Hi Blog. Good news, of sorts. Today starts Japan’s official “Human Rights Week” (Jinken Shuukan), when the GOJ spends money (and claims to the UN national campaigns of awareness raising) to promote issues of human rights.
The Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu), the window-dressing department within the Ministry of Justice entrusted to spend tax money but not actually enforce any human rights mandate, usually glosses over discrimination against NJ (heaven forfend they actually use the breathtaking word “racial discrimination”, or actually call for a law against it!) as a matter of cultural misunderstandings (a wonderful way to reduce the issue down to next to nothing), and holds it low regard in comparison to other (worthy) issues of discrimination against Burakumin, Ainu, the handicapped, AIDs patients, etc. This has been reflected in dismissive GOJ human rights surveys and past “awareness-raising” campaigns in previous Human Rights Weeks.
So it comes as a welcome surprise that this year the GOJ has issued a commemorative pamphlet including discrimination against NJ as a real issue. Of course, the old bone about “cultural issues” is still there to dilute the Truth Octane. But it’s a start. Here’s my translation:
RESPECT THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF FOREIGNERS
Reflecting the era of internationalization in recent years, the number of foreigners making a living in our country has increased dramatically, but there have been various cases of human rights problems including being refused entry to public baths, discrimination in the workplace, and being refused apartments, due to differences in languages, religion, lifestyle customs etc. Human rights has no borders. It is desirable in future for us as a member of the international community to show respect and acceptance to foreigners who have different cultures and diversity.
Well, actually, looking over information from last year archived on Debito.org, it’s not that much of a change. Except that the BOHR site now actually includes on its official website a new video game for its cartoon characters, called “The Grand Adventure in Human Rights Land”! Have a play! Hey, it’s your taxes, might as well use them.
Here’s a scan of the pamphlet, courtesy of KGD. As the submitter notes: “It comments that ‘there are no national boundaries to human rights’ and notes that foreigners have been refused entry to public baths in Japan. While the pamphlet won’t get anyone the Nobel Prize, it does indicate that your message is reaching some bureaucrats in the central government.”
Well, good, I guess. Arudou Debito in Sapporo
4 comments on “GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination”
As I had said, finding an apartment is a real big issue ! But then again, all NJ can carry copy of this pamphlet and should be able to negotiate better with all Fudosans in Japan !
— Yeah, sure. 8)
If you were to go out and find another apartment, what are the chances of the landlord or rental agency refusing you as a natualized citizen?
— Since the bottleneck lies with the landlord and not the realtor (and landlords are much less accountable than realtors), I suspect chances are only slightly better than they were when I wasn’t a citizen. I haven’t tried, however. Am in no hurry to.
I suppose the only real solution is to have enough money to build a house, no?
Even in Canada it’s very difficult for blacks to rent apartments. There was an investigation by a Montreal newspaper a couple of years back and journalists accompanies blacks to visit apartments and the landlords were always uncooperative and making comments like “I don’t want holes in my walls,” etc. They also found that when a black man goes in a small shop (like a 7/11), the cashier usually follows him or moves around to always have him in clear sight, as if they were afraid he’d steal something. When the journalists accompanied white men in the same stores, that didn’t happen. Another investigation in Calgary found that most nightclub were stopping blacks at the door (that one is on youtube since it was videotaped, and cops were cooperating with the nightclubs to kick blacks out)
As a white man, I find sometimes that I don’t really realize what minorities are going through in my own country. It’s like something I know intellectually and that I don’t like, but at the same since I don’t have to live through it it’s something that I need to be reminded of or else I just don’t think much about it. I would assume the situation in Japan is similar. If you are not Burakumin or hibakusha or NJ or any discriminated group, maybe it’s difficult to really understand what it’s like. That’s why I think the best thing in this sort of situation is stabilization, with movies, newspaper articles, etc, basically things that make this sort of problem an every day conversation at the dinner table. If it strikes a chord with most people, politics usually follow along.
Talking about discrimination is one thing; acting in an official capacity to end it is quite another. Of course, if any real racial discrimination law was passed, ew could use it to sue the GOJ over fingerprinting.
Incidentally, if such discrimination is really owing to “cultural misunderstanding”, then the erverse must be true, and the GOJ would be quite happy to see “No Japanese” signs on restaurants in America, right…?