My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 7, 2014: “The empire strikes back: The top issues for NJ in 2013”, with links to sources

mytest

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Thanks for your support!

Happy New Year to all Debito.org Readers.  Thank you as always for reading and commenting.  2014 has a few things looming that will affect life for everyone (not just NJ) in Japan, as I allude to in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (came out a few days later than usual, since there was no paper on January 2, on January 7, 2014).

Thanks to everyone once again for putting it in the most-read article for the day, once again. Here’s a version with links to sources. Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg

THE JAPAN TIMES ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
The empire strikes back: the top issues for non-Japanese in 2013
BY ARUDOU Debito
JANUARY 7, 2014
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/01/06/issues/the-empire-strikes-back-the-top-issues-for-non-japanese-in-2013/

Welcome to JBC’s annual countdown of 2013’s top human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This year was more complex, as issues that once targeted NJ in specific now affect everyone in general. But here are six major events and five “bubble-unders” for your consideration:

11. Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first foreign-born Diet member of European descent, loses his seat (see “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ,” JBC, Aug. 5).

10. Donald Richie, one of the last of the first postwar generation of NJ commentators on Japan, dies aged 88.

9. Beate Sirota Gordon, one of the last living architects of the liberalizing reforms within the postwar Japanese Constitution, dies at 89.

8. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto takes a revisionist stance on Japanese history regarding the wartime sex-slave issue and reveals his camp’s political vulnerability (“By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor,” JBC, June 4).

7. Tokyo wins the 2020 Olympics, strengthening the mandate of Japan’s ruling class and vested construction interests (see “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right,” JBC, Sept. 1).

6. Xenophobia taints No. 1 cleanup

The Fukushima debacle has been covered better elsewhere, and assessments of its dangers and probable outcomes are for others to debate. Incontrovertible, however, is that international assistance and expertise (despite this being an international problem) have been rejected due to official xenophobia.

Last January, The New York Times quoted Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director of the Environment Ministry and the man in charge of the cleanup, as saying that foreign technologies were somehow not applicable to Japan (“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example”), and that foreigners themselves were menacing (“If we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there”). Nishiyama resigned several months later, but Fukushima’s ongoing crisis continues to be divisively toxic both in fact and thought.

5. Japan to adopt Hague treaty

As the last holdout in the Group of Eight (G-8) nations yet to sign this important treaty governing the treatment of children after divorces, both houses of the Diet took the positive step in May and June (after years of formal nudging by a dozen countries, and a probable shove from U.S. President Barack Obama last February) of unanimously endorsing the convention, with ratification now possible in 2014.

As reported on previous Community pages, Japanese society condones (both in practice and by dint of its legal registration systems) single-parent families severing all contact with one parent after divorce. In the case of international divorces, add on linguistic and visa hurdles, as well as an unsympathetic family court system and a hostile domestic media (which frequently portrays abducting Japanese mothers as liberating themselves from violent foreign fathers).

The Hague treaty seeks to codify and level the playing field for negotiation, settlement and visitation. However, Japanese legal scholars and grass-roots organizations are trying to un-level things by, among other things, fiddling with definitions of “domestic violence” to include acts that don’t involve physical contact, such as heated arguments (bōgen, or violent language) and even glaring at your partner (nirami). Put simply: Lose your temper (or not; just seethe) and you lose your kids. Thus, the treaty will probably end up as yet another international agreement caveated until it is unenforceable in Japan.

4. Visa regimes get a rethink

Two years ago, domestic bureaucrats and experts held a summit to hammer out some policies towards foreign labor. JBC pointed out flaws in their mindsets then (see “In formulating immigration policy, no seat at the table for non-Japanese,” July 3, 2012), and last year they ate some crow for getting it wrong.

First, a highly touted “points system” for attracting highly skilled workers with visa perks (which JBC argued was unrealistically strict; see “Japan’s revolving-door immigration policy hard-wired to fail,” March 6, 2012) had as of September only had 700 applicants; the government had hoped for 2,000. Last month, the Justice Ministry announced it would relax some requirements. It added, though, that more fundamental reforms, such as raising salaries, were also necessary — once again falling for the stereotype that NJ only alight in Japan for money.

In an even bigger U-turn, in October the government lifted its ban on South American NJ of Japanese descent “returning” to Japan. Those who had taken the repatriation bribes of 2009 (see “Golden parachutes for Nikkei mark failure of race-based policy,” JBC, April 7, 2009), giving up their accumulated welfare benefits and Japanese pensions for an airfare home, were now welcome to return to work — as long as they secured stable employment (as in, a one-year contract) before arrival. Good luck with that.

Again, what’s missing in all this is, for example, any guarantee of a) equal protection under labor and civil law against discrimination, b) equal educational opportunities for their children, and c) an integration and settlement program ensuring that revolving-door visas and tenuous jobs do not continue forever. But the Abe administration has never made a formal immigration plan one of its policy “arrows”; and, with the bigger political priorities discussed below, this is unlikely to happen anytime soon.

3. Hate speech turns murderous

This was also the year that the genteel mask of “polite, peace-loving Japan” slipped a bit, with a number of demonstrations across the nation advocating outright hatred and violence towards NJ. “Good Koreans or bad, kill them all,” proclaimed one placard, while another speaker was recorded on video encouraging a “massacre” in a Korean neighborhood of Osaka. An Asahi Shimbun reporter tweeted that anti-Korean goods were being sold on Diet grounds, while xenophobic invective (even rumors of war with China) became normalized within Japan’s salacious tabloids (see here and here).

It got so bad that the otherwise languid silent majority — who generally respond to xenophobia by ignoring it — started attending counterdemonstrations. Even Japan’s courts, loath to take strong stands on issues that might “curb freedom of speech,” formally recognized “hate speech” as an illegal form of racial discrimination in October, and ordered restitution for victims in one case (a Zainichi Korean school) and a year of actual jail time in another (for harassing a company that had used a Korean actress in its advertising).

However, leading politicians offered only lukewarm condemnations of the hatred (Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it “dishonorable,” months after the fact) and no countermeasures. In fact, in April, Tokyo’s then-governor, Naoki Inose, slagged off fellow Olympic candidate city Istanbul by denigrating Islam — yet Tokyo still got the games.

Meanwhile, people who discussed issues of discrimination in Japan constructively (such as American teacher Miki Dezaki, whose viral YouTube video on the subject cost him his job and resulted in him retreating to a Buddhist monastery for a year) were bullied and sent death threats, courtesy of Japan’s newly labeled legion of anonymous netto uyoku (Internet rightists).

This political camp, as JBC has argued in the past two annual Top 10 lists, is ascendant in Japan as the country swings further to the right. With impressive victories:

2. LDP holds both Diet chambers

In July, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party accomplished its primary goal by chalking up a landslide victory in the Upper House to complement its equally decisive win in the Lower House in December 2012. Then, with virtually no opposition from the left, it got cocky in its deceptiveness.

Shortly after the election, Deputy PM Taro Aso enthused aloud about Nazi Germany’s policymaking tactics, advocating similar stealth for radical constitutional reforms before Japan’s public realizes it. Later it became clear that LDP reform proposals (excising, for example, “Western” conceits of individuality, human rights and a demystified head of state, and replacing them with the duty to “respect” national symbols, the “public interest” and “public order”) might be too difficult to accomplish if laws were actually followed. So off went Abe’s gaijin-handlers on overseas missions (see “Japan brings out the big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.,” JBC, Nov. 6) to announce that reinterpretations of the Constitution’s current wording would resolve pesky postwar restrictions.

Meanwhile, Abe was being rebranded for foreign consumption as a peace-loving “ethnic nationalist” instead of (in JBC’s view) a radical historical revisionist and regional destabilizing force. Not only was his recent visit to controversial Yasukuni Shrine repackaged as a mere pilgrimage to Japan’s version of Arlington National Cemetery, but Japan’s remilitarization was also portrayed as a means to assist America and the world in more effective peacekeeping operations, as seen in Abe’s “human security” and “proactive peace policy” neologisms.

As always, a liberal slathering of “peace” talk helps the munitions go down. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For curtains are precisely what are being drawn with the passage of:

1. The state secrets law

In a country where most reforms proceed at a glacial pace, the Act on Protection of Specified Secrets took everyone by surprise, moving from the public-debate back burner to established law in mere weeks. We still don’t know what will be designated as a “secret,” although official statements have made it clear it would include information about Fukushima, and could be used to curtail “loud” public rallies by protesters LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba likened to “terrorists.”

We do know that the punishments for leakers, including journalists, will be severe: up to 10 years’ jail for leaking something the government says it doesn’t want leaked, and five for “conspiracy” for attempting to get information even if the investigating party didn’t know it was “secret.” It’s so vague that you can get punished for allegedly “planning” the leak — even before the leak has happened or concrete plans have been made to leak. Although resoundingly condemned by Japan’s media, grass roots and the United Nations, it was too little, too late: Stealth won.

The state secrets law is an unfolding issue, but JBC shares the doomsayers’ view: It will underpin the effort to roll back Japan’s postwar democratic reforms and resurrect a prewar-style society governed by perpetual fear of reprisal, where people even in privileged positions will be forced to double-guess themselves into silence regarding substantiated criticism of The State (see the JT’s best article of the year, “The secret of keeping official secrets secret,” by Noriko Hama, Japanese Perspectives, Nov. 30).

After all, information is power, and whoever controls it can profoundly influence social outcomes. Moreover, this law expands “conspiracy” beyond act and into thought. Japan has a history of “thought police” (tokubetsu kōtō keisatsu) very effectively controlling the public in the name of “maintaining order.” This tradition will be resuscitated when the law comes into force in 2014.

In sum, 2013 saw the enfranchised elite consolidating their power further than has ever been seen in the postwar era, while Japan’s disenfranchised peoples, especially its NJ residents, slipped ever lower down the totem pole, becoming targets of suspicion, fear and loathing.

May this year be a healthy one for you and yours. ARUDOU, Debito

Post-passage of State Secrets Bill, watch as Abe further dismantles Japan’s postwar anti-fascism safeguards

mytest

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Hello Blog.  Some very significant things have happened in the two weeks since Debito.org got zapped and taken offline, and for the record we should cover them now since they warrant discussion.

My conclusions first:  If you really want to “look on the bright side” of recent events, we could say “we live in interesting times”.  Given the normally glacial pace of reforms in Japan, the Abe Administration is proceeding with incredible speed — which he can do, given LDP control over both houses of Parliament.  It’s a pity that things are heading in the Rightist direction, dismantling the Postwar order of governance and the safeguards against Prewar fascism faster than the public or media can keep up.

As discussed here before Debito.org got tackled, both inside and outside observers (including the UN) were alarmed at the contents of the State Secrets Protection Law (himitsu hogo hou), the one that leaves vague what a “government secret” is exactly (for better public non-transparency), and offers criminal penalties of up to ten years’ incarceration for violators, including journalists.  The tone of this law is pretty clear:  Anyone who gets in the way (and according to LDP Secretary General and defense policy wonk Ishiba Shigeru, “noisy” protestors will be labeled “terrorists”; I’m waiting for Ishiba to say the same thing about the perennially noisy, intimidating, and sometimes violent right-wing sound trucks) will be dealt with accordingly.

Debito.org said that the protests in any case were too little, too late, and it would make no difference.  It didn’t (except in Abe’s approval ratings, which dipped below 50% for the first time for this administration; never mind — a few more saber rattlings with the Chinese bogeyman will remedy that), and the bill was rammed through both the Lower and Upper Houses and is now law.  SITYS.

This after, as also noted on Debito.org previously, Abe’s Gaijin Handlers were sent off on a mission to placate the one country that might get them to avert this course:  The United States.  Top Abe advisor Kitaoka Shin’ichi recently visited Hawaii and points mainland to sell Japan’s remilitarization as a means to help America’s security exploits abroad, saying it would be possible by a mere circumvention of the Constitution by reinterpretation.  Who needs to go through that laborious process of actual Constitutional revision when you can just ignore it?  And it seems the Americans have signed off on it.  And on Japan’s new protection measures of “state secrets”.  And on a creation of a National Security Council that reports to Abe, modeled on the USG’s NSC, so who could object?  Checkmate.

Next up, as Debito.org Reader JJS sent me this morning:

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Hi Debito. Glad to see you got control of your website back, though there may be lots still to do to secure it and prevent any further attacks. When you’re ready to start posting again, here are some juicy tidbits to chew on. With the passage of the Special State Secrets Bill, the Abe Administration is wasting no time making sure to A) start talking up Japan’s image as the “safest country in the world” while B) making sure to utilize the newly passed bill to start covering up any unsightly information from getting out about such things like nuclear powerplants, nuclear energy, etc. Finally, what will “cyber-terror” actually mean to this far right wing administration? Maybe your site may be included?? The next seven years leading up to the Olympics will be frightening to say the least.

NHK)「世界一安全な日本」戦略決定
http://www3.nhk.or.jp/news/html/20131210/k10013709951000.html
12月10日 12時49分

「世界一安全な日本」戦略決定
政府は10日の閣議で、2020年の東京オリンピック・パラリンピックに向けて、テロ対策やサイバー犯罪への対処を強化するなどとした治安対策の新たな指針、「世界一安全な日本」創造戦略を決定しました。

「世界一安全な日本」創造戦略は、安倍総理大臣とすべての閣僚でつくる犯罪対策閣僚会議が、2020年の東京オリンピック・パラリンピックの開催を視野に、今後7年間の治安対策の新たな指針としてまとめ、10日の閣議で決定されました。

それによりますと、良好な治安を確保することが、東京オリンピック・パラリンピックの成功の前提だとしたうえで、原子力発電所に対するテロ対策の強化や、海上や沿岸警備の強化など水際対策の徹底、それに、在外公館を通じた情報収集活動の強化に取り組むとしています。

また、「世界最高水準の安全なサイバー空間の構築」にも取り組み、サイバー犯罪の取り締まりの徹底や、サイバー犯罪対策を手がけるアメリカの産学官の団体を参考にした新たな組織の創設などを進めるとしています。

安倍総理大臣は、閣議に先立って開かれた犯罪対策閣僚会議で、「総合的な犯罪対策を政府一体となって推進し、国民が誇りとする世界一安全な国、日本を創り上げるため、全力で取り組んでほしい」と指示しました。

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

日経)サイバー犯罪対策で官民組織 政府、東京五輪に向け戦略
http://www.nikkei.com/article/DGXNASDG1000Z_Q3A211C1CR0000/
2013/12/10 11:24

保存印刷リプリントこの記事をtwitterでつぶやくこの記事をフェイスブックに追加共有
政府は10日の閣議で、2020年の東京五輪開催に向けて取り組む治安向上策をまとめた「『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略」を決定した。脅威が増すサイバー犯罪やテロへの対策強化が柱。暴力団排除をはじめとする組織犯罪への対処や人材育成、再犯防止策の推進も盛り込んだ。

閣議に先立つ犯罪対策閣僚会議で、安倍晋三首相は五輪開催に向け「安心して感動を共有できる大会にするには安全の確保が必須の前提で、わが国の国際的な使命だ」と指摘。「戦略に基づき、総合的な犯罪対策を政府一体となって推進してほしい」と呼びかけた。

近年、重大な脅威が表面化しているサイバー犯罪への対処としては、優れた知見を持つ民間事業者や海外の捜査機関との協力強化を明記。米国でサイバー犯罪の手口やウイルス情報の集約・分析を手がける非営利団体「NCFTA」をモデルとした官民の新組織の創設も掲げた。

テロ対策では、原子力発電所など重要施設の警備に力を入れる。警察にある特殊急襲部隊(SAT)の装備充実や自衛隊などとの共同訓練の推進を列挙。臨時国会で成立した特定秘密保護法を的確に運用し、諸外国からの情報収集・分析を強化することも盛った。

ストーカーや配偶者間暴力(DV)、薬物、振り込め詐欺など身近な犯罪への対応も強化する。
===============================

産経)東京五輪へ、「世界一安全な日本」を 犯罪対策閣僚会議が新計画
http://sankei.jp.msn.com/politics/news/131210/plc13121012170015-n1.htm
2013.12.10 11:14

2020年東京五輪に向けて、政府の全閣僚をメンバーとする犯罪対策閣僚会議は10日、テロに強い社会構築などを目指した「『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略」を策定した。平成15年と20年にまとめた「犯罪に強い社会の実現のための行動計画」の最新版。五輪招致成功の要因として治安の良さが評価されたことを受け、名称を変え、今後7年間取り組んでいく。

「原子力発電所に対するテロ対策の強化」を挙げ、警察・自衛隊など関係機関の実践的な共同訓練を進め緊急事態への対応能力を高める。また、海上や沿岸警備の強化などを柱とする水際対策の徹底、テロの兆候に関する情報を確実に得られるよう外国情報機関と連携し、情報収集や分析機能の向上を図る。

「世界最高水準の安全なサイバー空間の構築」にも取り組む。増加するサイバー犯罪・攻撃の取り締まりを強化し、民間事業者と協力して未然防止に努める。組織犯罪対策など、各種犯罪全般について具体的に取り組む施策を列挙した。
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読売)世界一安全な国へ…サイバー犯罪・テロに対策
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/news/20131210-OYT1T00638.htm?from=navr

政府は10日午前の閣議で、2020年開催の東京五輪・パラリンピックを見据え、治安をさらに良くして「世界一安全な国、日本」を創り上げるための戦略を決定した。

地域の絆や連帯の強化を図る一方、サイバー攻撃や国際テロなどの新たな脅威への対策を講じるとし、「五輪成功の前提として絶対に成し遂げなければならない」と強調した。

戦略では、サイバー犯罪対策として、民間業者と連携して捜査技能の向上を図ることや、犯人の追跡を容易にするためインターネットの通信履歴(ログ)の保存などを検討していくとした。テロ防止では、アルジェリアの人質事件を教訓に、在外公館に警察出身者や防衛駐在官を増員するなど、情報収集と分析を強化するとしている。

(2013年12月10日19時55分 読売新聞)
===============================

官邸公式)『世界一安全な日本』創造戦略(pdf 63ページ)
http://www.kantei.go.jp/jp/singi/hanzai/kettei/131210/kakugi.pdf
/////////////////////////////////////

Thanks JJS.

Look, some people might be surprised by all this, but I’m not.  Debito.org saw this coming more than ten years ago, and watched it play out since 2000 as innate fears of outsiders in general were made into public policy that portrayed foreigners as criminals, then terrorists etc.  Now, it’s Chinese foreigners in specific (what with the two-plus “Lost Decades” of stagnant to negative growth causing Japan to be eclipsed by China as the largest economy in the region).  I’ve charted the arc of this public debate in a paper for Japan Focus, showing how officially-sponsored xenophobia was used to undermine, then decimate, Japan’s Left.  And with no opposition Left, there’s nothing to stop a dedicated silver-spoon elite like Abe, who has known no war (and accepts no responsibility for Japan’s historical role in it), for swinging the pendulum the furthest Right it has been in the Postwar Era.  Provided his health holds up, he’s got three years to do it.  Just watch him do it as quickly as possible.  Arudou Debito

Asahi: Hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It is getting more difficult for the “Japan is not shifting hard right” claimers out there to continue arguing as such.  Consider the emerging evidence of xenophobia-fed nationalism spreading nationwide, according to scholars of the Internet.  Their research as it appeared in the Asahi follows.

The more these people howl in public, the more likely their invective will be normalized as a tone of public expression.  Legislation against hate speech must be carefully considered, created, and passed ASAP — it must not just be left up to the courts to restrain (as expressions of racial discrimination and exclusionism already are).  However, I don’t see much chance of legislation happening under the Abe Administration, for these bigots are in fact his base of support.  Courtesy of Debito.org Reader JK.  Arudou Debito

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Hate speech protests spreading to smaller cities around Japan

The Asahi Shinbun AJW, November 07, 2013, courtesy of JK
By RYUICHI KITANO/ Staff Writer
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201311070011

Hate rallies mostly targeted at ethnic Koreans living in Japan have spread beyond Tokyo and Osaka to smaller regional cities over the past six months or so.

A group of scholars who analyzed Internet postings by organizations behind this disturbing phenomenon found that between March and August there were at least 161 instances of street marches or vehicles mounted with loudspeakers blasting hate-filled slogans.

The group, called “Kodo hoshu (active conservatives) archive project,” includes Kei Nakazawa, a professor of literature at Tokyo’s Hosei University, as well as sociologists in the Kansai region.

It found that March had the most instances of protests with 35. July had the least with 14. The average number of participants was 43, although in some protests in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district, which boasts a sizable Koreatown, as many as 200 protesters took part.

In addition to Tokyo and Osaka, protests were also held in Hokkaido as well as Aomori, Yamagata, Gunma, Chiba, Aichi, Shizuoka, Nara, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Oita prefectures.

The hate speech-filled protests picked up pace in January. In June, police made a number of arrests after a clash between protesters and those opposed to such behavior.

Subsequently, protests in major urban areas became temporarily less popular. However, protests in smaller regional cities have continued.

The protests go beyond those organized by Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan), which are generally directed at ethnic Koreans. The group is known more commonly as Zaitokukai.

In a similar vein, there have been protests by nuclear energy supporters that have raised opposition to anti-nuclear groups.

Sound trucks also gathered in front of a Russian consulate general demanding the return of the Northern Territories.

There has even been a protest against the peace movement in Hiroshima.

Despite the difference in targets, the basic pattern of the protests is similar, with activists shouting slogans such as “Kill them” and “Get out.”

Groups like Zaitokukai use the Internet as an abetting and organizing tool. They also videotape the actual protests and post them to video-sharing sites.

The group of scholars focused on data that remained in cyberspace.

Five or six group members began analyzing postings and videos from about July and broke down the number of participants and the arguments they made at the protests. Some members also attended actual protests to gather on-site study.

The group plans to go over the data from February and earlier to broaden the range of the study.

Nakazawa, who is also a novelist, first paid attention to the hate speech protests in Japan about four years ago.

“The harshest protests were those held between late last year and early this year,” she said. “Scenes of protesters yelling insults were reported widely in foreign nations and that hurt Japan’s reputation.

“We want to provide numerical data about what is actually going on so that it can serve as materials for debate on whether legal restrictions should be placed on such hate speech protests.”

ENDS

Restoration Party Shinpuu’s xenophobic candidate in Tokyo Katsushika-ku elections: “Putting Japanese first before foreigners”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  As Tokyo is having some elections (or by this time of blogging, had; sorry), I thought it within the role of Debito.org to archive yet another example of xenophobia used as a campaign strategy.

Xenophobic party Ishin Seitou Shinpuu (Restoration Party New Wind) is up to its old anti-foreigner tricks again.  This time, front and center, is a candidate for Tokyo Katsushika-ku by the name of Kaneko Yoshiharu, a former employee of Ishikawa Prefecture and former town councilor for O-i Chou in Kanagawa Prefecture, clearly skipping to the other side of Tokyo to rent an apartment and rally up a few fellow fearmongerers.

shinpuukanekoyoshiharu2013poster

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/tokyo_katsushika/kaneko73101001.jpg

His slogan, front and center:  “More than foreigners, Japanese are first!” (Gakokujin yori nihonjin ga daiichi!), setting up a false dichotomy (the fact that foreigners can’t vote in the first place makes that clear).  He’s also calling for limits to foreign products being “dumped” (i.e., being sold overseas for lower than production cost or domestic pricing in order to capture market share — which is kinda rich to say given Japan’s trade record) and for a hardening of policy against Japan’s low birthrate (sorry, potential pun acknowledged).  He also wants (see below within his public statement) an end to “superfluous (kajou na) support for foreigners”, whatever that means.

In case you’re wondering whether anyone would have the courage to put this up on campaign poster walls (or wonder whether Japan’s election laws would allow for such divisive language), he does and they do:

PT370001

(Courtesy RW, photo taken November 5, 2013 in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo)

If you want to know more about what Kaneko wants done, have a look at this:

KanekoYoshiharuPolicies2013

Courtesy http://www.shimpu.jp/chihon/senkyo/

Keep an eye on this party, folks (http://www.shimpu.jpn.org).  It’s the most brazen, but by no means the only xenophobic party of grumpy old Japanese men out there who want to jerk Japan’s political chain hard right.  It helps to have somebody extremely hard-line so that other hardliners (such as Ishihara/Hashimoto’s Japan Restoration Party — without the New Wind) look milder by comparison.  Helps to normalize the invective. Arudou Debito

Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination

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Hi Blog.  Good news from the Japanese judiciary.  A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD.

That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech).

Let’s hope a higher court does not overturn this.  But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they’ve gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time — when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that’s when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere.  Here’s where it was drawn.  Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow.  Arudou Debito

PS:  And in case you find the title of this blog entry a bit odd:  Yes, there are legal forms of racial discrimination in Japan — the “rational” ones.  It takes a court to decipher which ones are “rational discrimination” (gouriteki sabetsu) and which aren’t.

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

Court orders anti-Korean activists to pay damages over hate speech

Mainichi Shinbun,Courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131007p2g00m0dm051000c.html

KYOTO (Kyodo) — The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations.

It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)

Revised version:

Anti-Korean activists ordered to pay 12 million yen over hate speech demonstrations
October 07, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) Courtesy of MS
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131007p2a00m0na016000c.html

KYOTO — The Kyoto District Court on Oct. 7 ordered anti-Korean activists to pay 12.2 million yen in damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school through a demonstration in front of the school in which they used loudspeakers to disseminate hate speech.

The court decision came after the operator of Kyoto Korean Primary School sued the “Zainichitokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai” (Zaitokukai), a citizens group against special rights for Koreans, and its former members, demanding 30 million yen in compensation and a ban on anti-Korean demonstrations within a radius of 200 meters from the school.

Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume concluded that the group’s actions, including promoting its demonstrations on the Internet, aimed to fan discrimination and hatred toward Koreans living in Japan. It is the first court decision that recognized these anti-ethnic Korean demonstrations as a form of racial discrimination banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

The ruling discussed if freedom of expression secured under the Japanese Constitution could apply to the Zaitokukai’s demonstrations from December 2009 to March 2010, during which group members delivered hate speeches using words such as “Kick Korean schools out of Japan!” and “You guys smell like kimchi” and “These students are children of spies!” through loudspeakers at the school in Kyoto’s Minami Ward.

The ruling is hoped to prevent similar anti-Korean hate speech-fuelled rallies held mainly in Tokyo’s Shin-okubo district and Osaka, and is expected to spark debate on laws and regulations against such movements.

Meanwhile, Zaitokukai’s vice chairman Yasuhiro Yagi said, “We’re disappointed that the legitimacy of our actions were denied. We’ll decide whether or not to appeal after studying the verdict.”

ENDS

Original Japanese story:

朝鮮学校授業妨害:街宣損賠訴訟 在特会街宣に賠償命令 「人種差別で違法」 朝鮮学校周辺、活動禁止−−京都地裁判決
毎日新聞 2013年10月07日 東京夕刊
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20131007dde001040010000c.html

京都朝鮮第一初級学校(京都市)の校門前で行われた学校を中傷する大音量の街頭宣伝などヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)で授業を妨害されたとして、同校を運営する京都朝鮮学園(京都市右京区)が、「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」と元メンバーら9人を相手取り、3000万円の損害賠償と同校の半径200メートル以内での街宣活動禁止を求めた訴訟の判決が7日、京都地裁であった。橋詰均裁判長は在特会の街宣を「著しく侮蔑的な発言を伴い、人種差別撤廃条約が禁ずる人種差別に該当する」と認定した。

学校事業に損害を与えたとして在特会側に1226万円を支払うよう命じた。学校周辺の街宣活動についても請求通り禁止を命じた。いわゆるヘイトスピーチの違法性を認定したのは全国で初めて。裁判所が、ヘイトスピーチとして問題になっている特定の民族に対する差別街宣について「人種差別」と判断したことで、東京・新大久保や大阪で繰り返される在日コリアンを標的にした差別街宣への抑止効果が予想され、ヘイトスピーチの法規制議論を促すことになるとみられる。

判決は、2009年12月〜10年3月、在特会メンバーらが京都朝鮮第一初級学校(当時。現在は京都朝鮮初級学校=京都市伏見区=に移転)に押しかけ、「朝鮮学校を日本からたたき出せ」「何が子どもじゃ、スパイの子やんけ」などと拡声機で怒号を浴びせた演説について、憲法が保障する「表現の自由」の範囲内かどうかなどについて検討した。

橋詰裁判長は街宣やその映像をインターネットで公開した行為について「在日朝鮮人に対する差別意識を世間に訴える意図のもとに示威活動及び映像公開をしたものと認められ、人種差別に該当」と判断した。

朝鮮学校側の「民族教育権」が侵害されたとの主張については、言及しなかった。【松井豊】

◇子どもの励みに−−原告弁護団長

原告側の塚本誠一弁護団長は「同種の街宣事案について、強い抑止効果を発揮すると期待している。日本全国の朝鮮学校で学んでいる子どもたちの大きな励みになる」と話した。

◇認められず残念−−在特会副会長

在特会の八木康洋副会長は「我々の行為が正当であると認められなかったのは非常に残念。判決文を精査して控訴するかどうかを考えたい」と話した。

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

Mainichi Shinbun Editorial, courtesy of MS:

Editorial: Ruling that hate speech constitutes racial discrimination is rational
October 08, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20131008p2a00m0na018000c.html

A recent court ruling that stated that any hate speech campaign targeting particular races and ethnic groups constitutes racial discrimination and is illegal should be regarded as a rational judgment. It is hoped that the ruling, the first of its kind, will lead to the prevention of hate speeches, which have been conducted in neighborhoods of Tokyo, Osaka and other regions where many Korean residents are living and has developed into a serious social problem.

The Kyoto District Court ordered members of Zaitokukai, or a citizens group that “does not tolerate privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” which organized one of such campaigns, to pay 12.26 million yen in damages to the operator of a pro-Pyongyang Korean school in Japan. The court also banned the group from engaging in such street propaganda campaigns.

In the ruling, the court concluded that the defendants obstructed the school’s business and defamed the plaintiffs by blaring through loudspeakers, “Descendents of illegal immigrants,” and “Destroy Korean schools,” and uploading the footage of the campaign online.

The district court went on to recognize that the defendants’ campaign falls under “distinction and exclusion based on race or ethnic origin,” which is banned under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. The court also expressed its view that the amount of compensation for any form of racial discrimination, such as the hate speech by Zaitokukai, is higher in accordance with the convention.

Zaitokukai claimed that it launched the campaign in question to protest against the school for using a neighboring park as a sports ground without permission from the Kyoto Municipal Government, which manages the park. However, the court ruled that regardless of whether Zaitokukai’s claim was true, the defendants’ campaign is illegal because it was obviously aimed at spreading a sense of discrimination against Korean residents throughout society. The court also dismissed Zaitokukai’s claim that its freedom to express political views should be protected, noting that the hate speech did not contain anything that served the common good and was nothing but an insult.

Freedom of expression is an important part of fundamental human rights. As such, the freedom to express opinions through demonstrations should be guaranteed. However, hate speeches could impair the dignity of Korean residents and other targets and foster prejudice against foreigners and exclusionism in Japan’s society.

In South Korea and China, these demonstrations in Japan are widely reported online, stirring anti-Japan sentiment. We must prevent such campaigns, launched by only a small portion of Japanese people, from contributing to the worsening of Japan’s relations with South Korea and China.

The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, to which Japan is a party, has a clause requiring parties to punish those involved in hate speeches. Some European countries legally slap punishments on those involved in such campaigns.

However, Japan has reserved its ratification of this clause in the convention for fear that should it enact legislation imposing criminal punishment on those involved in such campaigns, it could lead to excessive controls on freedom of speech and other forms of expression. Actually, the latest ruling has demonstrated that existing legislation can control hate speeches.

The ruling highlighted the common sense of not tolerating discrimination based on race and ethnic origin. It is important to ensure social consensus to avoid any words and deeds that impair individuals’ dignity from taking form in Japanese society. Japan should improve its efforts through education and other means to nurture people’s notion of human rights.

ENDS
Original Japanese story:

社説:ヘイトスピーチ 差別許さぬ当然の判決
毎日新聞 2013年10月08日 東京朝刊

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20131008ddm005070155000c.html

特定の人種や民族への憎しみをあおるヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)と呼ばれる言動の違法性を認める初めての司法判断が示された。東京や大阪などの在日韓国・朝鮮人が多く住む地域などで繰り返され、社会問題化しているこうした行為の歯止めにつながることを望みたい。

朝鮮学校を運営する学校法人が、「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」や会員らに損害賠償などを求めた訴訟で、京都地裁は1226万円の賠償を命じ、学校周辺での街宣活動も禁止した。「密入国の子孫」「朝鮮学校をぶっ壊せ」と怒鳴り上げ、その様子を撮影した映像をインターネット上で公開したことが業務を妨害し、名誉を傷つける不法行為と認めた。当然の判断だ。

判決はさらに、一連の言動が国連の人種差別撤廃条約が禁止する「人種や民族的出身などに基づく区別、排除」に該当すると認めた。このような差別行為であれば条約に基づき、損害も高額になるという判断も示した。

在特会側の街宣活動は、学校が隣接する公園を、管理者である京都市の許可を得ないまま運動場として使っていることを非難するものだった。しかし判決は、事実を示す内容が含まれていたとしても、在日朝鮮人に対する差別意識を世間に訴える意図があることは明らかで違法とした。演説も公益目的のない侮蔑的発言としか考えられないと述べ、「政治的意見を述べる自由は保護される」という在特会側の主張を退けた。

表現の自由は基本的人権の中でも重要な権利であり、デモによる意見表明は尊重されるべきだ。しかし、ヘイトスピーチは、攻撃の対象となる在日韓国・朝鮮人らの尊厳を傷つけ、外国人に対する偏見と排外主義的な感情も助長しかねない。

韓国や中国では、日本でのデモなどの様子がネット上で紹介され、反日感情を刺激している。一部の人たちの言動が日本と韓国や中国との関係悪化を助長することは避けなければならない。

日本も加盟する人種差別撤廃条約にはヘイトスピーチに対する処罰規定がある。ヨーロッパなどには刑事罰を科す国もあるが、日本はその部分を留保している。新たな法規制をすれば、表現の自由をおびやかし、行き過ぎた言論統制を招く恐れがあるためだ。判決は現行法でもヘイトスピーチに対応できることを示した。

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

Japan Times version (including the error that the Koreans make up Japan’s largest ethnic minority.  In fact, since 2007, the Chinese do; nigh time for lazy reporters to update their preconceptions):

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

Zaitokukai told to leave Korean school in Kyoto alone
Court bans rightists’ hate speech, rallies
KYODO, AP and The Japan Times OCT 7, 2013
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/10/07/national/court-bans-rightists-hate-speech-rallies/

KYOTO – The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging demonstrations during which they used hate speech, and banned them from staging further rallies.

The landmark ruling acknowledged for the first time the explicit insults used in the rallies constituted racial discrimination, human rights experts said, and it could prompt a move to exempt hate speech from free-speech rights under the Constitution.

Presiding Judge Hitoshi Hashizume said the actions of Zaitokukai members and other activists who shouted hate-speech slogans near the school and posted video footage of the demonstrations online were “illegal.”

The actions “constitute racial discrimination as defined by the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,” which Japan has ratified, Hashizume said.

Zaitokukai and the activists were ordered to pay about ¥12 million and banned from street demonstrations within a 200-meter radius of the pro-Pyongyang Korean school in the city of Kyoto. The operator of the school had sought ¥30 million in damages.

The operator filed the lawsuit in June 2010 against the group and eight activists for using hate speech on three occasions from December 2009 to March 2010 near Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in Minami Ward.

The activists shouted slogans, such as “throw Korean schools out of Japan” and “children of spies,” through loudspeakers, disrupting classes and causing some students to complain of stomach pains, according to the suit.

The plaintiff argued that its right to receive “minority education” had been violated in seeking a ban on such demonstrations around the school, which has been consolidated with Kyoto Chosen Elementary School in Fushimi Ward since the incidents.

Several hundred thousand Koreans comprise Japan’s largest ethnic minority group, many of them descendants of forced laborers shipped to Japan during its brutal 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. Many still face discrimination.

Such rallies have escalated this year and spread to Tokyo and other cities with Korean communities amid growing anti-Korean sentiment. In street rallies held in major Korean communities in the Tokyo area, hundreds of group members and supporters called Koreans “cockroaches,” shouted “Kill Koreans” and threatened to “throw them into the sea.”

Zaitokukai defended its actions as “freedom of expression” and said they were intended to oppose the school’s installing of a platform for morning assembly without permission at a park that is managed by the city.

Four of the eight defendants have been convicted of forcible obstruction of business and property destruction in connection with the demonstrations, while the school’s former principal has been fined ¥100,000 for unauthorized occupancy of the park.
ENDS

Zakzak: Counterdemos against hate speech in Japan, now supported by Olympic fever

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s some good news.  Finding a silver lining in Japan’s successful Olympics 2020 bid, here’s Zakzak reporting that Olympic fever has seized the groups protesting against the anti-Korean demonstrations happening in Tokyo:  They are blocking demonstrations and not wanting them to spoil Tokyo’s Olympics.  Well, very good.  Should think that as the time draws nearer the xenophobic elements within Japan’s ruling elites will be leaning on the rabid Rightists as well.  But it’s nice to see the Grassroots doing it for themselves.  May it become a habit.  Arudou Debito

新大久保、大荒れ 嫌韓ヘイトスピーチ

2013.09.09  Zakzak.co.jp,  Courtesy of MS

http://www.zakzak.co.jp/society/domestic/news/20130909/dms1309091209002-n1.htm

olympiccounterdemos090913
嫌韓デモに対し、路上に寝転んで抗議する人たち=8日(東京・新大久保)【拡大】

 韓流の街、東京・新大久保(新宿区)で8日、在日コリアンに対するヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)デモが行われ、対抗するグループが「オリンピックの邪魔をするな」と激突。逮捕者が出るなど荒れに荒れた。

デモが行われたのは、韓流ショップなどが立ち並ぶ新大久保付近の商店街。「在日特権を許さない市民の会(在特会)」などの主催で、旭日旗を掲げた一団が「オリンピックおめでとう」「日韓断交」と声を上げながら練り歩いた。

対抗するグループは「ここは東京。オリンピックをやるところだぞ」「日本の恥」などと訴え、集団で車道に寝転び「帰れ」「デモ中止」と叫んで妨害し、警察に排除される場面もあった。

また、同日午後0時20分ごろ、大久保(新宿区)の路上で、在特会が用意した横断幕(時価約5000円相当)を破ったとして、警視庁新宿署は器物損壊の現行犯で男を逮捕。同署によると、男は黙秘し、氏名も不詳という。

ENDS

The Real News: “Japan Grapples with the Rise of Hate Groups” (video)

mytest

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Hi Blog. Interesting report sent to me by Debito.org Reader D. Eleven minutes of video on the Zaitokukai, the Rise of Hate Groups in Japan, and the tensions between Right, Left, and “Foreign” in Japan’s public debates. Very much worth a viewing. Courtesy of The Real News Network (theRealNews.com).

Published on Sep 8, 2013
Tensions in East Asia are putting stress on Japanese society as rightwing activists begin to target resident Koreans. This has led to some politicians calling for legislative action against “hate speech”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgvfMHYYv2E

Arudou Debito

Japan’s “hate speech” debate proceeds apace, but not sinking in, according to university survey cited in Mainichi

mytest

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Hi Blog. After the now-famous incidents (fortunately) earlier this year of the “Kill All Koreans” march in Tokyo and the “Tsuruhashi Korean massacre” speech in Osaka, hate speech has become a topic for discussion in Japan’s media. Here are some examples (courtesy MS, click on image to expand in browser):

nikkansports041513
Nikkan Sports April 15, 2013

chuunichishinbun051013
Chunichi Shinbun May 10, 2013.

NikkanGendai13Aug13
Nikkan Gendai August 13, 2013.

And here’s one from Yuukan Fuji, July 6, 2013, with the view for bad-mouthing Koreans:
YukanFuji070613

Good. Have the debate, good, bad, and ugly.  That said, it doesn’t seem to be making much of an impact, according to the Mainichi:

///////////////////////////////////////////////
The Hate Speech Problem: More than 60% don’t know about it, according to an awareness survey of college students.
Mainichi Shinbun, Aug 8, 2013, translation by Arudou Debito (corrections as always welcome)

In the wake of public demonstrations in places including Tokyo and Osaka displaying hate speech towards Zainichi Koreans, about 1000 students in Osaka area universities were surveyed for their awareness of the problem. It was revealed that more than 60% did not know about the hate speech.

Touyou University Department of Sociology’s Izawa Yasuki, who carried out this survey, analyzed the results as follows: “It could be said that many young people have no idea how they should take in the problems of Asia, because they were not given the materials to discern these things during their primary and secondary education,” noting the significant number of people who did not answer the survey at all.

The survey was also carried out by Zainichi Korean youth leagues headquartered in Osaka during June and July. It mainly surveyed youths in Tokyo and Osaka between the ages of 18 to 23, with 1014 responses.

According to this, the students who knew about the hate speech problem totaled 35%. When asked about what they thought about it, over 70% replied that “they should absolutely desist” or “it’s undesirable”, while 10.3% said they thought nothing of it and 7.4% said they felt the same way as the hate speechers.

In addition, more than 70% replied that then had no Zainichi Korean friends. Also, more than 70% indicated that they felt that their school instruction in modern Asia/Japanese history was insufficient.

[last paragraph untranslated because it’s not really relevant or scientifically significant]
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ヘイトスピーチ問題:6割以上知らず…大学生ら意識調査
毎日新聞 2013年08月08日
http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130808-00000084-mai-soci

東京や大阪などで在日コリアン排斥などを掲げる「ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)」デモなどを巡り、大都市圏の大学生ら約1000人に意識調査をしたところ、6割以上がヘイトスピーチの問題を知らなかったことが分かった。無回答も目立ったといい、調査を実施した東洋大社会学部の井沢泰樹教授(教育社会学)は「多くの若者はアジアの問題をどう受け止めるべきか、判断できる材料を(学校教育の中で)与えられてこなかったのではないか」と分析する。

調査は在日コリアン青年連合(事務局・大阪)と共同で6〜7月に実施。東京、大阪などの18〜23歳を中心に計1014人が回答した。

それによると、ヘイトスピーチの問題を知っていたのは全体の35%。どう思うかを聞いたところ、「絶対やめるべきだ」「よくないと思う」の合計が7割を超えたが、「何とも思わない」(10.3%)、「共感する」(7.4%)との回答もあった。

また、全体の約7割が身近に在日コリアンの友人や知人はいないと回答。日本とアジアの近現代史を巡る学校での歴史教育について、7割超が「不足」と感じていた。

一方、17〜39歳の在日コリアン91人にも調査を実施。ヘイトスピーチを知る前後での変化を問う設問では、同じ在日の友人を求めるようになった(8人)▽日本人が怖くなった(7人)▽在日と知られるのを避けるようになった(6人)−−などの回答が並んだ。【小泉大士】

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

COMMENT: Although surveys like these are generally easy to poke holes in methodologically (I skipped translating the last paragraph because, for example, the sample size was too small), I think that we can still broach a conversation here about how hate speech (even examples of it advocating murder and massacre) should be registering more of a shock within “peaceful Japan” than it apparently is. Of course, we can say that college students as a survey sample are more interested in playing video games, drinking and getting laid than soaking in the news. But when something is REALLY shocking in Japan, there’s enough carpet-bombing media debate on it that it certainly appeared in my college classrooms, and I doubt that has happened in this case. What do others think? I offer no clear conclusions on this case in point, so I put it under “Discussions” for looser moderation. Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013

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Hi Blog. Thanks for making my article once again one of the top-read articles on the day of publication!  Arudou Debito

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Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ
By ARUDOU Debito
JUST BE CAUSE COLUMN 66 FOR THE JAPAN TIMES COMMUNITY PAGE
August 6, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/08/05/issues/ol-blue-eyes-isnt-back-tsurunens-tale-offers-lessons-in-microcosm-for-dpj/
Version with links to sources

Spare a thought for Marutei Tsurunen, Japan’s first European-born naturalized immigrant parliamentarian. He was voted out in last month’s House of Councilors election.

