UN News agency press release reports: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour today urged the Human Rights Council to press forward with its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism, which allows the human rights records of every country to be scrutinized. Under this new mechanism, over the course of four years, all UN Member States – at the rate of 48 a year – will be reviewed to assess whether they have fulfilled their human rights obligations.
Tony Laszlo, hero of the Daarin Wa Gaikokujin books, finally comes out as an American in the October issue of Courrier Japon. His byline also mentions his position as rep of “Issho Kikaku”, even though the website of the group has been offline for nearly two years and the archives have long since disappeared…
Sorry for not talking about the Abe resignation (truth is, I don’t know what to say. Yet. Nor does anyone, really). Instead, germane to Debito.org is that the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has been approved after more than two decades of debate. This may become a historical event, especially given the indigenous peoples in Japan (Ainu, Ryukyuans) and their lack of official recognition (in 1997, the Ainu received tentative recognition for their aboriginal status from the GOJ, not that it meant they got any money or special favors for it).
Been stampeding through the late Edward Seidensticker’s book TOKYO RISING, and these are some fun facts that popped up for Debito.org: On the unaccountable Tokyo police, their targeting of the sangokujin, and Japan’s postwar prosperity kickstarted by the Korean War. Very quick review of the book at the very bottom too.
A hearing on human rights is disrupted by right-wingers
In 1995, Japan signed the United Nations Convention against all forms of Racial Discrimination. By doing so, it promised “without delay” to take all measures, including legislation, to eliminate racial discrimination within its borders. However, more than a decade later, Japan still has not passed any laws against discrimination by race. And as the spread of “Japanese Only” signs and rules nationwide attests, laws are sorely needed.
So is the urge to come clean. Under this treaty, the Japanese government must submit a report every two years on what it is doing to eliminate racial discrimination. It is mighty late, filing its first report, due in 1998, in 2001. And it has filed no reports since then.
In preparation for the next report, and to avoid charges that the bureaucrats were not listening to the public, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has held open hearings, attended over the years by NGOs and “concerned citizens”. The latest meeting took place yesterday afternoon, August 31, and I attended. It was, in a word, a disaster…
「川崎Ｗ女児いじめ裁判」傍聴参加のお願いを載せます。日時： 2007年9月20日(木) 午後4時30分、 横浜地裁川崎支部第一法廷
Hi Blog. Friend Michael Fox sent me this article from Heeb Magazine, Issue 13. An interview with Writer/Activist Rebecca Walker. Now, while the focus may be on how one person grew up straddling two cultures within the same country (Black and Jewish), the points she makes about having a healthy attitude towards people who would …
The new Justice Minister Hatoyama tells the Japan Times he intends to reverse former Minister Nagase’s proposal for a revolving-door guest worker program. Instead, he proposes more skilled NJ labor (okay) and expresses fears about more NJ crime (not okay). Again, people in charge of this field are ignoring the need for immigration.
In August 2007, the PM Cabinet released the results of its survey on the awareness of human rights in Japan. Done every 4 years, it demonstrated that more people believe that NJ deserve the same human rights as other humans in Japan (thanks, I guess)–up after a declilne in 1999 and 2003. However, given the vague, leading, and misleading questions, the survey is most enlightening when viewed in regards to just how clueless even our government professionals are about the portrayal and promotion of human rights in Japan.
1) DISCRIMINATION AT “HOLIDAY SPORTS CLUB” CHAIN, BY JIM DUNLOP
2) TPR ON US HR 151 ON COMFORT WOMEN, AND WHY IT’S NOT A BAD THING
3) THE IDUBOR CASE: INCARCERATION WITHOUT EVIDENCE, WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
4) MOFA ALLOWS CONVICTED DISRUPTER INTO HUMAN RIGHTS MEETING (UPDATED)
5) THREE JAPAN TIMES COLUMNS ONLINE
… along with RESPONSE TO DOREEN SIMMONS ON ASASHORYU SCANDAL
6) IJUUREN PUBLISHES NGO POLICY PROPOSALS ON MINORITIES IN JAPAN
7) GREGORY CLARK DEFENDS PM MIYAZAWA’S CORRUPTION, AND MY RESPONSE
Last July, Gregory Clark wrote an epitaph-style Japan Times column about his old friend, former Prime Minister Miyazawa Kiichi, who was facing mixed reviews in the J press at the time of his death for not dealing with the Bubble Economy properly. Greg defends his old friend with aplomb. So much so that he excuseth too much, in my opinion–even Kiichi’s corruption. First Greg’s column, then my unpublished letter to the editor in response.
