Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.


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Hi Blog.  Here’s something I received the other day from Reader XY.  It’s a flyer he found in his mailbox from the Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP, advising people to “protect Japan and vote their conscience” (although they can’t legally use the word “vote” since it’s not an official election period).  It talks about how “dangerous” it would be to grant NJ PR local suffrage.

I’ve given some of the con arguments here before (from radical rightists loons like Dietmember Hiranuma and co.), but this time it’s seventeen more-mainstream LDPers (a party which would otherwise be in power but for people voting their conscience last August) offering a number of questionable claims.  First, have a look at the flyer (received February 19, 2010):

The arguments in summary are these:

1) PR NJ suffrage might be unconstitutional (hedging from the rabid right’s clear assertion that it is).  In fact, I’m not sure anyone’s absolutely sure about that.

2) PR NJ suffrage will give foreigners say over how our children are taught and how our political decisions are made.  (Well, yeah, if there are enough NJ in any particular district; and even if there were, given how nasty Japan’s public policy can be towards NJ, I’m not so sure that’s such a bad thing.)

3) Granting PR NJ suffrage is not the world trend.  (Oh, now we cite how other countries do things?  If other countries were creating a world trend, such as signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, you’d no doubt be begging off stressing how unique Japan is instead.  Besides, at least three dozen other countries, many of them fellow developed countries, grant local suffrage to non-citizens, and they deal with it just fine.)

4) One shouldn’t equate taxpayer with voting rights, asserting that Japanese wouldn’t get suffrage if they lived overseas.  (Actually, yes they would, if they lived in one of those abovementioned three dozen plus countries which grant it.)

5) We haven’t studied the issue enough.  (This is a typical political stalling tactic.  How much debate is enough?  How long is a piece of string?)

6) We’ve got prefectural governors coming out against PR suffrage.  (And we have prefectural governors coming out FOR suffrage too.  Anyway, when has the national government listened to local governments until now?  It hasn’t been for the past decade since the Hamamatsu Sengen, for example.)

My favorite bit is the illustration at the bottom.  “JAPAN, LET’S PROTECT OURSELVES!!”  Love how it’s an angry-looking alien ship with its spotlight on our archipelago.  NJ as invading alien!!  And I remember back in the day when we had a UFO Party (yes, the UFO党) waiting to cart us all away!!  How times change when there’s a real policy up for debate.

But seriously folks, this isn’t some podunk backwater like Dejima Award Winner Setaka Town in Fukuoka, which decided that its local university should be officially “foreigner-free”.  This is Edogawa-ku, the easternmost ku of Tokyo proper, right across the river from Chiba, with more than half a million registered residents.  It’s not the type of place for xenophobic alarmist politicians to immaturely paint the spectre of an alien invasion in a serious debate.

Vote your conscience.  Now that we know who these LDP idiots are, don’t vote them back into power.  Arudou Debito in Calgary

36 comments on “Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.

  • I think you will find this issue growing in importance since Hatoyama favors it. We saw what happened in Nagasaki which is one of the Prefectures you listed as coming out against NJ suffrage; so I think we will see this issue coming close and closer to Nagatachou as the months wear on. They know we won’t fall for their gags and tricks. We’ll oust the losers and elect people who do their jobs, yes for us, but guess what for Japanese, too! They know they have to deal with the situation at some point which is why the opposition is trying to spread as much fear, misinformation and doubt as possible. NJ will have their day in the voter’s box someday. It’s eventual. It’s just a matter of how ugly it gets.

  • I think this is just another political football the LDP are using to try and oust the elect government. I’m sure they don’t want PRs voting but now they’re just putting it on thick for show. Ever since the DPJ took power the LDP has shown no sign of productive growth. They have offered no policy change that would endear them to the public what so ever. All they have done is try to bring down the government through scandal and opposition. And the saddest fact of all is that the media seems to be backing this frenzy and the J public are falling for it.

  • Similar line.
    See how the Koreans are “treating” foreigners now!

