Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The GOJ just said it will join the Hague Convention (on Child Abductions, not child custody, as entitled below; guess that’s more palatable to readers), something sorely needed in in a society which acts as a haven for international child kidnapping after divorce.  It’s an important announcement, with a couple of caveats:  1) It hasn’t happened yet (or it’s uncertain when it will happen, so it’s not quite news), and 2) it’s unclear, as the article notes (and many Debito.org Readers believe, according to a recent poll here) that Japan will properly enforce it if it does ratify (as it has done in the past with, say, the Convention on Racial Discrimination) with laws guaranteeing joint custody and/or visitation rights.  Good news, kinda.  Wait and see.  More on the issue from Debito.org here.  Arudou Debito on holiday.

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Japan to join The Hague convention on child custody
Kyodo News/Japan Today Sunday 15th August, 2010, courtesy of JK

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-to-join-the-hague-convention-on-child-custody

TOKYO — Japan has decided to become a party to a global treaty on child custody as early as next year amid growing calls abroad for the country to join it to help resolve custody problems resulting from failed international marriages, government sources said Saturday.

The government will develop domestic laws in line with the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which provides a procedure for the prompt return of ‘‘abducted’’ children to their habitual country of residence and protects parental access rights, the sources said.

Complaints have been growing over cases in which a Japanese parent, often a mother, brings a child to Japan without the consent of the foreign parent, or regardless of custody determination in other countries, and denies the other parent access to the child.

Japan has come under pressure from the United States and European countries to join the 1980 treaty aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their offspring across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

The government has judged it necessary to resolve the issue as soon as possible, given that leaving it unresolved for a long term would undermine Japan’s international standing, the sources said.

However, the government has yet to determine when to ratify the treaty, as it is expected to take time to develop related domestic laws because of differences in the legal systems of Japan and other signatory nations.

For example, on parental rights, Japan’s law gives a single parent full custody of children in a divorce, virtually allowing the custodial parent to take the children away without the consent of the noncustodial parent, while the United States and Europe allow joint custody.

Japan’s Civil Code also does not mention visitation rights for noncustodial parents and many Japanese parents awarded custody are known to refuse the other parent access to the child.

Many civic groups active on the issue urge the Japanese government to amend the Civil Code to allow joint custody but the government is set to forgo such an amendment at this stage, according to the sources.

In January, ambassadors of the United States and seven other nations urged Japan to sign the Hague convention in a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada in Tokyo.

Amid growing global concerns over the so-called child abductions, the Japanese government set up a division in the Foreign Ministry to specifically deal with the issue in December last year, while then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama in February suggested that he was considering Japan’s accession to the treaty.

Japan and Russia are the only two countries among the Group of Eight industrialized nations that are not a party to the Hague Convention.
ENDS

AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here are two articles talking about inter alia what I brought up yesterday, Japan’s “soft power”, and how the JET Programme is an example of that.  First one delves into the history and goals, the other making the case for and against it, with input from former students under JETs’ tutelage.

We’ve talked extensively about JET cuts/possible abolition here already on Debito.org (archives here), and raised doubts about the efficacy of the program as a means to teach Japanese people a foreign language and “get people used to NJ” (which I agree based upon personal experience has been effective, as Anthony says below).  I guess the angle to talk about this time, what with all the international networking and alumni associations, is the efficacy of the program as a means of projecting Japan’s “soft power”, if not “cool”, abroad.

I have already said that I am a fan of JET not for the projection of power abroad, but rather because the alternative, no JET, would not be less desirable.  Otherwise, in this discussion, I haven’t any real angle to push (for a change), so let’s have a discussion.  Give us some good arguments on how effective JET is abroad (discuss how effective JET is in Japan at a different blog entry here, please read comments before commenting to avoid retreads)  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Does Japan still need 23-yr-old exchange program?

By TOMOKO A. HOSAKA
Associated Press: Jul 28, 2010, courtesy of AR

http://m.apnews.com/ap/db_15818/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=srUD04pJ

PHOTO CAPTION: In this photo taken on Wednesday, July 21, 2010, Steven Horowitz, a JET alumni who is now on the board of the JET alumni association, poses for a picture in New York. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme, known as JET, is now among the biggest international exchange programs in the world. More than 52,000 people, mostly American, have taken part and supporters proclaim it as Japan’s most successful soft power initiative since World War II. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

TOKYO (AP) – Every year for the past two decades, legions of young Americans have descended upon Japan to teach English. This government-sponsored charm offensive was launched to counter anti-Japan sentiment in the United States and has since grown into one of the country’s most successful displays of soft power.

But faced with stagnant growth and a massive public debt, lawmakers are aggressively looking for ways to rein in spending. One of their targets is the Japan Exchange and Teaching Program, or JET.

Versions of the JET program can be found in other countries. French Embassies around the world help to recruit young people to teach their languages in France for a year. The U.S. Fulbright program, run by the State Department, works in both directions: American graduates are sent abroad to study and teach, and foreigners are brought to the U.S. to do the same.

But JET’s origins and historical context make it unique. Having long pursued policies of isolation – with short bursts of imperialism – Japan was looking for a new way to engage with the world in 1987, at the height of its economic rise.

The country’s newfound wealth was viewed as a threat in the U.S., where anti-Japanese sentiment ran high. At the same time, Tokyo wanted to match its economic power with political clout. JET emerged as one high-profile solution to ease trade friction, teach foreigners about Japan and open the country to the world.

Under the program, young people from English-speaking countries – mostly Americans – work in schools and communities to teach their language and foster cultural exchange. They receive an after-tax salary of about 3.6 million yen ($41,400), roundtrip airfare to Japan and help with living arrangements. More than 90 percent of this year’s incoming class of 4,334 will work as assistant language teachers.

Word about possible cuts began filtering through JET alumni networks several weeks ago, and members of the New York group mobilized quickly, starting an online signature campaign. Former JET – as the alums are known – Steven Horowitz, now living in Brooklyn, is devoting his website jetwit.com to rally support. Another alumnus in Florida launched a Facebook page.

Their message to Tokyo is that Japan’s return on investment in the program is priceless. Japan, they say, cannot afford to lose this key link to the world, especially as its global relevance wanes in the shadow of China. And the program, they argue, not only teaches the world about Japan but also teaches Japan about the world.

“There has been a benefit from the program that you can’t measure,” said New York native Anthony Bianchi. “People used to freak out when they’d see a foreigner. Just the fact that that doesn’t happen anymore is a big benefit.”

Bianchi’s experience shows the power of the program to create cultural ties. After working as a teacher for two years in Aichi prefecture in central Japan, he landed a job with the mayor in Inuyama City, an old castle town in the area. He eventually adopted Japanese citizenship and ran for city council. Now in his second term, the 51-year-old is working to convince Diet members that JET is worth saving.

Bianchi is not alone. Of the more than 52,000 people who have taken part, many are moving into leadership at companies, government offices and non-profits that make decisions affecting Japan, said David McConnell, an anthropology professor at The College of Wooster in Ohio and author of a book about JET.

“The JET Program is, simply put, very smart foreign policy,” he said.

James Gannon, executive director for the nonprofit Japan Center for International Exchange in New York, describes JET as a pillar of the U.S.-Japan relationship and the “best public diplomacy program that any country has run” in recent decades.

But many taxpayers are asking if the program is worth the price – and criticism of JET has become part of a larger political showdown about how much government Japan can afford.

The organization that oversees JET, the Council of Local Authorities for International Relations, has drawn the ire of lawmakers as a destination where senior bureaucrats retire to plush jobs. The practice, known as “amakudari,” or “descent from heaven,” is viewed as a source of corruption and waste.

Motoyuki Odachi, head of a budget review panel that examined JET, said taxpayers are getting ripped off.

“There’s a problem with the organization itself,” said Odachi, an upper house member from central Japan. “This program has continued in order to maintain ‘amakudari.'”

JET’s administrators tried to defend themselves at a public hearing in late May and submitted planned reforms, including a 15 percent slimmer budget this fiscal year. The council has allocated about $10 million for the program, which includes airfare, orientation costs and counseling services. Teachers’ salaries are paid by the towns and cities that hire them. Several government ministries cover other JET-related costs, such as overseas recruitment.

Odachi expects his panel’s recommendations will be adopted as formal policy later this year.

“Whether that means zero (money) or half, we don’t know yet,” he said. “But our opinion has been issued, so (JET) will probably shrink.”

Kumiko Torikai, dean of Rikkyo University’s Graduate School of Intercultural Communication and the author of several books on English education in Japan, says JET has outgrown its usefulness and needs an overhaul.

“Bringing thousands of JETs to Japan is not a good investment for the country’s taxpayers in this day and age of an already globalized world,” Torikai said.

ENDS

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Japan Times Tuesday, July 27, 2010
THE ZEIT GIST
Ex-students don’t want JET grounded
Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura ask ‘children of JET’ whether the program deserves to be on the chopping block
By Eric Johnston and Kanako Nakamura (excerpt)

The case for JET
The JET program is one of — perhaps the only — project carried out by the Japanese government during the bubble-economy years of the late 1980s and early 1990s to promote kokusaika (internationalization) that actually had some success.

Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners have come to Japan to teach English and share their cultures with young Japanese who would otherwise not likely have been able to speak directly with a foreign teacher. These young people have also benefited local education by improving the abilities of Japanese teachers of English.

Upon return to their home countries, they act as unofficial goodwill ambassadors for Japan, and their experience as a JET is looked upon favorably by employers such as the U.S. State Department. For a relatively small investment on the part of taxpayers, the JET program has created huge returns, welcoming generations of non-Japanese who have, and will, go on to promote better relations between Japan and their own country and expose Japanese to the outside world in unprecedented ways.

The case against
The JET program is a relic of the go-go days of the bubble-economy years, when any half-baked idea could get government funding if it had the word “kokusaika” attached to it. Since its inception, over 50,000 young foreigners with few, if any, teaching credentials have come to Japan and partied for a year at taxpayer expense. They have usually enjoyed their stay, but their effectiveness in improving the English language ability of their students was never quantitatively measured and, given Japanese students’ performances on international English tests, is questionable at best.

Because most JET teachers are from North America, Europe or Australasia, the program promotes an “Anglo-Saxon” view of the world that disregards the importance of other cultures.

A JET’s presence in the classroom with Japanese teachers can actually be disruptive to classroom discipline, while the need for their colleagues to assist them with personal matters due to the language barrier places extra burdens on school staff.

Upon return to their countries, they land the same jobs others who were in Japan get, and it’s naive to think most JETs will be goodwill ambassadors.

At a time of fiscal austerity and when thousands of native English-speakers — many with teaching qualifications, Japanese language ability and a much better understanding of Japanese culture — can be hired as contract workers from private firms depending on local needs and at lower cost, why should Japanese taxpayers continue to subsidize the JET program?

The ex-students’ view…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100727zg.html

Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel

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Hi Blog.  As an update to the whole Toyota and safety issues (with people blaming them on cultural differences), now we have news that Toyota is actually going to “review defect measures” and “beef up quality controls” using “outsiders” for “independent scrutiny”.

I myself am not all that optimistic.  Toyota is, as the article says below, essentially “keeping it in the family”.  After previously penalizing an American QC expert for his scrutiny, they’ve anointed a blue-ribbon panel of experts who are Japanese only. Yeah, that’ll learn ’em about “cultural differences”, all right. Especially since the article below once again quotes Toyota as still trying to “bridge a cultural gap”.  As if culture is any factor here in making unsafe cars safe.  Enforced cluelessness.

Meanwhile, a US federal grand jury is subpoenaing Toyota to make sure the documentation doesn’t also continue to “stay in the family”. That article and video below too. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Toyota to study quality panel’s recommendations
By YURI KAGEYAMA (AP) – July 13, 2010 Courtesy of MD

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jTG7SuUsayqE6bO9GPluAfU5blewD9GTVER00

TOKYO — Toyota will start studying an assessment of the company’s quality control conducted by four outside experts to help beef up quality controls at the recall-battered automaker under a program that began in March to review defect measures.

Toyota Motor Corp. said Monday it was tackling a number of improvements, including analyzing each accident and consumer complaint more thoroughly and boosting communication with journalists and other outsiders to be better at ensuring quality.

Toyota, the world’s top automaker, has seen its once sterling image for quality plunge since October after recalling more than 8.5 million vehicles around the world with defective gas pedals, faulty floor mats, software glitches and other problems.

Despite vowing to improve quality, the automaker has in some cases discouraged independent scrutiny. Electronic messages obtained by The Associated Press in the U.S. show Toyota was frustrated with Southern Illinois University Professor David Gilbert, whose research indicated that electronics might be to blame for unintended acceleration problems in Toyota cars.

The messages show Toyota not only tried to cast doubt on his findings but also made clear it was displeased. One Toyota employee questioned whether he should be employed by the university, which has long been a recipient of company donations.

In steps disclosed Monday as under way, Toyota said it is boosting collaboration between Toyota’s quality-related divisions and its legal division, beefing up training among employees to get a better grasp of customers’ views on vehicle troubles, and trying to obtain more input from third-party experts.

Toyota has added four academic and consumer experts, who were recommended by the Union of Japanese Scientists and Engineers, which is not directly affiliated with Toyota. They are Hiroshi Osada, professor of management at the Tokyo Institute of Technology; Noriaki Kano, honorary professor at Tokyo University of Science; Yasuo Kusakabe, chairman of the Automobile Journalist Association of Japan and Yoshiko Miura, general manager at the Japan Consumer’s Association.

“Especially pressing is the need for establishing guidelines to steer crisis-management activity by the president and other members of senior management,” the panel said in a summary of their report. “Also pressing is the need for bridging the culture gap between Japan and other nations in public relations activities.”
ENDS

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SEC and Federal Grand Jury Are Investigating Toyota
Toyota Subpoenaed Over Sudden Acceleration Cases
By MATTHEW JAFFE and MARK SCHONE
ABC NEWS Feb. 22, 2010

A federal grand jury in New York and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into sudden acceleration in Toyotas.

VIDEO:  Koua Fong Lee, in prison for vehicular homicide, says Camry’s brakes didn’t work
Article and video at http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/toyota-subpoena-sec-federal-grand-jury-toyota-acceleration-investigation/story?id=9910971

The grand jury in the Southern District of New York issued a subpoena on February 8 asking Toyota and its subsidiaries to “produce certain documents related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the braking system of the Prius.”

According to documents filed with the SEC, Toyota also received a voluntary request and a subpoena from the Los Angeles office of the SEC on February 19 asking for production of “certain documents including those related to unintended acceleration of Toyota vehicles and the company’s disclosure policies and practices.”
ENDS

Sunday Tangent: Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him

mytest

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Hi Blog.   As another angle to the subject of the documentary The Cove, here we have Japan Times naturalist columnist (and fellow naturalized citizen) C.W. Nicol offering his view on what’s going on in Taiji. What’s interesting is his take on the matter of animal cruelty. Although he supports whaling as an issue and has no truck with tradition involving hunting of wild animals, what gets him is what the hunt does to the people in the neighborhood. I’m reminded of what goes on at Pitcairn Island (you get a society removed enough long enough from the authorities, they’ll invent their own rules, even if at variance with permissible conduct in society at large, and claim it as tradition). It was another reason for me personally to feel the conduct at Taiji is reprehensible.

The problem is that although Taiji is a small community, once it’s claimed to be “Japanese tradition”, you get one of the world’s most powerful economies behind it.  Then all manner of issues (Japan bashing, economics, a general dislike at the national level of having outsiders telling Japan what to do, fear of right-wing repercussions, and corruption of culturally-tolerant debate arenas overseas) adhere and make the debate murky. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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The Japan Times Sunday, July 4, 2010
OLD NIC’S NOTEBOOK
A meeting of minds (excerpt)
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100704cw.html
Last month, dolphin-welfare campaigner Ric O’Barry visited me in the Nagano hills, where we discussed the Taiji dolphin cull and what’s happening to marine mammals worldwide
By C.W. NICOL

In 1958, just before my 18th birthday, I went along on an Inuit hunt for seals in the Canadian Arctic. That was the first time I tasted that rich, dark red — almost black — meat, and it was like nothing else I had eaten before. I loved it.

Inuit hunters still used kayaks back then (and so did I) and I felt nothing but admiration for those men who went out into icy waters in such a flimsy craft, risking their lives to bring back food, fuel and the raw material for boots and clothing. In the many trips I have made to the Arctic since then, that feeling has never changed.

Then, in 1966, I first sailed aboard a whale-catcher, with a mixed Canadian and Japanese crew, hunting for sei and sperm whales off the west coast of Canada. Whale meat was on sale in pretty well every fish shop in Tokyo in the early 1960s when I first came to this country, so I had already come to appreciate its taste. Since then I have been on many marine mammal hunts — for seals, beluga, walrus and whales — and I retain enormous respect for the courage, skill and seamanship of those who take food from the sea.

That, however, is a stance that has made me unpopular with many antiwhaling folk around the world.

Nonetheless, in October 1978 I went to Taiji in Wakayama Prefecture to live in the town for a year and research the history and culture of Japanese whaling for a book I aimed to write — a book that turned out to be my novel, “Harpoon.” The anti-whaling movement was beginning to display some nasty anti-Japanese tendencies just then, and I thought it might be mollified by some understanding, through my book, of the whalers’ long background…

What horrified me in Taiji was that the dolphins were not harpooned, and thus secured to be quickly dispatched. Instead, the hunters were simply throwing spears into a melee of the animals swimming in a small inlet they had sealed off from the sea, hitting them here and there. Then they’d retrieve the spear by hauling in a rope tied to it and hurl it again or use it close up to stab with. This was a far cry from the efficiency — and respect for life, and death — of an Inuit hunter or a whaler at sea.

That first time I witnessed the Taiji killings, I saw a dolphin take 25 minutes to die, while on another hunt I saw one that thrashed and bled for a horrible 45 minutes before it succumbed to its wounds. Killing, if justified and necessary, should surely be merciful and quick — yet I even saw an old grandmother laughing at a dolphin’s death throes and pointing out the animal to the small child with her as if it was some kind of joke. That really hurt and shook my belief in people.

In addition to this catalog of horrors, though, as a former marine mammal research technician in Canada, it shocked me that all those dolphins were being captured and killed with no government inspector or fisheries biologist on hand to take data and monitor the kill. I protested about what was going on to the fishermen, and to Town Hall officials in Taiji. I even went to Tokyo and protested to a senior official in the Fisheries Agency, but he just sneered and said, “What does it matter, they die anyway.”…

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100704cw.html

Sunday Tangent: CNN: Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion

mytest

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Hi Blog.  For a Sunday Tangent, here is a hard-hitting article (thanks CNN) showing how activism against a corrupt but entrenched system gets treated:  Detention and interrogation of activists, possible sentencing under criminal law, and international bodies turning a blind eye to their own mandate.  Lucky for the author (and us) he is out on bail so he could write this.  He wouldn’t be bailed if he were NJ.  More on the IWC’s corruption in documentary The Cove — yet another reason why the bully boys who target people’s families (yet don’t get arrested for their “activism”) don’t want you to see it.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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IWC’s shame: Japan’s whale slaughter
By Junichi Sato, Special to CNN
CNN.com June 25, 2010 courtesy of SS

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/06/24/sato.iwc.whales/?fbid=c0Tcz4-EM8-

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Junichi Sato, colleague face charges after finding corruption in Japan’s whaling industry
Sato: He and Toru Suzuki were held, questioned, often taped to chairs, for 23 days
Sato says Japan uses guise of “scientific research” to slaughter whales
Sato: As IWC does nothing, Iceland, Norway and Japan kill 30,000 whales
Editor’s note: Junichi Sato is the Greenpeace Japan program director, overseeing advocacy efforts for the international environmental organization’s Japanese branch.

(CNN) — After just two days of closed-door negotiations, the leaders who had gathered at the International Whaling Commission in Agadir, Morocco, announced no agreement was reached on the IWC chair’s proposal to improve whale conservation.

Greenpeace did not support the proposal, but we had hoped governments would change it to become an agreement to end whaling, not a recipe for continuing it.

It is particularly disappointing to me, because my professional commitment to end the whale hunt in my country of Japan — which led to the exposure of an embezzlement scandal at the heart of the whaling industry — has come at significant personal cost.

The investigation I conducted with my colleague, Toru Suzuki, led to our arrests in front of banks of media outlets who had been told about it in advance.

The homes of Greenpeace office and staff members were raided. Seventy-five police officers were deployed to handcuff two peaceful activists. We were held without charge for 23 days; questioned for up to 10 hours a day while tied to chairs and without a lawyer present. We are now out on bail awaiting verdict and sentencing, expected in early September.

If I can risk my future to bring the fraudulent Japanese hunt to an end, if whaling whistle-blowers are prepared to risk their lives to expose the corruption, how can it be that the IWC has yet again failed to take the political risk to pressure my government to end the scientific whaling sham?

Since the IWC’s moratorium on commercial whaling came into force in 1986, Japan has continued to hunt whales under the guise of “scientific research,” making a mockery of the moratorium. By claiming that slaughtering thousands of whales, in waters designated a whale sanctuary no less, is a scientific experiment needed to understand whales, Japan has violated the spirit and intention of the moratorium as well as the Southern Ocean Whaling Sanctuary.

Iceland and Norway have simply ignored the moratorium. Those two nations, together with Japan, have killed more than 30,000 whales since then. I have always opposed my country’s hunt, which is why I decided to join Greenpeace. While it may be an emotionally charged political issue outside Japan, domestically it barely causes a political ripple. In 2006, Greenpeace decided to focus the bulk of its anti-whaling campaign in Japan to bring the issue home.

Wholly funded by Japanese taxpayers, the whaling program has produced no peer-reviewed scientific research and has been repeatedly told by the IWC that the so-called research is not needed or wanted. All it has produced is a massive bill for the taxpayers and tons of surplus whale meat that the Japanese public does not want to eat. It has also produced endless rumors and allegations of corruption and mismanagement.

Two years ago, following a tip from three former whalers turned whistle-blowers, my colleagues at Greenpeace Japan and I began a public interest investigation and discovered that indeed, corruption runs deep.

All three whalers claimed that whale meat was routinely embezzled, with the full knowledge of government and whaling fleet operator officials. Greenpeace eventually intercepted one of nearly 100 suspicious boxes coming off the ships.

Although its contents were labeled as cardboard, 23.5 kilograms of prime whale meat were inside, destined for a private address.

On May 15, 2008, we handed over the box to the authorities, with additional evidence of the crime. Initially the Tokyo district prosecutor began to investigate. But we were eventually charged with trespass and theft of the whale meat, valued at nearly 60,000 yen (about $550 at the time). We face from 18 months up to 10 years in jail for exposing the truth behind an industry that is financially, morally and scientifically bankrupt.

The U.N.’s Human Rights Council on Arbitary Detention has ruled that our human rights have been breached and the prosecution is politically motivated. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights has expressed her concern about our case. Amnesty International, Transparency International, two Nobel Peace Prize laureates, countless international legal experts, politicians and more than half a million individuals have raised their voices in opposition to the prosecution.

We will be tried and sentenced in September, more than two years after we first exposed the corruption. But the scandal does not end there. Just last week, more allegations emerged that Japan engages in vote-buying and bribery to keep its whaling fleet in the water.
But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

And yet, the IWC continues to close its doors and ears to the reality of Japan’s commercial whaling. I came to Morocco in the hope that this, the International Year of Biodiversity, could mean an end to all commercial whaling, but I leave knowing that governments are only interested in taking strong public positions on whales but not in taking action to save them, not even behind closed doors.

Mine and Toru’s political prosecution is a clear sign that Japan has no intention of easily letting go of its debt-ridden whaling program. There are too many vested interests inside the government. That is not surprising. What is more disappointing is that those vested interests have gone unchallenged by the IWC, the body set up to conserve whales.

It may be surprising that in this day and age, and given the huge public interest in the issue, conversations about saving whales are held in secret. But the truth is that Japan’s whaling program relies on secrecy and corruption to stay afloat.

After two years of negotiations, this year’s meeting could have been an opportunity for the IWC to actually move forward and end the status quo. But its collective failure means that 24 years after the establishment of the moratorium on commercial whaling, Japan, Iceland and Norway will continue again to hunt whales with impunity.

I challenge the commission to throw open its doors and shine a spotlight on the corruption that is so evident, investigate all the allegations affecting the IWC that have been laid clearly before it on numerous occasions and realize that it is not only Japan’s international reputation that has been tainted by the failure in Agadir.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Junichi Sato.

ENDS

Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!

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Hi Blog. After yesterday’s events, I feel my column on former PM Hatoyama and Okinawa Futenma was probably the best-timed one I’ve ever done, unfortunately. That said, I left a big stone unturned in it (happens when you have less than 1000 words): How Okinawa has been abused by both sides — Japanese and American — and how they deserve their independence from forced dependence. Mark in Yayoi, a scholar of Okinawan languages and dying/extinct cultures, offered an excellent perspective this morning that shouldn’t be buried within another post. So here it is for independent discussion. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Mark In Yayoi Says:
June 2nd, 2010 at 11:56 pm

In context at https://www.debito.org/?p=6820#comment-196385

Debito, when reading your essay, I was surprised to find that I agreed with you, but for almost totally opposite reasons. I’m sure I’ll be torn to shreds by other posters, and again by the nationalist anti-Debito crowd on other blogs who might be reading this, but it needs to be said.

The American occupation of Okinawa, unjust as it might be, is a net benefit to the mainland Tokyo government, which gets protection while simultaneously pretending that it’s “Japan” bearing the burden when in fact it’s Okinawa that suffers — they’re the people putting up with the loud airplanes and unruly soldiers. And these people bearing the cost of the protection were never seen as equals by Tokyo — they were used as human shields in a hopeless defense of Japan in 1945, and used as tax-paying slaves in the decades before that.

The US bases need to leave, and Okinawa needs to be free. Not free from the US, and not free to be Japan’s 47th prefecture (both chronologically and on the status totem pole), but free to be its own independent nation.

Exactly what “sovereignty” can the Tokyo government legitimately claim over the people of Okinawa, if we’re trying to redress past wrongs?

In 1609, the Satsuma clan invaded Okinawa, forced the Shuri king to sign humiliating treaties, and taxed the people (first lightly, then very, very onerously) to the point that they were virtual slaves. By the 19th century, ordinary people in the Yaeyamas were forced to labor to the point where 86% of their productivity was siphoned off by the Satsuma, and local authorities were forcing pregnant women to abort their babies so that there would be fewer mouths to feed.

(See Toshiichi Sudo’s 1944 book 南島覚書 Nantou Oboegaki for exact figures on the taxes, and, if you don’t mind slogging through archaic Japanese, 南島探検 Nantou Tanken by Gisuke Sasamori 笹森儀助 for more info on the impoverished lives of Meiji-era Okinawans.)

The “head tax” continued until 1903 and monuments commemmorating its abolition still stand today.

The mainland rulers also treated Okinawans’ language with disrespect. Americans who refuse to learn the culture or language? They’re not half as bad as the mainlanders who came to Okinawa to administer the island before the war. Did they learn to speak Shuri (or any other Okinawan language)? Certainly not, and they even punished Okinawan children who had the audacity to speak their own languages rather than Japanese by making them wear big wooden “dialect tags” (hougen-fuda) around their necks.

And the Tokyo overlords did such a good job of eradicating the Okinawan languages that today you’re hard-pressed to find people who can still speak them.

So when it comes to oppressing Okinawans, the US military has nothing on the mainland Japanese.

Now, we can insist that the treatment of Okinawans by the mainland government before WWII is less relevant than how Tokyo has treated them since the reversion in 1972, and obviously the murderous taxes of rice and fabric and livestock have been dialed down quite a bit.

Still, the mainland government’s “have their cake and eat it too” position — whine about America being the big bad bully for domestic consumption while simultaneously accepting American protection from worse aggressors — needs to be addressed. As does the issue of what will happen with the bases when the US leaves. Surely Hatoyama wasn’t planning to just move the JSDF into all those fully-operational, ready-made installations, now was he?

I know that thia is pie-in-the-sky idealism, but what I really want to see is an independent Okinawa, with free-trade and free-entry agreements with Japan (and whatever countries they choose to deal with), and no national or consumption taxes paid to Tokyo whatsoever. At the very least, some kind of Hong Kong or Taiwan-like partial autonomy. I fervently hope that a solution can come about that respects not just the desires of residents near the bases, but also all those elderly folks who have been putting up with other disrespects and abuses since long before the first US base was built. The US is using those people, sure, but the Tokyo government has an even worse track record. An autonomous Okinawa is the only way.

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy

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JUST BE CAUSE
Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy
The Japan Times: Tuesday, June 1, 2010
By DEBITO ARUDOU

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100601ad.html

Times are tough for the Hatoyama Cabinet. It’s had to backtrack on several campaign promises. Its approval ratings have plummeted to around 20 percent. And that old bone of contention — what to do about American military bases on Japanese soil — has resurfaced again.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100430a1.html

The Okinawa Futenma base relocation issue is complicated, and Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama has devoted too much time to a battle he simply cannot win. If the American troops stay as is, Okinawan protests will continue and rifts within the Cabinet will grow. If the troops are moved within Japan, excessive media attention will follow and generate more anti-Hatoyama and anti-American sentiment. If the troops leave Japan entirely, people will grumble about losing American money.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100526a1.html

So let’s ask the essential question: Why are U.S. bases still in Japan?

One reason is inertia. America invaded Okinawa in 1945, and the bases essentially remain as spoils of war. Even after Okinawa’s return to Japan in 1972, one-sixth of Okinawa is technically still occupied, hosting 75 percent of America’s military presence in Japan. We also have the knock-on effects of Okinawan dependency on the bases (I consider it a form of “economic alcoholism”), and generations of American entrenchment lending legitimacy to the status quo.

Another reason is Cold War ideology. We hear arguments about an unsinkable aircraft carrier (as if Okinawa is someplace kept shipshape for American use), a bulwark against a pugilistic North Korea or a rising China (as if the DPRK has the means or China has the interest to invade, especially given other U.S. installations in, say, South Korea or Guam). But under Cold War logic including “deterrence” and “mutually assured destruction,” the wolf is always at the door; woe betide anyone who lets their guard down and jeopardizes regional security.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unsinkable_aircraft_carrier

Then there’s the American military’s impressive job of preying on that insecurity. According to scholar Chalmers Johnson, as of 2005 there were 737 American military bases outside the U.S. (an actual increase since the Cold War ended) and 2.5 million U.S. military personnel serving worldwide. What happened to the “peace dividend” promised two decades ago after the fall of the Berlin Wall? Part of it sunk into places like Okinawa.

http://www.alternet.org/story/47998/

But one more reason demonstrates an underlying arrogance within the American government: “keeping the genie in the bottle” — the argument that Japan also needs to be deterred, from remilitarizing. The U.S. military’s attitude seems to be that they are here as a favor to us.

Some favor. As history shows, once the Americans set up a base abroad, they don’t leave. They generally have to lose a war (as in Vietnam), have no choice (as in the eruption of Pinatubo in the Philippines), or be booted out by a dictator (as in Uzbekistan). Arguments about regional balances of power are wool over the eyes. Never mind issues of national sovereignty — the demands of American empire require that military power be stationed abroad. Lump it, locals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Pinatubo

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/29/AR2005072902038.html

But in this case there’s a new complication: The Futenma issue is weakening Japan’s government.

Hatoyama has missed several deadlines for a resolution (while the American military has stalled negotiations for years without reprisal), enabling detractors to portray him as indecisive. He’s had to visit Okinawa multiple times to listen to locals and explain. Meanwhile, the opposition Liberal Democratic Party claims Hatoyama is reneging on a promise (which is spoon-bitingly hypocritical, given the five decades the LDP completely ignored Okinawa, and the fact that Hatoyama has basically accepted an accord concluded by the LDP themselves in 2006). And now, with Mizuho Fukushima’s resignation from the Cabinet, the coalition government is in jeopardy.

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100525a6.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20100530a1.html

Futenma is taking valuable time away from other policies that concern Japan, such as corruption and unaccountability, growing domestic economic inequality, crippling public debts, and our future in the world as an aging society.

As the momentum ebbs from his administration, Hatoyama is in a no-win situation. But remember who put him there. If America really is the world’s leading promoter of democracy, it should consider how it is undermining Japan’s political development. After nearly 60 years of corrupt one-party rule, Japan finally has a fledgling two-party system. Yet that is withering on the vine thanks to American geopolitical manipulation.

We keep hearing how Japan’s noncooperation will weaken precious U.S.-Japan ties. But those ties have long been a leash — one the U.S., aware of how susceptible risk-averse Japan is to “separation anxiety,” yanks at whim. The “threatened bilateral relationship” claim is disingenuous — the U.S. is more concerned with bolstering its military-industrial complex than with Asia’s regional stability.

In sum, it’s less a matter of Japan wanting the U.S. bases to stay, more a matter of the U.S. bases not wanting to leave. Japan is a sovereign country, so the Japanese government has the final say. If that means U.S. forces relocating or even leaving completely, the U.S. should respectfully do so without complaint, not demand Japan find someplace else for them to go. That is not Japan’s job.

Yet our politicians have worked hard for decades to represent the U.S. government’s interests to the Japanese public. Why? Because they always have.

The time has come to stop being prisoners of history. World War II and the Cold War are long over.

That’s why this columnist says: Never mind Futenma. All U.S. bases should be withdrawn from Japanese soil, period. Anachronisms, the bases have not only created conflicts of interest and interfered with Japan’s sovereignty, they are now incapacitating our government. Japan should slip the collar of U.S. encampments and consider a future under a less dependent, more equal relationship with the U.S.

Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Tangent: Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous

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Hi Blog. Putting this up because it’s an important story, and where else are you going to find an expose like this of something so politically hot within the domestic press?  Good investigative journalism in the Japan Times regarding the Taiji dolphin culls (the subject of the award-winning movie The Cove), questioning the science behind the public policy of letting people eat unsafe food for political reasons.

It’s not the first time I’ve seen GOJ/public pressure interfere with the scientific community in Japan. Two examples come to mind: 1) Japan‘s Demographic Science making “Immigration” a Taboo Topic, and 2) Apple Imports and the Tanii Suicide Case. Excerpt follows, courtesy of Kevin. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.

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The Japan Times Sunday, May 23, 2010
Experts fear Taiji mercury tests are fatally flawed (excerpt)
By BOYD HARNELL

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100523a1.html

PHOTO CAPTION: Award-winning U.S. neurologist Dr. David Permutter: “Serving dolphin meat is tantamount to poisoning people; they may as well serve them arsenic …”

PHOTO CAPTION: Dr. Pal Wiehe, Chief Physician, Dept. of Occupational Medicine, Public Health in the Faroe Islands: “Without doubt, (Taiji dolphin meat) is dangerous to consumers …”

On May 10, in a front-page lead story headlined “Taiji locals test high for mercury,” The Japan Times reported the results of tests by the National Institute of Minamata Disease (NIMD) that found “extremely high methyl-mercury (MeHg) concentrations in the hair of some residents of Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, where people have a tradition of eating whale and dolphin.”

Specifically, the tests of 1,137 Taiji residents last year revealed that average MeHg levels were 11.00 parts per million (ppm) for men and 6.63 ppm for women — compared with an average of 2.47 ppm for men and 1,64 ppm for women at 14 other locations in Japan.

However, the May 10 report stated that “experts were at a loss to explain why none of Taiji’s residents have mercury-related health problems” and that the NIMD would “continue to research” why no symptoms were observed, according to NMID Director General Koji Okamoto.

Such continuing research will perhaps intensify in light of further tests by Masaaki Nakamura, chief of the NIMD’s Clinical Medicine Section, on 182 surveyed Taiji residents having the highest mercury levels. Dr. Nakamura’s results found that 43 residents tested above 50 ppm of MeHg, with one showing a level of 139 ppm.

Nonetheless, all those tested were declared healthy at an NIMD-sponsored press conference in Taiji on May 9, at which the institute didn’t give the 43 residents any dietary advice, with Okamoto noting, according to media reports, that, “It’s important that they decide what they should eat.”…

Meanwhile, commenting on Okamoto’s advice for Taiji residents that it is “important that they decide what they should eat,” Dr. Pal Wiehe, chief physician in the Department of Occupational Medicine, Public Health in the Danish-controlled Faroe Islands, said, “This is inappropriate advice . . . We have seen over a period of time that there were negative impacts at all levels in our neurological, physiological and psychological tests that were irreversible.”…

Commenting on the high concentration of mercury in Taiji dolphin meat in 10 certified lab tests conducted on different dolphin species, which found the highest level, at 14.3 ppm, was almost 36 times over Japan’s advisory level of 0.4 ppm, Wiehe said, ” That to me, without any doubt, is dangerous to consumers’ health . . . our average concentration (in pilot whales, which are oceanic dolphins) is 2 ppm.”

He added, “We don’t consider pilot whale meat proper human food.” In fact, despite some harsh local opposition, on Dec. 1, 2008 Wiehe successfully recommended to the government of the Faroe Islands that residents discontinue the consumption of pilot whale meat…

Just as the researcher said that fears of intimidation (and the withdrawal of research funding) prompted him to request his name be withheld, the Taiji dolphin-cull story and the toxic meat it produces is mostly ignored in Japan’s vernacular media. Indeed, this writer has repeatedly been told by editors that the whole subject is “too sensitive” for them to cover.

Whatever the attempts in Japan to ignore questions surrounding the NIMD’s approval for Japanese citizens to continue eating toxic dolphin, however, one of America’s leading neurologists, Florida-based Dr. David Permutter — a recipient of the prestigious Linus Pauling Functional Medicine Award for his research into brain disease — was far less inhibited….

“These levels (of MeHg) are dramatically elevated. This practice of serving dolphin meat is tantamount to poisoning people; they may as well serve them arsenic, it would be no less harmful! What they’re doing is wrong on every count; it’s the wrong thing to do for the people and the wrong thing to do for the dolphins. No matter how you look at this, it’s perverse — it’s a tragedy and it should be condemned. If the role of government is to protect the people, then they’re failing miserably in their role.”

Full article at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fe20100523a1.html
ENDS

US House of Reps Resolution submission regarding Japan’s Child Abductions Issue

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US House of Representatives to Introduce House Resolution condemning Japan for International Child Abduction.
Courtesy of Paul Toland, of Help Bring Erika Toland Home Facebook Page
May 2, 2010

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=98937667971

On Wednesday, May 5th 2010, the Japanese National Holiday of Children’s Day, A United States House of Representatives House Resolution will be introduced condemning Japan for International Child Abduction and calling on Japan to facilitate the immediate return of all children abducted to Japan. This historic resolution comes after 58 years of zero cooperation by the Government of Japan on this issue. Of the 231 children abducted to Japan in the last decade, and the countless hundreds more abducted in the preceding decades, none have ever been returned, making Japan quite literally a black hole from which no child ever returns.

A Capitol Hill press conference introducing the resolution will be held from 1:30 PM to 2:30 PM outdoors at the House Triangle, located near the Capitol building, opposite Longworth building (and over Independence Ave. road, away from Longworth building). Closest metro is Capitol South.

Speaking at the Press Conference will be Congressman James Moran (D-VA), Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ), and many victim parents to include Christopher Savoie, Commander Paul Toland, Doug Berg and others.

Immediately following the press conference, the Bring Abducted Children
(BAC) Home foundation (www.bachome.org), consisting of victim parents of child abduction, will head to the Japanese Embassy for a 4:00 PM rally where the parents will take turns reading excerpts from the resolution in front of the embassy.

That evening, at 7:30 PM, BAC Home Foundation will hold a candlelight vigil in front of the Japanese Ambassador’s residence to remember and pray for the return of the 200+ abducted children.

May 5, 2010 Schedule:

1:30 – 2:30 PM: Capitol Hill Press Conference to introduce House Resolution condemning Japan for International Child Abduction. House Triangle.

4:00 PM: Bring Abducted Children (BAC) Home rally and House Resolution
Reading, Japanese Embassy. 2520 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC

7:30 PM – BAC Home Candlelight vigil, Japanese Ambassador’s residence, 4000 Nebraska Ave NW, Washington, DC

ENDS

Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families

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Hi Blog . The Japan Times reported UN Special Rapporteur Bustamante’s interim comments during his current-two-week fact-finding mission to Japan, particularly as pertains to the GOJ visa system that deports people even if it means splitting apart families (cf. the Calderon Noriko Case).

Dr Bustamante takes a very dim view of this below. He will also be giving a press conference this Wednesday, March 31. I hope the information we at FRANCA provided him last week will also be factored into his statements and advice. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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The Japan Times, Sunday, March 28, 2010
Deportation rule troubles U.N. official (excerpt)
By MASAMI ITO, Staff writer
, Courtesy of John in Yokohama
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

A recent government decision to deport only the parents of families without residency status, thus separating children from their mothers and fathers, flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said Saturday in Tokyo.

Fact-finding: Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, greets Noriko Calderon, the daughter of a deported Filipino couple, in Tokyo Saturday. Lawyer Shogo Watanabe, who represents her family, also attended the meeting. KYODO PHOTO

Bustamante, who is on his first official fact-finding mission to Japan, is meeting with government officials, nongovernmental organizations, legal experts and foreign residents, and is expected to submit a report on Japan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

On Saturday, he met with residents caught in the deportation dilemma — among them Noriko Calderon, a 14-year-old girl who was born in Japan to an undocumented Filipino couple. Calderon’s case drew media attention when her parents were deported last spring.

“It is very difficult to live separated from my parents, and I miss them very much,” Calderon said. “But I hope that one day, all three of us can live in Japan together and I plan to do my best” to realize that goal.

Bustamante expressed concern over the separation of families and said he would cite the situation in his report.

“It’s going to be made public,” Bustamante told the gathering. “And this, of course, might result in an embarrassment for the government of Japan and therefore certain pressure (will be) put on the government of Japan.”

Rest of the article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100328a2.html

ENDS

Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ

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Hi Blog. The following Japan Times article wouldn’t normally be put up on Debito.org yet because the negotiation is ongoing (covering much the same argumentative ground as already reported here), and nothing necessarily decisive has been decided. However, a new development in the USG’s constant-looking pressure on the GOJ to sign the Hague, and do something about its citizens using Japan as a haven for child abductions after divorce, is the fact that somebody official is bothering to answer the GOJ claim that obeying the Hague would mean sending back J children to be endangered by an abusive NJ parent (I’ll take that as a slur, thank you very much). Excerpts from the JT article below. Arudou Debito in Morioka.

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DPJ rule raises Hague treaty-signing hope
‘Left-behind parent’ urges Japan to side with child-abduction pact
By MASAMI ITO
The Japan Times: Thursday, March 18, 2010 (excerpt)

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100318f1.html

… Article 1 of the Hague Convention states that its objective is “to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully removed to or retained in any Contracting State.” At present, there are 82 signatory states, including Canada, the United States and Great Britain. Of the Group of Eight countries, only Japan and Russia have not signed the treaty.

“There is a part of this convention that is alienated from the Japanese legal system,” the Foreign Ministry said in a written reply to The Japan Times. “In concluding this convention, there are several issues that need to be thoroughly discussed, including the consistency with our country’s judicial system on families.”

Under Japanese law, only one parent gets custody over children after a divorce, whereas rulings on joint custody are often seen in Europe and the United States. But with the number of international marriages on the increase and a rise in divorces as well, Japan faces increasing international pressure to change the current system and sign the convention.

Last month, Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, brought up the issue during his meetings with Japanese officials in Tokyo and even held a special news conference on the topic at the U.S. Embassy.

“The U.S. government places the highest possible priority on the welfare of children who have been victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents,” Campbell told reporters. […]

One key concern often cited in the Japanese media is cases of domestic violence in which mostly Japanese women are fleeing their abusive husbands and bringing their children to Japan to protect them.

But Article 13 of the convention stipulates that children do not need to be returned if there is a risk that the return “would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation.”

[Raymond Baca, the consul general of the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, who has a rather unfortunate name,] said: “There is this perception out there, and I believe it’s widely held, that if Japan joined or acceded to the Hague Convention, that Japanese parents here would be required to send their children back to an abusive environment.

“It’s important to point out that there are explicit safeguards against this within the Hague Convention,” he said.

Full article at
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100318f1.html

ENDS

Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain recall issues

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Hi Blog.  As a weekend tangent, here’s more on Toyota and how we try to steer attention away from matters of engineering — by blaming it once again on culture, and getting some university prof to mouth it for legitimacy’s sake.  Comments from submitter BT included.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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On Feb 26, 2010, at 11:45 AM, BT wrote:

Greetings and salutations! Just came across this little gem while reading the Asahi Shinbun earlier today. I thought you might be interested (if someone else hasn’t already sent this in): http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201002250455.html

It’s an interview about Toyota recalls in the US, with “Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences”. I’m talking specifically about these two quotes:

“Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan..”

(The “we’re superior” routine)

And,

“Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.”

(The “poor, poor Japan” routine)

Cheers from Tokyo!  BT

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‘Toyota relied too much on Japanese way’
BY TETSUO KOGURE, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

2010/02/26, Interview with Hideo Kobayashi (THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

What can companies do to avoid the pitfalls that have plagued Toyota Motor Corp. over its vehicle recalls?

Hideo Kobayashi, a visiting professor at Yokohama National University’s Center for Risk Management and Safety Sciences, says Toyota failed to recognize differences in the way Japanese and Americans perceive recalls.

Kobayashi is an expert on crisis management concerning safety measures and is well-versed in recall matters. Because product problems are bound to crop up, he says companies should deal with them while paying attention to detail.

Following are excerpts of an Asahi Shimbun interview with Kobayashi:

* * *

Question: In the United States, Toyota has come under fire for being tardy in issuing recalls. What is your sense of the whole Toyota issue?

Answer: Trouble always occurs when a carmaker develops, produces and introduces a new vehicle. When problems occur, modifying the vehicle is what every automaker (in the world) does as a matter of course. While the modification is usually carried out on cars to be produced in the future, the system of recalls specifically targets vehicles that have already been manufactured so that they are fixed, too.

I think the biggest problem with Toyota was its failure to recognize the difference in thinking in Japan and the United States over the issues of recalls and safety. It apparently made a typically Japanese judgment.

Japanese companies have a strong tradition of being bound by legal regulations, with a deep-rooted perception that issuing a “recall is evil.”

In the United States and Europe, companies believe that from a crisis management viewpoint, “the sooner a recall is done, the easier it is to contain the damage.” As a result people think: “Because there is a recall (system), we can travel in a car without having any worries.”

Overseas subsidiaries (of car manufacturers) that are aware of these things had better take the lead in coping with recalls. However, faced with rapid market expansion and increased sales, Toyota probably decided that it would be easier for the headquarters (in Japan) to make a judgment.

Q: Some say the reaction to Toyota’s problems has an aspect of “Japan bashing” about it. What is your view?

A: With American companies such as General Motors Corp. going under and Toyota doing well in sales, there naturally is an aspect of Japan bashing. But this is something that has to be overcome.

To survive, many Japanese companies need to go overseas for sales and manufacturing, but they won’t succeed if they force their Japanese style (of doing business). Overseas subsidiaries must hire locally and assimilate.

Q: Wasn’t Toyota’s confidence in product quality one of the factors that led to its sloppy handling of the situation?

A: Can what people in Japan consider “good quality” be also considered good in the United States, which has a more diversified population?

Japanese people generally have high driving skills and similar physical features. But the United States, whose society was more or less built by immigrants, has people with various physical features and behavioral patterns. To get a driver’s license, you don’t need the sort of skills that are required in Japan.

Naturally, there can be various troubles even with cars developed in Japan that are regarded as good in the country. Problems need to be handled with attention to detail.

Q: Toyota has decided to introduce a brake override system that enables a driver to stop the car even if the gas pedal is depressed. Was it a problem that there was no such system previously?

A: It was rather whether (Toyota) had explained to customers the lack of the system and what could happen as a consequence.
ENDS

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

mytest

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Hi Blog. What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.

Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.

Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews.  In that:  The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination“.  I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure.  As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t.  But it is according to the CERD Committee below.

In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki.  And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities (sometimes rendered as “foreign migrants”), as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term.  People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition.  Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.

I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea.  I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:

UN:  I listened attentively to the [Japanese] head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term.

UN: [T]he law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? […] I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system.

UN: [S]hould I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? […] [D]o you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

UN: I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today.

GOJ:  With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, […] there is no definite schedule in place.

GOJ: [T]o make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, […] we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now. […]   And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. [NB:  The last sentence is practically verbatim from the 2008 session.]

GOJ:  For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society.

UN: I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report. […] I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter.

Full text of the session follows.  Notable bits in boldface.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Transcription of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session)

Transcribed by Ralph Hosoki, Solidary with Migrants Japan

First Day[1]

(February 24, 2010 (15:00~18:00): Japanese government presentation and CERD questions)

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

For that reason and this will be followed by interventions of members of the committee in the order that they request the floor. After they have spoken which I expect which would take us to six o’clock this evening and even then I suspect there won’t be enough time but in the next morning that is tomorrow we will have the first round of responses from your side and for that you will have another hour and 15 minutes to respond to the questions and what I anticipate is that there will be so many questions that you will have to have clusters and probably you will have to have a working dinner, your delegation, going late into the evening in my experience, which I think you’re members of your delegation can look forward to and after that once again, members of the committee will ask a second round of questions, and then we will again give you time to respond whatever you can within the time that is available so I think we look forward to an extremely productive interactive dialogue and without further ado sir, I should like to give you the floor to introduce your report.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you, thank you Mr. Chairperson, in order to save time, I think I will omit the introduction of my delegation who came from Tokyo from various ministries. I think you have a list of our delegation at your hand. So I will start from the beginning, my sort of opening remarks.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, it’s great honor to be engaged in constructive dialogue today with the committee. I would like to extend opening remarks on behalf of the Japanese delegation at the beginning of the examination.

In September 2009, our Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama shortly after he took office, addressed the 64th session of the United Nations General Assembly, and advocated the concept of “Yuuai” or fraternity as Japan’s new principle for dealing with domestic and diplomatic issues. This principle is a way of thinking that respects one’s own freedom and individual dignity while also respecting the freedom and individual dignity of others. The government of Japan will implement this convention based on this principle.

Furthermore Prime Minister Hatoyama in January this year, made a policy speech at the Diet under the main theme of protecting people’s lives. The Prime Minister stated as follows, “In order to prevent individuals from becoming isolated, and to create an environment in which everyone, the young, women, elderly, and those challenged by disabilities, can use their talents to play a full part in society with a sense of purpose and pride. We will work to obtain an accurate understanding of the employment situation and work to rectify the systems and practices that currently act as barriers.”

Japan believes that all human rights and fundamental freedoms are universal values and our legitimate concerns of the international community. It is with this belief that Japan is actively engaged in efforts to protect and promote human rights with the attitude of dialogue and cooperation.  As part as part of such efforts in August of 2008, Japan compiled and submitted to the committee the third to sixth periodic reports on Japan’s achievement in efforts with regard to human rights guaranteed by ICERD. In addition to the periodic reports, we made maximum effort in compiling and submitting answers to the list of issues to the committee.

The ICERD is the main mechanism for dealing with racial discrimination and all other forms of discrimination. And the universal implementation of the convention is important for creating a society without racial discrimination. It is needless to say that after ratification of international conventions, it is important to see to what extent the rights stipulated in them are protected and promoted by each state party. In this respect, we are glad to have the opportunity to be examined by the committee through which we can review the status of Japan’s implementation of the convention from an international standpoint, and reflect the findings in our diplomatic policies.  We are looking forward to listening to various views from the members of the committee in order to improve the human rights situation in Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to take this opportunity to explain some of the major steps the government of Japan has taken in relation to the convention. First, Japan is working actively to establish comprehensive policies for the respecting of the human rights of the Ainu people. Following the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples at the United Nations General Assembly in 2007, the Japanese Diet, our Parliament, unanimously adopted a resolution calling for the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people in June 2008. In response to this resolution, the government of Japan recognized the Ainu people as an indigenous people who live in the Northern part of the Japanese islands, especially in Hokkaido, and established the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on Policies for the Ainu People with a representative of the Ainu people participating as a member. The panel members visited regions where many Ainu people reside and exchanged views with Ainu people. In 2009 the panel compiled a report and submitted it to the government of Japan. In this report, the panel expressed its views that the government of Japan should listened sincerely to the opinions of the Ainu people and make efforts to establish Ainu policy reflecting the situations of Japan as well as the Ainu people. This view is based on the recognition that Ainu people are an indigenous people and the government of Japan has a strong responsibility for the rehabilitation of their culture. The report identified three basic principles on implementing the Ainu related policies. That is one, respect for the Ainu people’s identities; Two, respect for diverse cultures and ethnic harmony; and three, nationwide implementation of Ainu related policy. The report also made recommendations on concrete policy measures including promoting education and public awareness about the history and culture of the Ainu. Constructing parks as a symbolic space for ethnic harmony and promoting the Ainu culture including the Ainu language.  Furthermore, the report advised the Government of Japan to conduct research on the living conditions of the Ainu people outside of Hokkaido and to implement measures for improving their living conditions throughout Japan. In August 2009, the government of Japan established the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department to develop an all encompassing Ainu policy. The first director of this department Mr. Akiyama is sitting next to me. And in December 2009, decided to set up the meeting for promotion of the Ainu policy with the participation of representatives of the Ainu people. The first session of the meeting took place last month followed by the first working group next month, and that meetings are scheduled to be held regularly. The government of Japan will materialize policies and also follow up on the implementation of policy.  Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Prime Minister Hatoyama in his policy speech at the Diet in October last year, committed “to promote culture of diversity to enable everyone to live with dignity by respecting the history and culture of the Ainu people who are indigenous to Japan.” In this direction, the government of Japan will create an environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identities and inherit their culture.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, secondly, let me explain our effort to promote human rights education and enlightenment. The government of Japan believes that everyone is entitled to human rights, should correctly understand other people’s human rights and respect each other. Under this belief, the government of Japan place importance on human rights education and enlightenment. In December 2000, the government of Japan enacted the Act for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement which led to the formation of the Basic Plan for Promotion of Human Rights Education and Encouragement in March 2002. According to the basic plan, the human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice expand and strengthen awareness raising activities to disseminate and enhance the idea of respect for human rights. Various activities are conducted by the organs, with a view to fostering human rights awareness as appropriate in age of globalization for eliminating prejudice and discrimination against foreigners as well as for promoting at an attitude of tolerance and respect for diverse cultures, religions, lifestyles, and customs of different origins. Human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice also have been endeavoring to protect human rights through other activities such as human rights counseling, investigation, and the disposition of human rights infringement cases. In particular, in April 2004, the government of Japan fully revised the regulations of human rights infringement incidents treatment to ensure quick, flexible, and appropriate enforcement of investigation and relief activities. Based on this revision, when the human rights organs recognize the fact of human rights abuse case, including acts of racial discrimination, they commence relief activities immediately and carry out the necessary investigation in cooperation with the administrative organs concerned. If it becomes clear as a result of the investigation, that human rights abuse including acts of racial discrimination has occurred, human rights organs take various steps to relieve individual victims. For instance, they admonish and order the perpetrator to stop such acts of racial discrimination, and request that those parties authorized to substantially respond to the case, take necessary measures for the relief of the victims and prevention of reoccurrence.

The human rights organs also endeavor to prevent reoccurrence of act of racial discrimination, by educating the persons concerned with regard to respect for human rights. Furthermore, from the perspective of remedying human rights issues, Japan is currently working on studies aimed at the establishment of a national human rights institution which independent of the government would deal with human rights infringements and remedy the situation as quickly as possible. The Human Rights Protection Bill which the government of Japan submitted to the Diet in 2002, provided that Human Rights Commission to be independent of the government take measures to remedy human rights infringements in a simple, quick, and flexible matter. However, the bill did not pass due to the dissolution of the House of Representatives in October 2003. Therefore, currently a new bill on a new human rights remedy system is under review under this new government of Japan.

Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, I would like to avail myself on this occasion to announce Japan’s new initiatives with regard to refugee related policies. As part of its effort to make international contribution and provide humanitarian assistance, the government of Japan decided to start a pilot resettlement program and admit Myanmarnese refugees staying in the ____ Camp in Thailand.  More specifically, Japan will admit 30 people once a year, for three consecutive years from this year. That means in total approximately 90 people. For this purpose, three weeks ago, we dispatched a mission to the camp to interview candidate refugees. Japan is proud that it will become the first Asian country to introduce a resettlement program. Japan will make the most effort in order to live up to the expectations from the international community. The government of Japan in cooperation with relevant organizations and NGOs will provide refugees substantial support for resettlement such as guidance for adjusting to Japanese society, Japanese language training, and improvement consultation and job referral. Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, Japan, on the basis of that spirit declared in the Constitution and the preamble of the convention disallow any discrimination against race and ethnicity, and continue to make tireless efforts to improve the human rights situation in Japan. The Japanese delegation is ready to most sincerely provide answers on any matters of concern you may have during this important examination. So it’s my hope that we will have constructive discussions. Thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you sir. Sir, would you like to give the floor to other members of his delegation at this stage or would you prefer to do that later? I thank you for your introduction and this gives us more time for the committee members to pose questions and I give the floor now to our distinguished rapporteur Mr. Thornberry.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and again I would like to thank the delegation, the head of delegation very warmly for opening address and for the report and responding so promptly to the questions submitted by this rapporteur. It is a great privilege for me to act as country rapporteur on this occasion. This is the second occasion in which Japan has reported to this committee, and the first was in 2001 when I had just joined the committee. You ratified in 1995, you have not or not yet accepted the optional or____optional declaration in relation to the individual communications procedure of the committee nor indeed as I understand to the amendments to article 8. Both of which procedures I think in our previous meeting we commended or the article 14 procedure and the amendments to article 8. Nevertheless, you’ve consolidated many issues in your succinct report, and we are very grateful for that.

If I may start with perhaps a number of rather technical matters relating to the convention and the surrounding framework of human rights. 53 out of 173 states parties have accepted the individual communications procedure, and I note also that Japan has not yet accepted the optional protocol to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights so it doesn’t engage with that system, but colleagues would commend article 14 to you as well as other procedures because it gets to the heart of issues about racial discrimination. Looking at your spectrum of human rights commitments there are in fact a number of cases in which instruments relevant to our convention perhaps would engage your further reflection, notably ILO Convention 111 on discrimination in employment, ILO Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples, and the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education. All of these are related in one way or the other to the issues that CERD deals with so it might be interesting for you to reflect upon widening the circle of human rights commitments. I also note that you didn’t ratify the Genocide Convention of 1948, but that you have I think accepted the statute of the International Criminal Court which is interesting because of course, part of the jurisdiction, the substantive jurisdiction of the statute is precisely the crime of genocide. Of course the decision to accede or not to accede to a particular convention is a sovereign prerogative and we respect that, but certainly, some of the conventions I’ve referred to do serve as benchmarks of good practice and can in fact be very very helpful I think for a state in elaborating its policy, and I’ve only singled out those which are relevant to the issue of racial discrimination, and they also enable the state to engage with certain supervision systems which again can be I think a positive experience.

Before passing on from this review, the general situation, CERD and other relevant conventions, I would like to recall one historical very positive fact and that was Japan’s pioneering effort in the time of the League of Nations to try to insert a provision in the League system on the equality of nations and peoples, and following that the world had to wait until the United Nations Charter before we had the major reflection of the principle of nondiscrimination; in this case on the grounds of race, sex, language, or religion, and our convention and all other conventions stem from that important architectural aspect of the human rights program.

If I may take some very specific matters on the report, supplemented by your questions, the report and your responses contain many statistics including figures disaggregated by citizenship, nationality, but paragraph 4 of the report says that ethnic breakdown for Japan is not readily available, Japan does not conduct population surveys from an ethnic viewpoint. I must say this has caused the rapporteur some heartache in the sense of trying to get a grip on relevant figures. For example, in relation to Koreans, you say that 600,000 approximately, that’s just round up those numbers, foreigners who are Koreans; 400,000 of which are special permanent residents, but there is also a figure of some 320,000 naturalizations that I have come across, and in recent years up to 2008, so we are actually talking about a million, something roughly around a million Koreans and Korean descent. The committee often asks for statistics; we understand the difficulties that states may have for various reasons including reasons to do with privacy and anonymity and so on, not wanting to pigeonhole people in certain ethnic categories, but it can be tremendously helpful I think and also in many cases necessary to get a grasp of the situation by understanding its dimensions and if an ethnic question can’t be asked in a direct way in a census, we often encourage states to find creative ways around this, including things like use of languages we recommended to other states from time to time; social surveys, etc., and a number of other methods that are…this is essentially designed not simply to help the committee – that’s not the point – but to help the state, I think to understand the dimensions of a particular question, and enable them to focus their policy more appropriately.

Your response to question 1 regarding people of Okinawa and Dowa Burakumin, simply recalls that they are Japanese nationals under the law, but of course that is a legal position and doesn’t directly respond to a question on statistics. I mean all countries have some provision or other on equality before the law, but this does not prevent statistics, ethnic or otherwise, being offered preferably on the basis of self definition. I would simply say that identity in this world is a more complex notion than perhaps than nationality in the legal sense – nationality or citizenship. On some of the key issues that are of interest to the committee and we had extensive NGO information and other information. We don’t for example have information on Okinawan people, because you reference that case equally be equality before the law. So the question of visibility of minorities arises significantly in Japan, and we don’t have information on ethnic minorities who have Japanese citizenship. We have information on foreigners of various kinds which you have kindly provided. But we don’t really have adequate information to make our own judgments on ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship. We always have in some form or other a data question which we put to states and many different approaches to addressing this question are possible.

The second issue, rather technical one on the place of the convention in the law of Japan and the prohibition of racial discrimination, we have noted and it’s still the case that there is no general law in Japan prohibiting racial discrimination, and Japan has not regarded it as necessary to adopt specific legislation to outlaw racial discrimination, and the citation in defense of this position is article 14 of the Constitution whereby it talks about equality before the law and no discrimination on grounds of race, creed, sex, social status, or family origin. If I may just make a few brief points on this. In the first place, I think the list of grounds relevant to this convention in your constitution is narrower, and it doesn’t…we have five grounds, and it doesn’t cover them, of course there may be overlaps between the grounds – that is a possibility – but nevertheless, I think…it seems the Constitution is a more restrictive list than the convention.

The second, I’m not absolutely sure from responses and information we’ve received generally about the systematic application of this convention to private conduct in the situation of Japan. The convention directs itself in addition obviously to activities of the state, the state authorities and state organs, it directs itself to the activities of persons, groups, and organizations, and is a convention based on public life, which is more than the public administration of the state. We found some cases against actions against private persons they seem in some cases unsuccessful, but a comment would be welcome on this. I mean most cases, I would say these days, most states do not have direct discriminatory provisions it’s often the activities of private persons that the committee is dealt with as engaging responsibilities in gauging the obligations of the state under the convention. But following that, I’m also not absolutely clear if there is a prohibition on indirect discrimination in the law of Japan. The convention does not actually speak of indirect discrimination, it talks about intentional discrimination, discrimination in effect, but we have tended to translate that using contemporary language into the idea of indirect discrimination.

The other point on the question of how the convention reaches down into the law, it’s fairly clear that certain elements in the convention do require legislation. One may point out article 2, article 4, article 6 for example, clearly require legislation. Article 4 perhaps is in some ways the clearest. There’s an obligation to legislate under the convention in terms of racist speech and in terms of organizations. And we have elaborated that in general recommendation 15. We’ve talked about the convention in large measure being non-self executing; doesn’t apply to all of the convention, but certainly certain aspects of it do require legislation, so I would offer that thought for your reflection.

The other point is that there are cases we note where the convention has functioned as a criteria in the interpretation of laws, but only maybe as one criteria among others and perhaps that doesn’t have the same level of stability and predictability as a prospective law on racial discrimination. We would think it would guarantee a greater measure of legal certainty, and influence the conduct of potential perpetrators of racial discrimination and potential victims equally. And we note the various issues raised including today on the human rights protection bill; the one that lapsed and again we are always interested in current plans and projects to revive something similar, but I think…I can’t speak for the committee in advanced entirely, but the idea of a separate law I think does commend itself as very much the best way to implement the obligations under the convention.

On another technical matter, but one with a little more human content perhaps than I’ve been arguing so far. We asked you about one of the grounds of discrimination, namely the ground of descent, one of the five grounds for racial discrimination in article 1 with particular reference to people of the Dowa or Burakumin, and paragraph 8 of our previous observations made it clear that we felt that descent had its own meaning within the spectrum of grounds, and we’ve asked this again, and you’ve made a response – the response is a very interesting one. Since we asked this question last time, of course we’ve had General Recommendation number 29 on descent based discrimination.  Your response seems to claim that descent has no really separate meeting and is subsumed by the other grounds referred to in article 1. On the contrary the committee’s view is that while it is, we would say “in pari materia” of the same kind of substance as the others it does have a separate meaning and adds something to the convention. You also referred to the travaux préparatoires [the official record of a negotiation] of the convention and argued that descent was introduced to cover up confusions about the term national origin and so on, but there are also if one looks at the travaux just more widely, there are many references to caste and descent based systems in those travaux, particularly in the context of discussions on special measures.

My other maybe technical point is that, of course examination of the travaux of a treaty is important, but in the scheme of interpretation of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties for example, the travaux are supplementary means of interpretation, and the text and subsequent practice are the primary means of interpretation. We note with great interest that there was in fact for the Buraku Dowa program of special measures, for a long period of time, I think maybe 30 years, but they were terminated in 2002. But I think the groups concerned did hope that certain compensation as it were in legal terms in terms of policy and legislation would arise from that to make up for the termination of the special measures program. We issued a recommendation last August on special measures, and our view is that special measures may be terminated when sustainable equality has been achieved. So that they’ve done their job in a way that the community itself can sustain its position in society. But nevertheless, this again a rather technical discussion we welcome the embracing of the spirit of the convention as you put it in your response, and this is very welcome. But then again you have pointed that broad legal guarantees and so on and that legislation is there but of course legislation, as a committee says, always has to be implemented and not simply promulgated, so I think real action and continuing action in light of your good intentions would be much appreciated by the committee.

I would just ask one question perhaps, is there actually a government department or ministry that specifically addresses the Buraku question which is very specific to Japan but also has certain analogies with systems elsewhere, and if not special measures what kind of general measures, because we have quite a number of presentations to the effect that in the field of housing, education, gaps between Buraku and other members of the population of Japan have narrowed, but perhaps not necessarily sufficiently. I there are still issues to do with marriage and Buraku Lists, and also discriminatory acts of individuals and derogatory comments in the mass media, the Internet, and there are issues around housing and land values and so on, which I think do deserve attention. These are difficult matters and they reach down to the mores of society in a very deep sense, and the state clearly I think has good intentions, in this respect, there is also I think vigorous activity in civil society so that one hopes that action and cooperation will continue and intensify.

Sorry it is slightly back to technicalities again, but on the issue of reservations Japan has entered a reservation to articles 4a and 4b of the convention in the interest of freedom of expression. It does not cover article 4 paragraph c which is about public authorities and public institutions to promote or incite racial discrimination. So your reservation doesn’t in fact cover inflammatory statements by public officials, and NGOs have presented example of that. Article 4A and 4B are accepted only to the extent of the fulfillment of the obligations is compatible with the guarantee of the right to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and other rights in the Constitution of Japan.  That was the reservation.

