Fun Fact: “THE AVERAGE HEIGHT OF BUILDINGS IN TOKYO WAS 1.7 STORIES IN 1965”–and how I believe that has affected Japan’s housing quality to this day. Citing old TIME Magazine article as historical reference to how Japan’s high-growth had created a huge bubble economy and “rabbit hutch” housing market, and policy solutions shifted political power significantly towards the construction industry. And love the anecdote about the lack of space inhibiting conjugal relations…
I’ve been wanting to present the indicative Otaru Onsens Case to the HRC for some years now, but bureaucratic snafus, and warnings from my activist friends that doing so would probably be a disappointment, have kept me at bay. Meanwhile, these articles from The Economist keep coming out and offering bad news about the meetings I’ve missed.
Would be nice to believe that human rights, from the organization which has established some of the most important conventions and treaties in history, still matter in this day when rules seem grey, and even the most powerful country in the world dismisses long-standing international agreements as “outmoded” and “quaint”…
Lee Soo Im, professor at Ryukoku University, speaks at the Korea Society in New York about her life in Japan as a Zainichi Korean. ”I love Japan and fighting against the system is my way of showing patriotism to my country.” Lee, who recently co-edited ”Japan’s Diversity Dilemmas: Ethnicity, Citizenship, and Education” to highlight issues surrounding the country’s immigrant population, says there are no such thing as pure Japanese. A homogenous Japan is a myth built upon foreigners forced to live ”invisibly,” she says.
On April 10, 2007, civil rights groups including “Solidarity for Migrants Japan” (Imin Roudousha to Rentai suru Zenkoku Network) convened an assembly at the Diet’s Upper House Kaikan in Nagatacho, Tokyo, to protest a proposed revision to the labor laws requiring all companies to report their foreign workers to the authorities.
1) ANSWER FROM ALEX KERR re HIS JAPAN TIMES COMMENTS
2) TAKAHASHI SPEECH ON REMILITARIZING JAPAN AT U OF CHICAGO
3) LATEST CRAZINESS FROM J JUDICIARY: SURROGATE MOTHERHOOD
4) NATURALIZED KOREAN-J RUNS FOR OSAKA PREF ASSEMBLY
5) PROTEST RE LABOR BILL: COMPANIES MUST REPORT THEIR FOREIGN WORKERS
6) SUCCESSFUL PROTEST: CHANGING “TORUKO” TO “SOAPLAND”
7) JAPAN TIMES: SHIGA GOVERNOR BACKS ANTI-DISCRIM LAW
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER
Hi Blog. Great speech (available as a podcast from the link below) from the University of Chicago’s International and Area Studies Multimedia Outreach Service (CHIASMOS) (Thanks to Fiona for notifying me): ================================== “Postwar Japan on the Brink: Militarism, Colonialism, Yasukuni Shrine” by Professor Tetsuya Takahashi, University of Tokyo March 6, 2007 Professor Takahashi’s writings, including …
Lee Kyung Jae obtained Japanese nationality to bring the voices of foreign residents to local and national politics. Running for a seat in the Osaka prefectural assembly election Sunday, he is the first candidate of foreign origin who has run in a local or national election on a campaign to represent the interests of an ethnic group, according to the Korean Residents’ Union in Japan (Mindan). Results blogged on Debito.org.
Humor: A Russian fisherman catching sea urchins decided to “drop into” Japan quickly to buy beer and was arrested on Saturday for illegally entering the country. The incident took place in Nemuro on the eastern coast of Hokkaido close to the Southern Kuriles–creating a potentially tense diplomatic situation due to the disputed territory between Japan and Russia.
Article uncovered from the archives: Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said August 23, 2006, that she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination. However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners.
THOUGHTS ON THE APRIL 8, 2007 ELECTION
1) WHAT’S IT LIKE TO VOTE IN JAPAN?
