u-k-inspectors-say/
ENDS

Debito.org quoted in South China Morning Post about Sankei Shinbun’s Sono Ayako advocating Japartheid

mytest

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Hi Blog. Story still ongoing, and we got quoted in the SCMP. Hopefully all this attention from the outside world will make the Sankei Shinbun (or maybe even the author) recant and retract the story. I will be pleasantly surprised if it does, but bigots of this age group rarely do, and after all the recent Asahi Shinbun bashing after admitting they ran a badly-sourced story the Sankei probably doesn’t want to admit they were wrong either. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Top Japanese author Sono backs racial segregation saying it’s ‘impossible to live alongside foreigners’
Ayako Sono, 83, suggests that a version of South Africa’s apartheid could work in her country

February 15, 2015, by Julian Ryall in Tokyo
http://www.scmp.com/news/asia/article/1713536/top-japanese-author-sono-backs-racial-segregation-saying-its-impossible

A well-known Japanese author and columnist who advised the government has sparked outrage by claiming foreigners should live in separate areas from Japanese people.

In an opinion piece for the conservative Sankei newspaper last week, Ayako Sono, 83, suggested that the infamous apartheid system that was practised in South Africa between 1948 and 1994 would be appropriate for Japan.

“It is next to impossible to attain an understanding of foreigners by living alongside them,” Sono wrote.

“Ever since I learned of the situation in South Africa some 20 or 30 years ago, I have been convinced that it is best for the races to live apart from each other, as was the case for whites, Asians and blacks in that country,” she said in the piece.

She cited the case of an apartment block in Johannesburg that was, under apartheid, reserved for white families. As soon as the laws were changed, she said, the property “fell to pieces” because black people have large families.

“Ever since learning of this, I have said that humans can do many things together – business, research, sports, to name but a few – but when it comes to living, this is one area where the races must live apart.”

Sono was appointed by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to an education panel in 2013.

Her comments have provoked anger among human-rights activists.

“It’s a stunning cognitive dissonance. After calling the apartheid system ‘racial discrimination’ in her column, she advocates it,” said Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who was born in the United States and has become a leading rights activist after being refused access to a public bath in Hokkaido because he is foreign.

“Is it no longer racial discrimination in a Japanese context?” he asked. “Or does she think racial discrimination is not a bad thing?

“I hope – and I stress hope – this will be dismissed as the wistful musings of a very old lady who is way out of touch,” he added.

“But she occupies a position of authority, and I fear her attitudes are but the tip of the iceberg in Japan’s ultra-conservative ruling elite.”

Internet users have also weighed in on the argument, with tens of thousands of messages on Twitter and other online forums condemning Sono’s comments.

“The problem is not that this woman exists or holds these views,” wrote one commentator. “After all, every country has its far-right misanthropes, neo- Nazis, etc.

The problem is that this woman holds these views while being somewhat revered, even decorated.”

Another asked how Sono, or the Japanese government, would react if another country advocated rounding up Japanese nationals and segregating them purely because of their nationality, while the Sankei was criticised as a “vile, racist paper”.

Arudou said he intended to continue fighting for the rights of foreign nationals living in Japan, adding: “There is a widespread tautological feeling that foreigners don’t deserve human rights because they’re foreigners.

“It begs the question about whether a society can see non-citizens as fellow humans,” he said.
================================================

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as “Outrage as top author backs racial segregation”
ENDS

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Sorry to have gotten to this so late (projects loom), and thanks to all of you to sending me this information.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Google Translate version follows)

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

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

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

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

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

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

[as above]

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

The Asahi:

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

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

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

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

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

The Sankei via Yahoo:

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

Others.

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ブラジル人が娘を病院へ連れて行き日本人医師が”クソ 死ね”と発言して問題に

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

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

1つ目のビデオ

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

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

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

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

動画の中では娘の体中から内出血のような症状が確認できる

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

2つ目のビデオ

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

Khaosod (Thailand): Taxi Association Condemns ‘No Japanese Passengers’ Sign

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s something for the Shoe on the Other Foot Dept.: A “No Japanese Passengers” taxi in Thailand, refusing to take all “Japanese” passengers. There’s even a sign (courtesy of Khaosod English):

ThailtaxiJapaneseOnly012115

Naturally, Debito.org condemns all exclusionism of this type, and encourages people to challenge it and have these signs and rules repealed.  We have devoted much cyberspace to recording and archiving the converse, “Japanese Only” signs that exclude all “foreigners” (that unfortunately have gone largely unchallenged in Japan), not to mention the occasional “Japanese Only” establishment run for Japanese clientele outside of Japan (that excludes all “foreigners” in their own country, natch).

What’s important is how swift and decisive the challenge from society is, and whether it is effective.  In the Thai taxi case below, according to media, the taxi driver (rightly) lost his license to do business at the airport, and quite a furore happened both online and in print media denouncing this act as wrong-headed, even racist.  Good.  A similar furore also happened when a hotel in India had “Japanese Only” rules (the Indian authorities did not brook this kind of discrimination either).

Now, if only the Japanese authorities would be so decisive about this kind of exclusionism in Japan (as Debito.org has demonstrated over these past twenty years, they generally aren’t; they even deny racial discrimination ever happens in Japan, quite counterproductively).

Of course, some hay has been made about this Thai taxi on Japanese social media, with rightly-deserved (but unironic) condemnations of the “discrimination” against Japanese overseas.

One last point:  Koki Aki, the Japanese gentleman who set this issue in motion by complaining online after being ripped off by a Thai cabbie (prompting the cabbie to exclude), subsequently defended himself against trolls who said he must not like Thailand:  “I criticize Thailand, but I don’t hate Thailand.”  Well put.  Now, if only other debaters in Japan’s debate arenas would be so cognizant.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Taxi Association Condemns ‘No Japanese Passengers’ Sign
Khaosod English
21 January 2015, Last update at 12:17:00 GMT
http://www.khaosodenglish.com/detail.php?newsid=1421819098
Courtesy of MS and SH

BANGKOK — A taxi association at Bangkok’s international airport has condemned a cabbie who is reportedly refusing to take Japanese passengers, one day after a Japanese man made headlines with his rant against a driver who refused to turn on his meter at the airport.

A photo widely shared on social media this morning shows a sign posted on a taxi window in English, Japanese, and Thai. The Thai text reads: “No picking up of Japanese passengers.”

The notice ends with the text, “From: Association of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Taxi Drivers.”

The photo surfaced a day after airport authorities fined a taxi driver 1,000 baht and banned him from picking up passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport for trying to overcharge a Japanese man. The punishment was carried out after the Japanese man’s harsh rebuke of the cab driver, who reportedly demanded a flat-rate of 700 baht for a ride to Bangkok’s Saphan Kwai district, went viral on social media.

