Incidents of confrontationalism toward NJ are on the rise. Debito.org argues that this is standard social bullying of foreigners being disguised as a reaction to alleged “overtourism”. Push back at it.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This is just a quick personal post as what’s happening to others is also happening to me.

We’ve had plenty of reports in recent months of people being confrontational towards NJ (Resident and Tourist), or people who look like NJ, accusing them of all manner of cultural slights and faux pas.

In recent weeks, we’ve had a confrontation at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto, and enough tourism in Kyoto and Mt Fuji to warrant bans on people going to certain places — even the recent overkill of a local government putting up a screen to block a view of Mt Fuji around a convenience store, with predictable accusations that foreigners are spoiling everything.  Halloween in Shibuya even became a target, with drinking in the street made out to be a foreign-imported problem (seriously?!).

Some of this is inevitable.  For quite some time now we’ve had grumbles about Chinese consumers’ spending habits in places like Ginza.  And whenever foreigners are about, they tend to be the first people blamed for any problem due to “cultural differences” that are automatically at odds with Japan’s putative “uniqueness”.  They’re a soft target.

It even happened to me yesterday in front of Tokyo Station.  Some ojisan (now they’re actually younger than me) decided to jump his place in line for taxis in front of us, and then cursed me out when I told him that that wasn’t acceptable behavior.  When I cursed him out back, he told me to speak “proper Japanese” peppered with a few “omae”s to establish his dominance.  I told him to get lost and to eat shit, and he jumped into the cab and fumed as the doors closed.  The people behind us in line apologized to me (thanks; appreciated, but not something you’re responsible for), and a visual survey of the crowd behind me reveled no hairy eyeballs being directed at me.  They saw his line jumping too.  So I got the next cab and got on with my day.

But the lesson I took from this incident is that, since bullying is a cultural standard in Japan due to the hierarchical nature of everything here, there are plenty of bullies who naturally believe that anyone who looks NJ is on lower social rung.  Seeing me as a soft target, the bully yesterday decided to enforce that.

And while he didn’t accuse me specifically of being a tourist, it’s easy nowadays to justify the standard bullying that happens to NJ as a reaction to overtourism.

We as Visible Minorities and NJ Residents should be wary of that dynamic and push back at it.  Don’t let overtourism become leverage for bullying.  Make it clear that rules are rules, rudeness is rudeness, and Cool Japan is no longer cool when it becomes knee-jerk disrespectful.

After all, tourism is what Japan wanted.  “Cool Japan” and all that.  And now you’ve got record levels of visitors (not to mention NJ Residents, by the way).  So live with it.  Deal with it (as I’ve found Japan generally has, successfully).

But definitely don’t blame people who look “foreign” for doing what Japanese do too.  I mean, just about everything foreign tourists do here are what Japanese also do at home — from littering to being loud in public to shoplifting (theft by Japanese is by far the largest crime in Japan), etc. etc.  And it’s especially true for Japanese abroad, due to a philosophy of tabi no haji wa kakisute (“shed your shame when traveling”, with both positive and negative connotations).

Lose the racism and quit the bullying.  And stand up to the bullies when necessary.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

May 17, 2024 (Mainichi Japan)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

(Reuters article on this below.)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My SNA Visible Minorities col 55: “From Dancing Monkey to Symbol of Hope”: Interview with Ibaraki Prefectural Assemblyman and naturalized Canadian-Japanese Jon Heese (May 2, 2024)

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Hi Blog.  Here’s my latest SNA column, where Jon Heese and I have yet another candid chat (previous ones here, here, and here) about politics in Japan — he as a politician, me as a columnist with a PoliSci background and a more adversarial relationship to power. Enjoy. I did. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Visible Minorities: From Dancing Monkey to Symbol of Hope
Shingetsu News Agency, May 02, 2024, by Debito Arudou
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2024/05/02/visible-minorities-from-dancing-monkey-to-symbol-of-hope/

BIOJon Heese is becoming an old hand in Japanese politics, having served 13 years at various levels of government. He is presently one of five councilors representing Tsukuba (60 km NE of Tokyo) in the Ibaraki Prefectural Assembly—similar to a state or provincial legislature. After winning four terms at the city level, Mr. Heese leveled up in December, 2022. He is the first foreign-born politician to ever serve at the regional level.  He sat down for an interview with Debito Arudou for his Visible Minorities column in April 2024.

SNA:  Hi Jon.  Thanks for agreeing to yet another interview with me. 

Heese:  It’s the least I can do for my favorite rabble rouser.

SNA:  Let me open with an argument:  I make the case in one of my recent columns (https://www.debito.org/?p=17392) that we don’t see enough former Non-Japanese running for office because the Japanese government doesn’t want them to.  With no immigration policy, the GOJ doesn’t just encourage NJ to become voters and citizens, they make it hard to graduate up to Permanent Residency and citizenship.  Would you agree with that assessment?

Heese:  No immigration policy? Do you mean “no policy to import labor willy-nilly à la every western country?” The question is already loaded. As for policy to prevent naturalization, thereby enfranchisement, I do not see any active policies intending to keep NJ from getting citizenship. Overall I see their immigration policies as an attempt to ensure that only contributing foreigners are allowed to stay beyond the 90 day tourist visa by obtaining a longer visa. Many countries try to keep out deadbeats. Japan is no different. By deadbeats, I mean people who are only coming to take advantage of our rather generous social services.

SNA:  Hang on.  Point of order.  We’re still falling back on those boilerplate arguments we see in the chauvinistic media that some foreigners are freeloaders.  Not so.  Every person in Japan one way or another pays some form of tax, and we’ve had study after study showing that migrants and immigrants on balance contribute more to every society than they take out.  So let’s not resort to reflexive foreigner bashing “à la every Western Country”.  Now back to your point about naturalization.

Heese: Immigrants are by their nature successful. The poorest and sickest cannot afford the cost of the trip, whether to pay for flights, boats, or other forms of transportation. Migrants demonstrate their motivation just by reaching our borders. Unsurprisingly they work hard to continue in their successful ways or leave for greener pastures. My “à la every Western Country” comment is a reference to how much stricter Japan is to whom they give visas.

SNA:  And that’s kinda the point I’m making in my opening argument. 

Heese:  To continue, it’s been my observation that the highest bar for naturalization is Japan’s demand that new citizens give up their previous citizenship. Though I disagree with the government’s ban on dual citizenship, I believe the government, as representatives of the people, have the right to make the rules. Are their rules shortsighted? In my opinion, yes. Will they change those rules at some point? I believe they will. However, given that it’s actually easier to get citizenship than permanent residency, it’s not the government keeping people from voting, it’s the foreigners themselves that are keeping themselves from voting.

SNA:  Okay, spoken like a true Japanese politician.  Blame the foreigner for the rules that are set by the politicians and bureaucrats. 

Heese:  Would you have the foreigners setting their own rules…?

SNA:  Yes.  I think they should have some input into the process.  They know better what’s best for them.  Especially if they’ve leveled-up out of being foreign.  To circle back to my opening point, the government is trying not to let them level up.

Heese:  It is my understanding that only a few countries out there that allow non-citizens to vote. And those countries that do permit participation limit foreigners to local elections. I understand Japan’s logic but disagree with their fears of potential consequences.

SNA:  Granted, I also make the case that NJ have to take it upon themselves to stop being “guests” and enfranchise themselves.  You’ve advanced a similar argument (even to me when I considered running for office), only much more softly.  Have you encountered much “guestism”

Heese:  I’m not entirely sure what you mean by “guestism,” but I will assume you mean foreigners who see themselves as guests in spite of their very heavy investments in land and life in Japan.

SNA:  Yes, basically.  What of it then?

Heese:  I see guestism all the time. I have also seen quite an uptick in people taking citizenship. Back when you and I naturalized we were still outliers. That is no longer the case. I estimate that the experiences of those who have become Japanese has influenced the thinking of lifers. When I arrived in Japan in ‘91 it was years before I ever met a naturalized person. You may be the first one I ever talked to. Former Upper House Diet Member Tsurunen Marutei would likely have been the first I ever heard of. You can’t be what you can’t see. As more of us appeared, and, with the ability to share our experiences via social media, that we never had any issues getting through immigration, never felt pushback from our surrounding communities, indeed, life was really no different from pre to post naturalization, others took the plunge.

SNA:  Yes, but that was then and this is now.  I say there is a lot more pushback now.  It’s harder to get Permanent Residency because you need a 3-year visa to get it, and there are plenty of incentives—and examples—of people being stuck on perpetual one-year visas.  Then COVID really flipped the script, where even those who had graduated up to Permanent Residents suddenly realized that they were no better than any short-term visa holder.  They were, in the end, just garden-variety foreigners who couldn’t come back if they left.

Heese:  I would argue it’s much easier than when I first came in ’91 to get PR. My first experiences with PR lifers, they needed to have worked 10 (continuous) years or be married to a local to get their PR in 5 years. These days they are offering the same to desired workers after 3 years. Other workers only need 5 years. No Japanese family necessary. I would also point out it’s now easier to get citizenship. Back in our day we needed to have a Japanese spouse to get citizenship. No longer.

SNA:  Just a quick interruption, sorry.  That last bit is not actually true.  I know of a number of single people who managed to naturalize despite being dedicated bachelors or unsavory characters.  Delfo Zorzi or Nicola Zappetti, for example.  And again, back to PR:  Yes, the years are less on paper, but reaching the 3-year visa threshold is harder.  I will agree with you, however, that naturalization is easier than PR nowadays.  As long as you are willing to burn bridges with your country of origin, of course, and that’s no small thing.

Heese:  I was told specifically back then I needed to be married. However, the Japanese bureaucracy does, on occasion, make exceptions. When I make the case these days to lifers, I point to what happened during the COVID pandemic. When the first travel bans were enacted there were no restrictions on the Japanese themselves. Japanese all had the right to come back. Yes, it was shameful, but the mewlings of you and I were not going to influence the Immigration officials.

SNA:  Right.  But again, the rules are not set by the foreigners, so I think mewling is warranted here.  It was a border control policy grounded in racism, not immunological science.

Heese:  No counterargument on my part. As the memory of the pandemic fades I will fall back to my initial argument of, “You have too much invested here for you to have no right to return.” In principle I ask lifers if they honestly believe they’re going back to their “homeland.” If not, then why are they holding on to some privilege they’ll likely never use? In addition, even if they give up their previous citizenship, it’s been my understanding that reacquiring their previous citizenship is pretty easy and straightforward.

SNA:  Really?  Maybe in Canada, but I doubt other countries are so forgiving.  I’ve found that United States officials even view giving up US citizenship as an act of betrayal.

Heese:  I think Canada would be more a world model than the US. Much of Canadian immigration policy would be influenced by the British Commonwealth. Last I saw there were more than 50 countries in the Commonwealth. In any case, I ask what is really being risked by taking citizenship? Importantly, why are they risking their working life’s investment for a “maybe someday” idea?

SNA:  Okay, so to summarize, it’s clear that you’re very much on the side of the philosophy of “shit or get off the pot” when it comes to living in Japan as a Japanese citizen, even finding naturalization preferable to just taking out PR.  Again, COVID made that choice much clearer.  So how hard have you pushed people to naturalize and get elected?  What arguments have you made to them to do so?

Heese:  I would generally recommend PR before naturalization for people from developed countries. Immigrants from less developed societies likely have nothing to go back to so giving up their citizenship is not an issue.

Regarding my efforts to get others to run, there is one poor woman I’ve been hounding to run for city council for a decade already. By now it’s just a personal joke between us. She’ll never run but it wouldn’t surprise me if she naturalizes. I don’t understand why she hasn’t already. Different strokes, I guess.

SNA:  Definitely.  I too came this close to running for Sapporo City Council back in the day.

Heese:  Yes you did. And your decision gave me a lot to ponder on. What I have come to realize is people run for their own reasons. The candidates best suited to run don’t need a dumbass like me to push them. At best I can show them the ropes. Towards that end I’ve written a few blog posts, one with instructions on how to run an election, and another outlining what I actually did as a city councilor. I think I shared those sites already. If not, I’ll pass them along.

There is a link to the second post in the first.

Heese:  This year I’ve started a new project to log all my work activities at the prefecture, including travel times. You may have seen some of them on LinkedIn. As well as activities I try to liven my posts up with personal observations regarding the political system. People think politicians are the government. How naïve! I’m doing my best to show how much work and what the work involves. My job is not at all what people think it is.

SNA:  Well, spill the tea, Marie.  What exactly is your job?  Sell it to us, since you even hound people to run.

Heese:  Rather than just explaining my job, it will be useful to explain government. Understand that even after 15 years my views are still a work in progress.

SNA:  As they should be.  Politics is complicated.  Any official who thinks they have all the answers is self-delusional.  Please go on.

Heese:  The government is actually a symbiosis of elected and unelected officials. I’ll start with the unelected officials, commonly known as civil servants. Their role is to maintain the machine as well as come up with solutions to problems society encounters on our common journey. Maintenance looks automatic but small adjustments still need to be made.

SNA:  So you clearly fall into the camp of government exists in order to solve problems.  For the record, I agree, but remember I came of age during Reagan and Friedman’s “small government” era, where “government is not the solution to the problem; government IS the problem.”  And I’ve spent a lifetime realizing that good public policy is possible.  Japan convinced me of that.  Pity Japan, for its part, is too timid sometimes to solve problems because people fear taking responsibility for making mistakes or causing unintended consequences.  Instead they should better prepare the public in advance for what the potentially positive or negative consequences of a policy might be.  [Sighs]  Yeah, maybe I should have run for office after all…

Heese: Ha! I believe you should have. Serving would have been an eye-opening experience for you. As for public problems, a considerable amount of effort is made creating, distributing, and analyzing questionnaires. Walk-ins also make requests at the various service counters, keeping the civil service well informed of the needs and wants of the people. It is from these questionnaires that new policy is born.

SNA:  So you see policymaking in Japan as more bottom-up rather than top-down.  I think most observers of Japan might think the opposite.

Heese:  Yes, like everywhere the media poorly portrays how the sausage is really made. Generally the populace believe that civil servants are managed by the elected officials, thus the power lies with the politicians. I believe it’s the other way around. If you’ve ever had the pleasure to watch the BBC programs, “Yes, Minister,” and “Yes, Prime Minister,” their depiction of how government actually works is much closer to the truth than the media leads us to believe. If you haven’t watched it, it is MUST WATCH TV for anyone who wants to understand government. In my opinion it is the groups of unassuming civil servants who wield the greatest amount of collective power. Just as the CEO is the one who gets all the credit, it is more than likely the secretary that runs the ship.

SNA:  Then policymaking in Japan actually is top-down, yes?  Then why so many questionnaires?  Are we actually seeing an example of successful Marxist “Democratic Centralism,” where input is collected from below and channeled upwards, but once the decision is made from the top, people below must follow it since they have given their input?  Okay, sorry, I’ll stuff my PoliSci textbook back in my mouth and let you continue.

Heese:  As I said, it’s a symbiosis. My role, as elected representative of the people, is to act as the immune system. My duties in council are generally to shoot down any brick balloons some aspiring group of civil servants might try to float past the house. That bills seldom get shot down is due to a deep understanding by the civil service of what the people want.

SNA:  Okay, let me underscore this.  As a politician, you see yourself as actually protecting the people from the bureaucrats?

Heese:  Absolutely!!!!! One only needs to look at failing countries to see how terrible things can get when the bureaucracy or politicians capture the public purse. If the balance is off, look out!

My secondary job is to act as a mouthpiece for the people. I bring ideas and problems to the civil service they may not yet have been exposed to. However, I am also a teacher, in a sense. I find that I spend about 30% of conversations with citizens explaining how the system works. In addition, I listen to people’s issues and try to solve them by pointing them in the right direction, whether that’s toward the entry point of the government service they are looking for, or the company which will be able to handle their situation.

SNA:  I doubt most people see politicians in Japan, or anywhere for that manner, so positively.  Do you think most of your elected compadres have a similar view of themselves being a dedicated public servant?

Heese:  That is a very good question I’ll need to ask. I’m sure the topic will provide some interesting fodder. Ask me again in 6 months and I’ll spill what I learned.

How I personally approach the public relations part of the job is to engage as many people as I can on any given day. I try to be approachable. I can’t possibly know what people’s needs are beyond Maslow’s basics. And I’ll never know if they don’t tell me.

SNA:  Huh.  Well, that’s a bit strange to me.  In my dealings with Japanese politicians in the past, especially when I was trying to get legislation passed to outlaw racial discrimination and get “Japanese Only” signs down, I rarely saw them giving much more than a popcorn fart about listening to the people.  Perhaps it was the complexity of the issue.  Perhaps it was because people who look like me probably can’t vote so who cares?  But for the most part, if there wasn’t an election at hand, I found Japanese politicians at best noncommittal, at worst actively avoiding any chance to listen to folks like you say you do.  Are you an outlier?

Heese:  Of course I’m an outlier. To be blunt, I take the approach of being constantly in election mode. I don’t have an election machine I can just fire up nor can I assume I’ll get reelected simply because I’m an incumbent. I’ve seen too many cases of incumbents getting their walking papers to believe it can’t happen to me. In my case every vote is won at the individual level so I am required to be out and about.

I am, by nature, very curious. I am always happy to listen to what people do. In “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell mentions three kinds of people: Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen. I do my best to be a bit of all three but I know I am best suited to be a Connector. I don’t know enough about any given topic to be a Maven and my ideas aren’t well developed enough to be a Salesman. Hence, I spend a lot of time just trying to get to know people and introducing them to others who can help them.

SNA:  I plead guilty to being a Maven.

I can’t speak to your experiences with other politicians except to say that NJ needs are seldom a high priority, not because their needs aren’t important, but because there’s unlikely to be traction within the surrounding community. Your concerns regarding “Japanese Only” signage won’t be showing up in questionnaires either.

On the other hand, here in Tsukuba, where foreigners are plentiful and a vital part of the community, such a sign would only last a day or two before the Mayor’s office would come down like a ton of bricks on any business foolish enough to post one. On a few occasions I’ve been informed, for example, of a policy that a local gym, a chain, has implemented requiring members to be able to communicate in Japanese. Their argument is safety in case of an injury. Pure BS. The problem is invariably a new manager from outside Tsukuba thinks they can run their shop like they do in Butthole-shi. Have staff who speak English ya moron! Or train them in basic English. Easy enough in highly educated Tsukuba. I’ve spoken to the mayor about the issue and he was very attentive, requesting I pass on unresolved instances.

So, to summarize my job, I shoot down bad ideas, promote good ones, and introduce people to others with solutions to their problems. To be blunt, I love my job, but I also recognize that not everyone can do it. One needs a tough skin to withstand the slings and arrows of outrageous allegations.

SNA:  I’ll say.  Again, I’m not sure I’d have the patience to put up with what I see you putting up with, just from the standpoint of shrugging off your how you’re treated occasionally as an outsider or an anomaly in the halls of power.  But that’s perhaps a topic for a future interview.  That’s really all the time we have for today.  I want to thank you for agreeing to another interview with me, Jon.  I look forward to slinging some arrows at you again next time. 

======================
Heese:  We all have our roles to play. At times I’m the dancing monkey. On other occasions I am the symbol of hope for newbies straight off the boat. I do my best to play my part well. Thanks for keeping me on my toes. I look forward to our next conversation. ENDS

======================
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Japan Times: “Fukuoka court rules ban on dual nationality is constitutional”. Debito.org makes the case for why banning dual nationality is unrealistic, not to mention just plain stupid, with an excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism”.

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Hi Blog. First this article, then a comment:

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Fukuoka court rules ban on dual nationality is constitutional
Yuri Kondo (center), the plaintiff of a dual nationality case, speaks during a news conference Wednesday in the city of Fukuoka after the Fukuoka District Court handed down a ruling on her case.
BY ANIKA OSAKI EXUM, The Japan Times, Dec 6, 2023
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2023/12/06/japan/crime-legal/dual-nationality-fukuoka-ruling/
Courtesy of lots of people, including Dave Spector
Discussion already underway on Debito.org in an earlier blog post Comments section here.

FUKUOKA – The Fukuoka District Court ruled Wednesday that Japan’s law that bans dual nationality is constitutional, rejecting an argument by a Japan-born plaintiff who lost her Japanese citizenship after she naturalized as an American.

Yuri Kondo, 76, had argued that the nationality law — which stipulates that Japanese nationals will lose their citizenship if they become a citizen of a foreign country — undermines fundamental human rights to pursue happiness, self-determination, and identity, as guaranteed under the Constitution.

While the nationality law was deemed constitutional, presiding Judge Fumitaka Hayashi said the wish of the individual who would lose their nationality should be considered as it is part of a person’s identity.

Hayashi also touched on the fact that since the nationality law was last revised in 1984, the number of countries allowing dual nationality has increased from one-third to three-quarters worldwide, reflecting a change in global attitudes.

“It is worth considering allowing individuals to remain dual nationals and giving them a certain period of time to choose a nationality, as proposed by the plaintiffs,” said Hayashi.

Born and raised in Japan, Kondo spent nearly four decades working and raising a family in the United States. She became a U.S. citizen in 2004.

After traveling back and forth between her home countries with both nationalities for years, she was flagged as being a dual citizen in 2017 — first at a passport office in Tokyo, where her passport was confiscated and her application rejected, and then by airport immigration officials when they realized she was exiting Japan with an American passport that had no entrance stamp.

Today, Kondo only has an American passport. She hasn’t reapplied to renew her Japanese one, fearing it would be denied again. However, she still retains her Japanese family registry and she also hasn’t received any follow-ups from the government asking her to formally withdraw one of her nationalities.

Kondo returned in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and has remained in Fukuoka ever since. She feared she might not be able to return to Japan if she left and now fears that she’ll face punishment for overstaying while her citizenship status remains in limbo.

During her time as a lawyer in the U.S., Kondo was consulted by many Japanese people living overseas facing similar situations. So, in hopes of advocating not only for herself but for many others too, she filed the lawsuit in 2022 questioning the constitutionality of the nationality law, its lack of procedure and the harm it’s caused to people who have Japanese roots.

After hearing the Fukuoka court’s ruling Wednesday, Kondo admitted she felt a bit deflated.

“In a way, I thought ‘Again?’” she said, referencing a recent ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the dismissal of another dual nationality case filed in Tokyo.

Kondo questioned the part of the ruling where it was stated that Japan permits the opportunity to choose a nationality. Many people — including those from whom she receives emails for consultation — are unaware that choosing another citizenship means they will automatically lose their Japanese citizenship, as in her case, she said.

Japanese law prohibits citizens from having more than one nationality after the age of 20. But when it comes to the requirements and enforcement surrounding those rules, the process is murky at best.

In September, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal on a separate dual nationality case, involving eight plaintiffs currently living in Europe, which questioned the law’s constitutionality.

The Supreme Court rejected the basis of the appeal, upholding the original district court dismissal of the case that stated the law works to prevent “friction” that could arise from having dual nationality. The lower court ruling also noted that Japan still allows the freedom to change nationality.

Lawyers, some of whom are also working on Kondo’s case, said that the Supreme Court’s dismissal didn’t include a sufficient rationale behind the decision and requested a retrial.

With the Fukuoka court ruling though, Kondo’s lawyers felt there was significant progress in the court’s choice of words, as it mentioned the significance of Japanese nationality being the basis of one’s human rights and identity.

“For the first time, (the ruling) clearly stated that an individual’s intention must be respected to the fullest extent possible if they were to lose their citizenship,” lawyer Teruo Naka said. “I believe this is tremendously significant and this verdict signals significant progress in certain areas.”

There are currently multiple ongoing lawsuits against the government concerning Japan’s dual nationality law. Other cases include one filed in Tokyo that involves a child who was stripped of Japanese citizenship after the child’s parents applied for the child’s British passport, and another in Kyoto by a Japanese person who obtained Canadian citizenship. ENDS
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COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Most arguments made by the Japanese Government dovetail around the idea that people will be somehow confused in terms of national allegiances if they have more than one nationality. For what if Japan went to war with the country you have a second passport for? Where would your allegiances lie?

Crafting public policy merely on the basis of hypotheticals is not the best way to make laws. As noted above in the article, the number of countries allowing dual nationality is in fact increasing (“the number of countries allowing dual nationality has increased from one-third to three-quarters worldwide“), as more people around the world travel, resettle, immigrate, marry, and have multinational children as well as lives.  Forcing them to give up their other nationality is to force them to give up part of their identity — a completely unnecessary and moreover psychologically damaging move just for the sake of bureaucratic convenience.  And that’s before we get into issues of arbitrary enforceability, as discussed below.

The increase in diversity should be reflected in laws to accommodate reality.  Instead, we have pig-headed J politicians who can’t imagine a life beyond their own experiences (with the exception of the LDP’s Kouno Taro, who actually argued for dual nationality, albeit to coat the Kokutai in more glory, not for the sake of the individual’s identity) and refuse to legislate reality into reality.  And that feeds into a hidebound judiciary that claim they can only enforce the law as it’s written (even presiding Judge Hayashi above expressed regret at that).