    “…The government has said the facility aims to respect the inmates’ human rights and treat them in a humanitarian manner regardless of their language, culture or religion…”

    South Korea opens prison for foreign convicts
    BBC Tuesday, 23 February 2010

    One US convict said the new prison was better than standard ones
    South Korea has opened what officials say is the world’s first purpose-built prison for foreign convicts.
    The prison offers Western food and satellite TV programmes in English, Chinese, Russian and Arabic.
    The number of foreigners in South Korean jails has more than doubled in the past four years to about 1,500.
    The prison’s director said the inmates would still be able to pursue the “Korean dream” that had led them to the country in the first place.
    The prison is about 100km (62 miles) south of the capital, Seoul, in Cheonan.
    Inmates are given classes in Korean culture but can also view satellite TV from around the world and eat non-Korean meals. A number of the guards are fluent in English, Russian or Chinese.
    Human rights
    The prison library has been stocked with books from many of the foreign embassies in Seoul.
    One American prisoner told visiting journalists that compared with standard South Korean prisons, the food and education on offer were much better.
    The government has said the facility aims to respect the inmates’ human rights and treat them in a humanitarian manner regardless of their language, culture or religion.
    “We will operate this facility for the inmates to recognise that their ‘Korean dream’ was not a failure,” said the prison’s director, Kim Pyung-gun. “We will give them a message of hope.”

    — Sounds a little Potemkin Prison to me.

  • NJ as space aliens? That explains a lot. They seem to think that Japan not only has a unique culture, but a unique species as well.

  • I wish it weren’t so, but what with the horrendous state of finances and all the ‘issues’ dogging any governing party, even among young people in Japan playing the foreign devil card will only increase votes for any party. There is a deep-seated fear of foreigners (the different) that, in my opinion, starts in the education system. It’s very easy to exploit this fear for political gain. I have heard highly educated people here say they fear, on some level, being overrun by the Chinese, even though there is absolutely no logical argument for that being a reasonable scenario. Throw in the black truck wack jobs intimidating good politicians and the prospect of NJ local voting rights is slim to none.

  • As someone with Jewish ancestry, this sends shivers down my spine- really.

    I feel that some of the people behind this really would prefer to have gaijin in ghettos- nice ones, but still separated from the populace, where they breed and intermingle with people, upsetting the wa- giving them different ideas, mixing up the pure Japanese blood…(puff, pant!)

    Hey why not put them all on an island or something- an enormous cosmopolitan human zoo. If they try to settle on the mainland, actually mix with the Japanese, just make sure they are cut off from really having a stake in society by denying them long-term job contracts, encourage them to leave after a few years anyway because they’ll never fit in…

    And how about putting the more troublesome ones, especially the cheap labor from China, in controlled camps or schemes out in the country where they can be exploited out of sight and out of mind.

    I am reminded of a conversation I had with a guy from a famous Japanese household security firm (知っていますか?) who had great ideas for preventing innocent Japanese being victims of foreigner crime- RFID tag them all. As we were “mates” over “beer” he’d quite forgotten that I was a gaijin or if so, at least I was a “good gaijin” who “understood.”

    Hey, why not hang a Star of Gaijin on all of us today?

  • Michael Weidner says:

    PKU – While back in the day it wasn’t so easy to tell who was Jewish or not so they used the Star of David and for other groups, other symbols….since we’re a visable minority, all they need to do is open their eyes and they could see. The scary thing is, we already carry our own star around with us, as mandated by law: the Alien Registration Card. In reality, it’s not all that different and with the coming reforms, it will accomplish basically what the stars, pink triangles, etc. did back in the day.

  • Nagasaki – always trumpeting how it was the first place to welcome foreigners (though it stuck them all on Dejima). Even now, Nagasaski is always going on about internationalization and how it is more accepting of us gaijin than other places. Bull! On the front page of the Asahi newspaper a month of so ago it said 14 prefectures were dead against suffrage for permanent residents. Hypocritical Nagasaki was top of that list. I live here and brought up the issue with a Japanese acquaintance whose response was such, “Oh, no no we don’t mind you people (by which I guess he meant white Europeans or Americans etc) getting voting rights – it is the Koreans, they have grudges going all the way back to the Japanese occupation of their country.” Yeah, right! End of rant.

