DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 14, 2009

mytest

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 MARCH 14, 2009
Table of Contents:

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THE DARK SIDE
1) NPA targeting NJ zones, “to ensure safety”. (Oh, and to prevent crime.)
2) NJ company “J Hewitt” advertises “Japanese Only” jobs, in the Japan Times!
3) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, on Japan’s NJ labor, screening schedule Mar 21-31
Tsukuba Tokyo Nagoya Hikone Osaka Okayama Kumamoto

POINTS OF LIGHT
4) Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules
5) Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou
6) AXA Direct insurance amends its CNN advertising to sound less exclusive to NJ customers
7) Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese Pt II: Why you should run for office in Japan

MISCELLANEOUS
8 ) Books recently received by Debito.org: “Japan’s Open Future”, et al.
9) Fun Facts #13: National minimum wage map
10) Tangent: Terrie’s Take on Japan going to pot
11) Economist.com on jury systems: spreading in Asia, being rolled back in the West

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Mar 3 2009 on “Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates” (full text)
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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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THE DARK SIDE
1) NPA targeting NJ zones, “to ensure safety”. (Oh, and to prevent crime.)

First, sit down and stifle your mirth. The National Police Agency says it’s going to start implementing “crime prevention measures to ensure safety in areas where many foreigners reside”, in order to “enable foreigners in Japan to live a better life”.

Yeah sure. We’ve heard that one before.

Kyodo doesn’t seem to have, however, reporting this as though it’s some kind of new policy. Hardly. The first anti-crime action plans this decade happened before the World Cup 2002, with all manner of “anti-hooligan” measures. Then came the “anti-NJ and youth crime” programs under Koizumi 2003-2004. Then came the anti-terrorism plans of 2004 which resulted in passport checks (for all NJ, erroneously claimed the police) at hotels from 2005. Not to mention the al-Qaeda scares of 2004, snapping up innocent people of Islamic appearance. Then the border fingerprinting from 2007. Then the overpolicing during the Toyako G8 Summit of 2008. Now what? The “anti-NJ-organized crime” putsch in the NPA’s most recent report (see Debito.org entry of last week), with little reference to the Yakuza organized crime syndicates in Japan. (NB: Links to all these events from the blog.)

And that’s before we even get to the biannual reports from the NPA saying “foreign crime is rising” (even when it isn’t). Never lets up, does it?

And this is, again, for our safety? Save us from ourselves?

Okay, now you can laugh.
http://www.debito.org/?p=2593

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2) NJ company “J Hewitt” advertises “Japanese Only” jobs in the Japan Times!

Shock horror. Seriously. Soap seller “J Hewitt” (run by a NJ named Jon Knight) advertised three “Japanese Only” jobs through the Japan Times Classifieds, March 9, 2009. This is not kosher for the employer to do (it’s in violation of Japan’s Labor Standards Law Article 3), nor is it a hiring practice the Japan Times should promote. Scans of the advertisements and corporate email address of the employer enclosed, should you feel the urge to express your feelings.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2645

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3) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, on Japan’s NJ labor, screening schedule Mar 21-31
Tsukuba Tokyo Nagoya Hikone Osaka Okayama Kumamoto

I sent out news in a special-edition Newsletter earlier this week, but documentary “Sour Strawberries – Japan’s hidden guest workers” will be shown nationwide the last week of March 2009. The movie shows migrants fighting for their rights as workers and citizens. Contains interviews with NJ workers on their treatment, with input from people like migration expert Dr Gabriele Vogt, Dietmember Kouno Taro, Keidanren policymaker Inoue Hiroshi, labor rights leader Torii Ippei, Dietmember Tsurunen Marutei, and activist Arudou Debito, who gives us an animated tour of “Japanese Only” signs in Kabukicho.