You might think I’d call it tragic. No. It was a comeuppance.

It needn’t have turned out this way. Squeaking into a seat by default in 2001, Tsurunen was later reelected in 2007 with a reaffirming mandate of 242,740 proportional representation votes, sixth in his party. Last month, however, he lost badly, coming in 12th with only 82,858.

For a man who could have demonstrated what immigrants (particularly our visible minorities) can do in Japan, it was an ignominious exit — so unremarkable that the Asahi Shimbun didn’t even report it among 63 “noteworthy” campaigns.

However, Tsurunen offers lessons in microcosm for his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), and on why Japan’s left wing was so spectacularly trounced in the last two elections.

Tsurunen became an MP partly because, as a Caucasian Newcomer, he offered protest voters something different (even visibly) from established expectations. But he wasn’t a sphinx. He said he would speak up for outsiders, promote intercultural tolerance, and support laws banning discrimination in housing and employment (New York Times, Mar. 8, 2002).

However, mere months later he distanced himself from “foreigner issues.” In a 2002 interview, he told me that his basic policy was to hitch his fortunes to the DPJ. Quote:

“There will be cases, such as international problems, where… I will have to vote along party lines, even if it is at odds with my personal convictions… After all, if I don’t follow party discipline, I will be expelled from the party. Then I won’t be able to do my job. I will maintain my ability to say my own opinion, but at important times I will be a party man. That’s how I stand.”

That’s not much of a stand. Yet as the DPJ’s fortunes rose to become a viable ruling party, Tsurunen became more invisible.

Where was Tsurunen (or his staff) when the United Nations visited the Diet on May 18, 2006, presenting preliminary findings about racial discrimination in Japan?

When the DPJ took power and began presenting significant proposals enfranchising outsiders, such as suffrage for Permanent Residents and anti-discrimination laws, where was Tsurunen when opposition debates became racialized and xenophobic?

When bigoted politicians such as Shintaro Ishihara and Takeo Hiranuma began questioning the loyalty of Japanese with “foreign ancestors” (“Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues”, JBC May 4, 2010), why wasn’t Tsurunen standing up for himself? After all, if not him, who? (The most vocal protests were from Mizuho Fukushima, the leader of a different party altogether.)

Not only did Tsurunen fail to influence the debate, he even relinquished control over his own public narrative and identity.

He famously gaijinized himself in the Japan Times (“Mind the gap, get over it: Japan Hands,” Dec. 28, 2010) by calling himself a “foreigner,” and telling people to accept and work with their fate as permanent outsiders.

Despite some public backpedaling and capitulation, Tsurunen’s attitude never changed, and even after twelve years in office he never tried to transcend mere first impressions of being Japan’s First Gaijin MP.

As proof, check out one of his pamphlets shortly before this election, where he even metaphorically offered to “change the color of his (blue) eyes” (“me” no iro kaete, i.e., change his mind). Now that’s what I call racialized pandering!

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphletcrop

See full pamphlet at http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/tsurunenmarutei2013pamphlet.jpg

So in the end, what was Tsurunen’s agenda? Unclear, because he let others dictate it.

As did the DPJ. And that’s why they fell from power.

To give them some credit, Japan’s politics has entrenched difficulties for newcomers. The DPJ inherited a system corrupted by decades of LDP rule and patronage, firmly nestling Japan in now more than two “lost decades” of economic stagnation. Yet regime change was so inconceivable that the 2009 election had to popularize a new word in Japanese (seiken kōtai) to reflect a new party coming to power.

The DPJ also had the bad luck of the March 11, 2011 disasters happening on their watch. Given how badly Japan’s nuclear industry botched their job (plus refused to cooperate with the DPJ), this would spell doom for any party in power.

Nevertheless, here’s where the DPJ is culpable:

During its short time in power, the DPJ made some impressive policy proposals in very clear precedent-setting manifestos. The problem is that during the crucible of public debate, they didn’t stand by them.

The DPJ’s first major sign of fragility was their policy cave-in vis-à-vis the US Government over American bases in Okinawa (JBC, “Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy”, Jun. 1, 2010).

This eventually cost us our first DPJ prime minister, and gave glass jaws to future policy proposals sent into public policy brawls. Increased welfare services? Bogged down. Historical reconciliation with neighbors? Lame. Renewable energy? Nixed. Any other issues than border disputes? Weak.

Eventually, the DPJ could neither control their party narrative nor or set the public agenda. By the time PM Noda took charge, the electorate and the media were somehow convinced that a gridlocked Diet (due to the LDP’s machinations) was the DPJ’s fault!

Allowing the LDP to set the agenda is particularly fatal in a society that fixates on brands (and the LDP is THE default political brand of Postwar Japan), and generally roots for winners rather than underdogs. (After all, if the media is constantly telling you that the DPJ is going to lose, why would you waste your vote on them?)

Contrast this with how clear the LDP has been about their intentions over the past year, even if it includes erasing Postwar democratic liberalism.

This column argued last November (“If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”) that Japan’s Right should show their true colors, so the electorate could decide if they wanted a Diet of historical revisionists, bigots, and xenophobes. The debate was indeed in technicolor. And last December, with the DPJ’s resounding electoral defeat, voters decided that xenophobia was okay with them.

Then this column argued last February (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer”) that if both Houses of Parliament went LDP in July, this would bring about radical constitutional revisions affecting civil liberties. Last month, voters apparently decided that was okay too. Thus a perfect storm of politics had completely routed Japan’s Left.

But many Leftists still deserved to lose their position in the Diet because they were too timid or disorganized to carve a space for themselves in Japan’s political narrative. We knew more about who they were not (the LDP), rather than who they were.

Similarly, Tsurunen will be remembered as a person with insufficient self-awareness of his role in Japanese politics. He openly called himself an “outsider,” then refused to fight for issues that concerned outsiders. Like Tsurunen, the DPJ ultimately accepted their fate as permanent outsiders.

So, barring an unlikely “no-confidence” vote, we have around three more years of LDP coalition rule. During this time in the political wilderness, Japan’s Left had better learn the power of controlling their own narrative, and grasp the fact that the party in power should set the terms of debate on public policy. If they ever want to be insiders again, seize the agenda accordingly.

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

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

Japan Times: Politicians silent on curbing hate speech, and post-election I see no pressure to do so

mytest

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Hi Blog. This article is a bit stale, sorry, but discussions here of last week’s Upper House Election was more focused on constitutional revisions. Here’s Eric Johnston surveying how last winter’s hate speech finally blew up into a social issue during the spring (enough so that even Abe had to publicly disavow it), then did not gain enough political traction to become a campaign issue during the election. It’s a shame, really, as how people voice their opinions about groups of people in public have profound effects on how those groups will be treated both in public debate and in public policy. Even with PM Abe’s Facebook record of jingoistic and revisionistic “mobilization of the otakusphere”, voters indicated last week that they didn’t care. If anything, they gave Abe a strengthened mandate to continue in this vein. So even though this article talks about events before the Upper House election, I foresee no change to how hate speech is used to continue Japan’s rightward swing in Japan’s social discussions and politics. There is simply no pressure to. Arudou Debito

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

NATIONAL / SOCIAL ISSUES
Reining in anti-foreigner tirades a nonstarter in Diet
Politicians silent on curbing hate speech
BY ERIC JOHNSTON, STAFF WRITER
The Japan Times, JUL 10, 2013, courtesy lots of people
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/10/national/politicians-silent-on-curbing-hate-speech/

OSAKA – Calls in the Diet for legislation to curb hate speech targeting foreign residents of Japan are being made even as the issue barely registers on the campaign trail for the July 21 Upper House poll.

Over the past six months, demonstrations and parades against foreign residents, especially Koreans, have grown in intensity. In Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district, home to large numbers of “zainichi” resident Koreans, a 14-year-old girl in February using a microphone loudly maligned Korean residents, saying she despised them and warned them to relocate to the Korean Peninsula or be massacred.

Her comments were reported worldwide and were followed in the months afterward by anti-Korean demonstrations in Tokyo and Osaka that grew, with protestors holding signs saying “Good or Bad Koreans: Kill them All.”

Yoshifu Arita, an Upper House member of the Democratic Party of Japan who is leading a Diet effort to enact legal measures curbing such speech, says things have calmed down only recently after politicians began speaking out.

“On May 7 in the Upper House, (Prime Minister Shinzo) Abe said these demonstrations were ‘regrettable.’ Justice Minister Taniguchi used the same word. Chief Cabinet Secretary (Yoshihide) Suga also said these were ‘not good things,’ ” Arita told the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on Tuesday in Tokyo, referring to terms habitually trotted out by politicians in lieu of serious condemnation.

Over the past six months or so, it has been the rightist group Zaitokukai that has been responsible for much of the hate speech. Arita said this was not a coincidence. “Zaitokukai was established during the “right-leaning” Abe’s first administration in 2006 and 2007, and started escalating their aggression after the resurgence of (Abe’s) Liberal Democratic Party and the advent of his second administration last year,” Arita said.

Judging from Abe’s rhetoric in May, Arita doubts the prime minister in particular would be seriously inclined to sign on to any sincere legislative effort to ban such virulent talk.

“In the most recent edition of the monthly magazine Bungei Shunju, Abe was asked about hate speech. His response was ‘I leave this matter to the good conscience of the average Japanese,’ ” Arita said. “But politicians must take responsibility for trying to resolve this issue. The fact that Abe can make such a comment fills me with doubt about how seriously he’s taking it.”

Nor do most Diet members seem to want to mull legal bans.

In late May, a network of 84 human rights nongovernmental organizations conducted a poll of all 717 Diet lawmakers on how they felt about hate speech, getting replies from only 46, although they represented all major parties except the Japanese Communist Party and Nippon Ishin no Kai (Japan Restoration Party), whose co-leader, Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, drew international scorn over his attempt to justify wartime Japan’s use of sex slaves, in large part Korean, for the military.

Forty-three of the 46 said they thought a national response to the rise in hate speech was necessary, while 41 said they supported the idea of the Diet investigating hate speech incidents. All 46 indicated the Diet should consider an antidiscrimination law that bans certain kinds of hate speech.

Arita said hate speech not only targets foreign residents and also has the potential to escalate.

He noted incidents in which politicians, during speeches that may touch on topics certain members of the audience may disagree with, find hecklers calling them “traitors” or “people selling out our country.”

“These are words you see not only on the Internet but actually thrown in politicians’ faces when they’re giving their speeches. We’ve not really seen this kind of situation in Japan in the postwar era.”

ENDS

2013 Election Special: The rout of Japan’s Left is complete with a crushing LDP Upper House Victory

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It’s as predicted (if not encouraged) by Japan’s media:  The rightist Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), along with its coalition partner  “Buddhist Party” Kōmeitō (KMT), won an outright majority in Japan’s Upper House.

BACKGROUND

Background for those who need it:  Japan’s Diet (Parliament) is a bicameral legislature, with a more-powerful Lower House (House of Representatiaves) and a more rubber-stamping Upper House (House of Councillors) that can block Lower House legislation.  The Upper House holds elections every three years (Councillors have 6-year terms, and half the Upper House — 121 seats — goes up for election at a time), and yesterday was the Upper House’s most recent election.

The timing of this election was important to Japan’s accelerating swing to the Right.  As Debito.org noted after last December’s Lower House Election, Japan’s rightwing parties — the LDP, KMT, and even a lunatic-Rightist fringe called the Japan Restoration Party (JRP, headed by the likes of xenophobic bigot Ishihara Shintaro and demagogic Hashimoto Tōru) — won an enormous victory over the ruling leftwing parties (particularly the Democratic Party of Japan, or DPJ, who had finally wrested power from the LDP, a party that had become very corrupt and inbred after governing Japan for most of its Postwar Era, in 2009).

How enormous a victory was last December’s Lower-House election for Japan’s Right?  It put 3/4 of all Lower House seats in the hands of ultraconservative parties — ones who were openly stating they favored the reinstatement of a Japanese military (not just the “Self Defense Forces”), a revision of Japan’s Constitution to remove Postwar sensibilities regarding individual rights, and a very ahistorical accounting for Japan’s Wartime responsibilities; they were also quite nakedly playing up external threats to sovereignty by niggling over disputed ocean specks with China and South Korea (see here and here).  These trends were enough to cause alarm in even dispassionate scholars of Japan, but no matter — the DPJ was voted out.

Thus yesterday’s election was to be a referendum on the past six months of Prime Minister Abe, who was previously PM last decade in a spectacularly inept LDP administration that went down in flames in less than a year.  Although political Pollyannas said Abe would be restrained between January and July due to this election (indeed, he vacillated somewhat on his stance towards historical revisionism, such as Japan being involved in wars of aggression and wartime sexual slavery), Abe still made the election more about temporary economic upturns with a hint of constitutional reform — asking for a mandate to resolve the gridlocked Diet (gridlock he had caused, it should have been noted), while occasionally raising alarmist fears about outsiders and Japan’s sovereignty. Meanwhile, the DPJ could not make the main issue of the election how the LDP’s proposed constitutional reforms would abrogate everyone’s constitutional rights.  The LDP’s campaign slogan was in fact “Take back and return Japan” (Nihon o tori modosu); readings by scholars noted that this meant taking Japan back not from the DPJ, but from a Postwar constitution back to something Prewar.  So much for restraint.

So SITYS.  Debito.org has long called for Japan’s rightists to bring it on and show their true colors — so that Japan’s voters could decide whether they really wanted reactionary arch-conservatives to tinker with their civil and political rights.  It looks like they have.  Debito.org has also warned what would happen if Japan’s Right got what it wanted.  Turns out voters didn’t seem to care, for now with this resounding Upper House victory, they have given Abe the mandate to do so.  Let’s crunch some election results and then offer some conclusions:

ELECTION RESULTS

These results are from Japan’s mainstream media, so there is nothing particularly specialist in these analyses.  I will take screen captures from the Asahi Shinbun’s website at Asahi.com, dated Monday July 22, 2013, 2:15 AM JST, with all seats reporting in:

Here’s the makeup of how the seats went by prefectural electoral district:

UpperHouse2013Senkyoku

 

EXPLANATION:  Each box is a prefecture.  Inside each box is a colored kanji representing one seat and, depending on the color, to which party it went.  The navy blue ones are the LDP, the sky blue ones the coalition KMT.  Red is the center-left DPJ, and within the fringe parties of note, the light green is the ultrarightist JRP and the orange is all-over-the-map-politically Your Party (Minna no Tō).

COMMENT:  As you can see, almost every prefecture went LDP.  Japan’s rightward shift is especially clear when you compare it to the distribution in the 2010 Upper House election:

UpperHouse2010Senkyoku

and the 2007 Upper House election, which was quite decisively DPJ:

UpperHouse2007Senkyoku

Now let’s look at how the Upper House looks in terms of seat distribution and assembly majority.

UpperHouse2013shinseiryoku

EXPLANATION:  The uppermost grouping is the LDP/KMT coalition, denoting a total of 135 seats in the 242-seat Upper House.  That gives them an absolute majority, as half the seats (visible in the horizontal bar chart) is 121.  The 10 are unaffiliated and fringe parties, the 11 are the Japan Communist Party, and at 59 is the DPJ.

In the smaller greyer horizontal bar chart below the larger one, you can see the distribution of assembly seats before the election.  Below that is a chart showing the seats distribution with this election (e.g., 65 for the LDP), plus the seats that were not up for election this time (e.g., 50 for the LDP), totaling the political power of 115 seats below that.

COMMENT:  As denoted in the larger horizontal bar chart above, a 2/3 majority has been reached in the Upper House if one coalitions the JRP (at 9) and the Minna no Tō (at 18).  This means a reform of Japan’s Constitution is now very possible if not probable.

Next, to see how much of a rout this election was for the DPJ, consider this bar chart for this election alone, not including seats that were not up for election this time:

UpperHouse2013Kaisenbun

 

EXPLANATION:  The biggest seat getters were the LDP/KMT coalition at 76.  They had 44 before this election.  The other fringe parties, Minna no Tō (politically wild-card) went from 3 to 8, JRP (ultra rightist) went from 2 to 8, and JCP (leftist communist) went from 3 to 8.  Clearly the biggest loser was the DPJ, which dropped from 44 to 17.

COMMENT:  The Right is now clearly in control of the Upper House.

Next, Japan has a funny election system seen in other parliamentary democracies where the electorate votes for an individual candidate in a prefectural seat (senkyo-ku), and then votes for a second time for a political party (called hirei-ku, or Proportional Representation).  So of the 121 seats up for grabs this time, 73 are for prefectural seats largely apportioned by local population numbers (i.e., larger population = more seats), while 48 are reserved for people who get votes on behalf of their party.  So if people preferred an individual candidate but didn’t like their party, they could vote for the person and then a second time for a different political party.  Here’s how those turned out:

UpperHouse2013votebreakdowns

At the top is the LDP again, which got 47 seats in electoral districts, and 18 seats from PR votes, total 65 seats of the 121 up for grabs, increasing their total seats in the Upper House from 84 to 115.  You can do the same math for the other parties, which are, respectively, LDP coalition party KMT (sky blue, center-rightist), DPJ (red, center-leftist), Minna no Tō (orange, wild card), JRP (green, ultra-rightist), JCP (purple, leftist-communist), and other fringe parties in grey Seikatsu no Tō (political despoiler Ozawa Ichiro’s latest incarnation), Shamintō (leftist), Midori no Kaze (green leftist), Kaikaku (unknown leanings; did not field a candidate), Taichi (Suzuki Muneo’s demagogic party), the rest of the fringes, and the unaffiliateds.

COMMENT:  Once again, the biggest winners were the LDP, the biggest losers the DPJ (which got as many as KMT and just one more than the ultrarightist JRP!)

TWO ELECTIONS OF NOTE TO DEBITO.ORG:

As talked about in previous blog entries, two candidates were notable a) for their underwhelmingness (Japan’s first European-born MP Tsurunen Marutei) and b) for their rabid xenophobia (the anti-Korean candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki).  Suzuki first:

1) XENOPHOBE SUZUKI NOBUYUKI GETS MORE THAN 1% OF TOKYO ELECTORATE

suzukinobuyukicampaignposterjuly2013

In the end, Suzuki came in tenth (out of twenty candidates), which is not too shabby considering how extremely nasty he is. As of this writing, 74,083 people in Tokyo voted for him.  I find that decidedly scary.

UpperHouse2013TokyoSuzukiNobuyuki

2) TSURUNEN LOSES HIS SEAT.  NOT EVEN CLOSE

tsurunenmarutei2013pamphletcrop

Finland-born Tsurunen Marutei, the human chameleon who got his Diet seat for two terms, did little of import with it, and then promised to change even the color of his eyes, decisively lost in the PR vote.

UpperHouse2013DPJPRvotesTsurunen

For the DPJ, he came in thirteenth, gaining only 81,856 votes (not all that many more than Suzuki, and this is a nationwide vote!).  This is below the threshold allowed for the total votes cast for the DPJ, which gave only seven candidates (those denoted by red roses) a seat.

COMMENT:  What an ignominious end to what could have been a noteworthy career.  And if you think I’m exaggerating Tsurunen’s underwhelmingness, even the Asahi didn’t see Tsurunen’s loss (as Japan’s first Visible Minority elected to the Diet) as significant enough to include in the 63 “noteworthy races” (chūmoku no tōraku) they gave special coverage to.

CONCLUSION:  I think Abe will now see this as vindication of his mandate, and we’ll see even more pushing of his rightest agenda to undo as many Postwar reforms as possible.  Those will become very visible in the coming weeks.  Vigilance.

Alright, that’s the bare bones of this election.  Let’s open this up to Comments. Thanks for reading.  Arudou Debito

Anti-Korean Upper House candidate Suzuki Nobuyuki wants Japan closed to immigrants and rearmed with nukes (CORRECTED)

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Hello Blog. It’s election time again, and of course we get all sorts of weirdos coming out of the woodwork. In past campaigns we’ve had antiestablishment types (love this campaign video), and also xenophobic types (this one was a shocker back in 2011 — here’s his campaign video). But here’s one candidate this time around who targets Koreans in particular:

suzukinobuyukicampaignposterjuly2013

Suzuki Nobuyuki, a candiate for Tokyo in the Upper House for the far-right Restoration Party Shinpuu (New Winds, not to be (easily) confused with Ishihara’s Restoration party), calls for the end of relations with Korea, an end to immigration (imin), and even the barring of Koreans from entering Japan (how he’ll deal with the Zainichi already here is unclear from his slogans). Oh, and he also wants Japan to rearm itself with nuclear weapons (kakubusou) — now that’s even fodder for Japan’s increasingly isolationist future.

(UPDATE JULY 18:  It has been pointed out in the Comments Section below that the poster above of Suzuki was misunderstood, in that Suzuki is trying to use his bad-boy image of meddling with monuments overseas — so much so he’s been barred from entering South Korea — as an election campaign tactic.   Sorry for the error, and thanks for the corrections.  He makes his barring from South Korea the banner item on his newspaper blurb too.)

Here’s his newspaper blurb, courtesy of MS (click on image to expand in your browser):
SuzukiNobuyuki2013election

It has the typical right-wing tropes about a strong country with sufficient autonomy to defend itself from Chinese invasion, defending Japan’s honor by weeding out “masochistic” (jigyaku) history from education and reestablishing the family unit along traditional lines (no doubt meaning bringing back the Ie Seido), returning Japan to its status as the “world’s safest country” by bringing back the “world’s safest energy source,” nuclear power, and kicking out immigrants so they don’t take jobs away from Japanese (even though NJ were brought in as official policy during Japan’s labor shortage to do the dirty jobs Japanese don’t want in the 3K sector; oh, never mind — facts don’t matter to these people).

Nasty ideology seeing the light of day these days in Japan. Are there still people not becoming alarmed yet? The stuff coming out of the mainstream political parties involving constitutional revisions is even scarier.

Other election watchers seeing stuff that’s bothering them are welcome to contribute (don’t forget links. Here’s Shinpuu’s). Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 65, “Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism”, July 8, 2013

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Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE JUL 8, 2013
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/07/08/issues/police-foreign-crime-wave-falsehoods-fuel-racism/ Version with links to sources.

These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,” depicting non-Japanese (NJ) as a threat to Japan’s public safety (see “Upping the fear factor,” Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007; “Time to come clean on foreign crime,” ZG, Oct. 7, 2003; “Foreigner crime stats cover up a real cop-out,” ZG, Oct. 4, 2002, for just a few examples).

A decade ago, the NPA could make a stronger case because NJ crimes were going up. However, as we pointed out then, Japanese crimes were going up too. And, in terms of absolute numbers and proportion of population, NJ crimes were miniscule.

Then bust followed boom. According to the NPA (see www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf, or the images accompanying this article), “foreign crime” has fallen below 1993 levels (see H5 column, representing the year Heisei 5)!

NPAprelimcrimestats2011barchart

That’s why the NPA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its claims of a foreign crime wave. So, to keep up appearances, the agency has resorted to statistical jiggery-pokery.

For example, look again at the NPA chart. The time frame has been expanded to 30 years; in previous annual reports, it covered just a decade. By stretching the parameters, the overall chart depicts a comparative rise rather than a small peak before a precipitous drop.

Not accounted for, however, is the fact that the NJ population has also risen — more than doubling since 1993.

Another method of manipulation has been to focus on partial rises in certain types of NJ crime, despite the overall fall. And I bet you can guess which got more media attention.

The most creative NPA rejig is arguing that NJ crime has been “stopped at a high plateau” (takadomari no jōtai) — even if that “plateau” is downward-sloping.

Every NPA argument leads to the same predictable conclusion: Further crackdowns on “foreign crime” are necessary, because NJ are importing criminality into a once-peaceful Japan.

Sources:
http://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=1372
http://www.debito.org/?p=7781

Yet neither the NPA, nor the Japanese media parroting their semiannual reports, have ever compared Japanese and NJ crime, or put them on the same chart for a sense of scale. If they had, they would see something resembling the 3-D graph that accompanies this column (courtesy of Japan Times).

crimeJandNJJapanTimesJuly2013

The other chart in Japanese (that can be found at hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_2_1_1_1_0.html and in the accompanying images) — on whose data the 3-D graphic is based — breaks down all crime committed in “peaceful” postwar Japan. Note the (less-reported) concurrent “Japanese crime wave” (especially the middle, yellow set of bars, which depict thefts alone).

NPAJcrimestats19462007

Since the right-hand scale is in tens of thousands, the graph tells us that there was a spike to well over 2.5 million non-traffic crimes in the peak year of 2002, a number that dropped to just over 1.5 million by 2009. Compared to 2009′s total “foreign crimes” of 30,569 (including visa violations, which Japanese cannot by definition commit), there is a difference of about a factor of 49. Thus “foreign crime” would barely even register on the chart.

So how can the NPA still sex up the stats? They found a new way.

In its 2009 white paper, the NPA talked about how “foreign crime gangs” are increasingly moving into Japan and creating “crime infrastructure” (hanzai infura).

It’s still such an obscure term that NPA websites have to define it for the public as “things and organizations that are the basic foundation of crime,” i.e., cellphones under fake names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions and fake IDs (see www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif)
hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds (complete, of course, with racist caricatures, at www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html)
hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

You see this “criminal NJ” narrative again and again on NPA posters, such at the one reproduced here (www.debito.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013.jpg), found at an immigration bureau last March, warning potential NJ miscreants against “forgery,” “bogus marriage,” “false affiliation” (i.e., claiming paternity on a foreign child to get it Japanese citizenship) and “false adoption.”
bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013

Note at the bottom, where the NPA has secured a special goro awase mnemonic phone number (hanzai infura nakuse — “get rid of crime infrastructure”) to help Japanese remember it better.

Clearly this “crime infra” campaign is not bowing out anytime soon. In fact, the NPA is now citing it to discount the drop in foreign crime! As their 2010 white paper reports, “the extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics” (Kyodo News and Mainichi Shimbun, July 23, 2010).

Seriously? So, suddenly, despite all the Nihonjinron mythologies, NJ are now supposedly more likely than Japanese to act in groups?

Swallow this, as well as the argument that foreigners are somehow more “invisible” in Japan (of all places), and voila, the only conclusion you can possibly draw is that all “foreign crime” statistics come from a little black box that only the NPA has access to.

Look, this is getting silly. You can’t ask for a more docile foreign population than Japan’s.

Almost all NJ do their work (no matter how unequal salaries and benefits are compared to those of Japanese), pay their taxes and try to get along without committing any crimes. NJ don’t even cause trouble by clumping into huge ghettos or keeping a high profile (a recent government poll indicated that 46 percent of Japanese surveyed didn’t even know nikkei South Americans are living in Japan!). Nor do they riot every now and again about how horrendously they get exploited; they just hang on by their fingernails hoping for a fair shake in society — one that rarely comes, as protection from discrimination is far from guaranteed by enforceable laws.

That should be enough hardship to contend with, but then in pounces the NPA to make things worse, picking on the weakest members of Japanese society (as it has done for decades, according to scholar Wolfgang Herbert’s “Foreign Workers and Law Enforcement in Japan”) to justify bogus budgets for fighting exaggerated NJ crime.

Of course, foreigners are a soft target anywhere (by definition, they do not have rights equal to citizens in any country), but in Japan they are so disenfranchised that if anyone points a finger at them, there is no way for them to point back.

NPA excesses have gone on long enough to encourage other bullies. We’ve seen a recent spike in the activity of Japan’s hate groups, most famously the “kill all Koreans” march through Tokyo on Feb. 9. Now how about these anonymous posters making the rounds?
gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

One (reproduced in the images accompanying this column) warns of the allegedly “rapid rise” in fake international marriages for illegal overstayers and workers. Another one calls for kicking out foreign crime (murder, mugging, arson, rape and theft, totaling 25,730 cases — again, a drop in the bucket of Japanese crime).

So, the threat to public safety isn’t “crime infrastructure”; it is in fact the “propaganda infrastructure,” reinforced by false NPA arguments, that normalizes public displays of xenophobia and hatred in Japan.

One measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Japan’s systemic and unchecked bullying of NJ is going to hurt others, as emboldened haters eventually turn their attention to other weak social minorities.

Message to government: Rein in the NPA, and stop them constantly bashing Japan’s foreign residents. Expose their statistical hogwash for what it is, and redirect budgets to fight crime in general, not “foreign crime” specifically.
=========================

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html . Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp .
ENDS

NPA “Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures” campaign also targets “foreign crime” anew. Justifies more anonymous anti-NJ signs

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Hi Blog.  Last blog entry we talked about how the National Police Agency exaggerates and falsifies data to whip up media panic about “foreign crime”.  We’ve also talked for many years on Debito.org about how the NPA has been putting out racist public notices about NJ criminals (including, in my opinion, assisting the seedier J-media to publish some examples of hate speech).  Well, anonymous postermakers are now getting into the act, what with the NPA’s most recent anti-crime campaign:

First, check these out (courtesy of Welp):

gizokekkonjune2013gaikokujinhanzaitsuihouJune2013

http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/c/9/c9eaf02e-s.jpg
http://image.blog.livedoor.jp/kankyotoshisetsu/imgs/3/1/318b27b8-s.jpg

The poster at right calls upon Tokyo Immigration Bureau to do something about fake international marriages, claiming they’re “rising rapidly” (kyuuzouchuu), and says (with the obligatory plural exclamation points that are characteristic of the alarmist far-right) that we cannot permit illegal foreign labor or overstayers!!

The poster at left calls for the “expulsion of foreign crime” (!!), with murder, mugging, arson, rape, and theft listed at 25,730 cases! (Again, no comparison with Japanese crime, which is far, far higher — especially if you look at theft.) The bottom boxes are not to me fully legible, but the blue one asks the authorities not to give up in the face of fake applications for visas, Permanent Residency, and naturalizations!

(I would love to get larger copies of these posters. If anyone sees them on the street (take a photo!) or finds them online with greater resolution, please send to debito@debito.org.  Thanks.)

COMMENT:  Neither of these posters has a source or an organization listed on them, so anonymous vigilante hate groups are getting into the act. I find the first poster in particular unsettling, where brides are portrayed as merely cowls of flags.  You can’t trust NJ women, because under their pretty faces are lurking nationalisms that are not part of “us”.

Back to something more professional.  Again, from Welp:

sonokouihanzaijune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_03.gif

This is from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police site (a proud sponsor of the door-to-door neighborhood resident checks and forked-tongue friendly cops who produce racist posters). It warns people in four languages that what they’re doing is criminal activity, including forgery, “bogus marriage” (wow, the language level is getting better), “false affiliation” (gizou ninchi, meaning a J male falsely acknowledges paternity of an NJ child to get that child Japanese citizenship), and false adoption (I hope this won’t now target Japan’s Douseiaisha).  Although not mentioning NJ in specific, the poster’s multilinguality means it’s meant for an international audience (Japanese, Chinese, Korean, English, and I think either Tagalog or Bahasa Indonesia).

(Again, I would love a larger graphic so we could read it all:  Eyes peeled, Debito.org denizens of Kanagawa!)

COMMENT:  The interesting bit is in the bottom green section, where it talks about the Hanzai Infura [illegible] Taisaku (Crime Infrastructure Countermeasures).

What’s meant by “crime infura”?  It’s a new enough concept to warrant an explanation from the Kanagawa Prefectural Police Site:

hanzaiinfrakanagawakenkeisatsuJune2013

Courtesy http://www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif

“Infrastructure” is the things and organizations that are the basic foundation of a society, meaning roads, rails, plumbing, etc.

By “Crime Infrastructure”, this is meant to be the the same thing to undergird crime, such as cellphones under false names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions, and false IDs.

The Ibaraki Prefectural Police have a more elaborate explanation, with helpful illustrations of eight cases.  Three talk about the shyster groups and internet sites who offer drugs, fake subscriptions, loans and financing schemes, etc. But five of the eight talk about NJ criminal activity, including money laundering through “illegal overstayers”, employers of the same, underground hospitals that engage in illegal medical activities and drug dispensing (!!), underground taxis, false IDs, and false paternity scams to get Japanese citizenship.  As I said, complete with helpful illustrations (note the absence of hakujin, so the illustrator has to play with noses to gaijinize them properly):

hanzaiinfuraibarakijune2013

Courtesy http://www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html

In fact, this “foreign crime infrastructure” meme is not new.  The first Debito.org heard about it was in 2009, when the NPA circulated its regular crime reports:  NJ crime was down year on year, so they had to find a way to sex up the numbers.

Hey presto!  Shift the focus from about foreign criminals as INDIVIDUALS, and towards foreign crime in GROUPS:   Then we can talk about NJ crooks targeting Japan and spreading their invisible tentacles nationwide. (Never mind the already well-established tentacles of organized crime in Japan, naturally — as Tokyo Governor Ishihara said, NJ crimes are so heinous in comparison that there are some parts of Japan where allegedly Japanese yakuza fear to tread! (Ishihara, Nihon Yo, 2002: 100))  To raise the fear factor further, we’ll even tell the media that Gaijin groupism means the NPA can’t measure foreign crime statistically!  

By 2010, this is exactly what happened.  And as of 2013, the NPA is now trying to popularize a new concept (since NJ crime still isn’t cooperating by going up anymore) of a “crime infrastructure”, as if it’s now embedded and endemic, invisible and unmeasurable — because it’s connected to NJ.  It’s part of the externality of once-peaceful Japan’s contact with the outside world and internationalization.

This new campaign conveniently occasions those posters made by anonymous vigilantes. Now we have a propaganda infrastructure that normalizes public displays of xenophobia in Japan.  Arudou Debito

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 64 Jun 4, 2013: “By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor”

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest column for your comments. Thanks to everyone who read it in print and online! Arudou Debito
justbecauseicon.jpg
JUST BE CAUSE
By opening up the debate to the real experts, Hashimoto did history a favor
BY ARUDOU Debito
The Japan Times June 4, 2013, version with links to sources
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/06/04/issues/by-opening-up-the-debate-to-the-real-experts-hashimoto-did-history-a-favor

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto has been busy making headlines around the world with his controversial views on Japan’s wartime sex slaves (or “comfort women,” for those who like euphemisms with their history). Among other things, he claimed there is no evidence that the Japanese government sponsored the program, and suggested these exploited women were (and still are) a “necessary” outlet for a military’s primal urges. (Sources here and here)

I will say something for this idiot’s provocative behavior: He brought this issue out for long-overdue public scrutiny. He has also presented us with a case study of how to keep people like him in check.

For a person in power, Hashimoto has behaved unusually candidly. Generally, after Japanese politicians or bureaucrats burp up ignorant, bigoted, sexist or offensively ahistorical comments, they backpedal by claiming they were somehow misunderstood (which Hashimoto did), or even try to excuse their remarks by saying they were “for a domestic audience only.” (They seem to think they live on an isolated debate Galapagos, and that the Japanese language is a secret code.)

Then Japan’s media plays along by ignoring or downplaying the events or, if pressed, lobbing the ideologues a few softball interview questions. Most reporters lack the independence (due to editorial constraints and incentives not to rock the powerful press club system) or the cojones to hold elites’ feet to the fire.

However, when their statements make the foreign media (particularly the BBC or New York Times) they get serious domestic traction, because now Japan’s international image — vis-a-vis countries Japan’s government actually cares about — is being tarnished.

In the bad old days, blunderers would then tentatively apologize and tender a snap resignation — without effecting any real change in how Japan’s elites “really think,” or sufficient debate on the issues they resuscitated. It feels like lopping off one of the heads of a hydra — you just know more noggins will pop up shortly.

Nowadays it’s worse, because the hydra often stays unlopped. Bona fide bigots (such as former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara; see JBC, Nov. 6, 2012: If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on) remain boldly unrepentant or tepidly sorry, hunker down at their posts and wait for the public to swallow the issue before the next media cycle begins.

The result is a toxic aftertaste regurgitated in the region: Japan seemingly rewrites a pretty awful colonial past, and former colonies see this free pass from historical purgatory as a product of Japan’s special political and military relationship with hegemon America. Asia’s acid reflux thus sours other international relationships.

This time, however, Hashimoto is doing something different: He’s actually cooking up an international debate. A marathon press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan last week exposed some juicy bones of contention.

Hashimoto reiterated his denial that the government was “intentionally involved in the abduction and trafficking of women” but, more indicatively, he said: “It would be harmful, not only to Japan but also to the world, if Japan’s violation of the dignity of women by soldiers were reported and analyzed as an isolated and unique case, and if such reports came to be treated as common knowledge throughout the world.”

To paraphrase: Japan did nothing all that wrong because it did nothing unusually wrong. Hashimoto is thus rationalizing and normalizing sexual slavery as a universal part of war — as if blaming Japan is wrong because everyone else allegedly did it.

Essentially, revisionists such as Hashimoto want a bowdlerized assessment of history. But remember, every country has shameful periods in their past; the trick is to learn from them, not cover them up (as Hashimoto’s ilk seeks to do, all the way down to a sanitized education curriculum).

They also want a dishonest tone in the narrative. For them, Japan must not only be seen accurately (as they see it); it must be seen nicely. That is simply not possible when addressing certain parts of Japan’s history.

Why are these people trying so hard to be relativistic? They might actually be so thick as to believe that any government would institutionalize sexual slavery in the “fog of war.” It’s more likely, however, that they simply don’t want their “beautiful country” to be the bad guy in their movie.

Fortunately Hashimoto’s posturing has exposed this ugly illogic. He has given people who know better (such as historians and eyewitnesses) the opportunity to correct and inform Japan’s revisionists on a national level.

To be sure, Hashimoto (a lawyer famous for taking extreme stances as a TV celebrity before his election to office) has never developed the “caution filter” that usually comes with public office, which is why he should return to private practice, where his semantic games would be limited to Japan’s petty courts.

But Hashimoto has also inadvertently shown us a way to blunt the rise of Japan’s incorrigible right wing: Reduce their rants to performance art.

As historian Tessa Morris-Suzuki sagely notes: “This is not politics by persuasion but politics by performance. The object of the current performance is obvious. It is to provoke impassioned counter-attacks, preferably from those who can be labeled left-wing and foreign — best of all from those who can be labeled Korean or Chinese nationalists. This will then allow Hashimoto to assume the ‘moral high ground’ as a martyred nationalist hero assailed by ‘anti-Japanese’ forces . . .

“This makes a careful and considered response to the Hashimoto phenomenon particularly important. Above all, this phenomenon should not be ‘nationalized.’ Hashimoto does not speak for Japan, and to condemn Japan because of his comments would only be to boost his demagogic appeal.

“The best reply from those who hope he never will speak for Japan is to allow his words to speak for themselves. Those outside Japan who are alarmed or offended by these words should seek out and lend support to the embattled peace, human rights and reconciliation groups in Japan which also seek a different future, so that their voices too may be heard at the national level.”

So, I encourage readers to understand what’s behind maintaining these narratives. Japan’s Hashimotos want to channel Japanese society’s innate cautiousness towards the outside world (JBC, Oct. 2, 2012: Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place) into domestic support for their xenophobic populism. When they make their venomous statements, take them up and calmly point out the illogic and inaccuracies therein — stress on the word “calmly.” Use their tactics against them.

It’s a bit ironic, but Japan needs more Hashimotos to make a hash of contentious issues. The clearer they spout stupid stuff, the clearer our corrections will be. And, with sufficient attention and pressure, the shorter their political lives will be.

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.

ENDS

Good news: GOJ signs Hague Child Abductions Treaty. Bad news: GOJ will probably caveat its way out of ever following it

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Hi Blog.  I have some good news to report.  After years of pressure on the GOJ to act like its fellow advanced societies in terms of divorce and child custody, Japan earlier this week signed the Hague Convention on Child Abductions.  Good.  I will comment more after the BBC article:

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

Japan votes to adopt child abduction treaty

22 May 2013 BBC News

Japan's Upper House members approve the international treaty Hague Convention after an unanimous vote at the National Diet in Tokyo on 22 May 2013
Japan’s parliament voted unanimously to approve the treaty

Japan’s parliament has voted to adopt an international treaty on child abductions, after years of pressure from Western countries.

The 1980 Hague Convention sets out procedures for handling cross-border child custody disputes.

Japan is the only country out of the Group of Eight industrialised nations (G8) yet to ratify the convention.

Its policies have been blamed for making it easy for Japanese mothers to remove children from foreign fathers.

Parents who have had their children abducted and taken to Japan by ex-spouses have describe the country as a “legal black hole” into which their children disappear, the BBC’s Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports from Tokyo.

In February, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his support for the treaty after meeting US President Barack Obama.

The upper house of parliament voted to join the treaty on Wednesday. The lower house, which is more powerful, approved the treaty last month.

The government will ratify the treaty after finalising domestic procedures, including setting up a central authority responsible for locating abducted children and helping parents settle out of court where possible.

Japan says it aims to ratify the treaty by March 2014.

Divorced abroad

The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction aims to protect the rights of both parents in custody cases.

“When I said I wanted to see [my daughter] on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed” — Paul Toland, US Navy Commander

It seeks to ensure that custody decisions are made according to the laws of the country which provided the first residence for the children.

Under the convention, children who are taken away by a parent following a marriage breakdown must be returned to the country where they normally reside, if requested by the other parent.

However, campaigners say little will change until Japan reforms its own archaic divorce laws, our correspondent reports.

Japan’s family courts normally grant custody to one parent – traditionally the mother – after a divorce.

That parent is under no obligation to give the other parent access to the child, and it is not unusual for one parent to be cut out of their children’s lives forever.

There have been more than 200 international custody cases involving Japan. Many involve cases of Japanese nationals – married to non-Japanese nationals – who were divorced abroad taking their children back to Japan, despite joint custody rulings.

One high-profile case is that of US Navy Commander Paul Toland, who lost custody of his daughter Erika after his marriage with his Japanese wife broke down.

“The [family] court completely avoided any discussion regarding visitation with Erika,” he said in a statement in 2009.

“When I said I wanted to see Erika on weekends, the judge and the attorneys in the room laughed.”

He was unable to regain custody after his ex-wife killed herself – instead, his daughter now lives with her maternal grandmother, who Cdr Toland said in his 2009 statement had refused to allow access.

In 2010, the ambassadors of 12 countries, including the US, UK, Australia and Germany, signed a joint statement urging Japan to adopt the 1980 Hague Convention.

