Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling

mytest

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Hi Blog.  Dovetailing with last week’s blog entry about how Japan’s new “open door” visa programs violate basic human rights, here’s the old classic “closed door” policies aimed to punish bureaucratic transgressions by perpetually detaining people under conditions that don’t fall under standards for sufficient monitoring (because technically, they’re not “prisons”). Policywise, they’re meant to be a deterrent — part of a separate judicial track for foreigners in Japan with fewer human rights (full details on this in “Embedded Racism” Ch. 6).  Separate and lethal.  Particularly in Ushiku.

Again, given how Japan’s ethnostate policies are an inspiration for xenophobes and racial supremacists worldwide, I would argue that these longstanding inhumane Gaijin Tanks” are a working model for the “concentration camps” (the political term of debate in the US these days) for detainees along the American southern border.  Except politicians in Japan don’t have the cojones to call them anything but benign-sounding “detention centers” — after all, who in any position of power cares about the plight of foreigners in Japan?

So what term is a more appropriate depiction for awareness-raising?  Gaijin Gulags?  Internment Camps?  Captivity Chambers?  Perpetual Penitentiaries? Detention Dungeons?  This is a situation where the label matters and the proper language escapes.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Nigerian dies after hunger strike in Japan detention center

REUTERS/Asahi Shimbun AJW, June 27, 2019, courtesy of DM.
http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201906270086.html

A Nigerian man died in a Japanese immigration detention center this week, an official said on Thursday, bringing to an end a hunger strike an activist group said was intended to protest his being held for more than three years.

It was the 15th death since 2006 in a system widely criticized over medical standards, the monitoring of detainees and how guards respond to a medical emergency.

The man, in his 40s, died on Monday in the southern city of Nagasaki after he lost consciousness and was taken to hospital, said a detention center official who declined to be identified.

He did not give a cause of death.

RINK, a group supporting detainees at the center, told Reuters the Nigerian had been on hunger strike to protest his lengthy detention.

Another 27 foreigners are on hunger strike at a detention center in Ushiku, northeast of Tokyo, said a separate group supporting detainees at that facility.

Some of them have gone without food for 47 days, said Kimiko Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the group.

She said a 23-year-old Iranian man who sought asylum more than two years ago has lost weight and is using a wheelchair.

Two other men at Ushiku have been detained for five years, she said.

“The reality of a lengthy detention is nothing but a human rights violation,” Tanaka said.

An official at the national immigration agency confirmed there are hunger strikers at the Ushiku center, but he did not say how many. Authorities are providing medical care and trying to persuade them to eat, he added.

Immigration is a contentious issue in Japan, where ethnic and cultural homogeneity are deeply rooted.

Japan held about 1,500 detainees as of June 2018, according to the latest public data, nearly half of them for more than six months.

Some 604 were asylum seekers whose applications were rejected, while the rest were held for various immigration infractions such as overstaying visas.
ENDS

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

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

mytest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019

Table of Contents:
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VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL

1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.
2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation
3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling
4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE
5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment
6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones
7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey
9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

… and finally…
10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

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By Debito Arudou Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletter is Freely Forwardable

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VISA ISSUES, SOME LETHAL

1) SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.

SCMP: Activists point out, however, that the Japanese government’s new regulations that relax visa requirements for workers from abroad mean that there will soon be tens of thousands of additional foreigners living in Japanese communities.

“It’s a net positive that Japan is bringing over more people, since that may help normalise the fact that non-Japanese are contributing to Japanese society,” said Debito Arudou, author of Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.“ But it is disappointing that Japan still is not doing the groundwork necessary to make these newcomers want to stay and contribute permanently,” he said.

“The new visa regime still treats these non-Japanese entrants as ‘revolving-door’ workers, with no clear path to permanent residency or citizenship.“ And – as the surveys seem to indicate – one fundamental flaw in these plans is that non-Japanese are insufficiently protected from the bigotry found in all societies,” Arudou said.

“Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination, remaining the only major industrialised society without one. Even government mechanisms ostensibly charged with redressing discrimination have no enforcement power. Tokyo needs to pass the laws that make racial discrimination illegal, empower oversight organisations and create an actual immigration policy instead of a “stop-gap labour shortage visa regime”, he said.

“At the very least, tell the public that non-Japanese workers are workers like everyone else, filling a valuable role, contributing to Japanese society and are residents, taxpayers, neighbours and potential future Japanese citizens,” he added.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15660

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2) Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ. The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate. Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens). Au contraire, they’re still part of what Debito.org has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message. It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again. Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese. There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children! For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15634

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3) Reuters: Yet another NJ detainee dies after hunger strike after 3 years in Japan “detention center”; time for a change in labeling

REUTERS: A Nigerian man died in a Japanese immigration detention center this week, an official said on Thursday, bringing to an end a hunger strike an activist group said was intended to protest his being held for more than three years. It was the 15th death since 2006 in a system widely criticized over medical standards, the monitoring of detainees and how guards respond to a medical emergency…

RINK, a group supporting detainees at the center, told Reuters the Nigerian had been on hunger strike to protest his lengthy detention. Another 27 foreigners are on hunger strike at a detention center in Ushiku, northeast of Tokyo, said a separate group supporting detainees at that facility. Some of them have gone without food for 47 days, said Kimiko Tanaka, a spokeswoman for the group… Two other men at Ushiku have been detained for five years, she said. “The reality of a lengthy detention is nothing but a human rights violation,” Tanaka said.

