David Slater and Yomiuri on how activism re Fukushima is being stifled, contamination efforts stymied

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Hi Blog.  This is an email written by an academic in Japan sent to a public Japan listserv.  It is a very indicative accounting of how protests and grassroots activism is systematically stifled and stymied in Japan (in the context of Fukushima), and how even local governments are given the wrong incentives and making weird (and wrong) decisions (e.g., the apparent public shame in decontamination).  Plus the terminology (i.e., kegare) that is shifting the blame from the perpetrator of the contamination to the victim.  Followed by an excellent conclusion that is worthy of print that the social effects of this disaster (particularly in terms of discrimination) will last a lot longer than anticipated.  The bits I found most enlightening I’ve rendered in boldface.  Arudou Debito

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From: “David H. Slater”
Date: 29 November, 2011 
To: EASIANTH@LISTSERV.TEMPLE.EDU
Subject: Re: [jaws] reports of bullying Fukushima kids, and roaming cows
Reply-To: “East Asia Anthropologists’ discussion”

Just to follow up on an old thread–if anyone else has been working on these topics it would be interesting to share what we have…. dhs
Levels of contamination: kegare in official designations, in community activism, in young bodies

As the process of decontamination in Tohoku gets going, we see a range of often chilling representations and bad options, pollution and risk everywhere. “Contamination” today goes beyond the early reports of avoidance behavior and school bullying. Fear of this stigmatization is forcing some townships to forgo governmental relief and retarding local protest efforts. These fears and choices are being played out in municipalities, communities and individual images of life course.

Municipality Funding

In yesterday’s Yomiuri [full text below] there was an article about municipalities that have refused governmental help with the decontamination processes for fear of stigmatization. ‘”If the government designates our city [as subject to intensive investigation of radiation contamination], the entire city will be seen as contaminated. We decided to avoid such a risk,” a senior municipal government official said.” Another official is quoted: “If our town receives the designation, it may deliver a further blow to our image, already damaged by radiation fears.” This, despite the fact these townships have already received excessive radiation measurements. Usually, the townships are afraid of hurting tourism or exports of agricultural products, but often the cost of decontamination is too high for them to pay themselves. Here is the English version of the article: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111127003736.htm

In Community Activism

In a set of interviews that I have been doing among Fukushima women anti-nuke activists, one explained that it was very hard to enlist other women from her community for similar reasons. “It is sort of crazy–even though these women are afraid of radiation, and even though they actually know that areas all around [their children’s school] have high radiation, they do not want to say anything…. because they are afraid of the being singled out.” This activist was frustrated with the other mothers, angry because their reluctance to say anything weakened the voice of the community in taking a unified position. She also understood their reluctance, albeit with some impatience. “I know, I know. If you object, then you are also bringing attention to yourself and maybe worse, to your community, as dirty, as full of radiation. I know that story.” But she said, “If we do not say anything, are we really protecting our community or even our families?” Later in a more reflective moment in the interview, when she was acknowledging the ambiguous progress that activism has made, she said “We mothers know that activism might puts these ideas into other people’s heads sometimes, and this might hurt us, mark us, for years. It is a hard situation, knowing what to do.”

In Young Bodies

In my class on oral narrative of disaster, one group of my students at Sophia U. is interviewing another group of college students from Fukushima University, old high school friends now separated by radiation. The result is alarmingly direct, intimate interviews. (Besides being gifted interviewers, they are also of the same age, which seems to be important.) In one interview, a Fukushima college student addressed her own fears in a way that frightened my students. She resents those who call it the “Fukushima” disaster, marking everyone who lives in the prefecture. And yet, she also called herself contaminated, using the work kegare, a Shinto term meaning unclean, impure, defiled. She wondered, seemingly more to herself than to the interviewers, if she would ever marry or have children, knowing that this is how she will be thought of, knowing this is how she thinks about herself. Then she snapped out of it to explain the many active and constructive programs and events that the young people in her college relief and support club were doing, how they were looking ahead (mae muki) to a fresh start to the next year.

Not knowing how far to push this religious connection, my understanding is that usually kegare is the result of natural occurring contamination, unlike tsumi, which is more the result of human transgression. If radiation were considered tsumi would there be some transgressive agent who might be held responsible (Tepco)? In either case, is purification possible? If so, does it coincide with the on-going decontamination procedures? In any case, radiation is not just science nor just ritual pollution, but because now it involves official government designation and the transfer of funds (or not), these labels have consequences beyond the reports of random discrimination that occurred almost as soon as people began to evacuate. By linking contamination to official nomenclature and funding schemes, marks of contamination might last far longer than the excessive levels of radiation.


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

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REFERENCED ARTICLE

Towns avoid govt help on decontamination
Keigo Sakai and Tomoko Numajiri / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writers
Yomiuri Shimbun Nov. 28, 2011
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T111127003736.htm

MAEBASHI–Municipalities contaminated with radiation as a result of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are concerned that the central government’s plan to designate municipalities for which it will shoulder the cost of decontamination will stigmatize those communities, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

As early as mid-December, the government plans to begin designating municipalities that will be subject to intensive investigation of their contamination, which is a precondition for the government paying for decontamination in place of the municipalities.

Municipalities with areas found to have a certain level of radiation will be so designated. The aim of the plan is to promote the thorough cleanup of contaminated cities, towns and villages, including those outside Fukushima Prefecture.

However, many local governments are reluctant to seek such designation, fearing it may give the false impression that the entire municipality is contaminated.

Based on an aerial study of radiation conducted by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry in mid-September, municipalities in Tokyo and Miyagi, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama and Chiba prefectures were candidates for the government designation.

The aerial study examined radiation in the atmosphere one meter above the ground. Municipalities with areas where the study detected at least 0.23 microsieverts of radiation were listed as candidates. About 11,600 square kilometers of land, equivalent to the size of Akita Prefecture, reached that level, the ministry said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun has asked municipalities in the prefectures–excluding Fukushima Prefecture–whether they would seek the government designation as municipalities subject to intensive investigation of radiation contamination. Fifty-eight of the cities, towns and villages that responded to the survey said they would seek the designation.

Almost all the municipalities in Gunma and Ibaraki prefectures had areas where radiation in excess of the government standard was detected. However, only 10 municipalities in Gunma Prefecture and 19 in Ibaraki Prefecture said they would seek the designation.

The figures represent only about 30 percent of the municipalities in Gunma Prefecture and about 40 percent of those in Ibaraki Prefecture.

The Maebashi municipal government said it would not request the designation.

In late August, radioactive cesium exceeding the government’s provisional regulatory limit was detected in smelt caught at Lake Onuma, located on the summit of Mt. Akagi in northern Maebashi. The opening of the lake’s fishing season for smelt has been postponed.

Usually, the lake would be crowded with anglers at this time of year, but few people are visiting this season.

However, in most of Maebashi, excluding mountainous regions, the radiation detected in the September study was below the regulatory limit.

“If the government designates our city [as subject to intensive investigation of radiation contamination], the entire city will be seen as contaminated. We decided to avoid such a risk,” a senior municipal government official said.

The Maebashi government wants to prevent the city’s tourism and agriculture from being damaged further, the official added.

Daigomachi in Ibaraki Prefecture, a city adjacent to Fukushima Prefecture, said the city has also refrained from filing for the designation. Usually about 700,000 people visit Fukuroda Falls, the city’s main tourist destination, every year, but the number has dropped to half since the nuclear crisis began, the town said.

“If our town receives the designation, it may deliver a further blow to our image, already damaged by radiation fears,” an official of the town’s general affairs department said.

In recent months, citizens in the Tokatsu region of northwest Chiba Prefecture have held protests demanding local governments immediately deal with areas where relatively high levels of radiation were detected. All six cities in the region, including Kashiwa, said they would file requests for the government designation. The Kashiwa municipal government said it had already spent about 180 million yen on decontamination.

“People are loudly calling for decontamination. We hope that the designation will eventually lower the cost of decontamination,” an official of the municipal government’s office for measures against radiation said.

Observers have said one of the reasons the six cities decided to request the designation was their low dependence on agriculture and other primary industries that are vulnerable to fears of radiation.

Kobe University Prof. Tomoya Yamauchi, an expert on radiation metrology, said: “It will be a problem if decontamination activities stall due to local governments’ fears of stigmatization. To prevent misunderstanding of radiation, the government needs to do more to disseminate correct information.”

ENDS

Japan Times: More NPA behavioral oddities re alleged murders of Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases

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Hi Blog.  Speaking of odd Japanese police behavior towards NJ in criminal cases:  We’ve talked about the Scott Kang and Matthew Lacey Cases here on Debito.org before.  Fortunately, these cases have gathered traction thanks to caring family members, and tenacious reporters who don’t accept the NPA’s line that both of these deaths of NJ were mere accidents (while refusing to cooperate promptly and clearly on autopsy reports).  I have argued before that Japanese justice operates on a different (and subordinate) track for NJ victims of Japanese crime (i.e., Japanese perps get off the hook, foreign perps get thrown the book).  These articles in the Japan Times help to fortify that case (not to mention further illustrate how the USG’s missions abroad are woefully inadequate in providing service and protections to their own citizens).  Arudou Debito

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

Japan Times, Tuesday, Sep. 6, 2011
THE ZEIT GIST
Kang family takes fight for justice to Tokyo (excerpt)
Father of young Korean-American who died in murky circumstances in Kabuki-cho feels let down by both the police and U.S. Embassy
By SIMON SCOTT
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110906zg.html, courtesy of the author

…Sung Won, the father of Hoon “Scott” Kang, the Korean-American tourist who died in mysterious circumstances in Shinjuku last year, arrived in Tokyo this week to continue his fight to seek justice for his son…

The Kang family is upset by the news that the official investigation into their son’s death has now been closed after the police concluded his death was accidental.

“I feel very angry and heartbroken,” says Scott’s father.

The Kangs and their supporters strongly reject the police finding of accidental death and want to see the case re-opened. They are also deeply unhappy with the way the Japanese police carried out the investigation and their failure to inform the family when they closed the case.

“Not only did they not tell my family, but we heard the news five months late. I was furious,” Kang says.

Nineteen-year-old Scott Kang was found lying unconscious in a pool of his own blood in the early hours of Aug. 26, 2010, in the sixth-floor stairwell of Collins Building 15, an eight-story high-rise of small hostess bars and clubs located near Shinjuku City Hall in Kabuki-cho. He remained in a coma for five days before dying of his injuries, his mother by his side, at the Kokuritsu Kokusai Iryo Kenkyu Center in Shinjuku.

The police investigation into his death was officially closed on Feb. 22, but the family was not informed of the fact until July — five months later…

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police say they notified the consular section of the American Embassy in Tokyo that the investigation had been closed on Feb. 22, and thought the information would be passed on to the Kang family.

But according to Mr. Kang, he received no communication from the U.S. authorities about the investigation’s closure until early July when an officer from the U.S. State Department telephoned.

Kang says that the failure of the embassy to pass on such critical information in a timely fashion shows the embassy is not taking the case seriously. “I feel the U.S. Embassy acted as if Scott was not a U.S. citizen.”…

The Kang family don’t just believe the police’s decision to close the investigation into Scott’s death was premature; they also think the police are withholding critical evidence from them that could prove Scott’s death was not accidental. One such piece of evidence is the autopsy report.

When Mr. Kang and Wozniak met with the Shinjuku police in October they requested a copy of the autopsy report into Scott’s death, but the police refused…

The refusal by police to give the next-of-kin of a deceased person a copy of the autopsy is common in Japan, but it is an approach that has attracted increasing criticism over the years. No one is more familiar with the difficulty of getting the police to release an autopsy than 50-year-old U.S. citizen and Japan resident Charles Lacey.

Lacey’s younger brother, Matthew Lacey, tragically died in Fukuoka in 2004 in suspicious circumstances. On Aug. 17 of that year, while Charles was staying in New York, he got a call from the Fukuoka Police informing him that they had found his brother’s body at the apartment where he lived and that he had died from dehydration and diarrhea…

Despite the unusual circumstances of his brother’s death, Lacey says the police initially had no plans to perform an autopsy, and it was only at his own behest that they reluctantly agreed to carry one out.

After Charles signed the necessary papers, an autopsy was performed on Aug. 19, two days after he was told of his brother’s death, at Kyushu University Hospital. Later the police told Charles that the autopsy showed a 20-cm fracture on his brother’s skull, and that based on this, their determination of cause of death had changed from death by sickness to an accident…

Lacey added that in his home country, it is standard procedure for a copy of the autopsy to be given to the next-of-kin of a deceased person when requested. In Japan, as Lacey discovered, things are not so simple, and it took him almost three years to get a copy of the report.

Full article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110906zg.html

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

Earlier article by the same author:

The Japan Times Tuesday, May 31, 2011
THE ZEIT GIST
Family slams stalled probe into Kabuki-cho death
Questions linger nine months after teenage American tourist was found unconscious in a Shinjuku stairwell
By SIMON SCOTT, courtesy of the author

Nine months after their only son, Hoon “Scott” Kang, a Korean-American tourist, died from severe head injuries sustained in the stairwell of a building in Kabuki-cho, his family and friends are still no closer to understanding how he died.

Although the Shinjuku police have officially opened an investigation into Scott’s death, the family has been told only that the investigation is “not complete.”

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20110531zg.html

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

Earlier article on Matthew Lacey Case, by Eric Johnston:

The Japan Times, Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2007
BUNGLED POLICE PROBE; UNCOOPERATIVE PROSECUTORS
U.S. man on quest to find cause of brother’s death (excerpt)
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer, courtesy of the author
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20070206f2.html

OSAKA — Charles Lacey’s brother died mysteriously 2 1/2 years ago in Fukuoka and he’s still trying to learn the cause.

He believes police bungled the investigation, wrongly concluded the death was due to an accident and are, like prosecutors, purposely withholding key information that could suggest foul play…

At the time, the family was told by police the preliminary cause of death was thought to be severe diarrhea and dehydration. Feces stains had been found on the toilet seat and the carpet, and Matt, who suffered from irritable bowel syndrome, had recently received a prescription to treat diarrhea. Robbery did not appear to be a motive, as Japanese and U.S. currency worth nearly $1,000 was found in plain view.

But once the Lacey brothers arrived in Fukuoka, the cops changed their story. The autopsy had revealed a 20-cm crack in Matt’s skull, and “cerebral hemorrhage” was now listed as the cause of death.

The English translation of the postmortem, which was prepared by Fukuoka police and not by the doctor who performed the exam, attributed the death to an “unknown external cause” and “it is suspected the subject was hit on the head.”

To the family’s surprise, foul play was ruled out.

“We were told by police that Matt must have fallen down in the kitchen, striking his head, and that the fall resulted in the skull fracture, despite the fact there were no signs in the kitchen of a fall,” Lacey said. “Our family felt something was wrong and that the police weren’t doing their job. There were too many unanswered questions to believe this was just an accident, as the police wanted us to believe.”…

Rest of the article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20070206f2.html
ENDS

Reuters on Olympus Japan corruption issue: It takes a NJ whistleblowing CEO to uncover it, yet he gets sacked for “cultural reasons”

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Hi Blog. This is still a growing issue, and there’s an excellent Reuters article below to hang this blog post on.

Consider the case of Michael Woodford, a Brit hired more than thirty years ago by Japanese firm Olympus, with the superhuman tenacity to work his way up to the post of CEO (not hired, as are many of the famous NJ executives in Japanese companies, as an international prestige appointment). The presumption is that his appointment was because Mr Woodford would be different — there are plenty of Japanese corporate drones who would have gladly not rocked the boat for a quiet life and comfortable salary. But when he actually does something different, such as uncover and question possible corporate malfeasance, he gets fired because “his style of management was incompatible with traditional Japanese practices“.