To finish up, let me excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism” on this topic.  It’ll make the case about why public policy is as stupid as it is as best I can.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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From Arudou, Debito, “Embedded Racism:  Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2nd Edition, pp 117-122, plus footnotes)

Legal Renunciation/Revocation of Japanese Citizenship and Wajin Privilege

Japan’s Nationality Law also allows for renunciation and unilateral revocation of citizenship, which may happen, for example, because dual nationality is not permitted. According to Articles 14 through 16, if a child has two nationalities, the child must have surrendered one of them with written proof to the Ministry of Justice by age 22). If not done promptly and correctly, the Law states that criminal penalties, including revocation of Japanese citizenship, can apply. Also, according to the Law, kokumin who take out (or choose) another citizenship must also declare it to the Government of Japan (GOJ) and renounce Japanese citizenship.[i]

            However, people who can claim blood ties to Japan’s Wajin majority enjoy significant privilege under the Nationality Law. Notwithstanding the entitlement-by-blood privileges that are the definition of a jus sanguinis system, Nikkei persons of Japanese descent get a faster track for obtaining nationality (Article 6), and even former citizens get special Wajin privileges after renunciation (Article 17, neither of which happen, for example, under United States’ nationality laws).[ii] Moreover, Wajin children of international marriages often keep dual nationality beyond the age of 22 due to unenforced regulations.[iii]

That said, the GOJ has been given more latitude in recent years to put Japan’s international children on legal tenterhooks: In 2015, the Supreme Court creatively interpreted Article 12 to allow the unilateral revocation of Japanese citizenship for clerical errors in cases where Japanese children were born overseas; and in 2021, a lower court ruled that citizens discovered with dual passports beyond the age of 22 can be stripped of their Japanese nationality at the GOJ’s discretion.[iv] Naturally, this incentivizes adults with international backgrounds to suppress their diversity in favor of Japan’s pure-blooded monoethnic narrative.[v]

An Example of Wajin Privilege and Politics under the Nationality Law: The Alberto and Aritomi Fujimori Cases

An instructive case of Wajin privilege under the Nationality Law is that of former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori,[vi] born in Peru to two Japan-born émigré Wajin parents. Fujimori was reportedly a dual citizen of Japan and Peru due to his parents registering him in Kumamoto from within Peru as a child (more on Japan’s registry systems below). In 2000, after a decade in office laden with allegations of corruption and human rights abuses,[vii] Fujimori infamously resigned his presidency via a Tōkyō hotel room fax and declared himself a Japanese citizen. Despite holding public office overseas, in contravention of Nationality Law Article 16.2, Fujimori received a Japanese passport weeks later (when most applications can take a year or two to process).[viii] Then, despite international arrest warrants, Fujimori was not extradited, and enjoyed a comfortable lifestyle with his fellow naturalized brother-in-law Aritomi[ix] in Tōkyō’s high society until 2005.[x] Although the media assigned cause to political connections, e.g., “favorit[ism] among conservative politicians… enamored with the idea of a man with Japanese ancestry reaching political heights abroad,”[xi] Fujimori’s case is nevertheless one of privilege.[xii] This is in contrast to scenarios under Japan’s nationality regime where even half-Wajin children caught in bureaucratic registration dilemmas (such as being born of one North Korean parent)[xiii]have been rendered stateless due to geopolitical conceits, with legal protections of no country.

Supreme Court 2008 Interpretation of the Nationality Law: Human Rights in Japan Predicated upon having Japanese Citizenship

Other recent developments have made clear that human and civil rights in Japan are connected to having Japanese citizenship. Japan’s Supreme Court, in a landmark decision in June 2008, declared unconstitutional a clause in Article 3 requiring acknowledgment of Wajin paternity through marriage. That is to say, enforcement of the Nationality Law could no longer deny Japanese nationality to a child of a non-citizen woman and a Wajin man who had been born out of wedlock (or else had not been properly registered before birth). The Supreme Court’s express legal reasoning behind declaring this situation unconstitutional was, inter alia, that a lack of Japanese nationality is the cause of discrimination, and that obtaining Japanese nationality is essential for basic human rights to be guaranteed in Japan.[xiv] This systematic linkage between rights and citizenship has also been reaffirmed in pinpoint examples, such as the GOJ’s biased Prime Ministerial Cabinet surveys of human rights in Japan;[xv] and, famously, a police prosecutor in Saga Prefecture bravely admitted in 2011, “We were taught that… foreigners have no human rights” when under police detention and interrogation.[xvi]

At this juncture, it is important to emphasize the embedded discourse behind the Supreme Court’s legal reasoning here: Human rights in Japan are not linked to being human; they are linked to holding Japanese citizenship.[xvii] That is the crux of this research. That means the process of granting, restricting, or denying citizenship to select people is the gatekeeping mechanism any nation-state has over the enforcement of civil and political rights and privileges. However, as will be described below, the systemic granting of special privileges to people with Wajin blood ties also embeds a racialized framework behind equal protection under the law. It is the essential ideology justifying a structurally unequal treatment of non-kokumin at all other levels of society.

Japan’s Nationality Law from an International Comparative Perspective: Becoming An Outlier

Although the gatekeeping mechanism of naturalization is available to any nation-state through its citizenship laws, Kashiwazaki (2000) offers a comparative perspective of structural inequality in Japan’s citizenship rules:

In the 1980s and 1990s, laws regulating nationality and citizenship were revised in immigrant-receiving countries such as Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Switzerland, where nationality transmission was mainly based on jus sanguinis (by parentage). These revisions eased criteria for acquiring nationality by first-generation, long-term resident aliens as well as by the second and subsequent generations. Major types of legal administrative changes include introduction or expansion of the as-of-right acquisition of citizenship [i.e., Japan has no “as-of-right acquisition” system; anyone who was not attributed Japanese citizenship by birth must go through the process of naturalization]; double jus soli, by which the third generation obtains citizenship automatically; and toleration for dual nationality… [On the other hand], there is no unified, coherent policy that could be called the Japanese citizenship policy (436-7).

Kashiwazaki also cites five characteristics of how Japan is distinctive in restricting access to citizenship: 1) Jus sanguinisonly for nationality transmission, with no concession made for former “Commonwealth”-style colonial historical ties, 2) tight border control, 3) strict naturalization rules that only go through the Ministry of Justice, 4) a close relationship between nationality and family registry, and 5) restrictive access to Permanent Residency status (437-47).

Now that we have established the barriers to becoming a kokumin, let us proceed to the second hurdle for national membership as a national: how kokumin are officially registered as citizens, and, conversely, how non-citizens have been officially excluded as residents of Japan.

FOOTNOTES

[i] Independent researcher and translator William Wetherall disputes this research’s interpretation of “renunciation” on his website (www.wetherall.sakura.ne.jp/yoshabunko///nationality/Dual_nationality.html), writing as of 2017 that the converse, dual nationality, is “not forbidden, unpreventable, and tacitly permitted,” because the GOJ works under a “pragmatic recognition of its inability to force Japanese nationals to renounce other nationalities.” He disputes the GOJ’s power of revocation under the Nationality Law between the semantics of “abandoning” (hōki) versus “revoking” (ridatsu) versus “choosing” (sentaku) Japanese nationality. In other words, in Wetherall’s reading, as far as the GOJ is concerned, the only issue is the “choice” or “revocation” of Japanese nationality, not the “revocation” or “abandonment” of foreign nationalities, so the GOJ has no power to force dual nationals to “abandon” foreign and “choose” Japanese.

That said, the Nationality Law nevertheless officially demands the “choice” of Japanese nationality only, and does not allow citizens to “choose” other nationalities without (in principle) “losing” (sōshitsu) Japanese nationality. Parts of this law are backed up by criminal penalties for noncompliance (Article 20), direct permissions and punishment by the Minister of Justice (e.g., Article 16), and recent court decisions mentioned in this chapter further empowering the GOJ’s ability to punish dual citizenship holders. My read is that whether or not the GOJ chooses to enforce the Nationality Law remains at their discretion; as we shall see below in this chapter, Japan’s administrative branch has great extralegal power to “clarify” laws through ministerial directive (see also Asakawa ibid). This enables bureaucrats, acting on behalf of the Minister of Justice, to activate or strengthen formerly dormant sections of the law given the exigencies of current political policy.

[ii] United States Department of State, personal communications, January and March 2011.

[iii] Furthermore, under Nationality Law Article 2.3, babies born in Japan whose nationality is unknown, or whose parents are unknown, are by default Japanese nationals (which leads to a conundrum when Non-Wajin babies are left in hospital “baby hatches” for abandoned children; incidentally, this loophole is the only way Japanese citizenship may be acquired by jus soli. See “Foreign baby left at ‘baby hatch’.” Kyodo News, September 8, 2008; “Akachan pōsto ni gaikokujin no kodomo: Kumamoto-shi no Jikei Byōin.” [Foreign baby left in “baby hatch” at Kumamoto clinic], 47News.jp, September 8, 2008. Vaguely, the media determined the “foreignness” of the baby as due to the unknown parents reportedly being Zainichi. More at www.debito.org/?p=1900.

[iv] “Top court backs repeal of Japanese nationality due to parents’ lapse abroad.” Asahi Shinbun, March 11, 2015, at www.debito.org/?p=13144; “Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality.” Mainichi Shinbun, January 21, 2021, at www.debito.org/?p=16393.

[v] “Dual citizenship in Japan: A ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy leaves many in the dark.” Japan Times, feature undated, mid-2018.

[vi] Sources for this section include: “Ex-President Fujimori should face Justice.” Japan Today, July 16, 2001; “Fujimori dismisses Interpol notice.” Japan Times/Associated Press, March 30, 2003; “Fujimori gets Peru passport, eyes return.” Japan Times, September 15, 2005; “Japan ‘uncooperative’ in Fujimori probe.” Kyodo News, November 19, 2005; “Fujimori tied to $300,000 in ‘hidden’ bank account.” Kyodo News, November 30, 2005; “Ending Impunity: Pinochet’s involuntary legacy.” The Economist, December 13, 2006; “Ex-Peruvian President Fujimori asked to run in Japan elections.” Mainichi Daily News, June 19, 2007; “Editorial: Fujimori’s Candidacy.” Asahi Shinbun, July 12, 2007; “Diet seat eludes absentee Fujimori.” Kyodo News, July 31, 2007; “Fujimori returns to Peru to face trial.” Associated Press, September 23, 2007; “Fujimori convicted.” Associated Press, December 11, 2007; “Peru’s Fujimori gets 25 years for death squad.” Associated Press, April 8, 2009; Debito Arudou, “Fujimori gets his; Japan left shamed.” Japan Times, May 5, 2009.

[vii] See for example “Mass sterilisation scandal shocks Peru.”  BBC News, July 24, 2002; et al.

[viii] The GOJ expedited the process by claiming the “Master Nationality Rule”, an interpretation of Article 4 of 1930’s League of Nations Convention on Certain Questions Relating to the Conflict of Nationality Laws, where a state has the option to recognize a dual national as a sole national if it so chooses, as long as the person in question has the nationality of that state. The Japanese government chose to recognize only Fujimori’s “Japanese nationality,” based upon childhood family registration in Kumamoto from abroad, which is also in contravention of Japan’s Nationality Law. The GOJ also claimed that under the 1985 revision of the Nationality Law, which permitted citizenship to pass through the Japanese mother’s blood as well as the father’s, that children with multiple nationalities had until the end of 1986 to declare or forfeit Japanese nationality; those who declared nothing would be assumed to have retained Japanese nationality and forfeited all others. Since Fujimori had not declared either way, he was reportedly grandfathered in. See “The many faces of citizenship.” Japan Times, January 1, 2009. See also Anderson & Okuda (2003: 334-289). They conclude that Fujimori’s Japanese citizenship was legally binding, as he had never notified the Japanese government of his intent to give it up, and the Japanese government had declined to notify him that he had lost it.

[ix] Anderson & Okuda (2003: 310-8); see also “Fugitive Fujimori relative is shielded by Japan,” New York Times, July 19, 2001, regarding the case of Fujimori’s brother-in-law, and former Peruvian Ambassador to Japan, Victor Aritomi Shinto’s expedited naturalization into Japan. Although Anderson & Okuda conclude that Fujimori’s Japanese citizenship was not necessarily a politically-motivated move (albeit one of government “discretion” not to a priori notify Fujimori of his lost citizenship), since he legally retained it by not giving it up, the authors also conclude that Aritomi’s example was of dubious legal standing, since it was a naturalization procedure (not a latent holding of Japanese citizenship). Moreover, a) it took only six months, much less time than average, and b) it was awarded despite an outstanding international arrest warrant, in violation of the Nationality Law’s abovementioned requirement for “upright conduct.”

[x] See for example “Author Sono calls for racial segregation in op-ed piece.”  Japan Times, February 12, 2015, which mentions Sono opening her home to Fujimori. There is an even more curious epilogue to the Fujimori Case. Reportedly bored with his Tōkyō lifestyle (Sims, ibid), Fujimori renewed his Peruvian passport and flew to Chile in 2005 to stand for election in absentia in Peru, whereupon he was immediately put under arrest pending extradition. He lost the Peruvian election, but was able to run for election in Japan in absentia in 2007 (where he lost again). Then Chile extradited Fujimori to Peru, where he was ultimately sentenced to prison in 2009 for 29 years for human rights violations, including abuses of power, murder, and kidnapping. After being pardoned by the President of Peru in 2017, Peru’s Supreme Court reversed the pardon and put Fujimori back in prison in 2019.

[xi] Ibid, Associated Press, March 30, 2003.

[xii] This is not the only case of an alleged criminal facing extradition for criminal charges overseas taking refuge in Japan’s naturalization processes. Delfo Zorzi, aka Hagen Roi, despite accusations of neo-fascist terrorism and mass murder by the Italian judiciary for allegedly taking part in a massacre in Milan in 1969, was also granted Japanese citizenship even though government officials had been aware for years that he was a convicted criminal under extradition proceedings. The GOJ refused extradition, and Zorzi currently directs an import-export business in Aoyama, Tōkyō. See“Zorzi got citizenship despite criminal past”, Mainichi Daily News, June 2, 2000.

[xiii] “24 defectors from DPRK still stateless: Prejudice rife in Catch-22 situation”, Yomiuri Shinbun, June 13, 2007.

[xiv] “Top court says marriage requirement for nationality unconstitutional,” Kyodo News, June 4, 2008. See alsoIwasawa (1998: 303), and Bryant (1991-2). Bryant’s discussion of how the very definition of “Japanese citizenship” (official koseki family registration) creates discrimination towards children born out of wedlock or insufficiently registered is particularly informative.

[xv] More on this below, but the abovementioned Bureau of Human Rights survey asked leading questions casting doubt on foreigners’ grounds to have human rights, and consequently got responses indicating that a majority of the Japanese public “does not believe that foreigners should have the same human-rights protections as Japanese.” See “Human rights survey stinks: Government effort riddled with bias, bad science.” Japan Times, October 23, 2007.

[xvi] Debito Arudou, “For the sake of Japan’s future, foreigners deserve a fair shake”, Japan Times, December 6, 2011; Colin P.A. Jones, “Schizophrenic Constitution leaves foreigners’ rights mired in confusion”, Japan Times, November 1, 2011; “‘Yakuza to gaikokujin ni jinken wa nai to oshierareta’, moto kenji ga bakuro shita odoroku beki ‘shinjin kyōiku’ no jittai” [“We were taught that foreigners have no rights”: A former prosecutor confesses how new entrants are educated in surprising ways], Niconico News, May 23, 2011.

[xvii] Dōshisha Law School Professor Colin P.A. Jones (ibid) concurs: “[T]he Japanese Constitution speaks of defining equality and ‘fundamental human rights’ as being conditioned on nationality rather than being human.”

ENDS
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My SNA col 48: “Visible Minorities: Citizenship and Authoritarian Racism”, on how conservative movements worldwide are using racist “real citizens” tropes to reserve power for themselves and create minoritarian governments (Aug 22, 2023)

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Visible Minorities: Citizenship and Authoritarian Racism
Shingetsu News Agency, August 21, 2023 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/08/21/visible-minorities-citizenship-and-authoritarian-racism/

Subtitle: Authoritarians are once again trying to racialize citizenship. In Asia, that’s quite normal. The problem is that conservative movements worldwide are similarly trying to shore up their dwindling popularity by undemocratically disenfranchising the very immigrants they had once invited over.

SNA (Tokyo) — News Item: On August 1, 2023, Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad, former prime minister of Malaysia, tweeted his thoughts on multiracial immigration: “It is normal for migrants wishing to become citizens of any country to identify themselves linguistically and culturally with the definitive people of their adopted country. They would break off and reject their links with their countries of origin. Certainly, the children and grandchildren of the new citizens would have forgotten their previous languages and culture.”

https://twitter.com/chedetofficial/status/1686205569806536704

This tweet from a world opinion leader isn’t just wrong-headed, it’s dangerous.

Not only is it trying to disenfranchise entire peoples through racialized attitudes towards citizenship, it’s actually threatening democracy itself.

Can’t see it? You’re not alone. The lack of public outcry is part of the problem. I put this down to a world largely untrained in civics. Racialized attitudes towards immigration and citizenship are normal in Asia, and conservatives worldwide are trying to popularize them in their own societies too. Citizenship is the gateway to political enfranchisement in society, and messing with it means reviving old racist policies all over again.

Let me explain from the perspective of a political scientist.

First, it’s surprisingly difficult to get people to see Dr. Mahathir’s tweet for what it is: racist hate speech.

It would be nice if people could see the long-term implications of this proposal without a long, elaborate explanation. But many people dismiss political science as a science at all, one that develops a skill set and a trained eye. Instead, they throw up their hands and see any political opinion as fair dinkum, or too complicated to deal with due to freedom of speech. That blinds them to the fact that Dr. Mahathir is floating a policy trial balloon to willfully exclude people.

Consider the practical application of this proposal: newcomer residents (and their Visible Minority children) must prove their loyalty to a country by giving up the multicultural and multiethnic sides of themselves.

This isn’t just a dick move by some politician taking political pot shots by saying, “You come here, you speak our language.” When Dr. Mahathir demands people become “full Malay” (with arbitrary goalposts determined, naturally, by Malays), that’s a pretty convenient way to keep all the power in the family.

Then we get to the historical revisionism…

Rest of the article at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2023/08/21/visible-minorities-citizenship-and-authoritarian-racism/

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My SNA Column 40: Visible Minorities: “Hard to Root for Japan at Sports Events” (Nov 28, 2022), due to all the nasty and racialized attitudes towards our athletes, and the lack of fair play in general

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Hi Blog.  My latest SNA column was inspired by the World Cup.  Intro:
//////////////////////////////////////////
Visible Minorities: Hard to Root for Japan at Sports Events
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, November 28, 2022

SNA (Tokyo) — First off, bravo the Japan team for its upset victory over Germany in their first match of the 2022 World Cup!

It was a game where the Samurai Blue showed world-class skill against a lackluster team, and didn’t let the nerves of playing a former world champion get the better of them. Of course, they did lose their next game against Costa Rica, but their achievement against Germany stands.

I want to devote this column to why it’s difficult for me to root for Japan teams in general. It’s not an issue of nationality (since I have that). It’s a matter of how Japan as a society approaches international sports; given the racialized obstacles towards “foreign” participants, a lack of fair play, the unrelenting pressure on our athletes, and media attitudes that oscillate between racial superiority and victimhood, we take all the fun out of it…

Thanks for reading!  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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My SNA Column 39: Visible Minorities: “Never Forget Japan’s Racist Covid Policies” (Oct 24, 2022), where I ask you to seriously reconsider devoting your life to a place that could revoke your legal status at any time

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Visible Minorities: Never Forget Japan’s Racist Covid Policies
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, OCT 24, 2022 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/10/24/visible-minorities-never-forget-japans-racist-covid-policies/

SNA (Tokyo) — This month Japan finally lifted its Covid restrictions and reopened its borders to tourists. Well, whoop-de-doo.

For now, foreigners will no longer suffer entry caps, or go through extra procedures just because they’re foreign, such as being sequestered in foreigner-only floors of hotels with tour-minders so they don’t wander off and contaminate the rest of Japan.

Never mind that Japanese entrants, barely subjected to these strictures put on foreigners, had all this time predictably infected Japan quite freely.

Remember how this whole thing started back in 2020, when cases were found in Yokohama Port aboard a luxury liner called the Diamond Princess? It soon became mired in Japan’s bureaucratic politics, the ship’s patients counted by no country as part of their Covid case total. This was the bellwether for Japan’s future Covid border policies of incompetence and racism…

Rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/10/24/visible-minorities-never-forget-japans-racist-covid-policies/

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

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

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

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

Here are some essay writing prompts.  Discuss:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway, good job, Onoda Kimi.  Mission accomplished.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ochiai said those discussions went nowhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The proposal was voted down by 14 to 11.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The issue has divided the city.

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

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

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

The plan included foreign students and technical trainees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/

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

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

COMPARISON AND CONTEXT

I do not use the term “evil” lightly.  Consider other people in Japan who, when granted power, did wrong:

Prime Minister Kishi Nobusuke, a rehabilitated war criminal, stunted Japan’s development into a mature sovereign country by perpetually subordinating Japan’s geopolitical interests to the American military under the US-Japan Security Treaty.  

Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, who abetted the “Comfort Women” system of wartime sexual slavery, spent his life not only denying its existence, but also reconstituting Japan’s ruthless revisionist far-right.  

And Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, did all he could to restore prewar elitism to the postwar governing system, by destroying any “Western” ideals of individuality, human rights, and pacifism; and (unsuccessfully) trying to “revise” Japan’s postwar Constitution.  

But all of these horrible little men still pale in comparison to a man as irredeemably evil as Shintaro Ishihara.

WHITEWASHING THE RECORD THROUGH WEASEL WORDS

Most obits have used weasel words to describe Ishihara’s life:  “Controversial,“ “brash,” “charismatic,” “unapologetic,” “chauvinistic,” “contentious,” a “firebrand (or fiery) nationalist,” “staunch right-winger,” “outspoken conservative,” even “gaffe-prone,” woefully understating his misdeeds.  

Some went even further, looking for some good in him:  His establishment of the Shinginko Tokyo bank using public monies (which failed, becoming a windfall for the yakuza), involvement with the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (and we’ve written here what a nationalist mess that became), restrictions on diesel cars in Tokyo (yes, less air pollution is good, but rarely were his policies green), and an “outspokenness” towards anything he didn’t like (that’s not a virtue; just a guilty pleasure to watch).  

One of the harsher ones, after calling him a “rightist, elitist, racist, misogynist, patriarchal pig,” still fell for his “unmistakable, evocative allure,” and concluded that “Tokyo has lost something” with his death.

What we lost was a legitimizer of hatred.  

Revealingly, one of Ishihara’s elitist co-conspirators described him as “a politician who challenged what became the norms in the postwar era… He was not afraid of criticisms and insisted on what he had to say” (Shinzo Abe).  Translation:  Ishihara’s extreme stances and policies helped our right-wing policy aims seem less extreme.

INSTEAD, MEMORIALIZE ISHIHARA’S HATEFUL DEEDS

So let’s recount Ishihara’s actual record, starting with his peerless sense of entitlement.  

Born into wealth, he got lucky getting a prestigious book award at an early age which catapulted him into celebrity status.  This enabled him to hobnob with elites and attain elected national office for several decades.  After all, electorates in any society are suckers for celebrities.

He eventually found himself in a position of real power, elected multiple times to the governorship of the world’s largest and richest city.  And he used that bully pulpit to further aims explicitly motivated by hate, admitting in 2014, “Until I die, I want to say what I want to say and do what I want to do, and I want to die hated by people.”

Accordingly, Ishihara infused hate and spite into just about any public policy he sponsored.  Remember how mere weeks into his first term as Tokyo Governor he called for the Japanese military to actively round up foreigners (using the racist epithet “Sankokujin”) in the event of a natural disaster?  How were they to do that?  Unclear — probably just arrest anyone who “looks foreign.”  Why?  Because in his words, foreigners are “heinous” and will of course riot and run amok when given the opportunity.  

That claim was put to the test during the Tohoku Tsunami, and surprise, no foreigner riots.  Any retractions from Ishihara?  Of course not.  Men of no conscience or sense of consequence for their actions never apologize unless they’re forced to.

For Ishihara was a man who unapologetically said that he loathed Koreans and Chinese, and went out of his way not only to justify Japan’s occupation of its Asian neighbors, but also deny its colonial and wartime atrocities.  (All while calling the US atomic bombing of Japan racist.)  Ishihara even claimed, in his regular Sankei Shinbun columns, that Chinese were innately criminal due to their “ethnic DNA.” 

A hateful man who poured his hate into concrete policies, Ishihara installed Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras specifically in areas of Tokyo he claimed were “hotbeds of foreign crime,” and went on TV at regular intervals to propagandize that Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi at night were no longer Japan.

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

Essentially, Ishihara was trying to ethnically cleanse Japan, undoing the “internationalization” phase of the 1980s and 1990s of openness and tolerance. 

