DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2021

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2021: DEBITO.ORG’S 25TH BIRTHDAY

Hello Debito.org Readers. It’s hard to believe, but Debito.org turns 25 this month! Yes, all the way back in 1996 we started this online archive, and what a ride it’s been. First, a retrospective, and then we’ll get right back to business.

Table of Contents:
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CELEBRATING A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEBITO.ORG
1) April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.
2) Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities Column 21: “Visible Minorities: A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”

NOW BACK TO BUSINESS
3) Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site
4) “Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)
5) German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)
6) It’s official: Tokyo 2020 is a “Japanese Only” Olympics: Japanese living abroad still allowed to attend, not foreigners. (UPDATED: This probably includes Japanese who have given up their J citizenship.)
7) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

And finally:
8) SNA Visible Minorities Column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)
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By Debito Arudou, Ph.D. (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org, Twitter @arudoudebito)
Debito.org Newsletters are as always freely forwardable.

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CELEBRATING A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEBITO.ORG

1) April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.

On April 15, 1996, Debito.org first went live. Things have changed for better and for worse, and I’d like to think Debito.org had a hand in promoting the “for better”. We’ve broken major international news stories, including the Otaru Onsens Case, Trade Barriers and the Dr. Tanii Suicide, the embedded racism of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, Ninkisei Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities, Japan’s Racial Discrimination covered by the United Nations, Ministry of Justice foreigner “Snitch Sites”, discrimination at Japan World Cup 2002, racist “foreign DNA” crime research at the National Police Agency, “Tama-chan” sealion and the Juuminhyou, and more listed at our “Activists’ Page”.

Debito.org’s archives have also been a launching pad for books, hundreds of newspaper articles and columns, and cited research papers. Thanks in part to Debito.org (as opposed to all the other information in the academic canon dismissing Japan’s racial discrimination as “ethnic discrimination”, “foreigner discrimination”, and “cultural misunderstandings”), Japan is no longer claiming with a straight face that racism doesn’t exist. Some are even coming to the conclusion that we need actual laws against racial discrimination (now more than 25 years after signing UN international treaty promising to eliminate it).

That’s where the work of Debito.org lies for the next 25 years — getting a law against racial discrimination, with penalties, on the books. I hope you will join us in keeping the record alive and updated as we keep pushing for a Japanese society more tolerant and accepting of diversity. Japan’s inevitable multiethnic future depends on it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16582

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2) Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities Column 21: “Visible Minorities: Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”

SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

The first major issue Debito.org took up was “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s universities. This is where all Japanese full-time faculty were granted contract-free tenure from day one of employment, while all foreign academics, despite many being better qualified than their Japanese counterparts, got perpetual ninkisei contracts (some of them term-limited) without the opportunity for tenure.

I discovered a “smoking gun” one day in my university mailbox: A paper directive from the Ministry of Education encouraging national and public universities to fire their older foreign professors by not renewing their contracts. I scanned it, archived it, and sent a link to prominent advocates like Ivan P. Hall (author of Cartels of the Mind) for further exposure. It turns out that a government demanding their universities axe all their foreigners over forty is state-sponsored discrimination, and it blew up into an international issue that even then-US Ambassador Walter Mondale took up.

All of that information is still up on Debito.org today, and it turns out that a permanent archive that is searchable, citable, with context and without paywall, is a valuable resource, especially as many unscrupulous people would rather have a history of their actions and policies disappear into the ether. Once archived on Debito.org, it didn’t. Soon other issues on Debito.org garnered national and international attention, even generating public policy movements…

Rest is at SNA at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/04/19/visible-minorities-retrospective-on-25-years-of-activism/
(Behind paywall in a few days, subscribe for 100 yen a week!)
Archived on Debito.org for comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=16598

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NOW BACK TO BUSINESS

3) Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site

In anticipation of Japan becoming a less avowedly monoethnic society over time, what with international marriages, more Visible Minorities becoming prominent, and naturalized citizens, the Powers That Be are coming up with new terminologies to keep a firewall between the “real” pure-blooded Japanese and the mongrels. We’ve had the “Mixed-Blood Children Problem” (Konketsuji Mondai) as a Postwar Japan issue for policymakers to “fix”, the offsetting epithet “Haafu” for generations, and recently the official term “Gaikokujin Shimin” used throughout Japan’s local government offices and ministries to lump anybody (including Japanese citizens, born and naturalized) into the “foreigner” category if they have any foreign connections.

