Powerpoint presentation on the J media-manufactured Myth of “Flyjin”; stats are in, lies are exposed


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

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Hi Blog. This week I gave a couple of presentations on my campus, one that I will share with everyone:

It’s about the whole “Flyjin” phenomenon, where the Japanese media was outright accusing NJ of deserting their posts and fleeing Japan. I’ve already written a column on this for the Japan Times (where I argued that if true, so what? It’s not as if NJ have been made to feel welcome or settled in Japan). But this time, now that the data is in, I argue that the phenomenon was a myth to begin with. Statistics show that a) NJ populations dropped most in ethnic groups (the Brazilians) that are not clustered around Touhoku to begin with, and b) the accusations in the Shuukanshi that NJ criminals were banding together to commit crime were false, as NJ crime dropped even further in 2011 (to levels not seen since 1993 — NPA crime statistics have to go as far back now as 1982 now to somehow depict a “rise”). Also discussed are the unexamined hypocrisies of Ishihara scaring the public in 2000 about the probability of “foreigner riots” during a natural disaster (which never happened; the bigot still got re-elected a month after the disasters anyway), and the Japanese fleeing Bangkok during the flooding last October (taking their Thai workers with them; on special temporary visas of course). And other important information that got drowned out in the NJ blame game/scapegoating (such as other issues of discrimination, including hotel refusals of Japanese “flyjin” fleeing Touhoku, and more accurate facts from the ground).

Download my powerpoint presentation on this at https://www.debito.org/flyjin032012.pptx

Enjoy! Arudou Debito

Saturday Tangent: Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!


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

Hi Blog.  It’s been pretty knee-jerk this past decade to blame NJ (or just plain multiculturalism) for anything that’s allegedly going askew in Japan.  Things I’ve seen blamed on NJ and their “cultural differences” (no doubt you know most of these):  Bathhouse altercations, crime, terrorism, infectious diseases, unemployment, neighborhood deterioration, bad smells in both neighborhoods and schools, divorces, DV, drugs, guns, prostitution, unpaid bills (including phone and restaurant), AIDs, youth crime, irregularly colored hair, improper garbage disposal, low J crews on Japanese ships, sports uncompetitiveness, lack of Olympic medals, uncertified sushi, Japan’s low English ability, national security in the SDF, and the potential carving up of Japan as a nation.  More on the NJ Blame Game here.

But I gotta admit, I’ve never seen oral hygiene — as in more cavities — pinned on NJ before!  Read on.  What’s next:  Traffic lights staying red for too long?  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


KYA writes:
I saw this on the TV news today, it’s not really a legal issue or anything but it’s a little bit ridiculous and a little bit offensive:

3歳児の虫歯激減 都内、歯磨き習慣定着
東京新聞 2010年4月21日 07時17分

Fussa’s got the highest percentage of 3 year olds with cavities in Tokyo, and the “person in charge” has decided to blame that on the fact that there are a lot of NJ residents in Fussa who “give their kids juice on a daily basis.”

Given the proximity of Fussa to the Yokota base, however, I’d be willing to bet that a lot of those NJ in Fussa that they’re talking about are American… and American children tend to have MUCH better teeth than their Japanese counterparts. Many Americans are almost paranoid about dental health these days… and on the other hand, Fussa is also one of the less expensive areas of Tokyo, I’d bet that a lot of those cavities can be ascribed to lower-income families who just can’t or won’t spend the money on dental visits and fluoride treatments, etc.

I’m not sure whether to laugh at this or be offended by it… since the terrible teeth of Japanese children are quite the popular conversation topic among the American eikaiwa teachers that I’ve known, it seems ironic at the least. ENDS

Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship


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

Hi Blog. Here’s an article in the Mainichi about a new form of crime:  NJ falsifying paternity under Nationality Law revisions to try to claim Japanese citizenship.  No doubt in the current NJ Blame Game climate we’ll get the Right Wing and wary xenophobes citing this as cases of NJ and the evils they do, and that we cannot give an inch (or amend any laws in future) to make life easier for NJ to immigrate and have their rights protected (after all, they might turn around and use potential legal loopholes as a means for criminal activity).

But to me (and this is not to excuse their crime) this issue is a matter of forgery that only NJ can do (after all, Japanese already have citizenship), and this is what criminals (again, regardless of nationality) get up to.  People forging names for, say, fake bank accounts (and we won’t even get into white-collar crime and business fraud) happens aplenty in Japan, and not all of it makes the news.  So I say:  Whenever it happens, catch it, expose it, report it, and punish it, regardless of nationality.  But don’t say NJ are doing it because NJ (especially Chinese, according to Tokyo Gov Ishihara) are more likely to commit crime.

Fortunately, the Mainichi doesn’t take that tack.  It just reports the facts of the case.  Good.

Sorry, not a pencil-dropping comment, but it has to be said sometime somewhere by somebody.  Voila.  Debito in Sapporo


3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2009, Courtesy of Jeff K.


An unmarried Chinese couple and another Chinese woman were arrested Friday for using the name of a Japanese man in a paternity recognition document in a bid to obtain Japanese citizenship for the couple’s child and acquire permanent residency for themselves, police said.

Wang Zong, 29, and Shen Nan, 28, both unemployed, and company worker Guo Qingqing, 34, are accused of forging private documents.

“I thought this would let our child and us stay in Japan as a family. We wanted our daughter to be educated in Japan,” Wang was quoted as telling investigators during questioning.

According to the revised Nationality Law that went into effect in January, children of unmarried Japanese fathers and foreign mothers can obtain Japanese citizenship if the father recognizes paternity.

The suspects submitted a paternity recognition form to the Higashikurume Municipal Government in Tokyo in January last year for Wang and Shen’s 1-year-old daughter, which indicated the father as a 56-year-old Japanese man, investigators said.

Guo masterminded the crime, using the name of a Japanese acquaintance who was in prison at the time and was not in on the scam, according to the Metropolitan Police Department. Shen paid Guo an 800,000 yen fee.

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2009


偽の認知届提出:中国人男女を逮捕 子供の日本国籍狙い

毎日新聞 2009年2月13日







毎日新聞 2009年2月13日 13時22分(最終更新 2月13日 19時47分)

Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” (tourists and residents)


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  It seems the “NJ blame game” I mentioned earlier this year is still continuing in the Japanese media.  Japan Today reports tabloid magazine Spa! coining a special word to describe “monster gaikokujin” wreaking havoc and laying waste to Japan.  Of course, Japanese tourists are ever so well behaved, and they don’t do things like deface a world heritage site and the like.  And Japanese overseas don’t commit crime.  Never ever.  But imagine the howls of protest in the J media (and the J embassies) should the Italian media decry “mostruoso niapponese“.  Ah well.  More bad social science by media that seems convinced that the Japanese language is some kind of secret code unintelligible to the outside world.  Twits.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


‘Monga’ in our midst

Japan Today, February 11, 2009.  By Magda Lupescu.  Courtesy of SH, MS, and many others.


“They get into jacuzzis at onsens still covered with body soap, punch out taxi drivers and so on. Here we pursue the mode of life of the foreigners who swagger in our faces during Japan’s recession!”

This week’s issue of Spa! (Feb 17) then proceeds with a four-page polemic against foreign tourists and residents titled “Report of Monster Foreigners on the Rampage.”

Spa! employs the word “monga” for this phenomenon, a neologism of created by combining “monsutaa” (monster) and “gaikokujin” (foreigner).

The article’s opening page is topped with a dorsal view of the British tourist who went skinny dipping in the Imperial Palace moat last October, just seconds prior to his arrest. How ironic, the magazine notes, that the same month the gentleman took his swim the Japanese government established a new Tourism Agency under the umbrella of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

The first half of Spa’s article is devoted to mutterings over the misadventures of foreign tourists, whose irritating peccadilloes range from utilizing their flashes (which is prohibited) at Tsukiji’s early morning fish auctions to haggling tenaciously over the prices of optional extras in an erotic massage parlor.

One “maid” employed by a shop at Akihabara relates her own tale of woe: While distributing flyers on the street she was pursued by a group of five or six cackling black males, exclaiming “Meido-san! Meido-san!” as they recorded her image with video cameras.

“I was terrified, fled for my life,” she shudders.

A kaiten-zushi shop owner, meanwhile, is convinced the plastic bottles of water from which South Korean patrons sipped while seated at his counter really contained shochu (grain spirits) that they had “ripped off” from somewhere.

An accompanying sidebar titled “What is the source of the increase in foreigners who wander off the beaten track?” complains that foreign-language guidebooks fail to instill proper decorum and frequently guide readers to places that are irrelevant, while downplaying spots that foreign visitors are likely to enjoy—such as the Mitsuo Aida Museum in Yurakucho and Museum of Swords (Token Hakubutsukan) in Yoyogi, Shibuya Ward. (Neither museums’ websites however, provide maps in English and it appears the latter’s has not been updated for about one year.)

The same sidebar also complains bitterly that in its introduction to Yanaka Cemetery in Nippori, the Michelin guide mentions Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the last Tokugawa Shogun, in the same breath with Oden Takahashi, a notorious murderess who was the last woman to be executed by decapitation — while completely overlooking other famous individuals interred therein.

The second half of the article swivels its guns toward foreigners living in Japan, featuring such “monga” as a satyric Turk who reveled in enticing local women to participate in his Roppongi orgies, and Filipinas who have overstayed their entertainer’s visas by a decade or longer.

Vernacular articles focusing on misbehavior by foreigners have regularly appeared in Sapio, a bimonthly magazine with a strong nationalistic slant published by Shogakukan. But Spa!, until fairly recently at least, has been largely indifferent to foreigners here, preferring to cover behavior by the natives. As such, its entry into the fray came as something of a surprise.

Spa!, known as Shukan Sankei until 1989, is published by Fusosha, a wholly owned subsidiary of Fuji TV. The Audit Bureau of Circulation put its weekly sales at 113,397 copies in the first half of 2008.

Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Good news in that Tsukiji Fish Market, closed due to “unmannerly foreigners” (according to the Japanese-language press), has reopened to the public with more security (good), with intentions to move to a location more accessible to visitors (good again, in retrospect).  The bad news is that the J-media (even NHK) has been playing a monthlong game of “find the unmannerly foreigner” (even when Japanese can be just as unmannerly) and thus portray manners as a function of nationality.  It’s a soft target:  NJ can’t fight back very well in the J-media, and even Stockholm-Syndromed self-hating bigoted NJ will bash foreigners under the flimsiest pretenses, putting it down to a matter of culture if not ill-will.  Bunkum and bad science abounds.  Japan Times article and a word from cyberspace follows.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


The Japan Times, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009


Tsukiji reopens tuna auctions to the public

By MARIKO KATO, Staff writer, Courtesy of AW


The Tsukiji fish market, one of Tokyo’s most popular tourist attractions, reopened its early morning tuna auctions to the public Monday after a monthlong ban.  

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government, which runs the gigantic wholesale market in Chuo Ward, temporarily banned onlookers, 90 percent of whom are foreign tourists, from the tuna trading floor Dec. 15, citing visitors’ bad behavior among other reasons. The ban ended Saturday, and the first auctions took place Monday.


“We decided to reopen because we had said we would only close for a month,” said Yoshiaki Takagi, deputy head of the venue, officially called the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market.

Even after the ban was imposed, a few dozen people a day continued to show up in hopes of catching a glimpse of the bidding, Takagi said. Before the temporary closure, as many as 500 people would watch the auctions.

“We were so lucky that we were able to see the auctions today,” said Danish visitor Rikke Grundtvig, who was one of a group of international MBA students on a study visit from the Berlin School of Creative Leadership at Steinbeis University Berlin.

“We have many nationalities in our group, South African, Brazilian, American, and we all wanted to see the fish this morning before we started studying,” she said.

The central observation area, which measures about 30 sq. meters and has room for about 60 people, opened at 5 a.m. with the auctions starting at 5:30 a.m.

Security guards were deployed on the auction floor and handbills in five languages outlining acceptable behavior were distributed to observers.

According to Takagi, media reports that cited visitors’ poor behavior as the main reason for the tentative ban were not entirely accurate.

“We closed mainly because around the New Year’s period the auctions get very busy. More trucks pass through the market and it gets dangerous,” he said, adding it is difficult for the auctioneers to walk around the observation area.

But Takagi acknowledged that onlookers were causing a hygiene risk and disruptions.

“Some tried to touch the fish and used flash photography, which made it difficult for the auctioneers to see the buyers, who signal by hand,” he said.

Last April the market established rules urging visitors to voluntarily “refrain from coming.” But, Takagi said, “these measures weren’t very effective.”

