DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2009
Table of Contents:

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WEIRD NEWS
1) NPA on foreign-infiltrated organized crime: NJ crime down 3rd straight year,
but not newsworthy in J-media
2) Iyami Dept: Compare SPA!’s “Monster Gaijin” with “Monster Daijin”
former finance minister Nakagawa in Italy
3) Japan Times FYI column explaining Japan’s Bubble Economy

BAD NEWS
4) New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki
5) Fun Facts #11: Ekonomisuto estimates 35% of Japan’s population will be over 65 by 2050
6) New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)

GOOD NEWS
7) Kyodo: Proposal for registering NJ on Juuminhyou by 2012
8 ) Fun Facts #12: Statistics on Naturalized Citizens in Japan; holding steady despite immigration
9) NUGW labor union “March in March” Sunday March 8, 3:30 Shibuya

… and finally…

10) My next “JUST BE CAUSE” Japan Times Column out March 3
Title: “TOADIES, VULTURES, AND ZOMBIE DEBATES”

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, daily blog updates at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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WEIRD NEWS

1) NPA on foreign-infiltrated organized crime: NJ crime down 3rd straight year, but not newsworthy in J-media

Two topics this blog entry for the price of one: The NPA spending our tax monies to target the bad guys (if they’re NJ) again, and how the J media is not reporting crime rates properly, again.

Hang on to your hats. folks. It’s the NPA “Foreign Crime Report” time of year again. Yes, twice a year, we get appraised of what our boys in blue are doing to stem the hordes and save the country.

But this time the biannual deluge is buried within an NPA “soshiki hanzai jousei” general report released this week. Although “general”-looking, the majority of the report is in fact devoted to NJ crimes (it seems organized crime is the most international thing about Japan; yakuza seem to be getting squeezed out).

But, er, in fact NJ crime dropped this year. Significantly. For the third straight year. But you wouldn’t know that by reading the J media. Articles on this from Asahi, Sankei, or Yomiuri didn’t show in a Google News search. An article from the Mainichi notes the crime drop, but devotes (as usual, and in Japanese only) half the text to how it’s rising in bits. Again.

So if it bleeds it leads, sure. But if it bleeds and it’s foreign, it had better be BAD news or else newspapers aren’t going to break their stride, and give society any follow-ups that might paint a rosier picture of Japan’s immigration. What negligence and public disservice by a free press.

Some fun scans and screen captures also blogged. Do check out the site!
http://www.debito.org/?p=2533

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2) Iyami Dept: Compare SPA!’s “Monster Gaijin” with “Monster Daijin”, former finance minister Nakagawa in Italy

Just can’t resist. Kyou no iyami: With all the talk and blame about “Monster Gaikokujin” (fish lickers, onsen defilers, cabbie bashers, golddiggers, see http://www.debito.org/?p=2315), how about the drunk antics of our former finance minister, Nakagawa Shochu, excuse me, Shouichi? Setting off an alarm and sticking his hands all over private world-heritage artifacts in The Vatican? Not Monster Gaijin. Monster Daijin.

Excerpt from Japan Times: “Former Finance Minister Shoichi Nakagawa engaged in some shenanigans during a visit to the Vatican Museum immediately following his highly ridiculed Group of Seven news conference in Rome, people at the Vatican said Friday.

At one point, Nakagawa climbed over a barrier around the statue of the Trojan priest Laocoon and His Sons, causing an alarm to go off. He also touched pieces he was not supposed to, they said.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2433

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3) Japan Times FYI column explaining Japan’s Bubble Economy

On one snowiest of snowy days in Hokkaido, I blogged an excellent writeup from the Japan Times regarding the Japan I first came to know: The Bubble Economy.

I first arrived here in 1986 as a tourist, and came to look around for a year in 1987. It was one great, big party. By the time I came back here, married, to stay and work, in 1991, the party was winding up, and it’s been over (especially up here in Hokkaido) ever since. Surprising to hear that it only lasted about five years. Eric Johnston tells us about everything you’d ever want to know in 1500 words about how it happened, how it ended, and what its aftereffects are. Excerpt:

“Economic historians usually date the beginning of the bubble economy in September 1985, when Japan and five other nations signed the Plaza Accord in New York. That agreement called for the depreciation of the dollar against the yen and was supposed to increase U.S. exports by making them cheaper.

But it also made it cheaper for Japanese companies to purchase foreign assets. And they went on an overseas buying spree, picking off properties like the Rockefeller Center in New York and golf courses in Hawaii and California.

By December 1989, the benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average had reached nearly 39,000. But beginning in 1990, the stock market began a downward spiral that saw it lose more than $2 trillion by December 1990, effectively ending the bubble era

What was Japan like during those years? For many people, it was one big, expensive party. The frugality and austerity that defined the country during the postwar era gave way to extravagance and conspicuous consumption. Stories of housewives in Nara sipping $500 cups of coffee sprinkled with gold dust or businessmen spending tens of thousands of dollars in Tokyo’s flashy restaurants and nightclubs were legion. One nightclub in particular, Julianna’s Tokyo, become the symbol for the flashy, party lifestyle of the entire era.

Japan’s inflated land prices made global headlines. The Imperial Palace was reported to be worth more than France. A 10,000 note dropped in Tokyo’s Ginza district was worth less than the tiny amount of ground it covered…”

http://www.debito.org/?p=2417

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BAD NEWS

4) New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

While looking up other things for a PhD thesis I’m writing, I noticed that a significant new change has happened from 2007 with Japanese driver licenses. They’ve been getting IC Chips as well.

