NYT: Violating IOC rules, Tokyo Gov Inose bad-mouths other 2020 Olympic bidders, particularly Istanbul for being “Islamic”

We’ve talked about Tokyo’s Olympic bids for 2016 and 2020 before on Debito.org (I see them as basically a vanity project for Japan’s elite ruling class to convince themselves that the outside world is still paying attention to them, especially after successful bids in Beijing 2008 and Pyeongchang (South Korea) 2018). But here’s an interesting development: According to the New York Times, Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki (a good writer and analyst before he became Vice-Governor then Governor, and from whom I expected more intelligence and sophistication) is taking cheap shots at other Olympic bidders, violating IOC rules.

Particularly at Istanbul for its religious and ethnic/economic composition, Inose has said, “Islamic countries, the only thing they share in common is Allah and they are fighting with each other, and they have classes”. He also said that other countries lack “Tokyo’s excellent sense of hospitality”. Funny, that. As if Japan does not have classes of its own based upon economic clout or connections to a ruling elite.

And of course, there’s the frequent claim by Japan’s promoters of lack of infrastructure and development elsewhere. Never mind how that infrastructure doesn’t seem to be taking care of its hundreds of thousands of victims and homeless after the Tohoku Disasters more than two years afterwards. But you see, we’re not holding the Olympics in Fukushima. And we’ll take advantage of Fukushima by trying to claim a sympathy vote for Tokyo in their stead. Also never mind that unfettered discrimination against domestic minorities in a society also violates the Olympic Charter. So much to see when you scratch the surface.

There were some subsidiary arguments about Japan’s aging society, which Inose turned on their head to say that healthy seniors are the sign of a healthier society. That’s fine — that’s just boosterism. But then he violates IOC rules again by denigrating: “I’m sure people in Turkey want to live long. And if they want to live long, they should create a culture like what we have in Japan. There might be a lot of young people, but if they die young, it doesn’t mean much.”

See what I mean about a lack of sophistication? I guess the acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree (as Inose is an Ishihara Shintaro protege, and Ishihara is a bonafide bigot). Or else Inose has been so steeped in the dominant discourse of Japan being a unique and peerlessly rich, homogeneous, developed society, that he actually has come to believe it himself. Hence the blind spots cluttering his analysis. Put it down to the effects of being steeped in affluence and power.

As submitter MH notes about what he calls Inose’s “idiotic, xenophobic and downright racist comments”, “One doesn’t have to extrapolate too far to see how a racist landlord or real estate agency might feel a certain (ingrained) justification for banning foreigners.” Quite. So much for Japan’s “excellent sense of hospitality”.

Letters from J human rights groups to the visiting Olympic Committee re Tokyo 2020: Discrimination in Japan violates IOC Charter

The International Olympic Committee is currently in Japan considering Tokyo as a venue for the 2020 Summer Games. In light of recent events that point to clear examples of discrimination and advocacy of violence towards, for example, Koreans (see below), human rights groups in Japan are advocating that the IOC understand that these actions violate the Olympic Charter and choose their venue accordingly. Articles, photos, and letters follow from the Japan Federation of Bar Associations (Nichibenren), Tanaka Hiroshi in the Mainichi Shinbun, and sources demonstrating that, for example, all GOJ educational subsidies for Korean ethnic schools have been eliminated as of 2013 from government budgets.

Academic Tessa Morris-Suzuki might agree with the assessment of rising discrimination, as she documents on academic website Japan Focus the protection of xenophobic Rightists and the police harassment of their liberal opponents. Her conclusion: “But there is no rule of law if the instigators of violence are left to peddle hatred with impunity, while those who pursue historical justice and responsibility are subject to police harassment. There is no respect for human rights where those in power use cyber bullying in an attempt to silence their opponents. And democracy is left impoverished when freedom of hate speech is protected more zealously than freedom of reasoned political debate.” Have a look.

SITYS. This is yet but another example of Japan’s clear and dangerous swing to the Right under PM Abe. And granting an Olympics to this regime despite all of this merely legitimize these tendencies, demonstrating that Japan will be held to a different standard regarding discrimination. Wake up, IOC.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 4, 2013

Table of Contents:
TOLERANCE?
1) Amazing new Cabinet survey finds “81% welcome ‘foreigners’ of Japanese descent”. Festival of cognitive dissonance!
2) Another racist flyer from Osaka Pref Police, this time with stereotypical drawings of black people
3) Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing
4) Wash Post: US teacher in Japan under attack from Internet bullies for lessons on Japan’s history of racial discrimination
5) Quoted in Die Zeit newspaper: “Japan: Old and Xenophobic” (German with machine translation)
TIDINGS:
6) BBC on Japan’s remilitarization: Island disputes justifying quiet buildup in Japan’s aircraft carriers, xenophobia in J youth
7) The 25-year “Special Reconstruction Tax” of Jan 1, 2013 — yet another GOJ leech on the Japan workers’ payroll?
PASSINGS:
8 ) Mainichi: NJ medical intern death from overwork finally officially recognized as karoushi after 2 years
9) Donald Richie passes away at age 88. Saluting one of our pioneering Japanologist brethren
…and finally…
10) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 60, Feb 4, 2013: “Keep Abe’s hawks in check or Japan and Asia will suffer” (full text)

BBC on Japan’s remilitarization: Island disputes justifying quiet buildup in Japan’s aircraft carriers, xenophobia in J youth

In one of the most haunting news dispatches I’ve seen on Japan, Rupert Wingfield-Hayes of the BBC reported from the field last November in a video I have watched several times just to take in all the points. I’ll paste the accompanying text below, but make sure you watch the video, as Wingfield-Hayes takes us to the Senkakus, before a pre-PM Abe Shinzou talking tough, to otherwise sensible-looking college students spouting in public anti-Chinese vitriol to support a remilitarizing Japan, before an equally vitriolic Ishihara Shintaro calling for Japan to unsheath its sword (who, visibly chuffed by the international attention coming back with a smirk (and a surprising level of English) to make sure the BBC got his point), finishing aboard a brand-spanking new Japanese aircraft carrier, the Hyuuga (one of two others planned), showing an emerging arms race in Japan. Watch it! And shudder as the dogs of war begin straining their leashes.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 59: The year for NJ in 2012: a Top 10

Debito’s Top Ten human rights issues in Japan for NJ residents in 2012:
10. DONALD KEENE’S NATURALIZATION
9. OSAKA CITY DEFUNDS LIBERTY OSAKA
8. COURTS RULE THAT MIXED-BLOOD CHILDREN MAY NOT BE “JAPANESE”
7. DIET DOES NOT PASS HAGUE CONVENTION
6. GOVERNMENT CONVENES MEETINGS ON IMMIGRATION
5. MAINALI CASE VICTORY, SURAJ CASE DEFEAT
4. JAPAN’S VISA REGIMES CLOSE THEIR LOOP
3. NEW NJ REGISTRY SYSTEM
2. POST-FUKUSHIMA JAPAN IS IRREDEEMABLY BROKEN
1. JAPAN’S RIGHTWARD SWING
Links to sources included

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 57, November 6, 2012: “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on”

JT JBC: On Oct. 25, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara announced his resignation from office. He now plans to stand for election to the Diet as head of a new conservative party. He suggested political alliances with other conservative reactionaries and xenophobes, including Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto and Tachiagare Nippon (Sunrise Party of Japan) chief Takeo Hiranuma (Just Be Cause, Feb. 2, 2010). And all before a Lower House election that must be held within two months.