2) SOME UNOBVIOUS TRENDS THIS ELECTION
3) RESULTS WE CARE ABOUT AT DEBITO.ORG
Here’s a recent article from the Mainichi talking about a man who apparently single-handedly got the word “Toruko” (Turkish bath) signs removed from what are now “Soaplands” etc.–places which offer deluxe massages, if you will. I offer this up to show that once again, it is possible for one person to make a difference.
ブログの皆様、これは「一人でも社会を変えられる」との証しとして載せます。問題点があれば、泣き寝入りをすべからず、国が好きなら声を挙げて改善すべきですね。有道 出人。 ＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝＝ ひと：ヌスレットさん 特殊浴場の名称からトルコ外させた 毎日新聞 2007年4月7日 0時05分 http://www.mainichi-msn.co.jp/shakai/wadai/news/20070407k0000m070152000c.html 街並みを埋める看板やネオンに目をやる。２３年ぶりの東京・新宿は晴れやかだった。桜の花びらが舞う。「鳥になった気分ですよ。もう、うつむいて歩かなくていい」 ８１年、地震の研究でトルコから日本に留学して半年余り。夕暮れの新宿で母国の名前を見つけ、店に飛び込んだ。「ガイジンが来た」の声とともに数人の肌着姿の女性が現れた。この問題で母国と大好きな日本がぎくしゃくするのはたまらない。一緒に日本に滞在中の当時１９歳の妻、ハディエさんをおもんばかり、一人胸に抱え込んだ。 ある日、妻と地下鉄で帰宅する途中、老いた女性が「どこから来ましたか」と妻に尋ねた。日本語に不慣れの妻は「（彼と）トルコへ行きます」と答えた。女性は動揺して顔を赤らめた。その様子に妻も戸惑った。腹を決めて「トルコ（風呂）」を説明した。 「『うそよ』と繰り返す妻は、帰国すると言いました。私は『死ぬまでにこの呼び方は必ずなくす』と約束しました」 ８４年夏に再来日。政治家やメディアに訴える一方で本物のハマム（トルコの風呂）を伝えて行脚した。反響は瞬く間に広がり、数カ月後、街から「トルコ」の名称が消えた。 帰国後、日本への感謝の気持ちがふくらんだ。９２年、地元の大学に日本語学科の開設を働きかけた。自ら作った３冊の教本で巣立った若者は１５００人を超える。「この歴史を知らない人も増えましたが、私の心からの恩返しは続いています」【高尾具成】 【略歴】Ｎｕｓｒｅｔ Ｓａｎｃａｋｌｉ（ヌスレット・サンジャクリ）さん 地震研究家。モンテネグロで生まれ、６歳で母国トルコへ。手織りじゅうたん会社の顧問も務める。５３歳。 ENDS
Hi Blog. I covered some of this material in a previous post on the blog. However, for the newsletter I did a significant rewrite last night, describing how flippant and unresearched comments from a noteworthy person (Alex Kerr) can cause problems for others (particularly through unscrupulous anonymous editors on places like Wikipedia). I don’t want …
1) GAIJIN HANZAI PUBLISHER GOES BANKRUPT
2) METROPOLIS ON POLICE TREATMENT OF CRIMES AGAINST NJ
3) IRISH TIMES AND NYT ON J HISTORICAL REVISIONISM
4) “GUESTISM” PLACED IN A HISTORICAL CONTEXT
5) GET READY FOR A DIVORCE-RATE BOOM IN JAPAN
6) U OF HYOGO AND IUHW ADDED TO UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST
and finally… FUN FACTS! RE LOCAL GOVTS
Fukumimi reports that Eichi Shuppan, publisher of the infamous GAIJIN HANZAI magazine, has gone bankrupt. It is not, however, entirely due to the bath they took due to the successful boycott of the magazine–although it didn’t help. What was Eichi doing taking such a foolhardy risk–allegedly only for the sake of debate? Phooey. High risk, no return.
