FT: UN Committee against Torture castigates Japan’s judiciary


Hello Blog. The Financial Times (London) reports that more bodies within the UN are joining the fray and pointing out Japan as not only a slacker in the human rights arenas, but also as sorely lacking in terms of checks and balances regarding the criminal procedure and the judiciary.

We’ve been saying things like this for years, glad to see it catching fire.

Pertinent UN Press Releases on this subject dated May 2007 are in the Comments section below the article (to save space), so do click on “Comments” at the very bottom if you are interested. Related article on how this pressure is starting to affect things (such as recording interrogations) blogged here.

The entire 11-page report being referred to in the FT article below is downloadable in MS Word format at

Arudou Debito in Sapporo


UN body attacks Japan’s justice system
By David Turner in Tokyo
Financial Times, May 23 2007

Courtesy of Ludwig Kanzler and Olaf Karthaus

A United Nations committee has castigated Japan’s criminal justice and prison system, listing a wide range of problems including the lack of an independent judiciary, an extremely low rate of acquittal and human rights abuses among detainees. The UN Committee Against Torture takes a broad interpretation of its brief, criticising the state’s physical treatment of citizens and the fairness of the justice system.

The report comes at an embarrassing time for Japan. The government has been trying to restore the country’s status as a nation with the moral and political authority of a world power, in addition to an economic powerhouse. Shinzo Abe has tried to accelerate this process since he became prime minister since last year, but with mixed results.

In an 11-page report completed last week, scarcely any part of the system escapes criticism. For example, it raises suspicions over a “disproportionately high number of convictions over acquittals”. There were only 63 acquittals in the year to March 2006, compared with 77,297 convictions, among criminal cases that had reached court, according to Japan’s Supreme Court.

In a version of the report released in Tokyo on Monday and described as “advanced unedited” [sic], the committee links the high conviction rate to the state’s emphasis on securing confessions before trial.

It cites fears about “the lack of means to verify the proper conduct of detainees while in police custody”, in particular “the absence of strict time limits for the duration of interrogations and the absence of mandatory presence of defence counsel”.

Parts of the law relating to inmates on death row “could amount to torture”, it says, criticising the “psychological strain imposed upon inmates and families” by the fact that “prisoners are notified of their execution only hours before it is due to take place”.

The committee also “is concerned about the insufficient level of independence of the judiciary”.

It attacks Japan’s dismissal of cases filed by “comfort women”, who were forced to work in military-run brothels during the war, on the grounds that the cases have passed the country’s statute of limitations.

The report, written after an 18-day session of the committee in Geneva, asks the Japanese government to consider a slew of measures, including “an immediate moratorium on executions”.

The committee issued its attack after receiving a report from the Japanese government on its efforts to prevent human rights abuses. All UN member states must submit such reports regularly, although the UN Committee scolds Japan for filing its report “over five years late”.

The committee’s findings are in line with complaints by human rights lawyers. But the report has attracted controversy within the UN.

Keiichi Aizawa, director of the Japan-based United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders, told the Financial Times: “The treatment of offenders in Japan is fair.”

Japan’s Justice Ministry declined to comment on the report.


Click on “Comments” below to see UN Press Releases.

Economist: UN Human Rights Council “adrift on human rights”


Hi Blog. I post on this topic because (follow the daisy chain):

1) As the new UN Human Rights Council does, given Japan’s shabby record on following human rights treaties

2) so Japan will do when it comes to Japan’s aspirations for a UN Security Council Seat…

3) which is really the only ace in the hole for putting pressure on Japan to finally pass a law against racial discrimination…

4) which Japan lacks, yet promised to establish all the way back in 1996 when it effected the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.

I’ve been wanting to present the indicative Otaru Onsens Case to the HRC for some years now, but bureaucratic snafus, and warnings from my activist friends that doing so would probably be a disappointment, have kept me at bay. Meanwhile, these articles from The Economist keep coming out and offering bad news about the meetings I’ve missed.

Would be nice to believe that human rights, from the organization which has established some of the most important conventions and treaties in history, still matter in this day when rules seem grey, and even the most powerful country in the world dismisses long-standing international agreements as “outmoded” and “quaint”…

Debito in Sapporo
(Referential Links follow the article)


The United Nations
Jan 10th 2007
(From Economist.com, from link followed from article below)

Since its foundation in 1945 the United Nations has grown in remit and size. Its main job is keeping the peace, but its Security Council is forever hobbled by squabbling over membership and doubts about its legitimacy. When the UN acts, it often fails to provide its peacekeepers with adequate means. The organisation enjoys greater success raising living standards through its specialised agencies.

Kofi Annan, the UN’s secretary-general from 1997 to 2006, presided over an organisation accused of inefficiency and scandal and subject to constant attack from America’s legislators. George Bush opposed the UN’s plans for an international court and agreements on abortion and torture, and then invaded Iraq without its backing. Mr Annan’s successor, Ban Ki-moon, may get on better with America—which would leave him with a host of other, institutional problems to face.




Human rights: Bad counsel
THE ECONOMIST Apr 4th 2007

“WE WANT a butterfly,” John Bolton, then America’s ambassador to the United Nations, said a year ago when explaining his country’s rejection of plans to replace the UN’s High Commission on Human Rights with a leaner and supposedly more credible Human Rights Council. “We don’t intend to put lipstick on a caterpillar and call it a success.” Mr Bolton, now in enforced retirement from the UN, may feel vindicated as the ludicrously painted creature creeps along, seemingly doomed never to metamorphose and take wing.

In its fourth regular session, which ended in Geneva on March 30th, the 47-member council again failed to address many egregious human-rights abuses around the world. Even in the case of Darfur, on which one of its own working groups had produced a damning report, it declined to criticise the Sudanese government directly for orchestrating the atrocities, limiting itself to an expression of “deep concern”. Indeed, in its nine months of life, the council has criticised only one country for human-rights violations, passing in its latest session its ninth resolution against Israel.

This obsession with bashing Israel and turning a blind eye to so much else has disappointed those who hoped that the new council might perform better than its predecessor. Now alarm is growing that its anti-Israel bias is going to be compounded by an excessive zeal to defend the good name of religions, and especially that of Islam, at the expense of free speech.

A new resolution, proposed by Pakistan, on the need to combat the “defamation of religions”, has drawn sharp criticism from watchdogs. Human Rights Watch pointed out that a focus on the protection of religions, rather than individuals, could be used to justify curbs upon free thought and conscience. Freedom House said the resolution was inimical to free speech and constituted “a perversion of the language and institutions hitherto used to protect human rights”.

The actual wording of most of the resolution is not in fact so objectionable. After voicing concern at “attempts to identify Islam with terrorism, violence and human-rights violations”, it urges states to prohibit the dissemination of “racist and xenophobic ideas and material aimed at any religion or its followers that constitute incitement to racial and religious hatred, hostility or violence”. So far so good, perhaps. But it goes on to say that free expression should be exercised “with responsibility”, and may be limited in regard to “public health and morals”, and, worse still, “respect for religions and beliefs”.

There’s not much encouragement for future Voltaires in that. As a piece of advice on manners, the proposition that freedom of expression should be exercised responsibly may well be sound. As a principle on which to organise society, it is not. The right to free speech is not a right if it cannot be exercised irresponsibly and, so long as it does not promote violence, jinx trials, libel individuals without cause or, in rare circumstances, threaten national security, freely is how many feel it is best exercised. Mankind has long advanced in the slipstream of ruffled feathers: a society in which no one may cause offence is likely to moulder in unquestioning obedience to the rules of those in authority.

Of the 17 members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference on the council, all but one voted for the resolution, along with China, Russia and South Africa. Fourteen Western countries voted against, including all eight EU states, plus Japan, Ukraine and South Korea (home of the UN’s new secretary-general). Nine countries, all from the developing world, abstained.

A central task for the new council was supposed to be regular reviews of human rights in each of the UN’s 192 member states. But nine months since its founding, nothing has happened. A key test of whether the council would prove any better than its derided predecessor would be to get this “universal periodic review” under way, Louise Arbour, the UN’s respected High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the Geneva meeting. The council has now given itself a year to establish such a mechanism.





(Note that Japan is now five years late on handing in its biennial report on human rights to the ICERD Committee…)

Washington Times on UN Diene visit, Ibuki, Gaijin Hanzai mag etc
Insular power poses unique issues on bias
Published March 9, 2007 Washington Times
By Takehiko Kambayashi

Japan Times: U.N. special rapporteur challenges Ibuki’s ‘homogenous’ claim
February 28, 2007

Transcript of Press Conference with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Debito Arudou at Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
Feb. 26th, 2007, 12:30 to 2PM

Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?
Japan’s eyes still on UN seat
Asia Times January 3, 2007

“We support human rights!” Just don’t scratch the surface.
On how Japan finagled its way onto the newfound HRC, November 7, 2006

PLUS: ECONOMIST: Human Rights Council in Trouble (March 22, 2007)


Economist: UN Human Rights Council in trouble


Hi Blog. Bad news from The Economist. I really have no comment at this juncture, as I don’t have enough information about the situation to draw conclusions, and don’t want to bend over backwards to paint an overly rosy picture. Debito


Human Rights and the UN
Great expectations
Hopes fade for a fairer UN policy on human rights
Mar 22nd 2007 | NEW YORK
From The Economist print edition


A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced.

But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor. What they are watching keenly is the council’s reaction to the massacres and humanitarian disaster in Darfur.

This month the council received a report on Darfur which did at least spell out some basic facts. It said the Sudanese government has aided janjaweed militias, “including in violations of human rights”. The council’s investigators had to glean this from refugees in Chad and elsewhere, as they were denied visas to visit Sudan. But the UN investigation managed to bring certain harsh truths to light: at least 200,000 are dead (many think the number is double that), the situation is getting worse not better, and the government is largely to blame.

Sadly, though, the full council is unlikely to draw the logical conclusion and hold Sudan’s rulers to account. That is partly because Muslim countries, along with various non-democracies with a soft spot for tyrants, hold a majority of the council’s 47 seats; between them they are shielding the Khartoum regime.

More surprisingly, countries such as South Africa and India are siding with Sudan. The best that can be expected is a weak EU-sponsored resolution that vows to monitor events and urges all parties to do their bit. That would leave Israel the only state to have been condemned by the council—eight times.

This sort of imbalance is all too reminiscent of the old commission. One much-vaunted improvement was a new universal-review system—under which every country’s record would be scrutinised from time to time. This would at least force human-rights abusers to answer some hard questions.

But it now looks clear that any follow-up to these inquiries will be feeble; and a group led by the Cubans wants to use the universal review as an excuse to get rid of the special rapporteurs who keep an eye on places such as Belarus, North Korea—and Cuba.

At best, the council is a declamatory body; real power lies with the Security Council in New York. But the mess in the UN’s top human-rights agency augurs ill for the reform of the UN as a whole.

Excellent article on “Comfort Women” on Japan Focus


Hi Blog. Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi Germany’s and Imperial Japan’s wartime behavior and postwar followup.

Japan’s “Comfort Women”: It’s time for the truth (in the ordinary, everyday sense of the word)
By Tessa Morris-Suzuki
(Professor of Japanese History and Convenor of the Division of Pacific and Asian History in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University)
Japan Focus Article 780
Some select quotes:

Reading these remarks [from Abe and Aso regarding “coercion” and “facts”], I found myself imagining the international reaction to a German government which proposed that it had no historical responsibility for Nazi forced labour, on the grounds that this had not been “forcible in the narrow sense of the word”. I also found myself in particular imagining how the world might react if one of the German ministers most actively engaged in this denial happened (for example) to be called Krupp, and to be a direct descendant of the industrial dynasty of that name….

Many people were involved in the recruitment of “comfort women” – not only soldiers but also members of the Korean colonial police (working, of course, under Japanese command) and civilian brokers, who frequently used techniques of deception identical to those used by human traffickers today. Forced labour for mines and factories was recruited with the same mixture of outright violence, threats and false promises…

To summarise, then, not all “comfort women” were rounded up at gunpoint, but some were. Some were paid for “services”, though many were not. Not all “comfort stations” were directly managed by the military. None of this, however, negates the fact that large numbers of women were violently forced, coerced or tricked into situations in which they suffered horrible sexual violence whose consequences affected their entire lives. I doubt if many of those who, “suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds” have spent a great deal of time worrying whether these wounds were the result of coercion in the “broad” or the “narrow” sense of the word.

And none of this makes the Japanese system any different from the Nazi forced labour system…

In 1996, a Special Rapporteur appointed by the United Nations Commission on Human Rights issued a detailed report on the “comfort women” issue. Its conclusions are unequivocal:

“The Special Rapporteur is absolutely convinced that most of the women kept at the comfort stations were taken against their will, that the Japanese Imperial Army initiated, regulated and controlled the vast network of comfort stations, and that the Government of Japan is responsible for the comfort stations. In addition, the Government of Japan should be prepared to assume responsibility for what this implies under international law”. [11]

This denial [from members of the LDP] goes hand-in-hand with an insistence that those demanding justice for the “comfort women” are just a bunch of biased and ill-informed “Japan-bashers”. An article by journalist Komori Yoshihisa in the conservative Sankei newspaper, for example, reports that the US Congress resolution is “based on a complaint which presumes that all the comfort women were directly conscripted by the Japanese army, and that the statements by Kono and Murayama were not clear apologies.” [15]

Komori does not appear to have read the resolution with much attention…

What purpose do Abe’s and Aso’s denials serve? Certainly not the purpose of helping defeat the US Congressional resolution. Their statements have in fact seriously embarrassed those US Congress members who are opposed to the resolution. [18] The main strategy of these US opponents of Resolution 121 was the argument that Japanese government had already apologized adequately for the sufferings of the “comfort women”, and that there was no need to take the matter further. By their retreat from remorse, Abe and Aso have succeeded in neatly cutting the ground from beneath the feet of their closest US allies.

Well done that researcher! Debito in Sapporo

Wash Times on UN Diene visit, Ibuki, Gaijin Hanzai etc


Hi Blog. Two nice articles on issues we’re covering on this blog: UN Rep Doudou Diene’s recent Japan visit and the forces working against Japan’s inevitable internationalization(including Ed Minister Ibuki’s comments, PM Abe’s support of Japan’s alleged homogeneity, and “Japanese Only” signs nationwide). Bravo. Thanks to the author for notifying me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Insular power poses unique issues on bias
Published March 9, 2007 Washington Times
By Takehiko Kambayashi


Doudou Diene, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, who was in Tokyo last week, spoke with Takehiko Kambayashi of The Washington Times about racism and xenophobia in Japan. His report to the U.N. Human Rights Commission last year urged Japan to immediately adopt a law against racism, race discrimination and xenophobia.

Question: What made you investigate racism in Japan?

Answer: I was elected by the United Nations Human Rights Commission as a special rapporteur and given a mandate to investigate racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia. I issue a yearly report on racism worldwide and investigate racism in different countries.

First, Japan is a global economic power, but the country is insular. This contradiction interested me, and I investigated racism in Japan. Japan’s population had been isolated for long [from the 1630s to the 1850s, under a national policy], but it is now becoming more multicultural and multiethnic. So I wanted to investigate how Japan is coping with this.

Second, I’ve come to Japan many times. I knew about the Burakumin, which made me interested. I visited Buraku communities. I spent a great amount of time with the people and looked at their situations and listened to them.

I also met the Ainu, [indigenous people living mostly on Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island] and learned how they tried to save their identity and were facing different forms of discrimination. And finally, I realized the complexities among Japan, China and Korea. I also learned of the discrimination Koreans and Chinese suffered in Japan.

[Editor’s note: The Burakumin are not a racial minority but a castelike minority among the Japanese. They are recognized as descendents of an outcast population of the feudal days. According to the Buraku Liberation League, Japan has 6,000 Buraku communities with more than 3 million people.]

Q: Can you tell us how the issues of racism in Japan differ from those in other countries?

A: Each country has its own history, its own culture and dynamic population. It is difficult to compare.

In Japan, one of the deep roots of discrimination is history – not only the history of Japan but the history of the relationship between Japan and neighboring countries. It is in the context of this history that discrimination has been built up strongly. It is clear that the history of discrimination against the Burakumin and the Ainu has been profoundly related with the history of Japanese feudal society and Japan’s history.

It is also clear that discrimination against Koreans living in Japan is also the consequence of the history of Imperial Japan, the way Japan dominated their country with an ideology of cultural domination and contempt. History is a very important factor.

Q: So this is a challenge to Japan?

A: The challenge to Japan is the writing and teaching of history. The Ainu and the Burakumin are absent in national history. Their history, their culture, the process of the discrimination, the deep causes of the discrimination, all of these are absent in Japanese history.

Japanese history, as it’s taught in schools, is also silent about the way China and Korea profoundly influenced the construction of Japanese identity. China and Korea are considered to be the father and mother of Japan, in a way, in terms of language, culture and religion.

My recommendation is for Japan to agree with China, Korea and other countries in the region and start a joint drafting of the region’s history. I recommended that these countries call upon [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization] to coordinate.



Japanese confront differences
By Takehiko Kambayashi
THE WASHINGTON TIMES Published March 9, 2007


TOKYO–While Japan is becoming more multicultural and multiethnic, some say coping with it is still a daunting task. That is exemplified by recent comments by Japan’s Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki, critics say.

“Japan has been historically governed by the Yamato race [ethnic Japanese],” Mr. Ibuki told a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki late last month, adding that the country is “extremely homogeneous.”

However, international marriages in Japan increased from 27,727 in 1995 to 41,481 in 2005.

Mr. Ibuki, who describes himself on his Web site as an “internationally minded person acquainted with many foreign dignitaries,” shocked the Japanese with his comments and infuriated minorities like the Ainu indigenous people.

Yupo Abe, vice president of the Ainu Association of Hokkaido, said he was astonished to hear Mr. Ibuki’s comments, adding that the head of Japan’s Education Ministry “lacks an understanding of history.”

Mr. Abe said the Ainu people had long lived in Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost main island, which makes up about 20 percent of the country’s land mass, but in 1869 Japan took away their land.

The stir created by Mr. Ibuki’s remarks coincided with a visit by Doudou Diene, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance who wrote a report on Japan.

“I am surprised that these comments were made by the minister of education, whose function is to educate children, enlighten them and transmit values to them,” said Mr. Diene. “There is no such thing as a homogeneous society.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, however, said there was nothing wrong with Mr. Ibuki’s remarks.

“I think he was referring to the fact that we [the Japanese] have gotten along with each other fairly well so far,” he said. “I don’t see any specific problem with that.”

“Such words will only fuel doubts about Mr. Abe’s integrity as a national leader,” countered the Japan Times, an English-language daily, in an editorial.

Last year, Mr. Diene submitted his report on Japan to the U.N. Commission on Human Rights and U.N. General Assembly, urging Japan to recognize the existence of racial discrimination and immediately adopt a law against it.

Some recent incidents seem to indicate the need for such a law.

Last month a sensational magazine titled “Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes” went on sale across the country with its cover screaming “Will we let gaijin [foreigners] lay waste to Japan?” and “Everyone will become a target of foreign crime in 2007!” [“Gaijin” is a loaded word that literally means “outsider.”] The magazine provoked outrage over its garish depictions of Chinese, Koreans, Iranians and U.S. servicemen.

A boycott movement prompted major convenience stores like Family Mart, 7-Eleven and others to pull the magazines off their shelves.

The magazine’s editor Shigeki Saka of Eichi Publishing was not apologetic. He said the magazine wanted to discuss crimes committed by foreigners and how to be prepared for them.

The Japanese press generally ignored the issue, said U.S.-born Debito Arudou, a Japanese citizen. “There’s a reason for that: It’s not something that people want to discuss when it comes to real, naked racism.”

Moreover, in a nation that aspires to a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, some businesses still display “Japanese Only” signs. In Koshigaya, a bedroom community of Tokyo, Eden, an “adult entertainment shop,” has posted a sign saying “Pure-Blooded Japanese Male Only,” and “Chinese and Naturalized people, Japanese war orphans left in China, people of mixed race with Chinese origin, Absolutely No Entry.”

A manager said the shop itself did not mean to discriminate against those at whom it pointed a finger, but its female staff members don’t want them.

Such “Japanese Only” signs can be seen across Japan, said Mr. Arudou, author of “Japanese Only.”

“It’s getting worse. It’s nationwide.”

” ‘Japanese Only’ signs are unconstitutional, but they are not illegal because there is no law to enforce the constitution,” Mr. Arudou said.

Ironically, since Japan’s current population of 127 million is expected to fall to below 100 million by 2050, some say more foreigners should be encouraged to live and work in Japan for the country’s own survival.