I say: Bring it on. Because it’s time for somebody to make clear which way Japan is heading.

The world’s media has largely misunderstood — or misrepresented — what kind of an elected official Ishihara is, often portraying him as a “nationalist” (which sounds like a patriot). He is in fact a hate-mongering racist bigot.

This is the man, remember, who began his governorship by calling for foreigners to be rounded up on sight in the event of a natural disaster — for they might (unprecedentedly) riot! Cue one natural disaster in 2011: No riots. Yet no retraction. Thus he got a free pass.

This is also a man who goes beyond the standard right-wing denials of the dark side of Japanese history, such as the Nanjing Massacre and the “comfort women.” He has called the 2011 tsunami “divine retribution” for Japan’s sins, insinuated that Africans in Japan are unintelligent, said commentators on Japan “don’t matter” if they’re foreign, likened foreign judo practitioners to “beasts,” claimed Chinese are criminals due to their “ethnic DNA,” called parts of Tokyo with higher foreign populations “hotbeds of crime” too scary for even Japanese crooks to enter, and stigmatized Japanese politicians who support more rights for foreigners by saying they must have foreign roots themselves (as if Japanese with tainted bloodlines are somehow unpatriotic).

He has also stated that old women are “useless” and “toxic” to civilization, gays “gadding about” are “pitiable,” French is unqualified as an international language because of its counting system — and so on ad nauseam, painting grotesque caricatures of foreigners and minorities in broad, bigoted strokes. Just listing them all would take up my entire column.

Yet, instead of pillorying this piece of work out of office, the media has generally dismissed his statements as “gaffes.” But a gaffe is technically an error or an unintended misstatement — and Ishihara’s are too frequent to be anything but deliberate.

Sadly, due to the limited attention span inherent in media cycles, Ishihara managed to out-stare the press. They then excused their own lack of tenacity by treating his outrageous comments like a personality quirk, as if he suffers from a particularly offensive form of Tourette’s — effectively handing him a free pass. Passes got freer after one re-election. Then another…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 6, 2012

Table of Contents:
TECTONIC SHIFTS
1) AP: Where Japan’s Post-Fukushima rebuild cash really went: Corruption and coverup on grand scale in a crisis that even TEPCO admits “could have been avoided”
2) Wash Post: A declining Japan loses its once-hopeful champions (including Ezra Vogel!) — as Japan is eclipsed by an ascendant China
3) Sakanaka in Japan Times: Japan as we know it is doomed, only immigrants can save it
INCREDULITY
4) Japan Times: Japan Post Office unilaterally decides old “Gaijin Cards” no longer acceptable ID, despite still valid under MOJ
5) Kyodo: NJ on welfare (unlike Japanese on welfare) now need to pay pension premiums, says Japan Pension Service
6) Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht
7) BV: “Victimizing the Young, Featherbedding the Old?” On how Japan’s elite bureaucratic rot is adversely affecting Japan’s children
8 ) ZakSPA!: “Laughable” stories about “Halfs” in Japan, complete with racialized illustration
ROUGH DRAFTS
9) Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.
10) The first version of my Oct 2012 JT JUST BE CAUSE column (rejected for publication) blogged for your comments, on “sanctioned reality”: Do you “get” it?
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 56 on the Senkakus/Takeshima Disputes: “Revisionists marching Japan back to a dangerous place”

Ishihara resigns Tokyo Governorship, seeks Diet seat as new party head. I say bring it on.

Something very important happened a few days ago when Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro made a surprise announcement that he would resign his governorship, launch a new political party, and run for a Diet seat in the next Lower House election due in two months.

I say bring it on. This xenophobic old bigot (now 80) has fallen for one of the oldest tricks in the book: self-delusion, brought on by decades of megalomania and ideological sound-chambering within a cadre of sycophants — which Alberto Fujimori (an old friend of Ishihara and his elite ruling circles) similary fell for when the self-deluded demagogue buggered off back to Chile (forfeiting his unextradictable safe haven in Japan) to stand for reelection in Peru. Fujimori, as you know, was then extradited to Peru for trial and is now doing essentially life in prison. But I digress.

I say bring it on for two reasons. One is that even if elected (which he will be, under Japan’s Proportional Representation system — the main avenue for celebrity schmoes to pad their resume and stroke their egos), Ishihara can do less damage as a Dietmember of a fringe party (analysts already are beginning to doubt the strength of the Rightist alliance between other fringe parties) than as Governor of Tokyo, with an entire Metropolitan Police Force (the strongest and most influential in all of Japan) at his disposal to target people he doesn’t like. One of the reasons he says he resigned his Diet seat in 1995 after 25 years in office is because of his frustration with the powerlessness of the Diet in the face of the pervasive Japanese bureaucracy (which, as he correctly claims, rules the country). Now he’s going right back to that same Diet, and I think he thinks he’ll stop at nothing short of becoming PM (He won’t. He won’t live long enough. Osaka Mayor Hashimoto is the bigger threat at half the age.)

The other reason is because it’s time to put some cards on the table. The Center-Left in Japan (in the form of the DPJ) tried their liberalizations (with NJ PR local suffrage, etc.) and lost badly due to the hue and cry over how NJ, if given any power in Japan, would automatically abuse it and destroy Japan). The image in Japanese politics nowadays is of a rightward swing. Alright, let’s see just how rightward. Japan’s bureaucrats like things just the way they are (their sole purpose is to keep the status quo as is, even if that means Japan irradiates itself and strangles itself to death demographically). It would take a miracle (something I think not even Ishihara is capable of) to dismantle that system. If Ishihara wins, Japan’s rightward swing is conclusive, and the world will have to stop ignoring a resurgent militarist xenophobic Japan. If Ishihara loses, that will take a lot of wind out of Rightist sails and push the country back towards centrism.

In this poker game, I believe Ishihara will lose. And NJ in Japan have already won a victory by having that bigot abdicate his throne/bully pulpit as leader of one of the world’s largest cities.

Shuukan Kin’youbi: Protests against NJ businesses in Tokyo turn ugly, yet J media compares Chinese protests against J businesses to Kristallnacht

Something came up over the past month that deserves mention on Debito.org when it comes to putting all the “violent protests against Japan” into some perspective. Something that was not given much audience in the Japanese media — far-rightists targeting domestic minorities in Japan due to the recent flap over some offshore rocks.

Yes, people say “both sides are guilty of saber rattling and banging nationalist drums.” But one thing I like to remind people is: Who picked this most recent fight over the Senkakus? And who keeps perpetually stirring things up by having what I would consider a denialist view of history when it comes to being an aggressor and colonizer over the past hundred years? Sorry, but many of Japan’s prominent leaders do. And they (deliberately, in this case) serve to stir up passions overseas. Then when people overseas protest this, who then suddenly claims that the foreigners are overreacting or Japanese are being targeted and victimized? Japan’s leaders. And Japan’s media, to rally the rest of the public.