However, critics of the convention have previously argued that it could make it harder for Japanese women to flee abusive relationships abroad.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  I don’t want to dismiss this development out of hand, because Japan doing this is a step in the right direction (after all, if even after this I had nothing good to say, then what would EVER count as good news on Debito.org?)  But as I have argued before, I think it’s been signed because enough time has passed for caveats to be put in place — so that the home team will rarely lose a custody case in Japan (furthermore, part of the argument for signing has been that Japanese would have a stronger footing overseas to pursue custody cases in Hague signatory countries — again, benefiting the home team in either case).  After all, the normalized portrayal in Japanese media of NJ as violent spouses, and Japanese as victims (particularly wives, even though they are the great minority in international marriages) has expanded Japan’s definition of “Domestic Violence” to even simple heated arguments.  Fight with your J-wife anytime and lose your kids. The deck is stacked.

Let me quote one submitter:  “From May 13’s Japan Times.  A series of articles hammering home what will evidently be Japan’s final word on the subject, that Japanese fleeing countries abroad are doing so to protect their kids and themselves from angry, violent, abusive foreign husbands.  Cue standardized quotes from proclaimed “expert on the issue” Kensuke Onuki as well as lawyer Mikiko “I was for the convention but now I see it conflicts with Japanese culture” Otani and a slew of heart-wrenching stories of Japanese wives fleeing abusive marriages (one claiming that had Japan been party to the Hague Convention at the time of her escape she would have chosen killing her child and herself than risk a return to her husband.  Whether these individual stories have merit of not, it’s pure one-sided sensationalism.  Where are the Murray Wood stories of wife abuse and neglect?
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f1.html
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f3.html
“Only Minoru Matsutani’s article sandwiched between offers any sense of balance.”
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20100514f2.html

And to quote another anonymous legally-trained friend:  “How to address DV is an issue in all Hague countries. In addition to allegations of DV, the Japanese legislation will also allow a judge to consider whether it would be difficult for EITHER the taking parent OR the parent requesting return to raise the child in the country of origin.  This sounds awfully close to a full-blown custody determination, which is sort of what courts are NOT supposed to do in Hague cases.”

As for future prospects, I shall defer to the better-informed judgment of a specialist international lawyer in this field, who wrote the following shortly before the Hague was signed:

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

Friday, March 15, 2013

Japan’s Potential Ratification of the Hague Convention: An Update
Jeremy D. Morley

http://www.internationalfamilylawfirm.com/2013/03/japans-potential-ratification-of-hague.html

Japan has not yet ratified the Hague Abduction Convention. The Japanese Cabinet has today reportedly approved the ratification but the necessary legislation has not yet been passed by the Japanese Diet (Parliament).

The issue of Japan’s joining the Hague Convention is still controversial in Japan. Many members of the Diet are flatly opposed to the treaty on the ground that it will lead to the imposition of “Western thinking” on family relationships in Japan, i.e. that it might lead to the intervention of the courts into the private life of families, to the issuance of judicial orders concerning family matters that can be enforced by the power of the state, and to both parents having meaningful rights to their children after a divorce or separation.

Accordingly, newspaper editorials in Japan have demanded that, when Japanese wives “flee” foreign countries because of alleged domestic violence abroad, they must not be forced to return to the country where such abuse has occurred.

Such concerns have already led to inclusion of a provision in the draft legislation that is most likely to lead to an unnecessarily broad interpretation of the “grave risk” exception in Article 13(b) of the Convention. Indeed, that is the intended result.

The result of such an exception would be to shield abductors who are able to claim domestic abuse even though:

  • (a) The legal system in the (American) habitual residence would provide an abuse victim and child with very substantial protection;
  • (b) No change is being made in Japan to the lack of any meaningful provisions in Japanese law for the other parent to have any access to the child or any decision-making role in the life of the child, so that in reality the foreign left-behind parent would still be without any meaningful rights to the child; and
  • (c) There is no meaningful system within Japan to effectively determine the merits of such claims of abuse.

In addition, there is a serious concern that petitioning parents will be forced into mediation before being allowed to proceed with or complete their judicial case. There are special provisions in the draft legislation promoting mediation. If the mediation process works similarly to the current Family Court mediation process it will lead to lengthy delays and extreme unfairness to petitioning parents.

Mediation is generally an extremely unhelpful forum for foreigners in family law cases in Japan, since (i) foreign parties must appear in person regardless of their place of residency, (ii) the sessions are usually short and are repeatedly adjourned for lengthy periods of time, necessitating multiple inconvenient and expensive visits to Japan, (iii) the foreigners’ views are generally misunderstood for language and cultural reasons, and (iv) the foreigners are pressured to accept unfair terms since there is no enforcement of court decisions in family law matters in Japan and because they are told that their refusal to accept the mediators’ recommendations will be held against them in a trial.

When most other countries have joined the Convention the United States could choose whether or not to accept the accession. If a country has not enacted satisfactory legislation designed to effectively enforce the terms of the Convention other countries need not accept the accession. Such is the case with Thailand, which acceded to the Convention in 2002 but has not yet enacted implementing legislation satisfactory to the United States or several other countries. By contrast, as an original member of the Hague Conference, Japan will not be acceding to the Convention, but will ratify it which will trigger its immediate entry into force without any place for international review.

Meanwhile, the Japanese public is being told that even if Japan signs the Convention, “The return of a child can be denied if the parent seeking it is believed to abuse the child or have difficulties raising him or her.” Daily Yomiuri, Mar. 16, 2013. If that is the gloss that Japan intends to put on the Hague Convention – even though the Convention is expressly designed to secure the expeditious return of all abducted children except in extremely unusual cases – there is little or no point in Japan’s purported ratification of the treaty.

The result of Japan’s ratification of the Convention will likely be to create the appearance of Japan’s compliance with international norms but without any of the substance.

ENDS

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

CONCLUSION:  Same as other treaties that Japan has signed but doesn’t enforce, I think the Hague will wind up as a historical footnote as another treaty Japan chooses to ignore.  When we see the highly unlikely prospect of children of international marriages abducted to Japan sent back overseas by a Japanese court (in contrast to other judiciaries that DO repatriate children, see for example here and here) then I’ll think progress has been made.  But it’s pretty inconceivable to me, since child abduction happens between Japanese couples too thanks to Japan’s insane marriage system, and it’s hard to imagine foreigners suddenly being granted more rights in Japanese marriages than fellow Japanese.  Arudou Debito

Asahi on arrest of Zaitokukai participant in anti-Korean demo; J-Cast on anti-Korean stuff being sold at Dietmember kaikan; Osaka sign saying “Stop Scrawling Discriminatory Graffiti”

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have some positive movements regarding the treatment of hate speech in Japan, particularly regarding that “Kill all Koreans” hate demo that took place last February (god bless the ensuing gaiatsu of international attention for making the GOJ finally take some action to deal with this deservedly embarrassing incident).  First, the Asahi reports that one of the participants in the Zaitokukai hate demo named Akai Hiroshi was arrested by the police, for violent bodily contact with a person protesting Zaitokukai activities.

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

新大久保の反韓デモ、初の逮捕 対立グループに暴行容疑
朝日新聞 2013年5月20日, courtesy of MS
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0520/TKY201305200108.html

在日韓国・朝鮮人を非難する東京・新大久保でのデモで対立するグループの男性に体当たりしたとして、警視庁は、自称・埼玉県熊谷市拾六間、無職赤井洋容疑者(47)を暴行の疑いで逮捕し、20日発表した。「つまずいて相手にぶつかっただけだ」と容疑を否認しているという。新大久保でのデモで逮捕者が出たのは初めて。

新宿署によると、赤井容疑者は19日午後6時40分ごろ、東京都新宿区の路上で、会社員男性(51)の胸などに体当たりした疑いがある。

赤井容疑者は「在日特権を許さない市民の会」のメンバーらとともにデモに参加。被害男性は、デモをやめるよう抗議する集団に加わっていた。両集団はそれぞれ約200人規模で、警視庁機動隊を挟み、緊迫した状況だったという。

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

Japan Times reports from Kyodo:

==============================
NATIONAL
Man held during anti-Korean rally
KYODO MAY 22, 2013

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/05/22/national/man-held-during-anti-korean-rally

Police have arrested a 47-year-old man who took part in a regularly held anti-Korean demonstration in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, for allegedly assaulting another man protesting the rally.

The man arrested Monday identified himself as Hiroshi Akai, an unemployed former Self-Defense Force member from Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture. Akai said he had “accidentally bumped into” the other man, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Police allege Akai hurled himself at the 51-year-old company employee Sunday evening after the protest in Shinjuku. He was held by riot police who were guarding the demonstration.

Rightwing groups, including one claiming to be “citizens who do not condone privileges given to Koreans in Japan,” have been staging demonstrations several times a month in Shinjuku and nearby Shin-Okubo, home to a large ethnic Korean population.
==============================

Okay, good start, and glad that there are protests regarding the hateful, xenophobic protesters (usually their activities get ignored even if they involve violence against counter-demonstrators).  Except for the fact that this sort of hate speech has by now reached the highest and lowest levels of society, as in anti-Korean stickers being sold in Diet buildings, and anti-Korean graffiti being scrawled on public transportation:

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

韓国人差別ステッカーを議員会館で販売 自民議員側は関係否定して困惑顔
2013/5/14 J-Cast News, courtesy of MS
http://www.j-cast.com/2013/05/14175063.html

「チョンキール」と書かれた韓国人差別のステッカーが衆院議員会館で売られていた――。朝日新聞記者がこうツイートし、ネット上でステッカー販売に批判が相次いでいる。市民団体の会議室利用に協力した自民党議員側は、販売との関係を否定しており、困惑している様子だ。
ステッカーには、ゴキブリのような絵とともに、「ヨクキク 強力除鮮液」「チョンキール」と字が入っていた。朝日新聞社会部の石橋英昭記者が、2013年5月13日のツイートで、会議室でこんなものなどが売られていたと写真付きで紹介している。「日韓断交」というステッカーなども写っている。
朝日新聞記者のツイートがきっかけ
jcast051413
ツイートが物議
この日の会議室は、沖縄復帰をめぐる学習会に使われており、石橋記者は、自民党の西銘(にしめ)恒三郎衆院議員が主催者で、日本維新の会の西村眞悟衆院議員が講演していたと書いた。ただ、続くツイートでは、「国会議員が窓口になって議員会館で学習会を開いた民間団体の関係者が、販売していたということです。議員は直接には関わってないと思います」と補足している。
しかし、ツイートは波紋を呼び、ネット上では、「主催議員は責任をとらなければならない」「知らなかったでは済まされないぞ」などと批判が相次いだ。小説家の深町秋生さんも、「首相のヘイトスピーチ批判とはなんだったんだろう」とツイッターで疑問を呈すほどだった。
これに対し、学習会実行委員会の中心メンバーで市民団体の沖縄対策本部では、「この写真は昨日の学習会とも主催者とも関係ありません」とツイッターなどで弁明を始めた。石橋記者もこのことをツイッターで紹介し、「主催者と無関係な人が会議室に入り、台を設け販売していたとのことのようです」と前言を変えた。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、フェイスブックでさらに事情を説明している。それによると、ボランティアを依頼した人の友人が、一緒に参加して勝手に展示したものだという。西銘・西村両議員側には、報告とお詫びをしたとしている。
「記者は事実関係確認してほしかった」
とはいえ、西銘恒三郎議員が、差別ステッカーなどの展示・販売について知っていたことはないのか。
沖縄対策本部代表の仲村覚さんは、取材に対し、そのことを否定し、展示の経緯について説明した。それによると、ボランティアをしていた人の友人は、前日の別の集会にも来ており、そこでステッカーなどを販売していた。友人は、学習会でボランティアをするので、そこでも販売させてほしいと仲村さんに申し出たが、仲村さんは、会議室での物品販売はできないと説明を受けているとして申し出を拒否した。
ところが、この友人は当日、会議室のテーブルでステッカーなどを勝手に展示し始めた。これを仲村さんの仲間が見つけ、展示を止めさせたそうだ。ステッカーの販売までしたとは、聞いていないという。
ステッカーなどは、日韓断交共闘委員会という市民団体がサイト上で売っていたが、仲村さんは、この団体のことは知らないとした。販売の意図もナゾのままで、「今後は身元チェックを厳しくするなど、注意していきます」と言っている。
学習会の主催は、形式的に西銘議員になっているが、実際は実行委がしていたという。西銘議員は、企画・運営にはタッチしておらず、学習会にも来ていないとした。
西銘議員の事務所では、取材に対し、スタッフがこう説明した。
「同じ沖縄の人が祖国復帰の勉強会をしたいので会議室利用の窓口になってほしいと依頼があり、こちらで借りられるようにお手伝いはしました。しかし、実行委員会からステッカーのことについて報告などがあり、どういうことなのかとびっくりしています。差別的な思想自体が困りますし、とても残念なことだと思っています。朝日新聞の方も、ツイッターで発言する前に、事実関係を確認してほしかったですね」
ENDS
==============================

The good news, however, is that we’re hearing about these events at all (discrimination often goes ignored in the J-media if its against NJ). Also good news is that the authorities are taking measures against them, as seen in this sign sent to me yesterday by AP:

antirakugakisignmay2013

(Taken in Sekime-Seiiku Station in the Osaka area, May 20, 2013.)

The sign reads: A bright society where people respect each others’ human rights.  Let’s stop scrawling discriminatory GRAFFITI that will hurt people’s hearts.  If you notice any discriminatory graffiti, let us know (addendum:  let a station attendant know).  Signed, Osaka City Citizens’ Bureau.  

Submitter AP writes:  “I talked to the 駅長 as well. I said I don’t know what lead to posting that message, but as a foreigner in Japan I sometimes face 差別 and understand why this kind of thing is important to address, and thanked him. He seemed appreciative as well.”

Good.  Then maybe people are realizing that this sort of thing affects everyone in society, not just some guest foreigners whose lives and feelings have no connection with ours.  These are positive developments.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013: “Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Police, media must consider plight of those caught in linguistic dragnet
Racialized terms thrown about by cops and parroted by news outlets have consequences

The Japan Times, JUST BE CAUSE Column 63, May 14, 2013
By ARUDOU Debito
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/05/14/issues/police-media-must-consider-plight-of-those-caught-in-linguistic-dragnet
Version with links to sources

A national media exerts a powerful influence over the lives of members of its society. For example, rumors or untruths disseminated through print or broadcast can destroy livelihoods and leave reputations in ruins.

This is why judiciaries provide mechanisms to keep media accountable. In Japan, laws against libel and slander exist to punish those who put out misleading or false information about individuals.

But what about broadcasting misleading or false information about groups? That’s a different issue, because Japan has no laws against “hate speech” (ken’o hatsugen). Consequently, Japanese media get away with routine pigeonholing and stereotyping of people by nationality and social origin.

An example? The best ones can be found in Japan’s crime reportage. If there is a crime where the perpetrator might be a non-Japanese (NJ), the National Police Agency (and by extension the media, which often parrots police reports without analysis) tends to use racialized typology in its search for suspects.

The NPA’s labels include hakujin for Caucasians (often with Hispanics lumped in), kokujin for Africans or the African diaspora, burajirujin-kei for all South Americans, and ajia-kei for garden-variety “Asians” (who must somehow not look sufficiently “Japanese,” although it’s unclear clear how that limits the search: aren’t Japanese technically “Asian” too?).

Typology such as this has long been criticized by scholars of racism for lacking objectivity and scientific rigor. Social scientist Paul R. Spickard puts it succinctly: “Races are not types.”

Even hard scientists such as geneticist J.C. King agree: “Both what constitutes a race and how one recognizes a racial difference are culturally determined. Whether two individuals regard themselves as of the same or of different races depends not on the degree of similarity of their genetic material but on whether history, tradition, and personal training and experiences have brought them to regard themselves as belonging to the same groups or to different groups . . . there are no objective boundaries to set off one subspecies from another.”

The NPA has in recent years gotten more sophisticated with its descriptors. One might see tōnan ajia-jin fū for Southeast Asians, chūtō-kei for Middle Easterners, indo-kei for all peoples from the Indian subcontinent or thereabouts, or the occasional chūgokujin-kei, firipin-kei, etc., for suspects involved in organized crime or the “water trade.”

But when the suspect is of uncertain ethnic origin but somehow clearly “not Japanese,” the media’s default term is gaikokujin-fū (foreign-looking).

[For example, do a search for 外国人風 at http://sitesearch.asahi.com/.cgi/sitesearch/sitesearch.pl]

Lumping suspects into a “Japanese” or “not Japanese” binary is in fact extremely unhelpful during a search for a suspected criminal, because it puts any NJ, or visible minority in Japan (including many Japanese citizens), under the dragnet.

Not only does this normalize racial profiling; it also encourages the normalization and copycatting of stereotypes. I have seen cases where people assumed that “foreigners” were involved in a crime just because they saw people who “looked different” or “acted different” (which has in the past encouraged criminals to adopt accented speech, or blame fictitious foreign perps to throw cops off their trail).

[See for example http://www.debito.org/aichibikergangpatsy.htmlhttp://www.debito.org/?p=841http://www.debito.org/?p=3060]

There are two other bad habits reinforced by publicly racializing criminality. One is the creation of a public discourse (discussed many times on these pages) on how “foreigners” in particular are a source of crime, and thus destabilizing to Japanese society.

The other is that any careless typology winds up associating nationality/phenotype/social origin with criminal behavior, as in, “He’s a criminal because he’s Chinese.”

Both habits must be stopped because they are, statistically, damned incorrect.

How should the NPA remedy this?

Easy, really. They should amend, if not outright abandon, any race-based typology when reporting crime to the media. The police and the media should try this instead:

1) When there is a suspect on the run, and the public is being alerted to be on the lookout, then give phenotypical details (e.g., gender, height, hair color) — the same as you would for any Japanese fugitive. Do not reveal any nationality (or use the generic word “foreign”). Why? Because nationality is not a matter of phenotype.

2) When there is a suspect in custody for interrogation (as in, not yet charged for prosecution), then it is not necessary to give phenotypical or nationality details. Why? Because an accusation without charge is not yet a crime statistic, so those details are irrelevant to the case. It is also not yet a fact of the case that this particular crime has been committed by this particular person — innocent before proven guilty, remember.

3) When there is an arrest, giving out details on specific nationality is permissible, as it is now a fact of the case. Pointing out phenotypical details, however, is unnecessary, as it may draw undue attention to how criminals supposedly “look.” (Readers will have their curiosity sated by seeing the inevitable photograph, now also a fact of the case.)

4) When there is a conviction, refer to 3 above. But when there is an acquittal, the police and media should mention the nationality of the former suspect in a public statement, to counteract the social damage caused by any media coverage that may have inadvertently linked criminality to a nationality.

Remember that at any time during criminal procedure, it is never necessary to use the generic word “foreign,” what with all the potential for overgeneralization and stereotyping. In addition, the police should repeatedly caution the media against any tone associating nationality with criminality.

Now, why am I devoting a column to this? Because the media must not only watch the watchers; it must watch itself. I also know that policymakers read the Japan Times Community pages and this column, because they have changed their policies after withering criticisms here.

Remedial actions inspired by this space include the Takamadonomiya All Japan Junior High School English Speech Contests amending their rules to disqualify “native English speakers” instead of just “all foreigners” (Zeit Gist, Jan. 6, 2004), NTT DoCoMo repealing their “security deposit” for all foreigners only (ZG, Aug. 29, 2002), the Cabinet’s human rights survey rewriting questions that once made human rights “optional” for foreign humans (ZG, Oct. 23, 2007) and, most significantly, the National Research Institute of Police Science discontinuing its racist “foreigner DNA” research scheme for crime scenes (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Here’s hoping that the police and media realize what careless reportage does to NJ residents, and start monitoring themselves better. It’s time to make amends for all the social damage done thus far.

After all, both are generally more careful if the suspects are Japanese. Anyone ready to say in public “He’s a criminal because he’s from Osaka”? Thought not. Consistency regardless of nationality or social origin, please.

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

Arudou Debito’s “Japanese Only: The Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” is now on sale as a 10th anniversary e-book on Amazon for ¥975. See www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp.
ENDS

JDP: Abe criticizes rise of hate speech in Japan, calls it “dishonorable” and counter to “The Japanese Way of thinking”. My, how disingenuous.

mytest

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Hi Blog. We now have the xenophobic public demonstrations talked about previously on Debito.org, which had slogans such as “Kill the Koreans!” in Tokyo and “start a Tsuruhashi Massacre like the Nanking Massacre!” in Osaka, being debated and decried in Japan’s political circles. Witness this article fresh from the Asahi (translation mine):

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

Justice Minister Tanigaki “Filled with Concern” over Hate Speech
The Asahi Shimbun, May 9, 2013, courtesy of MS

On May 9, the issue of the Zaitokukai’s repeated demos containing hate speech, calling for people to “Kill the Koreans”, was taken up in the Upper House’s Judicial Committee. The Zaitokukai are a citizens’ group seeking to deny “special privileges” to Zainichi lifetime NJ residents of Japan. Justice Minister Tanigaki Sadakazu said, “I am filled with concern. This runs directly counter to the course of a civilized nation.”

The answer was in response to a question by PM Arita Yoshifu of the opposition DPJ.  In regards to next steps, Tanigaki limited his statement to, “This is extremely worrisome because it is related to freedom of expression.  I wish to observe most carefully to see whether it leads to sentiments of racial discrimination.”

As for those who gave permission to a discriminatory demo, the National Police Agency said, “According to the Public Safety Ordinance, we cannot deny permission because demo’s slogans become coarse/vulgar (soya) or rough (ranbou).  If there is something concretely illegal under the law, we can take measures.”

ENDS

2013年5月9日 朝日新聞
ヘイトスピーチ「憂慮に堪えない」 谷垣法相
http://www.asahi.com/national/update/0509/TKY201305090289.html

「在日特権を許さない市民の会」(在特会)などの団体が「朝鮮人を殺せ」と連呼するヘイトスピーチ(憎悪表現)デモを繰り返している問題が、9日の参院法務委員会でとり上げられた。谷垣禎一法相は「憂慮に堪えない。品格ある国家という方向に真っ向から反する」と語った。

民主党の有田芳生氏の質問に答えた。今後の対応については「表現の自由との関係で、誠に悩ましい。人種差別感情をあおるものになるのか、注視してゆきたい」と述べるにとどめた。

差別的なデモが許可されていることについて、警察庁は「公安条例では、デモの主張が粗野、乱暴だという理由では不許可にできない。具体的な違法行為があれば対処する」とした。
ENDS

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

Comments have also come from the top:

==========================================
Japan’s PM Abe criticizes rise of hate speech in country
Japan Daily Press, posted on MAY 8, 2013 by JOHN HOFILENA, courtesy of JK
http://japandailypress.com/japans-pm-abe-criticizes-rise-of-hate-speech-in-country-0828468

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his concern on the increase of hate speech in the country in an Upper House Budget Committee session on May 7. The premier criticized the hate-mongering that has become rampant on the internet and in specific areas around the nation, adding that the hate these people show is dishonoring Japan.

“It is truly regrettable that there are words and actions that target certain countries and races,” Abe was quoted as saying. This was the prime minister’s response to a question from Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker Kan Suzuki, who pointed out that demonstrations in the Koreatowns of Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district and Osaka’s Tsuruhashi district have been marred by such vitriol and race-specific hate. Protesters have been shouting, “Kill the Koreans”, or that “Koreans are cockroaches”, and “Koreans go home, you do not belong here!” Abe called on the Japanese people to show the courtesy that has been the trademark of the nation. “I believe that the Japanese respect harmony and should not be people who exclude others,” Abe said. “The Japanese way of thinking is to behave politely and to be generous and modest at any time,” he added.

Abe himself has been caught in recent issues where his specific words have caused angry reactions from South Korea and China. This is with regards to his views about Japan’s role in World War II, saying that the term “aggressor” can be defined in different ways from different points of view. South Korea has specifically made strong diplomatic reactions, asking Japan to apologize and the international community to exert pressure for Abe to retract what he said.

Abe concluded that those who are spreading hate speech – online or offline – do not represent the Japanese people. He also specifically said that it was his intention to restrict hateful comments posted on his official Facebook page. “It’s completely wrong to put others down and feel as if we are superior,” he said. “Such acts dishonor ourselves.”

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Although I am happy that the LDP is saying that these hateful tendencies are a bad thing, there are two tendencies that should be noted.  One is that these are reactive, not active, stances by the governing parties.  These clear and powerful acts of hate speech happened months ago, and now we’re just getting to them during question time, in response to opposition questions?  Far too slow.  The LDP should have denounced this behavior immediately if it ran so counter to what PM Abe can so cocksurely say is not “The Japanese Way of Thinking”.  (And given that these people are legislators, where is the proposal for a law against it?)

The other is Abe’s disingenuousness.  Abe might now say that those who are disseminating this kind of hate speech “do not represent the Japanese people”.  Yet these right-wing haters are precisely Abe’s support base.  As I discussed in my articles in the Japan Times (“Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan will suffer“, February 4, 2013) and on Japan Focus (“Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance.” Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3. March 4, 2013), Abe has been intimately involved with the Sakura TV crowd, for years now advocating all manner of hateful invective towards NJ, particularly Japan’s neighbors and domestic NJ residents.  Abe is thus talking out of both sides of his mouth here.

Especially in regards to issues of his Facebook page mentioned above, which exists to help rally support amongst the Internet Neto Uyo Rightist crowd.  Consider this academic treatment by scholar Tessa Morris-Suzuki in Japan Focus, excerpted:

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

The Asia-Pacific Journal, Volume 11, Issue 8, No. 1, February 25, 2013.

FREEDOM OF HATE SPEECH; ABE SHINZO AND JAPAN’S PUBLIC SPHERE  ヘイトスピーチ(憎悪発言)の自由ー安倍晋三と日本の公共空間

Tessa Morris-Suzuki

Facebook Friends to the Rescue: Mobilizing the Otakusphere

After a rather slow start, a number of Japanese politicians have taken to social media with great enthusiasm. Among them is the nationalistic mayor of Osaka, Hashimoto Toru, who issues an unending series of tweets on his policies and general view of the world, and caused particular controversy last year with a series of rambling tweets on the “comfort women” issue, in which he denounced the 1993 Kono apology and expressed support for Abe Shinzo’s position on the “comfort women”. 7 Abe himself has also responded most enthusiastically to the political opportunities created by the Internet age. He was quick to create a personal website, and has maintained a Facebook page since well before his recent election. He or his personal secretary post comments on the page almost every day, and it boasts over 4,800 Facebook friends and more than 230,000 followers.

On 22 December 2012, six days after the election which returned Abe to the prime ministership, NHK devoted its evening prime time to a discussion program about the election results and the implications of the new government for Japan. The participants in the program were the Secretary-General of Abe’s ruling party, Ishiba Shigeru, the head of the government’s coalition partner, Yamaguchi Natsuo, three university professors and an economist from the influential think tank the Japan Research Institute. NHK invited viewers to send in questions that they would like to have raised during the discussion.

About two hours before the program went to air, Abe’s secretary posted a message on the prime minister’s Facebook page mobilizing its friends and followers to action. The secretary slammed the “bias” of NHK and warned readers that the forthcoming program would be a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”. The web link, email address and fax number of the program were included in the post, and Abe’s friends and followers were urged to bombard the program with messages. The secretary’s message also made derogatory comments about the discussion program’s panelists, describing one (University of Tokyo political scientist Fujiwara Kiichi) as being “famous for saying that ‘the five abductees who came home to Japan should be sent straight back to North Korea”‘. 8 (8 See here, post dated 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)

 

Very far from being a “clean sweep of Abe bashing”, the program proved to be very much like most other political discussions on the public broadcaster. The early questions were directed to the two government-party politicians, who were allowed a substantial share of the air time, and much of the discussion centred around positive suggestions on the need (for example) to listen to the voices of the young and to address the problems of Japan’s aging population. Questions were raised, among other things, about the content of the government’s proposed large-scale public work’s programs, but the criticism was so calm and reasoned that it would require an unusually thin skin to be offended by it.

Later the same evening, after the program had gone to air, the Prime Minister added his own comment to his secretary’s post, describing the program’s participants (other, presumably than Ishiba and Yamaguchi) as “too low-level” (osomatsu sugi). One panelist was described as being “beyond the pale”, and of two others, the Prime Minister wrote that they should be “ashamed to show their faces in public”. 9 (9 See here, comment by Abe Shinzo, 21.59, 22 December 2012 (accessed 15 January 2013).)

Shortly afterwards, Professor Fujiwara posted a mildly worded response on Twitter, pointing out that he has never said or written that Japanese abductees should be returned to North Korea. Energetic efforts by at least one pro-Abe website to prove him wrong ended in failure 10 (10 See here (accessed 20 January 2013)), but meanwhile his supposed “statement” on the abduction issue (which in the Japanese context is roughly the equivalent of an American politics professor expressing support for Al Qaida) was circulating like wildfire through Japan’s right wing blogosphere.

Neither Abe nor his secretary has apologized for or revised the comment about Fujiwara, which still remains on the Prime Minister’s Facebook page. No opposition politician and no national newspaper or TV station in Japan has questioned the Prime Minister’s use of Facebook to libel an academic public commentator. Nor did any of them discuss the propriety of the Prime Minister’s Facebook page being used to post a misleading description of a TV discussion program, with the intention of inciting readers to inundate the program with pro-government comments.

The Abe Facebook message can be read as a calculated warning to any Japanese media outlet or commentator proposing to express doubts at government policy that they are likely face officially sanctioned harassment and vilification. In the Internet age, direct intervention by politicians in the media is no longer needed; they can get their Facebook friends to do it for them.

Full article at http://www.japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3902

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

In sum, if Abe wants to keep harping on about “honor” (whatever that means), I think he should be looking at himself and his political activities in the mirror.  These hate-speech activities are a direct result of the political machinations of his political ilk, if not him personally.  That a man could exist in such a powerful position in government not once, but twice, says indicative things about Japan’s view of “honor”, and about the Japanese public’s tolerance of disingenuousness.  Arudou Debito

NYT Editorial: Japan’s “Unnecessary Nationalism”, re the trappings of GOJ’s rightward swing

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Here’s a tight little editorial from the NYT, focusing on Japan’s “unnecessary” geopolitical disputes.  This is before the issue of the LDP’s constitutional reform proposals have come up, injecting an even more insidious and invidious degree of nationalism.  No doubt we’ll get a good treatment of the latter issue by constitutional scholars on places like Japan Focus, so I’ll save blog space for then.  I’m just glad that the dangers Debito.org has been advising the media about are sinking in overseas — which is good, as it’s the only way that Japan’s unaccountable ruling elite will possibly be deterred from their path away from excoriating “Western democracy” as something anathema to “Japanese values”.  Arudou Debito

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

EDITORIAL
Japan’s Unnecessary Nationalism
By THE EDITORIAL BOARD, New York Times
Published: April 23, 2013, Courtesy of AS
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/24/opinion/japans-unnecessary-nationalism.html

Since taking over as Japan’s prime minister in December, Shinzo Abe and his conservative Liberal Democratic Party have been juggling a packed agenda of complicated issues, including reviving the country’s economy, coping with the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and managing prickly relations with neighbors like North Korea. Stirring up extraneous controversy is counterproductive, but that’s exactly what he and his nationalist allies in Parliament have done.

On Tuesday, a group of 168 mostly low-ranking conservative lawmakers visited the Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo, which honors Japan’s war dead, including several who were executed as war criminals after World War II. It was the largest mass visit by Parliament in recent memory. The Japanese news media said that Mr. Abe didn’t visit the shrine, instead sending a ritual offering, but his deputy prime minister and two other ministers made a pilgrimage there over the weekend. He has a record of defending Japan’s conduct during World War II.

Mr. Abe and his allies know well what a deeply sensitive issue this is for China and South Korea, which suffered under Japan’s 20th-century empire-building and militarism, and the reaction was predictable. On Monday, South Korea canceled a visit to Japan by its foreign minister and China publicly chastised Japan. On Tuesday, tensions were further fueled when Chinese and Japanese boats converged on disputed islands in the East China Sea.

Japan and China both need to work on a peaceful solution to their territorial issues. But it seems especially foolhardy for Japan to inflame hostilities with China and South Korea when all countries need to be working cooperatively to resolve the problems with North Korea and its nuclear program.

Instead of exacerbating historical wounds, Mr. Abe should focus on writing Japan’s future, with an emphasis on improving its long-stagnant economy and enhancing its role as a leading democracy in Asia and beyond.

ENDS

BBC, Yomiuri etc.: LDP now pushing revisionistic, jingoistic and militaristic agenda from above and below, with “Return of Sovereignty Day”, booths at Niconico Douga geek festival

mytest

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Hi Blog.  You have to hand it to zealots in political power for their singlemindedness and clarity of message.  The extreme-right leaders of the LDP are pursuing their agenda with messianistic fervor from both above and below, opening booths and putting in Prime Ministerial appearances at online geek festivals, and even enlisting the Emperor to push an overtly politicized agenda of historical revisionism.  Consider these news items:

////////////////////////////////////
Japan marks ‘return of sovereignty’ day
BBC News, 28 April 2013, Courtesy of JK
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-22330635

emperorjapansovereigntyday
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko gave added weight to the event

Japan has for the first time marked the anniversary of the end of the allied occupation, which followed its defeat in World War II.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the “restoration of sovereignty day” would give Japan hope for the future and help it become “strong and resolute”.

The event is seen as part of Mr Abe’s nationalist campaign.

He is also pushing for a revision of Japan’s pacifist constitution to ease tight restrictions on the armed forces.

It was during last year’s election campaign that Mr Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) proposed the event to mark the day in 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty took effect, formally ending WWII and the allied occupation.

“I want to make this a day when we can renew our sense of hope and determination for the future,” the 58-year-old said in front of officials gathered in Tokyo.

“We have a responsibility to make Japan a strong and resolute country that others across the world can rely on,” he said.

Protests
It was the latest in a series of events and remarks that have angered Japan’s Asian neighbours.

Mr Abe infuriated China and South Korea when he suggested he may no longer stand by the wording of an apology issued in 1995 for Japan’s war-time aggression, saying the definition of “aggression” was hard to establish.

China also strongly objected to the visits by several cabinet members and 170 MPs this month to the Yasukuni war shrine, which is seen as a symbol of Japan’s imperialistic aggression.

Sunday’s ceremony was also controversial with some Japanese. Thousands of people on the southern island of Okinawa took to the streets to denounce the event as a betrayal.

Okinawa was invaded by US marines in 1945 and was not returned to Japan until 1972.

Nearly three-quarters of US troops stationed in Japan under a bilateral treaty are based in Okinawa.

ENDS

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

Right-wing Yomiuri’s less critical and more maudlin take on the event:

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

Japan in Depth / Rethinking Japan’s sovereignty
The Yomiuri Shimbun April 30, 2013 Courtesy of JK
By Yuichi Suzuki and Tetsuya Ennyu / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000176268

Same photo as above’s caption:  Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, left, sends off the Emperor and Empress after a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty held Sunday at Kensei Kinenkan hall in Tokyo.

In hosting a ceremony to mark the anniversary of the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty after its defeat in World War II, the government apparently aimed at encouraging the people to deepen their perceptions of national sovereignty.

Also behind the government’s decision to sponsor the ceremony is the perceived threat to the nation’s sovereignty, as well as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pursuit of constitutional revision, observers said.

The ceremony was held Sunday in Tokyo to mark the 61st anniversary of the effectuation of the San Francisco Peace Treaty on April 28, 1952, which ended the postwar Occupation of Japan by Allied forces.

After speeches by Abe, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the president of the House of Councillors, the Suginami Junior Chorus performed, easing the atmosphere with clear singing voices.

The chorus sang such popular songs as “Te no hira o taiyo ni” (Palms in the sun) and “Tsubasa o kudasai” (Please give me wings), as well as “Asu to iu hi ga” (The day called tomorrow), a song in support of people affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake.

These songs, which the emcee described as being full of hope for the future, were performed because the government deliberately staged the event to foster a future-oriented atmosphere, taking into account criticism it had received that holding such a ceremony is indicative of a reactionary and rightist inclination.

It was Takeshi Noda, chairman of the LDP Research Commission on the Tax System, who called on Abe and others to organize such a ceremony.

Noda began suggesting the idea about a decade ago. He believes it is necessary to give the people an opportunity to ponder why the nation lost its sovereignty by considering as a set the April 28 anniversary of the restoration of independence and the Aug. 15 anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II, the day the nation announced its acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration. He calls the Aug. 15 anniversary “the day of humiliation for losing [the nation’s] sovereignty.”

Efforts made by Noda and his followers bore fruit when the LDP, then an opposition party, held a people’s forum to mark the sovereignty restoration anniversary on April 28 last year at its party headquarters.

Abe, who was not the party leader at the time, delivered a video message, saying: “[The nation’s] failure to thoroughly review the Occupation period right after sovereignty was restored has left serious problems. The next [task for us] is [to revise] the Constitution.”

Event reflects Abe’s intent

Holding the government-sponsored ceremony was mentioned in the so-called J-File, in which the LDP explained in detail its manifesto for the House of Representatives election last year and its plan to hold ceremonies on National Founding Day on Feb. 11, and Takeshima Day on Feb. 22.

Of the three, however, only the sovereignty ceremony has been realized so far.

The prevailing view is that Abe’s strong intention to amend the Constitution had much to do with the event.

During recent interviews and on other occasions, Abe has repeatedly emphasized that “When the Constitution was enacted, Japan had yet to become independent…The Constitution was, as one might put it, created by the occupation forces. We haven’t made any constitution on our own.”

Abe’s strong desire to establish the nation’s own constitution was seen to have coincided with the holding of the ceremony.

During the ceremony, lower house Speaker Bunmei Ibuki said: “What does the restoration of the nation’s sovereignty mean? The most important thing is that the people have the right to decide the law and the systems within their own territory.”

Yet the nation’s territory and sovereign power have been threatened daily.

China’s maritime surveillance ships have repeatedly intruded into Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture. Meanwhile, the Takeshima islands have been illegally occupied by South Korea, and Russia has been intensifying its effective control over the northern territories off Hokkaido.

The current situation, in which the nation’s sovereignty is in unprecedented danger, also appears to have fueled Abe’s desire to hold the latest ceremony.

As for the future of the recent ceremony, Abe has not made his intention clear.

“This is not the kind of the event that is to be held every year,” he said.

The attendance of the Emperor and the Empress at the ceremony was included in the decision the Cabinet made March 12 to hold the ceremony. It seems the Imperial couple attended as part of their official duties at the request of the Cabinet, with whom final responsibility for the ceremony lies.

According to the Imperial Household Agency, the Cabinet briefed the agency on the purpose of the ceremony. On the basis of the Cabinet’s explanation, the agency requested the attendance of the Imperial couple at the ceremony.

Festive mood toned down

“Especially noteworthy is the fact that Okinawa Prefecture, which experienced heavy casualties in cruel infantry battles, remained outside of Japan’s control for the longest period,” Abe said in his speech, referring to the fact that Okinawa Prefecture remained under U.S. administration 20 years after Japan regained its sovereignty.

Abe called for the people to deeply respect the hardships the Okinawan people endured during and after the war.

Okinawa Prefecture was separated from Japan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect on April 28, 1952. As U.S. forces continued to expropriate land and construct bases in Okinawa Prefecture long after that time, some Okinawans regard April 28 as a “day of humiliation.”

However, it cannot be certain that the prime minister and those around him were fully aware of the backlash and mixed feelings of Okinawans regarding the ceremony.

Abe expressed his intent to hold the ceremony at the House of Representatives’ Budget Committee on March 7, but made no mention of Okinawa at the time. A government official said Abe’s “snub” incited mistrust and anger among residents of Okinawa Prefecture.

However, in his responses to questions in the Diet and other occasions, Abe said, “If Japan had not restored its independence, negotiations [for the reversion of Okinawa to Japan] would have been impossible.”

The ceremony was shortened to 40 minutes from the initially planed 60 minutes, as festive programs were cut shortly before the ceremony.

“Decorations for the ceremony were toned down to the absolute minimum,” said a government official.

After the ceremony, Okinawa Vice Gov. Kurayoshi Takara, who was in attendance, told the press: “[Abe] paid consideration to the problems of Okinawa Prefecture. I accepted his speech.” However, he added, “I can empathize with those who assembled in Ginowan in protest of the ceremony.”
ENDS

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

Then we get to an even bigger surprise than this:  The PM finding the time to put in an appearance at a local geek festival, sponsored by Internet snakepit of bullies and right-winger refuge 2-Channel’s corporate body, Niconico Douga a few days ago!

 

avwatchniconicodouga2043013

 

All screen captures from http://av.watch.impress.co.jp/docs/news/20130430_597889.html.  Article courtesy of JJS, who comments:

Wanted to point your attention to this as it seems like one of those things that will be passed up, glossed over, or completely go unseen by most people.  I guess NicoNico video held some type of “Big Conference” called 「ニコニコ超会議2」. It appears at first to be some gathering for tech-heads and geek culture of all kinds. But scroll down a bit to the section 自衛隊や在日米軍、各政党も参加 and you’ll see that Abe came to participate…essentially campaigning at the event. Nico Nico played a big role in one of the debates he proposed be put online, live. But to outright be campaigning at this event seems out of the norm and certainly a bending of the rules. Even more disturbing is the show of military hardware with tie-ins to cute “moe” characters, etc. There is something rotten in Nagatacho and it all seems to be going “according to plan.”

Thanks.  Here’s the screen capture outlining the details of the event.

avwatchniconicodouga043013

 

It even talks about the “movement on Japan’s Internet”, which manga/geek fan and rejuvenated political zombie Aso Taro (currently in the Abe Cabinet as the Deputy PM) no doubt appreciates.  Given how there is even a word nowadays coined to describe the bullying tactics of the Internet Rightists (Netto Uyoku, or Neto-uyo), a sympathetic hearing was no doubt granted by this swarm of birds of a feather).

And in case you were wondering if these geeks were just hikikomori types more interested in using up their room’s inventory of kleenex than thinking militaristic thoughts, consider this screen capture from the event:

avwatchniconicodouga3033013

This ain’t something harmless like the KISS Army, folks.  It’s the “Kiss our collective asses, world!” army being summoned through the LDP’s messages melding nationalism, militarism, and naked political ambition.  Something wicked is not only this way coming, it is already here.  If the LDP gets its way and converts this tone of agenda into real public policy, Japan is heading for remilitarization all over again.  Arudou Debito

New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

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Hi Blog.  I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc.  A synopsis of the new book is below.

You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:

Price:  $9.99 (a bargain considering JO is currently on sale on Amazon Japan used for 3100 yen, and at Amazon.com used for $390.93!), or the equivalent in local currency on all other Amazons (935 yen on Amazon Japan).

If you haven’t read JO yet (as clearly some media presences, like TV Tarento Daniel Kahl or decrier of “bathhouse fanatics” Gregory Clark, have not; not to mention “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo would rather you didn’t), now is a brand new opportunity with additional context.  Here’s the Synopsis:

SYNOPSIS OF THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION OF eBOOK “JAPANESE ONLY”

If you saw signs up in public places saying “No Coloreds”, what would you do? See them as relics of a bygone era, a la US Segregation or South African Apartheid? Not in Japan, where even today “Japanese Only” signs, excluding people who look “foreign”, may be found nationwide, thanks to fear and opportunism arising from Japan’s internationalization and economic decline.

JAPANESE ONLY is the definitive account of the Otaru Onsens Case, where public bathhouses in Otaru City, Hokkaido, put up “no foreigners allowed” signs to refuse entry to Russian sailors, and in the process denied service to Japanese. One of Japan’s most studied postwar court cases on racial discrimination, this case went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, and called into question the willingness of the Japanese judiciary to enforce Japan’s Constitution.

