DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2011

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Hi All. Happy New Year. As we begin the new decade, let me just tidy up some end-year tidings:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2011

Table of Contents:

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1) DEBITO.ORG END-YEAR POLL: “What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan?”

Holiday Tangents:
2) Happy Boxing Day: From deep within the archives: “Fred Fish” comic book, 1973, drawn by me aged eight
3) Holiday Tangent: “Steve Seed”, all drawed by me 1973, aged eight. C’mon, it’s kinda cute.
4) From even farther back: “Penny the Hamster”, drawn in Second Grade when I was seven
5) Tangent: Comic “The Flight’, drawn by me Christmas 1975 aged ten
6) Tangent: “The Meat Eaters”: My first try at a movie storyboard, circa 1975, Fifth Grade, aged ten
7) Last End-Year Tangent: “Lile Lizard”, written Second Grade aged seven, includes procreation!

Business as usual:
8 ) Kyodo: Stats for inflows & outflows: J exch students down, NJ up; NJ tourists also up, but none reaching GOJ goals
9) Mainichi: Global 30 strategy for bringing in more foreign exchange students to be axed, while fewer J students go overseas than Singapore
10) Japan Times: Paranoia over NJ purchases of land in Niseko etc: GOJ expresses “security” concerns
11) Fukui City now requiring J language ability for NJ taxpayer access to public housing. Despite being ruled impermissible by Shiga Guv in 2002
12) Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”

… and finally …

13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 4, 2011
Double feature: The top ten events that affected NJ in Japan both for 2010 and for the entire last decade!

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By Arudou Debito, Sapporo, Japan
debito@debito.org, daily blog updates with RSS at www.debito.org
Freely Forwardable

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1) DEBITO.ORG END-YEAR POLL: “What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan?”

Here are some topics chosen in no particular order:

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What do you think are the top issues in 2010 that affected NJ in Japan? (Vote for THREE)

  • Tokyo Police spying on Muslims
  • Nursing program only passes three NJ after two years
  • Health insurance requirement removed from visa renewals
  • The Cove movie engenders protests, gets limited screenings anyway
  • “My Darling is a Foreigner” becomes a movie
  • GOJ apologizes to Korea for prewar annexation
  • Tourist visas eased for Chinese and Indians
  • Toyota’s mishandling of their runaway car recall, blaming foreign components and culture
  • UN Rapporteur Jorge Bustamante’s critical Japan visit
  • NJ PR Suffrage Bill goes down in flames
  • Child Abductions issue gathers steam with governments abroad, GOJ eyes Hague
  • Oita court ultimately rules that NJ have no rights to J welfare benefits
  • Sumo Association decides to count naturalized wrestlers as still foreign
  • Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member
  • Far-rightists question credentials of DPJ reformists by claiming they have NJ roots
  • Suraj Case of death during deportation
  • NJ hunger strike at Ibaraki Detention Center
  • Futenma issue, with USG jerking GOJ’s chain with separation anxiety
  • Long-dead Centenarians still registered as alive (yet NJ remain unregistered)
  • Japan’s Kokusei Chousa pentennial census goes multilingual
  • The cutting of the “Global 30” program for bringing in NJ exchange students
  • Zaitokukai far-rightists get arrested for property damage to Zainichis
  • Something else (please specify at http://www.debito.org/?p=8131)

Vote at any blog page at http://www.debito.org

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Holiday Tangents:

Because I didn’t want to leaden the holiday period with more Dismal McDownerism, here are some things quite precious to me that others might find smileworthy:

A little kid (ahem, me) who is first cutting his teeth with learning how to write, in the form of comic books (of which I am still a devotee), but with some surprisingly intact narrative structures for such an early age.