Ibuki & Abe on human rights & butter, plus reactions from media and UN


Hi All. Sorry to be slow on this issue, but for the record, let me blog a few articles and reactions on this issue without much time right now for comment (will include comments from others). Debito in Youga, Tokyo


Ibuki: Japan ‘extremely homogenous’
The Japan Times Feb 26, 2007


NAGASAKI (Kyodo) Education minister Bunmei Ibuki said Sunday that
Japan is an “extremely homogenous” country, a type of comment that in
the past has drawn criticism.

In 1986, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone described Japan as a
“homogenous race” nation and faced strong criticism, mainly from Ainu
indigenous people.

Speaking at a convention of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party’s
chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture, Ibuki said, “Japan has been
historically governed by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an
extremely homogenous country.

“In its long, multifaceted history, Japan has been governed by the
Japanese all the way,” Ibuki said in a 40-minute speech on education
reform. Ibuki is minister of education, culture, sports, science and

QUICK COMMENT FROM DEBITO: Just like, “In it’s long, multifaceted history, America has been governed by the Americans all the way.”?

Or how about Japan’s postwar SCAP? Oh, that doesn’t count, I guess. The issue is too silly to dwell upon any further. Let’s get to what makes this more problematic:


Abe sees no problem in education minister calling
Japan ‘homogeneous’

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday downplayed
criticisms over his education minister’s remarks a day
earlier and said there was nothing wrong with the
minister calling Japan an ”extremely homogenous”
”I think he was referring to the fact that we
(the Japanese public) have gotten along with each
other fairly well so far,” Abe said when asked to
comment on the remarks by education minister Bummei
Ibuki. ”I don’t see any specific problem with that.”
Abe, who has been hit by a series of gaffes by
members of his Cabinet recently, added, ”Of course
there have been battles in our history, as in the
Sengoku (warring states) era, but it was rare that one
side would completely wipe out their opponents, so I
believe we’ve cooperated well with each other through
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasuhisa Shiozaki, the
top government spokesman, also said he did not find
the remarks ”specifically problematic” but warned
that ”Cabinet ministers must be responsible for their
own words.”
Ibuki said Sunday at a convention of the ruling
Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki
Prefecture that ”Japan has been historically governed
by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an extremely
homogenous country.”
Remarks regarding homogeneity have drawn
criticisms in the past, such as in 1986 when then
Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone described Japan as a
nation with a ”homogenous race.” He faced strong
criticism mainly from Ainu indigenous people.
In his 40-minute speech on education reforms,
Ibuki, who is minister of education, culture, sports,
science and technology, also said, ”In its long,
multifaceted history, Japan has been governed by the
Japanese all the way.”
Ibuki also issued a warning about paying too much
respect to human rights, illustrating his remark by
pointing out what happens if one eats too much butter.
”No matter how nutritious it is, if one ate only
butter every single day, one would get metabolic
syndrome,” he said. ”Human rights are important, but
if we respect them too much, Japanese society will end
up having human rights metabolic syndrome.”


Abe fine with ‘homogeneous’ remark
The Japan Times Feb 27, 2007

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday downplayed criticism of remarks
by his education minister the day before and said there was nothing
wrong with Bunmei Ibuki calling Japan an “extremely homogenous” country.

“I think he was referring to the fact that we (the Japanese public)
have gotten along with each other fairly well so far,” Abe said. “I
don’t see any specific problem with that.”

Ibuki said Sunday at a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s
chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture that “Japan has been historically
governed by the Yamato (Japanese) race. Japan is an extremely
homogenous country.”

Remarks regarding homogeneity have drawn criticism in the past. For
instance, Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone faced a strong backlash,
mainly from Ainu indigenous people, when in 1986 he described Japan
as a nation with a “homogenous race.”





Bunmei Ibuki’s comments were *worse* than I realized. If this isn’t
big news, in my opinion, it *should* be. If I have time I will blog
on this tomorrow. I hope others do as well.

The Japan Times articles did *not* report on other comments that
*did* get reported in the Japanese press. Searching around I did find
that some of these comments got reported in at least one English
newspaper, the Telegraph.

Ibuki makes comments that show on a fundamental basis he
misunderstands constitutional government.

He seems to view rights as entitlements sort of handed out by the
government. However, these rights can be overemphasized and to the
detriment of the minzoku.

Minzoku translates as folk, but it’s code words for *race*, as in
Yamato Minzoku.

Ibuki’s opinion is that rights should not be overemphasized at the
expense of the minzoku. And he explicitly identifies the Yamato Minzoku.

This is the *same* minzoku that so many Japanese lost their lives
over during WWII.

This is sort of like saying, yes, it’s nice to have rights, but don’t
forget that the heart and soul of Japan is the Yamato minzoku, our
homogenous race heritage.

This is really unbelievable and stunning. The fact that Abe does not
see a problem with these comments is also political miscalculation he
hopefully will suffer for.

Ibuki should resign and Abe should profusely apologize.

Because of the importance with which I see this issue, I’m posting
the entire Telegraph article:

Minister’s human rights rant shocks Japan
By Colin Joyce in Tokyo
Last Updated: 6:39am GMT 27/02/2007

Japan’s education minister has stunned the country with a gaffe-
strewn speech in which he claimed that too much emphasis has been
put on human rights.

Bunmei Ibuki, 69, also said that Western-style individualism is
damaging Japan, while he praised Japan’s racial homogeneity and
appeared to denigrate minorities.

Japanese newspapers reported yesterday that Mr Ibuki, a veteran
politician who worked at the Japanese embassy in London for four
years in the 1960s, implied in his speech in Nagasaki that problems
with Japan’s education policy stemmed from the fact that it was
imposed by the US occupation authorities after the Second World War.

“Japan has stressed the individual point of view too much,” he
said. He also argued that a society gorged on human rights was like
a person with an obesity-related illness.

“If you eat butter everyday you get metabolic syndrome. Human
rights are important but a society that over indulges in them will
get ‘human rights metabolic syndrome’,” he said.

The speech raises questions about Tokyo’s commitment to concepts
such as human rights and democracy, which Japanese commentators
note were brought to Japan by defeat in the war rather than created
independently by domestic reforms.

It is unclear whether Mr Ibuki’s choice of the word “butter” was
intentional or unfortunate, but it echoes an old disparaging
Japanese expression for Western ideas: “stinking of butter”.

The term came about because Westerners traditionally had a far
higher dairy content in their diet than Japanese and hence were
thought to smell of butter.

Link: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/02/27/wjapan27.xml


Here is a link to his comments in Japanese:

Some of his comments:
1. 人権だけを食べ過ぎれば、日本社会は人権メタボ
ningendake wo tabesugireba, nihonshakai wa ninken metaborikku shoukougun
“If we (eat) partake too much of human rights, our society will
degrade as the human body does when it partakes of unhealthy food.”

2. 権利と自由だけを振り回している社会はいずれだ
kenri to jiyuu dake wo furimawashite iru shakai wa irzure dame ni
naru. kore ga konnkai no kyouiku kihonn houkaisei no ichiban no pointo
“If we only brandish our desire for freedom and rights, then society
becomes useless. That is the number one point of our educational

The idea that there is some kind of trade off between rights and a
“good” society is completely misconstrued. A good society is one
where people have rights and those rights are protected, period.

If we allow that rights can be curbed at the needs of *society* we
introduce a random variable that can be interpreted however one wants
to interpret it. We *all* have different views on what a *good*
society would be. This is why we have democracy.

Moreover, Ibuki doesn’t seem to grasp that freedom in a political
sense *only* means freedom from (physical) coercion. The government
cannot grant freedom in any other sense of the word. We accept that
the government will have to use a limited amount of (physical)
coercion to carry out its job, this is why we recognized the
fundamental danger inherent in governmental power.

Shall we allow more government physical coercion in in order to
support the Yamato minzoku. This is absurd. And its coming from the
minister of education!

The primary function of government is not to create a utopian
society, be it the Yamato minzoku, or some extreme form of Islam or
Christianity. The *fundamental* function of government is to
*protect* our rights. Through the exercise of those rights, we might
be able to help society, physical coercion should not shape those

I’ll note that at least one politician has a nice come back to Ibuki.
Kiyomi Tsujimoto stated:
nihon wa ninken ishiki ga tarinai kuni da to kokusaiteki ni mirarete
iru. metaborikku dokoro ka eiyou busoku da.

“As from an international perspective Japan does not have enough of a
human rights sense of consciousness, I’d say as far as human rights
rather than having a human rights syndrome, we’re undernourished.”




Beating the Yamato drum
The Japan Times March 1, 2007


With health minister Hakuo Yanagisawa’s gaffe remark that women are “childbearing machines” still fresh in people’s memory, yet another Cabinet member has put his foot in his mouth. This time, education minister Bunmei Ibuki has voiced objectionable ideas on the general character of the Japanese state and human rights issues.

In his speech about “education resuscitation” in a meeting of a Liberal Democratic Party chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture, Mr. Ibuki said the Yamato race has ruled Japan throughout history and that Japan is an extremely homogeneous country. He also expressed the idea that there should be limits to the enhancement of human rights. Likening human rights to butter, he said, “However nutritious butter is, if one eats only butter every day, one acquires metabolic syndrome. Human rights are important. But if they are respected too much, Japanese society will end up with human rights metabolic syndrome.”

Mr. Ibuki’s comment is ideological. It is known that Japan’s ancient culture, the foundation of Japan’s present culture, was an amalgamation of various roots. No one single race formed Japanese culture. Referring to Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone’s remark in 1986 that Japan is a nation with a “homogeneous race,” Mr. Ibuki said, “I did not say homogeneous race.” Even so, his mentioning the homogeneous character of Japan shows he does not altogether accept Japanese society as a composite also of Korean, Chinese and other foreign residents as well as Japanese nationals who do not identify themselves as members of the Yamato race — Ainu people, for example.

His human rights comment is also troublesome. It is clear that Japan has many human rights problems that must be addressed. Mr. Ibuki should remember that various rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution are the basis of a healthy democracy. Strangely, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe defended Mr. Ibuki, saying his statements are not problematic. Such words will only fuel doubts about Mr. Abe’s integrity as a national leader.


EDITORIAL/ Ibuki in the dark on rights
Asahi Shinbun 02/28/2007

Addressing at a convention of the Liberal Democratic Party’s chapter in Nagasaki Prefecture on Sunday, education minister Bunmei Ibuki said: “If you eat only butter every day, you develop metabolic syndrome. If Japanese overindulge themselves on human rights, the nation will develop what I’d call ‘human rights metabolic syndrome.'”

Metabolic syndrome’s telltale symptom is abdominal obesity, which could cause strokes and other diseases. Ibuki used this medical case to voice his view that society will become “diseased” if human rights are overemphasized.

Speaking on the present and future of educational revival, he also asserted: “Any society that goes hog-wild for rights and freedoms is bound to fail eventually. For every right, there is obligation.”

Perhaps Ibuki wanted to point out the mistake of asserting one’s rights without accepting the obligations that go with them.

However, although “rights” and “human rights” can overlap each other in some areas, they are not completely interchangeable concepts.

The very fact that Ibuki coined the expression “human rights metabolic syndrome” revealed his insensitivity to human rights issues. Is there truly a glut of human rights in Japan today?

In the education world in which Ibuki has the top administrative responsibilities, suicides among bullied children continue because they are unable to cope with the torment.

Elderly people are increasingly becoming victims of abuse. There are also endless cases of domestic violence and threats from spouses. Foreigners and people with disabilities continue to face discrimination.

Last week, a Kagoshima District Court ruling condemned the persistent police practice of using heavy-handed interrogation tactics to force “confessions” out of crime suspects and making up investigation reports.

The situation in Japan is alarming not because of human rights excesses, but rather because there are too many human rights issues that are being ignored by our society.

The abduction of Japanese citizens by North Korean agents constituted a grave violation of human rights. Therefore, the Japanese government submitted a United Nations resolution condemning Pyongyang’s violations of human rights. The resolution was adopted by the world body.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated in his policy speech last month that he would work closer with nations that share such basic values as freedom, democracy, fundamental human rights and the rule of law. But what we don’t understand is that the same Abe sees “nothing wrong” with Ibuki’s comment.

Human rights issues are among the primary concerns of the world today. It is surely Japan’s role to continue upholding democracy and human rights in the fast-evolving international community and situation in Asia. Japan will be held in higher esteem only if it strives to become a “human rights nation” where every individual is respected as a person.

It is all the more regrettable that Ibuki, the very minister in charge of Japanese education and culture, has uttered remarks that revealed his lack of respect for human rights. The last thing we want the education minister to do is give the rest of the world the wrong message–that the Japanese people are quite satisfied with the present state of human rights.

Where human rights are concerned, Japan is nowhere near developing any disease from overindulging. It is still undernourished.

–The Asahi Shimbun, Feb. 27(IHT/Asahi: February 28,2007)

人権メタボ 文科相のひどい誤診だ


















J Times quotes UN’s Doudou Diene re Ibuki comments


Hi Blog. Writing this between speeches. Got Eric Johnston of the Japan Times on the phone yesterday to UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene for some exclusive responses about Education Minister Ibuki’s quotes (and PM Abe’s defense of them). Ibuki compared paying (too much?) attention to human rights to Metabolic Syndrome, like ingesting too much butter. Huh?

I’ve been slow on the uptake recently (I have averaged about two speeches a day this week), but I’ll add Ibuki’s comments later for the record to this blog with a link from here.

Anyway, glad we got Diene on the record giving this administration the criticism it deserves. I made sure to get Kyodo and Japan Times articles on Ibuki and Abe into his hands. (As well as the Gaijin Hanzai Mag, of course, which he promised will go into his next report.) Great timing by these fools in the Abe Administration all around.

Got a speech in an hour to the Roppongi Bar Association, so signing off here. Sorry to be so slow recently. Debito in Roppongi Hills.


U.N. special rapporteur challenges Ibuki’s ‘homogenous’ claim
By ERIC JOHNSTON Staff writer


The U.N. special rapporteur on racism countered Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki’s claim over the weekend that Japan is a homogenous country.

“There is no such thing as pure blooded or a pure race. Where do the Ainu fit in to Japanese society? Or the Chinese and Koreans?” Doudou Diene, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Japan Times.

“I am absolutely shocked at his remark. Here is the education minister, the person who in charge of educating Japan’s children about their history, saying something that is so outdated.”

Diene is in Tokyo to follow up on last year’s U.N. report on racial discrimination in Japan.

On Sunday, Ibuki told the Liberal Democratic Party’s Nagasaki chapter that Japan has been historically governed by the Yamato — Japanese — race and that Japan is an extremely homogenous country.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday defended Ibuki’s comments, which have also drawn criticism from human rights groups.

Abe said he thought there was no problem with Ibuki’s remarks as he believed the education minister was referring to the fact that Japanese have gotten along with each other well so far.

The special rapporteur said Japanese, South Korean, and Chinese history scholars should work together through the United Nations to resolve historical issues.

By doing this, he said, not only historical tensions but also the deeper racism in East Asia that has led to those tensions can be addressed in an atmosphere free from domestic politics.

Diene said Ibuki’s remarks and Abe’s comments about them will likely be included in the new report he will submit to the U.N. later this year.


Amnesty lashes out
Kyodo News

Amnesty International Japan on Tuesday harshly attacked education minister Bunmei Ibuki for saying too much respect for human rights would give Japan “human rights metabolic syndrome.”

In a letter sent to Ibuki, Amnesty demanded he retract his remarks, saying they “ignore the human rights of citizens.”

“It is true that exercising rights carries with it obligations,” the human rights group said. “But it is states and governments which undertake obligations to guarantee citizens their rights.”

Through the remark, Ibuki has neglected his obligations and is trying to restrict human rights, Amnesty said.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2007

Transcript of FCCJ luncheon w. UN’s Doudou Diene, Feb 26, 2007 (UPDATED)


Transcript of Press Conference with United Nations Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene and Debito Arudou at Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan
Feb. 26th, 2007, 12:30 to 2PM

(photo with Doudou Diene and Kevin Dobbs courtesy Kevin)

Note: This is an unofficial transcript with some minor editing for repetition, taken from a recording of the event. It is not an official FCCJ transcript.

PIO: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan. My name is Pio d’E,millia, and I’m moderating today. Let me introduce our guests for today’s professional luncheon.

On my right, are the uyoku, Debito Arudou, probably the first time in his life he has been called uyoku…

DEBITO: I’ve been called worse.

PIO: . . . but I’m sorry for this discrimination. And then Doudou Diene, who is the UN Rapporteur on Racism, Xenophobia and Racial Discrimination. I think it’s a good idea that we organized this without knowing that, because today, as some of you may have noticed from the wires, we have another, probably historical statement by the minister of the government, of Education, Mr. Ibuki, who stated in Nagasaki that, thanks to the homogeneous society, Japan “has always been governed by the same race.’’
Now, I think this is a good starting point for today’s debate, because I was going to ask Mr. Diene, who has a very hectic schedule this week. He’s under the invitation of several groups in Japan, namely IMADR, the bar association of Japan, the University of Osaka, and excuse me if I’ve forgotten any others. Anyway, he’s on a lecture tour. He has been invited as Rapporteur to talk on racism in Japan. But, he’s also back from two other reports that he just finished. One is about Italy, and the other is about Switzerland. So, since I see other Italian press here, I’m sure Mr. Diene will be happy to answer questions on the other side of Europe. I’m sure that we will find out we’re far from being an innocent society.

Anyway, without further ado, I will leave microphone to Arudou Debito, the very famous initiator of a historical suit called Otaru Onsen suit. I asked him to be very, very brief because, by now, everybody knows that issue and you can take nice bath in Otaru. Please update recent us on not only the issues of the onsens but that of the “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Files.’’ It’s a magazine I’ve here. It’s become a collector’s item, and is selling on E-bay for 40,000 yen. So, I’m sorry, if you didn’t get by now, you won’t get it any more, and I’m sure Arudou can explain what is behind this. Just for the record, the FCCJ Professional Activities Chairman did try to contact both the publisher and editor of this magazine. The editor seemed to be interested in coming here to make his case. He did an interview with Japan Today, but he was stopped from coming by the omnipotent publishers in Japan. So, he’s not here. Arudou, please try to fill in both sides and be very objective.

DEBITO: Hello everyone. It’s a pleasure to be back here. It’s always a pleasure. Thank you very much. First of all, I have a handout for everybody.
[DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE FCCJ HANDOUT AT http://www.debito.org/dienefccjhandout022607.doc]

It’s three pages, starting with the report to Special Rapporteur Dr. Doudou Diene, on his third trip to Japan, February 2007. These are the contents of a folder I’m going to be giving him, along with several articles and several books, including the Gaijin Hanzai file, of course. I’m not going to be focusing on this. This is for you to take home. There’s lots of information, too much to get into within 10 minutes.

So, let me go over the visuals. Take a look at the screen.
[DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE FCCJ POWERPOINT PRESENTATION AT http://www.debito.org/fccj022607.ppt]

Is anything changing? That’s what I was asked and I’m going to fill you in on a few things that might interest you. This is, for example, a Japanese Only sign in 2000. These things still exist in Japan. In fact, they’re spreading. And that’s what I’m going to make the case to you today.

All right, moving on. First of all, why does this matter? For one thing, 40,000 international marriages in Japan. In 2000, it was 30,000 marriages. It’s going up, and quite dramatically. And, children of these registered marriages do not show up as foreigners. Because they’re not foreigners, they’re Japanese citizens. Therefore, children of these marriages are coming into our society as Japanese, even though they might not necessarily look Japanese. That will make for a sea change in Japan’s future.

And, you’ll never see where they are because they are invisible statistically. Japan’s census bureau does not measure for ethnicity. If you write down your nationality, in my case “Japanese’’, there is no way for me to write that I am a Japanese with American roots. That’s a problem. You have to show ethnicity because Japan is diversifying. It is a fact, and one reason is international marriages.

And Japan needs foreigners. They are not here by accident. One reason: record low birthrates and record high lifetime expectancy. The United Nations now says Japan will soon have the largest percentage of elderly in the world. That’s old news. As of 2006, the Health Ministry says Japan’s population is actually decreasing, and will fall to 100 million in 50 years, actually 43 years. So, that means the number of foreigners who came in 2005 actually plugged the hole. We have a net annual of 50,000 foreigners per year influx. Now keep in mind that 50,000 for a minute because it’s important. Both the United Nations and the Obuchi Cabinet in 2000 said that Japan must import 600,000 workers per year.

How many are we now importing? 50,000, or less than 1/10th of what we need in order to maintain our current standard of living. That is a fact. Even our government acknowledges that. Japan is already importing workers to make up for the labor shortage and alleviate the hollowing out of domestic industries. We’re not going to let our factories go overseas. We’ll hire cheap workers, and give them trainee and researcher visas. One result of that is, between 1990 and 2007, we now have more than 300,000 Brazilians. They are now the third largest minority, and the numbers are increasing.

