Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors


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Hi Blog. They say that as you age, you become a caricature of yourself, as the mind becomes more inflexible and lifelong habits and ideologies become ingrained.

But then there are those who turn mean and nasty, if not outright insane. And I believe Tokyo Governor Ishihara has finally turned from a committed politician to a politician who should be committed. Reader GS puts it well when he writes:

Hi Debito, Anti-suffrage rightists say they are against suffrage for permanent residents because “foreigners can naturalize if they want equal rights with Japanese.” Well, now Governor Ishihara is using “naturalized” as an epithet to smear members of the ruling cabinet as untrustworthy.


外国人参政権「先祖へ義理立てか」 石原知事が与党批判
朝日新聞 2010年4月18日11時2分





2010年4月19日11時58分配信 産経新聞

社民党の福島瑞穂党首(消費者・少子化担当相)は19日、国会内で記者会見し、東京都の石原慎太郎知事が17日の外国人地方参政権の反対集会で、名 指しこそ避けたものの与党党首の中に帰化した人がいるという趣旨の発言をしたことについて「私も、私の両親も帰化したものではない」と否定した。

その上で、「私は外国人地方参政権には一貫して賛成してきた。政治家の政治信条を帰化したからだという事実誤認に基づいて説明することは、私の政治 信条をゆがめ、踏みにじるものだ」と述べ、石原氏に発言の撤回を求めた。

石原氏は17日の「全国地方議員決起集会」で、「この中に帰化された人、お父さん、お母さんが帰化され、そのお子さんいますか。与党を形成している いくつかの政党の党首とか、与党の大幹部ってのは調べてみると多いんですな」などと発言していた。

福島氏は会見で「『与党を形成している政党の党首』といえば、おのずと特定され、私のことをおっしゃっているのだと考えた」とした上で、「(帰化 を)問題とすること自体、人種差別だ」とも述べ、発言を撤回しない場合は法的措置も辞さない考えを示した。


Apparently they’re on a witch hunt for not only “naturalized” Japanese who supposedly can’t be trusted, but any Japanese who might have parents who have been naturalized!  I really believe Japan is an outlier when it comes to race. The idea that nationality is a racial concept – as opposed to a legal concept – is so ingrained here I’m afraid it will not die easily.  A minister in Germany is of Vietnamese descent. And yet Japan is terrifried that a cabinet member might be naturalized or have naturalized parents. Really pathetic. GS


COMMENT:  It hardly bears fully iterating, but:  Here we have this dangerous tendency of Ishihara solidifying into a fully-formed ideology, based upon the fundamental tenets that 1) foreigners cannot be trusted, 2) foreigners are always foreigners, even if they are Japanese citizens for generations, 3) foreigners think along blood lines and will work against Japanese interests if their blood is not Japanese.  In other words, personal belief is a matter of genetics.  But these blood-based arguments went out of fashion a few generations ago when we saw that they led to things such as pogroms and genocides.  Study your history.  Yet some of the most powerful people in Japan (in this case the governor of one of the world’s major cities) not only fervently believe it, but also create political parties to rally others around it.

This is beyond pathological racism.  This is the febrile insanity of a mean old man who has long since lost control of himself and his grasp of reality after so many years in power.  And as evidenced above, he will even encourage xenophobic witch hunts for people on allegations of blood and ethnicity to push a political agenda that has one horrible conclusion:  hatred, exclusion, and silencing of others.

Dietmember Fukushima is right to call it racial discrimination and call for a retraction (and threaten legal action).  But she must also make it clear to the public that even if somebody was naturalized, it is not a problem:  Naturalized Japanese are real Japanese too.  Otherwise there’s no point to naturalization.  But for people like Ishihara, that IS the point; as I’ve written before, it makes no difference to racists whether or not people become Japanese citizens, despite the protests of those opposing votes for NJ PRs.  “If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize” has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.

These are the people who should be booted from power.  Give NJ PRs the vote and we’re one step closer.  Don’t, and these bigots only grow stronger.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo, naturalized citizen.

17 comments on “Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors

  • a horrible man and unfortunately hardly a surprise .
    in the80s his secretary was arrested for vandalizing posters of his election opponent after writing naturalized from north korea on them.
    they also spread the rumour that the opponent was a north korean spy.

    equally unfortunately this tactic works very well with the public everywhere as johnmccain found out in south carolina.

    i thought fukushima did a good job of answering him though she seems a tad too eager to deny she has foreign ancestry .the fact that elected leaders are denying they have foreign ancestry is really incredibly sick.

    — Need source for secretary claim if you have it.

  • Natural Born Voters?
    By Paul Jackson
    THE DIPLOMAT April 20, 2010

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara has once again landed himself in hot water with a controversial comment suggesting that some of the politicians favouring the granting of local voting rights to foreigners were naturalized Japanese or the children of naturalized Japanese.

