Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
New novel IN APPROPRIATE, on child abductions in Japan, by ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog. There have been demonstrations against nuclear power recently in Japan (one in Tokyo that at one estimate attracted 60,000 demonstrators). And of course there have counter-demonstrations against the demonstrations. However, one group, claimed to be Zaitokukai in a video below (with its own history of violent and property-damaging demonstrations) gave exhortations to police to inflict violence on the anti-nuke protesters (if not getting rough with the protesters themselves). Yet as usual the Japanese police do not arrest or hinder the Rightists (examples hereherehere, and within the movie Yasukuni), instead taking action against the Leftists — arresting two in the following video.

One Japanese woman and one French man. The two arrested offer their account of what happened here:

FCCJ Press Conference on this issue today, along with an eyewitness account of the demonstration from the H-Japan listserv reproduced below.  Courtesy of NS and others. Arudou Debito


“Peaceful Rally Ended with Dozens in Handcuffs”

Time: 2011 Sep 29 15:00 – 16:00
Karin Amamiya , Author
Kojin Karatani, Philosopher
Eiji Oguma, Keio University Assistant Professor
Satoshi Ukai , Hitotsubashi University Professor
The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation

Police arrested 12 demonstrators at a peaceful rally in Shinjuku against nuclear power plants on September 11. Five of the 12 are still in police custody, being held without charge. The arrestees included a French national and his Japanese partner.

Police changed the route for the demonstration just before nearly 10,000 people gathered for the march. During the demonstration, witnesses say the police intentionally divided the protesters into small groups then deliberately provoked sections of the crowd. The incident has barely been reported by the Japanese press, and even some of the few reports that were published alleged misbehavior on the part of the protesters based not on actual observation but entirely on police accounts.

Some allege that this particular group of protesters have been targeted by police because they are made up primarily of young people rather than the middle-aged and older protesters who turn up at many such events. In other words, the police seem to fear the politicization of the young more than other age groups.

Are the Japanese police trying to silence political dissent through a systematic campaign of intimidation against the young in particular? Are the democratic rights to protest being observed in practice by those who claim to be protecting Japan’s social order? This event is an opportunity to reflect upon these crucial issues.

Scholars, writers and political analysts have issued a joint statement denouncing police suppression of the September 11 rally. The harsh measures against a peaceful protest may have enormous implications for the future in Japan. Come and hear what the speakers have to say and judge for yourself.

Please reserve in advance, still & TV cameras inclusive. Reservations and cancellations are not complete without confirmation.

Professional Activities Committee
Posted by Akiko Saikawa on Mon, 2011-09-26 15:37


Begin forwarded message:

From: “H-Japan Editor, Rikiei Shibasaki”
Date: September 26, 2011
Subject: H-Japan (E): 60,000 in Sayonara Genpatsu Demo in Tokyo; a politics of survival; women looking out for their, and Japan’s, children…
Reply-To: H-NET/KIAPS List for Japanese History

September 26, 2011

Date: Sun, 25 Sep 2011
From: “David H. Slater”

Although it was obscured by typhoon 15 (does it never end here in Japan?),
more than 60,000 people marched through Tokyo in the “Sayonara Genpatsu”
Demonstration on Sept. 19th before the rains came.

Here is a video that captures the scene and some of the speakers, who
included Oe Kenzaburo, Yamamoto Taro, Sakamoto Ryuichi, and a moving Mutou
Ruiko (if you watch until the end of the clip).
And a short English clip:
And a collection of pictures from a photo journalist:

Here is an English article
(Notice how Yahoo categorizes this: as “old news” [reproduced below])

There was some of the same sort of “precarity” matsuri atmosphere, but with
a wider age range of marchers, including the older people and young families
we saw earlier in the summer were there also; more walking, less dancing,
and more smaller conversations going on, too. Also, in the area where I was
standing, many unions were there.

The discourse that has long been in the alternative media and activist
movements is now increasingly in the mainstream media and popular
understandings, and can seen everywhere: de-politicization. This story, as
rendered in both the mainstream press and in activist statements, town
meetings and causal conversation, begins with the a political failure–of
the Japanese government to provide reliable information and support. The
government’s political failure leads to ‘non-political’ alternatives taken
by ‘non-political’ citizens.

As things were breaking up, I asked one man why he had come. He said that he
was not a very politically active man, but thought that this was important.
A woman, apparently his wife, jumped in to explain, “This is not political.
We are here as part of common sense. As a mother, we have to think about
what to feed our children and where to live, especially if
the government won’t give us the reliable information. It is
our responsibility to figure out how the children will live, how to
survive.” Many if not most of the speakers call upon this discourse in some
form. The word “kodomo” (child) is often used in signs and posters

A politics of survival? A discourse that recasts the most political issue of
3.11 as something not political, outside of the political, more fundamental
and more relevant than politics? Of course, there it is nothing new in Japan
to label somethings “political” and others not. As in other countries,
“political’ here means cynical, self-serving, the opposite of civic-minded.
No one wants to be called “political.” Rather, people want to identify their
cause as of ‘economic necessity’ or a ‘national priority’ or best of all,
‘common sense.’

What is somewhat different is that now, the spokesman for this discourse
is, well, not a man at all. The image of a woman with her children, doing
the one thing that is the most mainstream (conservative?) socially
sanctioned, culturally valued and politically prioritized (if economically,
still a challenge to many) to women in today’s Japan: protecting her
children and the future of Japan. While this rendering of a woman’s role as
mother in a family (rather than in the workplace or community), its identity
with the state’s priority can also make it a powerful alternative voice,
against the state’s support of nuclear power via the danger of
radiated vegetables.

In the spring and early summer, when mothers marched against the power
plants, it got large press, for example:
And when mothers speak out today, their voices are far more valued than
those precarious part-time workers who we let clean up the mess in the power
plants. These woman’s voices are much more often amplified in our press
coverage than the other population in Japan’s core constituency at risk:
farmers. (Is it that we imagine the mothers to be our middle-class futures
while the farmers to be a dying hold-over from an agrarian past? Good link
on Cows and Farmers protesting in Tokyo here:

Why the failure to get townships relief and aid is not the primary political
issue today is another question…

David H. Slater, Ph.D.
Faculty of Liberal Arts
Sophia University, Tokyo

————————-End H-Japan Message————————

Thousands march against nuclear power in Tokyo

Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration  in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, 2011. Chanting "Sayonara nuclear power" and wa
AP – Protesters in costume perform during the anti-nuclear demonstration in Tokyo, Japan, Monday, Sept. 19, …
By MALCOLM FOSTER, Associated Press – Mon Sep 19, 11:28 am ET

TOKYO – Chanting “Sayonara nuclear power” and waving banners, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo on Monday to call on Japan’s government to abandon atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The demonstration underscores how deeply a Japanese public long accustomed to nuclear power has been affected by the March 11 crisis, when a tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

The disaster — the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl — saw radiation spewed across a wide part of northeastern Japan, forcing the evacuation of some 100,000 people who lived near the plant and raising fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.

“Radiation is scary,” said Nami Noji, a 43-year-old mother who came to the protest on this national holiday with her four children, ages 8-14. “There’s a lot of uncertainty about the safety of food, and I want the future to be safe for my kids.”

Police estimated the crowd at 20,000 people, while organizers said there were three times that many people.

In addition to fears of radiation, the Japanese public and corporate world have had to put up with electricity shortages amid the sweltering summer heat after more than 30 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were idled over the summer to undergo inspections.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office earlier this month, has said Japan will restart reactors that clear safety checks. But he has also said the country should reduce its reliance on atomic energy over the long-term and explore alternative sources of energy. He has not spelled out any specific goals.

Before the disaster, this earthquake-prone country derived 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet Japan is also a resource-poor nation, making it a difficult, time-consuming process for it to come up with viable alternative forms of energy.

Mari Joh, a 64-year-old woman who traveled from Hitachi city to collect signatures for a petition to shut down the Tokai Dai-ni nuclear plant not far from her home, acknowledged that shifting the country’s energy sources could take 20 years.

“But if the government doesn’t act decisively now to set a new course, we’ll just continue with the status quo,” she said Monday. “I want to use natural energy, like solar, wind and biomass.”

Before the march, the protesters gathered in Meiji Park to hear speakers address the crowd, including one woman from Fukushima prefecture, Reiko Muto, who described herself as a “hibakusha,” an emotionally laden term for survivors of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Those evacuated from around the plant remain uncertain about when, if ever, they will be able to return to their homes.

An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese want to reduce the number of nuclear reactors in the country, while 35 percent would like to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.

The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults between July 29 and Aug. 10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points.

Author Kenzaburo Oe, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1994 and has campaigned for pacifist and anti-nuclear causes, also addressed the crowd. He and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the score to the movie “The Last Emperor,” were among the event’s supporters.


FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: “Nothing has changed”, my article on J media blind spots towards NJ residents over the past quarter century


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

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Hi Blog.  Last month the FCCJ‘s No.1 Shimbun invited me to give my opinion about “blind spots” in the Japanese media vis-a-vis Japan’s foreign communities.  Here’s what I wrote.  After a quarter century observing this, it was nice to put it all together in my mind.  Enjoy.  Arudou Debito


Nothing has changed 

After 25 years, little change for the better seen in the media’s coverage of foreigners

by Arudou Debito

Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, No.1 Shimbun, September 2011.


Full September 2011 No.1 Shimbun with all articles at

No.1 Shimbun archives here.

In the quarter century I have been examining the treatment of foreigners in both the English and vernacular media, I have seen little improvement. In fact, in many ways it’s gotten worse. The foreign element has been increasingly portrayed as the subterfuge that will undermine Japanese society. To crib from a famous book title, Japan has become not only the “system that soured,” but also the “media that soured.”

When I first got here in the mid-1980s, at the start of Japan’s bubble era, non-Japanese (NJ) were seen as quirky “misunderstood outsiders,” treated with bemusement for their inability to understand “Japan’s unique culture.” NJ were here to help Japan learn English and internationalize itself into its hard-earned echelon as a rich country in the international community. After all, Japan had just surpassed the per-capita gross domestic product of its mentor – the United States – so the media was preparing the public for Japan’s new role as oriental ambassador to the West.

Up in Sapporo, where I have spent most of my time, designs for NJ were a little less heady, but we were then treated like “honored guests” (if not “rare birds” to be sighted with joy). We enjoyed instant comparative-culture ambassador status, complete with token slots in newspapers and talk shows, to offer bright visions of Japan’s modern, tolerant, America-ish future (like the guest instructors who were brought over to modernize Japan during the “catch-up” phase of the Meiji Era). The local print and broadcast media offered us polite winces for our error-filled (and perpetually uncorrected – so darn cute!) Japanese, and we tolerated wasabi-laden food in front of the cameras.

However, the tacit understanding behind this century-old ersatz cultural ambassadorship is that ambassadors are temporary. Someday we would go home with the afterglow of pleasant memories, as a former guest of a faraway land with red lanterns and paper walls and all that. But that didn’t happen. Over a million NJ, your correspondent included, liked it here so much they stayed on.

Then Japan’s bubble economy burst in the 1990s. As economic indicators plateaued then headed south, the media mood subtly shifted. Perennially feel-good broadcasts (I remember one TV show entitled “Sports and News” – yes in that order) shifted to programs dedicated to “turning that frown upside down”; when they ran out of good news to report, they switched more to comedy and food shows.

Fortunately, these NJ media guests were still the “misunderstood outsiders,” only this time more as curiosities to be examined under Japan’s “pigeonhole everyone in cultural boxes” version of social science (visible in broadcasts such as “Koko Ga Hendayo Nihonjin,” a watershed show that pitted 100 motley Japanese-speaking NJ panelists against several even more motley Japanese tarento). This time, however, thanks to new visa regimes importing cheap NJ labor to preserve the competitiveness of Japan’s export industries (and keep farms and smaller factories from going bankrupt), NJ were now more culturally and linguistically fluent. They were beginning to speak for themselves, shape their own media image, and even possibly establish themselves as immigrants. But by the turn of the century, Japanese conservatives began to use the media to put the kibosh on.

The next phase, which has essentially continued to the present day, overtly began on April 9, 2000, when recently elected archconservative Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara made his famous “Sangokujin” speech. He claimed that some NJ were “repeatedly committing heinous crimes,” and called for the Self-Defense Forces to round up NJ in the event of a natural disaster as they would (unprecedentedly) riot. Even in light of the Tohoku disasters, where this has been proven as utterly false, there has been no amendment or retraction. But this speech emboldened Japan’s reactionaries (particularly its police, fortified by its new internal “Policymaking Committee Against Internationalization”) to see rampant NJ bashing as politically viable.

The 2000s saw the “reverse course” of the more liberal 1980s and 1990s. The National Police Agency launched biannual media campaigns against foreign criminals and “illegal overstayers,” showing how NJ were somehow committing more crime than Japanese as drug smugglers, gun runners and general disturbers of the peace. The agency offered images of foreigners invading Japan’s shores and pillaging its citizens, and established online “snitch sites” for anyone to anonymously rat on NJ suspected to be an “illegal overstayer.”

The established media was exceptionally compliant in disseminating this propaganda. They reported NPA crime announcements verbatim as writ, without analysis of the faulty claims and flawed statistics (e.g., reporting NJ crimes separately, however small, and as percentages – not as raw numbers – and without any contextual comparison with crimes committed by Japanese). By the end of the decade, the media was bending over backwards to criminalize NJ. Even when overall NJ crime declined, newspapers pinpointed selective crime rises, headlined crime falls in their English articles while marking it out as a rise in the same Japanese article, or manufactured news on the prospect of NJ crime rises.

In sum, the “blind spot” of Japanese media is that hardly any of it treats NJ as actual residents, with needs, concerns, and a stake in Japan. Local media do give spots on how NJ community events are faring, with the occasional update on social problems facing stricken foreign families. But that generally happens in areas with “high” concentrations of registered NJ residents (around 10% of total local population, achieved in increasingly fewer places as the NJ population drops). Rarely does NJ community news leak into more national arenas (unless, of course, it concerns foreign crime). Hardly anywhere in the Japanese-language media is a constant “voice” or venue granted to NJ regulars to offer an alternative viewpoint of life in Japan. (Please note, and this is not meant as a criticism, but tarento regulars like Dave Spector are first and foremost entertainers, rarely spokespeople for minorities, and foreign tarento have in fact visibly declined in number compared to their bubble era heyday.) Thus, unabashed bashing of NJ in the Japanese media goes unanswered without check or balance.

Have things improved since March 11? I would argue not. In March and April, Japanese media bashed NJ afresh. Despite foreign governments issuing advisories for their citizens to take evasive action during the disasters (which overseas Japanese in the same position would have followed), NJ were blamed for cravenly running away, deserting their posts (remember the “flyjin,” rendered in Japanese as nihon o saru gaikokujin?) and looting. Once again, there was no comparison with AWOL Japanese, and no questioning of Ishihara’s 2000 prediction that foreigners would run amok. Predictably, that frenzy has died down, and some media outlets have reported on the volunteerism and generosity of NJ in relief efforts. But in the end, I believe that NJ will get at most a token expression of gratitude (as I did from the Kobe Government – a “thanks” sticker that I treasure – for going down and helping out during the 1995 quake), but not what they really need – a consistent, national-level public recognition of their longstanding contributions to Japanese society.

The Japanese media is hard-wired against seeing Japan as anything but the “realm of the Japanese people,” with outsiders not allowed to “join the club” and express their views over time as insiders. Moreover, Japan’s reflexive media bashing of the outsider will continue to isolate it from the outside world. As both the Japanese and foreign populations continue to dwindle, along with the dimming of Japan’s future prospects, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.


Zaitokukai Neo Nazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective and the threat of violence


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Once again we have the Zaitokukai demonstrating in Shibuya last Saturday, once again blurring the line between freedom of speech and the expression of racist hate speech.  As hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity (and a debate with our Resident Gaijin Handler last April had him making contrary yet ultimately unsubstantiated claims; let me head him off at the pass here), this will continue, and quite possibly continue to legitimize and foment, public expressions of xenophobia in Japan, and the perpetual unappreciation of NJ as residents, taxpayers, and mere human beings.

Here’s the video:

Comment with the video:  “Go home now! ” “You are cockroaches. ” Stupid Racist “Zairtokukai” shout to the Koreans living in Japan.

Zaitokukai – They’re The group of Neo Nazi in Japan. They hate Chinese, Koreans and so foreigners. They always shout racist slogans. They are a group of ethnocentrism, and a group of the worst racial discrimination. Conscientious people in Japan fear that they injure foreigners. We hope many people of the world to know about the hidden crisis in Japan.

Here’s another video with them getting violent towards somebody, date and more details unclear:

Very ugly stuff. And it will continue, if not get worse, until hate speech and the concomitant violence is made illegal. Arudou Debito

Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Okay, Tokyo, you asked for this when you revoted in this creep for a fourth term last April. Now not only is racist xenophobe and Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro using the Tohoku Earthquake (which he originally called “divine retribution for Japan’s egoism“) as sympathy fodder for a renewed Olympic bid, but also, according to ANN News, he is calling for Japan to have nuclear weapons (in order to be taken seriously on the world stage, comparing it to a Mah-Jong game), military conscription, and even a military government!

Well, in my view this was only a matter of time, especially since Ishihara, if he’s not just flat-out senile, is of a generation (the Showa Hitoketa) which venerates Japan’s military past without actually serving in the military and experiencing the horrors of the Pacific War. He’s basically a warrior of words. And, again, the Tokyo electorate keeps putting him in a place where he can use those words for great effect and audience.  Including advocating siphoning off funds from disaster reconstruction for the purpose of circus.  Arudou Debito


First the YouTube video from ANN News (June 20, 2011, 40 seconds):


Let Olympic torch be lit as proof of recovery
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jun. 20, 2011)

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has expressed his intention to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

When announcing his plan, Ishihara said he would like the envisioned Tokyo Olympiad to be held to show the world that Japan has recovered from the ravages of the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, which would be nine years in the past in 2020.

During a session of the metropolitan assembly Friday, Ishihara stressed the importance of Tokyo hosting the 2020 Games, saying the Olympiad “would be the best return for the friendship and encouragement extended to us from around the world” in the wake of the disaster.

If Tokyo wins the bid, the Games would be certain to serve as a key catalyst for invigorating the nation to rebuild from the disaster.

The venue of the 2020 Olympics is scheduled to be decided at a general assembly of the International Olympic Committee in 2013. We want to invigorate efforts for Tokyo to host the Games, so the flame of the Olympic torch will again be lit in this nation’s capital.


Clear-cut message key

Tokyo’s bid for the Games will follow its unsuccessful attempt to host the 2016 Summer Olympics. Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo’s rival in that race, won by obtaining wide-ranging support for its call to have the Olympics held for the first time in South America.

The primary lesson from Tokyo’s failure in its bid for the 2016 Olympics is that the city lacked a clear-cut message about why it wanted to host the Games.

The message that Tokyo wants to host the 2020 Games as proof of Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis–just as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics were symbolic of the nation’s rebuilding from the ashes of World War II–will likely be able to obtain empathy from many countries.

To spur public opinion in favor of hosting the 2020 Olympics–unlike the lukewarm public support for the 2016 bid–it is important to clearly explain to the public the significance and advantages of hosting the Games.

The Tokyo metropolitan government still has a reserve fund of 400 billion yen accumulated in preparation for the 2016 Olympics. Tokyo has superb infrastructure, including high-performance transportation networks and accommodation facilities. In addition, its public order and security are known worldwide.

Such elements will be major selling points in efforts to win the Olympic bid.

Also, there reportedly are plans to hold some Olympic events in disaster-hit areas. We strongly hope this will be realized.


Nation must be united

Rome has already declared its candidacy for the 2020 Olympics. To win the race to host the Games, it is indispensable for the entire nation to unite behind the bid.

Ishihara has said, “It is imperative to have public opinion surge in favor of hosting the Games by rallying the entire strength of the country, the strength of all spheres, including the government, the sports world and business communities.”

Incidentally, the Sports Promotion Basic Law, which stipulates encouragement of sports policies as one of Japan’s national strategies, was enacted by the Diet on Friday. The new law says the government should “take special measures” to ensure sources of revenue and other needs for such purposes as hosting and holding the Olympics and other international sports events.

We realize the government must currently place top priority on securing funds to finance restoration and reconstruction projects from the March 11 disaster. But sooner or later the government will need to clarify its stance toward hosting the Olympics in this country.

The government should proactively study the feasibility of hosting the 2020 Games in tandem with such bodies as the Tokyo metropolitan government and Japanese Olympic Committee.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 19, 2011)


Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  We have some proactive treatment against discrimination towards a NJ coach in Japan’s soccer leagues.  Witness the reaction of other fans towards a nasty fan banner singling him out by his nationality, attributing to him behavior that is unrelated and unwarranted:  criticism and the taking of responsibility.  Good.  Regardless of whether one might argue this actually constitutes “racism” or not, it is still indicative of the zero tolerance of discrimination that should be (and is, under FIFA) a hallmark of world sport leagues worldwide, including Japan’s.

I am, however, of two minds about manager Ghotbi meeting the nasty fans to somehow enlighten them.  It on one hand seems a good PR strategy — engage and convince the nasties that their targets are humans with feelings after all.  On the other hand, it may encourage other trolls who want attention (not to mention get a meeting with a famous NJ — just insult them and you get an audience) to do the same thing — and enough of these banners and people may start claiming “cultural misunderstandings” as justification (you get that with nasty slogans against NJ in Japanese baseball, e.g., the racist banners against Warren Cromartie).  In my experience it doesn’t always work to talk to discriminators (sometimes their names exposed to social opprobrium is enough), but sometimes it does, and at least there is social opprobrium and media attention this time.  Let’s keep an eye on this and see how it flies.  Hopefully buds get nipped.  Arudou Debito


S-Pulse coach wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
Kyodo News/Japan Today Tuesday 07th June 2011, Courtesy of Dave Spector

TOKYO — Shimizu S-Pulse manager Afshin Ghotbi has turned the other cheek toward two Jubilo fans who have been indefinitely banished from Iwata games for hoisting a racially motivated banner in the Shizuoka derby two weeks ago, wanting to meet them to try to raise international awareness throughout the J-League.