“It’s shocking that tourists would try to touch the fish. If I were running the market I would have shut it down, too,” said a visitor from Los Angeles who identified himself only as David. “But it would have been a real shame if the auctions had been closed today, as it’s been the highlight of my Japan trip so far.”

Tsukiji market did not set out to be a tourist attraction, Takagi said. “It’s first and foremost a place of work,” he said, though adding he wants tourists to watch because “it reflects Japanese food culture”.

The metro government announced Thursday that Tsukiji market will move to a new location in Koto Ward in 2014. The next venue will be more welcoming to visitors, Takagi said.


From:   Paul
Subject: Problem with ill-behaved NJ campaign, in Kyoto and elsewhere
Date: January 20, 2009
To:  debito@debito.org
Dear Dave,
Last night I saw a feature story during the NHK evening news about ” マナーの悪い外国人”, an aspect of which (not to mention the title) I found quite disturbing.  I had seen an article a few days earlier in the Japan Times discussing the problem of foreign visitors to Kyoto basically acting like paparazzi and chasing down maikos to get a pictures of them, so this may just be a topic of the day.  The NHK segment was more encompassing, however, and showed in addition, scenes of foreigners reaching down while smoking, posing like they were going to lift up one of the tuna in the Tsukiji market, and another decrying poor manners of NJ in bathhouses.  A lot of the scenes of these crass behaviors were admittedly that, evidence of bad manners, and it was troubling to watch.
The one about the bathhouse, however, I found a bit odd. It showed an NJ in the bath with a minor amount of sweat on his brow, which he wiped off with his shibori, accompanied by the announcer’s comment of astonishment, “Ase o fuite. Furo no naka ni?!!”  I can’t really grasp why that’s a bad behavior.  After all, I’ve seen countless Japanese in baths with their shibori over their heads, or nearby, which they use from time to time to wipe themselves off with while bathing.  If one develops sweat on the brow while in the bath, there’s not really much to be done about it, as it will drip down into the bath anyway unless you get out.  Wiping it away, even if the towel then dips down into the water, really has no affect on accumulation of sweat in the bathwater.
I’m not really sure if this makes an appropriate post for your site, but I wondered if you had some knowledge of whether wiping parts of one’s body (in particular the face) with a bath towel while in the bath can even be considered a bad practice.  People often have no control over when and where they sweat.  The segment seemed to be picking on one poor guy, who’s behavior was otherwise unremarkable, simply because he was sweating at the brow a little bit.  It seems like an intentional dig, with visual cues, tailored to make Japanese think, “Oh my God, just look at how unhygienic these sweaty NJ are.  How can we allow them in our baths?”
This may well have been the show in question: http://www3.nhk.or.jp/hensei/program/k/20090119/001/21-2100.html
(観光立国日本・外国人のマナー 各地の悩み)



Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here. It’s been a month since the last newsletter (I took a break in August; hope you did too), but here’s a roundup of what’s been going down:



and finally…

By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, freely forwardable)



Debito.org has been proud to offer a forum for those who bring up issues about life and social issues in Japan (I can’t be everywhere at once ), and am glad to turn over the keyboard to Jim Dunlop for this excerpt:================EXCERPT BEGINS========================

By Jim Dunlop, August 30, 2007
drinkacupofcoffee AT gmail.com

Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan.
There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido. (This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining. Here’s the scoop:
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

Full report at

I thank Jim for writing his report well and concisely (I could simply blog it without edits), and welcome other writers in future. Other contributions to Debito.org from Sakanaka Hidenori, Chong Hyang Gyun, and Eric Johnston on pertinent issues at

Speaking of good writing:



Trans Pacific Radio keeps on pumping out good critique and even better essays. One I found most informative was on the US House of Representatives Resolution on the Comfort Women (passed July 30).

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
…The negative view, that the US is meddling in the affairs of a sovereign Japan, is even more porous than the positive view.

For starters, as I mentioned above, the US House, through this Resolution, is not advocating, much less taking any action against Japan. There is nothing in H.R. 121 that suggests that even the House thinks Japan should take it seriously. Constituents of a member of the US House of Representatives, Mike Honda of California, made a complaint and Representative Honda took that complaint to the appropriate Congressional committee, in this case the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, chaired by Representative Tom Lantos, also of California. The propriety of the Committee’s actions in this case should not be in doubt. Since when have governments or governmental agencies been concerned only with their own actions or incidents that occur on their own soil? Should the House Committee on Foreign Affairs be taken to task for condemning what is now going on in Darfur? Few outside of the Sudanese government would say so.

But when it comes to now peaceful Japan, such actions, even in the form of flaccid nudges, become “meddling.”

There is no meddling. No agent of any part of the US government is trying to change any internal policy in Japan. The closest thing to this would be the resolution that states that Japan “should educate current and future generations about this horrible crime while following the recommendations of the international community with respect to the ‘comfort women’.” This, though, is not telling Japan how to educate its children or plan its school curricula.

Meddling requires at least some hint of action.

The first two times H.R. 121 was set to face a vote in the Foreign Affairs Committee, it was taken off the agenda due to pressure from the six-figure-a-month Japan lobby in Washington. Pressure was put on members of Congress and diplomatic strings were pulled to silence the issue.

Members of the Government of Japan took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post demanding that the Resolution not be passed and Ryozo Kato, Japan’s Ambassador to the United States, threatened strained or damaged relations should the Resolution pass.

That, dear readers, is meddling….
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

This is what the blogosphere can do best–present an alternative viewpoint from a dedicated researcher, and amplify it with good writing (unscathed from the again “nicely, nicely” tendencies of corporate journalism beholden to advertisers).

Have a read (or better yet, a listen; Garrett is a good reader) at



On January 22, 2007, more than seven months ago, Osayuwamen IDUBOR, a Nigerian national and owner of a bar in Yokohama was arrested and formally charged on February 9, 2007, of raping a Japanese woman in the early morning hours of November 1, 2006. He is currently in the Yokohama Detention Center (kouchi shisho) where he remains to this day. His lawyer, a Mr Tsurusaki of Yokohama, petitioned for his release on May 21, 2007, but was refused by the court. Report from his lawyer at

Mrs. Idubor’s (a Polish national) has told me in several phone conversations that her husband’s health is deteriorating. She has seen in prison visits that he has a rash all over his scalp, his hair is falling out, and there is blood coming from his ear. She says that police have denied him access to a hospital and sufficient medical treatment (similar to the Valentine Case, https://www.debito.org/valentinelawsuit.html).

UPDATE: On September 3, there was another court hearing (proceedings at https://www.debito.org/?p=547). It was unsuccessful. The court interpreter (which the court appoints) was incompetent, and the judge didn’t understand Mrs. Idubor’s testimony. So they have to repeat the hearing and Osayuwamen has to languish in jail another month.

That hearing will take place on October 11, 2PM, Yokohama District Court. Open to the public. Attend if you like.

Then there will be one more hearing after that, apparently. Which means Osayuwamen will be lucky to be sprung from the clink by the end of 2007.

Why can’t he be sprung now? We have witnesses saying he didn’t do it. We have no material evidence saying he did. Why the presumption of guilt to this degree? My steadily intruding suspicion is that he’s being treated as more of a flight risk because he’s a foreigner (i.e. he might flee the country), although my sources indicate that nobody has the right to a speedy trial in this country anyway.

Meanwhile, Osayuwamen rots in jail (quite literally) for another few months–and the court can’t get its act together enough to even get a competent interpreter? How unprofessional. And cruel and unusual punishment.


1) The Idubors are having trouble making ends meet, given that they are paying for a lawyer and Mrs. Idubor is running the bar in his place. So you can:

a) Contribute to their legal funds through their bank account:
Osayuwamen Idubor
Mizuho Bank LTD. , Tokyo
Machida branch
A/C NO.: 116-2788496


b) Stop by their bar and buy a drink. It’s in Yokohama, and a friend of mine stopped by a few days ago (on a completely coincidental recommendation from a different bar) and said it’s very nice:

Big Ys Cafe
Yokohama-shi Naka-ku
Yamashita-cho 106-3
Laport Motomachi 104
Tel. 045-662-2261

Its open from 18:00 till morning. Map there:

c) Join Mrs Idubor when she visits her husband every weekday in prison. She might be able to take two visitors with her each day. Contact me at debito@debito.org (please entitle your email “Idubor visit request”) and I’ll forward your email to her.

In any case, thanks for reading. Your attention and assistance is very helpful to the Idubors at a time like this.



On August 31, 2007, a public meeting (iken koukan kai, reference site at http://www.mofa.go.jp/mofaj/press/event/jinshu.html) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo, was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control.

Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.

Fuller report at

Comparative report on what happened last MOFA Hearing (July 28, 2006) on this subject at


I received a call on September 3 from someone else who attended the meeting, about one of the attendees:

A Mr Nishimura Shuuhei, who sat in the back of the room that day, has a history of being taken to court for his behavior of disrupting public meetings on the Comfort Women issue. According to my source, he was sentenced for “illegal obstruction of official duties” (iryou gyoumu bougai–a charge I don’t completely understand myself) on October 4, 2001, at the Yokohama District Court, to 1 year and 6 months of prison, suspended for five years.

Despite his criminal record of disrupting public meetings and acting as agent provocateur, the MOFA allowed Nishimura to attend this meeting, and help disrupt it.

This issue was taken before the Bureau of Human Rights this morning, but my source indicates that they do not intend to do much about it (agreed, see my experience with the BOHR at https://www.debito.org/policeapology.html –they even have a history of advising the Otaru City Government in the Otaru Onsens Case that “there will be no penalty” if they neglect to pass any laws against racial discrimination: https://www.debito.org/jinkenyougobu112999.jpg)

The GOJ shows little willpower indeed to deal with issues of hate speech, or even show resolve to keep their meetings calm and debate reasoned. Then again, this may be an excuse for the GOJ to say they’ll hold no more meetings, since there’s a chance they’ll only end in organized chaos. More thoughts on that at



Despite the holiday, I am pleased to say that the Japan Times Community Page published three of my columns (that’s 39 so far over five years; time to ask for a raise ), on the Valentine Case, the National NJ Blame Game, and the Asashoryu Scandal and Sumo’s Excesses.I’ve already sent versions of these out to many of my lists, but they are all blogged (as “Director’s Cuts”) at

Grand Dame of Sumo Doreen Simmons kindly commented on co-authored COUNTERPOINT essay (with James Eriksson, https://www.debito.org/?p=542) to correct a point of fact. She also wrote an article in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve, in PDF format, downloadable for those nowhere near a KTO-selling outlet from Debito.org here:

First have a look at it. Then here’s what I think about it:

================COMMENT FROM DEBITO BEGINS================
I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times. Her response (excerpt):

========DOREEN’S RESPONSE=====================
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story–but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal–for a fee.”
========DOREEN’S RESPONSE ENDS=================

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me.

================COMMENT ENDS==========================



Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book you might be interested in ordering:

Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan
NGO Policy Proposals

Table of Contents

Part I: At the Crossroads of Migrants Policies
Chapter 1: Toward the Future of Harmonious Multiethnic and
Multicultural Coexistence
Chapter 2: Enactment of Legislation for Human Rights and Harmonious

Part II: Over Individual Issues
Chapter 3: Right to Work and Rights of Working People
Chapter 4: Rights of Migrant Women
Chapter 5: Human Rights for Families and Children
Chapter 6: Education of Children
Chapter 7: Healthcare and Social Security Services
Chapter 8: Local Autonomy and Foreign Residents
Chapter 9: Opening the Gates to Refugees
Chapter 10: Detention and Deportation
Chapter 11: The Right to Trial
Chapter 12: Eliminating Racism and Discrimination against Foreigners

Publisher: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (Ijuuren, SMJ)
Date of publication: July 31, 2007, 1st English edition
Price: JPY 1500 (excluding mailing cost)
ISBN 4-87798-346-8 C0036

This book is translated from the Japanese version published in 2006.

More information on both books at


and finally…


Old friend Greg Clark has no shortage of opinions (doubtless he would say the same about me), and he makes the pretty plain in his bimonthly column in the Japan Times.

In his column last July, Greg wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column/ode about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly.

Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First his column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.

