DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 4, 2013

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 4, 2013

Table of Contents:
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TOLERANCE?

1) Amazing new Cabinet survey finds “81% welcome ‘foreigners’ of Japanese descent”. Festival of cognitive dissonance!

2) Another racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people

3) Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

4) Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination

5) Quoted in Die Zeit newspaper: “Japan: Old and Xenophobic” (German with machine translation)

TIDINGS:

6) BBC on Japan’s remilitarization: Island disputes justifying quiet buildup in Japan’s aircraft carriers, xenophobia in J youth

7) The 25-year “Special Reconstruction Tax” of Jan 1, 2013 — yet another GOJ leech on the Japan workers’ payroll?

PASSINGS:

8 ) Mainichi: NJ medical intern death from overwork finally officially recognized as karoushi after 2 years

9) Donald Richie passes away at age 88. Saluting one of our pioneering Japanologist brethren

…and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer” (full text)

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By ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
Freely Forwardable

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TOLERANCE?

1) Amazing new Cabinet survey finds “81% welcome ‘foreigners’ of Japanese descent”. Festival of cognitive dissonance!

Kyodo: More than 80 percent of respondents in a new poll said they are open to foreign nationals of Japanese descent living in the nation, the Cabinet Office reported. The office’s first survey of its kind, released Thursday, found 80.9 percent of respondents expressed openness to living alongside those with Japanese ancestry, including Brazilian and Peruvian descendents of Japanese immigrants. Only 12.9 percent opposed the idea.

JDG: “It’s a brilliantly pointless piece of reporting, for the sake of massaging the egos of the Japanese readers, and assuring them that Japan is a ‘modern’ country… J-public are finally willing to accept foreigners… as long as they are ‘Japanese’ foreigners… I feel like I have gone back in time 5 years. The same politicians are back, the same old economic policies are back, and now Japan wants all those Nikkeijin they paid to go home, to come back too?”

RM: Hopefully government officials will use this survey to promote further initiatives to empower the Nikkei (and hopefully other non-Japanese) in Japan. Publicly conducting the survey, posting it on the Cabinet Office website, and releasing it to the press, may indicate that the government is testing public support for such initiatives.

DEBITO: Bingo! As has been noted before on Debito.org, the Cabinet, in its sessions last summer on how to “accept” NJ into Japanese society for future economic vitality, only showed interest in the treatment of Nikkei. Nikkei, you see, are somehow part of “us” (due to Wajin blood conceits), and it looks like Japan’s policymakers are going to give the old failed Nikkei worker importation strategy another try, and cite this “shooting fish in a barrel” survey to support it.

Anyway, if the Cabinet is so keen on taking surveys, how about its perpetually embarrassing (and, as I’ve reported in the Japan Times, very flawed) Cabinet Survey on Human Rights that it conducts every four years? I just found the 2012 version, a year late, made public with significantly less fanfare. Perhaps because the results in the past were far more revealing about Japan’s cognitive dissonance regarding human rights, meaning a large proportion don’t support granting equal human rights to foreign humans! You see, human rights for NJ, by the very nature of having to ask this kind of question, are optional in Japan. Less so, it would seem based upon this new Cabinet survey, for the “foreigners” with the right bloodline. Which is the conceit that this new Cabinet survey is pandering to.

Ultimately, I believe the GOJ will once again fall into the same old shortsightedness (like so many other societies) of wanting “workers” only to discover later they brought in “people”. And then, as before, society will seek to denigrate if not get rid of them as soon as they actually have needs (such as health care to provide, children to educate, lifestyles that reflect their backgrounds, retirement pensions to pay, political power to cede) that run counter to the original national plans…

http://www.debito.org/?p=11213

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2) Another racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people

The Japanese police are back up to their old tricks. Check this poster out from the Osaka Prefectural Government Minami Police Station Safe Livelhoods Section (courtesy of @feitclub and Tom, photo taken February 13, 2013, by SMBC in Namba Nankai Station), warning the public about “foreign gang crimes” including for no clear reason a gratuitous illustration of some “darkies”…

