DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009
Table of Contents:

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NEWS:
1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007
2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo
3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation
4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year
5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

BLUES:
6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back
7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.
8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships
9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”
10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript
11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

REVIEWS:
12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.
13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September
14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon
15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

… and finally... THE MUSE:
16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
Freely forwardable

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NEWS:
1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007

Mainichi: With more and more foreign residents facing employment and immigration problems due to the ongoing recession, the Ministry of Justice is creating new “One Stop Centers” for foreign residents in the Kanto and Tokai regions to handle queries in one place…

The number of native and Japan-born Koreans with special permanent residency, who have lived in Japan since the pre-war period, has been declining. However, the number of Chinese and Filipinos, as well as foreigners of Japanese descent whose employment was liberalized under the 1990 revision to the Law on Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition, has surged. In 2007, the number of these so-called “new comers” exceeded that of special permanent residents for the first time (440,000 vs. 430,000).

COMMENT: Believe Immigration’s plausibly pleasant intentions if you like, but I’ll remain a little skeptical for the moment. Still mentioned is that hackneyed and ludicrous concern about garbage separation, after all, demonstrating that the GOJ is still dealing in trivialities; it might take a little while before the government sees what true assimilation actually means. It’s not just giving information to NJ. It’s also raising awareness amongst the Japanese public about why NJ are here in the first place.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2852

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2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo

Asahi: Police sent papers to prosecutors Tuesday against the operator of a Tokyo hotel that refused entry to the Japan Teachers Union for its annual convention, fearing protests by right-wing groups.

Police said Prince Hotels Inc., its president, Yukihiro Watanabe, 61, the 52-year-old general manager of three Prince group hotels, and managers of the company’s administration and reception departments are suspected of violating the Hotel Business Law.

COMMENT: This is a good precedent. The police are at last enforcing the Hotel Management Law, which says you can’t refuse people unless there are no rooms, there’s a threat to public health, or a threat to public morals. But hotels sometimes refuse foreigners, even have signs up to that effect. They can’t legally do that, but last time I took it before the local police box in Tokyo Ohkubo, they told me they wouldn’t enforce the law. Not in this case.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2766

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3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation

Yomiuri: Police on Friday sent papers to prosecutors on six people suspected of defaming or threatening to physically harm comedian Smiley Kikuchi in messages they posted on his blog after groundlessly concluding he was involved in the murder of a high school girl in 1989…

It is the first time a case has been built simultaneously against multiple flamers over mass attacks on a blog. The police’s reaction represents a strong warning against making online comments that cross the line from freedom of expression to defamation or threats.

COMMENT: Now if only Japan’s police would only enforce past pertinent Civil Court decisions…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2837

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4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year

Mainichi: The JNTO said Wednesday that 408,800 foreigners visited Japan in February, a 41.3 percent decrease from the same month the previous year. The rate of decline was the second largest since statistics were first kept in 1961, after a 41.8 percent reduction in August 1971, the year following the Osaka Expo.

COMMENT: We have tourism to Japan plunging, the second-highest drop in history. Of course, the high yen and less disposable income to go around worldwide doesn’t help, but the Yokoso Japan campaign to bring 10 million tourists to Japan is definitely not succeeding. Not helping are some inhospitable, even xenophobic Japanese hotels, or the fingerprinting campaign at the border (which does not only affect “tourists”) grounded upon anti-terror, anti-crime, and anti-contageous-disease policy goals. Sorry, Japan, must do better. Get rid of the NJ fingerprinting campaign, for starters.

Very active discussion on the causes of the drop at
http://www.debito.org/?p=2840

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5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

THAT SHIKIKIN FEELING
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE (TOKYO) DELVES INTO THE CONFUSING WORLD OF APARTMENT DEPOSITS
AND HOW TO GET THEM BACK

You may feel like you’ve had to wrestle with all kinds of bureaucracy to land that perfect 1DK apartment, but the fun and games don’t end when the contract is stamped. Moving out can present a whole new world of hassle. For many tenants, both foreign and Japanese, the hard-earned shikikin (deposit) they paid when they moved in becomes nothing but a distant memory, as landlords have their way with the cash and return only the change to the renter.

Kazutaka Hayakawa works for the NPO Shinshu Matsumoto Alps Wind, a group that specializes in helping get that deposit back. Here he offers up the basics on renters’ rights…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2801

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BLUES:
6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back

Mainichi: Japan began offering money Wednesday for unemployed foreigners of Japanese ancestry to go home, mostly to Brazil and Peru, to stave off what officials said posed a serious unemployment problem.

