Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

JT: Q: How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?
A: The Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times in April that some 890,000 are in a position to be dual nationals, according to data from local municipalities from the years 1985 to 2016.

Q: Has anyone been stripped of their dual nationality by the Japanese government?
There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked. In April, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that the justice minister had never issued a warning to a dual citizen by birth to decide upon one nationality, meaning that no such dual national has ever been stripped of their Japanese citizenship under Article 15 of the Nationality Act.

Upshot: International couples with dual national children in Japan, take note:  Do not let your children sacrifice one side of their identity merely for the sake of bureaucratic convenience, especially when they don’t have to.

Dejima Award #9: Again to Japan Rugby Football Union, for classifying naturalized Japanese players as “foreign”, in violation of Japan Nationality Law.

Kyodo: Three naturalized Japanese citizens found themselves on the wrong side of a decision that essentially restricts their ability to work as professional rugby players in their adopted homeland. The Japan Rugby Football Union on Friday confirmed that the three, including two who are eligible to play for Japan in the Olympics, will continue to be denied Japanese status within the Top League simply because they are not eligible to play for Japan’s national rugby 15s side, the Brave Blossoms.

The purpose of the rule passed in 2016 to restrict Japanese status to those eligible to play for the Brave Blossoms was, according to Top League Chairman Osamu Ota, to bolster the strength of the national team. The argument that it discriminates against Japanese citizens was not enough to sway the JRFU. The ruling leaves former All Black Isaac Ross, ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke and former Australia sevens player Brackin Karauria-Henry to be treated in the Top-League as ‘non-Japanese.’ “The JRFU’s motto of ‘One Team’ and the Top League’s ‘For All’ aren’t consistent with their actions,” [ex-New Zealand sevens player Colin Bourke] said.

COMMENT:  The line to draw is simple: Do you have legal Japanese citizenship or don’t you? If yes, then you are a Japanese, and you are to be treated as one like everyone else. That’s what the Japanese Nationality Law says.  And any further caveats or qualifiers render the status (and the entire point) of naturalization in Japan meaningless. Moreover, it is extremely disrespectful towards the naturalized, who are compelled by the Nationality Law to give up any other citizenships.  What is the point of that sacrifice if naturalization performatively does not award equality?   

Sadly, this decision is not surprising for the Japan Rugby Football Union, given their long history of outright racism.  In 2011, they blamed a poor showing in the 2011 Rugby World Cup on “too many foreign-born players on the team”and then ethnically-cleansed their ranks.  Japan JFRU former president Mori Yoshiro, an unreconstituted racist (and extremely unpopular former Prime Minister) who considered the Reid figure-skating siblings to be “naturalized” (despite them having Japanese citizenship since birth) and therefore unworthy to represent Japan, just happens to also head up Japan’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic efforts.  I have little doubt he had a hand in this. So once again, we are in a position to award a rare “Debito.org Dejima Award”, reserved only for the most head-spinningly obvious examples of racism in Japan, to the JRFU.  This is only our ninth awarded, but it’s the second time the JRFU has received it.  And four of the nine Dejimas have been for official racism within Japanese sports.  

Might it not be time for Japanese-Haitian-American tennis champ Osaka Naomi (already quite vocal over BLM) to consider speaking up against discrimination against her fellow Visible Minorities in Japan’s athletics?  Would be nice.  

Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako: Japan’s Nationality Law and immigration policy deviates from current international legal norm

Over the years I have gotten from many corners (particularly from people who have not researched things too deeply) how “jus sanguinis” (law of blood) requirements for Japanese citizenship are not all that far from the international norm, and how Japan’s Nationality Law (which requires blood ties to a Japanese citizen for conferral of Japanese nationality) is but one example of many in the community of nations that confer nationality/citizenship by blood.

Well, I knew both from experience and in my gut that there was something wrong with that. I felt that Japan’s method of conferring nationality/citizenship was quite specially exclusive (for example, we’ve had half a million Zainichi former citizens of Empire excluded from full “Denizenship” (see below) in Japanese society for three Postwar generations now, and only a tiny number of people becoming naturalized Japanese citizens every year). This exclusion (which every nation does when deciding national membership, but…) has been done in ways unbecoming of a country with the reputation of being a legitimate, competent, advanced Western democracy — one Japan has had since its emergence as a “rich society” in the 1980s — and thus expected to take on a greater role in international cooperation (such as acceptance of refugees) by accepting international legal norms (such as signing and enforcing international treaties).

Now I’ve found something in writing from someone who HAS researched things deeply, Prof. Kashiwazaki Chikako at Keio, and she too finds that Japan’s policies towards the outside world are outside the international norm. Excerpts from one of her writings follows:

Conclusion: It has never been policy in Japan, despite all the promises we heard in the “Kokusaika” 1980s about “getting in, making the effort to work hard in Japanese companies, learning the language and culture, and ultimately becoming Japanese like everyone else”, to let immigrants stay or make it easier for them to stay. So it’s not going to happen (no matter what recent flawed GOJ Cabinet opinion polls claim about the public’s “no longer rejecting” NJ), because of official government policy not to let people settle, and because policymakers don’t trust foreigners to ever be “Japanese”…

Xinhua & Chosun Ilbo: South Korea has drafted dual nationality laws

Xinhua: The South Korean government has drafted legal revisions to adopt multiple citizenship, easing regulations for foreigners seeking to become naturalized Korean citizens, to attract talent from abroad, the government Thursday.

According to the Justice Ministry, it will soon submit a proposal on the revisions to parliament for approval.

The envisioned law allows those who hold foreign passports to hold more than one nationality on condition that they provide written pledges forswearing their rights as foreigners while in the country, including tax exemptions…

“There has been a growing voice need for the revision, as the present law sat as an obstacle in attracting and retaining talented foreigners,” an official at the ministry, was quoted as saying to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

“We hope the revisions will help prevent a brain drain and provide relief measures for the country’s low birth rate and its aging society,” the official told Yonhap.

According to the justice ministry figures, the number of losing or renouncing their South Korean nationality hit 6,741 between 2004 and October this year, far surpassing the 518 who opted for it.

Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship

Here’s an excellent Japan Times roundup of the debate which came out of nowhere last year regarding Japan’s loopy nationality laws, which were once based on what I would call a “culture of no”, as in rather arbitrary ways to disqualify people (as in babies not getting J citizenship if the J father didn’t recognize patrimony before birth). A Supreme Court decision last year called that unconstitutional, and forced rare legislation from the bench to rectify that late in 2008. Now the scope of inclusivity has widened as Dietmember Kouno Taro (drawing on the shock of a former Japanese citizen getting a Nobel Prize, and a confused Japanese media trying to claim him as ours) advocates allowing Japanese to hold more than one citizenship. Bravo. About time.

The article below sets out the goalposts for this year regarding this proposal (and uses arguments that have appeared on Debito.org for years now). In a year when there will apparently be a record-number of candidates running in the general election (which MUST happen this year, despite PM Aso’s best efforts to keep leadership for himself), there is a good possibility it might come to pass, especially if the opposition DPJ party actually takes power.

2009 looks to be an interesting year indeed, as one more cornerstone of legal exclusionism in Japan looks set to crack.

More on nationality law and children born out of wedlock: Conservatives causing policy balk

More on the debate on recognizing paternity and plugging loopholes in the nationality law — and how the conservatives are throwing up roadblocks in between houses of parliament… and blaming a “constituency” of blog messages for it:

Japan Times: With the revised Nationality Law expected to clear the Diet soon, some ruling party lawmakers are at the last minute claiming the amendment may spark problems, such as possibly creating a “black market” in false paternal recognition.

