Asahi: Nagoya to withdraw from Juki Net system, while dogs (not NJ) get juuminhyou

Two interesting developments in the weird system for registering people in Japan.

We all know that Japanese (by definition, unless they’re royals) are listed on Family Registries (koseki), and if they have an established address are listed on Residency Certificates (juuminhyou). We also know that NJ are not listed on either, and that has created problems for them not just logistically but also logically (how dare people who pay residency taxes (juuminzei) not be treated as residents?) There’s talk of fixing that, but anyhoo…

Adding insult to more insult is the fact the government keeps issuing juuminhyou residency documents to things that can’t actually reside anywhere, such as Tama-Chan the sealion in Yokohama (2003),Tetsuwan Atomu in Niiza (2003), Crayon Shin-chan in Kusakabe (2004), Lucky Star in Washinomiya (2008), and most recently a photogenic sea otter named Ku-chan in Kushiro, Hokkaido (2009) (who quickly swam to Nemuro and then points beyond; check your fishing nets).

Now Kyodo reports that the animals or fictitious creatures don’t even have to be famous anymore to become residents. It can be your favorite pet. Read on.

Wags (pardon the pun) on Debito.org wondered what happened if your pet happened to be born overseas — would they get this juuminhyou anyway?

Finally, one more idiotic thing about registration is the double standard when it comes to carrying ID. In Japan, there is no standardized identification card which all citizens have to carry (drivers licenses are fine, but not everyone drives; health insurance cards work but they’re not photo ID; nobody carries passports except tourists (except me, in case I get stopped by cops). NJ, of course, have to carry their Gaijin Cards at all times under threat of arrest and criminal prosecution.) Japan’s proposed answer to that was the Juuki-Netto System early last decade, and it came under fire quickly for “privacy concerns” (well, fancy that). It was even declared unconstitutional in 2006 by the Osaka High Court (the judge ruling in that case soon afterwards committed suicide).

But Juuki-Netto has been a complete flop. Only 3%, the Asahi says below, of Japanese nationwide applied for their cards. (I didn’t either.) Now Nagoya is even withdrawing from it. Read on.

US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record

Last week I reported on the US Congress’s investigation of Japan as a haven for international child abductions, and a December 4, 2009 hearing that many of the Left-Behind Parents attended and issued statements to. The Congressman Lantos Human Rights Commission has since issued letters, signed by several Congresspeople, to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton, requesting they personally meet with select representatives of the LBP and consider their issue. Scans of those letters enclosed below.

I was also invited to write a statement, as a LBP myself, for inclusion in the Congressional Record. The text of that follows the Obama and Clinton letters.

Conclusion to my statement: “In sum, it is my belief that, with Family Laws in Japan as they stand, nobody (Japanese citizen or non-Japanese) should get married and have children in Japan. The risk is just too great. Too many children are getting hurt by a system that encourages Parental Alienation Syndrome, and creates single-parent households that can be acrimonious to the point of deterring the children from becoming parents themselves.

“I urge Congress to encourage Japan not only to sign the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, but also reform its long-outdated Family Law structure. Allow for joint custody and enforced child visitation backed up by criminal law penalties — for the sake of not only American citizens, but also us Japanese citizens.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

Table of Contents:
DISCRIMINATION TOPICS
1) UN CERD Questions to GOJ re elimination of racial discrim (CERD/C/JPN/Q/3-6 Nov 17 2009)
2) NPR interview with Jake Adelstein, author “Tokyo Vice”, on how police and laws do not stop NJ human trafficking in Japan
3) “Japanese speakers only” Kyoto exclusionary hotel stands by its rules, says it’s doing nothing unlawful
4) UPDATE: Kyoto Tourist Association replies, tells Kyoto hotel “Kyou no Yado” to stop “Japanese speakers only” rules

IMMIGRATION TOPICS
5) AFP: PM Hatoyama strongly hints he wants immigration to Japan (bonus: PM Hatoyama Newsletter Nov 4)
6) Ruling coalition currently not considering NJ human rights laws beyond PR suffrage: Dietmember Aihara
7) Mainichi: DPJ split over bill to give NJ permanent residents right to vote
8 ) Mainichi: Schools for foreigners, technical colleges included in DPJ’s free high school lesson plan. IF already MOE “accredited”
9) Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws
10) Scotchneat on Fuji TV show laying blind biological claims to intellectual Asian kids abroad