COMMENT: Dovetailing with last week’s blog entry about how Japan’s new “open door” visa programs violate basic human rights, here’s the old classic “closed door” policies aimed to punish bureaucratic transgressions by perpetually detaining people under conditions that don’t fall under standards for sufficient monitoring (because technically, they’re not “prisons”). Policywise, they’re meant to be a deterrent — part of a separate judicial track for foreigners in Japan with fewer human rights (full details on this in “Embedded Racism” Ch. 6). Separate and lethal.

Again, given how Japan’s ethnostate policies are an inspiration for xenophobes and racial supremacists worldwide, I would argue that these longstanding inhumane “Gaijin Tanks” are a working model for the “concentration camps” (the political term of debate in the US these days) for detainees along the American southern border. Except politicians in Japan don’t have the cojones to call them anything but benign-sounding “detention centers” — after all, who in any position of power cares about the plight of foreigners in Japan?

http://www.debito.org/?p=15691

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4) SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

SCMP: Anti-nuclear campaigners have teamed up with human rights activists in Japan to condemn plans by the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to hire foreign workers to help decommission the facility.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has announced it will take advantage of the government’s new working visa scheme, which was introduced on April 1 and permits thousands of foreign workers to come to Japan to meet soaring demand for labourers. The company has informed subcontractors overseas nationals will be eligible to work cleaning up the site and providing food services… Activists are far from convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel “pressured” to ignore the risks if their jobs are at risk.

COMMENT: In the wake of renewed interest in nuclear disasters thanks to HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl” (which I watched from more of a political science perspective than a popcorn disaster movie), I harked back to the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown of 2011. There was a similar outcome, in that the fiasco demonstrated the shortcomings of a system built upon institutional lying. However, the main difference was that Fukushima helped bring down the government (the DPJ), but, unlike the Soviet system, not the architects of this corrupt system in the first place (the LDP), who remain in power stronger than ever.

But as far as Debito.org is concerned, the other big difference is that the Soviets didn’t import foreigners to do their cleanup. Unlike Japan, as Debito.org has pointed out for many years now — to the point where TEPCO not only tricked Japan’s poor or homeless into doing this dirty work, but also NJ asylum seekers! Kudos to the SCMP for reporting on an angle the overseas media has largely ignored.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15639

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VISAS BEING MADE AN ISSUE

5) Yomiuri: GOJ now requiring hospitals (unlawfully) demand Gaijin Cards from NJ as a precondition for medical treatment

Related to recent discussions about public refusals of service for either not complying with (unlawful) demands for NJ ID, or denial of service anyway when people in charge arbitrarily decide a visa’s length is not long enough, mentioned below is a move by the GOJ to require hospitals demand Gaijin Cards etc. (as opposed to just requiring medical insurance cards (hokenshou), like they would from any Japanese patient) as a precondition for providing treatment to sick NJ. Granted, the Yomiuri article below notes that for Japanese patients, the government is “considering” requiring a Japanese Driver License etc. as well, because the hokenshou is not a photo ID. But once again, NJ are clearly less “trustworthy” than the average Japanese patient, so NJ will have more (again, unlawful) rigmarole first.

But there’s a deeper pattern in this policy creep. Recall the “Gaijin as Guinea Pig” syndrome we’ve discussed on Debito.org for well over a decade now: Public policies to further infringe upon civil liberties are first tested out on the Gaijin — because foreign residents even Constitutionally have much fewer civil liberties — and then those policies are foisted on the general public once the precedent is set. So once again, the GOJ is taking advantage of the weakened position of NJ to assume more government control over society.

NB: There’s also a meaner attitude at work: Note in the last paragraph of the article below the echoes of 1980’s “foreigners have AIDS” paranoia creeping into LDP policy justifications once again. I say “mean” because the point would have been made by just stopping at “the person fraudulently used somebody else’s insurance”. And I’m sure presenting a Gaijin Card would have fixed the AIDS issue! (Not to mention that the GOJ apparently WANTS people to get AIDS screening, especially if they’re visibly foreign!) Such ill-considered policymaking signals!

Meanwhile, don’t expect equal treatment as a patient if you get sick while foreign. It’s official policy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15214

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6) Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones

MARK: I would like to make public a New Discriminatory Policy being implemented systematically in Rakuten Mobile. It seems that the company recently decided to deny the service to foreign customers. I have living in Japan for 2 years. When I arrived, I applied online for their service and they accepted my application immediately. This week, I tried to make a contract online for 2 friends that just came to Japan. Their online application was rejected 3 times without providing the reason. I checked everything in their application and was correct. They uploaded their scanned residence card and the quality of the image was perfect. Also the contents of the application were correct.

Hence, we went to a Rakuten Mobile Store in Ikebukuro on the afternoon of April 23. They asked for their residence cards: after seeing the residence card they denied the service arguing that the company just established new rules and are now stricter with foreigners.The 2 persons that were denied the service have a valid visa until April 2021 (2 years). They are graduate students at the University of Tokyo as me. They didn’t ask anything about the applicants. They just turned down the request based on being foreigners. I asked the reason and the lady was ashamed and said that recently the Company has began to be stricter with foreigners. I replied back saying that 2 years ago my application was accepted under the same conditions and the lady was ashamed. It seems to be a new a discriminatory policy set by a well-known company.