I enjoyed scanning and putting them up. You might too. Take a look:

2) Happy Boxing Day: From deep within the archives: “Fred Fish” comic book, 1973, drawn by me aged eight

For the holiday season, let me put up some rilly, rilly old stuff. I got a boxful of old comic books I made when I was a little kid. What follows is “Fred Fish”, from 1973. I was in second grade, just turned eight years old, and was in Mrs. Joseph’s class in North Street School, Geneva, NY. I had been reading since I was about two years old (a LOT of comic books), and within five years I was producing some of my own. Mrs. Joseph saw me as reading at a level far above everyone else, she said years later, so she gave me class time to create whatever I wanted. That’s what I did — I sat down with pencil, paper, and a stapler and created what would turn out to be a pile of these mostly derivative but kinda cute works that fortunately got saved. 38 years later, here’s something for the blog, as a present and a diversion I hope you enjoy.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8141

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3) Holiday Tangent: “Steve Seed”, all drawed by me 1973, aged eight. C’mon, it’s kinda cute.

Continuing the Holiday Tangents (I just don’t feel like doing anything downer-ish as we round out the year), here’s another comic drawn by me probably around November 1973. “Steve Seed”. It’s from a photocopy, alas, but even I’m a little surprised at how developed the spelling and narrative structure are at this age. Refers to the circle of life, safety, and even reincarnation. And it’s doggone cute, darn it. If I could stick my arm into a time machine, I’d reach back and pinch my cheeks.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8173

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4) From even farther back: “Penny the Hamster”, drawn in Second Grade when I was seven

Thanks for indulging me this holiday season with archiving things that feel more precious the more I look at them. Here is something even older than the first two entries: “Penny the Hamster”, named after our Second Grade class’s pet, who had a history of escaping (and inspiring me to write). The comic is more primitive in drawing (thanks to the younger age ● I mean, seven years old?), but the narrative structure is, once again, still there. Dedicated to classmate Steve Chilbert (with whom I’ve gotten back in touch with after nearly 27 years thanks to Facebook) at the bottom of the cover (until, it seems, we had some kind of fight and I tried to erase him). Let’s see what travails await this main character in young David Aldwinckle’s world.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8199

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5) Tangent: Comic “The Flight’, drawn by me Christmas 1975 aged ten

For today’s comic effect, here’s an effort by me to assimilate the experiences I was having by age ten: Travel around Europe with my stepfather (family in England, conferences around Europe, including Germany, Czech, and Poland), drinking in lots of British comics (still do, but at that time I was reading war comics like Warlord and Victor, not to mention Hotspur and Wizard; the Brits in the 1970s still loved reliving the glories of the World Wars, and British comic books over the decades quite possibly killed cumulatively more Germans in print than on the battlefield), and watching movies like Airport (I had a longstanding fear of flying, what with either paranoid disaster flicks at the time or hijackings to Cuba).

In this ten year old’s world, here’s what comes out in the wash: A turboprop flys Heathrow to Russia, via Paris, and over Germany, where the Nazis of course attack and put the flight in jeopardy. But of course, a hero emerges● and, well, read the comic. At least they made it to Warsaw. Enjoy. There’s even a Christmas message at the end, meaning I made this as a present for my parents.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8218

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6) Tangent: “The Meat Eaters”: My first try at a movie storyboard, circa 1975, Fifth Grade, aged ten

Continuing the holiday tangents for two more days, here is my rather interesting attempt to combine disaster movie with horror flick. “The Meat Eaters”, drawn by me back in around Fifth Grade, circa 1975, when I was ten years old.

NOTES: Although at the time records indicate I was drawing a lot of battle-oriented comics (WWI, WWII, and some space alien stuff), this is perhaps my read of The Blob. Summer idyll disturbed by a bolt from the blue, and suddenly carnivorous tribbles begin to devour humanity. But of course a hero emerges, tries to save the day (especially given the do-nothing president; perhaps that’s what I thought of President Ford), and this time does NOT get what he deserves — a happily-ever-after Hollywood ending where justice is served. Oh oh, I’m starting to grow up, it seems…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8249

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7) Last End-Year Tangent: “Lile Lizard”, written Second Grade aged seven, includes procreation!