UPDATED TOPICS
11) TODAY show (USA) on Savoie Child Abduction Case: father Chris’s treatment by J police, return to US, aftermath
12) Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me
13) Brief essay on Nov 13 Hatoyama-Obama press conference; discussion of Obama’s Japan visit

OFFBEAT TOPICS
14) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What do you think about Obama’s “deep bow cum handshake” with the Emperor?
15) Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?
16) Holiday Tangent: Delightful Maure Memorial Museum in the middle of nowhere, Hokkaido

DEBITO.ORG TOPICS
17) All of DEBITO.ORG’S PODCASTS are now available at iTunes, subscribe for free
18) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out Tues Dec 1, on advice to DPJ re NJ policies

… and finally …
19) Sunday Tangent: SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO Column on the power of humor and how it preserves sanity (full text)

Mutantfrog’s Joe Jones’s excellent discussion of rights and wrongs of divorce in Japan; causes stark conclusions for me

I often stop by an excellent website run by some young-Turk commentators on Japan called Mutantfrog. Full of insight and well-thought-out essays, one caught my eye a few weeks ago regarding what the Savoie Child Abduction Case has brought to the fore about divorce in Japan. It made me draw some harsh conclusions. Here they are:

NOBODY SHOULD GET MARRIED AND HAVE CHILDREN UNDER THE CURRENT MARRIAGE LAWS AND FAMILY REGISTRATION SYSTEM IN JAPAN.

NOT JAPANESE. NOT NON-JAPANESE. NOT ANYONE.

Because if people marry and have kids, one parent will lose them, meaning all legal ties, custody rights, and visitation rights, in the event of a divorce. This is not good for the children.

Japan has had marriage laws essentially unamended since 1898! (See Fuess, Divorce in Japan) Clearly this does not reflect a modern situation, and until this changes people should go Common-Law (also not an option in Japan), and make it clear to their representatives that Japan’s current legal situation is not family-friendly enough for them to tie the knot.

Some reforms necessary:

Abolition of the Koseki Family Registration system (because that is what makes children property of one parent or the other, and puts NJ at a huge disadvantage).

Recognize Visitation Rights (menkai ken) for both parents during separation and after divorce.

Recognize Joint Custody (kyoudou kango ken) after divorce.

Enforce the Hague Convention on Child Abductions and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Enforce overseas custody court decisions in Japanese courts.

Recognize “Irreconcilable Differences” (seikaku no fuitchi) as grounds for divorce.

Shorten legal separation (bekkyo) times from the current benchmark of around five years to one or two.

Stock the Mediation Councils (choutei) with real professionals and trained marriage counselors (not yuushikisha (“people with awareness”), who are essentially folks off the street with no standardized credentials).

Strengthen Family Court powers to enforce contempt of court for perjury (lying is frequent in divorce proceedings and currently essentially unpunishable), and force police to enforce court orders involving restraining orders and domestic violence (Japanese police are disinclined to get involved in family disputes).

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Table of Contents:
YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS
1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit
2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus
3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent
4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery
6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?
7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.
8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?
9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

BLOWBACK
10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?
11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote
12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO
13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009
14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)
15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”
16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …

17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)

Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

Finally we have the turnabout that I bet will precipitate Japan signing the Hague. A Czech father has reportedly abducted his child out of Japan, and the MOFA says it is powerless since Japan is not a party to the Hague Treaty on Child Abductions. Well, sauce for the gander, isn’t it?

Two things I find interesting about this case is 1) the MOFA is reportedly working to try and get the child back (contrast with the USG, which recently wouldn’t even open the front gates of one of its consulates to three of its citizens), and 2) once again, the same reporting agency (Kyodo) omits data depending on language, see articles below. It claims in Japanese that (as usual) the NJ husband was violent towards the J wife (in other words, it takes the claim of the wife at face value; how unprofessional), and neglects to mention that in English. Heh. Gotta make us Japanese into victims again.

Anyway, if this will get Japan to sign the Hague, great. Problem is, as usual, I see it being enforced at this point to get J kids back but never return them overseas (since the J authorities aren’t going to give more rights to foreigners than they give their own citizens, who lose their kids after divorce due to the koseki system, anyway). But I guess I’m being just a little too cynical. I hope.

NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.

NYT: On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

The situation would be a familiar one to many Korean women who have dated or even — as in Ms. Hahn’s case — simply traveled in the company of a foreign man.