This of course, as further investigations finally gather traction, calls into practice the cleanliness of those traditional Japanese corporate practices. And it looks like the only way to get them investigated properly in Japan is to take the issue to overseas regulators (this is, after all, an international company, if only in the sense that it has international holdings, but now beholden to international standards). Not to mention the Japanese media (which, as the article alludes to below, is once again asleep at its watchdog position).  None of this is surprising to the Old Japan Hands, especially those let anywhere close to Japanese corporate boardrooms, who see this nest feathering as a normal, nay, an obvious part of Japanese corporate culture the higher and richer you go.

But woe betide the NJ whistleblower — perpetually in a vulnerable position for being of the wrong race and for not doing what he’s told like a good little gaijin. After all, there’s peer pressure behind membership in “Team Japan”, and as soon as it’s convenient, the race/culture card gets pulled by the crooks to excuse themselves. I’m just glad Mr. Woodford had the guts to do what he did. I doubt it’ll result in a system-wide cleanup (the rot is too systemic and entrenched in corporatist Japan, and few watch the watchers). But you gotta start somewhere, since exposure of corruption must be seen to be becoming commonplace in post-Fukushima Japan. Bravo Mr. Woodford, and expose away. Arudou Debito

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TECHNOLOGY
Analysis: Japan, slowly, waking up to the mess at Olympus
Reuters, Wed, Oct 26 2011, courtesy of CB and The Club
Courtesy http://mobile.reuters.com/article/technologyNews/idUSTRE79P0VJ20111026

By Linda Sieg

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japanese media interest has been muted, regulators are mostly mum and many politicians seem unaware anything is amiss.

A scandal over questionable deals at Japan’s Olympus Corp has so far generated little domestic heat in a country where critics say corporate governance is lax, but signs are emerging that the wall of indifference might crack.

Olympus fired its British chief executive Michael Woodford on October 14, charging that he had failed to understand the 92-year-old firm’s management style and Japanese culture.

Woodford — who joined the company in 1980 — says he was sacked for questioning a massive advisory fee paid in a 2008 takeover as well as other deals.

“The implications for investor confidence in corporate governance in Japan are pretty severe,” said Jamie Allen, secretary general of the Hong Kong-based Asian Corporate Governance Association.

“What would be positive is if Olympus fronted up … and the regulators actually took some tough action. I think regulators can turn it around. Whether they will is another matter.”

A niche Japanese business monthly magazine broke the story of possible misdeeds at Olympus, a maker of cameras and medical equipment, but mainstream media have been slow to take it up even after Woodford was fired.

Explanations of the initial laid-back response range from cozy ties between media and corporate Japan, a tendency to await official leaks rather than dig and even fears that yakuza crime syndicates are somehow involved.

Signals that the tide might change, however, have begun to trickle out, following a pattern seen in the past when a domestic magazine unearths dubious deeds, foreign media pick up the tale and mainstream Japanese media finally jump in.

Asahi TV and the Nikkei Business magazine ran interviews with Woodford on Wednesday, and the mass circulation Mainichi newspaper, noting the many puzzling aspects to the case, called on Olympus to clarify the facts while urging regulators to take strict steps.

“This is a situation that is likely to hurt the image of Japanese firms,” the paper said, noting the high level of interest among foreign media. That followed a similar editorial in the Nikkei business daily the day before.

“MEASURED” REGULATORY RESPONSE

What action authorities take will be key to whether investors’ broader concerns are soothed.

“Companies make mistakes and corruption occurs. It’s the response that matters,” said Pelham Smithers, managing director of Pelham Smithers Associates in London.

“So far the response has been measured … there is nothing wrong with taking time for a conclusion to be reached,” Smithers said. But he added: “If the details of this continue to be covered up so that investors cannot make a rational decision about investing in Japanese companies, then we have a problem.”

The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) said on Monday it was urging Olympus on a daily basis to disclose more information and Financial Services Minister Shozaburo Jimi has said the watchdog would do its duty. In a heads-up to investors, the TSE said on Wednesday it had begun publishing short-selling data.

Woodford has written to Japan’s Securities and Exchange Surveillance Commission (SESC) asking it to look into the matter. The SESC — like Britain’s Serious Fraud Office which the ex-CEO has also approached — has not commented publicly.

But two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday the SESC was looking into past Olympus M&A deals, focusing on whether Olympus made proper financial disclosures about them.

Woodford said on Tuesday he was in touch with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is probing the advisory fee, most of which went to an obscure Cayman Islands firm.

Experts said more was doubtless afoot in Japan than met the eye. “I expect that authorities internationally will coordinate,” said Shin Ushijima, a prosecutor-turned-lawyer.

“I don’t mean that something illegal must have been done, but the authorities will be interested in finding out … Authorities including the SESC must definitely be interested. It is impossible that they are not.”

GOVERNANCE GAPS

The Olympus scandal could re-ignite debate on what critics say is a deep-seated weakness of Japanese management — a lack of strong independent oversight of boards that risks inefficient use of capital and gives shareholders’ rights short shrift.

“You don’t have to have fraud to have a corporate governance problem. The bigger problem is the lack of transparency on how the board is making decisions,” Allen said.

“The lack of outside independent directors is simply a symptom of the underlying issue that companies are run by a tight group of people who have been in the company for decades.”

That mind-set was also a factor behind a failure by Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) to take steps to prevent disaster at its tsunami-hit Fukushima atomic power plant in March.

A review of company and regulatory records has shown that the utility as well as the government repeatedly played down the danger and ignored warnings.

“The public ought to be screaming out loud that this (Fukushima) is a governance problem. It was a failure of oversight,” said Nicholas Benes, representative director of the Board of Director Training Institute of Japan.

Despite some improvements over the past decade, including a requirement by the TSE from this year that all companies have at least one independent director or auditor, many companies still appear unconvinced of the need for strong outside oversight.

“Companies themselves have been dragged into it. They haven’t bought into it,” said Darrel Whitten, managing director at Investor Networks Inc, an investor relations consultancy.

“The playing field has shifted … but corporations haven’t been able to keep up with the shifts.

Japanese institutional investors have long been criticized for not pressing management, although here too change is under way as more institutions seek good returns rather than simply buying shares to cement strategic business ties.

Nippon Life, Japan’s largest private insurer and Olympus’s biggest shareholder, last week joined foreign investors in calling for answers from Olympus, prompting the firm to announce it would set up an independent panel to investigate.

But many domestic institutions still tend toward silence on matters of corporate governance.

“Japanese institutional investors are not standing up and asking vocally for changes because in many cases they are conflicted,” Benes said. “They come from a background of cross-shareholding and it’s tied to their DNA not to rock the boat.”

DISTRACTED POLITICIANS

In some ways, corporate governance would appear a tailor-made topic for the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, which had pledged to take steps to foster better governance in its platform ahead of the 2009 election that vaulted it to power.

Senior Democratic lawmaker Tsutomu Okubo sounded the alarm on Tuesday, urging Olympus to provide an explanation and regulators to probe the affair to prevent investors from losing confidence in the company and corporate Japan.

“There’s a possibility that Japanese companies will be perceived as lacking corporate governance, so to prevent that from happening we need to re-examine our systems,” Okubo, the Democratic Party’s deputy policy chief, told Reuters.

But efforts by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office last month, to repair ties with the main business lobby Keidanren, which frayed under his predecessor Naoto Kan, could work against any efforts to put fire into the governance debate.

“The attempt to reconcile with Keidanren puts the DPJ on the wrong footing when they deal with issues like this,” said Sophia University political science professor Koichi Nakano.

“They don’t want to come across as anti-business unless public opinion, led by media, pushes in that direction.”

With politicians distracted by other policy problems including whether to join talks on a U.S.-led free trade initiative, how to combat a strong yen that is hurting exports and the need to tackle social security and tax reforms, they may not have much scope to take on another headache now.

“I don’t see this spreading as an issue for now,” said one political source. “Of course, that could change if Japanese TV broadcasters take up the case.”

ENDS

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

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

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

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

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

“Peaceful Rally Ended with Dozens in Handcuffs”

Time: 2011 Sep 29 15:00 – 16:00
Summary:
PRESS CONFERENCE
Karin Amamiya , Author
Kojin Karatani, Philosopher
Eiji Oguma, Keio University Assistant Professor
Satoshi Ukai , Hitotsubashi University Professor
Courtesy http://www.fccj.or.jp/node/6921
Language:
The speech and Q & A will be in Japanese with English interpretation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Begin forwarded message:

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

H-Japan
September 26, 2011

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

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

Here is a video that captures the scene and some of the speakers, who
included Oe Kenzaburo, Yamamoto Taro, Sakamoto Ryuichi, and a moving Mutou
Ruiko (if you watch until the end of the clip).
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5Q5cRWpQaU
And a short English clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OzT-t4qguYA
And a collection of pictures from a photo journalist:
http://blog.uchujin.co.uk/2011/09/anti-nuclear-protest-tokyo-19th-september-2011/

Here is an English article
http://old.news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110919/ap_on_re_as/as_japan_anti_nuclear_protest
(Notice how Yahoo categorizes this: as “old news” [reproduced below])

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

The discourse that has long been in the alternative media and activist
movements is now increasingly in the mainstream media and popular
understandings, and can seen everywhere: de-politicization. This story, as
rendered in both the mainstream press and in activist statements, town
meetings and causal conversation, begins with the a political failure–of
the Japanese government to provide reliable information and support. The
government’s political failure leads to ‘non-political’ alternatives taken
by ‘non-political’ citizens.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y6gCDG-BE2M&feature=player_embedded

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

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

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

In the spring and early summer, when mothers marched against the power
plants, it got large press, for example:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?mode=getarticle&file=nn20110709f2.html
And when mothers speak out today, their voices are far more valued than
those precarious part-time workers who we let clean up the mess in the power
plants. These woman’s voices are much more often amplified in our press
coverage than the other population in Japan’s core constituency at risk:
farmers. (Is it that we imagine the mothers to be our middle-class futures
while the farmers to be a dying hold-over from an agrarian past? Good link
on Cows and Farmers protesting in Tokyo here:
http://www.culanth.org/?q=node/417)

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

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

————————-End H-Japan Message————————

Thousands march against nuclear power in Tokyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENDS

Patrick McPike on USG’s underestimated numbers re Japan’s abducted children (only about 2.6% of J kids see both parents after divorce), plus online petition to Obama Admin

mytest

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

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

Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with the current thread on Child Abductions in Japan, here is an argument made by Patrick McPike that the US State Department is grossly underestimating the numbers of children abducted from one parent following separation and/or divorce in Japan.  Read on.  The most staggering statistic is, “only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation” with their second parent.  That’s unhealthy for a society as a whole, to say the least.  Arudou Debito

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

Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – part 1.

Posted on September 1, 2011 by pmcpike

(excerpt)

Unfortunately, child abduction in Japan is a major epidemic. Equally unfortunate is the fact that so few people are aware if it. Part of the reason for this could be the fact that the “official numbers” reported by the US Department of State are so wrong – and they know it.

According to the US Department of State [DoS], the current number of cases are as follows:

  • Since  1994, the Office of Children’s Issues has opened  230 cases involving 321 children abducted to or wrongfully retained in Japan.
  • As of January 7, 2011, the Office of Children’s Issues has  100 active cases involving 140 children.
  • The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo reports an additional 31 cases in which both parents and the child(ren) reside  in Japan but one parent has been denied access to the child(ren).

The DoS further acknowledges on their website that, “To date, the Office of Children’s Issues does not have a record of any cases resolved through a favorable Japanese court order or through the assistance of the Japanese government.”

So question number 1 that arises: What is behind the missing 130 cases?

Wait, did you catch that?  DoS has admitted to opening 230 cases.  Has acknowledged that Japan has never returned any children.  But somehow only has 100 active cases.  We will get back to this…

Another interesting “official number” is 31.  The number of cases “acknowledged” by the Department of State, where the foreign parent is being denied access to their child after separation or divorce has occurred within Japan.  This number, frankly, is just completely shameful.

Based on research done by both Law Professors in Japan and by Left-Behind Parents, we know that these cases number into the thousands.

In the english translation (Translation by Matthew J. McCauley of University of Washington’s Law School) of a paper written by Professor Tanase in 2009  (who has also been used as a consultant by DoS) he states, using statistics provided by various Japanese sources, that:

“ Over 251,000 married couples separated in 2008, and if this number is divided by the 726,000 marriages in the same year, roughly one out of every 2.9 marriages will end in divorce. Out of all divorcing couples, 144,000 have children, equaling about 245,000 children in all. Seeing as roughly 1.09 million children were born this year, about one out of every 4.5 children will experience divorce before reaching adulthood. Even with the increase in visitation awards, only about 2.6% of the 245,000 children affected by divorce [in Japan] will be allowed visitation. “

To simplify it:  Out of 245,000 children who’s parent’s are divorced in Japan ONLYabout 6300 children will be allowed to maintain some level of contact with their “non-custodial parent” (We’ll get back to how custody is determined).  The remaining 238,700 children have one parent ceremoniously cut completely and suddenly from their life – often being punished, either emotionally or physically, by the “custodial parent” if they ask to continue to see the removed parent.

In addition, based on statistics provided by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (and gathered by Left-Behind Parent: John Gomez):

  • From 1992 to 2009, there have been 7,449 divorces between an American and a Japanese in Japan.
  • Of those Americans, 6,208 were men, and 1,241 were women.
  • According to the statistics, there is, on average, one child per divorce in Japan

So when you take 7,449 divorces (each with an average of 1 child based on the above statistics) and use Professor Tanase’s 2.6% estimate (which should be expected to be higher than would actually apply to foreign parents), that leaves you with approximately 7,255 children of US citizens (just counting data up to 2009) that are being denied access to their US parent.

On top of that there are at least four “X-factors”:…

Read the rest of the site at:

http://letterstomysons.com/2011/09/01/child-abduction-in-japan-the-real-numbers-part-1/

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

From: Patrick McPike

Subject: White House Petition Regarding Japan and International Child Abduction
Date: September 22, 2011

I just started a petition on the White House Petitions site, We the People.
Will you sign it? http://wh.gov/gKV And then share it?

WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:

PUBLICLY press Japan for the return of Abducted US Children and provide transparent dialogs with Japan on this issue.

Hundreds, if not thousands (Child Abduction in Japan… The REAL Numbers – http://bit.ly/pteCAe ), of US Citizen Children have been abducted to, or retained in, the country of Japan.

Japan has never returned a single child, has no legal concept of “joint-custody”, no enforcement of visitation, no requirement for rules of evidence on claims of DV.

The US Congress, in HR1326, has publicly condemned Japan and demanded the immediate return of this children.

However, the Executive Branch has only held back-room discussions. Additionally, there are persuasive claims the DoS is significantly downplaying the number of actual cases.

There needs to be complete transparency into this process, and public condemnation of Japan. These are our country’s children. We the people deserve to know if they are being traded for bases or other government goals.

Go to: http://wh.gov/gKV

ENDS

BAChome.org: President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction Issue with Japan’s PM Noda, demands preexisting abduction cases be included

mytest

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

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

Hi Blog.  Got this last night from Paul Toland at BAChome.org.  Very proud of you all.  You’ve turned individual feelings of pain and powerlessness into a social movement, with negotiations at the highest echelons of international relations.  Well done!  Arudou Debito

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

From: Paul Toland
Subject: Historic Day – President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction
To: crc-japan@yahoogroups.com
Date: Thursday, September 22, 2011, 1:48 PM

Hello all,

Yesterday was an historic day. For the first time ever, the Japan Child Abduction issue reached the highest levels of our government. President Obama addressed the issue, to include both the Hague Convention and resolution of existing cases, in his meeting with Prime Minister Noda in New York yesterday.