Written by one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, a bilingual naturalized citizen who has lived in Japan for 25 years, this highly-readable first-person account chronologically charts the story behind the case and the surrounding debate in Japanese media between 1999 and 2005. The author uncovers a side of Japanese society that many Japanese and scholars of Japan would rather not discuss: How the social determination of “Japanese” inevitably leads to racism. How Japan, despite international treaties and even its own constitutional provisions, remains the only modern, developed country without any form of a law against racial discrimination, resulting in situations where foreigners and even Japanese are refused service at bathhouses, restaurants, stores, apartments, hotels, schools, even hospitals, simply for looking too “foreign”. How Japan officially denies the existence of racial discrimination in Japan (as its allegedly homogeneous society by definition contains no minorities), until the Sapporo District Court ruled otherwise with Otaru Onsens.

JAPANESE ONLY also charts the arc of a public debate that reached extremes of xenophobia: Where government-sponsored fear campaigns against “foreign crime” and “illegal foreigners” were used to justify exclusionism. Where outright acts of discrimination, once dismissed as mere “cultural misunderstandings”, were then used as a means to “protect Japanese” from “scary, unhygienic, criminal foreigners” and led to the normalization of racialized hate speech. Where even resident foreigners turned on themselves, including Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark’s repeated diatribes against “bathhouse fanatics”, and future “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo’s opportunistic use of activism to promote his own agenda at the expense of the cause. Where the plaintiffs stay the course despite enormous public pressure to drop the lawsuit (including death threats), and do so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remaining in print since its first publication in 2003, JAPANESE ONLY remains a testament to the dark side of race relations in Japan, and contains a taut story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

Now for the first time in ebook format, this Tenth Anniversary Edition in English offers a new Introduction and Postscript by the author, updating the reader on what has changed, what work remains to be done, and how Japan in fact is reverse-engineering itself to become more insular and xenophobic in the 2010s. Called “a reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry” (Donald Richie, legendary Japanologist), “clear, well-paced, balanced and informative” (Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri), “a personal and fascinating account of how this movement evolved, its consequences and how it affected those who participated in it” (Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times), and “the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest” (Robert Whiting, author of You’ve Gotta Have Wa), JAPANESE ONLY is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan’s future direction in the world and its latent attitudes towards outsiders.

More reviews at http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html
ends

Interesting cases: naturalized Japanese sues city councilor fiance who jilted her for Korean ethnicity, Pakistani parents file criminal complaint for injurious school bullying, Hatoyama Yukio officially called “traitor” for not toeing official party line on Senkaku/Nanjing issues

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here are a couple of interesting cases that have fallen through the cracks recently, what with all the higher-level geopolitical flurry and consequent hate speech garnering so much attention.  With not much to link them thematically except that these are complaints made into public disputes, let me combine them into one blog post and let them stand for themselves as bellwethers of the times.

First up, we have a criminal complaint filed with the police for classroom bullying resulting in serious injury due to his Pakistani ethnicity.  This is one of a long line of cases of ethnic bullying in Japan, once again with insufficient intervention by authorities, and we’re lucky this time it hasn’t resulted yet in PTSD or a suicide.  Like it has in these cases here with an ethnic Chinese schoolgirlwith an Indian student in 2007, or a Filipina-Japanese student in 2010 (in the last case NHK neglected to mention ethnicity as an issue).  Of course, even here the Mainichi declines to give the name of the school involved.  Whatever happened to perennial promises of a “major bullying study” at the ministerial level a couple of years ago to prevent things like this?  Or of grassroots NGO actions way back when?

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

Pakistani student’s parents file complaint against classmates over bullying

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130219p2a00m0na006000c.html

TAKAMATSU — The parents of a 13-year-old Pakistani junior high school student here have filed a criminal complaint with police, accusing their son’s classmates of bullying and injuring him.

A male Pakistani student at a public junior high school in a town in Kagawa Prefecture was bullied and seriously injured by his classmates, his parents alleged in a complaint filed on Feb. 18 with prefectural police.

The parents requested on the same day that the town’s board of education investigate the case and take measures to prevent a recurrence as they claim the student has been racially abused by four of his classmates since last spring. However, the education board denies bullying took place at the school.

According to the parents who held a news conference, the student was verbally bullied about the color of his skin by four of his classmates ever since he entered school last April. The parents claim that the students would make racist comments that their son’s skin was “dirty” and that they told him to “go back to his home country.”

The student was also physically bullied repeatedly by his classmates. Last November, one of the four classmates tripped him over when he was running in the hallway, severely injuring his legs and face. Since that incident, the student reportedly has to use crutches to walk.

The student’s 41-year-old father said, “We asked the homeroom teacher and vice principle multiple times to improve the situation but they failed to take any action.”

February 19, 2013 (Mainichi Japan) 

傷害容疑:「いじめで重傷」告訴…パキスタン籍の中1両親

毎日新聞 2013年02月19日 00時37分(最終更新 02月19日 09時33分)

http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130219k0000m040116000c.html

 香川県中部の町立中学校に通うパキスタン国籍の1年男子生徒(13)が同級生からの暴行で重傷を負ったとして、男子生徒の両親が18日、傷害容疑で県警に告訴した。昨春以降、同級生ら4人から人種差別的な暴言によるいじめも続いているといい、両親は同日、町教育委員会に調査と再発防止を申し入れた。町教委側は「いじめはなかった」と否定している。

記者会見した両親らによると、男子生徒は昨年4月の入学直後から同級生4人に肌の色の違いを言われ「汚い」「国へ帰れ」など人種差別的な発言をされ、足を蹴られるなどの暴行も繰り返し受けたという。昨年11月には、校内の廊下を走っていて4人のうち1人に足を掛けられ転倒。足や顔などに重傷を負ったという。男子生徒は今も松葉づえで登下校している。父親(41)は「担任や教頭に何度も改善を訴えたがかなわなかった」と話している。【鈴木理之、広沢まゆみ】

婚約破棄:「在日差別意識に起因」 女性が市議を提訴
毎日新聞 2013年01月28日 15時00分(最終更新 01月28日 16時11分)
http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130128k0000e040180000c.html

婚約相手だった兵庫県内の自治体の30代男性市議に自分の祖父が在日韓国人だと告げたところ、婚約を破棄されたとして、大阪市の会社員の女性(28)が市議に550万円の損害賠償を求める訴訟を大阪地裁に起こした。市議側は結婚できない理由として「政治的信条から消極的にならざるを得なかった」と説明しているが、女性側は「差別意識に起因し、不当だ」と批判している。人権問題に詳しい専門家からは市議の対応を問題視する声が上がっている。

提訴は昨年10月。訴状などによると、市議と女性は結婚相談所の紹介で同3月に知り合った。市議は同6月、「あなたのことが大好きです」などと書いた手紙を渡して「結婚したい」と伝え、女性も承諾した。しかしその数日後、女性が自分の祖父は在日韓国人だと市議に伝えると、市議は「韓国の血が流れている」などとして婚約を破棄したという。女性自身は日本国籍だった。

市議側は地裁に提出した書面で「結婚したい」といったん女性に伝えたことは認めた上で、「保守派の政治家として活動し、在日韓国人らに対する選挙権付与に反対するなどの政治的スタンスをとっており、政治的信条などから結婚できないと考えた」と説明。さらに「婚約は成立していない」として請求の棄却を求めている。

市議本人は取材に「弁護士に任せているのでコメントできない」としているが、女性は「どれだけ人を傷つけたのか、深く受け止めてほしい」と話した。在日外国人問題に詳しい田中宏・一橋大名誉教授は「結婚で出自を問う発想は問題だ。政治家としての考え方があるから正当化されるものではない」と指摘している。

判例などによると、双方の両親や友人らに婚約の意思を伝えている▽結納や指輪の交換をした−−などの事実があれば、婚約が成立したとみなされる。過去には、日本人男性から国籍を理由に婚約を破棄されたとして韓国籍女性が男性に慰謝料などを求めた訴訟で、大阪地裁は83年、「民族差別の存在に起因した迷いから婚約破棄したのは不当」として、男性に約240万円の支払いを命じた判決がある。【渋江千春】
ENDS

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

And finally, courtesy of japanCRUSH last January, we have this interesting titbit:

Japanese defense minister Onodera Itsunori is the latest politician to enter the fray by calling former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio a ‘traitor’ on a television programme. Onodera’s remark came after Hatoyama commented to Chinese officials that the Senkaku Islands should be recognised as disputed territory, rather than Japanese territory, during his trip to China. Interestingly, Hatoyama caused further controversy this week when he apologised for the Nanjing massacre.

Translations courtesy of japanCRUSH:

Defense Minister Calls Hatoyama a ‘Traitor’ (kokuzoku)

Sankei Shinbun:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori gave a scathing criticism of Hatoyama Yukio, who met with Chinese officials in Beijing, for his acknowledgement of the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture as being a disputed territory between Japan and China. Onodera stated, ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. At this, China will announce to the world that there is a dispute, and form international opinion. For the first time in a long while, the word ‘traitor’ came to mind’. Onodera spoke on a BS-Fuji news programme.

鳩山氏は「国賊」と防衛相

産經新聞 2013.1.17 22:29 [鳩山氏の不思議な行動
 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、北京で中国要人と会談した鳩山由紀夫元首相が沖縄県・尖閣諸島は日中間の係争地だとの認識を伝えたことについて、「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。中国はこれで係争があると世界に宣伝し、国際世論を作られてしまう。久しぶりに頭の中に『国賊』という言葉がよぎった」と述べ、鳩山氏を痛烈に批判した。BSフジの報道番組で語った。
===========================

Defense Minister Onodera: Former Prime Minister Hatoyama is a ‘Traitor’

JIJI/YahooNews.jp:  On the evening of January 17, defense minister Onodera Itsunori appeared on a BS-Fuji television programme, and said that ‘This is a huge negative for Japan. I shouldn’t really say this, but for a moment the word ‘traitor’ came to mind,’ strongly criticising former prime minister Hatoyama Yukio’s remark that ‘It is important to recognise that the Senkaku islands are a disputed territory’.

The defense minister showed his anxiety, saying ‘Although there is no dispute, and (Senkaku) is native Japanese territory, the Chinese will announce to the world that this is what a former Japanese prime minister thinks, and indeed world opinion will be formed as though there really is a dispute’.

鳩山元首相は「国賊」=小野寺防衛相

時事通信 1月17日(木)22時37分配信

 小野寺五典防衛相は17日夜、BSフジの番組に出演し、「尖閣諸島を係争地と認めることが大事だ」との鳩山由紀夫元首相の中国での発言について「日本にとって大きなマイナスだ。言ってはいけないが『国賊』という言葉が一瞬、頭をよぎった」と述べ、強く非難した。
防衛相は「係争などなく(尖閣は)固有の領土なのに、中国側は、日本の元首相はこう思っていると世界に宣伝し、いかにも係争があるかのように国際世論がつくられてしまう」と懸念を示した。

http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130117-00000197-jij-pol

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

So this is what it’s coming to.  Dissent from prominent Japanese (who, in Hatoyama’s case, are no longer even political representatives) who act on their conscience, deviate from the saber-rattling party line, and show any efforts at reconciliation in this era of regional brinkmanship get decried as “traitors”.

Check out this photo essay link from the Sankei showing Hatoyama and missus provocatively bowing and praying at Nanjing (text of article follows):

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

鳩山元首相が「南京大虐殺記念館」訪問 中国、「安倍内閣牽制」に利用も
産經新聞 2013年1月17日
http://photo.sankei.jp.msn.com/kodawari/data/2013/01/17hatoyama/

【上海=河崎真澄】中国を訪問中の鳩山由紀夫元首相は17日、日中戦争で旧日本軍による南京占領で起きたとされる「南京事件」の資料などを展示する江蘇省南京市の「南京大虐殺記念館」を訪問した。日本の首相経験者が同館を訪れるのは、海部俊樹、村山富市両元首相に続いて3人目。

中国版のツイッター「微博」などでは、「もっと日本に鳩山元首相のような人が増えればいい」といった同館訪問を歓迎する発言に加え、「記念館で鳩山はざんげしろ」「日本人は歴史を直視しろ」などとの書き込みもある。鳩山氏と対比する形で、東南アジア歴訪中の安倍晋三首相を「右翼的思想だ」と警戒感をむき出しにした発言も目立つ。

歴史認識をめぐって植民地支配と侵略を認めた「村山談話」を継承しつつ、新たな談話の作成を進める安倍内閣に対し、中国側はいわば同館への鳩山氏訪問のタイミングを利用し、牽制する狙いもありそうだ。

鳩山氏は16日の賈慶林全国政治協商会議主席ら中国要人との会談で、沖縄県の尖閣諸島について、日本政府の公式見解と異なり中国との「係争地」と発言、波紋を広げている。
///////////////////////////////////

Doesn’t seem like there is much space for tolerance of moderate or diverse views (or people) anymore.  Arudou Debito

My latest academic paper on Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus: “Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here’s my latest publication, which came out last Sunday, elaborating more on the historical arc of Japan’s rightward swing I have already talked about journalistically in three recent Japan Times columns:

Here is how I see the build up to what came to fruition with PM Abe and his cadre’s reinstatement to power last December.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito

//////////////////////////////////////////////
The Asia-Pacific Journal, Vol. 11, Issue 9, No. 3, March 4, 2013.
Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance
日本の右傾化と鳥取県人権条例

By Arudou Debito

ABSTRACT
Japan’s swing to the right in the December 2012 Lower House election placed three-quarters of the seats in the hands of conservative parties. The result should come as no surprise. This political movement not only capitalized on a putative external threat generated by recent international territorial disputes (with China/Taiwan over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands and with South Korea over Takeshima/Dokdo islands). It also rode a xenophobic wave during the 2000s, strengthened by fringe opposition to reformers seeking to give non-Japanese more rights in Japanese politics and society.

This article traces the arc of that xenophobic trajectory by focusing on three significant events: The defeat in the mid-2000s of a national “Protection of Human Rights” bill (jinken yōgo hōan); Tottori Prefecture’s Human Rights Ordinance of 2005 that was passed on a local level and then rescinded; and the resounding defeat of proponents of local suffrage for non-citizens (gaikokujin sanseiken) between 2009-11. The article concludes that these developments have perpetuated the unconstitutional status quo of a nation with no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.

Keywords: Japan, human rights, Tottori, racial discrimination, suffrage, minorities, Japanese politics, elections, xenophobia, right wing

Introduction

As has been written elsewhere (cf. Arudou 2005; 2006a; 2006b et al.), Japan has no law in its Civil or Criminal Code specifically outlawing or punishing racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). With respect to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (which Japan adopted in 1996), Japan has explicitly stated to the United Nations that it does not need such a law: “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.” (MOFA 2001: 5.1)

However, in 2005, a regional government, Tottori Prefecture northwest of Ōsaka, did pass a local ordinance (jōrei) explicitly punishing inter alia discrimination by race. What happened to that law shortly afterwards provides a cautionary tale, demonstrating how public fear of granting any power to Non-Japanese occasioned the ordinance to be rescinded shortly afterwards. This article describes the defeat of a similar bill on a national scale, the public reaction to Tottori’s ordinance and the series of events that led to its withdrawal. The aftermath led to the stigmatization of any liberalization favoring more rights for Non-Japanese.

Prelude: The Protection of Human Rights Bill debates of the mid-2000s

Throughout the 2000s, there was a movement to enforce the exclusionary parameters of Japanese citizenship by further reinforcing the status quo disenfranchising non-citizens. For example, one proposal that would have enfranchised non-citizens by giving them more rights was the Protection of Human Rights Bill (jinken yōgo hōan). It was an amalgamation of several proposals (including the Foreign Residents’ Basic Law (gaikokujin jūmin kihon hō)) that would have protected the rights of residents regardless of nationality, ethnic status, or social origin.

Read the rest at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito/3907

Other Japan Focus articles by Arudou Debito at http://japanfocus.org/-Arudou-Debito

3907 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance

2708 Arudou DebitoA. Higuchi

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan

2559 Arudou Debito

Japan’s Future as an International, Multicultural Society: From Migrants to Immigrants

2386 Arudou Debito

Gaijin Hanzai Magazine and Hate Speech in Japan: The Newfound Power of Japan’s International Residents

2078 Arudou Debito

The Coming Internationalization: Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?

1743 Arudou Debito

JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against “Foreigners” in Japan

Tangent: Tsutsumi Mika’s crooked Jewish character “Goldberg” in her “USA Poverty Superpower” manga. Ironic, again, given that…

mytest

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Hi Blog. I’ve devoted a couple of blog entries (here and here) plus a Japan Times column to propagandizing journalist Tsutsumi Mika, who has had her “Poverty Superpower of America” book series adapted for Japanese grade-school audiences nationwide and a manga-reading Japanese public.

I’ve already gone into detail elsewhere about the latent journalistic problems with her reportage (not the least the outright falsification of evidence), and the implicit ironies involved with her demonizing a foreign society as a cautionary tale to audiences without sufficient training in comparative cultural study and critical thinking.

Now here’s another irony, sent to me by a friend who wishes to remain anonymous. Further inspection of Tsutsumi’s works reveals an odd attitude towards Jews. Consider this excerpt from her “Poverty Superpower of America” manga, courtesy of Amazon Japan:

tsutsumimikamangagoldberg

Courtesy http://www.amazon.co.jp/コミック貧困大国アメリカ-堤-未果/dp/4569708978/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1362882715&sr=8-10#reader_4569708978

Here we have a Jew named “David Goldberg” from a financial agency selling bogus house loans to an immigrant Mexican family before the whole US derivatives crisis.  Goldberg announces himself as “the ally of the weak” before destroying all of their hopes and dreams.

Interesting choice of character for Tsutsumi, reflecting the latent bias one sees in elite Japanese society regarding “rich Jews” (not to mention other stereotypes; see below) that surfaces every now and again (such as in our former Education Minister and Prime Minister, and current Deputy PM/Minister of Finance Aso Taro):

==================================
Blue eyes, blond hair: that’s US problem, says Japanese minister
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
The Guardian, Thursday 22 March 2007

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2007/mar/23/japan.usa

Taro Aso, Japan’s foreign minister, risked upsetting his country’s strongest ally by suggesting US diplomats in the Middle East would never solve the region’s problems because they have “blue eyes and blond hair”.

Mr Aso, a straight-talking nationalist, said the Japanese, on the other hand, were trusted because they had “yellow faces” and had “never been involved in exploitation there, or been involved in fights or fired machine guns”.

Japan has healthy relations with Arab countries and Iran and imports much of its oil from the Middle East. It is a big contributor of aid to the Palestinian Authority, but also has friendly ties with Israel.

“Japan is doing what Americans can’t do,” local media quoted Mr Aso as saying in a speech about Japan-sponsored investment in the Middle East. “Japanese are trusted. It would probably be no good to have blue eyes and blond hair. Luckily, we Japanese have yellow faces.”

Mr Aso, seen by some as a possible successor to the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, is no stranger to controversy.

In 2001 he said a member of the burakumin, Japan’s underclass, could never lead the country. He later angered Japan’s indigenous Ainu population by describing the country as unique in being “one nation, one civilisation, one language, one culture and one race”. While economics minister, he said he wanted to turn Japan into a country where “rich Jews” would want to live.

In 2003, he sparked protests when he praised imperial Japan’s often brutal colonial rule of the Korean peninsula from 1910 to 1945, and last month he described the US post-invasion plans for Iraq as “very immature”.
==================================

Back to Tsutsumi.  What makes things even more ironic is not that her current husband is an anti-discrimination activist, but that her former husband was apparently Jewish himself:

tsutumimikaSUNYNewPaltz

http://www.newpaltz.edu/alumni/lost.php?view_by=maiden_name&letter=T

tsutstumimikajeremybaummyspace

http://www.myspace.com/jeremybaum/blog/395635368

叩けば埃が出る。Tsutsumi Mika is a person replete with irony.  I wonder what the Jewish anti-defamation leagues would make of Tsutsumi’s Jewish crook?  The American Embassy (unlike the Japanese Embassy) is pretty lackadaisical about how the US is portrayed in Japan’s media.  But I doubt, say, the Simon Wiesenthal Center would be.

Anyone want to let them know about this?  Would be interesting how Tsutsumi, as she did when questioned about the misleading details of her grade-schooler Chagurin article, would defend her editorial choices.  Arudou Debito

Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter

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Hi Blog.  I received this two days ago and am reposting (as is) with permission.  The International Olympic Committee is currently in Japan considering Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Summer Games.  In light of recent events that point to clear examples of discrimination and advocacy of violence towards, for example, Koreans (see below), human rights groups in Japan are advocating that the IOC understand that these actions violate the Olympic Charter and choose their venue accordingly.  Articles, photos, and letters follow from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), Tanaka Hiroshi in the Mainichi Shinbun, and sources demonstrating that, for example, all GOJ educational subsidies for Korean ethnic schools have been eliminated as of 2013 from government budgets.

Academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki might agree with the assessment of rising discrimination, as she documents on academic website Japan Focus the protection of xenophobic Rightists and the police harassment of their liberal opponents.  Her conclusion: “But there is no rule of law if the instigators of violence are left to peddle hatred with impunity, while those who pursue historical justice and responsibility are subject to police harassment. There is no respect for human rights where those in power use cyber bullying in an attempt to silence their opponents. And democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate.”  Have a look.

SITYS.  This is yet but another example of Japan’s clear and dangerous swing to the Right under PM Abe.  And granting an Olympics to this regime despite all of this merely legitimize these tendencies, demonstrating that Japan will be held to a different standard regarding discrimination.  Wake up, IOC.  Arudou Debito

REPORT BEGINS:

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

Date: 2013/3/3Dear Sir/Madam,

I am … an activist against racism. I hope you to know about
racism against resident Koreans, especially  emergent crisis of Korean
ethnic schools by the central and local governments’ oppression in
Japan, even though the governments would invite the Olympic Games 2020
to Tokyo.

I’ve attached a letter to you below.

The International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission arrived in
Tokyo on last Friday and it is going to inspect Tokyo from 4th to 7th
March.

It would be great honour if you handle this issue.
All the best, [redacted]

Japan Network for the Institutionalization of Schools for
Non-Japanese Nationals and Ethnic Minorities

Email: sangosyo@gmail.com

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

Tokyo – a city which discriminates against Korean children
January 2013

We hope to inform you that Tokyo is not an appropriate city for the
Olympic Games based on the Fundamental Principals of the Olympics,
especially that of anti-discrimination.
The main reason for this is that the central and Tokyo governments
officially discriminate against Korean children who attend Korean
schools, which are key to maintaining the Korean communities in Japan.

Koreans in Japan are an ethnic minority who were forced to come to
Japan under the Japanese colonial rule of Korea and settle there even
after WWII. Throughout their enforced stay here they have faced
various difficulties. After the liberation from the Japanese colonial
rule, Koreans in Japan established their own ethnic schools in various
places in Japan in order to maintain their own language and culture
that had been deprived from them under the Japanese colonial rule.

Although the Japanese government has not recognized Korean schools as
regular and official schools and has been imposing institutional
discrimination upon them such as exclusion from a financial support
scheme of the central government, the Korean community has been
sustaining their schools on their own for more than 60 years. The
total number of Korean schools in Japan is approximately 70, including
kindergarten, primary to high schools, and university. Nearly 10,000
Korean children whose nationality is South Korean, North Korean and
Japan are learning in those schools today, even though 80-90 % of
Korean children attend Japanese schools.

The new Democratic Party administration proposed the plan of a
so-called “Free High School Tuition” system in October 2009 as soon as
it was established. The then plan intended not to collect tuition fees
from students of public high schools in Japan and to supply students
of private schools and minority schools authorized by local
governments as “vocational school” including Korean schools with a
subsidy of the amount equivalent to the tuition fee of public high
schools.

In March 2010, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of
Racial Discrimination expressed concern about the approach of some
politicians who had suggested the exclusion of Korean schools from the
bill of “Free High School Tuition” due to the diplomatic issues
between Japan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The
reason for this concern was the discriminatory effects of such a
policy. However, the policy was instigated in April 2010 and since
then the central government has been discriminating against Korean
school students. They have been excluded from this system for nearly
three years, although students of 37 minority high schools including
International schools, Chinese schools and Brazilian schools have been
supplied with subsidies through this system.

On the other hand, all 27 prefectural governments where Korean schools
are located accepted them as “vocational schools” and have been
providing subsidies to Korean schools for decades, even though the
central government requested prefectural governments to not accept
them as any kind of schools in 1965.

However, the decision of the central government to exclude Korean
schools from “Free High School Tuition” has led to the new
discriminative situation in which five prefectural governments
including Tokyo have stopped their subsidies to Korean schools. Tokyo
had supplied financial aid to Korean schools for at least over 15
years. In 2009, it provided about 27,000,000Yen (190,000 Pound);
however, Tokyo has stopped its subsidies to Korean schools since 2010
without providing a clear rationale.

In addition, the then Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro officially said
that he would reconsider the accreditation of Korean schools in Tokyo
as “vocational schools” in March 2012. If the accreditation of
“vocational school” is revoked, it will cause extensive damages to
Korean schools. For instance, Korean schools will become completely
exempt from the “Free High School Tuition” system and there will be no
possibility to receive any financial support from local governments.
Furthermore, Korean schools will be forced to pay consumption tax for
tuition fee.

In December 2012, as soon as the Liberal Democratic Party won the
General Election and established its new government, it declared it
would revise an ordinance in order to exclude Korean schools due to
political tensions between Japan and North Korea, primarily the
abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korea.

In January 2013, Korean schools and school children in Osaka and Aichi
prefecture brought a lawsuit before the court, and Korean school
children in Tokyo are preparing lawsuit concerning these
discrimination.

Racism in Japan is generally increasing, encouraged by the racial
discrimination by the central government. The number of demonstrations
repeating hate speech against Non Japanese nationals, especially
Korean, communities has been increasing in Japan (Annex1). The police
are just gazing at the demos without restricting them because there is
no anti-discrimination law nor hate speech legislation in Japan so
that the demos has been unchecked.

ENDS

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

REFERENCE MATERIALS:

List of Annexs

1, The images of demonstration by anti-Korean racists in Korean Town of Tokyo

2, The Statement of President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations objecting to exclusion of Korean Schools from applying Free High School tuition policy

3, The Article of The Mainichi Shimbun (23 February, 2013)

4, The situation of the cut of the subsidies to Korean schools from local governments in Japan

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

Annex 1: The Images of Demonstration by Anti-Korean Racists

(February 2013, in Korean Town of Tokyo)

 antikoreandemosShinOhkubo020913

Video URL: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2136038266418742101

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

Annex2: Statement of President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations objecting to exclusion of Korean Schools from applying Free High School tuition policy

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) announced a proposed amendment to ministerial ordinance on December 28th, 2012, which amends a part of enforcement regulations regarding free tuition for public high schools and subsidies for private high schools. As for the high schools where foreign students are enrolled such as international schools and ethnic schools, the current enforcement regulations define the subject for the policy as either high schools that are confirmed through its embassy to have curriculum equivalent to that of high schools in its native state, or high schools that are certified by international evaluation body, while the rest of the schools that are evaluated as having curriculum equivalent to that of Japanese high schools can be the recipient of the subsidies, whether or not Japan has diplomatic relations with its native state, after the minister of the MEXT designates each school individually. The proposed amendment is to delete the grounds for the individual designation.

Regarding the purpose of this revision, the minister of MEXT, Hakubun Shimomura, stated at the press conference on December 28th, 2012, that the proposed amendment is aimed at deleting the grounds for designating Korean schools because there is no progress to resolve the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) abduction of Japanese citizens, which makes it clear that this proposed amendment is aimed at excluding Korean Schools from applying the Free High School tuition policy.

As we stated in the “Statement on Subject High Schools of the Free Tuition Bill” on March 5th, 2010, the main purpose of this bill is “to contribute to the creation of equal educational opportunities by alleviating the financial burdens of high school education”, which is also demanded by Article 28 of Convention on the Rights of the Child. Considering the fact that Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as International Bill of Human Rights (International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights) guarantee the right to receive education with ethnic identity being maintained, the current ministerial ordinance which would include international schools and ethnic schools is in a right direction. Furthermore, it is revealed through the process of the deliberation on the bill that, as the Government’s collective view, the designation of high schools for foreign students should not be judged by diplomatic concern but should be judged objectively through educational perspective.

On contrary to that, this proposed amendment is to refuse to provide subsidies based on the grounds that there being no diplomatic relations between Japan and DPRK or no progress to resolve the DPRK’s abduction issue, either of which has nothing to do with the right of the child to receive education. It is a discriminative treatment which is prohibited by Article 14 of the Constitution of Japan.

Korean Schools in Japan completed applying for the designation based on the current bill legitimately by the end of November, 2011, this upcoming amendment is to extinguish the regulations considered as the grounds for applying and refuse the Korean Schools’ application retroactively after more than two years from the application, which poses serious doubt on its procedure.

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations strongly urges that the proposed amendment be withdrawn whilst the review of the application from Korean schools be concluded promptly based on the current law and screening standard.

February 1st, 2013

Kenji Yamagishi, President

Japan Federation of Bar Associations

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

Annex3: The Article of The Mainichi Shimbun

 

Discrimination against Korean Schools need be reconsidered

Hiroshi Tanaka

Honorary Professor at Hitotsubashi University

24 February, 2013 

Since the host city for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics games will be determined in September, the Governor of Tokyo Metropolitan, Naoki Inose, has started Bids for Olympics in earnest. Under such circumstances, would it be right for the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Japanese Government to continue discriminating Korean Schools in Japan?

At the time of Nagoya bid for the 1988 Summer Olympics, Nagoya City had “Nationality Clause” for the employment of teachers at public school which has been open to foreigners in Tokyo or Osaka, thus preventing foreigners from applying. A nongovernment human right committee in Nagoya sent an English letter to the International Olympics Committee (IOC), urging IOC to consider the serious issue on human rights of Nagoya City and to be sufficiently concerned about the improvement of moral qualification in the Olympic Movement to determine the host city. It was Seoul that was chosen as the host city in September, 1981. Though it is uncertain whether or not the letter had anything to do with the decision, it must be remembered that discrimination is unforgivable matter in the international community.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government had previously been providing subsidies worth of 15,000 yen per a student to each of 27 schools for foreign students. However, the Metropolitan Government has stopped providing subsidies to Korean Schools alone since 2010 and not on the budget next year either. There has been no illegal act on the Korean Schools side. The education of the child should not be confounded with international affair.

So called “Free High School tuition law” was implemented in the same year 2010, which was applied not only to Japanese high schools but to vocational schools and high schools for foreign students as well. Students from each of 39 high schools, such as Brazilian Schools, Chinese Schools, (South) Korean Schools and International Schools were provided with subsidies equivalent to the tuition for the public high school.

Nevertheless, the decision over whether or not (North) Korean Schools would be applicable to the policy still remains unmade and students at Korean Schools have already graduated without ever receiving subsidies over the last two years.

Following the birth of Abe Cabinet, the Minster of the Ministry of Education, Culture, sports, Science and Technology (MEXT), Hakubun Shimomura (aka Hirohumi Shimomura) amended the enforcement regulations of Free High School tuition law with the purpose of excluding Korean Schools alone from the policy because there is no progress to resolve Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea’s abduction of Japanese citizens. The law’s main purpose is “alleviating the financial burdens of high school education” and “to contribute to the creation of equal education opportunities”. Doesn’t this amendment to the enforcement regulations go beyond the limitation of a delegated order?

UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD)  expressed its concern about the exclusion of Korean Schools from Free High School tuition policy in the Concluding Observation in March, 2010, after reviewing the report submitted by Japanese Government and recommended Japan to consider acceding to the UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (adopted in 1960, 100 signatories). The concern of CERD became realized by Abe Cabinet.

The report from Japanese Government to the UN Committee on Economics, Social and Cultural Rights is to be reviewed in coming April. List of Issues from the Committee says “Please provide information on the impact of the measures taken to address the persistent discrimination against children belonging to ethnic minorities and migrant families, in particular children of Korean origin”. Female students at Korean Schools used to go to school wearing chima jeogori, the traditional Korean form of dress. It’s been a long time since it became unseen in order to avoid harassment and assaults by heartless Japanese citizens.

Olympic Charter states “Any form of discrimination with regard to a country or a person on grounds of race, religion, politics, gender or otherwise is incompatible with belonging to the Olympic Movement.” Discrimination against Korean School is incompatible with Olympics.

Discrimination against Korean Schools need be reconsidered.

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

Annex4: The situation of the cut of the subsidies to Korean schools from local governments in Japan ( 2009 – 2013 )

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Prefecture

(start date of subsidy)

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Total amount of subsidy

Tokyo

(1995)

23.5 million

0

0

0

Cut from the budget

Saitama

(1982)

9 million

0

0

0

Cut from the budget

Osaka

(1988)

185 million

87 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Miyagi

(1992)

1.5 million

1.5 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Chiba

(1985)

5.6 million

5.6 million

0

0

Cut from the budget

Hiroshima

(1992)

13.8

million

10.1

million

9.6

million

0

Cut from the budget

Kanagawa

(1977)

72.5

million

63

million

63

million

63

million

Cut from the budget

Yamaguchi

(1992)

2.4

million

2.4

million

2.3

million

2.2

million

Cut from the budget

Based on a survey by The Association of Korean Human Rights in Japan

All the currency unit is Japanese yen ( 1 euro≒123 yen, 1 dollar≒93 yen [as of 22 Feb 2013] )

ENDS

Feb 9 2013 Tokyo Shin-Ohkubo Anti-Korean demonstrator slogans: “Good or Bad, Kill All Koreans” etc.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  It was only a matter of time.  Debito.org has reported on anti-NJ demonstrations in the past (start here).  And after the Takeshima/Dokdo Islands dispute, public displays of xenophobic hatred by Japan’s strengthening Right Wing has been increasingly directed towards Zainichi Koreans in their Tokyo neighborhoods (see here, last September).

Now comes the next step:  Public demonstrations advocating violence and death, marching through an ethnic Korean neighborhood in Tokyo for maximum effect and impact.  They are happening.  Check out these photos of demonstrator signs, taken February 9, 2013, courtesy of a human rights lawyer and used with permission:
antikoreandemosShinOhkubo020913
Here is a video of that demonstration, taken in Shin-Ohkubo along Meiji Doori and Ohkubo-Doori on February 9, 2013:

Also: http://matome.naver.jp/odai/2136038266418742101

This information has come to me as part of a campaign to inform the International Olympic Committee about Japan’s discriminatory practices towards its ethnic minorities, in violation of the IOC Charter.  I will have that report up tomorrow.

COMMENT: “KOREANS: HANG YOURSELVES, DRINK POISON, LEAP TO YOUR DEATHS.” “GOOD OR BAD, KILL ALL KOREANS.”  At this rate, it is only a matter of time before these threats of violence become real.  Still holding out hope that “Japan is a peaceful, nonviolent society” and is therefore somehow exceptional?  Heed this warning:  People are people anywhere you go, and when encouraged in this way to resort to violence, eventually there will be blood.  Time to wake up and recognize what is happening in Japan before it is too late.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  This incident is causing debate in the lower-brow domestic press.  Nikkan Sports, April 15, 2013, courtesy of MS (click on image to expand in browser).

nikkansports041513

Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

mytest

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Hi Blog. As a followup to the previous blog post talking about racist public notices by the Japanese police forces, here is another type of discriminatory sign that is also worthy of discussion — one that warns the public that NJ are criminals:

GenkyStoresBewareNJCrime022813

=====================================
(in Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, and English)

警告
外国人による犯罪行為については、警察だけではなく
職場や派遣会社にも「必ず」連絡します。

WARNING
If we find any kinds of criminal acts of foreigners, we SURELY report not only to the police but also to your workplace and your agency.

— GENKY Stores Inc (a drugstore in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken, dated February 28, 2013, taken by HSD, courtesy of shared links on Facebook through SM)

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

We have talked about this on Debito.org for years now:  If you want to call for an end to criminal activity, we suggest drawing attention to the CRIME, not the NATIONALITY.  It’s not as if Japanese are innocent of, for example, shoplifting.  In 2009, we had the Tokyo MPD deciding to survey (as opposed to arrest and snitch on their workplace) 2000 shoplifting suspects to find out their crime patterns (how nice and mellow of them; nicer than getting them fired and deported) — especially of the “lonely elderly”:

=====================================
Police combat crime by “lonely” elderly
Reuters.com  By Colin Parrott

TOKYO | Thu Aug 27, 2009 12:41pm EDT

http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/08/27/us-japan-elderly-idUSTRE57Q48D20090827

(Reuters) – Tokyo police will try to rein in a wave of shoplifting by lonely elderly people by involving them in community service, a police spokesman said Thursday.

One out of four elderly shoplifters in the capital blamed their crime on loneliness, Japanese media quoted a police survey as saying. Another 8 percent said it was because they had “no reason to live.”

More than half the elderly shoplifters said they had no friends and 40 percent of them lived alone, media said.

“Making shoplifters do volunteer work in the community is effective,” the Tokyo Shimbun quoted J.F. Oberlin University professor Akihiro Sakai, head of a police research panel set up to tackle shoplifting, as saying.

“Instead of increased punishment, I hope we can rehabilitate shoplifters with special care.”

A police spokesman declined to confirm the details of the survey but said it would be released to the public soon.

Elderly shoplifting cases in Tokyo reached all-time highs last year, nearly catching up with the number of cases involving young offenders.

People 65 years or older accounted for 23 percent of the 17,800 known shoplifting cases in 2008, more than doubling in the past five years, media said.

An example cited in the Ministry of Justice’s annual report on crime describes a 76-year-old woman who turned to shoplifting several years ago as a way to battle loneliness after her parents died.

Over 20 percent of Japan’s population is aged 65 or over, with that figure set to double by 2050.

ENDS

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

And these crimes just keep rising:

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

BBC News, 27 January 2011
Japanese pensioners’ shoplifting hits record high
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12296077

More than a quarter of shoplifters arrested in Japan in 2010 were over the age of 65, police have said, as the number of pensioners committing the crime hit a record high.

In an annual report, the National Police Agency said 27,362 pensioners were arrested for shoplifting in 2010 – almost equalling teenagers.

Most of them stole food or clothes rather than luxury items, the NPA said.

Japanese society is ageing rapidly and its economy remains stalled.

More than 20% of the population are now over the age of 65 – a figure which is expected to rise to about 40% by 2050.

A police official told the Mainichi newspaper that pensioners were shoplifting not just for financial reasons “but also out of a sense of isolation peculiar to the age”.

In recent decades the traditional three-generation household structure has changed – more young people have moved to cities to find employment, leaving elderly parents on their own.

Pensioners who want to work have also found it harder to find jobs because of the economic crunch.

Police say the record high – with pensioners comprising 26.1% of all shoplifters – represents a persistent trend.

When record keeping began in 1986, the number of pensioners arrested stood at 4,918. It has climbed since then, hitting 10,000 in 1999 and 20,000 in 2004.

ENDS

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

COMMENT:  How sweet and understanding our police forces are towards these lonely oldies that need some kid-gloved “rehabilitation”.  Although there are some doubts as to how much of an “epidemic” this is (i.e., more old people means more old shoplifters, statistically), the fact remains that Japanese shoplift too (104,827 arrests in 2011 alone; arrests, mind you, not catch and release with a warning ‘cos “they’re so lonely” (cue South Park music)).

Also, note how signs by the police warning the public against shoplifting do NOT target oldsters as a demographic:

chibamanbikichuuisign062111
(Courtesy Japan Times Yen For Living Blog)

For even more sweetness, blog authors Philip Brasor and Masako Tsubuku write:

====================================
At least one blogger writes that, statistically speaking, it’s to be expected. Masamizu Kibashiri (an obvious pseudonym) points out that the fatalist tone of the reporting on elder shoplifting hides a salient and very apparent fact: The number of old people has risen sharply during the past decade while the number of minors has declined at almost the same rate. In the past 20 years, the over-65 population of Japan has jumped from 15 million to 27 million. Given this increase, the slighter rise in shoplifting arrests could actually be taken as being encouraging: Not as many older people are shoplifting as might be expected.

Kibashiri proposes a different statistical model for gauging the phenomenon: Number of elder arrests per 10,000 population of over-65s. Using that statistical model, he finds that the percentage of elder shoplifters has, in fact, risen significantly, from 2.8 in 1989 to 9.5 in 2009, with the largest jump coming around 2005. Obviously, there is a meaningful increase here, but the media needs to qualify its reporting of an “epidemic.”
====================================

Well, good. I’m glad the method behind the statistical analysis gets properly scrutinized if there are Japanese being targeted by it. Now how about the same thing for NJ crime? Nuh-uh. Not so far. Again, signs and notices concerning NJ crime zero in on the criminal, not the crime, making criminality a function of nationality in Japan’s public discourse. No intelligent qualification or caveat necessary unless we’re dealing with Japanese (because, after all, we have to be gentle).  Again, its not a fair debate.

Returning to the Genky Stores genre of signs, here are a few more examples from Debito.org from as far back as 2002:
nakanooldsign
mitakapolice0702
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/communityissues.html#police
shizuokakeisatsucover
http://www.debito.org/TheCommunity/shizuokakeisatsuhandbook.html

Arudou Debito
================
UPDATE: RM reports the signs at the Genky store in Minokamo have been taken down.
http://japansociology.com/2013/03/06/update-after-protests-genky-store-takes-down-foreigner-crime-sign/

— Great visuals on the YouTubed video. Watch to the end where the local NJ get to crumple up the sign. Bravo.

Racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Japanese police are back up to their old tricks. Check this poster out from the Osaka Prefectural Government Minami Police Station Safe Livelhoods Section (courtesy of @feitclub and Tom, photo taken February 13, 2013, by SMBC in Namba Nankai Station), warning the public about “foreign gang crimes” including for no clear reason a gratuitous illustration of some “darkies”…

osakananbukeisatsuflyer021813

Translating:

================================
BEWARE OF THEFTS BY FOREIGN GROUPS TARGETING PEOPLE RETURNING HOME FROM BANKS AND POST OFFICES!

— Overview of the incident —
When the victim was walking back to his/her office after withdrawing cash from a bank teller, he/she was called out to by a group of three foreigners, who stopped him/her with a “You’ve got something stuck to the back of your coat.” When the victim stopped on the spot to check his/her back, that foreigner group snatched his/her bag that he/she had placed at his/her feet.

About the perps…

  • They are aiming for people who have withdrawn large amounts of cash from a financial institution.
  • They are shooting for times when the victim is distracted, using means such as “dropping small change all around”, “staining clothes with paint”, “saying you’ve got a puncture [to your bike tyre]”

Report these incidents to the police by dialing 110…

  • When you see someone in a store with no clear business who is hanging around there for a long time.
  • When you see a suspicious-looking car stopped around a store area.

If you are carrying a large amount of cash…
There are incidents of theft involving foreign groups.
Beware of being targeted for theft when heading back from your financial institution.

et cetera. Please contact us. OSAKA PREFECTURAL POLICE

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

Nice notice. I can’t quite tell why there is a need to include racist caricatures of black people in this clarion call for vigilance against “foreign gangs” (after all, Japanese gangs never steal, so we have to target foreigners, right?). And it’s not the first time we’ve had these sorts of racist caricatures, either, recorded on Debito.org for posterity:

Just a few for your reference:

Ueno Police racist caricatures in 2002 flyer

uenokeisatsu1002

 

More information on the above here.kanagawaracistNPAposter2010More information on the above here.

ikunokeisatsuJune07

More information on the above here.