  • What’s ironic is that the only reason the LDP can get away with this discriminatory scaremongering is precisely because there aren’t enough foreigners with political power to oppose it. In a way, this poster illustrates precisely why there is no need to worry about PRs getting the vote.

    Unfortunately, your average Taro P. Salaryman won’t make the connection; time to call up the old LDP and have a gripe, I suppose.

  • It is not really productive to trade off issues but…I expect that if dual-nationality was allowed and reasonably available (say under the same criteria as a permanent or special residency), then the case behind suffrage for NJs would be weakened and could potentially kill two birds with one stone.

  • Is that UFO angry-looking? Looks awfully cute to me 😀
    This reminds me of PM’s wife and her claim that she visited Venus on board an UFO…

    Supreme court did in the past declare that granting foreigners local suffrage was not unconstitutional, although one of the judges later admitted that he made that judgment with “political regards” towards Korean residents. He himself was pro-foreign suffrage, and thought that it would be given exclusively to the special-PR holders (a.k.a. Korean residents).

    Does this delegitimize the court’s decision? We report, you decide…

    You know Suntory’s BOSS commercials, featuring Tommy Lee Jones as a visiting space alien?
    I rest my case.

    2010.2.19 00:18
     ■外国人地方参政権に関する最高裁判決 永住外国人に地方参政権を認めない公選法などの規定は、住民自治を定めた憲法に違反すると、在日韓国人9人が起こした訴訟の上告審で最高裁第3小法廷は平成7年2月、「憲法上、わが国に在留する外国人に対し、選挙の権利を保障したものではない」とした一審判決を支持し、原告の請求を棄却した。ただ、判決理由の判例拘束力のない「傍論」部分で「永住外国人に対し、地方レベルの参政権を法律をもって認めることは憲法上禁止されていない」との判断も示し、地方参政権付与推進派を勢いづかせた。

  • Well I have to commend the graphic designer on a tremendous job, not only do we have a venomous little illustration of an UFO/NJ space ship looming over poor little Japan, but he has also treated us to a name and shame list complete with photographs and telephone numbers.

  • John (yokohama) says:

    Gee… in a related note… and god forbid any more foreign born aliens invade planet sumo…:

    JSA to change rule on foreign sumo wrestlers
    Japan Today Wednesday 24th February, 06:51 AM JST

    TOKYO —
    The Japan Sumo Association decided on Tuesday it will allow only one foreign-born wrestler per stable, meaning the one slot reserved for foreigners, which until now would become vacant when wrestlers took Japanese citizenship, cannot be filled.

    For example, if a Mongolian-born wrestler belonging to a stable were to gain Japanese citizenship, other foreign wrestlers would be prohibited from joining the same stable.

    JSA Chairman Musashigawa notified stablemasters of the decision made at an extraordinary meeting at Tokyo’s Ryogoku Kokugikan the same day.

    The existing restriction on foreigners will be in effect until newcomers for next month’s spring tournament undergo physicals, after which the new rule will be imposed.

    ‘‘You get the impression it is a severe measure but if the brakes are not applied somewhere, there will be more and more stables overrun with foreign wrestlers, so it can’t be helped,’’ said one stablemaster.

    In recent years, the number of foreign wrestlers has been on the rise, as the existing loophole leaves a vacancy once someone from a respective stable gains Japanese citizenship.

    Four Mongolian-born wrestlers and two Chinese-born wrestlers have taken Japanese citizenship since April last year.

    The JSA decided in February 2002 to ‘‘limit the number of foreign wrestlers who can be recruited to one per stable.’‘

    The latest shakeup in the JSA comes after Mongolian-born former grand champion Asashoryu quit the sport just weeks earlier following allegations he attacked a man outside a Tokyo night club in a drunken rage.

    Sumo has been rocked to the core in recent years by a spate of scandals, including charges of drug violations, a death threat and a six-year prison term meted out to a stablemaster over physical abuse leading to the death of a 17-year-old wrestler.

    There are nearly 60 foreign wrestlers in sumo today.

