Robert Whiting on “Slaughter in Saitama adds to list of foreigners murdered in Japan, shines light on social issue”, on the Bishop Family Murder Case, an underreported event in 2022 that I consider to be a hate crime

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Hi Blog.  A couple of weeks ago I met up with Robert Whiting, renowned author of books on Japanese baseball, and, most importantly, to me one of the best books on Japan “Tokyo Underworld“.  We had a nice chat.

One of the topics that came up was the Bishop Family Murder Case in Saitama in during Christmas 2022, which didn’t receive enough attention as a hate crime.  Whiting takes it up on his Substack with characteristic thoroughness and historical contextualization, and he has given me permission to reproduce it in full on Debito.org in order to rectify that.  Read on.  Subscribe to his Substack here.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Slaughter in Saitama adds to list of foreigners murdered in Japan, shines light on social issue

 

TOKYO — Tokyo was stunned in late December by the news of the brutal killing of longtime Japan resident William Bishop, a 69-year-old U.S. national, his 68-year-old wife Izumi Morita, and their daughter Sophianna Megumi Morita, 32. All three were found dead outside their residence in Hanno, Saitama, with multiple wounds early Christmas morning.

Later that day, prefectural police arrested the Bishops’ neighbor, a 40-year-old Japanese man named Jun Saito, at his residence around the corner believing he had bludgeoned the Bishop family to death with what was believed to be a hammer. Saito had barricaded himself in an upstairs room, and the police had to force their way in to apprehend him.

The authorities said they had received reports of a man in black clothing carrying what appeared to be a hammer as he left the Bishop home on foot shortly after the murders. They checked video cameras in the area and around the Bishop residence and discovered footage of a man in black clothing attacking a person.

Traces of blood on black clothing was confiscated at the Saito residence. Police also seized multiple potential weapons, including an ax, at the suspect’s residence, according to reports.

Although the three members of the Bishop family were found dead outside the property, blood discovered inside the residence suggested they were initially attacked indoors.

Police believe the victims were struck repeatedly due to multiple injuries found on their bodies which indicated a struggle. William Bishop’s cervical area was severely damaged.

There was a history of conflict involving Saito and the Bishop family, who had reported repeated damage to their car and property on half a dozen occasions, resulting in Saito’s arrest three different times, although Saito was ultimately not prosecuted in any of the cases. According to the Shukan Bunshun of Dec. 30, repair damage to the Bishop family automobile cost ¥1 million, forcing the family to keep their auto under protective cover in a garage behind a locked iron door. There were no reports of trouble with other individuals in the neighborhood.

When police first arrested Saito in January 2022 for damaging the Bishop’s vehicle,  they said that the Bishops told them they did not personally know who Saito was.

The house Saito was living in belonged to his parents, who reportedly moved out because of his violent behavior.

Prosecutors charged him with murder. Saito, in detention, denied the charges.

Although all the facts are not yet in, the suspect appears to be part of a troubled generation suffering from mental disorders, who dropped out of school and work in droves in the ’80s and ’90s, when Japan’s economic bubble burst, Japanese firms retrenched and downsized, and jobs were not readily available. The Japanese government has identified over half a million of these, so-called hikikomori, social recluses, who live at home, passing their time on the Internet — the rise of which has contributed to their continuing isolation, remaining economically dependent on their parents, who, in turn, do not know what they can do to help their offspring find their footing outside of the household and try to hide what they view as an embarrassing situation. Hikikomori have failed to develop necessary social skills and are unable to adjust in a society that is very structured and sensitive to social stigma, one which fails to provide for social resources and professional treatment for mental illness, primarily because parents are too ashamed to seek it for their offspring.

This has become known as the “80-50” problem in recent years as hikikomori children from the post-bubble era are entering their 50’s and their parents are in their 80’s, becoming less and less able to care for them.

 

According to William Bishop’s LinkedIn account, he was a native of Indiana, who first came to Japan in 1974, where he graduated from Sophia University in Tokyo. He then obtained a Master’s Degree from Temple University in Pennsylvania and returned to Japan, whereupon he served as a trade representative for the state of Indiana, worked for Eli-Lily and started his own health care consultancy. He was a member of the Board at Temple University as well as a former chair of the health care committee at the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.

Fluent in Japanese, Bishop described himself as having a wide range of experience in market access, communications, trade promotion and attracting investment. He was also an author. He wrote novels about the Old West in his spare time.

Bishop’s daughter, who went by Sophianna Bishop, was a resident of Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, who was visiting her parents when the attack occurred. She worked at an advertising agency in Tokyo.

Saito aspired to be a film director, but failed to complete his only film, “The Gift,” a movie directed by Saito about a man with HIV, which he started with funds awarded by a film festival, only to withdraw from the project midway due to “emotional problems.” He then began living a solitary life in the Saitama house. (Bunshun).

Colleagues described Bishop as “dedicated, hard-working and a real leader,” someone who knew more more about Japan’s health policy than anyone else. In Bishop’s Linkedin account tributes flowed in. Abby Pratt, a fellow ACCJ officer, said, “Bill had a great sense of humor and was such a pleasure to work with, one of those people you’ll never forget. I loved how he could seamlessly shift from his rich South Dakota twang to fluent nihongo.”

Simon Farrell, the former editor-in-chief of the ACCJ Journal, added, “Bill was well-travelled, generous, gentlemanly and empathetic, with a deep interest in Japanese culture and language.”

Lance Gatling, head of Nexial, knew Bishop for decades and said, in an interview with Substack, “He was a prim American with a dry wit who was very involved in ACCJ affairs, was VP for years. He was a solid citizen, one who had just bought that house five years ago and retired recently. He was a state rep for some years.”

“Bill was an inoffensive soul, hardly someone you’d consider a bodily threat of any sort. A bit snippy in language at times, so what? A 40-year old hikkikomori living in his parents’ home alone for decades killed Bill, wife and 32-year-old daughter who was visiting. All three, some reports say it was a hatchet.

“I hope they hang him.”


Murder is rare in Japan compared to other countries. Social civility and strict hierarchical codes of conduct are often cited as reasons for the low incidence of violent crimes in Japan.

However, Japanese assaults on foreigners are not new in in the long history of Japan’s relations with the West.

Sonnō jōi was a rallying cry and slogan of a political movement in Japan in the 1850s and 1860s that sought to overthrow the feudal Tokugawa shogunate and restore the Emperor of Japan to the throne. It literally meant “Be Loyal To The Emperor; Expel The Barbarians.” It was a reaction to the treaty signed in 1854 by the Japanese bakufu, or government in place, opening Japan to trade under military threat from U.S. Naval Commodore Matthew Perry and his so-called Black Ships and was vehemently opposed in samurai quarters. It inspired a number of attacks against the Shogunate and attacks against foreigners in Japan by rogue samurai and entire samurai clans.

The most prominent such incident was the murder was of British citizen Charles Lennox Richardson in 1862. Richardson was riding his horse with three other travelers, including a woman, through what is now Tsurumi Ward in Yokohama, when he encountered a retinue of armed samurai escorting the regent of the Satsuma Clan traveling in the opposite direction. Richardson failed to dismount and pay his respects, as required by local custom and law, despite being motioned repeatedly to do so.

“I know how to handle these people” he was quoted as saying to his companions, according to the Japan Herald “Extra” of Sept. 16, 1862.

He was subsequently slashed with a sword and fell from his horse. Several samurai finished the assault, hacking and stabbing at him with swords and lances. Two of Richardson’s male companions were also wounded but escaped. The woman traveling with them was unharmed, a samurai sword barely missing her head, but slicing through her hair and hat, before fleeing in a panic. 

Richardson survived briefly before succumbing in a nearby peasant’s hut.

Richardson’s wounds were described in a recent article by Paul Martin in Japan Forward: “The whole body was one mass of blood; one wound from which the bowels protruded, extended from the abdomen to the back; another on the left shoulder had severed all the bones into the chest; there was a gaping spear wound over the region of the heart; the right wrist was completely divided, and the hand was hanging merely by a strip of flesh; the back of the left hand was nearly cut through; and on moving the head, the neck was found to be entirely cut through on the left side.”  (https://japan-forward.com/the-british-in-bakumatsu-japan-the-namamugi-incident/

 

Mitsubishi later curiously purchased the peasant hut and made it the HQ of the Kirin Brewery. Richardson is buried in a private plot in the Yokohama Foreign Cemetery.

A plaque in front of an apartment building marks the spot of what is known as the ‘Namamugi Incident.’

The incident caused a great deal of alarm in the foreign community based in Yokohama, whose members argued that Westerners were protected under the Anglo-Japanese Friendship Treaty which exempted them from local requirements.

However, protests over the incident from the British Government were ignored so the British navy, in retaliation, bombarded Kagoshima, destroying many houses and sinking three steamships belonging to the Satsuma Clan. In the end, the Japanese Bakufu military government paid a substantial sum as compensation.

Imperial rule was restored in 1868, under the 15-year-old Emperor Meiji, with Japan beginning its transformation from an isolationist feudal state into an industrialized world power.


Another famous incident was inspired more by greed than by anti-foreign sentiment or revenge. That was the murder on April 4, 1899, of Reverend Thomas Alfred Large, the 31-year old Canadian principal of the Toyo Eiwa school for girls in Azabu. Two men broke into his house at night, knocked his wife unconscious, and stabbed Lange with their swords. He fell to the floor gasping and died shortly thereafter.

As recounted in Mark Schreiber’s excellent book, “The Dark Side: Infamous Japanese Crimes and Criminals” (Kodansha International, 2001, p.125-127). “The Japanese government’s overriding concern were the political implications, if any, over the slaying. If the assailants had acted out of anti-foreign, or anti Christian motives, some feared the Western powers might reject Japan’s ongoing efforts to renegotiate unequal treaties. A substantial reward was posted for information leading to the killers’ apprehension … But the killers’ motive was almost certainly apolitical. In those times, burglars had no apprehensions about robbing foreigners. The Japan Weekly Mail of April 26 observed, ‘Without some hypothesis, it appeared difficult to imagine that the onslaught … could have been incidental to a mere burglary. But several Japanese … say it is the habit of sword-carrying burglars in this country to … simply kill or maim the obstructionist, and then proceed with their thieving work …’ ”

“Newspaper reports of the crime itself were sensationalized and full of inaccuracies, but public opinion was uniformly sympathetic toward the Large family. The vernacular Hochi Shimbun editorialized, ‘… the victim was a foreigner who had come here from a distant land, and was engaged in teaching Japanese students. There is something sad about the fate of a man who dies far away from the land of his birth … How much sadder is the lot of one who falls under the weapons of common burglars in a foreign country. Such a fate should move everyone to pity … We trust, however, that the foreign public will not judge Japan by this catastrophe …’ ”

It wasn’t until five years later that police caught the perpetrators, who turned out to be professional robbers, arresting them on other charges. Both had turned to robbery after running up heavy gambling debts. One of the men was sentenced to 14 years in prison where he died, in 1896. The other, sentenced to 13 years, but was released after serving nine years and nine months as part of an imperial amnesty to commemorate the death of the Empress Dowager in 1898. When the latter’s involvement in the crime was revealed, the statute of limitations had expired one month earlier. When questioned, the man, of course blamed his confederate.


On the other side of the ledger, was American seaman Robert Miller, who was convicted of a triple murder in Yokohama in that same 1899, shortly after a new treaty was signed abolishing the principle of extraterritoriality and giving a Japanese court the right to try foreigner. The crime took place at a saloon called “The Rising Sun” in what is now Yokohama’s Chinatown. Miller, in a drunken, jealous rage over the affections of  the saloon’s comely female proprietress named Suye Tonooka, used a straight razor and claw hammer to murder an American named W. Nelson Ward, who habitually occupied the establishment, and a teenage serving girl named Aki Suzuki who was sleeping with Ward … Police found Miller the next morning snoring away in a nearby bar.

He became the first Westerner to be hanged by Japan, congenially smoking a cigar as he stood on the gallows. (Read all about it here in a detailed piece by Eric C. Han https://www.jstor.org/stable/24243133 as well as Mark Schreiber’s account in The Dark Side. )


Still another famous episode, this one well into the postwar period, when U.S.-Japan relations had become critical in the global fight against communism, was the knife attack on then U.S. Ambassador Edwin O. Reischauer by a Japanese youth in March 1964 outside the U.S. Embassy. Reischauer was stabbed in the thigh outside the Embassy in what was an apparent assassination attempt. The young man whose name was Shiotani Norikazu, reportedly had a history of mental illness and suffered from a disorder of the inner ear called Meniere’s Disease. He was said to be angry with the U.S. occupation of Japan but apparently did not belong to any political group. Reischauer was taken to the hospital where he received a blood transfusion and recovered.

Prime Minister Hayato Ikeda was moved to apologize twice: Once to U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson and once to the American public via a live telecast relayed by a communications satellite.

Unfortunately, the blood Reischauer received was tainted with the hepatitis C virus which complicated his recovery and Japan’s Minister of Public Safety was compelled to resign. Reischauer suffered various ailments over the years as a result of the tainted blood and it ultimately contributed to his death 26 years later.


The most famous case of murder in recent years involving a Westerner and a Japanese citizen was that of Lucie Blackman the former British Airways flight attendant who worked as a hostess in a Tokyo night club and was killed by a wealthy patron.  It gained international attention when Tony Blair brought it up to his Japanese counterpart on a visit to Tokyo and the case made the cover of TIME Asia. It was later memorialized in Richard Lloyd Parry’s harrowing account “People Who Eat Darkness: The Fate of Lucie Blackman.”*

It is a phenomenon that causes many Japan observers to ask the question why did it take the disappearance of a white woman at the hands of the Japanese not only to make the cover of TIME, but to cause the authorities to move on behalf of an illegally working migrant. The answer seemed have more to do with economic clout than anything else. Or was it racism?

Complaints by authorities from less-developed countries in Japan, it appeared, were just not worthy of the same attention as those from more developed, Occidental  nations.

Indeed, the March 2007 murder of U.K. English teacher [Lindsay Ann] Hawker at the hands of a Japanese martial artist, who raped and strangled her to death, also received national attention. Her assailant was captured by police after two-and-a-half years on the run and sentenced to life in prison. However, another case involving the 2006 murder of a Japanese pimp by his Thai sex slave who had endured unspeakable abuse, did not. Like so many other cases involving non-western foreigners, in particular, zainichi Koreans, it slipped under the radar.

More on this subject later.

END

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My SNA Visible Minorities column 56: Addressing Japan’s Child Abduction Problem (on the recent bill passed to allow joint custody after divorce (May 27, 2024)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest SNA column.  There are mixed feelings from many people hurt by the Koseki System, but I hold the view that the new law allowing for Joint Custody after divorce is a step in the right direction.  Read on and see what you think.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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ADDRESSING JAPAN’S CHILD ABDUCTION PROBLEM
By Debito Arudou, Ph.D., Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 56, May 27, 2024

Courtesy https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2024/05/27/visible-minorities-addressing-japans-child-abduction-problem/

It has been one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets.  It has shattered lives and caused enormous international embarrassment to Japan’s reputation as a nation of laws.  It has caused untold misery to countless children and families worldwide.  And amongst all the G7 “developed” nations, it only happens like this in Japan.  

I’m talking about Japan’s issues with child custody and access after divorce.  

Japan has something called the Family Registry (koseki) system.  It serves the important purposes of not only conferring Japanese citizenship, it also prioritizes the family unit over the individual.  A throwback system unamended for more than a century, the Family Registry has a major bug:  If you get divorced, the bureaucracy forces the couple as a registered family unit to cleave back into two unconnected individuals with completely severed family ties. 

The problem is that children are likewise forced into one severed family registry or another,  This means they lose all legal ties with one parent, and that parent (usually the father) has not rights of joint custody or child visitation.  

This means that divorce in Japan completely disappears a “Left Behind Parent’ (LBP) from a child’s life.

This invisibility is enforced by the rest of society too.  For example, if you want to visit your child’s school and find out how they’re getting along, the school will turn you away as a stranger.  Or if you want to say hello to your child at home or on the street, your ex can call the police and have you arrested as a stalker.  Even in extreme cases where the custodial parent dies or abandons the children, grandparents have adopted the kids (since the kids are still legally registered to that family unit) and shut out the LBP all over again!  Despite this, LBP are obligated to pay child support.  So essentially the system is there to punish you for ever getting divorced, since you lose everything and can’t even pay to play.

This cruel system affects everyone in Japan, Japanese citizen or not (as former Prime Minister and LBP Junichiro Koizumi can attest).  But it hits international divorces especially hard.  If you are, say, a foreign resident with a Spouse Visa you void your status to live and work in Japan.  Then on top of that you get specially targeted by two evil narratives.  

One is of course the racial profiling that happens when your ex siccs the police on you, and you get the regular third degree for existing while foreign in Japan.  The other is a conviction that foreigners are naturally violent and prone to spousal or child abuse.  Yes, people actually believe (and are repeatedly told by mass media and even the Japanese government) that despite all the bullying in Japan that goes on at home, school, and the workplace, foreigners are the ones who beat their children because of automatically presumed “cultural differences.”

Your rights are even fewer if you marry a Japanese and live overseas.  Umpteen cases have been recorded of illegal child abductions (e.g., taking a child across an international border without the permission of both parents) by Japanese spouses fleeing to Japan.  Sometimes they are assisted by abduction guidebooks you can find on Amazon Japan.  Sometimes they have been actively abetted by the local Japanese consulate issuing them a new passport, in defiance of overseas court orders granting joint or sole custody to the Non-Japanese parent.  And when the LBP comes to Japan to enforce the court order in Japanese court, they get ruled against because “habitual residence” has already been established here.  She who dares, wins. 

Many a Non-Japanese LBP has been arrested, gone on hunger strike, or even committed suicide due to this nightmarish lack of rights.  And enough international arrest warrants on Japanese spouses have piqued the interest of foreign governments.  Finally, after decades of overseas government pressure (gaiatsu), Japan signed The Hague Convention on International Child Abductions in 2014, only a decade ago.  Unfortunately, Japan just caveated its way out of ever enforcing it.  

People filing claims under the Convention rarely got a Japanese court to side with them.  If the abduction took place many months ago, then “habitual residence” was established and that’s that.  Or there’s the common prejudice that a child naturally belongs more with their mother.  And one verbal claim of “child abuse” or “spousal violence” (which in Japan, according to some spokespeople, could include a raised voice, an angry look, or even a silent stare in an argument) is usually enough to close ranks.  Plus there’s the conceit that Japan’s population is decreasing, so there’s a demographic interest in stopping depopulation through repatriation.  We got our kid back, so that’s that.

This system has even inspired racism.  As I mentioned before, the Japanese mass media and government surveys have long had a white-hot curiosity about finding what causes conflict in any international marriage.  (Japanese men are pretty browned off about losing their women to foreigners—even though the majority of international marriages are Japanese men to foreign women—so there’s a smug satisfaction in knowing that foreign men aren’t perfect either.)  But a Foreign Ministry pamphlet in 2014, issued shortly after Japan signed the Convention, clearly reinforced the narrative that foreigners are violent through illustrations depicting a Caucasian father beating his child.  For good measure, the pamphlet also insinuated that Japanese can’t get a fair deal in a foreign court, and was clearly written working backward from a conclusion that the Convention disadvantaged Japanese.

Likewise, the most creative argument came from far-right propaganda network Sakura TV, which opined in 2018 that Japan’s signing the Hague Convention was just the judiciary trying to appease White people.  The Convention’s main goal was to empower White men playing around with women from “uncivilized” countries, who would then divorce them in favor of White women, and convert their foreign playthings into de facto babysitters of their offspring.  Therefore the Convention exists to ensure White cads still enjoy access to their bastard children!

But let’s return to reality and get to the good news occasioning this column.  First, full disclosure:  I too have been through a divorce in Japan and lost all contact with my children.  So have many of my friends and colleagues, Japanese and foreign.  I have argued before that nobody, Japanese or foreign, should get married under these conditions and have children, as it’s just too risky should the relationship sour.  I stand by that argument even today.  

But finally this May the Japanese Diet passed a law establishing joint custody.  Starting in 2026 and working retroactively, this law means that both parents will now, at least on paper, legally have a say in a child’s upbringing after divorce.  Unless both parents agree to sole custody, joint is presumed under Family Court proceedings.