================EXCERPT BEGINS========================
The Japan Times: Monday, July 16, 2007

Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/eo20070716gc.html

Obituaries for former Prime Minister Kiichi Miyazawa, who died recently at age 87, agreed that he was a statesman and a genuine internationalist. But some–those from Nikkei, Japan’s leading economic media group, especially–also criticized him as a Keynesian economist responsible for Japan’s economic troubles in recent years. It is time to set the record straight…

He was criticized for involvement in the so-called Recruit scandal. In fact, that nonscandal was simply an attempt by the Recruit company to make sure its issues of new shares went into the hands of responsible people it liked rather than the usual collection of gangsters, speculators and corrupt securities companies that dominated new share issues at the time. The fact that many of its share recipients made profits was largely because almost-new shares issues were profitable in Japan’s go-go stock markets at the time.
================EXCERPT ENDS==========================

I sent a letter to the editor to the Japan Times, which after two months is probably not going to be printed. Here it is:

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR BEGINS===========
Greg Clark shows his true colors in his most recent editorial (“Miyazawa knew economics”, July 16). Not as some kind of economist, but as an embedded elite.

Whatever intellectual sleight of hand he wishes to employ (to pedestal one of the few prime ministers ever booted out by a “no confidence” vote) still doesn’t excuse the fact that Greg is using puffery to defend a friend. Even going so far as to justify Miyazawa’s corruption in the Recruit Scandal.

Thankfully, Greg acknowledges that Miyazawa and he were buddies, thanks to the latter’s connections to father Sir Colin Clark. But unmentioned is that Greg’s coming over here immediately landed him in Japan’s elite society. All foreigners should be so lucky.

For all Greg’s bully pulpiting about the excesses of Japan’s power brokers, for him to try to explain away this much about a man like Miyazawa proves the axiom that power corrupts.

========LETTER TO THE EDITOR ENDS============


That’s quite enough for today. Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting Debito.org!

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, https://www.debito.org
Daily blog entries at https://www.debito.org/index.php

Japan Times on Asashoryu and the National NJ Blame Game (UPDATED)


Hi Blog. I’ve just webbed two recent Japan Times Community Page articles, summarized as follows:

The scapegoating of Asashoryu
Champion’s antics are least of sumo’s worries

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2007
Special to The Japan Times, Column 39 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070904zg.html
Based upon an Internet essay at https://www.debito.org/?p=542

…Some might say Asa has long had it coming. He’s known as the bad boy of sumo, reputedly showing violent tendencies toward junior wrestlers and, according to the weeklies and wide shows, even his wife.

Therefore his record, in a sport where winning is everything, was the only thing keeping the hounds at bay.

But it’s not as if he stopped winning. What’s changed is that as of May we finally have another yokozuna, Hakuho. It seems Asashoryu is now expendable.

The point is, the whole soccer-sumo scandal is a smoke-screen. Sumo is in a panic and needs a scapegoat…
Whole article at https://www.debito.org/japantimes090407.html



The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts
to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community

The Japan Times: Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
Special to The Japan Times, Column 38 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://search.japantimes.co.jp/print/fl20070828zg.html

“Director’s Cut”, with information included that did not appear in print or online at the Japan Times, available at https://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

We live in interesting times, where Japan’s economy and society have been at a crossroads–for nearly two decades.

With the shortage and high cost of domestic labor, the Japanese government has imported record numbers of cheap foreign workers. Even though whole industrial sectors now depend on foreign labor, few publicly accept the symbiosis as permanent. Instead, foreigners are being blamed for Japan’s problems.

Scapegoating the alien happens worldwide, but Japan’s version is particularly amusing. It’s not just the garden-variety focus on crime anymore: Non-Japanese are being blamed for problems in miltary security, sports, education — even shipping. Less amusing is how authorities are tackling these “problems” — by thwarting any chances of assimilation…
Rest of the article at https://www.debito.org/japantimes082807.html

Enjoy. Arudou Debito in Sapporo


UPDATE: Doreen Simmons, Grand Dame of Sumo, comments in the Kansai Time Out (September 2007) on the Asa controversy. Courtesy of Steve. In PDF format, download from Debito.org here:


COMMENT: I don’t claim to know anywhere even near what Doreen knows, but my reaction is one of general disappointment with her essay. It’s not all that well written (it goes kerplunk at the end, with no conclusion), indicating to me that like movie director Kurosawa Akira, she’s gotten too senior in society to take an edit.

James thought there was no new ground covered, just rehash plus history. I would agree–there’s nothing covered in depth, such as examining the possible motives re WHY Asa is being carpeted this much now. The media has jumped on Asa in the past, but this time all things seem to be in confluence–so well that one could make an argument that the JSA is trying to force Asa out by making things too uncomfortable for him to stay. He could thus quit without tarnishing Sumo’s Mongolian connection. Bit of a stretch, yes. But let’s allude to it even if only to eliminate it.

Even though historically, as Doreen noted in her article, Asa is getting plenty more rope compared to other defrocked wrestlers, James and I see the JSA even going so far as fanning the flames around Asa themselves, in order to take the heat off their own excesses. It’s not as if Asa has all the same tools at his disposal (such as they are in the Sumo world) as a regular J rikishi to defend himself. He’s not even a native speaker.

In sum, Doreen is not at all questioning the very fabric of Sumo, which helps create these uncontrollable sumo “frankensteins” that the JSA have to reel in from time to time. My feeling after reading is that Doreen was just informing us how much she knows about the sport, and indirectly chiding anyone for commenting on Sumo at all without her level of knowledge (which she’ll impart at her convenience, thank you very much).

That was certainly the feeling I got when I asked Doreen for comment before I submitted the above essay to the Japan Times (she had very kindly corrected a point raised in the COUNTERPOINT essay we wrote last week, thanks).

Her response (excerpt):
“There is so much to take issue with, and it would take a couple of hours at least. Although I was extremely busy before, I found time to point out just one glaring error, in the Onaruto story — but why should I clean up somebody else’s article free of charge? If invited, I will be happy to write a rebuttal — for a fee.”

Sorry to have bothered her. Also glad she was paid for her opinions (such as they are) by the KTO, not me. Arudou Debito in Sapporo




By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
https://www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
Freely Forwardable

Hello All. It’s been a full month since my last newsletter (see why at https://www.debito.org/?p=457), and a lot of articles (I’m still blogging around one a day) have piled up at the Debito.org blog (https://www.debito.org/index.php). But there is a common thread within: How Japan is systematically blaming Non-Japanese (NJ) for any social problem it can, often for political gain.

This post is structured thus:



(Sung to the tune of “Blame Canada”, from the South Park Movie. Yes, I wrote it.)

Times have changed, don’t you see, Japan is getting worse
Sudden disagreements, to conflict we are adverse
What’s different from back then, to what we have today?
It’s Gaijin, they shouldn’t be in this country anyway!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
With those bulbous little noses, only take them in small doses
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
Dye the aikokushin into our beautiful land.

Taking jobs that we don’t want, their stinky kids in schools
Marrying our military secrets, disobeying our vague rules
Outdoing us in our sports, crime is rife now if you please
Listen to Ishihara, time to call out the Riot Police!

Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
It seems that everything’s gone wrong since the Gaijin came along!
Blame Foreigners, Blame Foreigners!
We must blame them for our budgets
For all the tax monies that we can get!!



I’ve written at length (https://www.debito.org/?cat=16) on how Japan has been taking in huge numbers (now well over a million souls) of NJ workers to keep its factories from migrating overseas, due to the high cost of domestic labor. Now, surprise surprise, there are people who are unaccounted for both as overstayers and even escapees from a bad situation (i.e. GOJ rackets to bring them in as cheap, disposable labor)!

Japan Today/Kyodo News, Monday, July 2, 2007


TOKYO A total of 9,607 foreigners, mostly Asians, ran away from job training sites in Japan between 2002 and 2006 in an apparent attempt to look for better working conditions elsewhere, according to the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau…
Rest at https://www.debito.org/?p=475

The Japan Times, Sunday, July 1, 2007


The debate over whether Japan should allow foreign workers in to make up for current and future labor shortages is dominated by the so-called foreign trainee program, which is overseen by the Japan International Training Cooperation Organization (JITCO). The program is itself the subject of a debate, which boils down to the age-old Japanese dynamic of honne vs. tatemae.

The tatemae (given reason) of the program is to bring workers from developing countries to Japan to learn Japanese techniques that they can later put to use back home. The honne (real reason) of the program is to legally let small and medium Japanese companies import cheap labor. According to a recent series of articles in the Asahi Shimbun, the Japanese public for the most part still buys the tatemae explanation, even though the media has been reporting for years that many foreign trainees come to Japan for the express purpose of making money.

As with most controversies that don’t touch directly on the lives of average people, the only related news that makes an impression is the sensational kind…

And even when workers do escape the slums and poverty built into the visa system, this is what can happen:

06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun


FUKUROI, Shizuoka Prefecture Fearful that they would be inviting crime to their neighborhood, residents blocked an attempt by a Japanese-Brazilian man to buy land on which to build a house. The local regional legal affairs bureau said their actions constituted a “violation of human rights” and told the parties involved that if a similar situation occurred in the future they should handle it better…

One resident, citing a perception that Brazilians are prone to committing crimes, said, “I feared that something might happen.”… In the end, the man was forced to purchase property elsewhere…

That’s right–blame foreigners for their alleged crime, and prevent them from ever assimilating their way out of it.

More on Japan’s penchant for targeting and exaggerating NJ crime:

For example, look at the anti-crime flyer distributed June 2007 by Ikuno-ku Ward Office police and various crime-prevention dilettantes:
(Japanese original, visible at https://www.debito.org/?p=473)


[Complete with images of Illegal overstayers, long-nosed fraudulent grooms, passport forgers, and illegal workers. All including blondies, of course.]


[Even though, according to the Mainichi Feb 9 2007, it’s dropping.
So is, according to Immigration, foreign overstaying.
https://www.debito.org/crimestats.html ]





Found on car windows in an area with a high Zainichi Korean population, this announcement is being distributed by the Ikuno Sangyoukai
http://www.ikuno.or.jp/1_1.htm Phone 06-6757-2551

Of course, the odd thing about this flyer is, as eruditely pointed out by Andrew at The Community:

I know this will probably sound obvious, but some of my concerns regarding the leaflets are:

— They are directed at employers. Passport forgery and bogus marriages, while illegal, are not something a potential employer can or should police. Any revised posters should not mention the other two offenses at all. They should merely remind employers that hiring foreign workers with inappropriate visa status is illegal and to check this status.

— The caricatures are racist and would be more appropriate in World War II propaganda. It also implies that all foreign nationals are physically distinguishable from the Japanese population, and furthermore hints that those with illegal status are readily identifiable. Lose them in any reprints.

— Again, as the leaflets are aimed at employers, statements of “rapidly rising foreigner crime” are irrelevant, not to mention highly questionable. Lose them.

Essentially, if it is necessary to alert businesses to the fact that hiring foreign workers without the correct visa status is a criminal act, fine. Just don’t try to use perceptions of crime by foreign nationals as justification.

Of course, as somebody else pointed out, how are you to trust NJ passports anymore when they too might be forgeries?

Anyway, any crackdown on this sort of thing should focus on the punishment towards the employer, not on the evils of the employee. It is not a Chicken-or-Egg situation. Japan’s factories are bringing and keeping NJ workers here in the first place, legally and illegally. But enforcing that would go against blaming the easier target of the disenfranchised…

Give the phone numbers in Ikuno-ku a call, see what’s on their mind. I dare ya. Meanwhile, let’s look at how the children of immigrants are being treated:



I mentioned in late May about the Hair Police found in Japan’s schools (https://www.debito.org/?p=412), and how they are allegedly forcing international students to dye their natural hair color to black.

Well, now according to Japan’s wild Weeklies, NJ are being disruptive of the natural ordeure as well:

Mainichi Shinbun WAIWAI Page June 26, 2007, from Sunday Mainichi Issue Dated July 8, 2007


Japanese schools are getting filled with more kids that stink, according to Sunday Mainichi (7/8). Growing disparity between the country’s haves and have-nots is believed to be behind the increase in unhygienic children.

But broken homes and the increasing number of foreigners in Japan are also being blamed…

“There seems to be a lot of trouble surrounding couples where an older Japanese man has married a young Southeast Asian woman who’s come to Japan to make some money,” an education insider says.

One teacher approached a Japanese father and spoke of how his wife, who worked as a nightclub hostess and saved whatever she could while living in squalor in Japan so she could build a palatial home in her native country. The teacher, pointing out that Japan is living through an age of internationalization, encouraged the father to help his child learn Tagalog, the native tongue of his mother’s homeland, the Philippines. The teacher was shocked by the father’s response.

“There’s no need to do that,” the teacher tells Sunday Mainichi the 60-something Japanese father said. “If Japan had won that war, they’d all (Filipinos) be speaking Japanese by now.”

