DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 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
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 2008
Table of Contents:
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THINK OF THE CHILDREN…
1) Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions
2) Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts
3) Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ
4) Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students
5) AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case
6) Sydney Morning Herald: Little Hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

OTHER THINKS:
7) Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists
8) Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008
9) Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

… and finally…
10) Travelling around Japan in New Years’ and March. Want me to come speak?
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By Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
www.debito.org, debito@debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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THINK OF THE CHILDREN….

1) Terrie’s Take on how NJ workers are the first to go in adverse economic conditions

Terrie’s Take November 3, 2008:

First to go have been the foreign workers in overseas plants. Two weeks ago, Nissan announced that it would cut its workforce by 1,680 people at its Barcelona assembly plant one of two major plants the company has in Europe. This is almost 1/3 of all the people working at that facility and represents the halting of one of the 3 production shifts. Sales of vehicles in Spain have plunged 24% in the last 9 months, and when the numbers finally come out at the end of the year, we expect that sales for this current quarter might be almost non-existent. Indeed, Peugeot has said that it expects a 17% fall in auto sales in Q4 in Western Europe. We think the final numbers will be worse and Japanese firms will share blood shed.

Certainly Toyota knows this, and so the company is laying off another category of “outsiders” non-permanent workers at its factories here in Japan. Apparently the company employs 6,800 contract workers, also known as fixed-term workers, a number which is 2,000 down from March and 4,000 down from the peak of 10,800 employed in 2004. Back then, non-permanents accounted for 30% of the company’s total workforce. The thing about these contract workers is that so long as they are employed for less than 36 months, then the company can flexibility lay them off in times of hardship as will many other companies around the country now that Toyota has set the pace.

In addition, in Q2, June-August this year, Toyota laid off an extra 8,000 temporary workers for a total of around 10,000 redundancies so far this year. Are you seeing these numbers in the major newspapers? Not really. This is probably because Japan’s number one advertiser is sitting on an estimated JPY4trn (US$40bn) of cash reserves (not including other assets) which make it difficult for the company to defend its actions in the Japanese context of being needed to be seen to be looking after your own. In this respect, the message clearly is that you need to be a full-time employee to be considered “one of the Toyota family”. Otherwise you’re just a squatter

So, given that there are at least 755,000 foreigners (as of 2006) working here in Japan, and probably another 350,000 or so working illegally, you can bet that this group will be another at-risk segment to lose their jobs. The AP article says that the government HELLO WORK centers used to get about 700 foreigners looking for jobs each month, but in August due to the massive layoffs by auto manufacturers, the numbers of foreign newly jobless people doubled to 1,500 a month. Local officials note that the number of Japanese applicants has not changed appreciably (yet) so clearly Toyota, Honda, and Yamaha are dumping on their Brazilian-Japanese and Chinese workers first.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2084

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2) Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts

Terrie Lloyd mentioned above about how the NJ workers are the first to go in any wave of job cuts (no wonder very few NJ ever get promotion beyond “temp”-style contract labor, despite working for years at full-time jobs). Now here’s an article in the Mainichi about how that’s having a negative impact on the NJ community, particularly the education of their children. Ethnic schools are starting to close as tuition dries up. What next for the NJ communities, always contributing yet kept as a mere appendage to the “real members” of this society?

http://www.debito.org/?p=2086

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3) Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ

A blog called “Jason’s Random Thoughts” has a thoughtful post for those NJ facing restructuring in Japan. Since it’s a recent theme on Debito.org, I thought I’d post an excerpt and a link here. I’ve posted (a bit irreverently) before on what sort of jobs are available for NJ, particularly those of the former Eikaiwa ilk. Link to that here. As for those of you seriously facing a job loss and a reassessment of your life in Japan with the economic downturn, Jason’s blog post is food for thought. Excerpt:

For almost two years we have heard how companies are shutting down all over the world in response to a slowing economy. Whether this is the ultimate result of corporate greed, globalization, out-sourcing, or something that can be understood only by leading economists, one thing is clear: our current employment is no guarantee of future security. Of course, facing the prospect of unemployment is scary for everyone, but it’s particularly painful when living in a foreign country

http://www.debito.org/?p=2090

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4) Japan Times: Eric Johnston on Gunma NGO stopping ijime towards NJ students

Japan Times on bullying of NJ schoolchildren and an NGO’s effort to stop it:

Nationwide, there are more than 25,000 foreign children in schools. The majority are believed to be Brazilians, followed by Chinese. Truancy among foreign children, who are often bullied because they are different or don’t speak Japanese, has become a concern in recent years, especially in prefectures like Gunma and in the Chubu region where large numbers of foreigners reside.

Local governments and the central government both say more needs to be done to integrate foreign children into Japanese schools. But they are often at odds over what exactly should be done and who should take the lead. The central government has long urged local governments to do more, while cash-strapped local governments say there is little more they can do unless Tokyo formulates a national policy and provides funds for assistance.

Human rights activists note a fundamental reason for truancy among foreign children is that they are not required by law to attend public school, which means those who drop out due to bullying or other reasons are not legally obliged to return. The education ministry’s position is that while public schools cannot turn away foreign children, they don’t have to make sure they’re in class.

“Revising the Compulsory Education Law to insure foreign children are covered is a top priority for Japan,” NGO leader McMahill said…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2092

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5) AP: US court rules Japan has jurisdiction in child joint custody case

AP: The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that the state’s courts have no jurisdiction over a custody dispute involving a 6-year-old boy, leaving the issue to a Japanese court.