However, it seems too late in the day for them to block passage, because the revised bill cleared the Lower House last week and the Upper House Justice Committee is entering the last stage of deliberations and is expected to vote as early as next week.

The amendment will allow children born out of wedlock to Japanese men and foreign women to obtain Japanese nationality if the father acknowledges paternity after the birth…

“If a law like this is misused, what will happen to the Japanese identity?” asked Takeo Hiranuma, a former trade minister widely considered a hardcore hawk, at an emergency meeting with 13 Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers last week to discuss issues arising from the revision…

One reason that made them act at this late stage was what they claim is the public questioning the amendment. Some lawmakers said there have been hundreds of comments written in their blogs, mostly warning of the potential problems the revision may bring.

“The comments will keep increasing and would go crazy if the revision clears the Diet,” said LDP Lower House member Toru Toida, who has been getting hundreds of comments in his blog.

If the revision clears the Diet, then “people would claim that the Diet is not doing a proper job,” Toida said.

Reuters: Visible Minorities (“Foreign-born residents”) file lawsuit against government for police racial profiling. Good. Go for it.

Reuters: Three foreign-born residents of Japan filed a lawsuit on Monday against the national and local governments over alleged illegal questioning by police based on racial profiling. It is the first such lawsuit in Japan, according to the plaintiffs’ lawyers, and comes amid a sharp rise in the number of foreign workers coming to the country to help stem labour shortages as its population ages and declines.

The three men filed the lawsuit with the Tokyo District Court demanding that the national, Tokyo Metropolitan and Aichi Prefecture governments recognise that it is illegal for police officers to stop and question people solely on the basis of their race, nationality or ethnicity.

COMMENT: This has made big international news, the likes I haven’t really seen since the Otaru Onsens Case.  Good. Debito.org has reported at length on how racial profiling is standard operating procedure for the Japanese police, so it’s an issue that deserves to be pursued in court. We’ve also sued the government before, and think it’s unlikely they’ll win (we didn’t). But it’s worth doing for the awareness raising. If we can get it on the record that the judiciary recognizes this as “racial profiling”, or even that “racial profiling” actually exists in Japan as a term and a phenomenon, this will be a big step ahead. Plaintiffs, go for it, and good luck, says Debito.org.

Japan Times: “Fukuoka court rules ban on dual nationality is constitutional”. Debito.org makes the case for why banning dual nationality is unrealistic, not to mention just plain stupid, with an excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism”.

JT: The Fukuoka District Court ruled Wednesday that Japan’s law that bans dual nationality is constitutional, rejecting an argument by a Japan-born plaintiff who lost her Japanese citizenship after she naturalized as an American. Yuri Kondo, 76, had argued that the nationality law — which stipulates that Japanese nationals will lose their citizenship if they become a citizen of a foreign country — undermines fundamental human rights to pursue happiness, self-determination, and identity, as guaranteed under the Constitution. While the nationality law was deemed constitutional, presiding Judge Fumitaka Hayashi said the wish of the individual who would lose their nationality should be considered as it is part of a person’s identity.

COMMENT: Most arguments made by the Japanese Government dovetail around the idea that people will be somehow confused in terms of national allegiances if they have more than one nationality. For what if Japan went to war with the country you have a second passport for? Where would your allegiances lie?

Making public policy merely on the basis of hypotheticals is not the best way to make laws. As noted above in the article, the number of countries allowing dual nationality is in fact increasing (“the number of countries allowing dual nationality has increased from one-third to three-quarters worldwide”), as more people around the world travel, resettle, immigrate, marry, and have multinational children as well as lives.  Forcing them to give up their other nationality is to force them to give up part of their identity — a completely unnecessary and moreover psychologically damaging move just for the sake of bureaucratic convenience.  And that’s before we get into issues of arbitrary enforceability, as discussed in my book excerpt below.

The increase in diversity should be reflected in laws to accommodate reality.  Instead, we have pig-headed J politicians who can’t imagine a life beyond their own experiences (with the exception of the LDP’s Kouno Taro, who actually argued for dual nationality, albeit to coat the Kokutai in more glory, not for the sake of the individual’s identity) and refuse to legislate reality into reality.  And that feeds into a hidebound judiciary that claim they can only enforce the law as it’s written (even presiding Judge Hayashi above expressed regret at that).

To finish up, let me excerpt from my book “Embedded Racism” on this topic.  It’ll make the case about why public policy is as stupid as it is as best I can…

Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

Kyodo: A Japanese-born American said Thursday she has filed a lawsuit with a Japanese court claiming that the country’s nationality law, which bans its citizens from also holding a foreign nationality, violates the Constitution.

Yuri Kondo, 75, who currently lives in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan and filed the lawsuit at the Fukuoka District Court, said at a press conference with her legal team that acquiring U.S. citizenship should not have automatically stripped her of her Japanese one. Kondo, who was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, moved to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school and began practicing law in Arizona in 1997.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004, she attempted to renew her Japanese passport in 2017 but her application was rejected. She is currently in Japan on her U.S. passport. Kondo claims that Article 11 of the nationality law, which stipulates that Japanese citizens automatically lose their nationality upon gaining a foreign nationality, violates the right to pursue happiness and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

COMMENT: Let’s go through just how arbitrary, complicated, and racialized Japan’s Nationality Law is…

Kyodo: Tokyo District Court rules in favor of Japan’s ban on dual nationality. My, what paranoia and hypocrisy

In a landmark ruling yesterday (see articles below) first testing the waters for allowing Japanese to have more diverse roots in a legal sense, the Tokyo District Court has just ruled that Japanese who obtain other citizenships do not have constitutional protections from being subsequently deprived of Japanese citizenship. This means:

a) If you as a Japanese citizen naturalize in another country, then when the Japanese government decides to take away your Japanese citizenship, you have no legal recourse under the Japanese Constitution.  It can be unilaterally revoked at the government’s discretion.

b) If you as a native-born Japanese citizen have dual nationality due to having international parents, and if you do not declare to the Japanese government that you are a Japanese citizen only (and have renounced all other citizenships by age 22 — as Osaka Naomi, referred to below, reportedly did), then the Japanese government can revoke your Japanese citizenship and not deprive you of any Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.

Conclusion:  Essentially, nothing has changed in practice.  The lower judiciary has essentially just made its stance against dual nationality clear.  Take into account that this ruling, handed down by a notoriously conservative branch of Japan’s judiciary (yes, Tokyo District and High Courts are actually well-known around the Japanese legal community for their very conservative judgments), has merely affirmed what was already true: “two passports = untrustworthy”.  And their legal reasoning mentioned in the articles below reflects that logic, based upon paranoid pre-war arguments about individual mixed allegiances threatening the motherland, etc., with no need to update for the complexities of the modern world.  Should the plaintiffs decide to appeal this case, then the Tokyo High Court and probably eventually the Supreme Court will affirm the lower court’s ruling.  So it’s definitive.

What to do about it:  Continue to follow Debito.org’s advice:  If you have two passports, you always claim to be solely Japanese by age 22 but secretly keep renewing your foreign passport.  The Japanese government is still not fully enforcing any draconian “show us a revoked foreign passport by age 22 or we will revoke your Japanese citizenship” towards all its citizens with international roots.  Given Japan’s dropping population, that’s probably not in its interest.  But if the Japanese government ever gets around to doing that, based upon yesterday’s ruling, as far as the Japanese judiciary is concerned it will have free rein.

Last word on NJ hotel passport checks (thanks to a lawyer): It’s as Debito.org has said for more than a decade: NJ Residents are exempt from showing any ID.

