Japan Today article on naturalized former-NJ politicians in Tsukuba, Inuyama, and Parliament

On a happier note for a change, here’s an article from Japan Today on naturalized former NJ who have been elected to Japanese political bodies. Well done them, and it’s nice to have a kind word for them (as opposed to racists like Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo, dissing former-NJ Dietmember Ren Ho recently for her foreign roots; I’ll be devoting my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to that nasty little incident, out next Tues Feb 2). PS: Jon Heese has commented to Debito.org before, twice, as has Tsurunen Marutei. And of course, Anthony Bianchi has been prominently featured here as well. Links enclosed.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009

Opening: They say that human rights advances come in threes: two steps forward and one back. 2009, however, had good news and bad on balance. For me, the top 10 human rights events of the year that affected non-Japanese (NJ) were, in ascending order:

10) “Mr. James”, 9) “The Cove”, 8) The pocket knife/pee dragnets (tie), 7) “Itchy and Scratchy” (another tie), 6) “Newcomers” outnumber “oldcomers”, 5) Sakanaka Proposals for a “Japanese-style immigration nation”, 4) IC-chipped “gaijin cards” and NJ juminhyo residency certificates (tie), 3) The Savoie child abduction case, 2) The election of the DPJ, and 1) The “Nikkei repatriation bribe”.


Table of Contents:
1) The ludicrousness of Japan’s Salary Bonus System: How it contributes to Japan’s deflationary spiral
2) Health insurance advocate “Free Choice Foundation” is fronting US health insurance business
3) One NJ exchange student’s rotten experience as a J MOE-MEXT ryuugakusei
4) Mainichi: Senior Immigration Bureau officer arrested on suspicion of corruption
5) NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?
6) Bern Mulvey JALT presentation on flawed MEXT university accreditation system

7) Kyodo: GOJ responsible for hardship facing Ainu, incl racial profiling by J police on the street!
8 ) GS on Michael Moore’s rights to complain about being fingerprinted at Japanese border
9) US Congress Lantos HR Commission on J Child Abductions issue: Letters to Obama & Clinton, my submission for Congressional Record
10) UN News: “Ending complacency key to fighting discrimination worldwide”
11) EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union

12) Debito.org Podcast December 20, 2009 (with un-serious articles for a change)
13) Behind the scenes from Copenhagen EcoSummit (COP15), Eric Johnston blog
14) Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Whale on it.
15) Next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column out Tues January 5, 2010.
Topic: Roundup: The most significant human rights advances in Japan in 2009.

… and finally …
16) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column Dec 2009: Top 9 Things I Like about Japan (full text)

Saturday Tangent 2: EU Observer: “Racism at shocking levels” in European Union

Excerpt from EU Observer: “The EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency first-ever report, published on Wednesday (8 December), attempts to map the contours of discrimination across the bloc in a comprehensive, 276-page survey of over 23,000 individuals. It reveals that over a fifth (22 percent) of sub-Saharan Africans have been discriminated against at least once in the last year while looking for work, 17 percent of Roma say they have experienced similar incidents while being seen by a doctor or nurse and 11 percent of North Africans are subjected to racism when in or simply trying to enter a shop.”

COMMENT: Wish we could get some reportage like this in the J media about domestic discrimination. Oh wait, we don’t even use the word “racial discrimination” as a term of the debate here.

NPA now charging suspect Ichihashi with Hawker murder, not just “abandoning her corpse”. Why the delay?

Now here’s what I don’t get. Ichihashi’s charge has been upgraded from corpse abandonment to outright murder. But why wasn’t it before? What new information has been brought out since his apprehension? Police already knew about the body, the disposed-of hair, the fact that she accompanied Ishihashi to his apartment and was last seen there. And now suddenly his DNA matches bodily fluid found on her corpse. But didn’t the police know all of this before? It’s not as though Ichihashi’s interrogation revealed him admitting any new information (after all, he’s not talking).

Why is it that he gets charged with mere corpse abandonment (something that frequently happens when a NJ gets killed) up until now, whereas if something like this is done to a Japanese victim (as posters with Ichihashi’s fellow murder suspects indicate), it gets a full-blown murder charge? Why the delay until now? I wish I had the information to answer these questions.

Final thing I find odd: Good for father Mr Hawker being tenacious about this case. There are plenty of other murders (Tucker Murder, Honiefaith Murder, Lacey Murder, and Blackman Murder) and assaults (Barakan Assault) of NJ that the NPA and the criminal courts gave up on all too easily. Does the family of the NJ victim have to pursue things more doggedly than the police before the NPA will actually get on it (as they had to do for Lucie Blackman’s killer, and he still got acquitted for it)? It only took the NPA close to three years to get Ichihashi, and that was after a tip from a face change clinic (not any actual police investigation).

Why this half-assedness for crimes against NJ? Sorry, there’s lots of things here that just don’t make sense, and they point to different judicial standards for NJ victims of J crime.


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

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

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

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

Tangent: Korea Herald: Attitudes in Korea towards budget travelers: open up love hotels?

In light of the recent discussion we’ve been having about Japanese hotels and some of their attitudes towards international travellers (many hotels refuse NJ or non-J speakers outright, claiming their lack of ability to provide service), contrast with the situation in Korea and one columnist’s proposal.

