DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2020: SPECIAL ISSUE ON JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2020
SPECIAL ISSUE ON JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY

Table of Contents:
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JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY
1) German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

2) Japan’s National Universities call on the Education Ministry to protect int’l students from expulsion and exclusion (a report from Debito.org Reader Mark)

3) American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

4) NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

…and finally…

5) SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.
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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters as always are freely forward able.

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JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY

1) German journalism on Japan Govt’s COVID policy: Tohoku’s Dr. Oshitani: Foreigners (not Japanese) brought it in. And that’s why govt policies specifically exclude only foreigners, even NJ Permanent Residents.

When the Japanese media observes omertà on how Japan’s policymakers engage in racist politics, it’s sometimes up to overseas media to expose it. Debito.org Reader Maximilian Doe offers a full report from German media: How even Japan’s scientists (particularly a Dr. Oshitani Hitoshi, professor of virology at Tohoku University, and leader of the health advisors to the Japanese government) couched COVID as an overseas contagion, not something also brought into Japan by Japanese (such as the cruise ship Diamond Princess). This led to policies that reflectively exclude all “foreigners” (including NJ Residents with valid visas) from entry or even quarantine.

OSHITANI: Spread of COVID-19 in Japan had two major waves so far. The first wave was originated by people with travel history to Wuhan and other places in China. From January to early February, the number of cases from China found in Japan was 11. Of course, there were considered to be more imported cases from China in reality, but it was likely somewhere around several tens to about a hundred. These people traveled to Japan for sightseeing or other purposes, and later, through places where people congregate, such as sports gyms and small concert houses, transmissions spread across the country including Hokkaido, Tokyo, Aichi, and Osaka. This first wave had come under control by mid March with number of cases relatively low, but the second wave came as the first wave was calming down. Second wave was originated by infected people from a wide range of countries, such as Europe, US, Southeast Asia, and Egypt. We confirmed about 300 cases who had entered Japan from such countries, so the actual number of cases who entered Japan is estimated to be around 1,000 ~ 2,000. Although local transmissions of the second wave in Japan began in early February, infected people from abroad were coming to Japan and able to move around the country almost without any restriction, until the government put restrictions on travel at the end of March. This resulted in a large outbreak.

SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Virologist and government advisor Hitoshi Oshitani says: “The data clearly shows that Japan’s measures were more effective than those of Western countries.” No G7 country has so few Covid-19 fatalities as Japan. The high standard of hygiene of the Japanese is also claimed as an additional reason for this. Now the government of the right-wing conservative Prime Minister Shinzō Abe wants to make sure that foreigners will not cause the next wave.

COMMENT FROM DOE: These German articles are not hard proof whether Dr. Oshitani is actively okay with shutting out even legal residents or not, but in combination with the Japanese and English articles published on the website of Oshitani’s lab I get the impression that he and his team of other advisors had a very strong influence, if not the most critical influence, on the government implementing this current entry ban. I also think that it’s enough evidence that he at least doesn’t care about the problem for stranded NJ residents. A curious behavior for an academic or one of Japan’s national apex universities, since universities are those “businesses” disproportionately affected by this. Besides this he’s clearly responsible for the – let’s say – special testing policy Japan has implemented. I’d like to hear your thoughts about this.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: My thoughts are there is a pattern here. Foreigners, as we’ve seen from the days of AIDS, SARS, and even the Otaru Onsens Case, are more likely to be seen as riddled with contagion, and treated as such by policymakers either with benign neglect or overt reactionary policies. However, instead of having a government and civil society that rightfully points out that associating disease with citizenship leads to racism, in Japan we get blanket exclusion. And it’s even backed up by Japan’s scientists.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16130

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2) Japan’s National Universities call on the Education Ministry to protect int’l students from expulsion and exclusion (a report from Debito.org Reader Mark)

Mark, a graduate student at a Japanese university, sends word that Tokyo University’s International Student Support Group has been doing its job assisting its NJ students, noting that the Japan Association of National Universities has made demands to the Ministry of Education clearly advocating on behalf of international students in Japan. The latter on the national government to (ISS’s translation):

1) ensure that the international students and researchers who already obtain a status of residence can have the continued education and research opportunities by promptly allowing them to re-enter Japan. Also, it should be based on a thorough infection prevention measures.

2) promptly resume the visa application process at Japanese Embassies/Consulates for international students (new students) and newly hired international researchers, carefully monitoring the infection situation in each country.