The two teenage Jubilo supporters were outlawed by their club on Monday after writing a banner that read, ‘‘Ghotbi, stop making nuclear weapons,’’ in the May 28 J-League contest between Shimizu and Iwata at Outsourcing Stadium. The match ended in a 0-0 draw.

Ghotbi, the ex-Iran national coach who is in his first season in Japan at Shimizu, is Iranian-American.

The banner has caught fire not only for its racist undertones, but because of its insensitivity toward the ongoing nuclear power plant crisis in Fukushima Prefecture.

Yet rather than further fry the two fans amid arguably the nastiest controversy between the Shizuoka-based clubs, the former assistant to Guus Hiddink on the South Korean national team wants a clear-the-air meeting with the pair to stamp out racism in the J-League for good.

‘‘I actually suggested a meeting between the two kids, to just sit down and maybe I can inform them that what they did is wrong,’’ Ghotbi told Kyodo News by phone on Monday. ‘‘Maybe that could be a great gesture. And also because they are young, it would give them an opportunity to do some right.

‘‘Iwata could ask them to do some service work on behalf of the J-League and Iwata for the community and charity, and earn them the right to come back to the stadium.

‘‘Nobody has said anything to me, but I would love for that to happen. I think by meeting them, it would be a great gesture that when mistakes are made, you have a chance to correct it, a chance to grow.

‘‘Maybe I can show them that I’m not so different than they are.’‘

The next Shizuoka derby is on Sept. 10 at Ecopa Stadium.

Ghotbi hopes he can face the two Jubilo supporters by then so that the game won’t be one of tension, but one of a carnival atmosphere—as a derby match ought to be in his opinion.

‘‘I know the S-Pulse fans are infuriated and very upset about it and before the next derby, I want to create a situation where our fans and their fans can become closer, make the derby more of a festival and celebration for the community,’’ he said.

For all his positive spin, nevertheless, the 47-year-old Ghotbi did say that he never expected to encounter a case of racism in the J-League, which he has raved about as it being the best championship in Asia.

‘‘I personally feel sad, primarily because I see the world as one,’’ said Ghotbi, who took Iran to the quarterfinals at the Asian Cup in January that was won by Alberto Zaccheroni’s Japan. ‘‘I see all human beings the same, not divided by past or nationality. When I see behavior like that it only makes me sadder.

‘‘I also believe that particular sign by two young people is by no stretch of the imagination the vision or the behavior in Japan. It doesn’t reflect at all the way the Japanese people are and feel.

‘‘So it’s an isolated incident by two young emotional people who are misinformed, uneducated. I hope the J-League officials use this opportunity to help the J-League become even more global.’’


Weekend Tangent: Sensationalistic U of Sheffield/Routledge academic book cover: “Japan’s International Relations” (pub Aug 2011)


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Faculty members at the University of Sheffield, a venerable British institution for Japanese studies, have released their third edition of an academic book on Japan’s International Relations with a rather sensationalistic cover.  I forward the letter of complaint from friend Amanda Harlow (used with permission):


From: Amanda Harlow
Subject: Japan’s International Relation book cover
Date: May 13, 2011

Dear Professor Dobson,

I am writing to you to complain about the choice of cover design for the third edition of “Japan’s International Relations”.

[This and past editions still available on and]

This cartoon panders to the worst stereotyping of Japanese people and I feel this is a surprising choice for a respected British institution such as the University of Sheffield. If this was a mob of Japan-bashers on the streets of China, or a crazy nationalistic website I would not be surprised. But the School of East Asian Studies? Really?

Is it meant to be ironic? If so, I think this illustration would be better as an inside picture and not used on the cover of a book that is supposedly about international relations.

Here in Japan (I live in Sapporo with my Japanese husband and family) there are endless gaijin-bashing images and Debito Arudou, a friend of mine, is a well known activator on discrimination issues – if he found this image of a non-Japanese on a Japanese book cover we would all shake our heads and groan.

Can you possibly think again before publication?

Yours sincerely,

Amanda Harlow
Sapporo, Japan




From Amazon:  Product Description


The latest edition of this comprehensive and user-friendly textbook provides a single volume resource for all those studying Japan’s international relations. It offers a clear and concise introduction to the most important aspects of Japan’s role in the globalized economy of the twenty-first century. The book has been fully updated and revised to include comprehensive discussions of contemporary key issues for Japan’s IR, including:

  • the rise of China
  • reaction to the global economic and financial crisis since 2008
  • Japan’s proactive role after 9/11 and the war on terror
  • responses to events on the Korean Peninsula
  • relations with the USA and the Obama administration
  • relations with Russia, Central Asia and the Middle East
  • changing responses to an expanding and deepening European Union

Extensively illustrated, the text includes statistics, maps, photographs, summaries and suggestions for further reading, making it essential reading for those studying Japanese politics, and the international relations of the Asia Pacific.


Glenn D. Hook is Professor of Japanese Studies in the School of East Asian Studies, University of Sheffield.

Julie Gilson is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Birmingham.

Christopher W. Hughes is Professor of International Politics and Japanese Studies, University of Warwick.

Hugo Dobson is Professor in the International Relations of Japan, University of Sheffield.

Product Details

  • ペーパーバック: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (2011/8/31)
  • Language: 英語, 英語, 英語
  • ISBN-10: 0415587433
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415587433
  • Release Date: 2011/8/31

COMMENT:  Okay, I shake my head and groan.  Arudou Debito

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb

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Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple’
By ARUDOU Debito

The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.

Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ.

For example, the Wall Street Journal (March 23) announced in English and Japanese articles an apparent “fly-jin exodus,” portraying NJ as fleeing, then sheepishly crawling back to their Japanese workplaces to face hazing. Tokyo Sports Shimbun (April 14) ran the headline “Tokyo Disneyland’s biggest reason for closing: repatriating NJ dancers” (oddly, Disneyland reopened days later).


Tabloids reported that “all foreigners have fled Japan” (Nikkan Gendai, April 11), or that a wave of migrating “bad foreigners” would render Tokyo’s Ueno a lawless zone (SPA!, April 12). The NJ-bashing got so bad that the government — unusually — intervened, quashing Internet rumors that foreign gangs were roaming the rubble, raping and pillaging, or that foreign terrorists had caused the earthquakes.


More moderate media still reported that escaping NJ labor was hurting Japan’s economy, citing farms and factories employing NJ “trainees,” fast food outlets, convenience stores, the IT sector and language education. Mainichi Shimbun (April 25) shed crocodile tears over the possible death of Japan’s textile industry due to the lack of cheap Chinese workers.

Sources: and

I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?

I have my doubts that a) it’s any more significant than the fact Japanese did, or that b) it’s worth blaming NJ anyway. Japanese overseas, if advised by their government to leave a trouble spot, would probably do the same. I also doubt overseas media would criticize the departing Japanese so harshly.

So here’s what I don’t get: Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay.

Consider some common attitudes towards NJ: Larkers and freeloaders, they’re here just to make money, enjoying our rich, safe society before going “home.” NJ also get accused of threatening our safety and stability, as criminal gang members, terrorists or illegal workers. NJ are such a threat that the National Police Agency created a Policymaking Committee Against Internationalization (sic) in 1999, deputizing the nation’s hotels, employers and general public to join in their racial profiling and help ferret out “bad foreigners committing heinous crimes.”

Sources:, and

Moreover, NJ are publicly portrayed as people to be viewed with suspicion, justifying Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras in alleged “hotbeds of foreign crime.” They are even denounced by the likes of Tokyo’s governor, Shintaro Ishihara (recently re-elected to a fourth term), for infiltrating and subverting Japan’s very democracy (JBC, May 4, 2010).

Sources: and

On the other hand, NJ human rights remain unprotected. They are sometimes subjected to “Japanese Only” exclusionary rules and hate speech, neither of which are (or look likely to become) illegal activities in Japan. Meanwhile, local governments asking for kinder national policies for their NJ residents (e.g., 2001’s Hamamatsu Sengen, a set of proposals put forward in Shizuoka Prefecture to help foreign residents integrate) continue to be ignored by the central government. Indicatively, we still have no official policy to support and assimilate immigrants.

Rarely are NJ residents praised for the good they do for Japan, such as increasing our taxpayer base, contributing to the labor force, even sticking around to raise funds and deliver supplies to the Tohoku disaster areas. Instead, we get sentiments like “Japan must be rebuilt by us Japanese only” from the Asahi Shimbun (March 20) and Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s speeches.

All this might change, if NJ were ever given a stake in Japan. But rarely do they get the same opportunities as Japanese.

I speak from personal experience. We were promised, during Japan’s Bubble Era and “internationalization” push in the 1980s, that if we immigrants learned the language, worked hard and waited our turn on the corporate ladder, we would be treated equitably and promoted just like our native Japanese colleagues.

A quarter-century later, how’s that going? Pretty piddling. Few NJ have advanced to the top echelons of Japanese corporations in Japan. Few NJ “trainees” can ever hope to graduate beyond temp-worker status, picking strawberries for slave wages. Few NJ have become deans of universities, let alone gotten beyond basic contract work in education. Few NJ graduates of Japanese universities, despite years of corporate promises, have gotten genuine, promotable jobs in Japanese corporations here. And even after two decades of sweetheart visa status, few nikkei South Americans who lost their jobs in the recession were considered re-employable, unlike fellow laid-off Japanese: Only 1 percent of the former were offered any government retraining, with the rest tossed bribes to give up their pensions and “go home.” (ZG April 7, 2009)

And the Wall Street Journal reports that NJ are being questioned about “where their allegiances lie“? Allegiance to what? If they are constantly bashed for staying and now for leaving, is it any wonder that some NJ might not stick around to be potentially irradiated as well as exploited?

Look, Japan decided in the 1970s that it wanted a quick-fix energy source to power its high-speed growth. It neither wanted to pursue available (and potentially safer) sources (such as geothermal), nor rely on foreign oil. So it built one of the world’s highest concentrations of nuclear power plants on some of the world’s most seismically active land. Did people really expect that someday this atomic house of cards would not come crashing down? Come on — it was the classic case of accidents waiting to happen.

Then, when they did happen, and people (regardless of nationality) began to look out for themselves and leave potentially dangerous areas, they got blamed for either overreacting or deserting? That’s rubbing salt in the wounds.

But it’s the NJ who got it particularly bad, since the worst critics were from within their own ranks. The word “fly-jin,” remember, was coined by a foreigner, so this meanness isn’t just a byproduct of systematic exclusion from society. This is sociopathy within the excluded people themselves — eating their own, egging on domestic bullies, somehow proving themselves as “more dedicated than thou” to Japan. What did these self-loathers ultimately succeed in doing? Making NJ, including themselves, look bad.

The point is that Japan made a mistake with its nuclear policy, and will pay for it in land, lives and reputation. Yet the past two months have demonstrated that NJ — ever weaker and disenfranchised — are being scapegoated to draw attention away from those truly responsible for this mess: the inept, cosseted Japanese nuclear industry, perpetually in bed with a bureaucracy that turns a blind eye to safety standards and abets coverups.

So let me counterbalance “fly-jin” by coining a word too: “sheeple.” By this, I mean people who timidly follow the herd even when it hurts them as a whole. They are unwilling to impinge upon their comfortable, convenient middle-class existences, or threaten their upward social mobility, by demanding a safer or more accountable system. Worse, they decry those who do.

If these sheeple had had their way, Japan’s nuclear industry’s standard operating procedure of disinformation and coverup would have continued after Fukushima, as it did after previous nuclear accidents in Tokai and Kashiwazaki. But this time the accident was big enough to potentially irradiate the international community. Ironically, it sometimes falls upon the dread foreigners to save the sheeple from themselves.

But again, the situation is particularly pathetic for NJ (and the opportunistic NJ rents-seekers) because, given their permanent “guest status” in Japanese society, they are expected to act like sheeple without ever being a full member of the herd. They neither have the same opportunity to speak their minds as residents, nor defend themselves from unfair bashing in public.

So bully for the fly-jin, or anyone, for protecting themselves and getting out. Why stay and be a sheep or a scapegoat?


Debito Arudou’s new novel “In Appropriate” is now on sale (see Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments on this issue to
The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 3, 2011

SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog. Here we have GOJ agencies working to stem malicious rumors from proliferating online, including those targeting NJ. Good. It’s also presented (by a news blog) as a debate between those who feel they have a right to know (and feel betrayed by the official media as an information source) and those who feel they can say anything they like about anybody thanks to freedom of speech. It’s a fine line, to be sure, but I’m glad to see somebody official trying to tackle (or, rather, at least thinking about tackling) the issue of hate speech against NJ. But without clear legal guidelines about what constitutes “hate speech” (or for that matter, “immoral information”) in Japan, those who don’t trust the government will no doubt foresee a wave of official censorship. Arudou Debito


Japanese Government Targets “Harmful Rumors”
Shingetsu News Agency 2011.04.13, courtesy MS
By Makiko Segawa

SNA (Tokyo) — The Japanese government has now entered into the business of deciding what citizens may or may not talk about in public.

A new project team has been created by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, the National Police Agency, and METI to combat “rumors” deemed harmful to Japanese security in the wake of the March 11 disaster.

Specifically, these government organizations asserted in a press release that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and that the government must take steps against this trend for the sake of the public good.

Specifically, the project team is sending “letters of request” to such organizations as telephone companies, internet providers, cable television stations, and others, demanding that they “take adequate measures based on the guidelines in response to illegal information.”

The measures envisioned seem to relate primarily to erasing any information from internet sites written by members of the general public that the authorities deem to be harmful to public order and morality. People may also receive warnings.

When the SNA asked the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication to provide concrete examples of how the government tracked down “immoral” information on the internet, the official in charge of the telecommunications bureau said, “We have not carried out any enforcement actions yet. I cannot explain in detail how we are operating since the roles are partly divided according to the ministries involved.”

“What we, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication, are doing,” the official added, “is to urge net providers such as NTT and KDDI to follow our guidelines.”

The Telecom Services Association reveals that the following requests have thus far come from the government:

March 17: Erase descriptions of the earthquake as a man-made event
March 24: Erase descriptions about the manufacturers of the troubled nuclear reactors
March 28: Erase claim that the earthquake was caused by foreign terrorism
April 1: Eliminate the pictures of dead bodies posted on blogs

The Telecom Services Association complied with some of the government requests.

Eri Watanabe, a member of FoE Japan, an international NGO dealing with environmental issues, fears that the government’s strategy is a first step to “justify censorship.”

“If the government had conveyed the correct information from the beginning,” she asserts, “then they would have headed off the spread of rumors. The media and the government have not been properly explaining the meaning of radiation level numbers.”

Kazumi Asano, a Tokyo-based blogger, exclaimed, “They are just afraid of people exposing their close connection with TEPCO!”

Ms. Asano claims that she knew in advance that the severity of the nuclear accident would be raised to a 7 because she heard it from friends who work as TEPCO engineers.

“It is the blogs that are revealing the facts to the public,” she contends.

“The government cannot track down all of us and eliminate the people’s freedom of expression!”





Makiko Segawa is a staff writer at the Shingetsu News Agency.

More J media regarding NJ within earthquake-stricken Japan: Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog. As promised, here we have a record of how domestic media is either reporting on nasty rumors denigrating NJ, or circulating those nasty rumors themselves. The GOJ is taking measures to quell the clacking keyboards, but the tabloids (roundly decried for spreading exaggerated information overseas about the state of radioactivity from Fukushima) are still selling papers by targeting NJ regardless.

(There’s a lot of text in Japanese below; keep paging down. Brief comments in English sandwiched between.)

First, the Asahi and Sankei report “dema” swirling about saying that foreigners are forming criminal gangs (echoes of 1923’s rumored Korean well poisonings, which lead to massacres), and carrying out muggings and rapes. Yet Sankei (yes, even the Sankei) publishes that there hasn’t been a single reported case (glad they’re setting the record straight):


朝日新聞 2011年3月26日9時21分
All articles courtesy of MS



「流言飛語」被災地で深刻化 デマがニュースで報じられる例も
2011.4.1 22:03 産經新聞

The GOJ is also playing a part in quelling and deleting internet rumors, thank goodness:

総務省の「デマ削除要請」 「言論統制」というデマに? 2011/4/7





ネット狙い撃ち? 総務省の「流言飛語」削除要請 2011年4月7日(木) 15時02分


Still, that doesn’t stop other media from headlining other (and still nasty) rumors about how (bad) NJ are heading south towards Tokyo (soon rendering Ueno into a lawless zone).  Or that NJ are all just getting the hell out:

(SPA Magazine Issue dated April 12, 2011)

(Nikkan Gendai April 11, 2011)

Despite the (uncriticizing) domestic reports of Japanese also leaving Tokyo?


疎開家族でホテル満室 「休みたい」首都圏離れ

産經新聞 2011.3.19 15:39, Courtesy MD






Would NJ going to a hotel in another city have been okay then?  Or is the problem an assumption that NJ are allegedly more likely to flee, and fly overseas at that?

Fellow Blogger Hoofin has made an attempt to mathematically debunk this alleged phenomenon of “Fly-Jin”, noting that the NJ to coin this phrase has since commented with a bit of regret at being the butterfly flapping his wings and setting this rhetorical shitstorm in motion (much like GOJ shill Robert Angel regretting ever coining the word “Japan bashing”).  We have enough anti-NJ rhetorical tendencies in Japan without the NJ community contributing, thank you very much.

Besides (as other Readers have pointed out), if the shoe was on the other foot, do you think Japanese citizens living overseas would refuse to consider repatriating themselves out of a stricken disaster area (and do you think the media of that stricken country would zero in on them with the same nasty verve?).

Meanwhile, xenophobic websites continue to rail and rant against NJ, since hate speech in Japan is not an illegal activity: Here’s but one example (which has escaped the notice of the GOJ as yet, calling for the execution of foreign criminals and throwing their bodies into the sea etc.); I’m sure Readers can find more and post them in the Comments Section below:

2011/03/20, courtesy TG
【S.O.S!!】 日本のマスメディアが故意に報道しない真実 “外国人犯罪” 『被災地でレイプ・強盗・窃盗が多発!!』 東日本大震災で何が起こっているのか?【被災者にとっては、生き残ってからが「本当のサバイバル」!!】 ええぇ?!『日本の国会議員なのに、93人が外人?!』 今こそ、すべての日本人は危機感を共有すべき!! 追記:「続々々 福島第一原発で何が起こっているのか?」


People always need someone to blame or speak ill of, I guess.  I’ll talk more soon about how Japanese from Fukushima are also being targeted for exclusion.  However, it seems that hate speech directed towards NJ is less “discriminate”, so to speak — in that it doesn’t matter where you came from, how long you’ve been here, or what you’re doing or have done for Japan; if you’re foreign in Japan, you’re in a weakened position, suspect and potentially subversive.

As long as one can anonymously bad-mouth other people in billets and online, one can get away with this.  Again, this is why we have laws against hate speech in other countries — to stem these nasty tendencies found in every society.  Arudou Debito

Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate


IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in JapansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumbUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog. Let’s now start looking at some aspects of what appears to be a Post 3-11 Backlash against NJ. Let’s start with the Tokyo Governor’s Election, due April 10.

We already have one overtly racist incumbent, Ishihara Shintaro, whom I’ve heard is alas the favorite to win, again. But also on the bill is this noticeably nasty candidate Furukawa Keigo, who advocates by his very slogan the expulsion of foreigners from his jurisdictions (pedants might counter that he’s only referring to Chinese and Koreans, but a) that doesn’t make it any better, and b) you think he’s only stopping there?).

Here’s Furukawa’s public campaign announcement, put in every Tokyoite’s mailbox through public monies:

Furukawa’s Campaign Video here:古川圭吾

His profile page:

Platform (from Campaign Video page, translation courtesy MS):
Safeguard the capital. Safeguard Japan. Japan belongs to the Japanese people.

Now more than ever, we should resolutely expel the foreign barbarians

Eject foreigners from Tokyo.
(By foreigners, I mean mainly Chinese (the pejorative “Shinajin” used for this) and north and south Koreans. In other words, the foreigners who are thought to be causing harm to Japan.)

1. Change the law so that foreigners cannot purchase land in Tokyo-to.
2. Absolutely opposed to voting rights for foreigners!!
3. Ban the the use of officially recognized Japanese aliases used by so-called “Zainichi” Koreans.
4. Make conversion of pachinko shop premiums into cash illegal
5. Do not relocate the Tsukiji fish market
6. Permit opening of casinos in Toyosu
7. Continue with tuition-free high schooling. Abolish the school district system.
8. No need for Tokyo to host the Olympic Games
9. Merge Tokyo’s two subway corporations. Run the trains round the clock.
10. Revize Metropolitan Tokyo’s Ordinance No. 128 (law controlling public morals)
11. Provide more public housing
12. Revise construction safety regulations in Tokyo.

2.外国人参政権 絶対反対!!

COMMENT:  Although diverse elections will always contain crank candidates (after all, they have to represent their portion of the crank public), a question to be raised is what kind of people (and electoral system) would allow a campaign advocating the expulsion of taxpayers who have lived here for generations? Submitter MS says poignantly, “I’m royally pissed at having my tax money used on a document published and distributed by Met Tokyo that bears a prominent advertisement by a right-wing wacko candidate that advocates my expulsion.”

MS provides the mailing address of the office that oversees the gubernatorial election, FYI.

Secretariat to Election Administration Commission
(Senkyo Kanri Iinkai Jimukyoku)
39th Floor, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building No. 1
8-1, Nishi Shinjuku 2-chome
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 163-8001

This issue is admittedly a bit tangental; these campaign stumps were probably written and submitted before 3-11, so they are but riding sentiments that were already lying latent before they could surf the current wave of public opinion. How well Furukawa does on April 10 is quite possibly a bellwether of how sentiment is turning anti-NJ (or not) in the face of the “Fly-Jin” or “Bye-Jin” pejoratives.