KOREA HERALD: There’s been some talk about hotels and motels in the news recently, especially since Lee Charm, head of the Korea Tourism Organization, was criticized by a member of parliament for the country’s failure to provide budget accommodation to international travelers. One English-language paper indirectly quoted the lawmaker as saying “the nation is helpless in the face of the aggressive invasion of foreign budget hotels” and then said that one reason Korea can’t attract and keep foreign tourists is because accommodation is unsatisfactory…

An option I’ve always enjoyed is motels. You’ll rarely find information about them in English, but they’re certainly popular among Koreans – one recent estimate said there are 31,000 – and the newer ones are clean, conveniently-located, nicely-equipped, and a fraction of the cost of a tourist hotel…

This means international tourists must rely on the few tourist hotels that have English, Chinese or Japanese-language webpages, the few places that will show up on an internet search. These places are often two or three times as expensive as a motel room, though, and often not as nice. Amenities are frequently old, dirty, and disappointing. Guests often book rooms under the assumption that the hotel is in a convenient location, but arrive to find it’s in the middle of nowhere or in a seedy neighborhood. Likewise foreign-language travel websites will advertise restaurants, bakeries, and bars on the premises, though those who have seen the hotels in person will find no such features.


Table of Contents:
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”

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

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

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)

Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery

In probably one of the most embarrassing criminal investigation bungles in recent memory, the prime suspect in the Lindsay Ann Hawker murder case, Ichihashi Tatsuya, is still at large after closing in on three years since he gave the slip to cops who knocked on his apartment door.

Recent reports are that he has probably had cosmetic surgery and has a new face. Here are the mug shots. What gets me is that he can’t be on the lam this long without some sort of financial support. Rumors abound (from temporary work in construction to doing tricks for the gay community; all apocryphal), but his family denies that they are supporting him. I find that especially hard to believe now that he’s undergone very expensive cosmetic surgery.

Like Ichihashi, keep your eyes peeled, everyone. Let’s get this suspect in jug where he can answer a battery of questions about his whereabouts and motives for the past few years.

Terrie’s Take on recent new rulings on tenants’ rights in Japan

Terrie’s Take July 26, 2009: The Japan Times has been doing a good job recently of documenting consumer rights law cases and also foreigner- related issues that might be of use to its readers. Last week they reported on a landmark court ruling, whereby the Kyoto District Court said that a landlord’s insistence on contract renewal fees (“koshinryo”) may violate the rights of the tenant. This is the first time such a case has been ruled in favor of the tenant.

In the case, the tenant was apparently told that there would be a contract renewal fee, but not why. Presumably the agent thought that because the renewal fee is a traditional payment, dating back to post-war times when the government didn’t want returnee soldiers relocating en masse to the cities, they didn’t go into it in any detail. In any case, as a result of that oversight, when the plaintiff moved out several months after he’d paid the renewal and the landlord refused to refund the payment, the tenant took offense and took the landlord to court.

The basis for the lawsuit was the 2001 revised consumer protection law, which the court agreed had precedence over the tenancy law. In the ruling the judge apparently commented that, “The reasons for charging contract renewal fees must be clearly explained to tenants and agreed upon between the two sides.”

Now before everyone starts hooting from the roof tops that it’s time for landlords to get some of their own medicine, it’s worth remembering that this is the exact same Kyoto District Court that in January of last year dismissed a very similar lawsuit. In that earlier case, the tenant also based his claim on the 2001 consumer contract law, where he said that renewal fees in the way they are currently notified and imposed, constitute a contract that “Unilaterally causes damage to the interests of consumers.” We daresay that a lot of readers would agree with that statement!…

Community’s DMG on how he dealt with too much neighborhood construction noise

I have a series of letters here from DMG, writing for The Community, who tells us what he did (relatively successfully) to reduce construction noise in his neighborhood, which was affecting both his work and rest. If you have a similar situation of neighborhood meiwaku, take it to the authorities, talk to the neighbors, and open a dialog with the meiwaku-ers, is the lesson. In his case, it seems to have worked. Good for him. Passing this on as practical advice.

San Francisco Chronicle on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” campaign, and similar ethnically-insensitive sales campaigns overseas

SF Chronicle: “What’s the matter [with this depiction]? Put the shoe on the other foot,” wrote foreigner-rights advocate Debito Arudou (nee David Ardwinckle) [sic] in a column for The Japan Times. “Imagine McDonald’s, a multinational that has long promoted cultural diversity, launching a McAsia menu in America, featuring a deep-bowing, grimacing Asian in a bathrobe and platform sandals saying, ‘Me likee McFlied Lice!’ or, ‘So solly, prease skosh honorable teriyaki sandrich?'”

McHatin’ It

Of course, in the past, McDonald’s has essentially done just that. During last year’s Olympics, it unveiled a commercial featuring two Chinese kids engaged in high-flying wire-fu combat in an ancient temple, dueling it out with fists and feet and chopsticks over the last McNugget in the pack.

Seeing that ad brought back memories of McDonald’s limited-edition “Shanghai” Chicken McNuggets, which briefly appeared on menus back in 1986. Served in a red takeout box stamped with cartoon-Chinese lettering, they came with a fortune cookie, chopsticks and three absurdly non-Shanghainese dippings: “duck sauce,” hot mustard and … teriyaki sauce.