However, Japan’s victimization trope is being overplayed. Japanese media, according to the Japan Times, is turning up the invective to compare Chinese protests to Kristallnacht.

Well, consider the following domestic actions by Japanese far-rightists against not just foreign business communities overseas, but actual NJ residents of Japan who have been living in Japan for generations (who, by all reasonable standards — including fighting and dying for the Japanese Empire — should be Japanese citizens by now). Are we seeing the same comparisons to Krystallnacht? And will we see those comparisons in the media once we get glass in the gutter and bloodied faces? If the standard for violence in Japan is also “verbal” (as in kotoba no bouryoku), then we’re on our way.

Stop it, everyone, before you do something you might regret later. (Then again, perhaps not, if Japan’s revisionist attitudes towards history continue to hold sway.)

Discussion: JDG, Harumi Befu et al. on the end of Japan’s internationalization and swing towards remilitarization

There’s a case that can be made nowadays that Japan is not only in decline, it’s falling back on jingoism (beyond the standard nihonjinron and historical revisionism) to support the image of a Japan that was once better when it had fewer foreigners (or none, which was historically never the case). As my current research (more on this in future) has sought to demonstrate, Japan’s (Postwar, not Prewar, cf. Oguma Eiji) national narrative of “monoculturalism, monoethnicity, and homogeneity” has sponsored an ideological ethnic cleansing of Japan, thanks in part to revolving-door visa regimes and all manner of incentives to make sure that few “visibly foreign” foreigners stay here forever (hence the prioritizing of the Nikkei) for they agitate for more rights as generational residents (consider the visas that can be cancelled or phased out pretty much at government whim; we’ve seen it before with, for example, the Iranians in the late 1990s). And if you ever thought “the next generation of younger Japanese will be more liberal”, we now have Osaka Gov Hashimoro Touru (younger than I) also supporting historical revisionism (see below) and forming the “Japan Restoration Party” (the poignantly and ominously named Nihon Ishin no Kai) on September 12, 2012. With the recent saber-rattling (which nation-states indulge in periodically to draw public attention away from larger social problems, in Japan’s case the issues of nuclear power and the irradiating food chain) and the overblown flaps over the Takeshima/Tokdo and Senkaku/Diaoyu ocean specks, we have an emerging vision of Japan as a remilitarized power in Asia, courtesy of Debito.org Reader JDG. I thought we’d have a discussion about that here. Take a look through the resource materials below and consider whether or not you share the apprehension that I (and some major academics overseas, including Ted Bestor and Harumi Befu, at the very bottom) have about Japan’s future.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 50, April 3, 2012: Donald Keene should engage brain before fueling ‘flyjin,’ foreign crime myths

JBC: The point is, Keene has made his life one of careful, disciplined research, and he should have tapped this wealth of knowledge and reactivated his critical faculties before shooting off his mouth like this.

Don’t get me wrong, this is not to impugn Keene’s life choices — he can live where he likes and take out whatever citizenship he desires. But he should not be denigrating other people’s complex and personal life decisions (many made with careers to consider and families in tow) based upon flawed paradigms about NJ — paradigms fabricated by a sensationalist media and grounded in a discourse of prejudice and hypocrisy.

If he does, he should be called out on it like anyone else. And in that spirit, let’s consider a few inconsistencies:

Keene has said that he wants to live out his remaining years in Japan out of respect to the “resilient spirit of the Japanese people in a traumatic situation.” However, Kyodo reported on March 9 that this move was “partly because travel (between his homes in America and Japan) had become physically demanding.” At his advanced age, that’s understandable. But why so much public self-hugging for naturalizing?

Moreover, what sort of support in “solidarity” for the Tohoku victims will Keene be involved in? The Yomiuri on March 9 notes that this month he’s traveling by ship to India and Africa for vacation. As soon as he gets back, he said, “I’ll continue to work more diligently in a suitably Japanese way. I also want to contribute to areas affected by the disaster.”

Like how? Collecting and driving supplies up to Fukushima? Volunteering to help out at gymnasiums sheltering displaced people? Organizing international fund drives? Moving rubble around, as so many NJ residents who did not “flee Japan” have already done?

Here’s one thing Keene could do: Publicly retract his denigrating statements with apologies, and acknowledge the good that NJ have done for Japan all along — working here for decades, paying taxes, raising families, and living lives that fly in the face of the hegemonic yet unquestioned discourse that “NJ disrupt Japanese society.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2011

Table of Contents:
MOVEMENT ON HAGUE CONVENTION AND JAPAN CHILD ABDUCTIONS ISSUE
1) BAChome: President Obama addresses Japan Child Abduction Issue with Japan’s PM Noda, demands preexisting abduction cases be included
2) BAChome: Official correspondence re nonfeasance and negligence by US Consulate Osaka regarding the Mary Lake Child Abduction Case (allegations of USG refusing assistance to US citizen child)
3) Patrick McPike on USG’s underestimated numbers re Japan’s abducted children (only about 2.6% of J kids see both parents after divorce)
4) CRN: Left Behind Parents launch expert witness, consulting services to prevent International Parental Abduction
5) MOFA invites public comment on Japan re the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, until Oct 31

SEX! YES, SEX!
6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 6, 2011, “‘Sexlessness’ wrecks marriages, threatens nation’s future”
7) DEBITO.ORG POLL: “For Readers married to a Japanese, how often on average do you have sex with your spouse?”
8 ) “The Douzo Effect”: One case study of a sexless marriage in Japan, by SexyLass

ISSUES OF POLITICS, PUBLIC EXPRESSION, MEDIA, RHETORIC, AND SOCIAL CONTROL
9) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: “Nothing has changed”, my article on J media blind spots towards NJ residents over the past quarter century
10) NJ topic du jour: Yomiuri, Mainichi, Nikkei pile on re free papers ads encouraging NJ “criminal behavior”, deemed “criminal infrastructure”
11) Allegations of more rough stuff from Rightist Zaitokukai against anti-nuclear demos, yet anti-nuclear demonstrators get arrested
12) Discussion: JK on the oversimplistic panacea of slogan “Ganbare Nippon/Tohoku” etc.
13) Japan Times HAVE YOUR SAY Column offers reader feedback to my Aug. 6 JBC column on how difficult it seems to make long-term Japanese friends
14) Best review yet of my novel IN APPROPRIATE (and no, the reviewer does not rave about the book)
… and finally…
15) Japan Times guest column: “Top 10 most useless Japanese Prime Ministers” (I contribute Murayama)

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column, August 2, 2011, “The loneliness of the long-distance foreigner”, about the difficulty for NJ to make long-term J friends

JT JBC: A few months ago I had beers with several old Japan-hand guys (combined we have more than a century of Japan experiences), and one of them asked an interesting question:

“After all our years here, how many close Japanese male friends do you have?” (Excluding Debito, of course.)