OSAKA PREF POLICE: BEWARE OF THEFTS BY FOREIGN GROUPS TARGETING PEOPLE RETURNING HOME FROM BANKS AND POST OFFICES! […]

Nice notice. I can’t quite tell why there is a need to include racist caricatures of black people in this clarion call for vigilance against “foreign gangs” (after all, Japanese gangs never steal, so we have to target foreigners, right?). And it’s not the first time we’ve had these sorts of racist caricatures, either, recorded on Debito.org for posterity. Examples follow:

One day I would love to have leaked to Debito.org NPA training manuals that talk about how NJ suspects are supposed to be treated in public and in custody. We already have a former public prosecutor acknowledging in 2011 that he was trained to believe that “foreigners have no human rights” in Japan. If I could get some sections of those training manuals scanned, we would have proof positive and undeniable that Japan’s police forces are not only innately racist, but also systematically racist. Anyone out there with connections?

http://www.debito.org/?p=11177

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3) Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

As a followup to the previous blog post talking about racist public notices by the Japanese police forces, here is another type of discriminatory sign that is also worthy of discussion — one that warns the public that NJ are criminals:

======================
WARNING
If we find any kinds of criminal acts of foreigners, we SURELY report not only to the police but also to your workplace and your agency.
– GENKY Stores Inc (a drugstore in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken, dated February 28, 2013)
======================

We have talked about this on Debito.org for years now: If you want to call for an end to criminal activity, we suggest drawing attention to the CRIME, not the NATIONALITY. It’s not as if Japanese are innocent of, for example, shoplifting. In 2009, we had the Tokyo MPD deciding to survey (as opposed to arrest and snitch on their workplace) 2000 shoplifting suspects to find out their crime patterns (how nice and mellow of them; nicer than getting them fired and deported) — especially of the “lonely elderly”:

Reuters: Tokyo police will try to rein in a wave of shoplifting by lonely elderly people by involving them in community service, a police spokesman said Thursday… “Making shoplifters do volunteer work in the community is effective,” the Tokyo Shimbun quoted J.F. Oberlin University professor Akihiro Sakai, head of a police research panel set up to tackle shoplifting, as saying. “Instead of increased punishment, I hope we can rehabilitate shoplifters with special care.”

BBC: More than a quarter of shoplifters arrested in Japan in 2010 were over the age of 65, police have said, as the number of pensioners committing the crime hit a record high. In an annual report, the National Police Agency said 27,362 pensioners were arrested for shoplifting in 2010 – almost equalling teenagers.

COMMENT: How sweet and understanding our police forces are towards these lonely oldies that need some kid-gloved “rehabilitation”. Although there are some doubts as to how much of an “epidemic” this is (i.e., more old people means more old shoplifters, statistically), the fact remains that Japanese shoplift too (104,827 arrests in 2011 alone; arrests, mind you, not catch and release with a warning ‘cos “they’re so lonely” (cue South Park music)). And signs by the police warning the public against shoplifting do NOT target oldsters as a demographic. Again, signs and notices concerning NJ crime zero in on the criminal, not the crime, making criminality a function of nationality in the public discourse. More examples below.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11201

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4) Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination

WP: Miki Dezaki, who first arrived in Japan on a teacher exchange program in 2007, wanted to learn about the nation that his parents had once called home. He taught English, explored the country and affectionately chronicled his cross-cultural adventures on social media, most recently on YouTube, where he gained a small following for videos like “Hitchhiking Okinawa” and the truly cringe-worthy “What Americans think of Japan.” One of them, on the experience of being gay in Japan, attracted 75,000 views and dozens of thoughtful comments.