Japanese citizenship issue: According to a fascinating new blog by friend Joe Jones, we have yet another facet of Japanese citizenship up for dispute: If Japanese infertile couples seek Surrogate Motherhood overseas, the Supreme Court has ruled that citizenship is conferred not by DNA (after all, they didn’t have DNA tests back in the Meiji Era) but by whose womb the baby emerges. Better not outsource overseas. And because the parents refused to register their children on April 11, 2007, their kids are now foreigners.
Fun Facts: Minami Nihon Shinbun of February 12, 2007 offers a color-coded chart of how each of Japan’s 47 municipal governments stack up in terms of “Multicultural Coexistence” (tabunka kyousei)–behind the two other pillars the national government determined in March 2006 to be the backbone of Japan’s internationalization: “International Communication” (kokusai kouryuu), and “International Cooperation” (kokusai kyouryoku). The results…
Kicking off my first installment of FUN FACTS–an occasional series of interesting articles blogged for posterity. Asahi Shinbun of Feb 7, 2007 talks about PM Abe’s vision of “doushuusei”, the consolidation of prefectures, to cut down on local government costs and maybe even devolve more power to self-sufficient local governments. If Japan’s 47 local governments were cut down to eleven regions, this would produce the following results…
Here’s an article which will hopefully start the pendelum swinging backwards on the whole “foreigners are potential criminals” starting point whenever NJ interact which the police. Some advice follows from the US Embassy (gleaned after a recent email exchange over yet another case of post-assault police negligence) which would have made my closing comments a little more informative.
Foreigners who turn to Japan’s justice system for help find themselves ignored. Is incompetence to blame—or racism?
METROPOLIS MAGAZINE #677 MARCH 16, 2007
By Oscar Johnson
It’s business as usual as Japan Inc. takes on the world’s political arenas with spin doctoring over “Comfort Women” etc., to feint with the left hand while fiddling with the right. Distract with snow jobs while whitewashing the historical record. Only this time I think we’ve got enough people on the ground over here who know what our government is doing for a change. David McNeill releases an excellent article for the Irish Times, while Norimitsu Onishi, on an incredible roll these days, continues unearthing for the New York Times.
Hi Blog. I’ve written a few essays on the problems with divorce in Japan in the past. (see artery site at https://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#divorce Well, the BBC is projecting the same thing as I have: that yesterday’s pension reforms are going to bring about a few changes in the artificially low divorce rates in Japan. Wait and …
1) SAKANAKA ESSAY ON NEW FRAMEWORK FOR J IMMIGRATION POLICIES
2) KEIDANREN WANTS MORE FOREIGNERS
3) NIIGATA PREF CITY TO ABOLISH “NATIONALITY CLAUSE”
4) TOKYO GOVERNORSHIP HEATS UP: ASANO DECRIES ISHIHARA’S XENOPHOBIA
5) PM ABE: “OK OK, I APOLOGIZE FOR THE ‘COMFORT WOMEN’ ALREADY”. KINDA.
6) FOREIGN MINISTER ASO: DIPLOMACY AS A MATTER OF HAIR AND EYE COLOR
7) MANUAL: BEWARE FOREIGN P*NISES! WITH CHART OF SIZES
8) DEBITO.ORG UPDATES: KARA KIKAN, NATURALIZATION, APARTMENT “SHIKIKIN” REFUND
9) MEDIA UPDATES: JET INTERVIEW, DEBITO.ORG MAKES JAPANZINE’S BEST FOR 2007
10) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NISHIMURA WILL PAY FINES “ONLY ON PAIN OF DEATH”
11) CONCLUDING GAIJIN HANZAI ISSUE WITH JT AND J FOCUS ARTICLES
and finally… JAPANESE ONLY T-SHIRTS ALSO ON SALE IN FRONT OF JR TOKYO STATION
A LOT of optimism attended the birth of the UN Human Rights Council, created last year by a 170-4 vote of the General Assembly. Whereas the United States kept on the sidelines (and confirmed this month it would stay away), many Western states saw the new body as an improvement on the discredited Human Rights Commission it replaced. But now some of the commission’s critics are fretting that the Geneva-based council may prove only a little better, or perhaps even worse, than its predecessor…
Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), the guideline enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service. This echoes similar moves in other Niigata Prefecture cities, including the Niigata City government as well. Bravo.