However, Sadit Jaitiang, director of Association of Suvarnabhumi Airport’s Taxi Drivers, told Khaosod in a phone interview that he had nothing to do with the notice, and only found out about the sign from social media today.

“I have not seen the sign with my own eyes, but I have seen photos of it. Let me stress that the Association is not related to such notice in any way,” Sadit said. “Taxi drivers cannot be picky. We cannot choose to take or refuse passengers of certain nationalities. If we do that, we won’t have any money. We have to take care of our families.”

Sadit said he is looking into who is responsible for sign, and will hold that person accountable if he or she is a member of the airport taxi association.

“As the director of the Association, I condemn this action. The Association wholeheartedly disagrees with it. We are working to find out which driver put up the sign. If we discover that one of our members indeed put up the sign, that person will be held responsible,” Sadit said.

Hundreds of Thai internet users have vented anger at the “No Japanese” sign, with some accusing the taxi driver of racism, discrimination, and refusing to obey the regulation. Others have jokingly commented that the driver should stop using a Japanese car.

ENDS

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

Online Complaint Prompts Ban of BKK Airport Cab Driver
Khaosod English
20 January 2015, Last update at 15:48:00 GMT
http://www.khaosodenglish.com/detail.php?newsid=1421744138

BANGKOK — A taxi driver has been suspended from picking up passengers at Bangkok’s international airport after a Japanese tourist’s complaint about the driver’s refusal to use a meter went viral on social media.

Koki Aki posted on Facebook, in Japanese and Thai, on Sunday that the cab driver assigned to him at Suvarnabhumi Airport refused to use a meter and demanded a flat-rate of 700 baht for a ride to Saphan Kwai district in Bangkok.

Aware that a usual fare for the trip would not cost more than 350 baht, Koki reportedly asked the driver to use the meter, but the driver refused. Koki said he complained to the staff managing the airport’s taxi kiosk system, but was told that it was normal for passengers to negotiate fares with drivers for a long distance trip.

Airport staff say they instructed Aki to file a formal complaint, but that he declined to do so. However, Aki wrote in his Facebook post that it was he who requested to file a complaint, only to be ignored by the staff who “acted like they don’t care about my concern and don’t want to do their job.”

“This is the international airport of Thailand, and this is the place to take cabs from the airport, but there are even scams here,” Aki wrote. “They don’t care about the passengers at all. What can we foreigners do?”

Aki’s complaint came at a time when many Bangkokians have been airing grievances about taxi drivers who refuse to pick up them up in downtown Bangkok, preferring to take tourists who can be duped into paying extortionate fares. Tapping into this grief, Aki’s Facebook status soon went viral on Thai social media accounts, garnering more than 15,500 “shares.”

Prapon Pattamakijsakul, the director of Suvarnabhumi Airport, said he has already launched an investigation into the incident and punished the taxi driver who tried to overcharge the Japanese tourist.

According to Prapon, the driver, Chaiyan Charoensopha, has been stripped of his license to pick up passengers at Suvarnabhumi Airport’s taxi queue, in accordance with the airport’s regulation and penalty codes.

“Taxi drivers must always use their meters in their service,” Prapon said, adding that passengers who encounter any problems should keep the tickets issued by the taxi kiosks as evidence for filing complaints to officials. Complaints can be filed by calling 02-132-9199 at any time of day, he said.

Prapon also told reporters that there are 35 complaints about taxis at Suvarnabhumi Airport on average per month, which amounts to 0.01 per cent of all rides.

“Nevertheless, if the airport authorities investigate these complaints and discover that the drivers are guilty, we punish every one of them strictly without any exception,” Prapon said. “Therefore, the airport would like to ask everyone to file a complaint if they ever see a taxi driver behaving inappropriately, such as refusing to use meters, being rude, or refusing to take passengers.”

Teerapong Rodprasert, director of the Department of Land Transport, said Chaiyan, the taxi driver, confessed to the allegation and was fined 1,000 baht for violating the department’s taxi regulation.

“We didn’t suspend his driving license because he committed the offence for the first time,” Teerapong said. “So we recorded his wrongdoing into the database and sent him to participate in a lecture about service mentality for four hours.”

After his complaint was publicized by a number of Thai media outlets, Aki wrote yesterday that he was “very surprised” to see such a reaction. He explained in another Facebook post that he has been regularly visiting Thailand for the last 10 years and even knows how to write in Thai.

“Many Thais sent messages to my inbox … Most of the comments say “I apologize on behalf of my fellow Thai,” or “Please don’t forget that not all Thais are bad,”” Aki wrote. “These comments, I feel that they are comments from the Thai people with sincere hearts. I am very glad to hear them. I don’t want you to misunderstand me. I criticize Thailand, but I don’t hate Thailand.”

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

BTW, more on the case and who Koki Aki is (somebody with quite a lot of experience in Thailand) courtesy of the Bangkok Post at http://www.bangkokpost.com/learning/learning-from-news/458379/airport-complaint-gets-results.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Migration info database eyed

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More robots in service industry planned

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

 | 

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

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

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

10) Warmonger Ishihara loses seat

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

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

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

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

9) Mori bashes Japan’s athletes

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

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

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

8) ‘Points system’ visa revamp

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

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

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

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

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

7) Ruling in Suraj death case

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

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

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

6) Muslims compensated for leak

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

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

5) ‘Japanese only’ saga

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

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

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

4) Signs Japan may enforce Hague

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

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

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

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

3) Ruling on welfare confuses

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

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

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

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

2) The rise and rise of hate speech

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

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

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

1) Abe re-election and secrets law

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

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

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

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


Bubbling under:

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Holiday Tangent: Hanif Kureishi on UK’s Enoch Powell: How just one racist-populist politician can color the debate in an entire society

mytest

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Hi Blog, and Happy Impending Holidays. As a Holiday Tangent, the Guardian offers an excellent account of life for migrants, immigrants, and citizens of color in a society in flux (Great Britain in the 1970s, as it adjusted to the effects of a post-empire Commonwealth).  It depicts well how one racist-populist politician, Enoch Powell, could affect an entire society, and though fear-mongering invective effectively accelerate the othering and subordination of residents.

But that was just one person.  Imagine the effects of a proliferation of Enoch Powellesque racists and fearmongerers throughout a society, such as the leader of a party (Hiranuma Takeo), the governor of the capital city (like Ishihara Shintaro), or the Prime Minister of an entire country (like Abe Shinzo), or Japan’s entire national police force (see here, here, and here in particular).  Enoch had his effects, and Kureishi can now look back with some degree of “the past is a foreign country” relief.  Japan cannot.  Not right now.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Hanif Kureishi: Knock, knock, it’s Enoch
The novelist and screenwriter remembers the effect of Enoch Powell – it’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is again centre of the political stage
The Guardian, Friday 12 December 2014, courtesy of PKU
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/dec/12/enoch-powell-hanif-kureishi

I was 14 in 1968 and one of the horrors of my teenage years was Enoch Powell. For a mixed-race kid, this stiff ex-colonial zealot – with his obscene, grand guignol talk of whips, blood, excreta, urination and wide-eyed piccaninnies – was a monstrous, scary bogeyman. I remember his name being whispered by my uncles for fear I would overhear.