What was different this time, however, was that, once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense. Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

COMMENT: Well, how about that. First South Korea does away with its hojeok family registry system in 2007 (the similar koseki system, still extant in Japan, causes a lot of difficulties for NJ). This after it passes a law in 2005 with provisions against some forms of racial discrimination, such as against Koreans with mixed parentage. Now, according to the NYT below, they’re charging people in court with racism and drafting laws against it, even protecting at least one person with no blood connection to Korea. Dunno how thoroughly this is being enforced, but given the cultural similarities (and attitudes towards outsiders), it SK can do it, I daresay it’s not impossible for Japan. The discriminatory conditions described below sound eerily similar at times.

Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

In probably one of the most important legal decisions all year, the Supreme Court has ruled that the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), often cited as a reason for barring NJ from administrative (and often, even stable noncontracted) jobs in the public sector, has been scrapped. I’m not sure if that means it’s been ruled “unconstitutional”, but the clause in the Mainichi below, (“The citizenship requirement was eliminated because the courts could be seen as denying employment based solely on the question of citizenship,” the court stated.) could reasonably be stretched in future cases to say that barring NJ from jobs (currently allowed in places such as firefighting and food preparation, and also in Tokyo Prefecture for nursing) should not be permitted. That would be excellent news for the long-suffering NJ academics in Japan’s higher-education system of Academic Apartheid.

CSM’s Kambayashi ties up Savoie Case, alludes to gender discrim

Just to complete the arc, here’s the CSM surveying the final chapter of Christopher Savoie’s foray into getting his kids back: He gets released from jail and gets out of Dodge. But now, as we’ve pointed out here before, there are new problems related to this issue coming to light. In sum, Savoie’s stint in the clink was worth it, for all left-behind spouses in Japan.

CSM: Still, many hurdles remain in terms of society’s view of child-rearing. Mr. Miyahara, who divorced his wife two years ago and now lives with his three children, says motherless families like his do not receive public assistance such as child-care allowances, even as there are government programs that support fatherless families.

“It is taken for granted that fathers have a certain amount of income,” he says. “The system dates back to the wartime period.”

Miyahara came to Tokyo last year to meet Health Ministry officials and DPJ lawmakers to ask for help. Since the DPJ won a landslide victory in the elections and is now in power, the change is expected to come, he says.

“Many single fathers also tend to hide [the fact that] they are motherless families. But I tell them to talk openly about it,” he says. “In fact, more people are becoming interested in our situations.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 8, 2009

SPECIAL ON THE SAVOIE CHILD ABDUCTION CASE
Table of Contents:
THE STORY BREAKS
1) CNN and NBC TODAY Show: American Christopher Savoie attempts to recover his abducted kids,
is turned away from Fukuoka Consulate, arrested for “kidnapping”
2) CBS EARLY SHOW on the Case
3) US Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) calls for action against Japan’s child abductions, introduces legislation to US Congress
4) Brett Weed on US State Dept Human Rights Bureau’s willful ignorance of Japan’s child abduction

THINGS GET MESSY
5) Tokyo Shinbun and Mainichi weigh in on Savoie
6) More media on the Savoie (CNN, CBS, Stars&Stripes, AP, BBC, Japan Times, local TV). What a mess.
7) Court Transcripts of Christopher vs. Noriko Savoie
8 ) My final thoughts on Savoie in Japan Times column (plus more media: WSJ, NYT, CNN)

TRYING TO DISENTANGLE
9) Terrie’s Take offers the best piece yet on the Savoie Case
10) CNN on the upcoming documentary FROM THE SHADOWS re Japan’s Child Abductions issue
11) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Oct 6 column on Savoie and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads” (full text)

12) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: 39% think Christopher did the right thing. But…

… and finally … something lighter
13) SOUR STRAWBERRIES Cinema Debut Oct 10th-30th every day, Cine Nouveau Osaka Kujo

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE on Savoie Child Abduction Case and Japan’s “Disappeared Dads”

Japan Times: But as with all social problems left to fester, things are only getting worse. U.S. Congressman Chris Smith announced Sept. 29 that reported child abductions have increased “60 percent in the last three years.” No doubt contributing to this rise is the grapevine effect among expat Japanese — a quick Web search shows that all a potential abductor needs do is board a plane to Japan and they’re scot-free.

Injustice breeds drastic actions. How long before a vigilante parent takes the law so far that somebody gets injured or killed?

Japan wants to avoid a demographic nightmare as its population drops. International marriage is one solution. But this threat of abduction is now a prime deterrent to marrying any Japanese. One domestic spat with a threat to kidnap the kids and conjugal trust is permanently destroyed.