Given that there is this many foreigners here, more than 2 million total, without legal protections against discrimination, will foreigners want to stay in Japan and contribute? Japan’s government says we need them. So, help make it easy for them to stay. Well, let’s talk about problems with that. For example, and this isn’t a problem per say. This is Newsweek Japan from September of last year. All of these three people in the picture? They’re Japanese citizens, just like me. We are the future. Japan’s media is also talking about this as well. Look at that. Imin Rettou Nippon. Without foreigners, the Toyota system won’t work. This is the cover of Shukan Diamond, June 5th, 2004. Why is Toyota at number two in the world now? Foreigners. Cheap labor. Working for half the pay of their Japanese counterparts and no social benefits. However, Japan is the only major industrialized nation without any form of a law against racial discrimination.

And it shows. For example, the Otaru Onsens case. Pio said we all know it, so I’m going to skip it. Well, if you want information on it, here are my books, in English and in Japanese. And you can go to my website at debito.org for all the information you’ll ever need.

Let’s take a look at one case study. Who are these two here? Can I have a little bit of reaction here? An “awwww” Those are my kids, 10 years ago, maybe a little more. They were born and raised in Japan and are native speakers of Japanese and are Japanese citizens. Now look at this. They’re actually a little bit different-looking, aren’t they, even though they have the same parents –as far as I know! We went to one particular onsen in Otaru. What do you think happened? They said, “This one can’t come in.’’ Ha-ha-ha. Your daughter looks foreign. We’ll have to refuse her entry, even though she’s a Japanese citizen.

I’m summarizing the case to the bare fingertips, all the way down to the cuticles. That’s the best I can do in 10 minutes. We have another case here where I got Japanese citizenship in 2000. And there I am in front of the onsen. A nice big onsen, not a mom-and-pop place. I went back there on October 31st, and what do you think they said? Not “Take off your mask.’’ They said, “We accept that you have citizenship (I showed them proof)’’. But they said, “You don’t look Japanese, therefore in order to avoid misunderstandings, we’ll have to refuse you entry.’’

So, it’s no longer a matter of foreigner discrimination. It’s a matter of racial discrimination. They refused one of my daughters and they refused me. There’s a couple of signs there saying `Japanese Only’. Also, in Mombetsu, Wakkanai, there are signs, including in the middle of the mountains, where people say, “Russian sailors, this. . .’’ There are no Russian sailors in the middle of the mountains. Even in Sapporo. There are signs up in every language but Japanese for the 2002 World Cup. Those signs are still up today, except for the ones in Otaru. The moral of this tale is if you don’t have the legal means to stop this sort of thing, it spreads nationwide. Misawa. Akita. Tokyo. Saitama. . . here’s a few signs. Is the point becoming clear? Nagoya. Kyoto. Hamamatsu. Kurashiki. Hiroshima. Kitakyushu. Fukuoka. Okinawa. All of this information in on the website.

It’s getting worse, it’s nationwide. “Japanese Only’’ signs have been found at bathhouses, discos, stores, hotels, restaurants, karaoke lounges, pachinko parlors, ramen shops, barber shops, swimming pools, an eyeglass store, a sports store, and woman’s footbath establishment. Huh? “Japanese Women Only’’ They said they would not allow foreign women in because their feet are too big. (sounds of audience laughter) That is quote. “Because their feet are too big.’’ Give them a call, ask them.

Conclusions? It’s difficult to establish who is Japanese and who is not just by looking at their face. Which, as for “Japanese Only’’ signs, means let’s get out of the exclusivity thing. Things that happen to foreigners only affect foreigners? You’re wrong. Because of Japan’s internationalization, we’re going to have situations where even Japanese citizens get refused. A more profound conclusion is that “Japanese Only’’ signs are unconstitutional. They also violate international treaties, which Japan affected in 1996. They promised over 10 years ago to pass a law, but they never did.

These “Japanese Only’’ establishments are unconstitutional, but they are not illegal because there is no law to enforce the constitution. We took it to the streets and did what we could. The Hokkaido Shimbun agreed that refusing bathing was racial discrimination. We also took it to the courts. To summarize it, even the Supreme Court dismissed the case against the city of Otaru, saying it’s not involving any constitutional issues, which is ludicrous. It touches on article 14.

Here’s what everybody wants to know. We still have no form of law against racial discrimination in Japan. “Japanese Only’’ signs are still legal. We have official policy pushes against foreigners, and shadowy propaganda campaigns against any bill protecting their rights. For example, Shizuoka’ policy agency had a crime pamphlet in 2001. “Characteristics of Foreign Crime’’. It was put out by the police and distributed to shopkeepers. There were also NPA notices against foreign bag-snatchers and knifers. You can find such signs at bank ATMs and subways. You have a darkie guy speaking in katakana to a pure white Japanese, speaking in Japanese. So, the message is that foreigners are off-color and carry knives. These are put out by police.

Also, the NPA decided to deputize every hotel in Japan. How? If you take a look here. “Japanese legislation makes it mandatory that you, as a non-resident foreign guest, present your passport and have it photocopied. It says that all non-resident foreigners must show their passport. But the notice that the customers see is this one: “Japanese law requires that we ask every foreign guest for a passport.’’ That’s willful misinterpretation of the law. I’ve been asked for my passport even though I’m a Japanese citizen.

Now, we talked about this a minute ago. Here’s the Gaijin Underground Crime Files. It says on the cover that “everyone will be a target of foreign crime in 2007.’’ It further says, “Will we let gaijin lay waste to Japan?’’ That’s how foreigners are portrayed in this magazine. It is by Eichi Shuppan. Cheap. No advertising. The publisher is Mr. Joey H. Washington. Who is Joey H. Washington? I’ve asked, but have not gotten an answer. No advertising at all.

Who is funding this? We don’t know. There’s been no answer. Sold it in convenience stores nationwide. You can see the whole thing on-line for free at this address. Now, Pio is giving me the time thing. Gotta go. As far as the United Nations is concerned, it says that in the ICERD that “all dissemination of ideas on racial superiority, hatred, and incitement to racial discrimination shall be a declared offense punishable by law, including the financing thereof’’. A little bit more succinct is the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights which Japan affected in 1979. “Any advocacy, etc. etc.’

Moving on, let’s talk about incitement to hatred. . . “You bitches! Are gaijin really that good?’’ This is from the crime magazine. Is this a crime? Groping might be a crime, stalking might be a crime. But kissing on the street? It’s not crime. And here, they’re talking about male member size. This is not exactly friendly stuff. “Hey, nigger! Get your hands off that Japanese girl’s ass!’’ Then there is the manga, where a Chinese drowns a Japanese wife, and says, “right, that’s put paid to one of them. I wonder where they got the evidence that he smiled as he drowned this person? And to conclude it, the manga says, “Can they kill people this way, in a way that is unthinkable to Japanese? Is it just because they’re Chinese?’’ Is this encouraging brotherly love? How we doing on time, Pio? Let me cut it off there.

PIO: If you lose your job as a professor, you can go around the world and do presentations. You’re really good at presentations. Doudou Diene has been waiting for a long time. Thank you for your patience and please go ahead.

DIENE: Thank you very much. I will be brief. I very much enjoyed this encounter. Anytime I come to Tokyo, and I would like to share with you two points. One, my main observation worldwide and after my visit to Japan and my follow up visit, on the world scene, there are three points that are strongly indicated in my report. One is the increase of violence, violent acts and killings due to racism. . .[garbled] In Russia, I was there to investigate racism. People had been killed in the streets of Moscow. Second, and more serious, is what I call the democratization or legislation of racism which is expressed by two things. One, is the way the racist political platforms are slowly but deeply infiltrating the democratic system and political parties under the guise of debating illegal immigration, asylum seekers, and now terrorism. When you analyze the program of political parties in many countries, you will see the rhetorical concepts, views being banalized. But more serious than the concept of banalization, is that you’re now seeing more and more governments composed of democratic parties and extreme right parties. You have it in Denmark, Switzerland, and we’ll know by May if we have it in France.

But when you analyze it more carefully, you see that extreme right party leaders were getting into government, to the center of power, and occupying strategic posts like the Minister of Justice. They are then in a position to implement their agenda. We are witnessing this development. It is a very serious one.

More serious, but in the same dynamic, is the fact that extreme right parties are advocating a xenophobic agenda, and they are being elected because of this agenda, especially in regional parliaments. Berlin elected seven representatives of extreme right parties. In the European Parliament, the extreme right has enough seats to constitute a parliamentary group.

So, the point is democratization and banalization of racism and xenophobia. Third point is the emergence of development of the racism of the elites, especially the upper class, intellectual and political. We are seeing now more and more books and studies being published by intellectuals, like Samuel Huntingdon’s “Who are We?’’ The central point of the book was that the increasing presence of Latinos was a threat to America’s identity. You’re seeing more and more crude expressions of racism in publications by university publishers. But the racism of the elites is also expressed by the birth of uncontrolled sensitivities? One French author said Africans were undeveloped because of their penis size. He added that they should be sterilized. So, he has crossed two red lines. One is an old racial stereotype about Africans and sex, and bestiality of Africans. It was largely forgotten, but is being revived by people like this man. Why did he call for sterilization? Historically, this has been the first step to advocating genocide, because sterilization means elimination of a group. This opinion was expressed by a key member of the French public on television.

Another example, also in France, [garbled] a local politician said there were too many black people on the French national soccer team, and that there should be more white people. It was a member of the Socialist Party, not an extreme right-wing party that said this. I provide these examples to show that we are seeing these statements by a growing number of elites.

You may ask why. I think that from this racism of the elites, which is coming strongly. . . because of the banalization, the opening of the door, anti-Semitism and racism are now coming back, being legitimized, despite very strong opposition in Europe. My role is not to denounce or to only present a dark picture of racism worldwide but also to share with the international community and the UN General Assembly the attempts to understand why it is happening internationally. Here, I’m trying to get something more positive. Postive in the sense that I really believe it, behind the increase of violence and killings due to racism, this verbal increase in racism by the so-called elites, I think we are witnessing something deeper, which is one of the causes of what I call a crisis of identity. The fact that in Europe, Africa, and Japan, the national identity, as it was framed by the elites, as it was put into the Constitution, disseminated through education, appeared in literature, and then in the minds and psyche of people, the national identity in the form of a nation-state is no longer conformed to the multi-cultural dynamic of societies.

The societies are becoming more pluralistic, multicultural. This trend contradicts the national identity as it was once defined, and still being promoted. It is precisely this clash which is being politically used by extreme right wing groups, penetrating the programs of political parties, whenever the issue of foreigners is concerned, especially in the debates on immigration and asylum seekers and their integration.
Indeed, if you take the debates on immigration in many countries, it’s what I call and “integration strip-tease’’. It’s a strip-tease in the sense that what governments are asking is for foreign immigrants to “undress’’ at the border. To undress their cultural, religious, and ethnic specificity. This discourse is being discussed and put into law. One discussion we here in the EU is on Turkey. Fundamentally, the issue of identity is at the core of the development of racism. The way the elites and, indeed, societies themselves, are facing their multiculturalization. The refusal to accept this reality is one of the sources of racism. It expressed by the elites because they are the ones who construct national identities, and they feel threatened. Now, what is the dynamic behind it? This means that the combat against racism and violent acts associated with racism has to be linked to the construction of truly multicultural societies, democratic, interactive, multicultural, and equal.

This point leads me to Japan. As you know, my report was submitted to the Human Rights Council and to the UN General Assembly last November. Three points on this report. One, I think there were many interesting developments after my report. The issue of racism is now a key issue here in Japan. It has been for a while. But my report has contributed in a way to help the issue be discussed. Second, my report had a very important consequence, which I’ve been advocating in all countries I visited. This is the mobilization of civil society and human rights organizations on the issue of racism. Japan has been advancing the issue, I must say. Japan’s civil society has organized around my report and created a network of minority communities and human rights organizations, and are acting by helping victims of discrimination, publishing reports, and drawing the attention of the media.

For me, this is central. Combating racism is not the exclusive domain of government. Civil society has to be involved and a key actor. This is happening now in Japan. The last consequence of last November’s report on Japan is that the way my report was received by the Japanese government. As you know, the initial reaction was very negative. Indeed, the Foreign Ministry told me they were not happy.
One key point the Japanese government made to the Human Rights Council in Geneva was to say that I had gone beyond my mandate in touching upon the role of history in racism. I put it as one sample point. Racism does not come from the cosmos. Racism is a historical construction. You can retrace how racism was born and developed, and how it manifests itself. This means that history is a sin for which communities have been demonized and discriminated. So, I did make that point in my report, referring to both the internal discrimination in referring to Japanese communities like the buraku community and the Ainu, and it is indeed linked to Japanese history and society. And the racism against Koreans and Chinese is part of the history of Japan from which all this racism eminated.

One of my conclusions was, beyond calling for the adoption of national legislation against racism and all forms of discrimination, I did invite the Japanese government to cooperate with regional governments like China to start cooperating on a general history of the region. And I did propose in my report, and we’ve done this elsewhere, a group of international historians to develop a report. I said that by drafting this history, it will help touch on the deeper issue of racism and discrimination against Koreans, Chinese here. Japanese may also be discriminated elsewhere. The process may lead to a more profound re-encounter and reassessment of the old linkages and legacies. I pointed out that if you read Japanese history books, the picture given of the history of Japan, China, and Korea is that of the short-term. I did say that if the Japanese government decides to teach the longer-term histories of the relations of these countries, Japanese will remember that Korea and China are the mother and father of Japan, for language and religion, and whatever else. The Japanese make it original, something Japanese. But the deeper source is more profound and comes from China and Korea, but this is forgotten. I did say that if you teach this clearly, Japanese will realize this, and realize that discrimination is occurring against Koreans and Chinese.

There is something going on in the Japanese government, I think the fact that the accepted my visit was an indication that they place the human rights issue of some importance. It is never pleasant for a government to invite a special Rapporteur. You are considered a nuisance. But, they did invite me to come, so I came. This means that, somehow, they recognize there is an issue here. I take it that sense. So, on the historical issue, after having negatively reacted in Geneva last summer to my conclusions by saying I’d gone beyond my mandate with regards to bringing up historical issues, in November, at the UN, the Japanese delegates informed the UN that the process has started of contacts between Japanese, Chinese, and Korean historians. I say excellent. But my recommendation was that this process of drafting historical revisions to get to the deep root causes of these issues should be coordinated by UNESCO, as UNESCO has done it in the past. They can give it a more objective framework, and can eliminate the political tensions which may come from this process.

So, I think this is a demonstration that something is going on. Now, in conclusion, my visit to Japan is not a one-time, final act. It is a beginning of a process for which Japanese racism will be monitored as we monitor it other countries: Russia, or my own country, Senegal. Each and every year, I will come back to the situation in Japan as follow-up. I will inform the international community of whatever developments occur, negative or positive, to bring the issue to the attention of the United Nations where it can be discussed. Tonight, there is a debate at the Japanese Bar Association from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on racism. So, the mobilization of legal establishment to engage in the combat against racism is a fantastic step. I am now ready to answer any questions you might have. Thank you.

PIO: Thank you, and the next time you come to Japan, I hope you can meet with the Education minister, Ibuki.

DIENE: I do hope so. But I will quote him in my next report.

Q: Stefano XXXX, Italian Daily News [garbled] What were your findings in Europe and Italy, especially compared to Japan? For Debito, I have a question. There is no way to raise the interest of my foreign desk editor in the magazine you mentioned (Gaijin Hanzai File) because they will say, “Well, it’s not on the front page of the Yomiuri Shimbun’’. Why is it important to raise this issue, even if there are, in other countries, garbage press saying some bad things, especially in Europe?

DIENE: On Italy, I visited Italy in October. My demand to visit Italy dated from a year and a half ago when Berlisconi was Prime Minister. I was concerned of the policies I’d been informed of and wanted to check the reality with the new government. In my report, I formulated three recommendations and conclusions. One, racism is not a profound reality in Italy.

But, my second conclusion was that there was a dynamic of racism and xenophobia. There is no deeply-rooted racism. At least I did not find it in my investigations. But there is dynamic of racism caused by two developments. One is the legacy of the previous government. The government was composed of democratic parties and extreme right parties.

This agenda influenced the previous government’s policies towards immigration and was translated into law. That government, by their policies and programs, have created this dynamic. The second reason was that Italy was confronted in the past few years with a very dramatic migration and immigration process. You know, all of these boats coming from Africa, north and south. The dying of hundreds on the sea, and camps being established in Italy and Sicily, and these were shown in the media every day. Certainly, showing this in the media every day had an impact. Lastly, the political manipulation by the extreme right parties and Italy was also facing an identity crisis because the national identity of Italy is no longer framed to the process of multiculturalization. This created a tension. There is a dynamic. If it is not checked, racism will become rooted in Italy. So these are my main conclusions.

DEBITO: All right. I think the root of your question is, what is the peg for the Italian press? If it’s not on the cover of the Yomiuri, who cares? Well, why should you let the Yomiuri decide what you report in Italy? That seems illogical to me to begin with.

You’re looking for a peg? Here’s your peg: we got the book off the shelves. That book right there is a screed. You think it’s only going to affect non-Japanese? Well, it’s going to affect Japanese, too. We’re talking about the incipient racist reaction to Japan’s internationalizing society. That is news, and it’s not reported on enough. Look, the fact that we got the book off the shelves is pretty remarkable. I mean, as I wrote in my rebuttal to Mr. Saka when he said, “Hey, we just published this because it’s freedom of speech about a taboo subject’’. Wrong.

As I wrote here, it’s not like this is a fair fight. We don’t have an entire publishing house at our disposal with access to every convenience store in Japan so we can publish a rebuttal side-by-side. And the fact that the Japanese press has completely ignored this issue is indicative of how stacked the domestic debate is against us. You think the domestic press is going to go to bat for us and naturally restore balance to the national debate on foreign crime and on internationalization? The domestic press completely ignored this. There’s a reason for that. Real, naked racism is not something that people want to discuss. The fact that we actually stood up for ourselves and said, “Look, we might be foreigners but we do count. We do have money.’’ Myself, I said that, OK, I’m not a foreigner but this kind of thing is going to affect me, too.

And we’re going to exercise the only invaluable right we have in this country: the right where to spend our money. If you sell it at this place, we’re not going to buy anything at this place. Take it off your shelves. We actually took the book off the shelves, and said, “Look, it says `nigger’ here. Look, it shows Chinese killing people and smiling about it. This is gutter press. Do you really want to sell this sort of thing?’’ And they said, “No, we don’t really.’’ And every single place eventually took it off the shelves. This happened only because the strength of our conviction. The press didn’t shame anybody into doing that. We did that. That’s news, because we count now. We are not going to be ignored. We’re going to stand up for ourselves. And that, I think, is a peg.

PIO: The problem is the peg is now sold on e-bay for 40,000 yen. But, OK.

Q: My name is {garbled} I’m from the economic and political weekly of India. I have two questions, one for Dr. Diene and one for Mr. Arudou. For Dr. Diene: do you think your report will have any reprocussions on Japan entering the Security Council? Or should it have any reprocussions on Japan’s entry? Can a nation that practices racism so avidly be a member of the Security Council? For Mr. Arudou, I’ve followed your efforts. I believe the legal route is one route to go in attacking this problem. The other way is hitting them in the pocketbook. Japanese are great exporters of their tourist sites, and there is nothing like the Japanese tourist industry. How should we hit them there?

DEBITO: We meaning who?

Q: Us, and the press. Because I think that once you have frontally faced them through the press. There are a lot of cyberworkers from India who come here. I think we can do something by petitioning the Indian government through our journals and writings.

DIENE: On the first question. It was raised the last time I was here. I did say it was a very dangerous question for me to answer. The Japanese government is going to monitor my answer very closely. But I will give you my reading of it. I don’t think that the existence and the relative presence of racism should be one of the criteria for a country to get to the Security Council when racism is not an official policy or position of the government in question. Indeed, I did not say anywhere in my report that racism is the official policy of the [Japanese] government. This is contrary to South African apartheid. If the simple existence of racism was one of the criteria, the Security Council would be emptied. No country would be there. What should be part of the criteria is they way the Japanese government accepts the international rules of human rights and accepts the international instruments it has signed.

And I do think, indeed, that they are doing so because they accepted my visit. Some governments don’t. For example, I’m still waiting for the Indian government to accept my visit. I’ve been waiting for two years. They told me, “come’’ but don’t touch on the [garbled]. So, the fact that the Japanese government has accepted my visit is a very positive sign. And I do think that in the coming years they are going to implement some of my recommendations. I have no guns, armies or weapons of mass destructions to make them oblige.