Naturally, there will be caveats for accusations of domestic violence or child abuse.  But these have to be recognized by a court case-by-case as legitimate concerns.  It is the first change to Japan’s laws concerning parental authority in 77 years, and it will be revisited in five years to assess how well it’s working.

Not surprisingly, the response has been muted from my experienced colleagues.  Some, inured to decades of Japan’s bad-faith negotiations and policing, doubt the law will ever be properly enforced.  Signing the Convention didn’t work, so why should this?  After all, what Japanese court would ever willfully give priority to a foreigner over a Japanese in a dispute?  Or by now the law is too little, too late, as their children are all grown up and the damage is done for a lifetime.  An outcome that makes up for all the past cruelty and denial is simply impossible.  

Nevertheless, my take is that this new law is still good news.  It’s better to have it than not.  It can be pointed to as the law of the land, as opposed to a malleable norm that can be much more easily bent away from any LBP in any convoluted “he-said, she-said” dispute.

In principle, giving power to both parents over the well-being of a child is better than giving all power to one vindictive spouse.  It will at least allow the possibility of a child hearing both sides of a story, which is a valuable skill set for anyone in their formative years.  Moreover it will bring Japan back within international practices.  

It’s been pretty much determined by child psychologists that, on average, children need both parents in their life.  It’s about time the law in Japan reflected that.  The Japanese government has finally taken that step in the right direction.  Now let’s wait and see if it gets enforced in good faith.
ENDS

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After decades of international exposure, embarrassment, broken treaty promises, xenophobic and racist tropes, and deprived children, Japan finally changes its laws to allow joint custody of children after divorce, taking effect in 2026.

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org has been quiet on these developments until they actually came to fruition, and now that they have, it’s time to cheer.  Japan has finally gotten around to fixing one of its worst-kept secrets:  Child Abductions after divorces.  After years of international pressure (and all manner of racist justifications of the status quo, including even the Foreign Ministry accusing foreigners of being naturally violent, and Japan offering safe haven for international child abductions despite signing an international treaty against it), the Diet has just passed legislation allowing for joint custody after divorce.  Meaning both parents now have the ability to have a say in raising a child even if the relationship falls apart.  It comes into effect in 2026 and will be reassessed five years later.

Debito.org has talked about this issue for decades (since I too lost all contact with my children after my divorce, which is in fact the norm in Japan, thanks to the Koseki Family Registry system forcing split couples to sever all legal family ties and thus all rights to any contact).  Not only because NJ are particularly vulnerable to becoming “Left Behind Parents” in intercontinental relationships (since the J spouse can either make off with the child back to Japan or deprive you of a Spouse Visa), but also because this situation affected ALL divorces in Japan, regardless of nationality. It left all children in Japan vulnerable to being used a pawn used to punish one parent out of spite. And that would often carry on into adulthood, with the adult offspring hating the LBP parent without ever hearing both sides of the story or knowing the LBP cares about them.  This is not normal even in peer countries.  As the Mainichi notes below, “Japan had been the only country among the Group of Seven industrialized nation with no joint custody system, according to a Justice Ministry survey of other countries released in 2020.”

Anyway, this is an extremely positive and long overdue development, and it’s another example of Japanese domestic law not changing without international shame and pressure.  It’s just a shame it couldn’t have happened decades ago when it would have made a difference to me and my divorced friends. Let’s hope this brings more reality to future relationships.  Divorces are complicated.  Adding more child abuse into the mix (and by this I mean the child abuse that is inherent in an automatic severance of custodial ties) just made it worse.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

(PS:  I even wrote a novel on this subject, if you’re interested.  Details here.)

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JAPAN / Crime & Legal
Japan changes law to allow joint custody after divorce
Legislation that allows the option of joint custody of children after divorce is passed at the Upper House plenary session on Friday.
AFP-Jiji/Japan Times, May 17, 2024
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/05/17/japan/crime-legal/japan-revises-law-to-allow-joint-custody/

Japanese lawmakers enacted legislation Friday that allows the option of joint custody of children after divorce.

For decades in Japan, one parent — almost always the mother — has been granted legal custody when a marriage ends, a rule seen by its supporters as a safeguard against domestic violence and child abuse.

But concerns have been raised that it can cause meaningful contact to be cut off between the other parent and their child.

Long-simmering frustrations of noncustodial parents — often fathers — over lack of access to children have helped build pressure for change.

A U.N. committee in 2019 recommended that Japan “allow for shared custody of children when it is in the child’s best interests, including for foreign parents.”

The new bill stipulates that sole custody be maintained if both parents agree it is the best option, or in court-recognized cases of domestic violence or child abuse.

One parent will also be able to make decisions without consulting the other on issues like schooling or health in “emergency circumstances.”

No official tallies exist for the number of minors cut off from a parent in Japan, but even so, campaigns both for and against the changes have been loud.

A 2022 survey carried out by a support group for single mothers found that 80% of single parents in Japan were against or disinclined toward joint custody.

“Even in cases of domestic violence, failure to prove it in court due to insufficient evidence can lead to joint custody being established,” campaigners against the move said in January. ENDS

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Japan passes a revised law allowing joint child custody for divorced parents for the first time
Japan’s parliament has passed a revision to the country’s civil code that will allow divorced parents the option of joint child custody, a change that brings the nation in line with many other countries
By MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press, May 17, 2024
https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-passes-revised-law-allowing-joint-child-custody-110330983

TOKYO — Japan’s parliament on Friday passed a revision to the country’s civil code that will allow divorced parents the option of joint child custody, a change that brings the nation in line with many other countries.

The revision, the first to custody rights in nearly 80 years, is to take effect by 2026. It will allow divorced parents to choose either dual or single custody while requiring them to cooperate in ensuring their children’s rights and wellbeing.

Under the current law, child custody is granted to only one divorced parent, almost always the mother.

The change comes as divorces are increasing in Japan and a growing number of divorced fathers hope to stay in touch with their children. A number of high-profile allegations made by divorced foreign fathers who blamed their former partners for abducting their children and returning to Japan also encouraged the change.

The revision requires the sharing of child rearing costs by the parent who is not the main custodian. Currently, most divorced mothers, who often are part-time workers with low incomes, do not receive financial support from their former husbands.

In cases in which domestic violence or abuse by either parent is suspected, the other person will have sole custody, according to the revision.

Supporters of joint custody say it allows both divorced parents to play a role in child rearing. Opponents, including rights groups and some victims of domestic violence, have raised concern that the new system could make it harder for parents to cut ties with abusive spouses and that they may not be allowed a real say in custody decisions.

The concerns prompted some modifications to the legislation during parliamentary debate to require authorities to make sure the custody decision was not one-sided.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi told reporters that the revisions address concerns raised by domestic violence victims and their families. But the improvements don’t go far enough and the risk remains high for vulnerable members in the families, said Kazuko Ito, a lawyer who has campaigned against the revision.

Under the revision, divorced parents who choose joint custody must reach a consensus on their children’s education, long-term medical treatment and other key issues, and will need to seek a family court decision if an agreement cannot be reached.

Either parent can make decisions about their children’s daily activities, such as private lessons and meals, or emergency treatment.

The revision is to be reviewed five years after it takes effect. ENDS

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Japan’s Diet passes bill to allow joint custody after divorce

The House of Councillors passes a bill during a plenary session in parliament in Tokyo on May 17, 2024, to introduce joint custody for divorced couples with children. (Kyodo)

May 17, 2024 (Mainichi Japan)

https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20240517/p2g/00m/0na/008000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan’s parliament on Friday passed a bill to introduce joint custody for divorced couples with children, in a landmark change that paves the way for the adoption of a practice widely used in other nations.

In the first law change regarding parental authority in 77 years, Japan’s Civil Code will permit divorced parents to choose either sole custody or joint custody, a shift from the current system that has only allowed custody by one parent — usually the mother.

The change comes as family relationships diversify in Japan amid a rise in couples splitting and eagerness by both parents to play a role in child-rearing. The current system has also posed challenges for foreign citizens seeking to maintain ties with their children if their divorced partners return to Japan with them.

About 160,000 minors in Japan experienced the divorce of their parents in 2022 alone, double the figure in 1950.

The revised law will enter into force within two years of its promulgation and be applied retroactively to those who have already divorced.

Under the revised Civil Code, parents will generally determine between themselves whether to opt for sole or joint custody, but if there is a dispute, a family court will intervene and decide on custody arrangements.

In cases where domestic violence and abuse by one of the parents is suspected, the other parent will have sole custody.

Proponents of the joint custody system say the revision allows both divorced parents to take part in child-rearing, but victims of domestic violence have voiced concern that the new system could hinder them from severing ties with their abusers as it would maintain connections to their former spouses.

Some also fear such victims may not be able to negotiate single custody or joint custody on an equal footing.

To address such concerns, the bill was modified during parliamentary deliberations to add a clause that calls for considering measures to “confirm the true intention” of each parent, but critics argue the government measures to protect domestic violence victims are too vague.

The new system will be reviewed five years after the revision come into force.

Under joint custody, consensus between parents is not required in making decisions on day-to-day matters, such as what to feed children and whether to vaccinate them.

Parents must reach consensus on important matters such as education and long-term medical treatment, but if they cannot do so in time in an urgent situation, one of the parents can decide on their own.

To avoid ambiguity in what would constitute an urgent situation, the government plans to provide clear examples.

The revision also includes measures against unpaid child support that will oblige a parent to provide minimum payments even if no agreement is reached upon divorce.

The new custody system is expected to increase the burden on family courts in Japan as they will play the role of ultimate arbiter for parents in complex situations in terms of child custody, such as judging whether domestic violence is involved.

Critics question whether family courts possess enough manpower to handle additional duties, with the number of cases filed with family courts rising to about 1.14 million in 2022, up nearly 300,000 from 2012, according to judicial statistics.

Prior to the revision, Japan had been the only country among the Group of Seven industrialized nation with no joint custody system, according to a Justice Ministry survey of other countries released in 2020.

Discussion of Japan’s sole custody system emerged partly in response to global criticism over parental abduction cases involving Japanese spouses who took children away from foreign partners after the failure of marriages and made it difficult for the foreign parent to see their children in Japan.

Japan joined in 2014 an international treaty to help settle cross-border child custody disputes. But in 2020, the European Parliament adopted a resolution urging Japan to improve its child custody rules, under which European parents in Japan have little recourse in the event of domestic child abduction by a Japanese spouse. ENDS

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Reuters: Biden calls ally Japan ‘xenophobic’ along with rivals China and Russia (May 2, 2024). Bravo Biden!

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Hi Blog.  The next significant development over the past couple of weeks is POTUS Biden sounding off on xenophobia in Japan (and fellow ally India, as well as Russia and China), citing Japan’s inability to accept immigrants and harness their potential as a key issue in Japan’s longstanding economic doldrums.

(Reuters article on this below.)

COMMENT:  Debito.org says “Bravo Biden!”, for obvious reasons we’ve covered on Debito.org since its beginning back in 1995.  For generations now Japan has gotten a free pass on its racial discrimination (about which I’ve written entire books) simply because it’s an ally.  It’s about time somebody in leadership chided things in the right direction.  Unfortunately, geopolitics and human rights do not mix, and the latter has taken a back seat to the former for too long.

The response will be predictable and obvious.  There will be the requisite handwringing from the diplomats and media, and the knee-jerk reactions from the ethnostatists defending Japan’s putative ethnic purity or sovereignty in various comments sections (although human rights supersede pat claims of sovereignty if you’ve signed the CERD, which Japan did nearly 30 years ago and still has not passed any laws against racial discrimination).

Whatever.  It’s long overdue to state the fact that Japan as a polity simply will not keep its international promises, and Debito.org agrees with Biden that Japan’s lack of any official immigration policy hurts Japan as a society both economically and demographically.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Biden calls ally Japan ‘xenophobic’ along with rivals China and Russia
BY JUSTIN SINK AND ISABEL REYNOLDS, BLOOMBERG
Reuters/Japan Times, May 2, 2024
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2024/05/02/japan/politics/biden-china-japan-india-xenophobia/

U.S. President Joe Biden included ally Japan along with rivals China and Russia in a list of countries he called “xenophobic” on Wednesday, in a speech at a campaign fundraising event in Washington.

Biden reiterated remarks he made last month linking China’s economic woes to its unwillingness to accept immigration. This time he added Russia, but also longstanding ally Japan, whose Prime Minister Fumio Kishida he welcomed for a summit and state dinner in Washington just three weeks ago.

“You know, one of the reasons our economy is growing is because of you and many others. Why? Because we welcome immigrants,” Biden told Asian American and Pacific Islander donors Wednesday. “The reason — think about it — why is China stalling so bad economically? Why is Japan having trouble? Why is Russia, why is anyone? Because they’re xenophobic, they don’t want immigrants.”

His criticisms and the fact that Japan was mentioned alongside two major U.S. rivals could raise hackles in Tokyo. The U.S. and Japan announced a “significant upgrade” to their defense ties last month, citing the need to counter China’s “dangerous” actions in the Indo-Pacific region.

The April summit in Washington was overshadowed by Biden’s stance on a plan for Japan’s Nippon Steel to buy United States Steel, after he said the firm should remain U.S.-owned.

Japan’s government acknowledges its aging and shrinking population is a source of concern, with Kishida himself saying the issue threatens society’s ability to function.

The country is also gradually opening the door to more immigrants, many of whom are filling jobs in sectors where there are shortages of workers.

The number of foreign residents in Japan rose to a record high of 3.4 million in December 2023, up 10% on the previous year and representing about 2.7% of the population of about 124 million.

A survey by the Asahi newspaper published last month found 62% of respondents said more foreign workers should be accepted, compared with 44% in a similar poll in 2018. ENDS

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(Prior comments from Debito.org Readers on the Biden statement starting here.)

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My latest SNA VM column 52: “Positive Steps for Non-Japanese in Japan” (Jan 23, 2024), a report of a month spent in Tokyo and all the progress towards tolerance observed.

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Hi Blog. While I’m aware that the bigger news is the recent Miss Japan Carolina Shiino debate once again bringing to light Japan’s ethnostatist narratives, I’ll get to that in February’s SNA column. Meanwhile, here’s January’s column. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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POSITIVE STEPS FOR NON-JAPANESE IN JAPAN
By Debito Arudou. Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 52, January 23, 2024
Courtesy https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2024/01/23/visible-minorities-positive-steps-for-non-japanese/

Last month SNA (and this column) went on vacation for Christmas and New Years. During the hiatus, I spent a month in Tokyo meandering around visiting sights and people, developing my inner flaneur as well as conducting relaxed random research. Tokyo, a walking city riddled with world-class transportation and public facilities, is an ideal place for that.

I spent almost every afternoon or evening talking with long-term Japan residents from many walks of life. This included six academic researchers, two foreign correspondents, a media celebrity, a long-term resident vlogger, an employee of NHK, two secondary school teachers, a naturalized regional politician, a rural ryokan operator, a high-tech product salesman, a retired airbnb operator, a foreign exchange graduate student, and a labor union leader. All are specialists in their fields in terms of training and experience, most are Lifers in Japan, and all offered insightful analysis of current conditions in Japan. My research will probably inform future columns this year.

This month’s column will offer my impressions about how much Japan has changed regarding the issues that have always been on my radar screen — society’s openness to Newcomers. On that score, I have some positive developments to report:

  • RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS HAVE EASED TOWARDS EQUALITY

One of my biggest qualms about Japan has been its two-tiered official registration system that openly excluded foreigners as residents. One is the Family Registry (koseki), which is required for all Japanese citizens, and continues to overlook foreigners as spouses of Japanese and parents of children. But the other, the Residency Certificate (juminhyo), has been revised in a good way.

To illustrate, consider what happened to a foreign friend. She was able to move to Japan on a researcher visa, go to the local ward office and place herself on a juminhyo, then have her Japanese husband come over later and place himself on her juminhyo. Even better, when asked who the Head of Household (setai nushi) was, the foreign wife stepped forward as the main breadwinner and claimed the spot.

This is significant. I can remember when bureaucrats refused tp accept women as household heads since they assumed the man must be the main income earner, adding sexism to the racism. None of this was possible before 2012, so finally Non-Japanese residents are getting equal official recognition as family members and breadwinners.

WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE

Despite being listed as “Residents” in official tallies, Japan’s official population tallies still do not include foreigners — listed as “the population of Japanese” (nihonjin no jinko) rather than “the population of Japan” (nihon no jinko). And of course, the Koseki System has to be reformed to list foreigners under the “spouse” column properly. Hardly likely anytime soon, but one can dream.

  • JAPAN’S GEARING UP FOR TOURISM

Japan has done it again — turned on a dime and accepted a new reality. Despite years of sweaty handwringing about how “Yokoso Japan” and Cool Japan” would ever deal with foreigners and all their pesky foreign languages (as seen in the dozens of hotels nationwide at the time that said they would refuse service to any foreigner), Japan has now risen to the challenge of catering to the influx of foreign folks and money (which in 2023 approached record levels again).

Multilingual signs, instructions, and apps are all over, as are multilingual staff in shops. Major foreign credit cards can now buy JR train tickets easily. One friend even noted that his neighboring hotel didn’t have his website in Japanese anymore, since he preferred Non-Japanese customers for their flexibility regarding his more spartan accommodations!

It’s been rewarding for Japan after three “lost decades” of economic doldrums. Between 1 and 2 percent of Japan’s annual GDP is now reliant on non-domestic tourism, and multilingual speakers face abundant opportunities in service sectors all over Japan. After brazen “Japanese Only” signs for decades, Japan simply can’t afford to treat foreign customers like shit anymore.

WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE

Japan (including those whiny foreign residents who think more foreigners somehow spoil their “pure Japan” experience) have to bellyache less about how things are getting too touristy — for tourism is what you wanted. Also, Japan’s government has to tame its impulses to blame foreigners for any ills, as was blatantly seen in the reflexive blanket ban on all foreigners (including Permanent Residents) during the Covid Pandemic. And of course, there’s nothing to stop any bigot from putting up a “Japanese Only” sign, as they still remain legal. Pass that anti-discrimination law, already!

  • FOREIGNERS ARE PRETTY NORMAL IN TOKYO

Perhaps it’s because my quarter-century in Japan was living in the sticks, but I’ve noticed just how comfortable I feel in Tokyo. In my month there engaging in some pretty intense negotiations, almost never did I get “Nihongo ga jozu”-ed, nor did anyone “weird out” as if speaking Japanese to me was like dealing with a talking dog. A near-majority of convenience stores had Non-Japanese staff, doing stuff any Japanese could do, and their speaking Japanese (even to me) was no big deal.

Tolerance for diversity and difference was quite palpable this trip. I rarely felt like I had to rehearse my dialog before negotiating — even talking extemporaneously resulted in working through any problem to a solution via trial and error. Even all the accented Japanese wasn’t an issue, unlike the bad old days where people would simply dismiss anything slightly abnormal with a blank stare. It just didn’t happen, at least in Tokyo.

WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE

This “can do” attitude needs to spread nationwide. A few quick trips outside Tokyo later showed me how old ways, including stares, “jozu-ing,” and “weirding out” at accents, are still a thing. Again, one can dream.

In sum, a trip back to Tokyo was delightful. In previous trips, I usually get triggered by something sooner or later and wind up reflexively “doing a Debito,” i.e., getting pushy and scoldy to get some respect from the intolerant and intransigent. This time around, however, even after more than a month, nothing really got under my skin.

Maybe I’ve mellowed. But I think Japan has changed quite a bit for the better too. I’ll offer some more thoughts and case studies in future columns this year.

ENDS

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Mainichi: “UK won’t extradite man over Tokyo jewelry heist, cites Japan’s human rights record”. Looks like Japan’s reputation for “hostage justice” is gaining ground

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Hi Blog. Looks like Japan’s reputation for human rights abuses under its “Hostage Justice” criminal procedure is finally being recognized in legal circles overseas. Carlos Ghosn is no doubt having the last laugh. (Just wait until the latest documentary on his case comes out in a couple of weeks on Apple TV–in addition to this one, this one, and this one). Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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UK won’t extradite man over Tokyo jewelry heist, cites Japan’s human rights record
August 12, 2023 (Mainichi Japan) Courtesy of Niklas and MMT
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230812/p2g/00m/0in/019000c

LONDON (Kyodo) — A British court has ruled that one of three men detained over his alleged involvement in a 2015 jewelry robbery at a luxury store in central Tokyo will not be extradited to Japan, citing concerns over the country’s human rights record.

