DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 9, 2007

mytest

Hello Blog. Arudou Debito in Sapporo here trying to take a vacation in August, but a week of tropical rain in Hokkaido is keeping me from my annual summer cycletrek. Contents of this newsletter as follows:

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1) HIROSHIMA PEACE FOUNDATION STEVEN LEEPER’S ODD VIEWS ON NJ IN JAPAN
2) JAPAN TIMES SERIES ON DIVORCE AND CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN
3) ECONOMIST’S SOPHOMORIC ARTICLE ON J FUTURE DEMOGRAPHICS
4) KYODO AND YOMIURI ON JAPAN’S NEGLIGENCE EDUCATING NJ CHILDREN
5) UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER NATURALIZES… SO DOES BOBBY OLOGUN
6) WHILE DPRK REFUGEES REMAIN STATELESS DESPITE FUJIMORI PRECEDENT
7) SPEECH ON UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST AT TOUDAI, PLUS NEW ADDITIONS

and finally…
8) TPR INTERVIEW RE NJ LABOR MARKET… AND MY LOVE OF DURAN DURAN
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By Arudou Debito (debito@debito.org, www.debito.org)
August 9, 2007, freely forwardable

1) HIROSHIMA PEACE FOUNDATION STEVEN LEEPER’S ODD VIEWS ON NJ IN JAPAN

Normally I would shout “congratulations” from the rooftops at the news: The momentous appointment of a non-Japanese to be director of an important Japanese institution.

Particularly when said institution is tasked with keeping the faith on with an important international issue–one the GOJ brings up constantly in its untiring quest for uniqueness in the world stage (“the only country in history ever bombed by nuclear weapons”). As well as for world peace.

But Steven Leeper, the newly-appointed director of the Hiroshima Peace Culture Foundation (http://www.pcf.city.hiroshima.jp/hpcf/english/index.cgi) is proving to be a historical curator with an odd attitude not only towards history, but also towards non-Japanese in Japan (a category he still falls into, of course).

Cited recently in several media, including the International Herald Tribune, the Asahi Shinbun, the Japan Times, and the Kansai Time Out, Leeper rings hollowly at the end of the KTO article:

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“I’m afraid I don’t see much of a role for foreigners in the Japanese government. It would never have occurred to me to pursue the position that I am in. I did absolutely nothing to pursue it, and I would not recommend that anyone pursue such a path. From what I have seen and experienced, foreigners who make a commitment to Japan and are willing to give what they can over a very long term get utilized in ways their communities need, and they get rewarded more than fairly for what they give.

“In general, though, I see Japan as being a place where Japanese people can go about the business of being Japanese. Those of us who are not Japanese but enjoy living in Japan can learn from them and help them to relate to the outside world. But our influence is and should be rather limited. I personally hope the Japanese will remain quite Japanese. In fact, I wish they would get back to being more Japanese than they are today. For those who like diversity, which I also enjoy, we have the U.S. I truly enjoy both cultures, but I want them to stay different.”
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I see. So whatever “going about the business of being Japanese” means (it’s obviously automatically “different” from what foreigners do, even from what “today’s Japanese” do), it’s clear to Leeper that foreigners (and their Japanese children, one assumes) being in our country somehow sully that and should be constrained. Never mind that some “foreigners” have been here for a “very long term” indeed (generations), and many have not reaped the ultimately forthcoming “fair rewards” he assures us of. And then there’s the hundreds of thousands of others (like guess who) have even naturalized.

But if these intruders aren’t somehow “Japanese enough” to qualify for GOJ jobs (or aren’t fortunate enough to have one fall into their laps through no fault of their own), they should go someplace more diverse, like America? (which will surely grant them all visas)

How odd. I’m trying really hard to see this as a “you stand where you sit” sort of attitude made by a person bound by his job. But it’s square-pegging a round hole. I understand why Leeper might take a 100% Pacifist line–for example, that nuclear weapons should never be used, moreover eliminated from the face of the earth given the damage they do.

But Leeper is clearly out of bounds when he says that NJ should have no role in the decisionmaking processes of Japan. NJ should merely settle for whatever scraps Japanese society might deign to throw them (as opposed to pushing for more equal treatment)? Why this ironic disposition to pull up the ladder behind him?