But just signing the Hague convention won’t fix things. Japan has, after all, inked umpteen international treaties (like the above-mentioned UNCRC), and ignores them by not enacting enforceable domestic laws. I don’t anticipate any exception here: Japan giving more parental rights to non-Japanese through treaties than they would their own citizens? Inconceivable.

What’s necessary is more radical…

CNN and NBC TODAY Show: American attempts to recover his abducted kids, is turned away from Fukuoka Consulate, arrested for “kidnapping”

An American named Christopher Savoie faced a case of child abduction when his Japanese ex-wife Noriko did something that is increasingly coming to light (and has been featured prominently on Debito.org in the past): abducted their children to Japan.

Japan has now become truly infamous as a haven for international child abductions, due not only to its non-signatory status vis-a-vis the Hague Treaty on International Child Abductions, but also because its problematic koseki Family Registry system enables one parent sole custody of the kids (and no visitation rights — I know: I’m divorced, and despite Japanese citizenship, I’ve seen one of my daughters all of *once* over the past close to five years): abduction and lack of contact in Japan happens regardless of nationality, but it’s particularly disadvantageous for NJ because they don’t even have a koseki to put their children on (not to mention the difficulty of conducting an intercontinental custody battle).

This issue has been brought up numerous times internationally over the years, to a lot of handwringing (and some biased domestic media coverage) on the part of Japan. Consequently, no abducted child to Japan, according to a number of embassies and and the upcoming documentary FROM THE SHADOWS, has EVER been returned. Even though, in Mr Savoie’s case, he was awarded custody of his children by a Tennessee court, and there is an arrest warrant out for his wife in the US.

So Mr Savoie did something I consider very brave. He came to Japan and tried to retrieve his children. He put them in his car and did a runner for the Fukuoka US Consulate. However, according to online and word-of-mouth sources familiar with this case, the American Consulate would not open the gate for him. I’ve known for quite some time that the USG is quite unhelpful towards its citizens, but this is getting ridiculous. Especially since the children are also US citizens.

Mr Savoie was then arrested by Japanese police and charged with kidnapping — a charge that may incarcerate him for up to five years, and his outcome at this writing remains uncertain.

But it’s about time somebody took a stand like this, if you ask me, since no other channels are working (witness what happened in the very similar Murray Wood Case), and nothing short of this is probably going to draw the attention this situation needs. Bravo Mr Savoie!

Links to videos from CNN, NBC’s TODAY Show, and a local TV network doing fine investigative journalism, plus copious archives and real-time updates at the Children’s Rights Network Japan all blogged here. The latest: CNN reports the GOJ claiming Savoie is a naturalized Japanese citizen!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 22, 2009

Table of Contents:
PROMISING DEVELOPMENTS
1) TransPacific Radio gives background on PM Hatoyama Cabinet members
2) Eikaiwa NOVA embezzler and former boss Saruhashi gets his: 3.5 years
3) Activism: New documentary “The Cove” on dolphin slaughters in Taiji, Wakayama Pref
4) Terrie’s Take on recent new rulings on tenants’ rights in Japan
5) Yomiuri: UN set to criticize Japan for lack of gender equality and flawed marriage law (read: child abductions after divorce)

LESS SO
6) Narita cops allegedly stopping newly-arrived “foreigners” for passport checks before boarding Narita Express trains
7) Another way of stealing children in J marriages: legal adoption
8 ) LA Times: “Charisma Man: An American geek is reborn in Japan”

DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT
9) Community’s DMG on how he dealt with too much neighborhood construction noise
10) TheWorldGame.com on why Brazilian footballers in Japan are so footloose
11) Bumping into Ramos Rui, one of my heroes, by chance in Nagoya
12) Japan Times interviews Dave Spector on Japanese Media
13) Interview by JapanTechTalk on NJ rights, courtesy of Mondo Books Nagoya
14) Discussion: What do you think about offers of special discounts for NJ? (Blog poll included)

… and finally …
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO column Sept 09 on “albums” vs “tracks” culture (full text)

Another way of stealing children in J marriages: legal adoption

For some reason the most popular article on the JT this morning is one nearly a decade old, one about another loophole in Japanese marriage laws — legal adoption of the children by the grandparents.

Not the first time I’ve heard of this (I had a friend whom this happened to as well), and it’s definitely not limited to J-NJ marriages, but it’s one more cautionary tale about how the lack of strong family law, coupled with the Koseki system and easy inkan fraud, leads to parents being denied access (or even legal ties to) to their kids in Japan.