Debito.org Reader Mamoru sends along a recent poster produced by the Shizuoka Police confirming that there are two separate tracks for guests at Japanese hotel check-ins:  One for Foreign Tourists, and another one for ALL Residents of Japan regardless of nationality (Japanese and NJ):

Confirmed is that Foreign Tourists with no address in Japan must show ID, meaning a passport.  Some places will require, as per local ordinance, that passport to be photocopied.  (Despite various governments criticizing the potential dangers of this practice, including fraud and identity theft:  The Canadian Government, for example, explicitly says, “You take all responsibility for giving information in your passport to a third party.”)

But then the Shizuoka Police use “weasel words” in their poster that make it look like hoteliers must check the ID of ALL guests. (In practice, however, this will mean that NJ will be checked, as hotels have always thought.) However, still NOWHERE in the law requires NJ Residents of Japan to show any ID after writing down their details in the hotel Guest Book.

The fact that even this Shizuoka Police poster is being intentionally confusing and misleading about the law (or ministerial directive) indicates once again that, despite well over a decade of corrections and clarifications via The Japan Times, Debito.org, and even the US Embassy, the Japanese Police are continuing to bend the law, and encouraging hotels to racially profile their “foreign” guests.

MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.

It seems the GOJ is up to its old tricks:  Reinterpreting the law to pick on “foreigners” again.  This was seen previously on Debito.org to encourage racial profiling at hotel check-ins, and now with the new Minpaku Law affecting AirBnB-style private homes opened for public accommodation (minshuku), it’s more of the same.  Read on from Debito.org Reader MC:

MC: I wrote to the Minpaku I stayed at with an explanation of the problematic nature of their system in regards to Non-Japanese customers. First, they had no right to ask for photographs of anyone, resident or not, Japanese or not. The idea of requiring guests to upload a scan of a driving licence or passport, or even just a face shot, is just asking for identity theft, and is certainly illegal. I explained the law on this as follows:  “The Japan Hotel Laws are quite clear on this: If the guest is NOT a resident of Japan you DO have the right to ask for a passport number (not a copy of the passport). But if the guest IS a resident of Japan, on the other hand, whatever the nationality, they have no responsibility to provide any kind of copy of an official document or any photograph. It’s a gross invasion of privacy.”

The Minpaku lodging replied to say that the new Minpaku Law of 2018 allowed for online check-in, and required photographic ID. The former is true, but I didn’t think the latter was. However, I checked out the wording at the Minpaku system portal on the MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism) site, and it looks to me as though there is some cause for worry.

COMMENT: MLIT is offering a freewheeling interpretation of the law (as keeps happening by Japanese officialdom, particularly the Japanese police, over-interpreting the law for their convenience to target foreigners).  However, there is NOTHING in the Minpaku Law that requires NJ Residents of Japan to supply passport numbers (and by extension passport copies and mugshots). But where is this heading?  Towards more rigmarole, policing, and official harassment of NJ-resident customers. (MLIT is even explicitly advising Minpaku to call the cops if the “foreign guest” has no passport, even though residents are not required to carry them; and as the Carlos Ghosn Case demonstrates, you do NOT want to be detained by the Japanese police under any circumstances.)  And I have been hearing of other Japan-lifers now finding it harder to check-in while foreign.

Bottom line:  The new Minpaku Law hasn’t fundamentally changed anything in regards to NJ resident customers.  You are still not required to show ID, passport, or photo to any Japanese accommodation if you indicate that you have an address in Japan.

Asahi: Japanese living abroad plan unprecedented lawsuit demanding dual citizenship. Bravo!

Here’s something interesting and something to support if you are a Japanese living abroad — the maintenance of your legal identity in the form of dual nationality.

The Asahi reports that several Japanese citizens in Europe unprecedentedly plan to sue the government to abolish the law forcing Japanese to pick one nationality if they take another. Some emigres also want to undo the damage and restore their Japanese nationality.

Naturally, Debito.org wholeheartedly supports this effort.  For too long the embedded binary of “you’re either Japanese or you’re not” (an Ichi-ro or a Ze-ro) has done untold social damage to people of multiple ethnicities and identities.  Nobody in power has ever really listened to them, so now it’s time for the monoethnic Japanese abroad, who want inclusivity for their newfound diversity, to take up the charge.  

Here’s hoping they get heard.  Because others who have championed this sort of thing (such as MP Kouno Taro nearly a decade ago) got nowhere even in their own ruling political party.  Enough Japanese already have dual.  Let’s have the law reflect reality (and not institutionalize identity policing) at last.

Mainichi: Ex-hate speech group core member regretful on anniversary of clampdown law. SITYS. Hate speech laws matter.

Mainichi: To mark the one year anniversary of the anti-hate speech law coming into effect on June 3, the Mainichi Shimbun interviewed a 38-year-old man who formerly participated actively in anti-Korean and anti-foreigner hate speech demonstrations to the extent of becoming a leading member. He spoke about his experience and the actions that he now deeply regrets. […] When asked about what fueled his extreme behavior, he offered the authorization of the use of roads for demonstrations and the many dispatched police officers that surrounded the events. “Because we had received permission to use the road, I felt like anything I said was protected by the shield of ‘freedom of speech,'” he remembered. “Even if opposition groups surrounded our demonstrations, I felt safe because I knew the police officers would protect us. It felt like we had the upper hand.”

COMMENT: The Mainichi gives us an interesting case study of how one Wajin became a participant in hate speech groups, how he felt empowered due to the fact there was (at the time) no enforceable hate speech law in Japan, and how he eventually became disillusioned with the movement.  While completely anecdotal and single-case, if we get enough of these, patterns emerge, and aggregated case studies eventually can become meaningful surveys (as the fieldwork resulting from the Otaru Onsens Case demonstrated, as it morphed into the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments and a doctoral dissertation study).  Let us begin the first step of understanding how and why people hate, and hopefully more people will realize why societies should make hate speech legally culpable.  

Flawed academic article on Otaru Onsens Case et al.: “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, in Journal of Law and Policy Transformation

The Otaru Onsens Case, one of the most prominent lawsuits against racial discrimination in Japan’s history, continues to live on both in law and social-science academic journals. The most recent, “Discrimination Against Foreigners in Japan”, came out last July in the “Journal of Law and Policy Transformation”. It cites a lot of online sources (but not the definitive book on the case, “Japanese Only: The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan”).

However, if this paper was from a student in my Research Methods class, I would dock points for a number of things here, not least the lack of peer-reviewed sources cited.  It’s essentially taking all the work from Debito.org and rehashing it as a show-and-tell for academic credit, moreover without reading the most recent books and analyses on cases since then; plus it has a number of typos and a rather glib final conclusion that: “[A]s it correctly noted [sic] by Yoshio Sugimoto[,] ‘contemporary Japanese society is caught between the contradictory forces of narrow ethnocentrism and open internalization [sic]’. This proves the fact [sic] that passing laws at all levels of government outlawing discrimination in Japan is just a matter of time.” As written, I don’t logically follow. 

(I have the feeling even the article title was readjusted by the gatekeepers to revert the issue back to “foreigner discrimination”, making it once again an issue of nationality, and glossing over the fact that one of the excluded plaintiffs in the Otaru Onsens Case was in fact NOT foreign.  Moreover, reading the Abstract below, I note how even the summary must include a disclaimer that the “foreigners” are partially to blame for their being discriminated against “due to differences in language, religion, custom and appearance as well”.)

Anyway, congrats I guess on keeping the issue and the information in circulation, and for getting this into the research canon past the academic gatekeepers who would rather not see discrimination in Japan as racial in nature.

