DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 2, 2009

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Hi everyone. Debito here. Happy Golden Week! If you’re in the mood for a Newsletter, also check out my recent blog poll on what you think about GW, visible from any page at www.debito.org. For according to Terrie’s Take last week:
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“The central government is reportedly looking at modifying the dates of some public holidays, so as to ensure that they fall on days that allow 3-day weekends and thus encourage employees to take time off work and travel with their families. To ensure that Dads actually do take off their extra days of leave, which currently they don’t 50% of the time, the government is also considering changing accounting rules so that any unused employee leave will have to be accounted for as a liability, and be financially provisioned for in company accounts.”

Terrie’s Take on Golden Week (2008 and 2009)


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Anyway, on to the Newsletter:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 2, 2009

Table of Contents:
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ANTI-NJ POLICY PROPOSALS, AND CONCOMITANT PROTESTS
1) Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents
2) Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing
3) Asahi: Domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards
4) TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”
5) Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe
6) What if the GOJ was not a barrier to multiculturalism?
Asahi on Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

MORE ASSISTANCE AND MIXED SIGNALS
7) The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin):
Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback
8 ) “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments:
“lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes
9) Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities
10) From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!
11) Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

… and finally…

12) Get Japan Times next Tuesday May 5:
My next JUST BE CAUSE column out on Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing.

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

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ANTI-NJ POLICY PROPOSALS, AND CONCOMITANT PROTESTS

1) Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents

Here’s a nice roundup from Amnesty International about upcoming GOJ proposals for further policing NJ residents, and what you can do to protest them. Amnesty International says:

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Say no to immigration law revision!

An assembly and rally will be held to protest amendments to the law.
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Date : May 24th (Sun) 14:00-15:30
Assembly 16:00-17:00 Rally
Place : Koutsu Biru (Tokyo, Minato-ku, Shimbashi 5-15-5) 6 minutes’ walk from Shimbashi station (JR Line, Karasumori-guchi)

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This is information from Amnesty International Japan regarding controversial bills under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents. Brochures with background on the issue in different languages are available in this blog entry:
http://www.debito.org/?p=3100

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2) Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing

Japan Times: A Democratic Party of Japan legal affairs panel has drafted proposals to soften the rules and punishments stipulated in government-sponsored bills to tighten immigration regulations on foreign residents, DPJ lawmaker Ritsuo Hosokawa said Thursday.

The panel called for eliminating eight provisions in the bills, including one that would oblige foreigners to always carry residency cards, Hosokawa told The Japan Times

“The control (over foreign residents) is too tight” in the bills, said Hosokawa, who is the justice minister in the DPJ’s shadow Cabinet. Under the proposed system, resident registrations would be handled by the Justice Ministry, not the municipalities where people live.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3034

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3) Asahi: domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards

Asahi: The review of the proposed new section of the laws controlling residency of foreigners in Japan under exit and entry laws for foreigners is currently taking place in the Legal Subcommittee of the Lower House. Although on one hand it is expected that the law will have the effect of reducing illegal residency in Japan, on the other hand criticism is being heard that this law “Can be seen as nothing more than making foreigners (residing in Japan) an object of surveillance”…

Negative reactions, mainly from human rights NPO groups that support foreigners are very strong. Numerous faults with the law, have been pointed out one after the otherThe requirement that foreigners carry the residency card with them at all times is excessive, criminal penalties for not carrying it are too heavy, canceling residency privileges because of errors in reporting address or because of getting married without reporting it are too severe, the human rights of foreigners who are attempting to flee from domestic violence are not protected, refugees, whose necessarily must undergo a lengthy administrative process are not covered by this law and their status is left vague (and other problems).

Hatate Akira, head of the group “Freedom and human rights coalition” has attacked the very philosophical basis of the law saying that “This new level of surveillance (of foreigners) will lead to increased discrimination” In response to this, the Japan Democratic Party has proposed dropping from the law the requirement to carry this identity card and the imposition of criminal penalties for not doing so, as well as other modifications…
http://www.debito.org/?p=3143

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4) TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”

TIME: If Nikkei Brazilians, Peruvians and others who have lost their jobs go home, what will Japan do? Last week, Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a long-term growth strategy to create millions of jobs and add $1.2 trillion to GDP by 2020. But the discussion of immigration reform is notoriously absent in Japan, and reaching a sensible policy for foreign workers has hardly got under way. Encouraging those foreigners who would actually like to stay in Japan to leave seems a funny place to start.

Asahi: SAO PAULO: Many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry returning here from recession-struck Japan are struggling to find work, according to Grupo Nikkei, an NGO set up to support the job-seekers Some returnees who performed unskilled labor in Japan have found it difficult to return to old jobs that require specific expertise, according to Leda Shimabukuro, 57, who heads the group. Some youths also lack Portuguese literacy skills, Shimabukuro said.