What makes this an NJ issue is that many don’t know the system, or get taken advantage of more easily than native speakers. And then many spend years stringing along in Japan just trying to see their kids. The information is no less poignant today.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 25, 2009

IMPORTANT DEVELOPMENTS AND DEBITO.ORG READER REPORTS
1) Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card Check. Shitsukoidom ensues
2) JIPI book on “The Concept for a Japanese-Style Immigration Nation”, by Sakanaka Hidenori
3) Discrimination at Ernst & Young ShinNihon LLC, report by Roy Choudhury
4) On the cannibalistic NJ labor market in Japan: short essay
5) A spate of Debito.org-related news links, on PR, visas with kids, NJ unemp insurance, and Roppongi drink spiking
6) Greenmailing and Bloat within Japan’s Bio-Gas market, by James Eriksson

UPDATES
7) Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments
(complete with heavily-biased news segment from NHK)
8 ) Launching websites: youtube human rights, and Childrens’ Rights Network Japan
9) IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction
10) UN NEWS: UN expert calls on Japan to boost action in combating human trafficking
11) Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen
12) Kyodo: Resident NJ numbers rise yet again in 2008, according to MOJ

BRIGHT SHINY THINGS
13) Review of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES in Kansai Scene July 2009, September Road Show
14) Aso Cabinet Email Mag: Aso explains himself away to the outside world as he asks for renewed power
15) Some brief commonsensical thoughts on Tokyo Election July 12, 2009
16) Sunday Tangent: Stray thoughts on Rbt. McNamara’s timely passing

… and finally …
17) SAPPORO SOURCE July 2009, Column 2 on Sapporo’s Summer of Love. Every Summer. (full text)

IHT/Asahi on Japan’s reticence to sign Hague Treaty on Child Abduction

Asahi: Broken international marriages involving Japanese in which one parent takes offspring overseas without the other’s consent are on the rise, putting the government in a bind about how to deal with such cases.

The question is whether Japan should be a party to an international treaty aimed at settling such parental “abduction” disputes across national borders.

Tokyo is under pressure–from within and from outside–to join the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction of 1980, which now has 81 parties.

According to embassies here, there have been 73 child abductions by Japanese parents from the United States, 36 from Britain and 33 each from Canada and France. [NB: Time period not indicated.]

Lawyer Kensuke Ohnuki, who handles about 200 divorces among international matches a year, says most child “abductions” by Japanese women are a result of spousal violence. The treaty does not take a parent’s reason for fleeing into consideration, he said.

COMMENT: Leaving aside yet another media opportunity for this crank lawyer to make yet another bigoted statement, I’ll come out and say it plainly:

The GOJ doesn’t want to cooperate with these international treaties because we have enough trouble getting Japanese to have babies. We don’t want to surrender them to NJ overseas. I have heard that theory off the record from an international lawyer quoting somebody in the ministries. And I bet that even if Japan signs the Hague, it won’t enforce it (similar in the ways it will not enforce the CCPR or the CERD treaties). Why would the GOJ ever give more power over custody to NJ than it would its own citizens, who can already abduct and shut out one parent after divorce thanks in part to the koseki system?

Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments

What follows are several articles on Japan not signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and how after divorce in Japan one parent gets denied all access to their child (especially in international marriages, where children get abducted to another country). This has been getting international press and diplomatic attention. Finally NHK did a report on it this morning, and it was a crock — trying too hard to present the Japanese as being kawaisoued (even presented a Japanese mother as being forced to live in Japan against her will, hostage to American courts, while one who abducted to Japan managed to escape the NJ “cultural” tendency towards violence. Very, very disappointing NHK, if not damaging of the case being made internationally by left-behind parents. I get the feeling the wagons are circling to galvanize public opinion against Hague. And I speak too as a left-behind parent who hasn’t really seen his kids for more than five years now.

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)

Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou

Good news. In a land where bureaucrats draft the laws and quasi-laws, the bureaucrats have just announced a bill for putting NJ on Juuminhyou Residency Certificates. This is long-overdue, since it’s taken 60 years (1952 to 2012) for them to realize that non-citizens should also be registered as residents (and family members), not invisible taxpayers and spouses.

Notifications and scans from an alert Debito.org reader of the Interior Ministry draft enclosed. Also news on how the bureaucracy might just have realized the error of their ways after enough people downloaded legal directives from Debito.org over the past decade, indicating in clear legal language that NJ could be juuminhyoued. Some local governments even created special forms to answer the demand more efficiently.