    Ishihara reportedly said their support for the granting of the right for foreigners with permanent residency derived from a sense of ‘duty to their ancestors’ during one of a number of events at the weekend declaring opposition to the move being considered by the ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

    The comment drew the ire of Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima, who said Monday that Ishihara was trying to ‘trample’ on her political beliefs, according to the Asahi Shimbun’s evening edition. While insisting that neither she nor her parents were naturalized, she demanded that the Tokyo governor retract his remarks. ‘Naturalized people are Japanese, and have totally equal rights and obligations with Japanese. It must be racial discrimination to make an issue of them,’ she said, according to Kyodo News.

    On the day Ishihara made his remarks, another rally of opponents to foreign suffrage took place at Tokyo’s renowned Nippon Budokan venue. Organizers claimed attendance of over 10,000, among whom the key participants were Liberal Democratic Party Secretary General Tadamori Oshima, Your Party head Yoshimi Watanabe and Takeo Hiranuma, head of what is now called the Sunrise Party of Japan.

    Arguments against the move vary from the politically mundane—a measure aimed at benefitting the DPJ electorally—to the more sinister—manipulation of major issues such as territorial claims (apparently this would be achieved by Korean groups moving their members to the municipalities concerned).

    Of most concern to the DPJ will have been the presence at the Budokan meet of one of their own coalition leaders, Shizuka Kamei, who has said he will leave the government if they press ahead with the measure.

    As for the likelihood of the thick-skinned Ishihara withdrawing his remarks, I think foreign permanent residents are more likely to see representation in return for their taxation first.


  • Tokyo governor calls ruling party veterans ‘naturalized’
    Associated Press Apr 19 2010

    TOKYO, April 19 (AP) – (Kyodo)—Gaffe-prone Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara told a gathering on the weekend that many veteran lawmakers in the ruling-coalition parties are naturalized or the offspring of people naturalized in Japan, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

    Ishihara made the remark in an address to a gathering held Saturday to oppose the central government’s policy to give local suffrage to permanent foreign residents in Japan, the sources said.

    After asking the audience, “Are there people who have been naturalized or are the children of fathers or mothers who have been naturalized here?” Ishihara was quoted as saying, “The heads of more than one party in the ruling camp and many veteran senior officials in the camp are.”

    Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s Democratic Party of Japan has formed a tripartite coalition with the tiny Social Democratic Party and People’s New Party since taking power last September.

    SDP chief Mizuho Fukushima, who serves as minister in charge of consumer affairs, criticized the remark, saying, “Naturalized people are Japanese, and have totally equal rights and obligations with Japanese. It must be racial discrimination to make an issue of them.”

  • jjobseeker says:

    Thank you Ishihara, or as my wife calls him, “Ishibaka” for giving us more fuel to use against you, your cronies, and anyone else furthering the agenda that a staid, old Japan, is what works best. You are ruining this country you claim to love and it will be a banner day when you are toppled off your already unstable rocker or you croak. I’d prefer the latter, but you deserve to see Japan move forward with progressive policies, seeing none of those policies “ruin” Japan, thus proving you were always wrong.

  • IMHO, the things stupid people most loudly decry are the things which most closely reflect their own lives, hoping to shield themselves from accusation, or just out of plain old self-hatred.

    How many stories of closeted gay right-wing politicians who pretend they’re god-fearing Catholics and rail against same sex marriage laws until they get caught doing something naughty in a public toilet? How many millionaire left-wing politicians who rail against the very “evil” corporations and banks which keep them rich, calling out tax cheats while “forgetting” to pay taxes themselves?

    Ishibaka doth protest too much, methinks. Wonder what his mitochondrial DNA reveals about his “pureness”?

    Besides, go back into history a few thousand years, and there was no such thing as a “native Japanese”, because all future Japanese were still on the continent, weren’t they?

  • No notion of racial purity can survive inspection past the most spurious level. Even assuming all Ishihara’s recorded ancestors were from this chain of islands, that’s at the very most 1500 years (I assume no one can claim to trace their ancestors past Prince Shotoku) of no genetic material coming in from outside this arbitrarily lasso-selected subset of humanity. That’s maybe 1% of the time since our species branched out from Africa, probably not enough to make a significant difference between a “pure Japanese” and someone from an island not too far away.

    Race has always been about rounding up people for political causes based on a very few inherited traits, and always the visible ones – not something that is definitely inherited and definitely splits people into inside and outside groups but is invisible, like lactose intolerance. It is political, not biological. Biology is to race what plate tectonics are to maps of the 50 states, with pink Utah next to yellow Nevada. It doesn’t merely discredit one person’s claim to “racial purity”, it makes the entire enterprise of race moot.