Shuukan Shinchou: “During June, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and Immigration Bureau staged a series of joint crackdowns on these so-called “gaijin clubs” in Kinshicho and Ikebukuro, in search of visa violators. ”From June 15 to 18, the authorities mobilized 370 staff to conduct raids, including house searches,” an unnamed reporter at a city desk tells the magazine. “This was the largest raid they’ve conducted in quite some time. They went after Russian clubs and made 14 arrests, and remanded 35 more women to immigration on visa violation charges.”
Holiday Sports Club is a chain of gyms/exercise centers all across Japan. http://www.holiday-sc.jp/ There are about 33 locations spanning Honshu and one in Hokkaido… This also happens to be the club where my wife and I are currently members). Since we joined this gym, a number of issues have arisen that I think need to be made public and brought to the attention of anyone who may be considering supporting this business. Be aware, that if you are either a foreigner, or have any sort of physical disability, you may be discriminated against, or even prevented from joining…
Two recent Japan Times Community Page articles (one co-written by friend James Eriksson) discuss how Sumo wrestler Asashoryu might be being scapegoated by the Japan Sumo Association for its own excesses, and how Japan is trying too hard to blame the NJ community for social problems no longer limited to crime: Try military security, education, sports uncompetitiveness, even shipping! Updated to include Doreen Simmons KTO essay on Asa with comment.
As further evidence that the GOJ has little interest in enforcing its own guidelines (or at least those secured when it signed the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination), information has surfaced that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs allowed in a convicted agent provocateur into the August 31, 2007 meeting on Japan’s response to the UN treaty. Moreover (as a link to a transcript of the meeting will demonstrate), MOFA officials did not stop him and his ilk from shutting down the meeting. Appeals to other government ministries with appropriate powers look futile.
On August 31, 2007, a public meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Tokyo was disrupted and sabotaged by right-wing troublemakers. Shouting epithets and arguments designed to wind up the human-rights NGOs, the unidentified right-wingers managed to bring the meeting to a standstill, while the six ministries attending the meeting showed a complete inability to keep the meeting under control. Proceedings ended a half hour early without hearing the opinions of all the attendees, and my opinion is mixed on whether or not the impasse could have been avoided by not taking the bait. In any case, it is a sign to this author that the ultraconservative elements within Japan are not only taking notice of the gain in traction for human rights in Japan, they are doing their best to throw sand in the deliberation process. We will have to develop a thicker skin towards these elements in future, as this is probably only the beginning.
From the archives, this somehow escaped being blogged. Including for the record:
1) DIETMEMBER KOUNO TARO PRESS CONFERENCE JULY 31, 2006
2) FOREIGN MINISTRY FORUM ON UN CERD AND DIENE REPORT JULY 28, 2006
The persecution of Yokozuna sumo wrestler Asashoryu is all a diversion from the real story: That Sumo’s house of cards is being shaken. We have a death deterring people from joining a system with institutionalized bullying, renewed allegations of bout fixing, the very real possibility of bodybuilding chemicals banned in most world sports, and the entirely possible death of the Sumo’s credibility that the Ohnaruto Scandal of 1996 would have done a lot sooner…
Japan Times article on the Valentine Case, which came out August 14, 2007: Japan Times column 37: “ABUSE, RACISM, LOST EVIDENCE DENY JUSTICE IN VALENTINE CASE: Nigerian’s ordeal shows that different standards apply for foreigners in court”. Plus news on new JT column 38, coming out next week Tuesday.
Excellent essay on the entertainment industry: “In the movie business, there are several ways to spot a lie. Some involve math: For instance, the sentence ”The movie was great — it was just marketed badly,” which is said every hour in Hollywood, is true exactly 3 percent of the time, whereas ”The movie was bad — it was just marketed really well,” which is almost never said, is true 97 percent of the time. Some lies are formulaic: Anybody in movies who starts a sentence ”At the end of the day…” is clearly revving up the manure spreader. But there’s an even more common lie. The sentence ”We’re just giving the people what they want,” when uttered by a studio executive, is always, always untrue. How can you tell? Easy: There’s no such thing as ”the people.” Not anymore…”
Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ, Ijuuren) has just published a book, “Living Together with Migrants and Ethnic Minorities in Japan: NGO Policy Proposals”. Table of contents, ISBN, and links enclosed.