But my reports keep going to Human Rights Council and General Assembly. I do think we are in the process of change. I don’t want to isolate, punish, or condemn any government. Racism is a deeply rooted reality in whatever form, whatever society. It exists everywhere. My role is to contribute to its recognition and the way it is being fought. I’m interested in cooperating with Japanese government and Japanese society in helping face these deeply rooted issues. Now, just before Arudou, you touch on something that is often forgotten when combating racism, the role of tourism. People don’t realize that tourism is the most fantastic dynamic of human encounter. Tourism, the way it is practiced now, is only on the economic dimension. It’s not helping promoting a deeper human encounter and interaction. I’ve been launching a program in UNESCO, my Silk Road. We are trying to develop a new concept of intercultural tourism. Tourism should promote a more profound knowledge.

DEBITO: Thank you. I almost got what I was looking for here right now on the Internet, but the connection in this room is a little slow. To answer the question about tourism. Why is the Japanese government doing the `Yokoso Japan’ tourism campaign? Because our exports aren’t doing so hot, and our imports aren’t doing so hot and we ought to do something about our economy. So, let’s bring in more tourists. Well, what are you doing to make it a bit more welcoming? That’s what they want. Well, what about those “Japanese Only’’ signs that are up? What about the fact that every time you check into a hotel you’re going to be treated like a criminal?

The Japanese embassy in Washington is telling foreigners they’ll have their passports checked when the check into a hotel for “effective control of infectious diseases and terrorism”(audience laughter). Now, infectious diseases? Japanese don’t carry infectious diseases, do they? Of course not. And terrorism? The biggest terrorist attacks we’ve had in this country have all been carried out by Japanese. There’s an air of hypocrisy in saying “come here, we’ll take your money. But we’re not going to welcome you in the same standard you’d be welcomed overseas.

DIENE: Just to contradict a little bit my friend Arudou. On the issue of passports and checking in at hotels. As an African, I travel quite a bit and in most of the countries I visited, I’ve been asked the same question. Not only at the border but also at the hotel. Since 9/11, it has become a general reality that a foreigner is suspect. When the foreigner is ethnically or religiously different, he is more suspect. This is the reality.

DEBITO: Just a caveat, though. As I said earlier, they are corrupting the law to say all foreigners must show their passports. That is against the law and should be pointed out. It’s happening in Japan to all foreigners.

PIO: I sympathize with you. Because even Italy checks with Italian citizens in hotels.

Q: My name is Lewis Carlet from the National Union of General Workers and I’d like to follow up on the gentleman from the Italian press about his comment that it’s not front-page news on the Yomiuri. I’d like to point out that, between January 30th and Feb. 6th, Asahi Shimbun ran a series called “Africans of Kabuki-cho’’. Several articles, though not quite as vicious as the magazine we saw up on the screen, portrayed stereotypical images of Africans as criminals, that they only marry Japanese for a visa, that they force young Japanese women into their bars. I’d like to give these articles to Doudou Diene and Debito for your reference.

Q: Yuri Nagano, freelance. I have a question for Dr. Diene. You’ve seen racism all around the world. How would you compare Japan against the United States? There’s a lot of hate crimes in the U.S., so if you could give me, in a nutshell, an idea of the differences. On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is Japan’s racism compared to other countries, especially compared to countries with genocide, where they are killing off people?

DIENE: My position is to avoid any comparisons. Because I learned that I am mandated on something that is very complex and each country has its own specificities. There is no possibility, now, when racism is not an official policy of any government, but it is a practice that is culturally rooted.

My reports have three purposes. One, it is a contribution to society. I put what I’m told by the governments and civil societies I meet with in my report and the governments are welcome to correct the report with regard to laws I got wrong. So, my report’s first objective is to mirror society, to say that this is what I’ve seen. Is it true? That’s for you to decide. The second dimension of my report in which we try to describe the policies of the government, what kind of laws have been approved and what kinds of mechanisms have been put in place to combat racism and to describe them as precisely as possible. And to describe what the communities told me.

Internationally, my reports are a comparison between governments. When a government elsewhere reads my report on Japan, they may find a practice that interests them. They are trying to frame their policy against racism. Internally, most of my reports are part of the public debate once they are published. Like in Brazil, I issued a critical report. Racism is deeply rooted in Brazil. I expressed the strong political will of the Brazilian government to combat the problem. So, I want to help the different countries share their practices. I cannot give a scale. I try to take each case on its own reality and complexity.

Q: [garbled] Sato, a stringer for German television. I have a question for Arudou-san. According to the front page of the magazine “Gaijin Hanzai Ura File’’, it seems to rather target Korean, Chinese, maybe Arabs and those faces. I can’t see any Caucasian, so-called “gaijin’’ in Japanese. I’m interested in learning who funded the magazine and if you’re investigation uncovered them. Who are they? Also, you are American and Caucasian. . .

DEBITO: No, I’m not. I’m Japanese.

PIO: Don’t give me more information for Mr. Diene! (nervous laughter from Sato)

Q: In appearance. You enjoy kind of reverse discrimination. Do you take it as discrimination also, or do you enjoy it?

DEBITO: I’m not sure what you mean. I’m sorry. I don’t know what you mean by reverse discrimination in this situation.

Q: Well, Japanese people, I think, generally speaking, like Caucasians, so-called gaijin people.

DEBITO: Not the publishers of this magazine.

Q: Well, they have something of an inferiority complex, all very complex feelings. Sometimes, you are treated very specially. So, how do you deal with it?

PIO: She’s talking about two different types of approaches. One is against the sankokujin, as Ishihara Shintaro would say, and then the trendy gaijin.

DEBITO: Well, let’s start with “Gaijin Hanzai’’ There’s plenty of stuff in there about the so-called gaijin, or white people. That’s your definition. I don’t buy it, but even on the cover, you can see a white-looking guy. Before you comment on the contents, look at the contents please.

Now, about me getting special treatment as a Caucasian, I’m not really sure that’s the case. I generally live my life like anybody else in this society. I don’t pay attention to my own race except when it’s pointed out to me. And it is, of course, often pointed out to me. It happened yesterday when I was asked yesterday what country I was from. I said “Japan’’. That’s generally where the conversation stops because they think I’m a weirdo. But the point is still that I don’t really pay much attention to it and I don’t consider my status to be anything special, except that I’m a rare citizen. That’s the best way I can answer your question.

[ADDENDUM FROM DEBITO: In hindsight, I would have answered that even if there is differing treatment based upon race in Japan, there shouldn’t be. Race shouldn’t be an issue at all in human interaction. Also, the conversations I have about nationality with people do continue to flesh out that I am naturalized, and after that, we communicate as normal, with race or former nationality becoming a non-issue.]

Q: Bloomberg News. Mr. Diene, when you were talking about criteria for Japan entering the Security Council, you did make the distinction as to whether or not Japan has a policy of racism in the government or whether it just exists. But, just a question. How do you distinguish a pamphlet from the National Police Agency or the lack of a law outlawing discrimination, how can you distinguish that state of affairs with the government’s policy on racism? And just as a clarification. When you said that in Europe the racism comes in some way from immigration or globalization, does that also apply to Japan based on what you’ve seen?

DIENE: It’s a good question. What I meant by distinguishing government policy and social and cultural deep reality of racism in the society is to compare with the situation of South Africa’s apartheid when racism was officially advocated. Japan does not have that policy. It is true that in my work I have found institutions practicing racism. I denounce this in my reports. But whenever this reality is identified, the governments either deny it or recognize it and take steps to settle the issue. I have to look at my mandate in a long-term perspective. Getting out of racism is the permanent work of all governments.
Even the most democratic institutions have the reality of racism. Often, you find silence and invisibility contributing to racism. The invisibility factor is important to remember. In Sweden, you have five members of Parliament from immigrant community. The realities are different. I have not found any official policy of racism from the Japanese government. I’ve found many practices and manifestations, deep rooted in the history and culture of the country. It’s deep within the psyche of Japan.

Q: Edwin Karmol, Freelance. I don’t know if there are any Japanese journalists representing Japanese media here, but there weren’t any questions asked. It’s even more surprising that you don’t get front-page coverage.

DIENE: I must say that the issue was raised when I came, just a few months ago. I would have liked to have been invited by the Japanese press. But, at the end of my visit, I did meet the Japanese press at a university. There was a press conference and they came. Indeed, I had an interview from the Asahi Shimbun. But, certainly, I profoundly regret. I am not just down from the cosmos. I come based on the international convents a country has signed. Indeed, my work is ineffective if the society is not informed of my visit. If the media is not reflecting on my visit known. . . In other countries, the first thing I do –I did not do this in Japan –but I organize a press conference to say I’m here for this and this. So, the public will not. At the end of my visit, I have a press conference. And I do regret that here in Japan such coverage didn’t come. But I think it may come.

PIO: Have you ever asked, formally, the Nihon Shimbun Kyokai for a press conference?

DIENE: No, I usually don’t ask. I usually don’t ask. I let the media freely decide if they want to invite me.

PIO: Well, we can do a swap with the Kyokai. We’ll give them Diene and we can get Bush or Chirac. Thank you very much.


(photo with Doudou Diene and Kevin Dobbs courtesy Kevin–click on image to see whole photo, not just me. Sorry, could not create thumbnail)


Upcoming Tokyo Speeches: FCCJ, Tokyo Bar, Amnesty…


Hello All. Am pretty fried getting prepared for next week’s speeches, so will keep this short in lieu of a real newsletter.

Just finished roughing out my powerpoint presentation and my handout for the Foreign Correspondent’s Club of Japan (FCCJ) speech on Monday on Racial Discrimination in Japan, with UN’s Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene. Download details below Only two more to really get ready for. Details as follows:

SUN FEB 25 Attending Amnesty International Group 78 Film Night in Shimokitazawa.
See http://www.aig78.org/ for what’s playing.
Anyone want to join me for a beer?

Luncheon at FCCJ with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene
“Racial Discrimination in Japan: Is Anything Changing?”

See http://www.fccj.or.jp/~fccjyod2/node/1945
Download rough powerpoint presentation at
Download press handout of what I will be submitting to Dr Diene at
Writeup on event included below.

Speech for Amnesty International Group 78
“2 Channel and Freedom of Speech” Kanda Koen Kuminkan

See http://www.aig78.org/
Writeup on event included below.

Speech 1:30-3PM at New International School. Grades 8 & 9, 1 hour

Speech 7:30-9;30 PM for Roppongi Bar Association
“Foreign Residents and the Japanese Legal System”. More information at
Writeup on event included below.

FRI MARCH 2 Afternoon interview TransPacific Radio

Gotta sleep. Here are the writeups from the sponsors: Arudou Debito in Sapporo




“Racism In Japan – Is Anything Changing?”
Time: 2007 Feb 26 12:00 – 14:00
Professional Luncheon

The speech and Q & A will be in English.

Two years ago Doudou Diene, a UN special rapporteur on racism and xenophobia, submitted a report in which he said that racism in Japan is deep and profound, and that government did not recognize the depth of the problem.

In a speech at the FCCJ he suggested Japan introduce new legislation to combat discrimination. Has anything changed since then? How has Japan reacted to the fast-growing “multicultural dawn”? There are already 2 million foreign residents officially registered and some reports say that for Japan to survive, it must look to what was once — and to many still is — unthinkable: mass immigration.

Judging from a recent event, not much has changed. A couple of weeks ago, many convenience stores and bookstores were selling a magazine by Eichi Publishing called “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu,” which contained what many considered racist content.

We contacted the editor and the publisher of the magazine, but while the editor believed discussion was necessary, his proposed appearance at the club was vetoed by the publisher.

While the magazine has sold out — and apparently became a collector’s item — the issue is still there. Is Japan a racist country? Is Japanese “racism” somehow “different”?

We will hear from Doudou Diene, who is back in Japan on a lecture tour hosted by the International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR), the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, and the Centre for Asia Pacific Partnership (CAPP) of Osaka University of Economics and Law. He will be joined by human rights and anti-discrimination campaigner Debito Arudou.

FCCJ members and their guests please reserve in advance: at the Front Desk (3211-3161) or online.


2-Channel BBS and Freedom of Speech
7PM Kanda Koen Kuminkan, Kanda, Tokyo

Arudou Debito will be talking on the subject “2-Channel BBS and Freedom of Speech” at the Kanda Koen Kuminkan. Note that under the terms of use of this venue, the meeting is technically open to Amnesty members and their guests only.

2-Channel is the world’s largest Internet Bulletin Board (BBS). After losing several lawsuits for libel, 2ch’s administrator, Nishimura Hiroyuki, has made headlines for his refusal to acknowledge any legal problem or follow any court rulings. Arudou, plaintiff in one successful lawsuit against 2ch, will discuss what happened in his case, and what Nishimura’s actions mean vis-a-vis freedom of speech in this era of instantaneous, anonymous electronic media.

More information on the case at http://www.debito.org/2channelsojou.html

Directions to Kanda Koen Kuminkan at http://www.aig78.org/


The Roppongi Bar Association proudly presents a discussion on
Notes from the author and Human Rights activist, Debito Arudou

Wednesday, February 28, 2007
7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. @ WDI’s Private Club – Century Court

JPY 3,000 for RBA Members
JPY 4,000 for non-members
(Buffet dinner included, cash bar)

ROI Building, 10th Floor
5-5-1 Roppongi, Minato-Ku, Tokyo 106-8522
Telephone: 03-3478-4100
(Five minute walk from Roppongi Station on the Hibiya and Oedo lines)
Map: http://www.century-court.com/e/map.html

The RBA Executive Board is very pleased to host the prolific author and noted human rights activist Debito Arudou at our February speaker event! Debito, an Associate Professor at a private university in Hokkaido, came to the notice of many in Japan as a plaintiff in the renowned “Otaru Onsen Discrimination Case”, instituted in 2001, in which Debito, German Olaf Karthaus and American Ken Sutherland took an onsen (hot spring) in Otaru and the City of Otaru to court for, respectively, racial discrimination, and negligence under the Constitution and UN treaty due to the onsen’s banning of foreign persons in violation of their Human Rights. In the ensuing years, Debito and his fellow plaintiffs continued the case and raising the awareness of racial discrimination issues in Japan, in particular Japan’s status, in his words, as “the only developed country without any form of law banning racial discrimination”.

Debito is a naturalized Japanese citizen and is very familiar with immigration laws and naturalization issues for non-citizens in Japan as well as the Japanese legal and regulatory system. During the meeting, he will provide his unique insights into the Japanese laws and regulations that particularly impact non-Japanese and non-citizen residents here in Japan, the current status of human rights and related legislation in Japan, individual’s rights when interacting with the Japanese legal system (or the police!) as well as his personal experiences here in Japan.

CLE is available through the kind cooperation of our friends at Temple University School of Law, Japan Campus. Please direct any CLE inquiries to the RBA Board when you RSVP.

Please RSVP to events@rbalaw.org by Friday, Feb. 23rd.


FCCJ Luncheon Feb 26 2007, with UN’s Doudou Diene and Arudou Debito


Hi Blog. Side by side with the United Nations. It’s like a dream. Wish me luck. Hope I do well. Debito


Professional Luncheon
Debito Arudou & Doudou Diene
Racism In Japan – Is Anything Changing?

12:00-14:00 Monday, February 26, 2007
(The speech and Q & A will be in English)

Two years ago Doudou Diene, a UN special rapporteur on racism and
xenophobia, submitted a report
in which he said that racism in Japan is
deep and profound, and that government did not recognize the depth of
the problem.

In a speech at the FCCJ he suggested Japan introduce new legislation to
combat discrimination. Has anything changed since then? How has Japan
reacted to the fast-growing “multicultural dawn”? There are already 2
million foreign residents officially registered and some reports say
that for Japan to survive, it must look to what was once — and to many
still is — unthinkable: mass immigration.

Judging from a recent event, not much has changed. A couple of weeks
ago, many convenience stores and bookstores were selling a magazine by
Eichi Publishing called “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu,” which contained what
many considered racist content.

We contacted the editor and the publisher of the magazine, but while the
editor believed discussion was necessary, his proposed appearance at the
club was vetoed by the publisher.

While the magazine has sold out — and apparently became a collector’s
item — the issue is still there. Is Japan a racist country? Is Japanese
“racism” somehow “different”?

We will hear from Doudou Diene, who is back in Japan on a lecture tour
organized by the International Movement Against All Forms of
Discrimination (IMADR). He will be joined by human rights and
anti-discrimination campaigner Debito Arudou.

To help us plan properly, please reserve in advance at the Front Desk
(3211-3161) or online (http://www.fccj.or.jp – please log in to
reserve). The charge for members/guests is 1,260 yen/2,200 yen for the
sandwich option, and 1,575 yen/2,500 yen for the hot lunch option, tax
included. Reservations canceled less than 24 hours in advance will be
charged in full. If you do not make a reservation or reserve late, your
meal may vary from the scheduled menu.

Professional Activities Committee



Hi Blog. Contents of this latest newsletter as follows:



By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org)
February 20, 2007, freely forwardable
Updates in real time with RSS subscriptions at http://www.debito.org/index.php



This is the reason I’m putting out this newsletter early: Today (Tuesday, Feb 20) is Community Page day in the Japan Times, with its weekly column of hard-hitting expose journalism by itself worth that day’s price of the paper…

My first column for them this year (only did seven last year, slowing down a bit, sorry) talks about crime in Japan–or rather the exaggeration of crime and the quantifiable fear factor. Here’s what I submitted to the editor on Sunday (headlines and sidebars may vary):

Public perceptions of crime and reality do not match
By Arudou Debito. Column 34 for the Japan Times Community Page

“We must bring back ‘Japan, the safest county in the world’ through better anti-crime measures.” (Former PM Koizumi Oct. 12, 2004)

“Everyone will be a target of gaijin crime [sic] in 2007.” “Will we let the gaijin [sic] devastate Japan?” (Cover, Gaijin Crime Underground Files, Eichi Publishing Inc.)

The government and media would have you believe that Japan has lost its mantle as a safe country. Apparently we live amidst a spree of heinous crime.

Accurate? Not very, according to a new academic study…

Pick up a copy from the newsstand. Should have an annotated version with links to sources up within 48 hours or so at

The academic study I’m referring to is linked from



Dr Diene, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights Council, is visiting for the third time in as many years to investigate and talk about human rights in Japan. More on Diene’s previous trips at

Japan has a surprisingly lousy record on human rights, as I keep pointing out. It is in violation of various treaties (what with no law against racial discrimination, safe refuge for child abductors, periodic reports filed late or not at all…), and Diene’s visits cause a very low-volume stir in the policymaking halls and media. Not to mention snubs from Prime Ministers and Tokyo Governors. More on the stirs at

More on Japan’s human rights record at

Any sinecured bureaucrat just through the motions would probably have taken the hint by now, and given up on Japan. But Diene is not one of those types of people, and his assiduousness and tenacious research is the very reason we have a United Nations–to keep shaming people into keeping their international promises regarding promoting human welfare and dignity. Sorry to gush, but I think this situation warrants great praise.

Anyway, as far as I know, this trip Diene will be speaking at least three times in Tokyo:

1) Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) luncheon, Monday, Feb 26, noon
2) Tokyo Bengoshi Kaikan, Chiyoda-ku, Monday, Feb 26, 6PM to 9PM
3) Matsumoto Kinen Kaikan Tuesday Feb 27 6:30 to 8:30
Last two speeches sponsored in part by IMADR, see their website at

I will be meeting with Dr Diene to present him with information regarding hate speech and recent publications (such as the GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine), in order to document the targeting of foreigners as official government policy, and the consequent public expressions of xenophobia this is encouraging.

If readers out there would like to send me a human rights issue (a personal experience is fine) to submit to Diene, please do so BY NOON FRIDAY FEB 23 via debito@debito.org. Please entitle your email “Submission to Dr Doudou Diene” to avoid my spam filters. I will print things up (include your name and contact details if comfortable) and place them in a special folder for his perusal. Please keep it succinct and nonhyperbolic for the sake of legibility and credibility.

Speaking of the GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine…



Just found out yesterday that one of the topics for discussion at next Monday’s FCCJ luncheon above was GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine and issues of hate speech. The editor of said magazine propagandizing foreign crime (background on that issue at http://www.debito.org/?p=214, with several more articles in the right-hand “Recent Posts” column), a Mr SAKA Shigeki, was due to appear to defend his company’s, Eichi Publishing, decision to put magazines on convenience stores nationwide depicting the destruction of Japan through foreign criminality.

Mr Saka’s written defense (published on Japan Today) is available here, with my rebuttal:

However, according to a source at the FCCJ, Mr Saka’s publisher, the mysterious “Joey H. Washington”, has nixed Mr Saka’s participation. So I was asked today by the FCCJ if I would take his place for a ten-minute presentation next to Dr Diene. Pinch me. Side by side with the United Nations? I can’t tell you what an honor this is. Wish me luck.

