DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010

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Hello All. Happy New Year. Here comes the latest

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010
TURN OF THE DECADE HOLIDAY SPECIAL

Table of Contents:
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RUMINATIONS
1) Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review
2) Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)
3) Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

FUN STUFF AND TANGENTS
4) Book review of “Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me” (Pubs Simon and Schuster). Yes, that is the title.
5) Holiday Tangent: My Movie Review of AVATAR in 3D
6) LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”
7) Haagen Daz ice cream excludes Indians from sampling the latest flavor — in India!

BUSINESS AS USUAL
8 ) Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy
9) Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor
10) Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”
11) Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work
12) DR on dealing with GOJ border fingerprinting: sandpaper down your fingers

… and finally …
13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, on the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2009 (get a copy!)
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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog updates and RSS at http://www.debito.org, Podcasts at iTunes
Freely Forwardable

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RUMINATIONS

1) Debito’s decade 2000-2009 in review

This here’s a personal entry. I think it instructive for people to look back periodically and chart a few lifeline arcs. As we enter 2010, let me give you the top nine influential trends for me personally between 2000 and 2009. In ascending order: My Beard, FRANCA, Naturalization, Debito.org Blog, Japan Times Column, Three Books, The Otaru Onsens Lawsuit, My Divorce, and “That Sinking Feeling”.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5613

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2) Debito.org Blog Poll: What do you consider the TOP THREE NJ human rights events of 2009 in Japan? (More in Japan Times Jan 5)

Let me ask readers what they think the most important NJ human rights events (I won’t say “advances”, as I consider 2009 to be pretty mixed) were last year? I’ve put them as a blog poll on the right so you can vote (choose three), but below are the ones that come to my mind, in no particular order (if you think I’ve missed any, Comments Section).

In no particular order, to wit:

  1. The Nikkei “Repatriation Bribe”
  2. The election of the DPJ and concomitant hopes
  3. The Savoie Child Abduction Case
  4. The forthcoming IC Chips in Gaijin Cards
  5. “Newcomer” Permanent Residents outnumbering “Oldcomer” Zainichi PRs
  6. The Calderon Noriko Case
  7. Police arresting a 74-yr-old US tourist for carrying a pocket knife
  8. Ichihashi Tatsuya’s arrest for the Hawker Murder
  9. “The Cove” documentary exposing Wakayama dolphin slaughters
  10. NJ also to be listed on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates
  11. McDonald’s Japan’s gaijin shill “Mr James”
  12. Sakanaka’s proposals for an Immigration Ministry et al
  13. NOVA boss Saruhashi getting 3.5 years for embezzlement
  14. Roppongi police street testing NJ urine for drugs
  15. Sakai Noriko pinning her drug issues on NJ dealers
  16. Pothead Sumo wrestlers
  17. Something else
  18. Don’t know / Can’t say / Don’t care etc.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5609

I’ll be ranking them myself in my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, so have a read!

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3) Oguri’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” becomes a movie, with parody cartoon about the “Darling Dream” being sold by all this

I want to offer my congratulations to Oguri Saori, very successful author of the “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series (translated as “My Darling is a Foreigner”, but officially subtitled “My Darling is Ambidextrous”), for the news just out this month that the first book in the series will be made into a live-action movie (starring Inoue Mao and Jonathan Share as Saori and Tonii respectively). The empire built upon the dream being sold to Japanese women for marrying a white foreigner keeps on gathering strength.

Although portrayed in the movie by the very handsome and disarming Jonathan as a “grass-eating man”, Tonii in real life is not as he is cartooned. Laszlo is a big fan of putting his funds into threatening lawsuits, for one thing. And of deleting internet archives. And more. It just so happens I found a cartoon parodying this phenomenon of the contrasts. As the last post on Debito.org for this decade, enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5595

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FUN STUFF AND TANGENTS

4) Book review of “Japan Took the J.A.P. Out of Me” (Pubs Simon and Schuster). Yes, that is the title.

Simon and Schuster sent me this book for review, and I know not why. I am probably the last person to whom you’d send “Chick Lit” (defined as a genre where the protagonist is a young female trying to make it in the modern world dealing with issues that women face, whether it be them learning how to stand on their own two feet, or just about them being passionate about career, style, personal appearance, shopping…). But I did sit down and get through it. I agree with the reviews on Amazon.com — it’s “an easy read”. That’s not much of a compliment, however: If the most positive thing you can say about a literary work is that you got through it quickly, that’s damning with faint praise indeed.

So let’s get through this review and make it a quick read too. Start with the obvious: J.A.P. Having a racial epithet cloaked as an ethnic slur (I hail from Cornell University, so am plenty aware of “Jewish American Princesses”) in the very title already puts me off — as very culturally insensitive. What were you thinking, S&S?…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5563

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5) Holiday Tangent: My Movie Review of AVATAR in 3D

Movie review conclusion: But in terms of what lingers after AVATAR is all over, it’s not the environmental lesson, or the good versus business/military ethics, or even the 3D. It’s the planet of Pandora, and how lovely it must be to see it in all it’s glory without the goddamn glasses on. I hope someone who cares as much as James Cameron about movie craft comes along and makes the 3D technology something that gives us the focus and color as vibrantly as without. Next time. Thanks for the good college try, Mr Cameron. You haven’t lost your touch. Grade: B-

http://www.debito.org/?p=5576

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6) LIFER! cartoon on “End-Year Holiday Activities in Japan”

For the holidays, here’s a timely cartoon by Lifer from the December 2009 issue of Hokkaido Free Paper SAPPORO SOURCE. How to enjoy the end-year holidays in Japan, with a twist, as always.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5321

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7) Haagen Daz ice cream excludes Indians from sampling the latest flavor — in India!

