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

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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


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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


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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.


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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.