Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006

mytest

Hi Blog. Just a couple more and we’re caught up with when this blog started back in June 2006. This is Week Five for me on the road (having a lovely time talking with naturalized citizen and twice-elected Inuyama city councilor Anthony Bianchi–don’t you dare call him a “gaijin” either 🙂 ), so let me stopgap for today’s blog entry.

Thanks, Debito in Inuyama, Aichi-ken (30 kms north of Nagoya, and a place brimming with history).

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006

Hi all. Welcome back from the holidays. Here’s another update to keep your backlogged emails company:

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1) FORMER AINU DIETMEMBER KAYANO SHIGERU DIES
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE TO REVISIT JAPAN MAY 15-19
3) “SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN!” CEO ENGLISH SITE DISAPPEARS
4) HIS TRAVEL ADMITS TO HAVING DIFFERENT AIRFARES FOR FOREIGNERS
5) JAPAN TIMES ON TOTTORI HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE

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May 8, 2006
Freely Forwardable

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1) FORMER AINU DIETMEMBER KAYANO SHIGERU DIES

Kayano Shigeru, Japan’s first and only Ainu Dietmember, died of pneumonia in Nibutani, Hokkaido on May 6, 2006. He was 79.

Articles in English on the man have not appeared yet in the English-language press, so for those who want their news fresher in Japanese (and would like to telegram their condolences):
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/Php/kiji.php3?&d=20060507&j=0022&k=200605075623

Hokkaido Shinbun editorial (May 7) on Kayano’s legacy:
http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/Php/backnumber.php3?&d=20060507&j=0032&k=200605075647

A bit of background on where he came from and what he was trying to accomplish, in English at the Japan Times (free registration):
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20040627a1.html

I have been friends with his son, activist Kayano Shiro, for close to a decade. I managed to meet his father for the first (and sadly, only) time last June when M. Doudou Diene visited from the United Nations.

Speaking of:

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2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE TO REVISIT JAPAN MAY 15-19

M. Doudou Diene, Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, visited Japan last July 2005. He reported that “Japan is still closed, spiritually and intellectually centered” in a preliminary press conference. And in an official report to the UN in January, he said, “Racial discrimination is practiced undisturbed in Japan.” “It can hardly be argued that Japan is respecting its international obligations.”

More on what happened during his visit, the report we submitted to him, and links to his report to the UN at
http://www.debito.org/rapporteur.html

Well, guess what. He’s coming back! And this time to visit Okinawa, Osaka, and Tokyo. His schedule, courtesy of Mr Morihara Hideki, of the group International Movement Against All Forms of Discrimination and Racism (IMADR-JC, imadrjc@imadr.org, http://www.imadr.org), I translate:

MAY 14 TOKYO TO OKINAWA
7PM PUBLIC MEETING IN NAHA (place TBD)
MAY 15 AYEM PRIVATE MTG WITH OKINAWA PREF GOV
PM VISIT AMERICAN AIR BASES
MAY 16 VISIT HENNOKO, MEET WITH LOCAL ACTIVIST GROUPS
7PM PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS DIENE’S UN REPORT (IN NAHA)
MAY 17 OKINAWA TO OSAKA
PM PUBLIC MEETING TO DISCUSS DIENE’S UN REPORT (place TBD)
MAY 18 OSAKA TO TOKYO
NOON PRESS CONFERENCE AT FCCJ
PM PUBLIC MEETING AT DIET AND WITH REPORTERS
PRIVATE MEETING WITH TOKYO GOV ISHIHARA (TBD)
7PM PUBLIC MEETING AT OSAKA KEIZAI HOUKA ASIA PACIFIC CENTER
MAY 19 PRIVATE MEETING WITH POLITICAL PARTIES (TBD)
MEETING WITH NICHIBENREN FED. OF BAR ASSOCIATIONS
EVE PUBLIC CONFERENCE ON DIENE REPORT IN TOKYO

He is open for interviews with the press. Contact Mr Morihara at IMADR-JC at the details above.

Glad to have him back. I will try to attend in Osaka and Tokyo if possible.

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3) “SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN!” SITE DISAPPEARS

I reported last April 20 that the “Slavedrive your gaijin! [sic]” (gaijin o koki tsukae!) “CEO English” website, which offers lessons on how executives can exploit their gaijin before they exploit back, adjusted its language with apologies (yet still kept a link to its lesson on denying a pay rise to a gaijin staffer who doubled the company’s profits and tripled its sales!). See all historical data as screen saves at:

http://www.debito.org/CEOenglishsite.html

Well, I just discovered, as I was writing the Japanese version of this report, that the site in question,
http://www.ceoenglish.com
has been completely taken down, due to the level of protest.
There is a message in Japanese there to that effect.

Well and good. Thanks for your help, everyone.