In lieu of the directors, Arudou Debito will host the movie screenings at each of the venues in Tsukuba, Tokyo, Nagoya, Shiga Hikone, Osaka, Okayama, and Kumamoto, and lead discussions in English and Japanese. Screening schedule from the blog (with information on how to get there from adjacent links):

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

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POINTS OF LIGHT
4) Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules

AP and Mainichi report that Japan’s ministries are interfering with each other’s goals. The Interior Ministry (Soumushou) wants tourism up to 10 million entrants per annum, but MOJ’s ludicrous and discriminatory fingerprinting system has made entry worse than cumbersome. And the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and as of last year Tourism (MLITT) isn’t enforcing sightseeing laws, to force member hotels to offer suitable standards for NJ tourists. Excerpt:

“A survey of 1,560 hotels and inns registered under the Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels showed that 40.1 percent couldn’t serve customers in a foreign language, and 22.9 percent said they had no intention of providing such a service in the future. The law is designed to provide tax breaks to hotels catering to foreign tourists.”

You know things are getting bad fiscally when the bureaucrats start bickering to this degree over people who can’t even vote, but can choose another market to patronize. Good. Finally.

After government agencies acquiesced in enabling hotels to refuse NJ (and a poll last year indicated that 27% of responding hotels didn’t want gaijin), even had a Tourism Agency chief saying he’d ignore those hotels, it’s about time somebody in the GOJ got miffed at people at all levels not doing their jobs or keeping their promises. Sic ’em, Soumushou.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2628

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5) Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou

Good news. In a land where bureaucrats draft the laws and quasi-laws, the bureaucrats have just announced a bill for putting NJ on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates. This is long-overdue, since it’s taken 60 years (1952 to 2012) for them to realize that non-citizens should also be registered as residents (and family members), not invisible taxpayers and spouses.

Notifications and scans from an alert Debito.org reader of the Interior Ministry draft enclosed. Also news on how the bureaucracy might just have realized the error of their ways after enough people downloaded legal directives from Debito.org over the past decade, indicating in clear legal language that NJ could be juuminhyoued. Some local governments even created special forms to answer the demand more efficiently.

Bravo. Next thing to tackle: The Koseki Family Registry issue, where citizenship is still required for proper listing as a spouse and current family member.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2584

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6) AXA Direct insurance amends its CNN advertising to sound less exclusive to NJ customers

More good news. Chand B, who reported last October that AXA Direct insurance company had some pretty rough (and exclusionary-sounding) English wording in its CNN television advertising, updates his report. AXA Direct actually took his request for amendment seriously, and changed their text. Well done. Thanks for taking this up and getting things improved, Chand. Scans and links enclosed, and AXA Direct’s new advertised guidelines:

Axa only prepares its product information in Japanese. If you can understand this you can sign.
If you can understand you can sign.
Also if you have an accident we can only deal with it in Japanese.
In that case you would always require a Japanese-speaking friend.
We only sell by phone so please prepare your information in Japanese.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2564

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7) Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese Pt II: Why you should run for office in Japan

Jon Heese, recently-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman, wrote an entry on Debito.org a month ago on how and why to get elected to local politics as naturalized Japanese. By popular demand, here’s his follow-up, in the same wiseacre style you’ve come to know and expect.

Excerpt: Now, let’s start thinking about how we are going to get your ass in the queue. With the few visits Debito has made to various offices, he has confirmed everything I said in the last post: 1. you don’t need money; 2. the system is designed to get you elected…

Look at all the problems we face, from global warming to “pick your your favourite gripe.” Everyone has said, “If enough people would just get their head out of their asses, we could change things.” Here is the scoop, boys and girls, things change when everyone wants them to change. When things are not changing well, clearly people don’t want to change.

No change may be a result of not knowing of the problem. This is where debito.org is making a difference. However, elected reps no longer have the option to just bitch about bad situations. You may call it co-option, I call it planning the fights you can win. And you win those fights because you have the support of the masses, not just because something is the right thing to do.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2566

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MISCELLANEOUS
8 ) Books recently received by Debito.org: “Japan’s Open Future”, et al.