For a Sunday Tangent, watch what happens when an exclusionary sign goes up in, say, India. Article from the Times of India follows (of quite questionable writing quality, but never mind). More interesting than the article are the comments from readers below it online. They are not amused, indeed. Have a read.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5475

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BUSINESS AS USUAL

8 ) Proof positive that some people really do suck: JT responses to proposals for a Japanese immigration policy

Get a load of these letters to the editor (including authors who won’t reveal their names, or don’t live in Japan anyway) responding acidulously to my Japan Times column earlier this month, where I made constructive proposals for making Japan a place more attractive for immigration. (Many of these proposals were made not just by me, but also by former Immigration bureaucrat Sakanaka Hidenori; so much for their pat claim below of imposing my moral values).

It’s times like these when I think human society really has a bottomless capacity for oozing disdain for and wishing ill-will upon others. None of these respondents appear to be immigrants, or have any expressed interest in investing in this society, yet they heap scorn upon those who might plan to. I know paper will never refuse ink, but surely these people have more productive uses of their time then just scribbling poorly-researched and nasty screeds that help no-one. The self-injuring, snake-eating-its-tail mentality seen in NJ vets of Japan is something worthy of study by psychologists, methinks. Any takers?

http://www.debito.org/?p=5557

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9) Yonatan Owens’ excellent riposte Letter to the Editor

Counterpoint letter in the JT to the above sucky letters, concludes: “The question of civil rights in Japan is real and the question of immigration will soon be as well. Japan cannot simply turn back the clock and expel the foreigners. To avoid future confrontation and hardship for everyone — Japanese and foreigners alike — these issues require serious consideration. Some of us here are not just expatriates or perpetual tourists; some of us are trying our hardest to lead a normal life in the land that we live in and love. If you won’t help, why get in the way?”

http://www.debito.org/?p=5581

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10) Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”

Steve: Proposed plan of action: a law-abiding human here in Japan (with taxes, national insurance, and even pension — all paid-up in full (nod to Hoofin), preferably a permanent resident of Japan or Japanese national, to avoid the possibility of visa-denial retaliation) who has an establishment (a bar, restaurant, shop, whatever) AND COURAGE (very essential) and good property insurance (also essential, since some right-wing crazies will probably break some windows and/or start some fires) should put up a big sign out front proclaiming “No Japanese” and/or “No Japanese may enter” and/or “Non-Japanese Only” and/or “Entry Restricted to Non-Japanese” (in perfect Japanese of course) PLUS underneath this sign should be big poster-sized-laminated-PHOTOS of all the variations of “Japanese Only” signs found in Japan (e.g. www.debito.org/roguesgallery.htmlespecially photos of the signs written in Japanese such as http://www.debito.org/edensign030707.jpg) PLUS underneath those photos should be a sentence in Japanese which says, “Japan needs a law which clearly states, ‘Barring entry to private establishments based on nationality, or race, is hereby illegal, and violators of this law will be prosecuted and face severe penalties.’ “

A well-written (triple-proofread) press-release in Japanese together with this story’s dramatic money-shot: a well-taken photo which clearly shows the whole picture, meaning, the controversial “Non-Japanese Only” sign TOGETHER with the big poster-sized-laminated-photos of “Japanese Only” signs directly underneath that, TOGETHER with the solution to this problem stated underneath that, specifically, our proposed law against discrimination.

http://www.debito.org/?p=5546

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11) Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work

Hi Debito: OK, this is good:

“Yomiuri: Scriveners aid illegal marriages, work”

I assume that the clerks in question are going out of their way to assist foreigners in obtaining residency permits (even to the point of placing ads in newspapers) due to bribery (as opposed to benevolence), and that this behavior is motivated by said clerks’ cognizance of loopholes in the immigration control law.

If so, then there’s nothing less than a government-backed residency permit black market at work, which, I might add, shows no signs of going away — a simple to fix the problem would be to amend the immigration control law to punish the clerks as needed, but is that what’s happening? No. Instead the issue is being given superficial treatment…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5021

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12) DR on dealing with GOJ border fingerprinting: sandpaper down your fingers

DR writes: Sanding Down Your Fingerprints

Incensed by the Japanese government’s slavish following of the US fingerprinting program, I decided to take charge of my own biometrics.

(1) The temptation to use harsh, large grit sanding paper was my first impulse, but I settled on a very fine black glass paper for the huge amount of 85 Yen at Jumbo Encho. Usually the packages have a window so the grade of paper can be felt without opening it.

(2) I started sanding on my outbound journey. It was a Nagoya to Frankfurt trip, 12 hours and lots of time to gently sand all my finger and thumb prints lightly. The secret is lightly.

(3) I was to be in the EU for almost three weeks, so about ten minutes per day I would sand a little, lightly. Even sanding lightly it’s easy to break the skin and to expose muscle fibres, causing bleeding. Any distinguishing mark makes a fingerprint more identifiable, and defeats the whole purpose. After about a week I felt like a safe-cracker. Everything I touched was more pronounced; heat, cold, textures. Everything. I couldn’t touch the strings on a guitar as my fingers were too sensitive. I could distinguish the dots on Braille texts much better than before! Eventually the fingers callous-over and, with time, the surfaces become harder…

http://www.debito.org/?p=5538

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… and finally …

13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out January 5, on the Top Ten Human Rights Issues of 2009 (get a copy!)

That’s right. As per post #2 above, I’ll be ranking what I consider to be the ten most fundamental HR issues involving NJ rights in Japan. I’ll tell ya, 2009 was a pretty mixed year. Hope 2010 is better. Have a read when it comes out Tuesday (Weds in the provinces)

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All for now. Thanks for reading!
By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan (debito@debito.org)
Daily blog updates and RSS at http://www.debito.org, Podcasts at iTunes
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 3, 2010 ENDS

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