NJ Osakan Ibrahim Yener wins lawsuit against “Japanese only” car dealer

Another NJ wins in court against a “Japanese Only” establishment, this time a car dealer who wouldn’t send Osakan Plaintiff Ibrahim Yener information about their goods because he’s a foreigner.  Yener joins the ranks of Ana Bortz, the Otaru Onsen Plaintiffs, and Steve McGowan, all of whom won and/or lost in court in varying degrees.  

The positive thing to note here is that Mr. Yener filed suit all by himself, without legal representation, and still won.  He no doubt had the company dead to rights because he had their refusal in writing.  That means that anyone else with a case as watertight as his can also take it to court and win, and I advise people to do so whenever possible. The negative thing to note here is that once again the award amount has been reduced.  In the Bortz Case, the award was 2 million yen, in the Otaru Case it was 1 million yen per plaintiff, and in the McGowan Case, after a ludicrous defeat in lower court, it was eventually only 350,000 yen on appeal, which didn’t even come close to covering his legal fees.  In the Yener Case, it’s now been reduced to a paltry 200,000 yen, which means it’s a good thing he didn’t seek legal representation.  

Anyway, glad that Mr. Yener won.  It’s just a pity that after all this time and effort, there isn’t any deterrent of punitive damages against racial discriminators.  That’s why we need a criminal law against racial discrimination in Japan — because the excuse the Japanese government officially keeps making (that laws are unnecessary because there is a court system for redress) becomes less compelling with every lawsuit filed.

Kyodo: “A year after enactment of hate speech law, xenophobic rallies down by nearly half”, but hateful language continues, mutates

Good news, according to Kyodo below, is that the number of hate-speech rallies in Japan has gone down significantly. Some mixed news, however, is that haters have found ways to temper their hate speech so that it avoids extreme invective (such as advocating death and destruction), but continues nonetheless with the public denigration of minorities and outsiders. Hence the new law is working, but it’s causing sophistication and subtlety in message. Sort of like replacing “Japanese Only” signs with “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone”, and in practice only applying the rule to foreign-looking people.

Hence the need for something more comprehensive. Stage Two of anti-racism legislation, as Ryang Yong Song of the Anti Racism Information Center says in the article, would be this: “For the last year, discussions only focused on what is hate speech and the scope of freedom of expression, but that is not enough. A law is needed to ban all kinds of discrimination including ethnicity, birth and disability.”

As Debito.org has been advocating for decades, let’s have that law against racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu teppai hou). A law against hate speech is good, but it’s a half-measure.

CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ

Debito: Here’s a submission from Debito.org Reader CR, about the application of the “five year rule” of Japanese Labor Contract Law in Japan’s blue-chip companies. Although the 2013 revision in the law was meant to say, “five years of contract renewals means you must rehire the person as a regular employee (sei sha-in) without a contract” (which would end the exploitative system of unstable employment through perpetual contracting), it’s had the opposite effect: encouraging employers to cap the contracts at five years. Meaning that starting from April 1, 2018, five years since the revised Labor Contract Law took effect, we’re expecting to see a mass firing of Japan’s contract laborers.

This is precisely what has been happening to Japan’s non-tenured foreign academics for generations in Japan’s Academic Apartheid System, with the occasional “massacre” of older Japanese contracted academics just to save money, but now it’s being expanded systemwide to the non-academic private sector. We’ve seen rumblings of its application at Tohoku University for everyone. But of course we have to make it even worse for foreign workers: At Canon, one of Japan’s flagship companies, NJ are being given special “temp” employment categories with contracts explicitly capped at five years from the outset. One more reason to read your employment contracts carefully, if not avoid entirely the increasingly unstable and segregated jobs in Japanese companies.

As CR concludes, “It’s difficult to work in an environment where there are clear discriminations such as this. Note that while I believe the discriminations are racially-based, the only thing that is visible is based off nationality. I don’t know how the company handles NJ who have naturalized, or even if any naturalized Japanese citizens are among the employee ranks. It rankles even more because there are always various “Compliance”-related initiatives, announcements, and activities, to show employees how important it is to play fair, not discriminate, follow the rules and the law, etc. So, big, established, famous, international Japanese companies are already putting discriminatory clauses that violate the spirit, if not exactly the letter, of the law into the contracts of NJ. Also, this effectively puts the kibosh on any potential promotions of NJ; you cannot be promoted as a contract employee. The glass ceiling is alive and well.”

Shiki on unlawful and racist check-in practices at “foreigner-friendly” Sakura Hotel Jimbocho, Tokyo

Shiki: My name is Shiki, and I’m a long term resident in Japan, having been living for almost 9 years now, and I’m actually in the process of naturalization. I wanted to report about the most horrible experience I’ve had in Japan, which happened on October 25, 2016, at a Hotel called “Sakura Hotel Jimbocho”. […]

In the registration they asked for my nationality, which is something I’ve never been asked before. And it said that “Foreigners were required to show their passports”, so I looked at this, and saw your posts about the subject, and then I just thought “Thet are just doing this for the tourists”, so I just left the default that was “Japanese” in nationality. […] I just said “I’m not a tourist”, then this guy asked me if I was Japanese, and I told him that no but that I was not a tourist and didn’t even had my passport with me.

So he then started to ask for my Residence Card, and I told him that my Residence Card contained private information, so I was not comfortable showing it, and then the guy, late at night told me that then they could not take me as a guest unless I showed them my residence card.

[…] proceeded to say that it was “hotel policy”, and that if I didn’t wanted to comply with “hotel policy” I was free to search for another hotel. […] He proceeded to make excuses that he dodn’t knew about the [Hotel Management] law, that he has to report foreigners to the police, and almost telling me that he was gping to “get scolded” by the police if they saw my name without any ID.

I told him it wasn’t my problem, and that he just needed to show the police that I have an address in Japan. He told me that police was going to scold him for not giving the ID of a foreigner, and when I asked him how would they even know if I’m a foreigner and not of Japanese nationality, he proceeded to make a racist statement about how “He can tell by their face, or their accent”. I told him that was racist and he proceeded to once again threaten me about “returning me my money” even after was I told him…

JT: Renho nationality furor exposes Japan’s deeply embedded gender bias

Colin Jones has come up with another insightful column, with a legalistic spine, in regards to how Japanese nationality has historically been awarded (until 1985, through fathers only, not mothers) until it was challenged. And, true to their nature in Japanese jurisprudence, Tokyo courts sided with the status quo (of discriminating against international children with Japanese mothers), and it wasn’t until the Diet amended the laws before they changed their tune. Yet, as Colin points out, the stigma still remains, especially in light of the debate regarding DP leader Renho’s true “Japaneseness”, a dual-nationality flap that never should have been an issue in the first place, –regardless of whether you are proponent of single nationality or double (I fall in the latter camp). Read the article for a breathtaking tour through Japan’s convoluted legal logic.

Jones: In short, decades after her birth, Renho is still being punished for having a Japanese parent who was female rather than male. Renho’s case thus offers a stark illustration of the deeply rooted structural impediments faced by women in Japan even today.

It also demonstrates the Japanese establishment’s general inability to acknowledge the past. The fact that such blatant government-sanctioned discrimination existed until the 1980s simply disappears into the memory hole, a hole that probably exists because the people who ran Japan back then are essentially the same as those who run it today.

Asahi: Japan’s Supreme Court approves police surveillance of Muslim residents due to their religion: Next up, surveilling NJ residents due to their extranationality?

Asahi: Muslims can still be monitored in Japan solely based on their religion, while in the United States courts are cracking down on granting such approval. An appeal by 17 Muslim plaintiffs accusing police of snooping on them was dismissed by the Japanese Supreme Court in late May, which upheld lower court decisions.

