FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos


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Hi Blog.  As you know, as representative of NGO FRANCA I met with Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Dr Jorge A. Bustamante on March 23, 2010. Here’s a briefing:

Starting from 9AM at one of the Diet Lower House meeting rooms, I sat in as Amnesty International Japan and Solidarity with Migrants Japan made their cases about how NJ are being treated badly by the media, the government, and labor policy. Dr Bustamante asked a lot of questions and wanted statistics, particularly about the death rates for migrant workers (we were all surprised; he said that in other developed countries those statistics were available at the government level, something inconceivable to us). After 45 minutes, he went off to meetings with GOJ officials.

We were supposed to meet again for another 45 minutes from 1PM, but Dr Bustamante arrived more than twenty minutes late. (This is a typical GOJ trick so the NGOs get less time; if NGOs go overtime, they become the object of criticism, but if the GOJ goes overtime, nobody complains but the NGOs.) A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes, I kept mine to twelve as well (we had timers), and mixed our powerpoint with movie and speech.

As far as I went, I was able to squeeze in my full introduction and two of my five bullet issues, then had to skip to the end with the entreaty to not see NJ as “temporary migrant workers” but “immigrants” (read entire speech here). But I was very disappointed that we had virtually no time for Q&A (Dr Bustamante looked tired), and that all that preparation was cut short because we were keeping our promises with the scheduling and the GOJ was not.

Some photos from the proceedings:

Morning session with Dr. Bustamante [removed by request]:

Afternoon session:

Mr RYOM Munsong from Korea University gives his powerpoint.  I sit back and get out of the way so the media could film him.  Note fat blue folder on table just itching to be given to Dr. Bustamante.

Then I’m on:

Second from right is Dr Bustamante, with Ms Valentina Milano, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.

I have to barnstorm through; I finish in 12 minutes 58.9 seconds.  Note mp3 recorder and iPod timer.  I’ll have a recording of my speech as my next DEBITO.ORG PODCAST up in a couple of weeks.  If you want to see the powerpoint for yourselves, click  Table of contents with links to all articles at

The good news is that everything I wanted to say, even if i did not say it, is on paper or online.  Everything, including that fat folder, is now in Dr Bustamante’s hands.

It’s heavy schlepping this around Japan.

Genuine Monbetsu “Japanese Only” sign enclosed as a souvenir.

Everything completely indexed and categorized for ease of reading.

This is FRANCA at work.  Join us for our meeting this coming Saturday in Tokyo.

I was a bit dejected, so to make sure the day wasn’t a total wipeout, I went to the Diet building (they’ve only recently opened up tours of the Lower House) and took a free hourlong tour.

It wasn’t much (the Upper House, which I’ve done three times, is much better, and much friendlier), as the cop who acted as our tour guide was practically inaudible, and the attitude was “let’s get this crowd out of here as quickly as possible” (I happened to join three tour busses; the Hato Bus tour guide also agreed the Upper House is much better).  Then I came back to Gotanda, had authentic Chinese takeout, and retired to write this all up.

I’ll probably be attending more meetings with NGOs tomorrow as an observer.  If there is anything of note, or any statements from the NGOs they want made public here, I’ll have them up soon.

Thanks to everyone for your input!

Arudou Debito in Tokyo

18 comments on “FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos

  • First thing I have to do, Debito, is shoot you for your abuse of French. The accent on your folder note “vis-à-vis” was facing the wrong way (it’s a grave accent, not an acute accent), but then again, you didn’t need it, because your entire heading was in block capitals (which don’t take accents anyway!)
    That said, I don’t think anything you said will change a damn thing, because you are trying to convince the racists in the Japanese government by reason. This will never work. There is no carrot that can outweigh their dislike of those of us with the “wrong” (sic) skin colour; the only method for having our rights enforced is the stick. If the UN could fine Japan $1 billion a day until anti-discrimination legislation was introduced, we’d have our rights enshrined in law by the end of the week. Until that power is available to the good guys, however, everything that FRANCA does is, quite frankly, ineffective. That’s not being negative (because I anticipate howls of outrage driven by emotion rather than reason), that’s just a fact of life. (Note that I am NOT saying FRANCA itself is pointless, only that its tactics are.)
    Over to you…

    — So as long as FRANCA has no stick, any other tactic that FRANCA comes up with is pointless? Shoot me not for the grave injustice done the accent, but if I ever get quite that hopeless.