I listened last night to yet another excellent essay from Garrett DeOrio on HR 121 (the “Comfort Women” Resolution), and why its passage by the US House of Representatives is not a bad thing. What I didn’t know was all the “nicely, nicely” that went into it, and even then the Japan Lobby in Washington came down on it hard. But in his view this “meddling” just made matters worse…
1) HIROSHIMA PEACE FOUNDATION STEVEN LEEPER’S ODD VIEWS ON NJ IN JAPAN
2) JAPAN TIMES SERIES ON DIVORCE AND CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN
3) ECONOMIST’S SOPHOMORIC ARTICLE ON J FUTURE DEMOGRAPHICS
4) KYODO AND YOMIURI ON JAPAN’S NEGLIGENCE EDUCATING NJ CHILDREN
5) UCLA BASKEBALL PLAYER NATURALIZES… SO DOES BOBBY OLOGUN
6) WHILE DPRK REFUGEES REMAIN STATELESS DESPITE FUJIMORI PRECEDENT
7) SPEECH ON UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST AT TOUDAI, PLUS NEW ADDITIONS
8) TPR INTERVIEW RE NJ LABOR MARKET… AND MY LOVE OF DURAN DURAN
Normally I would proclaim “congratulations” at the momentous appointment of a non-Japanese to be director of an important Japanese institution–particularly when said institution is tasked with an issue the GOJ brings up constantly in its untiring quest for uniqueness in the world stage (“the only country in history ever to be bombed by nuclear weapons”). But Steven Leeper, the newly-appointed director of the Hiroshima Peace and Culture Foundation, is proving to be a historical curator with an odd attitude not only towards history, but also towards non-Japanese in Japan (a category he still falls into, of course)…
Michael Hassett writes about divorce in Japan for The Japan Times, and tells me in advance that Debito.org in part inspired the article. Two more articles come out from Mark Smith and Colin Jones on the same subject the same day. Capital!
In this Trans Pacific Radio interview Debito and Ken Worsley discuss the foreign labor market in Japan – where it’s united, where it’s fractious, and where it still needs help – as well as what is being done to improve conditions and opportunities for foreign workers, and what needs to be done in the future. This is an important issue that relates to Japan’s economic future, and immigration policy (or reform) still seems untouchable within the nation’s political discourse. Why is this so? But the interview opens with Debito trying to convince you why rock band Duran Duran is worth being taken seriously…
The Blacklist of Japanese Universities gets Kyushu University, Shokei Gakuin U, and Kansai Gaidai, now totalling 105 universities which offers full-time contracted work with no hope of tenure to Non-Japanese academics. Greenlisted 34 get Nagoya University and Aichi University of Education (although they still refrain from a tenure review system, so they also remain on the Blacklist).
I briefly blogged last week that I was visiting San’ya, Tokyo’s day-laborer and homeless district, and was asked to write up a brief describing the dynamic, the conditions, and the odd infighting that comes with this odd slum. I make no case that my narrative is properly informed, empathetic, or representative. It’s just an eyewitness account from someone who stayed one night in the comfort of a dive hotel, with proper access to food and basic amenities. Those who wish to know more, links enclosed.