The plaintiffs argued that “carrying out surveillance of us on grounds of our religion amounts to discrimination and is a violation of the Constitution” in the lawsuit filed against the Tokyo metropolitan and the central government. Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police Department had been keeping close tabs on Muslims solely because of their religion, reasoning it was pre-empting possible terrorism. […]

The recent Japanese case came to light in 2010 after 114 articles from internal MPD documents containing personal information on Muslim residents in Japan were leaked online. Data included names, photos, addresses, employers and friends.

The leaked data showed that the documents were compiled in a style of a resume on each individual, along with a record of tailing them. Compensation of 90 million yen ($874,000) was awarded to the plaintiffs by the Tokyo District Court and the Tokyo High Court, which ruled there was a “flaw in information management.” However, the plaintiffs appealed because the courts stated “surveillance of Muslims” was “unavoidable” in order to uncover terror plots. The top court sided with lower court rulings, declaring the surveillance was not unconstitutional.

COMMENT: The obvious extension of this legitimization of racial profiling (defined as using a process of differentiation, othering, and subordination to target a people in Japan; it does not have to rely on phenotypical “looks”) is that for “national security reasons” the next step is to target and snoop on all foreign residents in Japan. Because they might be terrorists. The National Police Agency et al. have already been justifying the targeting of NJ as terrorists (not to mention as criminals, “illegal overstayers”, holders of “foreign DNA”, and carriers of contagious diseases). And Japan’s Supreme Court has now effectively given the green light to that too. The noose further tightens around NJ residents in Japan.

Asahi: Supreme Court backs stripping children of Japanese nationality if parents lapse in registering their births abroad

Asahi: The Supreme Court confirmed that authorities can revoke the Japanese nationality of children born outside Japan whose parents fail to submit the proper paperwork within three months of their babies’ births. The top court’s ruling on March 10, [2015], said Article 12 of the Nationality Law, which defines the procedures to maintain Japanese nationality, does not violate the Constitution.

As a result of the ruling, 15 female and male children born in the Philippines to Japanese fathers married to Filipino mothers have lost their Japanese nationality. They had argued that the article was irrational and discriminatory against Japanese born abroad. […] According to the plaintiffs, their Japanese nationality was revoked because their parents did not know about the provision and failed to submit the documents to Japanese authorities within the designated three-month period.

COMMENT: This is what can happen if you dare give birth outside of the motherland and legally acquire a suspicious second passport. Debito.org has mentioned before how creative judicial interpretations of Japan’s Nationality Law Article 12 are a) systematically stripping children born to mixed-nationality couples of their Japanese citizenship simply for bureaucratic expedience (for if both parents were Japanese nationals, Article 12 did not apply); and b) effectively absolving Japanese men from taking responsibility for sowing their wild oats abroad.

Now according to the ruling reported to below, it looks like Article 12 now does apply even if both parents are Japanese nationals — you have three whole months to get registered, otherwise you clearly aren’t a real Japanese. Except that in the case cited, the exclusionism is again being enforced on mudblood kids simply because their parents slipped up with proper procedure.

It remains unclear if a Japanese mother who gives birth overseas (and would hitherto automatically retain Japanese nationality for her child) and does not register her child would void the Japanese citizenship, but the intent of the interpretation below is basically to prevent dual nationality, not honor jus sanguinis ties under the law. So this looks to be an affirmation and expansion of the 2012 Tokyo District Court case, a reversal of the 2008 Supreme Court case, moreover expanded to both parents regardless of nationality.

United Nations demands Tokyo introduce anti-discrimination law to counter hate speech (HRC report CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6 text included in full, citing “Japanese Only” signs, thanks)

Good news. The United Nations has once again reviewed Japan’s human rights record (preliminary report below), and found it wanting. Here’s the bit that has been cited in Japan’s news media (also below):
=======================
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations (2014) CCPR/C/JPN/CO/6
ADVANCE UNEDITED VERSION
Human Rights Committee
Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Japan (excerpt)

Hate speech and racial discrimination
12. The Committee expresses concern at the widespread racist discourse against members of minority groups, such as Koreans, Chinese or Burakumin, inciting hatred and discrimination against them, and the insufficient protection granted against these acts in the criminal and civil code. The Committee also expresses concern at the high number of extremist demonstrations authorised, the harassment and violence perpetrated against minorities, including against foreign students, as well the open display in private establishments of signs such as “Japanese only” (arts. 2, 19, 20 and 27).

The State should prohibit all propaganda advocating racial superiority or hatred that incites to discrimination, hostility or violence, and should prohibit demonstrations that intended to disseminate such propaganda. The State party should also allocate sufficient resources for awareness-raising campaigns against racism and increase its efforts to ensure that judges, prosecutors and police officials are trained to be able to detect hate and racially motivated crimes. The State party should also take all necessary steps to prevent racist attacks and to ensure that the alleged perpetrators are thoroughly investigated and prosecuted and, if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions.
=======================

COMMENT: Happy to see the generally-overlooked aftermath of the Otaru Onsens Case and the information on Debito.org’s Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments is still being cited. Keep the pressure on, UN. The media reaction and the UN report in full follows, and there’s lots more important stuff (including issues of “Trainee” NJ slave-wage work, Japan’s historical wartime sexual slavery, abuses of police power, and even Fukushima irradiation!)

Kyodo: UN HRC prods Japan on sex slaves, gallows. But the elephant in the room still remains no law against racial discrimination in Japan

The UN Human Rights Council has once again prodded Japan to do something to improve its record on human rights (and this time the GOJ, which must submit a report every two years, actually submitted something on time, not eight years overdue as a combined “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Report”). Here’s how the media reported on their interplay:

Kyodo: A panel under the U.N. Human Rights Council has endorsed some 170 recommendations for Japan to improve its human rights record, including Tokyo’s handling of the so-called comfort women issue, the euphemism for the Imperial army’s wartime sex slaves…

Other recommendations include the safeguarding of Japanese citizens’ right to lead a healthy life, in light of the enormous amount of radioactive fallout spewed over a vast area by the March 2011 meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The town of Futaba, which found itself in the center of the nuclear storm since it cohosts the wrecked plant, had actively campaigned for the inclusion of this right. The report also called on Japan to abolish the death penalty after more than 20 countries, including prominent EU member states, objected to its continued use of capital punishment.

COMMENT: As you can see in the HRC’s press brief enclosed in this blog entry, once again the GOJ is avoiding the topic of creating a legal framework to protect people against racial discrimination — claiming it’s already forbidden by the Japanese Constitution (but as we’ve stressed here umpteen times, no explicit law in the Civil or Criminal Code means no enforcement of the Constitution). But all the UN HRC seems to be able to do is frown a lot and continue the talk shop. Further, the UN still chooses the word “migrants” over “immigrants”, which makes NJ (and their J children) who need these rights look like they’re only temporary workers — the “blind spot” continues. Meanwhile, Fukushima and the death penalty seem to have sucked all the oxygen out of the debate arena regarding other human rights issues. In this blog entry is an excerpt of what Japan submitted to the HRC for consideration, and a media brief of the HRC’ s recommendations. It’s basically cosmetic changes, open to plenty of bureaucratic case-by-case “discretion”, and amounting to little promise of fundamental systemic or structural changes.

JT Editorial: Tokyo Metro Govt fuels “Flyjin” myth with flawed survey; yet other NJ who should know better buy into it

The Japan Times came out with an editorial last Sunday, entitled “Flyjin rather few,” which talked about a recent Tokyo Metropolitan Government survey of NJ in Tokyo, carried out to ascertain how many stayed or left after the disasters of March 2011 and beyond. The survey was trying to see if the “Flyjin” phenomenon really happened, and in doing so, the JT notes, potentially resuscitated the invective of Japanese media and xenophobic pundits branding NJ as deserters.