Friday’s decision not to extradite Joe Chappell, who is currently on bail, was based on the grounds that the Japanese authorities could not provide “sufficient assurances” that he would be treated in compliance with the European Convention on Human Rights.

The three men — Chappell, Daniel Kelly and Kaine Wright — left Japan two days after the heist, which netted 106 million yen ($731,000) worth of jewelry. They were put on an international wanted list by Japanese police through Interpol.

Chappell’s defense team has expressed concerns that if extradited, he might be made to confess under duress. Japan has argued that police interrogations in principle are recorded.

At a hearing earlier this year, British authorities asked the Japanese government to ensure his detention complies with the convention, particularly on provisions regarding prohibition of torture and the right to a fair trial.

Japan currently only has extradition treaties with the United States and South Korea. In the absence of an extradition treaty, the country where a crime was committed usually asks a suspect’s home country to prosecute.

The three are suspected of taking 46 pieces of jewelry, including rings and pendants after punching a male security guard and breaking display cases at a Harry Winston store in the Omotesando Hills commercial complex in Shibuya Ward on the night of Nov. 20, 2015.

The court has yet to rule on whether to extradite the other two, Kelly and Wright.

Japanese authorities have 14 days to appeal the decision, and another hearing will take place later this month to determine whether the case will continue. ENDS

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 45: “Judges Strip Equal Protection from Naturalized Citizens”, on the unjust Aigi Country Club decision (Apr 24, 2023) (full text)

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Hi Blog.  My blog post from yesterday has become a full-blown column at the Shingetsu News Agency. Have a read, and lament for Japan’s future if horrible legal precedents like this are allowed to stand. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Judges Strip Equal Protection from Naturalized Citizens
Shingetsu News Agency, April 24, 2023 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/04/24/visible-minorities-judges-strip-equal-protection-from-naturalized-citizens/

The website archiving and substantiating all of the claims below is at
https://www.debito.org/?p=17240

SNA (Tokyo) — It’s the next stage of evolution in Japan’s variant of racial discrimination: a naturalized Japanese citizen was last year denied membership at a golf course—explicitly for being a former foreigner. He sued. This month a district court in Mie Prefecture ruled that this was not an illegal act of discrimination.

You read that right: not illegal. Follow me down this rabbit hole.

Aigi Country Club in Kani city, Gifu Prefecture, refused a former Zainichi Korean with Japanese citizenship. Their justification, according to the Asahi Shinbun, was that “our club has a quota for foreign nationals and former foreign nationals who have become naturalized Japanese and restricts new memberships. We currently have no vacancies in that quota.”

In court, Aigi Country Club duplicitously denied outright racism by claiming that they refused him for more reasons than foreign roots. It didn’t matter. The judges acknowledged that the plaintiff was refused for being foreign and they still ruled against him. They accepted that this was an instance of discrimination, but it wasn’t enough discrimination.

The judges ruled that a golfing club by design is a “closed and private organization with strong personal ties among its members” and that Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees “freedom of association.” In their reading, private groups are free to decide their membership criteria and, at any rate, playing golf is “not indispensable for social life.”

In sum, it wasn’t an instance of discrimination “beyond socially acceptable limits.”

Really?

Exclusionism is rampant at Japan’s golf courses. Last May the Asahi Shinbun provided an excellent overview of how Japan’s country clubs routinely refuse not only membership but also entry to foreign golfers. Some have even refused women. According to interviews, they have “nationality clauses” (i.e. Japanese Only rules) because “the atmosphere slightly changes when there are foreigners around.”

To them, these are just their rules, established long ago. In its case, the Aigi Country Club started in 1964. They won’t change without outside pressure, such as when the International Olympic Committee forced changes in a few Japanese clubs before they were permitted to host international competitions. Without such international scrutiny, they are content to preserve their discrimination in amber.

This Aigi ruling clearly empowers golf bigots to stay the course.

Legal Logic of the Ruling

There are two elements of the logic behind the ruling that deserve to be highlighted.

First is the “beyond socially acceptable limits” reasoning, which has been circulating for generations within Japan’s jurisprudence. It holds that some discrimination is inevitable (for example, separating bathrooms by gender). So as long as institutions or individuals don’t go beyond the “socially acceptable level” of discrimination, there is no legal sanction.

A problem with this approach is that “social acceptance” is determined entirely by the subjective impressions of individual judges. There is no hard data or social science involved. It’s all in the eyes of the judges.

The United Nations has repeatedly criticized Japan for this kind of reasoning (especially its legal corollary of “rational discrimination”).

In this case, even prior Japanese court precedent disagrees. In a similar golf club suit brought in 1995 by a Zainichi Korean plaintiff, the Tokyo District Court ruled that a denial of membership on the grounds of nationality was unconstitutional under Article 14—all people are equal under the law. The Tokyo court also previously dismissed some other bits of the Aigi decision—ruling that golf is a leisure activity and thus a necessary place to socialize. It also noted that, since golf memberships can be purchased on the market, they aren’t really all that exclusive.

Unfortunately, a separate lawsuit in 2001 by another Zainichi Korean against a golf course ruled against him, affirming the primacy of private corporations to choose their members, even if that includes excluding foreigners.

This brings us to the second big issue: the plaintiff in the Aigi case was not a foreigner.

What’s even the point of naturalizing and taking Japanese nationality if the legal status conveyed offers no equal protections?

We’ve already seen this occur within the Japan Sumo Association, which also limits the number of foreign wrestlers in sumo stables. Even if they become Japanese citizens, they are still counted as “foreigners.” Nobody has yet challenged this practice as unconstitutional.

The plaintiff in the Aigi Country Club Case effectively did challenge it, and yet the Aigi judges accepted the argument that Japanese citizens with foreign roots are not equally protected under the law. They will forever remain “Japanese” with an asterisk.

Open Season on Foreign Roots

If the Mie ruling stands, there will be nothing preventing–at least at the formal legal level–almost any private enterprise from putting up a “Members Only” sign and enforcing “nationality clauses.” Many institutions could conceivably argue for keeping memberships exclusive in order to “preserve the atmosphere” at their venues.

It’s not even unprecedented. During the 2002 World Cup, coordinated “Members Only” signs went up on restaurants and bars throughout Sapporo’s party district; other “Members Only” places like public bathhouses can be found on the Debito.org Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Exclusionary Establishments. What’s next? Sports clubs? Hotels? Hospitals? Schools? In fact, all of these kinds of institutions have been found to possess formal and informal “Japanese Only” rules.

Thanks to the Aigi Country Club case, bigots are being offered stronger legal grounds to maintain and extend discrimination.

Naturally, this means that not only first generation immigrants, but also those born in Japan may discover that they are not equal under the law.

With all of Japan’s international marriages, there are hundreds of thousands of Japanese children with a foreign parent or relative. The ruling of Aigi Country Club case means that if some children “look foreign” and due to their presence the “atmosphere slightly changes,” then they can be excluded by organizations because it is “socially acceptable” to do so.

Of course, it is remarkably easy in many cases to spot any mudblood whose kin or relative has a katakana or odd kanji name. Through this ruling, children can be regarded as biologically radioactive and refusable. Citizenship will not protect them.

The Signposts Along the Way

Finally, let’s put things in a larger context. This decision is actually part of a broader trend eroding all civil protections for “foreigners” (however defined) within the Japanese judiciary.

Consider this arc of precedents:

1) The Ana Bortz case of 1998-1999 found that foreigners in Japan were protected by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) against being turned away by private enterprises open to the public (in this case a jewelry store). The court awarded Bortz ¥2 million.

2) The Otaru Hot Springs case of 1993-2005 found that two foreigners and one naturalized Japanese citizen (yours truly) were not allowed to be turned away from a private enterprise (in this case a public bathhouse). The courts eventually whittled the award down to ¥1 million yen each. However, the courts undermined the Bortz Case by ruling that, a) the CERD offered no actual protection against racial discrimination—it was merely a guideline without the force of law; and, b) racial discrimination did happen, but that was not necessarily illegal. Discrimination only becomes illegal when it goes “beyond socially acceptable limits.” Sound familiar? To cap things off, the Supreme Court also summarily dismissed the case as involving no constitutional protections—not even Article 14, which also explicitly forbids racial discrimination.

3) The Steve McGowan case of 2004-2006 undermined the Bortz and Otaru precedents further, finding no protection for his denial by a private enterprise (an eyeglass store). Instead, the ruling found that any discrimination that occurred was essentially due to a misunderstanding. McGowan, as a non-native speaker, allegedly didn’t understand enough Japanese to portray his case correctly. This ruling was handed down in spite of the fact that the defendant was caught on tape explicitly saying that he refused McGowan because he “hates black people.” The initial ruling was overturned on appeal, but McGowan’s court award was also whittled down to only ¥350,000, insufficient even to cover his legal fees.

4) The Aigi County Club case potentially drops rights down to near zero. It finds that: a) there are no inherent protections for foreigners; b) even if they have Japanese citizenship; c) and even if everyone admits that the discrimination was nationality or ethnicity-based. It’s not a legal problem to discriminate because golf clubs are designed to be exclusive, by whatever standards they choose to employ. This is “socially acceptable” and thus legally permissible.

I hope I’m not the first one telling you this, but Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, despite treaty promises back in 1995 to pass one “without delay” when it ratified the CERD.

At a UN hearing in 2000, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs officially claimed that “the Constitution of Japan stipulates not only guarantee of being equal as Japanese nationals under the law but also guarantee of equality of all rights as Japanese nationals. Therefore, there is no discrimination at all for civil, political, economic, and cultural rights under the legal system.”

The Aigi County Club case demonstrates openly that this was a lie.

The case is on appeal. I hope the plaintiff prevails.

(UPDATE:  He does.  Read the comments to this blog entry.)

ENDS

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

The SNA article is at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/04/24/visible-minorities-judges-strip-equal-protection-from-naturalized-citizens/

The website archiving and substantiating all of the claims above is at
https://www.debito.org/?p=17240

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 43: “Salute to the “Author of Cartels of the Mind’,” an obituary of influential Japan Studies scholar and mentor Ivan Hall (1932-2023)

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Hi Blog.  My latest SNA column 43 is a tribute to old friend, mentor, and influential scholar Ivan Hall.  I blogged about him shortly after he died here.  This is a fuller treatment, excerpted.  RIP.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities: Salute to the Author of Cartels of the Mind
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, February 20, 2023

SNA (Tokyo) — Ivan Parker Hall, author of landmark book Cartels of the Mind: Japan’s Intellectual Closed Shop, died in Berlin on February 1, 2023, at age 90.

Before I start writing another obituary, please let me pause and talk about our very close relationship: Ivan Hall fundamentally changed my life into an activist researcher in Japanese Studies.

It wasn’t always this way. When I first arrived in Japan during the latter 1980s, I was in fact a cultural relativist. Carefully trained in the non-judgmentalism of the liberal arts, I had the mantra of “Who am I to judge Japan?” It had its own way of doing things, and would get along just fine without one white Western interloper (or even the outside world) telling it what to do. As per my classic Edwin O. Reischauer Ivy League training, Japan was one of those precious “culturally unique” jewels that should just be left to flourish in its own way.

That’s why at first I was a devoted scholar of the “Japanese Way.” After all, Japan must be doing something right. Its people were living the longest in the world. Its economy measured per capita had just surpassed that of Americans. It was buying up major world assets on the strength of the Yen. Our next boss, according to movies such as Back to the Future II, was going to be Japanese.

It took just one stint working for an abusive Japanese trading company–and the bursting of Japan’s asset bubble–to disabuse me of those early notions.

But it wasn’t until I became a Japanese university professor that I saw just how much the Japanese system was wasting talent due to racism. Japanese faculty hired full-time were getting permanent tenure from Day One, while almost all foreign educators (who were often more qualified than their Japanese counterparts) were getting permanent contract work.

Enter Ivan Hall, who summed this situation up most pithily as “Academic Apartheid.”…

Read the rest at the Shingetsu News Agency at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/02/20/visible-minorities-salute-to-the-author-of-cartels-of-the-mind/

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RIP Ivan P. Hall (1932-2023), author of “Cartels of the Mind” and “Bamboozled”, and one of the last major postwar scholars of Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It is with great sadness that I heard this morning of the passing of an old friend, Ivan Hall, aged 90, scholar of Japan and the world, and author of “Cartels of the Mind” and “Bamboozled“.  (Brief Wikipedia entry here.)

Notice of his death came from his nephew, and I will pass on his redacted announcement below.

I just want to say that Ivan and I spent a lot of time in Honolulu together in his last years, coming over to visit twice a year, and his work on Academic Apartheid in Japan got me into activism in Japan in the first place.  He’s one of the few people in my life I can call a mentor who took his mentoring seriously.

Now for the family notice:

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

Friday, February 3, 2023

Hi all.  My uncle, Ivan P. Hall (“Vani”), the last surviving member of my mother’s family, died yesterday in Hoenow, a remote suburb of what was once East Berlin, after a professional life spent primarily in Japan.

I’m Vani’s nephew. Though he lived overseas my entire life, he being childless and I being the only child of his only sibling, we were close. He would visit the U.S. every year at Christmas and we’d eat Indian food on the Lower East Side (he had served in the U.S. Information Service in the 1950s in Pakistan and in the future Bangladesh and taught me to love egg curry) and superannuated formal meals in the Princeton Club dining room. He supported me enthusiastically in my first career as a playwright – he acted in the first play I ever saw, as a five year old: a community theatre production of Arsenic and Old Lace in the Idaho mountains. (From a production of that farce he’d directed in South Asia in 1961, two of his then-college-aged actors went on to become Ambassadors and serve as Foreign Secretary, and a third became Foreign Minister and the drafter of Bangladesh’s Constitution.)

Vani and I had innumerable adventures together, traveling in New England, the American South and West, in Asia, and in South America. He contributed to adventures he didn’t even participate in – when my mother was taking my best friend and I skiing as 15-year-olds, before we set out Vani bought us a case of beer and helped us stash it in the trunk of my unsuspecting mother’s car. When I went to Indiana for a three-year MFA program, he gave me a cash gift that covered the shortfall between my fellowship and expenses.

When my mother was dying in 1996, Vani traveled from Japan to be with me by her side. He and I took a sleeper train together across the U.S. to bury her ashes in California.

Vani took delight in following our Noa exploits, though his favorite family member may have been my cat Shekhina, with whom he seemed to share some special plane of existence. (A family member said, “if we know for certain that anyone went to heaven, it’s Vani. He may be alone there. With Shekhina.”)

Vani was like no one anyone would ever meet, anywhere (unless they time-traveled or worked in a wax museum), a trilateral cultural Lawrence of Arabia; an anti-colonial colonialist, always aspiring to benevolence. A sweet, emotionally armored, voluble, lonely intellectual who today would probably be diagnosed as being on the spectrum. A seemingly effortless linguist, fluent in Japanese in addition to Continental languages, who, after retiring, took the opportunity to teach in China – in Chinese – in part “to buff up my Chinese.” Author of histories and politico-cultural criticism published in journals like The National Interest and in books published by university presses, W.W. Norton, and A.E. Sharpe, he wore many professional hats – cultural diplomat, university professor, U.S. Government official, journalist, cross-cultural impressario, musician. He recurred on a detective procedural on Japanese television in the 1970s.

Vani was brave, risking ostracization in his small world of Western Japan hands by publishing books calling out the Japanese for their persisting racism and cultural and intellectual xenophobia, and the West for its persistent myopia, naivete, and ignorance.

He engaged politically in multiple countries – bringing a landmark civil rights lawsuit in Japan and, after half a lifetime as a Rockefeller Republican, resigning loudly from his federal position in protest of Reagan policies.

His sense of humor was impish, at the end kiddingly upbraiding himself for his performance as a 90 year old: “would the Queen be behaving like this?!”

I miss him and I’m grateful I was able to know such a unique, loving man.  — Ivan Hall’s Nephew

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

So do I and so am I.

People who wish to pass their condolences or share their memories below of Ivan can put them in Comments below.  The family has given me permission to pass this information on to you, and will be sent a link to this blog entry.

Thank you again, Ivan, for being someone to so many of us.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

 

 

Ivan and me in Honolulu, Nov 4, 2014.

A rendering I did of Ivan in June 2020.  Acrylic on canvas.

Ivan in a former life.

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My latest SNA Visible Minorities column 42: “Japan’s Remilitarization is a Bad Idea” (Jan 23, 2023), on why Japan is simply not the country to represent the world’s liberal democracies as a revived military power

mytest

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Hi Blog.  My latest SNA column on recent geopolitical developments and the bad habits they may revive.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Visible Minorities 42: Japan’s Remilitarization is a Bad Idea
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, JAN 23, 2023 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/01/23/visible-minorities-remilitarization-is-a-bad-idea/

SNA (Tokyo) — News item: Cheered on by the United States for its “bold leadership,” last month “Japan unveiled a dramatic revamping of its security strategy and defense policy, including a plan to acquire long-range weapons–a so-called counterstrike capability–that can target and hit enemy bases” (Japan Times, January 14).

Doubling its defense spending to 2% of GDP within five years, Japan will soon have the world’s third-largest military budget, behind only the United States and China.

Pushing Japan to remilitarize was never, and still is not, a good idea.

This is not just because an arms race in Asia is the last thing the region needs. But also because Japan, consistently unable to face up to its own history, is simply not the country to represent the world’s liberal democracies in Asia, especially as a military power.

Let’s start with that history…

Read the rest at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/01/23/visible-minorities-remilitarization-is-a-bad-idea/

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusions and recommendations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ministry of Foreign Affairs sets up “foreign media policing website” where anyone can report to J govt any foreign info “incompatible with our country’s standpoint”. Actually, quite within character.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something for the undergraduates taking classes on critical thinking and government censorship to write a midterm essay on:

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put up a website that enables anyone to submit to the government “information about any accounts in overseas [media] relating to our country that is based on misunderstandings of the truth/facts (jijitsu), or is incompatible with our country’s standpoint.”

https://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/p_pd/pds/page22_003885.html

Here are some essay writing prompts.  Discuss:

  1. Why is the Japanese government, particularly the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, getting involved in policing foreign media?  Are they the new international media police?
  2. Why is there an assumption that “our country” has a defined “standpoint” that uniformly faces the rest of the world?  And whose “truth” is this?
  3. Where did the line-item budget come from to pay these MOFA bureaucrats to act as the media police?  Don’t they have enough on their plate already managing, y’know, our country’s diplomacy?

Actually, I might be able to answer the third one.  There’s a political dimension to all this.  Check out this tweet from SNA on Dietmember Onoda Kimi:

Yeah, we’ve talked about Onoda Kimi before.  She’s the American-born former dual-national American-Japanese MP who advocates for antiforeigner public policy that would go against her foreign father’s interests.  As I wrote for SNA back in 2020:

You can see how deep the pathology runs in Kimi Onoda, LDP Upper House Diet Member from Okayama. She similarly insinuated on March 30 that government subsidies should be denied Non-Japanese residents. But this is stunningly ironic because she was born in America to an American father. She even held American nationality until 2016 (when she was ratted out and gave it up), meaning she too was a foreigner in Japan.

That’s how deep Japan’s dehumanizing antibodies run — where even a self-hating haafu would effectively deny equal treatment to her own father! What immense psychological scars from childhood bullying have prompted her to deny any ties to her minority origins, and to pander for the approval of majority whim that Non-Japanese Residents belong on a separate and unequal tier in society?

If we ever meet, one question I’d like to ask is, “Who hurt you?”

Anyway, good job, Onoda Kimi.  Mission accomplished.

Actually, what MOFA is doing is very much within the Japanese Government (GOJ)’s character anyway.  The GOJ is very sensitive to how they are perceived abroad, historically stepping in many times to “correct misperceptions” in foreign media.  See herehere, here, here, here, and here, for example.  (And it’s a stark contrast to, for example, the Americans, who ignore outright disinformation even when it affects their own citizens abroad.)

Granted, compared to the US’s negligence (even making outright threats against their US citizens for not ignoring racial discrimination in Japan), I’d rather that a government step in to correct public misperceptions when their citizens abroad stand to get hurt.  But I’m also suspicious of the GOJ’s motives, as evidenced by the links above, as their “standpoint” towards historical and “factual” interpretation is riddled with ahistorical revisionism.