More on how the J media has been bashing NJ as pseudo-deserters tomorrow. Arudou Debito

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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The Japan Times, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
DRAFT NINE, VERSION AS SUBMITTED TO EDITOR (Director’s Cut, including text cut out of published article)

Download Top Ten for 2010 at
Download Top Ten for 2000-2010 at
Download entire newsprint page as PDF with excellent Chris Mackenzie illustrations (recommended) at

It’s that time again, when the JUST BE CAUSE column ranks the notable events of last year that affected Non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan. This time it’s a double feature, also ranking the top events of the past decade.


5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)

This lawsuit followed the landmark Ana Bortz case of 1999, where a Brazilian plaintiff sued and won against a jewelry store in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka Prefecture, that denied her entry for looking foreign. Since Japan has no national law against racial discrimination, the Bortz case found that United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination (CERD), which Japan signed in 1995, has the force of law instead. The Otaru case (Just Be Cause, Jun. 3, 2008) (in which, full disclosure, your correspondent was one plaintiff) attempted to apply penalties not only to an exclusionary bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, but also to the Otaru city government for negligence. Results: Sapporo’s district and high courts both ruled the bathhouse must pay damages to multiple excluded patrons. The city government, however, was exonerated.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Although our government has repeatedly said to the U.N. that “racial discrimination” does not exist in Japan (“discrimination against foreigners” exists, but bureaucrats insist this is not covered by the CERD (JBC, Jun. 2, 2009)), the Otaru case proved it does, establishing a cornerstone for any counterargument. However, the Supreme Court in 2005 ruled the Otaru case was “not a constitutional issue,” thereby exposing the judiciary’s unwillingness to penalize discrimination expressly forbidden by Japan’s Constitution. Regardless, the case built on the Bortz precedent, setting standards for NJ seeking court redress for discrimination (providing you don’t try to sue the government). It also helped stem a tide of “Japanese Only” signs spreading nationwide, put up by people who felt justified by events like:


Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara set the tone this decade with a calamitous diatribe to the Nerima Ground Self Defense Forces (ZG, Dec. 18, 2007), claiming that NJ (including “sangokujin,” a derogatory term for former citizens of the Japanese Empire) were in Japan “repeatedly committing heinous crimes.” Ishihara called on the SDF to round foreigners up during natural disasters in case they rioted (something, incidentally, that has never happened).

WHY THIS MATTERS: A leader of a world city pinned a putative crime wave on NJ (even though most criminal activity in Japan, both numerically and proportionately, has been homegrown (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007)) and even offered discretionary policing power to the military, yet he has kept his office to this day. This speech made it undisputedly clear that Ishihara’s governorship would be a bully pulpit, and Tokyo would be his turf to campaign against crime — meaning against foreigners. This event emboldened other Japanese politicians to vilify NJ for votes, and influenced government policy at the highest levels with the mantra “heinous crimes by bad foreigners.” Case in point:


Once re-elected to his second term, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi got right down to business targeting NJ. No fewer than three Cabinet members in their opening policy statements mentioned foreign crime, one stressing that his goal was “making Japan the world’s safest country again” — meaning, again, safe from foreigners (ZG, Oct. 7, 2003).

WHY THIS MATTERS: Despite being one of Japan’s most acclaimed prime ministers, Koizumi’s record toward NJ residents was dismal. Policies promulgated “for the recovery of public safety” explicitly increased the peace for kokumin (Japanese nationals) at the expense of NJ residents. In 2005, the “Action Plan for Pre-Empting Terrorism” (ZG, May 24, 2005) portrayed tero as an international phenomenon (ignoring homegrown examples), officially upgrading NJ from mere criminals to terrorists. Of course, the biggest beneficiaries of this bunker mentality were the police, who found their powers enhanced thusly:

2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)

After May 1999, when their “Policy Committee Against Internationalization” (sic) was launched, the National Police Agency found ample funding for policies targeting NJ expressly as criminals, terrorists and “carriers of infectious diseases.” From NPA posters depicting NJ as illegal laborers, members of international criminal organizations and violent, heinous crooks, campaigns soon escalated to ID checks for cycling while foreign (ZG, Jun. 20, 2002), public “snitch sites” (where even today anyone can anonymously rat on any NJ for alleged visa violations (ZG, Mar. 30, 2004)), increased racial profiling on the street and on public transportation, security cameras in “hotbeds of foreign crime” and unscientific “foreigner indexes” applied to forensic crime scene evidence (ZG, Jan. 13, 2004).

Not only were crackdowns on visa overstayers (i.e., on crimes Japanese cannot by definition commit) officially linked to rises in overall crime, but also mandates reserved for the Immigration Bureau were privatized: Hotels were told by police to ignore the actual letter of the law (which required only tourists be checked) and review every NJ’s ID at check-in (ZG, Mar. 8, 2005). Employers were required to check their NJ employees’ visa status and declare their wages to government agencies (ZG, Nov. 13, 2007). SDF members with foreign spouses were “removed from sensitive posts” (ZG, Aug. 28, 2007). Muslims and their friends automatically became al-Qaida suspects, spied on and infiltrated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police (ZG, Nov. 9).

There were also orgiastic spending frenzies in the name of international security, e.g., World Cup 2002 and the 2008 Toyako G-8 Summit (JBC, Jul. 1, 2008). Meanwhile, NJ fingerprinting, abolished by the government in 1999 as a “violation of human rights,” was reinstated with a vengeance at the border in 2007. Ultimately, however, the NPA found itself falsifying its data to keep its budgets justified — claiming increases even when NJ crime and overstaying went down (ZG, Feb. 20, 2007). Hence, power based upon fear of the foreigner had become an addiction for officialdom, and few Japanese were making a fuss because they thought it didn’t affect them. They were wrong.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The NPA already has strong powers of search, seizure, interrogation and incarceration granted them by established practice. However, denying human rights to a segment of the population has a habit of then affecting everyone else (ZG, Jul. 8, 2008). Japanese too are now being stopped for bicycle ID checks and bag searches under the same justifications proffered to NJ. Police security cameras — once limited to Tokyo “foreigner zones” suchas Kabukicho, Ikebukuro and Roppongi — are proliferating nationwide. Policing powers are growing stronger because human rights protections have been undermined by precedents set by anti-foreigner policies. Next up: Laws preventing NJ from owning certain kinds of properties for “security reasons,” further tracking of international money transfers, and IC-chipped “gaijin cards” readable from a distance (ZG, May 19, 2009).


For the first time in 48 years, the number of foreigners living in Japan went down. This could be a temporary blip due to the Nikkei repatriation bribe of 2009-2010 (ZG, Apr. 7, 2009), when the government offered goodbye money only to foreigners with Japanese blood. Since 1990, more than a million Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese ancestry have come here on special visas to help keep Japan’s industries humming cheaply. Now tens of thousands are pocketing the bribe and going back, giving up their pensions and becoming somebody else’s unemployment statistic.

WHY THIS MATTERS: NJ numbers will eventually rise again, but the fact that they are going down for the first time in generations is disastrous. For this doesn’t just affect NJ – it affects everyone in Japan. A decade ago, both the U.N. and Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi stated that Japan needs 600,000 NJ a year net influx just to maintain its taxpayer base and current standard of living. Yet a decade later, things are going in exactly the opposite way.

It should be no surprise: Japan has become markedly unfriendly these past ten years. Rampant and unbalanced NJ-bashing have shifted Japanese society’s image of foreigner from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “social bane and criminal.” Why would anyone want to move here and make a life under these conditions?

Despite this, everyone knows that public debt is rising while the Japanese population is aging and dropping. Japan’s very economic vitality depends on demographics. Yet the only thing that can save Japan – a clear and fair policy towards immigration – is taboo for discussion (JBC, Nov. 3, 2009). Even after two decades of economic doldrums, it is still unclear whether Japan has either the sense or the mettle to pull itself up from its nosedive.

The facts of life: NJ will ultimately come to Japan, even if it means that all they find is an elderly society hanging on by its fingernails, or just an empty island. Let’s hope Japan next decade comes to its senses, figuring out not only how to make life here more attractive for NJ, but also how to make foreigners into Japanese.


Bubbling under for the decade: U.N. Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s 2005 and 2006 visits to Japan, where he called discrimination in Japan “deep and profound” (ZG, Jun. 27, 2006); Japan’s unsuccessful 2006 bid for a U.N. Security Council seat—the only leverage the U.N. has over Japan to follow international treaty; the demise of the racist “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine and its publisher thanks to NJ grassroots protests (ZG, Mar. 20, 2007); the “Hamamatsu Sengen” and other statements by local governments calling for nicer policies towards NJ (ZG, Jun. 3, 2008); the domination of NJ wrestlers in sumo; the withering of fundamental employers of NJ, including Japan’s export factories and the eikaiwa industry (ZG, Dec. 11, 2007).




Japanese politicians with international roots are few but not unprecedented. But Taiwanese-Japanese Diet member Renho’s ascension to the Cabinet as minister for administrative reforms has been historic. Requiring the bureaucrats to justify their budgets (famously asking last January, “Why must we aim to develop the world’s number one supercomputer? What’s wrong with being number two?”), she has been Japan’s most vocal policy reformer.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Few reformers are brave enough to withstand the national sport of politician-bashing, especially when exceptionally cruel criticism began targeting Renho’s ethnic background. Far-rightist Diet member Takeo Hiranuma questioned her very loyalty by saying, “She’s not originally Japanese.” (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2) Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara expanded the focus by claiming people in the ruling coalition had foreign backgrounds, therefore were selling Japan out as a “duty to their ancestors” (JBC, May 4). Fortunately, it did not matter. In last July’s elections, Renho garnered a record 1.7 million votes in her constituency, and retained her Cabinet post regardless of her beliefs, or roots.


After all the bad blood between these strikingly similar societies, Japan’s motion to be nice to South Korea was remarkably easy. No exploitable technicalities about the apology being unofficial, or merely the statements of an individual leader (as was seen in Prime Minister Tomiichi Murayama’s apologies for war misdeeds, or Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono’s “statement” about “comfort women” – itself a euphemism for war crimes) — just a prime minister using the opportunity of a centennial to formally apologize for Japan’s colonial rule of Korea, backed up by a good-faith return of war spoils.

WHY THIS MATTERS: At a time when crime, terrorism and other social ills in Japan are hastily pinned on the outside world, these honest and earnest reckonings with history are essential for Japan to move on from a fascist past and strengthen ties with the neighbors. Every country has events in its history to be sorry for. Continuous downplaying — if not outright denial by nationalistic elites — of Japan’s conduct within its former empire will not foster improved relations and economic integration. This applies especially as Asia gets richer and needs Japan less, as witnessed through:


Despite a year of bashing Chinese, the government brought in planeloads of them to revitalize our retail economy. Aiming for 10 million visitors this year, Japan lowered visa thresholds for individual Chinese to the point where they came in record numbers, spending, according to the People’s Daily, 160,000 yen per person in August.

WHY THIS MATTERS: Wealthy Chinese gadding about while Japan faced decreasing salaries caused some bellyaching. Our media (displaying amnesia about Bubble Japan’s behavior) kvetched that Chinese were patronizing Chinese businesses in Japan and keeping the money in-house (Yomiuri, May 25), Chinese weren’t spending enough on tourist destinations (Asahi, Jun. 16), Chinese were buying out Japanese companies and creating “Chapan” (Nikkei Business, Jun. 21), or that Chinese were snapping up land and threatening Japan’s security (The Japan Times, Dec. 18). The tone changed this autumn, however, when regional tensions flared, so along with the jingoism we had Japanese politicians and boosters flying to China to smooth things over and keep the consumers coming.

Let’s face it: Japan was once bigger than all the other Asian economies combined. But that was then — 2010 was also the year China surpassed Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. Japan can no longer ignore Asian investment. No nationalistic whining is going to change that. Next up: longer-duration visas for India.


The ruling coalition sponsored a bill last year granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with permanent residency (ZG, Feb. 23) — an uncharacteristically xenophilic move for Japan. True to form, however, nationalists came out of the rice paddies to deafen the public with scare tactics (e.g., Japan would be invaded by Chinese, who would migrate to sparsely-populated Japanese islands and vote to secede, etc.). They then linked NJ suffrage with other “fin-de-Japon” pet peeves, such as foreign crime, North Korean abductions of Japanese, dual nationality, separate surnames after marriage, and even sex education.

WHY THIS MATTERS: The campaign resonated. Months after PR suffrage was moribund, xenophobes were still getting city and prefectural governments to pass resolutions in opposition. Far-rightists used it as a political football in election campaigns to attract votes and portray the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as inept.

They had a point: How could the DPJ sponsor such a controversial bill and not rally behind it as criticisms arose? Where were the potential supporters and spokespeople for the bill, such as naturalized Diet member Marutei Tsurunen? Why were the xenophobes basically the only voice heard during the debate, setting the agenda and talking points? This policy blunder will be a huge setback for future efforts to promote human rights for and integration of NJ residents.

Bubbling under for the year: Oita High Court rules that NJ have no automatic right to welfare benefits; international pressure builds on Japan to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abduction; Tokyo Metropolitan Police spy on Muslims and fumble their secret files to publishers; America’s geopolitical bullying of Japan over Okinawa’s Futenma military base undermines the Hatoyama administration (JBC, Jun. 1); Ibaraki Detention Center hunger strikers, and the Suraj Case of a person dying during deportation, raise questions about Immigration Bureau procedure and accountability.

Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”


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Hi Blog.  The Yomiuri is in full trumpet about foreign crime again — this time concluding (in an article that does develop the causes of some severe NJ suffering) with a quote from an elderly somebody about coexistence with foreigners being perhaps but a dream.  A friend of mine offlist was quite critical of yesterday’s NYT article as an “anecdote-laden piece of fluff”. Okay, but check this one out:  Nothing but anecdotes and nary a reliable stat in sight.

One thing I’m not quite getting is the connection between Lehman and foreign crime.  Is Japan’s economy so fragile that one event could ruin it?  Don’t businesses make their own decisions, or sovereign countries have responsibility over their own fiscal and monetary policies?  Or is this another way of pinning Japan’s woes on foreigners?

As one submitter JK put it:  “I’d like to start off 2011 by taking a step back to 2008 where リーマ ン・ショック which has been the whipping boy for many of Japan’s ills. Add to the list another societal woe: Foreign crime. In a perverse way, I am surprised that this has taken so long to make it to press.”

Had a quick but unsuccessful look for the Japanese original online at the Yomiuri.  Anyone else find it, please send article and link?  Thanks.  Arudou Debito


Foreign crime hits local areas / ‘Lehman shock’ felt in surge of thefts by Japanese-Brazilian teens
The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 4, 2011), courtesy of The Club and JK

A dozen foreign workers were silently sorting out used motorbikes, bicycles, TVs and washing machines piled up in a secondhand store’s storage yard guarded by fences up to three meters high on the outskirts of a commuter town in central Kanagawa Prefecture.

About 10 kilometers from the yard, there is a district with a large number of people from Southeast Asian countries. One resident said that the secondhand shop would buy even stolen goods.

“Now we are doing our business properly, only with customers whose identification we have confirmed,” said the 53-year-old shop owner, a former Vietnamese refugee who acquired Japanese nationality 20 years ago.

“Last year, when the business slump severely hit us, many stolen items were brought in here–even a power shovel,” he said.

“Last year, many foreign temporary workers got fired due to the recession. As a result, many young foreign residents began to support themselves through crime because their parents could not earn any more,” the 24-year-old son of the shop owner said.

There are 55 districts in Shizuoka, Aichi, Gunma and a dozen other prefectures where many foreign factory workers and their families have settled since around 1990.

Many families in such communities do not send their children to school because of language barriers and different views toward education. As a result, young foreign residents who are not in school tend to flock together during the day and sometimes run wild in the area. They are seen as a major reason for the deterioration of public safety in such areas.

In a bid to solve this problem, the central government and local governments have dispatched interpreters and assistant language teachers to primary and middle schools to help the children of foreign residents study.

Such efforts helped decrease the incidence of juvenile delinquency and crime in Oizumimachi, Gunma Prefecture, which has about 6,400 non-Japanese residents, after such problems hit a peak in 2007.

However, the bankruptcy of the U.S. major brokerage house Lehman Brothers changed the situation in many other areas of Japan that have large numbers of foreign residents. It ignited a global recession, negatively affecting Japan’s firms and eventually depriving many foreign factory workers of their jobs.

In the Homigaoka district of Toyota, Aichi Prefecture, where nearly half of the 8,000 residents are Brazilians of Japanese descent, many boys can seen hanging around at night in front of convenience stores, even in the cold of winter.

“After Lehman Brothers’ bankruptcy, our shoplifting damage jumped to 100,000 yen per month–three times higher than before,” said the 58-year-old owner of one convenience store in the district.

Another convenience store owner, 30, said: “Most of the 30 shoplifters we caught in a month [at that time] were Japanese-Brazilian boys.”

Kazuto Sergio Matsuda, a 55-year-old company employee, who moved to the Homigaoka district about four years ago, reached the point at which he could not stand by and watch this situation any longer. So he became the first Japanese-Brazilian member of the regional anticrime patrol in April 2009.

Through the patrol activities, Matsuda saw many Japanese-Brazilian families falling apart when fathers who had lost their jobs did not come home for many days as they searched for work, prompting mothers to go to out to work for a living and driving their children to juvenile delinquency as a result.

“I think children also are victims of the global recession. But if we simply ignore this situation, they will become increasingly isolated from their community when they’ve grown up,” Matsuda said.

The 79-year-old leader of a community group says he also feels that relations between longtime Japanese residents and Japanese-Brazilians have become more distant and remote.

“We need efforts to compromise with each other. But it’s extremely difficult for us to communicate with them because there are so many delinquent children,” he said. “Living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream.”


Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”.


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Hi Blog. More woolgathering on the past decade, as the end of the year approaches:

I’m hearing increasing discontent from the NJ Community (assuming quite presumptuously there is one able to speak with a reasonably unified voice) about living in Japan.

Many are saying that they’re on their way outta here.  They’ve had enough of being treated badly by a society that takes their taxes yet does not respect or protect their rights.

To stimulate debate, let me posit with some flourish the negative case for continuing life in Japan, and let others give their own arguments pro and con:


It’s becoming increasingly difficult to expect people to want to immigrate to Japan, given the way they are treated once they get here.

We have racial profiling by the Japanese police, where both law allows and policy sanctions the stopping of people based upon having a “foreign appearance”, such as it is, where probable cause for ID checks anywhere is the mere suspicion of foreigners having expired visas.

We have rampant refusals of NJ by landlords and rental agencies (sanctioned to the point where at least one realtor advertises “Gaijin OK” apartments), with the occasional private enterprise putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and nothing exists to stop these acts that are expressly forbidden by the Japanese Constitution.  Yet now fifteen years after effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no law against it either on the books or in the pipeline.

With recent events both with the Northern Territories, the Takeshima/Tokdo rocks, and the Senkakus, we have a rising reactionary xenophobic wave justifying itself upon creating a stronger Japan to “protect sovereignty” through anti-foreign sloganeering. This is is very visible in the reaction to the proposed suffrage for Permanent Residents bill, which went down in flames this year and is still inspiring people to ask their local assemblies to pass “ikensho” expressly in opposition (I was sent one yesterday afternoon from a city assembly politician for comment).  Bashing NJ has become sport, especially during election campaigns.

We have people, including elected officials, claiming unapologetically that even naturalized Japanese are “not real Japanese”, with little reprisal and definitely no resignations.

We have had the NPA expressly lying and the media blindly reporting about “foreign crime rises” for years now, even as crime falls.

And we are seeing little future return on our investment: Long-term NJ bribed by the GOJ to return “home” and give up their pensions, and the longest wait to qualify for the pension itself (25 years) in the industrialized world. With the aging society and the climbing age to get it (I have little doubt that by the time I am old enough, currently aged 45, that the age will be around 70 or so), and Japan’s postwar Baby Boomers soon qualifying themselves, looks likely there won’t be much left in the public coffers when it happens.

Yet we still have little acknowledgment by our government of all that NJ and immigrants have done for this society.  Instead, the image of NJ went quite markedly from “misunderstood guest and outsider” to “criminal threat to Japan’s safe society” this decade.

Why stay in a society that officially treats its people of diversity with such suspicion, derision and ingratitude?, is a case that can be made.  Especially other NJ are getting the message and leaving — the NJ population dropped in 2009 for the first time since 1961.  As salaries keep dropping in a deflationary economy, even the financial incentives for staying in an erstwhile more hospitable society are evaporating.

That’s the negative case that can be made.  So let me posit a question to Readers (I’ll create a blog poll to this effect):

Do you see your future as living in Japan?

  1. Definitely yes.
  2. Probably yes for the foreseeable future, but things might change.
  3. Uncertain, is all I can say.
  4. Leaning towards a probable no.
  5. Definitely no.
  6. Something else.
  7. N / A: I don’t live or will not live in Japan.

Let’s see what people think. I’ll leave this up as the top post until Tuesday or so, depending on how hot the discussion gets. Arudou Debito

Speaking PGL 2010 Sat Dec 4 ICU on “Propaganda in Japan’s Media: Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of non-Japanese Residents”


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PGL Conference 2010
International Christian University, Tokyo

The Conference
The 3 R’s: Resist Business as Usual, Reclaim Space for Peace,
Revolutionise Public Consciousness

Room Number & General Theme
Media – Room 252
Saturday, December 4, Session 3 (3.15 – 4.45)

Paper Presentation Titles
Folake Abass, Kyoto Sangyo University (30 mins)
Exploring Injustice

Arudou Debito, Hokkaido Information University (60 mins)

Propaganda in Japan’s Media: Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of non-Japanese Residents

1. Paper title


2. Abstract in English

Japan has one of the most vibrant and pervasive domestic media environments in the world. This media environment can also be significantly manipulated by the Japanese government, mobilizing Japanese public opinion towards national goals even at the expense of domestic minorities — particularly non-citizens. The degree of underrepresentation and disenfranchisement of Non-Japanese residents in Japan is clear when one studies the “foreign crime wave of the 2000s”, promoted by the government in the name of “making Japan the world’s safest country again”, justifying public policy against “foreign terrorism, infectious diseases, and crime”. The domestic media’s complicity in publicizing anti-foreign sentiment without analysis has caused quantifiable social dehumanization; government polls indicate a near-majority of citizens surveyed do not agree that non-citizens should have the same human rights as citizens. This presentation studies how language and media have been used as a means for disseminating propaganda in Japan, fostering social stratification, alienation, and xenophobia.