I grew up near Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the shadow of the second world war. We walked past bomb sites everyday. My grandmother had been a “fire watcher” and talked about the terror of the nightly Luftwaffe raids. With his stern prophet’s nostalgia, bulging eyes and military moustache, Powell reminded us of Hitler, and the pathology of his increasing number of followers soon became as disquieting as his pronouncements. At school, Powell’s name soon become one terrifying word – Enoch. As well as being an insult, it began to be used with elation. “Enoch will deal with you lot,” and, “Enoch will soon be knocking on your door, pal.” “Knock, knock, it’s Enoch,” people would say as they passed. Neighbours in the London suburbs began to state with some defiance: “Our family is with Enoch.” More skinheads appeared.

It was said, after Powell mooted the idea for a Ministry of Repatriation, that we “offspring”, as he called the children of immgrants, would be sent away. “A policy of assisting repatriation by payment of fares and grants is part of the official policy of the Conservative party,” he stated in 1968. Sometimes, idly, I wondered how I might like it in India or Pakistan, where I’d never been, and whether I’d be welcomed. But others said that if we were born here, as I was, it would be only our parents who would be sent back. We would, then, have to fend for ourselves, and I imagined a parentless pack of us unwanted mongrels, hunting for food in the nearby woods.

Repatriation, Powell said, “would help to achieve with minimum friction what must surely be the object of everyone – to prevent, so far as that is still possible, a major racial problem in the Britain of AD2000.” It was clear: if Britain had lost an empire and not yet recovered from the war, our added presence would only cause more strife – homelessness, joblessness, prostitution and drug addiction. Soon the indigenous whites would be a “persecuted minority” or “strangers” in their own country. It would be our turn, presumably, to do the persecuting.

The influence of Powell, this ghost of the empire, was not negligible; he moved British politics to the right and set the agenda we address today. It’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is once again the subject of national debate. Politicians attack minorities when they want to impress the public with their toughness as “truth-tellers”. And Powell’s influence extended far. In 1976 – the year before the Clash’s “White Riot” – and eight years after Powell’s major speeches, one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, ordered an audience to vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming a “black colony”. Clapton said that, “Britain should get the wogs out, get the coons out,” before repeatedly shouting the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”.

A middle-class, only child from Birmingham, socially inept and repressed, Powell had taken refuge in books and “scholarship” for most of his life. He was perhaps happiest during the war, spending three years in military intelligence in India. Like a lot of Brits, he loved the empire and colonial India, where he could escape his parents and the constraints of Britain. Many Indians were intimidated by and subservient to British soldiers, as my family attested. Like most colonialists, Powell was a bigger, more powerful man in India than he’d have been in England. No wonder he was patriotic and believed giving up the empire would be a disaster. “I had always been an imperialist and a Tory,” he said.

On his return in 1945, Powell went into politics. Like the grandees he aspired to be, he took up churchgoing and fox-hunting. Before his speeches on race, he was an obedient, relatively undistinguished servant of the state. But he was also, in fact, a proto-Thatcherite: a supporter of the free market and lower taxes with a utopian vision of unregulated capitalism where, miraculously, everything people required would be provided by the simple need for profit. Soon, as Thatcher said, there would be no alternative.

But, in 1968, that great year of newness, experimentation and hope, when people were thinking in new ways about oppression, relationships and equality, there was a terrible return. This odd Edwardian figure popped up into public life, and decided to became a demagogue. Richard Crossman, in his diary of 1968, worried about Powell’s celebrity appeal to “mass opinion, right over our parliament and his party leadership”.

Appealing to the worst in people – their hate – is a guaranteed way to get attention, but it is also fatal. Powell talked in whole sentences and was forever translating Herodotus, so was known for his cleverness. But he wasn’t smart enough to resist the temptation of instant populism for which he traded in his reputation. Racism is the fool’s gold, or, rather, the crack cocaine of politics. The 1970s was a dangerous time for people of colour – the National Front was active and violent, particularly in south London, and it was an ignoble sacrifice for Powell to attack the most vulnerable and unprotected, those workers who had left their homes to come to Britain. He elevated his phobia to a political position, and there was no going back.

Like many racists, Powell was nostalgic in his fantasies: before all this mixing, there was a time of clarity and plenitude, when Britishness was fixed and people knew who they were. Powell refused to allow his certainties to come into contact with reality. He had wanted to know India, but barely troubled himself with Britain and, apart from some weekends in Wolverhampton, lived most of his life in Belgravia.

In contrast to the crude caricatures of people of colour perpetrated by Powell, the Guyanese-born, Cambridge-educated writer ER Braithwaite – who served in the RAF before becoming a teacher in the East End because he couldn’t get a job as a engineer – writes in detail about race between the late-40s and the mid-60s. Three important works in particular, To Sir, With Love, Reluctant Neighbours and Choice of Straws engage with this era. From this clear-eyed, brave novelist we learn about the everyday humiliations, abuse and remarks that people of colour had to face after being invited to help run the NHS and transport system. To make the future it wanted, Britain needed the best doctors, engineers, architects, artists and workers of all kinds, and it imported them, before insulting them.

Powell liked to complain about every vile “imputation and innuendo” made about him; he was keen to be a martyr and victim. Braithwaite, for his part, really suffered. He catalogues the systemic and degrading exclusion from jobs and housing that so disillusioned immigrants about the British with their babble about fairness, liberty and the mother country. His books describe the rage and hate that relentless humiliation inevitably engenders – as colonialism did, in its time. Powell probably intuited the simple idea that tyranny creates resistance, and grasped that future conflicts would be caused by the tyranny he supported, hence his apocalypticism.

Powell developed his own schoolmasterish look. Always in black, sometimes in a long overcoat and occasionally in a little homburg, he was punky and subversive, and came to enjoy making everyone furious with his provocations. And he had the cheek to call us “a roomful of gunpowder”. He didn’t fit in; but he certainly liked to disorientate and traumatise us. After he spoke, we were in freefall; we didn’t know where or who we were. Powell wanted to confirm us as outsiders, as unintelligible and unwanted, but this helped us clarify things and created resistance. Out of Clapton’s statements, for instance, came Rock Against Racism, created by artists, musicians and activists to combat fascism. Then there was identity politics. We were not nothing; we had histories and, unlike him, we had futures.

Powell was creating the conflict he claimed to be the solution to. He soon found himself supported by the National Front. Powell had called himself a Nietszchean as a young man, but Nietzsche would have hated the wretched appeal to the mob or herd. Powell was merely addressing the bitter rabble, and, for so fastidious a man, this would have been distasteful, and he must have considered how incapable our intelligence can be when it comes to protecting us from the temptations of self-destruction.