  • redballoon says:


    Don’t be down. You did a great job and just having met is huge. It goes on your record and will contribute to everything done. It adds to your credibility and will surely help with other things in the future.
    If I had any money, I’d buy you a beer!

  • As I ve said before, there is a stick; Japan can forget about a permanent security council seat, and surely all this negative publicity is damning in all kinds of sectors, from business to tourism. People will weigh up the pros and cons…and then open that office in China or Hong Kong, not Japan.
    Japan will be seen as untrustworthy, if they arent already.

  • Taikibansei says:

    Funny stuff from kimpatsu. Debito was not trying to convince the “Japanese government” — racists and non racists alike — of anything. Representing Franca, he had an opportunity to meet with the Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants, not to mention network with Amnesty International Japan, Mindan, and other of the established (and quite powerful) advocacy groups in this country. More than that, the 500 pages of documents/statistical evidence he put together is now public — heck, even the UN has it now.

    This event was all about raising awareness–both about the ongoing discrimination issues confronting many foreigners in this country, and about the existence of a relatively new advocacy group (Franca). Both goals were achieved. Debito, you did a great job.

  • “A representative from the Zainichi Koreans, an academic from Korea University (Kodaira, Tokyo) named Mr RYOM Munsong, kept his speech to 12 minutes”

    Hmmm, interesting. Isn’t Korea University a Chongryon school?

    — It is. So? Are you too going to claim they’re training spies?

  • Thanks for all that you are doing !
    Great job as always.
    Your efforts will surely bring some
    more good, it’s only a matter of time.
    Changes are slow…

  • “It is. So? Are you too going to claim they’re training spies?”

    Uh, no, I’m not. I just thought it was interesting that the Zainichi representative was from Chongryon and not Mindan, which has a larger membership IIRC. You don’t always have to be so confrontational.

    — Sorry. I don’t know if Mindan etc. were being represented later. There are two weeks of NGO speakers.

  • great stuff debito
    you should be very proud of what youvw achieved
    theres nothing to be disappointed about
    (apart from maybe the pony tail)

    — Hey!!

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    “Deportation rule troubles U.N. official”, March 28, 2010

    “A recent government decision to deport only the parents of families without residency status, thus separating children from their mothers and fathers, flies in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jorge Bustamante, the United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of migrants, said Saturday in Tokyo.”

  • I hope that Mr. Bustamante is finding time here productive.
    Two weeks is short, but apparently he has a very busy schedule.

    Out of curiosity, how is he traveling?
    Does he walk around town and take trains?
    Or is he in one of those diplomatically-immune “leave me alone” vehicles?
    I only ask because it would be a shame if he were “carded” during his trip.
    However, there is nothing like understanding an issue than experiencing it first hand. And I am sure that he could make a lot of noise about it if desired.

  • so glad that the mail about ‘Debito giving up activism’ was just an april’s fool joke! phew! i admire you very much and think you are one of the most articulate persons there are! great job, Debito! and i do hope you are making enough money to keep going and going raising awareness about such a xenophobic country pretending not to be as well!!

  • Hi,
    Well done for all your good work!! It’s a long shot, but you might want to try contacting Glyn Ford, who is a British member of the European Parliament and has close connections with Japan. Some years back I wrote to him concerning landlords’ discrimination against foreigners in Japan. Since the situation hasn’t changed much, it might be worth sending him a reminder.


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