DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

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DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Table of Contents:
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YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS
1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit
2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus
3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent
4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery
6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?
7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.
8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?
9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

BLOWBACK
10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?
11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote
12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO
13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009
14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)
15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”
16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …

17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS Feed and Subscriptions at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS

1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit

Debito.org reported on this on October 30, but back then only two US Senators had signed. Now as of November 5, 22 US Senators have signed a letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during his Japan visit. Three scanned pages follow.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4984

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2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus

AOL: Say you marry someone and you have children. You get divorced. There’s a custody battle. You win. Your ex-spouse refuses to accept the decision. He or she takes the children and flees overseas to a country that doesn’t recognize your custody rights.

What do you do?

This is not a hypothetical question for thousands of parents who go through this exact scenario every year. Their options are limited.

One option, however, is Gus Zamora…

LETTER FROM GUS HIMSELF: In response to a recent post on the Internet regarding “Snatchback” in The Atlantic Monthly I felt it was important for people to know what I do and what my real success rate is. The world of International Parental Abduction is a place I have spent the last Eighteen years. I have assisted parents in over 200 cases. Fifty-five children have been returned to their custodial parent with my guidance. Three of which were successful recoveries from Japan.

In addition to the fifty-five recoveries, I have also worked on twenty to twenty five cases that were resolved through mediation, Hague convention applications, media involvement, international law enforcement involvement and negotiations directly with the abductors. Zamora and Associates is presently involved in several cases in Japan, both in and out of Japanese courts.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4975

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3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent

Conclusion: When you meet with Prime Minister Hatoyama, please remind him of his statements. There is no need to wait another two years to implement the rights Japan agreed to uphold when they became signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Please walk right up to Mr. Hatoyama, look him squarely in the eye, and tell him non-custodial parents must have immediate access to their children. Let the Japanese Government know that there is no room for negotiation. Please uphold both parental and children’s fundamental human rights. The Lord knows I have done about all I can. I have fought inside and outside of Japanese Courts with everything I’ve have left. I’ve been jailed, placed in solitary confinement, and stripped of all my assets for trying be a father.

Mr. President, like so many other left behind parents, I pray every night to see my children for years. Please use your office and your voice to make this happen. There are so many parents who have renewed hopes since you have taken office. When you come to Japan for talks with the Japanese Government please make this issue an important part of the discussion. YES WE CAN!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4960

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4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

Finally we have the turnabout that I bet will precipitate Japan signing the Hague. A Czech father has reportedly abducted his child out of Japan, and the MOFA says it is powerless since Japan is not a party to the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions. Well, sauce for the gander, isn’t it?

Two things I find interesting about this case is 1) the MOFA is reportedly working to try and get the child back (contrast with the USG, which recently wouldn’t even open the front gates of one of its consulates to three of its citizens), and 2) once again, the same reporting agency (Kyodo) omits data depending on language, see articles below. It claims in Japanese that (as usual) the NJ husband was violent towards the J wife (in other words, it takes the claim of the wife at face value; how unprofessional), and neglects to mention that in English. Heh. Gotta make us Japanese into victims again.

Anyway, if this will get Japan to sign the Hague, great. Problem is, as usual, I see it being enforced at this point to get J kids back but never return them overseas (since the J authorities aren’t going to give more rights to foreigners than they give their own citizens, who lose their kids after divorce due to the koseki system, anyway). But I guess I’m being just a little too cynical. I hope.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5014

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UNFINISHED BUSINESS

5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery

In probably one of the most embarrassing criminal investigation bungles in recent memory, the prime suspect in the Lindsay Ann Hawker murder case, Ichihashi Tatsuya, is still at large after closing in on three years since he gave the slip to cops who knocked on his apartment door.

Recent reports are that he has probably had cosmetic surgery and has a new face. Here are the mug shots. What gets me is that he can’t be on the lam this long without some sort of financial support. Rumors abound (from temporary work in construction to doing tricks for the gay community; all apocryphal), but his family denies that they are supporting him. I find that especially hard to believe now that he’s undergone very expensive cosmetic surgery.