COMMENT: Here’s another example of how unequal treatment in customer service, when predicated upon things such as visa status (which is in fact none of the company’s business), leaves NJ open to discrimination. According to Submitter “Mark”, this is affecting people on Student Visas, where denial of service is apparently new and arbitrary. He describes his experience at Rakuten Mobile below. It’s tough enough for NJ to do the basics for life in Japan, such as open a bank account or rent an apartment. Now NJ students can’t even get a cellphone from Rakuten. Alas, this is in fact nothing new (I’ve written about NTT DoCoMo’s unequal policies before, which were so silly that they eventually abandoned them after the information came out in one of my Japan Times columns). But it still should be known about, so people can take their business elsewhere, if possible. Anyone know of an alternative cellphone company with less discriminatory policies?

http://www.debito.org/?p=15641

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7) Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars

What follows are more travails of foreign and exchange students (not to mention foreign academics employed under this system) who think that studying in Japan is like studying or working at universities in other developed countries.

Debito.org has talked about this flawed system before, as in about a decade ago, when it comes to lack of institutional support for foreign scholarships (to the point where students just give up and leave) or even having sufficient university support when being systematically rejected for an apartment for being a foreigner! Even when the GOJ signals that it wants a more “open-door policy” for more foreign students and staff, what with the Global 30 Project funding from the Ministry of Education (MEXT), the Times Higher Education reported that Japan’s “entrenched ideas hinder” that from happening. And the THE wrote that article back in 2010, meaning that nearly a decade later things still aren’t getting much better. Read on for Anonymous’s report below on the Kafkaesque ordeal he/she had just trying to transfer schools, even those anointed under MEXT’s Global 30 Project.

Forewarned is forearmed, prospective students considering Japan as a destination. Know what you’re getting into or suffer an enormous bump in the road on your way to a terminal degree in your field.

Anonymous: When I applied for an extension to transfer to the University of Kyoto, the University of Tokyo’s rival university, the University of Tokyo had full control of whether to recommend or not recommend me to MEXT. This obviously poses ethical problems, and I was pretty quick to complain to the international office. Why on earth, I asked, am I being evaluated for a scholarship selection by a university who could potentially favor its own scholarship extension applicants, and who I will not be going to next year? At the very least, the University of Kyoto should be evaluating me as it is their university that I passed and would be going to. Lo and behold, I was mysteriously rejected – mid January, and two and a half months before I was about to enter graduate school. This permanently messed up any chance I had of pursuing my graduate studies, and consequently caused numerous other problems. I was forced to scramble to find a job last minute, in order to avoid financial ruin and being deported.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15680

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8 ) Kyodo: Half of foreigners in Tokyo experienced discrimination: ARIC survey

Kyodo: TOKYO (Kyodo) — Nearly half of the foreigners living in Tokyo have experienced racial discrimination, according to a survey released Tuesday by a civic group. In the survey conducted by the Anti Racism Information Center, a group organized by scholars, activists and university students, 167 of 340 respondents including students said that they have suffered discriminatory treatment such as being told not to talk in a language other than Japanese. Some working as retail shop cashiers said customers asked for Japanese cashiers, according to the face-to-face questionnaire survey conducted in February and March in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward. Among them, a Nepalese man who works at a drugstore said one customer told him that he or she does not like to see a foreigner working as a cashier and asked for someone else. A Chinese respondent who works at a convenience store said that a colleague told the respondent not to speak Chinese when the respondent was asked for directions by a Chinese-speaking customer. There were also cases where foreigners had apartment rental applications rejected. Some said they were denied entry into stores, but none of the respondents took their case to a public office dealing with such issues.

COMMENT: This survey is not quite on the scale or scope of the previous Ministry of Justice one Debito.org covered (and I wrote two Japan Times columns about) in 2017, since it has a smaller sample size, has a more targeted surveyed group, and is confined to the Tokyo area. But it’s nevertheless better than the very biased one the GOJ did twelve years ago. It also deserves a mention on Debito.org as it quantifies the degree and patterns of discriminatory behavior out there. ARIC, the group doing the survey, is on the right track recording issues of domestic racism and hate speech. Let’s have more surveys in other places, and get data quantified and triangulated nationwide. Enough of these, and recorded isolated incidents eventually merge into patterns, and ultimately concretely-measured trends that justify public policy fixes.

http://www.debito.org/?p=15622

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9) My Japan Times JBC 115: “Know your rights when checking in at an Airbnb” (Apr 17, 2019)

JT: Last year, the government passed a law covering minpaku, which is when people rent out space on their properties to travelers (a la Airbnb). The law is part of an effort to regulate accommodations amid a tourism boom ahead of the 2020 Olympics. One issue for non-Japanese travelers, though, has been whether they must show ID such as a passports at check-in.

For hotels, which fall under the Hotel Business Law, the regulation has always been this: For any adult, Japanese or non-Japanese, who has an address in Japan, ID is not required. You just write your contact details in the guest registry. However, for guests who don’t reside in this country, displaying ID (i.e., your passport) is required.