Moreover, asking for the public’s participation like this is redolent of the “Snitch Sites” the Immigration Bureau deployed in 2004, so that anyone could anonymously sicc the GOJ on any foreigner they thought could be an “illegal” — much to the delight of all the Zainichi Korean haters out there.

In sum, this “MOFA foreign media policing site” is yet another politically-motivated government-sponsored website that is encouraging online abuse and feeding the trolls.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest SNA column, discussing in part why journalism on Japan has historically had so many topical, “weird Japan” stories. Part of it is because some commentators on Japan remain willfully ignorant of the Japanese language. Others get duped by the industry of “Gaijin Handlers” designed to steer foreign perceptions of Japan in the “right direction”. And some commentators, like the late Henry Scott-Stokes, former Tokyo Bureau Chief at The Financial Times, Times of London, and New York Times, become willing abettors of the Japanese far-right, selling their reputations to maintain their privilege.

Have a read. It resolves one mystery I always felt when meeting numerous veteran foreign correspondents during the Otaru Onsens Case. They would often arrogantly question my standing to work within the Japanese system as resident, citizen, and activist. Yet they could barely read the menu. Time for me to question their standing too. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers
Shingetsu News Agency, May 23, 2022, by Debito Arudou

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/05/23/visible-minorities-henry-scott-stokes-sell-out-to-gaijin-handlers/

SNA (Tokyo) — Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes, patrician among Japan’s foreign correspondents since 1964, recently died in Tokyo at the age of 83, but not before he did untold damage by performing as a foreign handmaid to Japan’s fascists.

A man described as “tweedy” and “entertaining and congenial,” Briton Scott-Stokes was nonetheless a man of privilege, lucky enough to land in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times only three years after graduating from Oxford.

Becoming bureau chief of a major newspaper at the wizened old age of 26 might seem odd today, but back then foreign journalism in Japan had lower standards, and the field was infused with neocolonial attitudes towards the “natives.” Fluency in your assigned country’s language was not required.

Nor was Japanese required at the other “Big Three” English-language newspapers in Japan, as Scott-Stokes later became bureau chief of The Times of London and the New York Times through the 1970s and early 1980s. For a man described as “someone who really understood Japan,” he spent his entire 58 years in Japan as a functional illiterate, unable to fluently read, write, or speak Japanese.

To be fair, this was normal: Scott-Stokes arose from a bygone generation of Japan commentators who were poorly trained in social science methods. That’s actually one reason why newspaper analysis on Japan at the time was so topical. They simply couldn’t do their own deep and rigorous research in the vernacular.

As a result, overseas readers usually got the topical “weird Japan” stories–dismissively called the “Three Es” of economics, exotica, and erotica–that condescendingly promoted the Japanese as “inscrutable” and the Japanese language as “the hardest in the world” for foreigners to learn.

Of course, that had the self-serving effect of absolving their willful ignorance. The problem with doing onsite research dependent on interpreters (in Scott-Stokes’ case, his second wife) is that professionals become blinkered. Not only are you less able to talk to the hoi polloi on their own terms about their daily lives, but in Japan in particular you become vulnerable to the elite, targeted by a particular class of people with an agenda for prominent Western journalists.

Also known as “Gaijin Handlers,” this industry of information spooks is designed to distract attention from politically troubling or shameful stories about Japan, and at best mislead foreign correspondents into parroting government propaganda.

After all, the Japanese government is well-practiced in steering domestic media and influencing public perception for social control–hence Japan’s enormously restrictive “Press Clubs.”

Until the mid-1980s, the Gaijin Handlers succeeded quite well. The image of Japan transmitted to the outside world was kept “harmless and weird,” and Japan got richer and richer on its trade surpluses.

But then, seemingly out of nowhere, Japan suddenly emerged even wealthier than the United States in terms of per capita GDP. Japanese companies bought up prominent overseas properties while the US taxpayer footed the bill for Japan’s regional defense. Overseas editors started demanding that Japan be studied as an economic powerhouse, if not a rival.

This is when a new generation of Japan scholars came in, where if you weren’t fluent in Japanese you simply weren’t respected.

We did our own research outside of government meddling, using the same vernacular sources the Gaijin Handlers read and tried to obfuscate. We knew their code because we spoke it too. Our analysis wasn’t perfect, but we could better see through the propaganda.

Times change, and most of the old hacks moved on to other countries or settled into a quiet life in Japan, living a harmless twilight existence as cottage consultants in their cups.

Scott-Stokes didn’t. He didn’t just continue to rely on his privileged access to Japan’s elite for his income; he decided to embrace their fascist tendencies.

He first attracted attention from Japan’s far right in 1974 with his signature book, a biography in English of his alleged friend Yukio Mishima. It proved useful to Mishima’s ilk. With the imprimatur of a pedigreed white man whitewashing one of Japan’s far right fanatics into a sympathetic hero, he helped refashion Japan’s fascism for the outside world.

Then, by the 2010s, as journalistic standards rose and money got tighter, Scott-Stokes went all-in with his Gaijin Handlers, selling his reputation for thirty pieces of silver.

His 2013 book Falsehoods in the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of History, as Seen by a British Journalist, came out in Japanese only, and it sold an estimated 100,000 copies within a few months.

But Scott-Stokes wound up blindsided by its contents. Despite his name being on the cover and his standing as the titular “British Journalist,” it turns out that he didn’t actually write the book, let alone read it. The Times of London reported that he had essentially dictated it to an interpreter.

Later asked about sections denying “as a historical fact” the Nanjing Massacre of civilians by the Imperial Japanese Army in 1937, he initially said he was “shocked and horrified” at having been unable to check that “rogue passage.” Then Scott-Stokes reversed himself and stood by what was written. “If I’ve been taken advantage of, it’s with my complicity.” Books needed to be sold, after all.

Further, he doubled down on minimizing Japan’s “alleged” war crimes with whataboutism, comparing them to the “war crimes” of the atomic bombings, and of the “victor’s justice” of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal–all Japan historical revisionist tropes. He even argued that the United States, not Japan, bears “prime responsibility” for the Pacific War.

Some of his absurd claims are still visible on far right websites, such as, “It is largely as a result of Japanese shedding their blood that we entered a new world where colonies did not exist any more and there is racial equality.”

He concluded, “You should not be misled by anti-Japanese propaganda but rather take pride in Japan as a nation,” noting that Japan was “Asia’s light of hope” which “liberated Asian countries from white domination” (replaced by, the record also demonstrates, Yamato domination; they too were brutal colonizers, after all). All of this effort was to “protect the Japanese soul.”

Fortunately, Scott-Stokes’ former employers took responsibility for their own, acknowledging in their obituaries that his book was “embraced by right-wing apologists for atrocities committed by the Japanese military during World War II” (New York Times), and “Scott-Stokes was certainly sympathetic to Japanese nationalist right-wingers” (The Times of London).

I can find no specific buy-in from Scott-Stokes for other tropes that the far-right takes pride in, such as encouraging thoroughbred Wajin bloodlines free of miscegenation or promoting “pure” Yamato males as the only people entitled to represent and rule Japan.

But his sympathies for those who do, especially those who lament Japan’s postwar disapproval of “traditional Japanese values,” including Meiji Era martial training and the Emperor as the head of state, gave their rhetoric a sense of legitimacy. And it runs directly counter to Japan’s inevitable future, given its low birthrates and aging society, as a multicultural, multiethnic society.

The point is that Scott-Stokes’ lifetime peddling in and profiteering off of Japan’s mysticism has interfered with seeing Japan’s history, and its present-day realities, realistically.

His son, Harry Sugiyama Scott-Stokes, a celebrity broadcaster in Japan and frequent commentator at NHK, has announced that he will be “carrying on in the spirit of my father,” whatever that means.

In the end, what is the measure of a life well spent? In my view, it is to leave the world a better place than you found it. By this measure, Scott-Stokes did quite the opposite.

By passively, then later actively, promoting the aims and ideology that undergird Japan’s fascist xenophobes, he offers no template for Japan’s foreign communities, let alone his professional colleagues. His support of people who would never grant equal rights to minorities, particularly Japan’s Visible Minorities, is especially ironic and counterproductive.

Future residents and interpreters of Japanese society should see Scott-Stokes as a cautionary tale. Here was a man who lived most of his life in a country, even tried to rewrite the narrative on it, yet remained in a bubble of privilege so opaque he could never see the obvious–that he was being used by elites who would never let his type into their club.

Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes became a “useful idiot” to the Gaijin Handlers, destroying his legacy.

ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

======================
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Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Getting to this one a bit late, sorry. (Got two more new classes this semester; just starting to get into a semester groove now.)

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”.

Of course, we here at Debito.org are all in favor of inclusivity.  But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science.  No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse.  My comments interspliced within the article:

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PORTRAITS OF JAPAN
BEYOND TOKYO 2020: LEADING THE WAY TOWARD AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY

Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/_userdata/pdf/2021/winter2021/beyond_tokyo_2020.pdf

The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment:  So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability?  Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan?  Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

It was precisely because the world had been facing great difficulties due to the COVID-19 pandemic that Japan determined to fulfill its responsibility as host country to hold the Tokyo 2020 Games, even without spectators, and to provide the world with a sense of solidarity and to offer hopes and dreams, especially to children, who hold the future in their hands. Firmly intent on making this happen, many people throughout Japan worked in unison, striving to implement measures for safety and security to ensure that Japan bring the Games to a safe conclusion.

(Comment:  Trope check:  We hardworking Japanese should take a bow for “working in unison” (echoing the wartime sentiment of all Japanese hearts beating in unison without exception) making everything safe and secure for providing the world with hopes and dreams and solidarity.  Especially the children.  And according to the first sentence, Japan did this for the world?  I think more for its sponsors, both foreign and particularly domestic.)

The Tokyo 2020 Games not only moved and inspired many people through sports, but also advanced the Games’ core concept of “Unity in Diversity,” serving to promote the further growth of this movement. The percentage of female athletes participating in the Olympic Games was a record 48.8. Moreover, the number of athletes who identified themselves as LGBTQ+ was reportedly over 180—-more than triple that of the Rio 2016 Games—-and they won more than 55 medals among them. In order to promote gender equality, the number of mixed-gender events was doubled to 18. Seeing men and women teaming up to compete for their country was like a breath of fresh air. The Paralympic Games, which was held in Tokyo for the second time, served as an opportunity to convey to the world and cultivate the “barrier-free mindset” that is at the foundation of an inclusive society, in which everyone, with or without impairments, can lead a vibrant life.

(Comment:  Ah yes, the “Unity in Diversity” trope that I critiqued for SNA last August.  I will excerpt that below and show how ironic that trope actually was.  But look at how the article categorizes “diversity”:  Females.  LGBTQ+.  Mixed-gender.  Paraolympics.  Nothing about, for example, Visible Minorities.

But again, this has nothing to do with Japan, and more to do with the Olympic-sponsored events themselves.  Claiming this as something that we Japanese created is like claiming that Japan promoted better chocolate because Japan hosted a chocolate festival that somebody else created and sponsored.  And that that better chocolate somehow created mindsets throughout society to make them more inclusive of chocolate, even for those who hate chocolate.  There’s simply no data to support this assertion that any mindsets changed here, there, or anywhere.  Then we actually get to their dataset for their claims:)

Supporting the success of the Games from behind the scenes were more than 70,000 Games volunteers, who ranged in age from 19 to 91. These volunteers, regardless of age, gender, or disability, played the vital role of actuating the concept of “Unity in Diversity” by providing hospitality and supporting athletes and staff from around the world. MIURA Hisashi, who has a hearing impairment, was one of these volunteers. Wanting to contribute in some way to this historic event, he performed reception and maintenance duties, among others, at the residential buildings and fitness center at the Olympic and Paralympic Village. “As I actively offered my own opinions and shared sign-language skills, my teammates also naturally started to communicate more openly, showing their care for one another using both spoken words and sign language. Ultimately, I felt that we made an excellent team, and were able to fulfill our role. It was also unforgettable to have the chance to communicate with players and staff visiting from all around the world using gestures and body language. I’m glad that I was able to support them, even if only in a small way”, says Miura.

(Comment:  Wow, Miura got a lot of space.  One guy with a hearing impairment who performed “reception and maintenance duties” leads the way with gestures and body language.  A diverse sample size of one proves the point that society’s mindsets are changing.  And that’s basically the meat of the article.)

Respecting and supporting one another regardless of differences is crucial to the realization of an inclusive society. At this year’s Games, this notion was reiterated to many people throughout the world. Miura says, “The Tokyo 2020 Games offered an opportunity to make great progress in terms of ‘Unity in Diversity.’ I am thankful that I was able to make my personal contribution as a volunteer at the Games, and I believe it is important to continue building up such experiences, not just at the Olympics and Paralympics.”

(Comment:  Even more space for Miura.  That’s lazy journalism.  And it repeats that trope that we Japanese unified to somehow welcome more diverse people, whoever they are.

Note there’s not even a mention of the truly diverse people involved, notably tennis champ Osaka Naomi lighting the Olympic Cauldron in the Opening Ceremonies.  I guess that’s not the diversity they’re looking for:  It doesn’t fall into the “gender, age, and ability” point they’re trying to prove, then don’t.)

Each of us embracing diversity will create a vitality that will lead to the realization of a world where everyone can live comfortably. The Tokyo 2020 Games were a sure, significant step in that direction.

ARTICLE ENDS

ARTICLE PHOTOS: Some 11,000 athletes from 205 countries and regions and the Refugee Olympic Team participated in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, giving inspiring performances and setting numerous records. (Photo: Closing ceremony of the Olympic Games, August 8) AFLO SPORTS

Top: MIURA Hisashi (left), who has a hearing impairment, participated in the Games as a volunteer. Through the assistance of the Nippon Foundation Volunteer Support Center, which provides support to volunteers with impairments, he worked on a team together with an individual (right) who was able to offer sign-language interpretation at the venue to support the athletes. THE NIPPON FOUNDATION VOLUNTEER SUPPORT CENTER

Bottom: With the help of volunteers, Slovenian sprinter Anita Horvat exits the venue after the competition. Volunteers offered their assistance to athletes and Games personnel not just at the competition venues, but also at various locations around the country. XINHUA/AFLO

Left: Tom Daley (foreground), an openly gay athlete who won the gold medal for Great Britain in the men’s synchronized 10-meter platform, told the press, “I’m incredibly proud to say that I’m a gay man and also an Olympic champion.”
PICTURE ALLIANCE/AFLO

Top: The Japanese duo of MIZUTANI Jun and ITO Mima won the gold in a new event, mixed doubles table tennis. REUTERS/AFLO
ENDS

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As mentioned above, here’s an excerpt of my SNA column of August 16, 2021 critiquing that “Unity in Diversity” trope:

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SNA Visible Minorities;  Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem (excerpt)

By Debito Arudou

…That’s why I had some pretty low expectations for Tokyo’s Opening Ceremonies on July 21. Scandal after scandal had erupted over Japan’s Olympic Committee abysmal leadership choices, including the creative head cracking fat jokes about a female entertainer, the composer of the ceremony bragging about his history of abusing disabled people, the director of the ceremony making wisecracks about the Holocaust, and, of course, Yoshiro Mori, the octogenarian chair, resigning after sexist remarks.

After this, how would Japan introduce itself to the world?

Surprisingly, as a land with some degree of diversity. In prominent positions were people in wheelchairs and Visible Minorities, including hoopster Rui Hachimura as Japan’s flag bearer, Zainichi Taiwanese baseball legend Sadaharu Oh on the torch relay, and of course tennis champ Naomi Osaka having the great honor of lighting the Olympic cauldron. This caused much media buzz about how Japan was finally changing, coming to terms with the reality of its own diversity.

Sadly, I disagree. I would say this represents less a contradiction of Japan’s “monoethnic society,” more an affirmation of the power of tokenism.

Remember how Tokyo got these Games in the first place: By wheeling out French-Japanese TV announcer Christel Takigawa to give a fluent gaijin-handling presentation about Japan’s mystical prowess in omotenashi hospitality. Once her purpose as a token of diversity was served, she essentially disappeared from the Games, and the old guard took over and reverted to its scandalous form.

The thing is, tokenism isn’t acceptance. At best it’s a way station to your acceptance as an exceptional individual, successful DESPITE your background, and even that depends on whether you’ve fulfilled your assigned purpose. For the Olympics, if we’re putting you center stage, you’d better do your job and win Gold for the nation.

Unfortunately, the tokens didn’t win. Osaka was defeated in her third tennis match. Hachimura’s basketball team placed eleventh. Despite Japan’s record haul of medals, as far as I can tell only two Visible Minorities (Aaron Wolf in judo and Kanoa Igarashi in surfing) made it to the podium.

And Igarashi, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic “thoroughbred-ism”: “I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.”

Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness, all of which mattered much less when she was winning.

The final straw was when The Daily Beast reported August 4 that Yoshiro Mori had lobbied against Osaka lighting the Olympic cauldron in the first place, in favor of a “pure Japanese man.” With her lackluster performance, no doubt many bigots feel Mori has been vindicated.
EXCERPT ENDS

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“Unity in Diversity” indeed.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

The article itself is available as a screen capture here (click to expand):

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

Article follows, then my comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

http://debito.org/EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer.pdf

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[skip down to page seven]

Situation of non-citizens

33.The Committee is concerned that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

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

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. My latest SNA column 24 is about the fiasco the Tokyo 2020 Olympiad has become. Introduction:

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

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

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

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

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

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

======================
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Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?

mytest

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Hi Blog. Time for a quick statement about a news event that is “low-hanging fruit” in terms of civil rights and international relations, but instructive enough for a mention on Debito.org.

Check this out: According to the Mainichi below, the Japanese Government (GOJ) wants foreign countries to recognize its “COVID vaccination passports” (i.e., proof that a person has been vaccinated).

But it will still subject every foreigner (including, as usual, foreign residents) to quarantine. Meaning it won’t recognize FOREIGN versions of COVID passports.

Funny, that. It’s yet another example of how Japan’s authorities expect to have their cake and eat it too. Like how institutions in Japan can discriminate against foreigners without much if any international sanction. But woe betide anyone who seems to discriminate against Japanese overseas. Japan has gotten away with this for so long (e.g., more than 25 years since it signed the UN CERD without passing any laws against racial discrimination) that the GOJ has accepted it as normal transactional behavior for Japan in the international arena. (That, or the bureaucracy is so silo-ed off that getting a coordinated vaccine passport policy across all of the veto gates would involve discomfiting ministerial turf battles. Boo hoo.)

Well, tough. Let’s hope that overseas negotiators have the sense to not be taken in by the “unique Japan” arguments as usual, and demand comity. You don’t get without giving back in kind. But given how lenient the outside world has been regarding, say, the overt racism of Japan’s exclusionary border policies during the pandemic (and now the “Japanese Only” Olympics), it’s not a slam-dunk conclusion as of this writing.

Thoughts, Debito.org Readers?

(FYI, I’ll be vacationing the blog shortly for the summer.) Debito.org, Ph.D.

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

Japan seeks to have vaccine passports accepted by over 10 nations
July 4, 2021 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of AW
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20210704/p2g/00m/0na/034000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Japan is making arrangements for its COVID-19 vaccination passports to be accepted by over 10 nations, including Italy, France and Greece, after the certificate program begins in late July, government sources said Sunday.

If the agreements are reached, certificate holders will be exempt from quarantine or showing negative test results for COVID-19 when traveling from Japan to those countries, the sources said.

But the Japanese government plans to continue requiring travelers entering Japan, including returnees, to quarantine for two weeks even if they have been vaccinated. The position has complicated negotiations with countries such as Singapore and Israel, which have called for mutual exemption, the sources said.

So-called vaccine passports are official documents showing a person has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. The certificate, to be issued by municipalities, will include the holder’s name, passport number and date of vaccination.

Business circles in Japan have been calling for the introduction of vaccine passports. The country’s largest business lobby, the Japan Business Federation, known as Keidanren, proposed in late June that such certificates be in digital format.

Japan has lagged behind the United States, Britain and Israel, among others, in its rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations. However, it has stepped up efforts to inoculate citizens ahead of the Tokyo Olympics starting on July 23.