Here’s the last comic for the holidays, thanks for reading. We’ll end with a sweet one. “Lile Lizard” (I think it’s a name, not a misspelling of “little”), a reptilian reprise of Adam and Eve, rendered by me aged seven in Second Grade. Created by god, Lile offers us a story with marriage, babies, family values, and even a mate sent by air mail! I think the note it ends on is a good way to finish the year. We’ll get back to the nitty-gritty hardcore human rights issues from January 1. Thanks to everyone for reading Debito.org daily blog as it rounds off its fifth year in operation.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8263

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Now, back to business as usual:

8 ) Kyodo: Stats for inflows & outflows: J exch students down, NJ up; NJ tourists also up, but none reaching GOJ goals

Kyodo: The Japan Student Services Organization said in its report that a record-high 141,774 foreigners are studying in Japan, up 9,054 from the year before, while the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said the number of Japanese studying abroad totaled 66,833 in 2008, 8,323 less than the previous year.

The number of Japanese students studying abroad has been on the decline since peaking at 82,945 in 2004, while that of foreigners studying in Japan has been growing. In 2008, the number of foreign students in Japan was 123,829.

Education ministry officials said the current job recruitment process in Japan is apparently discouraging Japanese students from studying abroad for fear of missing out on opportunities to apply for jobs in a given period●

The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan from January to November hit a record high for the 11-month period, but the government’s annual target of attracting 10 million overseas visitors is unlikely to be achieved, a Japan National Tourism Organization survey showed Wednesday.

The number of foreign visitors during the reporting period surged 29.2 percent from the corresponding period last year to 7.963 million, according to the organization.

Achieving the government target of 10 million tourists would require an additional 2 million tourists in December. But considering that the largest number of visitors in a single month this year was the 878,582 recorded in July, it is highly unlikely the target will be met…

Still, it is almost certain the number of foreign visitors this year will surpass the record high 8.35 million marked in 2008.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8123

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9) Mainichi: Global 30 strategy for bringing in more foreign exchange students to be axed, while fewer J students go overseas than Singapore

Mainichi: Would Mainichi readers be surprised to learn that Japan is preparing to ax one of the cornerstones of its higher education internationalization strategy?

The government’s cost-cutting panel, which is trying to slash costs in a bid to trim the country’s runaway public debt, voted on Nov. 18 to abolish and “restructure” the Global 30 project.

Launched last year with a budget of 3.2 billion yen, Global 30 envisioned “core” universities “dramatically” boosting the number of international students in Japan and Japanese students studying abroad, said the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology… Now the project has been terminated…

Fewer than 4 percent of Japan’s university students come from abroad — 133,000, well below China (223,000) and the U.S. (672,000). Just 5 percent of its 353,000 university teachers are foreign, according to Ministry of Education statistics. Most of those are English teachers.

At the opposite end of the education pendulum, students here are increasingly staying at home: Japanese undergraduate enrollments in U.S. universities have plummeted by over half since 2000. Numbers to Europe are also down…

South Korea, with about half Japan’s population, sends over twice as many students to the U.S. At some American universities, such as Cornell, Japan is behind not just China and South Korea, but even Thailand and tiny Singapore…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8113

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10) Japan Times: Paranoia over NJ purchases of land in Niseko etc: GOJ expresses “security” concerns

Japan Times: In Hokkaido, 29 contracts have been purchased by foreign interests, including Chinese, Australian, New Zealand and Singaporean enterprises.

It is a worrying issue not only for Hokkaido but for the rest of mountainous Japan.

Hirano said there is speculation that dozens of plots, including in Mie and Nagano prefectures, as well as on Tsushima, Amami Oshima and the Goto islands, are being targeted by Chinese and other foreign investors.

The growing sense of alarm finally prodded local governments, as well as officials in Tokyo, to start talking about ways to limit such purchases.

Last month, Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said a local ordinance is needed to force foreign interests to report an intended land purchase before the contract is signed.