He cheated his followers, because all he gave them was the brief thrill of superiority and hatred. Nothing substantial altered in the world, and the wild, amoral capitalism that developed from his Hayek-inspired economic vision created wealth for some, but otherwise had no respect for the homes or jobs of Powell’s followers, nor for the other things he cared about – tradition, national borders, patriotism or religion.

Although he was attacked and condemned by students wherever he went, he didn’t trouble himself to think about the profound social changes sweeping the country, as young people attempted to liberate themselves from the assumptions of the past. Britain wasn’t decaying, it was remaking itself, even as it didn’t know how the story would end.

In London now, if you stroll through the crowds on a bright Sunday afternoon near the museums and decorated shop fronts, even for those of us who have been here for years, this multiracial metropolis – less frantic than New York, and with more purpose than Paris, and with its scores of languages – seems like nothing that has ever been made before. And it grows ever more busy, bustling and compelling in its beauty, multiplicity and promise, particularly for those of us who remember how dull and eventless London could seem in the 70s, especially on Sundays.

Britain survived Powell and became something he couldn’t possibly have envisioned. He was a pessimist and lacked faith in the ability of people to cooperate with one another, to collaborate and make alliances. The cultural collisions he was afraid of are the affirmative side of globalisation. People do not love one another because they are “the same”, and they don’t always kill one another because they are different. Where, indeed, does difference begin? Why would it begin with race or colour?

Racism is the lowest form of snobbery. Its language mutates: not long ago the word “immigrant” became an insult, a stand-in for “paki” or “nigger”. We remain an obstruction to “unity”, and people like Powell, men of ressentiment, with their omens and desire to humiliate, will return repeatedly to divide and create difference. The neoliberal experiment that began in the 80s uses racism as a vicious entertainment, as a sideshow, while the wealthy continue to accumulate. But we are all migrants from somewhere, and if we remember that, we could all go somewhere – together.

ENDS

Grauniad: Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist; good news, if enforced

mytest

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Hi Blog. Some interesting news here. According to the Grauniad (article below), hate group Zaitokukai (which has been part of a group publicly advocating the killing of Japan’s generational Korean residents, the Zainichi) has been placed on a National Police Agency “watchlist” as a threat to law and order.

That is good news.  However, I wonder if it will deter Zaitokukai’s bullying activities, where they can verbally abuse, knock down, and even punch (watch the video to the end) an old man who counterdemonstrates against them:

Where were the police then?  (Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or within the movie Yasukuni?)

As Debito.org has argued before, the Japanese police have a soft touch for extreme-rightists, but take a hard line against extreme(?) leftists.  So placing this particular group on a watch list is a good thing.  As having laws against violence and threats to law and order is a good thing.  Alas, if those laws are not enforced by Japan’s boys in blue, that makes little difference.  We will have to wait and see whether we’ll see a softening of Zaitokukai’s rhetoric or Sakurai Makoto’s bullying activities.

Meanwhile, according to the Mainichi Shinbun at the very bottom, local governments (as opposed to the foot-dragging PM Abe Cabinet) are considering laws against hate speech (well, they’re passing motions calling for one, anyway).  That’s good too, considering that not long ago they were actually passing panicky resolutions against allowing Permanent Residents (particularly those same Zainichi) the right to vote in local elections.  Methinks that if the world (e.g., the United Nations) wasn’t making an issue of Japan’s rising hate speech (what with the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all), this would probably not be happening.  In other words, the evidence suggests that it’s less an issue of seeing the Zainichi as fellow residents and human beings deserving equal rights, more an issue of Japan avoiding international embarrassment.  I would love to be proven wrong on this, but the former is a much more sustainable push than the latter.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist
Ultra-nationalist group, which claims to have 15,000 members, deemed a threat to law and order
By Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Thursday 4 December 2014 10.29 EST
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/dec/04/police-japan-rightwing-anti-korean-extremist-group-zaitokukai-watchlist

Police in Japan have placed a rightwing extremist group on its watchlist for the first time amid growing international pressure to crack down on a rise in hate speech against the country’s Korean community.

In its annual security report published this week, the National Police Agency said Zaitokukai, an ultra-nationalist group that claims it has 15,000 members, should be considered a potential threat to law and order.

Zaitokukai calls for the end to welfare and other “privileges” afforded to about half a million non-naturalised members of Japan’s ethnic Korean community, including the descendants of labourers brought over from the Korean peninsula to work in mines and factories before and during the second world war.

It frequently holds demonstrations, often in parts of cities such as Tokyo and Osaka with large Korean populations. Its supporters have described ethnic Koreans as “criminals” and “cockroaches” and called for them to be killed. Police said Zaitokukai and other far-right groups had held more than 100 rallies in the first 10 months of this year.

The police agency report – which usually targets members of Japan’s vast network of yakuza gangs – warned Zaitokukai was a potential threat to the public due to its “extreme nationalist and xenophobic” ideology.

Zaitokukai’s inclusion in the security watch list is unprecedented and comes months after Eriko Yamatani, who as minister for public security is Japan’s most senior police official, failed to publicly condemn the group.

Yamatani was invited to distance herself from Zaitokukai this October after a 2009 photograph emerged of her with Shigeo Masuki, then a senior member of the group. She told journalists she did not recall the photograph being taken, adding that it was not appropriate to comment on the policies of individual groups.

“Japan has a long history of placing great value on the idea of harmony and respecting the rights of everyone,” she said.

In July, a court in Osaka ruled that a Zaitokukai demonstration held near a school in Kyoto with links to a North Korean residents group amounted to racial discrimination.

In October, Osaka’s mayor, Toru Hashimoto, confronted Zaitokukai’s then leader, Makoto Sakurai, during a one-on-one debate, labelling him and his supporters racists who were not welcome in the city. The debate ended after just a few minutes, with both men hurling insults at each other and, at one point, appearing on the verge of physical violence.

The UN committee on the elimination of racial discrimination has called on Japan to address hate speech and incitement to racist violence during demonstrations, and to punish public officials and politicians who disseminate hate speech. This week South Korea’s national assembly adopted a resolution urging Japan to take similar measures.

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ヘイトスピーチ:法規制求める意見書 地方議会続々採択

毎日新聞 2014年12月20日 15時00分

 http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20141220k0000e040211000c.html, courtesy of BS.