This you tube link will take you directly to the remarks made by Assistant Secretary Campbell in the State Department briefing regarding the President’s meeting http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UsAI3C_1zOY

For those who cannot view the link, the exact statement is here:

AS Campbell: “The President also very strongly affirmed the Japanese decision to enter into The Hague Convention – asked that this – on Child Abduction – asked that these steps be taken clearly and that the necessary implementing legislation would be addressed. He also indicated that while that was an important milestone for Japan, that – he also asked the Japanese prime minister and the government to focus on the preexisting cases, the cases that have come before. The prime minister indicated that very clearly, he knew about the number of cases. He mentioned 123. He said that he would take special care to focus on these particular issues as we – as Japan also works to implement the joining of The Hague Convention, which the United States appreciates greatly.”

Many thanks to ALL who have worked this issue for the past 15 years to get us to this point. You all contributed in some way. From Walter and Brian, who co-founded CRC 15 years ago, to all who continue that work today.

Attached is a letter from BAC Home to the President, delivered last week to the White House on behalf of BAC Home by House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer.

Additionally, I have attached a letter sent to the President by Congressman Chris Smith asking that the President address the issue. We all owe a great deal of thanks to Congressman Smith, and the members of BAC Home wish to personally thank him for referring to the BAC Home organization in his letter to the President.

Letters as PDFs:

Mr President (BAChome)_2011_09_15

Pres Obama (Congressman Smith) Japan

 

JPG versions:

It is now our duty and obligation to keep this issue at this high level, and push for further public discussion of this issue by our government officials, until we are reunited with our children.

Sincerely, Paul Toland
BAChome.org, P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org

ENDS

BAChome.org: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)

mytest

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

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

Hi Blog. Today’s entry is regards to the Mary Lake Case, which was covered on Debito.org some weeks ago, and caused some controversy (including trolling emails) regarding differing accounts of treatment of a US citizen minor who unsuccessfully asked for protection and sanctuary from US Consulate Osaka.  Here is a followup series of emails between concerned Left-Behind Parents at BAChome.org and the US State Department. Reproduced with permission. Arudou Debito

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@…]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 8:04 AM
To: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Jacobs, Janice L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Two days ago, a kidnapped child in one of the most high-profile Japan abduction cases (Mary Victoria Lake) showed up at a US Consulate in Japan asking to be rescued and sent home to her lawful parent in the United States. The consuate denied her request and sent her back to her kidnapper. This action was beyond incompetent. It was reprehensible, disgraceful,disgusting,and un-American.

This is the third time State has failed this parent. Twice previously, State illegally issued passports for his daughter without obtaining the father’s signature, even after it had been established that her father was the lawful parent and the mother was a wanted kidnapper.

I am at a loss for words. I can only say that it is very clearly apparent now to all parents victimized by the crime of parental child abduction that the State Department clearly places relations with foreign nations over the safety, well-being and lives of American citizen children. Absolutely sickening.

Paul Toland
Commander, US Navy
Only living parent of Erika Toland, Abducted to Japan 2003.

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

From: Jacobs, Janice L
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate
To: “Paul Toland” Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , “Payne, Beth A” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S”
Date: Friday, August 26, 2011, 8:12 AM

Dear Commander Toland:
We have received your e-mail regarding the Lake case. The information you are reporting regarding recent events at Consulate Osaka is factually incorrect. While we cannot provide details to you due to statutory requirements in the Privacy Act, we have been in contact with the child’s father, who is aware of what actually transpired. I can assure you that U.S. Consulates in Japan, along with all other consular facilities around the world, stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from parental custody and do so on a regular basis.
Sincerely,
Janice L. Jacobs
Assistant Secretary
Bureau of Consular Affairs
SBU
This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Friday, August 26, 2011 1:02 PM
To: Jacobs, Janice L
Cc: Campbell, Kurt M; Loi, James L; Kennedy, Patrick F; Burns, William J; Steinberg, James B; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Posner, Michael H; Busby, Scott W; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; MacLeod, Margaret G; Payne, Beth A; vvause@state.gov; Eye, Stefanie B; Jacobs, Susan S
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate

Assistant Secretary Jacobs, My information comes from the father. I have emails from him and have spoken to him. I would tend to believe his story. While I was not actually at the Consulate, I tend to believe what William is telling me, because he has not lied to me before.

Here is the email from Mr. Lake:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning. Ms Vause said that the Osaka consulate had tried to call me. They called my land line instead of my cell. They didn’t leave a message because I only had a generic message on the machine and they were worried about so called privacy issues. So they sent Mary home. They also failed to send me an email.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.

Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.

Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.

Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

ENDS

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

From: Payne, Beth A Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” , CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM
Cc: “Campbell, Kurt M” , “Loi, James L” , “Kennedy, Patrick F” , “Burns, William J” , “Steinberg, James B” , spower@nss.eop.gov, sduncan@nss.eop.gov, “Posner, Michael H” , “Busby, Scott W” , cpowell@nss.eop.gov, “MacLeod, Margaret G” , vvause@state.gov, “Eye, Stefanie B” , “Jacobs, Susan S” , “Jacobs, Janice L” , Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov, bac-home@googlegroups.com, Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov, brianna.keilar@cnn.com, RoosJV@state.gov, Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com, Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov, JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us, dbergsan@gmail.com
Date: Thursday, September 1, 2011, 5:25 AM

Dear Mr. Lake and Cdr. Toland:

Thank you for your emails of August 26 regarding your concerns about Mary Lake and the Department of State’s response to her request for assistance last week in Osaka. While our policy is to discuss case-specific questions and concerns only with the parent and his or her designated representatives, Mr. Lake’s most recent Privacy Act Waiver allows us to speak about his case with other people and we can, therefore, respond simultaneously to your inquiries in order to clarify the status of this case. We regret that Mr. Lake has misunderstood many of the facts concerning the events of last week, and we hope this email helps to clarify what took place, and reassures you both that consular staff in Osaka and in the Office of Children’s Issues responded to Mary’s requests and offered to provide her the assistance she initially requested.

I reiterate that the Consular Officer in charge of American Services in Osaka and the Office of Children’s Issues together report a very different version of what happened. I have examined the steps and action taken since Mary first contacted the Consulate, and I can confirm that all action was proper, thorough, and responsive.

To ensure that I address all of your stated concerns, I am responding below with interlinear comments to the email that Mr. Lake wrote ([formatted in bold and] in italics) and which Cdr. Toland forwarded to me on August 26:

Wednesday Morning I got a email from Virginia Vause my newest case worker (#7 so far.) She told me that Mary had showed up at consulate and asked to be sent home. She also told me that Mary had asked them to put her up in a hotel. They refused. They apparently called my ex and got some sort of agreement that Mary could spend the night with her and then return to the consulate the next morning.

Mary called the Consulate at 5:00 p.m. on August 24 and requested that a consular officer contact her father to ask him to either fly her home or pay for long-term hotel accommodations in Japan. She did not visit the consulate. A consular officer in Osaka spoke with Mary at length and confirmed that she felt safe with her mother for the evening, that she was not in danger, and that she did not wish to leave her mother’s house that evening. Mary told the consular officer she would call again in the morning. The Consulate immediately notified the Office of Children’s Issues and began coordinating travel arrangements for the next day. The next morning, Mary called the consulate to report she would remain in Japan with her mother for the time being.

I had several calls from Ms Vause and State that day. I was upset about Mary being sent home. I was worried that her mother had gotten physical with her again and that she might run away. I mean they must have some sort of accommodations at these places. Ms Vause informed me that the consulate could not get Mary a room because she was a minor. She also stated that the State department could not legally take custody of Mary without my written permission and that if they had taken Mary in someone from the consulate would have to be with her at all times. Her voice gave me the impression that this would have been an outrageous imposition to the consulate staff. According to her this is the law regarding these situations. At no time during the 4 plus years I have had a case with OCI has anyone, including the 7 different case workers I have had, ever told me that I need to give them written permission to take custody of my daughter.

As soon as Ms. Vause in the Office of Children’s Issues received word from the Consulate that Mary was trying to reach her father, she called Mr. Lake and relayed Mary’s message. At that point, Mr. Lake stated that he could not pay for her airline ticket and that he would soon depart the country for a six-week work assignment. In her phone call with Mr. Lake, Ms. Vause was focused on the primary objectives of passing Mary’s message, determining if someone would be available to receive her in Florida, and determining if Mr. Lake could purchase her ticket home. The question of hotel lodging and/or refuge was not her focus because Mary did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening. We are very concerned with Mary’s well-being and if there had been any indication that Mary’s welfare was in jeopardy, I assure you both that the Consulate would have taken immediate action to protect her. When necessary, consular officials will allow U.S. Citizen children in need of protection to stay at our facilities until appropriate lodging can be arranged.

In the afternoon the cost of the ticket became an issue. Apparently NCMEC is out of money for tickets. Then there was an issue raised by the consulate in Osaka, that the cost of a one way ticket was more than the guidelines allowed them to spend and that they couldn’t purchase a ticket without permission of Washington.
Note 1, I was asked to write a form letter saying that I was unable to afford the cost of the tickets. That is true. I have been unemployed since early June.
Note 2, The consulate was looking at the cost of a one way ticket. Approximately $3500. That is what their guidelines dictate and the maximum they could spend is $3000. However the cost of a roundtrip ticket is $2500.
Note 3, there was never any discussion about sharing the cost. It was over there guidelines so no ticket.

Upon learning that Mr. Lake was unable to pay for his daughter’s travel home, both Consulate and Children’s Issues officers began searching for alternate funding sources, including funding from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and a possible repatriation loan. While we were moving forward on this request in order to facilitate travel that day, Mary called the Consulate and reported that she wished to remain in Japan with her mother for the time being. Ms. Vause relayed this message to Mr. Lake immediately and continued to discuss funding options and procedures in case Mary did decide that she wished to travel to Florida.

Please allow me to clarify how the repatriation loan program works. The cost of a child’s travel to the United States, even in abduction cases, is the responsibility of the parent. In the event that a parent cannot cover the cost of the airline ticket, the U.S. government is able to provide a repatriation loan through a program that includes certain criteria that must be met in order to demonstrate need and to ensure eventual repayment. I regret that a repatriation loan cannot be set up in advance. Ms. Vause suggested to Mr. Lake, after Mary decided not to travel, that she’d check in after a week, and that Mr. Lake proceed with the paperwork required for a repatriation loan so that it could be quickly issued if Mary changes her mind again, thus enabling us to act very quickly to provide a plane ticket. Please let me emphasize that a repatriation loan is intended to provide emergency financial assistance when no other funds are available. We did consider Mary’s desire to return home to be an emergency and were prepared to assist Mr. Lake with obtaining such funds. We would also be happy to facilitate a transfer of funds if Mr. Lake is able to cover the costs of a plane ticket.

Now all this occurred between 0830 am and 900pm Wednesday. There were other calls to and from NCMEC. I got the Pensacola Police involved. Sgt Donohoe PPD is a wonderful man that alerted NCMEC and other law enforcement agencies. 845 pm Ms Vause called and said that Mary had not shown up at the consulate but had called and asked for a week to think about coming back. There was also the issue of the cost of the tickets which I could not afford. She suggested that I contact friends and relatives to see if I could round up the money for a ticket.

Today Thursday she called to talk to me about a repatriation loan. That I would have to submit these forms to State and that once they were processed they would be on file and that if Mary EVER DID THIS AGAIN then the forms would be in my file and the ticket could be bought with no problem. She told me that it would take a week or more to process this. She did mention that I should keep my receipts and that there was a chance NCMEC would reimburse me at a later date.

We feel we must reiterate at this point the fact that a repatriation loan was offered, and would have been available if Mr. Lake had been unable to pay for Mary’s return flight home.

This is just another example of how the State department has mishandled my case.

While we regret that Mr. Lake does not feel that he has been well-served by the Department of State, the U.S. Consulate in Osaka and Children’s Issues continue to have Mary’s well-being at the top of our priorities. At this point, the Consulate in Osaka strongly wishes to facilitate a phone call between Mary and Mr. Lake, as they have done in the past, to allow for further discussion about Mary’s future. As always, we stand ready to assist any child wrongfully removed from his or her home of habitual residence. I trust this information is useful to both of you.
Sincerely,

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

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

From: Paul Toland [mailto:pptoland@]
Sent: Thursday, September 15, 2011 5:20 PM
To: CAPTLAKE@MCHSI.COM; Beth APayne
Cc: Kurt MCampbell; James LLoi; Patrick FKennedy; William JBurns; James BSteinberg; spower@nss.eop.gov; sduncan@nss.eop.gov; Michael HPosner; Scott WBusby; cpowell@nss.eop.gov; Margaret GMacLeod; vvause@state.gov; Stefanie BEye; Susan SJacobs; Janice LJacobs; Allison.Hollabaugh@mail.house.gov; bac-home@googlegroups.com; Ariana_Reks@boxer.senate.gov; brianna.keilar@cnn.com; RoosJV@state.gov; Sarah.M.Netter@abc.com; Sharon.Santurri@mail.house.gov; JDonohoe@ci.pensacola.fl.us; dbergsan@gmail.com
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor

Ms. Payne, We are very disappointed with the answers provided in your email below and have prepared the attached response. We hope you and everyone else you included on this email string will read it. We look forward to your response. Sincerely, Commander Paul Toland, US Navy

ATTACHED RESPONSE

===========================================
September 15, 2011
Beth Payne, Director Office of Children’s Issues U.S. Department of State, SA-29 2201 C Street NW, SA-29 4th floor Washington, DC 20520-2818

Ms. Payne,
Mr. Lake has indicated that he is willing to provide a sworn affidavit that Ms. Vause told him his daughter Mary appeared in person at the Osaka consulate. However, even taking you at your word that Mary Lake called the consulate, we are simply distraught that the consulate employees did not do more to facilitate her rescue and return to her lawful parent.

Imagine that William Lake’s wife had abducted their daughter from Florida to Arizona instead of from Florida to Japan, and Mary Lake had called the authorities in Arizona asking them to “fly her home.” Those authorities would have kept Mary on the phone until they facilitated her rescue and brought the felon criminal abductor to justice. Now we understand that in an overseas environment, the State Department does not have the authority to physically go to the child in Japan to facilitate the rescue, but the State Department certainly had both the DUTY and OBLIGATION to obtain the same end result… to facilitate the rescue Mary Lake by asking the child victim of this felony crime to come to the consulate so they could then coordinate her rescue, yet this was never done.

You state that Mary “did not request refuge or an alternative place to stay that evening.” Are you seriously trying to place the burden and responsibility of having to request refuge upon a minor child who has been kidnapped and held in a foreign country for six years? She may not even understand such a concept. She called and reached out to the only American refuge she could find at the US Consulate, and they burdened her with an adult responsibility, eventually turning her away back to her captor?

And how, exactly, did you “confirm that (Mary) felt safe” with her felon kidnapper, and that she “was not in danger”? Your own Foreign Affairs Manual, Chapter 7, states “children involved (in abduction) have almost always been subjected to a traumatic experience.” What mental health worker counseled Mary Lake to determine her mental and emotional well being following six years of being held captive as a kidnapped child in a foreign land? If no mental health worker was available, then it was the State Department’s duty and obligation to err on the side of caution for Mary’s protection and proceed as if she was subjected to severe mental and physical trauma until a professional could determine otherwise. The consular officer was in no position to act as a medical provider in determining Mary’s physical and emotional state over the phone.

The State Department’s inability (or unwillingness) to try to talk Mary Lake into traveling to the consulate appears to be a failure of the State Department to acknowledge that the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) makes parental child abduction a felony crime and makes the perpetrator of that crime a felon criminal. The very fact that Mary is a child victim of a felony crime being held in a foreign land by a felon criminal is, in and of itself, enough to put Mary Lake “in danger.”

The State Department’s failure to act during the brief window of time available to rescue Mary allowed her to disappear again into the black hole abyss of Japan, to join the other 374 children abducted to Japan since 1994, none of whom has ever been returned.