That’s just about as convenient a rewriting of history as I’ve ever seen in Japan… And kudos to the anonymous “education insiders”, who pop up like troglodytes whenever somebody needs a nasty quote.

Speaking of international conquests:



I had heard rumors of Japan’s Self Defense Forces’ disinclination towards NJ from cyberspace:

My current spouse is in the SDF and the other day I learned a very disturbing fact about the nature of our relationship… when he is on base and when he talks to his military associates I am Japanese.

The reason for this he says is a very old rule in the SDF that members are not allowed to fraternize with foreigners. Period. And that while the penalty for him is negligible (normal disciplinary action, which judging from the times he’s stayed over late and arrived late at base can’t be that bad) his violation of this rule could bring the military police to my doorstep for interrogation and a search and seizure of my electronic equipment. He believes it’s more doubtful as I’m non-Asian but says this has happened recently with the Chinese wives of SDF personnel….

This situation with him I find sadly comical. Already he has to keep large parts of his hobby at my house lest his superiors think he’s a communist out against the emperor and now with me he has to leave all his photos of me at my house. On his cell phone he uses the Japanese version of my name for my information and my e-mail address is kept anonymous like all these English texts are from some stranger with no connection. A bit depressing.

Now a crackdown against collaborators and consorters has hit the press:

Japan Today, Thursday, June 28, 2007


TOKYO The Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to move officers with foreign spouses away from posts with access to military secrets after sensitive data was leaked through an officer with a Chinese wife, the Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday….

The paper said the move is aimed at protecting military secrets in the wake of an embarrassing leak of confidential information on the U.S.-developed high-tech Aegis combat system, the conservative daily said….

A 33-year-old petty officer allegedly obtained confidential data on the Aegis system without authorization… However, an unconfirmed newspaper report later said the leak may have occurred by accident when the officer was swapping pornography over the Internet.

Great. Some sukebe officer gets caught with his hand in his till, and now all NJ spouses are suspect? Imagine the uproar that would ensue in, say, the US, if the US military or State Department (with their high numbers of international spouses) were to engage in these sorts of practices. Security clearances notwithstanding, I doubt they would get away with treating their employees as untrustworthy just because they married foreigners, naturally all suspicious as spies!

It gets funnier:



Debito.org reported in May 2007 how the All Japan High School Athletic Federation banned NJ runners from participating in the first leg of the HS championships.

Now the restrictions are spreading to other sports:

06/29/2007 The Asahi Shinbun


The slogan of high school sport associations could be: If you can’t beat ’em, ban ’em. The associations have introduced tough restrictions on foreign students because they are trouncing the Japanese athletes in sports such as the ekiden relay marathon, basketball and table tennis.

The restrictions followed protests from Japanese fans who say the superior ability of the foreign students is making the sporting events dull…

Sumio Shokawa, secretary-general of the All Japan High School Athletic Federation’s track and field division, said an ekiden fan sent an e-mail complaining: “No Japanese students are shown on TV. That was like an African championship.” Another disgruntled e-mailer told Shokawa: “The schools bring the foreign students here just to publicize the names of their schools. They are not suitable for high school sport competitions.”

Did we hear that right? MAKING SPORTING EVENTS DULL?? How about encouraging people to try harder in the spirit of fair play?

A friend of mine disputes whether this is actually going on:

As I mentioned when I posted this on FG, I know quite a bit about school athletics and their workings here in Japan. As a result, I do not hear this disgruntled or angry fan BS. As a matter of fact, I have not heard anything about the Kenyan students and other African [student runners], other than they are quite fast. What I smell here is the losing coaches using this together with the usual “Ware Ware Nihonjin” crowd, to try to get rid of the edge.

Normally, the All Japan Sports Associations only entertain complaints or requests from the leagues, the schools (read the kantokusan-tachi), local governments, or in flagrant incidents, act themselves on incidents which impact on their sport. Only an extremely large number of complaints from fans would make them take this type of action, and it would have to be a truly large number to make them jump consensus to make this type of ruling.

I really suspect it is a testing of the waters to see what other issues they can explore. There have been major on-going discussions about exchange students in HS baseball and its impact. Primarily the Brazilians. Most of this is probably not racial as much as it is backlash to the large number of the big pro stars bailing out of Japan and going to the States. There has been major calls for more protectionism i.e. the driving question if that of “What will happen to Nippon no Yakyu?”…

Still, gotta feel sorry for all those NJ kids going to high school in Japan. By dint of their birth, they are told they aren’t allowed to do their best in sports? Kinda defeats the purpose of these events, wouldn’tcha think?

But I don’t think the organizers of these events really understand what “being sporting” is all about. To them sports are great, as long as Japanese win.

And as is always the case, once you can get away with discrimination in one sector, others copycat, as can be seen in the spread nationwide of exclusionary JAPANESE ONLY signs on multiple business sectors.

It’s long been a policy (with some recent loosening of restrictions) in the Kokutai National Sports Festivals. So if it happens in a tax-funded national event where people can qualify for something serious like the Olympics, it’s a credible enough rule that any amateur league can mimic. And now clearly have.

These twits should look what’s going on in Sumo these days, with their more open rules:
Debito.org, June 29, 2007, full details at


Or actually, perhaps they are. We wouldn’t want other sports to go the way of the “kokugi”, now, would we.

Finally, here’s the best one of all, saved for last, about how NJ are being used for political boondoggle:



Asahi Shinbun reports that foreign nationals account for more than 90 percent of crews of ocean-going vessels operated by Japanese companies. So the transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships. For security reasons?

05/22/2007 The Asahi Shinbun


The transport ministry plans to offer tax breaks to shipping companies which drastically increase the percentage of Japanese crew on their ships, sources said.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport aims to increase the number of Japanese crew members by about 50 percent in 10 years to secure stable maritime transportation, an integral part of the nation’s trading infrastructure…

The transport ministry’s move was prompted by concern there would be too few people to operate ships if natural disasters, political turmoil or other emergencies flared in the home nations of non-Japanese crew members…

Uh… I don’t see the connection. Now NJ crew are threatening Japan’s ships too? By NOT being available?

Once again, Japan’s industry cuts costs by hiring cheap foreign labor, and somehow finds itself in a predicament–warranting tax benefits? Smells like porkbarrel to me.

Just bring up arguments of “self-sufficiency” and “security” (this time coupled with a fear of NOT being able to rely on foreigners), and watch the public purse strings fly open.


With all this blame gaming going on, I’m surprised somebody hasn’t blamed the foreigners for, say, the state of Japan’s low level of English.

Oh wait, somebody has. Kitakyushu University’s Noriguchi Shinichiro last year in the Asahi Shinbun:

“I am frequently asked whether Japanese are by nature adept at becoming proficient speakers of English. My answer is no. It is very difficult for us to become fluent speakers of English. There are three reasons for this; the Japanese mentality, the characteristics of the Japanese language and the homogeneous nature of this nation.”

“In particular, native speakers who have lived in Japan for more than 10 years tend to have adapted to the system and have become ineffective as teachers–this is also partly because their English has become Japanized and is spoken to suit the ears of their Japanese students.”

But let’s return to how to deal with the more serious problems of immigration and Japan’s future.

True to form, the GOJ too is shifting the blame, cracking down on the NJ instead of thinking about the reasons they’re here in the first place:



My previous DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTERwas on the current debate within the policymakers on what to do about NJ workers. I’ve since written a paper developing the issue more fully for my June 23, 2007 speech at the Asian Studies Conference Japan (https://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES).

Eric Johnston’s also done a great round-up of the issues here:
The Japan Times Thursday, June 7, 2007


The heaviest actor in this debate, the Ministry of Justice, is encouraging an entire revamp of the visa system. MOJ Minister Nagase advocates a system where it’s clear that NJ workers are only here for up to three years, then out for good (which ironically would disincentivize any employer from actually needing to “train” their “Trainees”). Just make the revolving-door system clear and admit we only want NJ as unskilled labor, to pound sheet metal and clean pig sties. And let’s hope the quality of worker we get and underpay doesn’t commit any crimes.

No actor in the debate explicitly states that NJ should actually be encouraged to immigrate to Japan, of course. Although that is what Debito.org has stated time and time again is going to happen no matter what.

So with the sand-ostriching comes a renewed manning of the defenses, which of course apply to “illegals” and “terrorists” (which never apply to Japanese, naturally):


Ibaraki NPA flyer found June 2007 reads:

Sponsored by the Ibaraki Prefectural Police Coast Guard Cooperative Union (Ibaraki ken keisatsu kaigan keikai kyouryoku rengokai)
See it at https://www.debito.org/?p=448

Nothing like six riot police (seven, actually–look closely) in full regalia to protect us from the alien horde. Er, can a horde be one person? Anyway, yet another example of overreaction and targeting by the government towards NJ. More examples of the same at:

Sure, raise awareness about overstayers and illegal entrants. But don’t make it seem as though there’s an invasion afoot, and that you need measures this extreme.

As for the rest of you “good foreigners” out there (yes, that includes you Permanent Residents too), you get yours whenever you cross Japan’s border:

Debito.org June 17, 2007


Lovely bit of Japanicana at the GOJ online TV network. Except that as well as being kinda weird and laughably amusing, it’s deadly serious about targeting foreigners as potential terrorists.

Friend just sent me a link to a new site talking about the new Immigration procedures coming into effect in November 2007, which will involve taking fingerprints and photographing of all “foreign visitors” crossing the border into Japan.

This will, however, not be restricted to “foreign visitors”. It will be applied to everyone BUT (quoting the MOJ website, English original):
1. Persons under the age of 16
2. Special status permanent residents
[i.e. the Zainichi generational “foreigners”, which means regular-status permanent-resident immigrants are NOT exempt]
3. Those performing actions which would be performed [sic] by those with a status of residence, “diplomat” or “official government business”


This means even people who are long-term residents will get fingerprinting reinstated, despite having it abolished after decades of protest in 1999. (See article on this at https://www.debito.org/fingerprinting.html) And upon reentry, you will be separated from the Japanese members of your families (as the system stands right now, according to yesterday’s research, https://www.debito.org/?p=454), and forced to stand in the Foreigners’ Line for due processing regardless of how long you’ve lived here.

And this time, if you don’t comply with the biometric data taken every time you reenter, you can’t take it to court (like Kathy Morikawa and others did). You’re just refused entry at the border.

GOJ’s justification? Prevention of terrorism, and the “safety of foreign visitors”. Save them from themselves.

The video in English is a hoot too, wheeling out a few token foreigners of color hamming it up, and agreeing to have their privacy violated on suspicion of terrorism.

But the irony here is that all the terrorist activities that have happened so far in Japan (from Aum on down) have been Japanese. The association of foreigners with terrorism is pretty presumptuous, and historically inaccurate.

Why is the GOJ doing this? Because it can. If the government were really serious about combatting terrorism, they would fingerprint everybody. But they can’t. They tried this before years ago with widespread protest. Look what happened to the failed Juki-Net system with universal ID cards (it was even ruled unconstitutional in December 2006, see https://www.debito.org/?p=97)

REFERENTIAL LINKS, tracing the arc of this policy through Japan Times articles, and further feedback and research on this subject from cyberspace from:

All for today. Sorry this newsletter is so long this time. Don’t blame me. It was the Gaijin wot made me do it.

Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan

Abe denies existence of “Comfort Women”, overseas media and US Congress react, Abe backpedals, then clams up. Media pounces


Hi Blog. Here we go. Now the Western media has their peg to unzip the Abe Adminstration’s overt right-wing historical revisionist bent. Newsweek did a puff piece on Abe’s wife (comparing her to Jackie O) not too long ago, sigh. Now Abe undoes her image control with these revelations. NYT and Time Magazine articles (with updates from CBS News, showing Abe suddenly backpedalling, plus Kyodo and NYT again, plus links to US Congressional hearings by Mike Honda and actual victims on this issue) follow.

A quick note beforehand: Remember that Abe tried this on NHK in 2001 before he was PM, forcing NHK to re-edit a historical piece involving the Comfort Women some years ago. Sources:

NHK stung by censorship suit appeal
Court links politics with deletion of Hirohito verdict in sex-slave program

The Tokyo High Court on Monday… ordered NHK and two production companies to pay damages to a women’s rights group for altering the content of a documentary on a mock tribunal over Japan’s wartime sexual slavery… The suit has been closely watched because the NGO claimed NHK censored or otherwise altered part of the 2001 program after being pressured by heavyweights in the Liberal Democratic Party, including Shinzo Abe, who is now prime minister, and Shoichi Nakagawa.
(Japan Times Jan 30, 2006)

The political pressure put, in 2001, on NHK, the national broadcaster, by the current prime minister, Shinzo Abe, to excise portions of a program that would imply imperial responsibility for war crimes. Add to this the government ordering NHK in 2006 to broadcast information about the North Korean abductions in the service of the country.
(Japan Times Jan 7, 2006)

That event was basically ignored by the foreign media, sadly. Not this time.