Thousands of foreigners of Japanese ancestry, who had been hired on temporary or referral contracts, have lost their jobs recently, mostly at manufacturers such as Toyota Motor Corp. and its affiliates, which are struggling to cope with a global downturn…

The government will give 300,000 yen ($3,000) to an unemployed foreigner of Japanese ancestry who wishes to leave the country, and 200,000 ($2,000) each to family members, the ministry said. But they must forgo returning to Japan. The budget for the aid is still undecided, it said.

COMMENT: Here’s the ultimate betrayal: Hey Gaijin, er, Nikkei! H ere’s a pile of money. Leave and don’t come back.

So what if it only applies to people with Japanese blood (not, for example, Chinese). And so what if we’ve invited you over here for up to two decades, taken your taxes and most of your lives over here as work units, and fired you first when the economy went sour. Just go home. You’re now a burden on Us Japanese. You don’t belong here, regardless of how much you’ve invested in our society and saved our factories from being priced out of the market. You don’t deserve our welfare benefits, job training, or other social benefits that are entitled to real residents and contributors to this country.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2860

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7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.

Shuukan Ekonomisuto (from Mainichi Shinbun presses) dated March 10, 2009 had yet another great article on how things are going for Nikkei NJ et al.

Highlights: Numbers of Nikkei Brazilians are dropping (small numbers in the area surveyed) as economic conditions are so bad they can’t find work. Those who can go back are the lucky ones, in the sense that some with families can’t afford the multiple plane tickets home, let alone their rents. Local NGOs are helping out, and even the Hamamatsu City Government is offering them cheap public housing, and employing them on a temporary basis. Good. Lots of fieldwork and individual stories are included to illustrate people’s plights.

The pundits are out in force offering some reasonable assessments. Labor union leader Torii Ippei wonders if the recent proposals to reform the Trainee Visa system and loosen things up vis-a-vis Gaijin Cards and registration aren’t just a way to police NJ better, and make sure that NJ labor stays temp, on a 3-year revolving door. Sakanaka Hidenori says that immigration is the only answer to the demographic realities of low birthrate and population drop. The LDP proposed a bill in February calling for the NJ population to become 10% of the total pop (in other words, 10 million people) within fifty years, as a taminzoku kyousei kokka (a nation where multicultures coexist). A university prof named Tanno mentions the “specialness” (tokushu) of nihongo, and asks if the GOJ has made up its mind about getting people fluent in the language. Another prof at Kansai Gakuin says that the EU has come to terms with immigration and labor mobility, and if Japan doesn’t it will be the places that aren’t Tokyo or major industrial areas suffering the most.

The biggest question is posed once again by the Ekonomisuto article: Is Japan going to be a roudou kaikoku or sakoku? It depends on the national government, of course, is the conclusion I glean.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2721

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8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships

On the heels of Japan’s latest wheeze to cover up it’s failed Nikkei import labor policy, here’s a bit of good news: Somebody trying to do their bit to help keep unemployed NJs’ heads above water. Lawson convenience stores.

I smiled until I saw how small the numbers being employed full time were, despite the “quadrupling” claimed in the first paragraph. But every little bit helps. So does Lawson’s offer for scholarships for Vietnamese exchange students (see Japanese below).

Many times when I go into convenience stores in the Tokyo area, I’m surprised how many Chinese staff I see. Anyway, patronize Lawson if they’re trying to do good for the stricken NJ community.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2868

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9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”

Japan Times: The Japan Federation of Bar Associations and nonprofit organizations voiced concern Wednesday that bills to revise immigration laws will violate the human rights of foreign residents.

Namba and Nobuyuki Sato of the Research-Action Institute for the Koreans in Japan urged lawmakers to amend the bills so the state can’t use the zairyu card code number as a “master key” to track every detail of foreigners’ lives. “Such a thing would be unacceptable to Japanese, and (the government) must explain why it is necessary for foreigners,” Sato said.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2833

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10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript

Turning the keyboard over to Mark in Yayoi, who has just been stopped for the 123rd time by the Japanese police for an ID Check.

