DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 6, 2008

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Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

Hi All. Big fat newsletter for you. Amazing how fast the articles pile up on my blog…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 6, 2008

Table of Contents:

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BIG SURPRISES:

  1. Japan’s Supreme Court rules Japan’s marriage requirement for Japanese nationality unconstitutional
  2. Chinese now outnumber Koreans as Japan’s largest NJ Minority
  3. Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis
  4. Exclusive! Eric Johnston on extreme security at Kobe G8 Environmental Ministers Summit
  5. UN OHCHR Minority Update: Japan reviewed by Human Rights Council
  6. Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008 (where I contrast GOJ claims of good human rights deeds with examples on Debito.org)

OTHER SURPRISES:

  1. Terrie’s Take 469: GOJ to sign Hague Convention on Child Abduction by 2010
  2. Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japan’s offer to sign that Hague Convention
  3. Japan Times Community Page May 28, 2008 on Permanent Residency: “Bad PR for Japan”
  4. …and consequently… NYT on Japan’s dearth of NJ techies, scientists, and engineers
  5. …and even Japan’s first Caucasian Geisha gets her application for PR rejected!

GOOD NEWS:

  1. Kyodo/Japan Today on Anthony Bianchi’s moves as Inuyama City Councilor
  2. Daily Yomiuri May 30 2008 reviews HANDBOOK positively
  3. Jornal Tudo Bem interview, May 9 2008 (Portuguese)
  4. Bulgarian Kotooshuu wins first Sumo Tourney
  5. Debito.org “Japanese Only” T-Shirt appears in Italian SkyTG24 report on G8 Pre-Summit!

LUDICROUSIES

  1. Tony Laszlo, “Administrator of NGO Issho Kikaku”, in Asahi “Money” Section
  2. for his wife’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series
  3. Yahoo News/AP: Newest “Yokoso Japan” rep: Hello Kitty!
  4. Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki

GATHERINGS OF INTEREST:

  1. 3rd Annual Tokyo Refugee Film Festival, June 20-27 2008, Sponsored by UNHCR
  2. SMJ Forum On NJ Rights and Living Standards, Sat June 14, Kawasaki
  3. Call for Presentations, Peace as a Global Language Conference 7 Sept 27-8, Tokyo

…and finally… a tangent:

Economist obit on Mildred Loving, defeater of US anti-miscegenation laws

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Collated by Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)

Daily blog with RSS and commentary at www.debito.org

Freely forwardable

BIG SURPRISES:

Japan’s Supreme Court rules Japan’s marriage requirement for Japanese nationality unconstitutional

Best news we’ll hear all year, I bet. Japan’s Supreme Court has just declared the insane system of “invalid nationality if postnatal paternity” (my term) unconstitutional, i.e. refusing to award Japanese citizenship to children born out of wedlock to NJ women if the J father acknowledges paternity AFTER the child is born.

The Supreme Court awarded ten Japanese-Philippine children Japanese citizenship. Another very big step in favor of Japan’s internationalization and multiculturalization. And the day after, even flakey Justice Minister Hatoyama has stated that this will be properly corrected legislatively. Bravo!!

http://www.debito.org/?p=1715

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Chinese now outnumber Koreans as Japan’s largest NJ Minority

Here’s a reversal of the Postwar NJ natural order of things:

Japan Times/Kyodo: “Chinese became the largest group of foreign residents in Japan at the end of 2007, outnumbering Koreans, the Immigration Bureau said Tuesday. Of the 2.15 million registered foreigners in Japan, Chinese numbered 606,889, or 28.2 percent, while Koreans totaled 593,489, or 27.6 percent, the bureau said. They were followed by Brazilians, Filipinos and Peruvians…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=1714

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Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis

I think this is perhaps the most ridiculous story on Japan I’ve heard this decade. Narita Customs put a bag of marijuana in some visiting NJ’s bag to test their sniffer dogs. Then they lose track of it! Now just imagine if that innocent person was later caught with it. We’re talking Nick Baker (finally sent back to the UK after 6 years in Japanese jail) and other NJ judicial hostages (who can never leave custody or be granted bail until they go through years of slow jurisprudence, even when judged innocent). Of course, we make sure we cause meiwaku to none of our tribe (or to ourselves… think serious chances of a lawsuit from a native)… so we use the Gaijin as Guinea Pig. Yokoso Japan!

http://www.debito.org/?p=1680

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Exclusive! Eric Johnston on extreme security at Kobe G8 Environmental Ministers Summit

Eric: “Readers of Debito.org are no doubt familiar with Debito’s warning about Sapporo and parts of Hokkaido becoming a virtual police state during the main Leaders’ Summit, which takes place at Lake Toya in early July.