We glanced amongst ourselves and realized that none of us hadany. Not one we would count on as a “friend.” Nobody to whom we could talk openly, unreservedly, and in depth with, about what’s on our minds. Or contact for a place to stay because our spouse was on the warpath. Or call at 3 a.m. to announce the birth of our latest baby. Or ring up on the spur of the moment because we didn’t want to drink alone that evening. Or who would care enough to check on us in the event of a natural disaster. Not one. One theory was…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2011

Table of Contents:
DEEP THOUGHTS FROM DEEP THINKERS
1) M.G. “Bucky” Sheftall academic paper on “Shattered Gods” and the dying mythology of “Japaneseness”
2) Peter Tasker in Foreign Policy Magazine: “Japan will rebuild, but not how you think”.
Takes opportunity of Japan’s worst postwar disaster to re-advance outmoded Chrysanthemum Club-ism.
3) Terrie’s Take on how Japanese companies are too “addicted” to cheap Chinese “Trainee” labor to hire unemployed Japanese
4) Donald Keene prattles on about why he’s naturalizing in SAPIO, even takes a cheap shot at NJ
5) Tokyo Gov Ishihara bids for 2020 Olympics through earthquake sympathy vote; also calls for Japan to have nukes, military conscription, and military-led government

THE MONTHLY MODICUM OF BAD SOCIAL SCIENCE
6) Bad social paradigms encouraging bad social science: UC Berkeley prof idiotically counts “flyjin” for H-Japan listserv
7) Reuters Expose: Japan’s ‘throwaway’ nuclear workers, including NJ “temporary temps”
8 ) 2011’s annual GOJ Spot the Illegal Alien campaign enlists Tokyo Metro, deputizes general public with posters of cute and compliant NJ

LET’S NOT LEAVE OUT EXCLUSIONISM
9) Zaitokukai Neonazis march in Tokyo Shibuya July 9, 2011, with ugly invective
10) BV inter alia on J bureaucrat exclusionary attitudes when registering his newborn multicultural child at Shibuya Kuyakusho
11) Mark Austin reports that Otaru, site of the famous onsen lawsuit, still has a “Japanese Only” establishment, “Monika”
12) Kyodo: Soccer S-Pulse coach Ghotbi wants to meet banned fans over racial banner
13) Joel Legendre-Koizumi on the J media’s blackout on PM Kan’s proposals

PORTENTS OF THE FUTURE
14) Adidas assesses the “history of poor treatment of migrant workers in Japan”, now monitoring JITCO in conjunction with other major overseas outsourcers
15) US State Department report 2011: “Japan’s Foreign trainee program ‘like human trafficking'”
16) Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test
17) Quoted in Asia Weekly: “Falling birthrate, rising life expectancy afflict Japan”
18 ) Child Abductions Issue: How Japan’s debate on defining “Domestic Violence”, the loophole in enforcing the Hague Treaty, is heading in the wrong direction
19) Weekend Tangent: The euphoria of collective attack and parental alienation syndrome

PODCASTS
20) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 14 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing in Japan (part 1 of 3)
21) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 21 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on J naturalization process (part 2 of 3)
22) PODCAST: KQED-FM Pacific Time broadcast 28 Dec 2000, Arudou Debito reports on naturalizing and name changes in Japan (part 3 of 3)
23) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Arudou Debito’s naturalization July 3, 2003
24) PODCAST: NPR All Things Considered on Brooklynite Anthony Bianchi’s election to Inuyama City Council, April 30, 2003
25) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2011: FCCJ Book Break on IN APPROPRIATE, June 28, 2011

… and finally…
26) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column July 5, 2011: “Lives such as Daniel’s deserve to be honored in these pages”

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 39: “Better to be branded a ‘flyjin’ than a man of the ‘sheeple'” (May 3, 2011)

JBC: The past two months have been uncomfortable for Japan, and for the country’s foreign residents. Non-Japanese (NJ) have been bashed in the media, unreservedly and undeservedly, as deserters in the face of disaster.

Consider the birth of the epithet “fly-jin.” A corruption of the racist word gaijin for foreigners, it appeared in English-language media as a label for NJ who apparently flew the coop in Japan’s time of need. The Japanese media soon developed its own variants (e.g., Nihon o saru gaikokujin), and suddenly it was open season for denigrating NJ…

I saw no articles putting things into perspective, comparing numbers of AWOL NJ with AWOL Japanese. Cowardice and desertion were linked with extranationality.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t doubt that many NJ did move due to the Tohoku disasters. But my question is: So what if they did?… Why should Japan care if NJ are leaving? Japan hasn’t exactly encouraged them to stay…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 15, 2011

Table of Contents:

NJ PORTRAYED AS PART OF THE PROBLEM

1) Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ
2) Wall Street Journal joins in bashing alleged NJ “fly-jin exodus”: “Expatriates tiptoe back to the office”
3) Tokyo Sports Shinbun blames closure of Tokyo Disneyland not on power outages, but on NJ!
4) Rumors of “Foreign Crime Gangs”; rapes and muggings, while tabloids headline “all NJ have flown Japan” etc.
5) SNA: “GOJ targets harmful internet rumors”, including the earthquake being caused by foreign terrorism
6) Tokyo Governor Election April 10 posts “expel the barbarians, Japan for the Japanese” openly xenophobic candidate, gets over 6000 votes

NJ AS PART OF THE SOLUTION

7) NJ helping Japan during this crisis: James Gibbs on his Miyagi Rescue Efforts
8 ) John Harris on how Coca Cola could help Japan save a nuclear power plant’s worth of power: Switch off their 5.5 million vending machines
9) Thinking of donating blood in Japan? Mutantfrog translates the regulations on who can’t.

RELATED ARTICLES OF NOTE

9) Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Yet wins reelection.
10) The Nation.com on Tohoku Earthquake has shaken Japan Inc.
11) AOL News: WikiLeaks: Cables Show Japan Was Warned About Nuclear Plant Safety
12) Weekend Tangent: NYT: “Japanese Workers Braved Radiation for a Temp Job” in Japan’s nuclear industry
13) Japanese cartoon for kids depicting Fukushima nuclear issue as power plants with constipation!

… and finally…

14) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011 on Tohoku: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 38, April 5, 2011: “Letting radiation leak, but never information”

One lingering afterglow [of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster] will be a feeling of betrayal of the public trust. We were told that nuclear power was safe. One assumes, not unreasonably, that this means no leaks. Zero emissions. Hence, the public should have zero tolerance for any man-made radiation. We should reject ex post facto reassurances that this amount of millisieverts is insignificant, the same as an X-ray, an airplane flight, etc. Sometimes the government’s advice was so unscientific that it tried the patience of an educated society. (In a land of poorly insulated housing, being told to “just stay indoors” is clearly stopgap.)

My point is that the public has been kept in the dark for generations about the risks of nuclear power, settling for cute cartoon characters that deliberately and persistently underinform us. Yet when the industry screws up, who takes the fallout?

Not Japan’s nuclear firms. Tepco, remember, similarly botched things after radiation leaks at Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, in 1999 and the Kashiwazaki- Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in 2007. Yet these Homer Simpsons remain in charge, despite, according to Wikileaks, repeated warnings from overseas specialists about their outmoded and lackluster safety standards (in a land of extreme seismic activity, no less). In a society that, if anything, overcompensates in the name of safety, why is nuclear energy such a glowing exception?…

Tokyo Gov Ishihara calls the tsunami “divine punishment” to wipe out the “egoism” of Japan. Need more evidence of his senility? Yet he’s running for election again.

Kyodo: Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara apologized Tuesday for his remark that the devastating earthquake and subsequent tsunami last week represented “divine punishment” of the Japanese people who have been tainted with egoism.