If I can just unpack the reservation very briefly it doesn’t refer to international standards on freedom of expression and therefore one has a problem with many of these reservations and there are analogies elsewhere that they tie the reservation to the text of a constitution so that in inverse situations through the principle of international law, if the constitution changes does that imply that the international obligations change? Which should really be the other way. It is also potentially a very wide reservation because it not only talks about specified rights but also other unspecified rights in the Constitution. We’re not always clear why reservations are maintained; perhaps you might have more to say on this. We are certainly not going to enter a legal struggle with the state party though we can and have often commended states and recommended states to either reduce the scope of reservations or to remove them or at least examined very seriously about whether there is a continuing necessity to maintain the reservation and the reasons therefore.

Your legislation or understanding of your principles on hate speech is that you have a fairly tolerant approach in that most of the legal action as it were takes place in the field of defamation against private individuals, but perhaps class defamation or derogatory marks about a group as a whole might not be so easily caught within your present structure and also for example article 4 a deals with racist propaganda which deals with group; it is clearly expressed in article 4 as well as individual dimensions. And CERD has always regarded article 4 as a high importance in combating racial discrimination and an essential reinforcement for the educational value of an educational program or the educational value of other provisions against racial discrimination. Anyway we know that in international law freedom of expression is not unlimited and there are dangers to a society in what one might call a coarsening of public debate, and we have been presented with evidence of rather gross unpleasant statements directed against groups in Japan. I won’t go into that further perhaps colleagues might want to take that one through.

Turning to particular groups, and going slightly away from the technicalities on the Ainu we note the welcome change to recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people and the support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Panel of Eminent Persons, the Consultation Forum, and the head of delegation has given us an update on these matters today. I suppose what we are interested in is the immediately proximate steps to be taken in conjunction with representatives of the Ainu to translate the good intentions of the government into practical programs, and indeed recognition as an indigenous group does bring with it in train quite a number of issues to do with identity, culture, language, land rights, sacred sites; there are a whole range and I’m sure you’re fully aware that any kind of legislative program based upon current standards of indigenous rights would in fact be a fairly extensive program, but anyway we note the positive change, welcome them greatly, and wish you well in your efforts to implement those good intentions.

On Okinawans, we note your response to question 18, and your reluctance to extend indigenous peoples term to natives of Okinawa. Okinawa, however has a fairly distinctive history – some of it I have to say from 1879 onwards was a very difficult history for the people of Okinawa who continue to be…live in a very heavily militarized part of Japan the with very small part of Japan’s total area but an enormous percentage of its military installations. They do seem to this member of this committee to be elements of a distinct culture, a distinct language, a distinct history, and certain prior presence in Okinawa, significant political and other presence before 1879.  We note that Okinawan language, or Ryukyu, is not taught in public education in Japan nor in Okinawa, and again you mention the people of Okinawa are Japanese nationals, but again that seems to me to be a citizenship question. We note the visit of the special rapporteur on racism a few years ago to Okinawa alleging lack of consultation and other matters; perhaps, if you have further comments on that it would be interesting to hear them. But I also note that UNESCO has regarded the Okinawan language as a distinct language so I think in this situation many countries would accept the Okinawans, an analogous group, either as an ethnic minority or an indigenous people.

On the Korean question I think I have puzzled over these statistics long enough and I think I’ve explained where I think I have arrived on this question. We did have a question about – we put this last time as well – on change of names in order to get naturalization and you have responded to that. The very interesting category in some ways this special permanent resident because they were people who actually lost Japanese nationality, and I have to say, when this happened in 1952, the Japan Federation of Bar Associations put it rather dramatically and said that with the withdrawal of citizenship, 500,000 foreign people suddenly appeared in Japan overnight. They are governed by the alien registration act.  I still puzzle over this term, special status; what exactly does it imply. It seems that there are significant differences between the special status residents from either of Korean or Chinese descent and the position of Japanese citizens. I mean, is there a special set of rules devoted to them that are different from Japanese citizens but also different from rules applying to other foreigners?

On the question of non-nationals generally, CERD has issued general recommendation number 30. All I can say on a whole is that on the whole we don’t see in the human rights field any great distinction should be made between nationals and foreigners.  There is room in international…we relate that out to international law generally. There is room often in the sphere of political rights to make those distinctions but otherwise human rights are human rights and I think as broad of framework as possible of human rights is always the most appropriate policy when we’re dealing with non-nationals. I mean, even in the political field we find that many countries permit non-nationals – give them a right rather – to vote in local elections. I’m not sure whether that applies either in the case of the special permanent residents in Japan or indeed, other non-citizens, non-nationals. On the Korean issue, Koreans in general, I’m not particularly confining myself to the special permanent residents, there is still the issue of names. I think your response…you said that the limited list of Japanese characters and everybody else has to comply with that but I think that’s the problem – that situations of people of Korean and Chinese ethnicity applying for naturalization are not the same as position of ethnic Japanese, and that’s a situation perhaps that one could have a look at.  I also noticed also in the figures, the fairly stable block in terms of numbers of special permanent residents, Korean, Chinese, and so on, who opt not to go for naturalization – not to become Japanese citizens, and I must say this rather set me puzzling a little bit as to why this is the case. First of all there is the names issue, but in a sense statistically and otherwise they appear if they do opt for Japanese citizenship, they open themselves a program of maybe effective assimilation in the education and other systems, because there’s not a great deal of recognition of ethnic minority rights in Japan as far as I can understand things, in terms of language, identity, culture, and so on. And it just occurred to me that if the gap, if there was a more open approach to the issue of ethnic minorities in Japan perhaps those who wish to conserve their identity might be more encouraged to opt for Japanese citizenship. It is simply a thought that I would actually commend for reflection.

The other point is on education. We had many presentations on education and in addition to issues like harassment of Korean and other non-ethnic Japanese in schools, there’s two things: Many Koreans and others opt for the, what I would call the regular school system or the public school system, it would be interesting to know in the public school system, how does the curriculum accommodate minorities and whether we are talking our Japanese citizens or noncitizens in terms of culture, history, background, language, and so on. What does it teach, the regular school system? In history classes for the regular school system, do they emphasize the contribution of various ethnicities to the construction of Japan? There is a double issue in the area of ethnic minorities here because the state on the one hand has the duty to equip the children with the ability to succeed in Japanese society, but secondly it also has the obligation to pay attention to history, culture, language, and it is a difficult balance to be attained. In addition to the public school system of course there are a number of non-accredited schools, in which it seems to us, and I can’t go through details now, that significant disadvantages compared with the public school system in terms of funding, in terms of treatment of taxation for taxation purposes, and other matters. So we would welcome perhaps a comment on this, and some of those schools do appear to be…particular reference is made to schools with people of Japanese descent from Brazil and Peru being in a particularly critical situation. There are all these many other issues related to minorities to do with identity, language, participation in national life, participation in decisions affecting them and so on, but in a way we haven’t been able to find, or haven’t been able to find out much about that because of the lack of data, this kind of screen of citizenship which really ends for all practical purposes ethnic data in the state party.

Two further issues very briefly. We have a lot of information on migrant woman. This is purely on the, I suppose, the noncitizen category. We welcome comment on that. Some hostile attitudes because of appearance, speech, dress. Particular criticism was referred to us on the revised immigration control act of 2009 and how it makes it rather difficult for women who are suffering domestic violence – they must continue as a spouse for more than six months, otherwise residence rights are revoked, and difficulties in accessing public services. Again, we don’t have real statistics on these matters and the committee doesn’t deal with gender issues directly, but when we feel there is an ethnic dimension to them using a principal we have called, and others too, “intersectionality,” we will deal with them. And finally, on this, there are some issues to do with refugee recognition, and in both cases there seem to be issues in and around lack of understanding, language questions, inhibiting access to services, and some kind of cultural disjuncture, lack of information in appropriate non-Japanese languages about procedures as mediated to the public, and so on. But anyway, we note positive remarks about a new program that you’ve made.

A couple of final comments, Chairman, and thank you for your indulgence, I think points have been made by a number of committees about a national human rights institution, and we note the positive approach expressed today by the head of delegation towards this development and welcome this very much. Your response actually, on this one was a rather interesting one because you said even in the response before today’s information, you would work towards a national human rights institution. You referred to a range of problems including Buraku, Ainu, Okinawa, and Korean issues which is I suppose precisely the issues that I’ve been trying to highlight today. So one hopes that the national human rights institution will enable a certain broadening of scope in relation to the human rights of these groups. I’m not aware, by the way, if there is any national plan in Japan or the plan of implementation of Durban Declaration in terms of elimination of racial discrimination, but I would be happy to be corrected on if that is incorrect.

Finally, a few brief comments, these are just my comments, the concluding observations are for the committee as a whole. On general social conditions, we have a certain focus on particular groups, but there’s also evidence of a widespread social difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese in both ethnic and citizenship terms. I mean, for example, we’ve had a number of evidences put forward to us about difficulties in discrimination in rights of access to places open to the public which is clearly referred to in article 5f of the convention. This is something that might be changed in due course by the adoption of the law, because I think the experience of many countries is that this kind of attitude, generalized attitude, can certainly be reduced in its scope and intensity by the passing a law which makes certain kinds of refusal of admission etc. clearly illegal and offers punishment or provides punishment for perpetrators and compensation for victims. It may also be that your approach towards hate speech is respectful of freedom of expression but perhaps over tolerant. CERD has mentioned many times that mass media and political class in general have special responsibilities here. And as I say in article 4 of the convention does require legislation, it is fairly clear in terms of racist discourse and racist organizations as to what must be done. I’ve made some suggestions on completing the network or widening the network of human rights obligation, including, I guess colleagues would also recommend adoption of our procedure under article 14.

Japan is a world-class economy and cultural power much admired for its goods for its cultural products and I think it’s important to match this prestige within arrangements in the human rights field because human rights arrangements influence the perception of countries. We construct our image of a society and people partly on that basis. And we’ve heard today much that is good and positive and perhaps there are more initiatives that will be referred to before the conclusion of our exchange, but I think a deepened engagement even on one’s first impression of reading the materials about Japan would be welcome and necessary, and I recall the very positive sentiments we’ve had related to us today by Prime Minister Hatoyama. So my observations are offered seriously and respectfully to the delegation to open a constructive dialogue with the state party even if the we do not eventually agree on all points, so again, many thanks for your information and apologies to the Chairman and my colleagues for overstaying, extending my speech, but I look forward to seeing what colleagues will comment, and I will try to draw the whole discussion to a brief conclusion at the end of tomorrow morning’s session. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. I appreciate very much the depth of information and the hard work that has gone in preparing your comments which I think will be most useful for the state party’s delegation as well as to other members. I am going to give the floor now to the speakers who have requested the floor in the order that they requested, but before I do so, in view of the very importance of this debate, and the fact that we have so many speakers and I anticipate more, I would request, therefore, as much as possible to focus on questions, specific questions, related to the state party’s report. With that, I will give the floor now to the first speaker on my list, Mr. Amir followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Amir

Thank you Chairman. I wish to thank and also congratulate the delegation from Japan chaired by the distinguished ambassador and also I wish to congratulate the head of the delegation and all the members of the delegation on the quality of their report which is before the committee members. I also thank Mr. Patrick Thornberry who has covered everything. He has covered all of the articles of the convention. Chairman, if I took it upon myself to take the floor during this debate, it was firstly and foremost to highlight by way of a comment, the exceptional nature and character of Japan. The first reforms did not just start now, the first reforms started at the end of the Second World War. They started when, as a wheat importer, Japan managed to build terraces across very volcanic terrain. We know that Japan is a country which has experienced earthquakes unfortunately, on a regular basis. But Japan has managed to master this natural phenomenon, to master this natural phenomenon from which all of the Japanese people could potentially suffer. And we know as well, quite to what extent Japan has been at the forefront of technical and scientific and academic advances and in all spheres on research, research which of course has increased productivity, production across all sectors of economic activity.

Chairman, Japan has also made major efforts on a human level because the former land owners in rural areas has seen their land nationalized and this land, this farming land, has gone directly to the peasants to the people who could not buy the land because they had no money and some of the production has gone back to the peasants themselves so that they could make sure they could feed their cattle and also feed themselves; and then of course there is also a share which was sent to the former land owners because they had to provide compensation for the nationalization of this land and this went on for several years before the Japanese peasants became real farmers in their own right, so having said that, Chairman, racial discrimination as seen in the report that we’ve read, and as seen as well in the alternative report which have been submitted by nongovernmental organizations is a matter of some concern. It’s not because we believe one side or another, that is not what I’m saying when I look at the reports. I’m concerned because I thinking of the history of Japan going back to what Mr. Thornberry said on the issue of education and the issue of training at all levels; mainly education and training for future generations. Japan has a certain past, it has a certain present, and it has a certain future, and it’s the future that today I would like to focus on.

And these are my thoughts as to your future. Discrimination against indigenous minorities living in Japan who have lived in Japan historically, the ancestral populations, in the 17th, 18th, 19th century, if we look at the history of Japan we saw that this populations as well as other indigenous peoples were quite simply discriminated against because of the vertical hierarchy of values. Let me look at the peoples which come from outside of Japan itself and here I am thinking in particular of Koreans and Chinese and Thai and Filipinos. Here I’m thinking about all the different minorities represented in Japan who have their own identity from their own origins. So there are these different indigenous minorities and then there’s also these minorities from outside. We see globalized discrimination which historically may have some raison d’être, may have some foundation, but history is now being transformed and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is raising issues to overturn history to establish these minorities in their full rights as enshrined in the convention, this international convention. Education, teaching, training well what programs do you have there? What do you teach young Japanese children today, apart from science and technology, of course? What else do you teach them? Do you teach history as part of your core curriculum in Japan – in particular, the history of your relationship with these minorities and also with your neighbors?

You asked me to be brief today, Chairman, given the number of experts who are to take the floor during this debate, so I decided to say, for example, we have the example of Australia with the Aborigines, we have the example of New Zealand, and how they work with their minorities. These parts of their population who are original inhabitants of the country, and these countries have apologized to these minorities, indigenous peoples who have historically been discriminated against and we should pay tribute to New Zealand for this; it is a matter of honor for them, we should pay tribute to Australia for the fact that they have officially presented their apologies to these minorities of their own cultural traditional identity. And in the United States as well we have the situation of Martin Luther King who has become a symbol of the fight against racial discrimination. Two centuries of slavery, while today we have Martin Luther King as a symbol, he is a symbol of freedom, freedom of the United States of America, freedom in their fight against racial discrimination. So it is a matter of honor for these countries such as New Zealand and the others I mentioned to say, “Yes, it’s true, it happened, it’s in the past, now it’s over.”

So education, education is a bridge, a bridge to bring together all the children in Japan, all the citizens of Japan, and the fact that you teach how to learn lessons from history that would limit all forms of racial discrimination in the treaty sense of the term, because it would teach unity, unity not based on identity, cultural ethnic identity, but social economic unity based on equal rights, and this kind of unity would give Japan greater resources to move forward towards further modernization to create Japan for tomorrow, you should make similar progress as you have made in science and technology in the development of your human resources in a very sensitive area which is that of research into human and social sciences to make sure that the discrimination that we have learned about in particular through the alternative reports will slow down and disappear so that Japan can once again be a cultural and multicultural model as well as an economic model and a political model and a humanitarian model. And I am sure that we will see great progress from Japan in this field of human rights. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your intervention. Mr. Avtonomov, you have the floor, followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, thank you for having given me the floor. I shall try to be as brief as possible but all the same before I start my comments I do wish to welcome the distinguished delegation from Japan; there are so many of you here, we do note that, we have an appreciation; it demonstrates your respect for the committee and demonstrates quite how important this dialogue is for you. And you know that this dialogue is really the most important part of our procedure for the examination of reports, it’s only through a dialogue that we can really identify the stance of a particular party to the convention. It’s only in this in this way we can really know what is happening in Japan, how matters are being settled to make sure that our recommendation are really targeted, they are concrete, and they are useful ones for you, And they’re not just general comments without the true knowledge of the country. And I’d also like to thank the distinguished country rapporteur Mr. Thornberry, as always, he has carried out an in-depth analysis, a broad ranging analysis of the situation in the country and of the report itself. Japan is a long way away from Europe so of course you have your specific country characteristics and it’s very important for us to learn more about this because our convention applies to all countries, but each country is different, and has its own characteristics, and so it is very important that this be underscored for us as members of the committee as the rapporteur has done. I would like to say that the report is highly informative. I was very interested indeed to read it and to read about the court decisions and so on contained in the report – not all countries provide such detailed information and in particular on the court decisions related to the fight against racism. All of this information is very useful indeed, so thank you. And it’s a very good thing that the report carries on from the initial and the second reports so there’s a clear progression here and we see here answers to specific comments made, so that’s very useful as well. Of course we are not always satisfied by the answers but they are there, that’s important. It is very important for us to see how the state is making progress, and I very much appreciate the introductory statement made by the distinguished ambassador. I have the greatest respect for all of the initiatives that you are implementing and your work with refugees, that new initiative from Japan, and the “Yuuai” concept as well that was mentioned and it was announced by the Prime Minister Hatoyama. I think these are very important initiatives; we see a new vision of Japan to cope with changing circumstances of the contemporary world and I think we need to take into account all of the information you have provided today when we analyze reports and prepare our concluding observations and recommendations. I’d like to thank you as well for your answers to the questions raised by the distinguished rapporteur, the questions, the list of issues that he sent prior to our meeting to the state party.

But having seen all this information, I do still have a few questions that I would like to put, and I won’t go into any detail right now because Mr. Thornberry has already covered most of the questions I had, I don’t need to go into any detail, but I do still have a few questions that I’d like to highlight. I have visited your wonderful country. I really do like your country, there’s a lot of things that we should learn from you I know, and I would say that we have special links I think between Russia and Japan, links that other countries might not have with your country, because there is a small Orthodox church in Japan; it was first founded by the Russian ministries in the beginning of the twentieth century, but it’s carried on, and it’s developed as a Japanese Orthodox church and so it has the Russian orthodox traditions and the Japanese culture as well, so it’s a very interesting example of cultural interaction, and I can see that our relationship is a very close one, and I hope that our peoples and our countries will become ever closer in the future.

Having said all that, I do have a few specific questions, and in particular on current developments in your country. Firstly, I draw your attention to the fact that there is a bill, a draft law on education, on ensuring education for children irrespective of their ethnic appurtenance. This is a draft law or bill which is currently being examined; it was initiated by the government before the parliaments now. I think it’s a very good initiative but all the same, I was wondering about the different ministers, who were saying that you should exclude the Koreans from the scope of this draft law given the diplomatic relations you have with North Korea. Well, the Koreans coming to study in Japan will be those who are resident in Japan; they won’t be those from outside. So I’d like to receive some further information from the distinguished delegation on this draft law, and to make sure that I have your reassurance that such discriminatory amendments will not be brought into the law, and irrespective of the relationship between the governments of Japan and North Korea here. I saw on the Internet, I think it was today, in the Asahi Shimbun, the editorial which criticized this kind of an approach to this draft, or this education bill. I understand a little bit of Japanese. I can speak a bit of Japanese and I can read a bit, so I was having a look at the newspaper website today. I can’t express myself that well in Japanese, I apologize for that, but I think I did pick up this issue, and Mr. Thornberry has raised the issue of the Koreans. I think that there is a long standing situation that some Koreans have remained foreigners; they have not acquired citizenship, and we can’t really understand that fully. If the Koreans have not taken on their citizenship of the Republic of Korea or of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, so South or North Korea, then can they then receive Japanese citizenship? I understand that sometimes they have decided, as Mr. Thornberry said, to do so, but what is stopping them from receiving citizenship now? So I’d like to ask the distinguished delegation what the situation is in citizenship laws in Japan on this matter. How can you acquire citizenship, are there any restrictions, limitations, are there any particular advantages for some or special fast-track procedures for some? I’d like to know about your laws on citizenship in the light of our convention, and sometimes there are traditions which are not in line with our convention – I’m not saying that’s the case with Japan – but I can’t really understand the situation fully here I’d like to note what legislation you have on citizenship in Japan which prevents these Koreans from receiving citizenship.

And Mr. Thornberry has already said that there are restrictions, there’s the different alphabet, and so on, so perhaps, there’s difficulties with the alphabet, I know that there are different alphabets, but there are the two different ways of writing; and what about Chinese language? They can read Japanese many of the same hieroglyphs are used; and so I’d like to understand what barriers there are for citizenship. I don’t know quite how to read all hieroglyphs, of course, but I do have to keep studying on this, but I think that it is something that is accessible to Koreans and to Chinese people living in Japan. So Chinese people live in Japan as well, and we know that there is a major part of Yokohama which is a Chinese district. It’s a real Chinese district, and I went there and I met with Chinese people, and I lived for some time in Ofuna City in Japan, and there are Chinese restaurants, and of course, there are Chinese people living and working for a long time in Japan, so why don’t we see this in the report? Does the Japanese government have a policy for Chinese people? Do they have special privileges? I don’t really see that reflected in the report, but I won’t go into any more detail on that right now.

And Mr. Thornberry mentioned these people living in Okinawa. They are from Ryukyu originally but now in Okinawa, and is there a position from the Japanese government on these people? I would be very grateful to receive further explanation on this situation. Is there a desire to recognize them as a distinct ethnicity, ethnic group, are there any particular measures for this ethnic group, for this group of persons; that are differences in culture and history, we know this. I won’t go into further detail now, you know the situation; there is linguistic and cultural issues. There was an independent state on those islands and so there is a certain culture and identity, so I would be very grateful indeed to the distinguished delegation to receive further explanation as to the state’s position on these parts of the population. I think it is very important indeed for us because they are in an indigenous people. I had a look at that in the report. I saw that the state party has moved away from using the word Utari to the Ainu to the name which they have decided they want to be called. That’s very important for us as a committee because it is very important for people to decide themselves what they want to call themselves. I think that is a basic right of any indigenous people to choose their own names, choose what they are called.

And then, my last question is on the Burakumin. We know that the Buraku people…we understand the position, well I know the position, let’s put it that way, I know the position of the state party, we’ve heard it, but all the same, in our convention we do talk about origins, and the Buraku are people of a certain family, and this is how they are defined, their origin is not just based on their social status. So I would be very grateful to the distinguished delegation for further explanation as to the situation with these people. I know that there is a long-standing tradition of family registration, so they register – people say well this is my family, this is where my family comes from, and everybody knows that in Japan, everybody knows where these Buraku people live, so if this information is accessible to third parties, that could be an issue. I’m not going to say whether this kind of family registration is right or not, but it could give rise to questions on whether all of this information should be shared or not – should this family registration be allowed or not, or with certain restrictions; this work is perhaps only just starting, but, maybe, of course every people has its own way of defining itself, and so it’s interesting to see further clarification on this, I’d be grateful indeed too, if you could give us more information on any work which might be underway to move on from this family-based registration or any other way in which you are creating the necessary conditions for the Burakumin be able to develop further, be further part of society.

Mr. Thornberry has already mentioned the special measures; we know that the special measures were in existence for 33 years, but I’d like to see more information about this. Did you achieve the objectives that you set when you introduced these special measures, and then what happened once these special measures were no longer in force. I won’t go into any more detail on this, you know that our committee adopted a general recommendation on special measures, but that was taken after you had done away with these special measures in Japan. But I’d like to know whether you achieved your objectives because we are concerned about special measures, so I’d like to receive further information to gain a deeper understanding of the issues. So thank you once again for all of your work, your introductory statements, your answers to the list of issues, thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Mr. Avtonomov. Obviously you’ve studied very hard and you are familiar with the issues, and I was pleased to hear also that you can speak a little Japanese. So anyway, distinguished members, I still have a long list of speakers, and being practical and giving equal opportunities to everybody, I would suggest you speak for eight minutes if possible. And of course, I won’t censor you, but I would like you to exercise self regulation rather than for me to interpose. I don’t wish to do so at all, so having said this, and this is a suggestion, I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman, I will be brief. First of all, Chairman, I would like to join with other speakers, I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan for their reports. This has been analyzed in detail by our rapporteur. Mr. Thornberry. Chairman, Japan certainly enjoys what I would call relative calm and tranquility. It’s true that there’s an awful lot of racial discrimination in the world; still, the committee has been very emphatic in highlighting, of course there is no country in the world that can escape from this phenomenon scourge of racism and intolerance. I listened attentively to the head of delegation’s speech, and I can’t remember whether he actually used the concept of racism or racial discrimination as such in his speech. [NB: He does not.] It seems that this is something that the state in question prefers to avoid as a term. There is a new government in Japan as we have heard. And recently, we’ve heard there is going to be a new vision adopted by this country. Perhaps the delegation could say a little bit about how this new view of your country is going to sort of tie in with the phenomena of racism – and I’m thinking particularly of the day to day life of the foreign population in your country, because we have heard that there are problems afflicting foreigners in your country.

For instance, the Koreans. It would also be useful to know a little bit more, and I’m thinking about this segment of the population. What is the impact of your educational policy? Do you have special support for instance, so that children from these groups or this population can be better integrated in the educational system in your country? And finally, Chairman, it would be useful if the Japanese delegation could say something about whether you have monitory mechanisms in your country monitoring the phenomena of racism and xenophobia in Japan. And I’m thinking here also of the Internet as well. Do you have any sort of observatory or monitoring center on racism and discrimination or any statistics that could give us a broader view of this phenomenon and how it has an impact on victims of racism and xenophobia? The rapporteur has referred to the human rights institution – again it would be useful to know how far you’re going in ensuring that this body is going to be in complete line with the Paris Principles. Thank you.

I thank you for your questions and your intervention. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay, followed by Madame Dah.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. Thank you for giving me the floor. I would like to thank the distinguished delegation from Japan, and of course thank the head for the presentation. I would join with others in the committee for thanking Mr. Thornberry for this excellent in-depth report. I’ve also heard a lot from Mr. Avtonomov and learned a lot from him. I think, thanks to his intervention, he’s given me a better picture of Japanese culture as well. And to some extent, that’s taken words out of my mouth. I only have, therefore, one or two questions to make. First of all, I’d like to thank the delegation for your answers, the information you’ve provided in the report. I had many questions on the Ainu in your country, but you’ve provided a great deal of information in your report and also in your oral presentation this afternoon, and I’d like to thank you for that information on the Ainu. I would like to echo what’s been said by Mr. Thornberry on the Ainu, and I would like therefore to know a little bit more about the situation of the Ainu and how they are treated in Japan. In this Eminent Persons Panel, could you tell me first of all how many people are members of this panel related to the Ainu, and also, I’d like to quote here in English now, “An environment which will enable the Ainu people to be proud of their identity and inherit their culture.” Does this mean that the Ainu are not proud of their own identity?

And NGOs have also told us that a high level official made racist statements against immigrants, something which has whipped up discriminatory feelings in the country targeting certain individuals in the Japanese population. What measures therefore is Japan taking in line with article 2(1) indent a, and also article 4 of our convention? We welcome the government’s initiative to have a school quota covered for all children who are of school age, but as an expert, I’m worried about the attitude of some ministers; they seem to want to exclude students of Korean descent. Even today, in the editorial of one of the most renowned newspapers, it actually criticizes the attitude of the ministers and asks the Japanese government to look at this again, because this is something that is violating the right of education for these children. According to information we’ve got, only the Ainu have been recognized as an indigenous people, and naturally we’d like to congratulate you on that, and welcome that. The Okinawa as I understand it are also an indigenous peoples. As we’ve heard from Mr. Thornberry, in some areas there is discrimination and historic persecution of these peoples. I would therefore respectfully ask whether they can be recognized as an indigenous people – in other words, the Okinawa, they have their own history, their own culture, their own language. Precisely because of that, they were the subject of persecution. Many thanks Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Cali Tzay. I give the floor to Madame Dah, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Ms. Dah

Thank you Chairman. I would also like to welcome the Japanese delegation. I’d like to congratulate them on their presentation. Allow me also to thank Mr. Thornberry, really thank him for this very exhaustive analysis, and very precise analysis that he’s conducted, and as is his custom it is a brilliant analysis. Mr. Thornberry, I think, hasn’t left us really much to say because he has covered the ground so well, but I will try just to raise a few points if I may, Chairman. Also Chair, you have of course limited our speaking time, but I will do my best. It’s the second time that we’ve had Japan before this committee. They have come along this time with the very dense and informative report. It does raise a number of questions. The rapporteur has raised some issues already. We have others, but I don’t think we will have an opportunity to exhaust the subject. Since this is the second report from Japan it gave me an opportunity to re-read the initial report and also look at the analytical report and reports following that presentation.

I’ve been struck by the fact that, and this is what Mr. Thornberry called “technical points,” but it seems that these technical points are still unchanged. There has been no real change between 2001 and today. Now, when international commitments are made particularly in the area of human rights, it’s always difficult to change things and change them quickly, particularly when reservations have been entered, reservations entered to substantive provisions. I agree entirely with Mr. Thornberry as regards to the reservations in his particular analysis on the reservations and indeed his thinking on article 14. Having said that, I do think change can be brought about very cautiously if necessary but something that will make this convention and this convention is very dear to us and very close to our hearts, and which Japan also has studied very carefully before it acceded to this convention in 1995. We still believe that you would be in a position to remove that reservation. Japan has told us that you are still engaged in thinking on this particular point, and let’s hope that this thinking will eventually lead to a withdrawal of the reservation.

Chairman, in similar vein, there is no change in the ethnic composition in Japan and indeed as regards the definition of racial discrimination in this report. I’d like if I may to refer to some points, really just points for reflection as opposed to questions as such. First of all, on the Ainu, the Ainu people. They have been recognized as an indigenous people. You have started to take specific measures for the Ainu people. I have to agree with Mr. Thornberry that perhaps this needs to be taken further. We need to take these initiatives further so that you are also in conformity with all the international engagements and commitments you have signed up to, including the Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples, the ILO Convention, and to make these operational, and as regards the rights of these peoples. I know that in Japan, you give a lot of leeway to your municipalities, but I think for such important issues, it’s terribly important that the central government, the central state takes commitments and lays down very clear and targeted guidelines.

On the Buraku, this refers…thinking back to this notion of descent, and it is certainly something that sparked our thoughts in my mind. I certainly don’t need to tell my colleagues or the Japanese delegation how and why this definition came in, but I have to say that as regards to the Buraku, I have been struck by just how similar their situation is to those who are affected by the caste situation in Africa. And that really is something that struck me. We must get beyond any form of stigma, stigmatization, and it’s up to the government to do this. Now, I understand that this takes a great deal of time and energy; it boils down to education, it boils down to consciousness raising. But I do believe that the Japanese government is able to do this work in other areas, and I think they can certainly do more in this particular area.

Let me now turn to everything that has to do with the foreigners in and outside Japan. Mr. Thornberry has talked about immigration problems, other colleagues have talked about the place of foreigners. Again, it struck me that increasingly Japan is opening up to the world. It’s increasingly an open country, of course is no longer an island, it’s many islands, but increasingly it is opening up to the world, you’re getting people from Brazil from the other Asian countries, and from other regions of the world as well. And some of these people choose to remain in your country, and that is something that is, if you like, pushing Japan to a certain position in the sense that they need to take initiatives to ensure these foreigners are integrated, at the same time, their specific identities are preserved and protected. Brazil, for instance, is apparently the third source of immigration in Japan. I was struck by that figure. I have some doubts on some measures that have been taken. We’ve heard about these attempts to change names. I mean, it may well be that there is going to be an African wave suddenly coming in to Japan. I just wonder what you are going to do when it comes to changing African names, if that wave ever arrives in Japan. We’ve heard that some people have been forced to change names, and here I’m being the devil’s advocate. I take the example of somebody coming from say my region. If, for instance, somebody came from my region to Japan and they had to change their names, they would be doubly frustrated in terms of their cultural identity, and let me explain what I mean by that. We have been colonized; now, I don’t like talking about colonization because at the end of the day colonization was a failure of humanity, but I feel duty bound to talk about colonization in certain conditions. Our family names were changed…if, for instance, an African hand to change their name or their surname was simply struck out, deleted, I see this as a double humiliation, and it’s certainly not something that’s desirable. Therefore, I hope that Japan will be in a position to review its policy in this area. And should something like this happen in the future, by then you would have found a satisfactory solution, satisfactory tool.

Chairman, I would conclude with the amendment to article 8 of our convention [on the establishment of a Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, with oversight powers]. I’m concerned at the fact that Japan to date has not yet accepted that amendment. Japan, and we’ve heard this so many times this afternoon, Japan is a great country, it is a great power indeed, and a major contributor to the United Nations. If there are any questions of principle which prevent your government from accepting this, you can certainly tell us why. If it is not a question of principle, well, the ideal for the committee would be for Japan to accept the amendment to article 8 to the convention, thereby ensuring funding for…it would not be a problem for the United Nations nor would it be a problem therefore for members of the committee. But Chairman, before I conclude, I would like to thank the Japanese delegation for their presentation, and I am keen and impatient to hear answers to my questions. Many thanks.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Madame Dah. I give the floor to Mr. De Gouttes, followed by Mr. Huang.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I’d like to thank the Japanese delegation, a very numerous delegation, I think 20 or so have come along this afternoon. I’d also like to thank the head of the delegation for his oral presentation. I naturally like to thank Mr. Thornberry for his very in-depth and very precise analysis. Again, we are used to that form of analysis; it was an extremely useful presentation from Mr. Thornberry as well. We’re all well aware of the wealth and also the complexity of the historical and cultural and sociological situation of this great country that is Japan. The sixth report which often refers back to the initial report which is was examined in 2001. The sixth report I have to say still leaves some issues pending. There is an awful lot of information that we’ve got. A lot of information I have to say has come from the NGOs who are here present in the room as well.