Some very friendly people out there send me books from time to time, for review or just because they think it might be of interest. I’m grateful for that, and although time to read whole books is a luxury (I just got a pile of them for my own PhD thesis in two languages, anticipate a lot of bedtime reading), I thought it would be nice to at least acknowledge receipt here and offer a thumb-through review. Those books are: “JAPAN’S OPEN FUTURE: An Agenda for Global Citizenship” (Anthem Press 2009), “CURING JAPAN’S AMERICA ADDICTION: How Bush & Koizumi destroyed Japan’s middle class and what we need to do about it” (Chin Music Press 2008), and “GOODBYE MADAME BUTTERFLY: Sex, Marriage and the Modern Japanese Woman” (Chin Music Press 2007). Excerpts and links enclosed, for your Sunday-afternoon enjoyment.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2605

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9) Fun Facts #13: National minimum wage map

Have you ever wondered what the minimum wage is in Japan? Well, guess what, it depends. On the prefecture. On the industry. On the industry within the prefecture too.

Now, before you throw up your arms in anguish and wonder how we’ll ever get an accurate measure, along comes the GOJ with a clickable minimum wage map by prefecture and industry. You can have a look and see where people on the bottom rung of the ladder are earning the least and most. To quote Spock, “Fascinating.”

Of course, when I say “on the bottom rung of the ladder”, I mean citizens. There are however, tens of thousands of people (i.e. NJ “Trainees”) who don’t qualify for the labor-law protections of a minimum wage. They get saddled with debts and some make around 300 yen an hour, less than half the minimum minimum wage for Japanese…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2598

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10) Tangent: Terrie’s Take on Japan going to pot

Reefer madness in Japan, according to the WSJ and Terrie’s Take. Excerpt from the latter: If there is anything the Japanese authorities are allergic to, following perhaps foreign burglars and divorced foreigners wanting custody of their kids, it would be marijuana — the demon weed that always seems to have been “bought from a foreigner in Roppongi”. The media is having a field day with the number of arrests frequently, and clearly the police are feeding lots of juicy details as each case breaks.

The National Police Agency announced this last week that it arrested 2,778 people for marijuana offenses in 2008, 22.3% more people than in 2007. 90% of those arrested where first-time offenders not habitual criminals, and 60% of them were under the age of 30. Over the last 12 months, we’ve seen a parade of high-profile marijuana users get busted. Entertainers, sumo wrestlers (Russian and Japanese), students at prestigious universities (e.g., Keio and Waseda), foreign rugby players, and even large portions of entire university rugby teams…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2454

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11) Economist.com on jury systems: Spreading in Asia, being rolled back in the West

Economist: MARK TWAIN regarded trial by jury as “the most ingenious and infallible agency for defeating justice that human wisdom could contrive”. He would presumably approve of what is happening in Russia and Britain. At the end of 2008, Russia abolished jury trials for terrorism and treason. Britain, the supposed mother of trial by jury, is seeking to scrap them for serious fraud and to ban juries from some inquests. Yet China, South Korea and Japan are moving in the opposite direction, introducing or extending trial by jury in a bid to increase the impartiality and independence of their legal systems. Perhaps what a British law lord, the late Lord Devlin, called “the lamp that shows that freedom lives” burns brighter in Asia these days.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2415

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… and finally…
12) JT JUST BE CAUSE Column Mar 3 2009 on “Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates” (full text)

Here’s this month’s Japan Times JBC column. I think it’s my best yet. It gelled a number of things on my mind into concise mindsets. Enjoy.

ON TOADIES, VULTURES, AND ZOMBIE DEBATES
JUST BE CAUSE

Column 13 for the Japan Times JBC Column, published March 3, 2009
By Arudou Debito
DRAFT TWENTY THREE, as submitted to the JT

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20090303ad.html
http://www.debito.org/?p=2516

If there’s one thing execrable in the marketplace of ideas, it’s “zombie debates”. As in, discussions long dead, yet exhumed by Dr. Frankensteins posing as serious debaters.