In its place, he sponsored overt racism and normalized xenophobia.  He fueled Japan’s reflexive self-victimization by scapegoating foreigners, accusing them of crime, terrorism, subversive activities, and a general undermining of all things “Japanese.”  

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

In his spare time, Ishihara also found ways to hate anyone who wasn’t like him, even blaming his own citizens for their woes.  Such as the time he said the 2011 Tohoku Disasters were “divine punishment for Japanese people’s egoism.”  

Ever the misogynist in his novels and policy statements (one obit called him “the King of Toxic Masculinity”), he called women who survived past menopause “a waste” and “a disease of civilization” (as opposed to men, however senile, who can still “propagate the species until their 80s and 90s”), said that a woman euthanized for having ALS suffered from a “karmic disease due to the sins of a past life,” and averred that gays and lesbians are “genetically subnormal.”  There’s plenty more, but I’ll stop there.

STOP EULOGIZING A HITLER PROTOTYPE

That’s why I find it so jarring that obituarists minced their words.  Stop it, because you are complicit in historical revisionism.  

To find any redeeming qualities in a man like Ishihara is like noting that Hitler liked dogs, built Germany’s autobahns, or created Volkswagen.  But that shouldn’t be the focus of any honest historical accounting of a balance sheet of evil.

And yes, I made a comparison to Hitler.  That’s not Godwin’s Law.  Think about it:  If Ishihara had been given the powers Hitler had, do you think he would have done much different?  

Other people of Ishihara’s ilk (such as Prime Minister Taro Aso) have expressed admiration for Hitler, saying he had the “right motives,” because that enables politicians to achieve results.  Shucks, if only Japanese politicians’ power wasn’t so diluted by Japanese bureaucracy, and the Japanese military freed to project more power wherever it wanted, what could we accomplish?

Well, that was precisely what Ishihara was trying to do whenever he had power.

Remember when Governor Ishihara tried to leverage public and private monies (eventually forcing the national government’s hand to do so) to buy up the Senkakus, some disputed rocks in the East China Sea?  That was, in his words, his attempt to “start a war with China and win.”  To this day, major world media that should know better blithely portray this conflict as merely a “feud,” a “row,” and a “spat.”  

Given that Ishihara was also calling for Japan to develop nuclear weapons, that means, if Ishihara had achieved his results, he would have mass-murdered the people he hated.  

Thus comparisons with Hitler are not hyperbole.  They’re history.  

DEATH BY “KARMIC DISEASE” IS NOT ENOUGH

Ishihara died at age 89 of recurring pancreatic cancer.  I’m told it’s a painful way to go.  Good.  But no amount of pain he would ever feel would make up for the suffering he caused out of purely personal animus and spite.  He was a cruel man who spent his life persecuting people not only because they crossed him, but also simply because they were born a certain way.

So this is my obit:  Shintaro Ishihara was a monster and now he is dead.  May he rot in hell.

ENDS
======================
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Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

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Hi Blog. It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89.

Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc.  (Check out the utter gloss job the NY Times Obits did here.)  Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.

Debito.org has commented on Ishihara’s evil activities umpteen times (most famously here), so I see no need to dwell further. I think Kaori Shoji writes an excellent obit in the Japan Subculture Research Center (aptly titled “A Farewell To Japan’s King of Toxic Masculinity: Shintaro Ishihara“) where she sums up:

The man was a rightist, elitist, racist, misogynist, patriarchal pig. I hope I didn’t leave out anything.

But even she winds up succumbing to a begrudging admiration for a person in power who was granted even more power and wielded it. That’s a pity.  Yes, Ishihara had power — the power of yet another racist toxic masculinist born into rich privilege who did everything he could to make sure that privilege is perpetuated for his ilk. And his ilk have caused (and then denied) things like genocides, and should never be allowed to come near power and public service. Alas, an early showing with a prestigious literary award catapulted Ishihara into fame, and people are suckers for celebrities.

Returning to my opening, I say “measured amount of joy” because my joy was restrained by the fact that a recurrence of pancreatic cancer took Ishihara. I hope it hurt real bad in your final days, Ishihara. But no amount of pain you would ever experience would be enough payback for all the pain and suffering you caused other people.

Rot in hell, you monster. Arudou Debito, Ph.D.

======================
PS. Other Debito.org Readers have already commented on Ishihara’s demise in a separate blog post here.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Combating xenophobic rumors and media: Debito.org asks US Forces, Japan for clarification on their COVID testing and vaccination policies

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From: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>
Subject: From Debito.org: Questions regarding US Forces, Japan vaccination procedures.
Date: January 13, 2022
To: indopacom.yokota.usfj.mbx.pao@mail.mil (courtesy of this site)
Cc: Shingetsu News Agency <shingetsunewsagency@gmail.com>

To Whom It May Concern,
US Forces, Japan

Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Debito Arudou, Ph.D., coordinator for Debito.org (www.debito.org), an award-winning online archive for life and human rights in Japan for more than 25 years. We address issues that affect Non-Japanese Residents of Japan, particularly Visible Minorities, and have acted as a launching pad for hundreds of journalistic and academic articles, government and NGO reports, and actions that have changed the course of national narratives and public policies. I am also the author of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, Second Edition 2022), and am a columnist for the Shingetsu News Agency.

Debito.org has some questions we would like to ask about the policies of US Forces, Japan.

In recent weeks, the Japanese media has portrayed US Forces in Japan as a major vector for infection in Japan, portraying the US military presence in Japan as a leak in their otherwise tight border policies. Consider:

============================
“Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki told reporters on Thursday that ‘U.S. military bases are one of the major causes of the spread of infections,’ while Yamaguchi Gov. Tsugumasa Muraoka said, ‘The fact that (military personnel) were not tested before departure from the United States had a big impact.’ Hiroshima Gov. Hidehiko Yuzaki also called the U.S. military’s measures ‘extremely regrettable.’”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
“U.S. military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in the three prefectures. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the U.S. forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.”
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/
============================
with a public advertisement in Okinawa published by Kyodo News in the Japan Times, showing a Westerner (not an Asian) sneezing:

From https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/08/national/japan-coronavirus-january8/

As you know, Japan’s border policies for most of the past two years have refused entry to most foreigners, including foreign residents regardless of visa status, while letting in Japanese under often lax quarantine conditions to spread Covid anyway. Yet media and policymakers in Japan have frequently portrayed Covid as an exogenous, “foreign” disease, with the highly problematic interpretation of seeing foreigners as more likely to spread Covid than Japanese.

The World Health Organization last month noted the lack of good science behind that claim, stating that “Epidemiologically, I find it hard to understand the principle there. Does the virus read your passport? Does the virus know your nationality or where you are legally resident? Our concern here is that we apply public health principles, not political principles, to selecting measures that are used to control the spread of diseases. The idea that you can put a hermetic seal on most countries is frankly not possible.” (https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2021/12/28670f8f00db-urgent-kishida-hints-at-review-of-japans-re-entry-restrictions-over-omicron.html)

My point is that the US Military in Japan has a responsibility to dispel rumors and reports that are playing a part in potentially increasing xenophobic attitudes towards foreign residents of Japan.

I understand that you have made an attempt to do so with announcements on your US Forces, Japan, website dated January 5 and 9, 2022:
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2889890/us-forces-japan-increases-to-health-protection-bravo/and
https://www.usfj.mil/Media/Press-Releases/Article-View/Article/2893181/us-japan-joint-committee-statement-on-measures-to-address-the-spread-of-covid-19/

But please permit me to ask some clarifying questions, for publication on Debito.org:

==================================
1) Pursuant to President Biden’s order that all federal employees and military be vaccinated and tested by February 15 (“as of early December, 92 percent of federal employees and military personnel had received at least one dose”, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/11/biden-federal-coronavirus-mandate-testing-rules-unvaccinated/), does this mean that all US Forces in Japan, both incoming and resident, have been vaccinated and boosted, and tested for Covid, including the Omicron variant?

2) What happens when members of the US Military test positive for Covid? If in Japan, are they quarantined within the base? If outside Japan, are they denied entry into Japan and quarantined overseas?

3) Do you have any response to the claims within the following reportage in the Japan Times:

“It was revealed in December that U.S. forces had been lax in their border measures against the virus… But it was found that the U.S. side was not conducting pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as required by Japan, and that it had shortened the period of restrictions on arriving personnel’s movement from 14 days to 10. It also allowed people in the restriction period to move freely within U.S. bases.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2022/01/07/national/anti-us-base-sentiment/
==================================

I have heard unsubstantiated reports from American military members on social media that US Forces must be properly vaccinated and tested before they arrive in Japan. This would be at odds with what the Japanese media is saying.

Debito.org would welcome your clarifications for the record.

Thank you for reading and responding.

Sincerely, Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
Coordinator, Debito.org
Columnist, Shingetsu News Agency (https://shingetsunewsagency.com)
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2022:  We received no answer.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

Article follows, then my comment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Japanese original by Hideyuki Yamada, Shizuoka Bureau)

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

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

Read a sample of the book on Amazon here.

Front Cover:

Full cover with reviews:

Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All reports mentioned in this article can be found at

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Original Japanese:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

======================
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NHK: Ibaraki Public Health Center targets foreigners as vectors of Coronavirus, then retracts discriminatory claims as “misleading” and “inappropriate”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  There’s a bit of a flap at the moment about defeated revisions to Japan’s Immigration rules due to the awful death by official negligence of a NJ detainee, but this will take more research and write up on my part as a separate blog entry. (Debito.org Readers are already discussing it here.). I’ll get to it shortly, as I’m deep into a different writing project right now. Meanwhile, let me put up this quickie for the record:

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

Ibaraki health center warns ‘many coronavirus patients infected by foreigners’
BY TOKYO REPORTER STAFF ON MAY 22, 2021, Courtesy of Niklas and TG.
https://www.tokyoreporter.com/japan-news/ibaraki-health-center-warns-many-coronavirus-patients-infected-by-foreigners/

IBARAKI (TR) – A health center in Itako City this week retracted an “inappropriate” advisory that stated foreigners are the source of an increase in novel coronavirus infections, reports NHK (May 22).

On May 19 and 20, the Itako Health Center distributed the notice by email to agricultural cooperatives and city halls within its jurisdiction.

The document stated, “There are many coronavirus patients likely infected by foreigners.”

It advised, “If you talk to a foreigner, wear a mask. As well, please do not eat with them.”

On May 21, the health center and the Ibaraki Prefectural Infectious Disease Control Division retracted the document. “The document’s content was inappropriate,” they said.

“Though we had no intention of discriminating against foreigners,” the Itako Health Center told NHK, “we are sorry if any of the expressions were misleading.”

Shohei Sugita, a lawyer who supports the rights of foreigners, points out that Article 14 out the Constitution does not permit such distinction based on nationality since it leads to discrimination.

“Distinguishing between Japanese and foreigners may give the impression that infections are spreading only due to foreigners, which is very disappointing,” said Sugita.

ENDS
////////////////////////////////

“外国人と食事しないように”感染予防啓発文書に保健所が記載
NHK News 2021年5月22日 5時30分, courtesy of Jaocnanoni, RO, MMT, BS,  and others
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20210522/amp/k10013044921000.html 

茨城県の保健所が外国人が働く農家に対して新型コロナウイルスの感染予防を呼びかけた文書に「外国人と一緒に食事をしないように」などと書かれていたことがわかりました。保健所は内容が不適切だったとして文書を撤回しました。

茨城県の潮来保健所によりますと、今月19日から20日にかけて、新型コロナウイルスへの感染予防について外国人が働いている農家に向けた文書を保健所の管内の農協や市役所にメールで送りました。

この文書には「外国人から感染した可能性が疑われる新型コロナウイルス患者が多く発生している」と書かれています。

そのうえで「外国人と会話するときは必ずマスクをつけてください」とか、「外国人と一緒に食事をしないようにしてください」などと書かれていました。

「文書の内容は不適切」と撤回

文書を出したあと外部から保健所に「不適切ではないか」との指摘があったということで、茨城県感染症対策課と潮来保健所は21日、「文書の内容は不適切だった」として文書を撤回しました。

潮来保健所はNHKの取材に対し「外国人を差別する意図は全くありませんでしたが、誤解を招く表現があったとしたら申し訳ありませんでした」と話しています。

今回の文書について外国人の支援活動を行っている杉田昌平弁護士は「行政が外国人と明示して差別を助長させかねない表現をすることは憲法14条の法の下の平等の原則に照らしてもあってはならない。日本人と外国人を分けて表現したことは外国人にのみ感染が広がっているような印象を与えかねず、大変残念な表現だ」と話しています。
ENDS
///////////////////////////

COMMENT: “Misleading”?! “Inappropriate”?! “Unintentional”?! How about unscientific and discriminatory, especially for an official bureau safeguarding public health that should know better? But given what we know at Debito.org about Japan’s constant “Blame Game”, used to distract from official policy errors and scapegoat Non-Japanese for just about anything, we could see it coming.

The bigger surprise is how quickly NHK jumped on this so quickly and got it retracted. Bravo. Media watchdogs are supposed to look out for the general public, including Non-Japanese Residents (even though they generally don’t). Please get ready to do more of the same in future. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

mytest

Books, eBooks, and more from Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (click on icon):
Guidebookcover.jpgjapaneseonlyebookcovertextHandbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)sourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbFodorsJapan2014cover
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SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

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

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

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

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

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

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

mytest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UPDATE: CENTURY 21 USA answers:

Begin forwarded message:

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

March 28, 2021

Debito Arudou
debito@debito.org

Dear Debito Arudou:

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

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

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

Sincerely,

Customer Relations
customerrelations@century21.net

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

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

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

Dear Mr. Debito Arudou:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.

Best regards,

Hidetaka Sakai
Global Business Relations Office
CENTURY 21 Real Estate of Japan, Ltd.
ENDS
======================
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Reuters: “No foreign spectators at Tokyo Olympics”: Japan takes the Gold Medal for Discrimination with a “Japanese Only” Olympics? (UPDATED)

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Hi Blog.  Check this out.  According to Reuters below, Kyodo News (full article now in Comments Section) is saying that “overseas spectators” will not be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics this summer. I would hope that means that Non-Japanese Residents of Japan are allowed to get tickets and spectate.  But I’m not at all confident that will happen.

First, how will authorities enforce that, given the “Japanese Only” practices widespread in Japan that historically have barred entry or participation to anyone who is foreign, moreover doesn’t “look Japanese”? (This includes Japanese sports; see for example here, here, herehere, here, and here.)  After decades of studying these practices, my educated guess is that this entry ban will be applied to any person considered to be “Non-Japanese”, not just NJ tourists from overseas; and that includes online ticket sales.  Meaning anyone with a foreign-sounding name online will be denied a ticket, and a foreign-looking face denied entry at the door.

Second, what completely astonishes me is the poor physical and social science happening here.  Authorities have once again missed the point is the fact that ANY gathering during a pandemic is potentially a super-spreader event.  The virus is already in Japan, spread by Japanese, and thus Japanese spectators will infect each other, of course.  So if safety is a concern, why aren’t they barring ALL spectators?

Why are they targeting foreigners? Well, partly because the Wajin spectators are already doing it.  According to opinion polls cited in the article below, the “public concerns” officials are pointing to indicate that 77% of respondents are against allowing “foreign fans” to attend (while less than half want all spectators banned regardless of nationality).  But wait — isn’t this a form of “manufactured consent” — where the government and media continue to portray the issue as “It’s the foreigners who are contagious, not us hygienic Wajin“, and then that becomes a “public concern”?  Olympics + Pandemic + Racist Government Policies = Reified Embedded Racism.

Enough.  First the unprecedented cost overruns that have made this the most expensive Olympics in history.  Then the Mori sexism debacle.  And now the potential for a “Japanese Only” Olympics?  If you can’t postpone the Games until after the pandemic, I say cancel them already.

This is why Debito.org was always against Japan getting the Games.  Hosting international events brings out the worst in Japan’s ethnostatist governing practices, and now it’s clear it encourages the Wajin population at large to become even more racist as well.  SITYS.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

NOTE:  The JOC and IOC have since agreed to exclude all “overseas spectators” from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.  More on that in my SNA column of this month at https://www.debito.org/?p=16504.

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

Reuters
Japan to keep foreign spectators away from Tokyo Olympics, Kyodo says
Reuters, Tue, March 9, 2021, By David Dolan and Chris Gallagher, courtesy of NM and MG

https://www.yahoo.com/news/japan-stage-tokyo-olympics-without-122947237.html

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan has decided to stage this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics without overseas spectators due to public concern about COVID-19, Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing officials with knowledge of the matter.

The Tokyo 2020 games organising committee said in response that a decision would be made by the end of March.

The Olympics, postponed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled for July 23 to Aug. 8 and the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Kyodo said the government had concluded that welcoming fans from abroad would not be possible given public concern about the coronavirus and the detection of more contagious variants in many countries, Kyodo cited the officials as saying.

The opening ceremony of the torch relay would also be held without any spectators, Kyodo said.

“The organising committee has decided it is essential to hold the ceremony in the northeastern prefecture of Fukushima behind closed doors, only permitting participants and invitees to take part in the event, to avoid large crowds forming amid the pandemic,” Kyodo said, quoting the officials.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto has said she wants a decision on whether to let in overseas spectators before the start of the torch relay on March 25.

“Five parties, the IOC, the IPC (International Paralympic Committee), Tokyo 2020, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the national government, came together for a meeting via online just last week,” the organising committee said in response to the Kyodo report.

“The decision regarding allowing spectators from overseas to attend the Tokyo 2020 Games will be made by the end of March based on factors including the state of infections in Japan and other countries, possible epidemic-prevention measures, and expert scientific advice will be considered.”

‘TRADE-OFF’

Sebastian Coe, the man behind the 2012 London Olympics which enjoyed sell-out crowds, and now President of World Athletics, said the goal was always to ensure “the best possible games for the athletes and having full stadiums of passionate people”, preferably with a “good global presence”.

“With all the work being done around vaccinations and the huge sacrifices large parts of the world have made over the last year, I would hope that fans (international and domestic) will be able to attend (the Tokyo Olympics), of course it would be better,” he told Reuters.

“However, if local communities are concerned, then athletes will accept that and it is a trade-off they are prepared for.”

In the last Olympic Games, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, local fans accounted for 80 percent of all ticket sales, with international fans buying 20 percent.

Most Japanese people do not want international visitors to attend the Games amid fears that a large influx could spark a resurgence of infections, a Yomiuri newspaper poll showed.

The survey showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend, versus 18% in favour.

Some 48% said they were against allowing any spectators into venues and 45% were in favour.

While coronavirus infection numbers have been relatively low in Japan compared with the United States and many European countries, the country has been hit hard by the third wave of the pandemic and Tokyo remains under a state of emergency.

Japan has recorded more than 441,200 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic, with the death toll at more than 8,300.

(Reporting by David Dolan, Ossian Shine and Chris Gallagher; Writing by Nick Macfie; Editing by Nick Tattersall, Andrew Heavens, Alex Richardson, William Maclean)

ENDS

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

UPDATE MAR 10:  Here’s some original text from Kyodo giving the original terminology in context.  (There is no full Kyodo article like the one in English (reproduced below in Comments) referred to in the Reuters article above.  That’s a composite.)

五輪・パラ、海外観客見送りへ
政府、今後5者協議で確認
共同通信 2021/3/9 22:48 (JST)
https://this.kiji.is/741995959420239872
政府は、東京五輪・パラリンピックで海外からの一般観客の受け入れを見送る方針を固めた。複数の関係者が9日、明らかにした。来週にも政府、大会組織委員会、東京都、国際オリンピック委員会(IOC)、国際パラリンピック委員会(IPC)の代表による5者協議を再度開き、確認するとみられる。

新型コロナウイルスの変異株が確認され、現在は外国人の新規入国を原則、認めていない。今後の感染状況も見通せず、世論の不安も強いことから一般観客の入国は難しいと判断した。政府高官は9日、海外観客の対応を速やかに決める必要があるとの認識を示した。
ENDS

COMMENT: So now it’s a matter of practical application. Here’s hoping public outrage will force policymakers to make it clear that NJ Residents are not included in the term “海外からの一般観客” (“regular spectators from overseas”).

But that’s not going to come from within Japan, since Reuters noted above that a Yomiuri poll “showed 77% of respondents were against allowing foreign fans to attend” (which again doesn’t have that firewall between NJR and tourists).  And now we have to find that Yomiuri poll to see what the original rendering of “foreign fans” was.

My point remains that in practical application, unless the government steps in to clearly distinguish between NJR and tourists, the public won’t, and discrimination will ensue. And as the terminology is rendered in the media, it’s not clear enough. Based upon precedent I have written about for decades, there must be outrage about this. Hence this blog entry.  — Debito

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

UPDATE TWO MAR 10:  I found the Yomiuri poll cited in the Reuters article.

東京五輪「観客あり」賛成45%、反対48%…読売世論調査
読売新聞 2021/03/07 22:00

https://www.yomiuri.co.jp/election/yoron-chosa/20210307-OYT1T50193/
読売新聞社が5~7日に実施した全国世論調査で、東京五輪・パラリンピック大会組織委員会の橋本聖子会長が観客を入れた形での開催を目指す考えを示していることについて聞くと、「賛成」が45%、「反対」が48%と拮抗きっこうした。
一方、観客を入れて開催する場合に海外からの観客を受け入れることは、「反対」の77%が「賛成」の18%を大きく上回り、否定的な意見が多数を占めた。
ENDS

COMMENT: Again, the term used in the poll is “海外からの観客” (again, “spectators from overseas”) is a poor translation of “foreign fans” on the part of Reuters. — Debito

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

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

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

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

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

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

So let’s focus on what Mori himself represented: the worst of Japan’s politics, melding misogyny with racism…
/////////////////////////////////

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/02/15/visible-minorities-yoshiro-moris-overdue-comeuppance/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tokyo 2020 could not be immediately reached for comment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC News adds (excerpt):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Japan Times JBC 119: Top 5 Human Rights Issues of 2020: “A Watershed Year for Japan’s Foreign Residents” (Dec. 31, 2020)

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

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

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justbecauseicon.jpg

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

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

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

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

5) Black Lives Matter in Japan…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The takeaway message in a final montage of voices is the treatment they’re getting is not something they should have to tolerate. They shouldn’t have to wait for a world where they can live “as is,” without concealing themselves.

Now, before I say why this advertisement is important, let’s acknowledge some caveats. One is that this is from Nike Japan, and like all corporations their motivation is to make money. It is a stunt to attract attention and sell products.

Moreover, Nike taking a high road with social justice issues is a bit ironic, given their history of child labor and sweatshops. Above all, human rights and business do not always mix well, and businesspeople are essentially opportunists. So let’s first not delude ourselves to think Nike is primarily motivated by altruism.

The other point worth mentioning is the attention that the ad got: 11 million views so far on YouTube. Naturally, internet trolls, xenophobes, and haters got triggered. Unfortunately, even responsible media (such as the AFP and BBC) gave them oxygen by reporting their overblown calls for a boycott, then fumbled the issue by getting soundbites from unqualified “experts” with no real training in Japan’s history of civil rights, social movements, or race relations issues. These rubes missed the mark by denouncing Nike Japan as a “foreign brand,” or dismissing these kids as “outside voices.”

This is worse than just lazy journalist hackery. This fumble was a missed opportunity to highlight issues that have long been ignored in Japan’s media—the existence of a growing number of visible minorities. So let’s make up for that in this column by acknowledging that Nike Japan’s ad was a big step in the right direction.

First, let’s recap how big 2020 was for minorities in Japan sports:

Rest of the article at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/12/21/visible-minorities-nike-japan-does-some-good/

Read it before it goes behind a paywall on Friday.

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Unknown news chyron of Govt panel that apparently blames foreigners for spreading Covid. However, FNN News tells a different story: one of assisting foreigners. Let’s be careful to avoid disinformation (UPDATED).

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Hi Blog.  Long-time readers of this venue know that I surrender to no-one in terms of criticizing the GOJ in its handling of NJ residents, especially in how they treat taxpaying long-term residents on par with (or even value less than) foreign tourists.

That said, an image sent to me by a number of people has been this:

Now, I’m not sure where this screenshot is coming from (Debito.org Reader MF has noted that it came from the Fuji TV network itself), but the chyron would indicate that this government panel is saying that “Foreigners have different languages and customs, so we can’t thoroughly enforce policies against the spread of [Covid] infections.”  By implication, this means that foreigners are being seen as an obstacle to the safety of Japanese society because of their differences.  This image is starting to multiply around the media sphere, for example https://www.facebook.com/memesugoi/posts/1032954460504017, which is why people are sending it to me.

However, news network FNN has a different take. Debito.org Reader JLO submitted the following video:

FNN says, at minute 1:30, “Bunkakai de wa, kurasutaa e no taiou ya, kotoba no chigai de soudan ya jushin ga okureru gaikokujin no tame ni ichigenteki na soudan madoguchi o setchi suru koto ni tsuite giron shiteimasu.”
Or (my translation):
“At this panel, they are debating about whether to set up a unified consultation center to deal with clusters and with foreigners and who face delayed medical consultations and treatments due to language differences.”  Screen capture:

#新型コロナウイルス

“第3波”感染拡大止まらず クラスター・外国人支援など協議

2,864 views Nov 11, 2020

That’s quite a different take from that other chyron!  According to FNN, this panel seems to be trying to assist, not exclude or blame.