The Independent (UK) on Japan’s rising nationalism as Japan slips in world rankings


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Hi Blog.  Here’s another article from David McNeill on how the power shift in Asia is fueling domestic xenophobic jingoism.  Although we’ve seen far too much coverage of this raving right-wingnut Sakurai in recent months, the point is still valid that people here are feeling (or at least the domestic media is promoting the feeling) that Japan is being squeezed by emerging neighboring economic powers.  How that will affect Japan’s treatment of its NJ residents is something and journalist contributors should keep an eye on.  (A recent Poll, currently fifth from the top, indicates that Readers don’t think it will matter much. Hope so.)  Arudou Debito on his way to JALT Nagoya


The Independent, November 5, 2010
Japan: The land of the rising nationalism
By David McNeill
The emergence of China as an economic superpower is bringing out the jingoism in the Japanese

Most Tokyo districts will fortunately never experience Makoto Sakurai and his noisy flag-waving mob. But the city’s normally quiet Moto-Azabu area is home to the Chinese embassy and there are few countries Sakurai hates more than China. His group’s favourite insult – directed at the embassy via megaphone – is shina-jin roughly equivalent to “chink”.

“The Chinese are making fools of us,” said Sakurai, a baby-faced 30-something and the unlikely ringleader of what one academic calls: “Japan’s fiercest and most dangerous hate group today.” Like many nationalists, he is infuriated by what he sees as Chinese expansionism.

“If Japan had any guts, it would stand up to them,” he said.

Two decades ago, Japan was the rising Asian upstart that was barging its way on to the world’s front pages. “We are virtually at the mercy of the Japanese,” The LA Times famously blared in 1989, after a slew of high-profile takeovers by Japanese companies. Now it’s faltering Japan’s turn to tremble at the power of foreign capital; Chinese capital.

Japan’s conservative media have been sounding alarm bells all year as the rumblings from China’s economic juggernaut grow louder. In a 24-page feature in March, the right-wing Sapio magazine warned that China is set to “buy up Japan”, noting how Chinese conglomerates are gobbling up real estate and forests and even eyeing uninhabited islands around Japan’s coast. Another magazine ran a front-page story titled “Your next boss could be Chinese”.

Japan’s insecurity at its reduced status has been hammered home this week in a dispute with another neighbour. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s decision to visit one of four islands off northern Japan, seized by Moscow after the Second World War, was called “regrettable” by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Sakurai’s followers were more blunt – and bitter. “Russia and China are both taking advantage of Japan’s weakness,” said one. “China has a dagger pointed at Japan’s heart – what are we going to do about it?”

The disputes could not have come at a worse time. The summer news that China overtook Japan as the world’s No 2 economy – a position Japan had held for four decades – has sparked painful soul-searching in a country that was once seen as a serious economic rival to America. Indications of Japan’s decline are all around. Per capita GDP fell from fourth in the world in 2001 to 22nd last year. Its share of global production has fallen below 10 per cent for the first time since 1982; its economy grew by a pallid 0.8 per cent in the decade till 2009. After years of government pump priming, public debt approaches 200 per cent of GDP – the worst in the developed world.

Blue-chip firms like Sony and Hitachi have lost their lustre. Last year’s decision by Toyota, once the gold standard of manufacturing, to eventually recall 14 million cars seemed symbolic of a faltering global brand – Japan Inc. Yasuchika Hasegawa, president of Takeda Chemicals, summed up Japan’s sense of crisis this year when he said: “We need a new vision or we face the decline of our nation.”

Japan is still struggling to deal with the fallout from a separate territorial dispute with Beijing over the Senkaku (as they are known in Japan) or Daiyou (as they are known in China) islands. China pressured Tokyo into releasing the captain of a fishing boat that had collided with a coastguard vessel in waters claimed by Japan, in part by choking off supplies of rare earth minerals – vital for the electronics industry. The timing of the maritime spat confirmed some fears that China’s expanding economic clout is increasingly matched by political and military muscle.

“Lots of nations disagree, but it doesn’t get down to an eyeball-to-eyeball game of chicken,” says Jeff Kingston, a China expert in Temple University Japan. “It’s about the huge shift of power from Japan toward China over the last 15 years.

“It’s about who gets to call the shots in Asia – the US or China and China is saying it wants a bigger say and the key issue is for the US to decide if it wants to cede more space to them – and history is not littered with good examples of that.”

All of which could be used to paint a very bleak picture of one of the planet’s most important bilateral relationships, were it not for cold economic facts. China gobbled up a record 19 per cent of Japan’s total exports last year, while Japan in turn bought 22 per cent of its imports from China. Two decades of often bit

ter disputes over history, territory and politics have failed to knock the onward march of economic progress off course: China last year overtook the US to become Japan’s most important trading partner.

In Tokyo’s upscale Matsuzakaya department store, a couple of miles from where Sakurai and his supporters shout racist-tinged invective at the Chinese embassy, a very different picture of Sino-Japan relations is on show. Like thousands of Japanese businesses struggling with inert domestic demand, this crusty shopping landmark is turning its gaze to an alluring new customer and as such has had to hire Mandarin-speaking staff to deal with the influx of Chinese customers. “They turn their noses up at Chinese-made goods,” explains Le Hui, one of the new assistants. “They want Japanese and European brands.”

Long seen by Japanese companies as a source of cheap labour, China is increasingly now a market for tourism and finished Japanese products. For China, meanwhile, Japan is not only an important market but a source of advanced technologies and investment. “For China to continue along its path of development, it needs a peaceful environment and a good relationship with Japan,” says Zhu Jianrong, a professor of international relations at Tokyo’s Toyo Gakuen University, who is optimistic the current tension can be overcome.

Still, the political impact of Japan’s growing despondency is unpredictable as it adapts, sometimes uncomfortably, to the growing Chinese bulk. One ominous route for frustrations was on display after the freeing of the Chinese captain, which was greeted with fury by Sakurai and some 3,000 other nationalists, who protested at the Chinese embassy.

The Yukan Fuji tabloid newspaper branded the release dogeza gaiko – appeasement diplomacy; Tokyo’s right-wing governor Shintaro Ishihara said the Chinese were acting like “gangsters” and that it was time for Japan to seriously consider developing nuclear weapons. One hero of the neo-nationalist movement, Toshio Tamogami – a sacked former air force general – even floated the possibility of war. The end result was to “increase Japanese insecurity on the one hand and greater dependency on the US on the other,” points out Mark Selden, a veteran Japan-watcher based at Cornell University in the US. That twin-punch deals a serious blow to what was once seen as a potentially promising initiative of the centre-left Democrat (DPJ) government.

The previous prime minister Yukio Hatoyama flirted with what he dubbed Yuai – a fraternal relationship with old enemy China that could have brought both sides closer: more political and cultural exchanges, an EU-style Asian market, even a military alliance were discussed.

With Hatoyama gone and both sides again in the political trenches, that initiative seems for now to be dead in the water. Prime Minister Kan, under fire for his handling of both the Chinese and Russian disputes, is suffering the consequences with approval ratings now below 40 per cent. Old rivals like former prime Minister Shinzo Abe are making political hay, advocating a much tougher diplomatic line in street protests and editorials.

Even mainstream publications like the Nikkei business daily are fuelling anti-Chinese sentiment, airing speculation – unproven – that Chinese cash is buying up Japanese land as a hedge against future food shortages at home. Conservative publications have honed in on the scenic area around Lake Kawaguchi, close to national icon Mt Fuji, where Chinese investors this year snapped up 17 luxury houses. Sakurai’s group, the Citizens League to Deny Resident Foreigners Special Rights, is far to the right of the mainstream press advocating, among other things, the expulsion of long-term Chinese residents and a beefed-up military.

But he believes the political tide is turning his way. “Japan has been asleep for a long time,” he says. “It’s time we woke up.”

Ministry of Justice website justifying crime prevention measures due to “frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and increase in transnational crimes”


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Hi Blog.

Here’s what has been saying all along (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here): The policing agencies are justifying any programs dealing with crime by blaming it on the foreigners.

As a source, here’s the Ministry of Justice itself in unrepentant Bunker Mentality Mode. It’s hard not to read this as, “We were a safe society until the foreigners came along and spoiled everything for us. So now we have to crack down on the foreigners and Japanese who deal with them.” Great. Of course, we have no purely homegrown crime here, such as the Yaks, right? Why is “Recovery of Public Safety” so firmly linked in “foreigner issues”? Because they’re a soft target, that’s why. Read on and try to suppress a wry smirk. Arudou Debito


Recovery of public safety

Undated article, courtesy of XY, English original

In the past Japan was proud of its image in the world of being an exceptionally safe country, but in recent years, the number of criminal cases that have been identified by the authorities has increased remarkably, while the clearance rate has dropped drastically and remains at a very low level, which makes the deterioration of public safety an issue of grave concern to the nation. In particular, exceptionally violent crimes attracting public attention and the occurrence close at hand of many offences committed by youngsters or by foreign nationals coming to Japan are making people uneasy about the maintenance of public order. In addition, since computers and high-level information technology such as the Internet have become a common feature of daily life, new crimes abusing such advanced technology have risen in number. Further, effective measures against international terrorism such as the multiple terrorist attacks on the United States, and efforts toward solving problems concerning the abduction of Japanese nationals by North Korea, are needed.

Under such circumstances, the Government, aiming at restoration of Japan as “the safest country in the world”, inaugurated the Ministerial Meeting Concerning Measures against Crime, which formulated in December 2003 “The Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime”, and the Conference is actively promoting comprehensive measures such as various countermeasures against crime including shoreline countermeasures, the consolidation of a social environment under which it is difficult to commit crimes, and the strengthening of the structure of agencies and organs responsible for public safety.

Based on the important issues shown in this plan (Action Plan for the Realization of a Society Resistant to Crime), the Ministry of Justice submitted the Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and other related laws to the Diet, which raised the terms of statutory penalties for heinous and serious crimes and extended the statute of limitations for prosecution, and this Law has been in force since the beginning of 2005. Further, the Ministry of Justice, in order to better protect the economy and society from organized crime and suchlike, is engaged in getting legislation passed, including criminal provisions, to combat the obstruction of compulsory execution, which is also necessary for ratification of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime; as well as legislation for measures against high-tech crimes, thereby enabling ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Cybercrime.

In order to deal effectively with the frequent occurrence of serious crimes committed by foreign nationals and the increase in the number of transnational crimes, it is necessary to make the procedure for gathering evidence from abroad more effective and to enhance cooperation between the investigative authorities of foreign countries and Japan. As part of such enhancement of cooperation, the Japanese Government has concluded the Treaty between Japan and the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 21 July 2006) and the Treaty between Japan and Korea on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (entered into force on 26 January 2007). These treaties have made it possible to send and receive requests not through diplomatic channel but directly between the Ministry of Justice or other competent authorities of Japan and the Ministry of Justice of respective countries, enabling the expediting of procedures. The Japanese Government is also negotiating with Hong Kong, Russia and China to conclude the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters. The Ministry of Justice is in the position of developing cooperation with other countries in the future.

The Bill for Partial Amendment to the Penal Code and Other Related Laws has been submitted to the 2005 Ordinary Session of the Diet, which is necessary to ratify the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, and to cope with the modern crime of violation of the right to liberty, for example, confinement for long periods and the heinous kidnapping of minors, and this Law has been in force since July 2005.

In order to stabilize the public security of the nation, preventing the re-offending of offenders who have committed crimes or delinquency is also important.

Penal institutions including prisons, juvenile prisons and detention houses, are now suffering from a severe overcrowding of inmates and it is thought that this may adversely affect the treatment given by the institutions. Therefore the Ministry is striving to solve the problem by such means as the construction of prisons using private financial initiatives (PFI). Furthermore, in order to find a way to enable the large numbers of Chinese inmates, who are one of the causes of overcrowding, to be transferred to their home country, the Ministry, in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is working toward early conclusion of a bilateral treaty between Japan and China and continues dialogues with China.

In addition, the Ministry is striving to prevent inmates from re-offending by improving the treatment programs for the rehabilitation and smooth resocialization of inmates.

In the field of rehabilitation of offenders in the community, the Ministry of Justice is aiming to smoothly enforce the Offenders Rehabilitation Act, which was passed by the Diet and was promulgated in June 2007 and to ensure fair application of the Act in order to improve and strengthen the offenders rehabilitation system in the community.

The Offenders Rehabilitation Act shall be enforced on a date which is specified by a Cabinet Order within a period not exceeding one year from the day of promulgation (June 15, 2007). However, some articles of the Act which relate to support of crime victims were already enforced on December 1, 2007. In order to carry out balanced probation, parole, and improvement of the system of cooperation between rehabilitation workers in the private sector such as volunteer probation officers, and public officers, the Ministry of Justice is striving to strictly enforce the lower laws and ordinances which lay down the detailed regulations of the bill of the Offenders Rehabilitation Act. In addition, the Rehabilitation Bureau is endeavoring to establish strong rehabilitation of offenders in the community in a way which will fulfill the expectations of the citizens in the future.

To ensure balanced and effective probation, the Ministry of Justice implements the following from the viewpoint of the appropriate roles for probation officers and volunteer probation officers: guidance and assistance by probation officers who give direct and intensive supervision to persons who need special consideration for treatment, reinforcement of direct participation by probation officers for persons who need focused treatment, implementation of special treatment programs for sex offenders, violent offenders and drug abusers. In addition, assisting in securing employment is extremely important to prevent re-offending. Therefore, the Ministry of Justice promotes finding employment together with public employment security offices to support probationers and parolees in finding work, promotes measures for work security in a variety of industries and fields through cooperation with the ministries concerned, and promotes the National Halfway House Project.

Concerning antiterrorism measures, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act (hereinafter to be referred to as the Immigration Control Act), was revised in the regular session of the Diet in 2005 in order to include new counter-terrorism measures, based on the Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism (decided on December 10, 2004 by the Headquarters for the Promotion of Countermeasures against International Terrorism including International Organized Crime) and the amended Act entered into effect in December of 2005.

Further, according to the plan, the ordinary Diet Session in 2006 amended the Immigration Control Act. The revision included the introduction of (i) regulations requiring foreign nationals to provide fingerprints and other personal identification at the landing examination, (ii) regulations regarding the grounds for deportation of foreign terrorists, and (iii) regulations requiring the captains of ships and other vessels entering Japan to report in advance information regarding crewmembers and passengers.

With regard to North Korea, the Public Security Intelligence Agency is collecting and analyzing information such as abduction, nuclear and missile issues, in order to contribute to providing solutions. Further, the Agency is endeavoring to consolidate its intelligence collection mechanism by intensifying and expanding its intelligence network and its cooperation with foreign intelligence agencies in order to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks by international terrorist organizations, and to clarify the actual state of such organizations as well as to detect international terrorism related activities in Japan, while making efforts to actively promote the Government’s “Action Plan for the Prevention of Terrorism” with other agencies and organizations concerned. With regard to Aum Shinrikyo (the Aum cult), taking into consideration that there is no fundamental change in its dangerous nature even after the cult split into the main stream group and the Joyu group in May 2007, the Agency is strictly implementing the measure to place the groups under surveillance thereby clarifying the organizations themselves and their activities and providing local governments at their request with the results of the surveillance, thus trying to secure the safety of the public and ease the fears and the anxiety of the Japanese people.

(Criminal Affairs Bureau, Correction Bureau, Rehabilitation Bureau, Immigration Bureau, Public Security Intelligence Agency, and Public Security Examination Commission)

Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time


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Hi Blog. Here’s what a place like Canada does when you have a thing like racially-motivated slurs and abuse: They give the abuser jail time.  In fact, more than the prosecution was seeking.  Fancy that.  I’ve been told on more than one occasion to “go back to my own country” (even after naturalization, and once by a professor in my own university), and nobody has ever anything about it.  Sad, innit?  Arudou Debito


Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant


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Hi Blog. Here are some sketchy details from the media about hate crimes in Fukui. For the record. People who know more about this case on the ground, please feel free to comment.  A few days have passed since these events hit the news, and so far no visible police follow-up.  Arudou Debito


Car burns in front of Fukui mosque
The Japan Times, Friday, Oct. 22, 2010

FUKUI (Kyodo) A car in front of a mosque in the city of Fukui was found on fire early Wednesday and sign saying “Foreign people [gaijin] GET OUT” written in a mix of Japanese characters and English letters was found posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

The possible arson case follows an incident at an Indian restaurant 1.5 km away last month, when a flag was burned and a similar sign posted, they said.

The burning station wagon, owned by a Malaysian student, was discovered at around 1:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the mosque, according to police. There were no injuries.



Also by Kyodo:

‘Foreign people GET OUT’ sign on mosque as car torched in parking lot
Japan Today, Thursday 21st October, 2010

FUKUI — A car parked in front of a mosque in Fukui City was torched early Wednesday in what police believe is an arson case, and a sign saying, ‘‘Foreign people GET OUT’’ was posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

Police also said that a flag at an Indian restaurant about 1.5 kilometers from the building was set on fire and a similar sign posted in September, they said.

The car, a Malaysian student’s station wagon, was set on fire at around 1:15 a.m. in the mosque’s parking lot, but no one was injured, according to police.

The mosque in the capital of Fukui Prefecture can accommodate up to 80 people to attend services, according to its website.

モスクの駐車場で車両火災 外国人中傷の張り紙も 福井
朝日新聞 2010年10月22日




モスクの利用者によると、建物に「外人 get out」(出て行け)と書かれた張り紙があったという。現場から南東に約1.3キロの同市学園2丁目のインド料理店では9月10日、店頭にあったインド国旗が燃やされ、同じ時間帯に近くの駐車場で普通乗用車のフロント部分が焼ける不審火があった。同署が関連を調べている。



イスラム排斥? モスク駐車場やインド店で不審火 福井
産經新聞 2010.10.21 12:18



福井のモスク駐車場で車放火か インド料理店でも
西日本新聞 2010年10月21日 12:26 カテゴリー:社会

福井市のイスラム教礼拝堂の駐車場で20日未明、ワゴン車が出火していたことが21日、分かった。モスク1階には「外国人GET OUT(出て行け)」と記した張り紙があり、福井署は放火の可能性があるとみて調べている。







Globe and Mail (Canada): “A black sun rises in a declining Japan”


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Hi Blog. The Globe and Mail (Canada) makes a case that a groundswell of far-rightism in Japan is even worrying the entrenched far-rightists.  Putting this article up for comments. While in Canada, I was contacted by the CBC Radio One for an interview on Japan’s immigration issues (that interview happened on Monday morning, recorded in Calgary). Perhaps this issue is making the rounds within Canadian media?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


October 5, 2010
A black sun rises in a declining Japan
From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail (Canada)
Amidst another decade of economic stagnation, far-right nationalism threatens the country’s foundation
Courtesy of MS and AC

Until recently, it was the likes of Mitsuhiro Kimura that worried Japan’s political mainstream. The leader of the far-right Issuikai movement, he counted Saddam Hussein and French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen among his allies, and created friction with Japan’s neighbours by loudly denying the country’s Second World War crimes.

But now Mr. Kimura is among those concerned about a new breed of extremists, who are capitalizing on the bruised pride and swelling anger in Japan with a brand of politics that makes even a friend of the former Iraqi dictator uncomfortable. As this country staggers through a second decade of economic stagnation, and suffers the indignation of being eclipsed by historic rival China, there’s a common refrain coming from the growing ranks of this country’s young and angry: Japan must stand up for itself – and that foreigners are to blame for the country’s ills.

Take the past week alone. Infuriated by a perceived Japanese climbdown in a dispute with China over an island chain that both nations claim, right-wingers tossed smoke bombs at the Chinese consulates in the cities of Fukuoka and Nagasaki. Another man was arrested with a knife in his bag outside the Tokyo residence of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. On Friday, a motorcade of 60 cars organized by a right-wing group briefly surrounded a bus carrying Chinese tourists in Fukuoka, prompting Beijing to issue a warning to its citizens about the dangers of visiting Japan.

No one was hurt in any of the incidents. But they highlight a tide of rising nationalism that is just one of the new social ills afflicting a country that 20 years ago was the richest and most stable on the planet. Two consecutive “lost decades” and a dearth of political leadership – five prime ministers in the past four years – have unmoored Japan.

“There is a deepening sense that society is at an impasse,” Mr. Kan told an extraordinary session of Japan’s parliament convened last week. He went on to list off Japan’s many and deepening problems: economic stagnation; rising unemployment; an aging society and the highest suicide rate in the developed world.

One issue Mr. Kan didn’t mention is that more and more Japanese are turning away from traditional politics and embracing extremist ideologies laced with chilling hints of the country’s militaristic history.

On Saturday, an estimated 2,700 rightists marched through Tokyo’s main shopping district, decrying the government’s perceived weakness in the dispute with Beijing and calling for Chinese and Koreans to leave Japan. Several smaller anti-Chinese and anti-foreigner marches took place again Sunday, with some in the crowd wearing military-style black uniforms and others waving the Rising Sun flag the country’s military flew while conquering nearly all of East Asia during the Second World War.

“If you are not tough enough to stand up for Japan, get out of Japan! We need to fight against China!” a member of the extremist Zaitokukai movement shouted through a bullhorn Sunday morning, his anger echoing through the high-end shopping malls and coffee shops of Tokyo’s Shibuya district.