Meanwhile, the unsellable GAIJIN HANZAI has become a collector’s item. Even the last holdout, Amazon Japan, has “sold out” of the magazine. And for a couple of days, somebody was offering a used copy there for 20,000 yen! (Somebody seems to have snatched it up.)

Let’s shift gears:



My friend Chris at Amnesty International has told me that Director SUO Masayuki’s new film “I Just Didn’t Do it” (sore de mo boku wa yatteinai) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Masayuki_Suo) is well worth seeing. Here’s the Economist (London) to put it in context:


The Economist, Feb 8th 2007

A TAXI driver in Toyama prefecture is arrested for rape and attempted rape, confesses to both crimes, is convicted after a brief trial and serves his three years in prison. Meanwhile, another man, arrested on rape charges, also confesses to the two crimes the first man was convicted for. He, too, goes to jail and serves his time. Is this a story by Jorge Luis Borges, a case of trumped-up charges from the annals of Stalinist Russia, a trick question in a Cambridge tripos? None of the above. It is a recent instance, and not an uncommon one, of the Japanese judicial system at work.

On January 26th Jinen Nagase, Japanユs justice minister, apologised for the wrongful arrest of the taxi driver and declared that an investigation would take place. After all, the suspect had an alibi, evidence that he could not have committed the crime and had denied vociferously having done so. But after the third day in detention without access to the outside world, he was persuaded to sign a confession.

With too many instances of wrongful arrest and conviction, few expect anything to come from the justice ministry’s investigation. But the spotlight has begun to shine on the practices of police interrogation as well as on the court’s presumption of guilt. More and more innocent victims of Japan’s judicial zeal are going public with grim accounts of their experiences at the hands of the police and the court system.

Now a new film about wrongful arrest by one of Japan’s most respected directors, Masayuki Suo, has just opened to critical acclaim. The movie, entitled “I Just Didn’t Do It”, is based on a true story about a young man who was accused of molesting a schoolgirl on a crowded train–and refused adamantly to sign a confession. Thanks to support from friends and family, the real-life victim finally won a retrial after two years of protesting his innocence, and is today a free man.

The film, which was premiered in America and Britain before opening in Japan, depicts how suspects, whether guilty or innocent, are brutalised by the Japanese police, and how the judges side with the prosecutors. Mr Suo argues that suspects are presumed guilty until proven innocent, and that the odds are stacked massively against them being so proven.

The statistics would seem to bear him out. Japan is unique among democratic countries in that confessions are obtained from 95% of all people arrested, and that its courts convict 99.9% of all the suspects brought before them. Prosecutors are ashamed of being involved in an acquittal and fear that losing a case will destroy their careers. Judges get promotion for the speed with which they process their case-loads. And juries do not exist, though there is talk of introducing a watered-down system called saiban-in for open-and-shut cases. Apparently, members of the public are not to be trusted with cases that might involve special knowledge. Those will still be heard and ruled on–as are all cases in Japan today–by judges alone…J

============ ECONOMIST ARTICLE EXCERPT ENDS ============

Two Referential Links:

Japan Times Oct. 13, 2005: An excellent summary from the Japan Times on what’s wrong with Japan’s criminal justice system:

What to do if you are arrested by the Japanese police:

Given the honne in Japanese Criminal Justice System of using the Napoleonic system (presuming guilt and having the defendant to prove his innocence–which is why the Right to Remain Silent (mokuhi ken) doesn’t work in Japan), and the special investigative and interrogative powers given the Japanese police, this movie brings up a serious social problem.

Moreover, although this is something which affects everyone, with the climate of Japanese police targeting foreigners, this is more likely to happen to you as a non-Japanese resident if you get taken in for questioning.

According to Chris, who heard Mr Suo talk about his movie at the FCCJ press conference, the best thing to do is have a lawyer (get one, like a family doctor) contactable before you get taken into custody. Put one on your cellphone. You will need the support, because otherwise with the interrogative process in Japan, you will wink out from contact with the outside world for weeks at a time with nobody the wiser about what’s going on, as the Suo movie demonstrates so powerfully.

And NEVER EVER sign a police confession if you are innocent. Or you will go to jail, no matter what your interrogators promise. The end. Capische?

Finally, speaking of support:



Thanks to Olaf for telling me about this:

============ JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ============

Wide disparities found in local support for foreign residents
The Japan Times: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2007

OSAKA (Kyodo) Large gaps exist in how well local governments provide useful information and linguistic and other assistance to non-Japanese residents, according to a recent study by a nongovernmental organization.

Some of the disparities are quite dramatic, the Osaka-based Center for Multicultural Information and Assistance said in a report on the study conducted between October 2005 and last August.

The center assessed 61 prefectural and large city governments, using a scale of zero to five for 16 categories related to foreign residents for a possible high score of 80. The categories included children’s education, language assistance and civil-servant recruitment.

Scoring more than 60 points were Kanagawa and Hyogo prefectures and the cities of Kawasaki, Yokohama and Osaka.

On the lowest side with scores of less than 19 were Aomori, Ehime, Saga, Nagasaki and Okinawa prefectures.

Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Oita, Kagoshima, Kochi and Ibaraki prefectures earned scores in the 20s.

The overall average score came to 41 points; the 47 prefectures averaged 38 and the 14 major cities averaged 50…

============ JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE EXCERPT BEGINS ============
Rest at http://www.debito.org/?p=223

The entire study blogged at

As fellow Dosanko Olaf notes, Hokkaido is below average…


All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, http://www.debito.org



Hello everyone. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo brings you another:

FEBRUARY 3, 2007

and finally…


Updates in real time and RSS at http://www.debito.org/index.php


To many devotees of the blogosphere, this is already old news. But just in case readers have lives outside of cyberspace:

A major publisher has just released a scandal-style magazine entitled “GAIJIN HANZAI URA FAIRU” (Gaijin [sic] Crime Underground Files), which would draw howls from many an anti-defamation league if this were on sale in most other developed countries.

Given that it is being sold on Amazon and in major Japanese convenience stores (Family Mart, for one), it is in my view worth making a fuss about. More on what you can do in my comments below.

But what’s the fuss? Let me turn the keyboard to the person who initially notified me two days ago, Steve. I made some edits to his post (and Romanized the Japanese–original available at ) so that this newsletter doesn’t get snagged by your profanity filters. Sorry for the language, but it is germane:

============= STEVE’S REPORT BEGINS ====================
My curiosity got the better of me [and I bought this awful book.]
I’ve scanned some pages as links at the bottom of this email:

Publisher: Eichi Shuppan 150-001 Tokyo-to, Shibuya-ku, Jingumae 5-38-4
Publisher-in-Chief: Joey H. Washington (I wonder who this guy is?)

Available online at
Or at Amazon.co.jp at

Here are some “highlights”:
Back Page:
47,000 crimes by foreigners each year!!
There then follows a “danger rating” (kikendo) of each country, scattered on a world map surrounded by knives, guns and syringes:
China: 14 Russia: 5 Korea: 9 Brazil: 8 Colombia: 3 Etc.
None for the USA, Canada, Australia or the whole of Europe.
[And of course no stats for Japanese criminals for comparison.]


Article about crimes by Iranians:
iranjin o tsukamae!!
Catch the Iranian!!

Article lamenting Tokyo’s demise into lawlessness:
furyou gaijin bouryoku toshi!!
City of Violent Degenerate Foreigners!!

Article about foreigners scamming Japanese for money:
mushirareru nihonjin. (katakana for accented Japanese): “shachousan, ATM kotchi desu”
Japanese getting conned. “Theesaway to ze ATM, Meester Managing Director”


Feature of foreign guys picking up Japanese women (What this has to do with “crime” is unclear)
[NB: “Yellow Cab” is Japanese slang directed at Japanese women who will let any Non-J man, ahem, ride them.]

omaera sonna ni gaijin ga ii no ka yo!!
You sl*ts really think foreign guys are so great, huh!!

soryaa nihonjin wa chiisai kedo…
We know Japanese guys are small, but..


Picture of black guy touching a J.girl’s ass in Shibuya (obviously consensual too)
oi nigaa!! nipponfu joshi no ketsu sawatten ja nee!!
Oi N****r!! Get your f****n’ hands off that Japanese lady’s ass!!
(yes. It really does say “nigaa”)

Picture of dark-haired [White?] foreigner kissing J.girl in Shibuya (again, obviously consensual)
koko wa nippon nan da yo! temee no kuni ni kaette yari na!
This is Japan! Go back to your own f****n’ country and do that!


Picture of foreigner with hands down a J.girl’s knickers in Shibuya (definitely consensual)
chotto chotto chotto! rojou de teman wa yamete kureru?
Woah! Woah! Woah! Stop with the f*ng*r*ng a girl’s p***y in the street, huh?

Links to scanned images referred to above:
============= STEVE’S REPORT ENDS ====================

One more report from another blogger in Tokyo:

============= BLOG COMMENT BEGINS ===================
There’s also an extremely puerile article about Korean “Delivery Health”
pr*st*t*t*on services, which give the lowdown on some of the “myths” that
surround them, entitled “Korean Delivery Health: True or Lie?”

Myth number 6 or 7 is “Is it true that Korean wh*res’ v*g*n*s smell of
kimchii?”. This is discussed at length, the basic conclusions being that no,
Korean wh*res’ v*g*n*s do not especially smell of kimchii but you can expect
a general aroma of kimchii on her body.

Debito, this is one of the most irresponsible and mean-spirited pieces of
journalism and publishing I have ever had the misfortune to come across. It
truly is at least as bad, if not worse, than any underground right-wing
literature you’d find in Austria, France, Germany or the UK. But this isn’t
“underground”–it’s sold in Family Mart convenience stores apparently
nationwide and published by a firm that by all accounts sees itself as being
part of the mainstream.
============= BLOG COMMENT BEGINS ===================

COMMENT: The magazine is already making waves overseas (I just got called tonight by The Guardian (UK) for a quote), as it should. And the blogosphere is suggesting creative ways to sabotage the sales (such as sticking chewing gum in the copies on the newsstand).

You can also exercise your power as consumer by letting the stores in your area which stock this magazine know how you feel (be polite about it). Or if you’d like to head for the source, try these outlets (thanks Craig):

Family Mart Japan:
http://www.family.co.jp/english/company/index.html (has postal address)

Family Mart USA (known as “Famima!” in the USA):

Comments to Amazon.com USA can be made via

And to Amazon.co.jp:

I will make sure the United Nations gets a copy of this report by email, and a hard copy of this magazine when I meet Rapporteur Doudou Diene later on this month…



I reported to you last November about that Eikaiwa “E R English School” in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture

which had a Want Ad posted on bulletin boards in the Yamanashi International Association (http://www.yia.or.jp) saying:
E R English School needs a native speaker. Blonde hair
blue or green eyes and brightly character. [sic]
Please contact E R English School immedietly. [sic]
Ph: 055-241-4070
Yuji and Jocelyn Iwashita


I reported then that I called the school, where a manager (a Mr. Sata) there tried to justify the policy as just giving the customer the service he wants (i.e. some Kindergarten boss wanted to “acclimatize” his young ‘uns to real bonafide “gaijin”–see Sata’s arguments at http://www.debito.org/?p=92). Thus their hands were tied.

I then sent a letter on November 30 to the Yamanashi International Association, and to the local Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu–Japanese text of that letter at http://www.debito.org/?p=93), asking for some assistance in this matter.

I did get an answer from the YIA on December 12. Letter (Japanese) scanned at:
They said sorry, and would be more careful to not let this happen again on their bulletin boards.

Okay, so I called it a day there. But the story doesn’t end yet.

Yesterday, I got a call from Kyodo Tsuushin (Japan’s powerful wire service) who wanted some quotes from me for an article about this issue. They also wanted to know if I had heard from the Bureau of Human Rights on this. I hadn’t, so the reporter said he would start making a few inquiries.

Hours later, I received a call from E R English School’s Mr Iwashita, who asked who I was, what I was after, and if I now understood the company’s true intention behind their advertisement. He hoped there would be no further misunderstandings.

I replied that I felt it interesting that more than two months had gone by before he felt the need to explain his company policies further, and that it seems very conveniently timed with him getting a call from a Kyodo reporter. He agreed that it was indeed so.

But it wasn’t just Kyodo. It turned out (I saw a draft of the article last night, should have gone out today–anyone find it?) that E R English School had also been contacted by the Bureau of Human Rights that very day too, after the latter had been phoned for some quotes by Kyodo.

Nothing like a little press attention to finally set some wheels in motion….

Mr Iwashita said that he understood my feelings about this. I then mentioned that as educators we have a responsibility not to perpetuate stereotypes and prejudices, particularly in this internationalizing society. He agreed and we left it at that.

This afternoon I got another call from E R’s Jocelyn this time, who left a message on my cellphone and didn’t call back… Wonder what’s cooking. Anyway, if anything more comes of this, I’ll let you know.



My trips down south these days are turning into very heady affairs, with full schedules and fascinating conversations. Some updates:

I mentioned last week that our newest book “GUIDEBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS” to help people immigrate and settle down in Japan,
will be out this summer, with a contract signed last Friday.

Well, something I didn’t mention is that I’m planning on helping out with another book, on naturalized Japanese, co-written with a naturalized former Chinese professor friend of mine. Tentatively titled “KIKASHA NO KOE” (Voices of the Naturalized), we have proposed some essays for Japanese-language readership on the views of people who take out Japanese citizenship. I have contacted a few naturalized friends I know to contribute writings, but if anyone out there can refer me to a few more, that would be very helpful, thanks. debito@debito.org


I also met for several hours with a non-Japanese long-term resident who suffered a severe beating and head trauma after an altercation in a Tokyo crosswalk, with him on foot and his assailant in a car. After the victim showed me the police report and medical records, I became convinced that the local police did a very lousy (if not deliberate) job of covering up the finer details of the case, so that the assailant got off with a relatively light fine, while the victim received not a penny in damages or medical costs. Over the years I have heard plenty of opposite cases, where non-Japanese assailants are hit with heavy fines and jail time (one example at http://www.debito.org/?p=83) for public spats, many of which don’t result in the Japanese side getting hurt much or at all. I am trying to build a case that non-Japanese do not enjoy equal protections of criminal law in Japan, but that’s going to take a lot more cases for me to plot points and draw conclusions. Meanwhile, my interviewee suffers from wounds both physical and mental. I hope someday he will let me make his case public on debito.org.


I also met with United Nations representatives in Japan (in Aoyama Doori, Tokyo), particularly Ms Nathalie Karsenty, Senior Legal Officer for the Tokyo Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR, see http://www.unhcr.org) and her staff. She invited me for tea and discussion in her office about issues brought up on debito.org and this newsletter. Inter alia, she wanted to know if any refugees in or coming to Japan were getting in touch with me. I said no (although I get about 3 to 5 emailed requests for information on average daily). If I do get any, I’m to refer them to her from now on (so let me know).

I also gave her my opinions on the chances of Japan as a country being more receptive to outsiders and the dispossessed (low), and the probability of Japan becoming an international society (high). She got copies of JAPANESE ONLY in English and Japanese (http://www.debito.org/japaneseonly.html) as well as some Hokkaido chocolates (natch). Let’s hope she and her staff enjoy both.


Finally, this also came to pass last week: I will probably be down in Tokyo for a full year (2008-2009) for a research sabbatical at a Tokyo university. Lobbying and researching politicians in the Japanese national Diet (Parliament). More on that later, but toriaezu, hurrah!!

If life in Tokyo will be anything as whirlwind as last week, I have the feeling I’m going to be exhausted long before the sabbatical ends. My publisher has expressed an interest in publishing my research findings as well (which will mean book #5 with them). So now it’s time to start looking for funding and scholarships. Would welcome suggestions from people in the know. debito@debito.org



The Japanese University Greenlist is a list of institutions of higher education in Japan which hire non-Japanese faculty on the same permanently-tenured terms as Japanese faculty. These are the places you oughta look at if you’re looking for a stable, secure job in Japanese education.

Joining the 32 universities currently on board is Hirosaki University
with primary-source testimony from faculty member a Dr James Westerhoven. Thanks!

Meanwhile, I realized just how much impact the opposite list, the Blacklist of Japanese Universities (places you probably wouldn’t want to work), has in the field.

A friend of mine tried to get me a speaking opportunity this month at a university I recently blacklisted: Asia Pacific University in Beppu, Kyushu.
Turns out the (tenured, of course) faculty knew who I was and decided I was not a desirable speaker. Ah well.

But I have a feeling the same thing happened with another school in the Kansai area, which was recommended to me by friends as a legit tenured job in the field of human rights. My job application there was summarily rejected, with no follow-up interview despite all the credentials, activism, and publications.

Then–of course! I remembered that I have Blacklisted them too…! Such is the blowback from speaking out.


and finally…


I will be on the road next week for ten days, travelling between Nara, Hikone, Wakayama, Kurashiki, Okayama, and Miyazaki. I will be making speeches (schedule follows), so attend if you like.

But before I give the schedule, please let me say thank you to the people out there who bought a “JAPANESE ONLY”T-shirt (details and ordering information at http://www.debito.org/tshirts.html A friend in Tokyo is also stocking them, so if you want details where, please contact me). The response has been overwhelming, and I’ve already sold out of some stock and will have to order more.

I will, however, be carrying along with me my remaining inventory (as well as my JAPANESE ONLY books in English and Japanese) as I travel around the Kansai. If you’d like a shirt, please stop me and buy one, and I’ll knock off 500 yen from the list price of 2500 yen (which means the price is 2000 yen), since this way I don’t need postage. My luggage just seems to keep growing and growing, so feel free also to lighten my load of books as well…!

Anyway, my speech schedule:

Nara Gaikokujin Kyouiku Kenkyuukai sponsors speech on Otaru Onsens Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Speaking to 350 primary and secondary educators in Nara Prefecture (Japanese)
Venue: Nara-Ken Shakai Fukushi Sougou Center

THURS FEB 8 1PM to 4:30PM
Annual speech to exchange students at Shiga University, Hikone (English)

FRI FEB 9 9:30AM to 3 PM
Panelist on 21st Annual Jinken Keihatsu Kenkyuu Shuukai in Shirayama-cho, Wakayama Pref
Speaking on what local governments can do to help their local foreign population (Japanese)
Conference sponsored by the Burakumin Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute (http://www.blhrri.org)

SAT FEB 10 3PM to 5PM
Speech for JALT Wakayama on Onsens Case etc. (English)
More at http://www.eltcalendar.com/events/details/3443

MON FEB 12 1PM to 3PM
Speech for JALT Okayama on what you can do to improve your life and work in Japan. (English)
More at http://www.eltcalendar.com/events/details/3458

That’s all for this trek. I will be in Tokyo again at the end of February for more speeches, sponsored by the Roppongi Bar Association, Amnesty International, and the National Union of General Workers. Also a meeting with UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene. I’ll send you that schedule later.

Thanks very much for reading, and maybe I’ll see some of you next week on the road!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Endgame on GOJ push for UNSC seat?


Hi Blog. I have the feeling that Japan may be approaching checkmate on getting its permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Using the appointment of Ban Ki Moon as the new UN Secretary General as an opportunity to put some wind behind their sails, the GOJ has gotten their ducks lined up: the major world powers (sans China) are falling for Japan’s arguments of quid pro quo.

Opening with a primer article from Drini at Inter Press. Then Japan Times on Europe’s and Bolton’s support. Comment from me follows.


Japan’s eyes still on UN seat
Asia Times January 3, 2007

By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO – Half a century ago, Japan, defeated by Western Allied forces at the end of World War II in 1945, was admitted to the United Nations, marking an end to its violent past and beginning anew in world politics with a clean slate.

Since then, Japan has not disappointed the world. The country now boasts a record of working hard to rise from the ashes of war to become the world’s second-largest economy and international aid donor.

But in December, as Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of its admission to the United Nations, top policymakers and politicians were reiterating a deep-rooted national desire to gain a permanent place in the UN Security Council with the coveted veto power.

“Japan, for its part, is determined to take up its full responsibilities through gaining membership in the Security Council,” said Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a solemn ceremony at United Nations University in Tokyo, attended by the Japanese emperor and empress as well as international diplomats and top academics.

Analysts contend that the resumption of the drive for Security Council reform this year, which follows the disastrous rejection in 2005, reflects several important developments in Japanese diplomacy after the election of former leader Junichiro Koizumi and Abe, both conservatives.

“Abe and Koizumi represent a generation of postwar politicians in Japan who want an active role in global politics. They believe this position is long overdue for Japan that is now rich and confident and totally different to country that was defeated in World War II,” explained Professor Akihiko Tanaka, an expert on UN diplomacy.

Indeed, Abe, along with conservative policymakers, argue that Japanese contributions to the UN are almost 20% of the annual budget, second only to the United States, which should make a permanent seat in the Security Council along with the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China, which pay lower fees, totally natural.