The JT editorial is a doozy. Not only does it demonstrate that “the vast majority of foreigners in Tokyo stayed right where they were — in Tokyo”, it also castigates the whole thought process behind it: “The survey did little to focus on what can be done to ensure that all residents of Tokyo be given clear information about conditions and constructive advice about what to do in the event a similar disaster strikes in Tokyo in the near future.”

“The ‘flyjin’ issue, besides being a derogatory term, was always a tempest in a teapot. Surveys that find information to help improve communications are important, but it is the actions that follow that really count. The metropolitan government should prepare a means to give all residents of Tokyo, whatever nationality they are, trustworthy information during emergencies so safe, sensible decisions can be made.”

In other words, the JT was easily able to see through the stupid science (e.g., the singling out of NJ, the small sample size, limiting it to Tokyo residents, the lack of clear aim or rigor in methodology, and ultimately its lack of conclusion: “The survey did little to better understand all Tokyoites’ complicated reactions to the crisis.”)

Yet people who should know better, and who should be advocating for the needs of the NJ Communities in Japan, are already citing this survey as somehow indicative. Japan Probe, for example, states that this survey “confirms Post-3/11 “Flyjin” Phenomenon / 25 Percent of Tokyo’s Foreign Residents Fled”, and apparently “deals a major blow to certain bloggers who have claimed that the “flyjin” phenomenon was a myth”.

One of those certain bloggers indeedy would be me. And I gave much harder and rigorous numbers from all of Japan and from the central government and for the entire year, clearly exposing the “Flyjin” phenomenon as myth in my April Japan Times column. Hence, there’s no clearer interpretation of Japan Probe’s conclusion than the will to live in obtuse denial.

But that’s what keeps hatenas hovering around my head. Wouldn’t it be nicer if online resources like Japan Probe (which calls itself “The web’s no.1 source for Japan-related news and entertainment”) would work for the good of the NJ communities it purports to inform? It did do so once upon a time, for example, during the whole GAIJIN HANZAI mook debacle, where Japan Probe was instrumental in helping get the racist magazine on foreign crime off the shelves and the publisher bankrupted. But now, why try so hard, as the Japan Times Editorial above saliently notes, “to exaggerate the extent of foreigners leaving the country and impugn their motives for leaving”?

Levin: J citizens of empire stripped of Japanese nationality in 1952, made into Zainichi by bureaucratic fiat — by a simple MOJ office circular (kairan)!

While doing research two days ago, I ran across this curious footnote in journal article (Levin, Mark, “Essential Commodities and Racial Justice”; Journal of International Law and Politics (NYU, Winter 2001) 33:419, at 500, footnote 288), which tells us a lot of something quite remarkable about how much extra-parliamentary legislative power is invested in Japan’s bureaucracy: The power to strip entire peoples of their Japanese citizenship (despite their colonial contributions and experience, including fighting and dying in the Imperial Army) by fiat. By kairan, even.

Levin: The involuntary de-naturalization [of hundreds of thousands of Koreans and Taiwanese persons resident in Japan] was accomplished by administrative fiat, interpreting the Nationality Lw under an implicit association with the 1951 Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allied Powers. “In 1952, nine days before the Peace Treaty came into force, the Director-General of the Civil Affairs Bureau in the Ministry of Justice issued a Circular Notice [an internal government document] to the officials concerned, announcing that all Koreans, including those residing in Japan, were to lose their Japanese nationality.” … Although Japanese courts, including the Supreme Court, have consistently upheld the legality of this act, Iwasawa persuasively argues that the court rulings were analytically unsound, that Japan’s action violated international standards regarding nationality, and that the action was unconstitutional because the act “runs counter to Article 10 of the Constitution, which provides, ‘The conditions necessary for being a Japanese national shall be determined by hōritsu [statutes].’ The question should have been settled by a statute enacted by the Diet.”

This degree of extralegal power — to the point of a simple office memo to disenfranchise for generations an entire minority in Japan — shows just how abusive and capricious Japan’s mandarins can be — and the judiciary will back them up.

Yet another story of child-custody misery thanks to Japan’s insane family laws and enforcement

Forwarding the below from a friend. This is just another case of many where we have people (regardless of nationality, but thanks to the Koseki System NJ are in a particularly weak situation, particularly regarding international child abduction) doing awful things to their children after divorce simply because they can, and the authorities will do little or nothing to stop it. I have of course written on the subject of divorce and post-divorce before (here and here, for example), but let me say at this juncture that for me it has gotten much, much worse over the past few years. (I still myself have seen my kids maybe six times over the past six years, but now there is a development that someday I’ll tell you about, when I have drawn some conclusions and have some lessons from it.)

Meanwhile, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because it is a harsh reality:

As Japan’s Family Laws stand now, nobody — regardless of nationality — should get married to a Japanese and have kids. Because if you divorce — or even separate — somebody will quite likely lose them completely.

Read on for yet another example of that. Even more examples and case studies at the Japan Children’s Rights Network here.

Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column out tomorrow Tues July 6, on Japan’s unlawfully exclusionary hotel industry

Just to let you know, tomorrow Tues July 6 (Weds in the provinces) sees my 29th Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column.

This time it’s a double-length column on Japan’s hostile hosteling industry, where even when a law expressly states under what conditions hotels can exclude customers (and these conditions do not include race or nationality), the law gets ignored as hotels bar foreigners from entry. Furthermore, we have at least one regional government tourism agency expressly promoting hotels which bar or restrict NJ customers. When you even have a government agency being unlawful, you know we have a serious problem with the rule of law in Japan.

Get a copy of my column tomorrow at newsstands. Thanks for reading!

UPDATE: Here’s a link to it: http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/fl20100706ad.html

UNHCHR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says Non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens

Here’s a valuable document I unearthed when doing research yesterday. One of the major arguments put forth by nativists seeking to justify discrimination against minorities (or rather, against foreigners in any society) is the argument that foreigners, since they are not citizens, ipso facto don’t have the same rights as citizens, including domestic protections against discrimination. The GOJ has specifically argued this to the United Nations in the past, repeatedly (see for example GOJ 1999, page down to Introduction, section 3). However, the UN, in a clarification of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, has made it clear that non-citizens are supposed to be afforded the same protections under the CERD as citizens. To quote the most clear and concise bit:
===========================
II. Measures of a general nature

7. Ensure that legislative guarantees against racial discrimination apply to non-citizens regardless of their immigration status, and that the implementation of legislation does not have a discriminatory effect on non-citizens;
===========================
This was issued way back in 2004. I’m reading a transcript of the discussions between the GOJ and the CERD Committee review during their review Feb 24-25 2010 (in which it was referred, and even mentioned granting foreigners suffrage not beyond the pale of rights to be granted). I’ll have the full text of that up on Debito.org tomorrow with some highlighting. Meanwhile, enjoy this gem. Something else for the GOJ to ignore.

Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality

Olympics are the topic du jour, so let’s bring up something that relates to Debito.org.

Debito.org Reader JPS sent me a comment yesterday with some links (thanks, see below) pointing out how once again in Japan, citizenship and dual nationality are political issues, not legal ones. We have dual nationals (in the case below, the Reeds, two Japanese-Americans) skating for Team Japan.

For the record, I’m fine with that. Participate however you can in whatever team you choose as long as you’re doing so properly under Olympic rules. The problem is that under Japan’s rules, legally one of the Reeds should not be a dual national anymore — she had to choose one by age 22 and didn’t. But for the sake of politics and medals, we’re bending the laws yet again — claiming people as ours only when it suits us.

Let’s just face reality, and allow dual nationality in Japan. Period. Then we have fewer identity problems and conflicts of interest.