Another marcher switched targets when it was his turn at the bullhorn. “Throw illegal immigrants into Tokyo Bay!” he yelled to loud cheers from his fellow marchers and silent stares from shoppers who paused to watch the procession. If anyone disagreed with the sentiment, no one said so publicly.

The weekend rallies were organized over the Internet by new right-wing organizations that, unlike their predecessors, don’t play by the staid rules of Japanese politics. Dubbed the “Net far right” by local media and police, groups such as Zaitokukai have capitalized on the anger and despair many Japanese feel as this proud country struggles to come to grips with its economic malaise, as well as a sense that Japan is losing relevance and respect on the international stage. Founded three years ago, Zaitokukai claims to have more than 10,000 active members, with several times that number quietly following them and reading their xenophobic postings online.

“These Net right-wingers have no rules, no restrictions … . I’m against this kind of hate speech, these ugly comments. Their thoughts and ideas are okay, but the way they express them is not,” said Mr. Kimura, whose own Issuikai movement made headlines earlier this year by hosting an international gathering of right-wingers, including Mr. Le Pen, that featured a visit to the controversial Yasukuni shrine, which honours Japanese war dead, including several convicted war criminals.

The return of Japanese extremism is in many ways unsurprising. While economists fret over the country’s slow overall growth and the threat of deflation, it’s the microeconomic picture that can be truly shocking.

With unemployment at a historic high of over 5 per cent – a number that understates the problem since many Japanese have given up looking for work altogether – the newly homeless now fill the country’s parks and Internet cafés. Twenty-three per cent of Tokyo schoolchildren will rely on government aid for things such as school supplies this year. Depression stalks the country and 26,500 people committed suicide in 2009, the highest rate in the world. If the Great Recession is over, it doesn’t feel like the recovery has started yet in Japan.

As in Europe 80 years ago, blame for the country’s troubles has fallen on foreigners. The No. 1 target is ethnic Koreans who live in Japan (Zaitokukai is the Japanese acronym for the group’s unwieldy formal title, Citizens’ Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan), followed by the Chinese. A liberalized immigration system, which pundits across the spectrum agree is desperately needed to help deal with a rapidly aging population, is considered too sensitive to touch for any politician concerned about keeping his job in the next election.

“There are of course some similarities with the fascist and Nazi movements. Those who join Zaitokukai are the jobless and the underemployed, those on the periphery of the established society. They’re disheartened, and they have a lot of frustration,” said Gemki Fujii, a right-wing intellectual and author. However, he said that Zaitokukai is doomed to remain a fringe group because few Japanese admire the group’s abrasive tactics.

But the xenophobia that Zaitokukai helps spread via the Internet and its street demonstrations appears to be taking hold in Japan, which has a long tradition of isolating itself from the world. Racist comments about the country’s ethnic Korean and Chinese citizens are startlingly common, while other foreigners – including some long-term residents of Japan – say they also feel increasingly unwelcome, and complain of police harassment and rules that prevent non-Japanese from renting homes or gaining professional tenure.

While many of Japan’s neighbours – including China and both North and South Korea – say Tokyo still needs to do more to atone for its wartime misdeeds, academics say the country is moving in the opposite direction.

“There’s been a re-emergence of a right-wing, nationalistic discourse and reinterpretation of history,” said Koichi Nakano, an associate professor of political science at Sophia University in Tokyo. “Go into a Tokyo bookstore and you’re bound to run into piles of books that would not be acceptable in Western society – Holocaust denials and the such. If it were Germany, there would be a big scandal in the international community. But because it’s Japan and [the books are] in Japanese, it makes it kind of invisible.”

Despite its status as one of Japan’s leading academic institutions, even Sophia University found itself on Zaitokukai’s target list last year when a small crowd gathered in front of the campus gates to shout “Christians, get out of Japan!”

“Badmouthing Chinese or Koreans in a very racist way is so abundant that it doesn’t even offend people any more,” Prof. Nakano said. “There was a taboo and now the taboo is gone. They kind of things they say, even in the late 1990s were almost unthinkable.”

NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”


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Hi Blog.  Here’s an article that has been forwarded me by quite a few people.  Pretty good job, and it looks like a few of the sources for the hate speech might have come from  Good.  Shine a light on these horrible little men.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign
New York Times August 28, 2010, Courtesy of lots and lots of people

KYOTO, Japan — The demonstrators appeared one day in December, just as children at an elementary school for ethnic Koreans were cleaning up for lunch. The group of about a dozen Japanese men gathered in front of the school gate, using bullhorns to call the students cockroaches and Korean spies.

Inside, the panicked students and teachers huddled in their classrooms, singing loudly to drown out the insults, as parents and eventually police officers blocked the protesters’ entry.

The December episode was the first in a series of demonstrations at the Kyoto No. 1 Korean Elementary School that shocked conflict-averse Japan, where even political protesters on the radical fringes are expected to avoid embroiling regular citizens, much less children. Responding to public outrage, the police arrested four of the protesters this month on charges of damaging the school’s reputation.

More significantly, the protests also signaled the emergence here of a new type of ultranationalist group. The groups are openly anti-foreign in their message, and unafraid to win attention by holding unruly street demonstrations.

Since first appearing last year, their protests have been directed at not only Japan’s half million ethnic Koreans, but also Chinese and other Asian workers, Christian churchgoers and even Westerners in Halloween costumes. In the latter case, a few dozen angrily shouting demonstrators followed around revelers waving placards that said, “This is not a white country.”

Local news media have dubbed these groups the Net far right, because they are loosely organized via the Internet, and gather together only for demonstrations. At other times, they are a virtual community that maintains its own Web sites to announce the times and places of protests, swap information and post video recordings of their demonstrations.

While these groups remain a small if noisy fringe element here, they have won growing attention as an alarming side effect of Japan’s long economic and political decline. Most of their members appear to be young men, many of whom hold the low-paying part-time or contract jobs that have proliferated in Japan in recent years.

Though some here compare these groups to neo-Nazis, sociologists say that they are different because they lack an aggressive ideology of racial supremacy, and have so far been careful to draw the line at violence. There have been no reports of injuries, or violence beyond pushing and shouting. Rather, the Net right’s main purpose seems to be venting frustration, both about Japan’s diminished stature and in their own personal economic difficulties.

“These are men who feel disenfranchised in their own society,” said Kensuke Suzuki, a sociology professor at Kwansei Gakuin University. “They are looking for someone to blame, and foreigners are the most obvious target.”

They are also different from Japan’s existing ultranationalist groups, which are a common sight even today in Tokyo, wearing paramilitary uniforms and riding around in ominous black trucks with loudspeakers that blare martial music.

This traditional far right, which has roots going back to at least the 1930s rise of militarism in Japan, is now a tacitly accepted part of the conservative political establishment here. Sociologists describe them as serving as a sort of unofficial mechanism for enforcing conformity in postwar Japan, singling out Japanese who were seen as straying too far to the left, or other groups that anger them, such as embassies of countries with whom Japan has territorial disputes.

Members of these old-line rightist groups have been quick to distance themselves from the Net right, which they dismiss as amateurish rabble-rousers.

“These new groups are not patriots but attention-seekers,” said Kunio Suzuki, a senior adviser of the Issuikai, a well-known far-right group with 100 members and a fleet of sound trucks.

But in a sign of changing times here, Mr. Suzuki also admitted that the Net right has grown at a time when traditional ultranationalist groups like his own have been shrinking. Mr. Suzuki said the number of old-style rightists has fallen to about 12,000, one-tenth the size of their 1960s’ peak.

No such estimates exist for the size of the new Net right. However, the largest group appears to be the cumbersomely named Citizens Group That Will Not Forgive Special Privileges for Koreans in Japan, known here by its Japanese abbreviation, the Zaitokukai, which has some 9,000 members.

The Zaitokukai gained notoriety last year when it staged noisy protests at the home and junior high school of a 14-year-old Philippine girl, demanding her deportation after her parents were sent home for overstaying their visas. More recently, the Zaitokukai picketed theaters showing “The Cove,” an American documentary about dolphin hunting here that rightists branded as anti-Japanese.

In interviews, members of the Zaitokukai and other groups blamed foreigners, particularly Koreans and Chinese, for Japan’s growing crime and unemployment, and also for what they called their nation’s lack of respect on the world stage. Many seemed to embrace conspiracy theories taken from the Internet that China or the United States were plotting to undermine Japan.

“Japan has a shrinking pie,” said Masaru Ota, 37, a medical equipment salesman who headed the local chapter of the Zaitokukai in Omiya, a Tokyo suburb. “Should we be sharing it with foreigners at a time when Japanese are suffering?”

While the Zaitokukai has grown rapidly since it was started three and a half years ago with just 25 members, it is still largely run by its founder and president, a 38-year-old tax accountant who goes by the assumed name of Makoto Sakurai. Mr. Sakurai leads the group from his tiny office in Tokyo’s Akihabara electronics district, where he taps out announcements and other postings on his personal computer.

Mr. Sakurai says the group is not racist, and rejected the comparison with neo-Nazis. Instead, he said he had modeled his group after another overseas political movement, the Tea Party in the United States. He said he had studied videos of Tea Party protests, and shared with the Tea Party an angry sense that his nation had gone in the wrong direction because it had fallen into the hands of leftist politicians, liberal media as well as foreigners.

“They have made Japan powerless to stand up to China and Korea,” said Mr. Sakurai, who refused to give his real name.

Mr. Sakurai admitted that the group’s tactics had shocked many Japanese, but said they needed to win attention. He also defended the protests at the Korean school in Kyoto as justified to oppose the school’s use of a nearby public park, which he said rightfully belonged to Japanese children.

Teachers and parents at the school called that a flimsy excuse to vent what amounted to racist rage. They said the protests had left them and their children fearful.

“If Japan doesn’t do something to stop this hate language,” said Park Chung-ha, 43, who heads the school’s mothers association, “where will it lead to next?”


Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated


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Hi Blog.  We’ve seen plenty of cases where Far-Right protesters who harass and even use violence towards people and counter-demonstrators doing so with impunity from the Japanese police (examples herehere, here, and within the movie Yasukuni).  However, it looks as though they went too far when this case below was brought up before a United Nations representative visiting Japan last March, and now arrests and investigations of the bullies are taking place (youtube video of that event here, from part two).  Good.  Arudou Debito on holiday


Rightists arrested over harassment of schoolchildren
2010/08/11 Courtesy of JK

KYOTO–Senior members of a group of “Net rightists” who hurled abuse at elementary schoolchildren attending a pro-Pyongyang Korean school were arrested by police on Tuesday.

The group, part of a new wave of extreme nationalist groups that use video-sharing websites to promote their activities, targeted children at Kyoto Chosen Daiichi Elementary School in the city’s Minami Ward with taunts including “Leave Japan, children of spies” and “This school is nurturing North Korean spies.”

A janitor, a snack bar operator, an electrician and a company employee, all men in their 30s and 40s, are suspected of playing leading roles in the demonstration near the school on Dec. 4 last year.

On Tuesday, police began questioning four people, including Dairyo Kawahigashi, 39, an executive of Zainichi Tokken o Yurusanai Shimin no Kai, which literally means, “a citizens group that does not approve of privileges for Korean residents in Japan,” and is known as Zaitokukai for short.

Police also searched the Tokyo home of the group’s chairman, Makoto Sakurai, 38.

The investigation centered on bringing charges of disrupting the classes and damaging the reputation of the elementary school, which is supported by the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon). The organization serves as North Korea’s de facto embassy in Japan.

Two of the men arrested have executive roles in Zaitokukai itself: an electrician who serves as its vice chairman, and a janitor in a condominium building who manages its Kyoto branch. The other two belong to a group called Shuken-Kaifuku o Mezasu Kai (or Shukenkai, for short), which translates literally as “a group aiming at recovering sovereignty,” and has close ties with Zaitokukai. One is a company employee who was head of Shukenkai’s Kansai section. The other is a snack bar operator who used to help organize the same branch.

All four men are thought to have been present at the demonstration at the school on Dec. 4. About 10 people shouted slogans, some using loudspeakers.

They are also being investigated for damaging property by cutting a cord to a speaker in a nearby park.

Zaitokukai claims that the Korean school installed the speaker and a soccer goal in the park, which is managed by the city government, without permission. The school’s students use the park as a playground.

A vice chairman of Zaitokukai told The Asahi Shimbun: “We tried to talk with the school after removing the illegally installed equipment. The school refused to talk, so we protested against them.”

Police say the demonstration stopped classes and caused anxiety among some of the schoolchildren.

Zaitokukai was set up in December 2006, with Sakurai as its chairman. The Tokyo-based group says it has 9,000 members and 26 branches nationwide and claims about 200 members in Kyoto.

It is one of a new breed of rightist groups that use the Internet to promote themselves.

Zaitokukai films many of its protests and posts them on video-sharing websites.

The Zaitokukai vice chairman who talked to The Asahi Shimbun said he joined the group last July after seeing Sakurai in one of the videos.

He said his family was opposed to his involvement. “These activities are a big financial burden. But I’m doing them out of patriotism,” he said.



在特会幹部ら、京都府警が聴取へ 朝鮮学校授業妨害容疑
2010年8月10日 朝日新聞









「在特会」幹部ら逮捕 京都朝鮮学校の授業妨害容疑
2010年8月10日 朝日新聞







More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”. (UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)


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Hi Blog. For a nice bite-size Sunday post, dovetailing with yesterday’s post on the NPA’s whipping up fear of foreign crime gangs, here we have the Kanagawa Police offering us a poster with racist caricatures of NJ, and more minced language to enlist the public in its Gaijin Hunt. Check this out:

(Click on image to expand in browser.)
From, courtesy lots of people.

Now let’s analyze this booger. In the same style of fearmongering and racist police posters in the past (see for example here, here, here, and here), we have the standard NJ conks and wily faces. Along with a crime gang stealing from a jewelry store (nothing like getting one’s hands dirty, unlike all the white-collar homegrown yakuza crime we see fewer posters about).

The poster opens with employers being told to check Status of Residences of all the NJ they employ. Of course, employers who employ NJ usually sponsor them for a visa, so this warning shouldn’t be necessary. I guess it’s nicer than warning the employer that if they do employ overstayers, the employer should also be punished. But again, we hear little about that. It’s the NJ who is the wily party, after all.

Then we get the odd warning about overstayers (they say these are lots of “rainichi gaikokujin”, which is not made clear except in fine print elsewhere that they don’t mean the garden-variety NJ) and their links to “international crime groups” (although I haven’t seen convincing statistics on how they are linked). Then they hedge their language by saying “omowaremasu” (it is thought that…), meaning they don’t need statistics at all. It’s obviously a common perception that it’s “recently getting worse” (kin’nen shinkoku ka).

Next paragraph offers the standard “threat to Japanese social order” (chi’an) presented by visa overstayers and illegal workers (even though overstayers have gone down steadily since 1993), and asks for the public’s assistance.

Then it brings in the heroic Kanagawa Police, and how they will be strengthening their controls over these big-hootered shifty-eyed NJ from now on, and asks for anyone with information about illegal NJ to drop by any cop shop or police box (even though police boxes I’ve reported unlawful activities to have told me to take my crimes elsewhere; I guess NJ criminality is a higher priority).

Finally, we have the places to contact within the Kanagawa Police Department. We now have a special “international crime” head (kokusai han kakari), a “economic security” head (keizai hoan kakari), and a “gaiji kakari“, whatever that is shortened for (surely not “gaikokujin hanzai jiken“, or “foreign crime incidents”). Such proactiveness on the part of the NPA. I hope they sponsor a “sumo-yakuza tobaku kakari” soon.

Anyone else getting the feeling that the NPA is a law unto itself, doing whatever it likes in the purported pursuit of criminals, even if that means racial profiling, social othering of taxpayers and random enforcement of laws based upon nationality (even a death in police custody with impunity), and manufacturing consent to link crime with nationality?

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

UPDATE:  Compare and contrast with the English version of PR for the same police department, courtesy of crustpunker:

Not only is it a disingenuous lie, its contents are utterly banal.  And since I can’t find the gaiji kakari under “Section Information” in English, so I doubt the overall accuracy as well.

This is linked from this even nastier Kanagawa Police site regarding NJ:


ここでは、これら対日有害活動の一部を紹介し、我が国の国益を害する不法行為に関する 情報提供をお願いしています。
rest at above website


Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates


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Hi Blog.  In the middle of the election period, here’s a surprising editorial from the Asahi — in support of NJ PR Suffrage!  The ruling DPJ dropped it from their manifesto, and most parties that took it up as an issue (LDP, Kokumin Shintou (rendered below as People’s New Party) and Tachiagare Nippon (i.e. Sunrise Party, hah)) used it to bash NJ and try to gain votes from xenophobia (didn’t matter; the latter two still did not gain seats from it).  Anyway, here’s the strongest argument made by mainstream Japanese media in support of it.  And it’s a doozy.  Thanks Asahi for injecting some tolerance into the debate.  Maybe it made a difference in voting patterns.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


EDITORIAL: Foreigners’ voting rights
Asahi Shimbun 2010/07/06 Courtesy of JK

The June 28 edition of the Sankei Shimbun wrote in its editorial that voters should pay close attention to the different arguments from political parties regarding “the framework of this country.” On this, we agree.

The point in question is whether to grant permanent foreign residents the right to vote in local elections. Since we can’t see any obvious differences between the two major parties on economic and foreign policies, foreign suffrage is one of the major issues that has split the nation.

In their election manifestoes, New Komeito, the Japanese Communist Party and the Social Democratic Party pledge to achieve foreign suffrage. Other parties, like the Liberal Democratic Party, the People’s New Party, the Sunrise Party of Japan and Your Party, are opposed to the change.

In contrast, the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s manifesto says nothing about the issue. When the DPJ was formed, its party platform said foreign suffrage should be “realized quickly.” After gaining power, then Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama and then Secretary-General Ichiro Ozawa were eager to make this happen.

But the DPJ’s coalition partner, the People’s New Party, and some local assemblies reject the idea. Even some DPJ members are against the move.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in the Diet, “While there is no change in the party’s position, there are different opinions that the parties must discuss.” With both Ozawa and Hatoyama gone, it seems that the engine behind foreign suffrage has stalled.

More than 2.2 million foreign residents are registered in Japan, and 910,000 of them have been granted permanent resident status. Japan is already a country comprising people with various backgrounds. It is appropriate to have those people rooted in their local communities to share the responsibility in solving problems and developing their communities.

It is also appropriate to allow their participation in local elections as residents, while respecting their bonds to their home nations.

In its new strategy for economic growth, the government says it will consider a framework for taking in foreigners to supplement the work force. To become an open country, Japan must create an environment that foreigners find easy to live in.

An Asahi Shimbun survey in late April and May showed that 49 percent of the respondents were in favor of foreign suffrage while 43 percent were against it.

Since public opinion is divided, the DPJ, which put the issue on the public agenda, should not waffle but should give steady and persuasive arguments to the public.

The LDP is raising the tone of its criticism, saying foreigners’ voting rights, along with the dual surname system for married couples, is a policy that will “destroy the framework of this country.” The party apparently wants to make the voting rights issue a major conflicting point between conservatives and liberals.

Some opponents express concerns about the negative effects on national security. However, this kind of argument can nurture anti-foreign bigotry and ostracism. It sounds like nothing more than an inward-looking call for self-preservation.

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?

Politicians need to discuss the suffrage issue based on their answers to these questions. The issue of foreign residents’ voting rights is a prelude to something bigger.

–The Asahi Shimbun, July 5 2010


朝日新聞 社説 2010年7月5日(月)















Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though it’s not an issue in this election


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Hi Blog.  We haven’t talked too much about the upcoming July election (mainly because it’s not that big a deal, what compared with the seiken koutai election last August) for the Upper House, but here’s a little article that is germane to  The LDP and other rightists are still playing up the NJ PR Suffrage Issue, even though it’s not even a platform plank in this election (the DPJ Manifesto does not mention it this time) in a rather lame (and xenophobic) attempt to gather votes.  Nothing quite like bashing a small, disenfranchised minority to make yourself look powerful and worthy of governance.  Excerpt follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan Times Saturday, July 3, 2010, courtesy of JK

Foreigner suffrage, separate surnames stir passions in poll runup

Whether to grant permanent foreign residents voting rights for local-level elections and allow married couples to keep their respective surnames have become contentious issues ahead of the July 11 Upper House election.

The ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which advocates the introduction of foreigner suffrage and separate surnames for married couples if desired, faces strong opposition from conservatives in the Liberal Democratic Party and small parties, including its own ruling bloc partner.

Aichi Prefecture voters, however, are puzzled by the conservatives’ fervor because the topics have yet to stir national debate…

The LDP and small conservative parties set out to oppose the ideas in their platforms, vying with the DPJ, which has liberal views on these issues. Some homemakers, who used to be the last to become involved in politics, now speak to people at the weekly rally of Inoue’s group held at Kanayama Station in Nagoya.

“The pride of this country that has been built up by the Yamato (Japanese) race must be passed down to our children, otherwise there will be no future for the country,” said Masahito Fujikawa, 49, an LDP-backed candidate in the Aichi electoral district.

Rest at

J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation


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Hi Blog.  News re “The Cove” documentary:  The Japanese judiciary last week ruled that protestors are out of line by protesting at movie theaters and trying to stop the showing of the film.  So the bully boys are practicing their sound-trucking tactics at people’s homes, pressuring their families and neighbors to get them to stop screenings.

We’ve had one critic on this blog call this “good old fashioned activism“, but we for one during the Otaru Onsens Case (or any case we’ve taken up) have never gone to “Japanese Only” business-owners’ homes with megaphones, harassed their mothers, or made a scene in front of their neighbors.  Our tactics were raising the debate in the media, negotiating with decisionmakers and people involved, and taking the issue before intermediaries.  All above board.  That proved very time-consuming and often ineffectual outside of a courtroom (and even then).  Is this intimidation and bullying the best “activism” in Japan?  Perhaps effective, it’s just not our style.  And if we had used these tactics, I’m sure they would have engendered great criticism and damaged our cause.  But some shame-practitioners are shameless themselves.  As are some critics, it seems.  Read on.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Court bans protests over documentary ‘The Cove’
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010

YOKOHAMA (Kyodo) — The Yokohama District Court has banned a Tokyo civic group from staging protests around a movie theater in Yokohama that plans to screen the Oscar-winning U.S. documentary “The Cove” about a controversial dolphin hunt in Japan, its Japanese distributor said Friday.