A quasi-state of emergency is in place for urban areas like Tokyo amid fears of the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant of the coronavirus.

“Until we see the spread of the Delta variant subside, it will be difficult to allow the mutual exemption of quarantine,” a Japanese government source said.

Japan has a sweeping entry ban on foreign nationals to cope with the pandemic, except those with approval given under “special exceptional circumstances.” Travelers entering Japan are asked to stay at home or a designated facility for 14 days after arrival.

The European Union has its own digital vaccination passport for EU citizens and residents. Certificate holders are exempt from testing and quarantine when traveling to a different country within the bloc.

The World Health Organization does not endorse making vaccine passports mandatory for travelers as equal access to COVID-19 vaccines has not been ensured.
ENDS

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

Hi Debito,

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

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

And here is my translation. Comment from me follows:

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

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

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

By Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

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

Roll call in the morning with spit test

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

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

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

Food supply under surveillance

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

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

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

Complicated way home

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

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

Participants in the Olympic Games are exempt from this

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

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

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

======================
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“Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
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Hi Blog. One important job Debito.org has been undertaking for more than two decades is the cataloging of “Japanese Only” exclusionary signs (and in this case, signs that also publicly denigrate foreigners), to make sure that evidence of Japan’s racial discrimination does not disappear into the ether. Starting with the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments , the Debito.org Blog you’re reading now is also putting up cases we receive from Debito.org Readers spotting them about town.

It’s important to do this so that everyone can see that this is an ongoing issue. Racists and xenophobes can put up these signs and notices because they are not illegal. Japan has no law against racial discrimination, the only one of the G7 developed countries, and now more than a quarter century after signing the UN CERD (in 1995, where it promised “without delay” to take all measures, including laws, to eliminate racial discrimination), Japan still has not and will not. Let’s put up another treaty violation, shall we?

And please feel free to send me more: debito@debito.org. In addition to the Rogues’ Gallery, the Debito.org Blog’s past record of “Japanese Only” signs and rules is here. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Place: Century 21 Realty Saitama Kawagoe Ekimae (Century 21不動産、川越駅前, 埼玉県川越市脇田町105) March 28, 2021, Submitted by ARW, who notes “The photo of the staff was taken after I called their attention to the ‘box’.”

Comment: How nice of an American company to play by Japanese rules by assuming the default for rentals is “Japanese Only”, with a special box that “foreign citizenship OK”.  Not the first time I’ve seen this.

Anyway, I’ve contacted Century 21 USA to report this issue as discrimination.  (Oddly, there was no option to select “Japan” under their list of countries they do business in.)

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

Place: FamilyMart convenience store, Kawaramachi-Takoyakushi
295 Narayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8033
075-229-6322

On Jan 17, 2021, RM says: I saw this just now and thought you should have a look. Found that little nice racist notice on the entrance door on a Famima in Kyoto Kawaramachi. Basically says “I deeply apologize for troubling you with my foreigners” in essence. Unbelievable.

The sign says (Debito’s translation):  Regarding the foreign staff at this branch:  We have a large number of foreign staff at this branch. Customers may find their language and cultural barriers to be a nuisance. Employing them was at our discretion, and we are sorry for the inconveniences.  We will soon be focusing our efforts on coaching staff in the proper manners for Japan’s customer service. Your understanding and forbearance would be much appreciated.  BRANCH MANAGER.”

Comment:  Wow, how arrogant and dehumanizing. Please cue the shakuhachi soundtrack before you teach your foreign minimum-wage workers how to unlock the “Secrets of the Orient” — to overcome foreigners’ presumed “language and cultural barriers” interfering with proper “Japanese customer service” in a konbini!   I wonder what happened to inspire the Manager to put up a notice publicly shaming his pet foreigners? (And for the record, I’ve seen plenty of taciturn, indifferent, and unmannerly Japanese staff working for next to nothing in Japanese convenience stores; would I have gotten a sign up if I’d reported their lack of “Japanese manners”?)

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

UPDATE: CENTURY 21 USA answers:

Begin forwarded message:

From: C21 Customer Relations <CustomerRelations@century21.net>
Subject: FW: Complaint notification email (Consumer: Debito Arudou)
Date: March 28, 2021
To: “debito@debito.org” <debito@debito.org>

March 28, 2021

Debito Arudou
debito@debito.org

Dear Debito Arudou:

Thank you for contacting Century 21 Real Estate LLC. We received your complaint involving your experience with CENTURY 21 Japan.

While the goal of all CENTURY 21® franchise offices is always to meet and exceed the customers’ expectations, we recognize that there may be circumstances where any office or salesperson can fall short of expectations or where the parties may not communicate perfectly. As the franchisor of the Century 21 Real Estate System, we ask CENTURY 21 affiliated brokerage offices to address consumer complaints respectfully and promptly to protect the goodwill of our service marks, but as independently owned and operated businesses, the franchisee must handle any complaints or issues directly with the consumers. Accordingly, Kunihiro Osada the franchisee, is the appropriate party to address your concerns.

We will, of course, advise Kunihiro Osada, Master Franchisee of CENTURY 21 Japan about your complaint and request that they address your issue directly with you. When they have received our communication, we expect that the office will reach out to you to discuss the matter. It is our hope that your complaint will be resolved quickly and amicably, but we cannot provide any assurances as to the outcome.
Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Sincerely,

Customer Relations
customerrelations@century21.net

Century 21 Real Estate LLC.
175 Park Avenue
Madison, NJ 07940
ENDS

/////////////////////////////////
ANSWER FROM CENTURY 21 JAPAN

From: 酒井 秀敬 <h-sakai@century21.jp>
Subject: Complaint notification email (Consumer: Debito Arudou)
Date: March 31, 2021
To: “‘debito@debito.org'” <debito@debito.org>
Cc: “‘CustomerRelations@century21.net'” <CustomerRelations@century21.net>, 経営企画部 <japan@century21.jp>

Dear Mr. Debito Arudou:

We acknowledge receipt of your email regarding the issue involving one of our franchisees in the Kawagoe area. It has been forwarded to us by the Customer Relations Department of CENTURY 21 Global Headquarters in the US (C21 US), which you have initially contacted regarding this matter.

Firstly, in case you are not familiar with how a global franchise system works, please allow us to offer an explanation. CENTURY 21 Real Estate of Japan, Ltd. (C21 Japan) is the Master Sub-franchisor of the CENTURY 21 brand in Japan. We serve as the administrative headquarters of our franchise operation in Japan.

CENTURY 21 offices in Japan are franchisees and not branches of C21 Japan nor C21 US. Our franchisees in Japan are all independently owned and operated. Therefore, we are not directly involved in the advertisement of listing properties of our franchisees’ businesses. Also, as Japanese real estate brokerage, our franchisees are governed by Japanese law such as Real Estate Brokerage Act, which is known as “Takuchi-Tatemono-Torihiki-Gyouhou” in Japanese.

Having said this, however, we take very seriously any actions or behaviors of our franchisees and agents that might be less than the professional standards that we set and, in any way, tarnish the reputation and integrity that our brand has attained over the past decades. All of the regional headquarters within the CENTURY 21 global network are obliged to follow specific policies and procedures that are set by the Global Headquarters to maintain a uniform standard of excellence.

There are certainly cases where an “expectation gap” arises between the prospective customer and the agent, and oftentimes this gap grows wider during the course of interaction between the two. This is particularly true when different cultural norms, sets of regulations, and industry practices exist. For example, in the US there is the wide-reaching Fair Housing Act (FHA) that bans pretty much all forms of discrimination. Japan does not. Therefore, what could be a violation of the FHA in the US would not necessarily be one in Japan.

Having said this, however, C21 Japan HQ believes it is never good for business to practice and kind of intentional discrimination and caution our franchisees accordingly. We will, therefore, request the office you have identified to remove the subject bin to avoid any semblance of discrimination, no matter how unintentional the original reason might have been. We apologize for any unpleasantness that you felt because of the bin’s existence.

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Best regards,

Hidetaka Sakai
Global Business Relations Office
CENTURY 21 Real Estate of Japan, Ltd.
ENDS
======================
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My SNA VM column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s an excerpt of my latest Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities column 20. Have a read before it goes behind paywall, and please subscribe if you want to see the rest of their articles — it’s but a dollar a week, and it supports progressive journalism. Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities: The World’s First “Japanese Only” Olympics?
Shingetsu News Agency, March 15, 2021, By Debito Arudou

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

(Read a rough draft of the contents of this article before it became my SNA column at https://www.debito.org/?p=16480)

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UPDATE MARCH 20, 2021: The NYT reports that it’s a done deal now. The IOC has approved the exclusion of all “spectators from overseas”. And it’s just being passed off as a “concession to the realities of the pandemic”. Its possibly problematic enforcement in terms of NJ Residents is not touched upon — more focus is on the plight of overseas ticket holders. — Debito

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

Spectators From Overseas Are Barred From Tokyo Olympics
The move, announced Saturday, is a significant concession to the realities of the pandemic, even as organizers remain determined to hold the Games this summer.

By Motoko Rich and Ben Dooley
New York Times, March 20, 2021
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/20/world/asia/tokyo-olympics-spectators.html

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

JOC’s official statement on this:

ABOUT THE GAMES
Statement on Overseas Spectators for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020
Japan Olympic Committee 20 MAR 2021, courtesy of BM
https://tokyo2020.org/en/news/statement-on-overseas-spectators-for-the-olympic-and-paralympic-games-tokyo-2020

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SNA VM 19: “Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance”, Feb 15, 2021, on how the former Japan Olympics Chair melded misogyny with racism — for decades!

mytest

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Hi Blog. My latest Shingetsu News Agency column recounts former Prime Minister and professional bigot Mori Yoshiro’s tenure as Japan representative, and the mystery behind Japan’s consistent waste of talent in favor of hopelessly incompetent and elitist old men. Enjoy. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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Visible Minorities 19: Yoshiro Mori’s Overdue Comeuppance
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, February 15, 2021
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

SNA (Tokyo) — When I started writing this month’s column, Yoshiro Mori, an 83-year-old fossil of Japanese politics, was still president of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Organising Committee, where he had come under fire for comments claiming that women in leadership positions “talk too much,” cluttering meetings with competitive chatter. He has since resigned, but in the wake has come much media commentary about Japan’s sexism and women’s disenfranchisement.

Photos appeared showing meetings of top-level Japan business organizations (such as Keidanren) that look like old-boy clubs. Pundits noted that Japan has slipped in the World Economic Forum’s gender-empowerment index to 121st place out of 153 countries measured (the lowest amongst the developed countries, behind China, Zimbabwe, Brunei, and Myanmar). And my favorite: Japan idiotically sending a man (Kono Taro) to the world’s first meeting of women foreign ministers in 2018.

All this has occurred despite former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s much-touted policy of unlocking the women workforce as the “greatest potential for the growth of the Japanese economy.” He would create “a society in which women can shine.” Mori’s sexist comments make clear that hasn’t happened.

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
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Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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Reuters and ABC News: Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Olympics meeting. It’s been within character for decades now, so retire him.

mytest

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Hi Blog. President of the 2020 Japan Olympics Committee (JOC), former abysmally unpopular PM, and professional geriatric grouch Mori Yoshiro has put his foot in it again. He’s gone off on the women allegedly cluttering his committees (he even got the number of them wrong), after there was a suggestion from somewhere that the gender imbalance on the committee be addressed. Articles follow, then comments:

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Tokyo 2020 chief Mori makes sexist remarks at Games meeting – newspaper
Reuters, Wed, February 3, 2021, courtesy of MG

https://sports.yahoo.com/tokyo-2020-chief-mori-makes-144553091.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – The president of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee told a meeting on Wednesday that female directors talked too much, which was “annoying”, according to Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun.

Yoshiro Mori, a former prime minister, made the comments, some of which were greeted with laughter, at a meeting with members of the Japanese Olympic Committee, the Asahi reported.

Tokyo 2020 could not be immediately reached for comment.

“If we increase the number of female board members, we have to make sure their speaking time is restricted somewhat, they have difficulty finishing, which is annoying,” Mori said, according to the report from the Asahi, one of Japan’s leading daily papers. “We have about seven women at the organising committee but everyone understands their place.”

The JOC board has 25 members, of whom five are women.

According to the committee’s governance code, established in 2019, it should be aiming to make sure that 40% seats on the board are filled by women.

The 83-year-old Tokyo 2020 chief was already facing criticism for comments he has made about the Games, amid growing public opposition in Japan to holding the postponed event this summer while the COVID-19 pandemic is still raging.

On Tuesday, Mori had told a meeting with Japan’s Sports Research Commission that “we will hold the Olympics, regardless of how the coronavirus (situation) looks”.

In response to those comments, Japanese comedian Atsushi Tamura, who was set to be an Olympic torchbearer, said he would decline to run in the torch relay due to begin March 25.

(Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Mari Saito; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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ABC News adds (excerpt):

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Tokyo Olympics chief apologizes for sexist comments that women talk too much in meetings
“I deeply regret it,” he told reporters Thursday.
By Anthony Trotter and Morgan Winsor
ABC News (USA), February 4, 2021, Courtesy of the Author
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

Mori, an 83-year-old former prime minister of Japan, made the remarks during an executive meeting of the Japanese Olympic Committee that was held online Wednesday. When giving his “private opinion” about the committee’s goal of increasing the number of female board directors from 20% to more than 40%, Mori expressed concern about how that would affect the length of meetings, according to a report by The Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s largest daily newspapers. […]

“A meeting of an executive board that includes many women would take time,” Mori was quoted as saying by the newspaper. “Women are competitive. When someone raises his or her hand and speaks, they probably think they should speak too. That is why they all end up making comments.” […]

Speaking at a hastily-prepared press conference on Thursday, Mori confirmed he made the comments and offered an apology.

“It was an inappropriate remark that went against the spirit of the Olympics and Paralympics,” he said. “I deeply regret it and would like to sincerely apologize to anyone whom I have offended.”

When asked about the calls for his resignation, Mori told reporters: “I’m not considering resigning.” […]
//////////////////////////////////////

Rest of the article with more contextualizing information than the Reuters’ piece at
https://abcnews.go.com/International/tokyo-olympics-chief-apologizes-sexist-comments-women-talk/story?id=75677674

COMMENT from Submitter MG: “Just wanted to send another bit of good Debito fodder from our ol’ buddy Mori Yoshiro. Just another reminder of what a terrible choice it was to hire this jerk to head an Olympics that really should just never have been handed to Japan in the first place when there was still a ruined Tohoku that needed rebuilding. Were it not for the long-term economic consequences that will follow my beloved adopted home country due to folly of these Games, I would surely enjoy the schadenfreude of a group of elites getting egg all over their face.”

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Let me explain why this is a Debito.org Issue. First, Debito.org came out against Japan holding the Olympics because a) international events bring out the worst in Japan’s media and policing tendencies, and b) Japan played dirty pool to get them (including racist comments about fellow contender Istanbul being unsuitable as a venue because it is “Islamic”).  Because beating out other candidate countries, and getting reaffirmation that Japan still matters on the world stage, is what Japan’s leaders care about, not sports.  Heck, Japan can’t even play fair when there are “foreign competitors” within its DOMESTIC sports (see here, here, and here).

But then we get to Mori. We’ve covered him quite a bit on Debito.org for his racist comments (for example, about Japanese Olympians Chris and Cathy Reed, where he attributed their inability to medal because they were “naturalized”, not Real Japanese). Then we get to his bigoted statements about how Japan (aka the “Kokutai”) is the “Land of the Gods” (Kami no Kuni), a sentiment that belongs in the rhetoric of Prewar Japan leaders destined for defeat.

I called this entitled old man “a mould for gorilla cookies” long ago because even then I saw him as a waste of space.  He’s the type of Japan elite dinosaur zombie politician (in the same vein as equally useless Former PM Aso Taro) who feels like he can say whatever pops into his “shark brain” and not be held accountable for it.  Because he never really has.  Despite being a lousy leader, he just keeps on getting jobs leading things — in his case, high-profile sports committees (such as the Rugby World Cup in 2019) that turn into international embarrassments.  As it has again today.

To Japan, tolerating Mori Yoshiro is like tolerating gaffes from the UK’s Prince Philip.  But Mori is not royalty, endured only because his position is essential upholding an apparently sacrosanct system.  He should be retired from public service immediately even if he refuses to resign.  It’s obviously long overdue.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

This means:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About 518,000 Japanese are estimated to have permanent residency status in other countries as of October 2019, but the government has been unable to confirm how many of them hold multiple citizenship.
ENDS
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東京地裁 二重国籍認めず 憲法に違反しないと判断
NHK 2021年1月21日 17時28分
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210121/k10012825871000.html

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

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

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

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

そのうえで国籍法の規定は憲法に違反しないと判断し、訴えを退けました。

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

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

mytest

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

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“Latest visa rules could purge any foreigner”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

/////////////////////////////////////////
justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…

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

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

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

======================
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United Nations human rights experts say Japan was wrong to detain former Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation

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Hi Blog.  I wrote back in January in my Shingetsu News Agency column that Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan’s gaijin gulag was the right move — not least because Japan’s heavy-handed prosecutorial powers and treatment of criminal suspects is in itself a violation of human rights.  Now it turns out the United Nations would agree.  An AP article follows, courtesy of lots of people.  As Debito.org Reader JDG points out, “How’s that effort to turn Tokyo into an international financial hub going, BTW? Attracting much elite foreign talent? I guess Japan will be back in touch with the U.N. when it wants some more UNESCO listings…”

Given that Japan has been shamed for decades over its human rights record, and still has not passed a criminal law against racial discrimination as promised under international treaty it signed a quarter century ago (yes, way back in 1995!), I doubt this will mean much. But at least it’s a delicious vindication for our advocacy camp. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

Crime
Human rights panel: Japan was wrong to detain Carlos Ghosn; owes him compensation
Associated Press/Japan Today, Nov. 24, 2020
By JAMEY KEATEN
Courtesy https://japantoday.com/category/crime/Human-rights-panel-Japan-was-wrong-to-detain-Carlos-Ghosn-owes-him-compensation

GENEVA — A panel of human rights experts working with the United Nations said Monday that former Renault-Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn was wrongly detained in Japan and has urged “compensation” for him from the Japanese government.

The Japanese government denounced the report as a “totally unacceptable” viewpoint that will change nothing in the country’s legal process.

In its opinion published Monday, the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Ghosn’s arrest in Japan in late 2018 and early 2019 was “arbitrary” and called on Japan’s government to “take the necessary steps to remedy the situation of Mr Ghosn without delay.” A determination of whether detention is arbitrary is based on various criteria, including international norms of justice.

While Ghosn is no longer in Japan, having fled in a dramatic operation that drew headlines worldwide, the opinion could weigh on minds in courtrooms in the country and beyond. It could affect, for example, the possible extradition of two Americans, Michael Taylor and his son Peter, whom Japanese prosecutors say helped the executive sneak out of Japan.

Ghosn, a 66-year-old with French, Lebanese and Brazilian citizenship, led Japanese automaker Nissan for two decades, rescuing it from near-bankruptcy. He was arrested in November 2018 on charges of breach of trust, in misusing company assets for personal gain, and violating securities laws in not fully disclosing his compensation. He denies wrongdoing.

In December, he fled Japan to Lebanon while out on bail awaiting trial, meaning his case will not go on in Japan. Interpol has issued a wanted notice but his extradition from Lebanon is unlikely.

The five-member working group, which is made up of independent experts, called on Japan to ensure a “full and independent investigation” of Ghosn’s detention, and asked the government “to take appropriate measures against those responsible for the violation of his rights.”

The working group said that “the appropriate remedy would be to accord Mr Ghosn an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.”

The opinions of the working group are not binding on countries but aim to hold them up to their own human rights commitments. Among its past rulings involved the case of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was likewise deemed to have had his human rights violated.

The panel, which is independent from the United Nations, noted a string of allegations from Ghosn and his representatives, such as that he was subjected to solitary confinement and long interrogations at day or night, and denied access to court pleadings. His team claimed that interrogations of Ghosn were aimed to extract a confession.

Japan’s system has been repeatedly criticized by human rights advocates. The panel cited previous concerns about Japan’s so-called daiyo kangoku system of detention and interrogation that relies heavily on confessions and could expose detainees to torture, ill-treatment and coercion.