  • I think FRANCA or someone should pass along a dossier of Ishihara’s racist rants to the mayors of Tokyo’s sister cities and encourage them to make a public stink about it. That might stir something up to get this clown taken down a notch. Or twenty.

  • Hi,
    According to the present Immigration policy, it is inevitable that the number of foreigners residing in Japan is bound to increase.It is also quite evident that ethnic homogeneity may be untenable under the forces of globalization and changing domestic needs, including an aging population and labor shortages.

    Therefore any politician who uses the rhetoric of “racial purity” etc.. is simply showing that they don’t have any coherent policy in place to deal with the circumstances at present or in the future. Instead of working towards a framework where there can be social harmony amongst
    all groups, by fanning the views of ‘Supremacists’ and ‘Fanatics’ in order to win accolades, shows irresponsible unaccountability.

    Ref :
    [ ]

  • I wish somebody would just come out and show the numbers of people who become naturalized Japanese to these politicians. Here are the figures:

    For the last 10 years or so, only about 15,000 people a year become Japanese. Perhaps that’s because not many apply. But then, how come the number of people who submit applications, the number of applications rejected, and even the number of approved applications per nationality, are almost always the same, year in and year out, for the last 10 years? That’s either a statistical fluke or the MOJ has set the number of people it will allow to file an application (meaning, many applicants perhaps are turned away even before they can file an application), how many they will approve (and disapprove), and even which migrant nationalities will get what portion of approved cases. I don’t see any policy or law that sets a quota for Japanese citizenship. So, yes, it is hypocritical for politicians to demand that migrants naturalize first while the MOJ allows only 15,000 or so a year to naturalize out of almost a million permanent residents in Japan. (Note: Technically, having permanent residency is not even required to apply for citizenship)

    “‘If they want the right to vote, they should naturalize’ has been and always will be a red herring to genuine xenophobes, so see it for what it is — a Trojan Horse of an argument camouflaging racism as reasonableness.”

    — I agree having this constant a number over the years is interesting. There is an entry interview and unsuitable candidates are told not to bother applying.

  • Re. #11: Very interesting idea… the theory seems to be, at least on English-language forums etc, that people don’t naturalize because they’re not willing to abandon their original nationality. I personally find that a little hard to believe with regard to people who were not only born and raised here, but so were their parents and grandparents… but it would be interesting to see what the results would be if someone were to take a proper survey. Is it really a matter of ethnic or national pride as so many think, or are a good percentage of people really being turned away before officially applying, or is it just that they are so used to being the native-born “foreigner” that they don’t even ask about the process?

    I applied for naturalization without PR last June, it’s most definitely allowed and the people at the local branch of the MOJ seemed very supportive… we’ll see if it goes through at the highest levels.

  • John (Yokohama) says:

    “Ishihara snubs SDP retraction request” Japan Times, April 24, 2010
    By TAKAHIRO FUKADA Staff writer

    Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara on Friday rejected a request from Social Democratic Party chief Mizuho Fukushima to retract remarks suggesting she may be a naturalized Japanese or a descendant of one.

    “I have not specified her at all (as being a naturalized person or a descendant of one),” the often abrasive governor said at a news conference. “I only made general remarks,” he said.

    Some people may have interpreted Ishihara’s remarks as an attempt to label her Chinese or Korean.

    Ishihara, who is strongly opposed to giving voting rights to foreign residents, reportedly hinted last week that many of the ruling coalition’s top executives are naturalized Japanese or their descendants.

    Rest at

  • Good point about Japan:

    The whole process of naturalization is completely free of charge (unlike in many other countries).

  • I agree that most likely the low rejection rate for naturalisation is because there are (or at least were when I applied) up to three separate interviews taking place before an official application is even made. Any who have (according to statistics) a chance greater than 1-2% of being turned down would be weeded out at the early stages. On the other hand, there was no indication that there was any arbitrary weeding going on to control numbers; on my first interview we went through the list of requirements, and once it was established I matched, everything beyond that point was about how I need to go about making it happen. As for the statistical flukiness about the seemingly constant figure, it could be as simple as there only being a certain amount of staff time slots available in a given year to conduct the interviews.

  • Sometimes I think that people should make it into a documentary. You know, like The Cove. If we could only show the world how ridiculous is the problem of racism in Japan, maybe the ensuing international criticism would teach Japanese people that being racist is a shameful thing. My personal experience here shows that you don’t need to be evil like Ishihara to go around saying and doing racist things. On the contrary, the nicest folks I know here are always the ones to surprise me with a racist remark. If I knew how to make films I would have started making a documentary. I even have the perfect title: “Soft Xenophobia”.


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