In addition, wrote the Yomiuri newspaper, Japan’s largest daily, Japan has also contributed in the way of calling for arms reduction, improvement of the UN Secretariat’s functioning, and a fair calculation of contribution of ratios for member fees.

“But,” noted the newspaper pointedly, “such sensible recommendations have never been implemented. The Security Council’s special privilege, the UN’s unique structure and the difficulty of multinational diplomacy are behind Japan’s inability to get its voice heard.”

The statement also refers to Japan’s failed Security Council aspirations, a hurdle the government has called as difficult as “getting a camel through the eye of a needle”.

Japan forged an alliance with aspirants India, Brazil and Germany in 2005 to gain a permanent position in the Security Council, but was unsuccessful. Yet other experts do not agree with the stance that Japan is not influential in the UN.

Professor Ichiro Kawabe, a UN expert at Aichi University, based in Nagoya, points out that Japan’s economic clout has certainly allowed the country to yield strong influence in the UN, such as in last July when the Security Council adopted a resolution under the direction of Tokyo protesting North Korea’s missile launches.

“Moreover, Japan has won the position in the Security Council on a revolving basis nine times in the past, allowing its participation and vote in several crucial debates,” Kawabe said. He added that such chances were never seized by Japanese diplomats to spotlight a unique global vision.

One reason for the inability of Japan to achieve its Security Council aspirations is the complexity of developing a multilateral diplomacy that demands dealing with issues such as human rights and racism along with the organization’s 109 members.

Those intricacies are not easy for Japan, the experts say, explaining that Tokyo has been content to develop its postwar foreign relations under the umbrella of the US-Japan Security Pact that has only gotten stronger these past few years.

Under Koizumi and Abe, this pro-US foreign policy has gained a stronger standing, with beefed-up new agreements such as a joint missile-defense plan last July.

“While Japan remains a trusted UN member and a leader in development issues, there is still the notion of the country bowing to US interests rather than having its own world vision,” said Professor Monzurul Huq, a Bangladeshi national teaching international relations at Yokohama University.

Yet another trend of thought among some academics is the use of a permanent position in the Security Council by Abe to foster narrow domestic interests.

“Under the new thrust of promoting human security in the world, the UN peacekeeping forces, for example, and with its image of building peace in conflict zones, Abe is promoting the changing of Japan’s peace constitution to have a military,” said Kawabe.
(Inter Press Service)

Japan deserves permanent UNSC seat, Bolton says
Japan Times January 17, 2007

By ERIC PRIDEAUX Staff writer

Japan should be granted a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, as more than two-thirds of General Assembly states would support this despite expected opposition from China, former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton said Tuesday.

“I think Japan still has overwhelming support in the General Assembly,” said Bolton, an outspoken foreign-policy conservative and advocate of the U.S. invasion of Iraq who stepped down as ambassador in December amid accusations from liberals, and some conservatives, that his approach to foreign policy was heavy-handed.

But as someone with the ear of many conservatives in Washington, Bolton remains closely watched by analysts.

A guest of the government, Bolton arrived Saturday for a weeklong visit during which he is meeting with officials and the public to share his views on U.S. policy.

Speaking to students and others at the University of Tokyo, Bolton said Japan’s strategy of allying with fellow UNSC aspirants Brazil, Germany and India — collectively known as the Group of Four — ultimately failed because each country met resistance from neighboring rivals.

“I think many of the other members of the G4 felt that if Japan became a permanent member and the U.N. went through this lengthy exercise of amending the charter, then there would never be another chance,” he said. “I don’t see why you can’t amend the charter — because Japan clearly qualifies as a permanent member — and then take each subsequent case on an individual basis.”

Bolton argued that as the second-largest contributor to U.N. finances after the U.S., and as a participant in peacekeeping operations around the world, Japan possesses more than enough clout to ask the General Assembly to vote for the charter revision needed to give it a permanent Security Council seat.

As one of five countries currently holding permanent seats, China — which has misgivings about Japan having a permanent UNSC seat — can veto Japan’s bid, a fact Bolton readily acknowledged. That, however, should not be a deterrent, he added.

“(Japan) needs to put that case to China and see if China is really prepared to stand in the way,” he said.

Separately, Bolton also hailed the appointment of South Korean diplomat Ban Ki Moon as the new U.N. secretary general and successor to Kofi Annan. “We find ourselves now in a situation where the United States has, we all have, a secretary general who is a former foreign minister of a treaty ally of the United States — something that would have been unthinkable during the Cold War, to be sure, and that is really quite remarkable even in the circumstances that we face today,” Bolton said.

The Japan Times: Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2007


Well, given this editorial in the JT (which gives the information we need but surprisingly doesn’t give an opinion on it), I think we’ve just about lost the battle on this issue.

============EXCERPT BEGINS==================
Mr. Abe’s bold security agenda
The Japan Times Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2007

…The new thinking underlying Mr. Abe’s trip was signaled on the day of his departure with the elevation of the Japan Defense Agency to become the Ministry of Defense. That move sets the stage for a shift in defense planning as Japan attempts to take on new international responsibilities. Central to that new role is permanent membership on the U.N. Security Council: Mr. Abe made that case in meetings with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Jacques Chirac and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, and won support from them all. Of course, much remains to be done before that goal can be realized — meaningful U.N. reform encompasses much more than just expanding the size of the Security Council. Mr. Abe focused his efforts on building a coalition that supports Japanese ambitions.
============EXCERPT ENDS==================
Rest at http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/ed20070116a1.html

Why do I oppose Japan’s bid for the UNSC? Because Japan has a nasty habit of signing treaties and not following them: Two shining examples: The Convention on Civil and Political Rights and The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Or not signing treaties at all, such as the Hague Convention on Child Abduction (more on this at the CRN Website).

The UN CCPR Committee and the UN in general, most recently UN HRC Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene in 2005 and 2006, has cautioned Japan about this for well over a decade. Yet Japan continues to ignore the findings or do anything significant to change the situation (such as pass a law against racial discrimination, now eleven years overdue).

The ace in the hole for the human rights activists is the UNSC seat, which is all the GOJ really cares about here. Its sense of entitlement is to me more due to a matter of national pride and purchasing power. Less about acting like a developed country keeping its promises as a matter of course. Give this seat to Japan, and there is no incentive for the GOJ do anything at all regarding its human rights record (quite the opposite–the GOJ will probably feel further justified in continuing doing nothing since it got this far anyway).

Probably should send the leadership of the supporting countries some of these newspaper articles, for what they’re worth. Any citizens out there willing to contact their embassy or national offices overseas? Help yourself to these links. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Japan Times column: “PULLING THE WOOL: Japan’s pitch for the UN Human Rights Council was disingenuous at best” (November 7, 2006)

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

Japan Times column: “HOW TO KILL A BILL: Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism” (May 2, 2006)

Japan Times column: “TWISTED LEGAL LOGIC DEALS RIGHTS BLOW TO FOREIGNERS: McGowan ruling has set a very dangerous precedent” (February 7, 2006)

Japan Times column: “TAKING THE ‘GAI’ OUT OF ‘GAIJIN’: Immigration influx is inevitable, but can assimilation occur?” (January 24, 2006) (Adapted from a longer Japan Focus academic article of January 12, 2006)

Japan Times column: “THE “IC YOU CARD”: Computer-chip card proposals for foreigners have big potential for abuse” (November 22, 2005)

Japan Times column: “MINISTRY MISSIVE WRECKS RECEPTION: MHLW asks hotels to enforce nonexistent law” (October 18, 2005)

Japan Times column: “HERE COMES THE FEAR: Antiterrorist law creates legal conundrums for foreign residents” (May 24, 2005)–with UPDATE including Mainichi Shinbun article of February 8, 2006, demonstrating that the article’s claims are indeed coming true.

Japan Times column: “CREATING LAWS OUT OF THIN AIR: Revisions to hotel laws stretched by police to target foreigners” (March 8, 2005)

Japan Times column: “RACISM IS BAD BUSINESS: Overseas execs tired of rejection, ‘Japanese Only’ policies are turning international business away from Japan” (January 4, 2005)

Japan Times column: “VISA VILLAINS: Japan’s new Immigration law overdoes enforcement and penalties” (June 29, 2004)

Japan Times column: “DOWNLOADABLE DISCRIMINATION: The Immigration Bureau’s new snitching Web site is both short-sighted and wide open to all manner of abuses.” (March 30, 2004)

Japan Times column: “FORENSIC SCIENCE FICTION: Bad science and racism underpin police policy” (January 13, 2004)

Asahi Shinbun English-language POINT OF VIEW Column, “IF CARTOON KIDS HAVE IT, WHY NOT FOREIGNERS?” (Dec 29, 2003) A translation of my Nov 8 2003 Asahi “Watashi no Shiten” column.

Japan Times column: “Time To Come Clean on Foreign Crime: Rising crime rate is a problem for Japan, but pinning blame on foreigners not the solution” (Oct 7, 2003).

Japan Times column on Japanese police abuse of authority: “WATCHING THE DETECTIVES: Japan’s human rights bureau falls woefully short of meeting its own job specifications” (July 8, 2003)


www.healthhokkaido.com on the Noro Virus


Hello Blog. This is a bit of a digression, but for what its’ worth: A public service announcement, with a link to valuable health website. I’ve seen news about this virus (which infects people, not computers) on the Wide Shows, so this is not a hoax. Stay healthy. Debito

Originally posted by: Mark Holloway to the Hokkaido JET list.
Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:58 pm (PST) Courtesy of Ken Hartmann’s Hokkaido News

The Noro Virus is currently circulating Japan.

1 to 2 days after infection you may start to suffer from the following symptoms:
Violent vomiting
Stomach ache
A slight fever

The Noro Virus was first discovered in 2003 and is highly infectious.
If you start to violently vomit and are unable to stop.
If you can not leave the toilet because of diarrhea.
If you have intense stomach pain with a slight fever of around 37 degrees then the chances are you could be infected.

What to do?
1. Drink a lot of water or sports drink as excessive vomiting and diarrhea causes dehydration.
2. We suggest you should visit you local hospital and receive medical care as soon as possible.
3. Please take the time to use one of our online forms before you go to hospital www.healthhokkaido.com
4. Contact us to find your nearest hospital

How to prevent getting infected
1. Wash your hands
2. Do not eat food others have touched with their hands
3. If you have a friend or family member who is sick, with the above symptoms, do not to clean up their vomit without using gloves or if you do not have glove try using plastic bags over you hands.
4. Disinfect utensils and other items with a chlorine based disinfectant and mix it with water boiled to at least 85 C

More Information
If you are looking for a hospital in your area or would simply like more information please visit the site http://www.healthhokkaido.com

We are ready for your mails and will do our best to help you as soon as possible.

Don’t wait until it is too late, if you think you are infected please go to the hospital and take care not to infect others.

Mark Holloway
Health Hokkaido

A Member of the Editorial Committee of the Japan Association for Health Care Interpreting in Japanese and English (J.E.). Health Hokkaido is endorsed by the Association.

J Times Dec 7 06: UNHCR “Japan cannot stop immigration”, Kyodo same day: Lawsuit argues “unreasonable to prohibit dual-income immigrant families” (updated)


Hello Blog. File this under the “Resistance is Futile” category, article number 213 or so. The UN has been saying since 2000 (and the PM Obuchi Cabinet agreed) that Japan must allow 600,000 immigrants per year or else. Currently Japan is only taking in about 50,000 registered foreigners net per annum. And those they are taking in, as I have shown in recent previous articles on this blog (http://www.debito.org/?p=105, http://www.debito.org/?p=99), are given horrendous working conditions and slave wages.

UNHCR grumbles about Japan’s lack of official acceptance of immigrants in Japan Times article below. Then Kyodo News same day (follows Japan Times article) gives the case of a Myanmar man denied the ability to make a livelihood. Facing deportation after being caught working full time as a dependent on his wife’s visa, he filed a lawsuit seeking to stay. He argues it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families from having a dual income. Power to him.

Hellooooo? People waking up yet? Debito in Sapporo


Japan can’t stop the tide of people: UNHCR chief
By KAREN FOSTER Staff writer
Courtesy of Matt and Steve at The Community
The Japan Times Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

As more people migrate worldwide, Japan will not be able to stop
immigration, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees, saying he was concerned with Japan’s restrictive refugee
acceptance program and treatment of asylum-seekers.

“One key aspect of the 21st century will be people moving, around the
world. And I don’t think any society will be able not to participate
in this situation,” Antonio Guterres told a news conference Monday.

Guterres, on a three-day visit that ended Wednesday, said the U.N.
agency was troubled with all parts of the process to become a refugee
in Japan.

“I’d say we have three main concerns — first, improvement of the
reception of asylum-seekers and of the procedural mechanisms to make
sure that there is an adequate set of decisions in an adequate time
framework and the forms of assistance that are desirable,” he said.
“And the possibility to open one, even if limited, program of

“We recognize that every country has the right to define its own
migration policy,” Guterres elaborated in an interview Tuesday with
The Japan Times. “Our concern and the concern that is established by
international law is that for instance in these mixed flows of
populations that we are now witnessing all around the world,
independent of migration policies, countries are supposed to grant
protection to the people that need protection. That means physical
access to protection procedures, namely refugee status determination
and the fair treatment of their requirements.”

The ex-Portuguese prime minister came to talk to the Foreign Ministry
about Japan’s refugee assistance overseas, nongovernmental
organizations and to boost ties with the private sector, and to
discuss with the Justice Ministry the treatment of asylum-seekers.

NGOs here complain that despite changes in the immigration law last
year, the government continues to detain asylum-seekers and does not
provide them with adequate services, even after they are declared

The UNHCR’s Country Operations Plan 2007 notes that while people are
applying for refugees status here, they do not have the right to work
and get little community support, including free legal service, which
residents can get under the new legal aid system.

While immigration law changes introduced a new appeals review panel
with nonimmigration counselors — appointed by the government — the
UNHCR report says it is still not independent.

Still, Guterres was upbeat about recent developments: “Japan has an
embryonic asylum system, but that is moving with positive steps.”

The number of people who have been given asylum here rose
dramatically in 2005.

The government finished processing 384 asylum applications in 2005.
Of those 46 were recognized as refugees — 15 of them on appeal —
and 97 were issued special resident permits for humanitarian reasons.

This compares with only 15 people recognized as refugees and nine
granted special permits in 2004 out of 426 applications processed.

Janet Lim, head of the UNHCR’s Bureau for Asia and the Pacific who
also was visiting, said the UNHCR had lots of experience helping
nations deal with refugees, and was ready to share its expertise with

Robert Robinson, UNHCR chief representative for Japan, told the
Monday briefing he hoped talks at the Justice Ministry speed up
introduction of a border-guard training program. “That’s a critical
move for us,” he said.

In addition to Japan’s moral obligation to help people in danger, Lim
said refugees can help countries that need labor, alluding to Japan’s
shrinking labor force.

“They are here anyway and refugees are not just here as a burden,”
she said. “If we were given the possibility to train them and give
them skills, they could be made to fit the labor need of the country.”

Suit targets dual-income curbs on immigrants
Kyodo News, Courtesy of Steve at The Community
Thursday, Dec. 7, 2006

A man from Myanmar facing deportation after being caught working full time
while here as a dependent on his wife’s visa filed a lawsuit Wednesday
seeking to stay, arguing it is unreasonable to prohibit immigrant families
from having a dual income.

Nangzing Nawlar, 47, currently detained by the Tokyo Regional Immigration
Bureau, came to Japan in October 2001 as a dependent of his Myanmarese wife,
who works as an interpreter, according to his lawyer.

Nawlar initially took care of their son but started working longer than the
legally permitted 28 hours a week at a “yakinuku” (grilled meat) restaurant
after their daughter was born in August 2003.

He said his wife’s income alone was no longer sufficient to sustain the
growing family, while the illness of his relative back home also added to
the family’s financial woes.

Immigration authorities discovered in August that he was exceeding the work
limit and issued the deportation order in October.

The focus is on the visa issued to family members of foreign residents who
come to Japan as dependents.

It limits dependents to working only 28 hours a week, which the Myanmarese
man said is discriminatory because foreign-born spouses of Japanese do not
face this limit.

“Although working couples have become common, the (immigration) system
basically banning spouses from working disregards their personal rights and
violates the Constitution,” Nawlar argued in the lawsuit.

“Our marriage will go under without a double income,” he said. “It is
discriminatory to limit the work of spouses who are dependents of foreign
residents when other foreigners can work with no limit if they are spouses
of Japanese.”

Nawlar’s wife, L. Hkawshawng, told a news conference in Tokyo that there are
limits for her to support the family as the number of children increases. “I
cannot possibly sustain the family alone,” she said.

Continuing on that note:

Government tells Iranian family to get out of Japan
Kyodo News, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006
Courtesy of Matt at The Community

Immigration authorities on Friday denied an application by an Iranian
family for a special residence permit to continue living in Japan,
officials said.

The Justice Ministry gave a one-month extension to Amine Khalil, 43,
his 39-year-old wife and their two daughters, aged 18 and 10, to
prepare for their departure.

The ministry told Amine and his wife of its decision at the Tokyo
Regional Immigration Bureau on the final day of their last monthlong
extension, the officials said.

Amine, his wife and their elder daughter came to Japan between 1990
and 1991. The younger daughter was born here in 1996. Settling in
Gunma Prefecture, the family sought a special residence permit,
arguing they would face difficulties if they returned to Iran.

The elder daughter, Maryam, who wants to become a nursery school
teacher, had planned to begin a two-year junior college course in
Gunma in the spring.

She told reporters she wants to continue her life in Japan with her
Japanese friends. The younger daughter, Shahzad, is in elementary

Amine said Japanese is his daughters’ first language and they cannot
speak Farsi, adding they cannot live in Iran.

In 1999, the family applied to immigration authorities for a special
residence permit. The request was denied and the family was ordered
to leave. The Tokyo District Court repealed the deportation order,
but that ruling was overturned by the Tokyo High Court and the
Supreme Court upheld the high court decision.

The Japan Times, Saturday, Dec. 9, 2006

Could somebody please explain me what kind of threat this family could possibly pose to the J body politic by being allowed to stay?

Is Immigration (not to mention the Supreme Court) worried that this would set a precedent, creating a tidal wave of immigrants staying on beyond their visas then claiming residency as a fait accompli? I’m not even sure that this phenomenon even applies in this case.

Given the low birthrate and the labor shortage, shouldn’t Japan be to some degree encouraging people with families who want to stay on as immigrants? Debito in Sapporo

Japan Times column Nov 7 2006 on Japan’s half-truth claims to the UN


Hello Blog. I have just put up my most recent column (my 33rd) for the Japan Times Community Page on my regular website. Published today, November 7, 2006, this is the “Director’s Cut”, with sentences excised from the print version for space concerns, and links to sources for claims within the article.

Rather than having the same article twice at this domain–both at debito.org and on the blog–I’ll just send the blog a link.

In the article I talk about Japan’s pattern of half-truth claims and empty promises regarding the United Nations, and most recently its membership on the newformed (and stumbling) Human Rights Council. Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo



Hi All. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. Lots been going on recently. Another newsletter to fire off to you:

Table of Contents:
(freely forwardable)


Let me start with this since it’s the briefest entry:

My latest article in the Japan Times Community Page will be coming out today, as in a few hours. Teaser summary:

Now that the UN’s corrupt Human Rights’ Commission has been replaced with the “Human Rights Council”, with more accountability for its members vis-a-vis their own human rights record, the Japanese government got elected last June as its richest member. Interestingly, I was able to obtain a copy of Japan’s submission to the UN when it declared its HRC candidacy. In it, Japan pulls the wool over the UN’s eyes, with half-truth claims regarding Japan’s willingness to comply with international standards of human rights (with prominent treaties left unsigned and signed treaties left unfollowed). Moreover, nowhere mentioned in the sales pitch is any form of commitment towards improving the rights of Japan’s international residents.

Maybe this ability for unqualified candidates to get elected is what’s causing writers on the UN, such as James Traub (author, “The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power”) to call the Human Rights Council “a failure” (NPR Fresh Air, October 31, 2006) already, mere months after its birth…

Anyway, pick up a copy of the Japan Times today and have a look.



These sorts of things just seem to keep on happening whenever I attend a JALT conference (http://www.jalt.org). Last year, it was me finding out how the Japanese police were bending newly-revised hotel laws, by misrepresenting the law to make it seem as though all foreigners (residents of Japan or not) must show their passports at check-in. (Wrong–it only applies to tourists.) See the Japan Times (“Checkpoint at Check In”, October 13, 2005) article that came out of that at

This year, the following happened:


Kokura, Kitakyushu City (Fukuoka Pref)
Restaurant “Jungle”
Kitakyushu-shi Kokura Kita-ku Kajimachi 1-7-4, Kajimachi Kaikan 3F
Ph: 093-512-7123, FAX 093-512-7124
Photo of storefront available at

On November 3, 2006, during the JALT National Conference at Kitakyushu, a JALT member was refused entry to the above restaurant. Reason given was that the establishment was full, even though to the refusee it visibly had open tables. The person who was refused informed Rogues’ Gallery moderator Arudou Debito at the conference after one of his presentations, and volunteer Jessica tracked down the site.