One day I would love to have leaked to Debito.org NPA training manuals that talk about how NJ suspects are supposed to be treated in public and in custody.  We already have a former public prosecutor acknowledging in 2011 that he was trained to believe that “foreigners have no human rights” in Japan.  If I could get some sections of those training manuals scanned, we would have proof positive and undeniable that Japan’s police forces are not only innately racist, but also systematically racist.  Anyone out there with connections?  Would appreciate it.  Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE FEBRUARY 27:  Debito.org Reader AS sends this:

Hi Debito, I thought I’d share this quick parody of the NPA’s page on “furikome sagi”… http://www.keishicho.metro.tokyo.jp/seian/koreisagi/koreisagi.htm
Sauce for the goose…

ORIGINAL:

furikomesagiNPAoriginal

PARODY:
furikomesagi
ENDS

Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination

mytest

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Hi Blog. Here we have a case of cyberbullying by Japan’s nasty Internet denizens who do not wish the inconvenient truth of Japan’s racism (a subset of the stripe found in every country and every society) to be discussed or thought about. It made the Washington Post.  Comments by me follow the article:

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

American teacher in Japan under fire for lessons on Japan’s history of discrimination

Posted by Max Fisher on February 22, 2013 at 6:00 am

Courtesy http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/02/22/american-teacher-in-japan-under-fire-for-lessons-on-japans-history-of-discrimination/ and Medama Sensei

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot from YouTube by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki in his Okinawa classroom. He says very few students raised their hands at first. (Screenshot by Washington Post)

Miki Dezaki, who first arrived in Japan on a teacher exchange program in 2007, wanted to learn about the nation that his parents had once called home. He taught English, explored the country and affectionately chronicled his cross-cultural adventures on social media, most recently on YouTube, where he gained a small following for videos like “Hitchhiking Okinawa” and the truly cringe-worthy “What Americans think of Japan.” One of them, on the experience of being gay in Japan, attracted 75,000 views and dozens of thoughtful comments.

Dezaki didn’t think the reaction to his latest video was going to be any different, but he was wrong. “If I should have anticipated something, I should have anticipated the netouyu,” [sic] he told me, referring to the informal army of young, hyper-nationalist Japanese Web users who tend to descend on any article — or person — they perceive as critical of Japan.

But before the netouyu put Dezaki in their crosshairs, sending him death threats and hounding his employers, previous employers and even the local politicians who oversee his employers, there was just a teacher and his students.

Dezaki began his final lesson with a 1970 TV documentary, Eye of the Storm, often taught in American schools for its bracingly honest exploration of how good-hearted people — in this case, young children participating in an experiment — can turn to racism. After the video ended, he asked his students to raise their hands if they thought racism existed in Japan. Almost none did. They all thought of it as a uniquely American problem.

Gently, Dezaki showed his students that, yes, there is also racism in Japan. He carefully avoided the most extreme and controversial cases — for example, Japan’s wartime enslavement of Korean and other Asian women for sex, which the country today doesn’t fully acknowledge — pointing instead to such slang terms as “bakachon camera.” The phrase, which translates as “idiot Korean camera,” is meant to refer to disposable cameras so easy to use that even an idiot or a Korean could do it.

He really got his students’ attention when he talked about discrimination between Japanese groups. People from Okinawa, where Dezaki happened to be teaching, are sometimes looked down upon by other Japanese, he pointed out, and in the past have been treated as second-class citizens. Isn’t that discrimination?

“The reaction was so positive,” he recalled. For many of them, the class was a sort of an a-ha moment. “These kids have heard the stories of their parents being discriminated against by the mainland Japanese. They know this stuff. But the funny thing is that they weren’t making the connection that that was discrimination.” From there, it was easier for the students to accept that other popular Japanese attitudes about race or class might be discriminatory.

The vice principal of the school said he wished more Japanese students could hear the lesson. Dezaki didn’t get a single complaint. No one accused him of being an enemy of Japan.

That changed a week ago. Dezaki had recorded his July classes and, last Thursday, posted a six-minute video in which he narrated an abbreviated version of the lesson. It opens with a disclaimer that would prove both prescient and, for his critics, vastly insufficient. “I know there’s a lot of racism in America, and I’m not saying that America is better than Japan or anything like that,” he says. Here’s the video:

Also on Thursday, Dezaki posted the video, titled “Racism in Japan,” to the popular link-sharing site Reddit under its Japan-focused subsection, where he often comments. By this Saturday, the netouyu had discovered the video.

“I recently made a video about Racism in Japan, and am currently getting bombarded with some pretty harsh, irrational comments from Japanese people who think I am purposefully attacking Japan,” Dezaki wrote in a new post on Reddit’s Japan section, also known as r/Japan. The critics, he wrote, were “flood[ing] the comments section with confusion and spin.” But angry Web comments would turn out to be the least of his problems.

The netouyu make their home at a Web site called ni channeru, otherwise known as ni chan, 2chan or 2ch. Americans familiar with the bottommost depths of the Internet might know 2chan’s English-language spin-off, 4chan, which, like the original, is a message board famous for its crude discussions, graphic images (don’t open either on your work computer) and penchant for mischief that can sometimes cross into illegality.

Some 2chan users, perhaps curious about how their country is perceived abroad, will occasionally translate Reddit’s r/Japan posts into Japanese. When the “Racism in Japan” video made it onto 2chan, outraged users flocked to the comments section on YouTube to attempt to discredit the video. They attacked Dezaki as “anti-Japanese” and fumed at him for warping Japanese schoolchildren with “misinformation.”

Inevitably, at least one death threat appeared. Though it was presumably idle, like most threats made anonymously over the Web, it rattled him. Still, it’s no surprise that the netouyu’s initial campaign, like just about every effort to change a real-life debate by flooding some Web comments sections, went nowhere. So they escalated.

A few of the outraged Japanese found some personal information about Dezaki, starting with his until-then-secret real name and building up to contact information for his Japanese employers. Given Dezaki’s social media trail, it probably wasn’t hard. They proliferated the information using a file-sharing service called SkyDrive, urging fellow netouyu to take their fight off the message boards and into Dezaki’s personal life.

By Monday, superiors at the school in Japan were e-mailing him, saying they were bombarded with complaints. Though the video was based almost entirely on a lecture that they had once praised, they asked him to pull it down.

“Some Japanese guys found out which school I used to work at and now, I am being pressured to take down the ‘Racism in Japan’ video,” Dezaki posted on Reddit. “I’m not really sure what to do at this point. I don’t want to take down the video because I don’t believe I did anything wrong, and I don’t believe in giving into bullies who try to censor every taboo topic in Japan. What do you guys think?”

He decided to keep the video online, but placed a message over the first few sentences that, in English and Japanese, announce his refusal to take it down.

But the outrage continued to mount, both online and in the real world. At one point, Dezaki says he was contacted by an official in Okinawa’s board of education, who warned that a member of Japan’s legislature might raise it on the floor of the National Diet, Japan’s lower house of parliament. Apparently, the netouyu may have succeeded in elevating the issue from a YouTube comments field to regional and perhaps even national Japanese politics.

“I knew there were going to be some Japanese upset with me, but I didn’t expect this magnitude of a problem,” Dezaki said. “I didn’t expect them to call my board of education. That said, I wasn’t surprised, though. You know what I mean? They’re insane people.”

Nationalism is not unique to Japan, but it is strong there, tinged with the insecurity of a once-powerful nation on the decline and with the humiliation of defeat and American occupation at the end of World War II. Japan’s national constitution, which declares the country’s commitment to pacifism and thus implicitly maintains its reliance on the United States, was in some ways pressed on the country by the American military government that ruled it for several years. The Americans, rather than Japan’s own excesses, make an easy culprit for the country’s lowered global status.

That history is still raw in Japan, where nationalism and resentment of perceived American control often go hand-in-hand. Dezaki is an American, and his video seems to have hit on the belief among many nationalists that the Americans still condescend to, and ultimately seek to control, their country.

“I fell in love with Japan; I love Japan,” Dezaki says, explaining why he made the video in the first place. “And I want to see Japan become a better place. Because I do see these potential problems with racism and discrimination.” His students at Okinawa seemed to benefit from the lesson, but a number of others don’t seem ready to hear it.

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

COMMENT BY DEBITO: Miki Dezaki contacted me last week for some advice about how to deal with this (I watched the abovementioned video on “Racism in Japan” and found it to be a valuable teaching aid, especially since it reconnected me with “Eye of the Storm“, the original of which I saw in grade school four decades ago); the only major problem I have with it is that it neglects to mention current stripes of racism against immigrants and Visible Minorities in Japan), and told him to stand his ground. Now the “Netouyo” (Netto Uyoku, or Internet Right-Wing, misspelled throughout the article above) have stepped up their pressure and attacks on him, and authorities aren’t being courageous enough to stand up to them. Now that his issue has been published in the Washington Post, I can quote this article and let that represent the debate.

The focus of the debate is this:  a perpetual weak spot regarding bullying in Japanese society.  We have loud invisible complainants cloaked by the Internet, who can espouse hateful sentiments against people and shout down historical and current social problems, and they aren’t simply ignored and seen as the cowards they are: anonymous bullies who lack the strength of their convictions to appear in public and take responsibility for their comments and death threats. People in authority must learn to ignore them, for these gnats only get further emboldened by any attention and success they receive.  The implicit irony in all of this is that they take advantage of the right to “freedom of speech” to try and deny the same rights to those they merely disagree with.  I hope that sense prevails and the debate is allowed to proceed and videos stay up.  Miki has done admirable work making all this information (including translations into Japanese) on uncomfortable truths accessible to a Japanese audience.  Bravo, Miki.  Stand your ground.  Debito.org Readers, please lend your support.  Arudou Debito

UPDATE MARCH 3: MIKI DEZAKI RESPONDS TO CRITICS, REFUSES TO TAKE HIS VIDEOS DOWN. BRAVO

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer
By ARUDOU, Debito
The Japan Times, February 4, 2013
Column 60 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/02/04/issues/keep-abes-hawks-in-check-or-japan-and-asia-will-suffer, version with links to sources below

On Jan. 1, The Japan Times’ lead story was “Summer poll to keep Abe in check.” It made the argument that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party alliance falls short of a majority in the Upper House, so until elections happen this summer he lacks a “full-fledged administration” to carry out a conservative agenda.

I believe this is over-optimistic. The LDP alliance already has 325 seats in Japan’s overwhelmingly powerful Lower House — safely more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes. Moreover, as Japan’s left was decimated in December’s elections, about three-quarters of the Lower House is in the hands of avowed hard-right conservatives. Thus Abe already has his mandate.

So this column will focus on what Abe, only the second person in postwar Japanese history given another chance at PM, is up to this time.

Recall how Abe fluffed his first chance between 2006-7 — so badly that he made it onto a list of “Japan’s top 10 most useless PMs” (Light Gist, Sept. 27, 2011) on these pages. The Cabinet he selected was a circus of embarrassments (e.g., after his corrupt agriculture minister claimed ¥5 million for “office utility expenses,” the replacement then claimed expenses for no office at all, and the next replacement only lasted a week), with gaffe after gaffe from an elitist old-boy club whittling away Abe’s approval ratings.

Abe himself was famously incapacitated with diarrhea (spending hours a day on the john) as well as logorrhea, where his denials of wartime sexual slavery (i.e., the “comfort women”) were denounced even by Japan’s closest geopolitical allies. Finally, after the LDP was trounced in a 2007 Upper House election, Abe suddenly resigned one week after reshuffling his Cabinet, beginning a pattern of a one-year tenure for all subsequent Japanese PMs.

However, Abe did accomplish one important conservative reform in 2006: amending the Fundamental Law of Education. The law now clearly states that a right to education in Japan is restricted to “us Japanese citizens” (ware ware Nihon kokumin — i.e., excluding foreigners), while references to educational goals developing individuality have been removed in favor of education that transmits “tradition,” “culture” and “love of nation.”

In other words, building on Japan’s enforced patriotism launched by former PM Keizo Obuchi from 1999 (e.g., schoolteachers and students are now technically required to demonstrate public respect to Japan’s flag and national anthem or face official discipline), vague mystical elements of “Japaneseness” are now formally enshrined in law to influence future generations.

That’s one success story from Abe’s rightist to-do list. He has also called for the “reconsideration” of the 1993 and 1995 official apologies for wartime sexual slavery (even pressuring NHK to censor its historical reportage on it in 2001), consistently denied the Nanjing Massacre, advocated children’s textbooks instill “love” of “a beautiful country” by omitting uglier parts of the past, and declared his political mission as “recovering Japan’s independence” (dokuritsu no kaifuku) in the postwar order.

Although LDP leaders were once reticent about public displays of affection towards Japan’s hard right, Abe has been more unabashed. Within the past six months he has made two visits to controversial Yasukuni Shrine (once just before becoming LDP head, and once, officially, afterwards). Scholar Gavan McCormack unreservedly calls Abe “the most radical of all Japanese post-1945 leaders.”

Now Abe and his minions are back in power with possibly the most right-wing Cabinet in history. Academic journal Japan Focus last week published a translation of an NGO report (japanfocus.org/events/view/170) outlining the ultraconservative interest groups that Abe’s 19 Cabinet members participate in. Three-quarters are members of groups favoring the political re-enfranchisement of “Shinto values” and Yasukuni visits, two-thirds are in groups for remilitarizing Japan and denying wartime atrocities, and half are in groups seeking sanitation of school textbooks, adoption of a new “unimposed” Constitution, and protection of Japan from modernizing reforms (such as separate surnames for married couples) and outside influences (such as local suffrage for foreign permanent residents).

Abe alone is a prominent leader (if not a charter member) of almost all the ultra-rightist groups mentioned. Whenever I read rightwing propaganda, Abe’s face or name invariably pops up as a spokesman or symbol. He’s a big carp in a small swamp, and in a liberal political environment would have been consigned to a radical backwater of fringe ideologues.

But these are dire times for Japan, what with decades of stagnation, insuperable natural and man-made disasters, and the shame of no longer being Asia’s largest economy. The glory of Japan’s regional peerlessness is gone.

That’s why I have little doubt that the LDP saw this perfect storm of 3/11 disasters (which, given how corrupt the unelected bureaucracy has been after Fukushima, would have led to the trouncing of any party in power) as perfect timing to reinstall someone like Abe. Why else, except for Abe’s thoroughbred political pedigree (grandson of a suspected Class-A war criminal turned postwar PM, and son of another big LDP leader whose name is on international fellowships) and sustained leadership of back-room interest groups, would they choose for a second time this jittery little man with a weak stomach?

Why? Because LDP kingpins knew that people were so desperate for change last year they would have elected a lampshade. After all, given the nature of parliamentary systems, people vote more for (or, in this case, against) a party, less for an individual party leader. Moreover, Abe, at first glance, does not seem as extreme as the “restorationists” (Shintaro Ishihara et al) who wish to take Japan back to prewar glories by banging war drums over territorial sea specks. So, the lesser of two evils.

But look at the record more closely and these “liberal democrats” and restorationists are actually birds of a feather. Now more powerful than ever, they’re getting to work on dismantling postwar Japan. Abe announced on Jan. 31 that he will seek to amend Article 96 of the Constitution, which currently requires a two-thirds Diet majority to approve constitutional changes. That’s entirely possible. Then the rest of Japan’s “Peace Constitution” will follow.

So I end this month’s column with a caution to outside observers:

The current Abe administration is in pole position to drive Japan back to a xenophobic, ultra-rightist, militaristic Japan that we thought the world had seen the last of after two world wars. Abe can (and will, if left to his own devices) undo all the liberal reforms that postwar social engineers thought would forever overwrite the imperialist elements of Japanese society. In fact, it is now clear that Japan’s conservative elite were just biding their time all along, waiting for their rehabilitation. It has come.

One of the basic lessons of chess is that if you allow your opponent to accomplish his plans, you will lose. If Abe is not kept in check, Asia will lose: Japan will cease to be a liberal presence in the region. In fact, given its wealth and power in terms of money and technology, Japan could become a surprisingly destabilizing geopolitical force. Vigilance, everyone.

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

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012′s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp .

ENDS

BBC on Japan’s remilitarization: Island disputes justifying quiet buildup in Japan’s aircraft carriers, xenophobia in J youth

mytest

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Hi Blog. In one of the most haunting news dispatches I’ve seen on Japan, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of the BBC reported from the field last November in a video I have watched several times just to take in all the points. I’ll paste the accompanying text below, but make sure you watch the video, as Wingfield-Hayes takes us to the Senkakus, before a pre-PM Abe Shinzou talking tough, to otherwise sensible-looking college students spouting in public anti-Chinese vitriol to support a remilitarizing Japan, before an equally vitriolic Ishihara Shintaro calling for Japan to unsheath its sword (who, visibly chuffed by the international attention, comes back with a smirk (and a surprising level of English) to make sure the BBC got his point), finishing aboard a brand-spanking new Japanese aircraft carrier, the Hyuuga (one of two others planned), showing an emerging arms race in Asia. Watch it!  And shudder as the dogs of war begin straining their leashes.  Arudou Debito

Video at (could not embed, so please click):

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604

Accompanying article:

Watching Japan and China square off in East China Sea
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Japan, 12 November 2012

Who do the Senkaku or Diaoyu Islands belong to? The short answer is I don’t know.

Japan once had a small colony there for a few decades. But they left in the 1940s.

No-one has lived on the remote islands since the end of WWII. As a piece of real estate they are not very attractive. Only one is big enough to be, just possibly, habitable.

But to therefore dismiss the islands as an irrelevance would be a mistake.

China has long claimed them, and is now for the first time aggressively asserting that claim. It is equally clear Japan is not about to give them up, and is possibly prepared to fight to keep them. It is, in other words, a very dangerous situation.

The only way to get to the islands is by fishing boat. It is not a particularly pleasant journey. In late October, the seas were choppy. The small 12m (39ft) fishing boat we had chartered pitched and rolled constantly. Inside the cabin the engine-noise was almost unbearable.

After 10 hours ploughing through the waves, the islands hove in to view through the pre-dawn light.

But between our boat and the islands were two large, white coastguard cutters. Out of the gloom, a pair of speedboats came skipping across the waves towards us. The coastguard officers were extremely polite, but made it clear we must stay at least one mile off shore.

Japan has banned all civilians, including Japanese, from landing on the island. It is to stop right-wing Japanese nationalists, who have in the past attempted to build a lighthouse and other structures there. It is exactly the same reason the Japanese government gives for “nationalising” the islands in September; to stop right-wing nationalists taking control of them.

When Japan and China established diplomatic relations in 1972, the leaders of both countries agreed to put the issue of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands to one side; to let future, supposedly wiser, generations deal with the problem. They both also agreed that neither side would unilaterally change the status quo.

That is what China says Japan has done by “nationalising” the island. Beijing is now using that alleged change to justify its own assertion of sovereignty.

Brazen tactics
As the sun rose higher over the island the radio on board our fishing boats crackled into life. It was the Japanese coastguard. “Chinese ships are heading in this direction, please immediately move around to the north of the island!”

Over the horizon we could see them coming: first two, then two more. Large, white Chinese ships with four blue stripes down the side.

Our fishing boat captain didn’t need asking twice. He was off. We sped round to the north of the main island.

But the Chinese boats kept on coming.

A Japanese P3 Orion surveillance plane then appeared from the east, swooping back and forth over the Chinese ships. The Japanese coastguard was now extremely nervous.

“Please stop filming and leave the area immediately,” came the message from the radio.

“They’re worried the Chinese will come and board us,” said the captain. If that happened it could turn into an international incident.

I don’t think that was really ever the Chinese intention. Their job was pretty simple, to brazenly sail through Japanese-controlled waters, while loudly proclaiming them to actually be Chinese.

The Chinese tactics are aggressive, but not too aggressive. The ships are “civilian” not naval. The aim is to wear down the Japanese resolve, to make Chinese control of the waters around the islands at least equal to that of the Japanese.

The Japanese government does not appear to have a counter strategy. We watched as the Japanese coastguard ships shadowed the Chinese ships, always keeping a distance.

After the anti-Japanese violence in China in September, Tokyo is understandably reluctant to do anything to antagonise Beijing further.

But China’s communist leadership, caught up with the 18th party congress, has shown no interest in dialogue.

Indeed, President Hu Jintao’s speech at the opening of the congress last week was a very public statement of China’s determination to build a powerful blue-water navy and enforce its territorial claims.

Such rhetoric is making people in Japan nervous of China’s intentions and more susceptible to the calls of right-wingers like Shintaro Ishihara, the former governor of Tokyo. He is one of many on the right who say it is time for Japan to scrap its pacifist constitution, and prepare to defend itself.
ENDS

Sankei Sports etc: J soccer player Nakamura Yuuki quits Slovakian club, feels victimized by “racial discrimination”; my, how ironic!

mytest

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Hi Blog.  We have an interesting case of a Japanese sports player quitting an overseas soccer team claiming “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu).  Nakamura Yuuki, formerly of Slovak football club MSK Rimaska Sobota, has been reported in the Japanese press as returning to Japan last September, blogging about his treatment negatively.  But look closely at this case and some odd thoughts come up.  According to the press (English-language ones first, then Japanese, translated):

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

Japanese soccer player Yuki Nakamura quits Slovakian club due to racial abuse
By Ida Torres / January 31, 2013 /
http://japandailypress.com/japanese-soccer-player-yuki-nakamura-quits-slovakian-club-due-to-racial-abuse-3122445

Japanese soccer striker Yuki Nakamura has quit his Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota saying his club and his teammates did nothing to support or protect him from the racial abuse targeted at him by supporters.

“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” Nakamura posted on his blog. The 25 year old, on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov, said that fans would hurl racial slurs at him before and after games. When he told the club about it, they said there was nothing they could do about it. He decided he couldn’t continue living there and decided to just come home to Japan. He has previously played in Romania and the Czech Republic.

Other Japanese players have also experienced difficulties while playing overseas. Most recently in 2011, Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted by opposing fans with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” in reference to the nuclear disaster from the Great East Japan Earthquake. Racism in football is still a persistent, serious problem and FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes it is one of the biggest scourges in the sport. He believes points should be deducted from teams in cases of racial abuse. Kevin Prince Boateng of AC Milan, who also plays for the national team of Ghana, walked out of a friendly match against Pro Patria after fans didn’t stop their “monkey” chants, even after being called out by the stadium announcer. United State’s Jozy Altidore is also another recent victim of racist chants, during a Dutch Cup game for his club AZ. The referee wanted to halt the fixture after fans continued hurling abuse at him, but Altidore asked for the game to continue.
ENDS

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

SOCCER

Nakamura quits Slovakian club over racism
JAPAN TODAY, SPORTS JAN. 31, 2013 – 07:00AM JST ( 24 )TOKYO —
http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/nakamura-quits-slovakian-club-over-racism

Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he has left Slovakian club Rimavska Sobota because he was a target of racist abuse.

“It’s a real shame but I have come home because I have been subjected to racism at Rimavska Sobota and I can’t carry on living there,” the 25-year-old Nakamura wrote on his blog on Wednesday.

Nakamura, who has also played in Romania and the Czech Republic, says supporters would hurl abuse at him before and after games and that none of his teammates would offer help.

“This is not normal,” said Nakamura, who was on loan from Czech side Viktoria Zizkov. “Some type of threat was made to the club but they said there was nothing they could do about it, so I came home. I doubt there are many players that have experienced this.”

Several Japanese players have encountered difficulties while playing overseas. In 2011, former Lierse goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima was taunted with chants of “Fukushima, Fukushima” by opposing fans in reference to the nuclear disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter recently reiterated his belief in deducting points from teams in cases of racial abuse — which he believes is the one of the biggest scourges in soccer.

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

Nakamura quits club over ‘racism’
Agence France-Presse February 01, 2013
http://gulftoday.ae/portal/79584aa6-ff5b-43e8-9fef-79e360def8ad.aspx

TOKYO: Japanese striker Yuki Nakamura says he returned home over intolerable racism at Slovak club Rimavska Sobota, adding that the side had received threats over his appearances.

The incident is the latest in a string of racially-linked incidents in European football, with Italian giants Lazio fined a total of 140,000 euros ($190,000) by UEFA on Wednesday after their Europa League clashes against Tottenham and Maribor were marred by racist chanting.

In an online blog entry dated Wednesday, Nakamura, 25, said he returned to Japan because of racism that had even involved some of his own teammates.

“Unfortunately, I have come home because I was subjected to racism at the club I belonged to, Rimavska Sobota, and could not live there any more,” the footballer wrote.

Calling out his name before and after matches, some club supporters raised their middle finger to Nakamura “with a look of furious anger”.

“No teammates helped me. There were even some players who joined in (the harassment),” he added.

“It wasn’t normal anymore, and the team even received some sort of threats. They cannot be responsible (for my safety), so I came home,” he said.

Nakamura played in Romania and the Czech Republic before joining Rimavska Sobota on loan in July last year.
ENDS

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

Even more at EIN World News Report.

Compare these with the Japanese-language reports below (my translation, then originals)

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

Japanese Soccer Forward quits club due to severe discrimination

Sankei Sports, January 31, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)

Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, wrote on his own blog on January 30 that “I received racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer live there, so I came back to Japan”, making clear that he had quit his team.

According to his blog, Nakamura had already returned to Japan by last September.  The target of racial discrimination from soccer fans, he also made clear that teammates would side with them.  “Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me.  It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too,” Nakamura wrote in detail.

In addition, Nakamura reported that the club explained to him, “We cannot take responsibility if threats come to the team.”

Nakamura began playing for a Rumanian club after graduating from Kokushikan University.  In 2012 he switched to the Viktoria Zizkov team in the Czech League, and in August he was on loan to MSK Rimavska Sobota.

Regarding incidents of racial discrimination towards Japanese players, in August 2011, Japan Team Goalie Kawashima Eiji, then a member of club Lierse in the Belgian League, was jeered at fans during a game where they said “Kawashima, Fukushima!” in reference to the nuclear accident.  This led to Kawashima protesting to the head referee and interrupting the game.

The soccer world is thick with (habikoru) problems of racial discrimination, FIFA president Sepp Blatter (76) has is considering deducting winning points from any team which engages in racial discrimination.

TRANSLATION ENDS.  ORIGINAL FOLLOWS

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

日本人FW、激しい人種差別を理由に退団
産経スポーツ 2013.1.31
http://www.sanspo.com/soccer/news/20130131/int13013119100002-n1.html, courtesy of HS

サッカーのスロバキアリーグ、MSKリマフスカ・ソバタ所属の日本人FW中村祐輝(25)は30日、自身のブログで「人種差別的なことを受けて生活できなくなり帰国しました」と綴り、チームを退団したことを明かした。

ブログによると、中村は9月にすでに帰国しており、サポーターから人種差別の標的にされ、中には彼らに加勢するチームメートがいたことも明かした。「試合前、後にはサポーターから鬼の形相で自分の名前だけ叫ばれて、中指を立てられ…チームメイトは誰も助けてくれない。そこに加担するかのような選手もいました」と克明に記している。

さらに「チームに脅迫みたいなものが来てしまい責任を持てない」とクラブから説明があったことも語っている。

中村は国士舘大学卒業後にルーマニアのクラブでプレー。12年にチェコリーグ、ビクトリア・ジジュコフに移籍し、同8月からリマフスカ・ソバタにレンタル移籍していた。

日本選手に対する人種差別をめぐっては11年8月、当時ベルギーリーグ、リールス所属だった日本代表GK川島永嗣(29)=現スタンダール・リエージュ=が、ゲルミナル・ベールショット戦で敵サポーターから福島での原発事故を連想させる「カワシマ、フクシマ!」の野次を浴び、川島自ら主審に抗議して試合を一時中断させる騒動があった。

サッカー界では人種差別問題がはびこっており、国際サッカー連盟のゼップ・ブラッター会長(76)は対策の一環として、差別行為があったチームの勝ち点を剥奪するなどの処分を検討している。
ENDS

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

Japanese soccer player in overseas league confesses that “racial discrimination” made him “unable to live there anymore”

RBB Today/Livedoor Sports, February 1, 2013 (translation by Arudou Debito; corrections welcome)

Forward Nakamura Yuuki (25), of second-tier Slovak football club MSK Rimavska Sobota, blogged that he had been subject to racially discriminatory treatment and could no longer carry on living there.

On January 30, in a blog entry entitled “The truth is…”, he wrote “This time I wanted to return to Japan sooner than usual.  So by the end of September I was back,” reporting that he had already come home.  “It’s a shame, but because I received racial discrimination at MSK I couldn’t live there anymore and so came home,” clarifying why he came home earlier than usual.

The treatment that Nakamura called “racial discrimination” was, as reported, “There were many things that made me think ‘Would such a thing happen in this day and age?’  Before and after games, soccer fans would say my name with an angry demonic look in their eyes (oni no gyousou de), give me the finger… and none of my teammates would help me.  It also seemed like some of the players would have a hand in it too.”  Nakamura also added that “things that looked like threats” also happened to the team.  But since the team wouldn’t take responsibility (for Nakamura’s safety), it looks like he made the decision to leave.

On Nakamura’s blog in August before he repatriated, Nakamura reported about recent play and living conditions, “Honestly, I’m tired.  I’m the only gaijin [sic] on this team and there are lots of communication problems;” “Well, it doesn’t matter where you go in this world, there’ll always be problems, right?’  Problems and adverse conditions.  It’s times like those when you really have to think about how to think about them,” showing the difficulties he was having with playing for overseas teams.  On his most recent blog entry, when he revealed how severe the bashing he was getting overseas, he said, “I think few other sportsperson have had this kind of experience,” concluding his blog entry with a positive feeling.

[Last paragraph of the article details his former Japanside career as a soccer player.]

TRANSLATION ENDS.  ORIGINAL ARTICLE FOLLOWS

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

海外リーグ所属の日本人サッカー選手、現地での“人種差別”を告白……「生活できなくなった」

RBB TODAY 2013年01月30日13時23分
http://news.livedoor.com/article/detail/7363415/, courtesy of AS

スロバキア2部リーグのMSKリマフスカ・ソバタに所属していた日本人サッカー選手の中村祐輝選手が、現地で人種差別を受けて生活できなくなったとして、帰国したことを自身のブログで明かしている。

30日に「実は。。。」とのタイトルで更新した公式ブログで、「今回はいつもより早く日本に帰ってきていたんですよね。そう、9月のあたまには日本にいました」と、すでに帰国していたことを報告。「残念ながら、所属していたMSKリマフスカ・ソバタで人種差別的なことを受けて生活できなくなり帰国しました」と、通常よりも早い時期に帰国した理由を明かした。

現地で受けたという“人種差別”について中村選手は、「この時代にそんなことするか?って思うことがたくさんありました。試合前、後にはサポーターから鬼の形相で自分の名前だけ叫ばれて、中指を立てられ。。。チームメイトは誰も助けてくれない。そこに加担するかのような選手もいました。。」と告白。さらに所属チーム宛てに「脅迫みたいなもの」が寄せられる事態になっていたという。チームも「(身の安全に)責任を持てないから」として、帰国するに至ったのだそうだ。

中村選手は帰国前の昨年8月のブログでも、現地でのプレーや近況について報告するとともに、「正直かなり疲れました!外人は自分1人だけなんでコミニュケーションの問題とか色々と」「まあどの世界でもどこでも何かしらの問題はありますよね? 問題であったり逆境であったり。そんな時にどう思えるかって凄く大切だと思います」と、海外チームでプレーする苦労をつづっていた。今回のブログで、現地で猛烈なバッシングを受けていたことを明かしたが、「こんな経験をした選手もなかなかいないんじゃないでしょうか?」と、前向きな気持ちをつづってブログを結んでいる。

中村選手は、清水エスパルスのジュニアユースから静岡県立藤枝東高等学校を経て、国士舘大学卒業後にルーマニア2部リーグのCFRクライオバに入団。2012年にはチェコ・ガンブリヌス・リーガのFKヴィクトリア・ジジュコフに移籍してプレーしていたが、同年7月にMSKリマフスカ・ソバタへレンタル移籍していた。

ENDS

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

As Submitter AS notes:  Reading through the article and the blog quoted in the article, I can’t find anything that clearly shows racial discrimination.  People giving him the finger?  With no context, that could mean anything from racial discrimination to thinking he’s a useless player.

As Submitter HS notes: I find it very interesting how low the bar is for Japanese to scream “racism” overseas. Someone yells “Kawashima Fukushima” during a soccer game and Kawashima stops the game to protest?? And the Japanese media consider this taunt to be “racism”?? Surely the jeer is not appropriate but racism???

Try looking for an apartment – a place to live! – and being told “No!” simply because you are not Japanese. THAT’S racism. But why do I get the feeling that the Japanese media would make excuses, justify, and attempt to convince me that this is not racism but just a big misunderstanding on MY PART?

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I just find it interesting the difference in treatment in the media and public argument.  Nakamura essentially has a nervous breakdown due to the taunts, and then both the Japanese and overseas media report it as racial discrimination, put it in a larger context, and don’t question Nakamura’s claims.  Yet when we get the same kind of jeering in Japan of NJ (Shimizu S-Pulse’s Coach Ghotbi being accused in 2011 by supporters in a banner of being connected to Iranian nuclear weapons; or official-level jeers:  Japan’s Ekiden running leagues justifying extra hurdles for NJ athletes by claiming that sports are only interesting for Japanese fans if Japanese win them; or claims by Japan’s rugby union not winning because they have “too many foreign players” (including naturalized Japanese); and how about Tokyo Governor Ishihara’s 2012 remarks about NJ judo Olympians being “beasts” spoiling “Japan’s sport”?), nobody calls it “racial discrimination” in the Japanese press (if the foreign press pay any attention to it at all).  Racial discrimination only seems to happen overseas.

Where is FIFA or any other international sports league to decry racism when this sort of thing happens in Japan?  Buried in cultural relativism.  You can see that even more strongly in the comments to the Japan Today article cited above, which are overwhelmingly sympathetic to Nakamura.  I don’t doubt that Nakamura had readjustment problems and decided not to stay because he wasn’t comfortable overseas.  But imagine the reaction if a NJ player in the J-League were to quit, justifying it by saying “fans gave me an angry look” or “people gave me the finger”.  He’d be told by commenters to grow a pair, and would have bloggers both in English and Japanese questioning not only the veracity of his claims (dollars to donuts they would dismiss his claim of “racial discrimination” as cultural misunderstandings or insensitivity) but also his mental stability.

That’s not happening in Nakamura’s case.  Now why?  Are we that programmed to holding Japan to a different standard?  Arudou Debito

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

Nakamura’s blog, cited in the articles above:

第1節?4節とカップ戦。

http://ameblo.jp/yuki-nakamura64/entry-11326750228.html

2012-08-12 18:27:20

7月28日にスロバキアのリーグが開幕して、2週間でカップ戦含め5試合戦いました。

結果は2勝1分2敗。。。

良いとも悪いとも言えず。

個人としては5試合ほぼフルで出ましたが、まだゴールがありません。

上手くいかない時はこんなものなので、とにかくポジティブに準備していくしかないです!

2部になると前泊なんてなかなかなくて、片道3時間バスに乗って試合してまた帰るというのが普通です。

正直かなり疲れました!外人は自分1人だけなんでコミニュケーションの問題とか色々と。

まあ試合に出れていることはいいことなんで、うれしい悩みでもあります。

しっかり疲れをとって来週の土曜日に臨みたいです!

それではまた!

ENDS

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

UPDATE FEB 2, 2013:

Debito here. Let me make a clarification to my post, since some people (off list) aren’t getting it:

Here’s what I am and am not saying:

  • I am NOT saying that Nakamura has no standing to have a complaint about the way he was felt he was treated.
  • I am NOT saying that Nakamura should have stayed on if he felt that way.
  • I am NOT saying that because racial discrimination (RD) also exists in Japan that Nakamura has no standing to claim RD in Europe.
  • I AM saying that the standards for what is called RD in Europe and in Japan seem to be different.
  • I AM saying that it is ironic that unequal treatment towards NJ sportspeople in Japan is not similarly decried as RD.
  • I AM saying that if international sports authorities are willing to acknowledge Nakamura’s treatment in European sports leagues as RD, those same international sports authorities (not to mention pundits and media commentators) should also have something similarly critical to say about the way NJ sportspeople are treated in Japan as well.

Thus, the irony I am pointing out is not that Nakamura claimed RD. The irony is that Japan’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin is not held to the same standard as Europe’s unequal treatment of people by race/nationality/national origin.

For Nakamura, the threshold (based upon the standards of proof that he offered) was much lower than what people claim (and find their claims discounted for “cultural reasons”). Again, if any NJ quit his Japanese team due to getting the “stink eye” and “the finger” from the stands, nobody would take him or her at all seriously. It’s sweet that people (both European and Japanese) did in Nakamura’s case. But let’s universalize the thresholds and standards, shall we?

Capisce? Debito

Update: JA and PTA’s Chagurin Magazine responds to protests re Tsutsumi Mika’s “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article for 6th-Grade kids

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Hi Blog. Last November, Debito.org reported that a magazine named Chagurin (sponsored by the PTA and the JA Japan Agricultural lobby, and placed in Elementary Schools nationwide) featured a scare-mongering article entitled “Children within the Poverty Country of America”. This was reported by a NJ resident named Stephanie whose daughter read the article in public school, questioned its contents because she had overseas experience, and was allegedly rebuffed by her teacher with an unquestioning, “It is written so it must be true.”

The contents, which were scanned and featured on Debito.org in full, depicted America as an example of what Japan should not become, and focused on several social problems (such as homelessness, poverty, obesity, non-universal health care, flawed education, and poor diet) which do exist but were largely exaggerated — even in some cases falsified —  in the article; moreover with no grounding with comparative social problems in Japan. The author, Tsutsumi Mika (her website here), a bilingual journalist educated in the US who preaches critical thinking in her article’s conclusions, turns out to be someone who cranks out bestselling books in Japanese that don’t apply the same critical thinking to Japan (only to America, as a cautionary tale). I called the Chagurin article “propaganda”, not only because it was sponsored by a Japan Agricultural lobby famous for its dirty media tricks (see herehere and here), but also because it was disseminated to a young audience of sixth graders not yet trained in the critical thinking Tsutsumi so prizes.  It followed Robert W. McChesney’s definition of propaganda exactly: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” And it caught them while they’re young.

Even more interesting information about Tsutsumi then came out in Debito.org Reader comments:  She is married to a young Dietmember named Kawada Ryuuhei of the Minna No Tou Party; he is an HIV activist who preaches anti-discrimination within Japanese society, yet supports xenophobic arguments regarding revisions to Japan’s Nationality Law (ergo his anti-discrimination sentiments only apply to “Japanese”). They make for an interesting pair, espousing an interestingly self-serving (and un-self-reflective) ideology that defies critical thinking even for fully-grown, mature, and educated adults — especially unbecoming given their life experiences both in overseas societies and in matters of discrimination.  (In contrast to what many say about international experience opening up the minds of younger Japanese, these two indicate the opposite effect as they pander to their xenophobic markets.)

That’s the background. The news for today’s blog entry is that Chagurin magazine responded to Stephanie this month, who in November had sent in a complaint letter about the article.  Their reply acknowledged some errors within, even incorporated answers from Tsutsumi herself (who didn’t budge in her claims). I will translate it below with comments from Stephanie and myself, and enclose the original text (redacted to remove Stephanie’s last name).  Any translation errors are mine, and corrections are welcome. As Tsutsumi advocates, put on your critical thinking caps as you read it!

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

TRANSLATION BEGINS:

Salutations.  We received your letter regarding the “Children within the Poverty Country of America” article in the December 2012 issue of Chagurin.  Thank you for your interest in our magazine.  We apologize for the delay in our answer.

Chagurin was created as a magazine to report on the importance of farming, food, nature and life, and cultivate the spirit of helping one another.  The goal of the article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” was not to criticize America.  It was to think along with the children about the social stratifications (kakusa shakai) caused by market fundamentalism (shijou genri shugi) that has gone too far.

Let us now answer the four criticisms that you pointed out, incorporating the answers of author Tsutsumi Mika:

1) Your point that “In any town you might go” you will find parks full of [homeless peoples’] tents being untrue:

Indeed, saying that “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” might be considered an exaggerated (kochou) way to put it.

Author Tsutsumi writes this:

  • It is a fact that after the Lehman Shock, with bankruptcies driving people out of their homes, the people living in tents has gone up dramatically (kyuuzou).  These are called “tent cities”, and they have been reported in major news media as well as in world media such as the BBC.
  • That said, tents aren’t only in parks, so the expression “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” I think is a mistaken way to put it. [sic]

In light of this, in our upcoming March issue of Chagurin we will run the following correction:

  • “In any town you might go there are parks full of tents” is a mistaken expression, so we amend it to “there are tents in various places”.

2) Your point that “At a dentists. a filling (tsumemono) costs 150,000 yen [approximately 1700 US dollars]” being untrue:

Author Tsutsumi writes this:

  • A bill for a tooth’s treatment will easily exceed 1000 dollars, especially in the cities.
  • Even if you are insured, there are cases where the insurance company refuses to pay.
  • If you are not insured, there are many cases where they take advantage of your weakened position (ashimoto o mirarete) and demand high prices.

[NB: With remarkable serendipity, I have a friend who just had dental work for a root canal for a cracked tooth and a cap on top.  The entire root canal came to about 1000 dollars, and the cap about 800 dollars.  So total that’s about what Tsutsumi claims is the market price for a filling, in a city like Honolulu.  And yes, fortunately, the insurance company paid for most of it.  So obviously your mileage may vary from Tsutsumi’s claims.]

In regards to points 1 and 2, the author did extensive on-site research, and this is grounded upon information with sources.  Saying it as an “everything and all” absolute beckons overstatement, and for giving rise to misunderstandings we apologize.

Regarding point three, about the the picture of the boy with cavities in fact wearing fake Hallowe’en teeth:

chagurin4teethcrop

We checked with the photo agency from whom we borrowed this photo, and found out that they are fake teeth.  This was a mistake by our editorial department, and we apologize for putting up the wrong photo (ayamatta shashin o keisai shita koto).

In light of this, in our upcoming March issue of Chagurin we will run the following correction:

“Regarding the photo of the image of the boy with bad teeth, these were not cavities, these were false teeth used as a costume, and we apologize and correct this error.”

4) Your point about the column being so negative:

Regarding that, the last page of the article states that it is calling for children to independently (jishuteki) choose data for themselves (jouhou no shusha sentaku), so as a project (kikaku) in itself we think this is a positive thing.  Author Tsusumi is of the same opinion.

There are many things in this world that we want children to learn.  Unfortunately with the way the world is now, there are many problems, not limited to poverty and social inequality, but also food supply, war, etc.  In regards to these problems, we would like to positively take up these issues and include Japan’s problems as well.

Thank you very much for your feedback.  We will take them under advisement in our upcoming articles, and not make mistakes like these again by paying attention to fine details.  We appreciate your reading our publication very much.  