COMMENT: This from a man who claimed in public a decade ago that foreigners in Japan would riot in the event of a natural disaster (er, such as this one?) and that the SDF should be deployed to round them up — and also questioned the kokutai loyalties of citizens who have foreign roots. It seems this time, by issuing an unusual retraction (you think he’ll ever retract the foreigner riots claim now that it hasn’t happened?), he realized that this particular Senior Moment was going too far.

But this old fool has long lost the mental software governing prudence befitting a person in high office. For a milder (but concrete) example, check out this video, where Ishihara gets all snitty because he was trying to make another speech about how the world was not going the way he wants it (when asked to offer a few seconds of encouragement to runners in this year’s Tokyo Marathon on February 27). Watch to the very end where you hear him characteristically grumbling about being cut off mid-rant:

Japan Times JBC/ZG Column Jan 4, 2010: “Arudou’s Alien Almanac 2000-2010” (Director’s Cut)

Director’s Cut with excised text from published version and links to sources:

Top Five for 2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )
4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)
3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)
2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

Top Five for 2000-2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)
4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)
3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)
2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009

Eido Inoue on improbable remote tracking of RFID next-generation “Gaijin Cards”; yet “scan-proof” travel pouches now on sale

With the rerelease of an article I wrote last year (I am reading all my old articles in order for the Debito.org Podcast, so listen here or read it here) is a revisitation of an argument I made about the next-generation “Gaijin Cards” (Zairyuu Kaado), with imbedded IC Chips. I expressed a fear that these “smart cards” will be remotely scannable, meaning the NPA will be able to zap a crowd and smoke out who’s foreign or not (whereas Japanese citizens have no legal obligation to carry ID 24/7 backed up with criminal punishment) — or will further justify racial profiling of people like me who look foreign but aren’t.

Techie Eido Inoue, a naturalized J citizen himself, writes here on invitation to address this argument. He was worried that this topic might get a bit geeky (he has in fact made it very readable, thanks), but never mind, this needs to be discussed by people in the know. However, please do read or page down to the end, where I have some basic counterarguments and a scan of something I saw the other day in a travel shop — a “scan proof” pouch for your valuables on sale! Read on.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

Table of Contents:
MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND
1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big
2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)
3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban
4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)
5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous
6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting
7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

UPDATES
9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki
10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China
11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

… and finally…

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting

Here’s a thought-provoking essay on Japanese politics from The Economist (London). Within it is a vignette on Tokyo Governor Ishihara getting all pissy about how Japanese men are being emasculated, based upon the way they are allegedly being forced to urinate. The other points within the essay are more important, but I find it singularly impressive how a leader of one of the world’s cities could go off on such an irrelevant and unprofessional tangent before a member of the international press (who, charitably, passes it off as the rantings of a grumpy old man). That’s just one more signal to me, however, of how senile Ishihara has become. Only one more year of the man left in office, fortunately.

Excerpt: “A black dog of a depression has settled back over the country’s politics, affecting both main parties. In opposition the LDP has unravelled with impressive speed. In late April the country’s favourite politician, Yoichi Masuzoe, a rare combination in the LDP of ambition and ideas, joined a stream of high-profile defectors forming new parties. He calls for refreshing change: deregulation, decentralisation and—crucially for a country with too many paws on the levers of power—a halving of the number in the Diet (parliament).

For the moment, such groupings have not captured the public imagination. They contain too many lone wolves and grumpy old men, such as the governor of Tokyo, Shintaro Ishihara, who is responsible for the naming of one notable new party, Tachiagare Nippon!—literally, Stand Up, Japan! When Banyan once called on him, he launched into a tirade about Japanese men cowed by their womenfolk into sitting down when they pee.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2010

Table of Contents:

MIXED OPINIONS
1) Newsweek and NBER on how immigration helps societies, vs separate Newsweek column doubting it
2) Savoie Child Abduction Case: Father sues judge and lawyer that enabled ex-wife to abduct
3) US House of Reps Resolution submission regarding Japan’s Child Abductions Issue
4) How the mighty have fallen: Forbes ranks world’s leading companies, Japan with only 3 in top 100, Toyota drops from 3rd to 360th
5) Swiss woman acquitted of crimes yet denied bail due to being NJ, then barred as “visa overstayer” anyway
6) Japan Times editorial calling for the removal of its own Berlin Walls
7) DEBITO.ORG Podcast May 1, 2010

INFORMATION YOU JUST MIGHT NEED
8 ) GEOS Bankruptcy and G-Education takeover: Internal document forwarded to Debito.org stating staff not getting back wages
9) Mainichi: First GOJ guidelines for teaching NJ the Japanese language so they can live here
10) Debito.org Recommends: “LANDED: The Guide to Buying Property in Japan”, By Christopher Dillon; Tokyo book tour next week

TANGENTS
11) Racial profiling of immigrants becomes legal in Arizona. However, controversy ensues.
12) Holiday Tangent: “Lifer” cartoon on “Things to do in a Wintry Hokkaido”, Happy May

… and finally …
13) JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times column May 4, 2010, on “Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues ” (full text)

JUST BE CAUSE Japan Times column May 4, 2010, on “Last gasps of Japan’s dying demagogues “

Tally ho! The hunt is on for “fake Japanese” in Japanese politics.On March 17, at a meeting of opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) officials, Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara not only criticized the ruling coalition for their (now moribund) bill offering permanent resident non-Japanese (NJ) the vote in local elections. He even accused them of having subversive foreign roots!

“How about those Diet members who have naturalized, or are the children of parents who naturalized? Lots of them make up the ruling coalition and are even party heads.”

He argued that their support for NJ suffrage arose from a sense of “duty to their ancestors.”

We then had the standard Ishihara brouhaha: One person who felt targeted by that remark, Social Democratic Party leader and Cabinet member Mizuho Fukushima, denounced it unreservedly as “racial discrimination.” She stressed that she was in fact a real Japanese and demanded a retraction. Ishihara, as usual, refused. Cue coda.

But something’s different this time. Ishihara is not just toeing the “foreigners cannot be trusted” line he’s reeled out ad nauseam over the past decade to justify things like targeting foreigners and cracking down on Tokyo’s alleged “hotbeds of foreign crime.”

He is now saying foreigners will always be foreigners, even if they have been naturalized Japanese for generations…

SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.

NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.

Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7

As I conclude:

“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”

Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009

Table of Contents:
PUSHES ONE WAY
1) Kyodo: Municipal govts call for GOJ agency to help foreigners. Again.
2) Way cool Coldwell Banker SAPPORO SOURCE advertisement offering assistance with NJ apartment searches
3) Aly Rustom on how he got out of a Gaijin Card Check by J-cops
4) Michael Moore lambastes GOJ for being fingerprinted at border during his first Japan trip

PUSHES BACK
5) Anti-NJ suffrage protests in Shibuya Nov 28 2009. The invective in flyers and banners: “Japan is in danger!”
6) Int’l Child Abduction issue update: Chinese found guilty in J court of abducting daughters, MOFA sets up panel on issue
7) ADDENDUM: Paul Toland on US Congressional side of Japan Child Abductions Issue
8 ) Kyodo: numerical figures on how many NJ took last April’s “Nikkei Repatriation Bribe”

SOME PERSONAL PROJECTS
9) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST NOV 30, 2009 (listen at Debito.org or download from iTunes)
10) Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak
11) Co-authored chapter in new Akashi Shoten book on “American Diaspora” (English text)
12) Letter to 4 Dietmembers re my recent JT article on immigration policy (see immediately below)

… and finally …
13) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)

Post #1500!: Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)

Japan Times: We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!

Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.

Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.

Terrie’s Take on Tokyo’s 2016 Olympic bid, decision due Oct 2. Debito.org wa hantai.

Something coming up next week of surprising interest to Debito.org: Guv Ishihara’s pet project to bring the 2016 Olympic Games to Tokyo. We’ll hear the decision on October 2. Here’s where Debito.org stands:

While understandable a sentiment (what booster wouldn’t want to bring such a probable economic boon home?), Debito.org has been unflinching in its criticism both of Ishihara (for his xenophobic rantings over the years, start here) and of the Tokyo Police (keishicho), who will no doubt be given charge of the security at the event. As history has shown repeatedly (G8 Summits, overt and unapologetic racial profiling — even public scapegoating of NJ, border fingerprinting justified on bigoted grounds, deliberate misconstruing of crime data to whip up public fear, even spoiling one of the last Beatles concerts!), you don’t want to hand over matters of public security to a police force without proper checks and balances — because as even Edward Seidensticker noted, Keishicho will convert Tokyo into a police city if the event is big enough. The Olympics is just that, and it really complicates things by bringing in foreigners, for the police get particularly anal when they feel the outside world is watching.

Terrie below (understandably) hopes Tokyo gets the Olympics. I, for the record, hope it doesn’t. It’s not because I live in Sapporo (I would have mildly supported Fukuoka’s bid, even despite the NPA, simply because Fukuoka never had the chance — unlike Sapporo — to be an Olympic host). But the fact remains, as Terrie alludes to below, this is just a vanity project for one mean old man, working through Japan’s elite society to get what he wants, who feels as though he’s got one good deed to redeem all his bad works and ill-will over the years. Don’t fall for Ishihara’s ego, IOC. Spare Tokyo, its tourists, and its ever-more-policed international residents. Give the Olympics to somebody else.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 16, 2009

SPECIAL ON JAPANESE ELECTIONS AND THE DPJ TSUNAMI
Table of Contents:
1) The gathering storm: Thoughts on DPJ Tokyo Election victory July 12, 2009
2) Japan Times on nuts and bolts of Japanese elections
3) Japan Times on upcoming national election #1: Rules regarding Campaigning
4) The Economist Banyan column on the LDP’s terminal decline
5) CSM’s Kambayashi on Japan’s “hereditary candidates” and new voter attitudes
6) Reuters THE GREAT DEBATE column on how this election in Japan just might change everything
7) DPJ changes its slogan from “Kokumin” to “Anata…”
8 ) Japan Times: Parties split on issues of NJ PR suffrage
9) Aso presides over sinking LDP ship, slams DPJ Hatoyama for being open to NJ suffrage
10) Quick update on Japan’s national election: WOW, what a landslide!
11) More quick thoughts on last night’s election: Looking at the numbers
12) Former PM Aso’s last email magazine: still a sore loser
… and finally…
13) Sunday Tangent: Fascinating DaiTouA WWII propaganda

CSM’s Kambayashi on Japan’s “hereditary candidates” and new voter attitudes

Kanbayashi: The political climate has changed since former Prime Minister Abe and his successor, Yasuo Fukuda (whose father also served as premier) abruptly stepped down under pressure. And their woes, analysts say, have contributed to growing skepticism about both the qualifications of hereditary politicians and the merits of giving certain families such a strong grip on power.

“This could mark the beginning of a permanent shift, and it is a shift that could ultimately help shake up Japanese politics,” says Akikazu Hashimoto, a political science professor at J. F. Oberlin University in Tokyo. “This is probably the first time we’ve seen the pendulum swing against them.”…

Tokura is running for office in one of Japan’s most conservative regions, a stronghold of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and the hometown of Mr. Abe and Yoshimasa Hayashi, a newly appointed minister of economic and fiscal policy and a fourth-generation lawmaker.
But even here, Tamotsu Tomoda, who is close to Abe, was defeated in the March race for Shimonoseki mayor, while, last month, in the nearby city of Ube, Kimiko Kubota, who rose from a citizen group leader, won the mayoral poll and will become the first woman mayor in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Japan Times on nuts and bolts of Japanese elections

Japan Times: All signs seem to indicate Prime Minister Taro Aso and his Liberal Democratic Party-New Komeito ruling coalition face a tough battle in trying to hold onto their Lower House majority in the Aug. 30 election.

If the Democratic Party of Japan-led opposition camp wins a majority in the Lower House, it will be able to select the prime minister, most likely the current DPJ president, Yukio Hatoyama, ending more than five decades of almost uninterrupted LDP rule.

Following are questions and answers regarding how the Lower House election works:

Japan Times: Parties split on issues of NJ PR suffrage

Japan Times: “(Foreigners’) right to vote is a big issue and we are not fully in agreement with those who are calling for granting suffrage (to foreigners) immediately,” Aso said, refusing to elaborate.

But Hatoyama said it is now time to consider granting foreigners voting rights at the local level.

“There are pros and cons and the DPJ is in the process of unifying its opinion right now,” Hatoyama said. “But considering the future, I think that the time has come to take a positive step.”

Whether to grant foreigners suffrage has become a contentious issue in the political world. While the conservative ranks of the LDP are strongly opposed, its coalition partner New Komeito is actively promoting this right.

Japan Times on upcoming national election #1: Rules regarding Campaigning

Let’s get back to other important matters: The general election coming up on August 30. Got a good primer here on how campaigns are run in Japan, courtesy of the Japan Times. Excerpt:

What can candidates do as far as campaigning?

Soapbox speeches with loudspeakers are permitted between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. if the candidate displays a special flag distributed by the Election Administration Commission.

Even without microphones, candidates can still give speeches. They are often found outside train stations or other areas with high pedestrian traffic. Candidates engage in “tsuji-dachi” (standing on street corners), picking strategic locations to hail passersby early in the morning or early evening during peak commute times…

The Economist Banyan column on the LDP’s terminal decline

Thoughtful essay in The Economist (London) on the LDP’s primacy and corrupting effects on Japan, and why it deserves to fall from power. Excerpt:

“Thus developed Japan’s characteristic mix of anti-communist — even anti-civic –politics with state-directed development and policy set by bureaucrats. Yoshida founded the Ministry for International Trade and Industry, MITI, whose bureaucrats were famously powerful. Trust-busting efforts were quickly wound down after the second world war. Oligopolies—in the form of the former zaibatsu conglomerates—were supported, even if they had been implicated in Japanese aggression. A man accused of war crimes became a notable post-war prime minister and Yakuza gang bosses consorted with top politicians and helped put down left-wing protests. The political and bureaucratic system was solidly made and has lasted, like so many things in Japan. But its origins, and its effects on Japan, were ultimately rotten.”