Seems straightforward so far, right? But as has been reported several times over more than 10 years of this column, the police (and occasionally the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare) have confused things. Some hotels have been instructed that all “foreign guests” must show ID, specifically their passports…

Rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2019/04/17/issues/know-rights-checking-airbnb/
Anchor site at http://www.debito.org/?p=15625
More information at http://www.debito.org/?p=15559

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… and finally…

10) Foreign Minister Kouno Taro asks world media to use Japanese ordering of names (Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe) in overseas reportage. Actually, I agree.

Washington Post: Ahead of a series of important international events in Japan, including a visit from President Trump this weekend, Japan’s foreign minister has said he will issued a request to foreign media: Call our prime minister Abe Shinzo, not Shinzo Abe.

“The new Reiwa era was ushered in, and we are hosting the Group of 20 summit. As many news organizations write Chinese President Xi Jinping and South Korean President Moon Jae-in, it is desirable for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s name to be written in a similar manner,” said foreign minister Taro Kono at a news conference Tuesday, according to the Mainichi Shimbun.

Or perhaps we should say, Kono Taro said that? Kono is the foreign minister’s family name, just as Abe is the Japanese prime minister’s family name. The Japanese diplomat says the family name should be first when referred to in English, as it is when it is written or spoken in Japanese.

COMMENT: Believe it or not, I agree with Kouno Taro. This post is to explain why. Opening the floor to discussion…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15669

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That’s all for this Newsletter! Thanks for reading!
Debito Arudou Ph.D.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 30, 2019 ENDS

Mainichi: New “open door” visa programs violate basic NJ human rights (now including marriage and children), don’t resolve cruel detention centers, and still curb actual immigration and assimilation

mytest

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Hi Blog.  The Mainichi updates us on how Japan’s oft-toted “wider open door” new visa regimes make sure any actual immigration is held in check, with continuing draconian and deadly treatment for detained NJ.

The Mainichi calls them “haphazard immigration policies”, but that’s inaccurate.  Japan still has no policy in place to encourage newcomers become immigrants (imin, i.e., firmly-established taxpaying residents and citizens).  Au contraire, they’re still part of what Debito.org has called a “revolving-door” visa policy that has been in place for nearly thirty years now (what with the “Trainee” and “Technical Intern” programs that won’t even call NJ laborers “workers” (roudousha) in order to avoid granting them some legal protections), to make sure we take them in young, fresh and cheap, and spit them out when they’re too expensive or past their working prime.

For those who fall afoul of this exploitative system, they face being made an example of within cruel “gaijin tank” detention centers (which don’t fall under minimum standards covering prisons), which in effect send a deterrent message.  It’s similar to what’s happening in the concentration camps now being run by the US Customs and Border Patrol (which, given that 45’s supporters are in thrall to Japan’s putative ethnostate, should not be too surprising).

As an interesting aside, the Mainichi below mentions how Japan even ethnically cleansed itself of Iranians in the 1990s, which can and will happen again.  Now public policy is going one step further — trying to nip any possibility of marriage and children with Japanese.  There are even bans on NJ on certain work visas having international liaisons, marriage, and children!

For all the new “open-door” visas being advertised, it’s clear that NJ are still seen more as work units than human beings.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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Left in limbo: Japan’s haphazard immigration policies, disrespect for human rights
April 19, 2019 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of JK
http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190419/p2a/00m/0fe/004000c

PHOTO CAPTION: Farhad Ghassemi’s father, Seyfollah Ghassemi, had been detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center, also known as Ushiku Detention Center, until his provisional release in October of last year. Pictured here at his home in Kanagawa Prefecture on March 12, 2019, Seyfollah says he is worried that his provisional release could be revoked at any time. (Mainichi/Jun Ida)

Japan is expected to see an influx of at least 340,000 people in the next five years, as a result of the amended Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act that went into effect April 1. But are this country’s people, society and legal system ready for such a sudden shift? Foreign nationals who have already lived in Japan for years and their Japanese supporters cast doubt not only on Japan’s preparedness, but on its willingness.

【Related】Japan opens door wider to foreign workers under new visa system
【Related】Japan born and raised, boy of Iranian-Bolivian descent fights deportation order
【Related】Housing complex with foreign, Japanese residents provide model for a diverse society

Kanagawa resident Farhad Ghassemi, 17, was born in Japan to an Iranian father and a Japanese Bolivian mother. He’s an Iranian national, but the extent of his skills in Farsi and Spanish, his father’s and mother’s mother tongues, respectively, are minimal. He filed a lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court seeking, among other things, the invalidation of a deportation order that was issued when he was 6 years old. On Feb. 28, however, Presiding Judge Chieko Shimizu dismissed all of his requests.

Farhad was sitting in the gallery the moment the ruling was handed down. He cradled his head in his arms and did not move for a while afterward. “I was shocked,” he says. “I can’t help but think they’re just bullying us.”

Farhad’s father, 50-year-old Seyfollah Ghassemi, entered Japan in 1992, seeking work. Here he met Liliana, 50, and the two married. Their son Farhad was born in 2002. In 2009, the year after Seyfollah was arrested for overstaying his visa, the family of three was issued a written deportation order.

Farhad’s status until now has been “provisional release,” meaning he does not have a residence permit but is not in detention, allowing him to receive an education alongside his Japanese peers. The latest ruling has forced Farhad to enter his final year of high school not knowing what will happen to him, under an unauthorized status. He wants to further his education, but does not know how many universities here accept foreign nationals without authorization to live in Japan. Farhad appealed the district court’s ruling to the Tokyo High Court.