The first question on the different groups of the population in Japan. Para. 4 of your report talks about the Ainu living in Hokkaido. You say that we’re talking about 23,782. The head of delegation said this afternoon, that the government has now recognized the Ainu as an indigenous people in conformity with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, following on from a resolution of the Japanese Diet. This is extremely positive and we acknowledge that. But, and this is my question, what about the other groups? What about the other minorities? This question was addressed as part of the compilation drawn up for that UPR, the universal periodic review, and also in the conclusions of the UPR, the universal periodic review, in the conclusions of 2008. This is also an issue that was examined very closely by the special rapporteur, the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism. This was back in 2005. The special rapporteur highlighted the situation of three minorities. The Ainu, but also the Buraku, and the inhabitants of Okinawa. Alongside these minorities, the special rapporteur also indicated the situation of the descendants of the former colonies, in other words Chinese, Koreans, and also the situation of foreigners and migrants in Japan from Asia or coming from other regions of the world.

Now, the question we all have in our minds, is what measures are being taken to protect the rights of other groups other than the Ainu? Because we’ve already heard there is recognition there. What is being done to protect their language, education, schooling, their identity more broadly? As to the Buraku community, the summary document – this again was part and parcel of the UPR – it highlights the need to protect this Buraku community. It said there, and this is what we have in this report, 3 million, 3 million peoples, in other words, one of the main minorities in Japan, descending from so-called pariah communities, if you like, a hangover from the feudal period. Because apparently, in the past, this population had professions linked to death or impurity, and this is a past that still weighs heavily, a taboo, although there has been an abolition of the caste since the 19th century. Mr. Thornberry quite rightly recall, and Madame Dah also pointed out that our convention in its first article, talks about descent-based discrimination and that our general recommendation 29 of 2002 has to do with descent-based discrimination or related to castes. We would like to know, therefore, what definition does the government intend to give of the Buraku people. How do you intend to define them? How do you intend to put an end to the discrimination of the Buraku? And also I would extend that comment to the Okinawan. So that’s my first question.

My second question is more specific. It has to do with the application of article 4 of the convention, and your penal legislation which criminalizes acts of racism. When I look at this report, it seems that there hasn’t been much by way of progress since the 2001 report. No new laws, no new legislation against racial discrimination, and in this jury system that you have in Japan, the convention therefore is not directly applicable. And this was said just now there has been no withdrawal of the reservation to article 4a and b. You also have problems with this idea of freedom of expression. This is something that is also highlighted in your report. Let me just recall however that the committee had clearly stated in its preceding concluding observations and in general recommendation 15 that provisions of article 4 are imperative and that there is compatibility between the prohibition of the dissemination of any idea based on racism and discriminatory…that is compatible still with freedom of expression.

My final question has to do with the implementation of article 6 of the convention – legal prosecutions when there is racial discrimination acts. 66 and 68 of your report give us some information on this. 71 also talks about complaints that have been dealt with by the Ministry of Justice human rights body. But out of the 12 rulings mentioned from 61 to 68, most of those were overturned, most of the complaints were rejected. Does this not illustrate therefore that you need to have more awareness, you need to better mobilize the police authorities, and broadly, the legal community on racism? I will leave my other questions to one side. Most of them have already been covered. They have to do with the importance of creating a national human rights institution which is independent in conformity with the so-called Paris Principles. Also the question of harassment of Korean children in Japanese schools, and also problems of non-nationals – foreigners – and according to information that we’ve received from NGOs, the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to accept the role of mediators for foreigners who had been specialized in settling and sorting out family disputes or other forms of disputes between foreigners, so I just wonder why the Supreme Court has rejected this idea of having a mediator for foreigners. I would like to thank the delegation, thank you Chairman, and again, I appreciate and look forward to the answers from the Japanese delegation. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you, Mr. De Gouttes. I give the floor now to Mr. Huang, followed by Mr. Diaconu.

Mr. Huang

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I express my warm welcome to the big Japanese delegation headed by the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs of the Foreign Ministry to have a dialogue with this committee. I would like to join my colleagues to commend his Excellency, Mr. Ambassador’s comprehensive remarks, and also thank Mr. Thornberry for his length, in-depth analysis and comments. Japan has acceded to the major international human rights instruments. We appreciate the Japanese government submit to the committee its third to sixth periodical reports which provide a good condition for our constructive discussion and dialogue. Mr. Chairman Japan is a very interesting Asian state. We all know that Japan is an industrialized developed country and is an economic power in the world. But the Japanese people keep living in their own way. In the Oriental people’s eyes, Japan is a quite westernized Asian country, but it is not difficult to see that there are a lot of good traditions have been well preserved and inherited by the Japanese people. Comparatively speaking, the Japanese national is not a complicated nationality like other Asian countries. In Japan, there are not many minorities and indigenous people, except as just mentioned, the Ainu; not like China. We have 55 national minorities. The major national minorities in Japan are the immigrants from the other countries, especially from the neighboring Asian countries and regions.

Mr. Chairman, beside what the other colleagues already mentioned, I would like to say something about this strengthening of education on the elimination of racial discrimination to the people carried out by the state party government according to article 4 and 7 of the convention of ICERD so that to protect the basic and the legal rights of the minorities as mentioned above. Mr. Chairman, it is my understanding, these kind of education through all means possible at least includes two aspects. That is, to make acknowledgment of the convention among the people of the state party; and through the education, to enhance the awareness of the state party’s citizens to fully implement the convention to act according to the regulations set by the convention. It is not deniable fact that there is racial discrimination phenomena still exists in the Japanese society. For instance, the attitude towards the people of the former colony origin is known to all, that due to historical reasons of the Second World War, there were a certain amount of people now live in Japan who came from the Japanese former colonies – mainly from the Korean peninsula and Taiwan and other Asian countries; although, most of these people have now become the Japanese citizens after 1952. Half a century has already passed. We found that these people, including their second and third generations, are still in difficulties to be integrated into the Japanese society. Some Japanese nationals, especially among some elder Japanese, still have the self feeling of superiority over these people of former colonies. These people are not equally treated as Japanese nationals, but being discriminated in the field of employment, education, and social life. I should say this is really unfair to these people because since these people resided in Japan, they have constantly made great contributions to Japan in its industrializing process. They should enjoy the same rights as of the other Japanese nationals. So I suggest that the state party government should enact a basic and comprehensive law to eliminate societal and administrative and legal discrimination against these people.

As stated in article 4 of the convention, I quote part of it. “States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination.” I noticed that Japan has made reservations on 4a and 4b, but I think that the concept and the spirit of this article should be accepted by the state party.

Mr. Chairman, another aspect, I should mention is that there were some reports about discriminatory incitements made by the Japanese officials. Some Japanese politicians and public officials and those Japanese extreme rightists, they use some occasions, stigmatize the foreign migrants as I quote, “a bunch of thieves” or “troublemakers” or “criminal factors” etc. Really, I was shocked when I heard this kind of ___ came out from the mouth of the public officials. This irresponsible nonsenses incite hatred of the Japanese national toward the foreign migrants. I believe that it is really necessary for the Japanese government to engage special human rights seminars for these politicians and public officials according to the article 4 of the convention. As cited in article 4 (this should be article 7), “States Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and to promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial or ethnical groups.” By doing so, to eradicate their feeling of hatred and xenophobia toward the foreign migrants in Japan, and to get rid of their deep rooted colonial thinking.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, once again, I highly comment the great efforts made by the Japanese government in the field of promotion of human rights, especially of the elimination of racial discrimination in Japan; include also, as just now as the ambassador mentioned, the Japanese government has already made some new measurement to eliminate the racial discrimination. So thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your comments, Mr. Huang. I give the floor now to Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. Peter.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Chairman. Chairman, the presentation of the report by the delegation of Japan and the presentation of his considerations by Mr. Thornberry have opened up the path for a very substantive in-depth dialogue with delegation and it is my feeling that such a dialogue is absolutely vital in the light of the report and in the light of the discussions we have been having up until now. We really do need this dialogue. Now, to turn to the indigenous populations…We see that the Ainu are recognized as an indigenous people, but there are still some problems that remain there. Nongovernmental resources tell us that there are still problems regarding access of the Ainu people to fishing in the coastal areas where formerly they had access. But other persons would have the right to access these fishing areas in the coastal waters, so I’d like to have some comments on this from the delegation please.

Then, on the Ryukyu Okinawan population. If this population speaks a different language whether it be a dialect or not, it needs to identify what is the difference between Japanese and this language. If they have distinctive traits, why are they not also recognized as being an indigenous people?

Then the Buraku. We have taken careful note of your position that this is not a problem of race. But our convention also refers to descent because the concept of the sentence exists in our convention and we can’t say that this is a mistake. We can’t say that this is a mistake to have this concept in the convention and there is no reservation to article 1 of the convention on the issue of descendance being contained in the convention. So 40 years later you can’t come to us and say it’s wrong. I don’t think that would be the right approach for us in this discussion, especially as regarding the Buraku, I have read in some document that there is still a system of family registration, so registration by family. Does this system still exist? Because this system really was used to demonstrate that these people are part of a caste, a separate caste, so that they would not be given access to certain roles and jobs in the civil service and public authority, and measures are taken until 2002, special measures were taken for the Buraku until 2002. Why were these special measures terminated? Are they not in the same situation? Are they not still in the same situation? Are they up to the same social, economic, cultural level as other Japanese citizens? We don’t see answers for these questions.

Then, another question I have for the delegation is on the United Nations Declaration on Indigenous Peoples. This declaration was adopted in 2007. What is the position of Japan on this declaration on indigenous peoples? And on Convention 169 of the International Labor Organization on indigenous peoples, does Japan intend to ratify Convention 169 of the ILO?

And now, on the Koreans. Well, there are many things to say on this subject. It would seem as though they have been resident in Japan since the Second World War; they had Japanese citizenship but they lost it following the application of the treaty, the San Francisco Treaty in 1952. Some of them have maintained citizenship, have kept Korean citizenship, some have not. These people have lived in Japan for all this time, they remain in Japan and they have no intention to leave Japan, so is it not possible for these Koreans individuals to receive Japanese citizenship that they lost during the war?

The present report refers us to the former report saying that this would be possible. So have these people, Koreans, asked to regain their Japanese citizenship or have they not asked to regain it? And if they have requested the return of their citizenship, what is the Japanese authority’s position on this? I am surprised that there are schools which deal with North Korean and those that deal with South Korean. I am reminded of the situation in the past with German schools which were East German or West German schools. Well, it seems strange to me. What happens at these Korean schools? We’re told that a measure has been adopted recognizing the studies carried out in Korean schools as being equivalent with those studies carried out in other schools so that these children can go to university. But then we read later on that it’s only the Tokyo School which has studies which are recognized as being equivalent. So what happens to the other Korean schools in other towns and cities around Japan? I don’t think it is acceptable that you allow such schools to exist, but then to say to the students, the pupils, you don’t have access to university. Yes, the state can establish curricula, criteria to make sure that the level of teaching is the same as in Japanese schools, but if the state doesn’t do this well then, it’s my feeling that it is absolutely unacceptable to punish the pupils at these schools, these pupils and students who come from a certain ethnic group.

We’ve taken note of the racist attacks against Korean schoolchildren and also the measures that the state has taken to counter such attacks and acts of aggression to prevent them and to punish them. This has to be done, you have to ensure better protection of these schools, but I am surprised that the poor relations between Japan and North Korea, and the missiles which were set off by North Korea have had an impact on the Korean children. What are they guilty of? What are these Korean children guilty of? So here, I really think is an issue of education for the general population. So that what happens in international relations is not reflected in everyday life of the population and in particular, the everyday life of the children studying at these schools.

We also read in the documents we have that the Korean language schools are not exempt from some taxes, whilst others schools are exempt from these taxes, including the international schools. Well that’s discrimination then. Why, is this distinction drawn? We need to have some answers on that subject too.

Then on refugees. We are told in the report that refugees are accepted from Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and the ambassador has told us that refugees from Myanmar are also accepted.  But what is the situation regarding refugees from other countries? Why not accept refugees from other countries? The 1951 Convention should be applied by Japan. Is it only applied for Asian countries? I don’t think so. So, I would like to see some answers on this from the delegation.

I’m coming to article 4, and of course I’d like to endorse what my colleagues have said. If we read about the Japanese reservation, well we see that Japan should ____ article 4 to the extent that this does not run counter to the obligations in its constitution. Well what does this mean? To what extent is article 4 actually applied in Japan? I’ve read through the report and the second report as well the former report, and I see that the law punishes attacks on the honor, intimidation, instigation, provocation and violence committed against anyone. While that is what we want too. That is what we are seeking, to punish perpetrators of such crimes and offenses under article 4. What is missing is the racial motivation. Otherwise, the crime is punished in the law. So would the government not be interested in knowing what is the motivation behind such a crime? Should the racial motivation not be taken account of by the Japanese judges? I’m really raising questions here. I’m really wondering about whether you really want to exclude racial motivation of crimes from all of the Japanese criminal justice system. I am wondering about this and I’ve really like to have some clarification on the subject. And if we note in the new report, the cases which have been examined by the judicial system in Japan, that judges have referred to racial discrimination in their judgments. They have referred to the racial connotations of such and such an act so that judges seem to feel the need to take account of racial discrimination as a motivation. Why does the state, the government itself, not want to take account of it when they are confronted with it in real life? So these are the immediate questions that I wanted to raise, and this is referred to others.

The report says that the Chinese have now come to Japan are more numerous than the Korean inhabitants. But we haven’t received much information about the Chinese population in this report. Are there Chinese language schools? What is their status if they exist? And the Chinese population, are they from Taiwan, are they from continental China, do they have separate schools? I’d like to know what their position is and what their position will be in the future in your country. But having of said all that, I would like to add to what Mr. Huang said, what is vital in a country is generalized education of the population to promote the elimination of racial discrimination. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Diaconu, for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Peter, followed by Mr. Ewomsan.

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I would also like to join my colleagues in welcoming the large delegation of Japan headed by his Excellency the ambassador in charge of human rights and humanitarian affairs. I would also like to thank most sincerely our colleague Professor Thornberry for his very thorough analysis of the report by Japan. Mr. Chairman, I would look at four issues very briefly. Some of which have been touched by my colleagues and also some of which have been touched by his Excellency the ambassador. The first issue, Mr. Chairman, relates to existence of a human rights commission in Japan. Mr. Chairman, as Madame Dah has said, Japan is a model in the world. It is looked at like other developed countries, and therefore it is a little bit unsettling to note that to date, we are speaking of not having a human rights commission in that great country, an institution where people can go for redress. We are told that the 2003 draft was shelved. There was a draft of 2005, but to date five years later, we do not have anything in place. Now, my worries, Mr. Chairman, is that whenever, from my reading, whenever there is a new change in government in Japan, there are also fundamental changes, changes relating to human rights, changes relating to military bases, and so on. Now, my question is that when can we expect, do we have a timeframe for when we can expect a human rights commission before another change comes in and then we don’t have a human rights commission. So I really want to hear a view and taking into account the importance of Japan in the world. And we thought that as a model, giving example, it should not only talk, but also walk the talk as well. Mr. Chairman, that is my first point.

My second point Mr. Chairman, leads to Japan and the international instruments relating to human rights. Let me say this and I may be wrong, I stand to be corrected by the delegation. Among the developed countries, Japan seems to have signed, ratified, and acceded to the least, and I am underlining the word, to the least international instruments if you combine conventions and protocols relating to human rights. Just take quick count gives a total of 13 conventions and protocols to which Japan…protocols and the conventions on human rights to which Japan is not a party to. And even where it is signed, there are several reservations including the reservation relating to our own convention, reservations relating to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, reservations relating to the rights of the child, and so on. And of course sometimes, Mr. Chairman, and again here I wish to be corrected if I’m wrong, that even the pattern of signing and ratifying international instruments by Japan is also sometimes contradictory. Contradictory in the sense that if you look at the report, Mr. Chairman, on page 18 paragraph 56, it’s about abolition of apartheid. It says, apartheid does not exist in Japan, such a policy is prohibited in paragraph 1 of article 14 of the Constitution, and then it goes on. And yet, if you look at the ratifications, Japan has not signed, ratified, or not acceded to the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid. Japan has also not acceded to the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports and so on. So I think there is a contradiction between what is there in municipal law and the international pattern of Japan when it comes to ratifications. Now Mr. Chairman, my question here is that should I take that Japan is uncomfortable in the international sphere, and it would like to have as little interaction as possible with the rest of the world? Is that the picture that Japan would like to give us? Mr. Chairman, I’m saying that because that is the tendency in international interactions. But we see a different Japan when it comes to trade. Japan seems to be trading with everybody. Mr. Chairman, and Japanese products are household names. You talk of Sony, Honda, Toshiba, Suzuki, Yamaha, and so on. In my own country, every motorcycle whatever, where ever it is made is called a Honda, even if it is made in America, they would still call it a Honda. So, my question is, Japan do you just want to trade but not to interact with other people? That is my worry taken the way you have been dealing with international instruments.

Mr. Chairman, my third issue relates to application of international law in Japan. Mr. Chairman, Japan follows the monist school as opposed to the dualist school in appreciation of international law. That means that once Japan signs and ratifies an international legal instrument, that instrument becomes part and parcel of Japanese municipal law straightforward without the need of special legislation for domestication. Now, Mr. Chairman, what is strange is that individuals in Japan are not allowed to invoke these international instruments when they are pursuing their rights. It is alleged that ratification of instrument is a state-state issue which does not concern the individual. Now, Mr. Chairman I wanted to get a comment from the delegation, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, why can’t individuals invoke international legal instruments to which Japan is a party, in pursuit of their rights.

Mr. Chairman, the last point relates to article 14 of ICERD. Now that we don’t have a human rights commission in Japan, the way for the individual is narrow. I just wanted to know from the delegation are there any initiatives within the government sectors in Japan to make the necessary declaration relating to article 14 of ICERD so that individuals can have access to the committee, or should I take this to be a no-go-area when it comes to the government of Japan? Mr. Chairman, those were my worries which I believe the delegation will assist me in clearing them, but again I really want to take this opportunity to thank the delegation of Japan, headed by his Excellency the ambassador, for coming for this dialogue. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you very much for your intervention, and I give the floor now to Mr. Ewomsan, followed by Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Ewomsan

Thank you Chairman. Similar to my colleagues, I’d like to welcome and congratulate the Japanese delegation on their report. I am not usually long, but I have to say that I very much admire Japan as a country. Japan is a country that has managed to make so much progress in the area of its economic development without losing its soul. And I know that Japan also is able to make the very most of its culture, the strength of its culture and its traditions. Having said that, I am very much struck by the consequences of social stratification and how that has an impact on the Buraku. Therefore, it would be useful to have more information on the situation of this community. I’d also like to know about the measures that the government intends to take to improve the situation of these people and to eradicate any discrimination against them. I’d like to congratulate Mr. Thornberry for his excellent analysis and I share his thinking. I’ve also taken note of what Madame Dah had to say as well. Let me say that I have a great deal of admiration for Japan, and it would be excellent if Africa could learn from such an example. I’ve tried myself to write some haiku, proof of my admiration for Japan, in fact haiku in my language means a, like a bean, the seed of a bean, literally. And of course if I went to Japan myself I would probably have to change my name. I wouldn’t be as lucky as Madame Dah, because I already have two first names which are apparently Japanese. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Ewomsan, and I give the floor now to Mr. Lindgren.

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, as you are aware, I am here today thanks to the strike of Lufthansa, which did not allow me to go back to my country. It is nothing against Japan, it’s because I had to go back to Brazil. So I am telling this in order to explain to the Japanese delegation that I really hesitated to ask for the floor because I don’t consider myself well prepared to comment in detail your report. I can easily join my colleagues and thank you for the report and for the amount of people that you brought to present their report and to defend its content and give explanations to us to the doubts that we have. But I decided after all to take the floor for two reasons.

One is a point of clarification, which was motivated by the statements by some colleagues including Mrs. Dah, because it’s true that the report refers several times to the large number of Brazilians who are immigrants in Japan. And I would like to tell to my colleagues because they probably are not aware of this, that in the end of the 19th century, Brazil received millions of Japanese immigrants and they were, and they are, a fundamental part of the Brazilian population. They are all Brazilians, they were essential for the establishment of the Brazilian nationality, and whatever positive development we have, we owe to a certain extent to the contribution of the Japanese. In the second half of the 20th century, mostly in the years in the 70s and from the 80s on, Brazil came into a crisis and then there was the reverse movement. The Brazilians went to Japan in large numbers and they are still in large numbers. They do not constitute what some countries call, even Mr. Thornberry and I myself don’t like the term, but they do not constitute a visible minority. They look very much like this delegation physically, so certainly they speak a kind of Japanese that by now must be at best laughable; Portuguese Brazilian slang and the very limited contribution from the original Japanese of their ancestors. They are as close to the original Japanese as I am myself Lindgren am to the Swede who was at the origin of my name, so I have nothing to do with them. When the Brazilians went to Japan at first, and because of the excellent opportunities they found there in the factories of Japan, even if their wages were smaller than those of the Japanese, they never complained, they lived quite well. They suffered – and this is not a complaint Mr. Ambassador because this is being resolved already, is already resolved by consular relations between our countries – but when there was this crisis which led several enterprises to dismiss people, of course the Brazilians as foreigners were among those who were the first to lose their jobs, and then there were planes that were chartered by Japan to send them back to Brazil. It was something strange, but please I repeat, it is no complaint, I do not envisage this from the point of view of racism, nothing like this. This is just an explanation that I wanted to give to my colleagues.

Now, I come to the point that I really would like to stress to the Japanese delegation, even though I didn’t prepare myself well for this interview with you. I remember that for the…since I first attended a meeting of this committee, it was eight years ago, there was a special session on the question of the pariahs, or the_____and so on. It was soon after the Durban conference, and there we learned, I learned for the first time about the Buraku people. And I noticed even though superficially, I noticed that your report speak about, for instance the Hokkaido Ainu people. It speaks about foreigners from other areas, Korean residents in Japan, and so on. But what I learned about the Buraku people in front of my eyes, is specifically from the Mission to Japan by the special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, at that time it was Mr. Doudou Diene in 2006. I would like you to explain to us what are these Buraku people? Why are there remnants of discrimination against these people? Even what is told here in this report by Mr. Doudou Diene is not so terrible, so you can speak freely about it so that we understand from the source instead of learning it from other people. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you Mr. Lindgren. It is our good fortune in a way that you were unable to return to your country so you have lightened our debate this afternoon and I certainly personally am very happy to see you here although it may be inconvenient for you and one trusts that you will be homeward bound in the not too distant future. And of course, I presume you will return thereafter. You won’t just say goodbye to us for good. Well, distinguished members and distinguished members of the delegation of Japan I have exhausted the list of speakers, and I think somebody else wants again to…Mr. Diaconu, did you want to say something?

Mr. Diaconu

No, no.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

We have exhausted the list of speakers for this afternoon. As you can see, it was a very rich debate on rather very rich commentary by members of the committee. So have about 10 minutes left, and we always like to utilize our time well, so if you would feel like responding to some of the questions now, I would request you to end your intervention about two or three minutes before the hour so we can conclude the session in an orderly way. You have the floor sir.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson. First of all, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the special rapporteur, Mr. or Thornberry, and other members of the committee. We received very inside depth and very positive comments from you. I appreciate first of all. And then of course we received your comments or your questions which I think we can answer after we sort of sort out question. Since I listened, there are many questions sort of shared by most members, so I think we can sort of sort out, and then make questions, I mean, the answer is clear, tomorrow, by our delegation members. And then, especially I was impressed by comment made by Mr. Thornberry referring to Japan’s first contribution to this question of discrimination against racism when the League of Nations was established, while we sort of___try to include the principle of nondiscrimination into the League of Nations’ major principles. But later on, this was achieved by the United Nations. That was exactly what I was thinking when coming back to this room in the Palais de Wilson, of course. Thank you very much.

That reminded us furthermore, one more time, that we, Japanese, have to be a sort of vanguard or sort of a forerunner to implement this convention and further sort of cooperate with you and other nations to promote the principles and spirit of this convention. As you saw our delegation, big numbers, we have 14 members from five different ministries and agencies. Despite of the difficulty, for example I faced yesterday, of the some labor difficulties by Air France and Lufthansa and so forth, you see our delegation composed of those young, prominent, future public servants of Japan. Since we experienced the almost first ever real change of government or change of government in 50 years time, now, so the questions relating to the…some aspect of your questions are indeed sincere sort of review on the new government. So some points, I think our delegation can give you a little bit more detailed explanation tomorrow. What kind of consideration, what kind of review are now taking place – although some of them are not yet materialized by parliamentary actions. But we are doing. So on specific issues of personal question, I think my deputy, Ms. Shino, can answer in broad sense. May I?

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Yes.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Mr. Chairman and rapporteur, Mr. Thornberry, and the distinguished members of the committee, thank you very much for listening to us and giving us valuable comments. Since the remaining time is not that long, I would like to give you my overview comments. If I do remember correctly, from Mr. Thornberry, Madame Dah, as well as Mr. Peter, there was a question about what is the situation right now on the individual communication. Now, as Mr. Thornberry has pointed out, not only article 14 of the ICERD but also the ___ ICCPR, we have not adopted the amendment for the individual communications, and we have not yet accepted at all the individual communications for the other instruments, either. Now, at the present status of our study is, as the members have said, the individual communications, in order to ensure the effect implementation of the instruments, we are aware that this may be a significant means to ensure ____, but in order to accept it, and in order to make it a useful system for Japan, in what form would be the best form and way to accept this, there are many things that we need to further consider. So on this point, as Ambassador Ueda has mentioned, under the new government, this has been given a priority. We have been instructed from the new government that we should give priority to this issue. So we are making a very sincere study into this matter right now. But as of yet we have not arrived at a conclusion. That is the present status. So that was very briefly my comment on the individual communications. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

The typical sort of situation now in Japan. So, tomorrow I think we can explain to you more in detail on some of your questions. So today, I repeat our sincere appreciation to those, all those members of the committee for such a constructive, very constructive exchange of views. I thank you very much Mr. Chairperson.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

It thank you Mr. Ambassador Ueda, and this actually shows how important we consider your country, and the interest that your country has aroused in members of our committee, which also reflects the interest of the international community. So with this, distinguished members, I will now conclude this meeting, and tomorrow morning we will take up Japan at 10 o’clock sharp.

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Second Day

(February 25, 2010 (10:00~13:00): Japanese government response and interactive dialogue session)

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

…Of course it would be better to answer questions raised by members one by one but because of the time constraints I think I will ask my delegation members to answer in sort of a compiled way to similar questions from several members of the committee. So first, I think I would like to ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama, the director of the newly established department for Ainu policy, to answer on the questions of the Ainu people. I will ask my colleague Mr. Akiyama to answer. Thank you.

Mr. Akiyama (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

Good morning distinguished members of the committee as I have been kindly introduced, my name is Mr. Akiyama. I’m the counselor of the comprehensive Ainu policy department. There has been a major interest shown by the distinguished members and I am truly appreciative of that. Let me now provide answers to your questions. First of all, to Madame Dah as well as Mr. Diaconu, for your questions. For the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as the international covenants to do with the indigenous peoples in line with these incidents it is necessary to reinforce as well as expand the rights of the Ainu people. At the Diet of June of 2008 unanimously the resolution on the recognition of the Ainu people as an indigenous people has been adopted. And with the Ainu, the member also participating under the chief cabinet secretary, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons on policies for the Ainu people was established. And in July the report of the panel was submitted to the government and in August of last year,_____the government to take the initiative in administering the Ainu policy under the cabinet secretariat, the new office was established which is the Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department. And in a comprehensive manner Ainu policies are being promoted and coordination and adjustments are being made with the other ministries. Based upon the report being submitted in July 2009 by the advisory panel on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to which we have participated in the consensus adoption, it is taken for granted that it should be based upon the Constitution which is the supreme law for Japan and also___as to the significance of the general international guideline for the policy of the indigenous peoples and also taking into consideration article 2 paragraph 2 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. We are able to take special measures in order to guarantee the equal human rights for certain people. In December of last year we have newly established the Council for the Promotion of the Ainu Policy headed by the chief cabinet secretary and we are trying to proceed with the Ainu policy in a comprehensive manner.

Let me now turn to the question from Mr. Cali Tzay. How will we be able to ensure the adequate participation of the Ainu people in the policy making? And there was also a question with regard to the proactive involvement by the central government in this issue as I mentioned earlier, the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons of Ainu policy which was established in July 2008, this advisory panel is made up of seven persons, and out of those seven, the Ainu representative was one. And in this advisory panel, the panel members made on site visits for three times into the areas where Ainu people are living in large numbers. And we also listen to the voices of Ainu people so that we could come up with discussions on how to promote Ainu policy in the future. Therefore, in this way, in the policy forming process, the government has paid much attention to the involvement of Ainu people themselves and last August the comprehensive Ainu policy______ cabinet and in December as well we set up the meeting for the promotion of Ainu policy which was headed by the chief cabinet secretary last December. Therefore, in this way, the government, the central government is taking the initiative in order to plan and promote Ainu policies. There were 14 members that participated in this meeting for the promotion of Ainu policies. Out of those 15, Ainu who represented themselves were numbered five. Mr. Abe vice president of Hokkaido Ainu Association who is observing the session is one of those representatives and members. And aside from those five Ainu members, the government of Hokkaido, the mayor of Sapporo, and the local community leaders and also experts on Constitution and experts on history in addition to Professor Yozo Yokota, a former member of the working group on indigenous populations, and Mr. ____ Ando, a former member of the UN Human Rights Committee. And this meeting for the promotion of Ainu people, the first meeting was organized and held last month. And in the following month we are going to start the working group under this meeting and in this working group we are going to look into the possibility of setting up a park as the ethnic harmony space and we are also considering the possibility of conducting a survey with regard to the living conditions of Ainu people.

And this survey at this point in time, the policies relating to the improvement of living standards of Ainu people are only located and practice in Hokkaido but the central government is trying to expand these measures nationwide, therefore aside from Hokkaido, how many Ainu people are located in what places, and what are their living conditions; we have not, we have no clear information about such status and situations. Therefore, as a preconditioned of the nationwide implementation of the policies we have to look into the status of those people living outside of Hokkaido, but in conducting such a survey there is going to be an issue relating to the protection of privacy, therefore with regard to the methodology, as I mentioned earlier, at this working group of the meeting of the promotion of Hokkaido (?) is going to take care of that. And Mr. Abe, who I mentioned, is also involved in this working group. Therefore, we try to listen to the views and voices of the Ainu people in conducting a national survey.

Therefore, in this way as far as the central government is concerned, it is always sensitive to listening to the views of the Ainu people. And on top of that, the government is already going to encourage Ainu people to be proud of their own identity and encourage them to be the bearers of their own culture, and such vision and concept has been captured in the address that was given by the Prime Minister at the Diet.

Next, I would like to turn to the points that were made by Mr. Cali Tzay and Mr. ____that Ainu people may not be proud of their identity and what may be the reason why the name has been changed from Utari to Ainu. On these points, Japan as the government policy modernization has been preceded with…as a consequence there has been serious damages had been imposed on the Ainu culture which has led to the discrimination as well as prejudice over the Ainu people that may have prevented the Ainu people to choose the life with pride as Ainu. Even though the intrinsic culture may have been significantly damaged, without losing the identity and thereby reviving its identity and maintaining such identity is still present in Japan as Ainu people is something very meaningful and the United Nations Declaration says that diversity in culture should be respected as common asset for mankind. We are fairly aware that we should take due note of that aspect. So government would like to create society whereby the Ainu people will be able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

Next, the name for the Ainu people has been changed from Utari to Ainu. Let me explain the process. The Association of Ainu People which is the Hokkaido Ainu Association, in the past because of the discrimination as well as prejudice over Ainu people they did not use the name of Ainu. Instead, they used the name Utari which meant the compatriots in Ainu language. But in April last year, the name of the association was changed from Hokkaido Utari Association to Hokkaido Ainu Association. So it indicates, I believe, that social environment is gradually changing whereby the people of Ainu are able to say with pride that they are of Ainu.

The next question is from Mr. Diaconu, the access to fisheries is limited for Ainu people and that was the question, and we would like have an update on this question, and in a related question any special measures or any measures relating to the utilization of the land and natural resources for Ainu people. Ainu’s access to fisheries is limited, while it is not limited for other people, there was such a statement or a comment was made by the member.  But I think this comment was relating to catching of salmon in inland waters, but the catching of salmon in the inland waters is prohibited against all people based on the domestic law. So it is not the fact that it is only limited to…it is not the fact that the access is only limited for Ainu people.

Now with regard to the capture of salmon in the inland waters by Ainu people in so far____part of a traditional ritual,_______ special admission is applied in some rivers and with regard to the utilization of land as well as natural resources as part of the comprehensive measures for the rehabilitation of Ainu culture, in the advisory panel there was an extensive discussion involving Ainu people themselves. The traditional living environments for Ainu people which is now being regenerated at two locations in Hokkaido and that there are some actions taken in order to gather resources in nature in the national parks and also some exchange programs are also carried out according to the report by the advisory panel that says that because of the lack of sufficient utilization of the land and natural resources there are some hindrance in this regard for the continuation and the development of Ainu culture. There were such arguments that were made by Ainu people.

Therefore, we have decided to listen to Ainu people and the things are supposed…should be reviewed from the public policy viewpoint and going forward, we consider it very important to allow the necessary utilization of land and natural resources for the continuation of Ainu culture. As for specific policies in particular with regard to the regeneration and re-creation of Ainu traditional living environment we are going to consider the possibility of expansion of such areas based on the views from Ainu people. And also, necessary adjustment has to be carried out and put in place so that those national parks that could be used for that purpose, and this way we are considering a gradual realization of the continuation of Ainu culture by the utilization of land and natural resources and we are going to continue to listen to Ainu people’s views at such venues as Ainu policy promotion _____.