 社会問題化しているヘイトスピーチについて、国による法規制などを求める意見書の採択が地方議会で相次いでいる。背景には、在日コリアンへのヘイトスピーチを人種差別と認めた判断が確定した今月9日の最高裁決定があり、19日に可決された3自治体の意見書にはいずれも決定の内容が盛り込まれた。意見書に拘束力はないが、差別や偏見をあおる行為に「NO」を表明する動きが全国で広がり始めた。

「2020年には東京五輪・パラリンピックが開催されるが、ヘイトスピーチを放置することは、国際社会における我が国への信頼を失うことにもなりかねない。法整備を速やかに行うことを強く求める」

さいたま市議会は19日、こう記された意見書案を全会一致で可決した。多文化共生政策に取り組んできた高柳俊哉議員(民主)は「市内ではJリーグのサポーターが差別的な横断幕を掲げる問題もあった。住民に一番近い立場の議会から要望を国に伝えることは意義がある」と話す。

堺市議会と鳥取県議会も同日、国に法整備などを求める意見書を可決。採択に向けた活動を進めてきた同市議会の山口典子議員(無所属)は「人種差別を禁止する法律を持たない先進国などありえない。排外主義団体が公共施設を使って活動していることにも憤りを感じる」と語る。

国に対策を促す地方議会の意見書を巡っては、東京・国立(くにたち)市議会が今年9月に全国で初めて可決。国連の人種差別撤廃委員会が8月に政府による法規制を日本に勧告した影響とみられ、名古屋市と奈良県議会も9月議会で採択した。

流れを後押ししたのが「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)の街頭宣伝活動を人種差別と認め、在特会側に約1200万円の賠償を命じた1、2審判決が確定した最高裁決定で、この12月議会では長野県▽福岡県▽京都府向日(むこう)市▽埼玉県宮代(みやしろ)町▽東京都東村山市▽同葛飾区−−などで可決された。

ヘイトスピーチの問題に詳しい師岡康子弁護士は「住民生活に密着した地方が国に毅然(きぜん)と態度表明をする意味は大きい。地方独自の取り組みを始めているところもあり、国は速やかに対策に取り組むべきだ」と指摘する。【小泉大士】

ENDS

Japan Election 2014: “Why taboo?” Grotesque foreigner-bashing cartoon by Hiranuma’s Jisedai Party, features “Taboo Pig” sliced in half over NJ welfare recipients “issue”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As everyone in Japan probably knows (as they cover their ears due to the noise), it’s election time again, and time for the sound trucks and stump speeches to come out in force until December 14. (BTW, a magnificent take on Japan’s elections by Colin Jones at the JT is here.)  And with that, sadly, comes the requisite foreigner bashing so prevalent in recent years in Japan’s election and policy campaigns (see for example here, herehere, here, here, here, and here).

Here’s 2014’s version, from “The Party for Future Generations” (Jisedai no Tou; frontman:  racist xenophobe Dietmember from Okayama 3-ku Hiranuma Takeo), courtesy Debito.org Reader XY:

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

Dec. 8, 2014
Hello Debito, Thanks again for taking a look at the P&G video before.

Today I ran across this election campaign video that isn’t as bad as the usual CM fare, but seems to suggest that 8 times as many foreigners as native Japanese are receiving welfare hand-outs. Here’s the lyrics (from the video’s own description):

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

Here’s a link to the video that skips to the offending verse 30 seconds in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7ilGGkne-I&feature=youtu.be&t=30s

This can’t be accurate, surely? Am I missing something in translation? I’d be very grateful if you’d let me know.

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

COMMENT:  Well, that IS what they’re saying.  Here are some screen captures:

nazetaboojisedainotou1

COMMENT:  “We will slice taboos,” says Jisedai’s slogan.  Now check out the “Taboo Buta“(Taboo Pig) dancing around mockingly:

nazetaboojsedainotou20142

COMMENT: In their song and dance (text below), they’re offsetting foreigners with “Japanese citizens”, and asking why “our taxes” (bokura no zeikin) are being used more for foreigners by a factor of eight:

nazetaboojisedainotou20143

And then the coup de grace:

nazetaboojiseidanotou20144

Ouch.  I guess these people are inured to grotesque images involving swordplay, but I’m not.  Ick… Moving on:

Hiranuma’s people claim this is a “taboo topic” to cut through (as if to tempt the voters with a “forbidden fruit” discussion), but people have been talking about this issue plenty — even making some mean-spirited policy proposals in recent months).  For this ilk, labeling any discussion that they are on the losing end of as “taboo” is a frequent trope, so as to claim victimization through alleged suppression of their free speech.  And it’s hardly ever true.  It isn’t in this case.

Below, they’re also slicing pigs in half about limited 1) discussions in general, 3) working mothers, and 4) the Comfort Women Wartime Sexual Slaves (teleplay text courtesy of their above mentioned YouTube site):

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

Published on Dec 3, 2014
「タブーブタのウタ♪」 20万回再生突破→第2弾作っちゃいました!
第2弾 「タブーブタ第2」 → http://youtu.be/i2RsUaOCb9M

①タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
ホントのことでも言わない
なぜかみんな知らぬふり
クサイものにはフタをして
都合わるいと見ないふり
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

②生活保護タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
日本の生活保護なのに
日本国民なぜ少ない
僕らの税金つかうのに
外国人なぜ8倍
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

③女性の社会進出タブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
子育て犠牲にしてまで
なぜ働けと言うの?
子育てがんばるママさんも
輝く女性のはずなのに
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

④慰安婦問題のタブーを斬る!篇

なぜだブー!なぜタブー?
慰安婦問題でっちあげ
なぜだもっと怒らない?
真相わかった今だから
そこは世界に言わないと
なぜだブー!なぜタブー?

タブーを斬る!
次世代の党
http://jisedai.jp

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

Now then, Jisedai doesn’t look to fare well in this election, so probably some Debito.org Readers will relax and say this is just how fringe politics works in democracies.  However, Debito.org is concerned about this normalization of NJ bashing — to the point of believing that blaming foreigners for just about anything gains you political capital.   Look how this alleged “NJ welfare cheats” issue has become one of Jisedai’s four (well, three, actually, since the first issue mentioned is a grumble instead of a substantive claim) planks in their platform.  Even though, as we have discussed here earlier, this is a non-issue.

There’s more rotten to say about this upcoming election, of course (again, read Colin Jones’ take and then take a shower), but how it affects NJ in Japan is Debito.org’s focus, so there you go.  Here’s hoping Japan’s electorate will slice through the bullshit politics on offer, but I doubt it.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual)

mytest

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Hi Blog. I received this email from Debito.org Reader AM last March (sorry for taking so long to get to it):

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

March 3, 2014
AM:  Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?]

I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.

http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html

It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese.

Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
====================================

COMMENT: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.

So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here.  Here’s the top page:

MOJBOHR2014001

ANALYSIS: The first page opens nicely with the typically-gentle grade-school register of slogan entreaty (nakayoku shimashou or “let’s all be nice to one another, everyone”), with “Let’s respect the human rights of foreigners” (entreaty is all they CAN do, since they’re not in a position to demand compliance when racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan).  It  includes their image-characters Jinken Mamoru-Kun and Jinken Ayumi-Chan.