If Leeper feels this strongly, why accept this job? Oh, because it was a scrap thrown him due to circumstances beyond his control. Congrats, you won the lottery. But now that you’ve been included, why go out of your way to make exclusivist arguments?

Here’s hoping Leeper wises up a bit, and remembers his own position in society both before and after his appointment. Otherwise he’s going to come off as an Uncle Tom, echoing the more xenophobic and conservative elements of Japan (some of whom led Japan down the road culminating in the extreme acts of war he curates), damaging his own reputation and credibility in the process.

Links to all articles and more commentary at
http://www.debito.org/?p=530

Contact him at hpcf@pcf.city.hiroshima.jp

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2) JAPAN TIMES SERIES ON DIVORCE AND CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN

On Tuesday, August 7, 2007, the Japan Times ran three articles from Michael Hassett, Colin Jones, and Mark Smith on divorce and child abduction in Japan. Wonderful! All articles archived at http://www.debito.org/?p=527 Excerpts:

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THE ZEIT GIST
LOSING CUSTODY: THE ODDS
By MICHAEL HASSETT
Special to The Japan Times, August 7, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070807z3.html

The turmoil of an acquaintance’s divorce recently caused me to contemplate the predictability of falling into such a mess. This particular individual [guess who] has not seen one of his children since July 2004, two years before his divorce was even finalized…

Specifically, can we determine the probability that a man who marries in Japan will have at least one child with his spouse, then divorce, and subsequently lose custody of any children? This likelihood is not that difficult to calculate, and sadly, it is rather high–over 21 percent…
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THE ZEIT GIST
COMMUNITY: PARENTAL ABDUCTION
HOW WILL JAPAN RESPOND?
By COLIN P.A. JONES
Special to The Japan Times, August 7, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070807z2.html

The term “Japanese family law” may seem like an oxymoron to anyone who has experienced the well-intentioned but often ineffectual efforts of Japan’s family courts in child-custody cases, particularly when a foreign parent is involved. Some foreign consular officers are privately scathing when discussing such cases. Diplomats from one G-8 country who discussed the problem with family-court representatives were even told that in such disputes, custody would always be awarded to the Japanese parent–because only they, not the foreign parent, have a family register…
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THE ZEIT GIST
U.S. TAKES TOUGHER LINE ON ABDUCTIONS TO JAPAN
By MARK SMITH
Special to The Japan Times, August 7, 2007

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20070807z1.html

Despite Ronald MacKinnon’s fears that his child would be abducted, the New Jersey Supreme Court in the U.S. recently gave permission for his divorced Japanese wife, Erika, to relocate with their daughter to Okinawa. On July 30, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay, so Erika is free to leave.

One might think that these precedents would have custodial parents racing to resubmit requests for international relocation. But instead, we may be about to witness a tsunami of cases similar to MacKinnon’s, albeit with a different outcome…
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Awareness is increasing as the experiences increase. Goody. But some major media refuse to consider information no matter how many times they’ve been told it:

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3) ECONOMIST’S SOPHOMORIC ARTICLE ON J FUTURE DEMOGRAPHICS

The Economist had a three-page special in their July 26, 2007 issue discussing the effects of Japan’s aging society. Yet the article mentions NOT A SINGLE WORD about the influx of foreign labor (even if only to dismiss it as a possibility).

Any serious debate about future labor markets in developed countries cannot ignore global labor mobility. The media should stop assuming that Japan is uniquely able to resolve this situation all by itself. Even Japan’s economic media (Shuukan Diamondo June 5, 2004) admits that without the NJ workforce, internationally-competitive domestic factories would not work and we’d have a severe shortfall of payers into Japan’s future.

The article concludes (Yes, these are the last two paragraphs. Kerplunk):
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JAPAN’S CHANGING DEMOGRAPHY
CLOUD, OR SILVER LININGS?
The Economist print edition July 26th 2007

…”It’s embarrassing to say this,” admits Mr Yamada, “but after a first child is born, the husband often doesn’t do his bit helping out at home, and that engenders anxiety in the wife about having a second child.” That is partly cultural habit. Boys are pampered at home by their mothers and expect the same treatment–no nappy-changing, no washing up–later from their wives. But it is also because of the long working hours companies expect. So, says Kuniko Inoguchi, minister for gender issues and social affairs under Mr Koizumi, policy needs not only to be directed towards encouraging more women to work, with more nursing care for elderly relatives, better child care, more flexible working arrangements and so on. It also needs to make life better for working men.