“Here, I owe Debito something of an apology, as I originally thought he may have been a bit hyperbolic, as I often am, for dramatic effect in order to emphasize a larger truth. Surely things weren’t that bad?

“Unfortunately, after my experience at the G8 Environment Ministers’ conference, I’m wondering if he might not have been prophetic…

“Many readers of Debito.org will be in or around not only Hokkaido during the main G8 Leaders Summit in July, but also Tokyo, Kansai, and other areas of Japan where the lesser ministerial summits are taking place. T he security of the Environment Ministers conference may foreshadow the kinds of security measures that will be seen around Japan over the next month, as we approach the Toyako Summit. More ominously, these may be the kind of security measures we may yet see for more “international conferences” following the Hokkaido summit, as the government and their police and media allies bray on and on about possible “terrorist attacks.”

“[This essay will] illustrate, in a small way, just what your tax money is buying -a stronger police state and a bureaucracy that is balkanized and increasingly unable, in my experience at least, to get the simple things done at these huge international conferences to the extent that they once could…”

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=1710

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UN OHCHR Minority Update: Japan reviewed by Human Rights Council

Here are two updates on Japan’s human rights behavior being considered for periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council.

This review is a new activity by the UN after the old Human Rights Commission was disbanded, accused for many years of having the world’s worst human-rights offenders as leaders, there covering up their own abuses. Now under this new organ with the same acronym, everyone is being subject to review once every four years. And according to the press releases below, Japan’s turn came last week. Blog entry includes primary-source documents with pertinent sections underlined.

As it says below, you can also submit documents to the OHCHR if you want about human-rights abuses in Japan. Five pages max, deadline July 14, 2008, email included in this blog entry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1666

Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008

Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record.

First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as Debito.org is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along.

Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN. Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on Debito.org that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1673

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OTHER SURPRISES:

Terrie’s Take 469: GOJ to sign Hague Convention on Child Abduction by 2010

Terrie Lloyd: “In early May, the Japanese government made a notable announcement that may make Japan more compatible with the legal conventions used internationally, and will be of particular benefit to non-Japanese spouses of Japanese. The announcement was that by 2010, Japan would sign the the 1980 Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, an international legal construct that attempts to deal with the thorny issue of court jurisdiction when children of international marriages are moved cross-border, often by a parent trying to thwart a court ruling in the previous jurisdiction.

“Currently, Japan is known as a haven for disaffected Japanese spouses who, in getting divorced, abscond with their kids back to Japan. Once in Japan they can dare their foreign spouses to try getting the kids back… something that despite around 13,000 international divorces a year in Japan and more overseas, has NEVER happened…”

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=1667

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Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japan’s offer to sign Hague Convention on Child Abductions by 2010

Colin: “I feel like a bit of a wet blanket writing this. Make no mistake, it will be great if Japan actually does join the Hague Convention on Child Abductions. Whatever help Japanese authorities need in understanding and implementing the convention should be offered unstintingly. Anything which improves the situation of children abducted to Japan is to be applauded. And if joining the convention somehow leads to improvements for the many more Japanese children in strictly domestic cases who lose one parent through judicial action (or inaction), it would be almost revolutionary…

“It seems unlikely that Japan joining the convention alone would change this basic aspect of the country’s legal system, since it would involve the police (and prosecutors) in a vast new area of law enforcement family disputes when only a tiny fraction of such disputes would involve the Hague Convention.

“Perhaps some enforcement mechanism limited to convention cases will be developed, though it would be an odd (though not impossible) result if parents and children from abroad got a better deal in the Japanese legal system than those actually living in Japan.

“Furthermore, bureaucratic imperatives being at least as important as actual law in Japan, it is difficult to imagine how the police and prosecutors could ever find it in their interests to be arresting Japanese parents (more often than not mothers) in order to return Japanese children to foreigners.”

Full article at http://www.debito.org/?p=1708

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Japan Times Community Page May 28, 2008 on Permanent Residency: “Bad PR for Japan”

Opening paragraphs: “Getting to know Japan is hard work: a complicated language, cultural esoterica, mixed messages about prudent paths to take. People who find their way around and assimilate deserve kudos and respect.

