BLOG BIZ: Thoughts about the future of What’s next?


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Hello Readers,

Thanks for reading this blog for now nearly thirty years. I want to tell you what’s on my mind nowadays regarding it.

As seen in my previous SNA column on having a future in Japan as an elderly immigrant, I came to the conclusion that it’s probably better to decide if you’re a lifer in Japan by age 40, and optimally split your time between two countries as you top up and totalize your retirement pensions (so you can avoid becoming that elderly Japanese (or NJ) living your twilight years in penury.)

But it’s been several years since I stopped living permanently in Japan.  Like many old Japan Hands I mentioned in my SNA essay above, I love coming back for a visit and to see people and places, and Japan’s tourism (especially for people who can read, write, and speak Japanese) is for the most part very, very good.  But similar to authors and analysts such as James Fallows, Japan has receded in my consciousness — as Japan has itself receded into an Asian backwater.  The issues I read about within Japan are usually insular, petty, and repetitive.  And they are generally on topics I have commented on before.  I’ve done the doctorate, written and updated my books multiple times, and said basically all I need to say about the state of discrimination and how to make a better life as an immigrant in Japan.  My current job does not involve Japan at all, and my Japan skills are only personally useful when I’m actually in Japan.  My interests have generally moved on to the geopolitical and on the state of democracy itself worldwide.  That’s what I read about and teach about in my classes on a daily basis.

I really don’t have the time or that much interest to expound further on Japan.  So if somebody else wants to join in and take up the cause of equality for NJ and Visible Minorities in Japan, please feel free.  (They can even write guest essays for, with their authorship of course duly noted if they want.  This venue need not go to waste.) I’ve been at it here, as I said, for nearly thirty years.  I’m not tired of writing.  I’m just devoting my energies to my students and saving up for retirement.

Would readers of be interested in my blogged thoughts even if they’re not about Japan?

Not to worry, as a blog and a searchable website resource on life and human rights in Japan will stay up in perpetuity, as people still reference it daily.  I will continue to write monthly columns for the Shingetsu News Agency and post excerpts on  (I’m just taking this June off while SNA Editor Michael Penn moves his offices overseas.)  And I will of course continue to approve comments here on a regular basis.

But in terms of the urgency of commenting about Japan, I’m not really feeling it right now, and want to devote those energies to something more productive, especially for my students.  In terms of profession I am, after all, a university instructor of Political Science first and an essayist/activist second. Readers, what do you think? Would you be interested in my blogged thoughts even if they’re not about Japan?

Sincerely, Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

Instructor of Political Science and Website Manager

19 comments on “BLOG BIZ: Thoughts about the future of What’s next?

  • Thank you for everything you’ve done Debito. You will always be my hero. I’m thrilled that you are moving on. I’m so happy to know that your life has brought you to a place where you can do that happily… We all owe you such a debt of gratitude for your years of caring enough to show the world what is really going on in Japan. As you once said to me, you’ve done more than enough. I’ll miss your posts but think it’s great that you’ve moved on. Big hug my brother. I’m so proud to call you my friend. 🫂

    —- Thanks Eric! The posts will continue. Just cutting myself some slack in terms of frequency and content.

  • MARKLE DAVID says:

    I agree, the place of Japan in the world is greatly diminished and not all that relevant anymore except maybe as a tourist attraction. Debito has done his job and paid his dues. Enjoy your life, wherever it may take you.

  • Anonymous2 says:

    I think instead of guest posts you should just treat the site as more of an information archive, with no pressure on yourself to write anything if you don’t want to. Glad to hear you are busy with other things!

  • There are prices you pay for throwing yourself against the world. Debito you were always generous, brave and upstanding in the way you conducted yourself in dealing with racial discrimination in Japan. Hats off to you and you deserve a long career free from Japan.

  • Readers, what do you think? Would you be interested in my blogged thoughts even if they’re not about Japan?

    Yes, but perhaps consider keeping non-Japan content / Japan-related content that does not pertain to the plight of NJ and Visible Minorities in a separate domain from Maybe at ‘’ (i.e. the reverse of 「出人」, which interestingly enough means ‘crowd’)?

    But in terms of the urgency of commenting about Japan, I’m not really feeling it right now.

    Completely understandable, especially since the GoJ basically just jumped the shark by forcing through revisions to the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law, misgivings such as not respecting the principle of non-refoulement be damned (and mere weeks before World Refugee Day to boot!).

    While Japan is very much front-and-center in my consciousness (as you can tell from the volume of comments that I submit!), I do find myself paying more and more attention to China. What I am finding insightful is looking at China through the lens of Japan — for example, China’s military goals in the Pacific Islands (e.g. signing a security pact with the Solomon Islands in April 2022are strikingly similar to that of Imperial Japan (e.g. construction of bases prior to World War II).

    So personally, I’d be interested to hear about your Political Science-related thoughts as they pertain to China, especially if there’s a Japan tie-in. Other thoughts that I’d be interested in hearing about relate to ChatGPT / generative AI (e.g. do you let your students use this technology?). For reference / comparison, the education ministry plans to implement new guidelines allowing elementary, junior high and high schools limited use of generative artificial intelligence, and about 32 percent of university students polled in Japan said they have used artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT.