We ask you to answer one simple question…if Mary Lake were kidnapped by a STRANGER and held in Japan for six years, and then contacted the US Consulate asking them to “fly her home”, would the consulate actions have been any different, and if so, why? The State Department’s DUTY to Mary Victoria Lake is no different than to any other victim of a felony crime, and for you to treat it otherwise is simply a flagrant disregard for the law.

We notice you also cc’d some of the press on your email response, yet you did not address our concerns about the fact that the State Department illegally issued a passport to William’s felon criminal wife, without obtaining William’s signature in violation of Public Law 106-113, Section 236. This, at least, tells us that IPKCA is not the only law that the State Department is in the habit of ignoring when it suits your purposes.

The State Department has conducted years of meetings, talks, meetings, talks, meetings and talks, but not a single parent has been able to even see their child as a result. This latest incident with William Lake’s daughter only further exacerbates the left-behind parent community’s total and complete loss of confidence in the State Department’s ability to protect our children. What happened to Mary Victoria Lake could have happened to any of our children, and this incident fills us with fear and anxiety that if a window of opportunity someday opens for the rescue of our children, State Department will simply shut that window, as they did with Mary Lake, rather than actually try to return our children.

Sincerely,
Paul Toland, National Coordinating Director
Douglass Berg, Eastern Regional Director
Randy Collins, Southwest Regional Director
Jeffery Morehouse, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Brett Weed, Pacific Northwest Regional Co-Director
Dr. Christopher Savoie, Midwest, Regional Director
P.O. Box 16254, Arlington, VA 22215 • www.BAChome.org • BAChome@BAChome.org
ENDS

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

UPDATE:

From: Payne, Beth A (payneba @state.gov)
Subject: RE: Incident at Osaka Consulate and RE: You sent my daughter back to her abductor
To: “Paul Toland” (pptoland @)
Date: Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Commander Toland:

Thank you for your letter of September 15, on behalf of the BACHome organization, expressing your disappointment with the information I provided to you on September 1, regarding the Department of State’s actions in the active abduction case involving Mary Lake. I regret that our response left you unsatisfied.

The Office of Children’s Issues, in coordination with U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide, is committed to protecting the welfare of abducted children. Facilitating their return to the United States is one of our top priorities. We recognize the emotional pain that left-behind parents face while separated from their children, and we will be ready to discuss additional details of Mary’s case with her father, should he wish to resume contact with our office.

For more information about the Department of State’s role in International Parental Child Abduction, please visit our website at http://www.travel.state.gov/abduction/abduction_580.html .

Yours Sincerely,
Beth Payne
Director, Office of Children’s Issues

ENDS

BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho

mytest

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  A friend of mine sends this crie du coeur about bureaucratic attitudes towards multicultural children in Japan’s most cosmopolitan city, at the Shibuya Ward Office, no less.  Have a read.  Used with permission.  Arudou Debito

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

In Praise of Pediatrics but Why Bother if You Steal the Future?
July 7, 2011, by “Bitter Valley”

A few weeks ago my wife gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Not a “half” (I am British, my wife is Japanese) but a “full” person we hope will have a wonderful bicultural future. I felt encouraged when my Japanese father-in -law, who is in his 70s, beamed at her and me and said “nice mikksu!”  Good one!

I’ve promised myself that I am not going to get needled by the word “haafu” despite the fact that I don’t like it. I’ve talked to a lot of people I trust people who are my friends who are Japanese and they assure me that it’s meant as a complement. In fact women friends tell me they are jealous, and they wish they had a “haafu” as well. I still don’t like the fact that there are jarring connotations with the word and basically I would rather our daughter be considered as a person first, and not a person instantly differentiated on others based on her racial heritage. But I figure you pick and choose your battles and respect the culture you are living in, right?

Fine, right? Great. Mixed race kids of the world are the future anyway. Or so I figure.

Perhaps not in Japan, but that’s Japan’s grave to dig, isn’t it. If you’d rather have a robot help you in your own age than have a foreigner, then I think you deserve your selfish loneliness.

My dad-in-law, a traditional Japanese otosan in just about every department, is fine with me as a son-in-law. He’s able to look beyond his programming (gaijin are worse than us, better than us, gaijin are automatically this and that…gaijin…yawn)….

He’s already the doting dad-in-law. And one of my august aunties, who loves to drop names of the LDP politicians she rubs shoulders with (or maybe hair net line, she’s not that tall), you know, young radical progressives such as Nakasone and Fukuda, ASKED me to become a father, as she couldn’t have kids.

So great, mixed race, bi-nationality kids are fine with my in all other respects, conservative in-laws and inner family. Another comfy warm blanket of love enveloping my beautiful little infant daughter?

Well- NOT, according to the petty bureaucrats at Shibuya Ward Office.

But that’s getting ahead of things. I want to split this message into two parts. The first part is about the wonderful care my wife received at one of Japan’s leading pediatrics hospitals. The second half contrasts it to the shabby and stultifying misinformation she received from nobody local administrators in the ward office.

In Praise of Pediatrics

First of all, praise where praise is due. While I’ve had the odd “miss” going to a yabuisha (the neighborhood quack clinic). The best advice I’ve had from friends about going to the local clinic down the road is know what’s wrong with you first, and you’ll be fine.

But I’ve found Japan’s health service has done me fine over the last decade. Over the years, due to stress, age, Karate competitions and injuries, and even the odd car crash, I’ve broken bones and been rushed at low speed (c’mon, you know what I mean) in ambulances to around half a dozen hospitals in Japan and been saved from at least one life-threatening condition. My wife jokes that I’ve been carted around so many hospitals in Tokyo that I could write a tour guide. And I’ve found that at least the younger doctors who have treated me in major hospitals have been excellent. You have to have a lot of confidence in a stranger who is going to stick a huge needle through your back into your lung to drain it. And, as much as one can be fine about such things, most doctors I’ve had in this country have engendered confidence.

However this is submission is about my wife and daughter, not me.

Thanks to the staff at the 国立成育医療研究センター研究所, the National Center for Child Health and Development, my wife and child were pulled, lovingly and caringly, through a difficult situation. Rushed to hospital just as it turned June, the hospital managed to stop our daughter (due date July 21) being born at 32 weeks and facing weeks in an incubator, worries about her little lungs. Of course survivability is virtually guaranteed at that stage, although as an expectant father, you’d be worried about the virtually — virtually just doesn’t cut the mustard when you are talking about your own daughter. And long term health consequences are really reduced at a birth at 32 weeks, compared to a very early pre-term birth. Basically the doctor said every day in the womb is a better day for our daughter’s future.

Two and a half weeks strapped into drips in both arms was a small price to pay for a beautiful little girl born naturally.

The key message is that all the system worked as it should, and the result was a beautiful baby girl. Our local clinic spotted the symptoms early. We were informed exactly what was going on. They immediately put my wife on medication and attempted to stabilize her. They then quickly decided my wife’s condition required specialists. Instead of the nearest major hospital, they whisked her off to Japan’s number one pediatrics hospital.

Before the decision was made to take them to the National Center, we already knew the permutations, everything was done with our knowledge and consent.

And it was the same at the National Center. Where the majority of the doctors — yes the doctors — are women. If you are as cynical about Japan as I have become in some areas, then this will be a pleasant surprise. And there are male nurses there as well. It’s a great place to have a baby, frankly.

If you take away the stress and worry of the whole affair, we were treated just superbly. Dr. K (in her mid-30s) would come on duty when she was off when I rushed from the office (usually trying to get there by about 19:30) and make time to tell me exactly what was going on. She gave us permutations, told us what the options were at each stage.

The best thing about it is that she would make decisions to push for a natural birth, if (a) (b) (c) (d) (e) were to happen, whereas the older consultant (a man) was pushing for a caesarian. At every stage Dr. K made sure that we were informed, got our consent, gave us a run-down of the risks and possibilities, permutations. And, the point has to be made, in no baby or patronizing Japanese. Friendly, professional, matter-of-fact.

It was one of the times when I felt in this country that I was being treated as an intelligent, middle aged person, and not as a gaijin. Why should I be so surprised about this? Why, in my mid-40s should I just not accept this? Is this not natural?

Which brings us back to earth in part II of this long missive- dealing with the petty bureaucrats in “Bitter Valley.”

Bitter Valley

One of the things I have noticed in dealing with Shibuya Kuyakusho’s gaijin section, or what I would call brainwashed Japanese people who can speak English and are always putting barriers between themselves and gaijin while professing to do the opposite, is how we are always put back to square one.

I might own a couple of properties here, run a company, write books, be recognized as an expert in my field OUTSIDE Japan’s petty bureaucracy, but when it comes to dealing with these people, it’s always back to square one.

You are a gaijin, and therefore we will treat you as one.

In my dealings with petty bureaucrats in Shibuya Ward Office, I’ve faced the ridiculous situation where the bureaucrat will completely ignore me and just talk to my wife, mouth baby Japanese at me, tell me how good my Japanese is for doing basic things like writing my address or something. You’ll understand what comes next — and then fail to completely understand me when I ask a real question, or completely disengage when I attempt a real conversation, so that my wife re-repeats what I have told the other person. You know, the terrible triangle — we’ve all had it. I’ll say something. The person will look at me stunned or ignore me. My wife will repeat what I said. The person will engage with her and ignore me. Yes, this has happened to me at successive times at Shibuya Ward Office.

I am used to these petty insults- these people are trained to be stupid and in my cynical mind, I sometimes think getting one over the gaijin is just about the only fun they have in their petty drab paper shuffling experiences. You know, the fact that you speak read and write Japanese means nothing. You are a gaijin and you are zero. This is the basic mind set. You get people who are actually human about things, but IMO, there is almost no one more guaranteed to gaijinize you than a bureaucrat.

My wife has hitherto regarded these sort of situations as dealing with petty insects, really. To maintain the wa she never looses her temper with them, and puts up with it, although she did open up when the tax office were being particularly lazy in dealing with one of our issues. I watched as FIVE people shuffled our bits of paper around several desks at a sort of necral pace.

As for me, my core attitude is: who on earth are these people? You gotta have wa? Give me a break. Don’t patronize me!

Overall though my wife is a model of patience (she has to be, putting up with me for a start), and while on my side, tends to choose the path of least resistance to get whatever bureaucratic crap has to be got through gotten through.

But not this time. Oh no.

This time, the boot was firmly on her foot.

For the first time she was dealing with the biracial/ cultural future of our daughter close up, in focus.

Just before she was discharged from the hospital she decided to call up Shibuya-ku to find out about the teisuzuki for dealing with our little mite’s registration. I overheard the call.

My wife is already depressed that I am just a footnote on the family honseki, which she regards as a real shitsurei to me. You know, what the hell am I then, some kind of fucking appendage? Who are the racists who would do that to someone? Of course its the homusho, and frankly, they don’t give a fuck. It’s their country, they must protect the Yamato Race, and gaijin are either help or entertainment, and either way, are to be policed. End of story for them.

Let’s move on with the story.

But the attitude of the petty bureaucrat really shocked her. It was a time of really waking up to the situation. She was asking about registration, and the conversation got very heated about my daughter’s family name.

I am in the middle of changing my name by deed poll to reflect our daughter’s biracial heritage and also to pay respect to my wife’s family.

Why I am bothering to do this is to respect them, who have been completely supportive of me and repeatedly defended me against those who would gaijinize me (police, petty customs officials, etc.) by defending me as one of us, our family. I figured that if my wife’s conservative family would bring me inside and protect and defend me against anyone trying to to divide and rule us, I should honor them.

But when my wife broached the subject of dual nationality with the official, the tone turned hard.

“No, she can only be registered in your name.” What about her dual nationality “No, she has no dual nationality. She is Japanese.”

Until this point, I could understand the position of the official. Not support it, but I could see the point of view. We need as many new kids as possible. This is Japan. We think she is Japanese. But it was the following elements that really angered my wife:

But as the father is English, doesn’t she get a choice? she asked.

“No, she is Japanese. This is not like America, you know, where anyone can get nationality just by being born there,” the bureaucrat spat out, obviously scornfully.

“This is JAPAN. She has Japanese blood. She is Japanese.” (My emphasis, but I could hear the horrible little person on the other end of the phone…)

Wife: But can’t she choose later?

“No, she is Japanese!”

My wife shouted down the phone to the effect of: “How dare you tell me my daughter’s business? She can be Japanese or English, or both if she wants, because she can keep both passports.”

She cut the phone and looked at me.

She said: “The Japanese system is broken.”

We are seriously thinking of getting out of this country and its antediluvian attitudes to race and nationality. I just think this nationality by blood stuff is, quite frankly, racist. My wife thought it grossly unprofessional to flat-out misinform her about our daughter’s future.

To me, the tragedy is in the irony of the fact that Japan has a finely tuned, modern, caring, forward-thinking medical system that fought for our daughter’s life on the one hand, and a tired jaded, petty and racist legal system that would seek to deny her basic freedoms as a potential citizen of Japan or England.

It seems that one end of the Japan’s bureaucracy has invested a fortune in preserving and nurturing and promoting life, while another part of the bureaucracy seems intent on stunting it. I went from being a father to being a gaijin and an issue to be swept away like it didn’t exist in the bureaucrat’s mind. My wife is Japanese. Our daughter is Japanese, because she has Japanese blood. I am nowhere.

Thanks a lot. Cheers. But actually, up yours.

Japan’s koseki system and the sort of petty nationalism/xenophobia exhibited to my wife hark back to 19th century racism and imperialism. It made my wife, who was recovering, sick.

It would of course be shocking and horrifying if Japan had trapped its attitude to medicine, health and healing to 19th century attitudes and assumptions. Yet the legal system in this country seems trapped in some sort of filthy 19th backwater of stupidity and ignorance.
ENDS

Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”

mytest

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

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to JapanForeign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\" width=「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  Mark Austin reports the following.  In light of Otaru’s long and rather pathetic history of refusing NJ (and NJ-looking Japanese) customers entry to their bathhouses etc., one would hope that the authorities by now might be a bit more proactive in preventing this sort of thing from happening again.  Used with permission of the author.  Arudou Debito

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From: Mark Austin
Subject: Re: From Otaru tourism association
Date: June 30, 2011 4:29:24 AM GMT+09:00
To: annai@otaru.gr.jp
Cc: XXXXXXXX@otaru.gr.jp

Dear XXXX-san,

Thanks very much for your mail.

I very much appreciate your kind attention to the matter of my being denied entry to a business establishment in Otaru simply because I’m not Japanese.

Thank you for taking my complaint seriously.

Of course, I fully understand that the food bar Monika may have had trouble with foreigners in the past. I’ve heard that Russian sailors in Otaru sometimes get drunk and behave badly.

I must say that I truly sympathize with the situation of Monika and other eating/drinking establishments in Otaru that have had trouble with non-Japanese people.

However, I strongly feel that banning all foreigners is not the way to solve any problems that Otaru businesses have with non-Japanese people.

As for myself, I am a British citizen who has permanent residency in Japan. I moved to this country in 1990. I now work in Bangalore, India, as a visiting professor at a journalism school, but my home is Japan. I visited Otaru on Monday to give a lecture at Otaru University of Commerce.

On Monday evening, after I’d visited the onsen at the Dormy Inn, where I was staying, I asked a receptionist at the hotel if she could recommend a pub or bar where I could have a beer and something to eat. She pointed me in the direction of the area west of the railway. I walked there and found loads of “snack” bars, which I didn’t want to enter. Then I found Monika [I think this is the place — Ed] and was told by a Mr. XXXXX that I wasn’t welcome there.

I pointed out to Mr. XXXXX (in Japanese) that his refusal to serve me constituted racial discrimination (I used the phrase “jinshu sabetsu”) and he agreed that it was, and defended this by merely saying, “Ma, sho ga nai.”