I welcome others who find more clarifying media about this event.  Meanwhile, my point is to be careful.  Foreigners have been so perpetually offset and treated as exceptions from the regular population that this could reflexively feel like a repeat performance.  But let’s be careful that this reflex does not lead to disinformation.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE NOV 14:

Ph.D. Candidate Anoma van der Veere has kindly tweeted out his research indicating some media sensationalism is going on here.  Access the thread beginning at https://twitter.com/anomav/status/1327117586249568256?s=21&fbclid=IwAR0gIPlDs9K6X8tH87UWEuafZDYEM9XrgLobf7LI2luRRJgnStztEdka9n4

(Courtesy of JLO).  Screen captures follow, for the record.  Debito

THREAD ENDS

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“A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020

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Visible Minorities Column 12: A Despotic Bridge Too Far
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, July 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day.

Consider how Japan’s law enforcement system still willfully targets “foreigners” for special treatment and racial profiling, encouraged by a system of registration and random street identity checks that apply to Non-Japanese residents only.

With prosecutorial presumptions of guilt and lack of human rights for foreigners, more have been incarcerated as a percentage of the population than Japanese. That is what you get when a criminal justice system has a separate track for detention, incarceration, interrogation, and jurisprudence against foreigners, one so rigged that even a foreigner as powerful as former Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn, despite a weak case against him, couldn’t buy, bully, or lawyer his way out of.

Then we get to Japan’s mass media, which still more often portrays “foreigners” at best as quirky outsiders and guests, at worst as terrorists, criminals, and vectors of disease. That’s before we get to the random expressions of racism and “othering” that are rife and largely unproblematized in Japan. Rarely does mainstream media salute Non-Japanese residents for their contributions to Japanese society, even as taxpayers.

Yet Japan still wants people to come work on temporary revolving-door visas, including so-called “trainees” hired without any labor rights. But when Non-Japanese residents stick it out and devote their lives to Japan, they get little encouragement to stay on permanently, naturalize, or otherwise become “Japanese.” The general expectation remains that foreigners are in Japan for a period of time to profiteer before they “go home.”

This happens despite foreigners being consigned to jobs on the margins of society, such as menial workers, entertainers, non-executive bureaucrats, healthcare workers, small-time businesspeople, and non-tenured educators. Where are the Non-Japanese licensed professionals in more influential fields like doctors or lawyers?

A handful of foreigners get promoted with great fanfare, but they remain statistical asterisks, not mainstream influencers. Positions of real power are reserved for Real Japanese, and foreigners are second-class subordinates. If not, suddenly it’s Nippon ja nai mitai (Japan is not the Japan we know). Quite.

So back to the opening question: Even with all this, how bad does it have to get before the mainstream begins to cry discrimination? The answer: Covid-19 bad.

Thanks to the re-entry ban last April, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

Granted, the US government recently tried something similar when, on July 6, Immigration and Customs Enforcement unilaterally decided that all foreign students taking online classes only would have their student visas cancelled.

That lasted about a week. Prominent universities (such as Harvard and MIT), organizations of higher education, corporations, and individual state governments cried foul or filed lawsuits to moot this move. It worked. Even for a Trump administration this bigoted, the policy was dropped on July 14.

So who similarly advocates on behalf of foreigners in Japan, besides the usual activist groups and human rights agencies who get routinely ignored? It’s hard to imagine a Japanese university filing a lawsuit against the government.

This time, however, Japan’s mainstream media did speak up. For example, the Asahi Shinbun on June 8 ran an editorial calling the current policy “unreasonable” and “discriminatory.”

The Japan Association of National Universities, representing Japan’s flagship educational institutions like Tokyo University, also stepped in. It recently petitioned the Ministry of Education to promptly allow both old and new students and researchers to enter their universities after proper quarantines, and to resume issuing visas.

And in a blistering critique, the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan issued public statements for Japan to repeal the policy. This is quite a step, since the ACCJ in my experience cares more about unperturbed access to Japanese markets than messy issues of human rights. The ACCJ’s words are worth quoting at length:

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan. The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests… Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.

So what was the tipping point? Perhaps it was when the Japanese government broke its own rules by unilaterally revoking the status of its lawful permanent residents; when it showed the world that it cares naught for the people it even grants permanent status to. Even with all the institutionalized discrimination for generations, a move this despotic shows just how much of an outlier Japan is among developed nations.

This might even be a bellwether. In recent years, we’ve seen a move towards authoritarianism in the world’s developed liberal democracies. As I have argued elsewhere, this systemic intolerance has its roots in Japan, which to overseas xenophobes represents a model ethnostate. Ethnic cleansers have in fact been copying many of Japan’s strategies and policies.

But even when an outlier like Japan, with a society so deferential to power and profoundly oblivious towards the treatment of its minorities, is seen to have gone too far, perhaps authoritarianism has finally crested.

We might be seeing the pendulum swinging back towards liberalism at last. It’s just a shame it had to go this far before it did.

======================
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NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

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Hi Blog.  A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America.  It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk.  With a few more stereotypes thrown in.  (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)

Here is the video in question, with translation version afterwards:

With translation:

According to the Mainichi,

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

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, [a letter submitted by academics in Japan and the United States to NHK on June 12] says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

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

The reason why NHK hasn’t made that clear is because they’re lying about “not giving enough consideration made at broadcast”.  In fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos.

They’re the same people who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago.  (More on this here, page down.)

Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden (in Japanese, but you’ll get the point from the visuals).  Courtesy of Kirk Masden:

Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.

Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to “Koko Ga Hen’s” producers.  NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

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Hi Blog.  Debito.org has reported on Japan’s policies from April of excluding all “foreigners” from reentry, including residents of Japan with valid visas and Permanent Residents with lives and families in Japan, barring them even from the regular two-week quarantine that Japanese reentrants get.  That hasn’t been the scandal it should have been.  So when the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it.

Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media:  How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani at Tohoku University) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess).  However, there is a pattern here.  Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or these overt reactionary policies.  However, instead of having governments and civil society that rightfully point out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion, unlike any other G7 country.

And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.  Let me now turn the keyboard over to Maximilian Doe for the report.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

From: Maximilian Doe
Subject: Two interesting German news articles about how virologist and government advisor Prof Dr Oshitani Hitoshi is involved in the entry restrictions
Date: June 28, 2020
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

This is Maximilian Doe. I’m contacting you because I’ve found something interesting related to Japan’s strict entry restrictions against non-Japanese. It’s two German news articles that point at a certain Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government.

Especially the first of the two I’m posting below explicitly states how the government closed the border based on reports by Prof Oshitani’s team. There are also multiple articles in English and Japanese on the website of his institute (http://www.virology.med.tohoku.ac.jp/). Here is a recent interview – an English translation of a Japanese interview – with him, which is also linked at his institute’s website: https://www.japanpolicyforum.jp/diplomacy/pt20200605162619.html

[NB:  In this interview, Oshitani couches the contagion as an exogenous force, transmitted by foreigners, not by Japanese travelers who weren’t subject to quarantine. Excerpt:

Oshitani:  Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down.

Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak. The delay in action during that time is regrettable.]

Doe:  In the following I’m posting English translations of the two German articles mentioned above. The translations are by me, so the English may be slightly off because it’s a from native to foreign translation. I’ve linked Wikipedia articles about the newspapers in question, as well as the links to the original articles. (The first article is freely readable if you have no ad blockers turned on. The second one is behind a paywall. The 0 Euros button there leads to a free one month test subscription that will turn into a regular one if you don’t opt-out in time, so don’t click if you can’t read German. I can provide you with the original text later if requested.)  The first one is from “Zeit Online”, the web portal of the famous weekly newspaper “Die Zeit”.(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Zeit).

[NB:  The text in question that readers should focus upon is underlined.]

/////////////////////////////////////////////////
Role Model or Problem Child
Japan does little virus testing; the number of infections is low. However, the fear that the official numbers do not match reality is growing stronger.
By Felix Lill
June 9, 2020, 16:49 / edited June 12, 2020, 8:12 / Die Zeit
No. 25/2020, June 10, 2020 / 193 comments [at the time of translation]
https://www.zeit.de/2020/25/japan-coronavirus-tests-infektionen/komplettansicht

“The Europeans misunderstand this virus”, says Hitoshi Oshitani. If you hear the voice of that professor of virology on the phone, you also can imagine him shaking his head. He claims he had explained it many times. “The attempt of finding every infected person is futile, a mission impossible.” Broad testing of everybody is just a waste of money and personnel. “Many infected persons only have just mild or no symptoms and don’t see a doctor. In order to find every infected person, as it is tried in Europe, you’d have to test almost the entire population.”

In his home country of Japan, the 61 years old Oshitani became famous. In order to reach the office of the Prime Minister fast, the virologist of Tohoku University in the northeastern Japanese city of Sendai moved into a hotel in central Tokyo. Oshitani is the leading health expert in the crisis management group of the Japanese government. He says: “Japan is pursuing a completely different strategy than Europe. We conduct intensive testing only at places, where an outbreak was already confirmed.” This is the smartest [method, according to him].

Is Oshitani right? Experts of multiple disciplines are arguing whether the East Asian country is a role model or a problem child. In February, when the virus was spreading broadly, Japan was the second most affected country of the world after China. However, when the virus quickly spread inside multiple European countries, the number of confirmed cases in Japan stayed low. The number of registered sick doubled per week between the end of March and the middle of April, but it reached only about 10,000.

Until now about 18,000 sick were registered – a tenth of the number of Germany, which population is smaller by one third. To Hitoshi Oshitani, this success is not because of strict rules of hygiene or the wearing of masks which is widespread in the country, but because of the crisis management. “We have started early to find contacts of infected persons with questionnaires, in order to test them and send them into quarantine. In case of the northern island of Hokkaido we could find out most routes of transmission and infection clusters this way.”

With this so-called theory of cluster infections Oshitani’s team found out that the fast growth of cases since the end of March were imported by persons who entered the country from abroad. The government swiftly ordered entry bans towards multiple countries.

Currently the crisis manager in charge thinks that they have control over the situation. In the middle of May Prime Minister Shinzo Abe lifted the state of emergency for 39 of the 47 prefectures that was implemented one month earlier. By now the easing of measures is applied to the entire country. Shinzo Abe announced that now it is the time to get used to a “new normality”.

In the meantime, there is also much encouragement from Germany. Virologist Cristian Drosten recommended during an interview, that the “Japanese way” should serve as the model. That includes Japan’s current start of concentrating on superspreading events. In such a case, contact persons get send into quarantine immediately without waiting for tests. The curve of infections flattens. About 30 new infections per day were registered during the last weeks.

Despite all this: The population of Japan does not trust the peace. A survey by news agency Kyodo in mid-April found out: 80 per cent of asked people think that the government reacted to the crisis too late and thus delayed it. A comparative study among 23 countries conducted by the Singapore based institute Blackbox Research found out, that the Japanese are the least satisfied with the crisis management of their government.

“In Japan we are cruising through this crisis blindly”

One of the most prominent critics is Kenji Shibuya. To the virologist and director of the School of Population Health & Environmental Sciences at King’s College London, the officially low number of cases is no wonder. “If we hardly test, we of course can’t know our true status”, says Shibuya on the phone. “In Japan we’re cruising through this crisis blindly.”

Japan really has only conducted about 200,000 quick tests with samples from mouth and throat between mid-March and mid-April. Government advisor Oshitani, who is, among others, responsible for that low number, claims that most of the infected would not transmit the virus anyway. That is one more reason why less testing is okay, because many infections end without much consequences.

Furthermore, Oshitani is convinced that the low number of tests does not lead to overlooking an especially large number of sick people. He says: “If the number of sick people would be significantly higher than detected, our rate of fatalities must have been significantly higher, too.” However, this rate is very low when compared internationally. Around 900 of the detected 18,000 infected people fell victim to the virus in Japan.

Nonetheless, during the last weeks more and more health experts demanded that Japan significantly increases the number of tests. “The claim made by the crisis management group that most sick people do not transmit the virus does not convince me,” says Kenji Shibuya. “To know that we must test more.” Shibuya also does not agree to the argument of the low fatality rate. “If we don’t know how many people are sick, we can’t say if their deaths are caused by Covid-19 or not.” Japan’s crisis management group does not only overlook the sick, but also the dead.

Based on a comparison with other countries, Shibuya estimates that the true infection rate could be higher by a factor of 10 or 20. The reason why this is not verifiable is not just the lack of data, but also lack of transparency: “I’ve contacted the national center for infectious diseases and asked for their calculation method, but the answer was: we can’t explain it. Isn’t that curious?” said Shibuya. An inquiry by us to the institute about this stays unanswered.

Do Japanese institutions want to hide something? Kenji Shibuya assures that he does not want to do such accusations, but he adds, that in crisis management political interests are also always on the table. Those [political interests] are questioned by a critical populous in Japan. Since the nuclear disaster of Fukushima in spring 2011, during which officialdom and companies were trying to play down the danger, the trust in the institutions is damaged, when a crisis exceeds the scale of the familiar earthquakes and typhoons.

Koichi Nakano also looks skeptical at the government’s Corona strategy. The political scientist of renowned Sophia University in Tokyo believes that the health of the population is just not top priority to the government. “Prime Minister Abe was elected into office because he had promised economic growth to the people”, says Nakano on the phone. “Until now that hasn’t really taken off. That’s why it’s so important that the economy doesn’t stop entirely amidst this crisis.” The handling of the Olympic Games also shows that. They should have taken place in Tokyo this summer and were expected to bring multiple millions of tourists to Japan. For a long time, the organizers and the Prime Minister insisted that “Tokyo 2020” would start as scheduled in July. After national committees of multiple countries had declared at the end of March that they would not send athletes to the Games this year, Abe decided to delay them by one year.

The crisis management group continues to keep its strategy. “They probably don’t want to admit that they failed,” said Nakano. Virologist Kenji Shibuya says that it is actually a must to shift the strategy to broad testing. If he is right with his assessment that the fatality rate is also significantly higher? Death statistics will answer that. A large increase compared to previous years would indicate that many people died from Covid-19. Initial numbers for Tokyo during the first three months of 2020 do not show such a trend. Data for April, the month an exponential growth of cases, can only be expected this summer.

About the author: https://www.zeit.de/autoren/L/Felix_Lill
Felix Lill is a journalist and writer. For over ten years he is reporting from more than 40 countries with a focus on Japan and East Asia since the end of 2012. He has published articles in “Die Presse”, “NZZ am Sonntag”, “Tagesspiegel”, and “Spiegel” as well as for English and Spanish publications like “Al Jazeera”, “Narratively”, “El País”, or “Vice España”.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

Doe:  The second article is from “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, abbreviated “SZ” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%C3%BCddeutsche_Zeitung), one of Germany’s daily newspapers most widely read among academics. There is only one paragraph about Oshitani in it. The main topic is the stance of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan towards this entry ban.  Again, the section of interest has underlined text.

/////////////////////////////////////////////
Süddeutsche Zeitung, June 15, 2020, 18:35    Japan
The country stays closed
Since weeks foreigners are not allowed to enter Japan. This is going to become an endurance test for the economy.
By Thomas Hahn, Tokyo

http://sz.de/1.4936421

Marcus Schürmann apologizes. This is because before the director of the German Chamber of Commerce in Japan (AHK Japan) starts to talk about the consequences of the entry ban, he has to haul off a little bit. A clear summer day has dawned over the hills of Roppongi, and the scenery of commerce surrounding the Hyatt Hotel looks as rich and polished as if the pandemic couldn’t do anything to the metropolis that is Tokyo. Schürmann starts with praising the place. 2019 was a good year for German companies and their Japanese branches. 94 per cent of them reported profits before tax according to a survey by the AHK Japan and “KPMG Deutschland”, an auditing company. 63 per cent of them were involved in projects with Japanese partners in third party markets. 99 per cent of them praised the reliability of the Japanese business world. “The German economy is seeing Japan as an anchor of stability more than ever”, says Schürmann. This is something to value in an otherwise unsafe global situation.

Until he says at some point: “And now to the topic of entry restrictions.” His face darkens. “That is a different story.”

This is because the entry ban, that Japan inflicted upon 110 countries because of the Coronavirus, has turned into an endurance test for the diplomatic and economic relationships. Even EU citizens who live in and pay taxes to Japan are not allowed to enter the island nation since April 3, when they previously were in their home countries. No other G7 member introduced such a strict border closure. For example, Japanese with a visa are allowed to enter Germany – and also return to Japan, because the entry ban is only bestowed upon foreigners, as the Ministry of Justice in Tokyo confirms.

At least on Friday the government of Japan finally explained, under what circumstances it is ready to grant exceptions: For example, when families are separated, children would miss school, or because someone had to leave for the death of a relative. However, in principle nothing has changed for citizens of the affected countries: Japan is closed. The German embassy in Tokyo announced that they “are talking with our Japanese partners”. An EU spokesperson said that after an EU-Japan-Online-Summit at the end of May they have “stressed once more the importance of a fast solution of the problem”. Without success.

Wolfram Schimpf, principal of the German School in Yokohama, is worrying whether new teaching staff can enter Japan as scheduled with the beginning of the new [German] school year in August. “At the high school we have a staff fluctuation of about 20 per cent, so that we would miss a fifth of our teaching staff, unfortunately some subjects could not be taught [under these circumstances].” The Goethe Institute in Tokyo has cancelled all cultural events with German guests. Finally, Marcus Schürmann has to talk about the consequences for the economy. Schürmann is a friendly man with a Japan pin on his lapel, but when he talks, the German economy is talking and that is Japan’s most important EU partner. According to Schürmann ten of the 100 largest investors to Japan are from Germany and those are creating 35,000 jobs. His dissatisfaction has to do with hard economic realities. To show that he has the most recent AHK-Japan survey in his hands: “78 per cent of businesses state that they are massively affected by the entry ban and that this severely damages their activities.”

A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary

Among the 450 German companies with business in Japan many are engineering companies. They have to postpone projects because the parent company cannot send specialists for commissioning new machines. Other companies cannot fill in gaps in their staff as planned. At the same time, they have to continue to pay taxes and social security for their employees who are stuck in Germany. “A third of these businesses are expecting tax reduction to compensate for this situation that the Japanese government has forced upon them”, says Schürmann.

From the beginning, the fight against the Coronavirus was special in Japan. Instead of tracing the virus with as many tests as possible like in most other countries, Japanese bureaucracy concentrated on controlling cases of so-called clusters of infections of the respiratory disease Covid-19. Only people with severe symptoms and their close contact persons were tested – based on the finding that only certain infected people were posing a severe threat for transmissions. Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.

Schürmann understands that. However, the world continues to spin, and the pandemic is here to stay. A plan for the globalized economy with the Coronavirus is necessary. Schürmann sees solutions by the state with chartered flights and hygiene measures for “a minimal amount of business travel” in China and South Korea. Not so much in Japan. Schürmann has stayed in Japan for 31 years. He can lead the negotiations in Japanese on his own with those Japanese bureaucrats in charge of the economy. The reactions? “Talks with Japanese officials are always very nice, but nothing happens afterwards.”

The Germans are so frustrated that they are asking the question about the future. Among entrepreneurs, Abe’s Japan has lifted the image of the slightly weird island nation that fights with itself. Japan has involved itself in world trade more than never before and showed signs of openness with hosting events like the Rugby World Championship and the Olympic Games. “Regarding the many global challenges, the time for engaging with Japan is actually very good”, thinks Schürmann. But now? “In principle Japan threatens regained trust and its position as a global key player.” He does not see German companies leaving the world’s third largest economy. “But if this inflexibility continues, Japan will become less interesting for them. Because they say: If Japan doesn’t react now, what will happen next, when the second or third Corona-wave comes?” They could relocate some of their business to neighboring countries like South Korea.

The opposite side of Japanese reliability is clearly visible now: Necessary changes in policy are not Nippon’s strength. Someday ways will lead to Japan once more, but no one knows when.

Thomas Hahn [about the author]
After high school in 1991 he did an internship at the SZ local editorial department of Starnberg. Civilian service at the municipal hospital of Fürth as male nurse at the department of internal medicine. Study of theater science in Munich and Canterbury. Internship at the SZ editorial office for sports news in 1995. After that working as freelance journalist, especially for the SZ. Regular SZ editor since January 1, 1999. He was at the sports news department in Munich for more than 15 years, after that correspondent for northern Germany in Hamburg. Since September 1, 2019, he is correspondent for Japan and South Korea.
ENDS
/////////////////////////////////////////////

COMMENT FROM DOE:  It’s no hard proof, whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

Best regards,
Maximilian Doe

ENDS

======================
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Mainichi: Japan, US academics demand NHK explain offensive BLM anime. And how about all the others (including NHK) in the past?

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Hi Blog.  Japanese TV has once again put their foot in it for racist stereotyping.  We’ve already covered here on Debito.org:

Now we see NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) commenting on Black Lives Matter in perhaps the most insensitive way possible. Submitter JK comments, then I comment:

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

JK:  Hi Debito.  Looks like NHK is actually getting heat for their understanding (or lack thereof) of the world now:

Japan, US academics demand NHK explain editorial choices behind offensive BLM anime
https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200613/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

June 13, 2020 (Mainichi Japan) Japanese version follows.

PHOTO CAPTION: An NHK animated explainer on Black Lives Matter protests in the U.S. which was widely condemned as racist and subsequently removed by the broadcaster, is seen in this screen capture. (Mainichi)

With translation:

TOKYO — Academics in Japan and the United States submitted a letter to NHK on June 12 demanding the Japanese public broadcaster clarify why it broadcast an anime explainer of Black Lives Matter protests that was subsequently condemned as racist, and that it also outline its views on the matter and possible preventive measures.

【Related】Japan’s NHK apologizes for clip on US BLM protests after racism accusations
【Related】Black Lives Matter goes mainstream after Floyd’s death
【Related】Tennis star Naomi Osaka all-in on Black Lives Matter movement: Reuters

In their five-page letter to the NHK, the experts in U.S. studies describe the video as “including content that cannot be overlooked.” Among its 13 signatories are professor Fumiko Sakashita of Ritsumeikan University in Tokyo and professor Yasumasa Fujinaga of Japan Women’s University, also in the capital. The letter is addressed to the NHK president, as well as the heads of the international news division and the News Department. The writers say they will recruit supporters in both the U.S. and Japan.

The around 1-minute-20-second animated video that the letter discusses was originally shown on NHK news program “Kore de Wakatta! Sekai no Ima” (Now I Understand! The World Now) and shared on the broadcaster’s official Twitter account on June 7. It was intended as an explanation for the demonstrations that began in the U.S. after George Floyd, a black man, was killed by a white police officer kneeling on his neck. It features a muscular, vested black man shouting about economic inequality in the U.S., and makes no reference to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police.

The letter to NHK described the depiction of the man as stereotypical, saying, “He is given an excessively muscular appearance, and speaks in an emphatically coarse and violent way.” It added that in the U.S., “This stereotype has a history of being used to legitimize lynching of black people and the loss of their lives from police brutality.”

It also criticized the program itself for suggesting that one cause of violence by police toward black people is “a fear of black people,” and for offering a “completely insufficient” explanation of issues around “the historic background of police brutality, from slavery to the modern prison industrial complex.”

It then mentioned that by the time the NHK show was aired on June 7, rioting and looting had already waned, and that the mostly peaceful protests were also being joined by many white people. Referring to this, the writers said the content of both the program and the animated explainer were “not an accurate reflection of the current state of protests.”

The letter also says the program didn’t give enough consideration to anger toward systemic racism as one of the causes of the protests. It also puts forward questions as to why the content wasn’t checked internally and corrected.

On June 9, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast, and we apologize to those who have been offended by it.” The program was removed from its online streaming services, and the tweet sharing the video also deleted.

Regarding its response, the letter says NHK has not clearly elucidated what was problematic about the program, and criticized the broadcaster strongly for “trivializing the matter as a case of viewer interpretation.” It went on to ask that NHK clarify both its understanding on the issue and the events that led to the problematic content being broadcast and tweeted.

(Japanese original by Sumire Kunieda, Integrated Digital News Center)

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求め る要望書
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200612/k00/00m/040/247000c

黒人差別の解説動画「看過できない内容」 NHKに米国研究の学者らが検証求める要望書

NHKがニュース番組「これでわかった!世界のいま」などで発信した米国の抗議デモに関する解説について、日米の米国研究者が12日、「看過できない内容が含まれている」として、問題認識や経緯、再発防止策を明らかにするよう求める要望書をNHKに送付した。【國枝すみれ/統合デジタル取材センター】

要望書は全5ページ。坂下史子・立命館大教授や藤永康政・日本女子大教授ら日米の大学に所属する研究者13人が呼びかけ人となり、NHKの会長、国際部部長、報道局長宛てに送付した。今後、日米で賛同者を募るという。

要望書が問題としたのは、白人警官による黒人男性暴行死事件への米国の抗議デモについてNHKが解説した6月7日の放送内容と、公式ツイッターの発信内容。番組は、デモの背景を解説するアニメ動画を放映し、ツイッターにも同じ動画を投稿していた。

要望書はこの動画について、黒人が「過度に筋肉質な外見で、乱暴で粗野な言葉づかいが強調された男性」というステレオタイプで描かれているとし、米国では「これ…

(rest behind paywall).