  • The new sumo rule that John (Yokohama) mentioned above is disturbing. Seems to be in violation of the Japanese constitution.

  • Debito, can the sumo association legally discriminate against naturalized vs. Japan-born citizens like John reports in #15? That’s disgusting.

    — In Japan, it’s not illegal. Somebody would probably have to sue the JSA in civil court in order to get something changed.

  • Deepspacebeans says:

    What these guys are really worried about is not some sort of municipal-based national takeover of Japan. The LDP have been playing the anti-foreign anti-foreign-interest crowd for a long time. The inclusion of a group of local-level voters that would predominately vote against them is clearly not in their best interest.

    Also, I love the title. When I first read it, I made a slight pause between 外国人 and 参政権, laughed, and then decided that is perhaps how it should read: こんなに危険な外国人…参政権?!?!?!?

  • I think that Hatoyama, et al. have actually done a pretty poor job of explaining why they think that this would be a good idea. The vacuum that they have left has meant that this debate has tended to attract the loudest, not the most reasonable, critics. Governments around the world are increasingly attempting political communication with their electorate but I see minimal attempts by DPJ politicians to clearly and reasonably articulate their reasoning behind this issue. As a democracy with a well-educated electorate, I think that Japanese citizens can be entrusted to make well-informed decisions if they are given a well-reasoned argument based on logic and empirical evidence.

    Which brings me to the next point. Instead of rolling out a policy like this simultaneously across the entire country, why don’t they take a small random sample of municipalities and try it in a few places? At the moment, neither side – pro-suffrage or anti-suffrage – has much empirical evidence to support their arguments.

    Those who support suffrage for PR holders in local elections are basing it on a logical argument that I find reasonable. However, the evidence tends to come from municipalities in different parts of the world. There are numerous reasons to think why similar policies may have unintended consequences in a country like Japan with a different political and economic system. Off the top of my head, one possible counterargument could be that ethnic groups in Japan may be organized differently than in other countries so that certain groups CAN be convinced to vote based on their ethnicity rather than on more rational considerations. I am not saying that this will happen but it is a possible hypothesis.

    Those against suffrage for foreigners are also basing their argument on a logical argument (foreigners will vote in blocs in favour of those political leaders who may pursue the interests of their country) but again, without any empirical evidence to support this claim. Why do they assume that just because a person is a non-national of Japan that they only have a single identity – that of “foreigner”? Aren’t these PR holders also shopkeepers, teachers, parents, university students, members of local organizations, etc.? While it is possible that they may vote along ethno-nationalist lines, again, this is just a hypothesis with no empirical evidence behind it whatsoever. The notion that these people are aliens seeking to “conquer” Japan is a reductionist argument that suggests that the only sense of identity available to such people is their “ethnicity”. Would it be so surprising to find that an ardent North Korean resident of Japan who loves Kim Jong-Il may also support a local Japanese candidate in favour of expanding garbage collection one extra day a week or reducing the budget of a local festival to use the money for some other issue?

    Hatoyama, et al. should try explaining their reasoning better and rolling out such suffrage on a small-scale in a few municipalities. This will give them some data to work with. The Japanese public would likely be more reassured that granting foreigners suffrage in a small town in Shizuoka or Aichi had little negative effect on these municipalities than by comparing Japan to the case of Amsterdam or any of the other cities usually cited as examples of this.

    In short, evidence that granting those with PR has not negative effects and may actually have positive effects is badly needed (if it can be found). Both sides have provided nothing more than a series of hypotheses with no empirical basis. It is time someone went out there and tested them scientifically rather than relying on ideology or wishful thinking to guide a very important policy.

    — Great in theory, but I wonder how much weight scientific arguments will hold in an issue as emotionally-charged as this.

    I agree with you the DPJ has done a poor job of justifying this policy in public (or the media has done a poor job of presenting it).