Worst of all, to complete the pseudo-Sino experience, the chain’s employees were forced to wear conical McCoolie hats — a bit of irony given their minimum-wage status — while commercials ended with mascot-clown Ronald McDonald throwing a karate chop to faux Asian music.

Lame, ignorant campaigns like this one may seem innocuous. But they give people license to mock and exclude people based on racial or cultural difference, which in turn can lead down a slippery slope to more troubling outcomes…


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

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

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)

Naturalized J citizen Jiei stopped by Osaka cops for Gaijin Card check. Shitsukoidom ensues

Here’s an important bellwether essay from Jiei, a fellow naturalized Japanese citizen who was singled out for a Gaijin Card Check by Osaka Cops last night. He tells the story of how he stood up for himself despite being explicitly suspected of being drunk or on drugs, and for sitting on a swingset while white when taking a break from jogging in a park. He cites the law back to the cops chapter and verse, but they undeterredly continue the questioning and racial profiling. I won’t give away the ending.

The point is, this is going to happen more and more often as more people naturalize, and more Japanese of international marriages come of age and get hassled for not looking “Japanese” enough to allay cops’ suspicion. This is not legally sanctioned, in any case. Which means people must learn about their rights and assert them, because there are no other checks and balances here.

UPDATE: Murder suspect Ichihashi’s reward upped to 10 million yen

Murder suspect Ichihashi Tatsuya, who escaped from the police some months ago, leaving behind the murdered and mutilated corpse of English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony, is still on the loose.

That’s not news. What is news is how the reward has now been multiplied by 10, to ten million yen. Take a look at these wanted posters:

Slight correction. Ichihashi, unlike his other fellow murder suspects, is still not wanted for “murder”. Only for the “abandonment of a corpse”. A charge that seems to pop up quite a bit, I argued in a Japan Times article last March, in cases involving murders of foreigners. Ah well. At least he’s ten times more wanted than the others by value.


1) Japan Times updates on new IC Chip Gaijin Card bill in fact drafted by MOJ
2) Japan Times IC Chip Gaijin Cards: View of Bureaucrats: Control of NJ at all costs
3) Japan Times: JCLU’s Hatate opposes IC Chip Gaijin Cards
4) Japan Times on critics of new IC Chip Gaijin Card bill from the Right: too lenient!
5) New Immigration Law with IC Chip Gaijin Cards passes Diet: MOJ & NPA 1, NJ zero

6) Tokyo police raiding Roppongi, stopping NJ on Tokyo streets for urine tests
7) Roppongi cops confirm subjecting NJ to urine tests
8 ) Japan Times: Suspected int’l drugs ring by Japanese students.
How about urine tests for all students now?
9) Japan Times et al: Four people snagged for fingerprints over 7 months.
No longer an “anti-terrorism” measure. Of questionable effectiveness anyway.
10) Osaka Nishi Yodogawa Police “Beware of Suspicious Foreigners” poster
11) Japan Times: NPA to entrust neighborhood assoc. with more policing powers, spy cameras
12) TIME Mag: 20 UC Davis students at Kyoudai quarantined after J tutors diagnosed with Swine Flu.
Despite NJ showing no symptoms.

13) “Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants” featured in Legal Scriveners magazine
14) Thoughts on DPJ rally Sat Jun 27, 2009, Sapporo Odori Park

… and finally …
15) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 17 July 7 2009 on Roppongi Urine Samples:
“Cops crack down with ‘I pee’ checks” (full text)

Osaka Nishi Yodogawa Police “Beware of Suspicious Foreigners” poster

The NPA is once again ramping up its public calls for surveillance of “suspicious foreigners”.

The previous wave of this basically started with Tokyo Gov. Ishihara’s now infamous “Sangokujin Speech” in 2000, when he called on the Nerima Self Defense Forces to round up suspicious foreigners “committing heinous crimes” in the event of a natural disaster. He made no distinction how one would determine “suspicious”, however, or how people would not resort to racial profiling.

They never broke the mold. That wave continued through World Cup 2002 (although it mutated into “hooligans”) onto police nationwide (particularly the Kanto cops) putting up posters warning the public against “suspicious foreigners”, whatever that meant. After protests, some police amended their notices to focus on the crimes, not the nationalities, but still exceptions popped up from time to time in prefectures with beaches, warning people to “protect our shores” (complete with visual invasion motif).

Now, according to Debito.org Reader JL, who found this notice up in his apartment, the Osaka Police are once again warning people about “suspicious foreigners” all over again, for they might be illegal laborers or overstayers. Here it is.

Again, how will people distinguish without suspecting anyone who looks foreigner as “suspicious”? Will our boys in blue ever learn some sophistication?


1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics
2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ
3) Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal
4) Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment
5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line
6) Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo
7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)
9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education
10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court
12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death
13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo.

Mainichi: The municipal government of Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward has released the “Guide to Living in Shinjuku,” a daily life manual in four languages aimed at new foreign residents.

The illustrated guide is in English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese with furigana phonetic readings above the kanji characters for easy reading. The guide covers details of moving into an apartment, such as the deposit and so-called “key money,” as well as etiquette such as polite greetings to neighbors after moving in, not playing music too loudly at night, and making sure to check with the landlord before getting a pet.