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

NHK responded (full text available here in Japanese and here in Tokyo Weekender translation):

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

“We at NHK would like to sincerely apologize for a computer animation clip posted on our Twitter account. The clip was part of a segment in the program “Kore-de-wakatta Sekai-no-ima” broadcast on Sunday, June 7th. The 26-minute segment reported that the protests in the US were triggered by the death of George Floyd after he was pinned to the ground by a white police officer. It also reported the background on how many people are angered by the case, handling of the matter by the Trump administration and criticism against it, as well as division in American society. The one-minute-21-second clip aimed to show the hardships, such as economic disparity, that many African Americans in the US suffer. However, we have decided to take the clip offline after receiving criticism from viewers that it did not correctly express the realities of the problem. We regret lacking proper consideration in carrying the clip, and apologize to everyone who was offended.” 

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  Apology not accepted.  As I said, this is well within history and character for Japanese media, and the fact that it appeared on NHK (on a children’s program, no less) makes it all the more mainstream.  It’s not even Embedded Racism.

I will note that the people that produced this anime are the same ones (in terms of inflammatory style, caricature, and even voice talent) that produced the racialized imagery used in landmark TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago (which we also appeared in during the Otaru Onsens Case).  Witness this segment from February 28, 2001.

So in my view, for all NHK’s claims that it “lacked proper consideration”, I call BS.  They knew full well what these subcontracted segments are like.  That’s what that subcontractor has done for years.  They just expected that this would be for “domestic consumption only” and the Gaijin wouldn’t see it (because after all, “foreigners” don’t watch Japanese TV because Japanese is too hard a language for them to understand).  That’s also BS.  NHK (not to mention most of Japan’s other media) still hasn’t learned their lesson after all these decades.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.
======================
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Info on Black Lives Matter demos in Japan in response to excessive police force towards a Kurdish Resident; also the backlash of right-wing Tokyo Katsushika-ku Assemblyman Suzuki Nobuyuki: “expel any foreign demonstrators”.

mytest

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

Hi Blog.  As you know, following the George Floyd et al. killings by police in America, there is an international wave of condemnation towards institutionalized racism and brutality in law enforcement.  Japan is not exempt from this (in fact, institutionalized embedded racism is one of the reasons Debito.org exists, and the Japanese police are notorious for their normalized racial profiling), and a recent case (see Reuters article below) of a Kurdish man being assaulted by police during a traffic stop has made news.  Given this flashpoint, a Black Lives Matter movement of protecting minorities against state-sponsored unchecked violence has taken wing around Japan.  Please join in if you’re interested.  Information website here:

https://blacklivesmattertokyo.carrd.co/

More on what BLM Kansai has been doing is also at SNA here:

 

Bravo. Meanwhile, as SNA has pointed out, certain elements within Japan have a problem with any Non-Japanese trying claiming their rights in Japan even through peaceful public protest:  Veteran anti-foreign rightwinger Nobuyuki Suzuki, currently a Katsushika Ward assemblyman, demands that any foreigner who engages in a street protest should be tracked down by the police and expelled from the country. (MP)”

 

After all, according to the Suzukis of Japan, foreigners don’t belong here.  They aren’t kokumin, and because they are only here by permission of the government, by definition they should not protest; they should be just good little Guests or get out.  Japan for the Japanese.  You know the mantra.  Even though public demonstrations (for example, by NJ workers in labor unions) are perfectly legal, and have been going on for decades.

That’s why social movements should crest and clean these exclusionary bigots out of government.  And Debito.org will at least add its voice in support.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Reuters article:

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

REUTERS WORLD NEWS, JUNE 6, 2020
Kurdish case becomes rallying cry for Japan protest against police
By Mari Saito
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests-japan/kurdish-case-becomes-rallying-cry-for-japan-protest-against-police-idUSKBN23D0JG

PHOTO CAPTION: A demonstrator wearing a mask holds an ”Antifaschistische Aktion” flag during a protest march over the alleged police abuse of a Turkish man, in echoes of a Black Lives Matter protest, following the death of George Floyd who died in police custody in Minneapolis, in Tokyo, Japan June 6, 2020. 

TOKYO (Reuters) – The case of a Kurdish man who says he was stopped and shoved to the ground by Tokyo police became a rallying cry for protesters marching in solidarity with Black Lives Matter on Saturday.

Several hundred people chanting “I can’t breathe” to invoke the death of George Floyd in the United States marched through the trendy Shibuya district on a sultry afternoon, saying that police abuse – particularly against foreigners – was a problem at home as well.

“I feel very sad,” said Tomohiko Tsurumi, 43, who joined the march with his wife. “I always thought of this country as very safe and I realized that there is so much (police action) we cannot see.”

The 33-year-old Turkish man of Kurdish origin, who asked not to be named, told Reuters this week that he was stopped by police driving in downtown Tokyo on May 22 – three days before George Floyd died in Minneapolis when a police office knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

When the man would not allow police to search his car, two officers shouted at him and shoved him to the ground, the man said. A friend in his car filmed part of the incident.

Police declined to comment, saying they have not made anything public about the incident.

The video, seen by Reuters, includes the officers yelling at him to sit and not make trouble. One of the officers can be seen kicking the man in the leg before making him crouch on the ground.

That officer can be seen with his arms around the man’s neck, telling him to be quiet.

“I couldn’t breathe. If my friend hadn’t been filming I don’t know what would have happened,” the man said, adding the encounter left him with bruises on his neck and back.

“This was in the middle of the day and I was on the way to my dentist,” said the man, who said he has lived in Japan for 15 years and was not at Saturday’s protest due to what organizers said was fear of being arrested. “That’s what’s so upsetting.”

The man filed an assault suit against the two officers with Tokyo prosecutors on May 27, said his lawyer, Yasuaki Nara.

An African man at the demonstration with a friend said their appearance got them more scrutiny from Japanese police.

“I feel what George Floyd was feeling,” he said, declining to give his name or his country of origin. “We feel what his family is feeling.”
ENDS

======================
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Debito’s SNA column: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, VM9, April 20, 2020 (archived full text)

mytest

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Hi Blog. My regular monthly Visible Minorities column is out at the Shingetsu News Agency, where I talk about how Japan is reverting to exclusionary type (egged on by an unaccountable ruling elite) when dealing with minorities in pandemic times. People in Japan are generally “live and let live” and “keep calm and carry on” when it comes to treating each other. It’s Japan’s incompetent leaders (notably a self-hating haafu American-Japanese politician named Onoda Kimi) who normalize discrimination in the name of shifting blame, I’m arguing. Here’s the column’s full text, archived for the record:

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

Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese
By Debito Arudou
Shingetsu News Agency, Visible Minorities column, April 20, 2020

http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/04/20/visible-minorities-pandemic-releases-antibodies-toward-non-japanese/

SNA (Tokyo) — Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch.

More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies).

But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies.

Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori, who tweeted on April 4 that taxpaying Non-Japanese Residents should not receive the same financial support from the Japanese government as citizens. Supporting them should be the responsibility of their respective foreign countries. To her, being a registered resident and taxpayer is not enough to qualify.

Never mind that Japanese living abroad as residents and taxpayers aren’t being similarly treated. And never mind that this violates, for example, the principles behind totalization agreements, ensuring that Japanese and other nationalities can still receive a retirement pension despite straddling countries and tax homes during their working lives.

Of course, Sugita is famous for her stupid comments, including anti-LGBT statements in 2018 against government policies for “unproductive” same-sex couples because they don’t bear children. But the fact that a person like Sugita can be elected and remain in office is indicative of Japan’s pathological attitude towards minorities.

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

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

Now, while sophists like Onoda might point out that there are issues of legal registration that complicate things, it’s not complicated at all. Simply put, Japan’s default mode is exclusion and minority discrimination.

It took 60 years of activist pressure before Japan allowed foreigners to be officially counted as Japan residents and family members (and to this day, foreigners are not included as spouses on family registries). The media still routinely excludes foreigners from national population tallies — as if only REAL Japanese count. And it trickles down into daily practice: Landlords, realtors, and shopkeepers at whim can refuse service to anyone who appears “foreign” with no real blowback. That’s in the best of times.

But these aren’t the best of times. In pandemic conditions, having politicians carelessly say that foreigners don’t deserve equal treatment justifies all sort of dehumanization.

For example, Japan’s inhumane official policy is that Non-Japanese, including Permanent Residents, who leave the country (even if they have to attend a funeral) won’t be let back in. Period. What’s next? Hospitals refusing entry to foreigners (which happens anyway)? Triage by nationality? Reserving ventilators for Japanese only? It all logically follows.

Pandemics can bring out the best in people. But they generally force people to decide who deserves to live. And in Japan, it’s ever clearer that, to many people in power, Non-Japanese don’t count as fellow human beings.

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

======================
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COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats

mytest

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Hi Blog. We are witnessing the logical extension of generations of Wajin not seeing “foreigners” as part of Japan, i.e., where minorities are apparently nonexistent in Japan’s postwar-created “monocultural, monoethnic homogeneous society” narrative. It thus follows that Non-Japanese regardless of residency status in Japan are perpetually classified and treated as “guests“, subject to the whims of the Wajin majority to grant them any human rights, legal status, or access to public services.  Book “Embedded Racism” has taken up this issue in great detail.

Now in this time of pandemic crisis, we’re seeing people revert to type and say that “foreigners don’t deserve the same government support as Japanese”, even though NJ Residents are paying taxes and living in Japan like any other people. The most recent manifestation has been self-hating Upper House Dietmember Onoda Kimi, an American-Japanese (father is American) representing Okayama (this place seems to spawn racists).  She argues on Twitter that NJ Residents should not be granted the same access to proposed government cash subsidies for taxpayers in financial hardship.

As sent from a Debito.org Reader.  More information at the Change.org petition link:

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

小野田紀美【自民党 参議院議員(岡山県選挙区)】
⁦‪@onoda_kimi‬⁩
⁦‪@YoshiakiSabaiDi‬⁩ マインナンバーは住民票を持つ外国人も持ってますので、マイナンバー保持=給付は問題が生じます。
30/03/20, 22:36
Hello Debito,
I’m a NJ residing here in Japan from 12 years. I think you might find this interesting. Just go to her Twitter account to see the whole discussion. There’s also a petition going on asking this idiot to step down: https://www.change.org/p/自由民主党-差別議員-小野田紀美-自由民主党-氏の議員辞職を求めます?recruiter=842277911
///////////////////////////////////////////////////
On top of that there’s Lower House Dietmember Sugita Mio, hailing from Tottori, who is also tweeting sophistic arguments that financial support for Non-Japanese citizens in Japan is the responsibility of their respective countries, not the GOJ, completely overlooking their legally-obligated tax contributions to the Japanese government’s coffers:

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

Sugita is the same bigot who argued “there is no justification for efforts by the state and municipalities to invest taxpayers’ money into policies supporting same-sex couples because “these men and women don’t bear children — in other words, they are ‘unproductive.’” (Japan Times), so it’s entirely within character for her to shut out another set of minorities in Japanese society.

But it’s not just Japan’s pandering political elite.  Differentiating, “othering”, and subordinating NJ from Wajin is part of the normalized Embedded Racism within Japan’s bureaucracy and law enforcement as well:

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

Hi Debito,
Apparently, the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare makes a clear distinction between Japanese and foreigner when it comes to coronavirus infection.
In this page we can see that they clearly specify that 1,099 of the 1,494 infected are Japanese.
The relevant text is here:
・患者1,494例(国内事例1,466例、チャーター便帰国者事例11例、空港検疫17例)
・無症状病原体保有者233
(国内事例195例、チャーター便帰国者事例4例、空港検疫34例)
・陽性確定例226例(国内事例226例)
・日本国籍の者1,099名(これ以外に国籍確認中の者がいる)

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

Hi Debito,

Japan’s proclivity for arbitrary detention continues — here we have a PR who was detained for 19 hours while looking foreign during a pandemic:

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

Iranian permanent resident held for 19 hours at Japan airport amid virus fears

(Mainichi Japan)

<https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200330/p2a/00m/0fe/016000c>

“According to the man, he was tested for infection with the novel coronavirus before then having his residency permits inspected by the Immigration Services Agency of Japan’s Narita Airport District Immigration Office. He was forced to spend 19 hours overnight under its jurisdiction without being offered food or water, and when the ordeal was over the authorities sought a total of 60,000 yen in fees for use of the room he was detained in and other costs.”

成 田入管で19時間留め置き 日本に20年暮らすイラン人の怒り <https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200329/k00/00m/040/079000c>

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

Regards, -JK

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

So there’s some more Debito.org grist.  To be sure, this sort of stuff is happening worldwide.  But Debito.org’s mission is to catalog Japan’s hand in it, so there you go.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt

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Hi Blog.  I hope all Debito.org Readers and their loved ones are safe and well during this time of pandemic.

It’s time to talk about the politics of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and how Prime Minister Abe has put Japan at risk for the sake of a sports meet.

Dr. Jeff Kingston of Temple University Japan has posted a salient article today about the politicking between Abe’s minions and and the International Olympic Committee, and how Abe may exploit any crisis he exacerbated for his own political benefit.  It’s very much worth a read:

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

Kingston Abstract: Prime Minister Abe Shinzo has been widely criticized for ineptitude in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Keen to host the Olympics in 2020, he put public health at risk. Strong international criticism finally forced the IOC and Abe to accept the inevitable and defer the Olympics until 2021. Now both parties are now trying to claim credit for making this decision. The Japanese policy of limiting testing kept policymakers and citizens in the dark and handicapped responses to the outbreak. As the number of infections surges, the government is playing catch up. The combination of an accelerating COVID-19 outbreak in Japan and imminent global economic recession will hit Japan hard and could lead to Abe’s ouster. For now, there are growing concerns that he may exploit this crisis to advance his political agenda of constitutional revision.

Read the whole article at:

https://apjjf.org/2020/7/Kingston.html

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

COMMENT:  It bears articulating here that Japan (despite a number of premature “rosy” reports bordering on the typical “Japan is unique, special, and immune to world trends“) is now probably going to see its infected cases ramp up and people die.  For much the same reason that Trump initially called the pandemic a “hoax” (buying some time for him and his buddies to sell off their stock before the market crashed), Abe forewent systemic and widespread infection testing to make sure case numbers stayed low (even excluding the infected Diamond Princess cruise ship passengers, who were largely Japanese, from the national tally).  All because the people who have money would rather risk the lives of the elderly and immunocompromised (as happened in the 1980s with Japan’s Health Ministry and HIV-tainted blood) than let any economic impacts of postponing an Olympics reduce their political power or their already-stuffed wallets.

If the rich and powerful are so concerned about the economic well-being of the people who actually man and power national economies, they should re-seed much of their money back into subsidizing the incomes of people who can’t work during lockdown (while governments should pass national policies to temporarily suspend rents, mortgages, and rents on commercial properties).  So that people can all get through this crisis faster by hunkering down in place.  Not make things worse by being forced to work, contaminating each other in clusters, getting sick all at once and dying of insufficient care after overloading hospitals.  Tycoons could also drop a few hundred million on scientific research facilities and production of various PPEs to keep our health-care professions functional on the front lines.  (I’m sure they can get along just fine with their remaining few hundred millions.)

The short-sightedness and greed of people richer than God who won’t subsidize consumers and taxpayers (who have long subsidized THEIR lives) is astonishing.  Especially since a dead consumer/taxpayer and their remaining resentful kith and kin is of no use to them either.  This should be pointed out at every opportunity.

Instead (and this where the Debito.org subject matter comes in), we have Japanese media trying to blame foreigners again.  We’ve already seen the regular knee-jerk reaction (seen in health scares ere: e.g., “NJ have AIDS” (1986), “NJ have SARS” (2003)) of treating it as a “Chinese virus” (singling out Yokohama’s Chinatown).  Or even just portraying it as a general “foreign virus” and shutting out all “foreign” customers (including NJ residents who haven’t been abroad, but not Wajin who have).  But since we can’t blame foreign tourists anymore (world tourism has screeched to a halt), we’re now seeing regular media portraying it as a “returnee” virus (where Japanese returning from infected gaikoku are stigmatized).

Anything but blame the government for their political decision not embarrass or disrupt by testing widely and bringing on the lockdown. People will die for this.  Again, all for the sake of a sports meet.  Read Kingston above for more.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

======================
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Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.

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Hi Blog. As was expected (since this sort of thing is happening worldwide), the bigots unfettered by any laws against racial discrimination in Japan are doing what they do best — bigotry. While I’m aware that in a time of pandemic it’s nice to have more uplifting articles, this blog has been designed to catalog life and human rights issues in Japan. Let’s keep at it, showing how racists are portraying Covid-19 as a “foreign” virus, and making sure that foreigners don’t get the same public service or protections against it:

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

Local government in Japan excludes Chosen Gakko from public mask distribution
By Cho Ki-weon, Tokyo correspondent, Hankyoreh (Korean Independent Newspaper)
Posted on Mar. 12, 2020
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_international/932345.html

PHOTO: Korean-Japanese and Japanese citizens protest the Japanese government’s decision to exclude Chosen Gakko schools from its complimentary children’s education policy in November 2019. (Hankyoreh archives)

A decision by a local government in Japan not to include Chosen Gakko (Korean school) kindergartners in its distribution of masks for novel coronavirus prevention has sparked protests from affected communities.

According to a Mar. 11 report in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) newspaper Choson Sinbo, the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture excluded Saitama Korean Kindergarten and private academies from its plans to distribute 240,000 of the city’s stockpile of masks to employees working in daycare centers, kindergarten, after-school academies, and senior citizen facilities in Saitama. Upon learning of this, the principal of Saitama Korean Kindergarten inquired with the city on Mar. 10 and was told by a city official that the Korean kindergarten “is not considered a facility under Saitama city guidance and oversight, and instruction cannot be provided in cases where the masks are used inappropriately,” the newspaper reported. Representatives of the Korean kindergarten visited the city hall on Mar. 11 to protest, describing the measure as an “unforgivable action” that “cannot be ignored in human rights or humanitarian terms,” the newspaper said.

Difficulties in acquiring masks have become an issue in Japan due to the effects of the novel coronavirus outbreak. The Japanese government is currently planning to purchase 20 million masks in bulk for distribution to senior citizen facilities and daycare centers.

Kyodo News also reported a Saitama city employee as suggesting that masks might be “sold off” if provided to Korean kindergartens. A city official apologized for the remarks to the principal on Mar. 11, calling them “inappropriate,” the agency reported. It also reported a Saitama city official as expressing that the mask distribution targets may be reconsidered.
ENDS

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

さいたま市 マスク配布、朝鮮学校幼稚部を除外 「転売されるかも」職員発言に市幹部謝罪
毎日新聞2020年3月11日
https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200311/k00/00m/040/328000c

さいたま市役所で、マスクの平等な配布を求める埼玉朝鮮初中級学校幼稚部の朴洋子園長(右手前)ら=11日午後
新型コロナウイルスの感染防止策として幼稚園や保育園に備蓄マスクを配布しているさいたま市が、埼玉朝鮮初中級学校の幼稚部(同市大宮区、園児41人)を配布対象から外していたことが11日、関係者への取材で分かった。幼稚部の関係者らが同日、市に平等に配布するよう抗議し、市幹部が配布対象を再考すると表明した。

市職員が幼稚部に配布しないと10日説明した際に、配ったマスクが「転売されるかもしれない」との趣旨の発言をしたことも分かり…
Rest behind paywall at https://mainichi.jp/articles/20200311/k00/00m/040/328000c

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

朝鮮学校の幼稚園、マスク配布対象外に さいたま市
新型肺炎・コロナウイルス 高絢実
朝日新聞 2020年3月11日 23時36分
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASN3C7RH3N3CUTNB00C.html

さいたま市が幼稚園や保育所などの職員らにマスクを配布する中で、埼玉朝鮮初中級学校の幼稚部(同市大宮区)が対象外となっている。11日、学校関係者や保護者ら約20人が市役所を訪れ、配布の対象とするよう求めた。

市は9日から、子どもを預かっている公立・民間施設の職員用にマスク約9万3千枚の配布を開始。幼稚部の朴洋子(パクヤンジャ)園長(61)は翌10日に報道で配布を知り、市に問い合わせた。朴園長によると、市から「(朝鮮学校が分類される)各種学校は市の管轄ではないため、配布したマスクがどう使われるかを監査できない」という旨の説明を受けたという。

学校は2日から休校。幼稚部は通常通りだが、心配な場合は休むことを認めており、全園児41人中、37人が通園しているという。通園バスの運転手を含めて、職員は7人。朴園長は「正直びっくり。こういう非常事態でウイルスを広めないために配っているのに、除外ということがまかり通るのかと思う」と話した。

市は朝日新聞の取材に「備蓄しているマスクに限りがあるので、市が監査できる所管施設を対象にした」と話した。(高絢実)
ENDS

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

Tokyo Ramen Restaurant Won’t Allow Foreigners Because Of Coronavirus
By Brian Ashcraft, Kotaku.com, 2/20/20
https://kotaku.com/tokyo-ramen-restaurant-wont-allow-foreigners-because-of-1841805078/

Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, is only allowing Japanese customers due to COVID-19 concerns. The owner (pictured) claims that this is not discrimination but his duty to protect his family, his employees and his loyal customers.
The Owner of Ueno Sanji

There have been around 75,000 cases of people infected with coronavirus in China, followed by 104 in South Korea and another 87 in Japan. Internationally, coronavirus has led to incidents of anti-Asian discrimination and xenophobia. However, the same is also happening within Asia towards Chinese people:

At Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, an English language sign was posted reading, “Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!”

The above tweet reads: “Starting today, as a countermeasure to the coronavirus, [this restaurant] is Japanese only. I have a responsibility to protect my family, my staff and Sanji junkies. Please understand that this is not discrimination.”

On Twitter, people replied in Japanese that this was in fact discrimination and even hate speech. Others pointed out that viruses don’t pay attention to nationality.

Considering that Japan has the third most cases in the world of the virus, with Japanese nationals infected with coronavirus, Ueno Sanji’s proclamation seems especially odd.

Wrote one Twitter user in Japanese, “If you are really worried about the coronavirus, then you should refuse all customers.”

ENDS

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

They are not alone:
Courtesy https://twitter.com/345triangle/status/1238776189482754048


(Click on image to expand in your browser.  H/T to SM)

The Japanese sign below it reads:

“INFORMATION ABOUT POLICIES TAKEN AGAINST CORONAVIRUS

“Thank you very much for being a loyal patron of our establishment.

“At the moment the Coronavirus is also greatly infecting Japan.  As far as our establishment goes, our foremost thoughts are on everyone’s safety, so our staff is periodically cleaning and disinfecting everything.  

“Additional measures include (largely illegible to these 55-year-old eyes, but nothing mentioning foreigners; anyone with sharper vision than mine is welcome to translate).  Please understand in advance that in rare circumstances there will be a bit of a smell, but this will have no physical effect on you.

“Finally, we shall make every effort to prevent the spread of infection, so we would appreciate your understanding and cooperation.”

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

COMMENT:  In other words, to this restaurant this is a “foreign virus” that warrants careful cleanliness for the sake of Japanese customers but outright exclusion for foreigners, including foreign residents who pose the same risk factors as any Japanese who hasn’t traveled abroad (and not including Japanese who have).

I contacted the person who tweeted these pictures, Sam Byford, a week ago for more information about the location of these signs, but no response.  It might be in Kichijouji, so keep an eye out.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

======================
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My SNA Visible Minorities Col 4: “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, Nov 18, 2019 (full text)

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Hi Blog.  My latest Shingetsu News Agency column is a variation on the Gaijin Blame Game that goes on in Japan whenever Japanese authorities want to tighten their control over society further.  Here’s the full text:

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

Visible Minorities: The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween
Column 4, Shingetsu News Agency, Nov 18, 2019, by Debito Arudou
http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/11/18/visible-minorities-the-xeno-scapegoating-of-japanese-halloween/

SNA (Tokyo) — “Madness.” “Mayhem.” “Chaos unfolded.” “Anarchic behavior.” “Police try to subdue massive crowds running amok.”

That was how one single article in the Japan Times depicted the big party at Shibuya Crossing last Halloween Night. Other media echoed similarly riotous language, noting the heavy police presence and suspended alcohol sales. Sheer anarchy!

Reading all that, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.

Why the alarmist attitude towards Halloween? We don’t see it for the revelry at, say, Japanese sporting events, where Hanshin Tigers fans take over Shinkansens and leap into Osaka rivers; or for annual Seijinshiki Coming of Age Days, where binge drinking and youthful hijinks disrupt boring official ceremonies; or any time of the year in entertainment districts nationwide, with public urination, people passed out on sidewalks or subways, and drunk chinpira picking fights.