“And reward. The Japanese government should welcome them by granting Permanent Residency (“eijuken”). But recently people eminently qualified under PR guidelines are being rejected… even Japan’s first Caucasian geisha! Makes one wonder if Japan’s mandarins now feel PRs have reached a “carrying capacity” and have started throwing up more hurdles. Let’s triangulate from three examples this past month…”

Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=1681

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…and consequently… NYT on Japan’s dearth of NJ techies, scientists, and engineers

Martin Fackler: “Afraid of a hollowing-out of its vaunted technology industries, Japan has been scrambling to entice more of its younger citizens back into the sciences and engineering. But labor experts say the belated measures are limited and unlikely to fix the problem. In the meantime, the country has slowly begun to accept more foreign engineers, but nowhere near the number that industry needs. While ingrained xenophobia is partly to blame, companies say Japan’s language and closed corporate culture also create barriers so high that many foreign engineers simply refuse to come, even when they are recruited. As a result, some companies are moving research jobs to India and Vietnam because they say it is easier than bringing non-Japanese employees here.”

Rest of the article at http://www.debito.org/?p=1663

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…more on Japan’s first Caucasian Geisha getting her application for PR rejected!

This was the basis of the abovementioned JT article on PR: Three case studies of people being rejected by Immigration for Permanent Residency (eijuuken)… a Tokyo University grad student, one of Japan’s only full-time NJ elementary school teachers, and Japan’s only officially-certified NJ geisha, Sayuki. All of these people under Immigration guidelines have lived here long enough to qualify, and have clearly made great contributions to Japanese society. Yet here they go getting refused.

Does Japan expect to retain dedicated long-termers this way, in an era when the gas is leaking out of Japan’s erstwhile effervescent economy, thanks to an aging workforce and decreasing population? With copious feedback from cyberspace on their PR application experiences…

http://www.debito.org/?p=1664

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GOOD NEWS:

Kyodo/Japan Today on Anthony Bianchi’s moves as Inuyama City Councilor

Japan Today reprints Kyodo article on Anthony Bianchi’s stint (now five years and counting) as a re-elected town councilor in Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture. Although it gives great news about the good works he’s doing (bringing his native Brooklynites over to experience Japan and do musical performances in exchange programs), it neglects to mention one more factor in how difficult it is to be where he is today: Taking out Japanese citizenship and giving up his American!

It unfortunately portrays him as someone who could just parachute in, spend time getting to know the place, and eventually do what he does without great sacrifice. Other than that, good update on Bianchi-san’s important work trailblazing in Japan.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1674

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Daily Yomiuri May 30 2008 reviews HANDBOOK positively

Tom Baker: “Because the Handbook covers so many issues, it generally gives a bird’s-eye view of each one. Details of your situation may vary, but this little volume should get you off to a good start by recommending what forms to fill out, what government offices to visit and what authorities to consult for specific guidance. Asked to characterize the reader feedback he has received so far, Arudou summed it up as: ‘Where has this book been all my life? It’s about bloody time.'”

http://www.debito.org/?p=1695

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Jornal Tudo Bem interview, May 9 2008 (Portuguese)

Interview I had last March (on the Todai Campus, cold, wet, rainy day with lots of luggage during the HANDBOOK Tour–I look better in the photo than I felt that morning) with Jornal Tudo Bem in Portuguese. Translation by Andre follows in the Comments Section…

http://www.debito.org/?p=1684

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Bulgarian Kotooshuu wins first Sumo Tourney

On May 24, Bulgarian Sumo Wrestler Kotooshuu became the seventh NJ (and the first Caucasian) to win a Sumo Tournament, after Hawaiians Takamiyama, Konishiki, Akebono, and Musashimaru, then Mongolians Asashouryuu and Hakuhou’s past victories. The last five became Yokozuna in their own right. Here’s hoping that Kotooshuu also joins their ranks!

More on what this means at http://www.debito.org/?p=1677

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Debito.org “Japanese Only” T-Shirt appears in Italian SkyTG24 report on G8 Pre-Summit!

Reporter Pio from Italian TV TG24 recently reported from the ecological G8 Pre-Summit in Kobe about subjects I couldn’t understand (it was in Italian)… but wearing a “Japanese Only” T-Shirt from Debito.org!