Now, while this isn’t on the scale of what you get in the United States, where a very large front of universities, states, and even corporations lined up lawsuits to defend international students from getting their student visas revoked by the Trump Administration if they were taking online-only classes (resulting in the Trump Administration actually backing down yesterday, mere days after ICE unilaterally declared it policy). But for Japan it’s a start. And a rather rare example of organizations that aren’t “activist groups” advocating on behalf of NJ rights (especially since the GOJ’s activities lately have been especially isolationist and xenophobic). And since these are Japan’s flagship universities, including Toudai, it’s a precedent and a template. Bravo. Mark’s report follows:

http://www.debito.org/?p=16162

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3) American Chamber of Commerce in Japan calls on J govt to cease “double standard restricting [Foreign Japan Residents’] travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality” in Coronavirus policy

Now the ACCJ has spoken out against the Japanese government’s coronavirus policy treatment of NJ Residents that you see nowhere else in fellow developed countries. This is in addition to the Japan Association of National Universities’ similar call on behalf of international students:

ACCJ: The American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) today issued a second statement [included below] in response to re-entry travel restrictions placed on residents of Japan who are not Japanese citizens and called on the Government of Japan to provide fair and equal treatment for all residents regardless of nationality. “Foreign residents of Japan who have made a decision to build a life here and contribute to the Japanese economy should not be subject to a double standard restricting their travel, economic, and familial opportunities based on nationality,” said Christopher J. LaFleur, ACCJ Chairman. “While we applaud and support the Japanese government’s efforts to manage the COVID-19 crisis, a resident’s nationality provides no basis on which to assess risk or assign travel privilege in relation to COVID-19.”

Foreign nationals actively and positively contribute to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan. The ACCJ statement expresses concern among our international business community that the prohibition currently in place is detrimental to Japan’s long-term interests…

“Such individuals, especially those with permanent residency (eijuken) and their accompanying family members or those who are immediate family members of Japanese nationals, and those with long-term working visas and their accompanying family members, need to be allowed to enter Japan under the same conditions as Japanese citizens to continue living and working in this country. Such foreign nationals are actively and positively contributing to Japan’s economy and society, and do not pose any greater risk than Japanese citizens re-entering Japan… At minimum, Japan should adopt the approach of other G7 countries to allow foreigners with established residency status and their immediate family members to depart and enter the country on the same basis as Japanese nationals.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=16166

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WANT TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?

4) NHK TV’s racist video explaining Black Lives Matter for a children’s news program: Why their excuse of “not enough consideration made at broadcast” is BS

A couple of weeks ago, we covered on Debito.org a flap about TV network NHK (“the BBC of Japan“) broadcasting a racialized anime to Japanese kids explaining the Black Lives Matter movement in America. It portrayed African-Americans as scary, angry, thieving, sinewy stomping and guitar-strumming urban folk. With a few more stereotypes thrown in. (And note that there wasn’t even a mention of George Floyd.)

Here is the NHK video in question, with translation version afterwards. Soon after, on June 9, according to the Mainichi Shinbun, NHK apologized for the video, saying, “There was not enough consideration made at broadcast”, and removed the program was removed from its online streaming services.

Debito.org cries BS about NHK’s claims of “not giving enough consideration”, because in fact, NHK hired this production crew BECAUSE they are famous for creating these outlandish videos. They’re evidently the same crew who did sequences for legendary TV show “Koko Ga Hen Da Yo Nihonjin” some decades ago. Consider the similarity in style between the above NHK sequence and this “Koko Ga Hen” segment, as analyzed by Kirk Masden. Also witness the tone of this “Koko Ga Hen” segment from February 28, 2001.

Given that “Koko Ga Hen” routinely racialized and othered its foreign panelists for the purposes of entertainment and maintaining the constant Japanese media narrative of foreigners as scary outsiders, I aver that NHK knew exactly what it was doing when it subcontracted out to those producers. NHK just didn’t expect to be called out on it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16152

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…and finally…

5) SNA Visible Minorities Column 11: Advice to Activists in Japan in general (in the wake of the emergence of the Black Lives Matter Japan Movement), June 22, 2020.

SNA: Within recent Black Lives Matter demonstrations, a wider range of people are finally decrying, for example, the Japanese police’s racial profiling and violence towards visible minorities. […] This column would like to point out some of the pitfalls that activists may face in Japanese society, based upon my experience fighting against racial discrimination in Japan for nearly thirty years. Please read them in the helpful spirit they are intended.

1) Remember that, in Japan, activists are seen as extremists
2) Keep the debate focused on how discrimination affects everyone in Japan
3) Be wary of being fetishized
4) Be ready for the long haul
5) Control your own narrative

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=16123

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2020 ENDS

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8 comments on “DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 20, 2020: SPECIAL ISSUE ON JAPAN’S BLANKET BAN ON FOREIGN RESIDENT RE-ENTRY

  • John Philips says:

    It’s not a blanket ban on all foreigners. Certain countries are targeted. The list changes and it does seem to have a correlation with countries that have a problem with Coronavirus. The ban applies even to permanent residents but not to those with spouse visas, for reasons that are not entirely clear.