But then it immediately veers into “guestism” territory by citing the long-range statistic of a record 11,250,000 NJ entering (nyuukoku) “our country” (wagakuni) Japan.  It’s not a matter of considering the rights of the 2 million NJ already here as residents as part of wagakuni — it’s a matter of treating all “entrants” with respect due to their obvious and automatic “differences” we’ll conveniently list off for you (language, religion, culture, customs, etc.).  They are being denied apartments, entrance into bathhouses (thanks!), and barbershops.  Also mentioned are hate-speech demos against “certain nationalities” (yes, the Zainichi Koreans).  Then comes mention of the Tokyo Summer Olympics 2020, and how there will be even more chances to come into contact with NJ.  That’s why the MOJ’s BOHR is insisting that we “respect” (sonchou) the human right of foreigners, raise awareness, and take on “enlightenment activities” (keihatsu katsudou — because, again, that’s all the BOHR can do because it has no policing or punitive powers) to help “the citizens” (kokumin — not the “residents”, which would include NJ) rid society of the prejudices and discrimination, and understand and respect foreigners’ livestyle customs (seikatsu shuukan).

Ready for more official “othering” of the people we’re ostensibly trying to protect?  Next bit, a 2012 Cabinet research survey:

MOJBOHR2014002

ANALYSIS:  According to this survey, they asked Japanese citizens only (not the NJ themselves) what they thought were the types of human-rights problems NJ face in Japan.  The two top responses were “not having their differing customs and habits accepted by society” (34.8%) exactly tied with “NJ don’t face any special problems/I don’t know“! (Not a surprising outcome if you’re not the people being discriminated against; it’s like asking the foxes about what problems they think the chickens have.)  The other issues mentioned are disadvantages faced at work or finding work (25.9%), finding apartments (a real doozy of a problem, yet only 24.9%), being stared at or avoided (15.9%), facing discriminatory behavior (15%), being bullied at school or the workplace (12.9%), facing opposition for getting married (12.5%), and being refused entry to hotels and shops (6.3%).

Which means that in this survey, where the questions are not open-ended, that out of all these preset options conveniently provided for the surveyed (see Q12, none of which mention racial discrimination, natch) with multiple answers possible, a full third of all votes went to “I don’t see/don’t know any problem.”  That’s pretty widespread ignorance, especially since this is the only question about discrimination in this survey that CANNOT be asked of the discriminatees.

The next section in the above screen capture talks about what services have been offered to NJ who claim they’ve had their human rights violated.  First example is of a BOHR investigation conducted for a claimant (who was refused entry into a barbershop), and how it was ascertained that he was indeed refused, and how the BOHR “explained” (setsuji) to the store manager that he should improve how he offers his barbering services.  The end.

The next example leads into the next screen capture:

MOJBOHR2014003

The next case is of a ryokan hotel refusing a foreigner entry when he was making a reservation over the internet.  After investigation, the ryokan managment said they’d had the experience of some foreigner who did not speak Japanese [as if that is somehow relevant] who walked off with hotel goods.  The BOHR again “explained” to the management that being NJ was not grounds for refusal under the Hotel Management Law, that this act was discriminatory behavior, and that they did not accept this explanation as a rational reason for refusal.  Again, the end.  Your hardworking taxes in action.

Next up, some more tax outlay for “enlightening” posters and events (screen captures above and below):

MOJBOHR2014004

It’s again of the “entreaty genre” in register, with the confused Jinken kids saying “it’s important to understand each other”, “What are violations of human rights towards foreigners?” and “Could you be discriminating against foreigners?” (Love the presumption of innocence for Japanese readers, which NJ, when officially portrayed as illegal workers, criminals, terrorists, and carriers of contagious diseases, don’t get.)  And finally:

MOJBOHR2014005

We have some more links to BOHR services, enlightenment videos, Cabinet announcements re stopping exclusionism towards “certain nationalities”, and a nice-looking soft-pastel November 15, 2014 symposium in Osaka entitled “Foreigners and human rights:  Acknowledge the differences, and live together”.  Sorry I missed it.  Featured is is a “Talk Show” by Todai literature professor and radio personality Dr. Robert Campbell, and a panel discussion with only one NJ on board (Alberto Matsumoto, a Nikkei of Argentine extraction who runs an ideas shop):

MOJBOHR2014006

CONCLUSION:  Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves.  As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat.  However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science.  But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations (see here, word search for “Legal Affairs Bureau”) window-dressed.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Two more places to add to the roster of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan’s youth frequent:  nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they’re young and possibly more open-minded…)

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

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

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

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

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

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

2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5)

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

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

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

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

That’ll keep out those darn pickpockets!

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

UPDATE NOVEMBER 25, 2014:

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

CLUBLeopardtrucksidead111714

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

Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014

mytest

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HI Blog.  Good news.  With the upswell in hate speech in Japan, particularly against Zainichi Koreans, we have social antibodies kicking in, with public counterdemonstrations on Nov. 2 to say that this behavior is unacceptable.  Very good indeed.

Of course, this is only the second time that the anti-racists have demonstrated, as opposed to the many, many, many times the pro-racism forces have turned out on the streets.  But it is a positive step that Debito.org salutes, and I hope that they will take a more proactive (as opposed to reactive) approach to set the public agenda.  That agenda should be:  punitive criminal laws against hate speech and racial discrimination in Japan.  For the lack of legislation in Japan means that the xenophobic elements can essentially do as they please (short of breaking already-established laws involving more generic violence towards others) to normalize hatred in Japan.  And they will probably succeed in doing so unless it is illegal.  My fear is that opponents of public hatred might think that just counter-demonstrating is sufficient, and if hate speech ever dies down, they’ll think problem solved.  As the United Nations agrees, it won’t be.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets

Mainichi Shinbun, November 3, 2014

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141103p2a00m0na008000c.html
Courtesy of MS
mainichiantihatedemo110214
Participants in the anti-hate speech rally “Tokyo No Hate 2014” call for the elimination of discrimination, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward on Nov. 2, 2014. (Mainichi)

Thousands of people took to the streets near Tokyo’s Shinjuku Central Park on Nov. 2 to protest against hate speech campaigns.

Participants in the “Tokyo No Hate 2014” rally called for an end to racial discrimination and hate speech demonstrations as they marched some 4 kilometers, accompanied by Korean pop and marching band music. Some 2,800 people joined the protest, according to the organizers.

Rally participant Aki Okuda, a 22-year-old third-year student at a Tokyo university, said, “It’s important to raise our voices to show there are people who are against hate speech demonstrations, instead of just turning a blind eye to them.”

The organizing citizens groups and other entities first mounted an anti-hate speech rally in September last year. The Nov. 2 protest was the organizers’ second such protest.