Why not? Because those things are normalized. After all, it’s often hard for adults in Japan to have fun without alcohol, and excesses are tolerated as anzen-ben, a “safety valve” for letting off steam given the stresses of life.

Why isn’t Halloween treated the same? Some might say that the difference is crowd size and mob rule. After all, last year the Shibuya Halloween crowd overturned a light truck, and a handful of people, all Japanese, were arrested for disorderly conduct this year.

But this column argues the real reason for all the police and media-manufactured alarmism is a matter of xeno-convenience: Halloween is seen as something foreign.

Even though Halloween isn’t celebrated in all other societies, officials frame it like it’s a foreigner magnet. A Shibuya representative reportedly claimed that foreign tourists travel to Japan especially for Shibuya Halloween, pointing out that “the people who gather are mostly from outside the ward” (as are, ahem, most people who venture to Shibuya Crossing every day). Yet most people who came to party at Shibuya Crossing were Japanese.

Halloween as an adult event in Japan is relatively new. During the 1990s, after a group of American revelers made an annual tradition of partying on the Yamanote Line, the tipping point came when Tokyo Disneyland held its first successful Halloween event in 2000. It’s since grown to the point where even Japan Rail Pass.com advertises (in English) BYOB Halloween street events in Roppongi Hills and Shibuya, and organized train parties you can sign up for.

Regardless, wherever foreigners go, Japan’s xenophobes follow, and they have decried Halloween as a corrupting influence for at least a decade. In 2009, the Yamanote foreign drinkfest got taken up by 2chan online trolls, who came out in force at train stations to shout abuse at anyone in costume. They, and flag-waving ultrarightists flanked by multitudes of cops deployed to keep order, wound up disrupting things far more than any foreign partiers.

Indicatively, the xenophobes bore signs like “Motherf*ck-foreigners” to “Go to Hell!” because “This is not a white country!” and “We Japanese don’t need Halloween.”

Au contraire, I say. If anything, Halloween has been culturally appropriated by Japan. Like a meal being an excuse for Italy to make pasta or for South Korea to eat garlic, Halloween is an excuse for Japanese to indulge their fantasies and dress up in costume. Japan gave the world the word “cosplay,” remember.

The Japanese police and media portraying Halloween as an opportunity for foreigners to swarm and disturb the wa isn’t supported sociologically or statistically.

What’s in fact going on is simple: Japan’s control-freak authorities don’t trust a crowd. To them, there’s a feeling of unpredictability and a frisson of revolt. However, you can’t easily stop Japanese having their anzen-ben, even in large numbers, and even if they decide to dress up and drink on the street or train. However, Halloween means you can: Just blame the event on foreigners and, hey, presto! alcohol bans passed and police budgets justified. In the end, it’s merely a convenient ruse to spoil everyone’s fun.

Advice for next year: Sure, control the crowds, litter, and disruption. Keep the peace. But don’t bring foreigners into it. Don’t mask Japan’s primal urges with foreign scapegoats.

ENDS

======================
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Japan Times JBC 116: “‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice” (on how Trump’s alienation of critics of color is standard procedure in Japan), July 24, 2019

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Hi Blog. My latest Japan Times column, talking about how Trump’s recent use of a racist trope, denying people of color the right to belong in a society simply because they disagree with the dominant majority’s ideology, is taking a page from Japanese society’s standard tactics of forcing NJ and Visible Minorities to “love Japan or go home”. Excerpt follows below. Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
justbecauseicon.jpg
‘Love it or leave it’ is not a real choice
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, THE JAPAN TIMES, JUL 24, 2019

Roiling American politics last week was a retort by President Donald Trump toward congresswomen of color critical of his policies.

First he questioned their standing (as lawmakers) to tell Americans how to run the government. Then he said they should “go back” to the places they came from and fix them first.

For good measure, he later tweeted, “If you are not happy here, you can leave!

The backlash was forceful. CNN, NPR, The New York Times, Washington Post and other media called it “racist.” Others called it “un-American,” pointing out that telling people to go back to other countries might violate federal antidiscrimination laws.

The Atlantic was even apocalyptic, arguing that “what Americans do now (in response) will define us forever” as the world’s last great bastion of multiracial democracy.

Why is this an issue for this column? Because it’s hard to imagine a similar backlash happening in Japan, even though this kind of alienation happens here often. [In fact, in Japan it’s old hat…]

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/07/24/issues/love-leave-not-real-choice/

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

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US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

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Hi Blog.  Every year, the US State Department issues its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.  As highlighted by the Shingetsu News Agency, the 2018 Report on Japan came out last March.  Now while it’s quite rich for the US to be reporting on other countries (but not, notably, itself) while it has an ongoing human-rights debacle for detained foreign entrants and asylum seekers (and their children) around its southern border, this Report has been cited over the years as authoritative (and it has also included the work of Debito.org and others).

So here are the highlights on issues pertaining to Debito.org.  As you can see, a lot of information is glossed over.  Read the Report on Japan in its entirety here.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Japan

MARCH 13, 2019

Courtesy https://www.state.gov/reports/2018-country-reports-on-human-rights-practices/japan/

Highlights:

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person

Prison and Detention Center Conditions:
Prison management regulations stipulate that independent committees inspect prisons and detention centers operated by the Ministry of Justice and detention facilities operated by police. Authorities permitted the committees, which include physicians, lawyers, local municipal officials, and local citizens, to interview detainees without the presence of prison officers.

By law third-party inspection committees also inspected immigration detention facilities, and their recommendations generally received serious consideration.

Domestic and international NGOs and international organizations continued to note that this process failed to meet international prison inspection standards. As evidence, they cited the Justice Ministry’s control of all logistical support for the inspection committees, the use of ministry interpreters during interviews with detainees, and a lack of transparency about the composition of the committees.

[More on what’s been glossed over about detention centers etc. here.]

D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION

The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention. Civil society organizations reported on ethnic profiling and surveillance of foreign Muslims by the police, according to the August report by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS

The National Public Safety Commission, a cabinet-level entity, oversees the National Police Agency (NPA), and prefectural public safety commissions have responsibility for local police forces. The government had effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. Some NGOs criticized local public safety commissions for lacking independence from or sufficient authority over police agencies. […]

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations continued to allege that suspects confessed under duress, mainly during unrecorded interrogations, calling for recording entire interrogations for all cases. Prosecutors’ offices and police increasingly recorded entire interrogations for heinous criminal cases, cases involving suspects with intellectual or mental disabilities, and other cases on a trial basis; however, recording was not mandatory, and there was no independent oversight of this practice.

Police inspection offices imposed disciplinary actions against some violators of interrogation guidelines, although the NPA did not release related statistics. […]

[More on what’s been glossed over about police interrogation tactics here.]

ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Pretrial Detention
Because judges customarily granted prosecutors’ requests for extensions, pretrial detention, known as daiyou kangoku (substitute prison), usually continued for 23 days. NGOs reported the practice of detaining suspects in daiyou kangoku continued. NGOs and foreign observers continued to report that access to persons other than their attorneys and, in the case of foreign arrestees, consular personnel, was denied to some persons in daiyou kangoku. Nearly all persons detained during the year were held in daiyou kangoku. Beyond daiyou kangoku, extended pretrial detention of foreign detainees was a problem; examples included one person held more than 27 months (as of September) and several held for more than a year without trial. In these cases, prosecutors changed multiple times, trial dates were rescheduled and delayed, and prosecutors continued to request “additional time” to investigate matters that, according to the defendant’s counsel, did not warrant the trial’s further delay or additional preparatory pretrial meetings, which are common for jury system cases. […]

Each charged individual has the right to a trial without undue delay (although foreign observers noted trials may be delayed indefinitely for mentally ill prisoners, and extended pretrial detention of foreign detainees was a problem); to access to defense counsel, including an attorney provided at public expense if indigent; and, to cross-examine witnesses. There is a lay-judge (jury) system for serious criminal cases, and defendants may not be compelled to testify against themselves. Authorities provided free interpretation services to foreign defendants in criminal cases. Foreign defendants in civil cases must pay for interpretation, although a judge may order the plaintiff to pay the charges in accordance with a court’s final decision.

[More on what’s been glossed over about police pretrial detention here.]

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
A. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS

Freedom of Expression:
According to media and NGO reports, incidents of hate speech against minorities and their defenders, in particular, on the internet, grew. The national law on hate speech applies only to discriminatory speech and behavior directed at those who are not of Japanese heritage and is limited to educating and raising public awareness among the general public against hate speech; it does not carry penalties. Prosecutors have instead used another law on libel to prosecute an extremist group for hate speech, as discussed below. Additionally, on the local-government level, Osaka City and Kyoto Prefecture, where nationalist groups have frequently staged public anti-Korea events near “Korea Town” neighborhoods, as well as Kawasaki City and Tokyo Prefecture, have passed their own ordinances or guidelines to regulate hate speech.

[More on hate speech laws and issues here.]

In April the Kyoto Prefectural Prosecutors’ Office indicted a former Zaitokukai (an ultranationalist organization) senior official, Hitoshi Nishimura, on libel charges for making derogatory online and public statements about the North Korea-affiliated Chosen School in Kyoto. Attorneys for the school’s owner welcomed the prosecutors’ decision to pursue a defamation charge under the Penal Code, which carries a heavier sentence than civil charges levied against other Zaitokukai members following similar incidents in 2009.

[More on the Zaitokukai and their antics here.]

D. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, PROTECTION OF REFUGEES, AND STATELESS PERSONS

Access to Asylum:
The law provides for granting asylum or refugee status, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. The Ministry of Justice introduced revised screening procedures for refugee applications on January 15 to promote granting refugee status to genuine applicants promptly while also curbing abuse of the application process. As a result, the number of approved applications from January through June, including the approval of two previously denied applications, exceeded the number of approvals granted during all of 2017. In 2017 there were 19,629 applications, 20 of which were approved (0.1 percent). From January through June 2018, the government received 5,586 applications, 22 of which were approved (0.4 percent).

Access to Basic Services:
Refugees continued to face the same discrimination patterns sometimes seen by other foreigners: reduced access to housing, education, and employment. Except for those who met right-to-work conditions, individuals whose refugee applications were pending or on appeal did not have the right to receive social welfare. This status rendered them completely dependent on overcrowded government shelters, illegal employment, or NGO assistance.

[More on issues facing Refugees in Japan here.]

Elections and Political Participation:
Participation of Women and Minorities:
Because some ethnic minority group members are of mixed heritage and did not self-identify, it was difficult to determine their numbers in the Diet, but a number were represented.

[Well, that’s short and under-researched.  Try here, here, and here, for a few more insights.]

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights

A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials were usually cooperative and responsive to their views.

Government Human Rights Bodies:
The Justice Ministry’s Human Rights Counseling Office had 311 offices across the country. Approximately 14,000 volunteers fielded questions in person, by telephone, or on the internet and provided confidential consultations. Counselling in any of six foreign languages was available in 50 offices. These consultative offices fielded queries, but they do not have authority to investigate human rights violations by individuals or public organizations, provide counsel, or mediate. Municipal governments had human rights offices that dealt with a range of human rights problems.

[That too is under-researched.  These “human rights offices” hardly “deal” with problems effectively at all.]

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

International Child Abductions:
The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.

[Seriously, that’s all they say.  Rubbish.]

National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities:
Minorities experienced varying degrees of societal discrimination.

Despite legal safeguards against discrimination, foreign permanent residents in the country and nonethnically Japanese citizens, including many who were born, raised, and educated in the country, were subjected to various forms of entrenched societal discrimination, including restricted access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities. Foreign nationals as well as “foreign looking” citizens reported they were prohibited entry, sometimes by signs reading “Japanese Only,” to privately owned facilities serving the public, including hotels and restaurants. Although such discrimination was usually open and direct, NGOs complained of government failure to enforce laws prohibiting such restrictions.

Representatives of the ethnic Korean community said hate speech against them in public and on social networking sites continued. Additionally, there was no indication of increased societal acceptance of ethnic Koreans. Although authorities approved most naturalization applications, advocacy groups continued to complain about excessive bureaucratic hurdles that complicated the naturalization process and a lack of transparent criteria for approval. Ethnic Koreans who chose not to naturalize faced difficulties in terms of civil and political rights and regularly encountered discrimination in job promotions as well as access to housing, education, and other benefits.

Senior government officials publicly repudiated the harassment of ethnic groups as inciting discrimination and reaffirmed the protection of individual rights for everyone in the country.

[These reporters owe it to themselves to read book “Embedded Racism“.  It’s not just “societal discrimination” when racialized discrimination is embedded in the very writing of the laws.  Start here at Chapter 4.]

Section 7. Worker Rights

B. PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR

The law prohibits all forms of forced or compulsory labor.

Violations persisted and enforcement was lacking in some segments of the labor market, for example, in sectors where foreign workers were employed; however, in general the government effectively enforced the law. Legal penalties for forced labor varied depending on its form, the victim(s), and the law that prosecutors used to prosecute such offenses. Not all forms of forced or compulsory labor were clearly defined by law, nor did they all carry penalties sufficient to deter violations. For example, the law criminalizes forced labor and prescribes penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment, but it also allows for fines in lieu of incarceration. NGOs argued that reliance on multiple and overlapping statutes hindered the government’s ability to identify and prosecute trafficking crimes, especially for cases involving forced labor with elements of psychological coercion.

Reports of forced labor continued in the manufacturing, construction, and shipbuilding sectors, largely in small- and medium-size enterprises employing foreign nationals through the Technical Intern Training Program (TITP). This program allows foreign workers to enter the country and work for up to five years in a de facto guest worker program that many observers assessed to be rife with vulnerabilities to trafficking and other labor abuses.

Workers in these jobs experienced restrictions on freedom of movement and communication with persons outside the program, nonpayment of wages, excessive working hours, high debts to brokers in countries of origin, and retention of identity documents. For example, women from Cambodia and China recounted long hours, poor living conditions, restricted freedom of movement, and nonpayment of wages while they were working in a Gifu textile factory. Workers were also sometimes subjected to “forced savings” that they forfeited by leaving early or being forcibly repatriated. For example, some technical interns reportedly paid up to one million yen ($8,900) in their home countries for jobs and were reportedly employed under contracts that mandated forfeiture of those funds to agents in their home country if workers attempted to leave, both of which are illegal under the TITP. In 2017 the government established an oversight body, the Organization for Technical Intern Training (OTIT), which conducted on-site inspections of TITP workplaces. There is concern that the OTIT is understaffed, insufficiently accessible to persons who do not speak Japanese, and ineffective at prosecuting labor abuse cases.

Workers who entered the country illegally or who overstayed their visas were particularly vulnerable. NGOs maintained government oversight was insufficient.

Despite the prevalence of forced labor within the TITP, no case has ever led to a labor trafficking prosecution.

On December 8, the country enacted legislation that creates new categories of working visas to bring in more skilled and blue-collar workers and upgrades the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau to an agency that will oversee companies that accept foreign workers. NGOs expressed concern that the new law does not adequately safeguard against the potential for continued labor abuses, such as those that have been present in the TITP.

[…] Reports of employers forcing pregnant women to leave their jobs continued, although there are no recent data on this problem. In December media reported the case of a Vietnamese technical trainee who was told to have an abortion or quit her job.

[More on the issues involving “Trainees” etc. here.]

E. ACCEPTABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK

The minimum wage ranged from 737 to 958 yen ($6.50 to $8.50) per hour, depending on the prefecture. The poverty line was 1.22 million yen ($10,900) per year. […] Nonregular workers (which include part-time workers, fixed-term contract workers, and dispatch workers) made up approximately 37 percent of the labor force in 2017. […]

Reports of abuses in the TITP were common, including injuries due to unsafe equipment and insufficient training, nonpayment of wages and overtime compensation, excessive and often spurious salary deductions, forced repatriation, and substandard living conditions (also see section 7.b.). In addition, observers alleged that a conflict of interest existed, since the inspectors who oversee the TITP working conditions were employed by two ministries that are members of the interagency group administering the TITP. Some inspectors appeared reluctant to conduct investigations that could cast a negative light on a government program that business owners favored.

There were also reports of informal employment of foreign asylum seekers on provisional release from detention who did not have work permits. Such workers were vulnerable to mistreatment and did not have access to standard labor protections or oversight.

EXCERPT ENDS

========================
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Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

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Hi Blog.  Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ.

Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID.  But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep.  Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on Debito.org for well over a decade now:  Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set.   So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.

NB:  There’s also a meaner attitude at work:  Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980‘s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again.  I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”.  And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue!  (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!)  Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign.  It’s official policy.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

病院で「なりすまし防止」外国人に身分証要求へ
2018/11/18(日)  読売新聞, Courtesy of SendaiBen and MJ
https://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20181118-00050002-yom-pol

(写真:読売新聞)

政府は外国人が日本の医療機関で受診する際、在留カードなど顔写真付き身分証の提示を求める方針を固めた。来年4月開始を目指す外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大で、健康保険証を悪用した「なりすまし受診」が懸念されるためだ。外国人差別につながらないよう、日本人にも運転免許証などの提示を求める方向だ。

来年度にも運用を始める。厚生労働省が在留外国人への周知徹底を図るとともに、身分証の提示要請を各医療機関に促す。

国民皆保険制度を採用する日本では、在留外国人も何らかの公的医療保険に原則として加入することが求められる。保険証を提示すれば、日本人か外国人かを問わず、原則3割の自己負担で受診できる。ただ、保険証には顔写真がついていない。「別人かもしれないと思っても『本人だ』と主張されると、病院側は反論が難しい」(厚労省幹部)という。

自民党の「在留外国人に係る医療ワーキンググループ」が医療関係者や自治体から行ったヒアリングでは、なりすまし受診の実例が報告された。神戸市では不法滞在のベトナム人女性が2014年、日本在住の妹の保険証を悪用してエイズウイルス(HIV)の治療を受けていた。他人の保険証で医療費の自己負担軽減を受けることは、違法行為に当たる可能性がある。

ends

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

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Debito’s first article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019) (FULL TEXT)

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Hi Blog.  A couple of days ago I commented on an article in the Japan Times by a former Ministry of Foreign Affairs diplomat and TV pundit Miyake Kunihiko (or “Kuni”, for gaijin ingratiation) who has a weekly JT space for his musings.  A pedigreed elite trained in international “Gaijin Handling”, Miyake clumsily talks about Japan’s race relations and multiethnic future by critiquing tennis champ Osaka Naomi’s “Japaneseness”.

My JT comment helped draw readers to the article, and I’ve just written my first feature piece for the Shingetsu News Agency (the only independent English-language media left in Japan not toeing a Japanese government line) about what Miyake’s article indicates in terms of the decline in the JT’s analytical abilities, as it swings rightward to knuckle under to revisionist pressure on Japanese media and curry favor with Japan’s elites.  It also cites other research from Reuters and the Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus).  Full text follows for the record.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite
By Debito Arudou

Shingetsu News Agency, February 2, 2019

Courtesy http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2019/02/02/the-japan-times-becomes-servant-to-the-elite/ (full text reproduced with permission)

SNA (Honolulu) — On January 28, the Japan Times published an opinion piece titled, “How Japanese is Naomi Osaka?” Author Kunihiko Miyake “felt something odd” about how the multiethnic tennis champ could ever “represent Japan.” Miyake’s article is indicative of how the quality of analysis has slipped under the Japan Times’ new ownership, and suggests how the purposes of the organization have changed…

To start with Miyake and his most recent article, he questions just how “Japanese” Naomi Osaka is: “Yes, she is [the first Japanese to be ranked World No. 1 in tennis]. But not quite so, is she?” He goes on to pick over her Haitian-American-Japanese background, noting that she “calls America home” and plays for Japan because of “more financial support.”

His insinuation is that foreigners such as Osaka are motivated to come to Japan for the money, not because they actually like the place and want to contribute.

Miyake’s column then veers off topic to snipe at “stereotypical comments on Osaka’s victory” made by “expat pundits living in Japan” who “criticize xenophobia and discrimination in Japanese society.” He is suffused with righteous indignation after his own not-entirely-logical detour.

He concludes that discrimination and xenophobia are “quite common everywhere.” He asks: What about discrimination in the Middle East, Europe, and even the United States? The “whataboutism” is indeed strong in this one, as well as the “foreigners can’t criticize Japan” sentiment.

Miyake then declares that “Japan is learning lessons as well,” noting how it is becoming a multiracial and multicultural society—to the point where sometimes “Japanese nationals are minorities.” But he still can’t help adding that tinge of fear of being outnumbered.

Miyake’s heart does seem to be in the right place when he opines that foreigners and biracial Japanese “are not rare anymore” and that Japan will have to learn “how to get along well with foreign newcomers.” But again, he’s implying, even after generations of international marriages and children born here, that Japan’s multiculturality and multiethnicity is a recent development.

The only thing that is new is the fact that one of Japan’s multiethnic citizens has become a world champion. So now it matters.

Miyake returns to Naomi Osaka to graciously pronounce her as “very Japanese,” citing her behavior, such as having the “Japanese characteristics” of “modesty, politeness, honesty, and humility.” (Never mind that her opponent in the champion match, Petra Kvitova, was similarly polite and gracious in defeat. Does it logically follow that Kvitova and anyone else who is polite must be Japanese as well?)

Miyake makes a good point towards the end, where he rightly asserts that, “It’s time for Japan to allow dual citizenship.”

His reasoning, however, is askew. It’s not because dual passports would save Naomi Osaka (and thousands of other multiethnic Japanese children) the emotional pain of sacrificing part of their identity to fit into an artificial binary, but rather because “Japan will lose one of their greatest tennis players.” In other words, it’s for the good of the nation, the kokutai, through which Japanese can feel communal superiority.

The Broader Picture of Japan Times Changes

This half-baked column is indicative of something much larger—a decline in analytical prowess due to the editorial changes at the Japan Times in recent years.

The Japan Times came under new ownership in June 2017 by the media group News2u Holdings, a PR company. In an unexpected editorial shift, last November the Japan Times announced that it would henceforth be rewording the “potentially misleading” (and internationally-recognized) terms “Comfort Women”—which is already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu—as “women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers.” Likewise, the term “forced laborers” would now be rendered merely as “wartime laborers,” following the new government policy.

Aside from journalistic concerns about cramming a wordy term into concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media observers to understand this as a response to government pressure, already manifest in Japanese media and world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light.

Reuters has since reported that the executive editor of the Japan Times, Hiroyasu Mizuno, was recorded at a meeting with staff as saying, “I want to get rid of criticism that Japan Times is anti-Japanese.” Another executive added that this would increase advertising revenues from Japanese companies and institutions.

Reuters added that the Japan Times “had already increased government ad sales and scored an exclusive interview with [Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe after dropping a column by Jeff Kingston, director of Asia studies at Temple University Japan, who had been writing weekly on what he saw as the Abe administration’s historical revisionism.”

Symbolizing this shift, Shingetsu News Agency last December drew attention to a photo of News2u Publisher and Chair Minako Kambara Suematsu literally cozying up to Prime Minister Abe at a public event.

Reuters concluded by pointing out a remarkable coincidence: Late last year, the ultraconservative think tank Japan Institute for National Fundamentals zeroed in on the Japan Times, demanding they refer to plaintiffs in a controversial Korean court ruling on the Comfort Women as “wartime Korean workers,” thereby leaving out the nuance of forced labor or sexual slavery. Two weeks later, the Japan Times changed its wording.

The academic venue Asia-Pacific Journal (Japan Focus) has also published a detailed article by David McNeill and Justin McCurry depicting internal tensions within the Japan Times, with petitions for change, staff being yanked from their beat, editorial refusals to cover certain news stories, and connections to far-right groups decrying the “poor quality of Japan’s English-language media, the gateway through which foreign nationals access information about the country.”

Fear and Favor

In sum, the Japan Times is clearly bowing to the years of pressure from the Abe administration, the longest-lasting and furthest-right political administration in Japan’s postwar era. As a media outlet, the Japan Times has long been seen as means of “communicating Japan to the world” (i.e. not a forum for discussion about Japan’s domestic problems), and those in charge want that message to be favorable.

I myself have been a contributing writer for the Japan Times since 2002, writing as the “Just Be Cause” column since 2008. My specialty is human rights issues towards non-Japanese residents. In other words, I cover domestic problems.

Since 2017 and the arrival of the new team, I have felt a palpable editorial chill come over my submissions, and my column went from a monthly to a “pitch-an-idea-for-us-to-approve” status. Now I’m lucky if I get an article published every few months.

In fairness, the Japan Times did recently publish my annual top ten list of human rights issues, where I put the Japan Times editorial issues as the #3 concern of 2018, but clearly my writing used to be published at this newspaper in a much more hard-hitting fashion.

For example, my column of July 6, 2015, noted how the Fujisankei Communications Group acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out non-Japanese misbehavior, yet muted in its criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (eventually relaunched as The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties.

The chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, even went so far as to state publicly in 2016 that his network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” on them—meaning that NHK is willfully acting as a government mouthpiece.