Hi Blog. Some articles substantiating the emerging issue of what happens when you don’t make compulsory education a requirement for non-Japanese children. How nice of Japan to bring NJ laborers all the way over here but not take care of their children’s educational needs. Thanks for forgetting to include that in your educational reforms last …
「日本語知らぬ」２２０００人 公立小中高校の外国人 過去最多 九州・山口は４２３人 8月1日10時7分配信 西日本新聞 http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070801-00000009-nnp-soci Courtesy of Matt Dioguardi 九州・山口の公立小中高校に在籍し、日本語の指 導が必要な外国人児童生徒が昨年９月現在で計４２ ３人に上り、４分の１の１０５人は指導自体を受け ていないことが３１日、文部科学省の調査で分かっ た。全国では同児童生徒が２万２４１３人と過去最 高に達し、１４％が指導を受けていないことも判明 した。同省は対策を検討する有識者会議を設置、９ 月に初会合を開く予定。 日系人労働者の増加などが要因。日本語の理解が 乏しい児童生徒は愛知が最多で４０８９人。次いで 神奈川２４０４人、静岡２３４３人、東京１７６２ 人の順だった。全体で前年同期より８％増え、４年 連続の増加となった。 九州・山口では、福岡が２１１人と最多。次いで 熊本５５人▽山口４１人▽大分３６人▽鹿児島２６ 人▽宮崎２２人▽長崎２１人▽佐賀１１人‐だった。 母国語別では、全体でポルトガルが３８、５％と トップ。中国、スペインを含む３つの言語で全体の ７割以上を占めた。九州・山口では、同児童生徒の 数が横ばい傾向にあるものの、中国が全体の４割を 占め、日中関係の緊密化がうかがえた。 各自治体は、日本語指導員の派遣や特別講義など に取り組んでいるが、「財政難で教員増は難しい。 児童生徒の在籍期間が短い場合もあり、中長期的対 応は取りにくい」（熊本県教委）との声も上がって いる。 ＝2007/08/01付 西日本新聞朝刊＝ ENDS
Here’s a really sophomoric article from The Economist, which discusses Japan’s future demographics, yet mentions NOT A WORD about the influx of foreign labor. Why is a magazine as thoughtful The Economist sticking its head in the sand on this issue, and even resorting to the “grown-up children who call themselves adult Japanese men” stereotypes by the conclusion of this article? The Economist should not ignore global labor mobility, which (with closing on a million NJ workers in Japan) is definitely a factor in Japan’s future demography. Just like in any other developed country. Wish people would stop assuming that Japan is uniquely able to resolve all of this by itself.
UPPER HOUSE ELECTION JAPAN JULY 29, 2007
THE OPPOSITION PARTIES GAIN MOMENTUM
THE OPPOSITION PARTY ROUTS THE RULING COALITION
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE LDP
RESULTS OF PARTICULAR INTEREST TO DEBITO.ORG
WHAT NOW? I WAS WRONG ABOUT PM ABE RESIGNING…
Quick update on what’s going on: Still in Tokyo, extending one more day. Links to last night’s speech Powerpoint (E and J) on the BLACKLIST OF JAPANESE UNIVERSITIES, given before even the Ministry of Education, plus a bit on a visit to Sanya and my next JT article. Yes, I’ll eat some crow over the UH election after I return to Sapporo tomorrow.
Trans Pacific Radio put up last night an interview with me about how I think today’s election will turn out. In sum: I think Abe will have to resign over the poor performance of the LDP in this election. He’s had one of the worst cabinets in Japan’s postwar history, and he’s definitely become a political liability (to the point where at least one poll indicates a majority believe we should have a snap election in the Lower House now too). Have a listen…
Hi Blog. Got inspired on my way down to Tokyo yesterday, and wrote an essay on “why I love Japanese Elections” on the fly for Trans Pacific Radio. I also read it for TPR as part of its news segment (trying my hand at podcasting there for the first time) for July 27, 2007. Text and links provided.
“At least 24 defectors from North Korea living in Japan remain stateless, largely due to the lack of clear government guidelines on how to determine their nationalities. The statelessness of the 24 people, children or grandchildren of one Japanese citizen and a North Korean, is a result local governments being left to their own devices on how to deal with the registration of the defectors. Nationality law would otherwise grant them citizenship, since Japan confers nationality by blood, but politics inevitably gets in the way.” Contrast with wanted criminal candidate Alberto Fujimori and you really get a confusing application of Japanese citizenship laws…
he UN News has been issuing press releases to make sure the Human Rights Council doesn’t become as emasculated as the former Human Rights Commission–by holding all countries accountable with periodic reviews of their human rights records.
Good. Japan in particular is particularly remiss, given its quest for a seat on the UNSC without upholding its treaty obligations, particularly regarding Japan’s refusal to pass a law against racial discrimination, and file reports in a timely manner (last report was due the HRC all the way in 2002!). The UN is quite well aware of this, and has been highly critical of Japan’s unfettered racism in recent years. UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene has been well recorded on the Debito.org Blog as well.