(And yes, given that these “Comfort Women” (ianfu), better known as sexual slaves, were almost all foreign, this is definitely germane to the focus of this blog.) Debito in Youga, Tokyo


Japan PM Denies WWII Sex Slavery
Time Magazine Thursday, Mar. 01, 2007


TOKYO—Yasuji Kaneko, 87, still remembers the screams of the countless women he raped in China as a soldier in the Japanese imperial army in World War II. Some were teenagers from Korea serving as sex slaves in military-run brothels. Others were women in villages he and his comrades pillaged in eastern China.

“They cried out, but it didn’t matter to us whether the women lived or died,” Kaneko said in an interview with The Associated Press at his Tokyo home. “We were the emperor’s soldiers. Whether in military brothels or in the villages, we raped without reluctance.”

Historians say some 200,000 women—mostly from Korea and China—served in the Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Many victims say they were kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by Japanese troops, and the top government spokesman acknowledged the wrongdoing in 1993.

Now some in Japan’s government are questioning whether the apology was needed.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday denied women were forced into military brothels across Asia, boosting renewed efforts by right-wing politicians to push for an official revision of the apology.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said.

Abe’s remarks contradicted evidence in Japanese documents unearthed in 1992 that historians said showed military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels.

The comments were certain to rile South Korea and China, which accuse Tokyo of failing to fully atone for wartime atrocities. Abe’s government has been recently working to repair relations with Seoul and Beijing.

The statement came just hours after South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun marked a national holiday honoring the anniversary of a 1919 uprising against Japanese colonial rule by urging Tokyo to come clean about its past.

Roh also referred to hearings held by the U.S. House of Representatives last month on a resolution urging Japan to “apologize for and acknowledge” the imperial army’s use of sex slaves during the war.

“The testimony reiterated a message that no matter how hard the Japanese try to cover the whole sky with their hand, there is no way that the international community would condone the atrocities committed during Japanese colonial rule,” Roh said.

Dozens of people rallied outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to mark the anniversary, lining up dead dogs’ heads on the ground with pieces of paper in their mouths listing names of Koreans who allegedly collaborated with the Japanese during its 1910-45 colonial rule. Protest organizers said the animals were slaughtered at a restaurant; dogs are regularly consumed as food in Korea.

Roh’s office said late Thursday it did not immediately have a direct response to the Japanese leader’s remarks. In Beijing, calls to the Chinese Foreign Ministry seeking comment on the remarks were not immediately returned.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack would not comment on Abe’s statement. “I’ll let the Japanese political system deal with that,” he said.

Abe’s comments were a reversal from the government’s previous stance. In 1993, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologized to the victims of sex slavery, though the statement did not meet demands by former “comfort women” that it be approved by parliament.

Two years later, the government set up a compensation fund for victims, but it was based on private donations—not government money—and has been criticized as a way for the government to avoid owning up to the abuse. The mandate is to expire March 31.

The sex slave question has been a cause celebre for nationalist politicians and scholars in Japan who claim the women were professional prostitutes and were not coerced into servitude by the military.

Before Abe spoke Thursday, a group of ruling Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers discussed their plans for a proposal to urge the government to water down parts of the 1993 apology and deny direct military involvement.

Nariaki Nakayama, chairman of the group of about 120 lawmakers, sought to play down the government’s involvement in the brothels by saying it was similar to a school that hires a company to run its cafeteria.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure foodstuffs, and set prices,” he said.

“Where there’s demand, businesses crop up … but to say women were forced by the Japanese military into service is off the mark,” he said. “This issue must be reconsidered, based on truth … for the sake of Japanese honor.”

Sex slave victims, however, say they still suffer wounds—physical and psychological—from the war.

Lee Yong-soo, 78, a South Korean who was interviewed during a recent trip to Tokyo, said she was 14 when Japanese soldiers took her from her home in 1944 to work as a sex slave in Taiwan.

“The Japanese government must not run from its responsibilities,” said Lee, who has long campaigned for Japanese compensation. “I want them to apologize. To admit that they took me away, when I was a little girl, to be a sex slave. To admit that history.”

“I was so young. I did not understand what had happened to me,” she said. “My cries then still ring in my years. Even now, I can’t sleep.”

AP writer Burt Herman contributed to this report from Seoul, South Korea.



Abe Rejects Japan’s Files on War Sex
NEW YORK TIMES: March 2, 2007


TOKYO, March 1 — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied Thursday that
Japan’s military had forced foreign women into sexual slavery during
World War II, contradicting the Japanese government’s longtime
official position.

Mr. Abe’s statement was the clearest so far that the government was
preparing to reject a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the
military’s role in setting up brothels and forcing, either directly or
indirectly, women into sexual slavery. That declaration also offered
an apology to the women, euphemistically called “comfort women.”

“There is no evidence to prove there was coercion, nothing to support
it,” Mr. Abe told reporters. “So, in respect to this declaration, you
have to keep in mind that things have changed greatly.”

The United States House of Representatives has begun debating a
resolution that would call on Tokyo to “apologize for and acknowledge”
the military’s role in wartime sex slavery.

But at the same time, in keeping with a recent trend to revise Japan’s
wartime history, a group of conservatives in the governing Liberal
Democratic Party is stepping up calls to rescind the 1993 declaration.
Mr. Abe, whose approval ratings have been plummeting over a series of
scandals and perceived weak leadership, seemed to side with this
group. A nationalist who has led efforts to revise wartime history,
Mr. Abe softened his tone after becoming prime minister last fall. In
fact, he first said he recognized the validity of the declaration,
angering his conservative base.

“Some say it is useful to compare the brothels to college cafeterias
run by private companies, who recruit their own staff, procure
foodstuffs and set prices,” Nariaki Nakayama, the leader of 120
lawmakers who want to revise the declaration, said Thursday.

“Where there’s demand, business crops up,” Mr. Nakayama said,
according to The Associated Press. “But to say women were forced by
the Japanese military into service is off the mark. This issue must be
reconsidered, based on truth, for the sake of Japanese honor.”

Historians believe some 200,000 women — Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese,
Filipinos, as well as Japanese, Dutch and other European women —
served in Japanese military brothels. For decades, Japan denied that
its military had been involved, calling the brothels private
enterprises and the women prostitutes.

But in 1992, a Japanese historian, Yoshiaki Yoshimi, outraged by
government denials, went to the Self-Defense Agency’s library and
unearthed, after two days of searching, documents revealing military
involvement in establishing brothels. One was titled “Regarding the
Recruitment of Women for Military Brothels.” Faced with this evidence,
the government acknowledged its role and issued the declaration.

But the response angered people across the political spectrum. The
women and their supporters said that the government was not fully
acknowledging its responsibility because the declaration was issued by
Yohei Kono, then chief cabinet secretary, and not adopted by
Parliament. It is known inside Japan simply as the “Kono Statement.”

What is more, supporters accused the government of evading direct
responsibility by establishing a private, nongovernment fund to
compensate the women. Many former sex slaves have refused to accept
compensation from this fund.

But conservatives said the declaration went too far in acknowledging
the military’s role in recruiting the women. While the documents
showed that the military established the facilities, Mr. Yoshimi did
not find documentation that the military had forcibly recruited the
women. Conservatives have seized on this distinction to attack the

Supporters of the women say that the Japanese authorities famously
burned incriminating documents or kept them hidden.

At the same time, many former sex slaves have stepped forward in
recent years with their stories. Three testified in the United States
Congress recently, saying that Japanese soldiers had kidnapped them
and forced them to have sex with dozens of soldiers a day.



COMMENT: Abe has apparently decided not to work to repeal Kouno’s apology (the “Kono Statement”) made back in 1993 after all.

Japan PM to Stand by Sex Slaves Apology
Japan PM will stand by apology over forcing Asian women to have sex with troops
CBS NEWS March 5, 2007 12:12am


(AP) Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will stand by Japan’s apology over forcing Asian women to have sex with Japanese troops in the last century, an aide said Sunday, after the leader’s denial that Tokyo used coercion caused an international uproar.

“Though there are many definitions of coercion, Prime Minister Abe has said … that he will stand by the Kono statement,” said Hiroshige Seko, special adviser in charge of Abe’s public relations, referring to a 1993 statement issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono apologizing to the victims of sex slavery.

The Kono statement also acknowledged many women were forced into prostitution and that the military government was involved in some cases.

“He has not denied the statement,” Seko told a TV Asahi talk show. He did not attempt to explain the apparent discrepancies between the statement and Abe’s denial that coercion was involved.

“The fact is, there is no evidence to prove there was coercion,” Abe said on Thursday.

South Korea later lodged an official protest, accusing the leader of “glossing over the historical truth.” Rights activists in the Philippines also slammed Abe for labeling the slaves as common prostitutes.

Historians say that about 200,000 women _ mostly from Korea and China _ served in Japanese military brothels throughout Asia in the 1930s and 1940s. Accounts of abuse by the military have been backed up by witnesses, and even former Japanese soldiers.

Abe’s statement contradicted evidence in Japanese documents, unearthed in 1992, that historians said showed that military authorities had a direct role in working with contractors to forcibly procure women for the brothels.

But prominent Japanese scholars and politicians routinely deny direct military involvement or the use of force in rounding up the women, blaming private contractors for the abuses.

Statement of
The Honorable Michael M. Honda
Member of Congress

Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and the Global Environment
Committee on Foreign Affairs
U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing on
Protecting the Human Rights of “Comfort Women”
Thursday, February 15, 2007

Now, nearly nine years after the passage of AJR27, I stand united with several of my colleagues in the House, from both parties, in support of H.Res.121 and the surviving Comfort Women who are here with us today. The urgency is upon this Committee and the Congress to take quick action on this resolution. These women are aging and their numbers dwindling with each passing day. If we do not act now, we will lose a historic opportunity to encourage the Government of Japan to properly acknowledge responsibility for the plight of the Comfort Women.

Elected officials of Japan have taken steps to address this issue, and for that they are to be commended. In 1993, Japan’s then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono issued an encouraging statement regarding Comfort Women, which expressed the Government’s sincere apologies and remorse for their ordeal. Additionally, Japan attempted to provide monetary compensation to surviving comfort women through the Asia Women’s Fund, a government initiated and largely government-funded private foundation whose purpose was the carrying out of programs and projects with the aim of atonement for the Comfort Women. The Asia Women’s Fund is to be disbanded on March 31, 2007.

Recent attempts, however, by some senior members of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party to review and even possibly retract Secretary Kono’s statement are disheartening and mark Japan’s equivocation on this issue. Additionally, while I appreciate Japan’s creation of the Asia Women’s Fund and the past prime minister’s apologies to some comfort women, which accompanied this Fund’s disbursal of monetary compensation from this fund, the reality is that without a sincere and unequivocal apology from the government of Japan, the majority of surviving Comfort Women refused to accept these funds. In fact, as you will hear today, many Comfort Women returned the Prime Minister’s letter of apology accompanying the monetary compensation saying they felt the apology was artificial and disingenuous.
REST AT http://www.internationalrelations.house.gov/110/hon021507.htm

More Congressional Record on this, courtesy of Matt Dioguardi’s Blog:



More replies. Making a bigger hash of things as they go along… Now it’s time to blame the media for miscommunication….? Debito


Japan tries to calm outrage on sex slave issue, says
no new apology

Courtesy of Club of 99

Japan’s top government spokesman on Wednesday
reiterated that there will be no new apology regarding
wartime sex slaves in response to a resolution pending
in the U.S. Congress and that discussions on the
”comfort women” issue should not continue any
further in an ”unconstructive” manner.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who sparked an
international outcry recently by saying there was no
proof that the Japanese military had coerced women
into sexual servitude during World War II, said,
”What we say in parliament on this issue is not
always conveyed (by the media) accurately. It
magnifies and spreads, and foreign countries react to

”The longer we continue this discussion, the
more misunderstanding there is going to be,” Shiozaki
told a morning news conference. ”I think it better
not to go on with this kind of discussion in a rather
unconstructive manner.”

Shiozaki again stressed that the government
continues to uphold a 1993 statement that acknowledged
and apologized for the forced recruitment of so-called
”comfort women.”