NY Times: So Japan has been keen to help foreign workers go home, thus easing pressure on domestic labor markets and getting thousands off unemployment rolls.

“Japan’s economy has hit a rainstorm. There won’t be good employment opportunities for a while, so that’s why we’re suggesting that the Nikkei Brazilians go home,” said Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

“Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said, who led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment in Japan

Mr. Kawasaki said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole. “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multi-ethnic society.” He said the United States had been “a failure on the immigration front,” and cited extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3055

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5) Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe

Economist piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe: Japan’s policy results from a perception that the stock of jobs is fixed, so if you remove the foreign population more jobs go to natives. But low-skill immigrants often do jobs natives will not. Some argue that without immigrants these undesirable jobs would pay more and then natives would take them. But that simply encourages employers to outsource these jobs to another country (which means the wages are spent elsewhere). When it comes to jobs that can physically not be sent abroad, it raises the costs of production which can mean fewer high-skill, well-paid jobs.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3094

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6) What if the GOJ was not a barrier to multiculturalism?
Asahi on Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

Remove the exclusivity of the GOJ from the political landscape, and consider what might happen:

Asahi: Little Tokyo, a strip of land 700 meters east-west and 500 meters north-south, has become more “international,” or rather, multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural.

The town has seen a sharp rise in the Korean population in recent years, while young Japanese-Americans are leaving the area…

On the streets, Chinese and Korean, among many other languages, can be heard along with Japanese and English…

In recent years, redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles attracted more young residents, including students, to apartment complexes with reasonable rents. Little Tokyo soon became a popular hangout of those people.

The town’s transformation from a Japanese to multiethnic community reflects changes in the Nikkeijin (Japanese-American) community in the United States…
http://www.debito.org/?p=3124

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MORE ASSISTANCE AND MIXED SIGNALS

7) The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin):
Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback

One of the best bits of good news that came out last year regarding the international community in Japan was the teigaku kyuufukin — the 12,000 yen per person (plus 8000 yen on top of that per dependent and oldie) economic stimulus bribe that the GOJ thinks will boost domestic consumption.

Regardless of whether you think it makes any economic sense (I should think a holiday from the 5% Consumption Tax would go a lot farther to stimulate consumer consumption, and I bet it would cost a lot less to administrate), it’s good that registered NJ residents regardless of visa also qualify (they almost didn’t, and really didn’t last time they came out with this kind of scheme in 1999; it barely amounted to much more than bribes for electoral yoroshikus back then either).

But when and how do NJ get it now? What follows is how the stimulus is being administrated in one part of Tokyo, courtesy of Ben. Eight pages, the first four are bilingual, the rest are directed at citizens. Your administrative taxes at work.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3113

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8 ) “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments:
“Lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes

Tokyo Reader: I am currently in a dialogue with company HT. Over the winter, HT looks to have lowered rents on the 1K apartments. What used to be advertised as 150,000 yen a month is now 135,000 yen. (I say “used to be advertised” because there is some evidence that different parties are paying different rents, having nothing to do with a discount system.)

Since I had been paying the higher rent, I proposed paying the new advertised price. According to the Land & House Lease Law (“LHLL”), Article 32, a tenant can propose a rent reduction when there is evidence that rents in a given neighborhood have declined. The landlord may disagree and then a mandatory arbitration panel is supposed to decide the matter.

Company HT insists that my 1K is somehow special that it requires the higher price (150,000 yen). Funny is that when I moved into the building, there was no such tiered pricing. Further, Company HT claims that my lease is not covered by the Land & House Lease Law, but rather is a “Loan for use” under Civil Code, Article 593…

Michael Fox: Can anything be done if your rent is increased unfairly? Or what if people moving into your building are paying less? Good news, there is a designated process for alleviating overcharges…

If negotiation fails, the next step is to deposit the money into escrow (kyoutaku with the local government. The papers for such procedure can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Department (Houmukyoku) of your city/town office.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3073

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9) Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities

I spotted this recent Economist article (I have a paper subscription; call me retro) over lunch yesterday, and was surprised to see that Japanese industry, after decades of wait (see article below), has finally bought Russian fuel. About time.

Living in Hokkaido for more than twenty years now has given me a number of insights by osmosis regarding our extremely proximate Russian neighbor (in three places — Wakkanai, Nemuro, and Rausu — mere kilometers away), and how that affects business.