Take the recent one in the Japan Times about racial discrimination ((herehere,herehere, and here). When you consider the human-rights advances of the past fifty years, it’s settled, long settled. Yet regurgitated is the same old guff:

“We must separate people by physical appearance and treat them differently, because another solution is inconceivable.” Or, “It’s not discrimination it’s a matter of cultural misunderstandings, and anyone who objects is a cultural imperialist.” Or, “Discrimination maintains social order or follows human nature.”

Bunkum. We’ve had 165 countries sign an agreement in the United Nations defining what racial discrimination is, and committing themselves to stop it. That includes our country.

We’ve had governments learn from historical example, creating systems for abolition and redress. We’ve even had one apartheid government abolish itself.

In history, these are all fixed stars. There is simply no defense for racial discrimination within civilized countries.

Yet as if in a bell jar, the debate continues in Japan: Japan is somehow unique due to historical circumstance, geographic accident, or purity of race or method. Or bullying foreigners who hate Japan take advantage of peace-loving effete Japanese. Or racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan, so there. (Actually, that last one is true.)

A good liberal arts education should have fixed this. It could be that the most frequent proponents Internet denizens have a “fluid morality.” Their attitude towards human rights depends on what kind of reaction they’ll get online, or how well they’ve digested their last meal. But who cares? These mass debaters are not credible sources, brave enough to append their real names and take responsibility for their statements. Easily ignored.

Harder to ignore are some pundits in established media who clearly never bought into the historical training found in all developed (and many developing) multicultural societies: that racial discrimination is simply not an equitable or even workable system. However, in Japan, where history is ill-taught, these scribblers flourish.

The ultimate irony is that it’s often foreigners, who stand to lose the most from discrimination, making the most racist arguments. They wouldn’t dare say the same things in their countries of origin, but by coupling 1) the cultural relativity and tolerance training found in liberal societies with 2) the innate “guestism” of fellow outsiders, they try to reset the human-rights clock to zero.

Why do it? What do they get from apologism? Certainly not more rights.

Well, some apologists are culture vultures, and posturing is what they do. Some claim a “cultural emissary” status, as in: “Only I truly understand how unique Japan is, and how it deserves exemption from the pantheon of human experience.” Then the poseurs seek their own unique status, as an oracle for the less “cultured.”

Then there are the toadies: the disenfranchised cozying up to the empowered and the majority. It’s simple: Tell “the natives” what they want to hear (“You’re special, even unique, and any problems are somebody else’s fault.”) and lookit! You can enjoy the trappings of The Club (without ever having any real membership in it) while pulling up the ladder behind you.

It’s an easy sell. People are suckers for pinning the blame on others. For some toadies, croaking “It’s the foreigners’ fault!” has become a form of Tourette’s syndrome.

That’s why this debate, continuously looped by a tiny minority, is not only zombified, it’s stale and boring thanks to its repetitiveness and preposterousness. For who can argue with a straight face that some people, by mere dint of birth, deserve an inferior place in a society?

Answer: those with their own agendas, who care not one whit for society’s weakest members. Like comprador bourgeoisie, apologists are so caught up in the game they’ve lost their moral bearing.

These people don’t deserve “equal time” in places like this newspaper. The media doesn’t ask, “for the sake of balance,” a lynch mob to justify why they lynched somebody, because what they did was illegal. Racial discrimination should be illegal too in Japan, under our Constitution. However, because it’s not (yet), apologists take advantage, amorally parroting century-old discredited mind sets to present themselves as “good gaijin.”

Don’t fall for it. Japan is no exception from the world community and its rules. It admitted as such when it signed international treaties.

The debate on racial discrimination is dead. Those who seek to resurrect it should grow up, get an education, or be ignored for their subterfuge.

755 WORDS

Debito Arudou is coauthor of the “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.” Just Be Cause appears on the first Community Page of the month. Send comments to community@japantimes.co.jp
ENDS
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All for this Newsletter. See you on the road starting from the end of next week!
Arudou Debito
Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 14, 2009 ENDS

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