At the national level, Prime Minister Naoto Kan indicated in October the possibility of restricting foreign ownership of land where it could jeopardize national security…

COMMENT: As submitter JK put it, “This just drips with paranoia of NJ and reeks of hypocrisy.”

http://www.debito.org/?p=8100

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11) Fukui City now requiring J language ability for NJ taxpayer access to public housing. Despite being ruled impermissible by Shiga Guv in 2002

Blogger: Last April the city of Fukui adopted a “guideline” in its municipal public housing regulations that stated non-Japanese who applied for low-income housing must be able to “communicate in Japanese.” Applications for those who cannot will not be accepted. Since then various groups that work with foreigners in Japan have protested the guideline, but it still stands. Some of these groups have said that they are aware that some non-Japanese applicants, though they qualify for public housing otherwise, have been prevented from applying for housing due to the new guideline.

There are nine cities in Fukui Prefecture, but only Fukui City has such a rule. The city official in charge of public housing told a local newspaper that his office had received complaints from community associations (jichikai) of individual public housing complexes. These associations said that some non-Japanese residents were unable to communicate “very well” in Japanese, and thus it was difficult for them to understand and follow association rules regarding the “sorting of refuse” and “noise.” For that reason, the city government adopted this new guideline.

COMMENT: I’ve heard of this sort of thing happening before. Shiga Prefecture also banned NJ who do not “speak Japanese” from its public housing back in 2002. However, the Shiga Governor directly intervened literally hours after this was made public by the Mainichi Shinbun and rescinded this, as public facilities (and that includes housing, of course) cannot ban taxpayers (and that includes NJ, of course). Whether or not the Fukui Governor will show the same degree of enlightenment remains to be seen. Maybe some media exposure might help this time too.

http://www.debito.org/?p=8102

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12) Discussion: As a person with NJ roots, is your future in Japan? An essay making the case for “No”

I’m hearing increasing discontent from the NJ Community (assuming quite presumptuously there is one able to speak with a reasonably unified voice) about living in Japan.

Many are saying that they’re on their way outta here. They’ve had enough of being treated badly by a society that takes their taxes yet does not respect or protect their rights.

To stimulate debate, let me posit with some flourish the negative case for continuing life in Japan, and let others give their own arguments pro and con:

It’s becoming increasingly difficult to expect people to want to immigrate to Japan, given the way they are treated once they get here.

We have racial profiling by the Japanese police, where both law allows and policy sanctions the stopping of people based upon having a “foreign appearance”, such as it is, where probable cause for ID checks anywhere is the mere suspicion of foreigners having expired visas.

We have rampant refusals of NJ by landlords and rental agencies (sanctioned to the point where at least one realtor advertises “Gaijin OK” apartments), with the occasional private enterprise putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and nothing exists to stop these acts that are expressly forbidden by the Japanese Constitution. Yet now fifteen years after effecting the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no law against it either on the books or in the pipeline…

http://www.debito.org/?p=8087

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… and finally …

13) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column January 4, 2011

Double feature: The top ten events that affected NJ in Japan both for 2010 and for the entire last decade!

That’s right. The Japan Times Community Page let me expand my year-end roundup of the top ten human rights events affecting NJ in Japan to include the entire decade. The top for 2010 are included in the blog poll above, but some of the events I include for 2000-2010 might surprise you.

It’s already been handed into the editor, so get yourself a copy (a hard copy would be better this year, as illustrator Chris MacKenzie has really gone to town on the layout this time) next Tuesday (Weds in the provinces).

I’ve been writing regularly for the JT for nearly ten years (starting 2002), with 35 Just Be Cause columns and 54 Zeit Gist articles so far and counting. This has been a great way to trace the arc of the Community Page’s research. Enjoy!

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Thanks for reading. I look forward to writing more to you next decade. Best wishes to everyone for the new year!

Arudou Debito in Sapporo
debito@debito.org, www.debito.org
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 1, 2011 ENDS

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