Like Ichihashi, keep your eyes peeled, everyone. Let’s get this suspect in jug where he can answer a battery of questions about his whereabouts and motives for the past few years.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5011

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6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?

Repeta: The landslide victory of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in parliamentary elections held on August 30, 2009 is likely to result in policy change in many areas. There seems little doubt that we will see a very different approach to calibrating the balance between police power and individual rights.

One of the more startling appointments to the new Cabinet is that of Yokohama lawyer Chiba Keiko to be Minister of Justice. The authority of the Ministry is great, with responsibility to enforce criminal laws, protect individual rights, manage the immigration system, and generally oversee the legal system itself, including preparation and review of draft legislation. Ms. Chiba’s appointment should result in a sharp change in policy. She brings with her a history of more than two decades in the Diet in which she opposed nearly all LDP initiatives related to Ministry operations…

If there was any doubt on this score, she wiped it away in formal comments released on September 16, the day the new Cabinet took office. In her first message to the nation as Minister, Chiba declared that her mission is to help build a society that respects human rights and a judicial system that is “close to the people” (kokumin ni mijika na shiho). To achieve this, she listed three specific steps. First is the establishment of a new human rights agency. Second is ratification of so-called “Optional Protocols” to human rights treaties. Third is creating transparency in criminal interrogations…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4939

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7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.

NYT: On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

The situation would be a familiar one to many Korean women who have dated or even — as in Ms. Hahn’s case — simply traveled in the company of a foreign man.

What was different this time, however, was that, once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense. Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

COMMENT: Well, how about that. First South Korea does away with its hojeok family registry system in 2007 (the similar koseki system, still extant in Japan, causes a lot of difficulties for NJ). This after it passes a law in 2005 with provisions against some forms of racial discrimination, such as against Koreans with mixed parentage. Now, according to the NYT below, they’re charging people in court with racism and drafting laws against it, even protecting at least one person with no blood connection to Korea. Dunno how thoroughly this is being enforced, but given the cultural similarities (and attitudes towards outsiders), it SK can do it, I daresay it’s not impossible for Japan. The discriminatory conditions described below sound eerily similar at times.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4957

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8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?

For a Sunday Tangent, I introduce the book below by Greg Goodmacher. I have no financial stake, don’t worry. Just wanted to point out that there is a book out there in the education sector which has information on NJ issues.

I think there should be more like these. After all, if MOE isn’t going to help with assimilation by approving books that toe the monocultural “Japan is unique” line (not to mention deny ethnic schools official approval as education entities, so their NJ students can’t get subsidies and student discounts), then we international residents who write and sell books should inject multiculturalism into the private sector textbook market. Hey, what’s being taught below is not unkosher, and thinking about the inevitability of Japan immigration (a tenet Debito.org subscribes to wholeheartedly, natch) is actually a very good thing to get young people thinking about.

NJ textbook writers in Japan, get cracking. Educate people. Promote Japan’s future as a multicultural multiethnic society!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4848

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9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

In probably one of the most important legal decisions all year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), often cited as a reason for barring NJ from administrative (and often, even stable noncontracted) jobs in the public sector, has been scrapped. I’m not sure if that means it’s been ruled “unconstitutional”, but the clause in the Mainichi below, (“The citizenship requirement was eliminated because the courts could be seen as denying employment based solely on the question of citizenship,” the court stated.) could reasonably be stretched in future cases to say that barring NJ from jobs (currently allowed in places such as firefighting and food preparation, and also in Tokyo Prefecture for nursing) should not be permitted. That would be excellent news for the long-suffering NJ academics in Japan’s higher-education system of Academic Apartheid.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4898

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BLOWBACK

10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?

Has anyone noticed how NHK still reports as if the LDP is in power?

It’s been a month and a half since the DPJ assumed office, the first real bona fide party in Japan’s modern, developed, postwar history to actually offer a change of perspective and an alternative opposition. They keep surprising me with both their proposals and their competence so far.