After about 10 minutes, I gave up (politely) arguing with Mr. XXXXX and left.

I felt very hurt, angry and frustrated.

I hope you’ll take a look at this United Nations report on racial discrimination in Japan, which finds that the Japanese government is not living up to its promises to stop Japanese businesses discriminating against foreigners.

The rude treatment given to me on Monday night in Otaru would be unthinkable in my country, or other European countries, or the United States, and, I guess, most other democracies in the world that I’ve visited.

As an employee of the Otaru Tourism Association, I’m sure you’ll agree that your job description is to try to boost the local economy as much as possible by advertising the many attractions of Otaru, a beautiful city with a rich history in which foreigners played an important part from the late 19th century, to Japanese and non-Japanese people alike. In Otaru, foreigners (residents and tourists) and Japanese spend the same currency–yen. Is it asking too much that we be treated the same, as far as possible?

I should tell you that I have a huge admiration and respect for Japan, the country where I’ve lived almost half my life very happily. One thing I don’t like about Japan, however, is its thinking that it is somehow “exceptional”–that normal rules that apply everywhere else in the world don’t apply here. According to this thinking, Japan is “in” the world, but not “of” the world.

If pubs, restaurants and bars in Otaru (and elsewhere in Japan) have problems with foreigners, here’s what they should do:

1 Call the police.

2 Film and photograph the troublemakers (using cell phones or CCTV).

3 Ban individual troublemakers.

4 Ask the local government to contact the foreign ministry of the troublemakers’ country, requesting that foreign ministry to advise its citizens how to behave properly in Japan (the British Foreign Ministry regularly issues such advisories to British citizens traveling abroad; I don’t know if the foreign ministries of China or Russia, two countries whose citizens regularly visit Otaru, do so).

5 Post notices in various languages giving advice on acceptable/unacceptable behavior (that is now standard with onsen and sento, which is good).

Thanks again, XXXX-san, for your kind attention to my complaint. I would like to say, respectfully, that I expect some sort of concrete resolution to this problem (in other words, not just a vague promise of “We’re sorry, and we’ll try to improve the situation”), and I’ll be very happy to help you achieve that result in any way I can.

Best regards,

Mark Austin
Visiting Professor
Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media
Bangalore, India

ENDS

Exclusionary pottery shop in Doguyasuji, Osaka, refuses service to non-Asian NJ

mytest

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

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Hi Blog. Here is another report of shabby treatment of NJ as customers, this time in Osaka. The writer, an exchange student in Kyoto, told me of her experience at an Osaka pottery store during my last speech, and I asked her to write it up. She did. Read on. Anonymized. Anyone nearby want to check this place out and see what’s bugging them? Arudou Debito

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

June 7, 2011

Hello, this is [Jessica] from the lecture to Michigan State University students at Doshisha this morning. I wrote up my experience at the pottery shop in case you wanted to check it out. Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have.

In early June of 2011, I went to a pottery shop on Doguyasuji in Osaka. This particular shop only sells pottery and is in fact overflowing with pottery. They have too much to fit on the shelves so all the floor aisles have a row of pottery on each side, so that you have to walk very carefully so as not to kick any plates. I went into this shop twice and did not have any interaction with the salespeople the first time; the second time no salesperson approached me or seemed to take notice of me. The second time I picked out a bowl that was stacked on top of 2 others exactly like it and brought it up to the sales counter to purchase it. There were a couple salepeople there but none of them were looking at me, so I said “excuse me” in Japanese and held out the bowl to them, indicating I wanted to buy it. A saleswoman who appeared to be in her 30s looked at me, shook her head, pointed to a sign on the wall behind her (at the back of the store), turned away from me, and completely ignored me for the rest of my time in the store. Unfortunately I did not write down or take a picture of the sign, but it said in English something like, “It is not possible for us to sell any pottery because we do not have any in stock.” There was no explanation or even mention of ordering items for future pick-up either on the sign or by the salespeople. Again, this store was completely filled with pottery, and most pieces, including the bowl I wanted to buy, had identical ones on the shelves. This was definitely not a small artisan shop run by the potter, which might justify a desire to keep their personal pottery in the country; this was just a typical store that had pottery as its product. I watched for a little while and saw several Japanese people come into the store, browse a bit, pick something up off the shelf, and purchase it immediately. Nobody else had any extended discussion with a salesperson or filled out a form, and nobody appeared to come in and pick up pre-ordered pottery or get a large quantity of pottery off a shelf, as one would expect if this store was only selling to restaurant owners or only accepting pre-orders.

This is the street. http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/search/detail/shopping_5198.html It is geared towards restaurant owners, but the shops generally sell to anyone. I’ll look through my pictures and if I took one of this pottery shop I’ll send it to you, but it does stand out somewhat as the only one that is very small and overflowing with just pottery. I’m pretty sure it was the “scary shop” in this blog post. http://www.chekyang.com/musings/2010/12/30/day-9-osaka-douguyasuji/ Note that they did just buy things right off the shelves. According to their blog they were tourists, they’re from and currently live in Singapore, and they don’t speak Japanese and spoke English on that trip; the only difference between them and me is they look Asian.

I really think that the sign was just a ridiculous fabricated justification in order to refuse to sell to non-Asian foreigners. There was nothing that denied me entrance to the shop, I just couldn’t purchase anything once in there. A professor in my study abroad program (a black woman) had a similar experience in Kyoto, where she was allowed into a used kimono store and allowed to browse, but the shopkeeper simply refused to sell her anything. We were already in the stores, so it’s not as if the presence of foreigners could hurt their business, and none of the other customers appeared to have a problem with us. I don’t speak Japanese so it was fairly obvious that I’m a true foreigner, but I was in no way disrespectful or a less than well-behaved customer, I was not provocatively dressed nor did I look like I would be unable to pay, and I was not trying to bargain or do anything other than just pay for the bowl. I have been in Japan a couple weeks and have traveled to 23 other countries before now, so I do have an idea how to behave acceptably, and while I may have accidentally breached some small bit of etiquette I am certain that I was not rude. It is as if the shopkeepers don’t want to acknowledge our existence even enough to bar us, or are avoiding alienating other customers as Professor [X., who also attended our lecture] suggested, but if we force them into an encounter by wanting to buy something then they respond with active discrimination. I would be interested to know their reasoning, if someone who speaks Japanese goes to the shop and can communicate with them.

Thanks again for the talk today, it was very interesting and informative. Jessica
ENDS

UPDATE:  Debito.org Reader Level3 investigates the store in question, discovers this is all apparently a misunderstanding, as he is able to make to purchase there.  Read his full report here.

Kyodo: 2 men acquitted in retrial after serving nearly 30 years in prison

mytest

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Hi Blog.  This is a bit of a tangent, but what affects citizens will also affect non-citizens as well (especially so, actually), so here goes:

The Mainichi reported yesterday that two men who were wrongfully committed of a crime were finally released.  The problem is that it was a 44-year ordeal for them, thirty years of it spent in prison.  And they are not the only examples of this lack of due process.  As the article says, “The case has become the seventh in postwar Japan involving the acquittal in a retrial of defendants previously sentenced to death or life imprisonment.”

I’ve said before (after experiencing now six civil court cases that have all been riddled with absolute illogic) that the Japanese judiciary is pretty fucked up.  So this is an example of how fucked up the Japanese criminal justice system is.  This deserves to be known about. So know about it.  (You can also read about it in my novel IN APPROPRIATE.)

NB:  Before all you relativists start looking for examples of wrongful convictions in other countries that were later overturned, don’t even bother.  For a) it doesn’t justify it happening here, and b) How much of this rigmarole and unaccountability will happen in other healthy judiciaries?  Thirty years is a sizeable chunk of a person’s life lost!

Is the Japanese justice system more concerned about looking like it never makes mistakes than about rectifying past ones and avoiding future ones?  Arudou Debito

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

2 men acquitted in retrial after serving nearly 30 years in prison
Mainichi Daily News, May 24, 2011, Courtesy of CP
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110524p2g00m0dm052000c.html

TSUCHIURA (Kyodo) — A district court in a retrial Tuesday acquitted two men convicted in a 1967 murder-robbery case who each served nearly 30 years in prison.

The Tsuchiura branch of the Mito District Court delivered a not guilty verdict for Shoji Sakurai and Takao Sugiyama, both 64.

They had been sentenced to life imprisonment in 1970 for the August 1967 robbery and murder of Shoten Tamamura, a 62-year-old carpenter, and were freed on parole in 1996.

The case was dubbed the Fukawa murder case, after the crime site in the town of Tone, Ibaraki Prefecture.

Presiding Judge Daisuke Kanda said in the decision that there was no objective evidence to link the defendants to the crime, noting that hairs and fingerprints detected at the crime scene did not match those of the defendants.

The judge also said witness accounts placing the two men at the victim’s home lacked credibility.

The two were arrested in October 1967, indicted in December that year and sentenced to imprisonment for life in October 1970 as suspects in the Fukawa murder case.

The case has become the seventh in postwar Japan involving the acquittal in a retrial of defendants previously sentenced to death or life imprisonment.

Sugiyama, who earlier in the day spoke to reporters at his home in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture, said he was unhappy with a mere not-guilty decision and hoped the court would look into prosecutors’ effort to conceal evidence that may have helped acquit the defendants.

Sakurai said a not-guilty decision was natural.

The three-judge panel at the court’s Tsuchiura branch held six rounds of hearings in the two men’s retrial starting in July 2010, when the two pleaded innocent.

In the hearings, the defense counsel played a tape recording of investigators interrogating Sakurai and argued that the tape was found to have been edited. The defense contended that investigators apparently coerced Sakurai into confessing.

A 78-year-old woman, who saw a man on the day of the crime at the crime scene, testified in a retrial hearing that the man was not Sugiyama.

During the original trial, the two pleaded innocent to the charges, arguing that police investigators had forced them to confess.

But the district court’s Tsuchiura branch, citing their confessions and witnesses’ accounts, found the two men guilty and sentenced them to life imprisonment in October 1970 — a decision upheld by the Tokyo High Court in 1973 and later by the Supreme Court in 1978.

They were released on parole in November 1996.

The two first filed for a retrial in 1983 when serving in prison but were rejected. They again filed for a retrial in 2001 after being freed.

In September 2005, the district court’s Tsuchiura branch accepted the two men’s second petition and decided to launch a retrial — a decision upheld by the Tokyo High Court in July 2008 and then by the top court in December 2009.

In the retrial, prosecutors again sought life imprisonment for the pair, arguing that the defendants had confessed voluntarily and their depositions were credible, urging the court to find them guilty.

The prosecutors called for conducting a DNA test on four items of evidence including underwear found wrapped around the victim’s neck. But the court turned down the prosecutors’ request.

The court was initially scheduled to give its decision on March 16.

But the court put off the date to Tuesday in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan and parts of the Kanto region and crippled railways and other mass transit in the region.

One of the two, Sakurai, worked as a volunteer at shelters in the quake-hit city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, after the March disaster.

Toshikazu Sugaya, also 64, who spent 17 years in prison after being sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly killing a kindergartener in 1960 and was acquitted in a retrial in 2009, was among the audience at the courtroom Tuesday.

Sugaya told reporters he would work with Sugiyama and Sakurai to wipe out unjust convictions.

(Mainichi Japan) May 24, 2011

ENDS

“Japanese Only” bar in Kobe, “Soul Bar”, Nishinomiya Yamanote Doori. Advertises the music of people they would no doubt exclude.

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog.  Here’s a submission from Sean Maki of yet another place that excludes NJ customers, this time in the international city of Kobe.  Archive of the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments here, so you can see how the issue is nationwide.  I will add this case to the Rogues’ Gallery presently.  Thanks Sean.  Arudou Debito

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

May 4-6, 2011

Hi Debito.  On a visit to Kobe for Golden Week, I came across a bar worthy of your Rogues’ Gallery of exclusionary establisments. Ironically, it was a soul music bar called Soul Love, with a sign featuring album covers of soul artists, including prominent Motown acts, who presumably would not be welcome inside the bar.

〒650-0011 兵庫県神戸市中央区下山手通1丁目3-10 TEL 078-321-6460

The bar was located on Higashimon Dori, a prominent thoroughfare in Sannomiya, one of Kobe’s major entertainment districts.

Following are links to photos I took of their sign reading ‘Excuse me Japanese people only,’ as well as the main sign for the business, which includes a phone number.

http://twitpic.com/4tw6s3
http://twitpic.com/4tw9nt
http://twitpic.com/4twdla

All of these photos were taken with my cellphone, however, I have better quality images taken with another camera:

They were taken around 10 P.M. on Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Please feel free to name me as the source of the photos, and to use my write-up for the submitter’s comment.

You might notice the ‘Japanese only’ sign also carries a sticker advertising AU phone service. I don’t know whether this the kind of corporate branding AU would be looking for.

Regards, Sean Maki

ENDS

Readers: Critics are dominating the discussion re my last Japan Times column on undeserved “Fly-jin Bashing”. Consider writing to the JT to offer some balance?

mytest

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

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

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Hi Blog. Question for you:

Did you like my most recent Japan Times column on the “Fly-jin” bashing?

If so, please write in to the Japan Times and say so (community@japantimes.co.jp).

Internet bullies are writing in and once again trying to reassert their control over the debate.

Don’t let them anymore. Offer some balance.

——————————

Rationale:

My previous Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on ‘Fly-jin’ was, as predicted, controversial, and occasioned I’m told more comment than any column I’ve written before. Wow. Thanks for commenting.

However, I’m also told the comments were overwhelmingly negative towards my standpoint. This is fine too, since it is my job as a columnist to stimulate debate and offer alternate views.

However, remember what my column was on: How NJ are bullying each other into silence and submission in a society that already disenfranchises NJ.

If you disagree with my last column’s thesis, that’s fine. It’s your right. And clearly your voice is already being adequately represented.

However, if you agree with my thesis, and you don’t want the bashers to have the last word on this topic, I suggest you speak up now and send in your opinions to the Japan Times.

After all, it is generally the case that the critics are more likely to comment than those who agree. It’s tougher to build upon the sentiment of “I completely agree, the end”, than it is “I completely disagree and here’s why”.

But this time it’s special.

The whole point of the previous column was that media bullies have been controlling the debate on the status of NJ, and decrying them, unfairly as I argued, as deserters. “Fly-jin”.

If you don’t want them to continue to control the debate or let them have the final word on the subject, I suggest you send in your thoughts to the Japan Times via community@japantimes.co.jp

Consider offering some balance, please.

There has been too much complacency and silent victimization regarding this subject already. Speak up.

Thanks. Arudou Debito

UPDATE:  Here’s how the debate went in the Japan Times regarding the “Fly-jin” article. http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20110607hs.html Thanks for commenting.

Fukushima Japanese refused service at hotels etc., plus famous excluder/embezzler Toyoko Inn up to old tricks; requires guests unlawfully sign waivers just to stay

mytest

IN APPROPRIATE, A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan, By ARUDOU Debito
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Hi Blog.  Two articles of note for today.  One is from the Yomiuri about the Toyoko Inn, that hotel with a history of not only embezzling monies earmarked for Barrier-Free facilities for handicapped clients, but also wantonly racially profiling and unlawfully refusing entry to NJ clients.  Less than a week after the Tohoku Disasters, the Yomiuri reports, Toyoko Inns in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Ibaraki Prefectures were requiring customers to sign waiver contracts, absolving Toyoko of any responsibility should disaster strike.  No signature means you couldn’t get accommodation, which is under the Hotel Management Law (and the Consumer Contract Law, mentioned below), unlawful.  What a piece of work Toyoko Inn is.  Again, hotels doing things like this deserve to be boycotted for bad business practices.

(One more article after this one.)