On November 4, at around 9PM, Arudou Debito, Jessica, and four other friends (including Ivan Hall, author of CARTELS OF THE MIND) went to the restauant in question. Arudou first went in alone and the manager, a Mr Matsubara Tatsuya, indeed tried to refuse him entry by claiming the restaurant was full. A quick walk around the restaurant confirmed that the establishment, with at least eight large tables plus counter space, was in fact almost completely empty. When it was clear that Arudou and Matsubara could communicate in Japanese, Matsubara then switched tacks and offered him counter space. Arudou then brought in his friends and confirmed that they could now have a table.

Arudou and friends then confirmed (after being seated and ordering drinks) that a) Matsubara did refuse foreigners entry, b) because he cannot communicate in English–he finds it his “nemesis” (nigate), c) and because he finds foreigners frightening (kowai). When asked if he had ever had any bad experiences or altercations with non-Japanese customers, Matsubara said no. He just (for reasons never made very clear) did not want to have to deal with them.

When Arudou and friends softly and calmly pointed out that a) non-Japanese are customers too, with money, not to mention language abilities (or at least forefingers to point to items on the menu), b) refusing them entry hurts their feelings, as it did the person refused the previous evening, c) that welcoming customers was part of the job description of his line of work (kyaku shoubai), he apologized and said he would try harder not to refuse non-Japanese customers in future.

The irony of the situation was that at the end of our drinks, one of the waiters who attended us (a student at the local technical college) talked to us in very good English. Why couldn’t Matsubara just have passed any customer with whom he was unable to communicate on to his staff?

We look forward to future reports from readers of this website who might wish to investigate this restaurant in future to see if Matsubara keeps his promise.

I should think that if I find some time, I should write a letter on this case to JALT, the Kitakyushu Mayor’s office (after all, he did officially welcome us in the JALT brochures), the local Bureau of Human Rights, and maybe the local newspaper, and let them know that this sort of thing happened and should not anymore. JALT is like a mountain in that it is big enough to influence the weather–with a couple thousand attendees surely a windfall for the local economy. Might as well ask to use the authority if we have it.



Here’s an article I stumbled across while reading back issues of The Economist, left fallow on my desk due to all my travels:

Iva Toguri, a victim of mistaken identity, died on September 26th, aged 90
From The Economist (London) print edition, Oct 5th 2006
Courtesy http://www.economist.com/obituary/displaystory.cfm?story_id=E1_SJJSDST

=================== EXCERPT BEGINS =======================
MANY years after the end of the war in the Pacific, a former tail-gunner who had been stationed in New Guinea wrote a letter to a veterans’ magazine. He wished to share his memories of a voice. Every night in the spring of 1944, huddled in a tent with his comrades, he would hear a woman speaking behind the crackle and whistling of the Halicrafter radio. “Hi, boys!” she would say, or sometimes “Hi, enemies! This is your favourite playmate.” She would play swing and jazz, introduce “some swell new records from the States” and then, almost as an afterthought, mention that a Japanese attack was coming: “So listen while you are still alive.”

They listened happily, as did American troops all over the Pacific. It was rare and good to hear a female voice, even through several layers of interference and even with the sneer of death in it. Whether it was one woman, or many different women, did not matter. They could picture her: a full lipstick smile, ample curves, perfect skin, part Hedy Lamarr and part the sweetheart left at home. She was a temptress and a vixen, and her name was Tokyo Rose. For even myths must have names and addresses…
=================== EXCERPT ENDS =======================
Rest of the article also at

Economist Oct 5 Obit: “Tokyo Rose” dies (with replies)

COMMENT: I think the author of article tries a little too hard to let Ms Toguri off the hook. Unwilling or subversive participant perhaps, the fact that she still participated is something that should be discussed. The author should have dealt with her motivations a little more, and instead of merely dismissing “incriminate Tokyo Rose” campaigner Walter Winchell as a “populist ranter”, brought up more of his claims and counterargued them better. Her popularity with the troops and celebrity status does not in my view exonerate her participation in the propaganda, and she herself should have told us a bit more about what went on before she died. If there is any “mistaken identity”, as the article claims in the title, I feel it is in part because she did an insufficient amount to correct it herself.

The Economist has done this sort of thing before, by the way. In an article on the Emperor Hirohito death in 1989, there was a Leader (editorial) dismissing British newspaper claims that he was “truly evil”. The Economist instead made the case that “Hirohito was one of the people in the 20th Century who delivered us” (IIRC–it’s been 18 years). I had trouble buying it then, and, given the revelations of Shouwa Tennou’s wartime involvement (see Herbert BIX’s book on it), I buy it even less today.

Contrast these with what passed as an Obit in The Economist for Leni Riefenstahl, another woman with wartime complicity. Also available at

Economist Oct 5 Obit: “Tokyo Rose” dies (with replies)

Maybe this is just something The Economist does: Focus on the output and not on the motivations of the artist. Pity it means glossing over archetypal historical figures in retrospective. I say: Less gush for people with possible complicity in wartime, please. There are issues here which should be discussed.



Shortly before writing this newsletter, I was interviewed tonight by “Bicyclemark’s Communique”, an introduction through ResPublica’s Lee-Sean Huang, by Mark, a Portuguese-American activist blogger, podjournalist, and vlogger living in Amsterdam. He asked me about Governor Ishihara, a topic I have probably B-minus knowledge about, and the emerging right-wing shift in Japan’s internationalist future. I’m pretty tired, so I made a couple of goofs, but have a listen anyway. I think it came out quite alright:



Thanks as always for reading!



Foreign-born lawmaker puts Japan’s acceptance of outsiders to the test

By Oscar Johnson
Courtesy http://www.crisscross.com/jp/newsmaker/345

Marutei Tsurunen stands in front of the Diet. PHOTO BY TSUTOMU FU
TOKYO — Marutei Tsurunen relentlessly clawed at the doors of the Diet for a decade with two goals in mind: to get the inside scoop on politics and offer an outsider’s perspective in a land he says is far from ready to accept its foreign residents. It’s a task that Japan’s first and only foreign-born parliamentarian likens to a mission from God — literally. In fact, he left North Karelia, Finland, 40 years ago as a Lutheran lay missionary bent on helping Japan see the light.

“Of course, I’m a Christian and I still say I’m a missionary, not as a churchman but as a politician,” says Tsurunen, 67, whose mission has always been more about social practice than religious preaching. Having graduated from Finland’s Social Welfare College, he was a caseworker for a children’s home in Kyushu before forgoing his church ministry to head an English-language school. In 1992, he was elected as the nation’s first foreign-born assemblyman in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture.

“Originally I had no interest in politics,” he confesses. “I had been wondering why I left the church and why I was here. There was very little I could do to affect society as a foreigner. Then suddenly it hit me like lightening: maybe I should try it. It took a long time but I finally found my calling.”

To be sure, the House of Councilors seat that fell to him in 2002 can be seen as nothing short of a miracle. Having made three failed bids (and another for the House of Representatives), it came only after former television celebrity Kyosen Ohashi stepped down, dramatically declaring politics too lowbrow for his own tastes. The job automatically went to Tsurunen, fellow Democratic Party of Japan member and runner-up in the 2001 election, whose close-but-no-cigar defeat he and everyone else considered the end of his political career.

Tsurunen is an unabashed Japanophile who, in addition to rendering his Finnish name, Martti Turunen, into its current Japanese form, has translated “The Tale of Genji” and other local classics into his native language. His populist tactics brought him tantalizingly close to victory in each race, and upon finally taking office he touted protecting the environment and “internationalizing” the nation as his priorities. These days, he’s homed in on sustainable agriculture as a member of the Diet’s Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and founder and secretary-general of the Parliamentarian’s League for the Promotion of Organic Agriculture. But he says his mission is not confined to these.

Task is to improve Japanese lifestyles

“I feel this society is sick in many ways,” says Tsurunen, an amiable and soft-spoken vegetarian with a grandfatherly demeanor. He lays much of the blame for today’s social ills on an increasingly popular “law of the jungle,” which he says rewards selfish ambition and ignores the less fortunate.

“Morale is down and there are many things that are unhealthy about Japanese lifestyles today. There are more than 30,000 suicides every year and maybe five times as many attempts. Many people drink a lot and eat too much. Environmentally, more chemicals are used in Japan than anywhere else. Sixty percent of our food comes from other countries — one of the highest rates in the world. That’s because we eat a lot of meat. My task is to improve our lifestyles, to make them healthier.”

That’s not to say that the nation’s self-styled “blue-eyed lawmaker” hasn’t spied a number of recent political trends that put foreigners who are in — and in close proximity to — Japan on edge. There’s an ominous rightwing shift toward deepening nationalism, he concedes. It’s one that includes fingerprinting foreigners, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi’s insistent public homage at Yasukuni Shrine and an education bill that mandates patriotism.

“It is a shift,” Tsurunen says, “and a very dangerous one. I’m very worried about it. It’s mainly in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, not its junior coalition partner New Komeito.” True to his calling, he broaches such issues with caution.

“A few years ago we stopped fingerprinting foreigners and I thought it was a good idea,” he explains. “In some ways it’s good now because of terrorism. But maybe 1% of foreigners entering the country are criminals, while 99% are not. To fingerprint all of them, I think, is counter to basic human rights.” Yet, it comes as no surprise to the member of a government wont to fault foreigners for its crime woes — to the extent of mulling a legal cap on their residency to 3% of the population.

Tsurunen’s more than 30 years of naturalized citizenship — if not books he’s penned in Japanese with titles such as “I Want to be a Japanese,” “Here Comes a Blue-Eyed Assemblyman” and “Blue-Eyed Diet Member Not Yet Born” — speak to his vested interest in foreigner acceptance. But he’s no longer as optimistic as when he took office in 2002.

Goal is to get right to vote for foreigners

“Well, it is still my goal — or wish — but I’m not sure I have been able to do much. For example, I am for the right of permanent foreign residents to vote,” he says of a bill now on ice that would allow them to do so in local elections. “But our party is not united on this issue. Last year, I was the leader of a committee that dealt with the issue of accepting more foreign laborers and we made some progress. But I’m not sure if it’s the best solution now. Japanese people are not ready to live with foreigners. There will be problems such as discrimination. We have some cities where 10% of the population is foreign and they already have these kinds of problems.”

Tsurunen says he and his views as an outsider are welcome in the upper house, but admits it wasn’t always so in the Yugawara assembly, a post he resigned to run for the Diet. After spending two-thirds of his life here with his Japanese wife Sachiko and two adult children, he’s “hopeful” but makes no promises.

“For foreigners this is not a very friendly country — it can be very cold. I’m one of the lucky ones.” The key, he insists both by word and example, is to learn the language and avoid retreating to the bubble of gaijin communities. “If they want to get inside Japanese society, they should try to work for this society, not just for their rights. Japanese must learn to live with foreigners, but foreigners must also learn to live with Japanese,” he says. That may also mean living with an increasingly nationalistic worldview fostered by public education.

On plans to revise the 60-year-old Fundamental Education Law to mandate “loving the nation,” Tsurunen defers to the Democratic Party line. The ruling LDP bill, which is widely expected to prevail over opposition alternatives, plays on a conservative-posited notion that occupation-era education reforms are behind national woes ranging from declining academic performance to surging juvenile crime. Critics fear it could turn back the clock to a time when loving the nation meant nosediving fighters into battleships, occupying neighboring countries or rationalizing sexual slavery for a war effort deemed unpatriotic to question.

“This Fundamental Education Law bill is very difficult,” Tsurunen says. “In our (DP) bill we say patriotism should be encouraged but not mandatory. Maybe this trend has something to do with the law on the national anthem in Tokyo,” he says of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s popular nationalist reforms. They have punished well over 300 teachers — and reportedly some parents — in the metropolis for not standing before the flag and singing the anthem, or for not encouraging students to do so, at school events.

“They’re very strict about it. In Japan the history of the flag and the anthem, which pays homage to the emperor, is unique,” he says. “I’m afraid if this new education bill gets through in its present form, then when you look at students’ records you’ll be able to say, ‘You love the government this or that much.’ That’s not good.” Recent media reports have noted that 40 to 50 schools in Saitama — citing the Ministry of Education’s current guidelines for social studies — have already started to assess sixth-graders on their demonstrated “love of the nation.”

As for Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine, which memorializes Japan’s war dead including convicted Class-A war criminals, Tsurunen offers a measured but candid view.

“Yasukuni Shrine very much relates to China,” he says of Japan’s emerging rival in terms of regional power and resources. “I’m a little afraid of China because it wants to control the region. The prime minister should not go to Yasukuni now — but not because of China’s protests. We must find a good solution.”

He notes that controversy still swirls over the convictions of the criminals enshrined at Yasukuni and says building a new national memorial to bypass them is untenable. “I think it would be best if we could remove them from Yasukuni. But solving this issue will not solve all our problems with China.”

Japan’s relationship with China is not the only one that gives Tsurunen pause. “I think there should also be less emphasis on our relations with the United States,” he says. It’s a recurring theme in his thoughts on diplomacy.

In July, a week after North Korea lobbed seven Scud, Nodong and Taepodong-2 missiles into the Sea of Japan, Nagatacho rang with the bullhorns of right-wing protestors calling for an attack on the Stalinist state. Tsurunen dismissed the caravan of black vans with the wave of a hand. “They’re here all the time,” he says. “I’m not worried about North Korea. If they do anything, it would be suicide. To tell you the truth, I’m more worried about what the United States will do. Japan cannot act alone. If North Korea continues to aggravate the situation too much, the United States may attack them. That would destroy them and a lot of people would die.”

Tsurunen developed a distaste for war at the tender age of 4, when his family was one of a few in their small Finnish village to escape an attack by Soviet soldiers. “Our house was in the middle of the forest so they didn’t notice we were there,” he recalls. “Yes, you could say I am a pacifist. I don’t believe war can solve anything; it just makes things worse. Of course, sometimes it’s unavoidable, such as if we are attacked and must defend ourselves.”

War-renouncing Constitution is outdated

As director of the Diet’s Research Commission on the Constitution, this informs his position on whether and how to revise war-renouncing elements of a constitution the U.S. imposed on Japan during its occupation. He says the document is outdated, and polls show 60 to 70% of the nation believes some kind of amendment is in order.

“I think under certain conditions it’s needed,” Tsurunen says. “The first article should be changed so that it mentions the Self-Defense Forces, their task to defend the nation and to help with international humanitarian efforts at the United Nations’ request. Right now, it doesn’t,” he says of the missions that Japan’s quasi military have already undertaken.

But he stresses SDF deployment overseas should only be at the behest of the U.N., not the United States, as was the case with sending troops to Iraq. He also notes that similar to the fate of the education law, there’s a need to be on guard against LDP hawks that might seek to expand the SDF’s international role.

“Our party’s idea is quite different than the LDP’s,” Tsurunen says. “They may have ideas about making Japan stronger, more independent or nationalistic but they cannot change the constitution alone. Still, we must be careful when the LDP makes their proposals.”

In this case, his faith is not so much in his party’s ability to stop such tactics as it is in the need for a referendum to change the constitution. But he’s also hopeful the day will come when the Democratic Party of Japan will break the near half-century grip the conservative LDP has had on government.

“Because there is so much corruption many people are finally anticipating a shift in power,” he says, adding it’s the most significant change he’s seen in politics since he’s been in Japan. “During the last election the opposition actually won the most votes. The LDP won the election but that was because of the proportional electoral system. For the first time, more than 50% of the voters want change.”

To that end, Tsurunen is putting the faith he has in his political calling to the test one last time in a bid to retain his seat in the 2007 upper house election. It could be his first and only outright victory in a Diet election before reaching retirement age. “The people are very interested in me,” he says of his two-hour early morning glad-handing sessions with locals at train stations. “I believe I can get it.” The result may also say a little something about how truly ready Japan is to accept their “blue-eyed Diet member”— or any other foreigner.

August 9, 2006

COMMENT: I’ve met Tsurunen on several occasions, even had a chance to talk to him one-on-one (see my October 2003 interview with him at http://www.debito.org/tsuruneninterview.html ). I personally like the guy. I also understand that he’s trying to make his mark as a politician trumpeting more than just ethnic-rights issues (one of his biggest policy pushes is for recycling), and as a politician, he’s not in a position to please everybody.

However, I have qualms about the degree of his distancing. For example, when UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene came to Japan for a second time, talking about racial discrimination and the need for legislation to combat it (see http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html ), Diene attended a 2PM meeting at the Diet’s Upper House on May 18, 2006. A few Dietmembers attended, and some of their offices sent secretaries to at least leave their office’s meishi business card behind as a sign of awareness or interest. Tsurunen’s office did neither. I find this deeply disappointing. This is, after all, a meeting with the United Nations–and on foreigner and ethnic issues. If Tsurunen’s office can overlook this, what kind of example does this set for the rest of Japan’s politicians?


May 27, 2006: Police patrols, Diene, immigration and foreign workers


Hi All. Arudou Debito here. Updates:

May 27, 2006, freely forwardable


I received this information earlier this week from a friend in Tokyo, who said cops patrolling her area came to her door asking for personal information about her and her wherewithal in Japan.

Entitled the “Junkan Renraku Caado” and issued by the police forces, this A4-sized paper reads, in English (as this form is clearly designed for English-reading foreigners):

“This police officer is assigned to work in your area. His duties require him to establish rapport and maintain positive contact with community residents of his beat. As such he will occasionally call at your place of residence. These visits have a long history in the Japanese community and is [sic] not meant to be intrusive in nature. The activity is intended to provide the public with the best crime prevention and traffic awareness services the police can offer. We would also like to hear your difficulties, complaints, and opinions on community affairs, thereby helping us to serve our community better. On his first visit, the patrolman will be asking you to fill out this form. Information provided by you will be mainly used for communication purposes, should you suffer from crime, disaster, or traffic accident. Necessary precaution [sic] will be taken to maintain your privacy. Information provided by you will not be affected [sic] nor disclosed to third parties. We request your assistance in this matter. Thank you for your understanding.”
See a scanned copy of it here

Above this section are boxes in Japanese only asking for “Head of Household” (setai nushi) and patrolman details.

Below it are boxes in English and Japanese for filling out Home Address (in Japan) with phone number, Nationality, and Period of Stay. There are several rows for FAMILY MAKE-UP, with Name in Full, Relationship, Sex, Occupation/School, Alien Registration Certificate Number.

The bottom half has:
a) POINTS OF EMERGENCY CONTACT (Name and address of Householder’s business, Name and address of Householder’s School, Name and address of close friend or next of kin)

b) TENANTS OTHER THAN FAMILY (with the same information required as the above FAMILY MAKE-UP SECTION


Then finally,

Okay, here are some things I would write in this section:
1) Why are you asking me for this information?
2) What bearing does this information have on the stated goals of public prevention of crime, disaster relief, and traffic awareness?
3) Is filling out this form optional?
4) Do you gather all of this information from Japanese residents too?
5) If foreigners were allowed to have juuminhyou residency certificates, like all other residents of Japan who happen to be citizens, would you police need to come around to my house and collect it yourself?

Actually, in the time period spanning twenty years I have had contact with the Japanese police, I never once have had them come to my door and ask for anything like this. Yet I have heard so far that this has happened to two foreigners residing in Tokyo Nakano-ku and Shinjuku-ku. Anyone else? Let me know at debito@debito.org.

I will pass this on to one of my lawyers and ask whether or not filling this out is mandatory. Given that answering the Japan Census Bureau is completely optional, I have a feeling that filling this out would be optional too, at least for Japanese. (Ask your cop directly yourself: “Kore o ki’nyuu suru no wa nin’i desu ka?”)



Since a major overseas magazine will soon be doing a large article on foreign labor in Japan, I finally sat down and webbed something I keep referring to in my Japanese writings on immigration and foreign labor in Japan: Fifteen pages of a special report in Shuukan Diamondo (Weekly Diamond) economics magazine, concerning the importance of Immigration to Japan, which ran on June 5, 2004. All scanned and now available at:


Cover: “Even with the Toyota Production style, it won’t work without foreigners. By 2050, Japan will need more than 33,500,000 immigrants!! Toyota’s castle town overflowing with Nikkei Brazilians. An explosion of Chinese women, working 22 hour days–the dark side of foreign labor”

Page 32: “If SARS [pneumonia] spreads, factories ‘dependent on Chinese’ in Shikoku will close down”.