Lastly, as Mr. Thornberry has mentioned that legislation may be necessary in order to reinforce the rights of the Ainu people. As for the legislative measures, in the process of the policies that are to be formulated and implemented we would be looking at how the policies will be progressing and also based upon the results of the actual livelihood survey to be made of the Ainu people living outside of Hokkaido and also listening to the views of Ainu not only from the philosophical point of view, we also need to look at diverse viewpoints including the content of policies to be legally positioned. Now, as for the legislative measures in the report coming from the Advisory Panel of Eminent Persons the resolve and the stance of the national government must be indicated specifically in the form of law. The legislative measures may have significant relevance in promoting in a secure manner Ainu policies going forward. So the government would like to duly base ourselves on such recommendations and study about the possible legislations. Thank you for the comments.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Foreign Office and Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the questions of people of Okinawa and Buraku. Please…

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Good morning. My name is Shino with the Foreign Ministry. Now, there are a series of questions and comments with regard to Okinawa people suggested by Professor Thornberry and others. Now, we are not professionals of ethnology and linguistics and so it is rather difficult for me to give you a clear statement on that the ethnicity of the Okinawan people and I hope that you will understand that position. As part of the government position, those people living in Okinawan islands have nurtured a unique and rich culture and tradition. And we can acknowledge the fact and at the same time it is the view of the government that there is no indigenous people other than Ainu in Japan.

However, ___we have to think in accordance with the spirit of ICERD is that to find out if there is any discrimination against Okinawan people and if it does exist, then what kind of measures, countermeasures should be put into place. And in this regard, what I would like to answer is in fact Okinawan people are also Japanese nationals, and they enjoy the equal rights as Japanese nationals and they can also rely on the same____which is available to Japanese nationals. At the same time, in Japan everybody is allowed to enjoy their own culture and they can practice their own religion and there is no prohibition with regard to the rights of using their own language. Therefore, based on this regard we are promoting Okinawan development plan in order to promote the traditional culture and lifestyle of the Okinawan people.

Now, on the interpretation that Japan had on the term descent, there have been several comments and questions have been asked. For the descent as included in the convention, the interpretation of Japan, it has been clearly had been given in the last review as well as in the periodic report submitted by the government of Japan as well as in our answers to the list of questions. Rather than having the exchange of views with the distinguished members on the interpretation of the term descent at this dialogue today, as I have already mentioned in the case of the Okinawan people whether any discrimination exist for the Dowa people and if there is discrimination what are the responses taken. It would be more befitting with the spirit of the ICERD in having such exchange of views. We have all been respecting to the maximum the principle of equity under the law which is being ensured in article 14 paragraph 1 to try to realize a society without any discrimination.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Aono with the Ministry of Justice. Thank you very much for insightful views expressed in the last session. Mr. Avtonomov and Mr. Diaconu there was a question about the family register system, with regard to the current family register system, it is a system, a rational system which we can see the family relations. Therefore, with regard to any possibility of revising the method of organizing family relationship information or data we have no such idea at this point in time. Now there was also a question with regard to access to the family register database. And from the viewpoint of the protection of individual information, in 2008, on May 1 revised family register law was forced and as a result, the identification of the_____is to be made as part of efforts to prevent any wrongdoings and such measures have been in place.

Next, many members of the committee have asked the question but in particular from Mr. Diaconu, whether the specials measures law on the Dowa policies have met with success for its purpose. Because we deemed it necessary to take special measures for the Dowa issue, the law regarding the special fiscal measures of the government for regional improvement, the projects, and the other special measures law were established. However, the national government as well as local governments and other parties had been making efforts for more than three decades. The poor livelihood environments begetting discrimination again and again have been significantly improved and we have seen the promotion of education and enlightenment in eliminating the consciousness for discrimination. And based upon the major changes that are happening in the environment surrounding the Dowa district, special measures law was terminated at the end of March in 2002.

And also on the Dowa issue, the Ministry of Justice human rights organ is making the appropriate advice for the human rights consultations, and when there is a suspicious case for infringement of human rights investigation will be made as a case for the human rights investigation, and if we do find such facts of infringement then the appropriate measures will be taken to remove such infringements, and if the case is being found where messages and information is written on the Internet which is harmful then we will ask the Internet service provider to delete such messages. We are also conducting educational programs to resolve any discriminatory ideas.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Education and Science staff will answer on the question of the education related, school education related matters of minorities.

Ms. Konishi (Japanese government delegation: Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology)

My name is Konishi with the Ministry of Education. Now I would like to take the floor and talk about educational measures relating to minorities. There are two major questions. The first one, was raised by Professor Thornberry and Mr. Amir, the elimination of discriminatory attitudes in Japan and for that to be achieved education on the history with the neighboring countries, and what kind of education programs are being offered for that purpose at public schools. At elementary and junior high schools, in the subject of social studies, when the students learn about the history of our country, they are taught in connection with the history of neighboring countries. And at senior high schools history of the world is a compulsory subject, and the neighboring countries’ situations are also taught in connection with the global history. And in the history of Japan subject, the political relations with neighboring countries and also exchanges and contacts at the economic and cultural level have been provided as part of the education program. And aside from that, in the subject of geography, under the title of the research into the neighboring countries, that the relations have been established with the cultures and lifestyles have been intermingled. And in politics and economics study at senior high school, that there is also a wording that is contained in the course of the study that is aimed at promoting international law understanding including human rights.

Next, for the foreign children on education of the children there was a question that was raised. Allowed me to answer. From Mr. Martinez, especially in the educational area for foreign children what are the measures taken for their education and the recent situation needs to be informed. Now, for the foreign children, if they wish to enroll in the public compulsory schools, based upon the article 13 of ICESCR, as well as article 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We do accept them on free of charge basis. If such children wish to enroll in school for foreigners, of course they can choose to do so. The Ministry of Education, in order that the foreign children will not miss the opportunity to enroll in the public compulsory educational schools, we are providing the school enrollment guidebook in seven languages which give the procedures for enrollment as well as educational system in Japan and we are disseminating such brochures at the educational board and others. Furthermore, for the projects promoting the acceptance of foreign schoolchildren, bilingual counselor is being located at the educational board to provide counseling and information and enrollment. We also have been allocating supporters who can speak the mother tongue of such foreigner children in order to assist them for the Japanese language education. We are thus assisting the enrollment of the foreign children into public schools and we would like to make further efforts to facilitate the acceptance of such children in the public schools.

Next, this is a question raised by Professor Thornberry. Education programs are offered to Peruvians of Japanese descent and Brazilians of Japanese descent. Currently, the number of Brazilian schools in Japan is 84. Out of that number, there are three schools were Peruvians. And out of that number 53 schools are accepted or approved by the government of Brazil. So in those schools, they are guaranteed to smooth the advance into higher schools for those Brazilian children in Brazil. In these schools services are provided to those Brazilian children and parents who are going to stay a short period of time in Japan and those schools are offering education programs and curriculums based on the Brazilian course of study. And the local governments are offering the special allowances subsidies in order to reduce the level of tuition and free medical check. And aside from that, in order to make improvements to the education status and the management of administration of the Brazilian schools, we are also conducting a research and survey on the immediate issues that face Brazilian children.

Next, the economic support provided to the schools for foreigners. Especially, economic assistance as well as for the tax incentives, Mr. Thornberry has asked us to inform him on those measures. And also from Mr. Diaconu, some international schools are allowed tax benefits that may lead to discrimination amongst the schools for foreigners. So let me answer those questions in one segment. First of all, for the schools for the foreigners, those miscellaneous schools which are authorized by the prefectural governors based on the school education law article 134, and the entities are in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations. Necessary support are given from the local governments and such. On the other hand, as for the tax measures, those schools for foreigners which are being authorized as miscellaneous schools, under the certain conditions, the consumption tax on tuition are being exempted. Furthermore, on the entity for establishing the school is in the form of school corporations or quasi-school corporations, income tax, corporation tax, local resident tax, enterprise tax, and others are being exempted. As for corporation tax and income tax benefits for further benefits offered these schools for foreigners for those corporations which are establishing miscellaneous schools which accept the foreign children which are in Japan only for the short stay, it has been approved to be given tax benefits from the point of view of policy____to promote inward foreign direct investment. So I don’t think that’s what constitutes an undue discrimination to the other foreign schools. Having said that, in order to expand the scope of schools for foreigners which are covered by the tax benefit measures, we need to consider new policy goals as well as to study the criteria for institutional systems in order to achieve the goal in an effective manner so we would like to continue to make study.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, there are so many questions about Koreans living in Japan. So, about their working conditions and improvement matters, that sort of things, Ministry of Welfare and Labor staff will answer and then harassment and that sort of thing will be answered from staff from the Ministry of Justice, and then about educational aspects the Ministry of Education staff will answer, so please, first about improvement of labor conditions. Please…

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

My name Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Mr. Huang. There was an____improvement in the area of education and employment and living conditions. And with regard to education, with regard to accepting Korean residents and other foreigners of other nationalities, so if they wish to enter a compulsory education in public school, they can be admitted without any charge, and if they would like to enroll in foreign school this option is also left to them. With regard to employment, for the purpose of elimination of discrimination, we are providing guidance and awareness raising programs targeting employers so that they can introduce a fair screening system and recruitment system. As far as those workers that are employed in Japan despite their nationalities, the labor related laws will be universally applied. With regard to the social security programs, not only those Korean residents, but also all those foreigners residing in Japan legally, the same rule and system is applied to them. Thank you.

Mr. Ehara (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ehara from the Human Rights Promotion Division of the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu, Mr. De Gouttes, and Mr. Thornberry have asked on the question of the harassments for the students of the Korean schools. For the children enrolled in Korean schools, and the question of harassment for such children, Ministry of Justice human rights organ has been engaged in a campaign to educate the___people. We have a slogan of respecting the human rights of foreigners as the major item for such annual campaigns. Throughout the year we have education activities on a nationwide basis. We also have established human rights counseling centers so that the children enrolled in Korean schools as well as the related people will be able to consult on the different questions and if we do find some suspicious cases of human rights infringements, we will expeditiously make investigations and take appropriate measures. In particular, when there is intermittent nuclear testing as well as launching of missiles, incidents by North Korea may trigger harassments to children enrolled in Korean schools. We will make the utmost efforts to continue our promotion and education activities and we tried to gather relevant information and if we do suspect that there may be infringement of human rights we will expeditiously investigate as to the case of human rights investment to take very strict measures and we will reinforce the human rights protection measures and provide guidance to the relevant departments. Recently, in April of 2009, North Korea launched a flying object and also in the same year in May, North Korea conducted underground nuclear testing. And the Ministry of Justice human rights organ provided necessary guidance on those occasions. Thank you.

Next, the question about Korean schools and what kind of curriculum programs are being offered. This was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu. First of all, there are schools for Korean residents, they are the ones the schools where they can learn their own culture. As for those schools that accommodate Koreans with North Korean nationality those schools are admitted as miscellaneous schools and they are relieved of the fixed asset tax and the corporation tax and the business tax except taxation on donations.

As for those schools for Korean residents with South Korean nationality, they offer learning and study about the Korean language and the Korean culture and there are some schools that are admitted or approved as formal school that is stipulated by article 1 of the School Education Law. And the course of study is applied to those schools when it comes to their teaching programs. Many of those schools for Korean residents, they have already been admitted or approved by local governments and there are many schools as such that receive subsidies from local governments. There was another question raised, out of those schools for Korean residents there are_____located in Tokyo that are eligible for the admittance into university. And there was also a comment made that the unfair treatment was applied to those schools because their eligibility was not admitted. Now with regard to the eligibility to be admitted into university in Japan, regardless of the Japanese nationality, anyone who has graduated from a senior high school or the students with the academic skill that is equivalent to a graduate they are admitted or they can be eligible. Therefore, it is not the fact that those graduates of the Korean schools for Korean residents are located in Tokyo, that there are five schools in Shizuoka Prefecture and eight schools and Aichi Prefecture which is famous for Toyota and there are two other schools in the prefecture and their eligibility is admitted. And we also softened the regulations relating to the eligibility to be admitted to university in September 2003 for those graduates of foreign schools located in Japan if those schools are admitted as equivalent to the academic achievement of the schools in their home countries. And those graduates of foreign schools that are accredited by international accreditation organizations, also those persons are judged eligible by each university, so those conditions were added to this regulation, therefore, the foreign nationals are widely admitted to be eligible to be admitted to university.

Now, let me answer to the question raised by Mr. Avtonomov which is on the bill to make free of charge the tuition for the senior high school that North Korean schools are to be excluded. There has been a newspaper report to that effect and what are the facts was the point of the question. As you may know the bill to make tuition free of charge for the senior high schools to not collect tuition for public senior high schools and to provide assistance the money for enrollment into senior high schools have been adopted by the Cabinet in January this year and the bill was submitted to the Diet. We are aware of the content of the newspaper report which was pointed out. In the bill for the miscellaneous schools including the schools for foreigners, the coverage would be for those____in the senior high schools which are similar to the senior high schools as stipulated under the ministerial ordinance. So we would like to make the appropriate decision based upon the deliberation to be done by the Diet.

Sorry for my long answer. This is going to be my last answer. Mr. Thornberry and Mr. Amir raised the following question relating to human rights education and awareness raising. This is going to be my last answer. Programs for human rights education and awareness raising targeting_____population more detailed information is needed and targeting in particular the younger generation in particular in public schools, what kind of human rights education programs have been offered in the curriculum. Now, I would like to put them together in my answer. First, human rights education and awareness raising programs, in March 2002, the Basic Plan for Human Rights Education and Encouragement, and based on that, the human rights, the respect for human rights and awareness raising should be pursued through school education and social education, elimination of prejudice and discriminatory attitudes and awareness raising activities in order to realize_____solution for discrimination related problems. And based on the Constitution and the Basic Law on Education, in school education and depending on the development level of the children, throughout school education, the government paid much attention to programs and educational programs that are aimed at raising human rights protection. And at the Ministry, from the viewpoint of the protection and the respect for basic human rights and together with the Board of Education, we have been promoting the comprehensive human rights education promotion_____designated to promote human rights education research that are focused on school functions to look into what kind of teaching instructions and methodologies should be employed for promoting human rights education. And we have been promoting those____programs and projects. With regard to human rights organs of the Ministry of Justice, they have identified Dowa problems, Ainu people, and foreign nationals. Those minority groups are picked up and selected as priority items throughout the year and they have been engaged in organized lectures and symposia and training sessions nationwide.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the monitoring mechanism and statistics on the cases of racial discrimination or xenophobia, and also the question on the establishment of the human rights institute in Japan.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Human Rights Bureau of the Ministry of Justice. First of all, from Mr. Murillo Martinez, there was the question on the monitoring mechanism and whether such a mechanism is in place for xenophobia. And in particular, what may be the situation for the xenophobic information as being placed in the Internet. Now, the Ministry of Justice human rights organs are dealing with various issues to do with human rights including discrimination on foreigners. We are providing through the human rights counseling, to provide appropriate advice as well as introducing the relevant institutions and the legal of affairs bureau and local legal affairs bureau on a nationwide basis. And when we find that there are some suspicions of infringement of human rights we will make investigation as to the case of human rights infringement. And when we acknowledge that there is a fact of infringement, we will take necessary measures to eliminate such infringements and also to take preventive measures for recurrence. As for cases of human rights infringement of foreigners, the cases opened up newly within 2008, the number was 121, of which the cases to do with discriminatory treatment number 97, and 16 cases for assault and abuse. Now, let me refer to the Internet situation. Ministry of Justice human rights organ have been put forth to stop human rights infringement abusing the Internet as the campaign slogan. For encouragement and promotion activities throughout the year we have encouragement activities on a nationwide basis for those malicious sorts of cases which infringe on human rights including the honor as well as privacy of others. When we can identify the senders of such information or message, through education and encouragement of those persons, try to eliminate such infringements. When we cannot identify the senders we will ask the Internet service providers to delete such information. We are always taking appropriate measures.

With regard to the question of the establishment of a national human rights institution, there were four members who asked this question. The government considers necessary to set up an independent national human rights institution in order to achieve effective remedy of human rights victims. Currently, with regard to the organizational structure, we have been looking into the issues relating to the establishment in earnest. This national human rights institution which will be newly established, will be set up in accordance with the Paris Principles. At this point in time, there is no definite schedule in place, but we would like to try and make efforts so that the draft, the bill, related bill will be presented to the Diet at the soonest possible date. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will answer on the question of article 4 a b of this Convention and the question of the political right of the foreigners.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, the number of conventions as ratified by Japan may be different depending on how you count it, but we try as much as possible to ratify those conventions.  As Mr. Peter that has rightly said for ICESCR as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Japan attaches reservations, and I also agree with Mr. Peter that reservations to be attached in ratifying the convention should be minimal as possible. But, in making precise study for the guarantee____required by the convention ____condition and method for ensuring the guarantee____in Japan of the need to clarify by attaching reservations. Now, as to specific question, the concept of what is being provided by article 4___of the convention includes the broad aspects for various situations and various types of conduct. For example, dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination and for all of such situations to try to apply punitive laws. For example, in view of freedom of expression where necessity and____of constraints should be strictly circumscribed as well as principle of legality of crime and punishment____specificity and clarity of scope and punishment____require may not be compatible with guarantees prescribed in the Japanese constitution and thereby we have attached a reservation for article 4 a and b. To withdraw the reservation, as to say to make a study for the possible punitive legislations for the dissemination of ideas of racial discrimination may unduly discourage legitimate discourse, so we need to strike a balance between the effect of the punitive measures and the negative impact on freedom of expression. I don’t think that the situation in Japan right now has rampant dissemination of discriminatory ideas or incitement of discrimination. I don’t think that that warrants the study of such punitive measures right now.

There was a question with regard to the voting rights, suffrage, that at the local government level, there was a ______ that argued for the suffrage right should be admitted in local governments, and since October 1998, as many as 15 bills were submitted to the Diet, in this regard. And the government would like to monitor what kind of actions will be taken at the Diet level.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Next, I ask the staff from the Ministry of Justice to answer questions on nationality or citizenship and refugee related matters.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Please let me give answers to the questions from Mr. Thornberry as well as Mr. Diaconu, for the special permanent residents. Special permanent residents in accordance with article 2a and b of the treaty of peace with Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan have been separated from the territories of Japan from the day of entry of force of this treaty. In accordance with that, notwithstanding the will of the person those who had to leave Japanese nationality, but those people who continually reside in Japan before the ending of the second world war as well as their descendants. For these sorts of people, the special law, the name is, Special Law on the Immigration Control of Those Who have Lost Japanese Nationality and Others on the Basis of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, that has been promulgated. So compared to the other foreigners, by the provision of the law for the reasons for deportation is extremely limited and also the ceiling for the reentry permit is three years for the general foreigners but for the special permanent residents it is four years. So there are special considerations given to these people because of the historical developments as well as the fact that they have been long settled in Japan. Special permanent residents are able to acquire Japanese nationality through naturalization. For those people who have special territorial as well as blood relations with Japan, the conditions for naturalization are being relaxed.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Avtonomov. What are the advantages and disadvantages for those Korean residents who do not ask for naturalization? Now, basically naturalization obligation is based on individual will and so when it comes to their reasons for not applying for naturalization or for applying for naturalization, it is very difficult for us to make specific comments on those individual feelings. Now for those who have special territorial relations and bloodline relations the naturalization conditions have been relaxed in which I have already mentioned.

Next, I would like to give answers to the questions raised by many members including Mr. Thornberry whether the name needs to be changed at the time of naturalization. For those persons who would like to acquire Japanese nationality, there is no fact that they are being urged to change their names. For those people who have acquired the Japanese nationality on their own will they are able to change their name. But, as for the characters that can be used for the name, for the native Japanese as well as the naturalized Japanese, in order not to raise any inconveniences for their social life, it may be necessary for them to choose the easy to read and write characters used in common and Japanese society. Now, the name to be adopted upon the naturalization, it is not that you should use just the Chinese characters; you can also use phonetic characters like hiragana and katakana as well.

Next, there was a question raised by Mr. Diaconu, with regard to the acceptance of Indochinese refugees. Now, regardless of the nationality of those refugees, based on the Convention on the Status of Refugees and so forth they seek refuge in Japan escaping from political persecution, they are supposed to be recognized as refugees and in consideration of ______ situation facing those refugees, we will offer humanitarian considerations and services, and so it is not the fact that our refugee related policy is only limited or restricted to those from Vietnam, Indochina, and Myanmar.

Now, as to the procedures of recognition of refugees, there was a question raised by Mr. Thornberry as to the language and as to the lack of information. The application for recognition of refugees are being prepared in 24 languages as for brochures to inform the procedures for refugee recognition is being prepared in 14 languages and such documents are available in the local immigration control offices on a nationwide basis as well as through the Internet. Whenever an interview was conducted, for the application to be recognized as refugees, as a principle, we go through the interpreter in the language as required by the applicant. And in the interview, we would confirm whether the applicant adequately understands the languages by the interpreter. The procedure is always being a very careful procedure in selecting the interpreters as well. As for the translation of the document in order to make expeditious decisions the government pays for the cost of the translation.

Next, this is a question raised by Mr. Thornberry with regard to migrant woman exposed to domestic violence and Mr. Thornberry was paying attention to the revised immigration law which took place last February. And if there is no substantive marriage status for over six months, their status is to be revoked and there is a______. It is true, but this is for the purpose of targeting disguised marriage or false acquisition of the status of residence, and this is the purpose of the revised law. And as you raised in your statement when the migrant worker or migrant women in the process of divorce mediation and who is also exposed to domestic violence, and so she is not in the substantive marriage status, but with the justifiable reason, the revocation clause is not going to be applied. And under the revised immigration control law, if the revocation is to be applied to a certain person, that person who is subject to the possibility of revocation has to be presented with the alternative status of residence. And that kind of consideration should be given by the government and which is also stipulated in the law. And that ends my answer.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you. Again, from the Ministry of Justice staff will answer on the question of the specific… from the Ministry of Foreign affairs specific law or legislation on nondiscrimination and the question of the discrimination amongst private citizens.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Now, whether there is a necessity to adopt the law on racial discrimination, and implementing article 4 of the ICERD in Japan, article 14 paragraph 1 of the Constitution includes the equality under the law for which includes the forbidding the racial discrimination has the members____very well. For expression as well as dissemination of the ideas for discrimination if it is in the content of damaging the honor and credit of the specific individuals as well as groups, there are some punitive laws for instance, collective intimidation as well as habitual____these are the crimes which are punishable under the law concerning punishment of physical violence and others. And if the present circumstances in Japan cannot effectively suppress the act of discrimination under the existing legal system, I don’t think that the current situation is as such therefore I do not see any necessity for legislating a law in particular for racial discrimination. Furthermore, from Mr. Diaconu, raised the question on the relationship between the discriminatory motive and the criminal justice procedures. In the criminal justice trials in Japan, the malicious intent is an important element to be considered by the judge in sentencing. Therefore, whether the motivation is based upon racial discrimination or not it is being appropriately being considered under the criminal justice in Japan in the degree of sentencing.

Now, I take the floor. This is a question by Professor Thornberry. The question was relating to the prohibition of racial discrimination between private persons. Now article 14 of the Constitution is not directly applying to the behavior and acts between private persons, but it is covered and controlled by the civil code, and the implementation of the civil code, the objective of article 14 is supposed to be taken into consideration. To be more specific, in the private law any racial discriminatory acts that infringe on the basic human rights may be judged as invalid. And in relation to that, if there is any damage inflicted on others as a result of racially discriminatory acts, total responsibility should be borne by that person in the form of the payment of damages in certain conditions. Therefore, a fair and just compensation has to be made. And in addition to that, the Constitution stipulates that anyone is guaranteed the right to court and so any victim subject to racial discriminatory acts can apply for relief based on the abovementioned laws. Therefore, the provisions of the Constitution can be appropriately applied onto acts between private persons.

Next will be the last comment from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. De Gouttes has raised the point why did the Supreme Court refuse the appointment of a foreigner to the family court mediator. As a premise for this, to be engaged in an act of exercise of public power, or to participate in public decision-making for important measures, and also for the civil servants given the task to participate in such processes, we suppose that the persons having Japanese nationality are to be appointed. So under such a premise the family court mediators who are part-time staff of the court, will be engaged in the process of participating in the mediation committee. And they will be engaged in acts of exercise of public power. And also, may participate in the public decision-making, they would fall under the category of civil servants getting the task to participate in the public decision-making. So in order to be appointed it requires Japanese nationality. So we recognize that the Supreme Court has refused the appointment of foreigners to the family court mediators because such reason.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Finally, questions concerning on the amendment of the convention, and also questions relating to the ILO related treaties, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Welfare and Labor will answer.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

First of all, the effectiveness of the treaty there was a question raised by Mr. Peter. As Mr. Peter mentioned, there are conventions that have been ratified by our government have the same effect as the domestic law, but if there is any misunderstanding on the part of Mr. Peter I just would like to make a correction. When an individual lodges a complaint, it is possible for him or her to invoke the international treaty. And there were such court cases and the specific example is contained in paragraph 66 of the periodic report.

Now we understand that for the amendment of article 8 of the ICERD is to have the contribution to become the main source of finance from the countries including the non-parties to the convention. That’s to say to be funded through the ordinary budget of the United Nations. On the other hand, we are of the position that the duties of the convention will bind, as a principle, only the parties so there is no plan for us to accept such an amendment because it should be the parties who should bear the expenses for the ICERD Convention.

Mr. Hoshida (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

I am Hoshida with the Ministry of Health. There was a question raised by Thornberry and Diaconu. Now with regard to ILO Convention 111, is aimed_____eliminating discrimination in wide scope in the areas of employment and occupation. And in concluding or ratifying the Convention, I should say that there should be scrutinization of the Convention and domestic laws and their compatibility between the two. So we would like to continue this study, but under the article of the Constitution basically in general terms, all people are treated equal under the law and in the areas of employment and occupation related labor laws are in place in order to carry out measures against discrimination. Now, next, ILO convention 169, this is relating to the indigenous peoples customary practice relating to punishment that should be respected and also that the measures in place of detention will take precedence over the punishment the detention____for indigenous peoples. But this should be reviewed from the viewpoint of the principle of legality of crime and punishment and the quality and fairness of punishment, I consider it involves a lot of problems before we can actually conclude this convention.

Next, there was a question raised on the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid and the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports. For the International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid as well as the International Convention against Apartheid in Sports, Japan has not ratified those conventions. But consistently from the past Japan has not condoned apartheid because it oppresses racial equality as well as respect of basic human rights.

The last question, the Genocide Convention was not ratified by Japan. There was a question as such. The genocide crime for instance is a heinous crime that is committed in the international community and we should not stand idle on those issues. The reason why we joined ICC was exactly from that viewpoint and understanding. But when it comes to the Genocide Convention, the domestic law should be stipulated in order to punish them, and the punishable acts are quite wide in scope and so in our government actions we have to consider the necessity of the Genocide Treaty and also the domestic laws that should be put in place so we have to continue with careful consideration of the possibility.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

This concludes our answers.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Excellency, I am most grateful to you and your delegation for the replies you have given and the fact also that your delegation has done it with discipline and we have adhered to our time constraints so now what I propose doing is I’d explained I’d give the floor to speakers in the order that they have requested the floor and this will be followed by further responses from your delegation. May I request distinguished members to be direct in their questions and observations so that our dialogue is truly an interactive dialogue. I give the floor to Mr. Diaconu followed by Mr. Lahiri.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, I would like to welcome the answers, as you said disciplined and well organized and to all our questions. Now, I noted very interesting developments concerning the Ainu people. Consultations have taken place, measures have been taken concerning the access to resources of land to fishing and the preservation of their culture. And I think this is a very important opening to any other measures concerning the implementation of our convention. Many things which were not clear for us resulting from the formulations in the report like for instance that concerning the Tokyo School or the refugees. Now, we have a clear picture on these issues from the answers given by the delegation. There are still issues on which we would like the delegation and the government to make efforts to make progress.

The issue of other indigenous peoples, I think that remains a permanent problem a permanent issue to be considered by the state party. And I would submit that the State party should organize consultations with the representatives of these people. As you have consultations with the Ainu representatives why don’t Japanese state bodies have consultations with the representatives of the Buraku or Ryukyu people to see what is and what do they want, what is their problem. And also why don’t you initiate studies on their culture, on their language to see what are the differences. Are these people different from the Japanese majority do they have a different culture and language because if they have one that is a minority with the meaning of culture and language and it should be taken care of if this is a people who were there for centuries then these are an indigenous people which is different from the Japanese majority. So one has to find out, but for this, dialogue is necessary talk to their representatives please.

As to the issue of descent, descent based discrimination, I looked at the answer given by the delegation to this issue, in the answers given to questions of the country rapporteur. And I can tell you that I am not convinced by this answer. I’m not convinced. So the issue of descent has to be placed somewhere but under our convention. Not outside. Some of the countries of the region consider that this is a social problem not an ethnic one. You don’t consider it even as a social one. And you don’t consider it as an ethnic one. Then what it is for you? It is in the convention. Find the place for it in the convention. And if it is considered to be a national or ethnic origin okay, but let’s deal with it under the convention. Look again at the situation of these people because this is the most important issue. Are they treated as people on the basis of social stratification as a group which is considered under social stratification as a caste according to a caste system. Then it is a people which is discriminated on the basis of descent.

As to schools, we received some answers and some of them are complete and good. I think this question should be given more attention in order to avoid any discrimination in terms of tax exemptions and in terms of recognizing studies in different schools and recognizing access to children of these schools to higher education.

As for the article 4, as I noticed already there is legislation in the country to punish these acts for everybody. What one could call a general criminal law. These acts are punished from the smallest let’s say the less difficult offenses to the violence. But what is missing is that racial motivation, there is no legislation which is asking the judge to take into account the racial motivation. And this is about racial discrimination. No country could tell us that there is no racial motivation in the country when such acts are committed. There is racial motivation in some cases not in all. It is up to the judge to find it, but give it the possibility to find it. And that is why I think that under malicious intent as it was said today here, discrimination and racial discrimination may come very well under malicious intent. But the judges have to be given the possibility under a piece of law for interpretation to take into account the racial motivation as a malicious intent among other malicious intents.

So these are my comments and thank you very much. Thank you again. I think this is a good dialogue we had and we are making progress, we are understanding better each other, and we see what are the issues to be dealt with. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your comments Mr. Diaconu, and I hand the floor to Mr. Lahiri followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Lahiri

Thank you Mr. Chairman. Since I did not take the floor yesterday I would like to, like all the others, my colleagues, welcome the Japanese delegation of an impressive size and with young and bright faces and I’m sure you’ll do well in public service. I listened with great interest, or very closely to the long exchange that we had yesterday.

And while of course our exchange was informative and taken in very good spirit, I think it would be difficult to say that the views of CERD and of the Japanese government have converged in any substantial degree since the time when we last considered the Japanese periodic report that initial report.

The one issue that on which there is a clear indication of change and progress is the recognition by the Japanese government that an independent national human rights institution in accord with the Paris Principles would be helpful and desirable, and that it is working on it.

However, since 2001, I may be wrong but from what I can see, there has been little change in the absence of legal provisions which would allow the effective implementation of this convention in the way that we are used to dealing with it.

On information relating to the minority groups, the continued disadvantages of people of Korean stock and Chinese also to an extent and overall the absence of meaningful implementation of the recommendations and suggestions and CERD’s last report.

Mr. Chairman, Japan is a very unique country unlike much larger Asian countries like India which came under the thrall of British colonialism or China which easily lost or quickly lost the Opium War. Japan has had an entirely different trajectory. Within 50 years of the arrival of Commodore Matthew Perry and his black ships, Japan had developed into a modern and industrially advanced nation and had militarily defeated in much larger country like Russia – a Western country. My Japanese friends sometimes tell me that this is due in some measure to a spirit of__[sonnou jouhi?]__I don’t know if I’m pronouncing it correctly____translated loosely as “throw out the barbarians” which swept Japan during the Edo period; it’s a spirit based on chauvinistic ethnic pride, but it stood Japan in a very good state not just recently, but apparently also in the seventh century in its confrontation against the ____ Kingdom in Korea or the Tang Dynasty. More recently, this spirit of____to use a shorthand for it, allowed and you know which went on changed slightly during the Meiji Restoration. It allowed Japan to preserve its independence, to prevent the kind of national catastrophes which many other countries in Asia suffered, and in that sense it has been important in the Japanese nation’s, the way it has achieved its position which is widely admired in Asia.

However, times have now changed and Japan perhaps doesn’t face such threats. I think for a committee like CERD, I would on behalf of CERD respectively urge that our suggestions and recommendations for changes in Japanese law and practice to bring it more into line with the international norms in this matter. Are not rejected in the spirit of____but it is clear that we are both on the same side. There is no contradiction and we hope that our suggestions in this matter in terms of the various points that have been raised by my colleagues yesterday and today are given due consideration and perhaps we can express the hope that by the time we meet next time for an exchange there will be greater convergence not on the overall issue of racial discrimination I mean those that we have already but on the mechanisms for implementing the convention on which I suspect we still have some divergences. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you for your interesting remarks, and Mr. De Gouttes you have the floor followed by Mr. Peter and then Mr. Murillo Martinez. Sorry Mr. Prosper. After Mr. De Gouttes, it’s Mr. Prosper followed by Mr. Murillo Martinez. But perhaps Mr. Peter will also speak later.

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. My comments will go along the same lines to a great extent to what Mr. Diaconu has said. I’d like to thank the delegation for the replies given this morning which were very complete. Particularly the ____the Ainu people, the progress made and the consultations with that population group in Japan.