Bravo. Next thing to tackle: The Koseki Family Registry issue, where citizenship is still required for proper listing as a spouse and current family member.

New Japanese driver licenses now have IC Chips, no honseki

While looking up other things for my thesis, I noticed that a significant new change has happened from 2007 with Japanese driver licenses. They’ve been getting IC Chips as well.

One reason I find this development perturbing: For “privacy’s sake” (gee whiz, suddenly we’re concerned?), the honseki family registry domicile is being removed from IC Licenses. That was ill-thought-through, because once I get my license renewed, short of carrying my Japanese passport with me 24/7 will have no other way of demonstrating that I am a Japanese citizen. After all, I have no Gaijin Card (of course), so if some cop decides to racially profile me on the street, what am I to do but say hey, look, um, I’m a citizen, trust me. And since criminal law is on their side, I will definitely be put under arrest (‘cos no way of my own free will am I going to the local Police Box for “voluntary questioning”, thank you very much) as the law demands in these cases. I see lotsa false positives and harassment in future Gaijin Card Checkpoints.

My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”

In my most recent Japan Times column (JUST BE CAUSE August 5, 2008), I intimated that I feel rather negatively about Wikipedia (I call it “that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists”). As much as I don’t think I should touch how historians render my history, Wikipedia’s entry on me has been a source of consternation. Years of slanted depictions and glaring omissions by anonymous net “historians” are doing a public disservice — exacerbated as Wikipedia increasingly gains credibility and continuously remains the top or near-top site appearing in a search engine search.

The issues I have with the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry are, in sum:

A “Criticism” section not found in the Wikipedia entries of other “controversial figures”, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — meaning there is overwhelming voice given to the critics and no voice given any supporters for balance.

An avoidance of quoting primary source material just because it is archived on my website, Debito.org — even though it is third-party material published by other authors.

Omissions of books I published months and years ago.

Other historical inaccuracies and misleading summaries of issues and cases.
Privacy issues, such as mentioning my children by name, who are still minors and not public figures.

“Criticism” sources overwhelmingly favoring one defunct website, which seems to be connected to the “editors” standing guard over this entry.

Other information included that is irrelevant to developing this Wikipedia entry of me as a “teacher, author, and activist”, such as my divorce.

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Instead, where are the (positive) quotes from the people and published authors who actually have something verifiably meaningful to say about Japan and social issues, such as Donald Richie, Ivan Hall, Chalmers Johnson, John Lie, Jeff Kingston, Robert Whiting, Mark Schreiber, Eric Johnston, Terrie Lloyd, Bern Mulvey, Lee Soo Im, and Kamata Satoshi? Omitting them makes the Wikipedia entry sorely lacking in balance, accurate research, and respect for the facts of the case or the works of the person biographied. It comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.

For these reasons, I will put a “neutrality disputed” tag on the “Arudou Debito” Wiki entry and hope Wikipedia has the mechanisms to fix itself.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
GOOD NEWS:
1. Hong Kong’s new anti racial discrimination workplace laws
2. Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action
3. Non-native NJ wins Akutagawa, Japan’s most coveted book award
4. Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…
5. J Times: Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion

THE INTERNET TURNS NASTY
1. Essay: Why I don’t debate online outside of Debito.org
2. The Economist on how the Internet is turning nasty
3. Japan Times prints letter with big stripey lie about Summit airport ID checkpoints
4. Internet bullies kill the Mainichi Waiwai column, and inhibit the free speech they claim they so cherish

MORE ISSUES OF RIGHTS, INTEGRATION, AND ASSIMILATION
1. Some woes with the Koseki (Family Registry) system for NJ and others in Japan
2. UNHCR on Japan’s UN Human Rights Review, June 30, 2008
3. Anonymous on J diffident police treatment of disputes between J and NJ
4. Kyodo: Mock trial for upcoming lay judge translation system puts NJ on trial for drug smuggling!
5. JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!
6. Yomuiri: Japan’s universities scramble for foreign students
7. World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid
expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer…

INTERESTING TANGENTS AND DISCUSSIONS FROM DEBITO.ORG
1. Economist.com: Interesting business time capsule book published by Asahi Shinbun in 1958
2. Palm Beach Post on dual citizenship in EU countries
3. Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly
4. The Australian: PM Rudd spearheading “Asia-Pacific Union” like the EU, Japan “interested”
5. Discussion: Why do NJ have such apparently bipolar views of life in Japan?
6. Discussion: Softbank’s policy towards NJ customers re new iPhone