A better work-life balance is good for companies, which can thereby attract better talent. It is also good for working men, says Mrs Inoguchi. They can enjoy a proper private life, spending more time at home–always assuming, and it is no foregone conclusion, that Japanese wives are prepared to tolerate them there.
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http://www.economist.com/world/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9539825
http://www.debito.org/?p=522

Why is a magazine as thoughtful The Economist sticking its head in the sand on this issue, even resorting to the “grown-up children who call themselves adult Japanese men” stereotypes? Guess this is what happens when you close your Tokyo office and have to report remotely all the time.

Meanwhile the domestic media (and the Ministry of Education) is doing their job:

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4) KYODO AND YOMIURI ON JAPAN’S NEGLIGENCE EDUCATING NJ CHILDREN

Excerpts of articles substantiating the emerging issue of what happens when you don’t make compulsory education a requirement for non-Japanese children. (All articles archived with original Japanese at http://www.debito.org/?p=523)

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EDUCATION
OVER 22,000 FOREIGN KIDS NEED JAPANESE-LANGUAGE GUIDANCE AT SCHOOL
Japan Today/Kyodo August 1, 2007

http://www.japantoday.com/jp/news/413853
Courtesy of Matt Dioguardi

The number of foreign children attending public elementary and secondary schools in Japan who are in need of Japanese-language guidance as of last September increased 8% from a year earlier to a record high of 22,413, the education ministry said Tuesday.

The figure, which has risen for four consecutive years, covers foreign children who go to public elementary, junior high and senior high schools, according to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Education…
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1% OF FOREIGN CHILDREN NOT IN SCHOOL
Yomiuri Shinbun August 3, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20070803TDY02001.htm

At least one percent of registered foreign school-age children living in the country do not attend either primary or middle school, according to an Education, Science and Technology Ministry survey. In addition, the whereabouts of 17.5 percent of children registered as foreign nationals is unknown, making it impossible to confirm whether they are going to school. The number of foreign children who do not attend school is believed to be much higher than 1 percent, according to ministry officials.

The ministry suspects that such a situation probably encourages juvenile delinquency and the illegal employment of such children…
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MOE’s original report cited in the article (Japanese):
http://www.mext.go.jp/b_menu/houdou/19/08

How nice of Japan to bring NJ laborers all the way over here but not take care of their children’s educational needs. Thanks for forgetting to include that in your educational reforms passed last December, PM Abe.

Meanwhile, some people are taking assimilation into their own hands:

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5) UCLA BASKETBALL PLAYER NATURALIZES… SO DOES BOBBY OLOGUN

Here’s one way to avoid the accusation that foreigners in Japanese sports make events too boring:

J.R. Sakuragi, a former NBA player known as J.R. Henderson, has become a Japanese citizen and will play for the Japan National Team in the FIBA Asian Championship, to qualify for the Olympics:

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FORMER UCLA PLAYER GETS JAPANESE CITIZENSHIP, SPOT ON NATIONAL HOOPS TEAM
Japan Times July 17, 2007
By KAZ NAGATSUKA Staff writer

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/sk20070717a1.html
Courtesy of TT

Most fans are probably not familiar with this name: J.R. Sakuragi. But if they hear the name J.R. Henderson, that may ring a bell. As the FIBA Asia Championship begins on July 28, the 12-man Japan National Team roster for the tournament was finalized and Sakuragi, who has recently acquired Japanese citizenship, found his name on it…

Sakuragi, a native of Bakersfield, California, played his college ball at powerhouse UCLA, where he was a member of the team that won the 1995 NCAA title…

Team Japan will try to capture the first berth in an Olympics since the 1976 Montreal Games in the July 28 to Aug. 5 tournament, in which only one nation will get an automatic berth in the Olympics…
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http://www.debito.org/?p=511

Congrats, JR. Likewise for Bobby Ologun, the Nigerian tarento who likes to present himself as Mr Pidgin Japanese (in the best traditions, in my view, of pandering entertainers like Stepin Fetchit). Now it’s certifiable that he knows a lot more Japanese than he lets on. He just got Japanese citizenship too.

http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=2401
(Mezamashi TV July 26, 2007, YouTubed TV report, 2:30 minutes)

Now Konda Bobii, he still keeps up the act (while properly proclaiming himself as Japanese). His brother Andy (who also appears in the video speaking Japanese impeccably) fortunately feels no compulsion to do the same.