Japan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the government had applied “appropriate procedures” in the case, and it could not provide full information to the working group before a trial had begun. For that reason, the ministry added, it would be inappropriate for the working group to make a decision on the Ghosn case “based on limited information and biased allegations” from him and his team.

“The opinion is totally unacceptable, and is not legally binding,” the ministry statement said. It also warned that the opinion could set a dangerous precedent, and “encourage those who would stand criminal trial to entertain the idea that flight can be justified and prevent the realization of justice and the proper functioning of the criminal justice system in each country.”

“Japan can by no means accept the opinion of the Working Group regarding the case of the defendant Carlos Ghosn,” it added.

Ghosn lawyer Jessica Finelle welcomed the “brave” decision by the panel and said its members had been “hard on the Japanese legal system” and the way that Japanese authorities treated Mr Ghosn, “specifically, violating numerous times his presumption of innocence, presenting him as guilty, orchestrating two of his arrests with the media…”

Ghosn was “very happy” and “relieved” about the opinion, she said.

“He is somehow is getting back his dignity because he’s been humiliated during this time that he was held in Japan,” she said.

Ghosn has accused Nissan and Japanese officials of conspiring to bring him down to block a fuller integration of Nissan with its French alliance partner Renault SA of France.

Ghosn’s lawyers filed a petition with the working group in March last year, appealing to its role to look into cases in which governments are alleged to have wrongly detained individuals under agreed international human rights conventions.

Its members declined to speak to reporters about the opinion, the U.N. human rights office said.
ENDS

======================
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My latest SNA VM column 16: “US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate”, suggesting that the US might be taking real steps towards a post-racial society, Nov. 16, 2020

mytest

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Visible Minorities 16: US Elections Repudiate Trump’s Japan-Style Ethnostate
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 16, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The US elections captured the world’s attention. No wonder. Given America’s hegemony as an economic, political, cultural, and military power, the results underpin the future of geopolitics and world order.

But here’s another angle: This election offers the world some insights into how countries painfully evolve into multiethnic, post-racial societies. It even demonstrated how enfranchised people would rather destroy their governing system than relinquish power.

Fortunately, they didn’t win. Let’s recount some important facts.

The contest between incumbent Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden was indeed, as depicted in campaign slogans, a battle for the “soul of America.”

At stake was whether Trump’s nepotistic, corrupt administration—one that shamelessly used whatever means they could to perpetuate their power, punish political enemies, and undermine democracy both domestic and worldwide—would get four more years; or whether America’s place as a world leader, for better or worse, would be restored to less capricious leadership, with policymaking sane enough to keep its own citizens alive in a self-inflicted pandemic.

Clearly American voters chose the latter course; Biden won. He got five million more votes in an election where more people voted for a president than ever before, with voting rates on track to be among the highest in modern US history. […]

[There are of course some caveats, and] given the current status of Trump refusing to concede the election, and his lackeys interfering with a transition to the presumptive winner, it’s clear that no matter who wins, Republicans feel they are the only ones entitled to run the country. They view cheating, sabotage, soliciting foreign interference, and spreading unscientific conspiracy theories as fair play. The United States’ 233-year experiment in democracy be damned; 73 million voters in this election agreed with Trump’s authoritarianism. The intractable polarization of American politics is complete.

Still, the fact remains that this election was a repudiation of Trump, and, in retrospect, it’s a textbook example of democracy in action. […]

Ultimately, the history books will remember this about the past four years: Trump was the worst president in American history—the only one who was impeached, served only one term, and lost the popular vote. Twice.

Well, good for the United States. But there are also lessons here for Japan, particularly its minorities: how countries make slow and painful transitions to a post-racial society…

Read the rest on SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/11/16/visible-minorities-us-elections-repudiate-trumps-japan-style-ethnostate/

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities 15: “New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist”, on how they are actually a natural outcome of Japan’s bullying bureaucracy (Oct. 19, 2020)

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

Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” column 15.  Enjoy.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

=========================
Visible Minorities: New Covid Foreign Resident Re-Entry Rules Still Racist
OCT 19, 2020 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.

You’ll see it in things like Japan’s special foreign registry systems, or the “Gaijin Cards” that must be carried 24-7 and leave you vulnerable to random street ID checks by racist cops.

But you might not have realized until recently the most dehumanizing tenet of all: That foreigners should have no legal expectation to belong here.

Japan’s Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that Japan’s foreign residents have no “right of sojourn,” i.e., to leave Japan temporarily and expect to return. (Japan Times columnist Colin Jones called it a “reverse Hotel California”–you can leave any time you like, but can never check back in.)

That means that even if you invested your entire life in Japan, married a Japanese, had children, paid taxes, bought property, started a business, and even achieved Permanent Residency (which by definition should be a legitimate claim to reside here forever), nothing you did matters. You cross the border, you’re out.

Hypothetically, if push comes to shove, a Permanent Resident will have the same status as any foreign tourist at the border.

Well, that hypothetical came true last April when, due to Covid, Japan decided to bar all foreigners from re-entering Japan–even though Japanese could still return and merely quarantine. No other developed country does this, and there is no science indicating that Japanese passports offer enhanced epidemiological protection. It was purely arbitrary.

So foreign residents found themselves stranded overseas apart from their Japanese families, or watched helplessly from Japan as their overseas kith and kin died. This heartless and explicit racism attracted significant international attention, so from October 1, Japan announced it would open its borders to foreign residents under certain conditions.

But it turns out that, realistically, these conditions are still a ban…. By arbitrarily creating a tight 72-hour hour window requiring special paperwork unattuned to the realities of Covid testing overseas (especially when the test is meaningless if you get infected on the plane), Japan’s bureaucrats merely deflected international criticism from its regular racism by replacing it with new, improved racism.

Read the entire article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/10/19/visible-minorities-new-covid-foreign-resident-re-entry-rules-still-racist/

======================
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Updated petition against Japan Foreign Resident Re-Entry Ban: Still discriminatory: Requires extra hurdles for all NJ only, including extra GOJ permissions and overseas Covid tests

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Sven Kramer sends this update to a petition he launched against the Japanese Government’s Re-Entry Ban on visa-carrying NJ Residents, who were barred (unlike Japanese citizens) on an unscientific supposition that foreigners are more likely to carry Covid.  And this racist policy caused great hardship to many.

As of September 1, 2020, thanks in part to some impressive international and domestic protests, the Japanese Government as amended this ban. Now it’s no longer a blanket ban. Instead, there are extra hoops, including an exit permission and an unreasonable expectation of test results abroad (when domestic tests can reveal the same symptoms) that are only applied to foreigners, same as before.

Moreover, Japanese citizens are still treated as less likely to have disease, in spite of all the science that shows that Covid does not recognize differences in nationality. Consider this new report from the Japan Times, excerpting (courtesy of W):

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

[…] Even so, entry procedures will differ for those abroad who are seeking re-entry and residents in Japan who are planning to leave… [sparking concerns that even legal residents may face deportation due to unclear and strict requirements that differ from those applied to residents with Japanese passports].

Non-Japanese who left Japan by the end of August will need to contact the nearest Japanese Embassy or diplomatic office to acquire a letter confirming they have valid visas and are allowed to return. Those who left as early as April 3 or after travel restrictions were imposed on their destinations, and were denied the right to return as their circumstances did not qualify for exceptional treatment, will also be able to obtain such certificates.

People who are planning to leave Japan after Sept.1 are required to give the Immigration Services Agency detailed plans on their itinerary and will be allowed to travel as soon as they receive a document confirming the request has been accepted. They will not need to apply for additional documents from an embassy or consular office.

The ISA has warned, however, that they may suspend document issuance for applicants seeking re-entry if testing capacity at airports is insufficient to handle all foreign travelers. Japan was planning to boost its testing capacity to 10,000 per day at the major international airports ー Haneda, Narita and Kansai.

The ISA is set to disclose an email address where requests for re-entry can be sent on its website at noon on Tuesday. Travelers will need to input their residence card number, nationality, and other details as stated on their passport, as well as details of the trip, including destination, planned departure and re-entry dates and information on which airports the traveler will use.

Residents planning to leave between Tuesday and Sunday are requested to share the date of their return during the departure procedure at the airport.

However, starting from September, all non-Japanese, including permanent residents, will be required to undergo specific tests for COVID-19 in accordance with Japan’s guidelines prior to their leaving for Japan. The government has warned that not complying may result in denied entry.

The Immigration Services Agency has claimed the strict conditions are aimed at limiting the spread of the virus in Japan. In contrast, however, Japanese nationals coming from abroad are not required to undergo pre-entry tests for COVID-19…

Full article at:https://www.japantimes.co.jp/?post_type=news&p=2739610
===============================

Sven’s amended petition is below, forwarding with permission. Feel free to sign it. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

https://www.change.org/p/stop-the-entry-ban-on-legal-foreign-residents-of-japan/u/27637556

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1

クラーマー スベン

Japan

SEP 1, 2020 — 

About the lifting of the reentry ban against legal non-Japanese residents of Japan since September 1, 2020, and the future of this petition

Since September 1, 2020, all legal non-Japanese residents of Japan can leave and reenter the country. This is a very important and uplifting development. With this most recent easing of restrictions, almost all points of this petition were met.

However, one vital point of this petition (equal treatment of all legal residents at the border regardless of nationality) is still not fulfilled. Only non-Japanese residents have to apply for a Receipt for Request of Re-entry at the Immigration Services Agency before departing from Japan. No explanation in given why this is necessary and why a valid residence card and the normal reentry permit is not enough. Furthermore, only non-Japanese residents (except for diplomats and special permanent residents) have to take a PCR test abroad within 72 hours before the departure for Japan. However, this requirement can nobody meet who stays in a country which does not test people without symptoms or does not deliver the results on time. And anyway, the PCR test at the Japanese port of entry should suffice. Residents of Japan have Japanese health insurance. This is why they are entitled to treatment in Japan if the PCR test at the Japanese airport should turn out to be positive.

Requesting negative PCR tests before going to Japan should be limited to non-Japanese who want to newly enter Japan. This requirement should not be bestowed upon legal residents, who have their livelihoods already in Japan. Therefore, this petition is going to continue until the requirement of PCR tests abroad is abolished for all legal residents of Japan regardless of nationality.

The official documents in question by the Ministry of Justice of Japan:
“Regarding denial of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327574.pdf
“Additional Epidemic Prevention and Control Measures for the Entry of Re-entry of Foreign Nationals”: http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327575.pdf

Japanese Version:

令和2年9月1日開始の再入国拒否政策の緩和と今後の対応について

日本の中長期在留資格を有する外国人(外国籍の住民)は令和2年9月1日から水際対策が大幅緩和され、海外旅行の後で再入国できるようになりました。これは嬉しいこととして評価します。これで本陳情書の請願がほとんど叶いました。

しかし、本陳情書の重要な請願の一つ(外国籍住民と日本国籍保持者ならびに特別永住者との同等な待遇)にまだ適合していません。具体的には、外国籍住民だけ海外へ出国前に出入国在留管理庁に届け出なければなりません。なぜ有効な在留カードと通常の再入国許可だけで足りないのか、どこにも説明されていません。そして、8月5日からのルールと同じように、日本に帰る前に渡航先で出発前72時間以内に陰性のPCR検査の証明書を手に入れなければなりません(「外交」、「公務」、「特別永住者」という在留資格・身分を除く)。ただ、これは渡航先によってクリアできない条件です。症状がないと検査が受けられない国または検査結果が72時間以内に出ない国からの出発だったら、クリアできません。しかし、日本の空港でのPCR検査だけで十分のはずです。なぜかというと、住民は日本の健康保険に加入しており、仮に再入国時のPCR検査を陽性であっても、日本の健康保険を使った上日本の医療機関で治療を受ける権利があるはずです。

海外で出発前のPCR検査は新規に入国しようとする外国人に対して求めるべきだと考えております。すでに生活基盤を日本に築いたものに対する待遇であるべきではありません。よって、国籍を問わず日本の全住民に対して海外でのPCR検査を受ける義務が撤廃されるまで本陳情活動を続けます。

法務省HPからの史料:
新型コロナウイルス感染症の拡大防止に係る上陸拒否について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327502.pdf
外国人の入国・再入国に係る追加的な防疫措置について(令和2年8月28日現在): http://www.moj.go.jp/content/001327504.pdf

======================
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SIM on the text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.

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Hi Blog. Let me reproduce here some a comment that Debito.org Reader SIM made elsewhere:

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

SIM: I haven’t posted here in quite some time, but with the abhorrent situation as it is I must say something. The reprehensible circumstances for Chris above are something that nobody should face at any time in their life. The manner in which the government has taken this policy of banishing any legal resident with a foreign passport from returning to their livelihood, their family and any assets that they hold if they set one foot outside Japan because of a virus that cannot see the color of said passport is underhand to say the least.

Adding insult to injury is the law on which the MoJ is basing this discriminatory treatment. From a document called “Regarding refusal of landing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)” on the MoJ website, I have found that the legislation relied upon is Article 5 of Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act which reads as follows:

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

“Article 5 (1) A foreign national who falls under any of the following items is denied permission to land in Japan:
“Paragraphs (i) to (xiii) (abbrev.)
“(xiv) Beyond those persons listed in items (i) through (xiii), a person whom the Minister of Justice has reasonable grounds to believe is likely to commit an act which could be detrimental to the interests or public security of Japan.
“(2) (abbrev.)”

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

Basically, this shows that the government of Japan believes that, with the outbreak of COVID-19, notwithstanding the fact that we may be legal residents and taxpayers, anybody with a foreign passport is a ‘danger’ to the nation and should be banished if they dare to venture outside of its borders.

This is literally the Government of Japan sticking their middle finger at us who have contributed so much to the nation. With one 3 page notice, the MoJ has arbitrarily revoked both our legal status here and the basic human rights to free movement and to domicile, not to mention the human rights of our spouses and children.

Frankly, with the government’s complete lack of abilities and policies for the current pandemic, and now this, the latest instance of their complete disregard for legal residents, I’ve had enough. After 36 years here, with nearly 30 years as a law abiding taxpayer, I’ve decided to get out while I still can. I am in the process of tying up all loose ends and returning to my country of birth, which I might add has not had any community trasmission of COVID-19 for over two and a half months.  Regards, SIM.

(The MOJ documentation of border re-entry rules for non-citizens, as of July 1, 2020, is at the bottom of this blog post.)

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

COMMENT:  Debito.org invites Readers to comment on their experiences with the Ministry of Justice at the border.  Whether it’s a) you left and re-entered without incident, b) you inquired about leaving in advance and received information that inspired or dispelled confidence in the process, c) you received an unexpected surprise at the border despite all the information you had, or d) you wound up in exile, etc., please let us know. Please use a pseudonym.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

What follows are some excerpts of some of what I’ve heard so far.  Click on the names to read the full comment.

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

Chris:  “I had to go to a separate counter and forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry which I reluctantly signed because had I not signed, immigration officials probably wouldn’t have let me proceed or questioned me. Had I known that I was essentially forced to sign documentation barring me from re-entry, I would’ve considered not leaving. Now, I can no longer see my wife and children.”

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

Japan Times courtesy Rochelle Kopp:

“Japan was been unique among the G7 nations in treating its foreign residents differently from its citizens, who are allowed to enter the country as long as they submit to a PCR test at their port of entry and agree to isolate themselves for two weeks afterward… The government permits exceptions to the re-entry ban on humanitarian grounds, such as when someone needs to visit a critically ill relative or attend a funeral. Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis, however, which doesn’t allow for certainty or reliability… A recent survey conducted by the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Japan of its members showed that 78 percent of them regard the entry ban as a significant burden to their businesses. In addition, 79 percent of the affected companies say their turnover is endangered because ongoing projects cannot be completed and new projects cannot be initiated.”

Amelie Le Boeuf: “I resent having all the obligations of a Japanese citizen when it comes to paying tax etc., but not the same protection. Seeing how my fellow foreign residents are being treated makes me feel like we’ll always just be ‘pawns,’ second-class residents, that can be discarded whenever Japan enters into a crisis period.”

Joe Van Alstyne:  “Many of us are committed to living here and do everything we can to positively contribute to Japanese society. But this situation feels like we’re being treated no differently than basic tourists, despite the work we’ve put in to live here.”

Law Professor Colin P.A. Jones: “The courts have always been clear that non-Japanese people have no constitutionally protected ‘right of sojourn’ to leave the country temporarily and freely return. What we are now seeing is just a manifestation of a basic legal question that has always been there for non-Japanese residents: How safe is it to invest in Japan — time, energy, capital — if you suddenly may be unable to enter (or re-enter) the country?”

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

Chottomat: “I’m going to leave Japan on 7th August for the UK for ‘medical reasons’ with my spouse visa. I phoned the immigration and they said it was a case of “on the day you return, you state your reason for leaving to the immigration clerk, and they decide on the spot whether to let you back in or not. Supporting documentation would help, he said. Still doesn’t get around the blatant racism, though.”

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

Realitycheck:  “A Japanese person I know had the audacity to shrug off members of his international company being refused entry to Japan. He said it wasn’t discrimination but I put him right about that. I also told him he had benefited greatly from the non Japanese system in his company and had he been a foreigner in a Japanese company, he would never have reached his current position of privilege. He probably won’t speak to me again but that’s fine. This and other attitudes from a Japanese who has lived abroad and been given equal treatment in non-Japanese societies and companies, are pretty normal.”

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

Ben:  “Australia ensured that its permanent residents could return, particular if they had immediate family in Australia. Why should Japan bar me from returning? It’s simply unfair!”

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

NiklasDid anyone see the press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs? Basically this guy doesn‘t care at all that all foreign residents are barred from entering the country. Japan isn‘t even hiding it anymore, they just don‘t give a damn about foreign residents.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx-0he_oj20

Because of that Germany decided to ban Japanese travelers as long as German residents are not allowed in to Japan.
https://japan.diplo.de/ja-ja/service/-/2321032

Note how this only applies to travelers, since banning legal non German residents would be illegal according to German law of course.

出入国制限

ドイツへの渡航

疫学的状況が一部改善したことを受け、EU理事会は2020年6月30日にEU委員会による入国制限緩和に関する草案に基づく勧告を採択しました。この勧告に従って、加盟国では段階的に制限が緩和されていきます。理事会勧告では、制限緩和にあたって相互性も考慮されるべきであるとしています。

日本の長期滞在資格を持ったドイツ人が日本からドイツに渡航する場合、管理された枠組みの中で日本に再入国できる見通しが持てるようになることが、ドイツ連邦共和国にとって特に重要な懸案となっています。また、それ以外のドイツ人に関しても、特段の理由がある場合は管理された枠組みの中で日本への入国が認められるべきです。そのため、ドイツから日本への渡航者への入国制限緩和が合意に至るまで、当面、日本からドイツへの渡航者の入国制限は継続されます。

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

Jaocnanoni: “There are no regular direct connections between Japan and a country not on the ban list, and just changing planes at an airport in a country on the list makes you eligible for the ban. Under this circumstances it’s boiling down to a de facto blanket ban, and the few exceptions in place aren’t applicable for the vast majority of NJ residents.”

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

Sven Kramer: “– The number of foreign long-term residents, permanent residents and foreigners who live as relatives of Japanese citizens, is more than 2 million people.
– They are equal to Japanese citizens in regard of being part of Japanese society, and contributing daily to Japan as employees, teachers, business owners, or tax payers, to name a few of their contributions.
– Because of this, if they have to travel abroad for a very good or unavoidable reason, they must not be subject to the generic entry ban like short-term visitors and should be granted reentry into Japan under the same conditions that apply to Japanese citizens and special permanent residents immediately.
– One part of Japanese society must not be treated like random visitors even under the intention to prevent the international spread of COVID-19.
– Especially the reentry ban on foreign relatives of Japanese citizens is a huge problem, which is not only a human rights violation, but probably a violation of Japan’s constitution, too.”

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

John:  Latest iteration, courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as of July 22, 2020:

https://www.mofa.go.jp/ca/fna/page4e_001053.html

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

The MOJ documentation as of July 1, 2020, courtesy of SIM (click on image to expand):

(Originals on MOJ site here)

ENDS

======================
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“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020

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Visible Minorities Column 12: A Despotic Bridge Too Far
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day.

Consider how Japan’s law enforcement system still willfully targets “foreigners” for special treatment and racial profiling, encouraged by a system of registration and random street identity checks that apply to Non-Japanese residents only.