Farhad is naturally worried about what lies ahead. “I can’t plan my future,” he said.

This reporter has recently visited the family’s home in Kanagawa Prefecture. By the window was a photo of the family taken at an aquarium before Farhad had started elementary school. “Japan is the only place where all three of us can live together,” Seyfollah said.

Seyfollah is Muslim, while Liliana is Christian. In Iran, even the inter-sect marriage of Sunnis and Shias is highly controversial. Under Iranian law, Liliana would be forced to convert to Islam. Farhad, who does not follow any religion, would also be forced to become Muslim.

The Tokyo District Court acknowledged that there was a “risk of great loss” if Farhad’s request for permission to stay in Japan were not granted, because Farhad’s life was deeply rooted in Japan, both in terms of language and lifestyle. Moreover, the court stated that “the plaintiff could not be held responsible” for the fact that he has been on overstay status since he was 6 years old. And yet, the reasoning that is given for the government’s ultimate decision not to grant Farhad special residence permission is that it is “within the discretion of the government,” and is “legitimate.”

“This is the true face of a country that amended its immigration law to say, ‘Welcome, foreign laborers,'” says journalist Koichi Yasuda, who witnessed the sentencing in the gallery of the courtroom. “For self-serving reasons, the state is trying to kick out people who have actually put down roots in Japan. It’s a complete contradiction.”

Yasuda writes about discrimination against foreign nationals and human rights issues in his latest book, “Danchi to imin” (Danchi apartments and immigrants). He points out that until 1992, the year Seyfollah arrived in Japan, Iran and Japan had a mutual visa waiver agreement in place. “At the time, micro-, small- and mid-sized businesses were highly dependent on Iranian laborers, making their presence crucial. Many people can probably recall the sight of many Iranian workers who, on their days off, would congregate at parks in Tokyo to exchange information,” Yasuda says. “The Japanese government was effectively giving its approval to Iranian labor.”

However, once Japan’s economy tanked, society’s anti-foreign rhetoric spread. It was against this backdrop, Yasuda explains, that the government beefed up its policy of urging Iranians to leave Japan. Meanwhile, the 1990s saw a surge in the number of laborers coming into Japan from Brazil and other countries due to relaxed visa requirements for foreign nationals of Japanese descent.

“(Farhad’s mother) Liliana, who is of Japanese descent, arrived in Japan in 1994. Families like the Ghassemis are precisely the result of Japan’s haphazard immigration policies. And now the children of the couples who met in Japan are being told to leave the country. The phenomenon is symbolic of Japanese society,” Yasuda says.

Once in Japan, Seyfollah experienced discrimination at the workplace when he was an automobile mechanic, and also in his everyday life. But he recalls that ever since he met Liliana, they “helped each other lead their lives in Japan, a country that was unfamiliar to both of us.” Reading the court ruling handed to Farhad, it makes one wonder whether foreign nationals who come to Japan are forbidden from falling in love or getting married depending on their visa status.

“Such bans actually exist in Japan,” Yasuda tells the Mainichi Shimbun.

Through interns with the Technical Intern Training Program whom he has interviewed, Yasuda has learned of cases in which bans on dating and getting married — regardless of the other party’s nationality — are clearly outlined in the interns’ workplace regulations. “It’s like middle school ‘seito techo’ (school rulebooks that most Japanese middle schools distribute to their students), but they’re forcing these rules on foreign nationals in their 20s and 30s,” he says. “One rule even went like this: ‘Conduct that could result in pregnancy is banned.’ Japanese employers think they can include such a rule in their work regulations if they’re targeted toward foreign laborers.”

At the same time that the amended immigration laws went into force in a bid to bring more foreign workers to Japan, the long-term detentions of foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas is a common sight at immigration detention centers across the country. As of the end of July 2018, of the 1,309 detainees nationwide, 54% had been detained for six months or longer. According to attorneys and others who provide assistance to foreign workers in Japan, 13 foreign nationals died by suicide or from illness while in detention between 2007 and 2018. Many detainees complain of appalling health conditions at detention centers, saying they are hardly permitted to see physicians.

A damages lawsuit brought against the central government at the Mito District Court for the 2014 death of a then 43-year-old Cameroonian man while he was detained at Higashi Nihon Immigration Center in the Ibaraki Prefecture city of Ushiku is ongoing. His mother, who resides in Cameroon, filed the suit.

According to the legal complaint that was filed, the man had been confirmed as diabetic after a medical consultation at the immigration center. He began to complain of pain in February 2014, and died at the end of March that year. Security cameras at the center captured him saying in English that he felt like he was dying starting the night before his death, and the footage has been saved as evidence. Even after the man fell from his bed, he was left unattended, and a staff member found him in cardiopulmonary arrest the following morning. He was transported to a hospital where he was confirmed dead.

“Immigration officials have a duty to provide emergency medical care,” says the plaintiff’s attorney, Koichi Kodama. “The government should be accountable for revealing who was watching the footage of the man rolling around on the floor, screaming in pain, and whether anyone went directly to his room to check on his condition.”

There is no way a society that does not respect the human rights of individual foreigners and only sees them as “cheap labor” or “targets of public security measures” can flourish.

Says journalist Yasuda, “There are times when I wonder if Japan should be allowed to bring in foreigners, or has the right to bring in foreigners. At the same time, though, I believe that it’s a good thing for society that people with different roots live together. I think that the media should stop reporting on foreigners as people to be pitied, and not forget that this is a problem with our society.”