But there are other groups other than the Ainu which also seek respect for their cultures and languages and their rights. This is particularly true of the Burakumin. Once again then, I’d like to refer to the summary produced by the Office of the High Commissioner during the UPR in May 2008 in the report of the special rapporteur for contemporary forms of racism in 2005. According to those documents, the Burakumin are apparently very numerous apparently some 3 million people. These reports also state that they are descended from communities considered as being pariah during the feudal period. The report again states that it’s because they had they did work related to death for example, they had jobs which were considered impure, so it’s a difficult past for this population, although the castes have been abolished for a long time. Inevitably then there is the criteria of descent in terms of where they come from. And you’ve already said and Mr. Diaconu has noted that article 1 of the Convention deals with racism based on race but also descent and we have a general recommendation number 29 which refers to this concerning discrimination based on descent or caste origin. Now, I think there’s been a good opening up to the Ainu people so the question is whether you can also envisage consultations with other groups seeking promotion of their rights including the Burakumin who also live in Okinawa (this is incorrect). So I’d be very interested in continuing this discussion on the notion of descent and possible openings we could expect from your government on what seems to be a difference between the committee and yourselves on the criteria of discrimination based on descent. That’s what I wanted to add to the discussion. Thank you Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. De Gouttes. Mr. Prosper, you have the floor followed by a Mr. Murillo Martinez.

Mr. Prosper

Thank you Mr. Chairman. First, I want to thank the delegation for its presentation the information in the report provided both yesterday and today. I did not speak yesterday but I have to say that listening to the conversation and the dialogue we definitely learned a lot and received greater insights as to not only the situation in Japan but also your policies and your rationale for what you do and what you are doing. I would also like to thank the rapporteur for his thorough assessment yesterday really, for me it removed the need to intervene yesterday on many of the issues and I was able to have the luxury of listening to my colleagues ask the questions.

Today an interesting issue was raised which is relevant to the committee but it’s something that’s of personal interest to me and I just wanted to explore it a little bit more and that is the issue of the Genocide Convention as well as the issue related to the ICC the International Criminal Court. I remember I was involved in the negotiations from the beginning and I remember at the time in the late 90s when the United States was trying to assess and determine its position both under President Clinton which I was involved with and then later with President Bush we were looking to what Japan was doing and considering as you know there were conversations on the margins let’s put it, and you finally decided to join the ICC which the United States has not and there are reasons for that. But what I found interesting is that you felt comfortable enough to join the ICC but not comfortable enough to become a party for the Genocide Convention. In fact I would have found it to be the opposite such as we are, the United States is. I’m still struggling to understand why is it that you are able to be in that position or you feel comfortable in that position particularly because with the ICC as you are well aware of there is the principle of complementarity which obviously would grant you as well as other states parties the first bite of the apple if one of your nationals were accused of a crime under the ICC genocide crimes against humanity and war crimes. And part of the principle of complementarity is that state parties will enact legislation that would allow for them to punish those crimes found within the ICC so I’m just trying to understand the consistency because it is an apparent inconsistency and I’m sure you have an explanation for it whereby signing the ICC you’re basically saying that you are in a position to prosecute the crime of genocide yet you are not a state party to the Genocide Convention. If you could either now or we don’t need to take up the time just later or in the future reports just explain that a little bit more for our understanding because obviously the crime of genocide are acts which is as you said are reprehensible and it’s a fundamental protection that is consistent with the convention we are discussing here today, but again I would like to thank you for the dialogue, the information that you provided. Thank you Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Prosper. I give the floor to Mr. Murillo Martinez, followed by Mr. Cali Tzay.

Mr. Martinez

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to thank the distinguished delegation of Japan for the very detailed replies they’ve given today. I’m pleased to hear that you have very detailed statistics on acts of xenophobia managed by the Ministry of Justice and it’s also very encouraging to know that you are making efforts to adopt a human rights institution in accordance with the Paris Principles.

Now, this is not so much a question, but yesterday we heard about Japan’s role, major contributions in international cooperation to promote human rights. And I am sure the delegation knows that last December, the General Assembly by acclamation, declared 2011 to be international year for persons of African origin. I’d like to take advantage of this opportunity then, just to note the importance of that commemoration and to express my optimistic hope that Japan like other countries will be very committed to that process and will make a very positive contribution to achieving the objectives which I’m sure will mean implementation of mechanisms for voluntary contributions. Thank you very much, Chairman, I do apologize to the delegation for taking advantage of this excellent opportunity for making that little speech.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for the intervention Mr. Murillo Martinez. I give the floor to Mr. Cali Tzay followed by Mr. Avtonomov.

Mr. Cali Tzay

Thank you Chairman. I too would like to join my colleagues in thanking you the distinguished delegation of Japan for the replies and the reply to my question about seven members of the panel discussing the policy for the Ainu. This reply will help me to understand the situation.

Since there are seven might it not be more feasible for an Ainu delegation on a parity basis so that this panel could really discuss the policy needed by all of the Ainu people; of course reflecting the willingness of the Prime Minister. Of course we’ve heard they’re going to listen to the Ainu but perhaps then the panel should have a parity representation of the Ainu people.

With regard to Okinawa, I greatly respect the opinion of the delegation but I note the study by the Ecuadorian expert Mr. Jose Martinez_____on the situation of indigenous peoples in the world. He noted that one of the forms whereby an indigenous population can define itself as such is self definition. But he also said that indigenous peoples are those which existed which were in place before colonialization or the formation of current states. As far as I understand, the Okinawan has its own culture and language and idiosyncrasies. So the opinion of that expert would be that since Japan gave its support to the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples it would be of course recommendable, and I respectfully I say this, that the Okinawa people also be recognized as an indigenous people. I repeat, I believe they have a different language, a language which is different from Japanese.

And I’d also like to say that I’ve received information concerning the policy of retirement. There is a law specifically referring to this we were told that in the legislation there is a particular gap because Korean citizens because of their nationality are not taken account of in this policy that is neither elderly nor disabled.

I recall an expression I learned in the US “a crack in the law can be small that nobody can notice, but also can be so big that a caterpillar tractor can pass through.” So I think these gaps in legislation may be not be noted by some people or anybody, but also may result in a large group not receiving the necessary benefits so I think that the government of Japan could probably resolve this gap in the legislation with regard to this particular issue. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I thank once again the distinguished delegation of Japan.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Cali Tzay for your remarks, and Mr. Avtonomov you have the floor now.

Mr. Avtonomov

Thank you for giving me the floor. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not being here for the whole process of replies to questions because I have responsibilities as rapporteur on another country so I do apologize for this. I just wanted once again to welcome the delegation and I wanted to say good morning and say that in Japanese as well. I listened to the replies to questions, I heard them in Japanese, of course that doesn’t happen very often in this room, it was very interesting, and there were replies to questions that I raised yesterday. And I did hear some replies to those. I just wanted to make a few details clearer.

Of course we know the position with respect to the Burakumin group, nevertheless there was a partial answer to what I asked about registration of families. We know that there are difficult problems here. Because overcoming traditional stereotypes will be complicated in any country and Japan is no exception. No country is an exception. And we are well aware that basically this is related to the origin of such peoples not only their parents but their grandparents and so on,___these groups, and that’s what the discrimination arises from. Now I heard the answer about registration of families. I wasn’t actually asking for a change in the procedure on registration of families because I know that this is a rather long established system and has its advantages. The question of registration is not a question that we have to discuss here. Registration is not something that we are seeking to change. It has great significance for ensuring that people’s rights are enforced. But I did listen with interest to the fact that the new legislation on personal data and of course you shouldn’t close off access, somehow reduces access of all people universally to such data.

I therefore would like to ask whether there’s any…if there is a change in access to personal data, whether this has affected the Burakumin people, and whether discrimination with respect to these people is related let’s say to certain prejudices and stereotypes with employers. I would like to have more information about this, and it may not of course, not be conscious, sometimes people are not aware when they discriminate against someone, so as I say it may not be conscious. So I would like to know whether the situation of these people, the Burakumin, has changed following the change in legislation concerning access to personal data and if there are any positive moves forward with regard to reducing these problems. I think possibly, there needs to be further consideration as to how the access to data be arranged. It would be very interesting to hear whether then there is any additional information on this. If there isn’t any information available right now, perhaps it would be interesting to have that in the next periodic report. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Avtonomov. I would just like to interject a comment here. This arises from our discussions this morning, and that concerns indigenous people. You have stated that the Ainu people are the only one whom you recognize as the indigenous people. My understanding, my strict understanding of the situation would be that the Japanese people themselves are an indigenous people because ((Mr. Ueda: “Yes, of course.”)) I think they were there for as long as the Ainu but perhaps because of special circumstances they were isolated and underprivileged so we have of course Mr. Thornberry is our expert on the indigenous people and Mr. Cali Tzay, so this is I suppose the Japanese people are as indigenous as the Ainu and…because if you think in terms of time and continuity. So this is the only comment that I wish to make.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much, Mr. Chairperson. There are additional questions raised by members of the Committee and while our staffs are preparing sort of answers, possible answers to you, I will make a sort of general comment.

Of course there is no clear definition of indigenous people even in the UN Declaration or the UN resolution, so it’s difficult for us to identify or how can I say, define indigenous people as Mr. Chairperson stated. Different from the situation in Australia and New Zealand and the United States where indigenous people used to be there and then outsider came later. Our history is different, our history is different. That is true. I mean whether our ancestors come from southern China or from Siberia or from Polynesia we don’t know. From Africa maybe, we don’t know. There might be a sort of first wave arriving, and then second wave arriving, and then third wave arriving, all mixed and we now, we are Japanese. The Ainu, we recognized as an indigenous people because definitely they have their own culture, history, different from our, I mean so-called Japanese nationals.

But Okinawan people are Japanese. I mean, it’s difficult to identify, it’s difficult for you to identify say the people from Provence and the people from Ile-de-France. How do you identify themselves? The Okinawan people have a very of course a rich unique culture but their language of course, strong, how can I say, very probably a group of Japanese language, in broad sense they are Japanese language, I mean in comparison with say, Chinese or Korean or Taiwanese, they are Japanese language. Maybe, there are of course many many different, how can I say, theories and academic studies, but broadly speaking, people living in Okinawa are Japanese, in broad sense, so that’s the reason why are not identify them as indigenous people. Of course they have a sort of sometimes different history from mainland parts, and they had suffered heavily during World War II, they need economic development, so central government and prefectural government provided a great deal of assistance to Okinawa people to raise up their living standards, that sort of things, yes, we nurture the Okinawan culture, for example when the G8 summit was held in Okinawa, G8 leaders all enjoyed very beautiful culture of Okinawa as you know. Now, I’ll ask my deputy and other staff to answer as much as possible to your additional questions. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; ?)

Well, there were some questions with regard to having consultations. Well, several or some members raised a question with regard to the possibility of having consultations with other groups, groups other than Ainu people. Now I’d like to respond to that. In formulating this the periodic report, in February 2006, through the website of the Ministry we asked for the submission of comments in written form, and in March 2006 targeting NGO groups we had an formal hearing, and in July 2006 and August 2007, we invited members of the community to organize a meeting to exchange views. In March 2006 there was an informal hearing as I mentioned. 16 NGO groups were represented and seven ministries were represented. And we had the opportunity of free discussion and exchange of views on the formulation of the periodic report. And in the first meeting in July 2007, about 60 people came to this meeting and also the seven ministries that were represented, and in the second meeting about 40 people attended and six government agencies were represented in that second meeting, therefore, through the website we asked for comments to be presented to us.

[DEBITO HERE:  I ATTENDED ONE OF THESE MOFA MEETINGS IN AUGUST 2007.  AS USUAL, IT WAS NOT AS THEY SAY TO THE UN.  SEE MY REPORT HERE.]

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Cabinet Secretariat)

The Cabinet Secretariat will respond. On the Ainu question, first of all, as to the membership of the Council for promoting the Ainu policy there are 14 members in total of which there are five Ainu people. Of the 14 of which two are the chief cabinet secretary and assistant to the prime minister so these two are politicians. So apart from those two politicians there’ll be 12, and of the 12, five are Ainu people. Now, under this Council there are two working groups. Of the six members, for both three are of Ainu people or representatives of the Ainu Association, so for the Council for the Promotion of Ainu Policy the 5 out of 12 – so there is not exactly parity – but we have five Ainu people participating. And the other members other than Ainu are academics who are well-versed on Ainu policies as well as representatives of the local governments in the districts where the Ainu people are residing. So____in fact, we will be able to duly hear the views of the Ainu people and the related persons. Next, on the indigenous people. Ainu people have been recognized as indigenous people. One thing is in Hokkaido in the Northern areas they are residing from the old times. The other factor is that Ainu language included there are distinct cultures and the traditions had been preserved and maintained by the Ainu people. So those are the factors in determining that they are to be recognized as indigenous people. Thank you.

(?) (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare)

Next, the Korean residents. The pension issues involving Korean residents. The Ministry of Health will respond. First of all, with regard to the pension scheme, there is no nationality clause, therefore, the ___ program covers foreign nationals as well. However, in the past, before 1981 there was a nationality clause in place, and in 1982 and nationality clause was terminated, and on that occasion this regulation is to be applied in the future. Therefore at that point in time, the foreign nationals or the Koreans with the age of 84 and those handicapped people at the age of 48, they were not covered in the national pension scheme. As a result of that, they are taking a hard time and that is____, therefore welfare services should be applied, provided to that population and based on the discussion at the Diet level we would like to continue to look into this matter.

Next, on Buraku people, and the interpretation of descent. As for the interpretation of descent, in relation to the interpretation of the language as to the content of the government periodic report some of the members have said that it is not necessarily a satisfactory answer being given. But what we would like to say is, in the review of the periodic report from the Japanese government on the Dowa__question, this is not a question of descent, or this is not the question to be handled by the ICERD. If we are taken that position that we would not be reporting because of the positions, but that is not our position. For the specific aspects during the review, we have been always trying to engage in a constructive manner for dialogue, and this is more important, so I hope that we can continue with such a dialogue going forward. In any case, for ICERD based upon the spirit as mentioned in the preamble of the ICERD for the Dowa question, any kind of discrimination including the Dowa discrimination should never happen; that is always our position. In relation to this the Ministry of Justice would like to respond to the question of the family register and the general measures vis-à-vis the Dowa people. Please.

Ms. Aono (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name Aono with the Ministry of Justice. And there was a reference to the revised family register law in my comment, and I skip the background information. Therefore I just would like to make an additional comment that may overlap what I have just mentioned. In 2007, before the revision of the family register law, the professional organizations transferred the documents they received onto third parties and there were some illegal acts involved in such illegal actions were reported. And in order to prevent such_____application and a request and for the protection of individual and personal information, and in order to respond to such a situation, the family registration law was revised. And the requirement for making requests was made stricter. Identification of the person requesting a person, and the stricter punishment was put into the law against those who violate the law. And in practice as well, the actions are taken so that this law can be carried out properly. And my colleague will make an additional comment.

Mr. Ogawa (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

My name is Ogawa from the Ministry of Justice. Mr. Diaconu and Mr. De Gouttes, I believe the intent of your questions are on the Dowa question that not necessarily the present measures may not be satisfactory or adequate enough that may be included in your questions so allow me to give some supplementary explanation. Earlier on, Ms. Shino from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already explained. Under the Ministry of Justice human rights organs for the human rights issues including the Dowa question for the human rights counseling as well as human rights encouragement we have taken remedial measures, relief measures. With that said, however, as for the measures of the government is not limited to these alone. In the list of questions paragraph 4, the government of Japan has given a response which alludes to the following. The Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, and other relevant ministries are competent in the different categories of administration and under their own competence various measures are undertaken. For example, earlier, Mr. Avtonomov has pointed out that for the employers, awareness of the Dowa question may be problematic. Now, at the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, for employment, in the employment screening done by the business corporations, the basic human rights of the applicants are being respected. And to prevent any discrimination over employment, the ability of the applicants are to be ____and the fair screening should be made for employment. And guidance and education are given to employers to make this a reality. Based upon the spirit as given in the preamble of the ICERD, for any discrimination including the Dowa question, in order to create a society without any discrimination is something that we are always striving to aim for. Thank you.

Mr. Otani (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Justice)

Next, the criminal procedure in relation to racially motivated acts. My name is Otani with the Ministry of Justice. Article 4 of the ICERD in relation to that racially motivated action there was some reference in the comments. With regard to that, as the official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs I mentioned, I just would like to make an additional comment for clarification from the viewpoint of the Ministry of Justice. As was captured in a statement given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, if the prime objective was motivated racially and the motive is considered malicious, therefore in the legal process, and if it is proved, in that case the judge, in the process of sentencing, will take that into consideration as an important factor. And such appropriate treatment is given in that regard. Thank you.

Lastly, to the question from Mr. Prosper, on the relationship with ICC and the genocide convention, unfortunately, we have come for the review of the ICERD, so we were not anticipating a satisfactory answer which would be fitting to such questions coming from their profound knowledge as held by the distinguished member, so I have to say that we have no knowledge over and above what we have already mentioned earlier. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

As you know, my predecessor for ambassador for human rights was Mrs. Saiga, who became an ICC judge later on, but unfortunately she passed away, and succeeding her, a new lady judge from Japan is now in ICC…Ozaki-san, Ms. Ozaki is now in ICC.  You know, of course our sincere approach to this question.  Mr. Chairperson, thank you very much.  I think our side tried to answer questions raised by the members of the Committee so far as much as possible.  So this is…if I have something to say…I think I said so far, enough.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you very much for your responses and the fact that we have a little time is indicative of the to the point responses that the delegation gave us and I saw no evidence of filibustering or trying to drag the answers. So members had the opportunity to ask as many questions as they wished, and does somebody wish to speak, Madame Dah or Mr. De Gouttes? Mr. Lindgren, would you like to say something before I give the floor to our rapporteur for his preliminary summing up?

Mr. Lindgren

Thank you Mr. Chairman it’s just a point of clarification. Of course I appreciate very much all the replies that were given to us by the Japanese delegation. But my original doubt concerning the Burakumin still remains. What are the Burakumin. If they speak the same language, if they speak Japanese, if they don’t have religious origins, what makes them different from the average Japanese? This is just a question that I want to make. Thank you.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

There are no difference at all. No difference at all. They are us. Like us. I mean, we. We are the same. No difference at all. So you can’t identify. Unless you say I’m from Ile-de-France, I’m from Provence. And this he says.

Ms. Shino (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

I think this is something we mentioned in the previous examination that the Dowa policy, the council, came out with a report in 1965, and in that report the Dowa problems was the outcome of the class system that was borne out of the feudal system and it is a social problem. However, in recent years, with regard to the origin of the Buraku problems, there was a review of these problems being dated back to the Edo period, so it is rather difficult for us why the Buraku problem emerged, and who should be considered as a Burakumin or Buraku people. So the situation is very complicated, therefore, that was the comment that we made in the previous examination session, that we did not have more information that___provided to you at this point in time.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

I thank you for your responses. And I have two more requests from the floor. Mr. Diaconu, followed by Mr. De Gouttes.

Mr. Diaconu

Thank you Mr. Chairman. And I am sorry for taking the floor for the third time. I’m interested to know as much as possible and to see as much as possible progress from the part of the state party because Japan is a big country, is a developed country, and we are waiting from Japan a lot of positive developments in the Asian space and in the world as such. Now, our preoccupation in this committee and according to our convention is that each and every person is protected against racial discrimination. And each and every group is protected. And this is let’s say these are the words of our Convention.

Now, you are telling us that there are no difference between the Buraku and the others, but they say that there is a difference. They say to us and according to sources we have they say that they have a different culture and a different language. Let’s clarify this issue and the way to clarify this issue is through consultations with them, with their representatives. Mr. Ambassador, you are telling us that there is no difference between you and them. Looking at them you, cannot distinguish them, but it happens in many countries. You cannot distinguish them according to physical features to the way they look but when you look more precisely into their culture, into their language, into their traditions, you will find distinctions. We don’t want to create groups where there are no groups. We don’t want to defend dead cultures or dead languages. No. But we want to preserve whatever is of interest for a group for a significant group of people. And it seems there is a significant group of people which wants to preserve their culture and their traditions and their language. So this is important this is important for us, I think it should be important also for the country. It is your richness, it is part of your richness, as tradition, as culture, as history. This is our preoccupation, and I think that the lady from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs started giving us an interesting answer. She says the Buraku issue is a social problem. It comes from the feudal times. Okay. But that is what we want to hear about. It comes from the feudal times. Now, we want to know how much this social problem, coming from the caste system, has developed into an ethnic issue, into a differential group, culturally different group. How much remnants of that system of caste system are still in the Japanese society because if they are then you have to deal with them. And Japan has to deal with them under our convention. If this group is different you have to include it either as a minority group, either as an ethic group, or an indigenous group. You cannot say they do not exist. No, they are there. They are there, and they are citizens of Japan. So this is a comment that I wanted to make on this issue. This remains, I understand this remains an issue to be considered by the government and by ourselves, taking into account answers we could receive from the government on this issue, from all points of view, not only just, let’s see an interpretation of the text of article 1 and the travaux préparatoires, no. We want some data from the inside, from this group about this group of population. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Mr. De Gouttes (mistake?), I’d just like to mention there is a distinction between caste and ethnicity. You have one ethnicity and in that ethnicity there may be several castes. Mr. De Gouttes, you have…

Mr. De Gouttes

Thank you Chairman. I am a French expert but not of Provence origin. And I think the delegation did remind us that all countries have problems, specific issues affecting their populations, and that’s quite clear. I don’t think any country is exempt from questions and problems about its population. And I think that’s what’s so valuable in having this sort of forum, having an open direct dialogue which shows differences in approach between one delegation and our committee. But we are not judges. We’ve said this often. We’re a cooperation and dialogue body. What we hope to do through considering states parties reports is to see evolution, to see changes, progress made, with a view to ensuring full compliance with our convention, and I think that’s the benefit of a committee such as ours to have a dialogue to ensure compliance with our convention. Thank you.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

My understanding of his Excellency’s intervention was that ethnically this group is Japanese, and this is the way I understood him, and in that spirit I took his intervention. So at this stage I would like to give the floor to our distinguished rapporteur who happens also to be… who has a very rich experience, he’s a scholar on indigenous people, so we can benefit from his summing up.

Mr. Thornberry

Thank you for kind words, chairman, and again I thank the delegation warmly for a generally interactive dialogue that you’ve provided a detailed account of your position in response to our many questions. And a large delegation came to visit the committee on this occasion which we are very grateful for. The remarks are personal. These are not necessarily shared by the whole committee though I will try to recall some of the consensus committee position on some matters. There was a huge range of issues raised.

And also in your responses today beginning with the question of the Ainu as an indigenous people which I think I said yesterday that recognition is the first step, there are many steps that must follow and certainly one of the key things in all of this process of engagement with indigenous rights and indeed with other groups is the question of participation and consultation.

The Okinawa situation was also raised and you’ve made your position very clear but nevertheless colleagues have proposed and urged a wider degree of consultation perhaps on this question without necessarily getting into technical arguments on description of status but certainly consultation with representatives would be welcome.

We had a lot of discussion on issues like education of minority groups and many issues were clarified, and discussions____of public schools and private schools. I must say that the public schools maybe we didn’t develop this point today, possibly demonstrate an insufficiently flexible curriculum in terms of ethnic diversity including for Japanese citizens, and this may of course encourage others to maintain systems outside the public school system. That’s just an impression that I have. But anyway, I think I’ve heard references today on the need for policy study and welcome this.

We’ve had discussions on education, Internet questions, article 4, the names issue, refugees, the question of the law on racial discrimination, and issues to deal with our convention including article 14 and amendment article 8. Those are just some of the issues.

And also the very interesting question raised by Mr. Prosper on the relationship between the Genocide Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. I did flag that one up yesterday but did not develop it as Mr. Prosper has done so very interestingly today.

These are the kind of things that will figure, I can’t speak for the committee in advance, but we will have to draw up our concluding observations on the basis of issues raised.

We have a certain broad agreement in some respects, including the importance of eliminating racial discrimination as far as humanly possible, and the importance of education against discrimination in this. We’ve had agreement also on the status of the Ainu, on the spirit of the convention, and I noticed a certain direction of movement as regards national human rights institution.

But certainly there are areas that the committee would probably recommend for further reflection. On the Buraku question, for example, we note your willingness to transcend the rather technical argument about the interpretation of the term descent in light of the spirit of the convention. We may not be in a position to agree on the interpretative matter, but we have our own position on that which has been developed in the committee over many years and is indeed acceptable to most states.

The nature of human rights education is something that perhaps we welcome the importance you give to education. We wonder sometimes and certainly I wonder if it has an adequate diversity component to what extent it includes the rights of specific groups. I’m not raising a whole lot of new questions now it’s just something that occurred to me.

It looks like we’re going to maintain respective differences on reservations, though the committee always invites states to seriously examine whether a reservation is needed and if possible minimize its scope or eliminate it. We note nevertheless that on issues like voting rights for foreigners, that certain matters are in progress. We disagree on this business about a law on racial discrimination, basically I think because you do not see a current necessity here, I’ll come to that in a moment, so we diverge I think even on issues to do with the names question and registration registers, we diverge on many issues.

But nevertheless, on some of the broader matters, there is at least a convergence of spirit if not necessarily in all of the details. In the committee’s view, the convention is something that has a fairly long reach, it reaches down, and this makes it difficult for states parties as I said yesterday it’s not simply about the state administration. It goes down to responsibility for the acts of persons, groups, and organizations and reaches deep down into social mores, including the conduct of private persons, and the committee has always insisted strongly that laws as such are not enough and there must be implementation to fulfill the obligations properly under the convention.

As colleagues have intimated I think very clearly there has always been care and concern for particular vulnerable groups, and although the convention does not use the term minority or indigenous people, inevitably, these are the groups that we have been concerned with a great deal because they are the natural focus of oppression. Majority populations or mainstream populations don’t necessarily have the need for the kinds of protection that minorities have, although in some cases there are issues about a majorities which have come before the committee.

And I think we always hope to unblock situations, to assist the state party to open thinking a little on these matters and discourage too much rigidity of positions based perhaps on legal considerations which might regard any intrusion of international standards as a kind of intrusion into domestic affairs. I think that kind of position, it is an exercise of sovereignty to ratify a convention like this, and it is not in any way a diminution of sovereignty and one would always hope state-by-state for a greater and broader embracing of letter and spirit of international norms bearing in mind the duty of this committee also which in a sense acts as a kind of ____of states and always has done to avoid the situation where states themselves get into mutual criticism so that is how I see the function of a committee like this.

The committee has taken very clear positions over the years I think I can at least say that on structural and substantial questions on respectful diversity of situations. Sometimes we are presented with a rather homogenizing approach for example to the idea of equality, but if there are different situations being treated by the same norm as it were, that’s not equality that’s inequality. One always has to have respect for history, tradition, culture, vulnerability, which makes a simple uniform application of norms not always appropriate, though of course we should always be aware of our commonalities as well as issues of diversity. We deal a lot with groups, and we privilege the notion of self definition. We argue for the need for laws against racial discrimination. We argue for control within the parameters of the convention of hate speech, we argue the need for remedies, and we argue the need for education which I think the state party clearly shares.

Education of groups including cultural and linguistic dimensions. Education, I think as Mr. Diaconu said yesterday, of the general population in matters to do with racial discrimination and tolerance and education of officials including those in this case perhaps in most regular contact in one way or another with non-Japanese. Now this is a large program for states, and of course we will look at evidence of responses when we come to your next report we will shorten the time lag I think by suggesting three or four issues for rather immediate follow-up.

If I can just give a couple of very broad points to conclude with, in the drafting of the convention, it was fairly clear and I have studied the travaux of the convention fairly extensively, there was a widespread feeling that racial discrimination applied only in a few places in the world. That it was not in fact a global phenomenon and truthfully it may also be the case that many states signed up to it on the supposition that it was never really going to affect them domestically. It would always be a matter of foreign policy. But I think the committee has demonstrated over the years that it is a global issue. It affects all states, of course in its details it has nuances of difference, but I think one of the functions of this committee and the convention is to see the commonalities so that we can actually see in what way the issues relate to the international norms and make appropriate recommendations on that basis.

Going back to what I said yesterday, and your response, I feel sometimes that if the international community had accepted the Japanese__at the time of the League of Nations we might have got to this realization a little bit earlier than we did… it’s a fairly recent understanding.

And in responding to the convention, just to conclude, that a number of steps, first of all, I think that awareness raising is very very important.

And a number of your responses today make the point that law is not needed in current circumstances. I think my immediate worry about that is that your information and statistical base in particular may not be entirely adequate to support that proposition. And I certainly think that the civil society will make its point clear, but that more study is required.

Education is also important and you have stressed education greatly, but again, if I may go back to the drafting of the convention, a number of countries insisted very strongly that education was the way forward. Others were equally determined to show that education itself was excellent but not enough and that the passing of laws itself has an educative value for the population. So following awareness raising then we get to re-organization in some cases quite drastic and basic legal structures and then to implementation in good faith of the convention.

All we can do a conclusion as to hope that the convention and the committee can assist in consolidation of process and direction and be a channel through which the good intentions of the state can flow. Thank you very much Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you Mr. Thornberry. We have come to the end of our discussion, a most interesting discussion it was, on Japan, and I think we have learned from each other and the future generation is here with us and I’m sure that under their leadership in the years to come, we will make greater progress in understanding each other and this exchange will lead all of you to reflect on the great diversity in our world and yet the similarity that we are all humans and we all originated, they now tell us – the scientists – we originated from a very small region of Africa and spread all over the world, I found it difficult to believe but after I read about it in depth, I realized this is a fact, a scientific fact, so thank you very much, and Excellency, and thank you Mr. Rapporteur of course for your excellent summing up, and distinguished members for your rich questions. Excellency, I think if you would like to say something at this stage, I would like to give you the floor.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you Mr. Chairperson and distinguished members of the committee, on behalf of the Japanese delegation I express sincere appreciation to your support and your very constructive comments. We will try to of course wait your final comment but in the meantime we will of course study and learn what you have said this occasion and of course if possible, we will try to take up your recommendations and try to sort of proceed farther to the future.

Taking this opportunity also, I’d like to express our appreciation to our NGO groups who attended, I mean who are present here, from Japan, together with as was explained by Ms. Shino, government side also of course appreciate their contribution, and we had a constructive consultations back home and we will have also continue this kind of consultations, exchange of views back home for the better implementation of this convention.

Once again, I’d like to express our sincere appreciation to all members of the committee and also the Secretariat staff who helped us very much.

And of course the interpreters who did a great job and also there are Japanese press present, and I think they will cover our activity to Japan and not only to Japan, but to all over the world, how we are working rigorously and how we are sort of effectively exchanged views.

In conclusion, I personally had a very good sort of a learning during this session. Thank you very much.

Mr. Kemal (Chairperson)

Thank you, Excellency Ueda, and that brings us to the conclusion of the session. Thank you very much, and to the delegation of Japan, those of you who are going across the ocean, I wish you a safe and happy journey and maybe we will see you at some later session. This meeting is concluded.

Mr. Ueda (Japanese government delegation; Ministry of Foreign Affairs)

Thank you very much.