The court decision on the injunction Thursday prohibits making loud speeches within a 100-meter radius of the movie theater and entering the movie theater without permission, the distributor Unplugged Inc. said.

As the movie theater is planning to screen the film from July 3, scores of people from the Tokyo group staged street protests around the theater on June 12. The theater applied to the court for an injunction to ban such protests.

The theater said it will show the movie as scheduled. The film, which was mostly shot in Taiji, Wakayama Prefecture, partly with hidden cameras, won the 2010 Academy Award for best documentary.

“The Cove” has drawn criticisms from some Japanese groups who claim that it is anti-Japanese. They have been intimidating theaters planning to show the film, leading three of the theaters in Tokyo and Osaka as well as universities in Tokyo to cancel the screenings.

The film will be screened at six movie theaters in Tokyo and five other Japanese cities from July 3, despite protests that caused earlier screenings to be canceled, the distributor said earlier.

The five other cities where the film will be screened are Osaka, Sendai, Yokohama, Kyoto and Hachinohe in Aomori Prefecture. They will be followed by cinemas in 16 other locations across Japan, including Hiroshima, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Okinawa.
(Mainichi Japan) June 25, 2010


「コーヴ」抗議の街宣禁止 横浜地裁が仮処分決定
2010/06/25 14:02 【共同通信】






Subject: Successes and Setbacks
Date: July 1, 2010 12:18:05 PM JST

Bulletin from the cause: “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Posted By: Fonda Berosini
To: Members in “The Cove” – Save Japan Dolphins
Successes and Setbacks

Last week we had some important successes in Japan – several theater owners came forward and committed to show the film and we also won a key injunction in a Yokohama court against the group protesting the film. Unfortunately, the “protestors” are ramping up, employing their worst tactics to date.

This week they moved to the Yokohoma theater owner’s home, and when that didn’t work they moved on to his mother’s home:

As you can see, the woman is elderly. She has nothing to do with the distribution of the film. This is intimidation of the lowest order.

We tried to engage or critics – inviting them to participate in open forums, but they refused. Rather than discuss the issues they engage in highly aggressive bullying tactics to shut down the film. I personally believe they are being paid to protest and don’t really have a point of view. I don’t even think they care about Taiji. There only goal is to keep people from knowing the truth, no matter what it takes.

To this end it’s clear they – and whoever is funding them – aren’t giving up and our Japanese distributor is small with a very limited budget. Earth Island has been helping with promotion and security, but much more will be needed if we want to expand beyond these six theaters. We have 17 theaters on hold right now.

Ric O’Barry
Save Japan Dolphins


Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it


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Hi Blog.  The new Kan Cabinet started out yesterday, and it would of course be remiss of me to not mention that one of the Cabinet members, Renho, has become the first multicultural multiethnic Dietmember to serve in the highest echelons of elected political power in Japan.  Congratulations!

She is, however, a constant target of criticism by the Far Right in Japan, who accuse her of not being a real Japanese (she is of Japanese-Taiwanese extraction, who chose Japanese citizenship).  Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo most notably.  He continued his invective against her on May 7 from a soundtruck, and it made the next day’s Tokyo Sports Shinbun.  Courtesy of Dave Spector.

It goes without saying that this is a basically a rant about a Cabinet member by a former Cabinet member who will never be a Cabinet member again, an aging ideological dinosaur raging against tide and evolution.  Sucks to be a bigot and in a position of perpetual weakness as well, I guess.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

(click on image to enlarge in browser)

Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson


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Hi Blog.  Here we have a part of Osaka Chuo-ku making public announcements protecting their municipality against “illegal foreign overstayers” and “illegal workers”.  Using invective like “furyou gaikokujin haijo” (exclude bad foreigners), it’s rendered on the same level as the regular neighborhood clarion calls for “bouryokudan haijo” (exclude the yakuza).  I see.  Foreigners who overstay their visa and who get employed (sometimes at the behest and the advantage of the Japanese employer) are on the same level as organized crime?  And you can pick out Yakuza just as easily as NJ on sight, right?

This campaign has been going on for years (since Heisei 17, five years ago), but the Yomiuri now reports efforts to really get the public involved by tapping an enka singer to promote the campaign.  How nice.  But it certainly seems an odd problem to broadcast on the street like this since 1) I don’t see the same targeting happening to Japanese employers who give these “bad foreigners” their jobs, and 2) numbers of illegal overstays caught have reportedly gone down by half since a decade ago.

Never mind.  We have budgets to spend, and disenfranchised people to pick on.  Nice touch to see not only sponsorship from the local International Communication Association (how interculturally sensitive!), but also “America Mura no Kai”, whatever that is.  Yet another example of state-sanctioned attempts to spread xenophobia and lower the image of NJ — this time by gangsterizing them.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


June 3, 2010, MB writes:

Hi Debito, First of all let me say that your efforts are really appreciated and I really think that you help many people !!

By the way, I just found this article:

which is connected to the

Every now and again, local districts around the country will appoint an honorary chief of police for the day who will usually attracts media coverage for some regular campaign. Minami in Osaka recently chose enka singer Reiko Kano to go out and raise awareness among local residents. You must be wondering what issue was she given to promote Perhaps bicycle parking or warnings about ATM bank fraud? Osaka sees a lot of purse-snatching so maybe she was passing out fliers about that. Actually, it appears the Minami police decided to use the singer to put people on the alert for illegal immigrants. The fliers, put together by police and a local residents group, read 「Stopザ・不法滞在」 (“Look out for illegals”). Police say they caught 150 last year. That’s down 50% from 10 years ago but there are concerns that fake passports and fake gaijin cards are getting harder to spot.

I just thought that maybe it could be of interest for the blog. I must admit that this movement to “clean” Minami in Osaka is not all that bad BUT I especially didn’t like this:

7) 不良外国人の排除
8) 暴力団の排除

Maybe I’m over-sensitive but using 排除 with 人 it doesn’t sound too good… it’s just above the Yakuza….comparing a person without a visa to a gangster is not very nice.

All in all it seems that the campaign aims also to promote Osaka (and Minami) as a touristic spot thus they aim at “cleaning” the city and give a nice image to the “foreign tourists”…


Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\" width=Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
Hi Blog. They say that as you age, you become a caricature of yourself, as the mind becomes more inflexible and lifelong habits and ideologies become ingrained.

But then there are those who turn mean and nasty, if not outright insane. And I believe Tokyo Governor Ishihara has finally turned from a committed politician to a politician who should be committed. Reader GS puts it well when he writes:

Hi Debito, Anti-suffrage rightists say they are against suffrage for permanent residents because “foreigners can naturalize if they want equal rights with Japanese.” Well, now Governor Ishihara is using “naturalized” as an epithet to smear members of the ruling cabinet as untrustworthy.


外国人参政権「先祖へ義理立てか」 石原知事が与党批判
朝日新聞 2010年4月18日11時2分





2010年4月19日11時58分配信 産経新聞

社民党の福島瑞穂党首(消費者・少子化担当相)は19日、国会内で記者会見し、東京都の石原慎太郎知事が17日の外国人地方参政権の反対集会で、名 指しこそ避けたものの与党党首の中に帰化した人がいるという趣旨の発言をしたことについて「私も、私の両親も帰化したものではない」と否定した。

その上で、「私は外国人地方参政権には一貫して賛成してきた。政治家の政治信条を帰化したからだという事実誤認に基づいて説明することは、私の政治 信条をゆがめ、踏みにじるものだ」と述べ、石原氏に発言の撤回を求めた。

石原氏は17日の「全国地方議員決起集会」で、「この中に帰化された人、お父さん、お母さんが帰化され、そのお子さんいますか。与党を形成している いくつかの政党の党首とか、与党の大幹部ってのは調べてみると多いんですな」などと発言していた。

福島氏は会見で「『与党を形成している政党の党首』といえば、おのずと特定され、私のことをおっしゃっているのだと考えた」とした上で、「(帰化 を)問題とすること自体、人種差別だ」とも述べ、発言を撤回しない場合は法的措置も辞さない考えを示した。


Apparently they’re on a witch hunt for not only “naturalized” Japanese who supposedly can’t be trusted, but any Japanese who might have parents who have been naturalized!  I really believe Japan is an outlier when it comes to race. The idea that nationality is a racial concept – as opposed to a legal concept – is so ingrained here I’m afraid it will not die easily.  A minister in Germany is of Vietnamese descent. And yet Japan is terrifried that a cabinet member might be naturalized or have naturalized parents. Really pathetic. GS


COMMENT:  It hardly bears fully iterating, but:  Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese.  In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics.  But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides.  Study your history.  Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

This is beyond pathological racism.  This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power.  And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion:  hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action).  But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem:  Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too.  Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization.  But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs.  “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

These are the people who should be booted from power.  Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer.  Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, naturalized citizen.

Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed


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

Hi Blog. For some people, anything is an excuse for a party. Especially if it’s a Political Party. For the Far-Right xenophobes in Japan, it’s their party and they’ll decry if they want to — as they continue their anti-NJ rantings, even when they’ve effectively shouted down the NJ Suffrage Bill the DPJ proposed after they came to power last August. Everyone has to have a hobby, it seems. Pity theirs is based upon hatred of NJ, particularly our geopolitical neighbors. Two submissions of primary source materials and posters enclosed below, one from Reader AS, one from me that I picked up when I was in Tokyo last March, which led to a rally reported on in the Japan Times and Kyodo the other day.  Drink in the invective and see how naked and bold Japan’s xenophobia is getting.


From: AS
Subject: More anti-NJ suffrage propaganda
Date: April 14, 2010

Hi Debito, There was a person handing out anti-NJ suffrage materials at Tokorozawa station yesterday morning, and, as I promised myself I would, I got a photo and the stuff he was handing out.

I think I caught him off guard when I approached him from the flank and stuck my hand out for the pamphlets – he just handed them over without realizing until it was too late.

Ok, the pamphlets themselves. The first one is not particularly nasty, it’s just another “Release the North Korean kidnap victims” flyer. It appears to be produced by another group.

Funny how this stuff talks about the international community, while the group distributing it want nothing to do with the international community.

The second one is quite vindictive and lacking in logic. The first side is largely devoted to portraying China as a murderous country with no justice or morals (“a culture of evil”) and then jumping to the conclusion that foreign suffrage, dual nationality, recognized residency for NJs and spouses with different surnames will mean the same fate for the Japanese as is has for ethnic minorities in China!! (The same kind of logic as “Don’t buy a Toyota because Tojo was a murderer!”)

“China is evil, so we can’t have…”

Page 2 resorts to character assassination of DPJ members, linking them with China, South Korea and communism, then goes on to the same arguments that NJs will abuse child support allowance and that Japanese won’t be able to receive it.

Next is the big stinking lie that anyone (including illegal residents and criminals) can get PR just by living here for 5 years and that they will have the same voting rights as Japanese.

It then goes on to suggest that human rights laws will turn Japan into a communist nation with no freedom (Gosh – I was under the impression that page one was slagging off China for not protecting human rights)

Finally, we get the guff that allowing different surnames for spouses will be the end of the family unit. (Let’s just make everyone change their name to Suzuki, then).  DS


ADDENDUM FROM DEBITO:  I too saw these protesters and felt their invective outside the Diet Building on March 23, 2010, just after I gave my presentation to UN Special Rep Bustamante.  (I wonder if he caught wind of these people; they certainly were making enough of a stink.)

I too managed to get some flyers (off a kind reporter), and here are some of them.  Hang on to your logical hats, everyone:

In addition to the flyers AS referred to above (these are the same people distributing, after all):

We have former ASDF general Tamogami wallowing in all the luscious pink trappings of Japanese patriotism, calling for people to come pay money to hear him speak in Kamakura.  What you would be in store for:  According to the Japan Times January 24, 2010 (, “20 percent of shares in the Japanese mass media are held by foreigners. This means that the Japanese mass media are controlled by foreign investments. Former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was brought down by these foreign powers.” Good thing he’s no longer imbedded in our military.

Here’s our laundry list of national heroes (with Tamogami and racist Dietmember Hiranuma enjoying big pictures) for us lesser mortals:

The greater national hero I’d like to see honored more often would be journalist Kotoku Shusui, but some of these faces above are the type of people who would have him and his ideology killed.  (They managed it, and look where it got Japan — destroyed in WWII.)

Underpinning all of the counterarguments proffered above is more hatred.  NJ hate us.  So we shouldn’t allow any of them to vote.  QED.

Next up:


And here comes the kitchen sinking — where we lump in all sorts of other issues (including Nikkyouso, even Japan’s sex education) with the NJ suffrage stuff.  And of course Ozawa’s qualification as a real Japanese are called into question due to his beliefs.  Didn’t realize “Japaneseness” also meant ideological conformity and uniform arguments.  Oh wait, yes it did, back in the bad old days when it led the nation to destruction in a world war.  Never mind.  Reenforced patriotism will surely fix everything!

And finally:

An advertisement for a big free public rally against NJ suffrage in the Budoukan (the place the Far-Rightists also protested when the Beatles played back in 1966, as they were too decadent for Japanese morals; they paved the way for Cheap Trick, however, phew).  Wish I could have gone.  The Japan Times and Kyodo attended, however.  Here’s what they say (excerpt):


The Japan Times Sunday, April 18, 2010

Foreigner suffrage opponents rally
Conservative politicians express outrage at DPJ plan
By ALEX MARTIN Staff writer

Conservative intellectuals and key executives from five political parties were among the thousands who gathered in Tokyo on Saturday to rally against granting foreign residents voting rights for local elections.

On hand were financial services minister Shizuka Kamei, who heads Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party), Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, who recently launched his own political party, Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan), and Your Party leader Yoshimi Watanabe.

According to the organizer, a total of 10,257 people attended the convention at the Nippon Budokan arena in Chiyoda Ward, including representatives of prefectural assemblies and citizens from across the nation…

In an opening speech preceded by the singing of the “Kimigayo” national anthem, Atsuyuki Sassa, former head of the Cabinet Security Affairs Office and chief organizer of the event, expressed his concern about granting foreigners suffrage.

“I was infuriated when I heard of plans to submit to the Diet a government-sponsored bill giving foreign residents voting rights,” he said.

“Our Constitution grants those with Japanese nationality voting rights in return for their obligation to pay taxes,” he said. “Granting suffrage to those without Japanese nationality is clearly a mistake in national policy.”

[NB:  As any taxpaying NJ knows, this is untrue.  I guess that means they don’t need NJ tax monies.]

Taking the podium to a round of applause, Kamei emphasized his party’s role in preventing the government from submitting the bill to the Diet, and said that “it was obvious that granting suffrage will destroy Japan.”

Kamei, who has in the past argued that giving foreigners voting rights could incite nationalism during polling, went so far as to declare that his party would leave the ruling coalition if the government submitted the bill to the Diet…


Rest of the article at

Kyodo News adds:


Lawmakers oppose giving foreign residents right to vote

Japan Today/Kyodo Sunday 18th April, 2010

TOKYO — A group of conservative lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties on Saturday voiced their opposition to proposed legislation to enfranchise permanent foreign residents for local elections. Shizuka Kamei, who leads the People’s New Party, addressed a gathering of people against the proposed legislation in Tokyo, saying, ‘‘The right to vote for foreigners will ruin Japan.’‘

‘‘It will not be enacted during the current parliamentary session because the People’s New Party has invoked a veto (within the government of Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama),’’ said Kamei, who is a cabinet member within the tripartite coalition government.

While Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan is aiming to pass the legislation, at least one member is apparently opposed.

Jin Matsubara, a House of Representative member of the DPJ, told the meeting, ‘‘There is an argument that Europe is positive about enfranchising foreigners, but that does not hold water in Japan. I am unequivocally opposed. It’s my belief that it is necessary to faithfully speak up (about the issue) within the party.’‘

Meanwhile, Mizuho Fukushima, a cabinet member and leader of the Social Democratic Party of Japan that partners the DPJ and PNP in the government, reiterated her endorsement of the proposed legislation.

‘‘It’s not about all foreigners and it’s also limited to local elections,’’ she told reporters in Odate, Akita Prefecture. ‘‘Participation in the local community is necessary, as some countries have approved it.’‘

Objections to the bill were also expressed by opposition lawmakers at the Tokyo meeting. Tadamori Oshima, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, ‘‘We must protect Japan’s sovereignty. I am absolutely opposed.’‘

Yoshimi Watanabe, leader of Your Party, suggested that enfranchising foreign residents is a vote-buying tactic. ‘‘The Democratic Party says livelihood is the No. 1 issue, but in fact aren’t elections their No. 1 business?’’ he said.

Takeo Hiranuma, who leads the just launched Sunrise Party of Japan, said he ‘‘will stake his life in fighting’’ against the legislation.


CONCLUSION:  These are some awfully flash and well produced pamphlets, and renting sound trucks and the whole Budoukan for all these sound bites cost a helluva lot of money.  Who’s funding this?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. What follows is a rough draft of the text of the speech I’ll be giving on Tues, March 23, before a United Nations rep. I have twenty minutes tops. I read this at a normal pace aloud today and it came about sixteen minutes. Eight pages, 2500 words, written in a conversational style. FYI. Thanks for your support, and see you at the upcoming FRANCA meetings this Sunday and next Saturday. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Statements to Mr Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, in Tokyo, March 23, 2010, by ARUDOU Debito, Chair, Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association (FRANCA,, regarding racial discrimination in Japan.

This document may be downloaded at

The powerpoint accompanying this presentation may be downloaded at

Table of contents for the belowmentioned “blue folder” with links to sources at

First, let me thank Mr. Bustamante and the United Nations for their attention to the situation of minorities and disenfranchised peoples in Japan.  There are very few effective forums in Japan for us to take our grievances, and we all very much appreciate the Special Rapporteur hearing as many sides of the story as possible.

I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society.  Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents.  We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census.  We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6).  This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard.  It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

To start off, here is an overview of our presence in Japan.  According to official figures, the number of Non-Japanese on 3-month visas and up in Japan has grown since 1990 from about one million to over two million.  The number of Permanent Residents has reached record numbers, of over one million.  In other words, about half of all registered Non-Japanese in Japan can stay here permanently.  I would like to point out here how difficult it is to receive Permanent Residency in Japan.  It takes about five years if you are married to a Japanese, ten years if you are not.  The point is, a million Non-Japanese Permanent Residents are not a “temporary” segment of Japanese society.

Moreover, this does not count the estimated 300,000 to 500,000 naturalized Japanese citizens since the 1960’s.  I am one of those naturalized Japanese citizens.  Nor does this count the international families from Non-Japanese marrying Japanese.  We have about 40,000 international marriages every year, a significant increase from the 30,000 per year a decade ago.  If each couple has two children over their lifetime, which is not an unreasonable assumption, eventually that means 80,000 ethnically-diverse Japanese children.  Over ten years, that adds up to 800,000 – almost a million again.  However, not all of these children will “look Japanese”.

Sadly, we don’t know how many children, or people, of diverse backgrounds with Japanese citizenship are out there, because the Japanese Census does not survey for ethnicity.  The Japanese Census only surveys for nationality, despite our repeated requests for the census to reflect Japan’s diversity.  Meaning, when I fill out the Census, I write down “Japanese” for my nationality, but there is no way for me to indicate that I am a “Caucasian Japanese”, or an “Japanese of American extraction” (amerika kei nihonjin).  I believe this is by design, because the politics of identity in Japan are “monoculturality and monoethnicity”.  This is simply a fiction.  It wasn’t true in the past, and with modern Japan’s emerging immigration, assimilation, and ethnic diversity, it’s even less true now.  The official conflation of Japanese nationality and ethnicity is incorrect, and our government is willfully refusing to collect any data that would correct that.

The point is, the lines have blurred to the point where we cannot tell who is “Japanese” any more just by looking at them.  This means any time we have any distinctions made between “foreigner” and “Japanese”, be it police racial profiling or “Japanese Only” signs, it will also affect some Japanese citizens too.  This is why we need a law against racial discrimination in Japan – not only because it will help non-citizens assimilate into Japan, but also it will protect Japanese against xenophobia, bigotry, and exclusionism.  Discrimination that is “deep and profound”, and “practiced undisturbed in Japan”, according to UN Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006[1].

At this point, I would like to show some differences in standpoint, between my esteemed colleagues and minorities being represented today, and the people I am trying to speak for.  The minorities in Japan as defined under the CERD, including the Ainu, the Ryūkyūans, the Zainichi Special Permanent Resident ethnic Koreans and Chinese, and the Burakumin, will be speaking to you this week and next as people who have been here for a long time, much longer than people like me, of course.  They make their claims based upon time-honored and genuine grievances that have never been properly redressed.  For ease of understanding, I will call some of them the “Oldcomers”.  I am here on behalf of what I will call the “Newcomers”, people who have come here from other countries relatively recently, to make a life in Japan.  Both “Oldcomers” and “Newcomers” contribute to Japanese society, including taxes, service, and culture.  But it is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease

3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

All of these examples are substantiated in the blue information folder, but again, words in brief about each item.

1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation

One of the first barriers many Newcomers face in Japan is the daunting prospect of finding an apartment.  According to the Mainichi Shimbun (Jan 8 2010[2]), on average in Tokyo it takes 15 visits to realtors for a Non-Japanese to find an apartment.   Common experience — and this is all we have because there is no government study of this problem — dictates that the agent generally phrases the issue to landlords as, “The renter is a foreigner, but is that okay?”  This overt discrimination happens with complete impunity in Japan.  One Osaka realtor[3] even advertises apartments as “gaijin allowed”, thus an option at odds with the status quo.  Again, there is no national government body collecting information on this problem, or hearing grievances.  The people who face discriminatory landlords can only take them to court.  This means years, money for lawyers and court fees, and an uncertain outcome, when all you need is a place to live, now.