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

誓約書にサインしないと泊まれない東横イン

読売新聞2011年3月18日 Courtesy MS

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110318-OYT1T00535.htm

『大手ビジネスホテルチェーン「東横イン」(東京都大田区)が東日本巨大地震の発生直後から被災地の岩手、宮城、福島、茨城県のホテルで宿泊客に対し、天災時の損害賠償請求を放棄することを求めた誓約書へのサインを義務づけていることがわかった。

消費者庁企画課は「ホテルの都合で宿泊者に一方的な不利益になる条項は問題」としている。

同社の誓約書は、「天災による宿泊時の被害、損害等の自己責任について」と題したA4判の文書。文面には「天災による被害、損害を被っても自己責任であり、貴ホテルに対して損害賠償請求を行うことは一切ありません」と記され、チェックインの際に署名しないと宿泊を断られる。地震発生後の12日から実施している。岩手県内にある同チェーンのホテルの従業員は「本社の指示で地震の直後からサインがないとだめになった」と説明する。

消費者契約法では、事業者の損害賠償の責任を免除する条項や消費者の利益を不当に害する条項は無効としている。

東横イン本社広報部は、エレベーター停止や断水を想定した誓約書で、建物倒壊や備品落下によるけがなどへの賠償を免れる意味ではないとしており、「宿泊者に不快な思いをさせたら申し訳ない。各ホテルに丁寧な説明をするよう徹底する」としている。』

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

Then there are the knee-jerk hotels in Japan who go into spasm to deny service whenever possible.  If it’s the case of NJ guests (27% of Japanese hotels surveyed, according to a 2008 GOJ survey, indicated they want no NJ guests at all), things get even more spastic:  Either a) they Japanese hotels get deputized by the NPA to racially profile their clients, refusing foreign-looking people entry if they don’t show legally-unnecessary ID, or b) they put signs up to refuse NJ clients entry because they feel they “can’t offer sufficient service” (seriously), or c) they refuse NJ because of whatever “safety issue” they can dredge up, including the threat of theft and terrorism, or even d) they get promoted by government tourist agencies despite unlawfully having exclusionary policies.  What a mess Japan’s hotel industry is.

As for Japanese guests?  Not always better.  Here’s the latest mutation:  The Yomiuri reports places are refusing Japanese people too from irradiated Fukushima Prefecture because they think they might be glowing:

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

「福島県民お断り」入店・宿泊、風評被害相次ぐ

読売新聞2011年4月9日 Courtesy ADW

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/national/news/20110409-OYT1T00054.htm

「福島県民お断り」――。

東京電力福島第一原子力発電所の放射能漏れ事故で多くの避難者が出ている福島県の災害対策本部会議で8日、風評被害の事例が報告された。

放射線に関する県の相談窓口に寄せられたもので、ある運送業者から「他県のガソリンスタンドに『福島県民お断り』との貼り紙があった」という相談があった。ほかにも、福島県民であることを理由に、「レストランで入店を断られた」「ホテルに宿泊できなかった」「車に落書きされた」などの被害があったという。

県によると、3月17日の窓口開設から8日朝までに計6967件の相談があり、うち162件が風評被害に関するもの。県は風評被害払拭のため、これまで国に対して正確な情報発信に努めるよう要請している。

(2011年4月9日09時14分 読売新聞)

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

As the article lays out, it’s not just a hotel (although hotels have a particular responsibility, even under the law, to offer refuge and rest to the paying public).  A gas station reportedly had a sign up refusing Fukushima Kenmin (they must think Fukushimans spark!), while complaints came in to official soudan madoguchi that a restaurant refused Fukushimans entry and someone had his car defaced.  In all, 162 complaints reportedly came in regarding fuhyou higai, or roughly “damages due to disreputation” of being tarred by the disasters.  Now that’s an interesting word for a nasty phenomenon.

Good news is that these problems are at least being reported in the media as a social problem, and Fukushima Prefecture is asking the national government to address them.  Let’s hope the GOJ takes measures to protect Fukushima et.al. from further exposure to “fuhyou” and discrimination.  Might be a template for getting the same for NJ.

(Okay, probably not, but it’s still the right thing to do.)  Arudou Debito

John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines

mytest

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

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John R. Harris of Chiba, Japan writes (sources at bottom):

March 16, 2011:

Friends, people around the world are emailing us in Japan, asking how they can help us cope with the disaster here. Here’s how YOU can help:

We need to unleash a tsunami of social media on Coca-Cola asking them to unplug their vending machines across Japan — NOW!

Across eastern Japan we are experiencing rolling power cuts and train service cuts to compensate for the nuclear plant outages. This interruption of normal life hugely ramps up public anxiety.

In the midst of all this, the 5,510,000 vending machines across Japan* are still operating. According to a report I read years ago, these machines require electricity equivalent to the output of an entire nuclear power plant.

The most power-hungry are the soft-drink machines that have both refrigeration and heating (for hot canned coffee). Coca-Cola has perhaps the largest network of beverage machines across Japan. Unlike domestic rivals, as a global company Coca-Cola must listen to consumers around the world. So if concerned Americans, Canadians, Europeans and everyone else speak up forcefully, Coke must act. And Japanese domestic operators will be forced to follow suit.

So, please, spread this message via email, Twitter and Facebook to everyone you know. And please email Coca-Cola’s CEO asking him to pull the plug on his vending machines in Japan.

Coca-Cola knows they have a problem, as you can tell by the message on their corporate website: “As challenges with power outages continue in many parts of the country, Coca-Cola Japan is supporting the government’s request to conserve energy by converting television and radio advertising to public service announcements to encourage energy conservation.”

We think that’s just not good enough. If you agree, please email:

Muhtar Kent, Chairman & CEO, The Coca-Cola Company
pressinquiries@na.ko.com

Or contact Coke on Twitter: @CocaCola
http://twitter.com/COCACOLA

See sources below

www.thecoca-colacompany.com/dynamic/press_center/2011/03/statement-on-the-japan-disaster.html
Statement on the Japan Disaster

March 14, 2011
Our thoughts and prayers are with all of the people who have been affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

The Coca-Cola system has pledged 600 million Japanese yen (US $7.3 million) in cash and product donations to the relief effort. That contribution includes more than 7 million bottles of needed beverages, such as water, tea and sports drinks. Coca-Cola Japan and its 12 bottling partners will provide the beverages to national and local government authorities and other community groups for distribution. The system has also activated free dispensing of products from selected vending machines.

As challenges with power outages continue in many parts of the country, Coca-Cola Japan is supporting the government’s request to conserve energy by converting television and radio advertising to public service announcements to encourage energy conservation.

The Coca-Cola system in Japan continues to focus on the safety and well-being of our employees, and we continue to assess the conditions of our facilities in the hardest hit regions.

Coca-Cola Japan has sent its deepest condolences to those people impacted by the devastating earthquake and tsunami.”

* “According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association (JVMA), there are about 5.51 million vending machines in Japan.” (source: article by Anne Carter on articlesbase.com)
ENDS

Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder

mytest

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CONTACT INFORMATION FOR ICHIHASHI’S BOOK PUBLISHER
By Caroline Pover, Author, Being A Broad in Japan, courtesy of the author

http://www.carolinepover.info/2011/01/information-for-anyone-wanting-to-contact-the-publisher-of-ichihashis-book/

Posted in: Foreign women in Japan-Jan 28, 2011

For anyone inclined to contact Gentosha (the publishers of Ichihashi’s book), you can do so by using the following:
Phone from within Japan: 03-5411-6211
Phone from outside of Japan: +81-3-5411-6211
Email (general enquiries): keieikikaku@gentosha.co.jp
Email (comments on their books): comment@gentosha.co.jp

There is a woman there who speaks perfect English, and one of the men responsible for making the decision to approach Ichihashi’s representatives has been reachable, but both these people have refused to give their names. And yes, just to clarify, the publishing house initiated the publication of this book. Their website is http://www.gentosha.co.jp.

Now I understand that there is human interest in this “story” and this book. I understand that human nature means that we are often interested in the sinister and the macabre, often for reasons we cannot explain and perhaps in a way we may not be particularly comfortable with. I understand that people are fascinated by how Ichihashi escaped and how he survived for so long on the run. I fully expected there to be a book at some point, and I don’t really blame the general public for wanting to read it.

What I don’t understand is how this book has been allowed to be released now. BEFORE the trial. Only in the past few days have tentative dates for the trial even been set — surely the publishers must have approached Ichihashi’s representatives knowing that they could produce the book before the trial, and Ichihashi’s representatives possibly thought to seize the opportunity to gain public sympathy.

Ichihashi has several defence lawyers, all of whom are working pro bono. A book like this will become a bestseller (and it will, make no mistake — and some scumbag is probably already on the phone right now asking for the movie rights). The Hawker family has repeatedly refused to accept any money from an individual claiming to be an Ichihashi supporter, and the family also refuses to accept any monies from the publication of this book. Ichihashi and his defence team may or not receive any money themselves, but the publisher certainly will. Ichihashi has been given the opportunity to tell his story, but shouldn’t that story be told in court?

What will be told in court however is the REAL story of what happened to Lindsay Ann Hawker. The real story of what he did to her, with details that her parents and sisters will have to listen to and live with forever. And when THAT story is told, the Gentosha staff who worked on Until I was arrested: Record of a two-year and seven-month blank will feel utterly ashamed of themselves.

ENDS

Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article

mytest

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Hi Blog. In response to the feedback regarding his statements to the Japan Times last December 28, where in an article he calls himself a foreigner despite his Japanese citizenship, Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei sends this public statement through his office:

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

from: ツルネン マルテイ事務室
date: Mon, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:26 PM
subject: ツルネン事務所より

ツルネンマルテイの秘書の山本と申します。
先日はツルネンのインタビュー記事についてのご意見をいただき、ありがとうございました。

ご意見をいただいた件について、ツルネンから以下のような返事をことづかりました。

=====================================================================================
今回のご指摘、ありがたく受け止めます。
ご指摘の通り、私の発言した英単語「foreigner」は不適切な言葉であったと反省しています。
自分が「生まれながらの日本人」ではないことを表現するために「foreigner」と言いましたが、
厳密に表現するためには「foreign-born person」、または記事でも使用している
「finn-born Japanese」と表現すべきでした。
誤解を生む表現をしてしまったことを反省し、お詫び申し上げます。
=====================================================================================

なお、ツルネン事務所には毎日大変多くのご意見を頂戴します。
誠に残念ながら、それらすべてにツルネン本人がお返事することは時間的に難しい状況です。
秘書が代理でお返事することにご理解いただければ幸いです。

このたびは、貴重なご意見ありがとうございました。

参議院議員ツルネンマルテイ
秘書 山本綾子

****************************************
参議院議員 ツルネンマルテイ
秘書 山本綾子
Ayako Yamamoto
Secretary to Mr.Marutei Tsurunen,
Member, House of Councilors, Japan
Tel: +81-3-6550-0923
Fax: +81-3-6551-0923
E-mail: marutei_tsurunen01@sangiin.go.jp
****************************************

Pertinent section by Tsurunen translated by Arudou Debito (not an official translation):
============================
“I wish to thank everyone for their comments. As people have pointed out, my use of the English word ‘foreigner’ was inappropriate. I was trying to express that I am not a ‘Japan-born Japanese’ and used ‘foreigner’, but strictly speaking I should have said ‘foreign-born person’, or as I said in the article ‘Finn-born Japanese’.

“I regret using expressions that gave rise to misunderstandings, and I would like to offer my apologies.”
============================

ends

Weekend Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  As a Weekend Tangent, let me direct your attention to an upcoming lawsuit (Japanese do sue too, as activists and awareness-raisers) regarding two issues that are dear to Debito.org:  1) issues of self-determination of personal identity, and 2) the evils of the Koseki system, which not only separate parent from child post-divorce, but also make a person’s name and family relationships and entitlements the domain of The State.  Other people find this objectionable too — enough to brave all the social opprobrium towards lawsuits in this society.  Good luck to them.  I hope they can stay alive long enough to outlast the slow machinations of the Japanese judiciary.  Arudou Debito

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

Japan government to face first suit on surnames
Reuters, Tuesday, January 11 2011, By Yoko Kubota, courtesy SR

http://uk.news.yahoo.com/22/20110111/tsc-oukoe-uk-japan-surnames-011ccfa.html

After nearly fifty years of persevering with a life under her husband’s surname, 75-year-old Kyoko Tsukamoto is taking the Japanese government to court so that she can at least bear her own name when she dies.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” she said.

The former teacher uses her maiden name, but due to Japanese civil law requirements she had to take her husband’s name when she married to make the union legal.

But debate over the surname issue, long a sore point with some women, has heated up as more women stay in jobs after marriage and juggle two names — their maiden name at work and their registered name on legal documents.

“I thought that I would get used to my husband’s name, but I could not, and a sense of loss grew inside me,” Tsukamoto said.

“Now I am 75 and I was shocked to realise that I can’t do things anymore that I used to be able to do last year. That’s when I thought that I am Kyoko Tsukamoto and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”

Tsukamoto is one of five people planning to file a lawsuit against the government and local authorities as early as February, saying the civil code that requires married couples to register under the same surname violates equal rights among married couples, as well as personal rights.

Men are allowed to take their spouses’ name, but it is rare.

The group will seek compensation for what it says is the legislature’s failure to enact change, the first such case to be debated in open court in Japan, the only country in the Group of Eight major industrialised nations with such a surname rule.

Hopes grew that the government would submit a bill to amend the civil code after the Democratic Party of Japan, which has advocated letting married couples keep separate names if they wish, took power in 2009. But opposition from a coalition ally caused the plan to stall.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted but unfortunately this did not take place. They do not want to wait any longer,” said Fujiko Sakakibara, lead lawyer for the group.

TRADITIONAL FAMILY

The rule is tied to Japan’s traditional concept of the family, which in the past ensured that property, businesses, and surnames were passed on to men within the family unit.

Some say it is outdated. In certain cases, couples repeat marriages and divorces between each other to avoid having to register their children as out of wedlock births, partly because the civil code limits inheritance rights for such children.

Tsukamoto, with her husband since 1960, is going through her second marriage with him after divorcing once in 1965 to get her maiden name back. They re-married when they had their third child but her husband has rejected requests for a second divorce.

Those against change say it’s a matter of family unity and are wary of the impact on children’s identities. They also warn of a possible increase in divorce.

Tsukamoto began studying women’s issues at the age of 63, after she was freed of duties to nurse her parents. She has since taken up an activist’s role.

“Others were getting by well in society and I have thought that perhaps I was stupid to insist on this … Now things are changing in a good direction, unimaginable in 1960,” she said.
ends

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

Japanese marital surname law faces legal challenge
A lawsuit against the government is being launched by five people who claim their constitutional rights are being violated
Justin McCurry in Tokyo, courtesy of the author’s Twitter feed
guardian.co.uk Tuesday 11 January 2011

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/11/japan-marital-surname-law-challenge?CMP=twt_gu

Five people in Japan are poised to launch an unprecedented lawsuit against the government, claiming that a civil law forcing them to choose a single surname after marriage violates their constitutional rights.

If they succeed, married men and women will for the first time be able to retain their own surnames, dealing a blow to one of the few remaining legal obstacles to gender equality.

In the vast majority of cases, women are required to relinquish their maiden name after marriage, although a small number of men take their wife’s name.

Critics say the time has come to modernise the law in Japan, the only G8 nation with laws governing marital surnames.

The plaintiffs argue that the civil code’s requirement that a single surname be chosen contradicts articles of the constitution guaranteeing individual liberty and equal rights to husband and wife. The five are also seeking ¥1m (£7,727) each in compensation from the government.

Kyoko Tsukamoto, who changed her maiden name in the family registry after marrying in 1960 but retained it in daily life, said the law had contributed to a “strong loss of self” and caused psychological damage.

“My husband and I still love each other, but this and the issue of Tsukamoto are different,” said the 75-year-old former teacher. “I thought I would get used to my husband’s name, but I couldn’t. I felt a strong sense of loss growing inside me.”