…and finally…
Passing of an era: First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Anonymous on J police treatment of disputes between J and NJ

Hi Blog. What follows is an account from a NJ writer friend who has a street-scuffle dispute (with his aitekata demanding money from him) being mediated by the police. Or kinda that, as he writes. With some interesting indications that data from mere investigations goes down on an actual criminal record. Blogged with permission.
=====================================

DISPUTE MEDIATION (OR ALLEGED FACSIMILE) BY CHIBA POLICE
IS FOREIGNNESS BEING TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF BY ATARIYA?
By Anonymous, name withheld on request

(excerpt) “So, my concern here is: 1) how many people – Japanese as well as foreigners – with no official criminal record may be treated otherwise because of such standard procedures in subsequent encounters with police and the legal system? And 2) everyone, especially foreigners who seem to have a clear disadvantage in law-and-order matters that involve a contest with a Japanese person, should know that despite “standard procedure” they are apparently not required by Japanese law to have their fingerprints and photo logged into the National Police Agency’s criminal database unless they have actually been convicted of a crime. It’s apparently info police don’t readily volunteer (or, in some cases, even know about).”

World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer

Summary: A world-famous company in northern Japan, with branches and products overseas for generations, refuses to employ a young Japanese (despite giving him a job offer)–expressly, despite being a citizen, because he’s “half”.

This could have major repercussions in Japan if other Japanese with international roots get discriminated against similarly. Read on. More details to reporters if they want a story. I have the feeling we have a major lawsuit here.

I’ve anonymized it for now because the family fears that the employer will refuse to employ the job candidate further if this article can be traced back to him. Read on:

Japan’s Supreme Court rules Japan’s marriage requirement for Japanese nationality unconstitutional

Best news we’ll hear all year, I bet. Japan’s Supreme Court has just declared the insane system of “invalid nationality if postnatal paternity” (my term) unconstitutional, i.e. refusing to award Japanese citizenship to children born out of wedlock to NJ women if the J father acknowledges paternity AFTER the child is born. They awarded ten Japanese-Philippine children Japanese citizenship. Another very big step in favor of Japan’s internationalization and multiculturalization. Bravo!!

産經:「青い目の人形」に“市民権” 愛媛・西予市。Sankei: Old dolls get “City Citizenship”. Now how about NJ residents?

産經新聞  愛媛県西予市の市立狩江、俵津両小学校に保管されている「青い目の人形」3体が住民登録されることになり、18日、市役所の窓口で人形それぞれに特別住民票が交付される。日米友好の証として米国から日本に渡ってきた人形。昭和という激動の時代を経て約80年ぶりに“市民権”を得ることになった。

Reminder: Documentary on J Child Abduction fundraiser Dec 11 Shibuya, RSVP by Dec 4

Quick reminder about the “For Taka and Mana” film documentary (see poster below) fundraiser coming up on December 11 at the Pink Cow, Shibuya (RSVPs please by December 4, i.e. tomorrow). An update for the fundraiser from directors Matt Antell and Dave Hearn follows…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 14, 2007

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
and finally…
NORTHERN TERRITORIES DISPUTE… OVER A CASE OF BEER

Joe Jones on surrogate mothers and J citizenship (UPDATED)

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.

UPDATE: Visiting Immigration re Spouse Visa questionnaire

I visited Sapporo’s very friendly Immigration Bureau (Nyuukoku Kanrikyoku) yesterday to find out more about the Questionnaire (shitumonsho) for people marrying Japanese and applying for the appropriate visa. I talked to the Inspection Division (shinsa bumon) for about an hour regarding the requirements for certain types of visas based upon conjugal status. A fascinating discussion ensued about how Japan is trying to suss out fake international marriages.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JAN 12, 2007

1) IMMIGRATION BUREAU VIOLATES PRIVACY OF MARRIAGE,
IN QUESTIONING J SPOUSES FOR LONGER-TERM VISAS
2) ECONOMIST ON THE BASIC EDUCATION LAW’S REFORM
3) BUSINESS CONSORTIUM INTRODUCING IC CHIP SHOPPING DEVICES
4) MORE LABOR ABUSES OF FOREIGN “TRAINEES” COMING TO LIGHT

and finally…

DEBITO’S EXPANDED ITINERARY: UPDATED SCHEDULE WITH OPEN DAYS
GOING THROUGH TOKYO, KANSAI, AND KYUSHU, NEED ME TO SPEAK?