Signed, Chagurin Editors Iwazawa Nobuyuki and Mogi Kumiko

ENDS

CHAGURIN REPLY SCANS (two pages):

chagurinreply1 chagurinreply2

ENDS

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  While both Stephanie and I appreciate the fact that the magazine admitted to some mistakes (let alone answered her at all; although Tsutsumi clearly didn’t budge from her claims), the fundamental points I raised in my November post on this article and the treatment of the issues remain unaddressed:

 – It is testament to our educations that we as readers with critical faculties can see that the points raised [within Tsutsumi’s article] are real social problems [in the United States]. The point of this blog entry, however, is how a) they are presented b) to a young audience without significant training in the critical thought the author is advocating, c) couched as a contrast to how Japan is (or is becoming) as a cautionary tale, and d) in a way unsophisticated enough to present these conditions with the appearance of unmitigated absolutes e) about a foreign society that isn’t going to answer or correct the absolutes. Then we get to the sensationalism (e.g., the allegedly fake teeth in the illustration and the misquoted prices) and the subterfuge (the odd linkage to international trade/TPP as the source of problems, etc.)…

Finally, consider the shoe on the other foot — if an article of this tone and content appeared in an overseas grade-school level newspaper funded by the farming lobby and endorsed by the PTA with the same type of content about Japan, the first people banging on the publisher’s door in protest would be the Japanese embassy.  Then the internet denizens will follow with accusations of racism and anti-Japaneseness. The fact that not a single poster on Debito.org has cited anti-Americanism as the author’s motive (in fact, a few comments I did not let through were explicitly anti-American themselves; moreover with no substantiation for claims) is testament again to the sophistication of our audience here: We can acknowledge problems in societies of origin without glossing over them with blind patriotism.

Stephanie herself added (dated January 15):

I received a response from the editor of Chagurin magazine. I sent them a letter in November and when I did not hear back I thought they would not respond. I was surprised when this letter arrived a few days ago. And to admit any kind of mistake or wrong…I think that is a big step. […]

Yes, I thought missing the core issue of this being a propaganda piece aimed at children is what happened in their response (my daughter translated the letter for me). I’ve lived half my life in locations that were not exactly warm to my being caucasian or my being American. With that I have learned the frustrations of not being able to “make” someone see a different viewpoint or a view beyond what they narrowly have allowed themselves. Growing up, “Where are you from?” I never knew quite what to answer, I’m a “third culture kid”. My mom is [a native of one European country] and my dad is [a native of another European country], I have dual citizenship.

Still, that Chagurin admitted anything wrong — was surprising. I’m still hoping that gradually, with people willing to write and speak out that there will be a change and an ability to focus on the true points of concern in these very important issues. And yes, if the shoe were on the other foot it would have been a huge deal!

I did follow the article and discussion after you posted it. I very much enjoyed the discussion and was glad that the majority of those sharing understood the overall concern –not, as you mentioned an anti-American issue. […]

I want to thank you again for the site you maintain that provides awareness and support for so many people — thanks.

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

Alright, Debito.org Readers: We have been formally encouraged to think independently by Chagurin and Tsutsumi, so let’s use some critical thinking about this publication, the author, the tack, and the points/evidence raised therein. Problem solved with this apology and retraction? Arudou Debito

Asahi: Media-fostered xenophobia forces prefectural countermeasures against NJ buying “strategic land”

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org has reported in the past on how media fearmongering against foreigners (by the Yomiuri, natch) has caused people in the boonies to get paranoid about NJ purchasing land for apparently nefarious purposes (for who knows what they’ll do to the water table beneath them!).  Well, the Asahi below has surveyed this paranoia and exposed it for the bunkum it is.

It’s especially ironic when the New York Times does a story two days later (in their “Great Homes and Destinations” column, a promo piece on the buyer’s market for real estate in Japan) and buys hook line and sinker the assertion by vested interests that “Foreign buyers face no restrictions in Japan.”  Not anymore, and not for a little while now (Debito.org’s earliest story on this is from 2010!).  More under-researched bunkum posing as news.  Especially in this time of politically-motivated NJ Witch Hunts in Japan’s property market. Arudou Debito

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

Local governments swallow scare stories over ‘foreigners’ buying strategic land
Asahi Shimbun December 25, 2012, courtesy of Yokohama John
http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201212250046
By KOSUKE TAUCHI/ Staff Writer

A flap over “foreigners” buying Japan’s upland forests and potentially controlling the nation’s water resources has caused some local authorities to push the panic button and introduce heightened oversight of some land sales.

Four prefectural governments have written new rules and nine others are considering similar measures, which they say are intended to help protect the national nature of Japan’s water resources.

But The Asahi Shimbun has found limited evidence of foreigners buying Japan’s forests—and not a single confirmed case of them doing so with the aim of securing control of water.

Fears that foreign nations—notably, China—might buy up forest and deplete subterranean water caused a storm in political circles and the news media three years ago. At that time, China’s economic power was increasingly being viewed as a threat, amid acquisitions of Japanese enterprises and real estate by Chinese capital.

News reports fueled the scare. One suggested that China was looking to acquire headwaters areas in Japan. Another said investors from Hong Kong had purchased a forest in Hokkaido.

The Forestry Agency said in 2010 it had about 30 confirmed cases of forests being bought with foreign capital.

In March of this year, Hokkaido became the first prefectural government to approve an ordinance to counter such acquisitions. Saitama, Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures followed suit.

All four prefectures now require sellers and buyers of land in headwaters areas, both Japanese and foreign nationals, to notify the authorities in advance. Corporations and individuals who fail to do so, or ignore subsequent government recommendations, risk being publicly named.

“It will help curb foreign acquisitions,” said Kiyoshi Ueda, governor of Saitama Prefecture.

Seven other prefectures—Yamagata, Yamanashi, Nagano, Fukui, Gifu, Tokushima and Kochi—said they are considering similar moves. Two others—Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures—initially said they had no such plans when The Asahi Shimbun first contacted them in August, but their respective prefectural governors later said they would consider following suit.

In a survey of all 47 prefectural governments across Japan, The Asahi Shimbun found that foreign capital had purchased a total 1,234 hectares of forest. The sales were in eight prefectures. More than 80 percent of the forest concerned was in Hokkaido.

asahiforeignlandbuys122512

Source:  Asahi Shinbun 12/25/12

Acquisitions by Chinese capital accounted for 408 hectares, and most of those purchases were made with capital from Hong Kong.

Most purchasers gave their motivation as asset ownership or speculation in land prices ahead of likely resale. There was no confirmed case of a purchaser aiming to “secure water resources.”

In nine of the 13 prefectures that have either tightened rules or are considering doing so, there were no records—ever—of foreign purchasers buying forests.

The story appears to be a case of politicians exploiting sensitivity over Japan’s “homeland” and “territories”—and running one step ahead of reality.”

ENDS

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

INTERNATIONAL REAL ESTATE
House Hunting in … Japan
THE NEW YORK TIMES, Great Homes and Destinations column,
By NINA ROBERTS
Published: December 26, 2012 (excerpt)
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/27/greathomesanddestinations/real-estate-in-japan.html

[…] MARKET OVERVIEW

Japan is a buyers’ market, said Erik Oskamp, the owner of Akasaka Real Estate in Tokyo. “Owning property in Tokyo is probably half or a third of the monthly price than if you rent,” he said, “and still people are not buying; that’s how depressed the market is. You always have to explain to people, ‘We’re still here, Japan still exists.’ “

The housing stagnation dates to 1991, the year that diminished expectations about Japan’s economy sent property values into a nosedive.

“During the 1980s, Japan became the financial center of the Asian region,” said Jiro Yoshida, an assistant professor of business at Penn State. “People had a really rosy expectation about the future of the Japanese economy.” With lowered expectations came “a huge drop in property prices,” Mr. Yoshida added, recalling that property prices fell by about 50 percent over the next decade.

The free fall abated in the early 2000s, and a gradual ascent began by 2006 and 2007, Mr. Oskamp said. Still, according to Mr. Yoshida, residential values remain about half what they were in 1991, and even 70 percent less in some areas. In resort areas like Minikami and Chiba, Mr. Oskamp said, values are down by as much as 90 percent.

That said, however, the global economic downturn did not have a huge impact on Japan because its banks had not expanded globally, Mr. Yoshida said.

WHO BUYS IN JAPAN

Almost no foreigners are buying primary residences in Japan, according to Mr. Oskamp. Some are buying as an investment or for use as a second home, but the number is minuscule. “Less than 1 percent of all real estate transactions in Japan involves a foreigner,” he said.

Compounded as it was by the 2011 earthquake and the resulting fear of radiation contamination, the financial crisis pushed many foreigners — especially the banking professionals who typically buy property — to choose Singapore or Hong Kong instead.

What few foreign buyers there are tend to be from China or Taiwan, said Yukiko Takano, the Japan Sotheby’s International Realty agent who has this listing.

BUYING BASICS

Foreign buyers face no restrictions in Japan. Hiring a lawyer for residential real estate transactions is not standard practice; instead, real estate agents typically handle the legal work, with the seller’s agent drafting the contracts. A judicial scrivener, or notary public, investigates the property’s history of ownership and registers its change.

Employed foreigners are generally able to obtain mortgages from Japanese banks. If a borrower defaults on a mortgage, the bank has the right to go after personal assets.

WEB SITES

Japan Tourism: jnto.go.jp/

Tokyo Travel Guide: gotokyo.org/en/

Mount Fuji tourism: yamanashi-kankou.jp/

EXCERPT ENDS

NYT: Xenophobia in Environmental Ministry re exclusionary Fukushima decontam efforts: “Japanese soil is different”, “NJ assistance might scare local grandmas”

mytest

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Hi Blog. As part of a continuing series of how the Post-Fukushima Debacles have laid bare just how irredeemably broken Japan’s system is (see related articles here (item #2), here, here, herehere, here, herehere, and here), the NYT has just reported the latest on the Fukushima radiation cleanup effort.  Within, we can witness a wonderful fusion of corruption, xenophobia, and unaccountable bureaucratic culture that have been symptomatic of why Japan as a society cannot not fix itself (see items #1-3).  And this time, it’s a wonderful capsule summary of why foreign technology and assistance will lose out to featherbedded domestic interests (the Kensetsu Zoku, who are making a right mess of things).  And how there’s no hope of it getting better since the corrupt corporatists who facilitated this system in the first place (LDP under Abe and co.) are back in power as of December with a fresh mandate.  A choice excerpt from the NYT, very, very germane to the purview of Debito.org, follows:

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

NYT:  Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.

“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”

(UPDATE:  Original Japanese question and answer, courtesy of Hiroko Tabuchi (thanks!):

質問:なぜ除染事業に海外の業者や技術が採用されてないのか。
環境省福島除染推進チーム次長 西山 英彦:
(ストリップペイント等の除染技術については)「海外で有効なものでも、日本は土が違ったりしますから」
(除染事業全体を海外の会社が請け負うことについて)「外国人が福島をうろうろしてたら、お年寄りのおじいちゃんおばあちゃんが恐がるでしょう」

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

(Here’s a picture of Nishiyama Hidehiko to burn into your memory cells, courtesy of Reuters:)

NishiyamaHidehiko

This is an incredibly racist insult to all the NJ who were both there and who went up there to help the victims of the disasters at great time, expense, and risk to their health — without scaring people.  I have two articles below the NYT from the WSJ which outline what a horrible little fellow this Nishiyama is, and how he keeps bouncing right back into power despite scandal within Japan’s unaccountable bureaucracy.

After that, I have some links to previous comments on this article.  I originally put this up yesterday as an addendum to a previous blog entry, but the comments there (see most of them in context here) are worth archiving here because they express the appropriate amount of outrage.  About a system that is, in the end, betraying everyone.  Kudos to NYT reporter Hiroko Tabuchi for uncovering this.  Arudou Debito

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

In Japan, a Painfully Slow Sweep
The New York Times, January 7, 2013
By HIROKO TABUCHI
See photos at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/business/japans-cleanup-after-a-nuclear-accident-is-denounced.html

NARAHA, Japan — The decontamination crews at a deserted elementary school here are at the forefront of what Japan says is the most ambitious radiological cleanup the world has seen, one that promised to draw on cutting-edge technology from across the globe.

But much of the work at the Naraha-Minami Elementary School, about 12 miles away from the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, tells another story. For eight hours a day, construction workers blast buildings with water, cut grass and shovel dirt and foliage into big black plastic bags — which, with nowhere to go, dot Naraha’s landscape like funeral mounds.

More than a year and a half since the nuclear crisis, much of Japan’s post-Fukushima cleanup remains primitive, slapdash and bereft of the cleanup methods lauded by government scientists as effective in removing harmful radioactive cesium from the environment.

Local businesses that responded to a government call to research and develop decontamination methods have found themselves largely left out. American and other foreign companies with proven expertise in environmental remediation, invited to Japan in June to show off their technologies, have similarly found little scope to participate.

Recent reports in the local media of cleanup crews dumping contaminated soil and leaves into rivers has focused attention on the sloppiness of the cleanup.

“What’s happening on the ground is a disgrace,” said Masafumi Shiga, president of Shiga Toso, a refurbishing company based in Iwaki, Fukushima. The company developed a more effective and safer way to remove cesium from concrete without using water, which could repollute the environment. “We’ve been ready to help for ages, but they say they’ve got their own way of cleaning up,” he said.

Shiga Toso’s technology was tested and identified by government scientists as “fit to deploy immediately,” but it has been used only at two small locations, including a concrete drain at the Naraha-Minami school.

Instead, both the central and local governments have handed over much of the 1 trillion yen decontamination effort to Japan’s largest construction companies. The politically connected companies have little radiological cleanup expertise and critics say they have cut corners to employ primitive — even potentially hazardous — techniques.

The construction companies have the great advantage of available manpower. Here in Naraha, about 1,500 cleanup workers are deployed every day to power-spray buildings, scrape soil off fields, and remove fallen leaves and undergrowth from forests and mountains, according to an official at the Maeda Corporation, which is in charge of the cleanup.

That number, the official said, will soon rise to 2,000, a large deployment rarely seen on even large-sale projects like dams and bridges.

The construction companies suggest new technologies may work, but are not necessarily cost-effective.

“In such a big undertaking, cost-effectiveness becomes very important,” said Takeshi Nishikawa, an executive based in Fukushima for the Kashima Corporation, Japan’s largest construction company. The company is in charge of the cleanup in the city of Tamura, a part of which lies within the 12-mile exclusion zone. “We bring skills and expertise to the project,” Mr. Nishikawa said.

Kashima also built the reactor buildings for all six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, leading some critics to question why control of the cleanup effort has been left to companies with deep ties to the nuclear industry.

Also worrying, industry experts say, are cleanup methods used by the construction companies that create loose contamination that can become airborne or enter the water.

At many sites, contaminated runoff from cleanup projects is not fully recovered and is being released into the environment, multiple people involved in the decontamination work said.

In addition, there are no concrete plans about storing the vast amounts of contaminated soil and foliage the cleanup is generating, which the environment ministry estimates will amount to at least 29 million cubic meters, or more than a billion cubic feet.

The contaminated dirt lies in bags on roadsides, in abandoned fields and on the coastline, where experts say they are at risk from high waves or another tsunami.

“This isn’t decontamination — it’s sweeping up dirt and leaves and absolutely irresponsible,” said Tomoya Yamauchi, an expert in radiation measurement at Kobe University who has been helping Fukushima communities test the effectiveness of various decontamination methods. “Japan has started up its big public works machine, and the cleanup has become an end in itself. It’s a way for the government to appear to be doing something for Fukushima.”

In some of the more heavily contaminated parts of Fukushima, which covers about 100 square miles, the central government aims to reduce radiation exposure levels to below 20 millisieverts a year by 2014, a level the government says is safe for the general public. But experts doubt whether this is achievable, especially with current cleanup methods.

After some recent bad press, the central government has promised to step up checks of the decontamination work. “We will not betray the trust of the local communities,” Shinji Inoue, the environment vice minister, said Monday.

There had been high hopes about the government’s disaster reconstruction plan. It was announced four months after the March 2011 disaster, which declared Japan would draw on the most advanced decontamination know-how possible.

But confusion over who would conduct and pay for the cleanup slowed the government response. It took nine months for the central government to decide that it would take charge of decontamination work in 11 of the heaviest-contaminated towns and cities in Fukushima, leaving the rest for local governments to handle.

In October, the state-backed research organization, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, announced that it was soliciting new decontamination technology from across the country.

By early November, the agency had identified 25 technologies that its own tests showed removed harmful cesium from the environment.

A new system to trap, filter and recycle contaminated runoff, developed by the local machinery maker Fukushima Komatsu Forklift, was one of technologies. But since then, the company has not been called on to participate in the state-led cleanup.

“For the big general contractors, it’s all about the bottom line,” said Masao Sakai, an executive at the company. “New technology is available to prevent harmful runoff, but they stick to the same old methods.”

The Japanese government also made an initial effort to contact foreign companies for decontamination support. It invited 32 companies from the United States that specialize in remediation technologies like strip-painting and waste minimization, to show off their expertise to Japanese government officials, experts and companies involved in the cleanup.

Opinions on the trip’s effectiveness vary among participants, but in the six months since, not a single foreign company has been employed in Japan’s cleanup, according to the trip’s participants and Japan’s Environment Ministry.

“Japan has a rich history in nuclear energy, but as you know, the U.S. has a much more diverse experience in dealing with the cleanup of very complicated nuclear processing facilities. We’ve been cleaning it up since World War II,” said Casey Bunker, a director at RJ Lee, a scientific consulting company based in Pennsylvania that took part in the visit.

“There was a little of, ‘Hey, bring your tools over and show us how it works.’ But they ultimately wanted to do it themselves, to fix things themselves,” Mr. Bunker said. “There didn’t seem to be a lot of interest in a consultative relationship moving forward.”

Japanese officials said adapting overseas technologies presented a particular challenge.

“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”

Some local residents are losing faith in the decontamination effort.

“I thought Japan was a technologically advanced country. I thought we’d be able to clean up better than this,” said Yoshiko Suganami, a legal worker who was forced to abandon her home and office over two miles from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. “It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”

Most of the clients at Ms. Suganami’s new practice in Fukushima city are also nuclear refugees who have lost their jobs and homes and are trying to avert bankruptcy. She said few expect to ever return.
ENDS

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

In Japan Rarity, Nuclear Spokesman Replaced After Affair Allegations

By Yuka Hayashi

Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2011, courtesy of JE

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/06/30/in-japan-rarity-nuclear-spokesman-replaced-after-affair-allegations/

Over the past few months, the world has been rocked by revelations of powerful men caught in sex scandals: Arnold and Anthony Weiner, to name a few. Now Japan has its own version, which this week claimed the scalp of Hidehiko Nishiyama, Tokyo’s former chief nuclear spokesman.

NishiyamaHidehiko
Reuters
Hidehiko Nishiyama was demoted from his role as the government’s chief nuclear spokesman on June 29 after rumors about an alleged affair with a young female employee unfurled.

Unlike the U.S., where online flirting costs politicians their jobs, the public in Japan is generally forgiving of powerful men involved in sex scandals. But not this time.

Mr. Nishiyama, a successful career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry, was abruptly pushed out of his role Wednesday, less than a week after a news magazine reported an alleged affair between him and a younger female staffer at the ministry. While Mr. Nishiyama, 54, denied having a sexual relationship with the woman through a ministry spokesman, the colorful details reported in the article became a source of incessant  gossip among the city’s elites.

Extra-marital affairs of politicians and business leaders are often viewed in Japan as they are in France – personal matters that should be left alone as long as they don’t interfere with their work — or dramatically offend people’s sensitivities. Some even consider such scandals as something the men should be proud of, as a sign of their power and personal charm.

Take Prime Minister Naoto Kan. In 1998, a news magazine reported his affair with a newscaster. He was called “You idiot!” by his wife, as he himself admitted, but suffered no lasting damage to his career. Paparazzi captured Goshi Hosono, a rising star of Mr. Kan’s ruling party, in a moment of passion with a TV reporter in 2006, but the 39-year-old married politician quickly put his career back on track; he just got appointed as Japan’s new nuclear minister on Monday.

Until recently, Mr. Nishiyama, who is married with two children, was known as a rising star within the ministry, but that hardly made him a public figure. That changed a few days after the March 11 disaster, when he was tapped to moderate the ministry’s daily briefings on the accident. With his articulate answers and knowledge of the power industry gained through his previous assignments, he became a familiar face on national television.

Mr. Nishiyama will now return to his pre-March 11 job in the ministry’s trade bureau, where his primary responsibility is to move Japan toward participating in a controversial regional trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

“I apologize if (the report) gave the impression or invited concerns that I was not fully committed to my job” Mr. Nishiyama said last week. Yukio Edano, chief government spokesman, said Wednesday Mr. Nishiyama was relieved of his responsibility due to “concerns that (the scandal) would interfere with his duties.”

ENDS

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

Wall Street Journal, November 18, 2011

Bureaucratic Fallout

By Yoree Koh and Yuka Hayashi

http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2011/11/18/bureaucratic-fallout/

It has been a punishing day for Japan’s nuclear officials.

Environment Minister Goshi Hosono said Friday he would forgo his monthly cabinet salary of Y1.5 million, or roughly $20,000, to take responsibility for an employee of his ministry dumping radioactive soil sent from Fukushima prefecture near his backyard in Tokyo’s suburbs.

As the minister also overseeing the cleanup of the nuclear crisis, Mr. Hosono said the insensitive behavior exhibited by his staff ultimately falls on his shoulders. (He will continue to collect his Y1.3 million monthly income as a member of parliament).

Penalties were also imposed on the environment vice ministers, who will face a 20% pay cut for two months. Others involved have been transferred to other positions and given stern warnings.

The penalties come the day after Mr. Hosono revealed that an environment ministry employee threw soil with trace amounts of radiation away in a vacant lot near his home last week. The soil was sent to the ministry from a Fukushima resident, who had asked the ministry to get rid of the soil. Tests of the soil detected radiation of about 0.18 microsieverts per hour – a low level deemed safe.

Looking ever more haggard since becoming the central government’s captain in charge of the Fukushima Daiichi accident soon after March 11,  Mr. Hosono said at a press conference Friday: “What is behind this is the feeling among Fukushima residents that the government has not been implementing its responsibility for handling contaminated soil and should be doing more. I do not think I will be able to gain understanding of people in Fukushima with something like this,” according to state broadcaster NHK.

Separately, the environment ministry has taken in a familiar face to help oversee the soil decontamination effort. Hidehiko Nishiyama, a former government nuclear spokesman disgraced by a sex scandal,  has been named deputy chief of a special team for decontamination of Fukushima, set up within the ministry of environment, a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said Friday.

Mr. Nishiyama, once a rising star at the METI, became a television star soon after the March accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant as a well-spoken, never-tiring spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the ministry’s nuclear regulatory body. But he lost the high-profile job in June after a weekly magazine carried a detailed account of his extramarital affair with a female staffer of the ministry. Mr. Nishiyama apologized at the time for the trouble the allegations had caused. On Sep. 30, the ministry formally suspended  the 54-year-old career bureaucrat for one month for having been engaged in “inappropriate” sexual conduct during working hours at the height of the nuclear crisis.

Mr. Nishiyama still remains an employee of the METI but will now be on lease to the environment ministry.  The 54-year-old elite bureaucrat joined the ministry in 1980 after graduating from Tokyo University. Mr. Nishiyama wasn’t available for comment.

ENDS

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

COMMENTS:

AB: Like the classic “gaijin skis won’t work on Japanese snow” absurdity van Wolferen (?) wrote about 20 years ago. Unbelievable this crappola is still going on. Only gonna get worse with LDP back in the saddle. To paraphrase de Tocqueville “a people gets the government it deserves”

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

CD: i wonder the extent to which this statement is a convenient misdirection. it’s much easier to spew out some xenophobic nonsense than to publicly admit that fukushima has been written off. i mean, the place was written off the moment they built the plants. but what japanese politician or bureaucrat is going to admit to that? much easier to say grandma and grandpa might get scared by gaijin.

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

AB: No one — at least no one IN JAPAN — is EVER going to admit this (even though it’s true). It’s like the same-old same-old — everyone afraid of being tarred with the “Hikokumin brush” and being called “defeatist” or a “dream-destroyer” (yume wo kowasu hito).

Same dynamic that kept everyone with half a brain enough to see what was going on otherwise silent as Imperial Japan lurched toward — then plunged into — a suicidal war in 1941.

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

EF: This is private life, [Nishiyama] does with his tin-tin whenever he wants. What concerns us is his racist profile and he attacking foreigners this way again after all foreigners have done for the victims in Fukushima because, at the time of the hard cleaning up, many foreigners were there removing the corpses along with the Japanese and no one seemed scared by our presence.

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

GH: [Nishiyama’s] comments are already noted on his Wikipedia page under 日本人論的・差別的発言.

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

IJ: Pathological racism. Just like how they couldn’t use the U.S. military’s rescue helicopters in Kobe. The Japanese air is different so the pilots might not have been able to fly in Japanese airspace… and the U.S. and French doctors might have scared the earthquake victims to death. But it was really the swiss search dogs that would have been the biggest problem. Japanese dog food is so different. LOL … What a frigging mess Japan is in. Gladder and gladder I voted with my feet years ago.

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

KL: So the local victims have to suffer because of the racism of the authorities?! But I guess the little people don’t matter…

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

MN: I know the real reason foreign companies were not invited to take part. I have a relative who works for a major general contractor (maybe even one mentioned in the article). He tells me that ALL (not some, ALL) of their business is carried out in cash for the single purpose of ensuring bribes go smoothly. Foreign companies are not above this. They just don’t know how to play the game.

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

JDG: Yet another microcosm for all that is wrong with Japan. If the J-public (especially the victims of the disaster) are going to persist in taking it lying down (and unlubricated!), then I can’t see much hope for the future.

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

GP: Instead, there are now armies of cheap laborers washing down buildings with water and scraping topsoil off schoolyards and dumping it in local rivers – simply spreading the contamination even further while they toil to line the coffers of companies with the juicy cleanup contracts – companies that just conveniently are linked to the nuclear industry. And this is a first world country?

The final comment from the environment ministry really said it all though. This almost reads like a sarcastic joke referencing the “Japan has different snow” tactics of yester-year, with a fine dash of xenophobia thrown in for good measure. Can’t have any nasty furriners scaring the oldies!! (Let’s conveniently ignore the fact that hundreds of foreigners if not thousands have already given their time, money and labor to cleanup and rebuild in Tohoku, and by all accounts their assistance was warmly welcomed).

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

JDG: ATTENTION APOLOGISTS!

Since you obsessively check this site, please read Debito’s post #23 and explain to me;

  1. How this is simply one small isolated case of government and business collusion in corruption, and does by no means indicate that ‘Japan Inc.’ is broken?
  2. How does this prove that the Fukushima situation is fully safe and under control, and being managed in a transparent fashion?
  3. How does the following statement;’“Even if a method works overseas, the soil in Japan is different, for example,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director at the environment ministry, who is in charge of the Fukushima cleanup. “And if we have foreigners roaming around Fukushima, they might scare the old grandmas and granddads there.”’, prove that rather than racism being endemic in the heart of the Japanese state, I am simply an over sensitive moaner who can’t understand Japan’s unique culture?
  4. How does this article prove that all Japan reporting is shoddy in nature, and biased unfairly against Japan?
  5. How does this statement by a displaced Fukushima resident; ‘“It’s clear the decontamination drive isn’t really about us any more.”’ clearly reek of unfair and scientifically unsound anti-nuclear lobby alarmism?

By all means, please take this opportunity to show us all where we have being getting it so wrong for all these years in our criticism of Japan.
=======================

ENDS

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

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Hi Blog. Thanks everyone for putting this article in the Top Ten Most Read once again for most of New Year’s Day (and to the JT for distinguishing this with another “Editor’s Pick”). Great illustrations as always by Chris Mackenzie.  Here’s hoping I have more positive things to say in next year’s roundup… This version with links to sources. Enjoy. And Happy New Year 2013.  Arudou Debito

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

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013

The year for non-Japanese in ’12: a top 10

By ARUDOU DEBITO

Back by popular demand, here is JBC’s roundup of the top 10 human rights events that most affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan in 2012, in ascending order.

10. Keene’s naturalization (March 7)
News photo

This should have occasioned great celebration in Japan’s era of crisis, but instead, scholar Donald Keene’s anointment as a Japanese citizen became a cautionary tale, for two reasons. One was his very public denigration of other NJ (despite their contributions as full-time Japan residents, taxpayers and family creators) as alleged criminals and “flyjin” deserters (JBC, Apr. 3), demonstrating how Old Japan Hands eat their young. The other was the lengths one apparently must go for acceptance: If you spend the better part of a century promoting Japanese literature to the world, then if you live to, oh, the age of 90, you might be considered “one of us.”

It seems Japan would rather celebrate a pensioner salving a wounded Japan than young multiethnic Japanese workers potentially saving it.

9. Liberty Osaka defunded (June 2)
News photo

Liberty Osaka (www.liberty.or.jp), Japan’s only human rights museum archiving the historical grass-roots struggles of disenfranchised minorities, faces probable closure because its government funding is being cut off. Mayor Toru Hashimoto, of hard-right Japan Restoration Party fame (and from a disenfranchised minority himself), explicitly said the divestment is due to the museum’s displays being “limited to discrimination and human rights,” thereby failing to present Japan’s children with a future of “hopes and dreams.”

In a country with the most peace museums in the world, this politically motivated ethnic cleansing of the past augurs ill for cultural heterogeneity under Japan’s right-wing swing (see below).

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10619 http://japanfocus.org/-Tessa-Morris_Suzuki/3818

8. Nationality Law ruling (March 23)
News photo

In a throwback to prewar eugenics, Tokyo District Court ruled constitutional a section of the Nationality Law’s Article 12 stating that a) if a man sires a child with a foreigner b) overseas, and c) does not file for the child’s Japanese citizenship within three months of birth, then citizenship may legally be denied.

Not only did this decision erode the 2008 Supreme Court ruling that granted citizenship to international children born out of wedlock, but it also made clear that having “foreign blood” (in a country where citizenship is blood-based) penalizes Japanese children — because if two Japanese nationals have a child overseas, or if the child is born to a Japanese woman, Article 12 does not apply. The ruling thus reinforced a legal loophole helping Japanese men evade responsibility if they fool around with foreign women.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10060 http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

7. No Hague signing (September 8)
News photo

Japan’s endorsement of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction became a casualty of months of political gridlock, as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party blocked about a third of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s bills.

The treaty outlines protocol for how children of broken marriages can avoid international tugs of war. As the Community Pages have reported umpteen times, Japan, one of the few developed countries that is not a signatory, remains a haven for postdivorce parental alienation and child abductions.

Since joint custody does not legally exist and visitation rights are not guaranteed, after a Japanese divorce one parent (regardless of nationality) is generally expected to disappear from their child’s life. Former Diet member Masae Ido (a parental child abductor herself) glibly called this “a Japanese custom.” If so, it is one of the most psychologically damaging customs possible for a child, and despite years of international pressure on Japan to join the Hague, there is now little hope of that changing.

Sources:  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120908a2.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=10548

6. Immigration talks (May 24-August 27)
News photo

In one of the few potentially bright spots for NJ in Japan this year, the Yoshihiko Noda Cabinet convened several meetings on how Japan might go about creating a “coexistence society” that could “accept” NJ (JBC, July 3). A well-intentioned start, the talks included leaders of activist groups, local governments and one nikkei academic.

Sadly, it fell into old ideological traps: 1) Participants were mostly older male Japanese bureaucrats; 2) those bureaucrats were more interested in policing NJ than in making them more comfortable and offering them a stake in society; 3) no NJ leader was consulted about what NJ themselves might want; and 4) the Cabinet itself confined its concerns to the welfare of nikkei residents, reflecting the decades-old (but by now obviously erroneous) presumption that only people with “Japanese bloodlines” could “become Japanese.”

In sum, even though the government explicitly stated in its goals that NJ immigration (without using the word, imin) would revitalize our economy, it still has no clue how to make NJ into “New Japanese.”

Source:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10396

5. Mainali, Suraj cases (June 7, July 3)
News photo

2012 saw the first time an NJ serving a life sentence in Japan was declared wrongfully convicted, in the case of Govinda Prasad Mainali. The last time that happened (Toshikazu Sugaya in 2009), the victim was released with a very public apology from public prosecutors. Mainali, however, despite 15 years in the clink, was transferred to an immigration cell and deported. At least both are now free men.

On the other hand, the case of Abubakar Awudu Suraj (from last year’s top 10), who died after brutal handling by Japanese immigration officers during his deportation on March 22, 2010, was dropped by public prosecutors who found “no causal relationship” between the treatment and his death.

Thus, given the “hostage justice” (hitojichi shihō) within the Japanese criminal prosecution system, and the closed-circuit investigation system that protects its own, the Japanese police can incarcerate you indefinitely and even get away with murder — particularly if you are an NJ facing Japan’s double standards of jurisprudence (Zeit Gist, Mar. 24, 2009).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=9265
http://www.debito.org/?p=10407
“Hostage justice”: http://www.debito.org/?p=1426

4. Visa regimes close loop (August)
News photo

Over the past two decades, we have seen Japan’s visa regimes favoring immigration through blood ties — offering limited-term work visas with no labor law rights to Chinese “trainees” while giving quasi-permanent-residency “returnee” visas to nikkei South Americans, for example.

However, after 2007’s economic downturn, blood was judged to be thinner than unemployment statistics, and the government offered the nikkei (and the nikkei only) bribes of free airfares home if they forfeited their visa status (JBC, Apr. 7, 2009). They left in droves, and down went Japan’s registered NJ population for the first time in nearly a half-century — and in 2012 the Brazilian population probably dropped to fourth place behind Filipinos.

But last year was also when the cynical machinations of Japan’s “revolving door” labor market became apparent to the world (JBC, March 6) as applications for Japan’s latest exploitative visa wheeze, “trainee” nurses from Indonesia and the Philippines, declined — and even some of the tiny number of NJ nurses who did pass the arduous qualifying exam left. Naturally, Japan’s media (e.g., Kyodo, June 20; Aug. 4) sought to portray NJ as ungrateful and fickle deserters, but nevertheless doubts remain as to whether the nursing program will continue. The point remains that Japan is increasingly seen as a place to avoid in the world’s unprecedented movement of international labor.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10010
http://www.debito.org/?p=10497
http://www.debito.org/?p=10340
International labor migration stats http://www.oecd.org/els/internationalmigrationpoliciesanddata/internationalmigrationoutlook2012.htm

3. New NJ registry system (July 5)
News photo

One of the most stupefying things about postwar Japan has been how NJ could not be registered with their Japanese families on the local residency registry system (jūmin kihon daichō) — meaning NJ often went uncounted in local population tallies despite being taxpaying residents! In 2012, this exclusionary system was finally abolished along with the Foreign Registry Law.

Unfortunately, this good news was offset by a) NJ still not being properly registered on family registries (koseki), b) NJ still having to carry gaijin cards at all times (except now with potentially remotely readable computer chips), and c) NJ still being singled out for racial profiling in spot ID checks by Japanese police (even though the remaining applicable law requires probable cause). It seems that old habits die hard, or else just get rejiggered with loopholes.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=10414
http://www.debito.org/?p=9718
Remotely readable computer chips http://www.debito.org/?p=10750

2. Post-Fukushima Japan is bust
News photo

After the multiple disasters of March 11, 2011, there was wan hope that Japan’s electorate would be energized enough to demand better governance. Nope. And this despite the revelations in December 2011 that the fund for tsunami victims was diverted to whaling “research.” And the confusing and suppressed official reports about radioactive contamination of the ecosystem. And the tsunami victims who still live in temporary housing. And the independent parliamentary report that vaguely blamed “Japanese culture” for the disaster (and, moreover, offered different interpretations for English- and Japanese-reading audiences). And the reports in October that even more rescue money had been “slush-funded” to unrelated projects, including road building in Okinawa, a contact lens factory in central Japan and renovations of Tokyo government offices.

Voters had ample reason for outrage, yet they responded (see below) by reinstating the original architects of this system, the LDP.

For everyone living in Japan (not just NJ), 2012 demonstrated that the Japanese system is beyond repair or reform.

Sources:  http://www.debito.org/?p=9745
http://www.debito.org/?p=9756
http://www.debito.org/?p=10706
http://www.debito.org/?p=10428
http://www.debito.org/?p=9698
http://japanfocus.org/-Iwata-Wataru/3841

1. Japan swings right (December)
News photo

Two columns ago (JBC, Nov. 6), I challenged former Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara (whose rabble-rousing bigotry has caused innumerable headaches for disenfranchised people in Japan, particularly NJ) to “bring it on” and show Japan’s true colors to the world in political debates. Well, he did. After a full decade of successfully encouraging Japanese society to see NJ (particularly Chinese) as innately criminal, Ishihara ratcheted things up by threatening to buy three of the privately-owned Senkaku islets (which forced the Noda administration to purchase them instead, fanning international tensions). Then Ishihara resigned his governorship, formed a “restorationist” party and rode the wave of xenophobia caused by the territorial disputes into the Diet’s Lower House (along with 53 other party members) in December’s general election.

Also benefiting from Ishihara’s ruses was the LDP, who with political ally New Komeito swept back into power with 325 seats. As this is more than the 320 necessary to override Upper House vetoes, Japan’s bicameral legislature is now effectively unicameral. I anticipate policy proposals (such as constitutional revisions to allow for a genuine military, fueling an accelerated arms race in Asia) reflecting the same corporatist rot that created the corrupt system we saw malfunctioning after the Fukushima disaster. (Note that if these crises had happened on the LDP’s watch, I bet the DPJ would have enjoyed the crushing victory instead — tough luck.)

In regards to NJ, since Japan’s left is now decimated and three-quarters of the 480-seat Lower House is in the hands of conservatives, I foresee a chauvinistic movement enforcing bloodline-based patriotism (never mind the multiculturalism created by decades of labor influx and international marriage), love of a “beautiful Japan” as defined by the elites, and more officially sanctioned history that downplays, ignores and overwrites the contributions of NJ and minorities to Japanese society.

In sum, if 2011 exposed a Japan in decline, 2012 showed a Japan closing.

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10854
New arms race:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-20302604 (Watch the video from minute 5.30:  the Hyuuga, Postwar Japan’s first new aircraft carrier is now in commission, two new big aircraft carriers are in production.)

Bubbling under (in descending order):

• China’s anti-Japan riots (September) and Senkaku-area maneuvers (October to now).

• North Korea’s missile test timed for Japan’s elections (December 12).

• NJ workers’ right to strike reaffirmed in court defeat of Berlitz (February 27).

• NJ on welfare deprived of waiver of public pension payments (August 10), later reinstated after public outcry (October 21).

• Statistics show 2011’s postdisaster exodus of NJ “flyjin” to be a myth (see JBC, Apr. 3).

Sources: http://www.debito.org/?p=10055
http://www.debito.org/?p=10081

Debito Arudou and Akira Higuchi’s bilingual 2nd Edition of “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants,” with updates for 2012’s changes to immigration laws, is now on sale. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp.
The Japan Times: Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013
ENDS

Good news: Rightist sentenced to a year in jail for harassing company using Korean actress in their advertising

mytest

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Hi Blog.  A bit of good news.  A member of a nasty Rightist group was sentenced to a year in jail for harassing a Japanese company for using a Korean actress in its advertising.  That’s hopeful, as we are seeing examples of xenophobia in Japan going beyond internet and political-arena bile (as well as signposted exclusionism) and into the street for race-bating and interpersonal confrontation.  Without some kind of brake like this court decision, it’s only a matter of time before somebody goes too far and we have race riots in Japan.

I would have liked to have seen a little more detail in the article below about the timeline of the harassment.  I can speak from personal experience that it can take a year or more between an event and a conclusive court decision in Japan, so how responsive is Japan’s judiciary being here?  Also, note that this case is not punishing somebody for hate speech against an ethnic group or a person in Japan — it’s protecting a Japanese company against threatening behavior, a bit different.  I will be more reassured when we have a (similarly criminal, not civil) case involving arrest, prosecution, and jail time for an individual threatening an individual on the grounds of his/her ethnicity/national origin.  But I don’t think that will happen under the current legal regime, as “the government does not think that Japan is currently in a situation where dissemination of racial discriminatory ideas or incitement of racial discrimination are conducted to the extent that the government must consider taking legislative measures for punishment against dissemination of racial discriminatory idea, etc. at the risk of unjustly atrophying lawful speech…

That assessment was made by the MOFA to the UN more than a decade ago.  Given what I see are xenophobic tidings in Japan these days, I think it’s time for an update.  Arudou Debito

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

Nationalist sent to jail after harassing company using Korean actress in advertising
By Adam Westlake / December 18, 2012 / Courtesy JK
http://japandailypress.com/nationalist-sent-to-jail-after-harassing-company-using-korean-actress-in-advertising-1820111

A court in Japan has sentenced an extreme nationalist to one year in jail after he began a hate-based harassment campaign against a Japanese company that used a popular South Korean actress in its magazine and television advertising. The situation peaked when 44 year old Hitoshi Nishimura, along with three other men, forced their way into the Osaka headquarters of the pharmaceutical firm and demanded to know why the company was using someone with an anti-Japanese background.

Nishimura said the actress Kim Tae-Hee was a South Korean activist herself when he entered the Rohto Pharmaceutical building and began making angry threats. He stated Kim participated in activities that asserted Seoul’s claims over the disputed Dokdo / Takeshima Islands, which are located in between Japan and South Korea, and have been the source of tensions for decades. In video footage of the intrusion, Nishimura is seen as yelling at the company’s officials and claiming to represent “angry Japanese throughout the country.”

The court sentenced Nishimura to a one-year jail term for making threatening acts, but no information has been released on the other three men. While somewhat overshadowed by the eruption of escalating tensions between China and Japan, the latest round of the territorial dispute with South Korea was kicked off in August when President Lee Myung-Bak made an unexpected visit to the islands. This resulted in protest from the Japanese government, as well as back-and-forth displays of nationalism on both sides. In one example, a group of South Korean swimmers, including a celebrity athlete, swam in a relay to the islands. Vocal groups in Japan began criticizing television broadcasters that showed Korean dramas, and even recently Korean pop-music acts have been left out of events and getting less airtime.

[via My Sinchew]

ENDS

PTA-recommended “Chagurin” mag puts propaganda article “Children within the Poverty Country of America” in Japan’s 6th-Grader classrooms

mytest

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Hi Blog. Debito.org Reader Stephanie sent me this eye-opening email a few days ago. I’ll let her tell the story (citing and redacting with permission), and comment at the very bottom after the article being cited:

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

November 25, 2012
Hello Debito. I really don’t know if this falls under an area of concern that you might want to get involved with but…

My daughter is a 6th grader at a small country public school here in Hokkaido. Every month they get a magazine called “Chagurin” (I think it may be JA sponsored). Anyways, she looks forward to reading these as they have interesting articles and ideas. But this month in the December issue there is an article called “Hikon Taikoku America no Kodomotachi” [Children of the Poverty Great-Power Country of America]. After reading it she told her teacher she did not think parts of it were true, the teacher said it was written so it is true.

She brought this article home to us and translated it. I am so … what is the word…disappointed, mad…it is just not right that this lady writes an article with so many false statements and big generalizations. There are parts of truth but presented in a negative way.