Not to be outdone, creative purists are coming up with new terms. The Ministry of Justice on their Bureau of Human Rights website is using “honpougai shusshinsha”, or “people originating from outside our homeland state”. This fresh, new term creates another (this time very nationalistic) definitional line a non-Wajin cannot cross. After all, “shusshin” (origin) is something you’re born into, and a new legal status (such as a new citizenship) cannot change it. Even naturalized Japanese (such as sumo wrestlers) are forever stuck with “gaikoku shusshin” in official categorizations. But note the invective this time. It’s not even “nippongai” (outside Japan) or “kaigai shusshin” (overseas origin). It’s “Honpougai” (outside the real homeland of Japan), adding a “motherland/fatherland/our country” patriotic flavor. This is how the GOJ will delay the erosion of Japan’s ethnostate by the mudbloods and interlopers for as long as possible.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16573

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4) “Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)

One important job Debito.org has been undertaking for more than two decades is the cataloging of “Japanese Only” exclusionary signs (and in this case, signs that also publicly denigrate foreigners), to make sure that evidence of Japan’s racial discrimination does not disappear into the ether. Starting with the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments , the Debito.org Blog you’re reading now is also putting up cases we receive from Debito.org Readers spotting them about town. It’s important to do this so that everyone can see that this is an ongoing issue.

Place: Century 21 Realty Kawakoe Ekimae, March 28, 2021. Photos submitted by ARW, who notes, “The photo of the staff was taken after I called their attention to the ‘box’” [that says “apartments for foreigners”].

Comment: How nice of an American company to play by Japanese rules by assuming the default for rentals is “Japanese Only”, with a special box that says “foreign citizenship OK”. Not the first time I’ve seen this.

UPDATE MARCH 31: ANSWER FROM CENTURY 21 JAPAN (excerpt):
“CENTURY 21 offices in Japan are franchisees and not branches of C21 Japan nor C21 US. Our franchisees in Japan are all independently owned and operated. Therefore, we are not directly involved in the advertisement of listing properties of our franchisees’ businesses. […] There are certainly cases where an “expectation gap” arises between the prospective customer and the agent, and oftentimes this gap grows wider during the course of interaction between the two. This is particularly true when different cultural norms, sets of regulations, and industry practices exist. For example, in the US there is the wide-reaching Fair Housing Act (FHA) that bans pretty much all forms of discrimination. Japan does not. Therefore, what could be a violation of the FHA in the US would not necessarily be one in Japan. Having said this, however, C21 Japan HQ believes it is never good for business to practice and kind of intentional discrimination and caution our franchisees accordingly. We will, therefore, request the office you have identified to remove the subject bin to avoid any semblance of discrimination, no matter how unintentional the original reason might have been.”

Place: FamilyMart convenience store, Kawaramachi-Takoyakushi
295 Narayacho, Nakagyo Ward, Kyoto, 604-8033, 075-229-6322
Photo submitted by RM, who says, “Found that little nice racist notice on the entrance door on a Famima in Kyoto Kawaramachi. Basically says ‘I deeply apologize for troubling you with my foreigners’ in essence. Unbelievable.”

The sign says (Debito’s translation): “Regarding the foreign staff at this branch: We have a large number of foreign staff at this branch. Customers may find their language and cultural barriers to be a nuisance. Employing them was at our discretion, and we are sorry for the inconveniences. We will soon be focusing our efforts on coaching staff in the proper manners for Japan’s customer service. Your understanding and forbearance would be much appreciated. BRANCH MANAGER.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=16541

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5) German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)

Here’s is a German TV show reporting on what life is like in Japanese Covid quarantine. At first, it seems like an April Fool’s article, but it rings all too familiar when one deals with Japanese bureaucracy, especially when it gets paranoid about contact with the outside world and contagion. (I remember once on an NHK news broadcast during the Avian Flu scare in 2003, where bureaucrats were filmed positioning chairs 2 meters apart in an international airport quarantine zone, measuring down to the millimeter (yes, with a measuring tape) the distance between them. Phew! That one millimeter makes all the difference.)