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4) HIS TRAVEL ADMITS TO HAVING DIFFERENT AIRFARES FOR FOREIGNERS

I told you that HIS Travel (and No. 1 Travel, in the same keiretsu) has been offering differing airfares based upon whether the customer is foreign or not. The estimate in question, as I reported a little over a month ago to some lists, was NRT <-> LAX 57,000 yen for Japanese, 70,000 yen for foreigners, on ANA (NB: the airline denies that it offers different fares by nationality).

After contacting the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport (Ryokou Shinkou Ka, Mr Ohzaki, Tel 03-5253-8111, ext 27313), I confirmed that this pricing structure was not permitted. They are looking into it.

I then called HIS’s Customer Service Center (Okyakusama Soudan Shitsu, Mr Kitahara) to tell him that MLIT had been appraised. He sent me the following email (my translation, original email at the very bottom of this report):

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From: sodan@his-world.co.jp
Subject: About the sale of airplane tickets
Date: April 19, 2006 4:12:42 PM JST

Mr Arudou Debito. This is Kitahara of the Customer Service Center.

Regarding your recent inquiry, regarding the sale of airplane tickets from Narita Airport, and not allowing tickets to be sold to foreigners.

As a result of our company’s deliberations, we have gotten rid of that condition. We will be offering tickets to all customers regardless of nationality. HIS KK
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Although this isn’t exactly the issue I brought up, HIS has been caught out in a lie. They still have on their website Tokyo <-> Paris tickets with requirements that purchasers hold Japanese nationality.

http://www.his-j.com/tyo/air/ovs/ovspar.htm
(Do a word search for “kokuseki” in Japanese. Courtesy Kirk M.)

If you’re going to do business with HIS or No. 1 Travel in future, I daresay you’d better ask a native Japanese speaker to make your ticket reservations for you if you want to get the best prices. FYI.

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5) JAPAN TIMES ON TOTTORI HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE

What follows is my JT article, in full. Enjoy.

THE ZEIT GIST
KILL BILL, PART THREE
Tottori’s Human Rights Ordinance is a case study in alarmism
By DEBITO ARUDOU
Column 30 for the Japan Times Community Page

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20060502zg.html

On Oct. 12, 2005, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly approved Japan’s first human rights ordinance, a local law forbidding and punishing racial discrimination.

In a land where racial discrimination is not illegal, this is an historic occasion.

Even a clarion call: If even rural Tottori can pass this, what’s stopping the rest of the country?

But history pushed back. Five months later, Tottori Prefectural Assembly unpassed the ordinance.

What went wrong? This is a cautionary tale on how not to create landmark legislation.

THE ORDINANCE ITSELF

The Tottori Prefecture “Ordinance Regarding Promotion and Procedure for the Restitution for Human Rights Violations” (“jinken shingai kyuusai suishin oyobi tetsuzuki ni kansuru jourei”) looked very promising.

Drafted by a committee of 26 people nominated by a progressive governor, Katayama Yoshihiro, the bill reflected the input of those who would most want it: a lawyer, several academics and human rights activists, and even three foreign residents.

Its express goal is, “when violations of human rights occur or threaten to occur, to devise measures for the speedy and appropriate restitution or effective prevention of damages, and by doing so contribute toward the realization of a society which holds human rights in high regard.”

Ambitious in scope, it governs behavior related to abuse (physical, mental, and through negligence) and discrimination by race. By “race,” the ordinance includes “blood race, ethnicity, creed, gender, social standing, family status, disability, illness, and sexual orientation.”

It states, inter alia, that nobody may unduly (“futou”) racially discriminate against an individual or a group with shared racial characteristics, publicly defame another person, or even be the vehicle for the dissemination of defamation and discrimination.

The ordinance would establish a committee of five to hear cases, contact the perpetrator, and oversee conflict resolution. Committee members would be nominated by and report periodically through the governor.

Moreover, unlike other oversight groups of this ilk, the committee actually had teeth: It could launch investigations, require hearings and written explanations, issue private warnings (making them public if they went ignored), demand compensation for victims, remand cases to the courts, even recommend cases to prosecutors if they thought there was a crime involved. It also had punitive powers, including fines up to 50,000 yen.

It even had a built-in safety catch: Taking effect June 1, 2006, the ordinance would expire at the end of March 2010 unless specifically extended.

It looked good. Good enough to be passed by the Tottori Prefectural Assembly 35 to 3.

But after that, the deluge.

BEWARE OF LOCAL ORDNANCE

Almost immediately there was an alarmist blitz, even from neighboring prefectures. The Chuugoku Shinbun (Hiroshima), in its Oct. 14 editorial entitled “We must monitor this ordinance in practice,” claimed it would “in fact shackle (“sokubaku”) human rights.”

Accusations flew that assemblypersons had not read the bill properly — only voted for fluffy ideals without clear thinking. Others said the governor had not explained to the people properly what he was binding them to.

Internet petitions blossomed to kill the bill. Even Wikipedia, in its Japanese article on this ordinance, had more than twenty con arguments and not a single pro (and as such bears a “neutrality disputed” tag).

