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Hi Blog and Happy New Year. Here’s my Annual Top Ten for The Japan Times. Thanks for putting this column in the Japan Times Top Five for several days running!
Let’s start with some Bubbling Unders/Notable Obits with didn’t make the cut for space concerns, and excerpt the rest. Debito Arudou Ph.D.
ISSUES | JUST BE CAUSE
‘Low IQ’ kids, parental rights and problematic terminology dogged Japan’s international community in 2019
BY DEBITO ARUDOU, Column 117 for the Japan Times Community Page, January 6, 2020
For over a decade, Just Be Cause has recapped the previous year’s biggest human rights and human rights-related issues that have affected the non-Japanese community in Japan.
With the start of a new decade upon us, I thought it would be appropriate to mix a little of what was going on in 2019 and connect it to the broader topics that came up during the 2010s. Some are victories, some are losses — some are dangerous losses — but all of the entries below (in ascending order) are at the very least highly relevant to all of us.
• The Ainu Recognition Law passes last February, meaning Japan is officially multiethnic.
• Donald Keene, scholar who opened Japanese literature to the world but senselessly portrayed fellow NJ residents as criminals and cowards, dies aged 96.
• Sadako Ogata, UN superstar for refugees who did surprisingly little for refugees in Japan, dies aged 92.
• Yasuhiro Nakasone, assertive former Prime Minister with a history of claiming Japan’s superior intelligence due to a lack of ethnic minorities, and of operating wartime “comfort women” stations, dies aged 101.
• Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest-serving Prime Minister.
10) Otaru onsen, 20 years on
In September 1999, several international couples (including myself) tried to take a public bath at an onsen (hot-spring bath) in Otaru, Hokkaido, but were met with a “Japanese Only” sign rather than friendly customer service. The people who looked insufficiently “Japanese” (including myself and one of my daughters) were refused entry, while those who did (including a Chinese foreign resident) were allowed in.
The same onsen refused me entry again even after I became a Japanese citizen, and a group of us took them to court. The case, which went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, found the onsen guilty of “discriminating too much,” while the city of Otaru — which was also sued for not enforcing the United Nations Convention on Racial Discrimination that Japan had ratified in 1996 — was found not liable.
Twenty years later, “Japanese Only” signs are still posted in places and Japan is still not living up to its international treaty commitments, with no national law protecting non-Japanese communities from racial discrimination.
9) Diversity in sports…
See if your favorite issue made the Top Ten (yes, Ghosn did, again). Read the rest at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2020/01/06/issues/japan-international-community-2019/
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