Back then, I had concluded that the Japan Times is “the only sustainable venue left” with investigative non-Japanese and independently-thinking Japanese writers who are “bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.” I’m not confident anymore that this remains the case.

So how does one become a regular Japan Times columnist nowadays? Let’s check back in with Kunihiko Miyake.

Since April 16, 2018, Miyake’s musings have been appearing weekly. No doubt his solid pedigree got his foot in the door. A prominent television pundit, Miyake’s tagline indicates he is “President of the Foreign Policy Institute and Researcher at the Canon Institute for Global Studies.” He is also a former diplomat at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a Tokyo University Law graduate.

This fulfills the Japan Times’ apparent need at the current juncture to cozy up to Japan’s elites.

The downside is that Miyake’s column is evidence of the blindness of Japan’s brahmins. He is essentially a person trained in international “gaijin handling” trying to make insightful comments on Japan’s current race relations and multiethnic future. Bring back Jeff Kingston!

The Japan Times is clearly trading quality journalistic insight for elite access, privilege, and funding. By hewing to a government-approved line, its quality as a news and analytical source will therefore continue to decline.

ENDS

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

As Michael Penn at SNA notes, “I’m pleased to note that Debito Arudou has contributed his first article to the Shingetsu News Agency. Aside from being a strong article, it’s another step toward getting a wider range of writers taking advantage of our progressive news media platform.”  Other writers and investigators, please feel free to pitch something to SNA as well.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

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Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

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Hi Blog.  Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

A TOP TEN FOR 2018
By Debito Arudou, Japan Times Just Be Cause Column 114
To be published January 3, 2019
DRAFT SIX: VERSION WITH LINKS TO SOURCES INCLUDED

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. Ranked in ascending order, these issues are bellwethers for how NJ in Japan may be treated in 2019 and beyond:

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

10) Fourth-Generation Japanese Brazilians snub new visa program

Last March, the Justice Ministry announced a new diaspora visa regime to attract back children of Brazilian-Japanese who had previously worked in Japan. The latter had been brought in from 1990 under a former preferential “Returnee Visa” regime, which essentially granted a form of permanent residency to NJ with Japanese bloodlines.

The Returnee program was so successful that by 2007, Brazilians had swelled to more than 300,000 residents, the third-largest NJ minority in Japan. Unfortunately, there was a big economic downturn in 2008. As Returnees lost their jobs, the government declined to assist them, even bribing them to “go home” (JBC Apr 7, 2009) and forfeit their visa, unemployment insurance, pensions, and other investments in Japan over a generation. They left in droves.

Fast forward ten years, and an unabashed government (facing a labor shortage exacerbated by the 2020 Olympics) now offers this reboot: Fourth-gen Nikkei, with sufficient Japanese language abilities, plus a secure job offer and family support already in Japan, can stay up to five years.

They expected a quota of 4000 workers would soon be filled. Except for one problem: This time they stayed away in droves. By the end of October, three months into the program, the Nikkei Shimbun reported there were exactly zero applicants.

So much for bloodlines. The word is out and the jig is up.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/03/30/national/preferential-visa-system-extended-foreign-fourth-generation-japanese/
Nikkei: https://www.debito.org/?p=15191
JBC Apr 7 2009 https://www.debito.org/?p=2930

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

9) Naomi Osaka’s victory at US Open Tennis.

Speaking of bloodlines, JBC wrote about American-Haitian-Japanese Naomi Osaka’s win last year (“Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing for Japan can seriously shorten your career,” Sep. 19) as a cautionary tale for anyone representing this country as an international athlete. However, as far as the Top Ten goes, her victory matters because it inspires discussion on a fundamental question: “What is a Japanese?”

Japanese society relentlessly polices a narrative of purity of identity. That means that some Japanese citizens, despite spending their lives in Japan, often get shunted to the “half” category if they don’t “look Japanese,” or relegated to “returnee children” status because their dispositions don’t “fit in” with the putative norm due to living overseas. Uniformity is a virtue and a requirement for equal treatment here. The “nail sticking up” and all that, you know.

Yet what happens to Japanese citizens who spend most of their life overseas, even take foreign citizenships, and publicly grumble about how they wouldn’t have been successful if they’d remained in Japan (as some Nobel laureates with Japanese roots have)? They’d get hammered down, right?

Not if they win big internationally. Suddenly, they’re “Japanese” with few or any asterisks. It’s a common phenomenon in racialized societies: “They’ll claim us if we’re famous.”

Naomi Osaka won big. May she continue to do so. But let’s see if she can follow in the footsteps of other diverse Japanese chosen to represent Japan, such as former Miss Japan beauty queens Ariana Miyamoto and Priyanka Yoshikawa (who as “halfs” also spoke out against racial discrimination in Japan; alas, their impact was minimized because they didn’t win big internationally).

In any case, the more successful diverse Japanese who can highlight the fallacies of Japan’s pure-blood narrative, the better.

Sources: https://www.debito.org/?p=15160
https://www.debito.org/?p=15156
https://www.debito.org/?p=15145

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

8) Zainichi Korean wins hate speech lawsuit on grounds of “racial discrimination”.

The wheels of justice turn slowly in Japan, but sometimes in the right direction. Ms. Lee Sin Hae, a “Zainichi Special Permanent Resident” generational foreigner, was frequently defamed in public hate rallies by Zaitokukai, an anti-Korean hate group. She sued them in 2014 for hate speech, racial discrimination, and gender discrimination. She won in the District Court in 2016, the High Court in 2017, and shortly afterwards in the Supreme Court when they declined to review the case.

Ms. Lee’s case stands as yet another example of how Japan’s new hate speech laws have legally-actionable consequences. Others similarly defamed can now cite Lee’s precedent and (mildly) punish offenders. It’s also another case of discrimination against Japan’s minorities being classified as “racial,” not “ethnic” etc.

This matters because Japan is the only major developed country without a national law criminalizing racial discrimination. And it has officially argued to the United Nations that racism doesn’t happen enough here to justify having one. Lee’s case defies that lie.

Sources: https://www.debito.org/?p=14973 “Officially argued”: https://www.debito.org/japanvsun.html (For context, do a word search for the following paragraph: “We do not recognize that the present situation of Japan is one in which discriminative acts cannot be effectively restrained by the existing legal system and in which explicit racial discriminative acts, which cannot be restrained by measures other than legislation, are conducted. Therefore, penalization of these acts is not considered necessary.”)

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

7) Setagaya-ku passes Anti-Discrimination Ordinance specifically against racial discrimination etc.

On that note, movements at the local level against racial discrimination are afoot. Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, one of Japan’s first municipalities to recognize same-sex marriages, passed an ordinance last March that will protect (after a fashion) racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities from discrimination and hate speech.

I say “after a fashion” because it, as usual, has no punishments for offenders. The best it can do is investigate claims from aggrieved residents, inform the mayor, and offer official evidence for future lawsuits.

But it’s a positive step because 1) we’ve had city governments (such as Tsukuba in 2010, home of a major international university) go in exactly the opposite direction, passing alarmist resolutions against suffrage for NJ permanent residents; and 2) we had a prefectural government (Tottori) pass an anti-discrimination ordinance in 2005, only to have it unpass it mere weeks later due to bigoted backlash.

That didn’t happen this time in Setagaya-ku. The ordinance stands. Baby steps in the right direction.

Sources: http://www.kanaloco.jp/article/314740
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/static/oshirase20170920/pdf/p02.pdf
http://www.city.setagaya.lg.jp/kurashi/101/167/321/d00158583_d/fil/tekisuto2.txt
https://www.debito.org/?p=14902
Tottori: https://www.debito.org/japantimes050206.html
Tsukuba: https://www.debito.org/?p=8459

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

6) Immigration Bureau to be upgraded into Immigration Agency.

Last August, the government said that to deal with the record influx of foreign tourists and workers (more below), more manpower would be needed to administrate them. So as of April this year, the Nyukyoku Kanri Kyoku (“Country-Entrant Management Bureau”) is scheduled to become the Nyukoku Zairyu Kanri Cho (“Country-Entering Residency Management Agency”), with an extra 500 staff and an expanded budget.

Critics may (rightly) deride this move as merely a measure to tighten control over NJ, as the “Immigration Bureau” was a mistranslation in the first place. Japan has no official “immigration” policy to help newcomers become permanent residents or citizens, and the Bureau’s main role, as an extension of Japan’s law enforcement, has been to police NJ, not assist them. (After all, according to the Justice Ministry, 125 NJ workers have died under work-related conditions since 2010; where was the Bureau to prevent this?)

However, the fact remains that if Japan will ever get serious about its looming demographic disaster (where an aging society with record-low birthrates is shrinking its taxpaying workforce to the point of insolvency), it has to deal with the issue of importing workers to fill perpetual labor shortages. It has to come up with an immigration policy to make foreigners into permanent residents and citizens.

The only way that will happen is if the government establishes an organization to do so. An upgrade from a Bureau to an Agency is one step away from becoming an actual Ministry, separate from the mere policing mandate of the Justice Ministry.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/08/28/national/politics-diplomacy/japan-set-immigration-agency-cope-influx-blue-collar-ranks-abroad-new-status/
https://www.debito.org/?p=15129
Agency name change: https://www.sankei.com/politics/news/180828/plt1808280006-n1.html
125 NJ workers died: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/13/national/justice-ministry-reveals-174-foreign-technical-interns-japan-died-2010-2017/

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

5) Govt. to further centralize surveillance system of NJ.

Now, to acknowledge the naysayers, last year the government gave more power to the Justice Ministry to track NJ, in an effort to stop “visa overstayers” and keep an eye on tourists and temporary workers. This is on top of the other measures this decade, including the remotely-readable RFID-chipped Gaijin Card in 2012, proposing using NJ fingerprinting as currency in 2016 (in order to “enable the government to analyze the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists;” yeah, sure), and facial recognition devices specifically targeting “foreigners” at the border from 2014.

This is the negative side of inviting NJ to visit as tourists or stay awhile as workers: Japan’s police forces get antsy about a perceived lack of control, and get increased budgets to curtail civil liberties.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/18/national/counter-illegal-overstayers-government-plans-system-centrally-manage-information-foreign-residents/
RFID: https://www.debito.org/?p=10750
Fingerprinting: https://www.debito.org/?p=13926
Facial recognition: https://www.debito.org/?p=12306 and https://www.debito.org/?p=14539

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

On the positive side, however:

4) Tourism to Japan reaches record 30 million in 2018.

Admittedly, when the government launched its “Visit Japan” campaign in 2010, and cheerily projected a huge expansion of NJ tourism from single-digit millions to double- a decade ago, JBC was skeptical. Government surveys in 2008 indicated that 70% of hotels that had never had NJ guests didn’t want them anyway. And of the 400+ “Japanese Only” places I surveyed for my doctoral fieldwork, the vast majority were hotels—some even encouraged by government organs to refuse NJ entry (JBC, “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry,” Jul 6, 2010)!

Times change, and now NJ tourism (mostly from Asia, chiefly China, South Korea, and Taiwan) has become a major economic driver. Local and national business sectors once pessimistic about the future are flush with cash. And by the 2020 Olympics, the tourist influx is projected to skyrocket to 40 million.

Naturally, this much flux has occasioned grumbling and ill-considered quick-fixes. We’ve had media gripes about Chinese spending and littering habits, a “Chinese Only” hotel in Sapporo, separate “foreigner” taxi stands at JR Kyoto Station (enforced by busybodies disregarding NJ language abilities), and even a “Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station.

The worst fallout, however, is the new “Minpaku Law” passed last June. It adds bureaucratic layers to Airbnb home-sharing, and shores up the already stretched-thin hotel industry’s power over accommodation alternatives.

The government also resorted to coded xenophobia to promote the law. Citing “security” and “noise concerns,” Tokyo’s Chuo Ward indicated that letting “strangers” into apartments could be “unsafe.” Shibuya Ward only permitted Minpaku during school holidays, so “children won’t meet strangers” on the way to school. Not to be outdone, NHK Radio implied that ISIS terrorists might use home lodging as a base for terrorist attacks.

It’s one thing to be ungrateful for all the tourist money. It’s quite another to treat visitors as a threat after inviting them over. If not handled properly, the influx from the 2020 Olympics has the potential to empower Japan’s knee-jerk xenophobes even further.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/18/national/japan-marks-new-record-foreign-visitors-top-30-million-2018/
2008 hotel survey: https://www.debito.org/?p=12306
“Visit Japan” and “new economic driver” stats: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/08/25/reference/tourism-emerges-new-economic-driver-japan/
Exclusionary hotels encouraged by govt. organs: https://www.debito.org/?p=1941 and JBC https://www.debito.org/?p=7145
Tourism Stats: https://www.tourism.jp/en/tourism-database/stats/inbound/#annual
Grumbling about tourist manners: https://www.debito.org/?s=Chinese+tourist and https://www.debito.org/?p=2301
Chinese Only hotel: https://www.debito.org/?p=6864
Beppu: https://www.debito.org/?p=14954
Minpaku xenophobia and ISIS: https://www.debito.org/?p=15051

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

3) Japan Times changes wording on controversial historical terms and topics.

Previously, JBC (July 6, 2015) noted how the Fuji-Sankei acquisition of news outlet Japan Today had shifted the English-language media landscape rightward politically, with articles becoming more assiduous in pointing out NJ misbehavior, yet muted in their criticism of Japan.

This was after the English-language arms of Japan’s major newspapers, including the Daily Yomiuri (now The Japan News), the Daily Mainichi, and the Asahi Evening News, had relegated their foreign staff away from investigative journalism into mere translation duties. Not to mention the chair of NHK, Katsuto Momii, stated publicly in 2016 that his TV network would not report on contentious subjects until the government has “an official stance” (effectively making NHK a government mouthpiece).

These “contentious subjects” included portrayals of historical events, like NJ forced into labor for wartime Japanese companies, and “Comfort Women” forced sexual services under Japanese military occupation.

Back then, JBC concluded that the JT is “the only sustainable venue left with investigative NJ journalists, NJ editors and independently-thinking Japanese writers, bravely critiquing current government policy without fretting about patriotism or positively promoting Japan’s image abroad.”

But last November, the JT, under new ownership since 2017, came out with a new editorial stance.

Stating that “Comfort Women” (already a direct translation of the official euphemism of ianfu) was potentially misleading, because their experiences “in different areas throughout the course of the war varied widely,” the JT would henceforth “refer to ‘comfort women’ as ‘women who worked in wartime brothels, including those who did so against their will, to provide sex to Japanese soldiers’”. Likewise with the term “forced laborers,” which would now be rendered as “wartime laborers” because of varying recruiting patterns.

Aside from journalistic concerns about rendering these wordy terms in concise articles, it wasn’t hard for media pundits to portray this as a response to government pressure, already seen on Japanese media and overseas world history textbooks, to portray Japan’s past in a more exculpatory light. And with at least one government-critical columnist (Jeff Kingston) no longer writing for us, JBC now wonders if the JT remains the last one standing.

Sources: Govt. pressure on Japanese media: https://foreignpolicy.com/2016/05/27/the-silencing-of-japans-free-press-shinzo-abe-media/ and plenty more.
Govt. pressure on overseas history textbooks: https://www.debito.org/?s=history+textbook

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

2) Carlos Ghosn’s arrest.

The former CEO of Nissan and Mitsubishi motors (but remaining as CEO at Renault), Ghosn was arrested last November and indicted in December for inter alia allegedly underreporting his income for tax purposes. As of this writing, he remains in police custody for the 23-day cycles of interrogations and re-arrests, until he confesses to a crime.

This event has been well-reported elsewhere, so let’s focus on the JBC issues: Ghosn’s arrest shows how far you can fall if you’re foreign. Especially if you’re foreign.

One red flag was that the only two people arrested in this fiasco have been foreign: Ghosn and his associate, Greg Kelly. Kelly is now out on bail due to health concerns. But where are the others doing similar malfeasances? According to Reuters, Kobe Steel underreported income in 2008, 2011, and 2013, and committed data fraud for “nearly five decades.” Same with Toray and Ube Industries, Olympus, Takata, Mitsubishi Materials, Nissan, and Subaru.

Who’s been arrested? Nobody but those two foreigners.

And Japan’s judicial system has a separate track for NJ suspects, including harsher jurisprudence for NJs accused of crimes, lax jurisprudence for NJ victims of crimes, uneven language translation services, general denial of bail for NJ, an extra incarceration system for subsequent visa violations while in jail, and incarceration rates for NJs four times that for citizens. (See my book Embedded Racism, Ch. 6.)

Most indicative of separate and unequal treatment is that some of the accusations, which fall under a statute of limitations of seven years under the Companies Act, are still applicable. Prosecutors have argued that statutes do not apply to Ghosn because he spent time overseas. Apparently even the passage of time is different for foreigners, because the clock stops if they ever leave Japan!

It’s JBC’s view that this is a boardroom coup. The Wall Street Journal has reported that Ghosn was planning to oust a rival, Hiroto Saikawa, who has since taken Ghosn’s place as CEO. A similar thing happened to at Olympus in 2011, when CEO Michael Woodford broke ranks and came clean on boardroom grift. He was fired for not understanding “Japanese culture,” since that’s the easiest thing to pin on any foreigner.

But in Woodford’s case, he was fired, not arrested and subjected to Japan’s peculiar system of “hostage justice” police detention, where detainees are denied access to basic amenities (including sleep or lawyers) for weeks at a time, and interrogated until they crack and confess, with more than 99.9% conviction rates.

The good news is that finally overseas media is waking up to what Japan’s Federation of Bar Associations and the UN Committee Against Torture have respectively called “a breeding ground for false charges” and “tantamount to torture.” Funny thing is, if this had happened in China, we’d have had howls much sooner about the gross violations of Ghosn’s human rights.

Sources: Kelly health concerns: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/12/26/business/corporate-business/greg-kelly-close-aide-carlos-ghosn-denies-allegations-release-bail/
Kobe Steel Reuters: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-kobe-steel-scandal-ceo/kobe-steel-admits-data-fraud-went-on-nearly-five-decades-ceo-to-quit-idUSKBN1GH2SM
Ghosn planned to replace CEO Saikawa https://www.wsj.com/articles/carlos-ghosn-planned-to-replace-nissan-ceo-before-his-arrest-1544348502
Olympus and Takata other issues https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-06/carlos-ghosn-s-arrest-and-the-backlash-to-japan-nissan
Statute of limitations does not apply. “Japan’s Companies Act has a statute of limitations of seven years. Prosecutors argue this does not apply due to the amount of time Ghosn has spent outside the country.”
https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Nissan-s-Ghosn-crisis/Ghosn-rearrested-for-alleged-aggravated-breach-of-trust
Woodford Olympus: https://www.debito.org/?p=9576
World waking up: https://www.standard.co.uk/business/jim-armitage-carlos-ghosn-treatment-shines-harsh-light-on-justice-in-japan-a3998291.html
JFBA: https://www.nichibenren.or.jp/library/en/document/data/daiyo_kangoku.pdf
Tantamount to torture: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=2ahUKEwjW_7Pcp8XfAhV1GDQIHcSIDTEQFjAAegQICRAC&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdocstore.ohchr.org%2FSelfServices%2FFilesHandler.ashx%3Fenc%3D6QkG1d%252FPPRiCAqhKb7yhsmoIqL9rS46HZROnmdQS5bNEx%252FmMJfuTuMXK%252BwvAEjf9L%252FVjLz4qKQaJzXzwO5L9HgK1Q6dtH8fP8MDfu52LvR5McDW%252FSsgyo8lMOU8RgptX&usg=AOvVaw22H5dQMWcKYHizy8NNIuqY
Other irregularities noted in the JT by Glen Fukushima: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/12/20/commentary/japan-commentary/seven-questions-ghosn-nissan/

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

1) New immigration visa regime to expand nonskilled labor in Japan.

The event with the largest potential for impact on NJ residents in Japan would have to be the government’s passing of a new visa regime to officially allow unskilled workers (a departure from decades of policy) to make up for labor shortfalls in targeted industries, including nursing, food service, construction and maintenance, agriculture, and hotels.

It would allow people to stay for longer (up to five years), and even beyond that, if they qualify with secure job offers and language abilities, to the point of permanent residency. In theory, at least.

Disclaimers have been typical: Officials have denied that this is an “immigration policy,” sluicing off concerns that Japan will be overrun and undermined by hordes of NJ.

But this new visa regime matters because the government is clearly taking the inevitable measures to shore up its labor force against the abovementioned demographic crisis. To the tune of about 345,000 new workers. It’s an official step towards what we are seeing already in certain industries (like convenience stores in big cities), where NJ workers are no longer unusual.

Yes, the government may at any time decide to do a housecleaning by revoking these visas whenever NJ might reach a critical mass (as happened many times in the past). And it also has insufficiently addressed longstanding and widespread labor abuses in its Technical Trainee and Interns market. But the fact remains that bringing in proportionally more NJ, as the Japanese population shrinks, will make them less anomalous.

One way that minorities make themselves less threatening to a society is by normalizing themselves. Making people see NJ as co-workers, indispensable helpers, neighbors, maybe even friends. The cynical side of JBC thinks this is unlikely to happen. But it’s not going to happen without numbers, and that’s what this new visa regime is encouraging.

As evidence of change, the rigorous Pew Research Center last year surveyed several countries between about their attitudes towards international migration. One question, “In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now?” had positive responses from Japan that were the highest of any country surveyed—81% saying “more” or “the same.”

I was incredulous, especially since the word “immigration” (imin) has been a taboo term in Japan’s policy circles (JBC Nov 3, 2009). So I contacted Pew directly to ask how the question was rendered in Japanese. Sure enough, the question included “imin no suu” (immigration numbers).

This is something I had never seen before. And as such, changing policies as well as changing attitudes may result in sea changes towards NJ residents within our lifetimes.

Sources: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/02/national/major-policy-shift-japan-oks-bill-let-foreign-manual-workers-stay-permanently/
345,000: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/11/14/national/politics-diplomacy/345000-foreign-workers-predicted-come-japan-new-visas-government/
Pew: http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/12/10/many-worldwide-oppose-more-migration-both-into-and-out-of-their-countries/#more-309372 and https://www.axios.com/newsletters/axios-am-aca76f69-2982-4b0e-a36c-512c21841dc2.html?chunk=4&utm_term=emshare#story4
JBC Nov 3: https://www.debito.org/?p=4944
See also forwarded email from Pew below.

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

Bubbling under: Registered Foreign Residents reach new postwar record of 2.5 million. Alarmist government probe into “foreigner fraud” of Japan’s Health Insurance system reveals no wrongdoing (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/12/national/probe-abuse-health-insurance-foreigners-japan-stirs-claims-prejudice/). Fake rumors about NJ criminal behavior during Osaka quake officially dispelled by government (https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/19/national/different-disaster-story-osaka-quake-prompts-online-hate-speech-targeting-foreigners/).
Former British Ambassador and Japan Times columnist Sir Hugh Cortazzi dies.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/08/23/commentary/japan-commentary/bidding-sir-hugh-cortazzi-farewell/

ENDS

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

Source on Pew Question in original Japanese. Forwarding email exchange from Pew Research Center itself:

Begin forwarded message:

From: Pew Research Center <info@pewresearch.org>
Subject: RE: Question about your recent Global Attitudes survey
Date: December 11, 2018
To: ” Debito A”

Hi Debito,

Thank you for reaching out. The original Japanese text is below:

Q52 In your opinion, should we allow more immigrants to move to our country, fewer immigrants, or about the same as we do now? Q52 日本に受け入れる移民の数を増やすべき、移民の数を減らすべき、または現状を維持すべき、のどれだと思われますか?

1 More 1.増やすべき
2 Fewer 2.減らすべき
3 About the same 3.現状を維持すべき
4 No immigrants at all (DO NOT READ) 4. 移民はまったくいない(読み上げない)
8 Don’t know (DO NOT READ) 8.わからない(読み上げない)
9 Refused (DO NOT READ) 9. 回答拒否(読み上げない)

Please let us know if you have any questions.

Best, [HT], Pew Research Center

ENDS

=================================
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Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Japanese TV is at it again. Fuji TV is taking advantage of the weak position of Non-Japanese in Japan’s media, presenting sensational programming that specifically targets NJ for entertainment purposes.

Consider this report from Nevin Thompson at Global Voices (excerpt):

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

Japanese television program turns migrant raids and deportations into entertainment

deportation entertainment japan

Captions: (Top) “Full Coverage: Immigration Bureau G-Men: Tracking down a Vietnamese illegal alien over the course of one month” (Bottom) “ILLEGAL OVERSTAYER” “FORCED DEPORTATION”

Screenshot from the television show “At the Very Moment They Were Deported” (タイキョの瞬間) on YouTube.

As Japan predicts a rise in the number of immigrants and foreign tourists in the coming years, a new television show has turned migrant deportations into entertainment. The program provoked some outraged viewer reactions and insights about the plight faced by visa overstayers and undocumented migrants in Japan.

Taikyo no Shunkan (タイキョの瞬間) (English translation: “At the Very Moment They Were Deported”) premiered on Fuji Television in a Saturday evening prime time slot on October 6, 2018.