One reason I find this development perturbing: For “privacy’s sake” (gee whiz, suddenly we’re concerned?), the honseki family registry domicile is being removed from IC Licenses. That was ill-thought-through, because once I get my license renewed, short of carrying my Japanese passport with me 24/7 will have no other way of demonstrating that I am a Japanese citizen. After all, I have no Gaijin Card (of course), so if some cop decides to racially profile me on the street, what am I to do but say hey, look, um, I’m a citizen, trust me. And since criminal law is on their side, I will definitely be put under arrest (‘cos no way of my own free will am I going to the local Police Box for “voluntary questioning”, thank you very much) as the law demands in these cases. I see lotsa false positives and harassment in future Gaijin Card Checkpoints.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2485

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5) Fun Facts #11: Ekonomisuto estimates 35% of Japan’s population will be over 65 by 2050

While researching stuff on Debito.org, I realized that one source I quote often in my powerpoint presentations has never been blogged: An Ekonomisuto Japan article, dated January 15, 2008, with an amazing estimate.

The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare estimates that well over a third of the Japanese population (35.7%) will be over 65 years of age by 2050, and the majority of those oldies will be well beyond a working age. Can you imagine over a third of a population above 65 years of age? Who works and who pays taxes, when this many people are retired on pensions or should be? That’s if trends stay as they are, mind. That’s why the GOJ has changed its tune to increasing the NJ population. We’re talking a demographic juggernaut that may ultimately wipe out this country’s productivity and accumulated wealth.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2362

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6) New IC “Gaijin Cards”: Original Nyuukan proposal submitted to Diet is viewable here (8 pages)

As a Debito.org poll indicated, close to a third of all people surveyed as of today don’t have enough information to make an accurate decision about whether the new IC-Chipped Gaijin Cards are a good thing. Well, let’s fix that.

What follows is the actual proposal before Dietmembers, submitted by MOJ Immigration, for how they should look and what they should do. All eight pages are scanned below (the last page suffered from being faxed, so I just append it FYI). Have a read, and you’ll know as much as our lawmakers know. Courtesy of the Japan Times (y’know, they’re a very helpful bunch; take out a subscription).

More information on the genesis of the IC Chip Gaijin Cards here (Japan Times Nov 22, 2005) and here (Debito.org Newsletter May 11, 2008, see items 12 and 13 at http://www.debito.org/?p=1652). More on this particular proposal before the Diet and how it played out in recent media at http://www.debito.org/?p=2381

All links at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2469

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GOOD NEWS

7) Kyodo: Proposal for registering NJ on Juuminhyou by 2012

Coming atcha with some very good news.

NJ residents, after decades of being treated as nonresidents in registry procedures, will by 2012, so the proposal runs, be registered the same as Japanese. Meaning get their own juuminhyou. So say two Kyodo articles below.

Good, good, and good. Here’s a link to information on why the old (meaning current) system is so problematic:

http://www.debito.org/activistspage.html#juuminhyou

Kyodo articles at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=2523

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8 ) Fun Facts #12: Statistics on Naturalized Citizens in Japan; holding steady despite immigration

More Fun Facts: Something else interesting that cropped up while researching that thesis: The number of people who have naturalized (or applied and been rejected for Japanese citizenship for the past ten years. Screen capture of the most recent stats from the MOJ on blog.

Over the past ten years (1998-2007), 153,103 people became Japanese citizens. That’s a sizeable amount, for if you assume reasonable influx for the previous five decades (1948-1997), we’re looking at at least half a million people here as cloaked NJ-blood citizens. That’s a lot of people no matter how you slice it. (Of course, these older stats are still not available online for confirmation.)

As you can see, numbers have held steady, at an average of about 15,000 plus applicants per year. And about the same number were accepted. In fact the rejection rate is so low (153,103/154,844 people = 98.9% acceptance rate), you are only a little more likely to be convicted of a crime during criminal trial in Japan (99.9%) than be rejected for citizenship once you file all the paperwork. That should encourage those who are considering it.

Also note the high numbers of Korean and Chinese applicants (around 90% or more). I was one of the few, the proud, the 725 non-K or C who got in in 2000. Less than five percent. However, the numbers of non-K or C accepted over the past ten years have tripled. I wonder if I was part of blazing some sort of trail.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2466

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9) NUGW labor union “March in March” Sunday March 8, 3:30 Shibuya

Louis Carlet and Catherine Campbell at the NUGW (http://www.nugw.org) say:

Join us at the Fifth Annual Tokyo March in March for job security and equality. Come to Miyashita Park in Shibuya, an 8-minute walk from Hachiko behind the tracks on the way to Harajuku at 3:30pm on Sunday, March 8, 2009. March departs at 5pm.

Each year we hold the March in March to appeal to the thousands of people in Shibuya on a Sunday afternoon with a message of strength and solidarity. We demand that employers and the government cooperate to ensure job security and an equal society for all workers in a Japan that is increasingly multiethnic. Dance, music, performances from areas around the world, colors, costumes, and huge placards make March in March a protest parade you will never forget.

More information, contact details, and downloadable posters at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2548

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… and finally…

10) My next “JUST BE CAUSE” Japan Times Column out March 3
Title: “TOADIES, VULTURES, AND ZOMBIE DEBATES”

As the JBC column begins its second year in the Japan Times, I come out swinging, talking about people who recycle long-dead and buried debates (in this case, racial discrimination) for their own personal gain. In response to the recent debates on the subject in the Japan Times.

I feel it’s one of my best columns yet. It crystallized a number of ideas I’ve had floating around in my head into concise mindsets. Especially the concept of the “zombie debate”. It’ll be out next Tuesday (Wednesday in the provinces). Get a copy!

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All for this Newsletter. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2009 ENDS

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