MOJ Immigration Bureau violates privacy of marriage with new visa “shitsumon sho”

Want a visa of any duration longer than three months, and just happen to be married? Well the Immigration Bureau has instituted a new questionnaire, which asks you breathtakingly personal questions, such as what language you use at home, who came to your wedding, how much rent you pay, how and where and when you met (include photos, love letters, international phone bills), and how you learned Japanese. Why? Because they are Immigration and they can do whatever they damn well please to foreigners and their unfortunate Japanese spouses.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JAN 4 2007

1) DEBITO’S WINTER SCHEDULE–ANYONE WANT ME TO SPEAK SOMEWHERE?
2) US EMBASSY: RANDOM GAIJIN CHECKPOINTS NOW OFFICIAL TOKYO NPA POLICY
3) MAINICHI: FOREIGN CRIME FEARMONGERING AS OFFICIAL GOVT POLICY
4) ASAHI DULLS ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF “GAIJIN IC CARD” ARTICLE
5) FUTURE PM?: LDP KINGPIN MACHIMURA SPEAKS AT MY UNIVERSITY
6) KYODO: GIFU FIRMS EMPLOY FOREIGN CHILDREN “AT PARENTS’ REQUEST”
7) YOMIURI: IMMIG’S “GAIJIN TANKS” VIOLATE U.N. DETENTION GUIDELINES
8) ASIA PACIFIC UNIVERSITY ADDED TO UNIVERSITY BLACKLIST
9) JAPAN IRONICALLY KVETCHES ABOUT FOREIGN CRIME EXTRADITION PROBLEMS
10) ECONOMIST: ALBERTO FUJIMORI UPDATE
11) GREG CLARK IRONICALLY KVETCHES ABOUT IDEOLOGICAL BULLY PULPITING
12) 2 CHANNEL: MAINICHI DOES GANTAN TOKUSHUU
13) “JAPANESE ONLY” SIGN ON OKAZAKI INTERNET CAFE
and finally… I AM NOW OFFICIALLY “ARUDOU DEBITO

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DEC 13, 2006

1) JAPAN TIMES ERIC JOHNSTON MISQUOTED IN NEW BOOK ON IMPERIAL FAMILY
2) ANTHONY BIANCHI RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF INUYAMA, AICHI PREF
3) GOJ’S ANTI-IMMIGRANT AND ANTI-REFUGEE STANCE DRAWS FIRE FROM U.N.
4) TOKYO SHINBUN ON JAPAN’S FOREIGN SLAVE LABOR CONDITIONS
5) YOMIURI: FOREIGN WORKERS CANNOT WIRE MONEY HOME, WRITE LETTERS…
6) SENDAI CITY LOSES LAWSUIT OVER BUS ETHNIC DISCRIMINATION
7) ASAHI: COURT RULES JUKI NET UNCONSTITUTIONAL. HOWZABOUT GAIJIN CARDS?
8) GOJ NOW REQUIRES OVERSEAS “RAP SHEETS” FOR LONG-TERM VISAS
9) QUICK UPDATES TO PREVIOUS BLOG ENTRIES…
and finally… LOSING MY SUGAWARA ON MY KOSEKI

SUCCESS STORIES: Article on Divorce in Japan

The author does not wish to give the impression that divorce is any more likely if the spouse is a Japanese. “Any marriage,” my lawyer sources dryly indicate, “is a gamble.” However, what raises the stakes of the transaction is the fact that Japan has weak-to-nonexistent recourse to prevent potential abuses. According to Colin P.A. Jones J.D., Associate Professor at Doshisha University Law School, the system is geared to support the distaff side of the divorce. The woman, as wife and mother, is given overwhelming priority in divorce cases, as opposed to viewing each divorce on a case-by-case basis (spawning a cottage industry of guidebooks on wringing the most out of your man). Yes, weak-to-nonexistent enforcement of laws and court rulings mean that men in the Japanese system (as compared to, for example, the American) do not stand to lose enormously financially. They will, however, lose their children.

Excerpted and adapted from our upcoming book, “Guidebook for Newcomers: Setting Down Roots in Japan” (working title), to be published in early 2007. I’d like to say “enjoy” as usual, but it’s not that kind of topic. Be advised, however, that the information within is very important to those hoping to stay and and create firmer roots in Japan. Because if a marriage with a Japanese goes sour, the system is not designed to protect both parents, and you as a foreigner could really lose big. FYI. Arudou Debito in Sapporo.