Anyway, read what the German media has to say about current life in quarantine in Japan (which TV news show Tagesschau compares to a prison, but with very Japanese-bureaucracy touches), and how Olympic participants will be bypassing it all. “Measuring-tape Science” at work again.

Tagesschau: Lively singing of birds – that sounds nice at first glance, but the truth is that it is a sudden insolation forced upon the guests in a Covid quarantine hotel in Tokyo. And it is cynical, because all incoming travelers are sealed off from the outside world starting with boarding the plane for Japan. The windows of the hotel cannot be opened, the air-conditioning does not work. Those you want to exchange air by opening the door of the room just a crack wide will cause a crisscross of voices. The telephone will ring. Japan is watching you – and is scolding you as if you are a school child.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16570

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6) It’s official: Tokyo 2020 is a “Japanese Only” Olympics: Japanese living abroad still allowed to attend, not foreigners. (UPDATED: This probably includes Japanese who have given up their J citizenship.)

Japan Times reported today that this has precisely come to pass: “According to the Japanese organizing committee, foreign nationals made up roughly 10% of a total of 80,000 volunteers before the pandemic forced the one-year postponement of the games. Japanese citizens living abroad are expected to be allowed to volunteer, according to the officials.”

So to recap: Japanese citizens living overseas are not counted as “overseas spectators”. They have that immunity to Covid by dint of their passport. And the IOC has in effect “fully respected and accepted” this exclusionary Olympics. It’s the world’s “first ever without overseas spectators”.

No. It’s the first Olympics without “foreign” spectators. Overseas spectators are okay if they’re Japanese. So as predicted, welcome to Japan’s first “Japanese Only” Olympics. As long as you have a Japanese passport, you are immune to Covid and have privileged access to Our Games.

UPDATE MARCH 24: Debito.org Reader RO points out that according to the IACE Travel Agency (which is legally liable for their information), even overseas “Japanese” who NO LONGER HAVE JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP (because they gave it up and took another nationality) can still re-enter Japan. In other words, what constitutes “overseas Japanese” is a matter of having Japanese blood, even without having Japanese legal status. These are racialized paradigms for what constitutes a “Japanese”, and that is related to this blog entry because they will factor into border controls concerning the Olympics.

http://www.debito.org/?p=16523

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7) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

SNA: I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty…

http://www.debito.org/?p=15907

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And finally:

8) SNA Visible Minorities Column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

SNA (Tokyo) — Reuters and Kyodo recently reported that Japan is banning “foreign spectators” (or “overseas spectators”) from the Tokyo Olympics: “The government has concluded that welcoming fans from abroad is not possible given concerns among the Japanese public over the coronavirus and the fact that more contagious variants have been detected in many countries.”

Blogging about this at Debito.org, I worried aloud that excluding all “foreign spectators” would be interpreted to mean all foreigners, including Non-Japanese living in Japan. But commenters (some of whom already have tickets or will be volunteering to help) were quick to stress that the “overseas” wording meant only foreign tourists, not them.

But I wouldn’t be so sure about that.

Granted, the original wording in Japanese is kaigai kara no ippan kankyaku (regular spectators from overseas), not “foreigners” (gaikokujin). But words matter, especially when you’re categorizing people, and doing it wrong will lead to discrimination.

I think Japan will do it wrong, due to linguistics and force of habit…
Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/03/15/the-worlds-first-japanese-only-olympics/

Excerpted with comments at http://www.debito.org/?p=16504

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That’s all for this month. Thanks for reading! Here’s to another 25 years!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2021 ENDS

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