Page 40-41: Keidanren leader Okuda Hiroshi offers “five policies”: 1) Create a “Foreigners Agency” (gaikokujin-chou), 2) Create bilateral agreements to receive “simple laborers” (tanjun roudousha), 3) Strengthen Immigration and reform labor oversight, 4) Create policy for public safety, and environments for foreigner lifestyles (gaikokujin no seikatsu kankyou seibi), 5) Create a “Green Card” system for Japan to encourage brain drains from overseas.

Remember that powerful business league Keidanren was the one lobbying in the late 80’s and early 90’s for cheap foreign workers (particularly Nikkei Brazilians) to come in on Trainee Visas, working for less than half wages and no social benefits, to save Japanese industry from “hollowing out”.

Now that Keidanren boss Okuda has stepped down in favor of Mitarai Fujio (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nb20060525a3.html), it’s time to see what Keidanren’s new tack on foreign labor, if any, will be. At 7:50 AM yesterday morning, NHK interviewed Mitarai, and made much of his 23 years living overseas with foreigners (and his comments were, sigh, directed towards “understanding foreign culture and traditions”; when will we outgrow that hackneyed and sloppy analytical paradigm?). The interview made no mention of foreigners within Japan, however. Do I hear the sound of hands washing?



Last update, I gave a synopsis of Doudou Diene’s trip last week to Tokyo, Osaka, and Okinawa, sponsored by IMADR (available at http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#May2006. I received a response from Trevor Bekolay, student at Kokugakuin University and University of Manitoba, who was at a meeting with Diene which I could not attend. Forwarding with permission:

Just to add to your email about meeting with UN Special Rapporteur
Diene, I as well had the opportunity to meet him at the public meeting
on May 13th at IMADR’s building. The meeting consisted of but 20
people [due to the short notice of the schedule]. Most of the points
that he made you already included in your email…

The three-hour meeting included statements from IMADR, the NGO
representative, Dr. Diene himself, then about half of the time was
allotted to questions from those who attended. Here are the notes I
made on what I heard:

“Dr. Diene received a fair amount of negative media coverage after the
initial UN report due to the possibility of omissions which are
believed to be added to Diene’s report. IMADR attempted to address
these problems in their open letter to Dr. Diene, but the purpose of
the meeting really, was for Diene to receive feedback on the report,
especially of issues that were omitted in the original report. He
stressed that one does not have to be in a group, any individual can
inform the Special Rapporteur of individual cases of racism and
discrimination which will immediately be acted upon. Basically, the
UN is starting to police Japan’s government more closely, to determine
if they should remain in Human Rights groups in the UN.

[Inform the Special Rapporteur via sr-racism@ohchr.org
(Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)]

“The report’s goal is to be the first step in starting social change,
not just a report on the current situation. The responsibility of
activist groups like IMADR is to inform Diene of new developments.
Give as much information as possible so he can give a good report to
the UN. Consider how the report can be used as part of the fight
against racism in Japan.

“Question Period: Mainly specific issues, such as pension issues for
disabled Zainichi Koreans. However, a representative for the Civil
Liberties Union seemed to be there to defend the Japanese right to be
racist. He mentioned the issue of freedom of expression vs. racial
discrimination. He claimed that freedom of expression isn’t well
protected in Japan, so only public servants are punished for making
racist remarks in public forums. He gave two examples of problems
with freedom of expression: one in which public servants who were
distributing political leaflets were arrested, and one in which
environmentalists were arrested by SD forces while distributing
political leaflets.”…

Well and good. Especially since the conservatives are now feeling threatened by Diene enough to start organizing and publishing: Witness this:



A friend who studies conservative politics in Japan called me up just before dinner tonight, to inform me of the “emergency publication” of a new book by “right-wing nutjobs” decrying the spread of human rights in Japan.

Entitled, “Abunai! Jinken Yougo Houan, Semari Kuru Senshinkoku kei Zentai Shugi no Kyoufu”
(“Warning! The Human Rights Protection Bill: The Imminent Terror of the Totalitarianism of the Developed Countries”, or somesuch), it was just published April 27 and is visible at:

Complete, my friend notes, with manga (what else?) lots of Chinese living in an apartment on top of each other in violation of housing contract, being found out by the landlord, and taking action against him “to defend their own human rights”. Or of a “gaijin” picking a fight with a Japanese in a bar, getting turfed out, then taking action against the bar for “violating his human rights”. Hoo boy.

It zeroes in on the Diene report in specific. Not quite sure how (as I haven’t gotten a copy of the book yet), but will let you know. I ordered two copies today and will send one to Diene at the UN for his perusal.



Last week I forwarded you an article from the Yomiuri entitled:
New ID card system eyed for foreigners
The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 14, 2006, still up temporarily at:

Well, here’s a letter I sent to the Yomiuri shortly afterwards:

Sir, Your article, “New ID card system eyed for foreigners” (May. 14, 2006), makes an unfortunate omission and even an error.

In its haste to portray the change in the Alien Registration system as little more than a centralization and rationalization of power, your article neglects to mention the new “Gaijin Cards” will have imbedded IC computer chips.

These chips will be used, according to government proposals, to track even legal foreigners in Japan through swiping stations nationwide. [*1] This is an unomissible change.

Your article errs when it reports, “an increasing number of foreigners do not register themselves at municipalities after gaining admission at the bureau or fail to report an extension of their stay”. In fact, according to Immigration, the number of illegal foreigners has gone down every year uninterrupted since 1993. [*2] Even the figure cited within the article, “at least about 190,000 illegal aliens as of January”, is still lower than the 2003 figure of 220,000 overstays.

In this era of exaggeration of foreign crime, please endeavor to provide us with accurate reportage.
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan


[Note 1 for editors: Source, Japan Times, “Computer-chip card proposals for foreigners have big potential for abuse”, November 22, 2005.
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/member/member.html?appURL=fl20051122zg.html ]

[Note 2 for editors: Source: http://www.debito.org/crimestats.html , very bottom for an orange bar chart indicating the number of illegal aliens in Japan (courtesy of Immigration)]

Well, AFAIK it didn’t get published. Ah well. To be expected.



For the Diene visit, I put together a tape of media (TV shows and news broadcasts) concerning the Ana Bortz Case, the Otaru Onsens Case, and NHK’s portrayal of foreign crime. (Synopsis of the tape’s contents at http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#video ).

If you would like a copy sent to you (for a nominal fee of, say, 1000 yen to cover tape, postage and handling, see http://www.debito.org/donations.html), please be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Quite a few teachers are using this as classroom educational material on the subject of human rights. Be happy to help.



What is shaping up to be the last and best bilingual interview of the bunch just came out yesterday on Yamato Damacy.
Touching upon survival strategies in Japan, the future, and a special appearance of Tama-chan–probably the most successful issue we ever took up on The Community!



When I was having dinner with M. Diene on May 17 in Osaka, in attendance was a former vice-rector of a major Japanese university who paid me a wonderful compliment:

“I am in fact a quarter French. When I was younger, I really disliked the three-quarters of the Japanese side of myself that ridiculed my foreign background. But now no longer ashamed of my French roots. I’m even proud to be a Japanese. Because we have Japanese now like Arudou Debito who say the things I could never say.”

That was a tearjerker. Here I am just doing my thing, and it somehow helped an elderly gentleman overcome longstanding hurts he’d had for decades…

Arudou Debito

Jul 2, 2006: Immig feedback, MOFA, Kimigayo, El Barco


July 2, 2006 Freely forwardable


I reported on June 6 about Kouno Taro, Dietmember and Senior Vice Minister for the Ministry of Justice, and his suggestion to cap foreigners at 3 percent of the population. Backlogged at:

Well, there’s a full report available online, at

As a friend reported:
The Ministry of Justice is currently seeking public comment on a proposal to revise Japan’s immigration laws. Among the ideas are

1. Cap foreigners at 3%.

2. Continue to monitor foreigners even after they are permanent residents, requiring continuing reports on their activities, employment, etc.

3. Intervene to change the mix of nationalities among resident foreigners, presumably by denying visas to some nationalities with large numbers in Japan.

There’s more. You can send your thoughts about it directly to MOJ Immigration Bureau by July 15 by snailmail, email, or fax:

Address: 100-8977 Houmushou Nyuukoku kanrikyoku Kanri Kikaku Kanshitsu
Fax: 03-3592-7940
Email: nyukan42@moj.go.jp
Questions to 03-3580-4111 ext 5685
It’s all up at http://www.moj.go.jp/NYUKAN/nyukan51.html in Japanese.
Or you can contact Kouno Taro directly (he reads English) at http://www.taro.org

As I wrote before, my feelings about these sorts of immigration caps is that they are largely unworkable, as history has shown repeatedly, in variable migration policies in the US, Australia, Canada, etc. Examples of distortion in the labor markets, not to mention the often awful eugenics treatment of immigrants both present and potential, should send up a few flags. Moreover, not only are we going to have to police the birthrates of those foreigners already here (to somehow keep the total under 3%), but I also wonder how Toyota, Suzuki, Yamaha, Nissan, et al would feel about this proposed labor force cap. Close to two decades of “Foreign Trainee” workers, working for less than half wages, no social benefits, and no job security, are what’s keeping Japan’s labor costs down, stopping many of Japan’s major industries from relocating overseas. How about Toyota? In its national-pride push to finally overtake GM as the word’s leading automaker, it’ll need even more cheap labor for the foreseeable future. More on all that at



In an apparent follow-up to its hastily-patched-together hearing of NGOs and human-rights groups on March 7, 2006, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be holding another hearing between 3 and 5 PM in the Tokyo MOFA building on Friday, July 28. It’s open to the public, but you have to apply in advance, and it’s best if you have something to say (and optimal if you send MOFA a statement in advance). Deadline for application is 5PM July 13. Particulars follow:

Address: 100-8919 Gaimushou Daijin Kanbou Kokusai Shakai Kyouryokubu Jinken Jindou Ka
(Jinshu Sabetsu Teppai Jouyaku Iken Koukan Tantou), Subject: Iken/Youbo Soufu)
Email: cerd2@mofa.go.jp (put Iken/Youbo Soufu in the Subject line)
Questions to 03-3580-3311, but they don’t accept applications by phone.
It’s all up at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html in Japanese.

I’ll also put in an application to be there.



Courtesy of Matt at The Community, the following appeared on the Get Hiroshima website:

El Barco raided by 50 officers, Proprietors arrested

El Barco Ltd directors Richard And Hideko Nishiyama were arrested in a raid on the El Barco nightclub in the early hours of Sunday, May 14 for a permit violation under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act (Fuuzoku eigyou no kisei oyobi gyoumu no tekiseika tou ni kansuru houritsu). The raid, taking place on the club’s busiest night of the week, involved over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police.

Richard Nishiyama’s wife, Kiyomi, has posted an explanation of the situation and a plea for support on the company website. Her original Japanese post can be seen here and I have published a rough translation of the whole piece on the GetHiroshima Blog here. Here is an excerpt explaining the situation:

The directors have been arrested for making/having customers dance without a night entertainment permit. There is in fact only one establishment in Hiroshima that actually holds all the licenses technically required under the Night Entertainment Business Control Act. Obtaining such a permit however places limits on the hours that a business can stay open. El Barco is registered as a late night business (mayonaka eigyou), however, that does not permit dancing. It is not possible to obtain both permits, meaning that under current Japanese law it is legally impossible to run an establishment where you can drink and dance late into the night. It thus follows that this is matter of concern for all late night dance clubs across Japan. We also have reservations about the manner in which the arrests were carried out, with over 50 police officers, immigration officials and riot police raiding El Barco late Saturday night to arrest only two people for a permit violation…
(continues at above website link)

This might be defended as a routine raid by Immigration, but what happened next to Richard is more grist for a case of how the Japanese police target foreigners, and abuse their powers of interrogation:

El Barco co-owner speaks after being released from custody

GetHiroshima spoke with proprietor Richard Nishiyama a couple of days after he was released from 10 days in custody at a holding center in Higashi-hiroshima. Anyone who knows the Peruvian-born Richard will know he is friendly, tolerant and non-confrontational… Taken into custody in the early hours of the morning, he was continually questioned and “asked” repeatedly to sign a prepared statement until three in the afternoon. Interrogation continued for several more days, but he remained composed, refusing to be provoked by insinuations made about his sister, who was also in custody, or threats against his family….
(continues at above website link).

More on the pub at
Go there and offer Richard some moral support, if not some business. Just be careful not to dance.

Speaking of purposeful enforcement of “laws”:



The Hinomaru and the “Kimigayo” were restablished as the national flag and anthem respectively during the Obuchi Administration in 1999. Fears of enforced patriotism (grading students on “love of country” in grade schools in Kyushu, for example) are steadily coming true.

Forwarding an article from the Asahi with comments from friend EH, who depicts a recent witchhunt in Toda, Saitama, as part of an emerging swing towards the right in Japan. The patriotism is no longer just being enforced upon the students. It is also being forced upon adult guests and parents.


“The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing.” The hunt is on. In fact, after Japan plays Brazil in the World Cup, I bet government officials will hunt down those who failed to stand and cheer loudly enough for the national side. You heard it here first. Seriously though, this news from Saitama is yet another horrible development:

Board seeks guests who sat during ‘Kimigayo’


TODA, Saitama Prefecture–The city education board here is hunting down guests who did not stand up and sing the “Kimigayo” anthem during spring graduation and enrollment ceremonies at public schools.

The board will question school staff members if they remember any of those guests at the 12 city-run elementary schools and six public junior high schools, the officials said.

The “investigation” will cover PTA officials, public welfare workers and city assembly members, but not the parents and guardians of the students, the officials said. The board will also ask principals of the 18 schools
about the results.

At a Toda assembly meeting on June 13, Ryoichi Ito, the head of the education board, was informed that some guests did not stand up and sing the anthem at the ceremonies.

“It makes me seethe with anger,” Ito replied. “It disrupts the order of ceremony. If it is true, then we must know (who did not stand).”

The education board has asked guests to stand up and sing “Kimigayo” since the education ministry’s curriculum guidelines made it practically mandatory to sing the anthem and hoist the Hinomaru rising-sun flag during school ceremonies.

But many view the song and the anthem as symbols of Japanese militarism in World War II. Some teachers, particularly in Tokyo, have refused to stand or sing “Kimigayo” during ceremonies, leading to reprimands and other punishments.

Some Toda assembly members have protested the investigation, saying that it infringes upon people’s freedom of thought.
(IHT/Asahi: June 21,2006)

(original article in Japanese at
http://www.asahi.com/edu/news/TKY200606200237.html )


1. The investigating officials say they aren’t hunting students’ parents. Like Koizumi’s assurance that nobody is being coerced, that claim is doublespeak.

2. The investigating officials say they are targeting the PTA, which of course by definition features students’ parents.

3. The investigating officials turn employees into informers–against anyone who is undemonstrative, lazy, uncooperative, un-genki, or dissenting; or indeed against anyone they care to finger. This is the worst part.

ONE MORE COMMENT: To cite friend Jens W., we always find mysterious how they will grade “patriotism” in the increasing number of children in Japan with foreign citizenships or international roots. Will they force children to choose which country to love more? Also, don’t people know that any type of “love”, including “love of country”, is something earned, not commanded? Anyone who’s experienced a relationship will know that. Perhaps this says something about the family backgrounds of the party kingpins who create such heartless policy…

Anyhoo, no follow-up article can I find in the Asahi on this. Eyes peeled. Still, the fact that the Asahi is making a big deal about this is good news (as long as they don’t drop the thread…).
Related articles at



1) June 24, 2006: “The Need for a Racial Discrimination Law”, part of Workshop 5: “Basic Human Rights for Foreigners and Policy for the Prohibiting of Racial Discrimination”, with human rights lawyer Niwa Masao and Gaikiren Catholic NGO coordinator Satou Nobuyuki. Sponsored by Solidarity Network With Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, www.jca.apc.org/migrant-net), Sixth Annual Forum in Sapporo.

Powerpoint presentation (Japanese) at

2) June 25, 2006: “Working at University: Securing Our Future”. Forum with Louis Carlet of the National Union of General Workers (www.nugw.org), and Bob Tench of NOVA Union, June 25, 2006, 1PM-5PM, Tokyo Shigoto Center, Iidabashi, Tokyo. Sponsored by University Teachers Union (UTU, www.utu-japan.org).

Handout available in Word format at

All presentations and publications available at



My most recent article for the Japan Times Community page (excerpt):

In July 2005, Doudou Diene, a special representative of the United Nations’ Commission on Human Rights, came to Japan at the invitation of the Japanese government.

He visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Hokkaido to see if Japan, an aspirant for a U.N. Security Council seat, was keeping its treaty promises regarding racial discrimination.

His trip caused quite a reaction. Although the regular domestic press largely ignored his reports, they inspired a vivid debate in the new media. This column will chart the arc of the issues, and demonstrate a potential sea change in how the U.N. holds countries accountable for human rights…

This newsletter is long enough already, so let me send the link to the website, which has the full text with links to substantiation for claims made in the article:

I’ll send the whole article to select lists in a few days.


All for now. Will be trying to finish a rough draft of our book over the next couple of weeks, so I’ll be going quiet for a little while. Thanks for reading!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

Jun 1, 2006: ディエンと右翼派反応、「日本移民列島」、外国人200万人突破


Subject: Updates: ディエンと右翼派反応、「日本移民列島」、外国人200万人突破

皆様こんにちは。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっとおります。きょうのアップデートは:


June 1, 2006  (転送歓迎)



 2006年5月13日から18日まで、「現代的形態の人種主義、人種差別、外国人嫌悪/排斥および関連する不寛容に関する特別報告者」のドゥドゥ・ディエン氏は、昨年7月の訪問かつ本年1月の国連へ日本国内差別の現状の報告のフォローアップをしました。招待者の人権擁護団体「反差別国際運動日本委員会」(IMADR-JC) の案内サイトは

 琉球新聞06年5月17日:「基地集中は差別 政府に是正再報告へ」

 東京と大阪訪問に関するニューズ報道(毎日、読売、共同通信のサイトではアーカイブを長期間的に検索する機能を設けてくれない)は持っていないので、すみません、英語のみの共同、Japan Times とVoice of Americaの記事は:

 私も大阪と東京での集会と記者会見に出席させていただきました。私の報告をもっと詳しく英語で記録したが (http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html#mayfollowup ) 、約言すると、ディエンのスピーチらのポイントは

 ● 人種差別と排外主義は一回対処法を採って放置するものではない。絶えず対処しないといけないものである。差別はそもそも突然「変化」する現象である。
 ● 人種差別と排外主義は全世界に更に拡散している。「反テロ措置」として最新の変化の現しである。
 ● 最大の政府レベルからも適切な対処法は撤廃の法整備のみではなく、差別などを指摘、賠償かつ罰則する整備も不可欠。
 ● 差別の現しはそもそも氷山の一角である。よって潜在的な排外主義の原因、差別の由来を対処するも不可欠。例えば、差別意識と意図はよく歴史から由来する。解決するために国連は援助ができる。例えば、UNESCOは以前アフリカ、中央アジア、及び中途アメリカの各国の歴史専門家を集めて、各国が認められる地方の歴史の本を発行し、国家間の摩擦の緩和ともなったようだ。同様に日中韓などの外交にとって役に立つのと思う。国連にそう推薦する。
 ● 取りあえず、ディエン氏は国連特別報告者として世界中の差別の実情を報告する。日本のみではなく、他国数カ国にも訪問し各国の締約した条約などの通りをどれくらい守っているのかを調査して報告する。よって、今回日本にてフォローアップを。





「曖昧なメ人権モ概念によって不自由社会を招来する亡国法案をメッタ斬り!これまでの運動の全記録と法案の思想的背景を徹底批判した待望のブックレット。ある日突然、人権擁護委員会から出頭命令。礼状なしの立ち入り調査。「人権侵害」と決め付けられたら氏名を公表、文句あるなら裁判しろ& …こんな恐ろしい法律がつくられようとしている。迫り来る先進国型全体主義の恐怖。」






1)日本の民族差別 人種差別撤廃条約からみた課題(明石商店)

2)多国籍ジパングの主役たち 新開国考(共同通信/明石書店)

3)知の鎖国 外国人を排除する日本の知識人産業(毎日新聞社)

4)「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽温泉入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)




外国人登録者:200万人突破 昨年末現在
毎日新聞 2006年5月27日 東京朝刊





毎日新聞 2006年5月31日








「最前線レポート 外国人に依存する地方都市の窮状」
「在日中国人女性が暴露!1日22時間働く 外国人就労の『暗部』」













13:00~15:00 全体会(基調報告ほか)
15:30~18:30 分科会
19:00~20:30 交流会

9:00~11:00  分科会
11:00~12:00 全体会(特別報告)








以上です!宜しくお願い致します!有道 出人
June 1, 2006