In an interview with Japanese media, Abe
reiterated that he stands by the statement and added,
”The U.S. resolution is based on a mistake of fact.
It contains the misunderstanding that there was
coercion, as in abductions carried out by the
(Japanese) authorities. There was no such thing and I
was just stating the fact that there have been no
documents or witnesses of proof.”

”The U.S. Congress bill is not based on
objective facts and does not take into consideration
the (Japanese) government’s handling of the issue so
far,” spokesman Shiozaki said. ”Therefore, no new
apology will be made in response to such a resolution
should it be passed.”

Shiozaki insisted that Abe’s recent remarks did
not contradict the so-called Kono statement, which was
issued by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono in
1993 and represents the government’s official stance.

The statement acknowledges that women from the
Korean Peninsula, which Japan had annexed at the time,
and other places, were in many cases ”recruited
against their own will, through coaxing, coercion, et
cetera, and that at times, administrative/military
personnel directly took part in the recruitment.”

Abe, however, reignited decades-old anger,
especially in Asian countries that suffered under
Japanese wartime aggression, when he said last
Thursday that there was no evidence that the military
was directly involved in forced recruitment.

This week, Abe further explained that there was
coercion ”in the broad sense” of the word, referring
to private traders who recruited the women, but
insisted that there was no coercion ”in the strict
sense,” as in military personnel taking women from
their homes and putting them in brothels.

The more Abe and his spokesman Shiozaki try to
explain the premier’s hair-splitting over the broad
and strict definitions of ”coercion,” the deeper it
seems they find themselves bogged in a quagmire.

Cornered by reporters’ questions at an afternoon
news conference, Shiozaki effectively retracted his
remarks in the morning that the Kono statement
stipulates ”both the strict and broad sense” of

”As the prime minister has said many times in
parliament, it was possible (the victims) felt
pressure in the broad sense,” he said. ”Issues in
the narrow sense were by no means written in the Kono

The hawkish premier, who declared immediately
after taking office last September that his
administration will stand by the Kono statement, was
once part of a group of lawmakers opposed to the 1993

Some historians estimate that up to 200,000 women
from the Korean Peninsula, China, Taiwan, the
Philippines, Indonesia and elsewhere were forced into
sexual servitude by the Japanese military before and
during World War II.

Although Abe said there is no evidence to prove
there was physical coercion by the Japanese military,
some surviving former ”comfort women” and even
former Japanese soldiers have testified that girls and
women were abducted.

Earlier on Wednesday, Abe praised the work of a
semiofficial relief organization for former World War
II sex slaves and said it ”conveyed (to the world)
the feelings of Japan and the Japanese people.”

The premier also told reporters the government
does not plan to get involved in setting up any
organizations to carry on the activities of the Asian
Women’s Fund after it is disbanded at the end of this

The fund, launched in 1995, disbursed a total of
1.7 billion yen to support foreign women who were
forced into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese
Army during wartime. It has been criticized as being
an attempt by the government to avoid responsibility
for state redress.

Denial Reopens Wounds of Japan’s Ex-Sex Slaves
N Y Times March 8, 2007


SYDNEY, Australia, March 7 — Wu Hsiu-mei said she was 23 and working as a maid in a hotel in 1940 when her Taiwanese boss handed her over to Japanese officers. She and some 15 other women were sent to Guangdong Province in southern China to become sex slaves.

Inside a hotel there was a so-called comfort station, managed by a Taiwanese but serving only the Japanese military, Ms. Wu said. Forced to have sex with more than 20 Japanese a day for almost a year, she said, she had multiple abortions and became sterile.

The long festering issue of Japan’s war-era sex slaves gained new prominence last week when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denied the military’s role in coercing the women into servitude. The denial by Mr. Abe, Japan’s first prime minister born after the war, drew official protests from China, Taiwan, South Korea and the Philippines, some of the countries from which the sex slaves were taken.

The furor highlighted yet again Japan’s unresolved history in a region where it has been ceding influence to China. The controversy has also drawn in the United States, which has strongly resisted entering the history disputes that have roiled East Asia in recent years.

Ms. Wu told her story on Wednesday outside the Japanese Consulate here, where she and two others who had been sex slaves, known euphemistically as comfort women, were protesting Tokyo’s refusal to admit responsibility for the abuse that historians say they and as many as 200,000 other women suffered.

All three — Ms. Wu, who is now 90; a 78-year-old South Korean from Seoul; and an 84-year-old Dutch-Australian from Adelaide — were participating in an international conference for Japan’s former sex slaves here. Now, just days after Mr. Abe’s remarks, the three were united in their fury.

“I was taken away by force by Japanese officers, and a Japanese military doctor forced me to undress to examine me before I was taken away,” said Ms. Wu, who landed here in Sydney on Tuesday night after a daylong flight from Taipei. “How can Abe lie to the world like that?”

Mr. Abe, a nationalist who had built his career partly on playing down Japan’s wartime past, made his comments in response to a confluence of events, beginning with the Democratic victory in the American Congressional elections last fall. That gave impetus to a proposed nonbinding resolution in the House that would call on Japan to unequivocally acknowledge and apologize for its brutal mistreatment of the women.

Even as Mr. Abe’s closest allies pressed him to soften a 1993 government statement that acknowledged the military’s role in forcing the women into sexual slavery, three former victims testified in Congress last month.

On Monday, Mr. Abe said he would preserve the 1993 statement but denied its central admission of the military’s role, saying there had been no “coercion, like the authorities breaking into houses and kidnapping” women.

He said private dealers had coerced the women, adding that the House resolution was “not based on objective facts” and that Japan would not apologize even if it was passed.

The resolution calls for Japan to “formally acknowledge, apologize and accept historical responsibility in a clear and unequivocal manner for its Imperial Armed Forces’ coercion of young women into sexual slavery.”

“Prime Minister Abe is in effect saying that the women are lying,” Representative Mike Honda, the California Democrat who is spearheading the legislation, said in a telephone interview. “I find it hard to believe that he is correct given the evidence uncovered by Japanese historians and the testimony of the comfort women.”

Japanese historians, using the diaries and testimony of military officials as well as official documents from the United States and other countries, have been able to show that the military was directly or indirectly involved in coercing, deceiving, luring and sometimes kidnapping young women throughout Japan’s Asian colonies and occupied territories.

They estimate that up to 200,000 women served in comfort stations that were often an intrinsic part of military operations.

Yet although Mr. Abe admitted coercion by private dealers, some of his closest allies in the governing Liberal Democratic Party have dismissed the women as prostitutes who volunteered to work in the comfort stations. They say no official Japanese government documents show the military’s role in recruiting the women.

According to historians, the military established the stations to boost morale among its troops, but also to prevent rapes of local women and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among soldiers.

Japan’s deep fear of rampaging soldiers also led it to establish brothels with Japanese prostitutes across Japan for American soldiers during the first months of the postwar occupation, a fact that complicates American involvement in the current debate.

In 1995 a private fund was set up to compensate the women, but many refused to accept any money because they saw the measure as a way for the government to avoid taking direct responsibility. Only 285 women have accepted money from the fund, which will be terminated at the end of this month.

The most direct testimony of the military’s role has come from the women themselves.

“An apology is the most important thing we want — an apology that comes from the government, not only a personal one — because this would give us back our dignity,” said Jan Ruff O’Herne, 84, who testified to a Congressional panel last month.

Ms. Ruff was living with her family in Java, in what was then the Dutch East Indies, when Japan invaded in 1942. She spent the first two years in a prison camp, she said, but Japanese officers arrived one day in 1944. They forced single girls and women to line up and eventually picked 10 of them, including Ms. Ruff, who was 21.

“On the first night, it was a high-ranking officer,” Ms. Ruff said. “It was so well organized. A military doctor came to our house regularly to examine us against venereal diseases, and I tell you, before I was examined the doctor raped me first. That’s how well organized it was.”

In Japan’s colonies, historians say, the military worked closely with, or sometimes completely relied on, local people to obtain women.

In Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, Gil Won-ok said, she lined up outside a Japanese military base to look for work in her early teens. A Korean man, she said, approached her with the promise of factory work, but she eventually found herself in a comfort station in northeast China.

After she caught syphilis and developed tumors, Ms. Gil said, a Japanese military doctor removed her uterus.

“I’ve felt dead inside since I was 15,” said Ms. Gil, who was 16 when the war ended.

Like many comfort women, Ms. Gil was unable to bear children and never married, though she did adopt a son. She now lives in a home with three other former comfort women in Seoul.

Ms. Wu married twice, each time hiding her background. Somehow the husbands found out, and the marriages ended unhappily. Her adopted daughter is now angry with Ms. Wu for having spoken in public about her past, she said.

As for Ms. Ruff, she returned to the prison camp in Java after her release from the comfort station. Her parents swore her to silence. A Roman Catholic priest told Ms. Ruff, who had thought of becoming a nun: “My dear child, under these circumstances it is wise that you do not become a nun.”

It was at the camp that she met her future husband, Tom Ruff, one of the British soldiers who had been deployed to guard the camp after Japan’s defeat. She told him her story once before they were married — long before they had two daughters and migrated to Australia.

“But I needed to talk about it,” Ms. Ruff said, sitting at the kitchen table in her daughter Carol’s home here. “I could never talk to my husband about it. I loved Tom and I wanted to marry and I wanted a house. I wanted a family, I wanted children, but I didn’t want sex. He had to be very patient with me. He was a good husband. But because we couldn’t talk about it, it made it all so hard.”

“You could talk to Dad about it,” said her daughter Carol, 55.

“No, this is what I keep saying,” Ms. Ruff said. “I just told him the story once. It was never talked about again. For that generation the story was too big. My mum couldn’t cope with it. My dad couldn’t cope with it. Tom couldn’t cope with it. They just shut it up. But nowadays you’ll get counseling immediately.”

“It’s a wonderful thing,” Carol said.

“You don’t know how hard it was to carry this enormous burden inside you, that you would like to scream out to the world and yet you cannot,” Ms. Ruff said. “But I remember telling Carol, ‘One day I’m going to tell my story, and people will be interested.’ ”


…The beat goes on… With the government saying one thing in the morning and another thing in the afternoon. Keep buffeting them, media! Debito

JAPAN TIMES Friday, March 9, 2007
Abe endorses LDP probe into wartime sex slaves


The government will provide documents to aid a new investigation by the Liberal Democratic Party into Japan’s wartime sexual slavery, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday.

The move comes after Abe’s denial last week that the Japanese military coerced the “comfort women,” as Japan euphemistically called them, sparked a storm of criticism.

Earlier in the day, an LDP lawmaker quoted Abe as saying the government would open a new investigation into the issue. The remark was made at a meeting of LDP lawmakers who adopted a resolution claiming that neither the wartime government nor the Imperial Japanese Army was responsible for “forcibly bringing” women to frontline brothels in the 1930s and ’40s. Abe was previously a director general of the LDP group.

But when asked if the government plans to take another look at the issue, Abe said: “I heard the party is going to study and investigate the issue. As for the government, we will cooperate in providing documents as requested by the party.”

Abe repeated that his government will continue to stand by the 1993 statement made by then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono that admitted and apologized for the military’s involvement in forcing women into frontline brothels.

Abe declined comment on what kind of documentation or evidence the government would submit. “I don’t know about details yet,” he said.

In the resolution adopted Thursday, the LDP lawmakers’ association claimed its investigation showed that, despite the 1993 government statement, only private agencies forced women to work at the “comfort stations.”

The group admitted in a written statement that private-sector agencies did kidnap some women and forced them to work at their brothels, but it denied the government and army’s involvement in the process of “forcibly bringing” women to the military brothels.

Abe last week claimed there was no evidence that the army coerced women into sexual slavery, which drew fire from across Asia and provoked U.S. lawmakers to demand Japan’s apology on the issue.

The association, headed by former education minister Nariaki Nakayama, consists of 130 lawmakers, or nearly one-third of the 417 LDP lawmakers in both chambers of the Diet. The group handed the resolution to Abe Thursday afternoon.

Abe was once the director general of the association, which has long campaigned to push the education ministry to remove descriptions of “comfort women” from public high school history text books.

After becoming prime minister in September, Abe slightly changed his position and has repeatedly said he accepts the 1993 government statement as the official view.

The 1993 Kono statement was issued after the government examined historic government documents and interviewed 16 women who claimed they were forced into sexual slavery.

The government did not find documents that directly proved the involvement of the government or army, but in combination with the interviews and circumstantial evidence from state documents, Kono admitted the official involvement and extended a formal apology.