Huzzah! Links to broadcast and to t-shirt info site here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=1698

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LUDICROUSIES

Tony Laszlo, “Administrator of NGO Issho Kikaku”, in Asahi “Money” Section… for his wife’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series

I find it pretty amazing how myths persist. The media helps. Not only do we have “Darling wa Gaikokujin” cartoon character slash “Writer” Tony Laszlo appearing as himself (in one of the most frightening photos I’ve ever seen of him) in the “Money” Section of the Asahi May 17, 2008, he still has the byline of “Administrator of NGO ISSHO Kikaku”.

Even though there is no ISSHO Kikaku website, or even any NGO registered under that name in Japan.

And miraculously, the Issho Kikaku website, offline since December 2005, made a reappearance the very same day this blog entry went up, albeit only a cover page, with no further links to all the years of work done by other activists working under the “Issho” banner…

We won’t mention the threat of lawsuit from him for keeping the record alive… but how very “un-Darling” of him.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1686

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Yahoo News/AP: Newest “Yokoso Japan” rep: Hello Kitty!

“Hello Kitty — Japan’s ubiquitous ambassador of cute — has built up an impressive resume over the years. Global marketing phenom. Fashion diva. Pop culture icon. Now the moonfaced feline can add “government envoy” to the list. The tourism ministry on Monday named Hello Kitty as its choice to represent the country in China and Hong Kong, two places where she is wildly popular among kids and young women.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=1669

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Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki

Aside from an interesting dissection of the cultural phenomenon that is 2channel, the obligatory segment on the damage done.:

“Nishimura has lost about 50 lawsuits and owes millions of dollars in penalties, which he has no intention of paying.

“If the verdict mandates deleting things, I’ll do it,” he says. “I just haven’t complied with demands to pay money. Would a cell phone carrier feel responsible when somebody receives a threatening phone call?””

Those silly arguments taken apart on this blog entry.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1670

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GATHERINGS OF INTEREST:

3rd Annual Tokyo Refugee Film Festival, June 20-27 2008, Sponsored by UNHCR

http://www.debito.org/?p=1711

In celebration of World Refugee Day on the 20th June 2008, UNHCR and Japan for UNHCR proudly present the 3rd Annual Tokyo Refugee Film Festival. This is a new collection of feature and documentary films on forced migration. June 20-27, 2008, Tokyo.

For more information on the timetable and film program visit http://www.refugeefilm.org

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SMJ Forum On NJ Rights and Living Standards, Sat June 14, Kawasaki

Solidarity With Migrant Workers Network Japan (SMJ) will hold its biannual national forum on Saturday June 14 (from noon) and Sunday June 15 (from 1pm) at the Kawasaki Kyoiku Bunka Kaikan, near Kawasaki Station.

The host, Solidarity With Migrants Japan, has long tackled serious issues facing foreigners living in Japan, including discrimination, violence, visa issues, labor problems and the like. The forum will bring together dozens of groups that handle NJ issues from around the country and even some from other countries.

http://www.debito.org/?p=1713

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Call for Presentations, Peace as a Global Language Conference 7 Sept 27-8, Tokyo

I’ve been to four of these PGLs, and they’re worth attending, if not presenting at. I will be:

7th Annual Conference, Peace as a Global Language, September 27-28, 2008, Seisen University, Tokyo, Japan.

Call for Presentations:

http://www.debito.org/?p=1662

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…and finally… a tangent:

Economist obit on Mildred Loving, defeater of US anti-miscegenation laws

Here’s an interesting article on two people who just did what they did, but with conviction and perseverance, and managed through Loving v. Virginia to overturn a horrible legal situation in the US–a legal ban on interracial relationships and marriage!

I would find hard to believe something like this ever existed in post-Meiji Japan (from Lafcadio Hearn’s marriage on down, to our credit!) Read the obituary of Mildred Loving–it’s hard to believe a lot of this happened within my lifetime!

And follow some links at the bottom about the history America’s anti-miscegenation laws: Particularly surprising is the history back and forth within Louisiana regarding banning and unbanning interracial relations–including reinstatement of ban by American authorities in 1806 after the Louisiana Purchase!

http://www.debito.org/?p=1676

Any honest historical study of a country is bound to unearth nastiness. The US’s certainly deserves exhuming.

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All for today. Thanks very much to everyone for reading!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 6, 2008 ENDS

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