Dezaki didn’t think the reaction to his latest video was going to be any different, but he was wrong. “If I should have anticipated something, I should have anticipated the netouyu,” [sic] he told me, referring to the informal army of young, hyper-nationalist Japanese Web users who tend to descend on any article — or person — they perceive as critical of Japan. But before the netouyu put Dezaki in their crosshairs, sending him death threats and hounding his employers, previous employers and even the local politicians who oversee his employers, there was just a teacher and his students…

COMMENT: Miki Dezaki contacted me last week for some advice about how to deal with this (I watched the abovementioned video on “Racism in Japan” and found it to be a valuable teaching aid, especially since it reconnected me with “Eye of the Storm”, the original of which I saw in grade school four decades ago); the only major problem I have with it is that it neglects to mention current stripes of racism against immigrants and Visible Minorities in Japan), and told him to stand his ground. Now the “Netouyo” (Netto Uyoku, or Internet Right-Wing, misspelled throughout the article above) have stepped up their pressure and attacks on him, and authorities aren’t being courageous enough to stand up to them. Now that his issue has been published in the Washington Post, I can quote this article and let that represent the debate.

The focus of the debate is this: a perpetual weak spot regarding bullying in Japanese society. We have loud invisible complainants cloaked by the Internet, who can espouse hateful sentiments against people and shout down historical and current social problems, and they aren’t simply ignored and seen as the cowards they are: anonymous bullies who lack the strength of their convictions to appear in public and take responsibility for their comments and death threats. People in authority must learn to ignore them, for these gnats only get further emboldened by any attention and success they receive. The implicit irony in all of this is that they take advantage of the right to “freedom of speech” to try and deny the same rights to those they merely disagree with. I hope that sense prevails and the debate is allowed to proceed and videos stay up. Miki has done admirable work making all this information (including translations into Japanese) on uncomfortable truths accessible to a Japanese audience. Bravo, Miki. Stand your ground. Debito.org Readers, please lend your support.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11174

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5) Quoted in Die Zeit newspaper: “Japan: Old and Xenophobic” (German with machine translation)

Sometimes I wish the Star Trek Universal Translators were already here. But we’re getting closer. Here’s a Google Translate version of an article that came out in Die Zeit newspaper a couple of months ago that cites me and others about Japan’s political problems with creating an immigration policy. Not a lot here that frequent readers of Debito.org don’t already know, but here’s a German media take on the issue:

DIE ZEIT: For decades, Japan has been in a shaky position. The once-booming industrial nation barely registered economic growth. The national debt – in terms of economic power – is higher than that of Greece.

Even today, every fourth Japanese is over 65 years old . The birth rate is so low that the population will decline by 2050 from 127 million today to below 90 million. Several governments have tried to counter by more kindergartens, child care allowance and the like, but little has borne fruit. In 100 years, there might be only 40 million Japanese.

Now there is a lack of skilled labor, falling tax revenues, and no one knows who is going to pay in the future the growing pension claims. According to calculations by the United Nations, by 2050 only 17 million workers will be found to fund the pensions.

But there is a solution: Immigrants like Ezekiel Ramat. Japan’s foreign population is currently 1.3 percent, extremely low for a highly developed country: Germany has at about 8.5 percent foreigners. In Japan, the number of immigrants in recent years even went down. But strange: no one in politics seems to care about immigration policy. Neither the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) nor the main opposition parties mention the subject at all in their campaigns. When asked, all assert that they want to promote more immigration. But they make no specific proposals…

http://www.debito.org/?p=10934

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TIDINGS:

6) BBC on Japan’s remilitarization: Island disputes justifying quiet buildup in Japan’s aircraft carriers, xenophobia in J youth

In one of the most haunting news dispatches I’ve seen on Japan, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of the BBC reported from the field last November in a video I have watched several times just to take in all the points. I’ll paste the accompanying text below, but make sure you watch the video, as Wingfield-Hayes takes us to the Senkakus, before a pre-PM Abe Shinzou talking tough, to otherwise sensible-looking college students spouting in public anti-Chinese vitriol to support a remilitarizing Japan, before an equally vitriolic Ishihara Shintaro calling for Japan to unsheath its sword (who, visibly chuffed by the international attention coming back with a smirk (and a surprising level of English) to make sure the BBC got his point), finishing aboard a brand-spanking new Japanese aircraft carrier, the Hyuuga (one of two others planned), showing an emerging arms race in Japan. Watch it! And shudder as the dogs of war begin straining their leashes.

http://www.debito.org/?p=10994

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7) The 25-year “Special Reconstruction Tax” of Jan 1, 2013 — yet another GOJ leech on the Japan workers’ payroll?