A number of wartime government documents have been discovered to suggest the Japanese army did order the creation of military brothels for soldiers, played a role in managing the brothels, and even transported women to those brothels in China and other parts of Asia.

But the association claimed the Japanese authorities did not forcibly take those women to the military brothels, most of which were run by private-sector agencies for the sake of the army.

Now Abe plays the blame game, blames media for misconstruing him, and clams up…

Abe won’t explain sex slave remarks, accuses media of being inaccurate
Japan Today/Kyodo News Friday, March 9, 2007 at 19:41 EST


TOKYO — Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Friday declined to give further explanation of his recent remarks on wartime sex slavery, saying such discussion would be ‘unproductive” and accusing the media of being “inaccurate.”

“At this very sensitive time when it is difficult to have my remarks conveyed correctly, I believe discussion here will only become extremely unproductive,” said Abe, referring to criticism at home and abroad since he denied last week evidence of physical coercion by Japanese military in forcing women into sexual servitude.

“Last time I answered questions on this issue, my remarks were not conveyed or reported accurately, so I believe it to be the right political judgment not to spread this any further,” Abe told reporters at his office when asked if he intends to provide an easier-to-understand explanation.

The premier, a conservative hawk who seeks a bigger global role for Japanese troops and aims to revise the war-renouncing Constitution, has repeatedly said his government will stand by a 1993 statement that acknowledged and apologized for the military’s involvement in the forced recruitment of the so-called “comfort women.”

But Abe sparked an outcry when he said there was no proof of physical coercion by the military, namely soldiers kidnapping women and putting them in brothels.

The New York Times issued an editorial on Tuesday harshly criticizing Japan’s “efforts to contort the truth” and published a front-page article on the experiences of survivors in its Thursday edition.

Former comfort women, as the victims are euphemistically referred to in Japan, and even former Japanese soldiers, have testified that girls and women were coerced by the military. (Kyodo News)



No Comfort
THE NEW YORK TIMES Editorial March 6, 2007


What part of “Japanese Army sex slaves” does Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, have so much trouble understanding and apologizing for?

The underlying facts have long been beyond serious dispute. During World War II, Japan’s Army set up sites where women rounded up from Japanese colonies like Korea were expected to deliver sexual services to Japan’s soldiers.

These were not commercial brothels. Force, explicit and implicit, was used in recruiting these women. What went on in them was serial rape, not prostitution. The Japanese Army’s involvement is documented in the government’s own defense files. A senior Tokyo official more or less apologized for this horrific crime in 1993. The unofficial fund set up to compensate victims is set to close down this month.

And Mr. Abe wants the issue to end there. Last week, he claimed that there was no evidence that the victims had been coerced. Yesterday, he grudgingly acknowledged the 1993 quasi apology, but only as part of a pre-emptive declaration that his government would reject the call, now pending in the United States Congress, for an official apology. America isn’t the only country interested in seeing Japan belatedly accept full responsibility. Korea and China are also infuriated by years of Japanese equivocations over the issue.

Mr. Abe seems less concerned with repairing Japan’s sullied international reputation than with appealing to a large right-wing faction within his Liberal Democratic Party that insists that the whole shameful episode was a case of healthy private enterprise. One ruling party lawmaker, in his misplaced zeal to exculpate the Army, even suggested the offensive analogy of a college that outsourced its cafeteria to a private firm.

Japan is only dishonored by such efforts to contort the truth.

The 1993 statement needs to be expanded upon, not whittled down. Parliament should issue a frank apology and provide generous official compensation to the surviving victims. It is time for Japan’s politicians — starting with Mr. Abe — to recognize that the first step toward overcoming a shameful past is acknowledging it.




Following is the text of the statement in English translation from the Japanese Foreign Ministry’s Web site.

Original Japanese (included below) at

“The Government of Japan has been conducting a study on the issue of wartime “comfort women” since December 1991. I wish to announce the findings as a result of that study.

“As a result of the study which indicates that comfort stations were operated in extensive areas for long periods, it is apparent that there existed a great number of comfort women. Comfort stations were operated in response to the request of the military authorities of the day. The then Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women. The recruitment of the comfort women was conducted mainly by private recruiters who acted in response to the request of the military. The government study has revealed that in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments. They lived in misery at comfort stations under a coercive atmosphere.

“As to the origin of those comfort women who were transferred to the war areas, excluding those from Japan, those from the Korean Peninsula accounted for a large part. The Korean Peninsula was under Japanese rule in those days, and their recruitment, transfer, control, etc. were conducted generally against their will, through coaxing, coercion etc.

“Undeniably, this was an act, with the involvement of the military authorities of the day, that severely injured the honor and dignity of many women. The Government of Japan would like to take this opportunity once again to extend its sincere apologies and remorse to all those, irrespective of place of origin, who suffered immeasurable pain and incurable physical and psychological wounds as comfort women.

“It is incumbent upon us, the Government of Japan, to continue to consider seriously, while listening to the views of learned circles, how best we can express this sentiment.

“We shall face squarely the historical facts as described above instead of evading them, and take them to heart as lessons of history. We hereby reiterated our firm determination never to repeat the same mistake by forever engraving such issues in our memories through the study and teaching of history.

“As actions have been brought to court in Japan and interests have been shown in this issue outside Japan, the Government of Japan shall continue to pay full attention to this matter, including private research related thereto.”

Original Japanese, for the record:




Now fellow LDP legislators are going to the US to fight Abe’s battles… Article courtesy of the author. Debito

Japanese Prime Minister angers victims of wartime sex slavery
By David McNeill in Tokyo
Published: 09 March 2007


Once a week, anger and the call of the past drags Gil Won-ok from her bed in a suburb of Seoul to the Japanese embassy in the South Korean capital. The frail 78-year-old is haunted by memories of what happened to her as a teenage girl when she was raped daily by Japanese soldiers in a Second World War “comfort station”. “I was in so much pain. Sometimes I didn’t know if I was going to live or die.”

For 15 years, the Korean “comfort women” have stood outside this embassy to demand recognition from the Japanese government. Now, instead of an apology, they have heard another official denial. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week there was “no evidence” to prove the women were coerced. The statement has enraged the women. “They can’t make this go away by lying about it,” Gil Won-ok said.

Yesterday Mr Abe said the government stood by a 1993 admission that Japan had forced women into sexual slavery. But he also suggested that it would “reinvestigate” the comfort-women issue, a demand from about 120 politicians on the right of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) who demand the admission be reversed.

Elderly women across Asia tell stories similar to the treatment of the Seoul pensioner. In the Chinese province of Shanxi, Guo Xi-cui was just 15 when she held in a comfort station for 40 days. She said Japanese soldiers stood watching as “two or three men” held her legs. “They spread them until I was injured and then they raped me,” she said. “When they sent me home I was not able to sit properly.”

Jan Ruff-O’Herne, an Adelaide grandmother, and her friends were taken from a Japanese concentration camp in Java to a comfort station. “We were given flower names and they were pinned to our doors,” she told Australian television. Then aged 21 and planning to become a nun, Ms O’Herne was raped by an officer.

According to Amnesty International, thousands of women from across Asia – some as young as 12 – were “enslaved against their will and repeatedly raped, tortured and brutalised for months and years” by the Japanese military. Thousands died in painful silence after a lifetime of torment until a group of Korean victims began to speak out in the early 1990s. Ms O’Herne remembers watching the women on television: “I thought, now is my time to speak out.”

But the issue has galvanised the Japanese right, who deny government involvement. “The women were legal prostitutes in brothels,” Nobukatsu Fujioka, a revisionist academic, said. He is one of the leading figures in a movement that aims to overturn much of the accepted wisdom about what took place during Japan’s rampage across Asia in the 1930s and 40s.

Twelve out of 18 members of Japan’s cabinet belong to a political forum that wants to “rethink” history education and backs many of Professor Fujioka’s views. His Society for History Textbook Reform has sold 800,000 copies of a revisionist history book that denies war crimes such as the comfort women and the Rape of Nanjing. Before coming to power, Mr Abe was one of the society’s supporters.

The revisionist denials are refuted by many Japanese historians. “The military decided when, where, and how ‘comfort stations’ were to be established,” Yoshiaki Yoshimi, a professor of history at Tokyo’s Chuo University, said.

Former Japanese soldiers have also testified to their involvement in the wartime rape of Asian women. Hajime Kondo, who was stationed in China from 1940-44, recalled kidnapping a woman in Shanxi Province and taking turns with his comrades in raping her. He said the thought that gang rape was wrong “never occurred” to him until he had his own family.

The deniers, however, have grown stronger since a 1993 statement by chief cabinet secretary Yohei Kono that the military was directly involved. That statement has never been accepted by the right. Now, with the prospect of a US Congressional resolution calling on Tokyo to “formally apologise and accept historical responsibility” for the comfort women, a delegation of LDP politicians is to travel to the US to lobby for the resolution to be quashed.

Mr Abe’s supporters say his plummeting approval ratingshave forced him to go for broke. “If he is true to his beliefs and says what he feels, his popularity will rise,” Professor Fujioka said.

Another article of note sent to me as a letter to the blog, talking about how the J media is turning this international issue into a domestic political one: Philip Brasor in the Japan Times March 11, 2007:



Japan can’t dodge this shame

‘Comfort women’ were forced to work in brothels during World War II; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says there’s no proof that ever happened.
By Dinah L. Shelton, professor of law at George Washington University.

IN EUROPEAN COUNTRIES, it is a punishable offense to deny the Holocaust. In contrast, Japanese war crimes have never been fully prosecuted or acknowledged, nor have most victims been afforded redress. Last week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exploited this lack of accountability by asserting that there is “no proof” that women were forced into sexual bondage to serve the Japanese military during World War II, in effect labeling as prostitutes or liars all the thousands of victims of this abhorrent practice. After international outrage erupted, Abe stepped back, but by then the survivors had once more been victimized by his denial of an overwhelming historical record.

The prime minister’s revisionist statement contradicts abundant evidence that has come to light despite the government’s efforts to conceal or minimize the mistreatment of thousands of women in about 2,000 wartime brothels run by or with the cooperation of the Japanese military. Although no one knows exactly how many girls and women were conscripted to provide sex to Japanese soldiers, most historians estimate the number at between 100,000 and 200,000. Most were Korean and Chinese, though they also included other Asians and Europeans from Japanese-occupied areas. Many were kidnapped and raped, others were tricked or defrauded; some were sold by their families.

Japanese soldiers have come forward during the last 15 years to admit to forcibly taking girls and women on orders of the military. In 1992, documents found in the archives of Japan’s Defense Ministry indicated that the military was directly involved in running the brothels. The Japanese government formally apologized to the women in 1993. Since then, Japan’s official position has been one of admitting moral but not legal responsibility. A private fund was set up to compensate the former “comfort women,” and two Japanese prime ministers wrote formal letters of apology to women who received the payments. Some victims claimed that this ambiguity was unacceptable and refused to accept compensation.

The Japanese government claims that even if the women were held involuntarily, there was no law against it at the time; alternatively, if coerced sexual relations were illegal, the laws did not apply in militarily-occupied territories. A third prong of the Japanese defense is that any misconduct that did occur was settled by the peace treaties at the end of the war. Human rights activists in Japan and abroad have sought to prove this wrong, but so far they have been unable to secure redress for “comfort women” who have come forward in recent years.

In 2000, the Tokyo District Court dismissed a case brought by 46 former sex slaves from the Philippines who accused Japan of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The court wrongly decided that “crimes against humanity” were not part of international law at the time. In 2001, a reparations claim by South Korean women who had been held as sex slaves failed in the Hiroshima High Court on the similarly erroneous grounds that coerced sex wasn’t illegal at the time.

However, there is a strong case to be made that the Japanese government does owe the women damages. Rape and kidnapping were crimes in Japanese law at the time and should have led to prosecutions of soldiers committing them. Moreover, despite the ruling in Tokyo District Court, the notion of crimes against humanity goes back to 1904, and such crimes were indicted after World War I and successfully prosecuted after World War II. On top of that, Japan had joined in four international treaties that barred sexual trafficking in women and forced labor: the International Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Women and Children (1921), the International Agreement for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic (1904), the International Convention for the Suppression of the White Slave Traffic of 1910 and the Agreement on the Abolition of Forced Labor (1930). In 1999, the Federation of Korean Trade Unions invoked these treaties and requested the International Labor Organization to rule that the women held by Japan in official brothels constituted forced laborers. The ILO Committee of Experts upheld the claim, despite Japanese contentions that the agreements did not apply to “colonial territories” such as occupied Korea. But the ILO had no power to order relief.