Story in Japanese here: http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20141103k0000m040027000c.html

反ヘイトデモ:見て見ぬふりできない…2800人が訴え
毎日新聞 2014年11月02日 20時35分(最終更新 11月02日 20時41分)

ヘイトスピーチやインターネット上での差別的表現が増えていることを受け、市民団体などが呼びかけ、昨年9月に初めて開催した。今回が2回目。

マーチングバンドの演奏や韓国のポップ音楽が流れる中、参加者は約4キロのルートを歩いた。朝鮮の民族衣装「チマチョゴリ」を着た人や外国人の姿もあった。東京都の大学3年生、奥田愛基(あき)さん(22)は「見て見ぬふりをするのではなく、反対している人がいることを表すために声を上げることが大切」と話した。【深津誠】

ENDS

Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Two weeks ago Debito.org wrote on the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Japan’s ruling that NJ have “no right” to social welfare (seikatsu hogo) because they are not citizens.  I have been hearing rumblings that the media have been misinterpreting this ruling due to linguistics and politics, and that an adjudged no legal right has not resulted in denials.  I submit to you the corrections from Tozen Union’s Louis Carlet, with a followup from another Debito.org Commenter that are simply too good to languish within comments.

Nevertheless, as noted in that earlier Debito.org post, the point remains that there are some very nasty and xenophobic people in Japan’s political system who are capitalizing on what people think the Supreme Court said.  Which may mean, in this increasingly ultra-rightist political climate, that the effect might ultimately be the same.  Have a read.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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LOUIS CARLET:  [Japan Times’] Otake’s article is mistaken on two major points. First, the Supreme Court in no way found foreigners ineligible for welfare. Second, the ruling, far from landmark, upheld the status quo. 

The highest court overturned the High Court’s actual landmark ruling which said that foreigners have “quasi rights” to welfare. 

Up until then foreigners never had the “guaranteed right” (kenri) to welfare but they were and are eligible just like Japanese citizens. 

I think the problem is mistranslation. Kenri means a guaranteed right whereas “no right” in English suggests ineligible. 

The only difference arising from not having the kenri is that if the welfare office rejects an application from a citizen then the Japanese person can appeal the decision to the office. A foreigner with no kenri for welfare cannot appeal at the office but only in court. 

That is the ONLY difference between how foreigners and Japanese are treated by the welfare office. 

Foreigners get welfare just like Japanese do. In fact the plaintiff currently gets welfare although originally rejected.

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OsFish:  Debito, I am very glad Louis Carlet wrote to you – I had been preparing a similar message, but his is a more authoritative voice than mine. There has been some very bad press coverage in English about this ruling, coverage which is potentially damaging for foreigners. If people wrongly believe they cannot get a benefit, they will not try to claim it. Foreigners are still eligible for this benefit (known as seikatsu hogo), and have been since the 1950s, and they get it, and on the same terms as Japanese, by dint of a Ministry notice that the ruling recognised (and which is part of Japan meeting obligations under international treaties; it’s not a fragile ornament). All this is important to know as it’s no fun being destitute.

I particularly appreciate Louis’ description of the appeal situation, which confirms something which had been leaking out in between the poor reporting: the plaintiff in the original case didn’t even have her court appeal reversed. The ruling has that little impact on the day to day situation for non-citizens. (Not that the lack of right of appeal in the office directly is a good thing, but still, I hope your readers get the point.) Newspapers have contacted municipalities with large foreign populations and they have confirmed: absolutely no change in practice. My own contacts in local government have said the same thing, and were quite distressed at the misinformation going around social media in English.

I hope you will allow me a clarification that adds to Louis Carlet’s message, and to point out a related an important error made by the Japan Times commenter Charles in the calculations that you borrowed, an error that he graciously admitted in later comments when I pointed it out to him. Once this error is taken into account, and once you delve into the figures, I think it becomes clear that the target of the right-wing party’s suggested reforms is – inevitably – not westerners, but zainichi Koreans.

The clarification that needs to be repeated over and over again is that “welfare” here does not mean “welfare” in its biggest sense of all social expenditures, such as pensions, health costs, unemployment insurance and so on. It does not mean shakai hoken in any sense at all. Welfare in this limited sense is a means-tested benefit for people who have fallen through the gaps of insurance-based social protection because they cannot contribute, or are not under the umbrella of a contributor. The main recipients are long-term disabled, single mothers (abandoned by their partners) and elderly with inadequate or no pension rights. It is a completely different system to shakai hoken and operates on a different logic of desert and eligibility. Broadly speaking, the same social insurance/social assistance split operates in large parts of the industrialised world. Japan more or less imported its system from Europe.

To repeat: welfare here does not mean shakai hoken. Please rest easy, and do NOT consider opting out based on this ruling; it’s got nothing legally or logically to do with shakai hoken. And in any case, welfare is not being taken away. People in dire straits need to know that.

To the calculations: The specific error Charles made (and acknowledged) was to take the budget for all social expenditures – including social insurance expenditures such as pensions – and compare that to expenditure on foreign recipients of one specific benefit – seikatsu hogo.

If I may run the actual calculations for you, we’ll get a clearer picture, and I think we’ll possibly see more clearly the motivations for a far right Japanese nationalist party in acting on this:

The seikatsu hogo budget for the whole of Japan was 3.8 trillion yen in 2014, according to an NHK report this year (the page has expired, unfortunately). If we assume that the 122 billion figure in the Japan Times article is correct, then we have “foreign” recipients taking up 3.2% of all seikatsu hogo expenditures. With a “foreign” population of just under 2%, that does actually mean that “foreigners” are taking more than their share of seikatsu hogo.

However, we can delve further into the figures to find out who these “foreigners” are. If you look at the excel file at no. 15 in this list, you can see the breakdown (the data are a few years old, but they’re almost certainly representative of the situation now): http://www.e-stat.go.jp/SG1/estat/GL08020103.do?_toGL08020103_&listID=000001107137

What should jump out at you is that 66% of all recipients are Koreans – almost all probably zainichi SPRs: a group that really stretches the concept of “foreign”, I’m sure you’ll agree. Of those Koreans, and quite disproportionately compared to other groups, around half of the recipients are old people. I would hazard a guess that this is a strong reflection of the economic disenfranchisement of the first post-war generation of zainichi. These are people who were disproportionately not properly or poorly integrated into the economy and welfare system. (For what it’s worth, incomer “foreigners” claim less than their “share”, but this shouldn’t be too surprising or interpreted as anything meaningful, as residence status is attached to visa status, is attached to good evidence of financial stability. Of course there are going to be fewer incomer recipients.)

Let’s combine this fact that Koreans make up the bulk of recipients with the far-right party’s suggestion that “foreign” recipients should naturalise or leave. For a westerner claiming social assistance, it would be very hard indeed to naturalise if you could not demonstrate financial stability. It’s pretty much out of the question. However, for zainichi Koreans, that financial stability condition doesn’t apply. The rules for SPR naturalisation are not strict.