(Japanese original by Jun Ida, Integrated Digital News Center, Evening Edition Group)
Japanese version (excerpt)

特集ワイド
外国人労働者は恋愛禁止? 場当たり政策が生む「悲劇」
毎日新聞2019年4月1日 東京夕刊
写真:昨年10月まで東日本入国管理センターに収容され、仮放免中のガセミ・セイフォラさん。「また仮放免を取り消されるのではないかといつも不安です」=神奈川県の自宅で
外国人労働者の受け入れ拡大を目的にした改正入管法が1日、施行された。今後5年間で34万人以上の増加を見込む外国人とともに暮らすための法制度や社会の準備は本当に整っているのか。長く日本で生活しながら差別的な扱いに苦しむ外国人と、支援者からは不安の声が聞こえる。【井田純】

改正入管法施行 消えぬ不安の声
判決が言い渡された瞬間、傍聴席に座っていた神奈川県在住の原告、ガセミ・ファラハッドさん(17)=イラン国籍=は頭を抱えてうつむき、しばらくの間動かなかった。「ショックでした。自分たちをいじめているようにしか思えません」。父はイラン人、母は日系ボリビア人。日本で生まれ育ち、両親の母語はあいさつ程度しか話せない。6歳の時に出された「退去強制令書」の無効確認などを求めて東京地裁に提訴したが、2月28日、清水知恵子裁判長はすべての請求を退ける判決を言い渡した。

この訴訟については途中経過を昨年9月の「特集ワイド」で取り上げたが、改めて経緯を振り返りたい。

Rest available by subscription at http://mainichi.jp/articles/20190401/dde/012/040/015000c

ENDS
=================================
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Anonymous on Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars

mytest

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Hi Blog.  What follows are more travails of foreign and exchange students (not to mention foreign academics employed under this system) who think that studying in Japan is like studying or working at universities in other developed countries.

Debito.org has talked about this flawed system before, as in about a decade ago, when it comes to lack of institutional support for foreign scholarships (to the point where students just give up and leave) or even having sufficient university support when being systematically rejected for an apartment for being a foreigner!  Even when the GOJ signals that it wants a more “open-door policy” for more foreign students and staff, what with the Global 30 Project funding from the Ministry of Education, the Times Higher Education reported that Japan’s “entrenched ideas hinder” that from happening.  And the THE wrote that article back in 2010, meaning that nearly a decade later things still aren’t getting much better.  Read on for Anonymous’s report below on the Kafkaesque ordeal he/she had just trying to transfer schools, even those anointed under the Global 30 Project.

Forewarned is forearmed, prospective students considering Japan as a destination.  Know what you’re getting into or suffer an enormous bump in the road on your way to a terminal degree in your field.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

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

From: Anonymous
Subject: Ethical Issues/Discriminatory practices being carried out by Todai and Kyodai against MEXT scholars
Date: May 28, 2019
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Dear Dr. Arudou,
I am writing to you today to ask your advice on how to deal with discriminatory practices and unethical conduct being carried out by some of Japan’s top universities against undergraduate Ministry of Education (MEXT) scholars under the current scholarship system.

I was an undergraduate student for 4 years under the MEXT program. Since the 1st year of university, I was very careful with both my marks and research as I aspired to apply for an extension at the end of my scholarship for masters. This was very hard, as the University of Tokyo, despite being an international university, has a lack of support for mainstream (non-English program) international student undergraduates – our existence was essentially ignored, and the admin never seemed to know what they were doing when it came to providing us with factually correct information. For various personal reasons coupled with frustration at the university, I decided to apply for master’s at the University of Kyoto. Now, it is worth noting at this point that whilst extensions aren’t guaranteed, I felt reassured as I knew that the extensions end would be handled by MEXT – even if they were to reject my application, since MEXT is a government entity I hoped that it would at least not be that unfair. When I was granted the scholarship initially, MEXT was in charge of handling the extensions. There was no information on the pledge (which I believe was a kind of contract?) that our universities would have anything to do with the extension process. Little did I know, in my second year of university, MEXT changed the system (presumably so they wouldn’t have to do as much paperwork), forcing universities to filter out students for selection themselves. I only found out about this late last year. Each university is provided with only a certain number of slots, and if my understanding is correct, if one year not all the slots are filled then the amount of slots allocated to a certain university are drastically decreased the following year.

I think you can understand already how this may be problematic. Here I am, applying for an extension to go to the University of Tokyo’s rival university, with the University of Tokyo having full control of whether to recommend or not recommend me to MEXT. This obviously poses ethical problems, and I was pretty quick to complain to the international office. Why on earth, I asked, am I being evaluated for a scholarship selection by a university who could potentially favor its own scholarship extension applicants, and who I will not be going to next year? At the very least, the University of Kyoto should be evaluating me as it is their university that I passed and would be going to. Lo and behold, I was mysteriously rejected – mid January, and two and a half months before I was about to enter graduate school. This permanently messed up any chance I had of pursuing my graduate studies, and consequently caused numerous other problems. I was forced to scramble to find a job last minute, in order to avoid financial ruin and being deported. There were a lot of problems involved in this incident that would probably equate to about 10 pages worth of text, so I have written a summarized list below.