Basically saying America is not a good place and no matter where you go you will see people living in tents in the parks. Other points — the poorer you are the fatter you are (which implies people are fat because they are poor). The health care is poor and it costs 150.000 yen to get one filling! Because people can not afford this they do not go to the dentist they in turn can not bite right, have interviews or get jobs.

One more thing. If you take a look at the photo with the boy with the “bad teeth” — as soon as I saw this photo I doubted those teeth are real. They remind me way too much of the fake halloween wax costume teeth I always had growing up. I sent the photo to a dental hygienist who has been working in America 20+ years and she said “In my 20+ years I have never seen teeth like these. They look like the fake halloween teeth.” When I write the author of the article I will be asking her for the photographer’s info to clarify the facts behind this photo.

I think you can glean more by reading this yourself so I will attach the article, front cover, and back page.

My issue is not that some people feel this way. My issue is that this magazine is for elementary students who, after reading it, believe it. I have plenty of issues with America but also feel very strongly about not writing or portraying all of America based on one area of America. This author says things that are downright wrong and then goes on to tell the kids that they should always seek to find out the truth … that angers me. Can you imagine a counter part article printed in the States about Japan based on one person’s narrow vision of an area and experience in Japan. I have a friend who works in a H.S. in Japan — the students write graffetti on the walls and throw desks out the window — should I write an article for all US children to read about the downfall of Japanese schools?

I will write the magazine, the author, and whoever else I can think of but truly I think we will only turn an ear if more than one person writes to discuss this.

Is this something you can write about? Maybe call or write the magazine?

Also, above the magazine name on the front of the magazine and the back page that I am sending you it says something about “JA group” If this is backed by JA do you have an idea of who I could write with JA as well? Please let me know. And thank you. Regards, Stephanie

PS: I have an email below that I am preparing to send the Chagurin magazine regarding the article I just wrote you about. I can only send this in English — unless you, or someone you know might be willing to translate this. It would need to be on a volunteer basis as I really can’t afford to pay anything beyond 1,000 yen at this time — and my own Japanese is poor beyond the daily chit chat. Thanks, Stephanie
—————————————————————–

Dear Chagurin Editor,

My 6th grade daughter borrowed her school’s “Chagurin” magazine, December 2012 issue. She enjoys reading the Chagurin magazine, but was surprised when she read the article “Hikontaikoku America no kodomotachi”

While this article does have some truths — the majority of the article is not only negative but also filled with generalizations and falsehoods.

It is not true that in “doko no machi ni itemo” you will find parks filled with tents. We live in Japan, but we are from America. In all of our experience of living and traveling America — we have never seen a park with homeless people in tents. It may be true for a few select areas of America, but not as Mika Tsutsumi writes in her article. This is incorrect and a huge generalization.

It is not true that one filling at the dentist costs 150.000 yen. That is nowhere near true and is completely outrageous. It would cost around $100.

And it is not true that because of the expense of filling one tooth people can not interview and get jobs. That, again, is a huge generalization.

I am saddened that you would allow such a negative article with several falsehoods to be printed for young children in Japan to read and believe!

We love Japan. We love America. Both countries have strengths and weaknesses. Both can learn from each other. But to write an article in either country that takes an experience of one person in one area and then paint it as truth for the whole country — that is just wrong.

I come from a multi-cultural background and I raise my children here in Japan so they too can experience a new culture and way of thinking. It is disappointing for me to have my daughter read this article and then talk with her teacher, telling her that the article was not true and the teacher responds that it is written and so must be true. And sadder yet, to have the Japanese children that read this article actually believe it.

I believe the only way to make this right is to write a retraction of the article, clarifing the falsehoods and generalizations.

I know an ALT who teaches at a public school in Japan. The students at that school write on the walls, don’t listen to teachers, sneak off and smoke in the school, and throw desks out the window. Shall I take this experience and write an article for a children’s magazine in America about the demise of the Japanese school system?

Of course I would not. But I hope you can understand what I am saying. I am truly disappointed in the printing of this article. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely, Stephanie
ENDS

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

=======================================
CHAGURIN MAGAZINE COVER DECEMBER 2012
Note that this magazine is put out by the JA Group “as a magazine to further the education of children’s dietary lifestyles”), and is recommended by the Japan National Parent-Teachers’ Association.

FIRST PAGE OF ARTICLE
The author is credited as Tsutsumi Mika, a native of Tokyo who was at the United Nations Development Fund for Women (commonly known as UNIFEM) and Amnesty International’s NYC division, before landing her current job at Nomura Securities America. One of her books is also entitled “Report from the Field: The Poverty Great-Power Country of America” (Iwanami Shoten Inc.).  The article’s headline: “Children in Poverty Great-Power Country of America”, where in the subtext notes that the site of the “American Dream” is now a place where one in seven people live in poverty, and children are also being affected (“sacrificing” (gisei), is the word used). “Let us learn what is happening in America, and think about it together!” is the conclusion.
(all pages enlargable by clicking on image)

SECOND PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of people without homes is increasing in America?”
Answer proffered: “There are many tents where people who have been forcefully evicted from their homes have to live.” (Among other claims, the article notes how this can be found in parks in any town — and Tsutsumi even takes care to note that it affects Whites as much as Blacks and Latinos!)

THIRD PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the poorer an area you’re in, the more fat children there are?”
Answer proffered: “Because all they can afford is junk food, children with decrepit bodies and teeth are increasing.”

FOURTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that even if you get sick, you can’t go to hospital?”
Answer proffered: “It’s the world’s most expensive place for medical costs, where one hospitalization can cost you all your assets.” This is also the page with the claim that a single tooth filling will cost you 150,000 yen, and the suspiciously bad teeth on a photographed child.

FIFTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that one out of every two school students teachers quit school within five years?”
Answer proffered: “This is one of the many evils (heigai) from tests that only evaluate people based upon point scores”. [Seriously, this criticism despite Japanese society being famous for its “examination hells”.]

SIXTH PAGE OF ARTICLE
Question raised: “Is it true that the number of children [sic] who graduate high school and enter the army are increasing?”
Answer proffered: “With the poverty, future options for youth are disappearing”.

SEVENTH PAGE OF ARTICLE (the best one yet!)
Question raised: “What can we [readers] do so that we don’t wind up like America?”
Answer proffered: “If you have questions, find things out for yourself, and develop an eye that can see through to the truth”. It claims that Japan is on the same road as America, what with the homeless, the TPP and resultant outsourcing overseas etc. One of the questions that Tsutsumi suggests we subject to critical thinking is “Why are hamburgers so cheap?”

BACK PAGE OF MAGAZINE
Gives profiles of the editors behind this propaganda piece. The editor of this article, Mogi Kumiko, notes how it was so frightening that it made her break out in goosebumps.

Mogi encourages people to send in their feelings about the article. That address is:

Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Ichigaya Funagawara Machi 11.  Postcode 162-8448
Chagurin’s website is at http://www.ienohikari.net/press/chagurin/
The sponsors, Ie-No-Hikari (funded by the Japan Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives), can be found at http://www.ienohikari.net/ja/
(And in case you were wondering, the doggerel name for the magazine apparently comes from Child-Agricultural-Green.)

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Y’know, I am quite partial to the succinct definition of “propaganda” given by The Problem of the Media (2004) author Robert W. McChesney: “The more people consume your media, the less they’ll know about the subject, and the more they will support government policy.” That I believe is exactly what is happening with this magazine.

I have seen these kinds of dirty tricks rolled out by the goons in Japan’s agricultural sector before. Remember the whole rice kyousaku back in 1995, when rice had to be imported, but the “good stuff” was blended with Japanese, American and Chinese-made Japonica, while the lower-quality stuff was sold as is and called “Thai rice” to make sure a firewall was maintained between “Japanese” and “foreign” rice? I do, and The Ministry of Dirty Tricks itself (Nourinshou) has done the same thing with other agricultural goods, including apples back in the 1990s and imported beef/longer Japanese intestines back in the 1980s.

Of course, now we have a more international audience in Japan’s schools, who can see through the propaganda because they have experiences outside of Japan. It’s immensely disingenuous for author Tsutsumi to advocate a critical eye toward the truth yet fall into the propagandizing camp herself. Especially to an audience of Sixth Graders nationwide. But catch them while they’re young, and you will instill fear in them of not only America, but the outside world for a lifetime.

Wonder when the JA will give us the same straight poop on Japan’s irradiating food chain. Arudou Debito

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

UPDATE JANUARY 2013:  CHAGURIN EDITORS RESPOND, ADMIT ERRORS IN ARTICLE

Archiving Tottori’s 2005 Jinken Ordinance (the first and only one ever passed, then UNpassed, penalizing racial discrimination in Japan) to keep it in the historical record

mytest

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Hi Blog. Archiving something important today: The text of the first law explicitly against (inter alia) racial discrimination in Japan that was passed (and then subsequently UNpassed by a panicky public). Although I have already written about this subject before, let me give you the story in more detail, then finish with the text of the jōrei so it does not disappear from the historical record.

On October 12, 2005, after nearly a year of deliberations and amendments, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved a human rights ordinance (tottori-ken jinken shingai kyūsai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jōrei) that would not only financially penalize eight types of human rights violations (including physical abuse, sexual harassment, slander, and discrimination by “race” – including “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation”), but also set up an investigative panel for deliberations and provide for public exposure of offenders.  Going farther than the already-existing Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu, which has no policing or punitive powers), it could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, and even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen. Sponsored by Tottori Governor Katayama Yoshihiro, it was to be a trial measure — taking effect on June 1, 2006 and expiring on March 31, 2010.  It was a carefully-planned ordinance, created by a committee of 26 people over the course of two years, with input from a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and three non-citizen residents. It passed the Tottori Prefectural Assembly by a wide margin: 35-3.

However, the counterattack was immediate.  The major local newspaper in the neighboring prefecture, the Chūgoku Shimbun (Hiroshima), claimed in its October 14 editorial entitled, “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” that the ordinance would “in fact shackle (sokubaku) human rights.”  Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly, or had supported abstract ideals without thinking them through. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to.  Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill.  Some sample complaints (with my counterarguments in parenthesis, for brevity):  a) The ordinance had only been deliberated upon in the Assembly for a week (though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005); b) The ordinance’s definitions of human rights violations were too vague, and could hinder the media in, for example, investigating politicians for corruption (even though the ordinance’s Clause 31 clearly states that freedom of the press must be respected); c) Since the investigative committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and cover-ups (similar to the Bureau of Human Rights, which reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice); d) This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers (which means that no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have enforcement power — but this calls into question the many other ordinances in Japan, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration).

The Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren) sounded the ordinance’s death knell in its official statement of November 2, 2005: Too much power had been given the governor, constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated.  This called into question the policymaking discretion of the committees that had originally drafted it, and the common sense of the 35 Assemblymembers who overwhelmingly passed it.  The government issued an official Q&A to allay public concern, and the Governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose, but the original supporters of the ordinance, feeling the media-sponsored and internet-fomented pressure, did not stand up to defend it.  In December and January 2006, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the Vice-Governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists), where arguments to rescind the bill included how appointed untrained public administrators ostensibly cannot act as judges.  On March 24, 2006, less than six months after passing the ordiance, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend it indefinitely.  “We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations.  The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr. Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori Governor’s office.  “They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times.  Governor Katayama resigned his governorship in April 2007, saying that ten years in office was enough.  The ordinance was later resubmitted to committees in 2007, where it was voted down for the last time. As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed entirely from the Tottori Prefectural website.

The fact that this former law has been removed entirely from the legislative record is a crime against history, and an unbefitting end to a template of human-rights legislation so needed in Japan.  So let me, for the purposes of keeping a record of the casualty of this catastrophic event, blog the entire text of the Ordinance on Debito.org to keep it web searchable:

Courtesy http://web.archive.org/web/20080329214102/http://www.pref.tottori.jp/jinken/jorei-kyusai.html

とりネッ ト >  人権局 > 鳥取県人権 侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例

目次

  • 第1章  総則(第1条−第3条)
  • 第2章  人権侵害救済推進委員会(第4条−第15条)
  • 第3章  人権侵害に対する救済手続(第16条−第28条)
  • 第4章  適用上の配慮(第29条−第33条)
  • 附則

第1章 総則

  • (目的)
    第1条  この条例は、人権の侵害により発生し、又は発生するおそれのある被害の適正かつ迅速な救済又はその実効的な予防に関する措 置を講ずることにより、人権が尊重される社会の実現に寄与することを目的とする。
  • (定義)
    第2条  この条例において「人権侵害」とは、次条の規定に違反する行為をいい、行政機関による同条の規定に違反する行為を含むもの とする。
    2  この条例において「虐待」とは、身体に外傷が生じ、若しくは生じるおそれのある暴行、心理的外傷を与える言動若しくは性的いや がらせをし、又は養育若しくは介護を著しく怠り、若しくは放棄することをいう。
    3  この条例において「人種等」とは、人種、民族、信条、性別、社会的身分、門地、障害、疾病又は性的指向をいう。
    4  この条例において「社会的身分」とは、出生により決定される社会的な地位をいう。
    5  この条例において「障害」とは、継続的に日常生活又は社会生活が相当な制限を受ける程度の身体障害、知的障害又は精神障害をい う。
    6  この条例において「疾病」とは、その発症により日常生活又は社会生活が制限を受ける状態となる感染症その他の疾患をいう。
  • (人権侵害の禁止)
    第3条  何人も、次に掲げる行為をしてはならない。
    (1) 人種等を理由として行う不当な差別的取扱い又は差別的言動
    (2) 特定の者に対して行う虐待
    (3) 特定の者に対し、その者の意に反して行う性的な言動又は性的な言動を受けた者の対応によりその者に不利益を与える行為
    (4) 特定の者の名誉又は社会的信用を低下させる目的で、その者を公然とひぼうし、若しくは中傷し、又はその者の私生活に関する事実、肖像そ の他の情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (5) 人の依頼を受け、報酬を得て、特定の者が有する人種等の属性に関する情報であって、その者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがあるもの を収集する行為
    (6) 身体の安全又は生活の平穏が害される不安を覚えさせるような方法により行われる著しく粗野又は乱暴な言動を反復する行為
    (7) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをすることを助長し、又は誘発する目的で、 当該不特定多数の者が当該属性を有することを容易に識別することを可能とする情報を公然と摘示する行為
    (8) 人種等の共通の属性を有する不特定多数の者に対して当該属性を理由として不当な差別的取扱いをする意思を公然と表示する行為

第2章 人権侵害救済推進委員会

  • (設置)
    第4条  第1条に規定する目的を達成するため、人権侵害救済推進委員会(以下「委員会」という。)を設置する。
  • (委員会の職務)
    第5条  委員会は、人権侵害による被害の救済及び予防に関する職務を行う。
  • (組織)
    第6条  委員会は、委員5人をもって組織する。
    2  委員は、非常勤とする。
    3  委員会に委員長を置き、委員の互選によりこれを定める。
    4  委員長は、委員会の会務を総理し、委員会を代表する。
    5  委員長に事故があるとき、又は欠けたときは、委員長があらかじめ指名する委員が、その職務を代理する。
  • (任命)
    第7条  委員は、人格が高潔で人権に関して高い識見及び豊かな経験を有する者のうちから、議会の同意を得て知事が任命する。
    2  委員のうち男女いずれか一方の数は、2人以上となるように努めなければならない。
    3  委員のうちには、弁護士となる資格を有する者が含まれるように努めなければならない。
  • (任期)
    第8条  委員の任期は2年とし、再任されることができる。
    2  委員の任期が満了したときは、当該委員は、後任者が任命されるまで引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • (身分保障)
    第9条  委員は、次の各号のいずれかに該当する場合を除いて、在任中その意に反して解任されない。
    (1) 禁錮以上の刑に処せられたとき。
    (2) 委員会により、心身の故障のため職務の遂行ができないと認められたとき、又は職務上の義務違反その他委員たるに適しない非行があると認 められたとき。
  • (解任)
    第10条  知事は、委員が前条第1号に該当するときは、その委員を解任しなければならない。
    2  知事は、委員が前条第2号に該当するときは、議会の同意を得てその委員を解任することができる。
  • (委員の責務)
    第11条  委員は、公平かつ適切にその職務を遂行しなければならない。
    2  委員は、職務上知ることができた秘密を漏らしてはならない。その職を退いた後も、同様とする。
    3  委員は、在任中、政党その他の政治的団体の役員となり、又は積極的に政治運動をしてはならない。
  • (委員会の会議)
    第12条  委員会の会議は、委員長が招集し、その議長となる。
    2  委員会の会議は、委員の3分の2以上の出席がなければ開くことができない。
    3  委員会の議事は、出席者の3分の2以上の多数により行う。
    4  委員会は、必要があると認めるときは、事案の当事者その他の関係者、学識経験者等の出席を求め、その意見を聴くことができる。
  • (委員の除斥)
    第13条  委員は、次に掲げる場合には、その職務の執行から除斥される。
    (1) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは配偶者であった者が、事案の当事者であるとき。
    (2) 委員が、事案の当事者の四親等内の血族、三親等内の姻族若しくは同居の親族であるとき、又はあったとき。
    (3) 委員又はその配偶者若しくは二親等内の血族が、その従事する業務について事案の当事者と直接の利害関係があるとき。
    2  前項に規定する除斥の原因があるときは、委員会は、職権又は申立てにより、除斥の決定をする。
    3  除斥の申立てがあったときは、その申立てについての決定が確定するまで当該事案に係る職務の執行を停止しなければならない。
  • (報告)
    第14条  委員会は、第21条若しくは第24条第1項の規定による措置を講じたとき、又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行ったとき は、当該措置又は公表の 内容を、知事を経由してその日以降の最初の議会に報告しなければならない。
    2  委員会は、毎年度、この条例に基づく事務の処理状況について報告書を作成し、知事を経由して議会に提出しなければならない。
    3  前項の報告書には、第24条第1項の規定により行った県の機関に対する勧告について、その具体的内容を明記するものとする。
  • (事務局)
    第15条  委員会の事務を処理させるため、委員会に事務局を置く。
    2  事務局に事務局長その他の職員(以下「事務局の職員」という。)を置く。
    3  第11条及び第13条の規定は、次条第2項の規定により同条第1項の相談を行う事務局の職員及び第18 条第4項の規定により同項の調査を行う事務局の 職員について準用する。

第3章 人権侵害に対する救済手続

  • (相談)
    第16条  委員会は、人権侵害に関する問題について、相談に応ずるものとする。
    2  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に前項の相談を行わせることができる。
  • (救済の申立て等)
    第17条  何人も、本人が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあるときは、委員会に対し救済又は予防の申立てをすることがで きる。
    2  何人も、本人以外の者が人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれがあることを知ったときは、委員会に対しその事実を通報するこ とができる。
    3  第1項の申立て又は前項の通報(以下「申立て又は通報」という。)は、当該申立て又は通報に係る事案が次のいずれかに該当する 場合は、行うことができ ない。
    (1) 裁判所による判決、公的な仲裁機関又は調停機関による裁決等により確定した権利関係に関するものであること。
    (2) 裁判所又は公的な仲裁機関若しくは調停機関において係争中の権利関係に関するものであること。
    (3) 行政庁の行う処分の取消し、撤廃又は変更を求めるものであること。
    (4) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実のあった日(継続する行為にあっては、その終了した日)から1年を経過しているものであること(その間 に申立て又 は通報をしなかったことにつき正当な理由がある場合を除く。)。
    (5) 申立て又は通報の原因となる事実が本県以外で起こったものであること(人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者が県民である場 合を除 く。)。
    (6) 損害賠償その他金銭的補償を求めるものであること。
    (7) 現に犯罪の捜査の対象となっているものであること。
    (8) 関係者が不明であるものであること。
    (9) 前各号に掲げるもののほか、その性質上、申立て又は通報を行うのに適当でないものとして規則で定めるものであること。
    4  知事は、前項第9号の規則の制定又は改廃をしたときは、これを議会に報告しなければならない。
    5  申立て又は通報は、文書又は口頭ですることができる。
  • (調査)
    第18条  委員会は、前条第1項の申立てがあったときは、当該申立てに係る事案に関して必要な調査を行わなければならない。
    2  委員会は、前条第2項の通報があったときは、当該通報に係る事案に関して必要な調査を行うことができる。
    3  委員会は、人権侵害の被害の救済又は予防を図るため必要があると認めるときは、職権により調査を行うことができる。
    4  委員会は、委員又は事務局の職員に調査を行わせることができる。
    5  調査は、犯罪捜査のために認められたものと解してはならない。
  • (関係者の協力等)
    第19条  委員会は、前条に規定する調査に関し必要があると認めるときは、当該調査に係る事案に関係する者に対して、事情の聴取、 質問、説明、資料又は情 報の提供その他の必要な協力を求めることができる。
    2  前項の規定による協力の要請を受けた調査に係る事案の当事者は、法令で特段の定めがある場合その他正当な理由がある場合を除 き、当該調査に協力しなけ ればならない。
    3  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に応ずることが犯罪の予防、鎮圧又は捜査、公訴の維持、 刑の執行その他公共の安 全と秩序の維持(以下「公共の安全と秩序の維持」という。)に支障を及ぼすおそれがあることにつき相当の理由があると当該関係行政機関の長が認めるとき は、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
    4  第1項の規定による協力の要請を受けた関係行政機関は、当該協力の要請に対して事実が存在しているか否かを答えるだけで公共の 安全と秩序の維持に支障 を及ぼすおそれがあるときは、当該事実の存否を明らかにしないで、当該協力の要請を拒否することができる。
  • (調査結果の通知等)
    第20条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行ったときは、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に対し、その調査結果の内容を書面により 通知するものとする。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定による通知をするときは、通知の相手方に対し、調査結果の内容について再調査を申し立てることができる旨 及び申立てをすることが できる期間を教示しなければならない。
    3  第1項の規定により通知を受けた者は、当該調査結果の内容について不服があるときは、当該通知を受けた日から2週間以内に、そ の理由を記載した書面に より、委員会に再調査を申し立てることができる。
    4  委員会は、前項の規定による申立てに理由があると認めるときは、再度第18条に規定する調査を行わなければならない。
  • (救済措置)
    第21条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査の結果に基づき、人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めると きは、次に掲げる措置を 講ずるものとする。
    (1) 人権侵害の被害を受け、又は受けるおそれのある者及びその関係者(以下「被害者等」という。)に対し、必要な助言、関係公的機関又は関 係民間団体 等の紹介、あっせんその他の援助をすること。
    (2) 人権侵害を行い、若しくは行うおそれのある者又はこれを助長し、若しくは誘発する行為を行う者及びその関係者(以下「加害者等」とい う。)に対 し、当該行為に関する説示、人権尊重の理念に関する啓発その他の指導をすること。
    (3) 被害者等と加害者等の関係の調整を図ること。
    (4) 犯罪に該当すると思料される人権侵害について告発すること。
  • (調査及び救済手続に当たっての配慮)
    第22条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査を行い、又は前条に規定する措置を講ずるに当たっては、当該調査に係る事案の当事者に よる自主的な解決に向け た取組が促進されるよう十分配慮しなければならない。
  • (調査及び救済手続の終了等)
    第23条  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、当該調査に係る事案が第17条第3項各号のいずれかに該当することが明らかになっ たときは、調査又は救済 措置を中止し、又は終了するものとする。
    2  委員会は、調査を開始した後において、人権侵害による被害が確認できず、又は生ずるおそれがないことが明らかであるときは、調 査又は救済措置を中止 し、又は終了することができる。
    3  委員会は、前2項の規定により調査又は救済措置を中止し、又は終了したときは、理由を記載した書面により、その旨を申立人又は 通報者に通知しなければ ならない。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないときは、この限りでない。
  • (是正等の勧告等)
    第24条  委員会は、生命若しくは身体に危険を及ぼす行為、公然と繰り返される差別的言動、ひぼう若しくは中傷等の重大な人権侵害 が現に行われ、又は行わ れたと認める場合において、当該人権侵害による被害を救済し、又は予防するため必要があると認めるときは、第21条に規定する措置を講ずるほか、次に掲げ る措置を講ずるものとする。
    (1) 加害者等に対し当該人権侵害をやめ、又はこれと同様の行為を将来行わないよう勧告すること。
    (2) 加害者等に対し人権啓発に関する研修等への参加を勧奨すること。
    2  前項第1号に掲げる勧告を受けたときは、当該加害者等は、委員会に対し、当該勧告に関して行った措置を報告しなければならな い。
    3  委員会は、第1項第1号に掲げる勧告を行ったにもかかわらず、当該加害者等が正当な理由なく当該勧告に従わないときは、その旨 を公表することができ る。
    4  委員会は、第1号及び第2号に該当するときは申立人、通報者及び被害者等に、第3号に該当するときは申立人、通報者、被害者等 及び加害者等に通知する ものとする。ただし、通報者の所在が匿名その他の理由により分からないとき、その他正当な理由があるときは、この限りでない。
    (1) 第1項の規定により措置を講じたとき。
    (2) 第2項の規定により加害者等から報告があったとき。
    (3) 前項の規定により公表したとき。
  • (弁明の機会の付与等)
    第25条  委員会は、前条第1項第1号の規定による勧告又は同条第3項の規定による公表を行うときは、あらかじめ当該加害者等に対 し、弁明の機会を与えな ければならない。
    2  弁明は、委員会が口頭ですることを認めたときを除き、弁明を記載した書面(以下「弁明書」という。)を提出してするものとす る。
    3  弁明をするときは、証拠書類等を提出することができる。
  • (弁明の機会の付与の通知等)
    第26条  委員会は、弁明書の提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合は、その日時)までに相当な期間をおいて、当該加害 者等に対し、次に掲げる 事項を書面により通知するものとする。
    (1) 原因となる事実
    (2) 弁明書の提出先及び提出期限(口頭による弁明の機会の付与を行う場合には、その旨並びに出頭すべき日時及び場所)
  • (訴訟援助)
    第27条  委員会は、第18条に規定する調査に係る人権侵害の被害者等若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護 士から委員会が保有する 当該人権侵害に関する資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けた場合において、当該人権侵害に関する請求に係る訴訟を遂行するために必要があると認めるとき は、申出をした者に当該資料(事案の当事者以外の者の権利利益を不当に侵害するおそれがある部分を除く。)の閲覧をさせ、又は写しを交付することができ る。
    2  委員会は、前項の規定により資料の閲覧をさせ、又は写しの交付をした場合において、当該被害者等が当事者となっている当該人権 侵害に関する請求に係る 訴訟の相手方若しくはその法定代理人又はこれらの者から委託を受けた弁護士から当該資料の閲覧又は写しの交付の申出を受けたときは、申出をした者にその閲 覧をさせ、又は写しを交付しなければならない。
    3  前2項の規定により資料の写しの交付を受ける者は、当該写しの作成及び送付に要する費用を負担しなければならない。
  • (罰則)
    第28条  第11条第2項(第15条第3項において準用する場合を含む。)の規定に違反して秘密を漏らした者は、1年以下の懲役又 は50万円以下の罰金に 処する。
    2  正当な理由なく第19条第2項の規定に違反して調査を拒み、妨げ、又は忌避した者は、5万円以下の過料に処する。

第4章 適用上の配慮

  • (人権相互の関係に対する配慮)
    第29条  この条例の適用に当たっては、救済の対象となる者の人権と他の者の人権との関係に十分に配慮しなければならない。
  • (不利益取扱いの禁止)
    第30条  何人も、この条例の規定による措置を求める申立てをしたことを理由として、不利益な取扱いを受けない。
  • (報道の自由に対する配慮)
    第31条  この条例の適用に当たっては、報道機関の報道又は取材の自由その他の表現の自由を最大限に尊重し、これを妨げてはならな い。
  • (個人情報の保護)
    第32条  この条例の適用に当たっては、個人情報の保護について配慮しなければならない。
  • (委任)
    第33条  この条例に定めるもののほか、この条例の施行に関し必要な事項は、規則で定める。

附則

  • (施行期日)
    1  この条例は、平成18年6月1日から施行する。ただし、次の各号に掲げる規定は、当該各号に定める日から施行する。
    (1) 第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分  公布の日
    (2) 第2章(第7条第1項中議会の同意を得ることに関する部分を除く。)及び第28条第1項の規定  平成18年4月 1日
    (3) 第28条第2項の規定  平成18年10月1日
  • (この条例の失効)
    2  この条例は、平成22年3月31日までに延長その他の所要の措置が講じられないときは、同日限り、その効力を失う。
  • (この条例の失効に伴う経過措置)
    3  この条例の失効の際現に第18条に規定する調査を行っている事案については、同条から第27条までの規定は、前項の規定にかか わらず、同項に規定する日 後も、なおその効力を有する。この場合においては、同日に在任する委員が、その任期にかかわらず、引き続きその職務を行うものとする。
  • 4  委員又は事務局の職員であった者が職務上知ることができた秘密については、第11条第2項及び第15 条第3項の規定は、附則第2項の規定にかかわら ず、同項に規定する日後も、なおその効力を有する。
  • 5  この条例の失効前にした行為及び前2項の規定によりなおその効力を有することとされる場合におけるこ の条例の失効後にした行為に対する罰則の適用につ いては、なお従前の例による。ENDS

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

mytest

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justbecauseicon.jpg

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012
JUST BE CAUSE
If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106da.html or
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121106ad.html, whichever you prefer
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 57 for the Japan Times Community Page

On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two ten months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass.

Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another. Then another. The default theory became: Ishihara must be doing something right. Either voters actually like him, or they are just overlooking his bigoted outbursts because they have no other viable choice (or are sick of sloganeering milquetoast politicians in general).

My take is simply that Ishihara chooses his targets wisely. He never goes after the majority (who might vote him out). Good at sensing the weak minority voice behind any issue, he makes himself appear powerful at their expense — especially when he targets foreigners, who can’t vote anyway.

I also think people (including reporters) are generally suckers for celebrities and power-brokers, especially when they’re charismatic bullies picking on people. It’s amusing to watch people squirm — as long as you’re not the one being bashed.

Bearing all this in mind, Ishihara quitting his job can only be a good thing — for two reasons.

One is that the fool is giving up his self-legitimizing bully-pulpit-for-life. He’s lost the power to threaten to raid Metropolitan Tokyo’s tax coffers for bank bailouts, purchases of geopolitically sensitive ocean dots, relocation of the world’s largest fish market to a polluted empty lot, or hosting Olympic Games.

He also no longer has Japan’s most centralized police force (keishichō) at his disposal — one which, as Edward Seidensticker noted, can convert Tokyo into “a police city” whenever necessary (Zeit Gist, Apr. 22, 2008). Ishihara can no longer target people he dislikes with the same degree of public authority.

But the other, more important reason is because it’s time for the world to stop doling out free passes and realize just how far rightward Japan is swinging.

The Japan Times has reported many times (ZGs, Oct. 4, 2002, May 4, 2005, Feb. 20, 2007, Aug. 28, 2007, May 4, 2010, etc.) how Ishihara and his ilk have egregiously blamed outsiders for Japan’s domestic social ills (including crime, terrorism, subversive activities and a general undermining of all things “Japanese”) and gotten xenophobic public policies to match. However, these gradual developments have been largely ignored by outside observers and decision-makers.

Remember, the only thing that can really shame Japan into clamping down on xenophobia and chauvinism is the feeling they’re being watched by the world — i.e., gaiatsu (outside pressure). Yet international organizations, such as the International Olympic Committee, still treat Ishihara’s proposals as if they are legitimate. Again, where are the international boycotts to protest this man’s history of hate-mongering?

So, Ishihara putting his cards on the table will speak definitively about Japan’s future direction. If Ishihara gets his way (and he will win election to the Diet, comfortably) and gets, say, a Cabinet post or the prime ministership, he will legitimize a path for all the young budding Rightists (such as Hashimoto, who is half Ishihara’s age) to push their agenda of remilitarizing Japan and rekindling an ahistorical love for its fascist past.

This will finally get people to sit up and realize how much of a threat postmodern Japan — a state addicted to a discourse of self-victimization while scapegoating others for its own problems — is to stability in Asia.

If Ishihara doesn’t get his way (and becomes one of the many grumbling parliamentary pinheads within a fringe party, hamstrung by the omnipotent bureaucracy Ishihara himself so loathes), this will take the wind out of the sails of Japan’s Rightists — who are so desperate for attention they’ve reinstalled Shinzo Abe as leader of the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (even though he lacked the stomach for the job the last time he was prime minister).

Either way, I say again: Bring it on. By abdicating his otherwise permanent job, Ishihara is making one last gamble at age 80. And he’s doing it out of the hubris and addiction to power seen in other old men (such as former Peruvian President and Ishihara crony Alberto Fujimori), who have spent too long in self-affirming sound chambers surrounded by sycophants.

These megalomaniacs have convinced themselves that as part of an elite ruling class, whatever they want they will get. In Fujimori’s case, the twit gave up his extradition-proof safe haven in Japan to seek re-election back in Peru (JBC, May 5, 2009). He is now serving life in a Peruvian jail.

In Ishihara’s case, a seat in the Diet may wind up being his final sequestration. It certainly ain’t no Tokyo governorship.

Go for it, Ishihara! Let’s see what you’ve got in the time you have left. Show us clearly, once and for all, how Japan intends to position itself for the future — so the rest of the world can start making plans.

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

Debito Arudou’s latest writing is the Hokkaido section of the Fodor’s Japan travel guide. Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send your comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

mytest

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Hi Blog. Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent Chinese etc. protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.”  But one thing I like to remind people is:  Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed.  Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht. See here:

============================
The Japan Times, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2012
BIG IN JAPAN
Tabloids return fire, urge China business pullout

By MARK SCHREIBER
On Sept. 29, the 40th anniversary of the restoration of diplomatic relations between China and Japan, Sankei Shimbun editorial writer Ryutaro Kobayashi asked how it would be possible for Japan to continue discussions with a China that had “lost its national dignity.”

Kobayashi was referring to the sometimes-destructive renhai (human wave) demonstrations in over 100 cities in China protesting Japan’s nationalization of the disputed islands in the East China Sea, which resulted in billions of yen in damages to Japanese-owned businesses.

Scenes of angry mobs trashing stores and factories have led, not surprisingly, to viscerally emotional reactions in Japan’s media. One common response has been a palpable sense of victimhood, of which perhaps the most extreme example appears in a 98-page “mook” (a short book in glossy A4 magazine format) from Shukan Asahi Geino devoted entirely to China, under the headline “Chugoku, fuyukai na shinjitsu” (“China: The unpleasant facts”). Superimposed over a photo of the ransacked branch of the Heiwado supermarket in Changsha, Hunan Province, is a caption that reads, “Sept. 16, 2012 will be inscribed in history as China’s version of the Kristallnacht” (a reference to the notorious pogrom against Jews in Nazi Germany and Austria on Nov. 9, 1938).

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fd20121007bj.html
============================

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.) Arudou Debito

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

Nationalists converge on Shin-Okubo’s Koreatown
JapanToday.com KUCHIKOMI SEP. 18, 2012
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/nasty-nationalists-converge-on-shin-okubos-koreatown

Sandwiched between two major streets running parallel, the “Shin-Okubo Koreatown” in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district is home to dozens of Korean-style restaurants and retail shops proffering goods that range from Korean cosmetics to items appealing to fans of “Hanryu” dramas.

Shukan Kinyobi (Sept 14) reports that on Aug 25, a large demonstration of rightists—who are upset over South Korea’s territorial claims to Takeshima island (referred to as Dokdo in Korean)—marched through the neighborhood. The demonstration, whose organizers had tabbed “The Citizens’ Great March to Subjugate South Korea,” consisted of an estimated 500 demonstrators, many of who waved the militaristic “kyokujitsuki” (rising-sun flag), and who chanted such slogans as “Kankokujin wa kaere” (South Koreans go home) and “Chosenjin wa dete yuke!” (Koreans get out).

Things got even nastier after the march ended, when the marchers broke off into smaller groups of around 10 and moved from the main drag to the neighborhood’s many small lanes, where they confronted shopkeepers with even more hostile remarks, such as “Chon-ko wa karere” (Go home, you Korean bastard”) or “We’ll kill you.” They also intimidated compatriots they encountered with veiled warnings like “If you’re a Japanese, then don’t come to this area.”

“It’s very aggravating,” a worker of a street stall selling confections is quoted as saying. “Some young visitors from South Korea got harangued by the protesters. Since that day, the number our customers has tapered off.”

“It appears that the Zaitokukai (short for Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai or group opposed to special rights for Koreans in Japan) thinks it can build momentum for its movement by harping on the Takeshima and Senkaku issues,” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who authored a book titled “Pursuing the ‘darkness’ of Internet patriots, the Zaitokukai” (Kodansha), about the noisy group that has been boosting its membership through skillful use of the Internet.

“While I don’t see any signs yet that they are increasing their influence, they still bear watching,” Yasuda adds. “As far as they are concerned, discriminating against the ‘zainichi’ (Koreans in Japan) is everything, and they aren’t terribly concerned about what will become of the disputed territories in the future. But they can use the timing of the dispute as a pretext for pushing their own agenda.”

Some rightists also provoked clashes in the Chinese enclave adjacent to the north exit of JR Ikebukuro station, resulting in police being summoned.

When such run-ins occur, however, Shukan Kinyobi notes that it has been rare for Japan’s mainstream media to devote much coverage. And even those who are confronted by the rightists tend to refrain from seeking sympathy from society, perhaps out of fears that any negative publicity will drive away their customers.

When the Shin-Okubo Merchants’ Association was approached by Shukan Kinyobi for a comment, it declined on the grounds that “We haven’t grasped the details.” The Shinjuku branch of the Zainichi Korean Association replied, “There’s nothing to discuss.” The Chinese in Ikebukuro were also reluctant to speak to reporters.

A staff member at one Korean firm in Shin-Okubo confided to the magazine, “The South Korean embassy here sent out a warning advisory to Korean businesses and groups to the effect that from Aug 25, we should not approach demonstrators or make inflammatory remarks. ‘Refrain from any activities that would put your safety at risk,’ it advised.

“If trouble were to break out, nothing good would come from it, as far as we’re concerned,” he added.

As long as this country has no statute against hate crimes, Shukan Kinyobi opines, this kind of ethnic and racial discrimination will remain out of control. Sixty-seven years since the end of the Pacific War, the issue of “territorial disputes” is being used as a new pretext to abet what are long-term trends.

ENDS

Tokyo Gov Ishihara at it again, calls NJ judo Olympians “beasts” spoiling Japan’s sport

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Sanitizer-General I referred to in my last Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column is at it again:

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

石原都知事「西洋人の柔道はけだもののけんか」
(読売新聞 2012年8月4日06時03分 スポーツ報知)courtesy of MS
http://hochi.yomiuri.co.jp/topics/news/20120803-OHT1T00324.htm

東京都の石原慎太郎知事(79)は3日の定例会見で、ロンドン五輪で柔道勢の苦戦が続いていることについて「西洋人の柔道ってのは、けだもののけんかみたい。(国際化され)柔道の醍醐(だいご)味ってどっかに行っちゃったね」と話した。「ブラジルでは、のり巻きにチョコレート入れて食うってんだけど、これはすしとは言わない。柔道もそうなっちゃった」と述べた。

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

ENDS

Translation (by Debito):

Yomiuri:  Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro (79) said at his regular press conference on August 3, regarding the difficulties the Japanese judo team is having at the London Olympics, “Watching Westerners do judo is like watching beasts fight.  An internationalized judo has lost its exquisite charm.”  He added, “In Brazil, it’s said that they eat chocolate in their norimaki, but I wouldn’t call that ‘sushi’.  It’s a shame that judo has also gone the same way.”

That’s the entire article.  How sporting of him.  These are the type of people who, for example, seek to keep NJ out of Sumo by limiting stable to one “foreign wrestler”, and they include naturalized citizens as “foreign” as well (unlawful under the Nationality Law; still waiting for the lawsuit).  Judo will be the “Japanese sport that got away” since they “internationalized” it, I guess; but that’s why it’s an Olympic event and Sumo, run by racists (and sexists), will never be.

Anyway, for the record.  This will be my penultimate post before vacationing for the summer.  Arudou Debito

Resurrecting Gregory Clark’s embarrassingly xenophobic Japan Times column on “Global Standards” Nov 1, 1999, quietly deleted without retraction from JT Online archives

mytest

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Hi Blog.  When doing research last blog entry, on how Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark led the Apologist counterattack on criticism of Japan for institutionalized racism (as witnessed at the time by the Ana Bortz Case of 1998-9 and the Otaru Onsens Case of 1999-2005), I discovered that one of his most xenophobic columns, entitled “Problematic Global Standards” of November 1, 1999 (weeks after the Bortz verdict in Shizuoka District Court made clear that racism, none other, existed within these shores) has long been deleted from the Japan Times archive.  I think after reading it you might understand why a publisher would be embarrassed for ever publishing it, but deletion from a newspaper archive without a retraction is simply not on.  I happen to have a hard copy of it in my archives:

Let me also type it out in full now, so it becomes word-searchable by the search engines for posterity.  Bigots, media fabricators, and profiteers like Clark deserve to be hoisted by their own petard.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

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

PROBLEMATIC GLOBAL STANDARDS
By Gregory Clark
The Japan Times, Monday, November 1, 1999

The Japanese are preoccupied nowadays with something called “global standards.” Spelled out clumsily in “katakana” English, “gurobaru sutandaado” has every implication of a backward, inferior Japan rightly despised by the civilized world for its failure to reform itself in our Western image.

It is true there are some Japanese standards that need to be reformed. The apathy towards social evils like “yakuza,” bike gangs and tobacco is one. Corruption in conservative political and business circles seems endless.

The education system could learn much not just from the West, but also from Taiwan or Singapore, particularly at the tertiary level.

But for every Japanese minus there is usually more than a more-than-compsenating plus. Over the years, the Japanese have evolved a value system that for all its faults has created the advanced and reasonably stable society that most of us come here to enjoy.

Or, to put it another way, for all the global standards that Japan should be emulating, there is usually any number of Japanese standards that the rest of us should emulate — particularly the ones that say people should be honest and reasonably polite to each other.

Which is where the sad story of the Hamamatsu jewelry shop owner fined recently for racial discrimination becomes relevant.

That Japan is remarkable for its lack of organized theft is no secret. One result is that even jewelry merchants feel little need to take little precautions.

Another is that Japan has become a paradise for Chinese, Vietnamese, Middle-Eastern and Latin American gangs keen to exploit this lack of precaution. To date they have managed to pull off close to 100 major jewelry heists, not to mention any number of big-haul raids on pachinko parlors.

With jewelry thefts, one ploy is to have someone, often a female accomplice, visit the targeted store in advance and pretend to show a purchasing interest while checking out details for the planned theft later.

Another is for the accomplice to create a disturbance, and while Japan’s fuss-sensitive shop assistants have their attention diverted, others in the gang pretending to be customers empty the unlocked display boxes.

Needless to say, this gives Japan’s jewelry merchants something of a problem. That some may have decided that their best defense is to ban all foreign-looking would-be customers from their stores is not very surprising.

But that, precisely, is where the man in Hamamatsu came unstuck. His district has a large Latin American-origin workforce. Having already suffered two robberies, he saw fit to deny entrance to a woman of Latin appearance who turned out to be a Brazilian journalist.

She also happened to be legalistic (another “global standard” Japan need not rush to adopt) and since Japan did not have a relevant law, the shop owner was charged under a U.N. antidiscrimination convention that Japan had signed. Found guilty, he was fined Y1.5 million.