With prosecutorial presumptions of guilt and lack of human rights for foreigners, more have been incarcerated as a percentage of the population than Japanese. That is what you get when a criminal justice system has a separate track for detention, incarceration, interrogation, and jurisprudence against foreigners, one so rigged that even a foreigner as powerful as former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, despite a weak case against him, couldn’t buy, bully, or lawyer his way out of.

Then we get to Japan’s mass media, which still more often portrays “foreigners” at best as quirky outsiders and guests, at worst as terrorists, criminals, and vectors of disease. That’s before we get to the random expressions of racism and “othering” that are rife and largely unproblematized in Japan. Rarely does mainstream media salute Non-Japanese residents for their contributions to Japanese society, even as taxpayers.

Yet Japan still wants people to come work on temporary revolving-door visas, including so-called “trainees” hired without any labor rights. But when Non-Japanese residents stick it out and devote their lives to Japan, they get little encouragement to stay on permanently, naturalize, or otherwise become “Japanese.” The general expectation remains that foreigners are in Japan for a period of time to profiteer before they “go home.”

This happens despite foreigners being consigned to jobs on the margins of society, such as menial workers, entertainers, non-executive bureaucrats, healthcare workers, small-time businesspeople, and non-tenured educators. Where are the Non-Japanese licensed professionals in more influential fields like doctors or lawyers?

A handful of foreigners get promoted with great fanfare, but they remain statistical asterisks, not mainstream influencers. Positions of real power are reserved for Real Japanese, and foreigners are second-class subordinates. If not, suddenly it’s Nippon ja nai mitai (Japan is not the Japan we know). Quite.

So back to the opening question: Even with all this, how bad does it have to get before the mainstream begins to cry discrimination? The answer: Covid-19 bad.

Thanks to the re-entry ban last April, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

Granted, the US government recently tried something similar when, on July 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement unilaterally decided that all foreign students taking online classes only would have their student visas cancelled.

That lasted about a week. Prominent universities (such as Harvard and MIT), organizations of higher education, corporations, and individual state governments cried foul or filed lawsuits to moot this move. It worked. Even for a Trump administration this bigoted, the policy was dropped on July 14.

So who similarly advocates on behalf of foreigners in Japan, besides the usual activist groups and human rights agencies who get routinely ignored? It’s hard to imagine a Japanese university filing a lawsuit against the government.

This time, however, Japan’s mainstream media did speak up. For example, the Asahi Shinbun on June 8 ran an editorial calling the current policy “unreasonable” and “discriminatory.”

The Japan Association of National Universities, representing Japan’s flagship educational institutions like Tokyo University, also stepped in. It recently petitioned the Ministry of Education to promptly allow both old and new students and researchers to enter their universities after proper quarantines, and to resume issuing visas.

And in a blistering critique, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan issued public statements for Japan to repeal the policy. This is quite a step, since the ACCJ in my experience cares more about unperturbed access to Japanese markets than messy issues of human rights. The ACCJ’s words are worth quoting at length:

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan. The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests… Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.

So what was the tipping point? Perhaps it was when the Japanese government broke its own rules by unilaterally revoking the status of its lawful permanent residents; when it showed the world that it cares naught for the people it even grants permanent status to. Even with all the institutionalized discrimination for generations, a move this despotic shows just how much of an outlier Japan is among developed nations.

This might even be a bellwether. In recent years, we’ve seen a move towards authoritarianism in the world’s developed liberal democracies. As I have argued elsewhere, this systemic intolerance has its roots in Japan, which to overseas xenophobes represents a model ethnostate. Ethnic cleansers have in fact been copying many of Japan’s strategies and policies.

But even when an outlier like Japan, with a society so deferential to power and profoundly oblivious towards the treatment of its minorities, is seen to have gone too far, perhaps authoritarianism has finally crested.

We might be seeing the pendulum swinging back towards liberalism at last. It’s just a shame it had to go this far before it did.

======================
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American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

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Hi Blog.  Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries.

As Debito.org concurs with a resounding cheer (as it’s what we’ve been saying all along), the ACCJ notes in its second statement:

“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”

Bravo.  This is in addition to the recent Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students.  Courtesy of TJL.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

THE AMERICAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE IN JAPAN CALLS ON GOVERNMENT OF JAPAN FOR EQUAL TREATMENT OF ALL RESIDENTS

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0c1ed4aee1c9281ab07fc0/1594629845288/200713+PR_English.pdf

JULY 13, 2020 [TOKYO] – The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality.

“Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

The ACCJ requests that the Japanese Government establish a re-entry permit or process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan.

The ACCJ also requests that any measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long- term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa.

Finally, the ACCJ would like to see the Japanese government announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue their contributions to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.  ENDS

About ACCJ

page2image3443582304

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) was established in 1948 by representatives of 40 American companies. Over its 72-year history, the ACCJ has positioned itself as one of the most influential business organizations in Japan. The ACCJ has approximately 3,000 members who together represent over 600 globally minded companies with offices in Tokyo, Nagoya, and Osaka. Working closely with the U.S. and Japanese governments, business organizations and others, the ACCJ engages in activities that advance its mission of further developing commerce between the U.S. and Japan, promoting the interests of U.S. companies and members, and improving the international business environment in Japan including the commitment to demonstrating responsible corporate citizenship. The ACCJ’s more than 60 committees represent a variety of industries and make policy recommendations through advocacy tools such as viewpoints, public comments, and white papers. The ACCJ holds on average 500 events and seminars a year, many of which focus on government policy and economic trends. The ACCJ is also committed to promoting charitable and CSR activities.

PRESS CONTACT: ACCJ Communications (comms@accj.or.jp)

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

FULL ACCJ STATEMENT

https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5eb491d611335c743fef24ce/t/5f0433e6e9c21e3821625bca/1594110951359/200707+Second+Statement+on+re-entry+travel+restrictions.pdf

July 7, 2020

Second Statement on Re-entry Restrictions Placed on Permanent Resident and Visa Holders

The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) expresses our concerns regarding Japan’s immigration authorities’ limitations on the entry of non-Japanese nationals residing in Japan during the COVID-19 crisis.

The ACCJ understands and supports Japan’s efforts to protect itself from further spread of the virus, including Japan’s decision to enforce a mandatory 14-day quarantine on those returning to Japan from countries where the risk is greatest. We also recognize the progress in clarifying the conditions and criteria for, and the process under which, foreign residents of Japan may receive permission to re-enter Japan for humanitarian reasons.

We are concerned, however, that the prohibition currently in place on the entry into Japan of foreign nationals who have a permanent abode, family, and work base in Japan is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests, in particular as to Japan’s attractiveness as a place to invest and station managerial employees with regional responsibility.

Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan.

We would also note that through the payment of local and national taxes, the consumption of goods and services from the local economy, and the support for companies both local and international, Japan’s foreign residents and workers play an important role in ensuring Japan’s economic growth and good relations with global partners. Their contributions will be all the more important as Japan looks to recover from the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are grateful that the Government of Japan treated the foreign community in Japan on an equal basis by designating duly registered foreign residents as eligible for the recent COVID-19 stimulus payment.

More immediately, we respectfully request that the Japanese Government establish a process whereby travelers entering Japan under the ‘humanitarian’ exception can receive an assurance that they will be admitted to Japan before they board flights outside of Japan. This is because airlines are generally obligated to return, at their own expense, travelers rejected entry to a country. For this reason, we understand that many airlines are refusing to board any non-Japanese nationals on flights to Japan because of the regulatory uncertainty. This process could be notionally similar to the current re-entry permit application system, and it could be thought of as a “coronavirus re-entry permit” granted at the time the traveler leaves Japan or by special application to a designated Japanese Embassy, Consulate or other designated entity.

We respectfully request that, as the government’s Novel Coronavirus Response Headquarters considers which further steps it might take to ease restrictions on travel and measures taken to permit Japanese nationals to travel for business, or, in the future, travel for other purposes, any decisions also apply equally to foreign nationals with proper permanent residency as well as their spouses and children, foreign nationals who are spouses or children of Japanese nationals, long-term visa holders and their accompanying family members, and foreign nationals residing in Japan under a Japanese working visa. At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals. In the event that is not done, any guidance provided should be based on objective standards and any advance clearance provided should be in writing and should be recognized as an official approval at the point of entry into Japan.

We hope that the Japanese government will announce clear timelines for the resumption of travel and implement clear policies with the minimum documentation necessary. This will enable those properly desiring to return to Japan to make plans free of anxiety and continue contributing to Japan’s economy, society, and international relations.

We respectfully request that the Japanese government considers these concerns and suggestions as critical work continues to protect Japan from the effects of the pandemic and encourage its recovery. ENDS

======================
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NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

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Hi Blog.  A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America.  It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk.  With a few more stereotypes thrown in.  (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)

Here is the video in question, with translation version afterwards:

With translation:

According to the Mainichi,

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

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, [a letter submitted by academics in Japan and the United States to NHK on June 12] says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

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

The reason why NHK hasn’t made that clear is because they’re lying about “not giving enough consideration made at broadcast”.  In fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos.

They’re the same people who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago.  (More on this here, page down.)

Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden (in Japanese, but you’ll get the point from the visuals).  Courtesy of Kirk Masden:

Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.

Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to “Koko Ga Hen’s” producers.  NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org has reported on Japan’s policies from April of excluding all “foreigners” from reentry, including residents of Japan with valid visas and Permanent Residents with lives and families in Japan, barring them even from the regular two-week quarantine that Japanese reentrants get.  That hasn’t been the scandal it should have been.  So when the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it.

Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media:  How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani at Tohoku University) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess).  However, there is a pattern here.  Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or these overt reactionary policies.  However, instead of having governments and civil society that rightfully point out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion, unlike any other G7 country.

And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.  Let me now turn the keyboard over to Maximilian Doe for the report.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Two interesting German news articles about how virologist and government advisor Prof Dr Oshitani Hitoshi is involved in the entry restrictions
Date: June 28, 2020
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

This is Maximilian Doe. I’m contacting you because I’ve found something interesting related to Japan’s strict entry restrictions against non-Japanese. It’s two German news articles that point at a certain Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government.

Especially the first of the two I’m posting below explicitly states how the government closed the border based on reports by Prof Oshitani’s team. There are also multiple articles in English and Japanese on the website of his institute (http://www.virology.med.tohoku.ac.jp/). Here is a recent interview – an English translation of a Japanese interview – with him, which is also linked at his institute’s website: https://www.japanpolicyforum.jp/diplomacy/pt20200605162619.html

[NB:  In this interview, Oshitani couches the contagion as an exogenous force, transmitted by foreigners, not by Japanese travelers who weren’t subject to quarantine. Excerpt:

Oshitani:  Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down.

Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak. The delay in action during that time is regrettable.]

Doe:  In the following I’m posting English translations of the two German articles mentioned above. The translations are by me, so the English may be slightly off because it’s a from native to foreign translation. I’ve linked Wikipedia articles about the newspapers in question, as well as the links to the original articles. (The first article is freely readable if you have no ad blockers turned on. The second one is behind a paywall. The 0 Euros button there leads to a free one month test subscription that will turn into a regular one if you don’t opt-out in time, so don’t click if you can’t read German. I can provide you with the original text later if requested.)  The first one is from “Zeit Online”, the web portal of the famous weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Zeit).

[NB:  The text in question that readers should focus upon is underlined.]

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
Role Model or Problem Child
Japan does little virus testing; the number of infections is low. However, the fear that the official numbers do not match reality is growing stronger.
By Felix Lill
June 9, 2020, 16:49 / edited June 12, 2020, 8:12 / Die Zeit
No. 25/2020, June 10, 2020 / 193 comments [at the time of translation]
https://www.zeit.de/2020/25/japan-coronavirus-tests-infektionen/komplettansicht

“The Europeans misunderstand this virus”, says Hitoshi Oshitani. If you hear the voice of that professor of virology on the phone, you also can imagine him shaking his head. He claims he had explained it many times. “The attempt of finding every infected person is futile, a mission impossible.” Broad testing of everybody is just a waste of money and personnel. “Many infected persons only have just mild or no symptoms and don’t see a doctor. In order to find every infected person, as it is tried in Europe, you’d have to test almost the entire population.”

In his home country of Japan, the 61 years old Oshitani became famous. In order to reach the office of the Prime Minister fast, the virologist of Tohoku University in the northeastern Japanese city of Sendai moved into a hotel in central Tokyo. Oshitani is the leading health expert in the crisis management group of the Japanese government. He says: “Japan is pursuing a completely different strategy than Europe. We conduct intensive testing only at places, where an outbreak was already confirmed.” This is the smartest [method, according to him].

Is Oshitani right? Experts of multiple disciplines are arguing whether the East Asian country is a role model or a problem child. In February, when the virus was spreading broadly, Japan was the second most affected country of the world after China. However, when the virus quickly spread inside multiple European countries, the number of confirmed cases in Japan stayed low. The number of registered sick doubled per week between the end of March and the middle of April, but it reached only about 10,000.

Until now about 18,000 sick were registered – a tenth of the number of Germany, which population is smaller by one third. To Hitoshi Oshitani, this success is not because of strict rules of hygiene or the wearing of masks which is widespread in the country, but because of the crisis management. “We have started early to find contacts of infected persons with questionnaires, in order to test them and send them into quarantine. In case of the northern island of Hokkaido we could find out most routes of transmission and infection clusters this way.”

With this so-called theory of cluster infections Oshitani’s team found out that the fast growth of cases since the end of March were imported by persons who entered the country from abroad. The government swiftly ordered entry bans towards multiple countries.

Currently the crisis manager in charge thinks that they have control over the situation. In the middle of May Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for 39 of the 47 prefectures that was implemented one month earlier. By now the easing of measures is applied to the entire country. Shinzo Abe announced that now it is the time to get used to a “new normality”.

In the meantime, there is also much encouragement from Germany. Virologist Cristian Drosten recommended during an interview, that the “Japanese way” should serve as the model. That includes Japan’s current start of concentrating on superspreading events. In such a case, contact persons get send into quarantine immediately without waiting for tests. The curve of infections flattens. About 30 new infections per day were registered during the last weeks.

Despite all this: The population of Japan does not trust the peace. A survey by news agency Kyodo in mid-April found out: 80 per cent of asked people think that the government reacted to the crisis too late and thus delayed it. A comparative study among 23 countries conducted by the Singapore based institute Blackbox Research found out, that the Japanese are the least satisfied with the crisis management of their government.

“In Japan we are cruising through this crisis blindly”

One of the most prominent critics is Kenji Shibuya. To the virologist and director of the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences at King’s College London, the officially low number of cases is no wonder. “If we hardly test, we of course can’t know our true status”, says Shibuya on the phone. “In Japan we’re cruising through this crisis blindly.”

Japan really has only conducted about 200,000 quick tests with samples from mouth and throat between mid-March and mid-April. Government advisor Oshitani, who is, among others, responsible for that low number, claims that most of the infected would not transmit the virus anyway. That is one more reason why less testing is okay, because many infections end without much consequences.

Furthermore, Oshitani is convinced that the low number of tests does not lead to overlooking an especially large number of sick people. He says: “If the number of sick people would be significantly higher than detected, our rate of fatalities must have been significantly higher, too.” However, this rate is very low when compared internationally. Around 900 of the detected 18,000 infected people fell victim to the virus in Japan.

Nonetheless, during the last weeks more and more health experts demanded that Japan significantly increases the number of tests. “The claim made by the crisis management group that most sick people do not transmit the virus does not convince me,” says Kenji Shibuya. “To know that we must test more.” Shibuya also does not agree to the argument of the low fatality rate. “If we don’t know how many people are sick, we can’t say if their deaths are caused by Covid-19 or not.” Japan’s crisis management group does not only overlook the sick, but also the dead.

Based on a comparison with other countries, Shibuya estimates that the true infection rate could be higher by a factor of 10 or 20. The reason why this is not verifiable is not just the lack of data, but also lack of transparency: “I’ve contacted the national center for infectious diseases and asked for their calculation method, but the answer was: we can’t explain it. Isn’t that curious?” said Shibuya. An inquiry by us to the institute about this stays unanswered.

Do Japanese institutions want to hide something? Kenji Shibuya assures that he does not want to do such accusations, but he adds, that in crisis management political interests are also always on the table. Those [political interests] are questioned by a critical populous in Japan. Since the nuclear disaster of Fukushima in spring 2011, during which officialdom and companies were trying to play down the danger, the trust in the institutions is damaged, when a crisis exceeds the scale of the familiar earthquakes and typhoons.

Koichi Nakano also looks skeptical at the government’s Corona strategy. The political scientist of renowned Sophia University in Tokyo believes that the health of the population is just not top priority to the government. “Prime Minister Abe was elected into office because he had promised economic growth to the people”, says Nakano on the phone. “Until now that hasn’t really taken off. That’s why it’s so important that the economy doesn’t stop entirely amidst this crisis.” The handling of the Olympic Games also shows that. They should have taken place in Tokyo this summer and were expected to bring multiple millions of tourists to Japan. For a long time, the organizers and the Prime Minister insisted that “Tokyo 2020” would start as scheduled in July. After national committees of multiple countries had declared at the end of March that they would not send athletes to the Games this year, Abe decided to delay them by one year.

The crisis management group continues to keep its strategy. “They probably don’t want to admit that they failed,” said Nakano. Virologist Kenji Shibuya says that it is actually a must to shift the strategy to broad testing. If he is right with his assessment that the fatality rate is also significantly higher? Death statistics will answer that. A large increase compared to previous years would indicate that many people died from Covid-19. Initial numbers for Tokyo during the first three months of 2020 do not show such a trend. Data for April, the month an exponential growth of cases, can only be expected this summer.

About the author: https://www.zeit.de/autoren/L/Felix_Lill
Felix Lill is a journalist and writer. For over ten years he is reporting from more than 40 countries with a focus on Japan and East Asia since the end of 2012. He has published articles in “Die Presse”, “NZZ am Sonntag”, “Tagesspiegel”, and “Spiegel” as well as for English and Spanish publications like “Al Jazeera”, “Narratively”, “El País”, or “Vice España”.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Doe:  The second article is from “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, abbreviated “SZ” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BCddeutsche_Zeitung), one of Germany’s daily newspapers most widely read among academics. There is only one paragraph about Oshitani in it. The main topic is the stance of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan towards this entry ban.  Again, the section of interest has underlined text.

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 15, 2020, 18:35    Japan
The country stays closed
Since weeks foreigners are not allowed to enter Japan. This is going to become an endurance test for the economy.
By Thomas Hahn, Tokyo

http://sz.de/1.4936421

Marcus Schürmann apologizes. This is because before the director of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan (AHK Japan) starts to talk about the consequences of the entry ban, he has to haul off a little bit. A clear summer day has dawned over the hills of Roppongi, and the scenery of commerce surrounding the Hyatt Hotel looks as rich and polished as if the pandemic couldn’t do anything to the metropolis that is Tokyo. Schürmann starts with praising the place. 2019 was a good year for German companies and their Japanese branches. 94 per cent of them reported profits before tax according to a survey by the AHK Japan and “KPMG Deutschland”, an auditing company. 63 per cent of them were involved in projects with Japanese partners in third party markets. 99 per cent of them praised the reliability of the Japanese business world. “The German economy is seeing Japan as an anchor of stability more than ever”, says Schürmann. This is something to value in an otherwise unsafe global situation.

Until he says at some point: “And now to the topic of entry restrictions.” His face darkens. “That is a different story.”

This is because the entry ban, that Japan inflicted upon 110 countries because of the Coronavirus, has turned into an endurance test for the diplomatic and economic relationships. Even EU citizens who live in and pay taxes to Japan are not allowed to enter the island nation since April 3, when they previously were in their home countries. No other G7 member introduced such a strict border closure. For example, Japanese with a visa are allowed to enter Germany – and also return to Japan, because the entry ban is only bestowed upon foreigners, as the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo confirms.

At least on Friday the government of Japan finally explained, under what circumstances it is ready to grant exceptions: For example, when families are separated, children would miss school, or because someone had to leave for the death of a relative. However, in principle nothing has changed for citizens of the affected countries: Japan is closed. The German embassy in Tokyo announced that they “are talking with our Japanese partners”. An EU spokesperson said that after an EU-Japan-Online-Summit at the end of May they have “stressed once more the importance of a fast solution of the problem”. Without success.