Another issue is hotels.  They are expressly forbidden by the Hotel Management Law Article 5 to refuse customers unless rooms are full, there is a clear threat of contagious disease, or a clear threat to “public morals” (as in pornography).  However, government surveys, according to CNN, (Oct 9, 2008[4]), indicate that 27% of all Japanese hotels don’t want foreign guests.  Not to be outdone, the Fukushima Prefecture Tourist Information website until last January advertised, as per their own preset options, that 318 of their member hotels were all refusing Non-Japanese[5], even though this is clearly illegal.  Thus even when a law technically forbids exclusionism, it is not enforced.  Excluders even get promoted by the authorities.

2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police

Another rude awakening happens when you walk down the street.  Japanese police will stop you in public, sometimes rudely demand your ID card (which all foreigners – only — must carry at all times or face incarceration and criminal prosecution), and record your personal details.  This can be for walking while White, cycling while foreign-looking, using public transportation while multiethnic, or standing waiting for arrivals at airports while colored.  In one person’s case, he has been “carded”, sometimes through physical force, more than 50 times in one year, as of today exactly 125 times over ten years (blue folder item I-2).

The police claim they are hunting for foreign criminals and visa overstayers, or there are special security measures or campaigns in place, etc.  However, you can see in the blue folder, this is an extension of the depiction of Non-Japanese in official government policies as “terrorists, criminals, and carriers of infectious diseases” (items II-9 through 11).  None of these things are contingent on nationality.  Consequently, after 2007 all non-citizens must be fingerprinted every time they re-enter Japan.  This includes the “Newcomer” Permanent Residents, which goes farther than its model, the US-VISIT program this, which does not refingerprint Green Card holders.  The epitome of bad physical and social science must be the National Research Institute of Police Science, which has received years of government grants to research “foreign DNA”, for more effective racial profiling at crime scenes (see blue folder item II-2).

In sum, thanks to national policy justifying racial profiling, the Japanese police are seeing non-Japanese as “foreign agents” in both senses of the word.  They are systematically taking measures to deal with them as a social problem, not a fellow resident or immigrant.  Furthermore, it goes without saying that enforcement depends upon personal appearance, as I too have been racially profiled on several occasions by police in public.

3) Refusal to be counted as residents by the Japanese Government

It is too complicated to talk about fully here (see blue folder, item III-1), but Japan’s registration system, meaning the current Koseki Family Registry and the Jūminhyō Residency Certificate systems, refuse to list Non-Japanese as “spouse” — or even “family member”.  Because they are not citizens.  In sum, officially Non-Japanese residents are not “residents” (jūmin), even though they pay Residency Taxes (jūminzei) like anyone else.  Worse, some local governments (such as Tokyo Nerima Ward[6]) do not even count Non-Japanese in their population tallies.  This is the ultimate in invisibility, and it is government-sanctioned.

4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public

Since Japan has no law against racial discrimination, there have been signs up nationwide at places open to the general public, saying “Japanese Only”, “No Foreigners allowed”, etc. (blue folder item III-1).  Places enforcing exclusionary rules include stores, restaurants, hotels, family public bathhouses, bars, discos, an eyeglass outlet, a ballet school, an internet café, a billiards hall, a women’s boutique, and a newspaper subscription service.  Nevertheless, the government has said repeatedly to the UN that we don’t a racial discrimination law because we have an effective judicial system.  That is untrue.  In the Otaru Onsens Case (1999-2005, blue folder items III-1 and III-7), where two Non-Japanese and one naturalized Japanese were excluded from a public bathhouse, judges refused to rule that this activity was illegal due to racial discrimination.  They called it “unrational discrimination”.  Moreover, they refused to enforce the CERD as law, or sanction the negligent Otaru City government for not taking effective measures against racial discrimination.  The Supreme Court even refused to hear the case.  Furthermore, in 2006, an African-American was refused entry into an eyeglass store by an openly racist owner, yet the Osaka District Court ruled in favor of the owner!   We need a criminal law, with enforceable punishments, because the present judicial system will not fix this.

5) Objects of unfettered hate speech

The blue folder talks more about cyberbullying of minorities and prejudiced statements made by our politicians over the years.  Other NGOs will talk more about the anti-Korean and anti-Chinese hate speech during the current debate about granting local suffrage rights to Permanent Residents.  I would instead like to briefly mention some media, such as magazine “Underground Files of Crimes by Gaijin [sic]” (Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu (2007), blue folder item III-2), or “PR Suffrage will make Japan Disappear” (Gaikokujin Sanseiken de Nihon ga Nakunaru Hi) (2010[7]).  Both of these books stretch their case to talk about an innate criminality or deviousness in the foreign element, and “Underground Files of  Crimes” even includes things that are not crimes, such as dating Japanese women.  It even includes epithets like “nigger”, racist caricatures, and ponderings on whether Korean pudenda smell like kimchi.  This is hate speech.  And it is not illegal in Japan.


To summarize, the Japanese government’s stance towards the CERD is simple (blue folder item VI-1).  The Ainu, Ryūkūans, and Burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t need CERD protection because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution.  However, the Zainichis and “Newcomers” are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD.  Therefore, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Yeah, well what about me?  Or our children?  Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the United Nations and their Rapporteurs for investigating our cases.  The CERD Committee on March 16, 2010 (CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6), issued some very welcome recommendations.  However, and I would like to go back to something I said in the beginning, that the UN has a blind spot in these negotiations.

In the CERD Committee’s discussions with the Japanese government in Geneva on February 24 and 25, 2010, very little mention was made of the CERD’s non-enforcement in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code.   Almost no mention was made of Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs.  These are the most indefensible violation of the CERD.

The problem is, both sides, both Japan and the UN, have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s “minorities”.  Non-Japanese were never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants”.  The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) “foreign migrants” have a “temporary status” in Japan (particularly when Japan’s reps portrayed ethnic schools for Non-Japanese as for “foreign children in Japan only for the short stay”), and 2) Japan has few “ethnically diverse Japanese citizens”.

Look, it’s time for an update.  Look at me.  I am a Japanese.  Like any other.  Because the government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization and I passed it.  People like me are part of Japan’s future.  Please, when you make your recommendations, have them reflect how Japan has changed, and how Japan must face up to its multicultural society already in place.  Please, recognize us “Newcomers” as a permanent part of the debate.  The Japanese government still will not.  They say little that is positive about us.  And they allow very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers, and police.

It’s about time we all recognized the good things that we “Newcomers” too are doing for our home, Japan.  Please help us.










Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Readers.


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan.  Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear.  It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that.  Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like).  Please send to by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack.  I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo



To Mr. Jorge Bustamante, Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants:

Date: March 23, 2010  Tokyo, Japan

Thank you for coming to Japan and hearing our side of the story.  We have a lot to say and few domestic forums that will listen to us.  –ARUDOU Debito, Chair, FRANCA Japan (,


Referential documents and articles appear in the following order:

I. On Government-sponsored Xenophobia and Official-level Resistance to Immigration

This section will seek to demonstrate that discrimination is not just a societal issue.  It is something promoted by the Japanese government as part of official policy.

  1. OVERVIEW:  Japan Times article:  “THE MYOPIC STATE WE’RE IN:  Fingerprint scheme exposes xenophobic, short-sighted trend in government” (December 18, 2007).  Point:  How government policy is hard-wiring the Japanese public into fearing and blaming Non-Japanese for Japan’s social ills.
  2. Japan Times article, “Beware the Foreigner as Guinea Pig“, on how denying rights to one segment of the population (NJ) affects everyone badly, as policies that damage civil liberties, once tested on Non-Japanese residents, eventually get applied to citizens too (July 8, 2008).
  3. Japan Times article:  “THE BLAME GAME:  Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community” (August 28, 2007), depicting foreigners as criminal invaders, and thwarting their ability to assimilate properly.
  4. Japan Times article: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004)
  5. Japan Times article, “Demography vs. Demagoguery“, on how politics has pervaded Japanese demographic science, making “immigration” a taboo for discussion as a possible solution to Japan’s aging society. (November 3, 2009)
  6. Japan Times article: “HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY STINKS:  Government effort riddled with bias, bad science” (October 23, 2007), talking about how official government surveys render human rights “optional” for Non-Japanese, and downplays the discrimination against them.
  7. Japan Times article: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003), on how the oft-touted Ministry of Justice’s “Jinken Yōgobu” is in fact a Potemkin System, doing little to assist those with human rights issues in Japan.
  8. Japan Times article, “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate“, on the lessons to be learned from Japan’s public panic from the Swine Flu Pandemic, and how to avoid discrimination once again from arising (August 4, 2009).
  9. Japan Times article, “Golden parachutes for Nikkei only mark failure of race-based policy“, on the downfall of Japan’s labor visa policies, e.g., the “April 2009 repatriation bribe” for the Nikkei Brazilians and Peruvians, sending them “home” with a pittance instead of treating them like laborers who made investments and contributions to Japan’s welfare and pension systems.

II. On Abuses of Police Power and Racial Profiling vis-à-vis Non-Japanese

This section will seek to demonstrate that one arm of the government, the National Police Agency, has had a free hand in generating a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave of the 2000s”, by characterizing Non-Japanese in the media as criminals, exaggerating or falsifying foreign crime reportage, bending laws to target them, engaging in flagrant racial profiling of minorities, and otherwise “making Japan the world’s safest country again” by portraying the foreign element as unsafe.

  1. Japan Times article: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new “snitching” Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004), on how online submission sites (which still exist) run by the government are open to the general public, for anonymous reporting of anyone who “looks foreign and suspicious” to the police.
  2. Japan Times article: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004), how the National Research Institute for Police Science has received government grants to study “foreign DNA” (somehow seen as genetically different from all Japanese DNA) for crime scene investigation.
  3. 3. Japan Times article:  “FOREIGN CRIME STATS COVER UP A REAL COP OUT:  Published figures are half the story” (Oct 4, 2002), indicating how the National Police Agency is falsifying and exaggerating foreign crime statistics to create the image of Non-Japanese residents as criminals.
  4. Japan Times article: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005), showing nascent anti-terrorist policy introduced by the Koizumi Administration specifically targeting Non-Japanese as terrorists.
  5. Website:  “Ibaraki Prefectural Police put up new and improved public posters portraying Non-Japanese as coastal invaders” (November 20, 2008), and “Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster” (July 29, 2009), showing how the Japanese police are putting up public posters portraying the issue as defending Japanese shores from foreign invasion, complete with images of beach storming, riot gear and machine guns. and
  6. Japan Times article: “UPPING THE FEAR FACTOR:  There is a disturbing gap between actual crime in Japan and public worry over it” (February 20, 2007), showing the Koizumi policy in full bloom, plus the media’s complicity in abetting the National Police Agency’s generation of a “foreign crime wave”.
  7. Japan Times article: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005), and
  8. Japan Times article: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005), both articles showing how the Japanese police use legal sleight-of-hand to convince hotels to target foreigners for visa and ID checks.
  9. Japan Times article: “‘GAIJIN CARD’ CHECKS SPREAD AS POLICE DEPUTIZE THE NATION” (November 13, 2007), showing how extralegal means are being used to expand the “visa dragnets” to people who are not Immigration Officers, or even police officers.
  10. Japan Times article, “IC You:  Bugging the Alien“, on the new IC Chip Gaijin Cards and national protests (May 19, 2009), how RFID-chipped ID cards (of which 24/7 carrying for Non-Japanese only is mandatory under criminal law) can be converted into remote tracking devices, for even better racial profiling as technology improves.
  11. Japan Times article, “Summit Wicked This Way Comes“, on the Japanese Government’s bad habits brought out by the Hokkaido Toyako 2008 G8 Summit (April 22, 2008) – namely, a clampdown on the peaceful activities of Japan’s civil society, with a focus on targeting people who “look foreign”.
  12. Japan Times article, “Forecast:  Rough with ID checks mainly to the north“, focusing on a protest against Hokkaido Police’s egregious racial profiling during the G8 Summit, and how the police dodged media scrutiny and public accountability (July 1, 2008).
  13. Japan Times article, “Cops Crack Down with ‘I Pee’ Checks“, on the Japanese police stretching their authority to demand urine samples from Non-Japanese on the street without warrants (July 7, 2009).
  14. Japan Times article, “PEDAL PUSHERS COP A LOAD ON YASUKUNI DORI: Japan’s low crime rate has many advantages, although harassment by bored cops certainly isn’t one of them” (June 20, 2002), demonstrating how arbitrarily Tokyo police will nab people at night ostensibly for “bicycle ownership checks”, but really for visa checks – if they are riding while “looking foreign”.

III. On Racism and Hate Speech in Japan

This section talks about other activities that are not state-sponsored or encouraged, but tolerated in society as “rational” or “reasonable” discrimination, or natural ascriptive social ordering.  These unfettered acts of discrimination towards minorities, decried by previous Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene as “deep and profound”, are examples of why we need a law against racial discrimination and hate speech in Japan.

1. OVERVIEWNGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan (33 pages).  Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Japan, submitted to UNCERD February 2010.  Compiled by Solidarity with Migrants Japan.  Particularly germane to this information packet is Chapter 2 by Arudou Debito, entitled “Race and Nationality-Based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments” (3 pages).

2. Japan Focus paper (14 pages):  “GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE AND HATE SPEECH IN JAPAN:  The newfound power of Japan’s international residents” (March 20, 2007).  This academic paper talks about how a “Foreign Crime Magazine” deliberately distorted data (to the point of accusing Non-Japanese of criminal acts that were not actually crimes), and portrayed Chinese and other minorities as having criminality as part of their innate nature.

3. Japan Times article, “NJ Suffrage and the Racist Element” (February 2, 2010), on xenophobic Japan Dietmember Hiranuma’s racist statements towards fellow Dietmember Renho (who has Taiwanese roots), and how it lays bare the lie of the xenophobic Rightists demanding people take Japanese citizenship if they want the right to vote in local elections – when it clearly makes no difference to them if they do.

4. Japan Times article, “The Issue that dares not speak its name“, on the suppressed debate on racial discrimination in Japan (June 2, 2009), where the term “racial discrimination” itself is not part of the Japanese media’s vocabulary to describe even situations adjudged “racial discrimination” by Japanese courts.

5. Japan Times article:  “HOW TO KILL A BILL:  Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006), on how Japan’s first prefectural-level ordinance against discrimination was actually unpassed months later, due to a hue and cry over the apparent dangers of giving foreigners too many rights.

6. Academic Paper (Linguapax Asia, forthcoming) (14 pages):  “Propaganda in Japan’s Media:  Manufacturing Consent for National Goals at the Expense of Non-Japanese Residents”, on how government policy, political opportunism, and the Japanese media fomented a fictitious “Foreign Crime Wave” in the 2000s, and how that caused quantifiable social damage to Non-Japanese residents.

7. Japan Focus paper (2 pages): “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hotspring Case and Discrimination Against ‘Foreigners’ in Japan” (November 2005), a very brief summary explaining Japan’s first case of racial discrimination that made to the Supreme Court (where it was rejected for consideration), and what it means in terms of Japan’s blind-eying of discrimination.

8. Website:  “Tokyo Edogawa-ku Liberal Democratic Party flyer, likens granting Permanent Residents the right to vote in local elections to an alien invasion”.  (February 24, 2010)  Seventeen local politicians of the formerly-ruling LDP lend their names against the ruling Democratic Party of Japan’s liberalizing policy, illustrated with a UFO targeting the Japanese archipelago.

9. Website:  “More anti-foreigner scare posters and publications, linking Permanent Resident suffrage bill to foreign crime and Chinese invasion”. (March 15, 2010)  Anonymous internet billeters are putting propaganda in home post boxes in Nagoya and Narita, and bookstores are selling books capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan “disappear” by turning into a foreign country.

10. Website:  Anti-foreign suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!” (December 4, 2009).  An overview and summary translation of the invective and arguments being put forth by the xenophobic Far-Right in public demonstrations.

IV. On the Disenfranchisement of the Non-Japanese communities in Japan

This section touches upon how Non-Japanese minorities are shut out of Japan’s debate arenas, public events, even court rooms, making them largely unable to stand up for themselves and assimilate on their own terms.

1. Trans Pacific Radio:  “RUMBLE AT THE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right wingers” (September 10, 2007), demonstrating how the government will not stop hate speech from Right-wingers even when it willfully disrupts their official fact-finding meetings.

2. Japan Times article, McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr James” campaign:  Why these stereotyping advertisements should be discontinued. (September 1, 2009), showing how McDonald’s, an otherwise racially-tolerant multinational corporation overseas, is able thanks to lax attitudes in Japan to stoop to racial stereotyping to sell product, moreover not engage in constructive public debate about the issues.

3. Japan Times article: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different judicial standards apply for foreigners in court” (August 14, 2007), where even foreigners’ testimony is overtly dismissed in court expressly because it is foreign.

4. Japan Times article: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS:  McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006), in that a store manager who barred an African-American customer entry, expressly because he dislikes black people, was exonerated in court on a semantic technicality.

5. Japan Times article: “SCHOOLS SINGLE OUT FOREIGN ROOTS: International kids suffer under archaic rules” (July 17, 2007). An article about the “Hair Police” in Japan’s schools, who force Non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese to dye their natural hair color black.

6. Japan Times article: “A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD?: National Sports Festival bars gaijin, and amateur leagues follow suit” (Sept 30, 2003), on Japan’s National Sports Meets (kokutai), and how Japan’s amateur sports leagues refuse Non-Japanese residents’ participation:

7. Asahi Shimbun English-language POINT OF VIEW column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003).  A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi Watashi no Shiten column, wondering why cartoon characters and wild sealions (see #9 below) are allowed to be registered as “residents” in Japan under the government’s jūminhyō Residency Certificate system, but not Non-Japanese.

8. Japan Times article, “FREEDOM OF SPEECH: ‘Tainted blood’ sees ‘foreign’ students barred from English contests” (Jan 6, 2004), with several odd, blood-based rules indicating a belief that foreign ancestry gives people an advantage in terms of language ability – even if the foreign ethnicity is not Anglophone!

9. Japan Times article on “SEALING THE DEAL ON PUBLIC MEETINGS: Outdoor gatherings are wrapped in red tape.” (March 4, 2003), on the sealion “Tama-chan” issue and demonstrations over the issue of family registry exclusionism (see #7 above).  Why is it so difficult to raise public awareness about minority issues in Japan?  Because police grant permission to public gatherings.

V. On What Japan should do to face its multicultural future

This section offers suggestions on what Japan ought to be doing:  Engaging immigration, instead of retreating further into a fortress mentality and defaming those who wish to emigrate here.

1. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S COMING INTERNATIONALIZATION:  Can Japan assimilate its immigrants?” (January 12, 2006)

2. Japan Times article, “A Level Playing Field for Immigrants” (December 1, 2009), offering policy proposals to the new DPJ ruling party on how to make Japan a more attractive place for immigration.

3. Japan Focus paper:  “JAPAN’S FUTURE AS AN INTERNATIONAL, MULTICULTURAL SOCIETY: From Migrants to Immigrants” (October 29, 2007)

4. “Medical Care for Non-Japanese Residents of Japan: Let’s look at Japanese Society’s General ‘Bedside Manner’ First“, Journal of International Health Vol.23, No.1 2008, pgs 19-21.

VI. Japan and the United Nations

1. Academic paper (forthcoming, draft, 21 pages):  “Racial Discrimination in Japan:  Arguments made by the Japanese government to justify the status quo in defiance of United Nations Treaty”.  This paper points out the blind spot in both United Nations and the Japanese government, which continues to overlook the plight of immigrants (viewing them more as temporary migrant workers), and their ethnically-diverse Japanese children, even in their February 2010 UNCERD Review of Japan (please skip to pages 18-19 in the paper).

2. Japan Times article: “PULLING THE WOOL:  Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006), talking about the disinformation the government was giving the UN in its successful bid to have a leadership post on the newfound HRC.

3. Japan Times article: “RIGHTING A WRONG: United Nations representative Doudou Diene’s trip to Japan has caused a stir” (June 27, 2006).


Topics:  Daycare center teaching “Little Black Sambo” to preschoolers despite requests from international parents to desist, Anonymous statement regarding professional working conditions in Japan for professional and expatriate women (issues of CEDAW), Discriminatory hiring practices at English-language schools (2 cases), Racial profiling at Narita Airport, Harassment of foreign customers by Japanese credit agencies, Hunger strikers at Ibaraki Detention Center, Politician scaremongering regarding a hypothetical  “foreign Arab prince with 50 kids claiming child tax allowance”


More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion


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Hi Blog.  Following up on some previous posts (here, here, and here) on how the debate on NJ PR suffrage has devolved into hate speech, here is how bad it’s getting.  We have anonymous flyers appearing in people’s snailmailboxes accusing NJ of being criminals (and linking it to not granting suffrage), fomenting anti-Chinese sentiment with threats of invasion and takeover, and even a book capitalizing on the fear by saying that granting NJ the vote will make Japan disappear.  Read on:

First up is a notice I received world about on February 28, 2010, from a Nagoya resident.  (click on image to expand in your browser)

As you can see from the headline, we have the “Beware of Foreign Crime” slogans, with the claim that foreign crime is rising (an outright lie — it’s been falling for years:  sources here, here, and here)).  It asks people to lock their doors properly and be careful of walking alone.  Then it digresses to say that the DPJ is planning to bring in immigrants and grant them suffrage, and that more crimes are anticipated, so protect your family and property by linking your opposition to the NJ PR suffrage bill to crime prevention.  It then asks people to do their own research, using search terms “NJ suffrage” and “danger”, plus “mass media” and “biased reporting”.