Some sample complaints (with counterarguments):

* The bill had been deliberated upon in the Assembly for only a week. (Even though it was first brought up in 2003 and discussed in committees throughout 2005? How long is sufficient?)

* Its definitions of human rights violations (such as “defamation” — “hibou”) — were too vague, and could hinder the media in, say, investigating politicians for corruption. (Even though it contains a clause that freedom of speech and press must be respected?)

* Since its committee was not an independent body, reporting only to the Governor, this could encourage arbitrary decisions and coverups. (Just like the currently-existing Bureau of Human Rights (“jinken yougobu”) reports only to the secretive Ministry of Justice, so why not do away with the BOHR too?)

* This might threaten the reputation of the accused, since the committee could legally make their names public. (As can the police, but is anyone suggesting cops should be denied policing powers because they might make a mistake?)

* This invests judicial and policing powers in an administrative organ, a violation of the separation of powers. (So no oversight committee in Japan is allowed to have teeth? And what of the many other ordinances, such as those governing garbage disposal, mandating fines and incarceration?)

And so on. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations sounded the death knell in its statement of Nov. 2: Too much power had been given the governor (as opposed to dispersing it within the police forces?), constricting the people and media under arbitrary guidelines, under a committee chief who could investigate by diktat, overseeing a bureaucracy that could refuse to be investigated.

If there were really so many holes in this bill, one wonders what anyone ever saw in it. Why had it not been shot down in committee? Before it could be put before the Prefectural Assembly and overwhelmingly passed as a law?

O SUPPORTERS, WHERE ART THOU?

That remains unclear. Also unclear is what happened to the voices in support of this document. The government issued an official Q&A to allay concern, and the governor said problems would be dealt with as they arose. But supporters apparently got drowned out.

In December and January, the prefecture convoked informal discussion groups containing the vice-governor, two court counselors, four academics, and five lawyers (but no human rights activists). They offered handmade theories on how the constitution binds the people, how administrators cannot be judges, etc.

The result: A U-turn into complete defeat. On March 24, 2006, the Tottori Prefectural Assembly voted unanimously to suspend the ordinance indefinitely. Gov. Katayama shrugged and reportedly said in paraphrase, “We’ll get started immediately on fixing things. We wouldn’t need this ordinance if there were absolutely no human rights violations in our prefecture, but there are and we do.”

LESSONS

In the interests of full disclosure, your correspondent admits he wanted this ordinance to go through. It would be about time.

In 1996, Japan promised the United Nations it would take all effective measures, including laws, to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

More than a decade later, we still have no law, and instead policies encouraging exclusionism and racial profiling.

Moreover there is no law on the horizon. Twice now, in 2003 and 2005, the national Diet rejected bills that would safeguard more human rights for everyone in Japan.

As above, so below: A local legislature passing something, then unpassing it? Very bad form. Not to mention a bad precedent.

Yet, as this column has argued (“Watching the Detectives,” on July 8, 2003, http://www.debito.org/japantimes070803.html), the present administrative machinery to curtail discrimination, the BOHR, is essentially meaningless, precisely because it has only a limited investigative ability, and no policing or punitive powers.

It can only hopefully “advise and enlighten” discriminators.

That is what Tottori was apparently trying to improve upon. Yet, ironically, those improvements caused its undoing.

“We should have brought up cases to illustrate specific human rights violations. The public did not seem to understand what we were trying to prevent,” said Mr Ishiba, a representative of the Tottori governor’s office.

“They should have held town meetings to raise awareness about what discrimination is, and created separate ordinances for each type of discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Ozaki Kaoru, who voted against the bill both times.

Unfortunately, history demonstrates that bills specifically guaranteeing foreigners’ rights get trashed, not because of a lack of awareness, but rather because of intractable fears of North Korean residents getting any power.

It’s dubious whether a law outlawing racial discrimination alone will ever be passed.

The lesson of this case: If you wish to create landmark legislation, you better have your supporters ready to vocally defend it.

If not, unanswered alarmists will shout down any progressive action in favor of the status quo.

Tottori, meanwhile, is launching another drafting committee. When will it submit another rights bill? Unknown.

Send comments to: community@japantimes.co.jp
The Japan Times: Tuesday, May 2, 2006
ARTICLE ENDS
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Alright, here’s the original email from HIS travel agency in Japanese:
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From: sodan@his-world.co.jp
Subject: 航空券販売条件について
Date: April 19, 2006 4:12:42 PM JST
To: debito@debito.org
有道 出人 様

HISお客様相談室の北原と申します。

先日お問い合わせいただきました、成田発航空券の販売条件の中で
外国籍のお客様販売不可というものがございました。

社内で検討した結果、現在はその条件は削除いたしました。今後は
あらゆるお客様に同じ条件で販売していく所存でございます。

                株式会社 エイチ・アイ・エス
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All for today. Thanks as always!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006 ENDS

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