The Japanese government cannot be sued outside Japan because it has immunity from prosecution as a foreign state. Attempts by surviving women to sue in U.S. courts were dismissed on these grounds. Even if the victims were to surmount this “sovereign immunity” defense, they might run into problems with the peace treaties that ended World War II. For example, the 1951 U.S.-Japan peace treaty “recognized that the resources of Japan are not presently sufficient, if it is to maintain a viable economy, to make complete reparation” for damage and suffering. Japan has argued that this provision and others in peace treaties with some of its Asian neighbors and European powers closed the door on reparations claims by former prisoners of war, “comfort women” and other victims of Japanese atrocities and that nothing is owed anyone today. However, several provisions in the peace treaties suggest that reopening the issue of reparations might be possible, and advocates should look carefully at the texts. Still, it seems no court is likely to cure the injustice; Japan has a moral and legal obligation to do so.


UNREDRESSED GRIEVANCES have a habit of resurfacing, and sometimes burst forth in uncontrollable conflict, as in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. Already, Japan is facing increasing demands from several countries, including China, South Korea and the Philippines, that it more directly acknowledge its wartime misconduct and compensate its victims. Japan’s long-term interests in peaceful relations with its neighbors, not to mention its moral standing in the world, call for it to do so.

The problem that Japan — and its neighbors — have today stems from the lack of an equivalent of the Nuremberg trials to establish a complete and irrefutable record of the war crimes in Asia. Moreover, the Japanese government burned many of its own records, and others fell into private hands. This historical vacuum provides the opening for statements like Abe’s that there is “no proof” that women were coerced into sexual bondage. Those who oppose the International Criminal Court should be mindful of this pitfall. Meanwhile, Japan owes far more than an apology to the comfort women. Redress is legally and morally required.



Japan has atoned for transgressions
LA Times Letter to the Editor March 11, 2007
Re “The shame Japan can’t dodge,” Opinion, March 6

Let me set the record straight.

In 1993, the government of Japan acknowledged the involvement of former Japanese military authorities in the “comfort women” issue and expressed apologies and remorse to those who endured immeasurable pain and incurable wounds.

In 1995, the Asian Women’s Fund, which extended payments to women as a form of atonement and implemented medical and welfare projects, was established with the cooperation of the government and the Japanese people.

Since then, payments have been accompanied by letters from prime ministers saying: “We must not evade the weight of the past, nor should we evade our responsibilities for the future. I believe that our country, painfully aware of its moral responsibilities, with feelings of apology and remorse, should face up squarely to its past history and accurately convey it to future generations.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that there has been no change in the position of the government of Japan.

Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles

(thanks to NHK 7PM news March 12, 2007, for notifying me)


No comfort for Abe
Mar 8th 2007
From The Economist print edition
Japan’s prime minister picks a shameful fight over the organised rape of thousands of women

SIX months ago Japan, whose leaders have often been dull political ciphers, celebrated an unaccustomed transition: the handover of power from a confident, reforming prime minister, Junichiro Koizumi, to an assertive, seemingly capable successor, Shinzo Abe. Mr Koizumi had pulled the economy out of its slump, and built up respect abroad. Japan may have failed last year to win the permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council that it covets, but its diplomats, aid workers and (in modest but useful numbers) its soldiers, sailors and airmen are now ever more routinely deployed—and appreciated—in troublespots and disaster zones from Asia and Africa to the Middle East. Mr Abe has talked about his fellow citizens taking new pride in their “beautiful country”.

So they should. But sadly for those who expected better from Mr Abe, he seems to think he can build pride in the future on untruths about Japan’s past.

Mr Abe started promisingly enough. By adopting a more subtle approach towards China and South Korea he undid much of the damage Mr Koizumi had caused by his stubborn visits to the Yasukuni shrine honouring Japan’s war dead (where the souls of some convicted war criminals have also been “enshrined” at the request of their families). Then last week he squandered all the goodwill. Planting his own feet in the mire of imperial Japan’s wartime history, he questioned whether the 200,000 or so “comfort women” (from Korea, the Philippines, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Burma and elsewhere) herded into the system of brothels run by the Japanese Imperial Army had really been coerced into their sexual servitude. Strictly speaking, Mr Abe said, there was no evidence of that.

Is he deaf? The first-hand evidence has mounted since some of the women courageously started breaking their silence, after decades of shame, in the early 1990s. More testified recently at hearings in America’s House of Representatives, where efforts are under way to pass a resolution calling on Japan to make a full apology, and where some of the victims explained, painfully, just how wartime sex slavery was for them. There would be more evidence too, if successive Japanese governments had not buried it in closed files or destroyed it.

Why pick this shameful fight? Other blunders have left Mr Abe dependent on his party’s noisy ultra-conservatives (see article). Resentful even of Japan’s past carefully parsed apologies for its wartime aggression, a group is now campaigning to overturn a 1993 statement by a cabinet official, noticeably unsupported by the parliament of the day, that for the first time accepted the army’s role in setting up the brothels.

The past is your country too

What the brothel survivors want is that full apology from Japan; they refuse to be fobbed off with offers of money instead from a private fund. By questioning their testimony—in effect, calling them liars—Mr Abe has instead added modern insult to past injury. But the damage goes wider. It revives distrust among Japan’s neighbours. And it belittles the efforts of those admirable Japanese working alongside others in the world’s dangerous places to help rebuild communities where people have sometimes suffered the same wartime traumas as the “comfort women”—victims of organised rape, in any other language than prime-ministerial Japanese.

Japan is not unique in its reluctance to confront a grim past. Though China lambasted Mr Abe for his statement, its Communist Party has never accepted responsibility for the 30m deaths from Mao’s self-inflicted famines of the 1950s, for example. But six decades on, deliberate amnesia is unworthy of modern, democratic Japan. Shame on you, Mr Abe.


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. Well done that researcher! Debito in Sapporo

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.


Abe’s ‘comfort women’ remarks: What was he thinking?

Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman
Star-Journal (Honolulu, Hawaii) March 18, 2007

WHAT WAS he thinking? That is the question most Japan-watchers grappled with following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s fumbled questions about the imperial Japanese government’s role in recruiting “comfort women” during World War II. His responses came close to undoing the progress he had made in restoring relations with China and South Korea and threatened to drive a wedge between Tokyo and Washington.

The controversy began March 1 when Abe was asked about a Liberal Democratic Party group that wanted the government to revisit the 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono. Kono acknowledged that the “Japanese military was, directly or indirectly, involved in the establishment and management of the comfort stations and the transfer of comfort women” and that “in many cases they were recruited against their own will, through coaxing coercion , etc., and that, at times, administrative/military personnel directly took part in the recruitments.”

Conservatives object to two related points: the role played by the military and the degree to which it actually “coerced” women. Abe said that the meaning of coercion was unclear and the accuracy of the statement depended on how the word was defined. (Ignored was his comment that either way, his government stood behind the 1993 statement.)

The readiness to challenge the conclusion that the government had “coerced” the women unleashed a firestorm of controversy, not least because the U.S. House of Representatives — during hearings on a resolution that called on Japan to apologize for its actions — had days before heard testimony from former comfort women that seemed to confirm the charge. Abe’s response sparked fierce condemnation from leading U.S. and foreign newspapers and seriously undercut those arguing against the resolution.

Why did Abe fan the flames, especially when it threatened to undercut diplomacy that promised “a new start” for Japanese foreign policy and had offered such promise for the new administration?

First, it should be noted that Abe wasn’t volunteering for controversy; he was responding to questions triggered by the actions of others (the LDP group and the U.S. hearings). This does not excuse or fully explain the response, however.

One explanation is that Abe, like many other conservatives, genuinely believes that the Kono statement was wrong. They challenge the factual basis for the conclusion that the government was involved in coercion. This argument rests on the definition of the word “coercion,” a legal distinction that is jarring given the long-standing insistence that Japan is not a “legalistic culture” and operates according to more flexible principles. It also attempts to trump a moral argument with a legal one. Whether the army actually coerced the women or left that job to independent contractors (as one legalistic argument asserts), there is little doubt that women were forced into servitude at the army’s behest.

This argument also rests on a sense of nationalism. Many conservatives still chafe at the judgment of the Tokyo Tribunals. The Kono statement implies that Japanese behavior was somehow different from that of other countries and Tokyo must apologize for things that other governments have not.

Underlying that conclusion — and obliging Abe to defend it — is domestic politics. The prime minister believes that Japan should be a more assertive country, one that is judged by its record of the last 60 years rather than for the sins of its forefathers. His domestic political base agrees, and they both resent being told what to do by any country.

Ironically, many in the United States and Asia agree that it is time to stop dwelling on the past, that today’s Japan should be judged by its postwar history. Unfortunately, Abe’s comments — like his predecessor Junichiro Koizumi’s visits to Yasukuni Shrine — make it impossible for even Japan’s supporters to move past the history debate.

The phenomenon drives home the rising significance of domestic politics in Northeast Asia and the transition that all countries are experiencing as the international environment evolves and a new generation comes to power. While the U.S.-Japan relationship has been strengthened in recent years, both countries must still be acutely sensitive to developments in the other and ready to challenge assumptions about how the relationship works.

FOR EXAMPLE, the presumption that a House of Representatives judgment on Japanese history would be above challenge is plainly wrong. Gaiatsu (outside pressure) no longer works, even when it comes from Tokyo’s closest ally.

Yet the Japanese assumption that the alliance would counterbalance domestic politics in the United States is equally mistaken. The usual group of alliance handlers didn’t — or couldn’t — quash this tempest.

Abe is not the first politician to put the need to appeal to his domestic base above his country’s international image or long-term national interest, but it could not come at a worse time. As the first Japanese prime minister to be born after the war, Abe had an opportunity to pursue a forward-looking agenda. Instead, he and his more conservative colleagues have forced us once again to dwell on the past. Does this really serve Abe’s — or Japan’s — interest?


Ralph A. Cossa and Brad Glosserman are president and executive director, respectively, of the Pacific Forum CSIS (pacforum@hawaii.rr.com), a Honolulu-based nonprofit research institute affiliated with the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, and senior editors of Comparative Connections, a quarterly electronic journal.


Blog entry: J police cannot marry non-Japanese? (with update)


Hello Blog. Something interesting here. Friend passed on a link to a blog post as follows:

Hello. I am really down so I hope to get some help here. My boyfriend is japanese and I am german. We met in Japan ( working holiday…)and want to merry next year, because we are really sure about our love. The big problem we have is his job. He is a policeman. Policemen in Japan have to report their girlfriends when they become serious about their partnership. So my boyfreind reported me. After that we really had a lot of problems, because his organisation said that he can not have a relation with a foreign women. If he will go on with me, he will never get a promotion again and they will bully him at work. Yeah, that’s what they told him. The reason they gave us is to protect the Japanese Police Organitation and that after our marrigae is will be difficult to stop other policemen to merry with foreign women. For me it is simply racism! How could I be dangerous to the Police? I mean I am just a young women who wants to merry with love. What can we do? Of course my boyfriend thougth about chaning his job, but in this case they will get what they want. And there will be the same stupid old mind and discrimination in the Japanese Police like always. It should not be like that. Can`t we do anything against it? Is racism and discrimination really tolerated in Japan?
Original post and more discussion at
http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0 30435

This of course might be a hoax (you have to be careful about non-verifiable postings like these, and if it turns out as such, I’ll delete this issue from my blog with apologies). Still, might be worth checking into. Not all that difficult. Place a call to the NPA and see. Or ask around. Anyone have any friends in the police forces in Japan or other countries? Anyone know if there is a problem with police marrying non-citizens here or elsewhere?

Watch this space. I will add to this blog entry directly if there is something blogworthy. Debito in Sapporo


REPLY: Nov 14, 2006, from The Community mailing list:

Apparently there is no bar whatsoever to police marrying foreigners. I have it on authority from a member of Tokyo Metropolitan Police who says there are 5 officers she knows of who are married to foreigners. If this girl’s boyfriend was threatened with bullying over a matter which is not a case of breaking rules, he should report whoever made the comments to an appropriate body.

Nov 14, 2006
I am married to a member of JASDF but he had to change his job when
we met because he was in a “sensitive” field at the time. It was
tough for him as he loved what he had been doing and had to switch to
something he does NOT love. He also has a friend who quit JASDF to
marry his Chinese girlfriend. I don`t think it`s policy for all jobs
within the Force but it definitely happens sometimes.


UPDATE:  A few more related articles have come out since this blog entry was written:

J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)

Also related
The Japan Times Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2007
The blame game
Convenience, creativity seen in efforts to scapegoat Japan’s foreign community