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column: “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate”

Japan Times: Let’s learn our lessons already. This will not be the last pandemic we experience in our lifetimes. The media is predicting a second round of H1N1 within a year. Even if that doesn’t happen, we will undoubtedly track future bugs in real time as they spread and sicken. That’s what bugs do — that’s how they survive. And it seems whipping up public fear is how media networks survive.

But if humankind itself is to survive, with any degree of integrity and protection for the people in weakened circumstances, we must learn not to succumb to what perpetually plagues the human condition: ignorance and panic. If people don’t keep a sense of perspective, they could wreak more damage than the flu did.

So let’s keep our radar screens on how these cycles of discrimination recur…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet
2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too
3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards
Plus NEWS FLASH on upcoming Japan Times articles
4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant
6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ
7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007
9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.
10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

GOOD NEWS?
11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas
12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN
14) Japanpodshow: Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

Big news last week was Sugaya Toshikazu’s acquittal after nearly two decades in prison. It describes well what’s really sick about Japan’s judicial system (primer on that here), which you had better pay attention to because as NJ you’re more likely to be stopped, prosecuted, and convicted in Japan (primer on that here) by the police forces.

Here’s what the Mainichi had to say last week about the Sugaya Case, followed by an appraisal of the situation by reader M-J…

Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)

Here’s the best reason I can see for voting for (and urging your relatives to vote for) the opposition DPJ yet. And no, it’s not a NJ issue. It’s the issue of seshuu seijika, or politicians with inherited Diet seats.

In my view, inherited seats and political dynasties to this degree are the biggest reason we have so much rot in Japan’s democratic institutions: gormless politicians who neither understand how the other (poorer) half of Japan lives, nor have any reason to rock the boat and institute any real reforms of the status quo — because they’re a political elite with their future estates sewn up for life.

For example, either way the next election swings, we’ll have Aso (grandson of former PM Yoshida Shigeru and son of a former Dietmember) or Hatoyama Yukio (grandson of former PM Hatoyama Ichiro and son of a former Dietmember too). All thoroughbreds. As have most PMs been in the past couple of decades.

I talk more about this in the context of just how myopic Japan’s policymaking is in a Japan Times article back in December 2007. I also enclose in this blog entry three articles from the Japan Times.

Any political party willing to limit the powers of its own politicians is worth a second look. I say get ready to vote DPJ.

Monty DiPietro’s new play “Honiefaith”, June 5, 6, 7, Tokyo Shinjuku

When a Filipino hostess’ dismembered body is discovered in a Tokyo coin locker, Manila newspaper reporter Victor Balmori is dispatched to Japan. Balmori is looking for a story, he finds a nightmare.

Written by long-time Tokyoite Monty DiPietro, “Honiefaith” is a three-act play about people pushed into extraordinary circumstances demanding difficult choices. The premiere of “Honiefaith” opens the Tokyo International Players’ new “Second Stage” series, and is being directed by TIP president Jonah Hagans.

June 5,6,7, 2009 at Our Space Theater:

The venue, Our Space, is located off the north side of Koshu Kaido street, a three-minute walk from Hatagaya Station, or a five-minute taxi from Shinjuku Station’s south exit. More information, map, links, and press releases here at Debito.org.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2009

ILLNESSES AND RESUSCITATIONS
1) Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu,
Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends
2) GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu
3) Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, and BBC on what’s happening to returnees
4) Tokyo Shinbun: GOJ to amend Nikkei Repatriation Bribe exile to Mar 2012
5) Japan Times: “Immigrants” magazine & advocates’ moves to establish J immigration policy
6) Kirk Masden resuscitates debate on TV Asahi show KokoGaHen

DEBATES FROM BIZZAROWORLD
7) Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter
8 ) AP on resuscitating discriminatory Buraku historical maps on Google Earth
9) Chunichi Shinbun May 11, 2009 on New IC Gaijin Card debate
10) Thoughts on May 11’s TV Asahi TV Tackle on NJ issues
11) Thoughts on May Day 2009 in Odori Park, Sapporo
12) Kambayashi Column: Self-censoring media abets incompetent politicians.
13) Sunday Tangent: Obama’s March 8, 2008 speech on race, link to full text

… and finally …
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing
(full text)

Thoughts on tonight’s TV Asahi TV Tackle on NJ issues

Just a few thoughts on tonight’s TV Asahi program “TV Tackle”. It was, in a word, disappointing.

Maybe that’s par for the course in a 55-minute (minus commercials) show edited for content, and it did try to take on some serious issues. Eight commentators participated: three academics — a Korean, a Brazilian, and a Chinese — plus two media pundits and three politicians — LDP’s Kouno Taro, plus Koumeito, and DPJ. All people of Asian background (save an overlong and as incomprehensible as ever commentary from Koko Ga Hen TV show bomb-thrower Zomahoun Rufin), all reasonably informed, but all clipped for airtime before much of substance came out.

The show had four segments: 1) the new Gaijin Cards with IC Chips, 2) The historical issue of the Zainichis and other Permanent Residents and their right to vote in local elections, 3) the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, and 4) the new Tourism Agency and the new tightening of Immigration controls (fingerprinting etc.). Synopsis follows.

Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu, Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends

Wash Post: Armed with thermographic guns, Japanese health inspectors in surgical gowns, goggles and masks boarded United Flight 803 from Washington Dulles. They prowled the aisles, pointing their fever-seeking machines at jet-lagged faces.

Asia was stung in 2003 by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed about 800 people and caused temporary harm to the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Malaysia. As a result, governments and health bureaucracies across the region are ready and willing to move aggressively against swine flu.

For jumbo jets arriving from North America, a shortage of health inspectors [in Japan] has meant that considerable time is being spent by passengers in parked airplanes. Thousands of travelers have waited for hours in their seats before inspectors could clear them to pass through immigration.

“We’re just about managing to handle the situation with a limited number of inspectors,” a government official told the Yomiuri newspaper. “But I wonder what will happen if more outbreaks occur in other countries.”…

COMMENT: My critique of this situation might surprise you… But then it turns out, according to the Mainichi and Kyodo, that unprofessional hospitals are turning away people with fevers or a foreign friend! Read on.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori

Japan Times: Sociopaths like Fujimori are by definition incurious about how they affect others, especially when granted power in young, weak constitutional democracies. At least Peru and Chile had the sense (and the chance) to lock him up and re-establish the rule of law.

No thanks to Japan, of course, from whom the world expects more maturity. Rumor has it the International Olympic Committee has been nudged by rival candidate cities about Ishihara and Fujimori. If this knocks Tokyo out of contention for the 2016 Olympics, more hurrahs for poetic justice.

In sum, Fujimori is a classic case of how power corrupts. A former math teacher comes to power, comes to believe that he can do anything, then comes to a dazzlingly rich society run by elites who shelter him and further encourage his excesses.

A pundit friend said it well: “Fujimori is an accident of birth. If he had been born in North America, he’d have been a dentist, not a dictator.”

At least this time, this kind of “accident” has not gone unpunished.

Kambayashi Column: Self-censoring media abets incompetent politicians.