Using a typical reality show format, the two-hour program follows a group of so-called “G-Men”, or immigration officers, employed by the Tokyo regional office of the National Immigration Bureau as they hunt down visa overstayers and so-called “illegal aliens” (fuhotaizaisha, 不法滞在者) and squatters (fuhosenshu, 不法占有) on camera.

In one segment, the immigration officers stake out the apartment of a Vietnamese man suspected of violating the conditions of his trainee visa. He and two others are arrested and interrogated on camera before being deported 24 hours later.

In another segment, the immigration officers storm a factory and detain a group of Indians suspected of being undocumented workers — the owners of the factory never appear on camera.

A final segment investigates the problem of Chinese “squatters” who have set up a vegetable patch on public land on an isolated stretch of riverbank in Kyoto.

For now, a fan upload of the video of the entire program can be viewed on DailyMotion…

Rest at https://globalvoices.org/2018/10/10/japanese-television-program-turns-migrant-raids-and-deportations-into-entertainment/

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

COMMENT:  Debito.org has focussed on this kind of programming before.  Consider this segment from a larger archive of broadcast media bashing NJ as terrorists and criminals, a phenomenon that gained political traction as former Tokyo Gov. Ishihara fanned the flames of xenophobia starting from around 2000.  Not to mention the racist and propagandisticGaijin Hanzai” magazine (2007) that also seemed to be made with the cooperation of the Japanese authorities,  More on this issue in general in Chapter 7 of book “Embedded Racism“.

Debito.org Reader JDG began discussing this issue on a blog post elsewhere, and sent a link that is already dead.  Even the Asahi had something to say about it:

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

フジ「タイキョの瞬間!」に批判 「外国人差別を助長」
朝日新聞 2018年10月9日, courtesy of NH
https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASLB965QCLB9UCVL033.html

フジテレビ系で6日夜に放送された「タイキョの瞬間!密着24時」に、反発の声が上がっている。外国人問題に取り組む弁護士らが「人種や国籍等を理由とする差別、偏見を助長しかねない」とする意見書をフジに送ったほか、ネット上でも番組の姿勢を問題視する声が出ている。

タイキョの瞬間!は、午後7~9時放送の単発番組で、副題は「出て行ってもらいます!」。ナレーションによると「法を無視するやつらを追跡する緊迫のリアルドキュメント」で、テーマは強制退去。不法占拠や家賃滞納の現場を紹介する中で、外国人の不法就労なども取り上げた。

技能実習生として来日した後に逃亡したベトナム人女性が、不法就労をしたとして東京入国管理局に摘発される様子のほか、同局の収容施設を「約90通りの料理を用意できる」「刑務所とは異なり、食事と夜間以外は自由に行動できる」などと紹介する場面などを放送した。「取材協力 東京入国管理局」と明示され、東京入管のツイッターも放送前に「ぜひご覧下さい!」と番組をPRしていた。

弁護士の有志25人は9日、フジに送った意見書で、技能実習制度の問題点や、収容施設の医療体制の不十分さ、自殺者が出ていることに番組が一切触れなかったことなどを指摘。「外国人の人権への配慮が明らかに欠如する一方、入管に批判なく追従し、主張を代弁しただけの、公平性を著しく欠いた番組」だと批判した。ネットでも「入管のプロパガンダ番組だ」などの声が上がっている。

フジテレビ企業広報室は取材に対し9日、「この番組では、さまざまな退去の瞬間にスポットを当て、その様子を放送いたしました。東京入国管理局が、不法滞在・不法就労の外国人を摘発するシーンもございましたが、取材に基づいた事実を放送しており、決して外国人を差別する意図はございません。番組に対して、いただいたご意見は真摯(しんし)に受け止め、今後の番組制作に生かして参りたいと考えています」と答えた。
ENDS

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

In the end, will there be any retractions, apologies for stereotyping, or even acknowledgments and caveats that NJ do good things in Japan too?  As book “Embedded Racism” points out in Ch. 7, not likely.  After all, NJ have so little right-of-reply in Japan’s media that bashing and blaming NJ for just about anything has long been normalized in Japan’s media. It’s simply part of standard operating practice — at the level of entertainment.  Even a sport.  It’s a foxhunt for gaijin.  Dr. Debito Arudou

==================================
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My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE 112: “What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?” (July 16, 2018)

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JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 112
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES JUL 15, 2018
ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
What about we stop it with the ‘whataboutism’?
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/07/15/issues/what-about-we-stop-it-with-the-whataboutism/

These are troubling times for human rights activists.

For 27 years I’ve been writing about civil, political and human rights for non-Japanese (NJ) and other minorities in Japan. And I’ve never been more confused.

Not least because the United States, the putative paragon of human rights, has been flouting them.

Remember, this is a country so cocksure about its own record that its State Department offers annual “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices” for each United Nations member.

Yet President Donald Trump has been undermining international norms of law, justice and society — and with the glee of a super-villain.

In case you haven’t been paying attention, recently we’ve seen U.S. leadership abrogate numerous treaties, erode well-established security and trade regimes (such as NATO and the G7), cozy up to the world’s most authoritarian regimes and mimic their tactics, invoke the language of white nationalism to dehumanize minorities, and foment a culture of fear, loathing and vindictive reprisal towards anyone not in their ideological camp.

Speaking of camps, who would have ever imagined that the U.S. would put foreign children in cages? Create “tender-age” internment centers for toddlers separated from their families at the border? Force 3-year-olds to represent themselves in American immigration courts?

Trump’s “zero tolerance” policy for undocumented migration and asylum seekers is so cruel that the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights denounced it as “unconscionable” and “illegal” under international law.

Hours later, the U.S. petulantly withdrew from the Human Rights Council, of which it had been a charter member since 1947.

In Just Be Cause’s view, the worst thing about these rapid-fire shocks to the system is not the confusion but the distraction. Presidential historian Jon Meacham, author of “The Soul of America,” pointed out how Trump “owns our mind space” in what he calls “the world’s longest hostage siege.” We are prisoners of a self-promoting celebrity so adept at managing news cycles that he sucks the oxygen from other issues.

So this is where we arrive at the big question of this column: How can JBC focus on human rights in Japan given the distractions in America?…

Read the rest of the column at:
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/07/15/issues/what-about-we-stop-it-with-the-whataboutism/

================================
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Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a new twist to the “Blame Game” often played whenever there’s a foreigner involved with any economy in Japan.  I started talking about this in earnest in my Japan Times column of August 28, 2007, where I pointed out how NJ were being falsely blamed for crime, SDF security breaches, unfair advantages in sports, education disruptions, shipping disruptions, and even labor shortages (!!).  That soon expanded to false accusations of workplace desertion (remember the fictitious “flyjin” phenomenon of 2011?) and looting, despoiling sumo and fish markets, and even for crime committed by Japanese!  More here.

Now we have recycled claims of disruptive NJ tourism.  But as submitter JDG points out, this time it’s getting mean.  In the same vein of a World Cup 2002 Miyagi Prefectural Assemblyman’s claim that visiting foreigners would rape Japanese women and sire children, we have official insinuations at the local government level that renting your apartment or room out to NJ would be “unsafe” — not only for Japanese in the neighborhood, but for children walking to school in Shibuya!  (Or, according to the JT update below, NJ might be ISIS terrorists.)  At this point, this is hate speech.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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

In Japan, new rules may leave Airbnb industry out in the cold
REUTERS/ASAHI SHINBUN, April 23, 2018,  courtesy of JDG, with underlined emphases added
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804230010.html

Japan’s new home-sharing law was meant to ease a shortage of hotel rooms, bring order to an unregulated market and offer more lodging options for foreign visitors ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Instead, the law is likely to stifle Airbnb Inc. and other home-sharing businesses when it is enacted in June and force many homeowners to stop offering their services, renters and experts say.

The “minpaku,” or private temporary lodging law, the first national legal framework for short-term home rental in Asia, limits home-sharing to 180 days a year, a cap some hosts say makes it difficult to turn a profit.

More important, local governments, which have final authority to regulate services in their areas, are imposing even more severe restrictions, citing security or noise concerns.

For example, Tokyo’s Chuo Ward, home to the tony Ginza shopping district, has banned weekday rentals on grounds that allowing strangers into apartment buildings during the week could be unsafe.

That’s a huge disappointment for Airbnb “superhost” Mika, who asked that her last name not be used because home-renting is now officially allowed only in certain zones.

She has enjoyed hosting international visitors in her spare two-bedroom apartment but will stop because her building management has decided to ban the service ahead of the law’s enactment.

“I was able to meet many different people I would have not met otherwise,” said Mika, 53, who started renting out her apartment after she used a home-sharing service overseas. “I may sell my condo.”

Mika added that if she were to rent the apartment out on a monthly basis, she would only make one-third of what she does from short-term rentals.

The ancient capital of Kyoto, which draws more than 50 million tourists a year, will allow private lodging in residential areas only between Jan. 15 and March 16, avoiding the popular spring and fall tourist seasons.

Similarly, Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya Ward will permit home-sharing services in residential areas only during school holidays, with certain exceptions, so children won’t meet strangers on their way to class.

In short, renters and experts say, the new law is doing more to hurt than help, even as a record 28.7 million tourists flocked to Japan last year, up 19 percent from the year before. Japan aims to host 40 million foreign tourists a year by 2020.

Yasuhiro Inaoka, who manages about 15 properties for Airbnb hosts in Tokyo, says the net effect of the law is “banning individuals from offering home lodging.”

‘STRANGE PRACTICE’

Central government officials say that excessive local limits could defeat the law’s objectives, but that they cannot force local governments to loosen their policies.

Restricting home rental due to vague concerns that foreigners are unsafe or that it is a strange practice goes against the concept of the new law,” said Soichi Taguchi, an official at the government’s Tourism Agency.

The annual cap of 180 days for home sharing and stricter rules set by local governments is a victory for the hotel industry, which opposes private properties being used for tourist accommodation.

“While each city and town is unique, we believe that by following the national recommendations, all Japanese cities and communities will be able to benefit from the growing economic opportunity provided by home sharing and short-term rentals,” said Jake Wilczynski, spokesman for Airbnb in Asia Pacific.

About 62,000 Airbnb listings have sprung up in Japan, far smaller than other major tourist destinations, such as Italy, which has 354,400 listings, or France, with 490,000.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore allows home sharing, but requires a minimum period of three months. Two Airbnb hosts were fined S$60,000 ($45,800 or 4.9 million yen) each by a local court in April for unauthorized short-term letting.

Hyakusenrenma Inc., a Japanese rival to Airbnb, has 2,000 listings for its “Stay Japan” service, and online travel agency Booking Holdings’s Booking.com and Chinese agents have also entered the Japanese market.

The new law requires home owners to register rental properties for short-term stays with the local government by undergoing fire safety checks and submitting proof that the owner is not mentally disturbed.

San Francisco-based Airbnb said it would obey the new law and remove all the non-compliant listings from its site by June.

But the company is also confident the number of listings will bounce back and eventually exceed the current level because Japan still has a great deal of potential to expand, said country manager Yasuyuki Tanabe.

“We will have clear rules for home lodging, which will encourage more people to list their properties,” Tanabe said.

HOTEL LICENSE

One alternative for home renters is to apply for a hotel license. That process has been simplified to relax requirements for a reception area and no longer mandate a minimum number of rooms.

One 42-year-old man who asked not to be named has gone this route. He stopped renting out Airbnb apartments in Tokyo and instead obtained a license to run a five-room hotel out of a converted traditional wooden “machiya” house in Kyoto.

He still advertises on his property in Kyoto on Airbnb and the hotel license frees him from the 180-day limit.

“With the hotel license I can provide the service all year round,” he said.

But for many, this isn’t an option because their buildings won’t allow home-sharing at all, regardless of licensing.

When the land ministry asked apartment management unions to decide whether to permit short-term rentals, only 0.3 percent of them nationwide said they would, according to the Condominium Management Association.
ENDS
==============================

UPDATE JUN 30:

— Japan Times also reports on the backlash to this policy, with the same undertones, except this time foreigners might be “terrorists”. Excerpt:

Implementation of minpaku laws lambasted
The Japan Times, June 30, 2018
BY MARK SCHREIBER
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/

[…]
On its morning program on June 15, NHK Radio chimed in with its own justification for the crackdown on minpaku. Citing the Nov. 13, 2015, attacks by ISIS terrorists in Paris in which 130 people were killed and another 413 injured, the broadcast implied that minpaku might serve as a base for terrorists — despite there being no evidence that the attackers in France had availed themselves of online booking services.

Nevertheless, at the urging of the Metropolitan Police Department ahead of the 2020 Olympics, minpaku hosts will be encouraged to report any “suspicious behavior” on the part of guests, including refusing to allow their passport to be photocopied, referring to a memo or other separate document when transcribing their own name or address, or when the actual number of staying guests turns out to vary from what was initially reserved.

“It’s possible terrorists will choose to stay at minpaku, where identification checks are vague,” explained Isao Itabashi, head of the Research Center at the Council for Public Policy, during the broadcast, adding, “So it’s important that along with sharing data on suspicious guests, the minpaku operators liaise closely with the police.”

Full article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/06/30/national/media-national/implementation-minpaku-laws-lambasted/
==============================

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NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s NHK reporting on the spread of false information on Japan’s social media about foreigners committing crimes in the wake of June 18’s Osaka earthquake. Comment follows the article:

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

Post-quake social media rife with fake news
NHK World, Tuesday, June 18, 2018. Courtesy of JDG.
https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180618_31/

Osaka prefectural officials are urging people to keep calm and refrain from sharing unsubstantiated information on social media after Monday’s earthquake.

One widely shared tweet claimed the roof of the Kyocera Dome Osaka stadium is cracked. The operator denies this.

Other cases of false information include a train derailment and a zebra escaping from a zoo.

Messages inciting discrimination against foreigners living in Japan are also spreading.

One post advises people to watch out for thefts and burglaries by foreign residents. Another says foreigners are not accustomed to quakes, so they will start looting convenience stores or rushing to airports.

Social media users are posting messages to counter the discriminatory ones.

One user says people should be aware that racists use major disasters to spread false information.

Another says fake news spreads during disasters, and that people need to improve their media literacy so they can detect false information.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////

COMMENT:  It seems like earthquakes in Japan (although depicted as orderly, stoic affairs in Western media) are for some internet denizens a call to create a live-action version of the movie “The Purge“.  Debito.org has reported numerous times in the past on how false rumors of NJ residents have spread through Japan’s social media — to the point where even the generally “hands-off-because-it’s-free-speech-and-besides-it-only-affects-foreigners” Japanese government has had to intervene to tamp down on it (since, according to a 2017 Mainichi poll, 80% of people surveyed believed the rumors!).  I’m glad to see the Osaka government is intervening here too.

By the way, if you think I’m exaggerating by making a connection to movie “The Purge” in this blog, recall your history:  The massacre of Korean Residents in the wake of the 1923 Kantou Earthquake was precisely “The Purge”.  And what happened in the aftermath of the Fukushima Multiple Disasters of March 11, 2011 (where foreigners were being blamed online for all manner of unconnected events, including the earthquake itself) was similarly redolent (albeit less deadly, thank heavens).  As were mudslides in Hiroshima back in 2014.  And that’s before we get to then-newly-elected racist Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro’s famous call in the year 2000 for a priori roundups of “evil foreigners committing heinous crimes” in the event of a natural disaster.  So much for the stoicism. Dr. Debito Arudou

Mainichi: Zainichi Korean’s hate speech lawsuit ends in her favor. Bravo. But Mainichi plays word games, mistranslates “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu) into “ethnic discrimination” in English!

mytest

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Hi Blog. Let me turn the keyboard over to JK for some update and analysis:

////////////////////////////
JK:  Hi Debito: Here’s a follow-up article by Mainichi on the Lee Sin Hae Case, which I originally submitted to Debito.org in late 2016:

Korean resident of Japan’s legal battle for dignity ends in her favor but problems remain
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180320/p2a/00m/0na/003000c
March 20, 2018 (Mainichi Japan)

OSAKA — A Korean resident of Japan whose damages lawsuit against an anti-Korean hate group and its former chairman ended last year with the top court ruling in her favor told the Mainichi Shimbun in an interview, “The ruling doesn’t mean we’ve crossed the finish line. It means we’ve just started on our way toward ridding the world of discrimination.”

Freelance writer Lee Sin Hae, 46, filed a lawsuit with the Osaka District Court in August 2014 against [officially-acknowledged hate group] “Zainichi tokken o yurusanai shimin no kai” (“Citizens’ group that does not forgive special rights for Korean residents of Japan,” or “Zaitokukai”) and its then chairman, Makoto Sakurai, demanding 5.5 million yen in compensation. Lee alleged that the group defamed her by calling her “an old Korean hag” during rallies in the Sannomiya district of Kobe and “a lawless Korean” on Twitter.

The district court ruled in September 2016 that Zaitokukai had made the statements with the intent to incite and intensify discrimination against Korean residents of Japan, and ordered the group to pay Lee 770,000 yen in damages.

According to Lee’s attorney, in June 2017, the Osaka High Court became the first court to recognize that a plaintiff had been subjected to “composite discrimination” — in Lee’s case, ethnic and gender discrimination [emphasis added].  However, the high court upheld the lower court’s compensation amount of 770,000 yen. Zaitokukai appealed, but the Supreme Court’s Second Petty Bench turned down the appeal late last year, finalizing the Osaka High Court’s decision.

It was through her writings criticizing hate speech that Lee herself increasingly became a target of hate mongers. She looked back on her three-year legal battle, during which she suffered insomnia and sudden-onset deafness as a result of stress caused by remembering painful incidents as she collected evidence for her case. “It’s been made clear that if one singles out another as a target of hate speech, they will have to pay for it with money,” she said.

Lee is hopeful that the precedent the courts set by recognizing that she had been subjected to composite discrimination will serve as a deterrent against discrimination in the future. Yet, people continue to take part in hate speech even when their identities are made public or they are ordered to pay damages, resulting in a reality in which hate speech is still plentiful both on the streets and on the internet.

“With the lawsuit, I became keenly aware that my strength alone was very weak,” Lee said. “Society won’t change unless the central government and administrative agencies come together and pour all their efforts into ending discrimination.” What Lee demands now are effective measures that include criminal punishment.

Hiroko Kotaki, an attorney who represented Lee in the lawsuit, offered a certain measure of praise for the Osaka High Court’s ruling for its recognition of the composite discrimination to which Lee was subjected. But Kotaki pointed out that it was problematic that claims to recover damage done by hate speech directed at an indefinite number of people, such as “Korean residents of Japan,” are not possible under current laws. With that in mind, she said, “In addition to establishing new legal standards, internet service providers need to work to reinforce their self-monitoring capacity.”

When the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of Lee in September 2016, former Zaitokukai leader Sakurai released a statement through his lawyer, accusing the ruling of being “unjust, as it was based on societal prejudice toward Zaitokukai.” When the Osaka High Court upheld the lower court’s decision, he released a statement that said, “I praise the fact that the compensation amount was limited to 770,000 yen, dealing a blow to the intentions of those who hoped to politically exploit the ruling.”

Japanese original
対在特会ヘイト裁判
http://mainichi.jp/articles/20180310/k00/00m/040/095000c
李信恵さん 尊厳回復の闘い
毎日新聞2018年3月9日 20時04分(最終更新 3月9日 20時25分)

高裁判決後、支援者から花束を贈られ笑顔の李信恵さん=大阪市北区で2017年6月19日、後藤由耶撮影
「人種差別的な発言で名誉を傷つけられた」として在日朝鮮人のフリーライター、李信恵(リ・シネ)さん(46)が「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)と同会の桜井誠前会長を訴えた損害賠償訴訟は昨年末、最高裁第2小法廷(菅野博之裁判長)が在特会側の上告を認めない決定をし、同会側に77万円の支払いを命じた大阪高裁判決(昨年6月)が確定した。確定を受けて毎日新聞の動画インタビューに応じた李さんは「証拠集めなどのたびに被害を思い出し、ストレスから不眠や突発性難聴に苦しんだ」と3年余にわたる法廷闘争を振り返り、「この判決はゴールではない。世界から差別をなくすためのスタートだ」と決意を新たにした。

「名指しでヘイトスピーチをすれば訴えられ、お金を払わなければいけなくなることがはっきりした」。ヘイトスピーチに批判的な記事を書くうちにその標的になったという李さんは、「人種差別と女性差別との複合差別に当たる」と認定した高裁判決の“抑止力”に期待を寄せる。しかし実名が公表されても、あるいは賠償金を請求されてもやめようとしない人たちはおり、今も路上やネット上にヘイトスピーチはあふれている。

「裁判をしても、私一人の力は弱いと感じた。国や行政などが知恵を絞って全力で取り組んでくれなければ社会は変わらない」と指摘する李さんが求めるのは、刑事罰の導入も含めたより実効性のある対策だ。

訴訟で代理人を務めた上瀧浩子弁護士は、複合差別を認めた高裁判決を一定程度評価しながらも、現行法下では「在日朝鮮人」など不特定多数に向けられた場合に被害回復ができないことを問題視。その上で、「新たな法規範を設けるとともに、インターネット事業者などの自己チェック態勢をより強化していくべきだ」と訴える。

李さんは毎回の口頭弁論に朝鮮半島の民族衣装であるチマ・チョゴリ姿で臨んだ。「自分を奮い立たせ、勇気をまとう意味があった」という。母のチマ・チョゴリや、在日コリアン無年金訴訟の原告が織った西陣織なども縫い込んで、毎回違うものを仕立てた。傍聴席にもチマ・チョゴリや男性用のパジ・チョゴリ姿の人が目立った。「社会がそうさせているのかは分からないが、ヘイトスピーチをする人たちももしかしたら『被害者』かもしれない。傷つく人も、傷つける人も両方がいなくなるよう、何ができるかもっと考えていきたい」と李さんは先を見すえている。

桜井氏は2016年9月の大阪地裁判決時、代理人弁護士を通じて「判決は在特会側への社会的偏見に基づくもので不当」などとする談話を出した。また、昨年6月の大阪高裁判決時には代理人弁護士を通じ、「賠償金が77万円にとどまったことは、判決の政治利用をもくろむ勢力の思惑をくじく結果となったことを評価する」とコメントしている。【後藤由耶】

大阪ヘイトスピーチ訴訟
桜井氏が神戸・三宮での街宣活動で「朝鮮人のババア」と発言したり、ツイッターで「不逞鮮人(ふていせんじん)」と書き込むなどしたりしたのは名誉毀損(きそん)に当たるとして、東大阪市在住の李さんが2014年に大阪地裁に提訴。地裁判決(16年9月)は「在日朝鮮人への差別を助長、増幅させる意図があった」と認定し、在特会側に77万円の支払いを命じた。控訴審判決は人種差別を認めた1審から踏み込み、性差別との「複合差別」も認めたが、命じた支払額自体は変わらなかった。
==================

JK COMMENTS:  From the article, we learn that Lee Sin Hae’s case wasn’t finished in September 2016 — in June of 2017, the Osaka High Court upheld by the decision of the Osaka District Court to fine Mr. Sakurai ~$7200, and late last year, Mr. Sakurai and Zaitokai appealed the case, but the Second Petty Bench of the Supreme Court denied the appeal.

Now one of the things I find curious in the article is that we’re introduced to so-called “composite discrimination” (複合差別) which, in the Japanese version of the article is defined as racial discrimination (人種差別) plus “gender discrimination” (女性差別; I think ‘sexism’ would be a better choice of words).

However, in the English version, “composite discrimination” is defined as “**ethnic** and gender discrimination”.

How is it that 「民族差別」 now equates to ‘ethnic’ instead of ‘racial’? And if the intent was to convey the notion of ‘ethnic discrimination’ (whatever that is), why does the Japanese version not use 「民族差別」€ instead?

The only explanation I can offer is that Mainichi is playing word games and deliberately whitewashing ‘racial discrimination’ with ‘ethnic discrimination’ in the English-language version because the latter is more palatable to the reader. What’s your take? Regards, JK

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  The mistranslation is very indicative.  My take is that one of three things happened:

  1. The mistranslation was accidental, because Japanese society is so blind to the problem of “racial discrimination” in Japan (as Debito.org has demonstrated, it’s taken decades for it to be explicitly called “jinshu sabetsu” in the Japanese) that editorial standards have reflexively reverse-engineered the language to make it “ethnic” all over again.
  2. The mistranslation was deliberate, because Japan has no races, therefore “racial discrimination” cannot exist in Japan (after all, holds the liberal Japanese view, “Japanese and Koreans are the same race, therefore discrimination against Koreans isn’t racial; it’s ethnic“).  More on that below.  Or,
  3. The mistranslation was subterfuge, because the translator at the Mainichi happened to be one of those White Samurai types, who personally doesn’t see “racism” as a problem in Japan (despite the original Japanese wording), and sneakily changed things to protect his Japan from the outside world.

Of course, this all begs the question of people in Japan still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept — as opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination.

So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism:

“Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process.  But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong.

In this light, the Mainichi can be seen as merely maintaining the narrative, reverse-engineering the censorious language into English this time.  Dr. Debito Arudou

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