  • Shall we try calling some of the numbers below and discussing the matter with the person on the other side?
    And in the next “Friday” or “Spa!” we’ll see on the cover “Senator Receivs Call From Another Galaxy”

  • I am so glad after 5 years I left Japan. Now having been back in America for 7 months, my Japanese wife and daughter and I are so happy not to have to endure what we had grown accustomed to. It is like emerging out of hell in a way. All I miss are the onsens and not having to worry about smoke in a restaurant or getting smashed in a train with a child in tow makes me barely recall them. I look back and think how stupid I was to waste time studying Japanese and working there and all I suffered. You would have to be crazy to live in Japan. America for all its issues, is 100 times better. Why are so many of you suffering there putting up with issues such as these? You cannot affect change in Japan and you will never be […] fully accepted. I used to read this blog when I was there and on a whim, I just checked it and seeing issues like this, I know that I made the right choice.

    Good luck to you all but know that you wouldn’t be suffering this in your home country along with everything else.

    — Oh I’m sure we’d find other stuff to miss if we’re not in Japan, and other stuff that would get on our nerves overseas. But points taken.

  • I have to agree with Jim – I’m leaving Japan in one month and I have no plans to ever come back. Regarding this sort of racist idiocy, nothing is going to get better in our lifetimes and it will probably only get worse. Sorry Debito, even though you’re fighting the good fight, this is the truth. For anyone thinking of coming to Japan for work or study you should really reconsider.

  • Jim, Eric. So sorry it didn’t work out. There are thousands of foreign born people working, studying and living in Japan quite happily. Let’s not dismiss their positive experiences. As for the U.S., well all I can say is that it is absolutely the last of the ‘developed’ countries I would choose to live in, given a choice. There are major benefits and major downsides of most places. There was a cross burning on the front lawn of a biracial couple in Canada this week. Hmm…

    — Need link to substantiate last sentence or I’m gonna have to delete it.

  • Well, I gave a ring down to the Edogawa office but everyone’s off in a meeting today. I was told to call back tomorrow when I can speak with the 幹事長.

    If anyone has any suggestions as to what they’d like to communicate, feel free to let me know. The points I’m planning on making are pretty much what Debito said in his article: that many prefectures support the policy; the idea that voting rights would “interfere” with education is ludicrous; many other countries in the world do have such systems; and that the general tone of the poster is alarmist and borderline racist (especially the alien ship hovering over Japan).

    — Thanks and ganbatte!

  • My theory on how the world… well at how governments work is:

    Old people are in charge and they make the rules. As all the old people die off the young people take their place. What the old people are against might not be an issue for young people. So as the young people take over, things that were not previously accepted will come to be accepted. As all the young people become old people the things they are against won’t change until they are replaced by new young people and this cycle continues to repeat.

    I grew up with homosexuality being more or less acceptable, but to my parents they would be agaisnt it. As old people in power die off and are replaced by younger people I am sure this view will change and more same sex marriage laws will likely appear.

    Things like womens rights or civil rights are taken for granted today in America, but at one point a bunch of old people screamed bloody murder about it.

    My point is that Japan is an elderly society and set in its ways. Whether Japan likes it our not foreigners will come. Younger generations will eventually think nothing of it that their are people who are Japanese but don’t look Japanese living in the world. When that happens things will change. Until then we just have to wait for all the old people to die off as morbid as that sounds.

    — Ah yes, the “lag theory”. I’ve heard it pretty constantly for the past 2.5 decades now…

  • I don’t quite agree, except that it will probably get worse before it gets better, but this seems to be a turning point, and the DPJ are doing a more progressive job than the LDP, who now clearly show their true colours as the “anti gaijin” party.

    The battle lines are drawn, and I think things will improve within our lifetimes. Unless of course Japan wants to continue to see their economy shrink further (while others’s expand), largely due to a labour shortage and just a lack of people.

    European countries with small populations have the EU, what does Japan have? what will they have if they are perceived as racist and anti their neighbours?

    I’d like to raise this point for discussion: to what extent is the average salaryman working overtime till midnight because he is doing the job of 2-3 people? Is this because there arent enough people to do it?

    (I know one reason is downsizing to save costs, but anyway, it’s on the table).