Kambayashi: Media outlets here have been heralding an apparent jump in the approval ratings of Prime Minister Taro Aso’s Cabinet, with a recent poll by major daily The Sankei Shimbun and the Fuji News Network suggesting that 28.2 percent of Japanese approve of the government’s performance, up from 20.8 percent in late March. But what the media doesn’t want to talk about is the 60 percent of those surveyed who still disapprove of the Cabinet.

Aso continues to struggle to win over the rest of the Japanese public because of his lack of leadership and because of his predilection for embarrassing himself. But this begs the question: why was such a weak and controversial politician able to climb to the top of the political heap in the first place?…

Why doesn’t the media do its job? One reason is that it is common knowledge that, in the quirky world of Japanese journalism, when a politician is awarded an influential post, the reporter covering that politician earns a promotion.

Yasushi Kawasaki, himself a former political reporter for NHK, told me that many political reporters become politicians of a sort themselves, seeking to bolster their backroom influence. Major news organizations are “in collusion with those in power.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 2, 2009

ANTI-NJ POLICY PROPOSALS, AND CONCOMITANT PROTESTS
1) Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents
2) Japan Times: DPJ slams new Gaijin Cards and further tightening of NJ policing
3) Asahi: Domestic resistance to new IC Gaijin Cards
4) TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”
5) Economist.com blog piles on re Nikkei Repatriation Bribe
6) What if the GOJ was not a barrier to multiculturalism?
Asahi on Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

MORE ASSISTANCE AND MIXED SIGNALS
7) The GOJ’s economic stimulus plan (teigaku kyuufukin):
Tokyo pamphlet on how to get your tax kickback
8 ) “Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments:
“lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes
9) Economist on Japan buying LNG from Sakhalin (finally!) and Hokkaido’s missed opportunities
10) From the archives: How criminals fool the police: talk like foreigners!
11) Japan Times: Police surprisingly mellow when dealing with Japanese shoplifting

… and finally…

12) Get Japan Times next Tuesday May 5:
My next JUST BE CAUSE column out on Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing.

TIME Mag, Asahi, NY Times: “Japan to Immigrants: Thanks, but go home”

TIME: If Nikkei Brazilians, Peruvians and others who have lost their jobs go home, what will Japan do? Last week, Prime Minister Taro Aso unveiled a long-term growth strategy to create millions of jobs and add $1.2 trillion to GDP by 2020. But the discussion of immigration reform is notoriously absent in Japan, and reaching a sensible policy for foreign workers has hardly got under way. Encouraging those foreigners who would actually like to stay in Japan to leave seems a funny place to start.

Asahi: SAO PAULO–Many Brazilians of Japanese ancestry returning here from recession-struck Japan are struggling to find work, according to Grupo Nikkei, an NGO set up to support the job-seekers… Some returnees who performed unskilled labor in Japan have found it difficult to return to old jobs that require specific expertise, according to Leda Shimabukuro, 57, who heads the group. Some youths also lack Portuguese literacy skills, Shimabukuro said.

NY Times: So Japan has been keen to help foreign workers go home, thus easing pressure on domestic labor markets and getting thousands off unemployment rolls.

“Japan’s economy has hit a rainstorm. There won’t be good employment opportunities for a while, so that’s why we’re suggesting that the Nikkei Brazilians go home,” said Jiro Kawasaki, a former health minister and senior lawmaker of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party.

“Naturally, we don’t want those same people back in Japan after a couple of months,” Mr. Kawasaki said, who led the ruling party task force that devised the repatriation plan, part of a wider emergency strategy to combat rising unemployment in Japan…

Mr. Kawasaki said the economic slump was a good opportunity to overhaul Japan’s immigration policy as a whole. “We should stop letting unskilled laborers into Japan. We should make sure that even the three-K jobs are paid well, and that they are filled by Japanese,” he said. “I do not think that Japan should ever become a multi-ethnic society.” He said the United States had been “a failure on the immigration front,” and cited extreme income inequalities between rich Americans and poor immigrants.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 14, 2009

THE DARK SIDE
1) NPA targeting NJ zones, “to ensure safety”. (Oh, and to prevent crime.)
2) NJ company “J Hewitt” advertises “Japanese Only” jobs, in the Japan Times!
3) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, on Japan’s NJ labor, screening schedule Mar 21-31
Tsukuba Tokyo Nagoya Hikone Osaka Okayama Kumamoto

POINTS OF LIGHT
4) Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules
5) Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou
6) AXA Direct insurance amends its CNN advertising to sound less exclusive to NJ customers
7) Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese Pt II: Why you should run for office in Japan

MISCELLANEOUS
8 ) Books recently received by Debito.org: “Japan’s Open Future”, et al.
9) Fun Facts #13: National minimum wage map
10) Tangent: Terrie’s Take on Japan going to pot
11) Economist.com on jury systems: spreading in Asia, being rolled back in the West

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Mar 3 2009 on “Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates” (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009

IRONIES
1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.
2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan
3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues
4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
(and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)
5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama
6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice
7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)
8 ) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace
12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions
13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights
14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

… and finally …
15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay

Wash Post: “Our goal is to get [NJ workers] to stay,” said Masahiko Ozeki, who is in charge of an interdepartmental office that was established this month in the cabinet of Prime Minister Taro Aso. “As a government, we have not done anything like this before.”

Japanese-language courses, vocational training programs and job counseling are being put together, Ozeki said, so immigrants can find work throughout the Japanese economy. There is a shortage of workers here, especially in health care and other services for the elderly.

So far, government funding for these emerging programs is limited — slightly more than $2 million, far less than will be needed to assist the tens of thousands of foreign workers who are losing jobs and thinking about giving up on Japan. But Ozeki said the prime minister will soon ask parliament for considerably more money — exactly how much is still being figured out — as part of a major economic stimulus package to be voted on early this year.

The government’s effort to keep jobless foreigners from leaving the country is “revolutionary,” according to Hidenori Sakanaka, former head of the Tokyo Immigration Bureau and now director of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, a research group in Tokyo.

“Japan has a long history of rejecting foreign residents who try to settle here,” he said. “Normally, the response of the government would have been to encourage these jobless people to just go home. I wouldn’t say that Japan as a country has shifted its gears to being an immigrant country, but when we look back on the history of this country, we may see that this was a turning point.”

IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama

What with the impending Obama Presidency, there is a boom in “change” theory, with press speculation whether a landmark incident that so countermands a society’s history could likewise do the same in other (apparently historically-intransigent) societies. Here’s an article on the NYT/IHT on what happened when a minority in Japan, a member of the Buraku historical underclass, got close to the top job, and what the current blue-blooded leader (Aso) allegedly did to stop it. The article about former Dietmember Nonaka Hiromu ends on a hopeful note, but I’m not so positive.

Quoting from one of my Japan Times articles, December 18, 2007:

“After the last election, 185 of 480 Diet members (39%) were second- or third- (or more) generation politicians (seshuu seijika). Of 244 members of the LDP (the ruling party for practically all the postwar period), 126 (52%) are seshuu seijika. Likewise eight of the last ten Prime Ministers, andaround half the Abe and Fukuda Cabinets. When the average turnover per election is only around 3%, you have what can only be termed a political class.”

Until the electorate realizes that their legislative body is a peerage masquerading as an elected body, and vote out more technically-inherited seats, “change” in terms of minority voices being heard will be much slower in coming.