But you wouldn’t get that impression from watching NHK. Yesterday morning’s 7AM news (Nov 2, 2009) had a smidge on the DPJ’s latest policy move, but then had a citation from former cabinet member (who nearly was booted out this election from my local electorate, Ebetsu, and had to be brought back in as a Proportional Representation “Zombie” Dietmember) Machimura Nobutaka, mentioned by name, offering a counterargument seemingly nearly as long as the airtime given the LDP. Who is he to comment and why should anyone, particularly NHK, care?

I’ve seen this time and time again on NHK, supposedly neutral — or at least pro-government. Which means it should be promoting the DPJ’s view now that it is the government. But that’s not happening. NHK, to me, seems to be treating our current government as if it’s an aberration, a lull or momentary lapse of reason before the LDP gets back in.

I’m not alone in this view…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4911

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11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote

Eyewitness reporting to Debito.org:
Shinjuku JR minami-guchi, where, in previous years, hundreds halloweeners had gathered to start the party on a specific train of the Yamanote line. This year, there were

– at least two hundred cops all over the station.

– several dozen of cops inside, blocking the staircase leading to the Shibuya direction platform

– cops blocking every costumed person from entering the station

– per every stop of the Yamanote, there were at least half a dozen cops on the platform

– in the train, there was at least three different Japanese with video cameras with the specific purpose of documenting gaijin atrocities

– and a premier for this year, there were at least more than 100 PROTESTERS outside the kaisatsu…

http://www.debito.org/?p=4905

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12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

This is making the rounds of the blogoverse. South Park takes on the Japanese dolphin culls and whale hunts, thanks to the publicity from “The Cove”. It’s worth seeing. As a South Park fan, I must say this is all within character for the show — and it as usual ties the issue up into large intellectual knots, and pushes the frontiers of “taboo humor”. Enjoy, I guess.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4876

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SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO

13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009

In this edition of the Debito.org Podcast, Debito reads three of his JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times columns. His first three, published nearly two years ago, are on the image of activists in Japan, on how public forums in Japan regarding human rights keep spinning their wheels, and on how academics should also get into activism in a show of “academic social responsibility”. This is his first podcast in nearly two years. For those who would rather listen to Debito.org during your exercise or commute than read it online, enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=4917

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14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)

I gave a speech with a 90-slide Powerpoint presentation to SGU last week, and it went most swimmingly. About how the GOJ and its authorities treat NJ residents in ways that are egregiously different from other developed countries, even violate international treaties and statues regarding human rights. Take a look. Download the Powerpoint in Japanese here:

http://www.debito.org/?p=4954

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15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”

SAPPORO SOURCE, our city’s only free bilingual newspaper, has just this month started featuring cartoons by “Lifer”, a Sapporo resident who has enough time on his hands to scribble down some doodles. Here’s the first in the series, RANDOM HOKKAIDO COMIX, click on it to focus in your browser:

http://www.debito.org/?p=4882

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16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

In part two of a series polling what the new DPJ Administration should do regarding making life in Japan better for NJ residents, I have offered a second Debito.org poll at top right column, “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan? (choose up to 3)”, with some choices you might find delectable.

It offers the same options in the same order as the previous poll (archived here, and you can still vote on that, too), except that one only wanted the polled to chose ONE option (since politicians have trouble working on more than one than one track at a time). Now with THREE choices, we should be able to see better overlaps and midpoints, and perhaps get a better sense of what concerned readers of Debito.org think the GOJ should do for us. G’wan, let us know what you think!

http://www.debito.org/?p=4968

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… and finally …

17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE
Demography vs. demagoguery: when politics, science collide

The Japan Times Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2009
By DEBITO ARUDOU
http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20091103ad.html

Last June, I attended a symposium sponsored by the German Institute of Japanese Studies. Themed “Imploding Populations: Global and Local Challenges of Demographic Change,” I took in presentations about health care, international and domestic migration, and life in a geriatric society.

Nothing surprising. The United Nations and our government acknowledged back in 2000 that Japan was heading for a demographic nightmare: a decreasing population, more old people than we can take care of, not enough young people to pay taxes, and economic decline.