The 74-page manual also covers practicalities of everyday living in the ward, such as separating garbage, procedures to follow in case of a natural disaster, bicycle manners and making it clear that smoking is prohibited on the streets.

COMMENT FROM JK: I don’t suppose Shinjuku-ku would be kind enough to release a “Guide to Living with Foreigners,” in Japanese aimed at the existing residents of the Ward….

IMO「新宿生活スタートブック」 = ‘Read This Book, Become A Good Gaijin, And Don’t Cause Us Any Trouble”.

DEBITO: I’m not quite that negative about it. Sample scans of the book enclosed.

Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards

Charles McJilton: For most foreigners in Japan, receiving a visa to stay in Japan begins the road of registering at the local ward, applying for a gaijin card, opening a bank account, and eventually paying taxes. All of these things are milestones signifying that one is a bona fide member of society. But how does one survive if the do not have a visa? How do they go about legitimizing their existence, and is it possible?…

There is an unwritten rule among the foreigners I deal with and that is we do not ask about one’s visa status. There is no reason to ask. So, in 2002 I was having coffee with Miss X when she casually told me, “I have all my paperwork except my visa.” She then pulled out a folder filled with documents. And sure enough, one was a copy of her foreign registration at her local ward. And then she showed me her gaijin which had written in black 在留資格なし(no permission to stay). She explained that each year she was required to “renew” her gaijin card.

Then she explained why she registered. As registered foreigner and single mother she was eligible for support from the government for specific things related to her son. For example, when she gave birth, the ward office picked a part of the hospital bill. When her son went to daycare while she was working the ward stepped in and provided some assistance. And when her son entered elementary school the ward subsidized his lunch meals. This would not have been possible had she not registered her son…


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

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

… and finally…

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

Terrie’s Take on Golden Week (2008 and 2009)

Terrie’s Take: The central government is reportedly looking at modifying the dates of some public holidays, so as to ensure that they fall on days that allow 3-day weekends and thus encourage employees to take time off work and travel with their families. To ensure that Dads actually do take off their extra days of leave — which currently they don’t 50% of the time, the government is also considering changing accounting rules so that any unused employee leave will have to be accounted for as a liability, and be financially provisioned for in company accounts.

And another historical time capsule pre-economic crash about holidaying habits of Japan last year from Terrie again included.

Asahi: Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

Remove the exclusivity of the GOJ from the political landscape, and consider what might happen:

Asahi: Little Tokyo, a strip of land 700 meters east-west and 500 meters north-south, has become more “international,” or rather, multiethnic, multilingual and multicultural.

The town has seen a sharp rise in the Korean population in recent years, while young Japanese-Americans are leaving the area…

On the streets, Chinese and Korean, among many other languages, can be heard along with Japanese and English…

In recent years, redevelopment of downtown Los Angeles attracted more young residents, including students, to apartment complexes with reasonable rents. Little Tokyo soon became a popular hangout of those people.

The town’s transformation from a Japanese to multiethnic community reflects changes in the Nikkeijin (Japanese-American) community in the United States…

Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels

Sunday Tangent: An interview with the late John Hope Franklin, historian of the Negro experience in North America. I excerpt a section where he’s trying to buy a house in Brooklyn. Should ring some bells with any NJ trying to rent a place and/or get credit in Japan. One more historical template for why we need a law against racial discrimination here too.


Table of Contents:
1) See I told you so #1: Newcomer PR outnumber Oldcomer Zainichis as of 2007
2) NPA enforcing Hotel Management Law against exclusionary Prince Hotel Tokyo
3) Yomiuri: NPA finally cracking down on Internet BBS threats and defamation
4) Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year
5) Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back

6) GOJ bribes Nikkei NJ with Golden Parachutes: Go home and don’t come back
7) Ekonomisuto March 10 2009 re worsening job and living conditions for Nikkei Brazilians et al.
8 ) Mainichi: Lawson hiring more NJ, offering Vietnamese scholarships
9) Japan Times on Japan’s emerging NJ policing laws. Nichibenren: “violation of human rights”
10) Mark in Yayoi on cop checkpoint #123, and “Cops”-style TV show transcript
11) Japanese also fingerprinted, at Narita, voluntarily, for “convenience” (not terrorism or crime)

12) Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.
13) Audience reactions to documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES roadshow March 21-April 1
Next showing Sapporo Apr 23, organizing next roadshow August-September
14) Debito.org has citations in 37 books, according to Amazon
15) The definition of “Gaijin” according to Tokyu Hands Nov 17, 2008

… and finally… THE MUSE:
16) Complete tangent: 1940 Herblock cartoon on inaction towards Hitler

Japan Times ZEIT GIST Mar 24, 2009: “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”

Excerpt: Examine any justice system and patterns emerge. For example, consider how Japan’s policing system treats non-Japanese. ZEIT GIST has discussed numerous times (Jul. 8 2008, Feb. 20 and Nov. 13 2007, May 24 2005, Jan. 13 2004, Oct. 7 2003) how police target and racially profile foreigners under anti-crime and anti-terrorism campaigns.