[1]

Committee members:

Nourredine Amir (Algeria); Alexei Avtonomov (Russian Federation); Jose Francisco Cali Tzay (Guatemala); Anastasia Crickley (Ireland); Fatima-Binta Victoire Dah (Burkina Faso); Régis de Gouttes (France); Ion Diaconu (Romania); Kokou Mawuena Ika Kana (Dieudonné) Ewomsan (Togo); Huang Yong’an (China); Anwar Kemal (Pakistan) (Chairperson); Dilip Lahiri (India); Gün Kut (Turkey); José Augusto Lindgren Alves (Brazil); Pastor Elias Murillo Martinez (Colombia); Chris Maina Peter (Tanzania); Pierre-Richard Prosper (United States); Walilakoye Saidou (Niger); and Patrick Thornberry (United Kingdom)

Japanese government delegation members:

Hideaki Ueda (Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, MOFA); Kenichi Suganuma (Ambassador, Permanent Mission to Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Kazumi Akiyama (Councilor, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Akira Honda (Official, Comprehensive Ainu Policy Department, Cabinet Secretariat); Yumi Aono (Director, Office of International Affiars, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Junichiro Otani (Attorney, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOF); Akira Ogawa (Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Yukinori Ehara (Assistant to the Director, Human Rights Promotion Division, Human Rights Bureau, MOJ); Naomi Hirota (Section Chief, Office of International Affairs, Secretarial Division, MOJ); Yuki Yamaguchi (Official, International Affairs Division, Criminal Affairs Bureau, MOJ); Mitsuko Shino (Director, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Junko Irie (Attorney, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Shiho Yoshioka (Researcher, Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Division, Foreign Policy Bureau, MOFA); Kanako Konishi (Official, International Affairs Division, MEXT); Junya Hoshida (Deputy Director, International Affairs Division, Minister’s Secretariat, MHLW); Akio Isomata (Minister, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Yuji Yamamoto (Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Akira Matsumoto (First Secretary, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva); Mirai Maruo (Attache, Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva)

UNHCHR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says Non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday.  One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination.  The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3).  However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens.  To quote the most clear and concise bit:

II. Measures of a general nature

7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;

This was issued way back in 2004.  I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted).  I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting.  Meanwhile, enjoy this gem.  Something else for the GOJ to ignore.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

UNITED NATIONS

General Recommendation No.30: Discrimination Against Non Citizens : . 01/10/2004.
Gen. Rec. No. 30. (General Comments)

Convention Abbreviation: CERD
General Recommendation XXX
Discrimination Against Non Citizens

http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/0/e3980a673769e229c1256f8d0057cd3d?Opendocument

The Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, according to which all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and are entitled to the rights and freedoms enshrined therein without distinction of any kind, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,

Recalling the Durban Declaration in which the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, recognized that xenophobia against non-nationals, particularly migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, constitutes one of the main sources of contemporary racism and that human rights violations against members of such groups occur widely in the context of discriminatory, xenophobic and racist practices,

Noting that, based on the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and general recommendations XI and XX, it has become evident from the examination of the reports of States parties to the Convention that groups other than migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers are also of concern, including undocumented non-citizens and persons who cannot establish the nationality of the State on whose territory they live, even where such persons have lived all their lives on the same territory,

Having organized a thematic discussion on the issue of discrimination against non-citizens and received the contributions of members of the Committee and States parties, as well as contributions from experts of other United Nations organs and specialized agencies and from non-governmental organizations,

Recognizing the need to clarify the responsibilities of States parties to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination with regard to non-citizens,

Basing its action on the provisions of the Convention, in particular article 5, which requires States parties to prohibit and eliminate discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in the enjoyment by all persons of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms,

Affirms that:

I. Responsibilities of States parties to the Convention

1. Article 1, paragraph 1, of the Convention defines racial discrimination. Article 1, paragraph 2 provides for the possibility of differentiating between citizens and non-citizens. Article 1, paragraph 3 declares that, concerning nationality, citizenship or naturalization, the legal provisions of States parties must not discriminate against any particular nationality;

2. Article 1, paragraph 2, must be construed so as to avoid undermining the basic prohibition of discrimination; hence, it should not be interpreted to detract in any way from the rights and freedoms recognized and enunciated in particular in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;

3. Article 5 of the Convention incorporates the obligation of States parties to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in the enjoyment of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. Although some of these rights, such as the right to participate in elections, to vote and to stand for election, may be confined to citizens, human rights are, in principle, to be enjoyed by all persons. States parties are under an obligation to guarantee equality between citizens and non-citizens in the enjoyment of these rights to the extent recognized under international law;

4. Under the Convention, differential treatment based on citizenship or immigration status will constitute discrimination if the criteria for such differentiation, judged in the light of the objectives and purposes of the Convention, are not applied pursuant to a legitimate aim, and are not proportional to the achievement of this aim. Differentiation within the scope of article 1, paragraph 4, of the Convention relating to special measures is not considered discriminatory;

5. States parties are under an obligation to report fully upon legislation on non-citizens and its implementation. Furthermore, States parties should include in their periodic reports, in an appropriate form, socio-economic data on the non-citizen population within their jurisdiction, including data disaggregated by gender and national or ethnic origin;

Recommends,

Based on these general principles, that the States parties to the Convention, as appropriate to their specific circumstances, adopt the following measures:

II. Measures of a general nature

6. Review and revise legislation, as appropriate, in order to guarantee that such legislation is in full compliance with the Convention, in particular regarding the effective enjoyment of the rights mentioned in article 5, without discrimination;

7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;

8. Pay greater attention to the issue of multiple discrimination faced by non-citizens, in particular concerning the children and spouses of non-citizen workers, to refrain from applying different standards of treatment to female non-citizen spouses of citizens and male non-citizen spouses of citizens, to report on any such practices and to take all necessary steps to address them;

9. Ensure that immigration policies do not have the effect of discriminating against persons on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin;

10. Ensure that any measures taken in the fight against terrorism do not discriminate, in purpose or effect, on the grounds of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin and that non-citizens are not subjected to racial or ethnic profiling or stereotyping;

III. Protection against hate speech and racial violence

11. Take steps to address xenophobic attitudes and behaviour towards non-citizens, in particular hate speech and racial violence, and to promote a better understanding of the principle of non-discrimination in respect of the situation of non-citizens;

12. Take resolute action to counter any tendency to target, stigmatize, stereotype or profile, on the basis of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, members of “non-citizen” population groups, especially by politicians, officials, educators and the media, on the Internet and other electronic communications networks and in society at large;

IV. Access to citizenship

13. Ensure that particular groups of non-citizens are not discriminated against with regard to access to citizenship or naturalization, and to pay due attention to possible barriers to naturalization that may exist for long-term or permanent residents;

14. Recognize that deprivation of citizenship on the basis of race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin is a breach of States parties’ obligations to ensure non-discriminatory enjoyment of the right to nationality;

15. Take into consideration that in some cases denial of citizenship for long-term or permanent residents could result in creating disadvantage for them in access to employment and social benefits, in violation of the Convention’s anti-discrimination principles;

16. Reduce statelessness, in particular statelessness among children, by, for example, encouraging their parents to apply for citizenship on their behalf and allowing both parents to transmit their citizenship to their children;

17. Regularize the status of former citizens of predecessor States who now reside within the jurisdiction of the State party;

V. Administration of justice

18. Ensure that non-citizens enjoy equal protection and recognition before the law and in this context, to take action against racially motivated violence and to ensure the access of victims to effective legal remedies and the right to seek just and adequate reparation for any damage suffered as a result of such violence;
19. Ensure the security of non-citizens, in particular with regard to arbitrary detention, as well as ensure that conditions in centres for refugees and asylum-seekers meet international standards;

20. Ensure that non-citizens detained or arrested in the fight against terrorism are properly protected by domestic law that complies with international human rights, refugee and humanitarian law;

21. Combat ill-treatment of and discrimination against non-citizens by police and other law enforcement agencies and civil servants by strictly applying relevant legislation and regulations providing for sanctions and by ensuring that all officials dealing with non-citizens receive special training, including training in human rights;

22. Introduce in criminal law the provision that committing an offence with racist motivation or aim constitutes an aggravating circumstance allowing for a more severe punishment;

23. Ensure that claims of racial discrimination brought by non-citizens are investigated thoroughly and that claims made against officials, notably those concerning discriminatory or racist behaviour, are subject to independent and effective scrutiny;

24. Regulate the burden of proof in civil proceedings involving discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin so that once a non-citizen has established a prima facie case that he or she has been a victim of such discrimination, it shall be for the respondent to provide evidence of an objective and reasonable justification for the differential treatment;

VI. Expulsion and deportation of non-citizens

25. Ensure that laws concerning deportation or other forms of removal of non-citizens from the jurisdiction of the State party do not discriminate in purpose or effect among non-citizens on the basis of race, colour or ethnic or national origin, and that non-citizens have equal access to effective remedies, including the right to challenge expulsion orders, and are allowed effectively to pursue such remedies;
26. Ensure that non-citizens are not subject to collective expulsion, in particular in situations where there are insufficient guarantees that the personal circumstances of each of the persons concerned have been taken into account;

27. Ensure that non-citizens are not returned or removed to a country or territory where they are at risk of being subject to serious human rights abuses, including torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;

28. Avoid expulsions of non-citizens, especially of long-term residents, that would result in disproportionate interference with the right to family life;

VII. Economic, social and cultural rights

29. Remove obstacles that prevent the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights by non-citizens, notably in the areas of education, housing, employment and health;
30. Ensure that public educational institutions are open to non-citizens and children of undocumented immigrants residing in the territory of a State party;

31. Avoid segregated schooling and different standards of treatment being applied to non-citizens on grounds of race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin in elementary and secondary school and with respect to access to higher education;

32. Guarantee the equal enjoyment of the right to adequate housing for citizens and non-citizens, especially by avoiding segregation in housing and ensuring that housing agencies refrain from engaging in discriminatory practices;

33. Take measures to eliminate discrimination against non-citizens in relation to working conditions and work requirements, including employment rules and practices with discriminatory purposes or effects;

34. Take effective measures to prevent and redress the serious problems commonly faced by non-citizen workers, in particular by non-citizen domestic workers, including debt bondage, passport retention, illegal confinement, rape and physical assault;

35. Recognize that, while States parties may refuse to offer jobs to non-citizens without a work permit, all individuals are entitled to the enjoyment of labour and employment rights, including the freedom of assembly and association, once an employment relationship has been initiated until it is terminated;

36. Ensure that States parties respect the right of non-citizens to an adequate standard of physical and mental health by, inter alia, refraining from denying or limiting their access to preventive, curative and palliative health services;

37. Take the necessary measures to prevent practices that deny non-citizens their cultural identity, such as legal or de facto requirements that non-citizens change their name in order to obtain citizenship, and to take measures to enable non-citizens to preserve and develop their culture;

38. Ensure the right of non-citizens, without discrimination based on race, colour, descent, and national or ethnic origin, to have access to any place or service intended for use by the general public, such as transport, hotels, restaurants, cafés, theatres and parks;

39. The present general recommendation replaces general recommendation XI (1993).

©1996-2001
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
Geneva, Switzerland

ENDS

Freechoice.jp: MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visas

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Time for some good news, for a change.  After some negotiations, the MOJ has dropped the requirement that people be enrolled in Japanese health insurance programs.  So sez Freechoice.jp below.

Now, while I acknowledge that this source has a conflict of interest (being funded by the very overseas agencies that want to sell health insurance, meaning their motives are not altruistic; its claim that they are the only news source on this is a bit suss too, given the Japan Times reported this development last February), this requirement for visas would have forced many people, who hadn’t paid in due to negligent employers, to back pay a lot of money just for a visa renewal.  That it is no longer a requirement is good news, and now that we have formal acknowledgment of such in writing from the GOJ is the final nail.  Courtesy of Aly.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

On 2010/03/03, at 16:34, “Free Choice” wrote:

Good news! We petitioned against the Immigration Bureau guideline linking social insurance to visa renewal – and we’ve won! The fruits of our labors together have been realized. Guideline No. 8 has been officially deleted as of today, March 3, 2010. The newly revised (showing seven instead of the present eight) guidelines is now posted on the Ministry of Justice’s website.

While the Immigration Bureau will continue to require non-permanent residents to present an insurance card at the visa application window, not doing so will cause no negative effect whatsoever upon an individual’s visa renewal. (The guideline never applied to permanent residents; as previously, they are not required to present an insurance card at all.) Although Immigration will encourage enrollment in Japan’s social system by distributing brochures, individual offices and officers are “forbidden” to pressure anyone to join. In fact, the new guidelines state clearly that “enrollment in the social system will in no way be tied to visa renewal.” Additionally, the Ministry of Justice will set up a new hotline to field complaints from visa applicants who feel that they were in any way pressured or coerced to enroll.

The Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri, and other media have yet to report that the guideline ‘was’ (past tense) deleted. It would seem that Free Choice has the jump on the news – again. That’s because, due to your invaluable support, we ARE the news! The foreign community united together in standing up to the bureaucracy and our voices were heard. We at the Free Choice Foundation would once again like to express our heartfelt thanks to you for your participation in this important issue.

For further information please visit the Free Choice website:

http://www.freechoice.jp/

To download the new guidelines, please go here:

http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan70.pdf

As you can see, No. 8 is gone!

Kindest regards,
Ronald Kessler, Chairman
The Free Choice Foundation

P.S.: Please feel free to forward this email to any family or friends that may have an interest in this breaking news.

ENDS

Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim; GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here we have some preliminary reports coming out of Geneva regarding the UN CERD Committee’s review of Japan’s human rights record vis-a-vis racial discrimination. We have the GOJ claiming no “rampant discrimination”, and stressing that we still need no law against RD for the same old reasons. This despite the rampant discrimination that NGOs are pointing out in independent reports. Read on. And if people find other articles with interesting tacks (the second Kyodo version in the JT below feels decidedly muted), please include whole text with link in the Comments Section below. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Japan disputes racism allegations at U.N. panel
Feb 25 2010 The Associated Press

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9E38OV00&show_article=1

GENEVA, Feb. 25 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Japan does not need laws to combat racial discrimination, a Japanese official said Thursday as Japan’s racism record was examined by the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“Punitive legislation on racial discrimination may hamper legitimate discourse,” Mitsuko Shino of the Japanese Foreign Ministry told a session in Geneva. “And I don’t think the situation in Japan is one of rampant discrimination, so we will not be examining this now.”

The review, the first since 2001, is a required procedure for countries signatory to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

It is conducted by a committee composed of 18 legal experts who act in their professional capacity.

Fourteen Japanese government officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, spent the morning answering questions about Japanese legislation and practices to fight racism and protect minority rights.

The committee was critical of the lack of antidiscrimination legislation in Japan, and the treatment of Japanese minorities and its large Korean and Chinese communities.

Prior to the start of the review on Wednesday, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented to the committee issues they wanted raised.

They showed a video of a group of Japanese nationalist protesters waving flags and protesting in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

An official of Japan’s Justice Ministry said such behavior could be explained as a reaction to “intermittent nuclear and missile tests” by North Korea, although any consequent human right violations were investigated.

Many committee members asked questions about the Okinawan population, some groups of which are fighting to obtain recognition as an indigenous population.

“There is no clear definition of an indigenous people, even in the U.N. declaration,” Ueda said. “But Okinawan people are Japanese, and their language is the Japanese language,” he said.

Concerns were also expressed by committee members about the treatment of descendants of people in discriminated communities called “buraku.”

Committee members admitted they had difficulty understanding whether they were a caste, or a separate ethnic group.

“What makes them different from the average Japanese?” committee member Jose Augusto Lindgren Alves asked.

“There are no differences at all, they are like us, we are the same,” Ueda answered.

Other questions raised included educational opportunities for students of non-Japanese schools, and reports that some individuals had to change their last name to a pre-approved Kanji when obtaining Japanese citizenship.

Foreign schools in Japan get tax credits and subsidies, a delegate from the Education Ministry said, and students from many, especially Korean, schools had access to Japanese universities.

Counselors are available for foreign students joining Japanese schools, the delegate added.

On the name-change allegation, “in order not to create inconvenience in their social life, it would be better to pick an easier to use character,” a member of the Justice Ministry said. “But you can also use hiragana and katakana.”

After the review, Ralph Hosoki of the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan, one of the NGOs, told Kyodo News, “The government only regurgitates what’s already in place…There is no imaginative dialogue to work towards concrete changes.”

In concluding remarks, committee member Patrick Thornberry said, “A lot of the responses are that you do not need legislation…My concern is that your information…may not be proper to make such a conclusion.”
ENDS

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

The Japan Times, Friday, Feb. 26, 2010
Japan faces U.N. racism criticism

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

GENEVA (Kyodo) Japan’s record on racism has improved, but there is still room for progress, according to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

“We heard today much that is good and positive, but I think a deepened engagement would be welcomed and necessary,” Patrick Thornberry, the member of the committee responsible for Japan’s review, said Wednesday.

The review, the first for Japan since 2001, is required of signatory countries to the 1965 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which Japan ratified in December 1995.

Fourteen Japanese officials from five ministries, headed by Ambassador in Charge of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs Hideaki Ueda, flew from Japan to field questions and comments from the committee of 18 legal experts.

Thornberry particularly criticized Japan’s lack of laws to combat hate speech, saying “in international law, freedom of expression is not unlimited.”

The convention commits states to fight racial discrimination by taking such steps as restricting racist speech and criminalizing membership in racist organizations. Japan has expressed reservations about some of the provisions, which it says go against its commitment to freedom of expression and assembly.

Prior to the review, Japanese nongovernmental organizations presented various examples they say highlight the need for legislative action to fight racism in their country.

“There seems to have been little progress since 2001,” when the last review was held, committee member Regis de Gouttes said. “There is no new legislation, even though in 2001 the committee said prohibiting hate speech is compatible with freedom of expression.”

Committee members also criticized the treatment of certain segments of society, such as the “burakumin” (descendants of Japan’s former outcast class), and the people of Okinawa.

“The ‘buraku’ situation is a form of racial discrimination,” committee member Fatimata-Binta Victoire Dah said. “It is frighteningly similar to the caste system in Africa.”

Many members of the committee, however, praised the government’s recent recognition of the Ainu as an indigenous people.

But there was also criticism of the treatment of Chinese and Korean nationals, in matters ranging from the lack of accreditation of their schools, to the necessity, at times, for them to change their names when they obtain Japanese citizenship.

The NGOs, before the review, showed the committee members a video of a group of nationalists waving flags and protesting aggressively in front of a North Korean school in Kyoto Prefecture, shouting phrases such as “This is a North Korean spy training center!”

“Why are these children guilty of what North Korea is doing?” committee member Ion Diaconu asked.

Some members of the committee also expressed concern that such schools did not receive any government funding at a time when the government is considering removing tuition fees for public high schools.
ENDS

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

Feedback from a Debito.org Reader, who cced me in this letter yesterday to a UN official, disputing the lack of “rampant discrimination”. Forwarding:

Dear Gabriella,

I am writing this email in the hope that it will find Mr. Patrick
Thornberry as he is conducting a review on Japan’s Elimination of Racial
Discrimination. I read briefly of the review on the Japan Times website
(URL below).

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100226a4.html

I am concerned that a very important human right is not being protected
in Japan. I am referring to the child’s right to an education. In Japan,
the child’s right to an education is ensured by law. Students must
attend school as compulsory education until they graduate from junior
high school. However, this legislation is only applicable to Japanese
citizens. Non-Japanese do not have the same rights/obligations regarding
education and this violates the right of the non-Japanese to an
education.

I direct your attention to the Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989.

CHAPTER IV
HUMAN RIGHTS
11 . Convention on the Rights of the Child
New York, 20 November 1989

Apparently, Japan became a signatory on 21 Sep 1990 and ratified it on
22 Apr 1994. However, practice in Japan does not appear to be in line
with the articles of the convention. Specifically article 3 and article 28.

——-
Article 28
1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to education, and
with a view to achieving this right progressively and on the basis of
equal opportunity, they shall, in particular:

(a) Make primary education compulsory and available free to all»

(b) Encourage the development of different forms of secondary
education, including general and vocational education, make them
available and accessible to every child, and take appropriate measures
such as the introduction of free education and offering financial
assistance in case of need;

——-

In Japan, education until Junior high school is compulsory for Japanese
students only. For non-Japanese it would appear that the legislation
provides compulsory primary education only. In reality, this is not
ensured. There are many families whose children are not enrolled in any
part of the Japanese education system. Some cite the language barrier as
problem with sending their children to a Japanese school. Education is
not “available to all”. This leads to some students being enrolled in
“schools” that are not required to comply with any standards. This leads
to a conflict in Article 3.

——-
Article 3 Paragraph 3
3. States Parties shall ensure that the institutions, services and
facilities responsible for the care or protection of children shall
conform with the standards established by competent authorities,
particularly in the areas of safety, health, in the number and
suitability of their staff, as well as competent supervision.

——-

There are thousands of Brazilian families living and working in Shizuoka
Prefecture. Many of these families send their children to “Brazilian
schools” that do NOT conform with the standards of Japanese schools. In
fact, many of these so-called schools have no standards with which they
have to comply.

On the other hand, Japanese students have access to compulsory,
standards-compliant education until the end of junior high school.
Non-Japanese children are being discriminated against to the point that
their universal and inalienable right to a quality education is not
being protected.

Enforcing compulsory education in Japan is necessary. Japan may not have
the multilingual schools that would be ideal but a standards compliant
education is better than what these children get now which is either a
non-standards compliant education or no education at all. Enforcing
compulsory education would surely see the current situation improve.

In the news article I cited at the beginning of this email there was no
mention to this issue. That leaves me with my sole question, is
eliminating hate speech really more important to the UN than children’s
education?

AUTHOR’S NAME WITHHELD UPON REQUEST
ends

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

UPDATE.  RESPONSE FROM UNITED NATIONS

——- Forwarded Message ——–
From: Harumi Fuentes
Cc: Gabriella Habtom , sthodiyil@ohchr.org,
p.thornberry@keele.ac.uk
Subject: Re: Fw: JAPAN – U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination
Date: Mon, 1 Mar 2010 11:10:06 +0100

Dear Mr. (anonymized),

In response to your email, the Committee is in charge of monitoring
the implementation of the Convention for all the persons under the
jurisdiction of the State party and the right to education is covered.
Please rest assured that despite what reports or news articles may
write or omit, the issue of education was addressed extensively by the
Committee. In fact, going over the summary record, I’d like to inform
you that education, including Peruvian and Brazilian schools and
miscellaneous schools, was taken up by almost all the members of the
Committee and discussed in length with the State party.

We appreciate the useful information you provided on legislation on
compulsory education for Japanese and non-nationals and thank you for
your interest in the work of the Committee.

Best regards,
Harumi Fuentes

Harumi Fuentes Furuya (Ms.)
Associate Human Rights Officer

Human Rights Council and Treaties Division
OHCHR-Palais Wilson 1-075
tel. +41-22-917 9699
hfuentes@ohchr.org
wwww.ohchr.org
END

Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  I think this is probably the good news of the month.  The US seems to have formally linked and exposed the cognitive dissonance found in the GOJ’s victimhood status regarding the abductions of Japanese by North Korea and the abductions of children into Japan by Japanese citizens after an international divorce.  (Note the GOJ even resorted to the ultimate excuse, “Japanese culture”, below.  Was that the last straw?)  Bravo.  Submitter PT puts it best, so I’ll include his commentary.  Arudou Debito in Calgary.

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PT writes (February 8, 2010):  Another breakthrough today. For years now, going back to the release of the Megumi Yokota movie back in late 2006/early 2007, we have been trying to point out the hypocrisy of the Japanese government in insisting that the United States support their efforts to get back their 17 citizens abducted to North Korea between 27 and 33 years ago, while continuing their ongoing state sponsored kidnapping of hundreds of American children to Japan. Well, it looks like we have finally reached the point where the United States Government has once and for all pointed this hypocrisy out to the Japanese Government.

An article in Kyodo news service was released [February 6] titled “U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions.” The article states that Assistant Secretary Campbell, in meetings with Japanese counterparts, warned that failure to sign the Hague “may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals.” The article also states that Campbell “noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses.”

Although the article contains much of the common Japanese verbage that we don’t like, including putting the word abduction in quotations and that Noriko Savoie, “allegedly” took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.” There’s no “allegedly” involved in that situation. Anyway, the important point is that this represents a policy shift in United States foreign policy toward Japan that is likely to make waves throughout Japan. This is good news in moving forward.  PT

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U.S. warns Japan of effect of custody treaty on N. Korea abductions
Kyodo News/Breitbart, Feb 6 2010, Courtesy of PT.

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D9DMQV380&show_article=1

TOKYO, Feb. 7 (AP) – (Kyodo)—A senior U.S. government official has warned Japan that its failure to join an international treaty on child custody may have adverse effects on Washington’s assistance to Tokyo in trying to resolve the issue of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese nationals, diplomatic sources said Saturday.

Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, made the remarks to senior Japanese Foreign Ministry officials during his visit to Japan in early February and strongly urged the Japanese government to become a party to the treaty, the sources said.

The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is aimed at preventing one of the parents in a failed international marriage from taking their child across national borders against an existing child custody arrangement.

The U.S. government has urged Japan to join the treaty due to an increasing incidence of Japanese parents “abducting” their children to Japan even though their spouses of different nationality have custody over the children in the United States.

Other countries such as Britain and France are also stepping up their calls on Japan to join the international convention.

Japan has been largely reluctant to do so, with a senior Foreign Ministry official saying, “It does not suit Japanese culture to treat parents, who have brought back their children to the country, as criminals.”

But the government has begun considering the possibility of becoming a party to the treaty in response to the urgings from other countries.

According to the sources, Campbell explained to Japanese officials that taking children from those who have custody over them is called “abduction” in the United States and criticism against Japan over such cases is increasing in the country.

He noted that there is something in common in the sorrows felt by Japanese people whose children were abducted by North Korea and by Americans whose children were taken away by their Japanese spouses, the sources said.

While reaffirming that the U.S. administration and Congress have made clear their positions on seeking a resolution of North Korea’s abductions of Japanese, Campbell expressed hope that the Japanese government would give consideration to the child custody issue so as not to damage this willingness to support Japan.

Japanese officials responded that they need to think carefully about the question of whether to join the treaty while keeping in mind Japanese public opinion, but the U.S. side was not convinced, the sources said.

Late last month, Campbell met in Washington with about 30 people seeking to see their children who have apparently been “abducted” by their Japanese spouses and promised them that he will express his concerns over the situation to the Japanese government.

The issue drew attention last year when a man from the United States was arrested in Japan after trying to take his children back from his divorced Japanese wife, who allegedly took the children from the United States to Japan against a U.S. court decision.
ENDS

International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Some pressure at the highest levels of government regarding the Child Abductions case.  Good news indeed.  Have a read of a number of press materials below.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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Japan urged to resolve child custody disputes
(Mainichi Japan) January 30, 2010, Courtesy of AS

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20100130p2g00m0dm036000c.html

TOKYO (AP) — Ambassadors from the U.S. and seven other countries on Saturday urged Tokyo to resolve legal custody issues that keep foreign parents from visiting their children in Japan.

Under Japanese law, a single parent gains full custody of children in divorce cases, and it is usually the mother. This leaves many fathers cut off from their children until they are grown.

In addition, Japan has not signed on to a global treaty on child abduction. So when international marriages go sour, Japanese mothers can bring their children home and refuse any contact with foreign ex-husbands, regardless of custody rulings in other countries.

The long-standing issue gained increased attention last year, when American Christopher Savoie was arrested in Japan after his Japanese ex-wife accused him of taking their two children as they went to school. Amid accusations of kidnapping from both sides, Savoie was eventually released and allowed to leave the country, on condition he leave his children behind.

On Saturday, U.S. Ambassador John Roos, together with ambassadors and envoys from Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and Spain met with Japanese Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada to discuss the issue.

They emphasized the welfare of children involved in such disputes, saying they should have access to both parents, said a joint statement issued after the meeting. The ambassadors urged Japan to sign the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which all eight countries have done.

“We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases,” the statement said.

Japan’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying Okada explained that Tokyo recognized the importance of the issue and was working toward a resolution.

Tokyo has argued in the past that signing the convention could endanger Japanese women and their children who have fled from abusive foreign husbands.
ENDS

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From PW:

Hi Debito, I hope you’re doing well. Not sure if you heard. 8 embassies served a demarche on the MOFA this past Saturday regarding Child Abductions.

Note the last sentence in this report about award the child to the Japanese grandparents.

Eight countries press Japan on parental abductions
(AFP) – Saturday January 30, 2010

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5h9hKCzas2eQXSES98OCG-gOWVPoQ?index=0

TOKYO — Envoys of eight countries met the Japanese foreign minister Saturday to press the government to sign a treaty to prevent international parental child abductions.

Activists say that thousands of foreign parents have lost access to children in Japan, where the courts virtually never award child custody to a divorced foreign parent.

Japan is the only nation among the Group of Seven industrialised nations that has not signed the 1980 Hague Convention that requires countries to return a child wrongfully kept there to their country of habitual residence.

In the latest move to urge Tokyo to sign the convention, envoys from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the United States expressed their concerns to Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada.

The ambassadors visited the foreign ministry to “submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals,” they said in a joint statement.

“Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned,” said the statement.

Such parents “encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities,” it said.

“This is a very serious issue, to which we have to find a solution,” said Okada as he received the delegation including French ambassador Philippe Faure and US envoy John Roos.

“This comes from the different legal systems between Japan and the countries of North America and Europe,” Okada said.

The envoys’ visit to Okada followed their meeting with Justice Minister Keiko Chiba in October, as they hope Japan’s new centre-left government, which ended a half-century of conservative rule in September, will review the issue.

Activist groups estimate that over the years up to 10,000 dual-citizenship children in Japan have been prevented from seeing a foreign parent.

The United States has said it has listed cases of more than 100 children abducted by a parent from the United States and taken to Japan.

Japanese courts usually award child custody in divorce cases to just one parent, usually the mother, rather than reaching joint custody agreements with parental visitation rights.

Japanese courts also habitually side with the Japanese parent in an international custody dispute — sometimes even awarding a child’s Japanese grandparents custody rights over a foreign parent.

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TBS broadcast:
http://news.tbs.co.jp/20100130/newseye/tbs_newseye4344136.html

子供連れ去り対処、8大使が要望

国際離婚に伴う子供の連れ去りに対処するハーグ条約をめぐり、アメリカ、フランスなど8か国の大使らが、そろって岡田外務大臣のもとを訪れ、日本も条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

ハーグ条約は、国際結婚したカップルが離婚した際に、片方の親が子供を自分の母国に一方的に連れ帰るなどの事例に対処するもので、政府を通じて子供の返還や面会の請求が出来る仕組みになっています。

この条約には現在、欧米などおよそ80か国が加盟していますが、親権に対する考え方の違いなどから日本は加盟していません。このため、日本人が当事者となるトラブルが相次いでいるとして、アメリカやイギリス、フランスなど8か国の大使らが岡田外務大臣に面会し、条約に加盟するよう要望しました。

岡田大臣は、「非常に深刻な問題だ」とする一方、「欧米と日本での法制度の違いにも起因している問題だ」と述べ、慎重な姿勢を示しました。(30日17:39)

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Kyodo News about Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell to raise the issue of child abductions with his counterparts today.

国際親権問題で日本に懸念伝達へ 米国務次官補
2010/01/30 09:11 【共同通信】
http://www.47news.jp/CN/201001/CN2010013001000089.html
【ワシントン共同】キャンベル米国務次官補は29日、国際結婚が破綻するなどして子どもを日本人の元配偶者に「拉致」され、親権を侵害されたと訴える米国人の男女約30人とワシントンで面会した。次官補は面会後「彼らの精神的苦痛をどう軽減できるか日本側と話し合う」と述べ、2月1日からの訪日で外務省などに懸念を伝える考えを示した。

面会は非公開で、国務省からジェイコブズ次官補(領事担当)も参加。出席者によると、国務省側は今月、日本に担当者を派遣し、日米間で意見交換を続けていると説明したという。

面会を終えたキャンベル氏は、居どころ不明や別れた相手に拒否されてわが子に会えない事態を「悲劇だ」とし、子どもの連れ去りに対処する「ハーグ条約」への日本の加盟や個別のケースの解決を親たちは望んでいると説明。

福岡県で昨年9月、日本人の元妻が米国から連れ帰った子ども2人を取り戻そうとして未成年者略取容疑で逮捕され、その後起訴猶予となった日米二重国籍の男性(39)も参加した。

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Press release from the US embassy about an earlier meeting with MOFA renewing request to sign the Hague and resolve existing cases.

PRESS RELEASE
U.S. Renews Call for Japan to Accede to Hague Convention Concerning International Child Abduction
January 22, 2010

http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100122-72.html

Officials from the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. State Department met today in Tokyo with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and once again called for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.

The meeting was held in the context of a working group established to address issues related to cross-border child custody issues, including the removal of American children from the United States to Japan without the prior consent or knowledge of American parents and the inability of American parents to have any meaningful access to their abducted children in Japan. More than 75 American parents and their children are victims of these situations in Japan. Many citizens of other countries are also affected.

The U.S. government places the highest priority on the welfare of children who are victims of international parental child abduction and strongly believes that children should grow up with access to both parents even after the collapse of a marriage.

The U.S. government hopes that that the working group will provide a means to improve American parents’ access to and visitation with their children; facilitate visits with children by U.S. consular officers; and explore ways to resolve current child abduction cases. While renewing its call for Japan to accede to the Hague Convention, the U.S. government looks forward to working with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the working group on these important matters. The U.S. government will also continue working with other like-minded countries that have been affected by this problem in Japan.

For reference:
Link to the latest US Embassy online magazine that is devoted entirely to the child abduction issue:

Winter 2010 “American View”
Joint Press Statement Following the Symposium on International Parental Child Abduction (Canada, France, UK, United States) – Tokyo, May 21, 2009

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FYI the embassy’s press release:

PRESS RELEASE
Joint Press Statement (International Child Abduction – Eight Nations)
By the Ambassadors of Australia, Canada, France, Italy, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States
Tokyo, Japan, January 30, 2010

http://tokyo.usembassy.gov/e/p/tp-20100130-74.html

We, the Ambassadors to Japan of Australia, France, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States, the Charges d’Affaires a.i. of Canada and Spain and the Deputy Head of Mission of Italy, called on Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs today to submit our concerns over the increase of international parental abduction cases involving Japan and affecting our nationals, and to urge Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“the Convention”).

The Convention seeks to protect children from the harmful effects of their wrongful removal or retention across international borders, which can be a tragedy for all concerned. The Convention further establishes procedures to ensure the prompt return of children to the State of their habitual residence when wrongfully removed or retained. It also secures protection for rights of access to both parents to their children. To date, over 80 countries have acceded to the Convention, including the eight countries which jointly carried out today’s demarche.

Japan is the only G-7 nation that has not signed the Convention. Currently the left-behind parents of children abducted to or from Japan have little hope of having their children returned and encounter great difficulties in obtaining access to their children and exercising their parental rights and responsibilities.

In our meeting with Japan’s Foreign Minister Okada, we reiterated that we place the highest priority on the welfare of children who have been the victims of international parental child abduction, and stressed that the children should grow up with access to both parents. We signalled our encouragement at recent positive initiatives by the Government of Japan, such as the establishment of the Division for Issues Related to Child Custody within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at the same time repeating calls for Japan to accede to the Convention, which would also benefit left-behind parents of Japanese origin. We also urged Japan to identify and implement interim measures to enable parents who are separated from their children to maintain contact with them and ensure visitation rights, and to establish a framework for resolution of current child abduction cases.

Japan is an important friend and partner for each of our countries, and we share many values. We believe this can and should serve as the basis for developing solutions now to all cases of parental child abduction in Japan. In common with our demarche to Justice Minister Chiba on October 16, 2009, we extended an offer to Foreign Minister Okada to continue to work closely and in a positive manner with the Japanese government on this critical issue.

ENDS

Discussion: KFC Australia’s “racist” CM vs McD Japan’s “Mr James”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This has been bubbling a bit these past couple of days in the Comments Section of a few blog entries, so let’s bring it to the fore and get a discussion going.