The University of Tokyo:

1. Being shrugged off by the international office when complaining about the school evaluating me – “It will be okay!” “A student successfully changed schools a previous year!” (It should be noted that the student they were talking about belonged to a different faculty, and that they were evaluated under the old system, so this information was potentially misleading).

2. The University of Tokyo refusing to let foreign students know how exactly they were to be evaluated. No guidelines were given.

3. The University of Tokyo refusing to provide feedback on my research proposal and how it was inferior to that of their other applicants, claiming that it was an invasion of the privacy of other students (Please note that I never once asked for the names and majors of other students.) If they rejected me, they should at least be capable of explaining why they were rejecting me.

4. The University of Tokyo evaluating master’s to PhD extensions in the same framework as undergraduate to masters. MEXT givens them an amount of scholarships and it is up to the university to freely distribute them amongst both categories as they please. How could undergraduates on going to master’s perform better than master’s going on to Phd?

5. A section of the scholarship selection form that asks the student’s supervising professor to comment on the “suitability” of the student to go their other university in the case of changing educational institutes. Whilst my supervising professor did not write anything negative, the fact that this section exists at all is suspicious. There certainly isn’t a section for professors of students continuing at the same university to comment on the suitability of remaining at that university. It would be noted that the University of Tokyo has constantly be denying that they discriminate, despite one members of the international office initially giving me an unsure どうでしょうwhen I asked whether they would or not.

6. The University of Tokyo refusing to give me MEXT’s contact details when I raised the issue of being unfairly treated – they instead wanted me to write a useless 意見書 and attend 会議 in which they would continue to say 気の毒ですが without providing any helpful information. I was also given “thank you for your feedback” responses.

7. No effort on the university’s behalf to change the policy – instead, the “we are being forced to do this by MEXT” excuse was given.

8. When I confronted them about their behavior, they asked me “Why don’t you just apply for other scholarships?”. As I will mention below the University of Kyoto bars MEXT students from applying for any other scholarships that require university recommendation. This means that, even if an organization such as Rotary says that I am eligible to apply for their scholarship, the University of Kyoto would block me on the basis of being MEXT. They then ask about private ones, oblivious to how hard it is for foreign students to get scholarships to begin with, let alone those with a nationality that Japanese consider to be “rich”.

Now for Kyoto University:

1. Refusing to let MEXT scholars applying for extensions to also apply for other scholarships. Kyoto is well aware that there is no guarantee of an extension to begin with and that MEXT funding for the program has been decreasing in recent years, but this is still their policy. This means that if you are refused MEXT by your university and don’t have supportive parents who care about your education, you are pretty much screwed.

2. Not replying to my emails.

3. Not releasing the results of 学費免除 until after admission.

4. Not letting students access information about certain scholarships before admission.

5. Providing information contradicting information given by MEXT – When I complained to an international office within Kyodai, a woman told me that they had problems with the scholarship each year, but no matter how many times they told MEXT about the problems they were ignored. The MEXT official (who I finally got the address of without the help of Todai), denied hearing anything from Kyodai.

And next MEXT:

1. Refusing to care about the ethical issues and potential discrimination issues arising under their system. Their reply was along the lines of, “That is just the way it is” and “Thank you for your feedback.” When I pointed out that the system was affecting other students including myself now, and that we may have been evaluated by our universities based on their own personal agendas, he offered very little sympathy and said the “results could not be changed.”

2. Refusing to respond on numerous occasions to my emails.

3. Stating that “If your university did something unethical, but you have no choice than to be suspicious of them”. Refusing to investigate the university and refusing to attend one of Todai’s useless 会議 despite me giving them prior notice.

General:

1. A point that should be noted is that under the current system, a student at a rural university with very few exchange students could be granted a scholarship extension almost automatically simply because there was no competition. This would be granted despite students at other universities having better academic performance.

2. Potentially, students who went to Kyodai as undergraduates and chose to stay on at Kyodai could have been approved by Kyodai for extensions despite having lower marks than me (or other students in a similar situation), even though we were both destined for graduate school at the same university.

I am very interested to hear your thoughts on this. I think it goes without saying that I am absolutely furious, as I feel like I have worked incredibly hard for 4 years only to be evaluated under an ethically dubious system that leaves me at the mercy of a university that should have no say in whether I get a graduate school scholarship. It was like all three parties were purposely going out of their way to make things as difficult as possible. It appears as if MEXT doesn’t particularly care about who the scholarships go to, only that it goes to some foreign students and they as a result look good. It makes me wonder what Japanese nationals would think about having their tax monies misused in this way. I have confirmed that the system being fair or unfair really does not matter to them.

I have tried to complain to multiple entities outside of MEXT/the universities, but I have had only dead ends. Since the situation involves MEXT, I get the feeling that most organizations want to stay out of it. I have been considering taking legal action but am not sure if I can afford the costs associated with this or if I even have pretense to do so. A Japanese friend said that they thought I should at least have a case for defamation, but I don’t understand enough about education related unethical practices/discrimination in Japan to know for sure. Any advice at all you could offer would be greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Anonymous

UPDATE: A diet member recently inquired to MEXT about the issue. Apparently, the reply they were given was along the lines of “it is the university’s decision and MEXT can’t interfere”. It seems that both parties are extremely skilled in dodging responsibility and blaming it on the other.