So it looks to me like an attempt to coerce elderly impoverished zainichi Koreans into giving up their nationality and identity. That’s why this relatively small amount of budget money matters to these thoroughly unpleasant people.

ENDS

Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Here’s my latest JT column  posted as a question, not an answer this time.  Any answers?  Please post in the Comments Section below and/or at the JT website.  Thanks as always for putting this column once again in the Top Ten Most Read on the Japan Times online this month! Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
THE JAPAN TIMES, NOV 5, 2014

Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/11/05/issues/social-change-japan-come-top-bottom/

This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up?

By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval.

By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support.

Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course. For top-down, I have seen many rules decided by decree. How about the steadily encroaching anti-smoking rules in public places? It’s no longer just train platforms; you can’t even have a lit cigarette on many Tokyo streets anymore. Some movements were instituted after government awareness-raising drives, like the nōshi wa hito no shi (“brain death is a person’s death”) campaign deployed in the 1990s to overcome apparently religious-based objections to organ donation.

These and many more examples of social engineering and official consensus-manufacturing have resulted in people changing their outward behavior, if not their outright belief in a previous system. (Who remembers that brain death was ever an issue?) And it happens pretty quickly (as in weeks or months), especially if these moves are backed up by criminal penalties. Remember when drunk driving was much less harshly punished? (I do, and thanks to Draconian penalties for even one glassful, we have the world’s only decent-tasting zero-alcohol beer.)

Bottom-up, however, takes a lot longer — years or decades — but it can be just as irresistible a social force. For example, I have seen the slow death of “old maid” bashing (remember “Christmas cakes” referring to women over age 25?), the loss of faith in overwork as proof of a person’s worth, and the stigmatization of power-based bullying (e.g., sexual and power harassment) to the point of achieving court victories. The progress of this genre of social change can be quite imperceptible, but when backed up by a media campaign after a social shock (such as a huge scandal or a horrific crime — stalking, for example), bottom-up change can happen much faster.

But these are relatively small fry. For really significant social changes, such as the abolition of racial discrimination and/or hate speech in Japan, both methods have been tried, and have failed.

Advocates (yes, including myself) have tried the top-down approach for decades, asking all levels of government and the bureaucracy to outlaw discrimination as blatant as “Japanese only” signs and rules. Their most common response is, “It’s too early; we have to change the public’s mind first.” For them, the bottom-up approach is the chicken before the egg.

But starting at the grass roots has been tried too. In fact, that’s where we started, working as hundreds of advocates for decades. I personally have spoken at hundreds of gatherings to thousands of people — even one-on-one to the discriminators themselves, calmly (yes, calmly) coaxing them to treat people with dignity and equality, as they themselves would want to be treated in a similar situation.

But in this case, the problem isn’t as simple as asking individuals to give up something like smoking on a train platform; this is an issue of excluders worrying aloud that “foreigners” are a threat to their cultural integrity in general, if not their business specifically. It may even be a matter of them saying, “I just don’t like those people, so sod you.”

Moreover, unaffected bystanders can be quite sympathetic to excluders who fear for their livelihoods (even if they are excluding a neighbor). Besides — cue vicious circle — there’s no law against them doing it. And then we return to the top-down approach: the egg before the chicken.

I admit that I lean towards the top-down approach. There are plenty of historical examples of bottom-up not working when it comes to the big changes. America’s Susan B. Anthony, for example, campaigned tirelessly at the grass-roots level for women’s suffrage throughout the 1800s but failed to get the vote in her lifetime. Or in Japan’s case, the foremost grass-roots movements in Japan right now — protests against the state secrets law, remilitarization and the restarting of nuclear reactors — are gaining little traction in the face of the government’s relentless top-downism.

Moreover, many of the great grassroots successes in history got lucky. Mahatma Gandhi’s grass-roots achievement of Indian independence was aided by the fact that the grip of the British Empire had been weakened by two world wars. Nelson Mandela was lucky not to meet the same fate as Steve Biko, and to see a more liberal South African government in his lifetime. Thus, change happened because leaders made sage decisions — and there is an enormous amount of top-down inherent in that.

Personally, I have witnessed significant social change — most notably, the flowering of America’s civil rights movements after 1964. Very much a grassroots effort, it still took more than a century for equal rights to be enforceably guaranteed by top-down policymaking and criminal penalties. But I remain convinced that the social change was top-down.

As a child growing up in New York state in the 1970s, I vividly remember African-American classmates (there were a significant number in my elementary schools) feeling empowered, even adopting the swagger and proud demeanor of hero boxer Muhammad Ali, without being accused of being “uppity Negroes.” Instead, there was enormous opprobrium from teachers and other influential people for anyone who dared, for example, use racist language, such as the N-word. Even observing that somebody might be “different” because they had different skin color was simply “not done” anymore.

Why? I believe the new top-down rules set the agenda and terms of debate in a more tolerant direction. You had to accept that the “old ways” were “backwards” and no longer appropriate.

Obviously, it wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of holdouts, disobedients and overt racists in the American example. The U.S. was still two generations away from an African-American president, and to this day a huge number of minorities are disenfranchised just because they are minorities.

But back then it was made very clear that somebody was going to get it in the neck “from above” if there were any violations of the new narrative. That’s why as kids, our overt behavior and eventually our attitudes changed — maybe not immediately into good habits, but certainly away from reinforcing bad habits.

Of course, this is the American example, with limited application to Japan. Japanese society has very different attitudes towards the outward appearance of “difference” and expression of dissent. The national narratives of inclusivity and community construction are arguably polar opposite to America’s.

Even the power of the Japanese grass roots is purported to be different. Political science professor Jiro Yamaguchi recently wrote (“Perilous spirit of the times,” The Japan Times, Oct. 28) about Japan’s “deep-seated tendency of conformism”; fellow professor Koichi Nakano has described the business of governing Japan as an “elite-driven process rather than a society-driven process.” Some even argue that a traditional, unchanging world view is what makes Japanese into Japanese, so why would anyone expect any major change?

But, again, all societies have bad habits, and racial discrimination is a doozy. How could a more positive environment be created so that the children of immigrants (many of the latter of whom are here at the bidding of the Japanese government) and international marriages will not be treated as “foreign” and sometimes be denied equal treatment?

So I ask readers: On balance, is unequal treatment to be legislated away, with people catching up through the carrots and sticks of a new legal and social regime? Or is it something that people will cotton on to eventually, as they push for reforms because it just “makes sense” to treat people (especially fellow Japanese) equally?

Is a bad social habit to be thrown out the second-floor window, or patiently cajoled down the stairs and out the front door? Discuss.
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Debito Arudou’s co-authored bilingual “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan” is available on Amazon as a paperback and e-book, see www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears in print on the first Thursday of the month. Your comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
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