Guest blog post by Steve on “How to get the Japanese public to demand a non-discrimination law”

Steve: Proposed plan of action: a law-abiding human here in Japan (with taxes, national insurance, and even pension – all paid-up in full (nod to Hoofin), preferably a permanent resident of Japan or Japanese national, to avoid the possibility of visa-denial retaliation) who has an establishment (a bar, restaurant, shop, whatever) AND COURAGE (very essential) and good property insurance (also essential, since some right-wing crazies will probably break some windows and/or start some fires) should put up a big sign out front proclaiming “No Japanese” and/or “No Japanese may enter” and/or “Non-Japanese Only” and/or “Entry Restricted to Non-Japanese” (in perfect Japanese of course) PLUS underneath this sign should be big poster-sized-laminated-PHOTOS of all the variations of “Japanese Only” signs found in Japan (e.g. www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html – especially photos of the signs written in Japanese such as https://www.debito.org/edensign030707.jpg) PLUS underneath those photos should be a sentence in Japanese which says, “Japan needs a law which clearly states, ‘Barring entry to private establishments based on nationality, or race, is hereby illegal, and violators of this law will be prosecuted and face severe penalties.’ ”

A well-written (triple-proofread) press-release in Japanese together with this story’s dramatic money-shot: a well-taken photo which clearly shows the whole picture, meaning, the controversial “Non-Japanese Only” sign TOGETHER with the big poster-sized-laminated-photos of “Japanese Only” signs directly underneath that, TOGETHER with the solution to this problem stated underneath that, specifically, our proposed law against discrimination.

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.

MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

Slightly dated article recently published in the South China Morning Post, but still worth a read, for how the issues of Japanese family law and child abductions affect Japanese too:

AP: Yoshida has banded together with other divorced fathers to form a support group, one of several that have sprung up in recent years.

A few lawyers and lawmakers have showed support for their cause. A bar association group is studying parenting and visitation arrangements in other countries such as Australia.

Japan also faces a growing number of international custody disputes. The U.S., Britain, France and Canada have urged Japan to sign the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction, which has been signed by 80 countries. It seeks to standardize laws among participating countries to ensure that custody decisions can be made by appropriate courts and protect the rights of access of both parents.

Japan’s government has argued that signing the convention may not protect Japanese women and their children from abusive foreign husbands. Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said this week that officials were reviewing the matter.

Divorced fathers say that joining the Hague convention would be a major step toward bringing the possibility of joint custody to Japan because it would require a major overhaul of the country’s family laws.

THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON: Article for Japonesia Review

Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999, to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan. This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD. And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).

My thoughts on this day are bittersweet. I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court. But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down. There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce. Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.

TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON

What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan…

Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within

Here’s another article from the toshiake excellent series in the Japan Times on Japan’s loopy nationality laws: This time talking about what some people who are the projects of J-NJ unions in Japan face in terms of legality and societal treatment. It raises the question we’ve been asking here on Debito.org for more than a decade now: Why do we have to force these people to give up part of themselves to be Japanese? What good does it do them, and how does it serve the interests of the State to put people through this identity ordeal? Enough already. Allow dual nationality and be sensible. You’ll get more Nobel Prizes. Choice excerpt:

“The number of international marriages in Japan has steadily increased over the years, peaking in 2006 at 44,701, accounting for 6.5 percent of all marriages that year according to health ministry statistics. The number of children born with multiple nationalities is believed to have been increasing accordingly, with unofficial government estimates predicting that there were 530,000 as of 2006.”

Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis

Last month the Japan Times put a cat amongst the pigeons last December with a Zeit Gist column about the Otaru Onsens Case, decrying the court ruling against racial discrimination as something undermining Japanese society.

It caused quite a stir, according to my editor, with most of the comments coming in critical of the thesis. Some of the responses were worth a reprint as a follow-up column, and that came out last Tuesday. Have a read. And yes, I briefly responded too (although only on this site as a comment), which I paste at the very bottom. Choice excerpt from the published rebuttal:

“De Vries’ primary objection to the Arudou judgment is that “the case was fought and won on the issue of racial discrimination when the policy being employed by the Yunohana onsen could more accurately be described as the racial application of ‘group accountability.’ ”

“Racial application of group accountability” sounds so much nicer than boring old “racial discrimination,” doesn’t it? The question is whether there really is any difference between the two. Sadly, De Vries offers no logical reasons why we should see his preferred version of these two (identical) concepts as being anything other than a new name for the same old discredited idea. To deny access to public facilities to an innocent individual because of the color of their skin is simply wrong, regardless of who is doing it or what their motives are.”

LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet

LDP panel mulls easing law on dual citizenship
Mixed couples’ kids could have two nationalities
By MINORU MATSUTANI Staff writer
The Japan Times: Friday, Nov. 14, 2008

Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Kono said Thursday he has submitted a proposal to an LDP panel he heads calling for the Nationality Law to be revised to allow offspring of mixed couples, one of whom being Japanese, to have more than one nationality…

While the proposal allows for multiple nationalities, the government will not let Japanese hold nationalities of countries or regions that Japan does not recognize as nations, including North Korea.

Also under the proposal, foreigners would be able to obtain Japanese citizenship without giving up their original one. But the proposal does not say whether those who had had multiple nationalities and gave up one or more to retain their Japanese citizenship can regain other nationalities.

The proposal would also affect babies born in countries that grant nationality to those born there regardless of their parents’ nationalities, including the United States, Brazil and Australia.

=================

Thanks to Kouno Taro, LDP Dietmember, for submitting a proposal to the Diet, after a good think about dual nationality following the paradoxes of Japanese-born American citizens winning Nobel Prizes. Let’s hope the proposal goes somewhere. It’s about time the unnecessary identity sacrifices of enforced mononationality are resolved. There is no need in this day and age to force multicultural people to legally deny themselves the existence of international roots.

Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity. Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner

I think we have an interesting opportunity to discuss issues of ethnicity vs. nationality in Japan, with the J media’s treatment of three recent Nobel Prizewinners.

The J media claimed yesterday that “three Japanese just won a Nobel for Physics”, even though one emigrated to the United States, has lived there for 56 years, and has worked at the University of Chicago for 40. From an American and Japanese standpoint he’s ethnically Japanese, of course (he was born and lived his formative years in Japan). But he’s certifiably American in terms of nationality (one assumes he gave up his Japanese citizenship, which would be required under normal circumstances as Japan does not allow dual nationality). That didn’t stop Japan’s media from headlining that “3 Japanese won”. What do readers think? Is it appropriate?

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!!

Terrie’s Take on GOJ crackdown on dual nationality

Terrie’s Take: “We end by saying that this is a crazy situation. On the one hand, we have a possible crack down on hundreds of thousands of people and a deliberate policy of alienating (pun intended) all these potential citizens. On the other hand, we have a government panel that advised back in December the government should spend up to JPY2.44trn (US$22bn) on measures to help counter the declining birth rate!

Since the number of people likely to lose their citizenship amounts to 5%-10% of the birth rate, we suggest that part of that JPY2.44trn outlay be spent on making a phone call to the Justice Ministry to prepare legislation allowing Japanese to do what many have practiced for generations — become law-abiding citizens of the countries of both of their parents.” Although Terrie’s Take this week (yet another excellent essay) concentrates more on J citizens abroad taking NJ citizenships, there is also good mention and argument about J children in international marriages and the pressures upon them to conform to single nationality. As Terrie rightfully points out, this is ludicrous in a country which needs citizens; it shouldn’t be taking this degree of trouble just to put people off possibly maintaining a J passport just in the name of some odd nationality purity. And dual nationality in itself would resolve many problems… I personally know several long-term NJ (and even some Zainichi) who would be happy to become Japanese citizens if it didn’t mean the sacrifice of one’s identity to having to choose. If you are a product of two cultures, why not have the legal status to back that up? Not half, but double. That’s what I would call the real Yokoso Japan.

Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”

Mark Mino-Thompson reports below on his discovery of new “amendments” to the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law), created in English and Japanese legalese and in generic format (meaning written by somebody else) for use in hotels nationwide. They are vague enough to make it seem as though a hotel could refuse a NJ lodging if the lodger poses an “unreasonable/unrational burden” (such as speaking a foreign language or offering beds instead of futons?).

GOJ Jinken Shuukan: “Human Rights Week” and its flaws

Hi Blog. If you’ve been watching TV or been out in a few public places, you might have seen two cute-ish big boy and girl mascot dolls named “Ken” (for “kenri”, one’s rights, or “jinken”, human rights), drawing attention to issues of discrimination in Japan. Otherwise you might not know that we are in the …

Valentine Lawsuit: NPA denies medical treatment to suspect, Tokyo Dist. Court rules testimony invalid due to witness being African

NPA denies medical treatment to Nigerian in custody with broken leg, latter becomes crippled. Nigerian plaintiff sues, but Tokyo District Court rules against him. Also overrules Plaintiff’s friend’s witness testimony invalid because he is African, an Plaintiff’s doctor’s medical opinion on the egregiousness of Plaintiff’s injuries as “not rational”. Fact is, coupling this lawsuit outcome with the McGowan “I don’t like black people” Osaka Eyeglass Store Case, not only do NJ increasingly have different standards of evidence in J courts, but now The NPA clearly can do pretty much whatever they want to NJ in custody, even if it causes permanent damage. Case is under appeal.

Yomiuri: Nikkei Brazilian cannot be probation officer due to Nationality Clause

Yomiuri: The Shizuoka Probation Office has given up its bid to appoint a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent as a probation officer, after it received a Justice Ministry opinion indicating that foreigners may not be commissioned to exercise public authority. Probation officers are part-time, unpaid central government officials entrusted by the justice minister. The ministry said it is “problematic” to commission foreign residents as probation officers because some of their responsibilities involve exercising public authority. Even though the Shizuoka Probation Office invited karate school operator Tetsuyoshi Kodama, a second-generation Brazilian of Japanese descent, who is experienced in dealing with non-Japanese youths, to become a probation officer and stem youth crime. Nationality Clause and Chong-san Lawsuit defeat strike again.

JT: Shiga governor backs antidiscrimination law

Article uncovered from the archives: Shiga Gov. Yukiko Kada said August 23, 2006, that she generally supports the creation of a national law to ban racial discrimination. However, many people in the central government and business who are pushing for more foreign labor oppose legislating against discrimination. Some say it would be better to change the attitude of society to be more tolerant of foreigners.

Niigata Nippou: Joetsu City to abolish Nationality Clause

Good news. Local newspaper Niigata Nippou reports that another city government, Jouetsu, intends to abolish the “Nationality Clause” (kokuseki joukou), the guideline enforced by many local, regional, and national government agencies that only citizens may hold administrative positions (kanrishoku) in the Japanese civil service. This echoes similar moves in other Niigata Prefecture cities, including the Niigata City government as well. Bravo.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 28, 2021: END YEAR SPECIAL

SPECIAL: “Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021”, Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 27, 2021 by Debito Arudou

GOOD NEWS
1) US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.
2) Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.
3) Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)
4) Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

OTHER NEWS
5) My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021
6) My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021
7) My SNA VM7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)
…and finally…
8 ) Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 19, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) W on Japan’s Kafkaesque and faulty re-entry procedures (even after October revisions to “open borders to Re-entry Visa foreign residents”): More elaborate racist barriers now.
2) Oct 1, 2020’s new govt regulations for NJ Resident Re-Entry: Not much of a change. Racialized barriers still up; instead, “business travelers” and “foreign tourists” may soon be prioritized
3) Dejima Award #9: Again to Japan Rugby Football Union, for classifying naturalized Japanese players as “foreign”, in violation of Japan Nationality Law.
… and finally …
4) My latest SNA VM column 14: “Visible Minorities: Weaponizing the Japanese Language”, on how Foreign Minister Motegi’s discriminatory treatment of Japan Times reporter Magdalena Osumi is part of a bigger phenomenon

Dejima Award #7: Nagoya City officially classifies “Foreigner City Denizens” to include “naturalized persons, children of international marriages, people with foreign cultures or roots in their backgrounds”. Viva Eugenics.

Submitter XY sends official Nagoya City documentation that defines “Foreigner City Denizens” (gaikokujin shimin) as follows:

“In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within Nagoya City, this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”

That pretty much makes it clear that you can’t ever be Japanese without “pure” Japanese blood and culture.  In Nagoya, officially that also means you can’t escape being foreign. Ever.  Even if you naturalize, or have a Japanese parent (who alas coupled with a foreigner), have any cultural ties to a foreign country, or have any roots in a foreign land. This not only defies common sense, it also, like the racist Japanese Sumo Association, violates the Nationality Law.

Therefore, for this blatant and ignorant attempt to further classify, stigmatize, and alienate diverse Japanese away from a mythical “pure” Japan free from any foreign influences, I hereby award the coveted Debito.org “Dejima Award” to Nagoya City (only the seventh in Debito.org’s quarter-century of existence), for effectively reviving 19th-century discredited Eugenics theories about thoroughbredness.  That any Japanese tainted by foreign blood, culture, roots or ties is to be classified as a foreigner.

Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

JT: The nationality law officially obliges those who have multiple citizenships by birthright to choose one by the age of 22. But in fact, possibly hundreds of thousands have maintained multiple nationalities and to date the government has never cracked down on any of them. In response to questions over the number of dual nationals, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that some 890,000 people were or are in a position to have dual nationality. This figure is based on official family registries maintained by local municipalities between 1985 and 2016, and includes people who have declared or forfeited Japanese citizenship, as well as people assumed to have multiple nationalities based on their birthright.

“If I were forced to decide which citizenship to retain and which citizenship to relinquish, I would view it as which culture and which nation am I to abandon.” According to a survey conducted by The Japan Times of 1,449 people with dual nationalities, 76.8 percent maintain dual citizenship while 23.2 percent decided to forfeit one of their passports. The same survey showed that 39.5 percent of multiple passport holders “always” switch passports depending on the country they enter, while 37.3 percent “sometimes” switch passports. With the government’s official position becoming more divorced from a globalizing society where a large number of people maintain dual nationalities, many have to rely on word-of-mouth for information on what they see as an important, life-changing decision regarding their citizenship.

COMMENT: This lengthy feature from The Japan Times conducts original research on dual nationality in Japan, and gives vital insights into the game of legal chicken played by the Japanese Government to get people to forfeit their dual nationality (and by extension, part of their identity), all for mere allegiance to the fiction that Japan is monocultural and homogeneous. This suppression of diversity must stop, but few are taking notice. That is, until recently, when it’s become clear that “Japan-Claiming” of diverse Japanese such as Osaka Naomi helps with the other thing the insecure Japanese Government craves: respect and recognition for excellence on the world stage.

That’s why it’s worth revisiting this older JT article. The takeaway is this: As the JT has also recently reported, there is no real penalty from the Japanese Government for not surrendering your non-Japanese nationality:  “There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked.” So as Debito.org has always advised: Declare Japanese nationality and quietly keep renewing your foreign passport. The foreign government will not tell the Japanese authorities (it’s none of their business), and the Japanese authorities cannot strip you of a foreign nationality (or even confiscate a foreign passport–it’s the property of the foreign government). Only you can give one up. So don’t.