  • @Jim,

    Your points are well taken, and you know, if you’re not fitting in or are suffering, perhaps not staying is the right choice. But you know, some of us truly like it here. We’re not crazy. There is plenty to love and its only these nagging issues that are being kept alive by a boisterous segment of the populace that remind me there are things worth fighting for. After all, I am sure your words could easily have been applied to other places and other periods of time, but those people didn’t back down. Change is necessary for Japan, they are just socially resistant to it. But there are many people who feel the same as I (I’m speaking of Japanese as well) so it’s only inevitable. What makes people like Debito and I sad is how unruly this [society] is being to the lessons it needs to learn when the process could be so much smoother.

    Glad you and your family are happier where you are. My wife and I are happy here.

  • Seriously? NJ invading Japan in a UFO? That’s just laughable… Though most of us are card carrying “Aliens” according to the MOJ.

    So as an American, I’m not for granting voting rights to non-Americans… so I do see that point on the Japanese side of the debate… but I totally encourage immigrants, wherever they are from, whom love the country to take out citizenship, assimilate, and participate in the politics. However, as is becoming more evident, if you aren’t the master race you aren’t Japanese… so what’s the point.

  • I’m with Jim too; I’m finally taking more substantial moves to finally leave the ship (or, say, the little boats tied to it that we all sit in) after 10 years or so here. Taking in the development in favor or against integrating foreigners here over the years I’d say it averages out to none progress being made, at best. Which just doesn’t cut it for me anymore.

    That said though, Eric, I think we should all appreciate Debitos and others fighting the fight in their respective ways. Who knows where things would be without everyone’s collected efforts.

  • @john k:
    I saw the same story here on the news (NHK I think) and it went more in-depth than BBC. I was amazed at the whole story. The most surprising part, for me, was one of the guards saying they wanted to offer as much opportunity for prisoners to gain skills that will give them an advantage in Korean society after release from prison. Completely unexpected after their exhaustive vilification of foreigner English teachers.

  • I realize that you guys are upset and your decisions are your own, but you gotta think: did the African-Americans go back to Africa because of racism? Did women just slump back into the kitchen because the overpowering husband told them to? No they did not, and their labors were beneficial. If we give up, it will only get worse. I am sorry for your experiences and I hope you are happy where you are.

  • or the media has done a poor job of presenting it…

    Now what on earth (ha) could have made you assume such a thing? . . after all bias reporting there is hardly spin.

    No. of white-collar crimes by foreigners up by 31.2% in 2009

    Thursday 25th February, 12:16 PM JST Kyodo News

    TOKYO —

    The National Police Agency detected 964 white-collar crimes by visiting foreigners in Japan last year, up 31.2% from the previous year, it said Thursday. The number of visiting foreigners charged with such crimes came to 546, up 7.9%, according to the NPA. It said notable among the crimes was teams using faked credit cards.

    The overall number of crimes committed by all foreigners in the reporting year fell 11.1% to 27,790, with 13,282 people, down 4.3%, charged, the NPA said.


    — Yep. Same old same old. Parrot the NPA: Highlight the NJ crime rises and play down the fact that NJ crime overall has gone down. And of course no depiction of J white collar crime numbers, ups or downs to give a sense of scale.

  • More using the threat of abuse by foreigners for political scaremongering by the LDP… courtesy of

    “Norihisa Tamura of the LDP came up with a possible scenario:

    「仮に、アラブの王様のお子さんが日本で稼いで、向こ う(母国)に50人の子供がいれば、その50人が支給 対象になるという問題を含んでいる」

    “If an Arab prince with 50 children back home earned money in Japan then we’d end up paying for those 50 kids””

    Original here:

    Meanwhile in the not really newsworthy department – and some interesting figures for the number crunchers…

    Illegal immigrants drop below 100,000 in Japan, 21 year low.

    Entry refusals and deportations down in Japan

    “The Ministry of Justice also reported that in 2009, 32,661 people from ninety-nine countries went through deportation proceedings for violations of Japanese immigration laws…81.3% involved individuals who were illegally working in the country… Half of the illegal male workers were working in factories or construction. Half of illegal female workers were working as hostesses or factory employees.”

    Makes you wonder how many of these ‘criminals’ employers were prosecuted…


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