Interview up at BigDaikon, with discussion, and JapanZine mentions Debito.org in their annual roundup of the best of the net on Japan in their March 2007 issue.
Trace the Arc of Abe, from denial to hair-splitting to no comment to deflection to apology through his cabinet. However, belated apologies like this (just by simple human nature, apologies tend to mean less when they come after being demanded, especially over a long duration) will have the irony of a similar debate: Just how much “coercion” was there behind this? And how does this affect the sincerity of the act? Stay tuned.
I participated in a strike on March 24 in downtown Sapporo (Minami 1 Nishi 3) organized by the National Union of General Workers–Tokyo Nanbu (http://www.nugw.org). Four long-term workers in Berlitz (branch now owned by ELS) were summarily fired without sufficient reason, in a pretty clear attempt at union busting. This was joined by two other strikes at Berlitz in Shinjuku and Fukuoka at the same time.
中東外交「青い目、金髪は駄目」＝人種引き合いに日本の貢献強調−麻生外相発言 ヤフーニュース 3月21日21時1分配信 時事通信 http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20070321-00000098-jij-pol 麻生太郎外相は21日午後、長崎県時津町で講演。日本独自の中東和平外交として、ヨルダン渓谷の開発を進める「平和と繁栄の回廊」構想に触れ、「米国人にできないことを日本がやっている。日本人というのは信用がある。青い目で金髪だったら多分駄目よ」と述べた。 外相は「われわれは幸いにして黄色い顔をしている。そこ（中東）で搾取をしてきたとか、ドンパチ、機関銃撃ったとか一回もない」と語った。中東での日本の貢献を強調するのが真意とみられるが、外交と人種や外見を重ね合わせた表現には欧米などから批判を受ける可能性がある。 最終更新:3月21日21時1分 ENDS
“Japan’s outspoken foreign minister said “blue-eyed, blond” Westerners probably would not be as successful as the Japanese in Middle East diplomacy. Aso: “Japan is doing what the Americans can’t do. The Japanese are trusted. It’s probably no good with blue eyes and blond hair,” he was quoted as saying by the papers, referring to projects in Jordan River Rift Valley initiated by Japan.” Along with more articles on Aso’s past and NYT Editorial of Feb 2006.
Now, for the first time, part of “Nyukan Senki” has been translated into English in the hopes that the outside world will better be able to follow, and perhaps even participate in the discussions, formal and informal, that are taking place in Japan. Readers lacking a deep familiarity with Japanese politics should understand that, within the official debate (a debate that human rights NGOs, liberal opposition politicians have little or no influence over and which foreigners are entirely absent) Sakanaka is far more concerned about the enactment of a humane but realistic immigration policy than many of the other politicians, bureaucrats, academics, and senior corporate leaders with similar levels of political clout.
Some odds and sods waiting to be webbed: Concluding articles to the GAIJIN HANZAI Case for posterity (Japan Times and Japan Focus), an article on how your overseas work can count towards a J pension (kara kikan), other countries’ attitudes towards citizenship (some deprive it at will, some sell it), and, yes, a handbook cautioning J women about foreign men because of drug use and penis size…
University of Hyogo and International University of Health and Welfare (Tochigi) are added to the more than 100 universities now blacklisted for bad employment practices. Also included is a resurrected essay on your employment rights after repeated contract renewals.
Yomiuri: Nishimura has up to now been the defendant in more than 50 civil suits nationwide, and the great majority of them have been losses for him. Unpaid damages and penalties assessed for not following injunctions and court rulings have now amassed to around 5 million dollars US. However, Nishimura has hardly ever paid up. Justifying this, Nishimura said, “If you turn deadbeat, nobody’s going to make you pay. With rules as stupid as this country has, it would be idiotic to pay up.” Huh?