This time, however, he was stopped and demanded a bag search. Although NJ are not protected against random ID checks (if he shows, you must show), random searches are in fact something protected against by the Constitution (Article 35) if you don’t feel like cooperating. But tell the cops that. He did. See what happened.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2806

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11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

As many of you know (or have experienced, pardon the pun, firsthand), Japan reinstituted its fingerprinting for most non-Japanese, be they tourist or Regular Permanent Resident, at the border from November 2007. The policy justification was telling: prevention of terrorism, crime, and infectious diseases. As if these are a matter of nationality.

Wellup, it isn’t, as it’s now clear what the justification really is for. It’s for the GOJ to increase its database of fingerprints, period, of everyone. Except they knew they couldn’t sell it to the Japanese public (what with all the public outrage over the Juuki-Net system) as is. So Immigration is trying to sell automatic fingerprinting machines at Narita to the public as a matter of “simplicity, speed and convenience” (tansoka, jinsokuka ribensei).

http://www.debito.org/?p=2745

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REVIEWS:
12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

See Suo Masayuki’s movie SORE DE MO, BOKU WA YATTENAI (I Just Didn’t Do It), everyone. I did. It’s an excellent illustration of court procedure in Japan long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious. Experience vicariously what you might go through if arrested in Japan.

Don’t think it just won’t happen to you. Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ. If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues). And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case). Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

If it happens to you, as SOREBOKU demonstrates, you will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

Like getting sick in the US (and finding that the health care system could destroy your life), getting arrested in Japan could similarly ruin yours. It’s Japan’s SICKO system…

http://www.debito.org/?p=2705

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13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September

Some various and sundry thoughts on audience reactions to the excellent SOUR STRAWBERRIES documentary as we finish up the last screenings (thinking about another August-September tour, so book me if you’re interested), and consider what the movie may mean in the context of international labor migration. In sum, SOUR STRAWBERRIES may be a testiment to the last days of Japan’s internationalized industrial prowess, as people are being turfed out because no matter how many years and how much contribution, they don’t belong. Have to wait and see. But to me it’s clear the GOJ is still not getting beyond seeing NJ as work units as opposed to workers and people. Especially in these times of economic hardship. I saw it for myself as the movie toured.

http://www.debito.org/?p=282

A quick positive review from Japan Visitor site on documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Japan’s Hidden Guest Workers. Excerpt here.

http://japanvisitor.blogspot.com/2009/04/arudou-debito-and-sour-strawberries.html

If you’d like a showing in your area like the one mentioned above, be in touch with me at debito@debito.org. Planning another nationwide tour between late August and early September.

Next showing March 23, L-Plaza, Sapporo. More at:
http://www.debito.org/?p=2894

If you’d like to contact the directors or order a copy of the movie (it’s a great educational aid), go to:
http://www.cinemabstruso.de/strawberries/main.html

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14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon

Just indulge me a little here as I talk about something that impressed me about the power of the Internet.

It started during a search on Amazon.com two weeks, when I found an amazing avenue for researching insides of books for excerpts.

I realized I could go through and see just how often Debito.org is being cited as a resource in respectable print publications. I soon found myself busy: 37 books refer in some way to me by name or things archived here. I cite them all below from most recent publication on down.

Amazing. Debito.org as a domain has been going strong since 1997, and it’s taken some time to establish a degree of credibility. But judging by the concentration of citations in recent years, the cred seems to be compounding.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2786

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15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

Here’s the definition of “gaijin” not according to me (a la my Japan Times columns), but rather according to the marketplace. Here’s a photo sent in by an alert shopper, from Tokyu Hands November 17, 2008.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2012

Note what makes a prototypical “gaijin” by Japanese marketing standards: blue eyes, big nose, cleft chin, and outgoing manner. Not to mention English-speaking. Yep, we’re all like that. Anyone for buying some bucked-tooth Lennon-glasses to portray Asians in the same manner? Naw, that would get you in trouble with the anti-defamation leagues overseas. Seems to me we need a league like that over here…

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… and finally… THE MUSE:
16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

A quick tangent for a weekend blogging: A 1940 Herblock cartoon I found (one of my favorites ever) demonstrating how people will make dithering arguments against the inevitable: in the cartoon’s case against doing something to stop Hitler. Now compare that with the dithering arguments against doing something to stop racial discrimination in Japan, with a law against it.

http://www.debito.org/?p=2889

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All for today. Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org

Speaking schedule at http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672
Please feel free to contact me if you would like a presentation in your area.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009 ENDS

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