And who put this out?  At the very bottom it just says that these are “internet users” who have woken up to the dangers out there, and are putting this flyer out at their own expense.  They are not in any way affiliated with a group or religion.  They’re just anonymous internet bullies.  (Okay, the last sentence they didn’t the courage of conviction to say:  never mind taking responsibility for their actions — such is the modus operandi of the anonymous bully.)

Next up:  A flyer that appeared in a person’s snailmailbox in Narita, February 23, 2010: (click on image to expand in your browser)

Very well rendered in classic easily-understood manga illustration, it zeroes in on the dangers of NJ PR suffrage in terms of Chinese hordes.  Once they get elected, tiny little carbon-copy slanty-eyed Maos all vote in a bloc in small towns and get elected.  Just like, they claim, some Chinese did in Richmond, BC, Canada, and the candidate allegedly couldn’t even speak English!  Then Chinese will take over public utilities and blackmail old, hardworking Japanese into paying user fees, and then we’ll have an invasion of Chinese voters, ballots in hand.  Before you know it, we’ll be surrounded, thanks to immigrants’ higher birthrates, and we’ll see the same fear of foreigners here as we see in Europe, where the Dutch are being crowded out of their own country.  Etc etc.  In other words, it’s turning the positive arguments for immigration on their head, and making the issue into a zero-sum power game with Japan being lost in the process.

And finally for today, an actual published mook, found on newsstands in Tokyo and no doubt much elsewhere on March 7, 2010.

The title is “Emergency Publication” (aren’t they all?), “NJ PR suffrage will be the end of Japan”.  Same thing in the subtitles:  “China can now legally invade us!”  “The Policy for 10 Million Immigrants will make Japan into a foreign country.”  With flakey Zainichi Taiwanese commentator Kin Birei (who is all over the ideological map whenever she appears on Koko Made Itte Iinkai) saying “Naturalize if you want to vote”, etc.

What follows are the Table of Contents and a sample page, courtesy of MS.  He comments that “The contents aren’t as bad as the cover.”  Then like Miwa Locks “Foreigner-Proof Security” and “Gaijin Hanzai Mook“, once again we have businesses riding the anti-foreign scare wave to make a quick buck.

This is why we need laws against hate speech in Japan — to prevent the knock-on effects of fear by anonymous bullies being further fanned by the profit motive and marketing sharks.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Here’s something I received the other day from Reader XY.  It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period).  It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.

I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Dietmember Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more-mainstream LDPers (a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims.  First, have a look at the flyer (received February 19, 2010):

The arguments in summary are these:

1) PR NJ suffrage might be unconstitutional (hedging from the rabid right’s clear assertion that it is).  In fact, I’m not sure anyone’s absolutely sure about that.

2) PR NJ suffrage will give foreigners say over how our children are taught and how our political decisions are made.  (Well, yeah, if there are enough NJ in any particular district; and even if there were, given how nasty Japan’s public policy can be towards NJ, I’m not so sure that’s such a bad thing.)

3) Granting PR NJ suffrage is not the world trend.  (Oh, now we cite how other countries do things?  If other countries were creating a world trend, such as signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, you’d no doubt be begging off stressing how unique Japan is instead.  Besides, at least three dozen other countries, many of them fellow developed countries, grant local suffrage to non-citizens, and they deal with it just fine.)

4) One shouldn’t equate taxpayer with voting rights, asserting that Japanese wouldn’t get suffrage if they lived overseas.  (Actually, yes they would, if they lived in one of those abovementioned three dozen plus countries which grant it.)

5) We haven’t studied the issue enough.  (This is a typical political stalling tactic.  How much debate is enough?  How long is a piece of string?)

6) We’ve got prefectural governors coming out against PR suffrage.  (And we have prefectural governors coming out FOR suffrage too.  Anyway, when has the national government listened to local governments until now?  It hasn’t been for the past decade since the Hamamatsu Sengen, for example.)

My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom.  “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!”  Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its spotlight on our archipelago.  NJ as invading alien!!  And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party (yes, the UFO党) waiting to cart us all away!!  How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.

But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka, which decided that its local university should be officially “foreigner-free”.  This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents.  It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.

Vote your conscience.  Now that we know who these LDP idiots are, don’t vote them back into power.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 2, 2010: “NJ suffrage and the racist element”


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The Japan Times February 2, 2010
JUST BE CAUSE, Column 25, Version with links to sources.
Non-Japanese suffrage and the racist element

On Jan. 17, Takeo Hiranuma made this statement about fellow Diet member Renho:

“I hate to say this, but she’s not originally/at heart (motomoto) a Japanese.”

What could have provoked such a harsh criticism of one’s identity?

A simple question Renho, of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, asked mandarins (as is her job) who were requesting more cash: “Why must we aim to develop the world’s No. 1 supercomputer? What’s wrong with being No. 2?” Hiranuma claimed, “This is most imprudent (fukinshin) for a politician to say.”

Is it? I’ve heard far more stupid questions from politicians. Moreover, in this era of deflationary belt-tightening, it seems reasonable to ask the bureaucrats to justify our love.

Being pilloried for asking inappropriate questions is one thing (as “appropriate” is a matter of opinion). But having your interests in the country, and people you represent, called into question because you have non-Japanese (NJ) roots (Renho’s father is Taiwanese, her mother Japanese, and she chose Japanese citizenship) is nothing less than racism, and from a Diet member at that.

Hiranuma predictably backpedaled: First he accused the media of sensationalizing his comments. Then he claimed this was not racial discrimination because Renho has Japanese citizenship.

Somebody should explain to Hiranuma the official definition of “racial discrimination,” according to a United Nations treaty the Liberal Democratic Party government ratified in 1996, when he was a Cabinet minister:平沼赳夫#.E5.A4.96.E9.83.A8.E3.83.AA.E3.83.B3.E3.82.AF

“Racial discrimination shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.” (U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination, Article 1.1)

So, by raising Renho’s descent/ethnicity/national origin in questioning her credentials, Hiranuma is guilty as charged.

But there is a larger issue here. Hiranuma’s outburst is symptomatic of the curious degree of power the ultrarightists have in Japan.

Remember, this is the same Hiranuma who helped scuttle a human rights bill in 2006, headlining a book titled, “Danger! The Imminent Threat of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries.” Within it he claimed, “This human rights bill will exterminate (horobosu) Japan.”

This is also the same politician who declared in 2006 that Japan should not have a female Empress, for she might “marry a blue-eyed foreigner” and spawn the next Emperor — managing to double-dip racism into sexism and misogyny. (Why assume women are more susceptible to rapacious NJ than male heirs to the throne?)

Hiranuma wasn’t so lucky in 2008 when trying to stop a bill revising the Nationality Law, fixing paternity recognition loopholes our Supreme Court had ruled unconstitutional mere months earlier. He argued that granting bastard children Japanese citizenship would dilute “Japan’s identity.”

But he’s still at it: The Hiranuma hobbyhorse is currently rocking against the proposal of granting suffrage in local elections to NJ with Permanent Residency (PR), which may pass the Diet this year.

It is probably no surprise that this columnist supports PR suffrage. There are close to half a million Special Permanent Residents (the zainichi ethnic Koreans, Chinese, etc.), born and raised here, who have been paying Japanese taxes their entire lives. Moreover, their relatives were former citizens of the Japanese empire (brought here both by force and by the war economy), contributing to and even dying for our country. In just about any other developed nation, they would be citizens already; they once were.

Then there are close to a half-million more Regular Permanent Residents (the “newcomer” immigrants) who have taken the long and winding road (for some, two decades) to qualify for PR. They got it despite the discretionary and often obstructionist efforts of Japan’s mandarins (Zeit Gist May 28, 2008).

Anyone who puts in the years and effort to meet PR assimilation requirements has earned the right to participate in their local community — including voting in their elections. At least three dozen other countries allow foreigners to vote in theirs, and the sky hasn’t fallen on them.

But that’s not what antisuffrage demonstrators, with Hiranuma their poster boy, would have you believe. Although public policy debate in Japan is generally pretty milquetoast, nothing brings out apocalyptic visions quite like the right wing’s dry-throated appeals to Japanese-style xenophobia.

Granting foreigners suffrage, they say, will carve up Japan like a tuna. Okinawa will become another Chinese province. Beijing will control our government. Even Hiranuma claims South Korea will annex the Tsushima Islands. The outside world is a perpetual threat to Japan.

This camp says that if NJ want the right to vote, they should naturalize. Sounds reasonable, but I know from personal experience it’s not that simple (the application procedure can be arbitrary enough to disqualify many Japanese). This neutralizes the Alien Threat, somehow.

But by criticizing Renho for her NJ roots, Hiranuma exposed the naturalization demand as a lie.

Renho has taken Japanese citizenship, moreover graduated from one of Japan’s top universities, became a member of Japanese society as a famous newscaster and journalist, and even gotten elected by fellow Japanese to Parliament.

But to Hiranuma, that doesn’t matter. Renho is still a foreigner — in origin if not at heart — and always will be.

This is where Hiranuma and company’s doctrinaire bigotry lies. You can’t trust The Alien no matter what they do, especially if they don’t do what Real Japanese tell them to do.

Why is this expression of racism so blatant in Japan? Because minorities are so disenfranchised in our political marketplace of ideas. In any marketplace (be it of products or ideas), if you have any barriers to entry, you get extremes and aberrations (be it in prices or views). Open the market, and things tend to correct themselves.

That is what these zealots are most afraid of: not merely The Alien, more the loss of the ability to attract votes by whipping up public fear. Let The Alien in, and those on the cosseted ideological extremes would have to be more tolerant of, if not appeal to, a newly enfranchised section of Japan’s electorate with more diverse interests.

That’s the best argument yet for giving NJ with PR the vote: to reduce the power of Japan’s xenophobic fringe, and rid our polity of these racists and bigots. Make it so that next time a Hiranuma makes racist statements, those affected will have the chance to vote him out of office.


Debito Arudou coauthored the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants and Immigrants.” Twitter arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month


Racist statements from Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma re naturalized J Dietmember


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Hi Blog. Here we go again. Pet Xenophobe Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo (who is so far out there he won’t, or can’t, run under the LDP banner) has once again said something nasty about foreigners. Or at least people he still considers to be “foreigners”. Read on, comment from me follows the Japanese Sankei article:


◆Ex-minister Hiranuma says lawmaker Renho is ‘not originally Japanese’
OKAYAMA, Japan, Jan. 18 2010 KYODO NEWS

OKAYAMA, Japan, Jan. 18_(Kyodo) _ Former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma on Sunday criticized remarks made by House of Councillors member Renho in November in trying to slash budget allocations for the supercomputer development by pointing to the fact that the politician, who goes by a single name, is a naturalized Japanese.

“I don’t want to say this, but she is not originally Japanese,” said the former Liberal Democratic Party member during a speech before his supporters in Okayama City. “She was naturalized, became a Diet member, and said something like that,” the independent House of Representatives member continued.

Hiranuma was referring to the high-profile remarks made by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan member, who asked during a debate with bureaucrats, “Why must (Japan) aim to (develop) the world’s No. 1 (supercomputer)? What’s wrong with being the world’s No. 2?” The remarks have been broadcast repeatedly on TV as a symbolic image of the DPJ-led government’s efforts to cut wasteful spending.

The remarks were “not appropriate for a politician,” Hiranuma said, adding that Japan, as a country aiming to be a science technology power, “must have the budget for (developing) the world’s No. 1 (supercomputer).” He later told reporters he did not intend to say anything discriminatory and what he meant was that politicians should not engage in “sensational politics that ring the bell with TV broadcasters.” According to Renho’s website, she was born in 1967 as the child of a Taiwanese father and a Japanese mother, and switched her citizenship from Taiwanese to Japanese in 1985.

Renho’s office told Kyodo News on Monday that the lawmaker would not make any comment on Hiranuma’s remarks because she did not hear them directly.


「もともと日本人じゃない」 平沼氏が蓮舫氏を批判
2010.1.18  産經新聞 Courtesy of AS



毎日新聞 2010年1月17日






COMMENT:  Well, people will stoop to anything to delegitimize a person’s opinion, won’t they?  Even question their ability to put their country’s needs first if they have NJ roots?  Well, as a fellow naturalized Japanese, I say:  Fuck you very much, Takeo.  Given your family history as an adopted son of the family name, I question your ability to represent Japan’s Blue-Blooded Elites as you claim to do.

There’s a reason for my intemperance.  This is not the first time Hiranuma has resorted to bigotry and ignorance to take cheap shots at an internationalizing Japan.

Consider Hiranuma’s rallying with the alarmists to try and deny Permanent Residents from getting local suffrage in 2009.  (Bonus points for irony:  It’s his camp which usually says that PRs should naturalize if they want suffrage.  Then he says the above; clearly naturalization is irrelevant to him.)

Consider Hiranuma’s opposition in 2008 to a bill plugging paternity loopholes in Japan’s Nationality Laws (which he fortunately could not stop) because it would dilute “Japan’s identity”.

Consider Hiranuma’s alarmism rallying against passing a Human Rights Bill in 2006 since it would lead to “totalitarianism of the developed countries” (which his camp unfortunately probably did manage to stop).

And consider Hiranuma’s belief that a female Empress might let a NJ in to sully The Royal Womb:


The Japan Times Thursday, Feb. 2, 2006
Female on throne could marry foreigner, Hiranuma warns
The Associated Press
Dozens of conservative lawmakers and their supporters Wednesday attacked a proposal to let females and their descendents ascend to the Chrysanthemum Throne, warning the move threatens a centuries-old tradition — and could even allow foreign blood into the Imperial line.

The lawmakers, led by former trade minister Takeo Hiranuma, are fighting a bill being drafted by the government to avert a succession crisis in the Imperial family by allowing reigning empresses and their descendents.

Females have been barred from the throne since the Meiji Era (1868-1912) and a 1947 law further restricted ascension to males from the male line. No woman has reigned in more than 200 years.

The Imperial family has not produced a male heir since the 1960s and public support has been growing for a change in the law to allow Princess Aiko, the only child Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess Masako, to ascend to the throne.

Hiranuma, however, warned the reform could corrupt the Imperial line, which he said has been the supreme symbol of Japanese national and ethnic identity for centuries.

“If Aiko becomes the reigning empress and gets involved with a blue-eyed foreigner while studying abroad and marries him, their child may be the emperor,” Hiranuma told about 40 lawmakers, academics and supporters at a Tokyo hall. “We should never let that happen.”

Despite the overwhelming public support for the reform, traditionalists have stepped up a campaign to quash the move — going so far as to propose bringing back concubines to breed male descendants as was done until the Taisho Era (1912-1926). Others have argued the aristocracy, banned after World War II, should be reinstated as a way of broadening the pool of candidates for the throne.


COMMENT CONTINUES:  This video-nasty of a person is in my view unfit for national office.  Unfortunately, his constituency did not agree.  He got comfortably reelected in Okayama as an independent last August.  I’d say that’s Okayama’s shame, but Hokkaido reelects shameful politicians too (think Suzuki Muneo).

Let’s hope the media takes Hiranuma to task like the media did somewhat for a similar-style othering of TV personality Takigawa Christel (unrelated to Hiranuma, but same genre).  Japan’s future has no use for people like him.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”


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Hi Blog.  One of the more interesting proposals from the new DPJ-run Administration is suffrage for Special Permanent Residents.  The Cabinet is ready to send a bill to the Diet so that Permanent Residents (in American terms, essentially “Green Card holders”) obtain the right to vote in local elections.

Regardless of whether you support or disapprove ( is in support, given how difficult it can be to get PR in Japan, not to mention how arbitrary the naturalization procedures are), what is interesting is the invective in the debate by people who oppose it.  Numerous and very visible demonstrations by right-wing fringe elements (who also seem to get all xenophobic at, say, Hallowe’en being celebrated in Japan) are resorting to daft arguments that defy calm and common sense.  Here are some photos and flyers, received from a witness of one demonstration in Shibuya November 28, 2009, courtesy of ER.  Drink in the alarmism and panic by people who are probably going to lose the debate.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PHOTOS FROM THE PROTESTS (click to expand in browser)


Lower flyer with PM Hatoyama proclaims with menace that the DPJ is trying to give foreigners the right to vote.  Chinese and Korean flags background text that is illegible.  Upper flyer proclaims opposition to the suffrage measure, declaring it unconstitutional, and throwing in a red herring that American league baseball players Ichiro and Matsui wouldn’t get suffrage in the US.  (Okay.  But Ichiro and Matsui aren’t AFAIK Permanent Residents there, nor at this time clearly immigrants; and would these opponents of suffrage for foreigners here be in opposition if fellow members of Team Japan COULD as foreigners vote in the US?  Somehow I doubt it.)


The sound trucks and picketers in Shibuya depict “JAPAN IS IN DANGER” (nihon ga abunai), and “BLOCK THE DISSOLUTION (kaitai) OF JAPAN”.  If I read correctly the yellow sign on the sound truck on the left, they are even claiming that Okinawa will even be snatched away if suffrage goes through!  Not sure how that follows, but anyhoo…


This shirt lumps together a completely hitherto unestablished linkage between NJ suffrage and the Protection of Human Rights Bill (the jinken yougo houan, which is another item these alarmists get all dry-throated about).  (And for those kanji nerds, the upper kanji are read soumou kukki, which I have looked up and pieced together a translation for; but never mind — it’s pretty esoteric.)


And finally, some more basic “We won’t give the vote to foreigners.”  “Now this is a threat to Japan”, etc.

Freedom of speech allows more interesting arguments to be made in their flyers (click on image to expand in your browser), some of which I daresay would qualify as hate speech under UN Treaty:


This one makes the case that granting NJ suffrage is bad because:

1) It gives voting rights to people that don’t want to naturalize (i.e. don’t want to become Japanese), yet want to participate in the politics of this easy-to-live-in country Japan. (Oh, but you see, it’s so easy to naturalize, after all.  Not.)

2) They have voting rights already in their home country of nationality (yet want to participate… repeated argument)

3) They don’t want to give up their special rights as Zainichi (such as tax breaks (??)) [even though not all PR are Zainichi, i.e. descendants of former colonial citizens of empire, generational foreigners born in Japan yet not citizens, usually Korean or Chinese “Special Permanent Residents”] (yet want to… repeated argument)

4) There are illegal overstayers and illegal entrants amongst these Permanent Residents [wait, that’s contradictory; that’s not how the visa system works], therefore criminals (yet want to… you get the idea).

5) There are some PRs who hold grudges against Japanese and Japan… [oh?]

6) They will vote for Diet candidates who will allow in huge amounts of immigrants from their mother countries. [I bet these people would make the same argument to take away voting rights from anyone they perceive would vote against their interests.  They don’t believe in plurality and majority rule, I guess, even when they are in the majority.]

And more.  The final question, with a poke at the DPJ, “We ask you, as Japanese citizens, ARE YOU [GODDAMN] SERIOUS?” [emphasis added to accommodate for expanded font size and boldface]

Here’s another:


This one’s all about protecting Japan from DPJ Dietmembers who are “selling the country off”, with little thunderbolts stabbing photos and points (particularly against Dietmember Madoka Yoriko, the Dietmember apparently submitting the suffrage proposal).  Labelled as discriminatory against Japanese (!!), we’ve now rolled into this protest the gaikokujin jinken kihon hou (Basic Law for Human Rights for NJ), which has been on the drawing board for over a decade now) but now suddenly in the crosshairs (naturally; it just might come to fruition).  Arguments against it include how it will empower Chinese and North Koreans (the perpetual boogeymen in these debates — it even asserts that the Chinese Embassy is controlling things), and how after only five years they could get the power to vote!  (Methinks they don’t actually know how difficult it is to get PR.)  And more.  Love how the invective changes font sizes for individual kanji to project even more alarmism.


Here’s another target for Zeus’s lightning bolts.  Much the same arguments as above (except now accusing the media in being complicit in stifling the debate; that’s rich), except the focus is on the next “sell-out”, Dietmember Yamaoka Kenji and his treasonous gang promoting NJ suffrage and the dissolution of Japan, by merely giving a few hundred thousand NJ (far less than 1% of the entire Japanese population, and scattered around Japan) the right to vote.  Maa, you get the idea.  Moving on:


Next on the laundry list of grievances against NJ is the claim that the Tsushima Islands (not the Takeshima/Tokdo disputed rocks, but the much larger islands in the channel between South Korea and Kyushu) will be invaded by Korea!  Being wheeled out for speeches is pet former LDP xenophobe Hiranuma Takeo (from Okayama; I watched him get reelected in August with a comfortable margin — see his website and enjoy his depiction in English lamenting about how kids nowadays are ignorant of the date his family mansion was burned down) and pet former Japanese military revisionist Tamogami Toshio (who is clearly more in his element with extreme rightists after being kicked out of the JSDF last year).  Oh, but these events bring out the self-important, don’t they.  Particularly those who predict that any concessions towards foreigners means that Japan gets carved up.


And here’s a petition saying that Yonaguni Island, just off Taiwan, needs a JSDF military base to protect against Chinese invasion of Okinawa.  Just imagine what cases these nutcases would come up with if Japan actually had any international land borders.


And here we have the webs the DPJ weaves (as opposed to the webs that the perpetually incumbent LDP wove during its 50 plus years in power):  Supporters include leftist extremists and labor unions, socialists, revolutionary laborers, the Chuukakuha, Nikkyousou, the Red Army, North Korean group Chousen Souren, South Korean Mindan, the Buraku Liberation League, the Yakuza, the media (controlled by the DPJ regarding what you see and hear; again, that’s rich), and the kitchen sink.  Great fun.



In the same vein of how the DPJ has totalitarian powers, this last flyer declares that PM Hatoyama believes the Japanese Archipelago is not the property of the Japanese.  And the DPJ’s grand plans include Okinawa getting 30 million Chinese (and, oh, giving Okinawa to China), and the abovementioned Human Rights Bill (which will allegedly enable searches without warrants, and has no Nationality Clause within to ensure that people who man the enforcement mechanisms are kept secure from foreigners).  And of course that NJ suffrage thingie.  But of course you’re not hearing about all this because the DPJ controls the media.  Naturally.