Asano criticized the incumbent, Shintaro Ishihara, for his repeated discriminatory remarks against people of different nationalities, particularly Chinese and Koreans. “It’s a big problem that the governor of Tokyo pointed the finger at specific nationalities and (suggested) the majority of them are criminals,” said Asano, a former Miyagi governor. “Many foreign nationals live in Tokyo because they love Japan. They also pay taxes here, and we shouldn’t ignore that,” he said. “What will be important is to come up with ways in which we can provide opportunities for them to make full use of their strength for Tokyo and Japan.”
1) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGNS: “PURE-BLOODED JAPANESE ONLY–NO WAR ORPHANS etc.”
2) GAIJIN HANZAI MAG UPDATE: WERE THE POLICE BEHIND IT?
I SPECULATE YES, IN BOTH JAPAN TIMES (TOMORROW) AND ON JAPAN FOCUS
3) 2-CHANNEL UPDATE: NOW 43 CASES OF LIBEL LEFT UNREQUITED
4) CONFUSED BY COMFORT WOMEN DEBATE? THE DEFINITIVE ARTICLE ON JAPAN FOCUS
5) TRANS-PACIFIC RADIO INTERVIEW RE KOKUSAIKA, POLITICS etc.
6) NEW BATCH OF “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRTS NOW ON SALE
The Japanese Business Federation, Keidanren, has recommended to the government that the immigration
requirements for foreign engineers’ visas be relaxed, to encourage a larger number of people to come work here, particularly in IT.
As the debate intensifies over allowing more foreign workers into Japan to make up for the coming labor shortage, human rights groups have recently stepped up efforts to push for a law against discrimination. Yet despite calls from not only human rights nongovernmental organizations but also the United Nations for such a law, the central government says separate legislation is not needed because the Constitution provides sufficient protection against discrimination. “You can’t talk about a truly effective policy for bringing in more foreign laborers without including the need for an antidiscrimination law that offers them legal protection once they settle in Japan,” said Masao Niwa, an Osaka-based human rights attorney and a leading advocate for such a law.
Hi Blog. Here’s a pretty much perfect article on the “Comfort Women” Issue at Japan Focus, which ties everything we need for this debate together: The USG and GOJ’s reaction to the issue, the UN’s reports, the background of the primary agents in the process of denial, and all contextualized within a comparison of Nazi …
–HI BLOG. FORWARDING A THOUGHTFUL POST FROM “THE COMMUNITY” MAILING LIST. AUTHOR IS MATT DIOGUARDI. DEBITO IN SAPPORO On Feb 28, 2007, at 1:12 PM, Kirk Masden wrote: I don’t know if Abe will be made to regret it but he should be. Abe’s defense strikes me as more problematic than the original gaff. Abe …
SUPPORT THE CAUSE RAISE AWARENESS OF THE ISSUE BUY A “JAPANESE ONLY” T-SHIRT Hi Blog. Thanks to the quick sell-out of the first salvo (thanks everyone!), I just got a new batch of “JAPANESE ONLY” T-shirts in yesterday (thanks Todd): They come in the following colors and sizes: BLUE: American sizes (i.e. larger than corresponding …
DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 13, 2007: SPECIAL EDITION: THE “COMFORT WOMEN” ISSUE, PM ABE, AND THE MEDIA: SUPPORTING THE HOME TEAM AT ALL COSTS
I believe what happened in the GAIJIN HANZAI mag case is an historical event–the first time we’ve seen the “Newcomer” immigrants band together and show their muscle as an economic bloc. In an upcoming essay on this, I also speculate on who the publisher, “Joey H. Washington”, is. I believe it is the police. Hear me out…
Hello Blog. The Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, with signs and policies restricting or forbidding “foreigners” entry, has just been updated on Debito.org. One place refused a naturalized Japanese, another has a sign refusing all people without “pure Japanese blood”, including Chinese, War Orphans, people with Chinese blood mixed in, and naturalized citizens. That deals me out. It’s the worst sign I’ve ever seen, and naturally I’ve seen a lot.