Meanwhile, let’s get further into ironies of Japan’s nationality laws:

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6) WHILE DPRK REFUGEES REMAIN STATELESS DESPITE FUJIMORI PRECEDENT

Here’s another interesting angle to how people become Japanese.

First we get a person like Alberto Fujimori, who parachutes into Japan on the lam from international law, essentially claims asylum (leaping over the thousands of candidates waiting in line for years to naturalize or become refugees), does a runner to another country on another passport, and gets brought back to run in absentia in the last Japanese election as a candidate (which he fortunately lost). All because of his Japanese blood.

Yet here we have a situation where people also have the same legitimate claim (Japanese blood) and are being denied citizenship anywhere, let alone Japan. All due to the politics of the region.

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24 DEFECTORS FROM DPRK STILL STATELESS
PREJUDICE RIFE IN CATCH-22 SITUATION
The Yomiuri Shimbun Jun. 13, 2007

http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/world/20070613TDY01003.htm
Courtesy Jeff Korpa

At least 24 defectors from North Korea living in Japan remain stateless, largely due to the lack of clear government guidelines on how to determine the nationalities of such defectors…

A support group for the defectors interviewed 82 defectors residing in Japan in February and confirmed 24 children and grandchildren of the Japanese wives [who returned from North Korea] remain stateless….

Under the current Nationality Law, Japanese wives of former pro-Pyongyang Korean residents can reobtain Japanese nationality easily, but their children and grandchildren face difficulties in naturalization unless they have sufficient income to support themselves…
http://www.debito.org/?p=471
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Anyone find any consistency in Japan’s citizenship law application, please explain it to me.

Changing the subject:

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7) SPEECH ON UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST AT TODAI, PLUS NEW ADDITIONS

Had an enjoyable three-hour speech at Tokyo University on July 31, 2007, regarding the Blacklist of Japanese Universities, where listed institutions have a history of offering unequal contracted work (not permanent “academic tenure”) to its full-time faculty (usually foreign faculty).

It was attended by several universities (Todai, Hitotsubashidai, Tohokudai, Nagoya, Aizu, some of whom wanted to know why they had been Blacklisted), some educational institutions, and originally even the Ministry of Justice (who bowed out at the last minute).

You can download the Powerpoint presentations here:
ENGLISH
http://www.debito.org/todaiblacklist073007.ppt
JAPANESE
http://www.debito.org/todaiblacklistj073007.ppt

Brief update. Thanks to several people scanning the job market listings recently (thanks!), I’ve been able to add Kansai Gaidai University, Shokei Gakuin University, Kyushu University to the 105 total Blacklisted universities. And there will be more in the near future, as I’ve received applications that I haven’t webbed yet.

Meanwhile, the corresponding Greenlist of Japanese Universities recently got Nagoya University and Aichi University of Education (although they still have no effective tenure review system for their full-time contracted NJ faculty, so they remain on the Blacklist as well).

A representative of Nagoya University in particular made a special effort just before my Todai speech to present evidence that Nagoya has tenured NJ. Excellent. Glad the Blacklist is being taken so seriously.

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and finally…
8) TPR INTERVIEW RE NJ LABOR MARKET… AND MY LOVE OF DURAN DURAN

Trans-Pacific Radio has just released another interview, with a mix of the light and heavier:

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TPR SPOTLIGHT
DEBITO ARUDOU ON THE FOREIGN LABOR MARKET (& DURAN DURAN), PART 1 OF 2
Posted by DeOrio on Tuesday, August 7, 2007

As well-known as he is, not many people know that human rights activist Debito Arudou is as passionate about Duran Duran as he is about anything.

Don’t worry, though – in this interview Debito and Ken Worsley discuss the foreign labor market in Japan – where it’s united, where it’s fractious, and where it still needs help – as well as what is being done to improve conditions and opportunities for foreign workers, and what needs to be done in the future.

This is an important issue that relates to Japan’s economic future, and immigration policy (or reform) still seems untouchable within the nation’s political discourse. Why is this so?
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Have a listen at:
http://www.transpacificradio.com/2007/08/07/tpr-spotlight-2-japans-foreign-labor-market/

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Thanks for reading. Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org
http://www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 9, 2007 ENDS

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