Popular J drama Hana Yori Dango 2 has heroine being mugged by black gang armed with basketball, and saved by kakkou-ii J guy armed with squirt pistol. Why isn’t this worthy of ignoring as merely bad Japanese TV? Because you just know that if an American TV show were to do this sort of thing–make all the [fill in the blank] Asians, Chinese, or Japanese (with accents or stereotypical features to boot)–there would be complaints from either the local anti-defamation leagues or even the Japanese embassy (cf. New York Senator Alphonse D’Amato making fun of Judge Lance Ito’s Japanese ethnicity in 1995). And definitely a brouhaha on 2-Channel about how the West is oh so racist towards Japanese. Details on how to complain if you want…
Sadako Ogata was the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991-2001, and has been President of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) since 2003. Here, she talks frankly to The Japan Times about Japan’s attitudes to those who flee their homelands and seek sanctuary on these shores.
One of my Newsletter readers asked yesterday if I ever have any good news to report. Sure. Here’s some even from a tragic situation–the recent Touhoku Earthquake..
Here’s one way to avoid the accusation that foreigners in Japanese sports make events too boring: J.R. Sakuragi, a former NBA player known as J.R. Henderson, has become a Japanese citizen and will play for the Japan National Team in the FIBA Asian Championship, which begins on July 28 in Tokushima…
1) BLACKLIST UPDATES: HOKKAI GAKUEN & CHUUGOKU U. ICU GREENLISTED
2) JAPAN TIMES: LABOR ABUSES AT AKITA INT’L UNIVERSITY
3) YOMIURI: MOJ BARS NIKKEI BRAZILIAN FROM VOLUNTEER POLICE WORK
4) J WEDDING FUNDS OFF-LIMITS TO FOREIGNERS, er, NON-FAMILY MEMBERS
5) JAPAN’S ODD TOURISM POLICY: YOKOSO JAPAN AND MONEY LAUNDERING
6) TPR ON KYUUMA, CUMINGS ON DPRK, TAWARA ON EDUCATION LAW
7) JAPAN FOCUS ON AMENDMENTS TO BASIC LAW OF EDUCATION
8) FOREIGN POLICY MAG ON GOJ AND CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM
9) UPCOMING SPEECH AT TOKYO UNIVERSITY ON UNIV. BLACKLIST, MONDAY, JULY 30
Asahi on wanted criminal suspect Alberto Fujimori Diet candicacy: “[W]e are surprised at the news that a former president of a foreign country will run for the Upper House election. Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori, 68, decided to run as a proportional representation candidate of Kokumin Shinto (People’s New Party) for the July 29 election… But we definitely do not think [they have given] a good enough reason for anointing him as the party’s Upper House candidate….” Cyberspace commentary on what his case means for dual nationality in Japan also blogged.
Japan Times Community Page column 36: “The bellwether of any country’s internationalization is the altered composition of the school population. Many of Japan’s immigrant children are becoming an underclass, deprived of an education for being born different than the putative ‘Japanese standard’.”
Japan Focus academic website: “Much criticism of the amended education law has focused on statements clearly privileging the state over the individual; that is, statements affirming civil liberties still appear, often unchanged, from the original version, but are often undercut and diluted by new language. Perhaps more importantly, however, what makes the amended version of the law appear less a legal document than an expression of authoritarian will is not so much what is said, but how it is said. That is, the language of mystique and belief makes the very notion of individual rights seem anachronistic at best. For this reason the amended version is not a reflection of a democratic and constitutionally law-driven society but resembles in content and in intent the Edict, a product of a wartime regime.”
NPA denies medical treatment to Nigerian in custody with broken leg, latter becomes crippled. Nigerian plaintiff sues, but Tokyo District Court rules against him. Also overrules Plaintiff’s friend’s witness testimony invalid because he is African, an Plaintiff’s doctor’s medical opinion on the egregiousness of Plaintiff’s injuries as “not rational”. Fact is, coupling this lawsuit outcome with the McGowan “I don’t like black people” Osaka Eyeglass Store Case, not only do NJ increasingly have different standards of evidence in J courts, but now The NPA clearly can do pretty much whatever they want to NJ in custody, even if it causes permanent damage. Case is under appeal.