Shocking, however, was the bad science: The presenting Japanese scientists were deliberately ignoring data fundamental to their field.

One panel was particularly odd. Panelists concluded, of course, that Japan must do something to stop this demographic juggernaut. A deputy director general at Japan’s National Institute of Population and Social Security Research even extrapolated that Japanese would be extinct by the year 3000! Yet the prospect of Japan’s decimation was no match for the fear of the foreign element.

During the Q-and-A, I asked: “Sir, only briefly in your presentation do you mention letting foreigners into Japan as a possible solution. However, you depict the process not as ‘immigration’ (imin), but as the ‘active use of the foreign working labor population’ (gaikokujin rodoryoku jinko no katsuyo). Why this rhetoric?”

The speaker hedged a bit, suddenly asserting that Japan is now a crowded island society. To paraphrase, “Immigration is not an option for our country. Inflows must be strictly controlled for fear of overpopulation.”

Afterward, one on one, I reconfirmed his intellectual disconnect. He further cited “a lack of national consensus” on the issue. When I asked if this was not a vicious circle (i.e. avoiding public discussion of the issue means no possible consensus), he gave a noncommittal answer. When I asked if “immigration” had become more of a political term than a scientific one, he begged off replying further.

Seems I opened Pandora’s Box. For the rest of the conference, whenever a Japanese presenter discussed every option for Japan’s future but immigration (they all avoided it), they played dodgeball with questions from other scientists. The ignorance was systematic — only one gave a begrudging acknowledgment that foreigners might be necessary for Japan’s future, although he personally couldn’t imagine it.

As a German expert of demographics told me afterward with consternation, “Demographics is the study of population changes: births, deaths, inflows and outflows. How can the Japanese demographers ignore inflows, even the possibility of them, in their assessments and still think they are doing good science?”

The reason is because this science in Japan has become riddled with politics. We know Japan’s population will continue to drop. Yet extinction still seems preferable to letting people in to stay.

Thus “immigration,” like “racial discrimination” (JBC, June 2), has become another taboo topic. One must not mention it by name, especially if you represent a government-funded think tank.

Then, when you have whole branches of government studiously ignoring the issue (even though last June the Health Ministry proposed training for companies to hire more foreigners, the former Aso Cabinet wouldn’t consider immigration as one of its top five priority plans), we can but say that the ostrich is in full burrow mode.

This is why I’m having trouble seeing any public policy — from the Nikkei workers being bribed to go home after two decades of contributions, to the proposed imports of Indonesian and Philippine nurses — as anything more than yet another “active use of the foreign working labor population.” Or, more honestly put, programs exploiting revolving-door employment regimes.

How seriously can we continue to tempt foreigners with the promise of a life in Japan in exchange for the best years of their labor productivity, only to revoke their livelihoods and pension contributions at the first opportunity, blaming globalization’s vicissitudes? How seriously can we make continued employment contingent upon a qualification hurdle (such as a tough nursing exam) that would challenge even native speakers?

This will only hurt us as a society in future. Again, we are on the cusp of a future in a society that can’t pay or take care of itself. It’s already happening in Japan’s depopulated countryside. Demographic science, if practiced properly, leads inevitably to that conclusion.

So here’s my reality check: Either way, people will come to Japan — even if it means they find an enfeebled or empty island to live in. With a new political administration in government, we might as well consider bringing in people now while we have more energy and choices.

Time out. Just like that guy at the think tank, time for me to be hit with a Debito-style question: “Who decides what Japan wants?”

Answer: We residents do, of course. But the people who represent or make decisions for us are not necessarily receptive enough (or all that developed as human beings) to understand one simple thing: People who appear to be different are not a threat. We cannot expect leaders and bureaucrats to guide us to a world they cannot envision.

So I will keep asking the Debito Questions, and argue that people like us are a viable alternative to Japan’s slow but inexorable decline. For Japan’s sake, we must save us from ourselves. I’ll suggest how next month.

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That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading!
Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily Blog updates, RSS Feed and Subscriptions at www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009 ENDS

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