But the bias goes beyond cops and into criminal prosecution, with Japanese courts treating suspects differently according to nationality. We’ve already discussed how judges discount testimony from foreigners (ZG Aug. 14 2007), but here’s the emerging pattern: If you are a Japanese committing a crime towards a non-Japanese, you tend to get off lightly. Vice versa and you “haven’t a Chinaman’s chance,” as it were…

Metropolis Mag on how to get your housing deposit (shikikin) back


You may feel like you’ve had to wrestle with all kinds of bureaucracy to land that perfect 1DK apartment, but the fun and games don’t end when the contract is stamped. Moving out can present a whole new world of hassle. For many tenants, both foreign and Japanese, the hard-earned shikikin (deposit) they paid when they moved in becomes nothing but a distant memory, as landlords have their way with the cash and return only the change to the renter.

Kazutaka Hayakawa works for the NPO Shinshu Matsumoto Alps Wind, a group that specializes in helping get that deposit back. Here he offers up the basics on renters’ rights…

Ichihashi, suspect in Hawker murder case, officially charged with “abandonment of corpse” on NPA wanted posters

Something interesting I found last week: An NPA wanted poster for murderers, put up in banks, post offices, and police boxes nationwide. One of the listed suspects is Ichihashi Tatsuya, the suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, former NOVA English teacher, found beaten, suffocated, and buried in a tub of sand on his apartment balcony back in 2007. Police bungled their investigation, and he escaped on foot down a fire escape without even his shoes. He’s still at large. Hence the wanted poster.

Funnily enough, unlike everyone else on that poster, Ichihashi is not wanted on a charge of “murder”. It’s rendered as “abandonment of a corpse” (shitai iki). Even more funnily enough, that’s the same charge levelled at Nozaki Hiroshi (the dismemberer of a Filipina in 2000, who got out after only 3 years to stow more Filipina body parts in a locker in 2008), and at Obara Jouji, convicted serial rapist and dismemberer of Lucie Blackman. Seems like these crimes, if they involve NJ, are crimes to their dead bodies, not crimes of making them dead.

Beginning to see a pattern? I am. And I’ll be writing about it in the Japan Times next Tuesday.

Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

Continuing this mini-series in the uncovered permutations of NJ crime. Asahi reports that overstaying NJ involved in other types of crime are finding housing through a guarantor name laundering scheme.

Again, we’re getting another article (same as yesterday’s blog) just reporting the facts of the case (without resorting to quoting some “expert” about how this is indicative of NJ or Chinese character etc.). And it does report that this laundering is going through a Japanese (and includes his name). All good. Ironically, it seems as though it may be difficult to prosecute the guarantor for fraud (the NJ, however, would lose his housing contract). So punishment looks a tad one-sided. Again, there is a strong tendency to punish the employee not the employer, the user not the broker, as happens surprisingly often, say, for employers of overstayers and human traffickers. It’s the NJ which gets it in the neck.

Anyway, the guarantor system in Japan is a flawed one. We have people of any nationality unable to rent a place without a guarantor, and landlords all too often refuse to rent to a NJ even with a guarantor. It’s unsurprising to me that NJ would be finding a way around the system (they gotta live somewhere) and J brokers profiting from it. I’m just hoping that things like this won’t be further fodder for saying that NJ renters are worthy of suspicion (when this guarantor brokerage system is the subject of this article; after all, the system wouldn’t fly without a Japanese guarantor). To me (and again, this is not to diminish the crimes these perps are committing), Asahi reporting in such detail on the other crimes being committed by the NJ is a tad superfluous to the fraud cases at hand. Glad the quality of reportage is improving, in any case.

Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

Further to my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this week, here is somebody else who is finally taking action against Internet stalkers and bullies. Smiley Kikuchi, a comedian (whose name is listed in today’s Yomiuri), has finally gotten the NPA to get off their asses and actually prosecute people criminally for posting threatening messages.

Good for him. I get death threats all too frequently. The first time I got a major death threat, the police did nothing except take the threat letter, hold it for six years, and send it back with “inconclusive results”. The second time, much the same. In Kikuchi’s case, the messages were posted directly to his blog, by fools who didn’t realize that (unlike 2channel) their IP addresses would be visible.

Given how inept I consider the NPA to be about enforcing its own mandate, or even court decisions, I usually just delete messages to my blog that are malicious or threatening in tone. Now, thanks to Smiley, they just might be legally actionable.

The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan

At the start of this decade, I republished an article in the JALT PALE Journal (Spring 2001) regarding Gregory Clark, his business acumen regarding language teaching in Japan, and his motivations for being who he is in Japan.

Gregory Clark has recently called attention to himself with a bigoted Japan Times column, questioning our legitimacy to have or even demand equal rights in Japan. As people debate his qualifications and motives all over again, I think it would be helpful to reproduce the following article in a more searchable and public venue. Like here.