I have recently been considering whether or not I should reach out to other forms of media. My general impression is that Japanese media isn’t very interested in issues affecting minorities, but I was wondering if an English language media such as Japan Times would be potentially interested in the problem. Do you have any thoughts on this?

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

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SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

mytest

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Hi Blog. In the wake of renewed interest in nuclear disasters thanks to HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl” (which I watched from more of a political science perspective than a popcorn disaster movie), I harked back to the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown of 2011.

There was a similar outcome, in that the fiasco demonstrated the shortcomings of a system built upon institutional lying.  However, the main difference was that Fukushima helped bring down the government (the DPJ), but, unlike the Soviet system, not the architects of this corrupt system in the first place (the LDP), who remain in power stronger than ever.

But as far as Debito.org is concerned, the other big difference is that the Soviets didn’t import foreigners to do their cleanup. Unlike Japan, as Debito.org has pointed out for many years now — to the point where TEPCO not only tricked Japan’s poor or homeless into doing this dirty work, but also NJ asylum seekers!

The news is that the trickery has now become above-board.  TEPCO is taking advantage of a new visa regime (see item #1), designed to fill Japan’s construction sites and convenience stores, giving NJ laborers jobs that put them in harm’s way (after Japan ironically blamed foreigners for the fallout after 3/11 in the first place; see also here.)

Read on. Kudos to the SCMP for reporting on an angle the overseas media has largely ignored.  Debito Arudou Ph.D.

(PS.  Enjoy this Gaijin-handling propaganda video I found, with the obfuscating language of officialdom directly translated from the Japanese.  There’s even a scene clearly designed for foreign consumption of NJ being fed Fukushima fish!)

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

Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima plant, prompting backlash from anti-nuke campaigners and rights activists
Activists are not convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel ‘pressured’ to ignore risks if jobs are at risk
Towns and villages around the plant are still out of bounds because radiation levels are dangerously high
Julian Ryall, South China Morning Post, 26 Apr, 2019
https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/east-asia/article/3007772/japan-needs-thousands-foreign-workers-decommission-fukushima

Anti-nuclear campaigners have teamed up with human rights activists in Japan to condemn plans by the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to hire foreign workers to help decommission the facility.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has announced it will take advantage of the government’s new working visa scheme, which was introduced on April 1 and permits thousands of foreign workers to come to Japan to meet soaring demand for labourers. The company has informed subcontractors overseas nationals will be eligible to work cleaning up the site and providing food services.

About 4,000 people work at the plant each day as experts attempt to decommission three reactors that melted down in the aftermath of the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and the huge tsunami it triggered. Towns and villages around the plant are still out of bounds because radiation levels are dangerously high.

TEPCO has stated foreign workers employed at the site must have Japanese language skills sufficient for them to understand instructions and the risks they face. Workers will also be required to carry dosimeters to monitor their exposure to radiation.

Activists are far from convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel “pressured” to ignore the risks if their jobs are at risk.

“We are strongly opposed to the plan because we have already seen that workers at the plant are being exposed to high levels of radiation and there have been numerous breaches of labour standards regulations,” said Hajime Matsukubo, secretary general of the Tokyo-based Citizens’ Nuclear Information Centre. “Conditions for foreign workers at many companies across Japan are already bad but it will almost certainly be worse if they are required to work decontaminating a nuclear accident site.”

Companies are desperately short of labourers, in part because of the construction work connected to Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympic Games, while TEPCO is further hampered because any worker who has been exposed to 50 millisieverts of radiation in a single year or 100 millisieverts over five years is not permitted to remain at the plant. Those limits mean the company must find labourers from a shrinking pool.

In February, the Tokyo branch of Human Rights Now submitted a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva demanding action be taken to help and protect people with homes near the plant and workers at the site.

“It has been reported that vulnerable people have been illegally deceived by decontamination contractors into conducting decontamination work without their informed consent, threatening their lives, including asylum seekers under false promises and homeless people working below minimum wage,” the statement said. “Much clean-up depends on inexperienced subcontractors with little scrutiny as the government rushes decontamination for the Olympic Games.”

Cade Moseley, an official of the organisation, said there are “very clear, very definite concerns”.

“There is evidence that foreign workers in Japan have already felt under pressure to do work that is unsafe and where they do not fully understand the risks involved simply because they are worried they will lose their working visas if they refuse,” he said.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the Mainichi newspaper also raised concerns about the use of semi-skilled foreign labourers at the site.

“There is a real risk of radiation exposure at the Daiichi plant and the terminology used on-site is highly technical, making for a difficult environment,” the paper said. “TEPCO and its partners must not treat the new foreign worker system as an employee pool that they can simply dip into.”

The paper pointed out that it may be difficult to accurately determine foreign employees’ radiation levels if they have been working in the nuclear industry before coming to Japan, while they may also confront problems in the event of an accident and they need to apply for workers’ accident compensation. TEPCO has played down the concerns.

“About 4,000 Japanese workers are already working on the decommissioning and clean-up work at Fukushima Dai-ichi,” the company said. “The amendment to the regulations on workers from overseas is a measure that creates more employment opportunities, including for foreign nationals with specific skills.

“In March, TEPCO explained the new regulations to its contractor companies involved in the clean-up work at Fukushima Dai-ichi and we have also confirmed that those companies will be in compliance with the regulations covering the safety of workers.”
ENDS

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