Japan Times payroll: “Thank you very much for contributing your articles to The Japan Times.
We would like to inform you that the special reconstruction income tax, introduced by the government to secure financial resources for reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011, took effect on January 1, 2013. This tax is imposed on individuals and corporations – both Japanese and foreign – at a rate of 2.1 percent over a 25-year period through 2037.”

Debito: Have other Debito.org also received word of yet another tax on income to go towards “reconstruction”? We’ve already seen where money earmarked for “disaster relief” has been going — to fund corrupt bureaucratic practices within the GOJ (e.g., “road building in distant Okinawa; prison vocational training in other parts of Japan; subsidies for a contact lens factory in central Japan; renovations of government offices in Tokyo; aircraft and fighter pilot training, research and production of rare earths minerals, a semiconductor research project and even funding to support whaling”). I’ve also heard of pay cut after pay cut in the academic communities for “reconstruction”, with little to no accountability over the funds afterwards (one case I’ve heard of is where the gakuchou of a major national university has been sequestering monies into an account to earn interest for his own purposes). So what say you, Debito.org Readers? Are you also seeing more skimming, both GOJ and non-GOJ related, from your paychecks for “reconstruction”? Just how bad do things have to get before people say “enough”?

http://www.debito.org/?p=11116

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PASSINGS:

8 ) Mainichi: NJ medical intern death from overwork finally officially recognized as karoushi after 2 years

In a sad precedent, we have a clear case of death through overwork being officially recognized as such for a NJ doctor. It’s sadder that it has taken so long (more than two years) for that official recognition to come through. I’ve long realized that Japan has at times some pretty crazy work ethics (and a peer group atmosphere that encourages people to give their all, even until they die), but it seems even more crazy for NJ to leave their societies to come to a place that will work them to death. Especially as a NJ “trainee”, where they have even fewer labor-law rights than the locals who are in similar work circumstances. This situation has to be known about, since Japan’s immigration laws aren’t allowing a labor market where enough doctors (even imported ones) can satiate the perpetual labor shortage being referred to below. Only when GOJ authorities realize that the jig is up, because the international labor force is avoiding Japan as a harsh labor market to work within, will things change.

Mainichi: A regional labor standards inspection office in Aomori Prefecture has recognized that a Chinese trainee doctor who was working at a municipal hospital died from overwork, a lawyer representing the victim has disclosed. It is reportedly the country’s first case in which a foreign doctor working in Japan has been recognized by a labor standards office as having died from overwork. The Hirosaki Labor Standards Inspection Office in Aomori Prefecture acknowledged that the 2010 death of Lu Yongfu, a Chinese trainee doctor at a municipal hospital in Hirosaki, was work-related, in a decision on Dec. 20. Lu died at the age of 28 after working up to 121 hours overtime a month…

http://www.debito.org/?p=10959

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9) Donald Richie passes away at age 88. Saluting one of our pioneering Japanologist brethren

The era of the pioneering Immediate Postwar hands-on Japanologists is truly and inevitably coming to an end. First Edwin Reischauer (long ago in 1990; I managed to meet him and host a talk by him and his wife Haru at UCSD in 1989), then Edward Seidensticker (2007), now Donald Richie (for whom Debito.org has had praise for in the past for his healthy attitude of “swallowing Japan whole”; I met him about ten years ago and had a very good conversation; he also kindly lavished praise on HANDBOOK). Of the very famous ones, Donald Keene is basically the last one standing. And I don’t think I will be able to eulogize that Donald in the same way.

http://www.debito.org/?p=11179

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…and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer”

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Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer
By ARUDOU, Debito
The Japan Times, February 4, 2013
Column 60 for the Japan Times Community Page
Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/02/04/issues/keep-abes-hawks-in-check-or-japan-and-asia-will-suffer
Version with links to sources at http://www.debito.org/?p=11152

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Alright, that’s all for this month. Thanks for reading!

ARUDOU, Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, twitter arudoudebito)
“LIKE” US on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/debitoorg
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 4, 2013 ENDS

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