Opposition from conservative politicians delayed previous attempts to change the law. In 1996 the justice ministry devised an amendment that would give married women the right to retain their maiden names, but the move was blocked by MPs who said it would undermine the family unit.

The current government, led by the centre-left Democratic party, supports a change in the law but has yet to act amid opposition from a minor coalition ally.

“There were expectations that it could be enacted, but unfortunately this did not happen. They do not want to wait any longer,” said the plaintiffs’ lawyer, Fujiko Sakakibara.

The law has forced some couples to take drastic action. Tsukamoto and her husband divorced in 1965 so that she could regain her maiden name, but remarried when she became pregnant because civil law can impinge on the inheritance rights of children born out of wedlock.

Critics say the civil code, enacted in 1896 and amended by the US occupation forces after the second world war, ignores dramatic postwar changes to the role of women in the home and workplace.

The movement for change gathered pace in the 1980s when more women entered the workplace. Many complained that changing their names after marriage was detrimental to their career prospects and affected relationships with colleagues.

Yet the Japanese are divided over the issue: in a 2009 survey 49% said they supported a change in the law, while 48% were opposed.

Women still have to use their registered surnames on official documents such as passports and health insurance cards.

Many companies allow married women to retain their maiden names at work, but for Tsukamoto, who married in 1960, unofficial acceptance is not enough.

“Now I am 75, and I was shocked to realise that I can no longer do the things I was able to do even last year,” she said. “That’s when I thought, I am Kyoko Tsukamoto … and I want to die as Kyoko Tsukamoto.”
ends

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

Historical article on the issue (2004) showing how little the debate has changed in nearly a decade:

The Japan Times, Sunday, March 14, 2004, courtesy Justin McCurry
MEDIA MIX
The twisted terminology in Japan’s marriage system
By PHILIP BRASOR

…Marriage as a legal contract allows the state to regulate what goes on in the bedroom. This is basically the argument put forth by Sumiko Tanaka and Noboru Fukukita, a Japanese couple who live together without the state’s blessing and who have an 18-year-old daughter. Because Tanaka and Fukukita are not married, their daughter’s out-of-wedlock status was indicated in both their residence certificate (juminhyo) and family register (koseki). They have been fighting to have such designations changed since 1988, and while they’ve lost lawsuits in court, their efforts have moved the government to change these discriminatory terms. Justice Minister Daizo Nozawa announced last week that children born out-of-wedlock would be designated in family registers in the same way as children born to married couples, though nothing has really changed. Anyone who reads the family register will be able to tell if a child is born in or out of wedlock. The ministry has made the terms less discriminatory, but the register, which codifies parent-child relationships, is unchanged.

Because the United States sees itself as part of a Judeo-Christian heritage, it can couch the marriage debate in moral terms, even if it’s the authorities who decide who can marry. In Japan, the state is the only arbiter and the koseki the instrument of that arbitration. Immorality, therefore, is defined by the government, and has been since the Meiji Period, when the koseki was established for the purposes of census and tax collecting.

Many Japanese couples, therefore, bridle at the idea that they need the state’s permission to cohabit and have children. Some people may think that the controversy over separate names (bessei) is based on the same thing, but it isn’t. In 1996, the Justice Ministry proposed revisions to the Civil Code that would allow married partners to retain separate surnames. As it stands, a married couple must decide on one name (98 percent take the husband’s).

Conservative politicians have repeatedly shot down any effort to allow separate surnames, saying that bessei undermines the integrity of the family, even though it’s clear that the vast majority of Japanese couples will opt for one name even if they can have separate ones.

The irony is that more couples would get married if they were allowed separate names…

Rest of the article at:
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fd20040314pb.html

YouTube video showing NPA Bicycle Instant Checkpoint supersedes attention to car accident

mytest

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

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

December 13, 2010

Hey Debito, you gotta check out this YouTube video showing a prime example of the incompetence of the Japanese police. A guy riding a bicycle gets stopped by a police officer for no reason, which happens a lot in Japan. As the officer is asking him questions (which the guy is under no obligation to answer), we can hear an obvious traffic accident take place in the background just around the corner, and both the police officer and the bicyclist hear it. A reasonable police officer would realize that that was a traffic accident and that people may be injured and need first aid, etc. But no, this cop continues to question the bicyclist as if nothing happened. At one point he even denies that it may be a traffic accident. After the bicyclist convinces him to do so, he notifies dispatch of the traffic accident, and then continues to question the bicyclist rather than tending to the possibly injured! This cop neglected to tend to a possibly serious and fatal traffic accident, all so he can perform 職務質問 (voluntary questioning) on a bicyclist!

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COMMENT:  Yes, it happens aplenty to those riding while foreign in Japan, but as I’ve argued before (in my Japan Times article Gaijin as Public Policy Guinea Pig), things foisted upon the NJ population to increase police powers are soon foisted upon the Japanese population as well.  This video is evidence of that.  Since the Keystones cannot stop people ostensibly without probable cause, stopping people with bicycles (using the excuse that they might have stolen them) or with bags (they might have knives etc.) is one way for the NPA to put the people in their place (i.e., if you can’t avoid cycling or carrying any luggage in public, too bad; suffer our suspicions).  Of course, the Keystones need no excuse to stop NJ: being foreign-looking alone in Japan is probable cause of suspicion for a visa overstay.  Again, this fortifies my theory of Japan as Mild Police State.  One that I believe is trying to increase its power in the name of “making Japan the world’s safest country again“.  Even if, in this case, the safety of others in first-aid cases is subordinated to an individual cop’s power trip.  A bit of a tangent today, but it’s germane to Debito.org.  Arudou Debito

Eyewitness report on how NPA is targeting NJ in Gotanda as security risk for APEC Summit in Yokohama

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  In case you haven’t heard, the latest APEC Summit is coming up in Yokohama this weekend.  Aside from the regular boilerplate on places like NHK about how we’re gearing up to greet and communicate effectively with foreigners (with some smattering on the security measures — cops on every corner looking busy and alert etc.), we once again are hearing next to nothing (if any media is talking about this, please send source) about how security means targeting NJ as potential criminals and terrorists.

It’s one thing to have Police State-style lockdowns.  It’s another matter of great concern to Debito.org for those lockdowns to encourage racial profiling.  This seems to happen every time we have any major international summitry (see past articles here, here, here, and here), and as usual no media seems to question it.  An eyewitness account redacted only in name that happened last week in Gotanda, Tokyo, quite a distance from the Yokohama site, follows.  Anyone else out there getting racially profiled and zapped by the fuzz?  Make sure you mention the whens and wheres, please.  Thanks.  Arudou Debito

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November 5, 2010

Hey Debito, Just to keep you abreast of a recent NPA excuse for a ‘stop and search’ shambles, here’s my story.

I have been living in Tokyo for around eight years now and this was the first time I have ever been stopped. I was on my way to meet a client in Gotanda in Tokyo on November 3rd and as I went through the ticket gate at approximately XXXpm [daytime] there were two regular police officers waiting on the other side. I saw one of them clock me and registered that he had decided to stop me for whatever purpose. Resigned to my fate, I watched him beeline his way towards me and gesture for me to stop. I took out my earbuds and responded to his question (“Can you speak Japanese?”) with a polite, “just a little.” Suprisingly, he then spoke English to me and continued to do so for the rest of the time I was delayed (I am not a fluent speaker of Japanese so I was quite happy to stay in my native tongue rather than struggle along with what little I know). First he asked if I had any I.D. such as a passport or Registration Card so I obligingly opened my bag, got out my wallet, closed my bag and handed him my I.D. I then asked him why he had stopped me and what he said was, and still is, the shocker of this whole story for me. He said that they were stopping foreigners “because of the APEC meeting being held in Yokohama.” I will refrain from launching into what I think about this ridiculous statement but I’m sure you can imagine my chagrin, so to speak. When I asked him why he had chosen to stop me, he then said that they were focusing on searching foreigners bags for “dangerous goods” and asked if it wouldn’t be too much trouble to have a look inside my bag. I said no, he couldn’t look inside my bag. He was a bit flummoxed at this and had to gather himself in order to proceed correctly. First he called over his sidekick and asked him to fill in the relevant form with my Registration details – sidekick obviously hadn’t done this before as he had a hard time guessing which bits of info to write down and had to check more than twice with the guy I was dealing with – then, he confirmed that I had just said “no” and asked me again if he could look inside my bag. We went back and forth a couple more times. Next he asked me to cooperate and that it wouldn’t take much time; I said I was cooperating and asked him if he thought I wasn’t cooperating. We went back and forth a couple more times. The discussion went round in circles a little longer but I must stress that at no point was he ever threatening or aggressive, and neither was I. In the end, I asked for his name and I.D., which he obligingly gave me. Once I had taken this down I opened my bag to put my notebook back and allowed him to have a look inside – by this time it was getting close to my appointment and I wanted to get on with my day. The one thing I forgot to ask him before I showed him the inside of my bag was if I could leave now, once they had taken my Registration details. It’s easy to think about it in retrospect… He only gave the inside of my (fairly sizable backpack, messenger style) bag a cursory look even after the reason he gave for the search, too! – I guess he supposed I would refuse if he asked to open the other bags which were inside my bag (soft lunch bag, quality waterproof bag with spare clothes, book bag). At least, in the end, he was polite, even though he was persistent. The whole affair took about 10 minutes of my time and I can’t help feeling like I was the victim of some inane body-count for administration purposes only.

Police Officer Seiya NC 217 of the Osaki Police Station looked like he was still in his 20’s and had been tasked with the job of targeting foreigners for the sole purpose of satisfying his superiors that Japan was doing it’s bit to ‘fight’ terrorism. I’m sure he believed in what he was doing and most likely still does but I’m also sure that he and many others like him have no clue that targeting foreigners and not even considering the idea that terror can be home-spun is not only hypocritical (and ironic – sarin gas, anyone?) but ultimately damaging to the good nature, honesty and humility of the vast majority of Japanese people in this country.

Isn’t there something I should download from your blog that would be ideal for explaining why I refuse to have my bag searched?

Best regards, rock on and keep banging that hammer, Debito.

Anonymous

Weekend Tangent: Fun and Games at MOFA Passport Renewal — almost denied a passport because of one letter

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. This will no doubt be put into the “shake your head in disbelief at Debito’s stubbornness” file by some, but here goes:

Last Tuesday my Japanese passport expired. Yes, it’s been more than ten years since I became a Japanese citizen. What that means to me is a topic for another blog entry someday. But what happens every time I go in to the Foreign Ministry’s Passport Renewal Office happened again like clockwork — it’s becoming a MOFA tradition.

So I went in on Tuesday and filled out my application as per normal (answer all the “you better say no” questions, mostly along the line of “are you a terrorist or criminal?”, correctly), and got all checked as normal: current passport (MOFA will later give it back cancelled, unlike, for example, international driver licenses issued in Japan), juuminhyou, koseki touhon (these were actually not necessary if the passport is still valid, which it was, darn it), and mug shot.

But as is traditional, we got into a dispute about how to spell my name.

Clerk: “You have to spell it in Hepburn Style. That means ARUDO or ARUDOH, not ARUDOU.”

I pointed to the passport and said that ARUDOU is how it has always been spelled. “And if you check your records, you will see we have had this discussion before, both in 2000 when you first issued me a passport, and in 2007 when my name was changed legally to ARUDOU DEBITO after my divorce.”

She flipped over the application to the back where I had filled out a new special section (once a separate sheet, now as of June 2009 part of the application form) for irregular and foreign spellings/renderings. “Here it is spelled as you want it. ARUDOU DEBITO. But on the obverse of this application you must spell it ARUDO. That’s Hepburn Style. For our records. That is how we officially convert Japanese script into Romaji.” She pointed to the list of complete official transliterations for every set of kana possible in Japanese.

Me:  “I don’t think you know just how flawed the Hepburn System can be, ma’am.  You still have old spellings like Honma rendered as HOMMA. That will not be read “hon-ma” by anyone who does not understand Japanese. I had a friend by the name of Monma who was constantly annoyed because Customs read her name MOMMA. I think you ought to consider allowing more flexibility in Romajinization. That would include me.”

She reiterated that these were the rules and would I not just cross out the U on my last name for the MOFA’s recordkeeping purposes?

“That’s fine,” I said, “but I don’t care about your records. My name is spelled ARUDOU.  Always has been.  I will determine my own identity, thank you very much.”

She called over someone more senior who handled me for the rest of the day, a very friendly but persistent old man who reiterated the drill about how names were supposed to be spelled.

I told him I wasn’t going to be told how to spell my own name. Especially when it’s in my own native language. “I’ve had bureaucrats try to correct me on the stroke order of how I write a number 5.  That’s pretty arrogant.  I know how to write a number 5. I learned it as a native in my schooldays. If you want to correct my stroke order of a 五 in kanji, then fine. But I will not allow bureaucratic cultural insensitivity and arrogance to dictate how I should use the Roman alphabet to alphabetize my own name.”

Mr. Senior said, “But you see, it will come out as you want on the passport thanks to the way you wrote it on the back. ARUDOU. Is there any possible damage that could be done just by deleting that U at the end having it entered in our records properly as ARUDO?”

“Yes. ARUDO is not me. ARUDOU is. I have had many years of dealing with alternate katakanizations of my original names ARUDOUINKURU DEBITTO — so much so that it was difficult to track my nenkin records down. No thanks. It is ARUDOU on my passport now, and I will always have it rendered as ARUDOU in any records of me as such.

“I don’t think you understand just how critical this is to my identity.   Unlike most people, I chose my name.  It is me.  My choice was after a lot of time spent living in Japan, qualifying to be a citizen, and going through a rigorous test to become Japanese.   A name is the most important possession a person can have. I will not bend on this. I didn’t in 2000 or 2007. I won’t now.”

Mr. Senior went back behind the counter and shortly thereafter came out with a frown. He said:

“If you don’t cross this U off your name, I regret to inform you that we will not be able to accept or process your application.”

I gave him the stare I gave the camera for my passport picture (which does not allow smiles).

Only without the Mona Lisa upturned corners of the mouth. And held it.  For quite some time.  And said, “You would deny me my right to travel overseas just because of a letter U? Who do you think you are?

“You accepted my spelling as ARUDOU twice before. Now you will again. Check your records. Back in 2000, I went into the back room with one of your supervisors and handwrote a moushitatesho, which said that if there were any problems arising from the extra U on my name, that I would take full responsibility. Go on. Check.

“If you can find any document where I wrote my name as ARUDO in the past, then I will oblige. Otherwise you will. Because you did before. Now check.”

He did.

About a half hour later (I played a lot of Bejewelled on my iPod), he came back and offered me a deep bow.

“We found your moushitatesho in our records.  It is as you say.  We will accept your application as is. And we apologize for the delay and hassle.”

“I understand.  But don’t you think it’s time for you to relax your rules now that there are more international and multicultural Japanese citizens with more individual name spellings?  Would it really break your computer to render us as we would like to be rendered, within reason?”

Mr. Senior:  “I will pass your case onto the relevant authorities for consideration.”

“Thanks very much.  But will I have to go through this every ten years?”

“Hopefully not.  But in a decade I’m not sure I’ll still be here.  I’m getting grey, as you can see.”

“I’m sure customers like me aren’t helping with the grey hairs.”

We shared a laugh and eventually parted on very good terms.  Me especially, because I like being listened to (and I like winning arguments, of course).  But I really feel as though he finally came round to understanding why I was being so goddamn stubborn.  It only took about two hours.