Wolfram Schimpf, principal of the German School in Yokohama, is worrying whether new teaching staff can enter Japan as scheduled with the beginning of the new [German] school year in August. “At the high school we have a staff fluctuation of about 20 per cent, so that we would miss a fifth of our teaching staff, unfortunately some subjects could not be taught [under these circumstances].” The Goethe Institute in Tokyo has cancelled all cultural events with German guests. Finally, Marcus Schürmann has to talk about the consequences for the economy. Schürmann is a friendly man with a Japan pin on his lapel, but when he talks, the German economy is talking and that is Japan’s most important EU partner. According to Schürmann ten of the 100 largest investors to Japan are from Germany and those are creating 35,000 jobs. His dissatisfaction has to do with hard economic realities. To show that he has the most recent AHK-Japan survey in his hands: “78 per cent of businesses state that they are massively affected by the entry ban and that this severely damages their activities.”

A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary

Among the 450 German companies with business in Japan many are engineering companies. They have to postpone projects because the parent company cannot send specialists for commissioning new machines. Other companies cannot fill in gaps in their staff as planned. At the same time, they have to continue to pay taxes and social security for their employees who are stuck in Germany. “A third of these businesses are expecting tax reduction to compensate for this situation that the Japanese government has forced upon them”, says Schürmann.

From the beginning, the fight against the Coronavirus was special in Japan. Instead of tracing the virus with as many tests as possible like in most other countries, Japanese bureaucracy concentrated on controlling cases of so-called clusters of infections of the respiratory disease Covid-19. Only people with severe symptoms and their close contact persons were tested – based on the finding that only certain infected people were posing a severe threat for transmissions. Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.

Schürmann understands that. However, the world continues to spin, and the pandemic is here to stay. A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary. Schürmann sees solutions by the state with chartered flights and hygiene measures for “a minimal amount of business travel” in China and South Korea. Not so much in Japan. Schürmann has stayed in Japan for 31 years. He can lead the negotiations in Japanese on his own with those Japanese bureaucrats in charge of the economy. The reactions? “Talks with Japanese officials are always very nice, but nothing happens afterwards.”

The Germans are so frustrated that they are asking the question about the future. Among entrepreneurs, Abe’s Japan has lifted the image of the slightly weird island nation that fights with itself. Japan has involved itself in world trade more than never before and showed signs of openness with hosting events like the Rugby World Championship and the Olympic Games. “Regarding the many global challenges, the time for engaging with Japan is actually very good”, thinks Schürmann. But now? “In principle Japan threatens regained trust and its position as a global key player.” He does not see German companies leaving the world’s third largest economy. “But if this inflexibility continues, Japan will become less interesting for them. Because they say: If Japan doesn’t react now, what will happen next, when the second or third Corona-wave comes?” They could relocate some of their business to neighboring countries like South Korea.

The opposite side of Japanese reliability is clearly visible now: Necessary changes in policy are not Nippon’s strength. Someday ways will lead to Japan once more, but no one knows when.

Thomas Hahn [about the author]
After high school in 1991 he did an internship at the SZ local editorial department of Starnberg. Civilian service at the municipal hospital of Fürth as male nurse at the department of internal medicine. Study of theater science in Munich and Canterbury. Internship at the SZ editorial office for sports news in 1995. After that working as freelance journalist, especially for the SZ. Regular SZ editor since January 1, 1999. He was at the sports news department in Munich for more than 15 years, after that correspondent for northern Germany in Hamburg. Since September 1, 2019, he is correspondent for Japan and South Korea.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT FROM DOE:  It’s no hard proof, whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

Best regards,
Maximilian Doe

ENDS

======================
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SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

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Visible Minorities: Advice to Activists in Japan
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities Column 11, June 22, 2020
By Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/06/22/visible-minorities-advice-to-activists-in-japan/.

SNA (Tokyo) — Sparked by the George Floyd murder by police in America last month, street protests against official violence towards minorities and disenfranchised peoples have sprung up worldwide.

Japan has been no exception. Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities.

I’ve talked about these and other issues for years, devoting significant space both on Debito.org and in my book Embedded Racism: Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination. That said, it should be noted that my position in Japan as a white male with naturalized Japanese citizenship has provided me significant privilege; in all humility I am not in the best position to offer advice to people who have the right (nay, obligation) to create their own identities, narratives, and agendas as they see best.

Nevertheless, this column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination here for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended:

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists

Japan has a long history of activism and protest. However, the historical narrative generally portrays activists (katsudouka) as radical, destructive elements (kagekiha), most famously the Japanese Red Army; the Revolutionary Communist League, National Committee (Chukakuha); the Japan Revolutionary Communist League, Revolutionary Marxist Faction (Kakumaruha); or even just labor unions like the Japan Teachers’ Union (Nikkyoso). If you’re out there protesting, you’re automatically seen by many Japanese as angry, unapproachable, and unable to be reasoned with.

Furthermore, public demonstrations are treated with undue alarm. They’re not, for example, normalized as a phase college kids go through and grow out of. In fact, youth might become unemployable if they carry on beyond college. That’s why high-profile student group Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) disbanded as soon as their leaders approached the job market.

Additionally, the government has a long history of suppressing voices from the left more than the racket from rightwing conservatives and reactionaries, as seen in their regular rounds of unfettered sound trucks. It’s not an even playing field for human-rights advocates. That’s why there arguably isn’t a successful example of leftist protests ever decisively changing the course of government in Japan. (Contrast that with, say, the anti-Vietnam protests of the 1960s, so romanticized in Western media, which even undermined presidents overseas.)

The result is that the average person in Japan, especially your employer, will need to be convinced that what you’re doing is at all necessary, not to mention has a snowball’s chance of succeeding. Be prepared to do that.

2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan

One problem with protests for equal rights for “foreigners” is an assumption that the problem must be exogenous. It runs deeper than the sentiments of a) “foreigners are only ‘guests’ here, so they shouldn’t be rude to their ‘hosts’ by protesting,” or b) “if only you weren’t here disrupting our homogeneous society, your problem would just go away.” It’s again a problem with narrative.

Discrimination, particularly “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu), is generally taught in Japanese schools as something other countries do towards people with different skin color, notably US Segregation and South African Apartheid. Thanks to the daily mantras about our alleged monocultural, monoethnic “island society” closed off from the world for a zillion years, Japan generally doesn’t see how “race” could be a factor here. The logic is that homogeneous Japan has no races, therefore no “race relations” problems like other countries. The Japanese government has made precisely this argument to the United Nations.

That’s one reason why Japanese media reflexively deflects the issue into terms like “foreigner discrimination” (gaikokujin sabetsu), “ethnic discrimination” (minzoku sabetsu), or merely “cultural differences” (ibunka no chigai). All of these concepts miss the point that racial discrimination is in fact a longstanding domestic issue.

So refocus the issue back on the process of racialization. Reiterate at every opportunity that this is “racial discrimination,” and stress how, thanks to generations of naturalization and international marriage, there are plenty of Japanese citizens with diverse roots. Thus discrimination against “foreigners” also affects hundreds of thousands of Japanese people.

After all, Japanese society gloms onto “racial discrimination” against Japanese citizens abroad with a surprising amount of passion. So point out that it’s happening here too. And you’ll have to do it again and again, because you will have to convince a surprising number of people who refuse to believe that racism even exists in Japan.

3) Be wary of being fetishized

Remember that a certain degree of social resonance you may be feeling in your crowd is likely not the feeling of acceptance you might want; it is not equal footing with Japanese citizens. People often join in since protesting is “cool” because “foreigners are cool” or “pitiable” (kawaisou).

There is plenty of scholarly research (read Marvin D. Sterling’s Babylon East, for example) on how Japanese adopt “foreign cultures” only on a topical level, meaning without much interest in the actual mindset or experience of being a visible minority in Japan.

Collaborate with whoever shows up, of course. Just don’t get your hopes up too far. Some people who seem like supporters might only be fair-weather groupies. So don’t rely on them too much when it comes time for them to commit their names or faces in public.

4) Be ready for the long haul

Success, of course, requires not only widespread support in Japan, but also assistance from fellow Japanese human-rights activists. They are very practiced and determined, having done this sort of thing for decades. But remember: Activist groups in Japan are very cliquey. Often the barriers for entry and being accepted as “one of us” are pretty high.

Even though, at first, being seen as “pitiable” works in your favor, remember that the default attitude towards people seen as “foreigners” is “someone here only for the short-term.”

What I mean is “foreigners” are often treated like exotic birds, as something to study because you alighted on their balcony and have interesting plumage to look at. So they give you their attention for as long as you’re around. But once it seems you’ve flitted off, you’re quickly forgotten as merely a phase or a pastime. Then things reset back to the ingrained narratives of Japan as homogeneous and foreigners as temporary.

The only way you can defy that is by showing how deeply you’ve committed yourself to this issue for as long as possible, as people in those activist groups have. They’ve made this rallying cause a life mission, and they’ll expect you to as well. Otherwise, you’re just a fickle foreign hobbyist and doors slam.

Moreover, be careful of the “get in line” attitude that one (rightly) receives from other minorities in Japan (such as the Zainichi Koreans). They have been here much longer, fought much harder, and sacrificed more simply to exist in Japan. Avoid the one-upmanships over “who’s the bigger victim here?”

Instead, focus on what you all have in common: perpetual disenfranchisement, and how you have to work together to overcome that to make Japan a better place for everyone. Remember that power surrenders nothing without a fight, so dissolving into disagreeing leftist factions is precisely what the powerful want. The status quo wins by default that way.

5) Control your own narrative

Finally, don’t rely on people who aren’t in your position to understand or promote your narrative. Do it yourselves. Organize your own press conferences. Make sure that everything you release to the public and media is also in Japanese, and have some prominent public spokespeople who are minorities. It’s your voice. Don’t let even the best-intentioned interpreters and interlocutors inadvertently dilute it.

For example, last month, the people of diverse roots who spoke out fluently against the Shibuya police roughing up a Kurdish person were excellent examples of how to do it right. They were very effective in getting the message out both to print and broadcast media. More of that, please.

There you go: five pitfalls I might suggest you avoid. I hope you find them useful, even if I have a very limited understanding of what you’re going through. In any case, it’s your time and your social movement. I wish you success, and thanks for reading.  ENDS

For breaking news, follow on Twitter @ShingetsuNews

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Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

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Hi Blog.  Japanese TV has once again put their foot in it for racist stereotyping.  We’ve already covered here on Debito.org:

Now we see NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) commenting on Black Lives Matter in perhaps the most insensitive way possible. Submitter JK comments, then I comment:

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Looks like NHK is actually getting heat for their understanding (or lack thereof) of the world now:

Japan, US academics demand NHK explain editorial choices behind offensive BLM anime
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200613/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

June 13, 2020 (Mainichi Japan) Japanese version follows.

PHOTO CAPTION: An NHK animated explainer on Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. which was widely condemned as racist and subsequently removed by the broadcaster, is seen in this screen capture. (Mainichi)

With translation:

TOKYO — Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures.

【Related】Japan’s NHK apologizes for clip on US BLM protests after racism accusations
【Related】Black Lives Matter goes mainstream after Floyd’s death
【Related】Tennis star Naomi Osaka all-in on Black Lives Matter movement: Reuters

In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

It also criticized the program itself for suggesting that one cause of violence by police toward black people is “a fear of black people,” and for offering a “completely insufficient” explanation of issues around “the historic background of police brutality, from slavery to the modern prison industrial complex.”

It then mentioned that by the time the NHK show was aired on June 7, rioting and looting had already waned, and that the mostly peaceful protests were also being joined by many white people. Referring to this, the writers said the content of both the program and the animated explainer were “not an accurate reflection of the current state of protests.”

The letter also says the program didn’t give enough consideration to anger toward systemic racism as one of the causes of the protests. It also puts forward questions as to why the content wasn’t checked internally and corrected.

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, the letter says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

(Japanese original by Sumire Kunieda, Integrated Digital News Center)

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求め る要望書
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200612/k00/00m/040/247000c

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求める要望書

NHKがニュース番組「これでわかった!世界のいま」などで発信した米国の抗議デモに関する解説について、日米の米国研究者が12日、「看過できない内容が含まれている」として、問題認識や経緯、再発防止策を明らかにするよう求める要望書をNHKに送付した。【國枝すみれ/統合デジタル取材センター】

要望書は全5ページ。坂下史子・立命館大教授や藤永康政・日本女子大教授ら日米の大学に所属する研究者13人が呼びかけ人となり、NHKの会長、国際部部長、報道局長宛てに送付した。今後、日米で賛同者を募るという。

要望書が問題としたのは、白人警官による黒人男性暴行死事件への米国の抗議デモについてNHKが解説した6月7日の放送内容と、公式ツイッターの発信内容。番組は、デモの背景を解説するアニメ動画を放映し、ツイッターにも同じ動画を投稿していた。

要望書はこの動画について、黒人が「過度に筋肉質な外見で、乱暴で粗野な言葉づかいが強調された男性」というステレオタイプで描かれているとし、米国では「これ…

(rest behind paywall).

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NHK responded (full text available here in Japanese and here in Tokyo Weekender translation):

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“We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. The clip was part of a segment in the program “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-ima” broadcast on Sunday, June 7th. The 26-minute segment reported that the protests in the US were triggered by the death of George Floyd after he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer. It also reported the background on how many people are angered by the case, handling of the matter by the Trump administration and criticism against it, as well as division in American society. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.” 

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DEBITO COMMENTS:  Apology not accepted.  As I said, this is well within history and character for Japanese media, and the fact that it appeared on NHK (on a children’s program, no less) makes it all the more mainstream.  It’s not even Embedded Racism.

I will note that the people that produced this anime are the same ones (in terms of inflammatory style, caricature, and even voice talent) that produced the racialized imagery used in landmark TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago (which we also appeared in during the Otaru Onsens Case).  Witness this segment from February 28, 2001.

So in my view, for all NHK’s claims that it “lacked proper consideration”, I call BS.  They knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like.  That’s what that subcontractor has done for years.  They just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand).  That’s also BS.  NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
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Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement.  Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news.  Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan.  Please join in if you’re interested.  Information website here:

https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

More on what BLM Kansai has been doing is also at SNA here:

 

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest:  Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country. (MP)”

 

After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here.  They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out.  Japan for the Japanese.  You know the mantra.  Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades.

That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government.  And Debito.org will at least add its voice in support.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Reuters article:

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REUTERS WORLD NEWS, JUNE 6, 2020
Kurdish case becomes rallying cry for Japan protest against police
By Mari Saito
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests-japan/kurdish-case-becomes-rallying-cry-for-japan-protest-against-police-idUSKBN23D0JG

PHOTO CAPTION: A demonstrator wearing a mask holds an ”Antifaschistische Aktion” flag during a protest march over the alleged police abuse of a Turkish man, in echoes of a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in Tokyo, Japan June 6, 2020. 

TOKYO (Reuters) – The case of a Kurdish man who says he was stopped and shoved to the ground by Tokyo police became a rallying cry for protesters marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Saturday.

Several hundred people chanting “I can’t breathe” to invoke the death of George Floyd in the United States marched through the trendy Shibuya district on a sultry afternoon, saying that police abuse – particularly against foreigners – was a problem at home as well.

“I feel very sad,” said Tomohiko Tsurumi, 43, who joined the march with his wife. “I always thought of this country as very safe and I realized that there is so much (police action) we cannot see.”

The 33-year-old Turkish man of Kurdish origin, who asked not to be named, told Reuters this week that he was stopped by police driving in downtown Tokyo on May 22 – three days before George Floyd died in Minneapolis when a police office knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

When the man would not allow police to search his car, two officers shouted at him and shoved him to the ground, the man said. A friend in his car filmed part of the incident.

Police declined to comment, saying they have not made anything public about the incident.

The video, seen by Reuters, includes the officers yelling at him to sit and not make trouble. One of the officers can be seen kicking the man in the leg before making him crouch on the ground.

That officer can be seen with his arms around the man’s neck, telling him to be quiet.

“I couldn’t breathe. If my friend hadn’t been filming I don’t know what would have happened,” the man said, adding the encounter left him with bruises on his neck and back.

“This was in the middle of the day and I was on the way to my dentist,” said the man, who said he has lived in Japan for 15 years and was not at Saturday’s protest due to what organizers said was fear of being arrested. “That’s what’s so upsetting.”

The man filed an assault suit against the two officers with Tokyo prosecutors on May 27, said his lawyer, Yasuaki Nara.

An African man at the demonstration with a friend said their appearance got them more scrutiny from Japanese police.

“I feel what George Floyd was feeling,” he said, declining to give his name or his country of origin. “We feel what his family is feeling.”
ENDS

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Online petition: Oppose Japan’s generic reentry ban on Foreign Residents even after essential travels since April 3, 2020

mytest

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Hi Blog.  I mentioned this petition in my previous post, but it was subsumed under the Dejima Award headline.  It deserves its own blog entry, so here it is.  Sign the petition.  I did.  Courtesy of TG.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From: Sven Kramer 
Date: June 3, 2020 
To: eajs-l@listserv.shuttle.de
Subject: EAJS-L: Online petition against Japan’s generic reentry ban on foreigners living in Japan even after essential travels that is in effect since April 3, 2020

Dear fellow EAJS members,

I hope this finds you well, and that you are getting through the current public health crisis well and healthy. I am Sven Kramer, a scholar of Japanese studies based in Japan. Today, I would like to focus your attention on a private initiative I have started: a Japanese-English bilingual online petition against the de facto complete generic denial of reentry to foreign residents of Japan (including permanent residents and eminent relatives of Japanese citizens). On April 3, 2020, the government of Japan has implemented an almost complete closure of her borders to foreign residents on valid long-term visas (only the “special permanent residents” are exempt), while every Japanese citizen regardless of actual residency is allowed in.

This regulation affects more than 2,000,000 foreign residents of Japan, who cannot reenter Japan for the foreseeable future even after traveling abroad for a very good reason (e.g. the death of a family member in the country of origin), and are thus in danger of using their livelihoods here. I anticipate that among those affected, a significant number should be scholars based at Japanese universities receiving this mailing list. According to my current knowledge, Japan is the only country on Earth with a liberal democratic constitution, that has implemented such a nonsensically discriminatory reentry restriction, which in my opinion cannot be justified even with the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a significant difference to the policy of India, which reportedly has implemented an entry ban on all people regardless of citizenship/nationality. Furthermore, we don’t need to get into deflections of about how dictatorial countries currently behave in this crisis.

I have watched the situation silently but with an uneasy feeling for almost two months, but after reading this article by „Tōyō Keizai Online“ that quotes some of the outrageous things going on behind the scenes without leading to any progress, I had enough. As a long-term foreign resident of Japan I could not keep silent any longer, so on May 28 I have started the following online petition at “change.org”: http://chng.it/GN9Wp2Sj

Why an open online petition? Because the Japanese government, and also other officialdom at other levels, just show ignorance when addressed directly.

I sincerely want to ask you for your support of this petition for the reasons stated in the bilingual text of the petition, especially if you are a Japanese citizen or an expat with his/her livelihood in Japan.

This is – as mentioned above – an entirely private initiative on my behalf as a long-term foreign resident of Japan with Japanese family. This is the reason why I did not do any statements referring to my current professional situation, neither in this letter, nor in the petition. Please understand. If you want to know more about my background, please feel free to ask me directly.

Here is a short summary of my request:
– Please sign, if you share my opinion that the government of Japan immediately should allow reentry of returning foreign residents of Japan under the same quarantine regulations that are applied to Japanese citizens.
– Please help me spreading the word, if you agree with me on this.

If a significant number of people sign (ideally at least some tens of thousands) I will try to get the petition to the Government of Japan.

Thank you very much!

Best regards,
Sven Kramer, PhD

P.S.: Further articles in English dealing with this topic:
Japan Times: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/05/19/national/social-issues/japan-foreign-residents-stranded-abroad-coronavirus/ 
Japan Today: https://japantoday.com/category/quote-of-the-day/the-line-should-be-drawn-between-foreigners-on-short-stay-visas-and-those-who-stay-in-japan-based-on-other-statuses-of-residence.-those-whose-lives-are-based-in-japan-need-to-be-able-to-return

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