No doubt the judge involved saw the U.N. connection as the ultimate in global standards. Many in the media here were equally enthusiastic. Few seem to have considered the corollary, namely that from now on not just the jewelers but anyone in the merchandise business will have to embrace another “global standard” — the one that says they should regard all customers as potential criminals to be welcomed with guns, guards, overhead cameras, and squinty-eyed vigilance.

True, discrimination against foreigners can be unpleasant, and in Japan it includes refusals to rent property. But as often as not, that is because they do not want to obey Japan’s rules and customs.

Refusal to respect the culture of a host nation is the worst form of antiforeign discrimination.

This clash between “global standards” and Japanese standards leaves its detritus in other areas.

Japanese standards say that there are times when an economy functions better if rival companies can get together, sometimes with customers, to agree on prices and market share. Unfettered competition can easily lead not just to monopolies, but also to very damaging “over-competition” (“kato kyoso”) as Japanese firms, with their strong survivalist ethic, struggle to keep alive.

But the “global standards” imposed on postwar Japan say otherwise. They insist that competition has to be free and unfettered. All and any cooperation between companies — the dreaded “dango” phenomenon — is a crime.

So Japan compromises. Dango that happen to be exposed are evil. The others are OK. What it should be doing is preventing dango that aim simply to jack up prices, while encouraging those that bring order to markets and help customers.

A recent victim of this expose standard was a small group of cast-iron pipe makers that had colluded on prices, mainly to rescue a weak competitor from bankruptcy. For its generosity, the group had its executives arrested and paraded as criminals.

Curious, the United States, which helped impose this anti-dango standard also condemned Fujitsu’s famous Y1 bid for a large Hiroshima computerization contract. The bid was a typical result of what can happen in Japan when competition is free and unfettered.

Nagging Western demands for unfettered competition in Japan’s finance industry and an end to government control over the banking system also led indirectly to the bubble economy and Japan’s current economic plight.

The same standards also managed to wreck the Asian economies two years ago, and then endorsed strong criticisms of Malaysia and Hong Kong for the state interventions that were crucial for rescuing those two economies from the wreckage imposed on them by Western speculators.

It’s time Japan, and much of the rest of the world, worked out their own standards.

===================
Gregory Clark is president of Tama University
ENDS

China’s crackdown on foreigners called “xenophobic” by CNN columnist. Yet Japan’s been overtly doing the same to its NJ for generations without similar criticism.

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Today’s post is about geopolitics and concomitant media attitudes.  Here we have an American media outlet (CNN) publishing a Old China Hand’s fears about the “specter of xenophobia” in China because of a crackdown on “illegal foreigners”.

Fine, make that case.  I would agree.  It does encourage xenophobia.

But note how what China is doing (and for what has been announced as a temporary amount of time, but nevertheless the precedent has been set) is what Japan’s been doing for years, if not generations, to its foreigners:  Random racial profiling street ID “spot checks”.  Police hotlines to report “suspicious foreigners”.  Preemptive measures during high-profile events to promote “public security”.  Public funds for ferreting out “foreign criminals” through “foreign DNA” testing research (oh, wait, AFAIK that’s just Japan).  The CNN author’s citations back to the Boxer Rebellion and public resentment towards “foreign devils” in Mao’s China may be a tad alarmist (and any historian could match those with Japan’s occasional ee ja nai ka anti-Christian demonstrations and the anti-foreign propaganda during WWII Japan (cf. Dower, War Without Mercy) — and then fear a backslide into bad habits), but the point is this:

Why does China get harshly criticized for this yet Japan once again gets a free pass?  Well, geopolitics, of course.  Japan is a trusted ally, China is an untrustworthy adversary.  CNN, your bias is showing.  But it would be nice if the media could see the parallels sometime and similarly admonish Japan away from its xenophobia.  Given Japan’s ultrasensitivity to foreign media opinion, it might even deter.  Arudou Debito

(PS: Note how China’s official media mouthpiece also treats non-citizens as “guests”.  Why isn’t that made an issue of?  Is the Guestism discourse that dominant and accepted even for our CNN columnist?)

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

China’s crackdown on foreigners raises specter of xenophobia – CNN.com
By Jaime A. FlorCruz, CNN
June 3, 2012 — Updated 0506 GMT (1306 HKT)
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/06/03/world/asia/china-foreigner-crackdown-florcruz/index.html?hpt=hp_c2
CNN.com, courtesy of MS and AJ

Editor’s note: “Jaime’s China” is a weekly column about Chinese society and politics. Jaime FlorCruz has lived and worked in China since 1971. He studied Chinese history at Peking University (1977-81) and was TIME Magazine’s Beijing correspondent and bureau chief (1982-2000).

Beijing (CNN) — “Does this mean I must now carry my passport everyday?” my wife Ana wondered aloud with a mix of bemusement and exasperation.

She was reacting to news reports that Beijing had started a 100-day campaign to “clean out” expatriates illegally living or working in the Chinese capital.

Until the end of August the Beijing Public Security Bureau has decreed that all resident foreigners are expected to show their passports for “spot checks” of visas and resident permits.

Hinting at stern measures for violators, a campaign poster features an image of a giant fist.

Police have conducted a sweep of communities where expatriates frequently congregate, like the university belt and the Sanlitun district of the city, which boasts an eclectic array of shops, restaurants and bars.

But finding violators may not be easy. There are almost 200,000 foreign residents in Beijing on short-term or long-term visas, according to the Beijing Morning Post, which quotes police sources.

Mood darkens amid crackdown on ‘illegal foreigners’

The campaign has enlisted the help of the Chinese public, who can call a telephone hotline to report “suspicious foreigners.” Violators will be fined, detained or even deported.

However, the crackdown has made the expat community in Beijing uneasy, with many wondering why the authorities have decided to take action now.

China watchers wonder whether this is simply a preemptive measure to ensure security and stability months before the Communist Party hold its once-a-decade leadership transition later this year. A similar sweep was conducted several months before Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Others see the high profile campaign as yet another hint of the xenophobic tendencies in the “Middle Kingdom.”

Days before the police campaign commenced, shocking videos purportedly showing a British national sexually abusing a Chinese woman went viral on cyberspace. It prompted an avalanche of angry posts on social-networking sites.

Soon after the campaign was announced, Chinese TV anchor Yang Rui poured gasoline onto the fire when he posted scornful comments on his microblog calling for the expulsion of “foreign scum.”

Some observers say China has good reason to go after law-breaking foreigners. “The crackdown makes sense in the light of the large number of illegal migrants that have made it into China, some of whom may have been involved in illegal or violent activities,” said David Zweig, a professor at Hong Kong University’s Department of Science and Technology.

But he said foreigners should be treated fairly and equally, according to law.

Crucially, the crackdown seems to be popular with many ordinary Chinese.

“Of course we should send home those foreigners who have entered illegally, just as we Chinese won’t be allowed in other countries without legal documents,” one Beijing resident told CNN.

“To be a strong nation, you need not just a good economy but also strong diplomatic policies,” said another. “That shows a nation’s self-respect and dignity.”

Another resident was more blunt: “China as a big nation should get tougher. We’ve been too soft for too long.”

As China’s economic and military might grow, the people’s pride and nationalistic feelings rise.

There’s nothing wrong with promoting patriotism, experts say, but they warn against chauvinism. “The Chinese have to be careful about underlying chauvinism which can lead them to behave inappropriately towards foreigners in the country, and in their foreign policy,” said Zweig.

During the last century, China experienced how nationalism led to xenophobia during the Boxer Rebellion in the early 1900s — when groups of peasants banded together to rid the country of foreign influences — and the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), when Mao Zedong attempted to reassert revolutionary values in China by purging what he described as bourgeois influences.

No one wants to experience xenophobia. I have seen how ugly it can be.

Like most foreigners who lived in China in the 1970s, I saw a closed, xenophobic society riddled with ingrained racial stereotypes. Foreigners in Beijing were virtually quarantined.

While we enjoyed special privileges, such as access to special “friendship stores”, train compartments, hospital wards and beach resorts, we were cut off from spontaneous contact with ordinary people. Diplomats and journalists were segregated in gated “foreigners’ compounds”, which we use to call foreign ghettos.

Local residents resented such special treatment. They often targeted foreigners with scorn and disdain. Foreigners were disparagingly referred “waiguo guizi” (foreign devils).

Although infrequent, I do remember an anti-foreign backlash that led to occasional altercations and even rioting.

To be sure, China has changed significantly since Deng Xiaoping launched his market reform and open-door policies in 1978. Over the years it has gradually integrated into the global village through diplomacy, trade, tourism, academic exchanges and the media.

But some expatriates in Beijing still detect anti-foreign tendencies. “I find it difficult to understand why resentment is aimed at foreigners in general rather than at those who break the law or behave badly, regardless of nationality,” said one.

“There is definitely an issue of Chinese having stereotypical views on foreigners, and a very clear us-versus-them attitude,” said another. Neither person wished to be identified.

China scholars believe many Chinese still harbor racist tendencies and lack the open-minded tradition of self-reflection when they feel or express such views. “This lack of self-reflection,” Zweig opined, “allows for anti-foreignism to lurk under the surface.”

That partly explains why, in its long and checkered history, China has capriciously swung from a sentimental love-affair with things foreign to angry rejection — and back again.

Is xenophobia rearing its head again?

“This is not xenophobia,” a recent China Daily editorial stated. “It is people’s desire to live in a civilized society. Our government is under an obligation to make sure citizens live in a law-abiding country. The ongoing action against illegal immigration in no way compromises our hospitality to foreign guests.”

That is the kind of reassurance that expatriates in China badly need.

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

PRC’s response:

Home / Opinion / Editorials
Foreigners are still welcome
Updated: 2012-05-25 07:54 ( China Daily) Courtesy of MS and CNN
http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/opinion/2012-05/25/content_15384118.htm

Just as some in the West have wondered why most people here didn’t share their obsession with Chen Guangcheng, some people here have difficulty understanding the latest allegation that we are xenophobic.

Of course we feel wronged. We are anything but.

There are even some who feel that we have been friendlier to foreigners than to our own citizens.

If a few foreigners feel mistreated in China and conclude that we hate foreigners, or a few Chinese people feel that foreigners enjoy preferential treatment, it is only natural in a country with such diversity.

But when foreign media amplify such sentiments out of all proportion it is different, as normal public indignation at some foreign individuals’ misconduct is transformed into a “deep-rooted nationalistic hatred” for foreigners, and a routine crackdown against illegal immigration is castigated for being a crusade against all foreigners.

It is true the distasteful conduct of a couple of foreign nationals toward two Chinese women has provoked angry comments on the Web. And true, a nationwide action launched before the incident is still underway to clamp down on people who have entered the country illegally. But such occurrences are not unique to this country.

What is not true is the expat community in China is living in fear, as some overseas reports seem to suggest.

You would think that for those to whom the words “freedom of speech” come so readily to their lips would be tolerant of others’ words, even if those words seem less than friendly to their ears. But instead it seems such utterances are enough to incriminate the entire nation.

It is natural to criticize anyone who ignores basic social decencies and to prosecute someone who breaks the law.

And those countries accusing China of xenophobia for tackling illegal immigration should cast the beams out of their own eyes first as their immigration policies are a great deal harsher and stricter than ours.

Foreign nationals in China have nothing to fear as long as they have valid visas and do not break the law. Instead of receiving hostility or a cold shoulder as their home media try to suggest, they will continue to be treated as welcome guests.

China is not xenophobic, nor will it be because it aspires for more exchanges with others. Perhaps the overseas media’s portrayals of China’s hatred are really just a manifestation of their own xenophobia.

(China Daily 05/25/2012 page8)
ENDS

Kyodo: Municipalities to deny services to illegal NJ; Kuchikomi: Rising NJ welfare chiselers “social parasites”

mytest

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Hi Blog. We’ve had a discussion recently as part of Debito.org Comments about one of the side-effects of Japan’s new residency-certificate registration (juuminhyou) coming up in July.  People suspect that the GOJ is using this revision as a means not only to make sure that local governments aren’t being “soft” on NJ visa overstayers (by denying them benefits even the Kyodo article below acknowledges they are entitled to), but also to check whether all NJ residents are registered and paying into Japan’s social insurance system. This is controversial because plenty of Japanese also opt out of the system, and also because it will possibly become a means to say, “Pay in or no visa renewal,” something that citizens obviously cannot be threatened with.

This is yet another example of social Othering on a policy level (if you want to tighten things up, you should do it across the board for everyone in Japan, not just NJ), not to mention with some pretty stiff potential penalties (back paying into the system may run into the tens and hundreds of man yen, which can be financially insurmountable, and unjust especially when some employers in Japan have conveniently forgotten to pay in their half of the NJ employee’s social insurance when hiring NJ full time).  Thus NJ get uprooted from Japan due to their employer’s negligence.

I for one haven’t done enough research on what’s going to happen in coming months under the new system (my scrivener colleague in the visa industry himself too is waiting and seeing), but when it becomes plainer it’ll be discussed here. What IS plainer is that the Japanese media is already gearing up to portray the perpetual scapegoats for Japan’s social ills — NJ — this time as welfare spongers and social parasites. See the second article below.

Note that all of the things that are being alleged against foreign “welfare chiselers” in that article I’ve heard and seen being done by Japanese too (especially the fake marriage bit — but what’s not covered in the article is how a NJ visa changes when a divorce occurs, so it’s not that “easy”).  But one need not mention that inconvenient detail.  NJ shouldn’t be here anyway if they’re going to commit, er, the same crimes that Japanese commit.  Once again, social Othering and scapegoating of a disenfranchised minority is SOP in Japan for lots of social ills — and worse yet, the specter of “foreign hordes taking advantage of Japan’s overgenerous system” sells newspapers and alienates the aliens. Nothing less than media-bred xenophobia. Arudou Debito

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

Some municipalities set to deny services to illegal foreign residents: poll
Kyodo News Tuesday, April 24, 2012
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120424b6.html

Foreigners residing in Japan illegally could lose access to education and health care services when the revised basic resident registration law takes effect even though they are still entitled to receive them, civic groups said Monday.

According to the Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan and other groups, dozens of the 72 municipalities that participated in the survey plan to deny services when the revision takes effect in July.

Four said they won’t allow children of illegal foreigners to be enrolled in public schools and 13 said they will not issue maternity health record books to pregnant foreign women who are residing illegally.

Another 12 said they won’t be able to subsidize delivery expenses for pregnant women in financial distress, while 33 said they will not vaccinate illegal foreigners against tuberculosis and other diseases, the survey said.

After the revision takes effect, foreigners will registered in the same residence system used by the Japanese.

In addition, illegal residents and asylum seekers will no longer be covered by the resident registry system, although the central government has repeatedly said they will continue to be entitled to basic services offered by municipalities.

The survey, which was conducted between January and March, highlighted misunderstandings on the part of local governments when it comes to providing basic services to illegal foreign residents. More confusion is expected to occur at municipal offices after the amended law enters force.

There were about 67,000 foreigners overstaying their visas as of January, according to Justice Ministry statistics.

Eriko Suzuki, an associate professor specializing in immigration policy at Kokushikan University, said the local governments polled mistakenly believe they cannot provide services to illegal foreign residents because they weren’t supposed to be in Japan to begin with.

The professor, who was involved in the survey, urged the central government to better inform municipalities about how to treat illegal aliens after the revised law takes effect.
ENDS
//////////////////////////////////////////

Tabloid blasts growing numbers of foreign welfare chiselers
Japan Today.com KUCHIKOMI MAY. 29, 2012, courtesy of DR
http://www.japantoday.com/category/kuchikomi/view/tabloid-blasts-growing-numbers-of-foreign-welfare-chiselers

“Malicious Foreign Welfare Recipients Increasing Rapidly” screams the yellow and red headline emblazoned across the front page of Yukan Fuji (May 25). The accompanying banner, in inverse white characters on a red background, reads “meticulous investigation.”

“If there’s a way to receive something, I can’t understand why you don’t accept it. How stupid can Japanese be?” chuckles Mr A, a 26-year-old man who lives somewhere in the Kanto area. The son of parents from an unnamed southeast Asian country—making A the second generation to live in Japan—he works as a regular staff member of a manufacturing company.

A’s newly purchased car, a Japanese model, cost 3 million yen. He can afford such goodies because he, his wife and their three children receive extra “pocket money” from the government.

“My wife began receiving welfare payments from last year,” he tells the tabloid. “Including child support and other subsidies, she gets 200,000 yen per month. When combined with my take-home pay, we get over 500,000 yen per month, or about 6 million yen per year. “

In the past, recipients of welfare had been limited, by law, to “Individuals whose income from work is insufficient to meet necessary living costs,” and by virtue of this, A should not be eligible. So how does he get away with it?

“Easy,” he says. “I divorced my wife.” And he did, on paper anyway. They still live together, so it’s what one might call a divorce of convenience.

“My ex-wife went to the city office and claimed she lacked ‘sufficient income to care for the children,’ and she was promptly judged eligible and began receiving welfare payments,” A confesses.

Should the authorities send a case worker to investigate, they would find the wife residing in a separate apartment, which she rents. But actually she continues to live together with her “former” husband.

“Once a month, a case worker will pay a visit, but since notification is always made in advance, all my wife has to do is take the kids over to the rental apartment ahead of time,” he says.

Mr A tells Yukan Fuji that nearly all the inhabitants of the public housing development where he lives are foreigners.

“There are some Chinese and Indians, but people from my country are the most numerous, more than 300. Most of them are receiving welfare,” he says.

Yukan Fuji remarks that indeed there may be foreigners whose difficult situation warrants welfare, but in the case of Mr A, we’re looking at flat-out fraud.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, as of February 2012, 73,995 foreign nationals were receiving welfare payments—more than double the figure of 2000, when the average for foreign recipients in any given month was 32,858 recipients.

An official at the health ministry told the reporter that foreigners deemed eligible to receive such payments include “Permanent residents and residents who are preparing for permanent status, those with officially recognized refugee status and those with Japanese spouses.”

“There’s no doubt that the number of foreigners taking advantage of flaws in the system has been increasing,” says Professor Ryu Michinaka of Kansai University of International Studies. “Some take the form of spurious divorces or falsified documentation. Even in cases when the government offices suspect something illegal is going on, they’ll invoke the ‘language barrier’ and just pretend they don’t understand.”

The foreign welfare chiselers also share the tricks of the trade with their compatriots, and parents also give advice to their children, creating next-generation social parasites.

“There aren’t enough case workers to check out the applicants,” adds Michinaka. “One case worker might have to cover 80 families, or sometimes even twice that number. Ironically, the total incomes for some of the families might be more than the caseworker earns in salary.”

Japan needs to put its collective foot down and put an end this “haven” that makes it so easy for unscrupulous foreigners to feed at the public’s expense, the article concludes.
ENDS

Baye McNeil’s “Loco in Yokohama” blog brings up uncomfortable truths in the debate on racism in Japan

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Since the debate on “Microaggressions” and racialized treatment of people in Japan went into full swing over the past month, one other blog has been offering a good deal of insight as to how people are ultracentrifuged for special treatment in Japan by race, and how those people being ultracentrifuged likewise treat each other in a racialized manner.  Such are the habits fostered by this dread social disease called racism, and in Japan’s case it’s good to have a different take on it at last.

Baye McNeil, author of the new book “HI, MY NAME IS LOCO AND I AM A RACIST“, has a dynamic blog called “Loco in Yokohama” I think you ought to check out.  He writes about racism in Japan with a fresh brazenness that I think many Debito.org Readers might find interesting.  His 4-part (so far) series entitled, “Why do Gaijin Clash Over the Issue of Racism in Japan” is what drew me in.

Links and quick summaries of those four parts below, and you should read the posts in order.  If you’re at all interested in how you (and your multiethnic children) are being slotted in the subordinated “gaijin” category in Japan not only by Japanese, but by other NJ, you will want to read these and have a think.

Also interesting is our respective positions in the blogosphere.  As Baye himself points out, I’m White, and he’s Black (or whatever label you want to use:  Caucasian/African-American etc.), and how we get treated by NJ as vehicles of the debate is a facet little covered in discussion (case in point:  the “Tepido” Stalkers are friendly towards him, natch — ‘cos they don’t to be branded as “racists”).  So let’s read some Baye and cue up on that issue before we get into my next Japan Times Just Be Cause Column (out June 5), where I will offer “Microaggressions Part Two”.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito

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

Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Part One (May 13, 2012)
(where Baye excerpts from his book discussing his motivations for writing about the topic of racism in Japan, since many people seek to dismiss it as figments of the imagination; he also divulges his connection with me (where he attended a speech of mine a writers’ conference) before writing his book, and compares it to his connection afterwards with a full-of-praise Tepido “Hikosaemon”)

Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Part Two: Trust Issues (May 15, 2012)
(where Baye makes it clear what sort of debates on racism he’s dealt with on the Loco blog before, his take on “Microaggressions”, and why he doesn’t want to be categorized as “The Black Debito”)

Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Part Three: The Dark Side of “When in Rome…” (May 19, 2012)
(his most contentious entry so far, where he gets into the politics of being a denier of racism in Japan, and how apologism leads to reification and replication of that racism amongst NJ themselves)

Why Do Gaijin Clash Over The Issue Of Racism In Japan? Part Four — I can’t make this shit up! (May 27, 2012)
(where Baye argues that fighting the status quo is where people show their true colors — in this case, how Whites aren’t allowed to play the “race card” like Blacks can (e.g., witness the outrage towards Debito for daring to suggest McDonald’s “Mr. James” was racism — even though it was a prime opportunity for Whites “to see the world, however minutely, through the eyes of a marginalized race”))

ENDS

Yomiuri scaremongering: Foreign buyers snap up J land / Survey shows foreigners use Japanese names to hide acquisitions

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Whenever I make a point about the anti-assimilative nature of many of the GOJ’s policies towards NJ, one of the common counterarguments I hear is the foreigners can freely buy land in Japan (unlike in other societies), so it’s not that bad.

Well, it looks as though the recent push to keep an eye on foreign land acquisition in Japan “due to issues of national security” is still afoot.  As Submitter MMD notes:

////////////////////////////////////////////////
May 1, 2012
Dear Debito:  Just found the article linked below on Yomiuri’s website which gives some food for thought.

The article comments on Yomiuri’s own survey in which prefectural governments were asked “about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired” The article also includes the usual ingredients for fear mongering, starting with:

“In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.”

and concluding with:

“It’s necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources,” said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.”However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it’s important to carefully check out each transaction,” Ebina said.

The title of the article which reads “ Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions” already says it all actually.

The only thing missing was a link to Ishihara’s bid for donations to buy the Senkaku islands which can be found here http://www.metro.tokyo.jp/INET/OSHIRASE/2012/04/20m4r200.htm and here http://www.chijihon.metro.tokyo.jp/senkaku.htm
ENDS
///////////////////////////////////////////////////

Thanks MMD.  One other thing I will point out is that although this has been made a fuss of before (back in 2010, particularly regarding water supply — after all, like domestic ethnic minorities were erroneously accused of doing during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, foreign buyers might poison it!), it’s ironic that now people are getting scared about foreigners buying up, say, Niseko — for that’s been going on for quite awhile, up to now a lot of Australians etc. (who for reasons unfathomable to me love snow 🙂 ) making the purchases.  While there were some expected grumbles from the locals, it wasn’t seen as “an issue of national security” until now.

Aha, but there you go.  There are foreigners and then there are FOREIGNERS!  In this case, it’s apparently those sneaky Chinese we have to fear.  Gotcha.  Makes perfect sense if you’re a Japanese policymaker, a xenophobe who claims that Chinese are trying to carve up Japan, or an editor at the Yomiuri, I guess.  Good company to be within.  And as MMD pointed out, never mind Japan’s government-level bid to buy up land the Chinese contend is theirs…  Arudou Debito

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

Foreign buyers snap up land / Survey shows many people use Japanese names to hide acquisitions
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Apr. 28, 2012), Courtesy of MMD
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120427005580.htm

At least 1,100 hectares of mountain forest and other land have been acquired by foreigners, with Hokkaido providing the lion’s share, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

The survey discovered 63 land transactions involving foreign purchasers, but Japanese names were apparently used to disguise many of the deals, a subterfuge not recognized by local governments.

This indicates the number of deals in which Japanese land and forests are falling into foreign hands may be much larger than those found in the survey.

The survey, conducted from the end of March through earlier this month and covering all 47 prefectures, asked prefectural governments about the number of land acquisitions by foreigners and the size of the land acquired.

Under the National Land Use Planning Law, those who acquire more than one hectare of land are required to notify the prefecture concerned.

According to the survey, foreigners bought 57 pieces of land totaling 1,039 hectares in Hokkaido, accounting for 94 percent of land acquired by foreign capital nationwide.

Of the purchased land, about 70 percent was obtained by corporate bodies or individuals in Hong Kong, Australia and other places in Asia and Oceania. Corporate bodies in British Virgin Islands, known as a tax haven, were involved in 11 land transactions.

Regarding such deals, some people believe water resources are being targeted by foreign buyers. In response, Hokkaido and Saitama Prefecture introduced ordinances in March to require prior notification whenever someone tries to purchase a designated reservoir area. Fukui, Gunma, Nagano and Yamagata prefectures are considering similar ordinances.

In one example in which a Japanese name was used to disguise a land transaction, a Chinese in his 40s living in Sapporo bought 14 hectares of mountain forest and other lands near the Niseko area in Hokkaido last autumn. For this transaction, he used the name of a Japanese real estate company.

During an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun, the man said he was afraid of provoking a backlash from the Japanese if he bought the land under his name. He also said he hoped to resell the land for a profit as he thought Japanese land prices had bottomed out.

A real estate agency in the Kanto region that was involved in the sale of a mountain forest to a foreign customer said: “Even though foreigners don’t aim to obtain water resources, their acquisitions could cause consternation. They feel safe if their deals are registered under a Japanese name.”

Regarding mountain forests acquired by foreign buyers, the central government said in May last year that 40 such transactions have been carried out in the five years up to 2010, with land acquired totaling 620 hectares.

“It’s necessary to establish an ordinance on land transactions at a local level so that local governments are fully aware of the owners of land and water sources,” said Makoto Ebina, a professor at Otaru University of Commerce who participated in a discussion on the ordinance in Hokkaido.

“However, as many land transactions are unclear because names are borrowed, it’s important to carefully check out each transaction,” Ebina said.  (Apr. 28, 2012)

ENDS

JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog. The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.

The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo“, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it:

The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”

“The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”

Thank you.  Read the full JT May 6, 2012 Editorial at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/ed20120506a2.html

In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)

Yet people who should know better, and who should be advocating for the needs of the NJ Communities in Japan, are already citing this survey as somehow indicative. Japan Probe, for example, states that this survey “confirms Post-3/11 “Flyjin” Phenomenon / 25 Percent of Tokyo’s Foreign Residents Fled“, and apparently “deals a major blow to certain bloggers who have claimed that the “flyjin” phenomenon was a myth.

One of those certain bloggers indeedy would be me.  And I gave much harder and rigorous numbers from all of Japan and from the central government and for the entire year, clearly exposing the “Flyjin” phenomenon as myth in my April Japan Times column.  Hence, there’s no clearer interpretation of Japan Probe’s conclusion than the will to live in obtuse denial.

But that’s what keeps hatenas hovering around my head.  Wouldn’t it be nicer if online resources like Japan Probe (which calls itself “The web’s no.1 source for Japan-related news and entertainment”) would work for the good of the NJ communities it purports to inform? It did do so once upon a time, for example, during the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook debacle, where Japan Probe was instrumental in helping get the racist magazine on foreign crime off the shelves and the publisher bankrupted. But now, why try so hard, as the Japan Times Editorial above saliently notes, “to exaggerate the extent of foreigners leaving the country and impugn their motives for leaving“?

What’s gained out of any of this, James at Japan Probe? The smug satisfaction that you’re somehow right? (Even though you’re not?) Or that you’re somehow “more dedicated to Japan” because you didn’t leave? (Assuming you are in Japan.  Who cares?  Moreover, what if, as I argued in my May 2011 JT column, people did leave Japan anyway?  It’s their life and their decision.  Why should you care anyway?)

Why, in these days of seemingly-endless self-sacrifice in Japan, do people have to turn on themselves like this and just make things worse for everyone?  Especially themselves?  It’s a serious question.  So let me pose it.  Arudou Debito

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

Referential J media:

25 percent of foreigners living in Tokyo left Japan temporarily after March 11 quake
May 01, 2012 (Mainichi Japan)
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120501p2a00m0na016000c.html

Twenty five percent of foreigners living in Tokyo left the country temporarily following the March 11, 2011 disasters, according to a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey.

The survey was conducted between October and November 2011 as part of the metropolitan government’s efforts to re-examine the way information is delivered to foreigners residing in the capital in case of a disaster. It obtained responses from a total of 169 Tokyo-based foreigners.

According to the survey, among those who had briefly returned to their home countries following the disasters, nearly half were foreigners who have lived in Japan for less than three years, hinting at the tendency that the shorter a foreigner had lived in Tokyo, the more likely they were to leave after the disasters.

Among the most common reasons for those who had briefly left Japan were, “Strongly urged by families abroad,” and “Following embassies or employers’ instructions to leave temporarily.”

Meanwhile, 56 percent of the respondents said they did not leave Tokyo following the disasters, while 5 percent had moved to the Kansai area in southern Japan or other places within the country.

In terms of the means foreigners used to collect information related to the disasters, 75 percent said they relied on TV broadcasts, 37 percent used the Internet, and only 7 percent read newspapers at the time.

Among the respondents, 44 percent said they used mobile phones and 28 percent used e-mail as a means to contact relatives and friends immediately after the disasters, though only 51 percent reported the attempt was successful.

Among the free answer section of the survey, some opinions stressed the need for more accurate and faster information services for foreigners, one explicitly pointing at the fact that “A panic was caused at the time due to a lack of accurate information provided to foreigners overseas.”

At the same time, the survey also hinted at the need for information provided in easy Japanese, based on the results that while 76 percent of the respondents said they could understand Japanese, when asked if they could understand the language if simple phrases are used, responses increased to 85 percent.

The survey also showed that 41 percent of the respondents had never experienced earthquakes prior to moving to Japan.
ENDS
==========================
ORIGINAL JAPANESE:
東日本大震災:都内外国人、25%が一時帰国 母国の家族ら心配−−都アンケ /東京
毎日新聞 2012年05月01日 地方版
http://mainichi.jp/area/tokyo/news/20120501ddlk13040130000c.html
都内在住の外国人に東日本大震災時の行動を尋ねた都のアンケートで、25%が周囲の勧めなどで一時帰国していたことが分かった。地震の直後、家族や友人と連絡がうまく取れた人は半数にとどまり、母国の家族らの心配が大きかったことがうかがえる。
調査は昨年10〜11月、災害時の外国人への情報提供のあり方を検討する資料にするために実施。169人から回答を得た。41%は日本に住むまで地震に遭った経験がなかった。
一時帰国の理由は「母国の家族から強く言われた」「在日大使館や職場からの指示」などが多かった。「国内滞在3年未満」が帰国者のほぼ半数を占め、滞在が短い人ほど東京を離れる傾向があった。56%は震災後も転居や帰国をせず、5%は関西などに引っ越していた。
地震の直後は44%が携帯電話、28%がメールで家族や友人と連絡を取ろうとしたが、「うまく連絡が取れた」と答えたのは51%。震災関連情報は75%がテレビ、37%がインターネットから得ており、新聞は7%にとどまった。自由意見では「海外の外国人に正確な情報が伝わっていないため、パニックが起きた」として、的確で迅速な情報公開を求める声もあった。
ends

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

UPDATE MAY 9, 2012:

‘Exodus’ of disaster-panicked foreigners from post-3.11 Japan doesn’t add up

Mainichi Daily News May 9, 2012, courtesy of MS

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20120509p2a00m0na013000c.html

Where have all the foreigners gone?

One year ago — less than two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake and with the Fukushima nuclear crisis in flux — anyone walking the streets of Tokyo might very well have asked that question. With Japan in the teeth of disaster, it seemed as though the country’s foreign population had evaporated, an image reinforced by news footage of gargantuan queues at Narita International Airport check-in counters.

Some 531,000 foreigners left Japan in the four weeks after the March 11, 2011 disaster, according to a Ministry of Justice announcement of April 15 that year. It was mass panic, a rush for the last lifeboats on the Titanic. The expatriate community had left Japan for dead.

Or had they?

Of those 531,000 people who left in the first month, about 302,000 had obtained re-entry permits, suggesting most were at least considering coming back. Furthermore, a look at foreign resident numbers and the job market for foreign talent months after the disaster show that the exodus was in the end more a trickle than a flood, and perhaps only an acceleration of pre-existing trends.

Certainly in the days after the quake, with a nuclear crisis and all its potential horrors brewing at the Fukushima nuclear plant — about 225 kilometers from the heart of Tokyo — the first reaction of many was to get somewhere else in a hurry. Canadian Jason Yu, a senior IT manager at the Tokyo offices of a European investment bank, says more than half his predominantly foreign staff disappeared soon after the disaster.

“We had around 120 (workers), and I’d say about 70 left,” he says. “It was really something, because one day they were there, and then they weren’t.”

According to Yu, amid the hysteric coverage of the nuclear disaster in the Western media and a general sense that the government wasn’t telling the whole story, his firm allowed employees to leave if they didn’t feel safe and return when they were ready. Eventually, of the some 70 who had left — many with families — about 50 returned to their posts. However, “a lot of them moved on” to jobs outside Japan when their contracts ended that summer.

“That was typical,” says Christine Wright, managing director of Hays Specialist Recruitment Japan, a recruiting firm that also does broad research on employment trends. “There was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction,” where lots of people left, if not Japan, then the Kanto area, and then came back.

The rush for the exits was not, however, entirely illusory. Hays Japan saw a wave of openings in the “professional contractors” area, which includes IT and other positions where Japanese language proficiency is not necessarily a requirement. With so many foreigners in certain fields having absconded, Wright says some of Hays’ client firms expressed a preference for Japanese candidates with good English skills, as they were seen as more likely to stay long-term. Furthermore, “a lot of roles that can be (filled) by a non-Japanese speaker have been off-shored” to places like Hong Kong and Singapore, she adds.

So how great was the exodus?

“When you look at the statistics, the losses weren’t all that huge,” Nana Oishi, associate professor of sociology at Tokyo’s Sophia University, told the Mainichi. According to Oishi, the Ministry of Justice — which administers Japan’s immigration system — has not released how many of the half a million-plus foreigners who left Japan from March 12 to April 8, 2011 have returned. However, what the ministry will say is that the total foreign population in the country fell from 2,134,151 in December 2010, to 2,078,480 by December 2011 — a loss of 55,671 people, or just 2.6 percent.

Moreover, the loss was not disproportionately greater than those of preceding years. Japan’s foreign population peaked at 2,217,426 in 2008 — the year of the Lehman Shock — and has been in decline ever since, dropping by 31,305 from the end of 2008 to the end of 2009, and by 51,970 in the same period in 2009-2010.

A closer look at the foreign population by resident status furthermore shows that the decline was far from an across-the-board phenomenon, with some categories even posting significant gains. The number of technical trainees, for example, jumped to 141,994 in December 2011 from 100,008 at the same time the previous year — a 42 percent rise. Permanent residents went from 964,195 to 987,519, up 2.4 percent; investor and business manager visa holders from 10,908 to 11,778, an 8 percent climb; and teacher numbers inched up 0.9 percent, from 10,012 to 10,106.

Even in categories that saw declining numbers, the justice ministry statistics show a pattern of losses predating 3.11 by years. “Specialist in humanities and international services” visa holder numbers peaked in 2009, and have since been drifting downwards by several hundred annually. The number of foreign engineers, which dropped by 8.5 percent to 42,634 between December 2010 and December 2011, had already fallen from a high of 52,273 in 2008 to 46,592 by the end of 2010. Intra-company transferee numbers — those posted to Japan by their firms — have also been declining since 2008.

What’s more, according to justice ministry statistics, the inflow of foreign workers has also been in annual decline since a 2004 peak of about 158,900, dropping to some 52,500 by 2010.

In other words, not all the blame for even the modest drop in the foreign population can be put on disaster panic, as the overall numbers — and those in certain professional categories in particular — had been in decline for some time.

What the earthquake and the nuclear crisis have done, according to Oishi, is accelerate pre-existing trends. First of all, Oishi and Wright point out, off-shoring of back-office and non-Japanese speaking jobs was already in progress when the disaster hit. Furthermore, there was already employee attrition in some sectors for reasons completely divorced from the disaster. As Jason Yu points out, there were already staff cuts and transfers going on at the investment bank where he works before 3.11 because “it was not a good year” financially, “so you can’t say people left just because of the earthquake.”

Even the outflow of foreigners with children, which Yu says accounted for a significant portion of those who left his firm, was not all down to the disasters, according to Oishi.

“When the earthquake happened, that trend accelerated because of the radiation issue,” she says, but she points out that the departure of skilled foreign workers with kids, too, was a pre-existing trend. In a paper published on April 13 in the journal American Behavioral Scientist, Oishi points out that concerns over the quality of Japanese public education and the high cost of international schools — which do not receive government funding — was already pushing skilled foreigners with families out of the country.

The fear and the airport lines in the weeks after the earthquake and meltdowns were real. Over the long term, however, it can be said that there was no “exodus” of foreigners, but rather a smaller-scale reshuffle of certain types of foreign residents that was sped up by 3.11. “You can’t really say the quake chased away skilled workers,” says Oishi.

In fact, asked if the disasters had impacted firms’ drive to internationalize their workforces, Hays’ Christine Wright said, “One year on, no.”

According to Wright, Hays Japan’s business in foreign talent has jumped to “record levels. We’ve got record levels of vacancies, record levels of placements, so our business is performing at the best it’s performed” in the firm’s 11 years in Japan.

Furthermore, Wright says that the initial post-quake preference for Japanese candidates has weakened and “the market for foreign talent in the future … will continue to increase,” with fluent bilinguals and those capable of filling leadership positions particularly in demand.

The image of foreigners streaming out of Japan in March and April 2011 was a strong one. Wright says that she was thanked by Japanese associates for staying, and that her business relationships with some clients even improved when it became clear she would not be absconding.

More than a year on, however, government statistics and employment trends show that the exodus was if not entirely imaginary then at least ephemeral. The reality is, the foreign population remains in the millions, job openings for foreigners and foreigners hoping to fill them remain plentiful, and Japan remains a major destination among the globally mobile. (By Robert Sakai-Irvine, Staff Writer)
ENDS

Tsukuba City’s resolution against NJ suffrage passed in 2010, a retrospective in the wake of alarmism

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Hi Blog. I’ve sat on this for more than a year. Now that the whole debate on “granting foreigners suffrage will mean the end of Japan” has probably died down a bit, it’s time that we look back on what happened then, and on the aftermath wrought by people losing their heads.

After the Democratic Party of Japan came to power in 2009, after decades of mostly unbroken and corrupt Liberal Democratic Party rule, there was hope for some new inclusive paradigms vis-a-vis NJ in Japan, one of their smaller party planks was granting NJ (undecided whether NJ would be Permanent Resident or Zainichi Special Permanent Resident) the right to vote in local elections (like other countries do). This, alas, occasioned much protest and alarmist doomsaying about how Japanese society would be ruined by ever enfranchising potentially disloyal foreigners (“They’d concentrate in parts of Japan and secede to China!”, “Kim Jong-Il will now have influence over Japan!”), and suddenly we had regional governments and prefectures passing petitions (seigan) stating that they formally oppose ever giving suffrage to foreigners.

The Tsukuba City Council was no exception, even though Tsukuba in itself is an exceptional city. It has a major international university, a higher-than-average concentration of NJ researchers and academics, a centrally-planned modern showcase living grid with advanced communication networks, and one of Japan’s two foreign-born naturalized citizens (Jon Heese; the other city is Inuyama’s Anthony Bianchi) elected to its city council. Yet Tsukuba, a city designed to be one of those international communities within Japan, was given in December 2010 a petition of NJ suffrage opposition to consider signing and sending off to the DPJ Cabinet. Here’s the draft:

I was sent a copy of this shortly after it came out, and was asked what counterarguments to it, if any, I would present if I could. Here’s most of what I said:

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

December 18, 2010
1) Why is it necessary to express our opposition to this? Is there a petition out there expressing our support of this? No, because calmer heads do not see any alarm in giving NJ the vote. Responding in this way is just alarmism (kiyuu in Japanese, use this word in specific — I’ve found it makes people shudder in shame at themselves). Why ride the wave of panic and xenophobia being created by the xenophobic right-wing into passing a petition we will regret later? It looks bad for our international city of Tsukuba, with so many educated NJ residents, contributors, and taxpayers, to do so.

2) “Naturalization” is offered as a solution for the right to vote. But as you and I know as naturalized citizens, naturalization is a difficult procedure, with arbitrary rules, judgments, and treatment of candidates differing by nationality. Other countries have allowed their Permanent Residents to vote in local elections and suffered no ill-effects, including New Zealand, Canada, and parts of the United States. Do not think that this is something you can cite in support of this petition.

3) As for the constitutional issue, the Asahi wrote on July 5 in an editorial:

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

Some say foreigner suffrage goes “against the Constitution.” However, it is only natural to construe from the Supreme Court ruling of February 1995 that the Constitution neither guarantees nor prohibits foreigner suffrage but rather “allows” it.

The decision on foreign suffrage depends on legislative policy.

In an age when people easily cross national borders, what kind of society does Japan wish to become? How do we determine the qualifications and rights of people who comprise our country and communities? To what extent do we want to open our gates to immigrants? How do we control social diversity and turn it into energy?

「憲法違反」との主張もある。しかし、1995年2月の最高裁判決は、憲法は外国人地方選挙権を保障も禁止もしておらず「許容」している、と判断したと読むのが自然だ。付与するかどうかは立法政策に委ねられている。

カネやモノ同様、ヒトも国境を軽々と越えゆく時代。日本はどんな社会をめざすのか。国や地域をかたちづくる構成員の資格や権利をどう定め、どれだけ移民に門戸を開き、多様性をコントロールしつつどう活力に変えるか。

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

Sources for the Asahi and more here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=7147

http://www.debito.org/?s=suffrage+constitution

Other related articles of note, for more inspiration:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20091201i1.html

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html

In sum, I suggest people appeal to common sense and level-headedness. Why do we need a negative petition like this at all? This is mere alarmism fomented by right-wing xenophobes who do not even consider naturalized citizens to be “real Japanese” (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100202ad.html). Do we want them to tell our city government to join in the beying anti-foreign chorus, when one of the beneficiaries of your open-minded public was your very election? Can we betray them by passing this? Don’t give in to fear. We don’t need to say something nasty about our foreign residents and taxpayers. We don’t need to say anything about this issue at all. Just don’t pass this petition. Is what I would argue. ENDS

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Unfortunately, the petition did pass, and Tsukuba City joined the ranks of the alarmists after being scared by the xenophobes; the suffrage proposal had gone down in flames nationally during 2010 anyway, so this was but a capstone.  Sad, really. Despite the opposition to the petition that people like Jon mounted, people fell for the shouting down, and it just demonstrated just how disenfranchised and unable to answer alarmist accusations NJ in Japan are.

Here’s hoping Tsukuba City unpasses this petition. (They can, you know, if Tottori Prefecture is any guide.) Arudou Debito