In the ruling issued Friday, the court said a Douglas County district judge had no authority to grant joint custody of the boy to his divorced parents, even though the boy was born in Nebraska and had lived here while in the U.S.

The court determined that under custody law, the child’s residence is considered to be in Japan.

COMMENT: We should hope the Japanese courts would be so impartial. But they aren’t. Contrast with the Murray Wood Case, where international children kidnapped from British Columbia (whose courts granted the Canadian father custody) were deemed unremovable from Japan. And are American courts so ignorant to not know (or was Mr Carter’s legal defense so inept to not point out) that Japan does not recognize joint custody, full stop? Mr Carter will not get a fair trial in Japan. No child kidnapped to Japan as of yet has been returned to the NJ parent by a Japanese court. He’s lost his kid. Full stop.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2081

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6) Sydney Morning Herald: Little Hope for Japan’s Abandoned Fathers

The story about Japan as a safe haven for internationally abducted kids spreads from Canada to the US to Australia, this time in the Sydney Morning Herald. And this time, the crank lawyer, a Mr Onuki, who claimed that “90 per cent of cases in which the Japanese women return to Japan, the man is at fault, such as with domestic violence and child abuse”, finally gets a response (which the Mainichi printed without counter, thanks). Meanwhile, the GOJ just keeps on dithering on the Hague Convention. It’s one of Japan’s worst-kept secrets. But not for long at this rate. Keep on exposing.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2095

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OTHER THINKS…

7) Grauniad: Japan comes down hard on Greenpeace whaling activists

Grauniad on how the GOJ will treat activists it wants to make an example of: Subject them to the full force of the NPA:

Two Greenpeace activists who face years in prison for investigating corruption in Japan’s whaling industry have condemned their arrests as politically motivated on the eve of an unprecedented campaign to end the country’s whale hunts.

Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were arrested in June, two months after intercepting 23kg of whale meat at a warehouse in northern Japan that they said had been stolen by crew members from the Japanese whaling fleet’s mother ship for sale on the black market.

They are now waiting to stand trial early next year, and if convicted face up to 10 years in prison.

“At the time I was arrested I wasn’t too concerned as I was focusing on our investigation,” Sato, 31, told the Guardian yesterday at the Tokyo offices of his legal team.

“But if we are convicted, then of course I will be worried about my wife and child. It would also raise serious questions about Japan’s commitment to human rights. We have already been detained for 26 days, which is very unusual for someone facing first-time charges of theft.”

The ferocity with which prosecutors have made their case against Sato and Suzuki has astonished Greenpeace officials and human rights activists.

During their time in police custody, the men say they were strapped to chairs and interrogated for up to 12 hours a day. No lawyers were present and the interviews were not recorded…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2087

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8) Thoughts on seeing the Dalai Lama at the FCCJ Nov 3, 2008

Some thoughts about seeing one of the world’s masters of activism: The Dalai Lama at the FCCJ on November 3, 2008. How he’s able to be an activist yet retain a largely positive image, and be listened to worldwide despite the antipathetic media from the world’s most populous country. And I add some subsidiary thoughts on the media’s role, however unintentional, in bleaching the message’s effectiveness.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2091

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9) Economist.com: Bilateral agreements to give US servicemen immunity from Japanese criminal procedure

Economist.com: In Jane’s view, the first rape went unpunished: Mr Deans remains at large. So she turned her attention to the “second rape”. She sued the Kanagawa police for a bungled investigation that denied her proper justice. In December 2007 the court ruled against her, stating that the police had fulfilled their responsibilities. She appealed the decision.

Jane’s ordeal underscores the clumsiness of Japan’s police force. In several recent high-profile cases, the police have coerced confessions from suspects. It also highlights the lack of a tradition of individual rights in the country, and the often thinly reasoned rulings of Japanese courts. And it fits the pattern that in many crimes by American servicemen, the Japanese authorities fail to press charges.

But the reason why cases like Jane’s are not prosecuted may have less to do with incompetent police and more because of a secret agreement between America and Japan in 1953 that has recently come to light.

In September 2008, Shoji Niihara, a researcher on Japanese-American relations, uncovered previously classified documents in the U.S. National Archives. They show that in 1953, soon after Dwight Eisenhower assumed the presidency, John Foster Dulles, his secretary of state, embarked on a massive programme to get countries to waive their jurisdiction in cases of crimes by American servicemen.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2089

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… and finally…

10) Travelling around Japan in New Years’ and March. Want me to come speak? Join me for beers?

I’m planning a winter schedule. So far, I have two definite dates for speeches:

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UPCOMING SPEECHES 2009

Tues March 17, 2009, evening speech in Tokyo at Amnesty International AITEN group (TBD)
Thurs March 19, 2009, 1PM to 3PM, Shiga University, annual guest speaker at their Japanese popular culture course for exchange students. (CONFIRMED)

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http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672

Once I get a couple of firm dates, I usually cast the net about to see if anyone is interested in having me speak on a topic of their choice (see what’s been done at http://www.debito.org/publications.html#SPEECHES ) on surrounding dates. This way, people can save on travel expenses (it’s not cheap getting out of Hokkaido).

Interested? Please drop me a line at debito@debito.org.

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That should do it for this Newsletter. We’ll probably get one more out as a holiday special before the end of the year. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 16, 2008 ENDS

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