I still think it’s about time for the GOJ to loosen its top button a bit and allow for some flexibility in names.  We’ve finally gotten some degree of breathing space in what constitutes a “Japanese name” after naturalization.  We’ve even gotten some flexibility in how a name is rendered on a passport.  Now let’s hope that we can at least have some wriggle room regarding the almighty Hepburn System.  The Monmas of the world who don’t like to be made into mothers (not to mention the 大岡s, who have to live with OOKA (ooka ooka ooka shaka, hooked on a feeling!) or OHOKA (おまえ、アホか?)) I think would sincerely appreciate that.  What’s the point of forcing people to render their names into a system that people can’t read properly?  ArudoU Debito

ENDS

“Pinprick Protests”: Chand Bakshi fights back against “NJ ID Checkpoint” hotel, gets apology

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog. Here is a report from Chand Bakshi on how he called “basta” to a hotel that was racially profiling its customers, demanding all visually-looking NJ submit to an ID check and copy — claiming erroneously that this was required by law. Chand followed up on this to the point where he got capitulation and an apology. Well done.

This is actually pretty effective. The hotel I usually stay at in Tokyo has on various occasions (depending on how I was dressed) tried to Gaijin Card me too. I told them (and later followed up with an explanation to the management) that this only applied to tourists; NJ with Japanese addresses are not required to show ID. Of course, that’s not what the NPA would have hotels believe — they have explicitly instructed hotels to inspect and photocopy ID of ALL NJ. Which is why we must fight back against this invitation to racial profiling, as Chand has below.

In my case, my Tokyo hotel yesterday asked me if I had a domestic address upon check-in (which I’m fine with). I pointed to my name on the check-in card and said, check your records — I’m not only a Japanese, but also a frequent customer. Got a deep apology. But at least now my hotel chain is more sophisticated in its approach.

Read on for Chand’s report. Thanks Chand. Arudou Debito in Tokyo

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

October 7, 2010

Dear Debito,

I’d like to share a recent experience I had with a hotel that was discriminating against NJ and it’s somewhat positive outcome.

I live in Kyushu and took a trip to Nagasaki with a Japanese friend; we decided to stay at the Richmond Hotel in Nagasaki. It’s one of a countrywide chain.

http://www.richmondhotel.jp/en/nagasaki/index.php

When we checked in the staff asked for my passport or gaijin card. Now, since living in Japan I’ve had my share of bad hotel experiences, refused service etc, but I tend not to get too upset when asked for my gaijin card as I realize its often a communication error and what the staff really want is any ID from all customers and they just presume NJ are unlikely to have Japanese driving licenses etc. So I offered the staff my Japanese driving license instead. However they wouldn’t accept it. They wanted a gaijin card or passport only. I explained to them that as a resident of Japan it wasn’t required that I show my gaijin card to a hotel and any ID should suffice. They continued to insist I had to give them my gaijin card and I refused. I brought up the topic of discrimination and the staff seemed to have an automatic English response,

‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand.’

Finally they accepted my driving license, as ID and all seemed ok, check in completed they handed over our keys and wished us a happy stay. I then realized they hadn’t asked my Japanese friend for any ID. I asked them why they hadn’t checked my friend. Their reply was ‘only gaikokujin need to show ID, please understand.”

I started telling them off again much to the embarrassment of my Japanese friend, a supervisor came and said rudely the now all too familiar line. ‘It is not discrimination, it is required by law, please understand’

I asked what law, and was told ‘the Ryokan Gyouhou, please understand it is not discrimination.’

As an avid debito.org reader I was pretty sure this was incorrect, but there was the chance the law had changed and more importantly my Japanese friend was becoming frustrated/embarrassed and wanted to get on with sightseeing so I let the issue drop.

When I returned home I check with Debito that the Ryokan Gyouhou hadn’t changed and contacted the hotel again via telephone.

I got explained my unhappiness to various staff who where much more friendly over the phone than they had been in person. The lobby staff still kept saying it was required by law, but when I asked them if they had actually read the Gyouhou as I had they passed me up the management chain.

Finally I got to a lady who told me it wasn’t actually the law but was in fact a request from the Nagasaki police, she listened to my concerns that I basically summarized as:

* NJ are particularly sensitive to discrimination in hotels as we are sometimes refused service.

*NJ aren’t required by law to give their gaijin cards to hotel staff, they should ask for ID only, insisting on the gaijin card could be discrimination and ideally the word ‘gaijin card’ should never come out of hotel staff’s mouths.

* Requiring ID from NJ and not Japanese is discrimination, no argument about it.

*Its racial profiling as my children could look NJ despite holding Japanese citizenship. And why wasn’t my Japanese friend checked in case they were Zainichi Korean as they too hold gaijin cards.

*If they’re collecting this data on NJ what is being done with it?

She said she understood, and that they were just following the police’s instructions. Nothing was done with the copies of the IDs and they were shredded after a month.

I told her as the copy of my ID had been copied under a discriminatory policy I would like it returned to me.

The lady said she couldn’t approve that but would get her boss to call me in a few days.

A few days later the manager, a Mr. Motoyama contacted me, he was very apologetic. They said that they were sorry they had offended me, and they would return the copy of my ID.

I told him I was concerned that this was going to happen again and what was their hotel was going to do about it. Mr. Motoyama said he would inform head office of the error and in his own hotel advise the staff to follow the Gyomhou not the instructions of the police and that this shouldn’t happen again.

I asked him if this was because of the 2005 memo. (previously discussed on debito.org at http://www.debito.org/japantimes101805.html and www.debito.org/newhotelpassportlaw.jpg)

However Mr. Motoyama informed me that the police had asked for the information to be collected in 2007 when they visited the hotel in person.

They had been collecting copies of all ‘gaijin’s ‘ cards since then but hadn’t actually been passing them to the police, just shredding them after a month.

A few days later the copy of my ID and an apology letter arrived in the post. (see JPEG attached.)

So this all had a fairly satisfactory outcome, however it’s frustrating to constantly have hassle when traveling. Here the hotel staff were just being stupid. They had an automatic English response ready with their ‘It is not discrimination, it is the law please understand.” so, they must’ve been getting complaints fairly regularly. They should’ve read the Ryokan Gyouhou.

But the real culprits here are the police, I can understand how a Japanese might be tempted to follow instructions from the police without checking first if it was the law or not. Now I haven’t contacted the police (yet), but this hotel problem isn’t going to be solved one hotel at a time or even one police station at a time. It needs sorting out once and for all and I think we can do it.

We need to create some kind of guide/pamphlet/oshirase explaining the law. Maybe use some cute characters, ‘anti-sabetsu chan or something’. Then we need to get it to every hotel in the country.

So if anyone wants to help out with this project over the next few months, has some ideas, or contacts, especially with how to distribute any notices we make to literally 1000’s of hotels drop me a line at my email address:

chandbakshi AT gmail DOT com

To avoid the spam filters mark it ‘hotels’ or something. I’ll look forward to hearing from people.
Chand
ENDS

“Pinprick Protests”: NJ refusing to comply with GOJ Census?

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
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Hi Blog.  I got this a couple of days ago, and am hearing that others are now getting their 5-year Japan Census forms (recently discussed on Debito.org here).

Friend KD writes the following:

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

September 23 2010

Hi Debito, Today a lady rang my door and kindly asked me to fill out the census papers. As you probably remember from previous censuses, in the spirit of civil disobedience I refuse to participate with the census, in protest of long-term resident NJ’s not having the right to vote in local elections.

I discussed this with the lady who brought the census papers. She clearly understood my position and also brought up some points herself why it was strange that long-term NJ have no voting rights.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I do not intend to be an activist, but I thought that perhaps other people who follow you might be interested in the idea of protesting our lack of voting rights in this way.

In itself it won’t get us voting rights, but it does send a message. Sending that message, whenever we can, and in every way we can, is important.

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

COMMENT:  I am of two minds about this.  As KD says, one way to make the GOJ take notice of NJ needs is to deny the GOJ something it wants (information from us all).  But then again, I also want the GOJ to record how diverse Japanese society is (even if it won’t do it properly, by providing an optional question to indicate ethnicity; as it stands, it keeps the “pure Japanese society” (as in, no visibly off-color Japanese citizens) discourse secure).

Another person commented back at the previous thread on the Census:

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

Anton:  According to this:
http://www.stat.go.jp/data/kokusei/2010/special/english/lecture/lecture_02.htm– the census questionnaire must be available in 27 languages. Got mine yesterday, in Japanese of course. And all foreigners I know got it in Japanese. And the only contact phone is Japanese only. So, OK guys, I can’t help you here, you’ll get no data from my family.

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

What do others think about this?  Yet another discussion.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog. Just got this this morning from friend Sendaiben, about his latest experience with Narita Cops and their racially-profiling ways. Self explanatory, looks like the J-cops are getting free training at the expense of NJ bystanders for being visible while foreign. Have a read. More on this topic previously on Debito.org here. Debito

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

From: Sendaiben
Date: September 5, 2010

Flying out of Narita on September 5th, I had a few hours to kill after connecting from Sendai. I was alone, reading on a bench in the restaurant area. After about 20 minutes, a young and very pleasant policeman came up and asked to see my passport in passable English. I replied in Japanese, and we had an interesting conversation. Unfortunately I was mentally unprepared for all of this, so gave him my passport from which he noted down all the details. I refused to provide a contact phone number, however.

I have to emphasise that he was very pleasant throughout, and we had a friendly conversation. He was from Akita, seconded to Narita for two years (it seems the Narita police are drawn from all over the country). I mentioned several times that as a long-term resident I loved Japan but was uncomfortable being singled out for special attention like this due to my appearance. He sympathised and said that it also made him uncomfortable.

Some important points:

1. It seems that the whole exercise is voluntary, something he mentioned when I refused to provide the phone number.

2. I reminded him of the law on the management of personal information, but he was unable to tell me why they needed my passport details or how long they would be kept on file.

3. He claimed it was a random check but that they asked ‘people who seemed foreign’. I asked him to ask some Asian people next, and he said he would 🙂

The whole thing seemed like a training exercise, down to the silent sempai observing from ten metres away.

The most important thing I got out of this is that these checks may well be voluntary. I am therefore going to refuse (politely) to cooperate next time, and see what happens. I guess in a worst-case scenario they could ask to check my ARC, but I would then not allow them to write anything down.

ENDS

“Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

mytest

Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japansourstrawberriesavatardebitopodcastthumb
UPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito
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Hi Blog.  I would like to launch a new type of campaign, something I will call “Pinprick Protests”, an activity done on the individual level to protest injustice and unfair treatment in Japan.  Less visible than picketing and petitions, it is no less effective over time:  Enough individual protests nationwide, and it becomes “mendoukusai” for the authorities to have to deal with the issue anymore, and things shift for the better as GOJ attitudes and enforcement mechanisms change.

Case in point:  I received a good news from a translator yesterday in Debito.org’s comments section:

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

JayIII Says:
April 22nd, 2010

I work as a translator and often get jobs from the local government and I thought I would share a little bit of good news.

A request came across my desk today for updating the english phrasing recommended for hotels to display for foreign guests. The Japanese was changed from requiring “foreign visitors” and “display their passport or gaijin card” 外国人宿泊者 and 旅券もしくは外国人登録証明書を提示 to

Non-Japanese visitors without a permanent Japanese residence and display their passport 日本国内に住所を有しない外国人宿泊者 and 旅券を提示

So it’s one little step in the right direction.

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

Yes, quite. The law, when it took effect on April 1, 2005, said that NJ guests who had no addresses in Japan (as in tourists) would have to show their passports at all hotels in Japan (this was an “anti-terrorist and contagious disease measure“, problematic in itself; Japanese guests, then as now, need show no ID). The NPA and the MHLW then, deliberately and repeatedlydespite articles in the media, an inquest by the US Government, and various “pinprick protests” by individuals at check in who are aware of the letter of the law — bent the laws to say that all NJ (as in “foreign guests“), must be IDed, and some hotels (such as Toyoko Inn) used this as an excuse to refuse NJ customers entry. As determining who was a “foreign guest” was a matter of physical appearance to many hotels, this led to nationwide racial profiling, inconvenience, and insult (as not all people who look NJ are tourists, naturally).  All sponsored by authorities refusing to enforce their own laws properly.

Now, it seems, cops and ministries are finally giving hotels the correct information, and no longer bending the laws to target all NJ. Good. Pity it only took five years for the GOJ to knock it off.  And I bet it’s not a universal thing at hotels yet, so expect a bit more harassment at check-in.

Download the hotel laws here and continue the “pinprick protests” whenever necessary.  It works.  Over time.  What it takes is informedness, tenacity, and patience.   And the will to believe that we are not merely “foreign guests”, but rather people who have rights in Japan and the will to claim them.  For it is people who do NOT protest who get walked all over by the powers that be, as this case study demonstrates.

More suggestions for “pinprick protests” later.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

McGowan Case: Steve wins case on appeal at Osaka High Court

mytest

Good news at last. Comment follows at bottom:

ARTICLE BEGINS
==========================

African-American wins Y350,000 in damages for being denied entry into Osaka shop
Japan Today, Wednesday, October 18, 2006 at 19:41 EDT
http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/387820/all
Courtesy Kyodo News

OSAKA — The Osaka High Court ordered an Osaka optical shop owner to pay 350,000 yen in damages to an African-American living in Kyoto Prefecture for denying him entry to the shop in 2004, altering a lower court ruling in January which rejected the plaintiff’s damages claim.

Presiding Judge Sota Tanaka recognized the owner told Steve McGowan, 42, a designer living in the town of Seika, to go away when he was in front of the shop, and acknowledged damages for McGowan’s emotional pain, saying the entry denial “is a one-sided and outrageous act beyond common sense.”

However, the remark “is not enough to be recognized as racially discriminatory,” he said. McGowan had demanded 5.5 million yen.

According to the ruling, the owner told McGowan to go away to the other side of the road in a strong language several times when he was about to enter the shop with an acquaintance in September 2004.

The plaintiff had claimed the owner said, “Go away. I hate black people,” but the ruling dismissed the claim, as the possibility that he misheard the owner cannot be eliminated.
A plaintiff attorney said, “It’s unreasonable that discrimination was not recognized, but the court ordered a relatively large amount of damages payment for just demanding the plaintiff leave the shop. It seems that the court shows some understanding.”
==========================
ARTICLE ENDS

COMMENT:
I am very happy Steve McGowan appealed his case, as it shows just how ludicrous the previous District Court ruling was last January.

Full information on the case at
http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html

The previous decision disqualified McGowan and his wife as credible witnesses to any discrimination, by ruling:

1) McGowan’s testimony inadmissible, as he apparently does not understand enough Japanese to reliably prove that the store-owner used discriminatory language toward him.

2) McGowan’s wife’s testimony as negatively admissable. In her follow up investigation, McGowan’s wife didn’t confirm whether the store-owner had excluded McGowan because he is black (“kokujin”); she apparently asked him if it was because her husband is *foreign*.

Put another way: A guy gets struck by a motor vehicle. The pedestrian takes him to court, claiming that getting hit by a car hurt him. The judge says, “You weren’t in fact hit by a car. It was a truck. Compensation denied.”

This was a huge step backward. As I argued in a Japan Times column (Feb 7, 2006, see http://www.debito.org/mcgowanhanketsu.html#japantimesfeb7), the McGowan decision thus established the following litmus tests for successfully claiming racial discrimination. You must:

* Avoid being a foreigner.

* Avoid being a non-native speaker of Japanese.

* Have a native-speaker witness with you at all times.

* Record on tape or video every public interaction you have 24 hours a day.

* Hope your defendant admits he dislikes people for their race.

Actually, scratch the last one. The eyeglass shop owner did admit a distaste for black people, yet the judge still let him off.

Now this High Court reversal sets things back on kilter, although it pays McGowan a pittance (35 man yen will not even cover his legal fees!) and will not acknowledge the existence of racial discrimination.

That’s a shame. But it’s better than before, and far better than if he did not appeal. Gotta pray for the small favors.

Thanks to Steve for keeping up the fight! Arudou Debito in Seattle, USA