I have heard claims that this article in The Australian was met with threat of lawsuit. Obviously that came to naught. Since The Australian has given me direct permission to reproduce this article in full, let me do so once again here. Choice excerpt:

Greg Clark is the first of nine children sired by Sir Colin Clark, a famous economist and statistician who is credited with measuring and describing concepts in the thirties that are part of everyday economic jargon these days. While working with one of the centuries most influential economists, John Maynard Keynes, at Cambridge University, Colin Clark coined and refined such terms as gross national product, and primary, secondary, and tertiary industry…

Colin Clark was also the subject of a thesis just after the war by a young Japanese economist called Kiichi Miyazawa, who then rose through the bureaucratic and political ranks to become prime minister, a connection that hasn’t hurt his son since he arrived in Tokyo. Japan’s leading conservative daily, The Yomiuri Shimbun, also listed Clark as an academic contact of the country’s new Prime Minister, Morihiro Hosokawa…

…[T]he Emeritus Professor of Economics at the ANU, Heinz Arndt, who supervised Clark’s Ph.D at the ANU until his student quit “to my utter disgust” just before he finished, remembers the problem this way. “Drysdale and the whole group were not happy about bringing him into the project, partly because he was in Tokyo, and partly because of differences in approaches and temperament. In other words, he is an extremely difficult person who thinks that anybody who disagrees with him is a complete idiot.”

AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: tape!

Here’s an update about that old fingerprinting at the border thingie “to prevent terrorism, infectious diseases, and foreign crime”. Here’s one way how you get around it: special tape on your fingers! Two articles on this below.

Also, just so that people are aware that your fingerprints are NOT cross-checked immediately within the database: I have a friend who always uses different fingers when he comes back into Japan (index fingers one time, middle fingers the next, alternating; Immigration can’t see), and he has NEVER been snagged (on the spot or later) for having different fingerprints from one time to the next. Try it yourself and see. Anyway, if people are getting caught, it’s for passports, not fingerprints.

Mainichi: Brazilian ethnic school closing due to NJ job cuts

I mentioned yesterday about how the NJ workers are the first to go in any wave of job cuts (no wonder — very few NJ ever get promotion beyond “temp”-style contract labor, despite working for years at full-time jobs). Now here’s an article in the Mainichi about how that’s having a negative impact on the NJ community, particularly the education of their children. Ethnic schools are starting to close as tuition dries up. What next for the NJ communities, always contributing yet kept as a mere appendage to the “real members” of this society?

GOJ Human Rights Week commemorative pamphlet includes NJ issues of discrimination

Good news, of sorts. Today starts Japan’s official “Human Rights Week” (Jinken Shuukan), when the GOJ spends money (and claims to the UN national campaigns of awareness raising) to promote issues of human rights.

The Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu), the window-dressing department within the Ministry of Justice entrusted to spend tax money but not actually enforce any human rights mandate, usually glosses over discrimination against NJ (heaven forfend they actually use the breathtaking word “racial discrimination”!) as a matter of cultural misunderstandings (a wonderful way to reduce the issue down to next to nothing), and holds it low regard in comparison to issues of actual discrimination against Burakumin, Ainu, the handicapped, etc. This has been reflected in GOJ human rights surveys and past “awareness-raising” campaigns in previous Human Rights Weeks.

So it comes as a welcome surprise that this year the GOJ has issued a commemorative pamphlet including discrimination against NJ as a real issue. Of course, the old bone about “cultural issues” is still there to dilute the Truth Octane. But it’s a start.

Well, actually, looking over information from last year, it’s not that much of a change. Except that the BOHR site now actually includes on its official website a new video game for its cartoon characters, called “The Grand Adventure in Human Rights Land”! Have a play! Hey, it’s your taxes, might as well use them.


Table of Contents:
1) LDP’s Kouno Taro submits J dual nationality proposal to Diet
… and a majority of respondents to a Debito.org survey want it to go even further
2) Asahi NP Op-Ed urges J to make education compulsory for NJ children too
3) Japan Times update on granting children of mixed J/NJ parentage citizenship
4) FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

5) Japan Times: PM Aso “stimulus plan” bribe taking flak, still unclear if NJ get handout
6) Ibaraki Pref Police put up new and improved public posters portraying NJ as coastal invaders
7) One year after Japan reinstitutes fingerprinting for NJ, a quick retrospective
8) Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists
9) Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum
10) GOJ Survey says “53% fear public safety problem from increased NJ tourists, want policy measures”
11) Negative survey of NJ employers by J headhunting company “Careercross” to make “employers see their own bias”
12) Compare: Good survey of “non-Japanese citizens in Sapporo” by Sapporo City
13) Thoughtful essay in the Yomiuri on the word “Gaijin” by Mike Guest

14) Speaking in Iwate next weekend: four speeches in E and J

… and finally…
15) Next Japan Times column December 2: Stray Thoughts on Obama’s Election
and how the Bush Admin has spoiled it for activists here in Japan


Japan Times on GOJ’s new efforts to boost tourism to 20 million per annum

The Japan Times runs an interview with Japan Tourism Agency Commissioner Yoshiaki Honpo, who says that Japan’s ailing regional economies can be revitalized by tapping the sightseeing potential of growing Asian countries. He recommends easing visa restrictions, since NJ tourists spend 5 to 15 times more than Japanese tourists.

However, how about easing restrictions at the hotels themselves? According to an attendee of one of his speeches in Nagano, he will “leave alone” those 27% of hotels surveyed who do not want NJ tourists. Odd that a member of the administrative branch would recommend the nonenforcement of laws governing hotels in Japan. Honpo seems to think economic pressure will resolve all. Even though it hasn’t in other similar situations, such as apartment rentals, and leaving exclusionary (and, in this case, illegal) rules in place have caused spillover into other business sectors, copycatting because they can. Humph.