KFC (aka Kentucky Fried Chicken) has been accused of racism, according to various media sources, thanks to a recent advertisement it ran in Australia.  Here it is:

The Guardian UK writes:
========================================
KFC accused of racism over Australian advertisement
KFC advert showing Australian cricket fan placating West Indies supporters with chicken has caused anger in America
Andrew Clark guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 6 January 2010 16.32 GMT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/06/kfc-advertisement-accused-of-racism

The Australian arm of the fast-food chain KFC has been accused of racial insensitivity over a television commercial showing an outnumbered white cricket fan handing out pieces of fried chicken to appease a dancing, drumming and singing group of black West Indian supporters.

Aired as part of a series called “KFC’s cricket survival guide”, the 30-second clip depicts an uncomfortable looking man named Mick wearing a green and yellow Australian cricket shirt, surrounded on all sides in a cricket stand by high spirited Caribbean fans.

“Need a tip when you’re stuck in an awkward situation?” Mick asks. He then passes round a bucket of KFC chicken, the drumming stops and he remarks: “Too easy.”

Although intended only for an Antipodean audience, the clip has quickly found its way around the world on the internet, prompting stinging criticism in the US where fried chicken remains closely associated with age-old racist stereotypes about black people in the once segregated south.

A writer at one US newspaper, the Baltimore Sun, questioned whether the ad was a spoof, remarking: “If it is a genuine KFC advertisement, it could be seen as racially insensitive.”

Another on-line commentator, Jack Shepherd of BuzzFeed, asks: “What’s a white guy to do when he finds himself in a crowd full of black folks? KFC has the answer.”

KFC Australia has come out fighting, saying that the commercial was a “light-hearted reference to the West Indian cricket team” that had been “misinterpreted by a segment of people in the US.”

The company said: “The ad was reproduced online in the US without KFC’s permission, where we are told a culturally-based stereotype exists, leading to the incorrect assertion of racism.

“We unequivocally condemn discrimination of any type and have a proud history as one of the world’s leading employers for diversity.”

In the Australian media, the reaction has been mixed, with some commentators accusing Americans of “insularity”. Brendon O’Connor, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, told 9 Network News that the association between fried chicken and ethnic minorities was a distinctly US issue: “They have a tendency to think that their history is more important than that of other countries.”

The flare-up comes three months after another racial controversy between Australia and the US in which the American singer Harry Connick Jr, appearing as a judge on an Australian television talent show, reacted strongly to a skit in which a group of singers appeared with blacked up faces to emulate the Jackson Five.

On the show, called “Hey, Hey It’s Saturday“, Connick gave the group zero points and demanded an apology from the broadcaster, remarking: “If they turned up looking like that in the United States, it would be like ‘hey, hey, there’s no more show’.”


GUARDIAN ARTICLE ENDS
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Then this happens:

KFC advertisement in Australia sparks race row
By Nick Bryant BBC News, Sydney
Friday, 8 January 2010

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/8447457.stm

The Australian arm of the fast food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken has had to withdraw an advertisement after accusations of racial insensitivity.

It showed a white cricket fan trying to pacify a group of rowdy West Indian fans by handing around fried chicken.

When the advertisement reached America via the internet there were complaints.

It was accused of reinforcing a derogatory racial stereotype linking black people in the American deep south with a love of fried food.

The advertisement from Kentucky Fried Chicken features a white cricket fan dressed in the green and gold of the Australian team surrounded by a group of West Indian supporters, who are dancing and singing to a calypso beat.

He decides to quieten them down by handing around a bucket of fried chicken.
Picked up by the American media, the advertisement immediately stirred controversy, because it was alleged to have perpetuated the racial stereotype that black people eat a lot of fried chicken.

The fast food chain’s head office in America said it was withdrawing the advertisement, and apologised for what it called “any misrepresentation” which might have caused offence.

It is the second time in three months that something broadcast in Australia has caused a racial stir in America.

The last flare-up was over an entertainment show on the Australian network Channel Nine in which a group of singers appeared with blacked-up faces to impersonate the Jackson Five.
ENDS
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COMMENT: Funny thing, this. We get KFC Australia doing a hasty retreat from its controversial commercial days after it goes viral on YouTube, and pulling it pretty quickly.

Now contrast with the ad campaign by another American-origin fast-food multinational, McDonalds. For those who don’t know, between August and November of last year McDonald’s Japan had that White gaijin stereotype “Mr James” speaking katakana and portraying NJ as touristy outsiders who never fit in. More on what I found wrong with that ad campaign here.

Yet the “Mr James” ad campaign never got pulled — and the debate we offered with McDonalds Japan was rebuffed (they refused to answer in Japanese for the Japanese media). In fact, the reaction of some Asians in the US was, “Karma’s a bitch“, as in White people in Japan deserve this sort of treatment because of all the bad treatment they’ve foisted on Asians overseas in the past. Still others argue that we can’t expect Japan to understand the history of other countries, or how they feel about certain sentiments found overseas, and one shouldn’t foist their cultural values onto other cultures (this argument usually pops up when one sees minstrel blackface shows etc in Japan). This argument was also made in comments to this blog as well.

But KFC pulls the ad, in contrast to “Mr James”, where people rushed to defend it in the name of cultural relativism. Why the difference?

I’m not saying I have the answer to this question. So I bring it up for discussion here on Debito.org. What do readers think?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Last week I reported on the US Congress’s investigation of Japan as a haven for international child abductions, and a December 4, 2009 hearing that many of the Left-Behind Parents attended and issued statements to.  The Congressman Lantos Human Rights Commission has since issued letters, signed by several Congresspeople, to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, requesting they personally meet with select representatives of the LBP and consider their issue.  Scans of those letters enclosed below.

I was also invited to write a statement, as a LBP myself, for inclusion in the Congressional Record.  The text of that follows the Obama and Clinton letters.  FYI.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on any image to expand in your browser)

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lantoscommission1208091lantoscommission1208092lantoscommission1208093lantoscommission1208094

SUBMISSION FOR THE UNITED STATES CONGRESSIONAL RECORD
REGARDING POST-DIVORCE PARENTAL ACCESS TO CHILDREN IN JAPAN
December 10, 2009

By ARUDOU Debito, Sapporo, Japan
Associate Professor, Hokkaido Information University, and Columnist, The Japan Times newspaper (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, cell +81[…])

I am a former American citizen (named David Christopher Aldwinckle) who became a Japanese citizen in October 2000. I have been living in Japan permanently since 1993, for a total of nearly 23 years. I wish to offer my testimony to Congress, as a divorced and left-behind father in Japan (who hasn’t seen his children for years), and from the perspective an immigrant. I hope to demonstrate how Japan needs drastic reforms to its child-custody and visitation system, not only for the benefit of its international marriages, but also for its own citizens.

Japan has not changed its divorce laws significantly since 1898 (Source: Harald Fuess, Divorce in Japan), particularly in regards to child custody and visitation. Its family registration system treats children like property, since after divorce children’s names are annotated on only one parent’s Family Register (koseki). This means joint custody is legally impossible in Japan (particularly for non-citizens, who by definition do not have a Japanese Family Register). The Registry System is used as grounds to sever one parent legally from a child’s life, a violation of children’s rights to be legally tied to and have access to both parents.

Additionally, child visitation, although technically permissible through negotiated Family Court settlement, is unenforceable in Japan. There are no criminal penalties if the custodial parent unilaterally decides to deny visitation with the non-custodial parent, and no effective enforcement mechanism exists in Japan’s administrative bodies to ensure that both sides keep their promises. Moreover, Japan’s flawed alimony child-support system (custodial mothers are legally entitled to receive benefits from the father, but custodial fathers are not; moreover enforcement in any case is often weak and needs time-consuming court orders) means that in a post-divorce dispute, “Fortress Moms” (who isolate the children) and “Deadbeat Dads” (who disappear financially, sometimes even change jobs to become untraceable) are not unusual in Japan.

None of this is beneficial to Japanese society, and if there is a (strong) chance that one parent will lose all access to his or her children after divorce, this is not encouraging for Japan’s future. Things are already unsustainable — with a rapidly-aging society and record-low birthrates below replacement levels.

In sum, it is my belief that, with Family Laws in Japan as they stand, nobody (Japanese citizen or non-Japanese) should get married and have children in Japan. The risk is just too great. Too many children are getting hurt by a system that encourages Parental Alienation Syndrome, and creates single-parent households that can be acrimonious to the point of deterring the children from becoming parents themselves.

I urge Congress to encourage Japan not only to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, but also reform its long-outdated Family Law structure. Allow for joint custody and enforced child visitation backed up by criminal law penalties — for the sake of not only American citizens, but also us Japanese citizens.

ENDS

NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Have a look at these articles, then I’ll comment:

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

Ichihashi gets warrant for Hawker rape-murder
Japan Times Dec 3, 2009
(excerpt)
CHIBA (Kyodo) Tatsuya Ichihashi was served a fresh arrest warrant Wednesday on suspicion of raping and killing Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker, after being charged earlier in the day with abandoning her body.

The 30-year-old was arrested on Nov. 10 in Osaka following more than 2 1/2 years on the run since Hawker was found strangled and stuffed in a tub on the balcony of his apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, in 2007.

Although Ichihashi has remained silent about the murder, the police believe he killed the 22-year-old language teacher and the murder warrant was so served on the last day of his detention period authorized under the initial arrest on the technical offense of abandoning a corpse.

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091203a3.html

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

Hawker was found bound, shorn
Japan Times Dec 5, 2009
(excerpt)

CHIBA (Kyodo) Slain Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker’s hair had been cut and her hands and feet bound with ropes when her corpse was found buried in a sand-filled bathtub on the balcony of murder suspect Tatsuya Ichihashi’s apartment in Chiba Prefecture in March 2007, investigative sources revealed Friday.

Chiba Prefectural Police believe Ichihashi, 30, tied her up with polyester rope before raping her and cutting her hair, and prepared the sand and the tub to conceal her body and the smell of her decomposing corpse, the sources said, noting the rope is sold at many stores.

The police discovered an empty bag for the sand for gardening, and long tufts of hair of hair in a trash bin at Ichihashi’s apartment when they found the body of Hawker, 22, the sources said…

Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091205a7.html

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

Police charge Ichihashi with murdering British teacher Hawker
Mainichi Shinbun Dec 2, 2009
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20091202p2a00m0na016000c.html

ICHIKAWA, Chiba — Police served a fresh arrest warrant Wednesday on Tatsuya Ichihashi — the 30-year-old man who has already been arrested on a charge of abandoning the body of 22-year-old Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker — for the victim’s murder, police said.

Ichihashi was hit with the murder charges as his legal detention period was set to expire.

He stands accused of strangling Lindsay at his home in Ichikawa sometime between March 25 and 26, 2007. He kept silent about the new charges during questioning.

DNA in body fluid detected from the victims’ body matched that of Ichihashi.

It was confirmed that Ichihashi and Hawker entered Ichihashi’s apartment on March 25, 2007, and that there were no signs that anyone else entered the apartment before the discovery of Hawker’s body the next afternoon, according to investigators.

On the afternoon of March 26, the English language school where Hawker worked reported her missing to Chiba Prefectural Police. A piece of paper with Ichihashi’s name and phone number were found at Hawker’s home in Funabashi, Chiba Prefecture.

Around 9:40 p.m. that evening, Ichihashi escaped as police were questioning him in front of his apartment. Hawker’s body was found in a bathtub on the balcony of the apartment. She had died of asphyxiation.
ENDS

市橋容疑者:リンゼイさん殺害容疑で再逮捕 千葉県警
毎日新聞 2009年12月2日
http://mainichi.jp/select/jiken/news/20091203k0000m040015000c.html

千葉県市川市で07年3月、英国人英会話講師リンゼイ・アン・ホーカーさん(当時22歳)の他殺体が見つかった事件で、県警行徳署捜査本部は2日、千葉地検が同日死体遺棄罪で起訴した市橋達也被告(30)を殺人と強姦(ごうかん)致死の両容疑で再逮捕した。捜査本部によると、再逮捕時に市橋容疑者は小さい声で「はい、分かりました」と言ったものの、容疑については無言のままという。

再逮捕容疑は07年3月25日午前から翌26日午後にかけ、市川市内のマンションの自室でリンゼイさんを性的に暴行し、首を絞め殺害したとしている。死因は窒息死で、捜査関係者によると、首の骨が折れていた。一つの行為が二つ以上の罪名に触れることを「観念的競合」といい、捜査当局は市橋容疑者の動機や事件の流れを明らかにするため、今回は殺人と強姦致死の両容疑で立件に踏み切ったとみられる。

捜査関係者によると、遺体から検出された体液と市橋容疑者のDNA型が一致。さらに遺体発見前日の同25日午前、市橋容疑者がリンゼイさんと2人で自室に入るのが防犯カメラで確認され、それ以降遺体が見つかるまで第三者が部屋に出入りした形跡がなかったという。

事件は同26日午後、「リンゼイさんの行方がわからない」と勤務先の英会話学校が県警に連絡したことから発覚。同県船橋市のリンゼイさんの自宅に市橋容疑者の電話番号や名前のメモがあり、午後9時40分ごろ、捜査員が市橋容疑者の自宅を訪れ、玄関先で職務質問しようとしたところ逃走。部屋のベランダにあった浴槽からリンゼイさんの遺体が発見された。

市橋容疑者は逃走中、大阪府内の建設会社などで働きながら整形手術を繰り返していたとみられる。今年10月には整形手術で名古屋市内のクリニックを訪れ、手術後に医師が県警に通報。訪れた際の写真が公開され、翌11月10日、大阪市住之江区の南港フェリーターミナルの待合室にいたところを通報で駆けつけた警察官に身柄を確保された。【神足俊輔、中川聡子、斎藤有香】
ENDS

COMMENT:  Now here’s what I don’t get.  Ichihashi’s charge has been upgraded from corpse abandonment to outright murder.  But why wasn’t it before?  What new information has been brought out since his apprehension?  Police already knew about the body, the disposed-of hair, the fact that she accompanied Ishihashi to his apartment and was last seen there.  And now suddenly his DNA matches bodily fluid found on her corpse.  But didn’t the police know all of this before?  It’s not as though Ichihashi’s interrogation revealed him admitting any new information (after all, he’s not talking).

Why is it that he gets charged with mere corpse abandonment (something that frequently happens when a NJ gets killed) up until now, whereas if something like this is done to a Japanese victim (as posters with Ichihashi’s fellow murder suspects indicate), it gets a full-blown murder charge?  Why the delay until now?  I wish I had the information to answer these questions.

Final thing I find odd:  Good for father Mr Hawker being tenacious about this case.  There are plenty of other murders (Tucker Murder, Honiefaith Murder, Lacey Murder, and Blackman Murder) and assaults (Barakan Assault) of NJ that the NPA and the criminal courts gave up on all too easily.  Does the family of the NJ victim have to pursue things more doggedly than the police before the NPA will actually get on it (as they had to do for Lucie Blackman’s killer, and he still got acquitted for it)?  It only took the NPA close to three years to get Ichihashi, and that was after a tip from a face change clinic (not any actual police investigation).

Why this half-assedness for crimes against NJ?  Sorry, there’s lots of things here that just don’t make sense, and they point to different judicial standards for NJ victims of J crime.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  I originally had this as a comment added to the previous post, but it is too good to languish there.  USAF officer and Left-Behind Parent Paul Toland reports on US Congressional hearings on the Japan Child Abductions issue.  Read up and get a feel for just how negligent the US has been towards its own citizens.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

Received December 4, 2009 from the HELP BRING ERIKA TOLAND HOME Facebook entry:

Paul Toland:  Yesterday, The Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held the first Congressional Hearings on International Child Abduction in over 10 years. The hearings were widely covered and I hope some success can come out of it.

Here is some of the press coverage from yesterday’s hearing (as of now).

Congressman Chris Smith press release:
http://chrissmith.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=157907

Asbury Park Press story:
http://www.app.com/article/20091202/OPINION05/312020004

AFP Newswire story:
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5i3G1zO_vlTNuN_2QTCuH4iKWwzqQ

Stars and Stripes:
http://blogs.stripes.com/blogs/stripes-central/new-law-could-help-servicemembers-whose-children-have-been-abducted

Washington Times (scroll down to bottom of page):
http://washingtontimes.com/news/2009/dec/03/washington-in-5-minutes-29960583//print/

Yahoo News:
http://real-us.news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20091202/pl_afp/usjapanbrazilrightschildrendiplomacy_20091202230923

A CNN story on the Hearings primarily focusing on David Goldman’s case, but also mentioning the other parents, including Erika’s case.
http://us.cnn.com/video/?/video/us/2009/12/02/ferre.brazilian.hearing.cnn.

Congressman Smith’s press release has links to most testimonies, including my testimony. I HIGHLY recommend you read former Assistant Secretary of State Bernard Aronson’s testimony. Congressman Wolf said it was one of the best testimonies he has ever heard, and he received loud applause from the people in the audience, and I agree it is extremely powerful, especially the preposterous way in which the State Department acts (and he’s a former Assistant Secretary of State). Read the part about why Brazil is ranked as having “patterns of non-compliance” with the Hague vs. being “non-compliant” and about why Brazilian citizens cannot have their visa privileges lifted in the United States.

Also, Ernie Allen, President and CEO of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, gave his suggestions for how to improve this issue. He referred to Japan directly in his testimony, but also went off script to discuss his belief that establishing a bilateral mechanism with Japan was MORE important than simply having Japan sign the Hague.

Attorney Patricia Apy went into considerable detail on the legal
difficulties faced by military parents overseas, as she is the Liaison to
the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Legal Assistance for
Military Personnel.

As far as the Parents’ remarks, I believe all four parents strongly presented our cases. Although I don’t have the complete transcript of the Question and Answer part of our session, I will address here my remarks during the Q&A. I spoke second during testimony (after David Goldman) and spoke last during the Q&A, so my Q&A remarks concluded the parent panel.

Congressman Wolf asked what countries worldwide are the largest violators in terms of Parental Abductions. I answered that Japan accounts for nearly one-quarter of all abductions to non-Hague countries, so Japan stands head and shoulders above any non-Hague countries. In Ernie Allen’s later testimony, he stated that Japan was second among all nations, after Mexico.

Congressman Wolf said that parents should ask and demand to meet with the Secretary of State AND the President. I replied that we HAVE asked again and again for meetings. I did discuss our experience with Assistant Secretary Campbell. I told the commission about Secretary Campbell’s confirmation hearing and his response to Senator Webb that he would meet with any parents who wanted to meet with him. Then I told them about our actual experience with Secretary Campbell, and how left-behind American parents living in Japan with American citizen abducted children were turned away when Secretary Campbell visited Japan, and were told that he was “too busy” and “did not have the time”.

Then I proceeded to hold up 8X10 photos from the associated press of Secretary Campbell hosting Shigeru and Sakie Yokota and Akihiro and Kayoko Arimoto at the Ambassador’s residence…Japanese parents who had children abducted to North Korea over 30 years ago, on the same day that he turned away American parents with children abducted to Japan. It was interesting to watch CBS, NBC, CNN and others scrambling and crowding around our hearing table to get close up shots the photos of Secretary Campbell with the Yokotas.

Congressman Smith had mentioned earlier about the French meeting bilaterally with the Japanese to begin discussions toward resolving the 35 outstanding abduction cases of French children. I expanded upon this by giving some background of how the Hague is not retroactive and will not help any of the parents with children currently abducted to Japan, and that we (parents) have again and again approached State about forming a bilateral working group with Japan to address existing cases, but have been met with a tepid response by State, and that our response from State has generally been that they want Japan to sign the Hague and this will then force Japan to change their laws and provide us with “improved access” to our children. In other words, the terrible tragedies of our cases are being used by State to try to get Japan to sign the Hague, but we won’t derive any benefit from it while our children are still young. I discussed how the French have approached the issue by putting existing cases first and foremost, while treating Japan signing the Hague as a secondary long-term strategic goal that will help in cases that do not yet exist, and it’s the French government that is getting results, not necessarily by having any children returned yet, but by at least having established a bilateral forum with Japan to discuss resolution of existing cases.

Finally, I concluded by reading the following quote from Secretary Clinton on her first trip to Japan “I cannot imagine what it must feel like to have lost family members, and for so many years, never have heard anything about them or from them. I don’t know if I’ll be meeting as a secretary of state anymore than I will be meeting with them as a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister. It’s important that their plight is not forgotten. I attach great importance to the abduction issue.” I then dropped the bomb that she was not talking about our issue, but rather she was talking about the abduction of Japanese citizens to North Korea over 30 years ago, and concluded bybsaying that Secretary Clinton has never once addressed our issue in any public forum OR met with a single left behind parent.

I told the Congressman AND the press that it was up to them to spur the State Department into action. As parents, we have tried and tried, but now it is up to Congress and the Press to move the State Department forward in making this issue a central issue of US Foreign Policy.

This was enough to get the Congressmen stirred up, so THE COMMITTEE will be preparing a letter for both the President and Secretary Clinton asking them to meet with Left-Behind parents. Congressman McGovern’s office will be providing parents with a copy of that letter once available. Additionally, Congressman Wolf said I needed to also meet with Secretary Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Admiral Mullen on this issue. However, I am unsure of the chances of this actually happening.

I want to thank everyone who made this hearing possible yesterday. Congressman Smith and other members of the Commission, the other left behind parents, David, Patrick and Tom, the attorneys and experts on the second panel, the many left-behind parents from Japan, Brazil and other areas who were present, as well as my family. Let’s hope this is a beginning. Sincerely, Paul

NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog. Jake Adelstein, whose new book TOKYO VICE just came out, was interviewed on America’s National Public Radio program “FRESH AIR” on November 10, 2009. What follows is an excerpt from their podcast, minute 23:45 onwards, which talks about how domestic laws hamstring the NPA from actually cracking down on human trafficking and exploiting NJ for Japan’s sex trades. Jake’s work in part enabled the US State Department to list Japan as a Tier-Two Human Trafficker, and got Japan to pass more effective domestic laws against it.

Read on to see how the process works in particular against NJ, given their especially weak position (both legally and languagewise). If NJ go to the police to report their exploitation, it’s the NJ who get arrested (and deported), not the trafficker. And then the trafficker goes after the NJ’s family overseas.  Glad people like Jake are out there exposing this sort of thing.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

DAVE DAVIES: On a more serious note, you became aware of some women who were working in the sex industry, who appear not to be there of their own free will. There was human trafficking going on. How did it work in the cases that you found?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: Japan is much better than it was than the time I started writing about this. But essentially it works like this: You bring foreign women into the country, often under false pretences — that they would be working as hostesses, or working as waitresses in a restaurant. You take away their passports. You put them in a room. You monitor their activities so that they can’t leave. And then you take them to the clubs where they have sexual relations with the customers. And, aren’t paid. The women have no freedom of movement. They’re told, after they’ve slept with a customer, or been forced to sleep with a customer — sometimes they were raped first, so they’d get used to the job — that if they go to the police, since they’re in Japan illegally, that they would be deported and they would still owe money for their travel expenses to Japan. And very often these traffickers would have agents within the countries where they were recruiting these women, often Eastern Europe, and contact the families of the women under various pretexts, to let them know that if they disobeyed, or did something in Japan or ran away, that their families back home would be menaced or killed.

DAVE DAVIES: You worked really hard to develop sources, and get enough on the record to write a story about this going on, and identify some of the people who were operating these human trafficking sex joints. What was the reaction among the police and other authorities when you exposed this?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: The reaction was that they asked me to introduce them to some of the women who were victims, so that they could *arrest* them, and have a pretext to raid these clubs. An officer there I really liked a lot named Iida-san said, “I’d love to put these places out of business. But you have to understand that these women, while they are victims, that we can’t protect them. We have to prosecute them under Japanese law. There is no provision in the law that allows us to keep them in the country while we do the investigation. So, I *could* do the investigation, and I could put these people out of business, but in order to do that, I’m going to have to have you put me in contact with some of the women, and I’m not going to be able to take a statement from them without arresting them.” And I couldn’t do that.

I went to another division of the police department and asked them, “Can you do anything about that?” And they said, “We can do something about it, but first of all, we don’t have enough people who speak foreign languages to do a very competent investigation right now. And we’ve got a lot of other things on our plate. While your article is good, it is not something that is immediately actionable for us.”

DAVE DAVIES: Which was enormously frustrating for you.

JAKE ADELSTEIN: It was *enormously* frustrating. And when I realized of course was that, while the cops have problems with this and would like to do the investigations and put these people out of business, that essentially the law wouldn’t let them do it. That’s why I began writing about the flaws in the law, the whole legal system, and I also began taking studies and information and stories that I had written up as a reporter to the US State Department representative at the Embassy in Tokyo.

DAVE DAVIES: In effect, by embarrassing the government, you were able to get some reform?

JAKE ADELSTEIN: Yes. I can’t take total credit, but I would like to take some credit for supplying the US Government with enough information that they could embarrass Japan enough so that Japan felt compelled to actually put some laws on the books that trafficking harder to do. One of the things I was most proud of was, the International Labor Organization did a very scathing study of human trafficking problems in Japan — pointing out the victims weren’t protected, the traffickers were lightly punished, fined, and rarely did jail time. Which the Japanese Government, which sponsored this study, told them “never release”. I was able to get a copy of that report and put it on the front page of our newspaper as a scoop, while the Japanese Government was still getting ready to announce their plan of action. And I think that had a very positive effect of making them put together a plan that was actually effective.
EXCERPT ENDS

Watch Obama in Japan tonight (speech schedule enclosed)

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  Courtesy of Paul Toland.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

By the way,  For those of you who are following President Obama’s trip to Japan, here
are the two most important times to be watching:

1.  13 November, 7 PM (Japan Time), 5 AM (Eastern Standard Time) – President
Obama’s meeting with Prime Minister Hatoyama, to be followed by a Joint
Press Conference.  I don’t know the exact time of the press conference, but
I’m assuming it will be about an hour or so after their meeting.  I’ll be
watching for that tomorrow morning.

2.  14 November, 10 AM (Japan Time), 13 Nov 8 PM (Eastern Standard Time) –
President Obama will be making a speech at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, in which
he will discuss his view of U.S. engagement in Asia and reaffirm the
strength of Washington’s alliance with Japan.

While I doubt he will address the child abduction issue at the Speech at
Suntory Hall, I am hoping he does mention the issue at the Joint Press
Conference, or if he does not mention it, I am hoping the press will ask
about it during the Q&A.  Unfortunately, the Q&A is usually only about 3
questions from each country’s press (3 Questions from Japanese press, 3
questions from American Press).  There’s almost no chance that the Japanese
press will raise it, so let’s hope the US press will raise it within the
context of their 3 allowed questions.

The latest on the schedule (all times are Japan times):

6:50PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama of Japan hold bilateral
meeting

7:10PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold expanded bilateral
meeting

8:20PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama hold joint press conference

8:45PM THE PRESIDENT and Prime Minister Hatoyama have dinner

That means the Press Conference will be held at 6:20 AM Eastern Standard
Time in the United States.  Paul

ENDS

22 US Senators signed letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. We reported on this on October 30, but back then only two US Senators had signed. Now as of November 5, 22 US Senators have signed a letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during his Japan visit.  Three scanned pages follow.  Courtesy of both CRN and CRC. Arudou Debito

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ENDS

Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

OPEN LETTER TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES
(Released to Debito.org November 6, 2009, for Obama’s Japan visit November 12, 2009)

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for taking the time to read these thoughts I’ve put together in anticipation of your upcoming visit to Japan next week.   A few weeks ago while watching the evening news I saw you and your family taking a stroll outside the White house.  That picture reminded me of the countless times I took my sons out for a walk. The glow I saw on Sasha’s face and the confidence of Malia reminded me so much of what it means to be father. It has been four years since I last took a stroll with my boys; four years since I have been allowed to be a father.

When my wife and I divorced in Japan I was unaware that I would not be allowed to continue to be a part of my children’s lives.  Please let me explain.   In most of the civilized countries of the world we understand how important it is for children to have access to both of their parents.  Countless studies have shown that a child needs to gain insight and strength from both their mother and father.  In Japan however, children do not have the same rights.   Custody is never shared.  As stated on The Japan Children’s Rights Network website “The word most often used with the meaning of “child custody” in Japan is “shinken”.  The word consists of the characters (Japanese Kanji) for “Parent” and “Right” However, the real meaning of “shinken” in Japanese is not “Parent’s rights” but is legally more similar to “Parent’s duty”.  So shinken means a duty (or obligation) for the parent in order to bring up child in proper environment and protect him/her.  Married couples share shinken jointly.  But outside of marriage, Japanese law does not permit joint shinken.  Only one parent may hold shinken.  A common reason given to justify the prohibition of joint custody of a child is that the belief that that divorced parents are not able to cooperate in executing their duty in harmonious way.  Not all Japanese believe this, in particular the ones who each year try to obtain joint custody.  But this concept is enshrined in the law.”

For years now I’ve been writing on the Internet about Japan’s abuse of Child and Parental Rights.   At times I’ve been critical of my own government for lacking an understanding of the political, legal, and cultural issues surrounding Japan’s evil attitude.  I followed your campaign for the Presidency and prayed that you would become the first President of the United States to confront Japan on this issue.   I have been impressed with your cabinet’s proactive approach to the issue of International Parental Abduction and hope you will reach out to Prime Minister Hatoyama and help him understand how devastating the loss of a child is.  Interestingly Prime Minister Hatoyama stated that he supports ratification of The Hague Convention “for the sake of justice.”  Even the Prime Minister realizes there can never be justice when a child is deprived of either parent.

When you meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama, please remind him of his statements.  There is no need to wait another two years to implement the rights Japan agreed to uphold when they became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  Please walk right up to Mr. Hatoyama, look him squarely in the eye, and tell him non-custodial parents must have immediate access to their children. Let the Japanese Government know that there is no room for negotiation.  Please uphold both parental and children’s fundamental human rights.  The Lord knows I have done about all I can.  I have fought inside and outside of Japanese Courts with everything I’ve have left. I’ve been jailed, placed in solitary confinement, and stripped of all my assets for trying be a father.

Mr. President, like so many other left behind parents, I pray every night to see my children for years. Please use your office and your voice to make this happen. There are so many parents who have renewed hopes since you have taken office. When you come to Japan for talks with the Japanese Government please make this issue an important part of the discussion.  YES WE CAN!

Sincerely,
Just another left behind American Dad

ends

Letter from US Senators Boxer and Corker to Obama re Child Abductions, for his Nov 12 visit to Japan

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatar
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Hi Blog. Was just forwarded this from Steve Christie, from the offices of US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who will be sending a letter dated November 5 with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) to President Obama regarding Japan’s record of international child abductions, in time for Obama’s visit to Japan Nov 12-13.  Letter from Boxer’s office, then the letter addressed to Obama follows.  It could very well be one of the issues brought up during the visit. It will be if these senators’ efforts are any guide. Well done. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

//////////////////////////////////////////////
From: “Reks, Ariana (Boxer)”
Date: 2009年10月30日 03:03:54JST
To: Steve Christie
Subject: Senator Boxer sending letter to Obama on Japanese abductions

Dear Mr. Christie,

Thank you for your voicemail and I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Senator Boxer is very engaged on this issue and I wanted to email you to update you on her efforts on behalf of left-behind parents.

Senator Boxer, along with Senator Corker, will be sending a letter to President Obama next week, before his visit to Japan on November 12-13, asking him to bring up the issue of child abductions to Japan in his conversations with the new Japanese Prime Minister. The letter is currently circulating in the Senate for signatures and we hope that a large number of Senators will sign on. I have pasted a draft of the letter below. Please feel free to send the letter to any other left-behind parents and urge them to ask their Senators to sign on.

Thank you for contacting me and please stay in touch. I look forward to working with you on this very important issue.

Best,
Ariana Reks
Legislative Aide
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
(202) 224-3553

_____________________________________________________

November 5, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

As you prepare to visit Japan on November 12, we write to respectfully request that you address the issue of international parental child abduction in your discussions with Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. This is a deeply important issue, as Japan currently does not recognize international parental child abduction as a crime.

There are currently 79 known cases involving over 100 American children who have been abducted by a parent to Japan. This is a heartbreaking loss for the left-behind parent and deprives the child of a relationship with two loving parents. Equally concerning is that left-behind parents typically have little recourse once their child arrives in Japan. According to the U.S. Department of State, no cases have been successfully resolved with Japan over the last few decades through the Japanese judicial system or through diplomatic or political efforts.

It is particularly troubling that Japan remains the only G-7 industrialized nation that has yet to accede to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The Hague Convention has been adopted by more than 70 countries and is an important tool for those seeking access to and/or the return of a child abducted across international borders. We agree that Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention would result in important reforms to Japanese family law and we are grateful that the United States continues to prioritize this issue.

But while we acknowledge that Japan’s accession to the Hague Convention is an important goal, the United States must also work with Japan to establish a bilateral mechanism to assist with the resolution of current cases. This is critical because the Hague Convention does not pertain to already completed abductions, and therefore cannot be used as a tool to resolve existing cases. We urge your Administration to seriously consider initiatives, including mediation, to foster cooperative and coordinated engagement with the Japanese government on cases of international parental child abduction. Many parents have not seen or heard from their children in years. We cannot sit back and wait while these children grow up without one parent.

We feel strongly that the recent election of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), under the leadership of Prime Minister Hatoyama, is a unique opportunity for the United States to reinvigorate its dialogue with Japan on the issue of international parental child abduction. As such, we urge you to ensure that the United States continues to raise this issue at the highest possible levels in the context of our nations’ close bilateral relationship.

Thank you for your consideration of this important request. We stand ready to assist you in your efforts to reunite American children with their left-behind parents.

Sincerely,
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ENDS