First, Japanese and Russians tend not to get along. We still have no peace treaty (merely an armistice) with Russia after the 1945 seizure of the Northern Territories (and the big loss of southern Sakhalin, still called by its prewar name “Karafuto” by not a few Hokkaidoites). We also get occasional articles in the Hokkaido Shinbun reminding the public of pre-surrender Soviet submarine raids off Rumoi, and the impending invasion of northern and eastern Hokkaido before McArthur stepped in. Old people still remember postwar Russian concentration camps and forced repatriations from lands they feel they rightfully settled. And even today, the rough-and-tumble nature of the Russian that Hokkaidoites most frequently come in contact with (the sailor) was at the heart of the exclusionism behind the Otaru Onsens Case. The Japanese military, excuse me, “Self Defense Forces” still have a very strong presence up here (even building our snow sculptures) to ward off possible Soviet invasions, and keep us from getting too friendly with (or receive too many Aeroflot flights from) the Rosuke.

Second, Hokkaido has for years been unable to take advantage of the goldmine just off their shores. Potential deals with Sakhalin have not only been stymied by foot-dragging government bureaucrats (and the occasional businessman who, according to business contact Simon Jackson of North Point Network KK, cite business deals gone sour with the Soviets around three or four decades ago!). The most ludicrous example was where overseas energy interests were considering opening offices in Sapporo in the early 1990s (for Sapporo’s standard of living was far higher than that of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk). But they took one look at the toolshed that was essentially the Hokkaido International School back then and decided their relocated families needed better educational opportunities. The Hokkaido Government has since rectified that with a much nicer building for HIS, but it remains in the annals of bungled policy and opportunities. Thus Sapporo missed out on all the gobs of riches that oil money provides anywhere (viz. Edmonton or Calgary) as the end of the era of cheap petroleum makes exploration and development economically feasible just about anywhere.

Third, as the article demonstrates below, Tokyo seems to be skipping over Hokkaido again with its first LNG deal. If we had set up the infrastructure when we had the chance, we could be getting some of that value-added. Granted, doing business in Russia (what with the shady elements posing as dealers and administrators) is pretty risky. But it seems in keeping with the historical gormlessness of Hokkaido (what with all the crowding out of entrepreneurial industry through a century of public works), and the maintenance of our island as a resource colony of the mainland. See an essay I wrote on this way back in 1996, and tell me if much has changed.

In fact, it seems the only reason Japan has come round to dealing with Sakhalin at all is because increasingly mighty China is squeezing them out of the market, according to The Economist below.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3075

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10) From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!

Mainichi Daily News July 19, 2000 talks about a killer gang that effected foreign accents to throw police off their scent. This is not the first time I’ve found cases of NJ being blamed for J crime. Check out three cases (Mainichi 2004 and 2006). where biker gangs told their victims to blame foreigners, a murderer and his accomplice tried to say a “blond” guy killed his mother, and an idiot trucker, who overslept late for work, tried to claim that a gang of foreigners kidnapped him! How many other crimes have been pinned on foreigners in this way, one wonders.
http://www.debito.org/?p=3060

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11) Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

Shrikant Atre comments on Japan Times article on shoplifting, where Japanese suspects are getting kid-gloved by the NPA:

“I think any crime is a crime. If the NPA tries to solve the problem by “counselling and trying to find out Mental State of criminals involved in these cases” this must be another form to forcibly reduce crime rate of (I suspect crimes done by J citizens) in Japan.

I wanted JT to find out that out of the 17,816 cases alone in Tokyo last year, how many were NJ criminals ? How many J criminals have been “Counselled and Let to go with a small verbal notice”.

The same report states that “Items worth over 300 billion yen are shoplifted each year in Japan where the crime is usually seen as a minor offense”.

Now, if there are 145,429 cases reported in last year in Japan which has a population of 125 million, it means that 1.16 percent of all the Japanese people (unless only NJ did all the said crimes) ARE Criminals. Good indication ! All the world should watch Japanese Tourists instead of making a YOKOSO to them. Also the same report statistics if believed, these 1.16% people stole goods worth of 300 billion yen / year in Japan, means 2400 yen of shoplifting per capita or a Whopping 2.06 million yens of heist apiece by caught criminals (145,429 only) ? I am literally amazed by these statistics.”
http://www.debito.org/?p=3007

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… and finally…

12) Get Japan Times next Tuesday May 5: Next JUST BE CAUSE column out on Fujimori’s 31-year sentence.

I know I know, I’ve commented on Fujimori ad nauseam in the past. However, with his recent sentencing to essentially life imprisonment (he’s 70 years old) by a Peruvian court, this column brings a sense of closure to his case, discussing the final good precedent of holding an outlaw president accountable for his international excesses. Have a read. At 950 words, you might find it concise and insightful.

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Have a nice holiday, everyone!
Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
Daily Blog updates at www.debito.org. Speaking schedule at
http://www.debito.org/?page_id=1672
If somebody wants me to give a speech somewhere, please contact me at debito@debito.org.
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 2, 2009 ENDS

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