Table of Contents:
1) Japan Focus runs E translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination in Japan
2) Govt websites don’t include NJ residents in their tallies of “local population”
3) AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures
4) SR on Shounan Shinkin Bank in Chigasaki, refuses bank accounts to NJ who can’t read and speak Japanese
5) MX on “Gaijin” harassment in Tokyo elementary school

Japan Focus runs translation of Asahi Oct 5 2008 article on discrimination

Japan’s Entrenched Discrimination Toward Foreigners
The Asahi Shimbun October 5, 2008
Translation by Arudou Debito

From the Introduction by David McNeill: Will Japan ever overcome its distrust of foreigners? This question has been forcefully posed in various guises, most notably perhaps by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights Doudou Diene. In 2005 he concluded after a nine-day investigation in Japan that the authorities were not doing enough to tackle what he called Japan’s “deep and profound racism” and xenophobia, particularly against its former colonial subjects. The report appeared to vindicate the work of campaigners such as naturalized Japanese Arudou Debito, who argue that Japan needs, among other things, an anti-discrimination law.

Now, unusually perhaps for a major national newspaper, the Asahi Shimbun has waded into the debate with a major article on the issue. Titled, “Opening the nation: Time to make choices,” the article recounts tales of discrimination by long-term foreign residents before looking at how Japan compares to other nations, including perhaps its nearest equivalent, South Korea. A lively illustration helps makes the point that foreigners sometimes feel like second-class citizens. The Asahi concludes that the dearth of laws here protecting the livelihoods or rights of non-Japanese makes the country somewhat unique. “In other countries…there is almost no example of foreigners being shut out like this.” Interestingly, the Asahi did not translate the article for its foreign edition…

AP: Economic downturn already resulting in NJ layoffs in Japan, but NJ not counted in unemployment figures

AP: “Brazilian Stenio Sameshima came to Japan last year with plans to make a bundle of money at the country’s humming auto factories. Instead, he’s spending a lot of time in line at employment agencies.

“The 28-year-old is one of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of foreigners who are among the first laborers in Japan to lose their jobs as the global financial crisis eats into demand for cars, trucks and motorcycles, government officials say.

“The layoffs are also the first evidence that the mushrooming economic crisis in the United States and elsewhere is shaking the Japanese labor market, presaging further trouble if the downturn persists or deepens…

“The government does not track the number of jobless foreigners, but local officials, workers and employment agencies tell of hundreds of workers like Sameshima let go by companies linked to topflight producers – Toyota, Honda, Yamaha…

“Yet, working conditions are precarious. Foreigners are often hired through temporary employment agencies, so they can be easily fired. They live in company housing, so they lose their apartments when they lose their jobs. There hasn’t been a marked increase in homelessness, but anecdotes of foreigners having to move in with friends or relatives abound…”

How political — the unemployment rate is a very political thing in Japan, as it likes to boast worldwide how (artificially) low unemployment is. I guess it’s clear now that bringing in NJ labor has an extra benefit — not only are they cheap, you don’t count them if they lose their jobs!


Table of Contents:
1) Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth
Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC
2) South Korea’s 2007 “Basic Act on Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea”.
Contrast with Japan.

3) Japan Times editorial Oct 6: Japan’s foreign workers
4) Reuters: Keidanren business lobby calls for more immigrants
5) Chand B on AXA Direct Insurance requiring J language proficiency to qualify for coverage
6) “Japanese Only” at Tokyo Takadanobaba private-sector job placement agency
7) Debito.org Poll about discriminatory activities brought up by Oct 5 Asahi article

8) Getchan on how to circumvent Postal Money Orders and transfer money more easily
9) Kyodo: ‘Institutional racism’ lets Japan spouses abduct kids
10) AP article proffers cultural reasons for keeping Internet denizens anonymous

11) Debito speaks at Tokyo University Komaba Campus on Media Propaganda against NJ residents

… and finally …
12) Tangent: Silly poll on Debito’s new beard

Excerpts and critique of the Japanese Govt’s “Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Combined Periodic Report” to UN HRC

I last reported on this issue here last August 30, when the Japan Times covered it. Long-time readers may find the following guffaw-worthy, from it’s very title: “The third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” to the United Nations Human Rights Council — indicating just how late the GOJ is filing a report, on what it’s doing towards the promotion of human rights in Japan, that is actually due every two years.

Then get a load of the bunkum the GOJ reports with a straight face. Most glaring lapse of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims in its introduction, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? Like South Korea did in 2007. But no. And look what happens as a result. Excerpts and critique of the GOJ UN report follow. Dig through it, and you’ll find self-evident weaknesses and contradictory claims throughout.

Chand B on AXA Direct Insurance requiring J language proficiency to qualify for coverage

Chand B writes: “Axa Direct Japan, a subsidiary of the global Axa Insurance Group, has begun discriminating against Non Japanese.