  • maybe the solution is if Japan had an autonomous zone with more lax rules for both individuals to live and to work, create businesses, it could be something like the size of Singapore but in Japan and have a mostly English speaking environment. People in this zone wouldn’t be allowed to live in Tokyo indefinitely for example and would still have to go through the current process. It seems far fetched but I just don’t see how Japan will compete in the future being reliant on car exports when it is shifting to electric (I personally think hybrid makes way more sense). Japan is very stagnant and not in any defined direction right now. They have to try something different.

    — I’m not sure what this comment has to do with this blog entry.

    • It’s more to do with your previous column that you linked about Japan’s influence declining and all signs pointing to China being the future whether people like it or not. I personally respect China but I am not interested in the language nor am I a fan of their government system. That’s why I said a good middle ground would be to create a separate city state but I don’t see Japanese politics ever innovating anything like that.

      I’ve read your website on and off over the years, I was maybe a teenager when I started and I’m in my 30s now, so best of luck in anything you do. You definitely produced a lot of interesting content when web 1.0 was scarce and inspired a lot of people to come to Japan.

      — Thanks very much for saying so. I think everyone should come to Japan and give its worldviews a try. And vice versa.

  • Keep it as it is, i.e. every time Japan does a ridiculous, regressive self defeating Dejima Award thing it should be commented upon.

    Its also useful if you compare your life now with e.g. how things are in Japan people there is life post Japan.

    Not everybody got out in time before the yen and Japan itself plummeted in value and relevance. You can still be a beacon of hope for those in J-purgatory!

    (ps. its weird how rarely one encounters Japanese outside Japan these days. And when one does they don’t stick around, e.g. they might come to a trial group online lesson or an international event, cannot interact or realize they are not going to get a special treatment or respect, and promptly disappear into the night, never to answer follow-up emails again…..

    I do not believe it is really the 3rd largest market, even if on paper it is the 3rd largest economy. It is a small niche market, if anything.

    The ones who are surviving overseas have gone native in some way almost to the point of refusing to speak Japanese as if traumatized, OR they just go back to Japan once their 2 year business sojourn time is up.)

  • Have you considered anointing a successor? It would be cool to see you pass the torch to a young firebrand!

  • Thank you very much for sharing all your wisdom, knowledge and experience on Japan during all these years. Your thoughts on anything will always be welcome and in fact needed! I think topics on education are very interesting and important to explore and learn more about; in an information saturated world, what is good and worthwhile etc especially since you are an academic and a professor with experience in many different institutions.
    Best regards and best wishes.

  • Jeff Smith says:

    Yes, you should even write here about the life of someone outside of Japan after spending the majority of one’s adult life there; I can’t speak for other expats, but I definitely was concerned that whenever I left Japan, I would feel as you say here: how Japan is “peripheral” and “backwater:” indeed, I think that feeling scares me to know I would just forget it, but that’s what happens when a society makes one feel their presence has been peripheral, if not complete ignored.

    A successor is needed: things will need to be shown in present-tense, and with the 2025 Expo coming, the government can’t be allowed to smokescreen the country and gaslight the people further: things need exposing as long as people are willing to speak on it. Much respect.

  • G P Witteveen says:

    After so many years paying into the Nenkin system, surely you are in line for some level of pension in the years to come. But residing outside Japan, I wonder how a foreigner in the pension system of Japan can establish the payments upon reaching age 65? If you have looked into all that, please point the way for others to follow, too.

    — I do qualify for Nenkin. But officials wouldn’t give me an estimate of my future benefits until I had reached a certain age. I wasn’t old enough last time I checked.

    I will point the way when I know. It’s what I do.

    • It is very simple. On reaching pension age (normal age is 65, but you can claim a smaller pension as early as 60, or a larger one as late as 75) you apply to the pension office, and they will send your pension to any bank in Japan or worldwide.

      You do need to have paid in for at least 120 months to qualify (vest) for a pension.

      You can check your pension forecast on your ‘nenkin teikibin’ (which should arrive by post once a year around your birthday) or online after making an account at

      — Thanks very much as always, Sendaiben!

  • I have a question, Sendaiben. Does it matter to pay into the system at least for 25 years? I have been paying into the pension system for 22 years
    I plan on going back to the US so I will pay into social security there.
    I know that the law was changed so at least ten years was enough.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Brooks
      Nenkin payouts are based on contributions, so the more you pay in the higher your pension should be in retirement.
      Once you have 120 months’ paid in you qualify for a pension. That is the important number.
      Beyond 120 months, the more you paid in, the better, but it is proportional, so there are no ‘levels’ to hit.

  • Thank you Debito for your excellent work on this website over many years. It is a rare achievement to keep producing interesting and useful blog posts and other materials for such a long time.

    In answer to your question, my personal opinion would be that it would be good to keep the theme of this blog the same, if possible. I think if you were to write something about Japan in this blog just once every few months (I don’t know what your current frequency is), that would make it still feel current and active. Perhaps the posts introducing your SNA articles would be sufficient, if you are carrying on with them. Perhaps even just once every six months or year would be enough.

    I am thinking of blogs or websites that have not been updated for years and are clearly out of date – it would be a pity if yours became like that. But you have certainly earned a rest, if you want to retire from writing about Japan.

  • Debito, I understand the time and effort required to create a blog, mail out the information, and clean up the list.
    But, why not use the email list to send out clips of monthly updates on some posts with links to the the full posting?

    Out of sight, out of mind comes to play.

    — I do that with my Newsletter. Sign up for it.


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