    — Thanks for your feedback, John. However, I stand by my use of the word “blanket” because:

    a) As substantiated in prior Debito.org posts (and in comments below from fellow Debito.org Readers), the “list”, such as it is, is so arbitrarily enforced that it is merely a fig leaf for the goal of excluding as many foreigners as possible for racist reasons (i.e., the presumption that they are more likely to be contagious than Japanese).

    b) There is no rule of law involved. I have heard of people who were supposed to be safe for re-entry, even confirming as such before departure, and then getting banned (or being compelled to sign paperwork at departure that they accepted exile). And of people from “safe countries” suddenly finding themselves denied re-entry at whim. When one can be exiled like this with so much blanket discretion, losing their lives in Japan without any right of appeal, the ones who are let in case-by-case are the exception, not the rule, and not a rule that can be relied upon in any meaningful sense.

    c) The lack of predictability in enforcement or accountability is simply not worth the risk. Let’s call it a blanket ban because de facto that is what it is. Blanket discretion can at any time amount to a blanket ban. Let the Japanese Government prove that assertion wrong, and do the work of showing their statistics of who they let in or banned, and their rationale for those decisions.

    Again, thanks for your feedback, and you are welcome to write a rebuttal to the wording in the SNA and/or The Japan Times (when their strike is over). But I bet that will solicit plenty of counter-rebuttals from exiles whose experiences do not match yours.

    Reply
    • jaocnanoni says:

      Sorry John, but you seem to miss the point. There are no regular direct connections between Japan and a country not on the ban list, and just changing planes at an airport in a country on the list makes you eligible for the ban. Under this circumstances it’s boiling down to a de facto blanket ban, and the few exceptions in place aren’t applicable for the vast majority of NJ residents.

      Reply
  • AnonymousOG says:

    John, your “Certain countries… have a problem with Coronavirus” correction-attempt falsely implies that the ban merely has a logic/safety based correlation, instead of racism/nationalism based discriminatory-exclusion.

    But obviously the ban IS indeed racism/nationalism based discriminatory-exclusion since Japan allows Japanese citizens in from those exact same “Coronavirus problem having” countries. Is it logical/safe for Japan to ban potentially-disease-carrying Mr. Philips while allowing in potentially disease-carrying Mr. Suzuki?

    Also, ジョン, you wrote, “Adopting a ‘Japanese’ name would strike me (and probably most Japanese) as a silly affectation.” Care to elaborate?

    http://human.cc.hirosaki-u.ac.jp/philips/FAQsman.htm#writing

    Finally, you wrote, “In Germany Turks whose families have spent generations living in Germany are denied citizenship but ethnic Germans whose families have lived near the Volga river for centuries are given automatic citizenship rights.” Hopefully you have written equally strong complaints about the government of Japan doing the exact same thing: not giving automatic citizenship rights to (and race-based discriminatory-exclusionary denial of citizenship applications from) “Non-Yamato-Ethnicity” people whose families have spent generations living in Japan?

    It seems to me, John, that you merely read Debito’s title without actually reading the actual article (which by the way doesn’t even have that ‘incorrect’ word ‘blanket’ which you felt needed correction) and it seems to me you didn’t actually read the article’s many well-sourced evidence links:

    http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/07/20/visible-minorities-a-despotic-bridge-too-far/

    — Well, in John’s defense, “blanket” is the word I included on the Newsletter title. And the link to the SNA article is included in the Newsletter I put out via email and Facebook (albeit not on Debito.org itself because it’s redundant; my latest article is always proximate to the Newsletter), so there is a chance he did read it.

    But, again, I stand by my use of the word “blanket” because effectively, for reasons I’ve described above, that’s what it amounts to in terms of enforcement.

    Reply
  • John

    The ban does in fact apply to spouses of Japanese. I am one. If you want to post that BS maybe you should talk to my wife first.

    It is a blanket ban. Have a look at the list.

    Do you live in Japan?

    Reply
  • Jim Di Griz says:

    BBC News finally decides to follow the breadcrumbs and connect the dots;

    VJ Day: A WW2 hero and a reckoning with Japan’s past
    By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
    BBC News, Tokyo, August 15, 2020
    https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-53763059

    Japanese Imperialism, Kishi, Abe, Nippon Kaigi, rejection of the outcome of the war and the society defeat created.

    I guess the junta will be angry with Dentsu for not passing enough fluff pieces and cash to BBC this month.

    Reply

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