“Axa is presently running television commercials on Japanese cable television, specifically CNN Japan, offering value car insurance, the catch? Small print subtitling the advert stating

‘Being resident in Japan and understanding spoken and written Japanese are the basic requirements for any transaction of this insurance service.’…


1) Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated:
Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, and Ishikawa added
2) Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007,
and 72% of those (as in 27% of all hotels surveyed) don’t want NJ guests
3) Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information Association lists “No Foreigner” hotels
on their official website, 2007
4) Jerry Halvorsen on suspicious bank treatment for receiving money from overseas while NJ
5) Oct 5’s Asahi on NJ discrimination and what to do about it
6) Week of October 1-10 Debito.org poll on discriminatory language
7) Discussion: Nationality vs. ethnicity.
Japan’s media lays claim to naturalized J-American Nobel Prizewinner
8) Oyako-Net street demo regarding parenting rights after divorce in Japan Oct 26 1PM Ebisu

… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on how “gaijin” concept destroys Japan’s rural communities

Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated: Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, & Ishikawa added

The “Rogues’ Gallery”, an archive of “Japanese Only” exclusionary establishments spreading nationwide across Japan, has now been updated for the season.

Added have been Tokyo Akihabara (shop), Minami-Asabu (ballet school), Kabukichou (nightlife), Tsukiji (seafood restaurant), and Ishikawa (a newspaper subscription outlet for the Hokkoku Shinbun — yes, a Japanese newspaper outlet refusing NJ subscribers).

This brings the tally to (places and types of establishment):

Onsens in Otaru (Hokkaido), Bars, baths, karaoke, and restaurant in Monbetsu City (Hokkaido), Public bath and sports store in Wakkanai (Hokkaido), Pachinko parlor, restaurant, and nightlife in Sapporo (Hokkaido), Bars in Misawa (Aomori Pref), Disco in Akita City (Akita Pref), Hotels and Bar in Shinjuku and Kabukicho (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku), Ballet School in Minami-Azabu (Tokyo Minato-ku), Seafood restaurant in Tsukiji (Tokyo Minato-ku), Weapons etc. store in Akihabara (Tokyo Chiyoda-ku), Women’s (i.e for women customers) Relaxation Boutique in Aoyama Doori (Tokyo Minato-ku), Bar in Ogikubo (Tokyo Suginami-ku), Bars in Koshigaya (Saitama Pref), Bar in Toda-Shi(Saitama Pref), Stores and nightclubs in Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Pref), Onsen in Kofu City (Yamanashi Pref), Nightlife in Isesaki City (Gunma Pref), Nightlife in Ota City (Gunma Pref), Bars in Nagoya City (Aichi Pref), Internet Cafe in Okazaki City (Aichi Pref), Hokkoku Shinbun Newspaper in Nonochi, Ishikawa Pref. (yes, you read that right), Onsen Hotel in Kyoto, Eyeglass store in Daitou City (Osaka Pref), Apartments in Fukshima-ku (Osaka City), Bar in Kurashiki (Okayama Pref), Nightclub and Bar in Hiroshima(Hiroshima Pref), Restaurant in Kokura, Kitakyushu City (Fukuoka Pref), Billiards hall in Uruma City Gushikawa (Okinawa Pref), Miscellaneous exclusionary signs (Tokyo Ikebukuro, Kabukicho, Hiroshima).

Update details as follows:


Table of Contents:
1) Glimmers of hope: New PM Aso does not single out NJ as potential terrorists or agents of crime
2) The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark
3) First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix
4) Tangent: JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians
5) Japan Times on worries about Post-Fukuda immigration policies
6) LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors
7) Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan
8) Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

9) Mainichi: Female NJ Trainee Visa workers underpaid by Yamanashi company, beaten, attempted deportation
10) Guardian UK on child abductions in Japan, this time concerning UK citizens
11) Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight
12) UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards
13) Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test
14) Third Degree given NJ who want Post Office money order

15) Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim
16) IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor
17) GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.
18) NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…
19) Jon Dujmovich speculates on media distractions: PM Fukuda’s resignation vs. alleged NJ Sumo pot smoking
20) 2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses
21) First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights
22) Irony: Economist reports on Chinese Olympic security; why not on similar Hokkaido G8 security?

… and finally…
23) Letter to California Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program





LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors

To make renting an apartment easier for non-Japanese, and deal with discrimination by apartment landlords and owners, one prefecture in Japan is sponsoring an effort to establish a database of “multicultural” real estate agents.

The government of Saitama Prefecture began it’s effort in 2006. There are now 113 multicultural real estate agents registered.

Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

Three Indian nationals have been appointed to the board of the community association at the Ojima 6-chome public apartment complex in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, in a rare move among such buildings…

The three joined the residents’ association after veteran board member Yorio Kuramata approached one of their compatriots in an attempt to open a dialogue with Indian residents during the same festival two years ago…

Once they started talking, Kuramata taught Sankar about the roles played by the local community and its residents’ association in locals’ daily lives and emergencies. For instance, he learned that Japanese communities stock water and emergency foods to help each other in case of a major disaster, Sankar recalled.

“It has made it easier for foreign households who do not have Japanese-speaking members to join community life,” Hemant said…

Thanks to their activities, an unprecedented number of Indian participants joined activities at this year’s spring koinobori festival to hang carp-shaped pennants to pray for healthy growing children.