Another genre of discriminatory sign: Genky Stores in Gifu threaten NJ shoplifters with arrest and employment reprisal. Odd, what with J shoplifting increasing

As a followup to the previous blog post talking about racist public notices by the Japanese police forces, here is another type of discriminatory sign that is also worthy of discussion — one that warns the public that NJ are criminals:

======================
WARNING
If we find any kinds of criminal acts of foreigners, we SURELY report not only to the police but also to your workplace and your agency.
— GENKY Stores Inc (a drugstore in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken, dated February 28, 2013)
======================

We have talked about this on Debito.org for years now: If you want to call for an end to criminal activity, we suggest drawing attention to the CRIME, not the NATIONALITY. It’s not as if Japanese are innocent of, for example, shoplifting. In 2009, we had the Tokyo MPD deciding to survey (as opposed to arrest and snitch on their workplace) 2000 shoplifting suspects to find out their crime patterns (how nice and mellow of them; nicer than getting them fired and deported) — especially of the “lonely elderly”:

Reuters: Tokyo police will try to rein in a wave of shoplifting by lonely elderly people by involving them in community service, a police spokesman said Thursday… “Making shoplifters do volunteer work in the community is effective,” the Tokyo Shimbun quoted J.F. Oberlin University professor Akihiro Sakai, head of a police research panel set up to tackle shoplifting, as saying. “Instead of increased punishment, I hope we can rehabilitate shoplifters with special care.”

BBC: More than a quarter of shoplifters arrested in Japan in 2010 were over the age of 65, police have said, as the number of pensioners committing the crime hit a record high. In an annual report, the National Police Agency said 27,362 pensioners were arrested for shoplifting in 2010 – almost equalling teenagers.

COMMENT: How sweet and understanding our police forces are towards these lonely oldies that need some kid-gloved “rehabilitation”. Although there are some doubts as to how much of an “epidemic” this is (i.e., more old people means more old shoplifters, statistically), the fact remains that Japanese shoplift too (104,827 arrests in 2011 alone; arrests, mind you, not catch and release with a warning ‘cos “they’re so lonely” (cue South Park music)). And signs by the police warning the public against shoplifting do NOT target oldsters as a demographic. Again, signs and notices concerning NJ crime zero in on the criminal, not the crime, making criminality a function of nationality in the public discourse. More examples below.

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.

Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discrim employment conditions

Here’s something that didn’t make the English-language news anywhere, as far as Google searches show. Japanese stewardesses are suing Turkish Airlines for unfair treatment and arbitrary termination of contract. They were also, according to some news reports I saw on Google and TV, angry at other working conditions they felt were substandard, such as lack of changing rooms. So they formed a union to negotiate with the airline, and then found themselves fired.

Fine. But this is definite Shoe on the Other Foot stuff, especially given the conditions that NJ frequently face in the Japanese workplace. Let’s hope this spirit of media understanding rubs off for NJ who might want to sue Japanese companies for the same sort of thing.

Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied for NJ workers with PR

Here’s some very mixed news. The GOJ will study how to offer help unemployed NJ to make sure inter alia their kids stay in school. Thanks, but then it limits the scope to Permanent Residents. Probably a lot more of the NJ getting fired are factory workers here on visas (Trainee, Researcher, etc) that give the employer the means to pay them poorly and fire them at will already. So why not help them? Oh, they and their kids don’t count the same, I guess. Considering how hard and arbitrary it can be to get PR in the first place, this is hardly fair. Expand the study group to help anyone with a valid visa.

Jason’s blog on next employment steps in Japan for NJ

A blog called “Jason’s Random Thoughts” has a thoughtful post for those NJ facing restructuring in Japan. Since it’s a recent theme on Debito.org, I thought I’d post an excerpt and a link here. I’ve posted (a bit irreverently) before on what sort of jobs are available for NJ, particularly those of the former Eikaiwa ilk. Link to that here. As for those of you seriously facing a job loss and a reassessment of your life in Japan with the economic downturn, Jason’s blog post is food for thought. Excerpt:

For almost two years we have heard how companies are shutting down all over the world in response to a slowing economy. Whether this is the ultimate result of corporate greed, globalization, out-sourcing, or something that can be understood only by leading economists, one thing is clear: our current employment is no guarantee of future security. Of course, facing the prospect of unemployment is scary for everyone, but it’s particularly painful when living in a foreign country…

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!

Kyodo: “Record 3.4 million foreign residents in Japan as work visas rise” in 2023. Only a brief reference to foreign crime (i.e., overstaying) this time. Fancy that.

Kyodo: “The number of foreign nationals residing in Japan hit a record high of over 3.4 million in 2023, government data has shown, with employment-related visas seeing significant growth amid the country’s efforts to address its acute labor shortage. As of the end of December, 3,410,992 foreign nationals resided in Japan, up 10.9% from the previous year to mark a record high for the second consecutive year, the Immigration Services Agency said Friday.

“The number of specified skilled workers jumped 59.2% to around 208,000, while trainees under Japan’s technical internship program grew 24.5% to around 404,000 to approach the record high level marked in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic, the data showed. The specified skilled workers visa, which allows the holder to immediately take on jobs in designated industries without the need for training, was introduced in 2019 in response to Japan’s severe labor shortage resulting from its declining birthrate, with the aim of attracting foreign workers.

“Meanwhile, permanent residents, who made up the largest group by residential status, stood at around 891,000, up 3.2%. Engineers, specialists in humanities and international services, including foreign language teachers, rose 16.2% to around 362,000. By nationality, Chinese accounted for the largest population of foreign residents at around 821,000, followed by Vietnamese at around 565,000 and South Koreans at around 410,000…”

COMMENT: So the foreign labor imports have resumed, and how. Also interesting is that Kyodo doesn’t seem to feel the need to shoehorn in foreign crime statistics this time (just a brief allusion to overstaying at the very end).  I’ll be incorporating these stats into my next SNA Visible Minorities column, out shortly, and argue how this influx can translate into political power.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 31, 2024

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities 54: “Non-Japanese Residents claim political power” (Mar 31, 2024), where I argue the power of the vote matters whether you are a candidate or part of the electorate; the J Govt tries hard to make sure neither happens for Japan’s Immigrants.
2) Kyodo: “Record 3.4 million foreign residents in Japan as work visas rise” in 2023. Only a brief reference to foreign crime (i.e., overstaying) this time. Fancy that.
3) Debito.org Reader XY on “Rakuten Card is asking for sensitive Koseki Family Registry documents for Naturalized Japanese clients as a prerequisite for continued service”, even though nobody is clearly requiring them to.
4) My SNA Visible Minorities column 53: “Miss Japan Shiino Karolina lost her crown. Inevitably.” (Feb 26, 2024)
5) Reuters: Visible Minorities (“Foreign-born residents”) file lawsuit against government for police racial profiling. Good. Go for it.
6) My latest SNA VM column 52: “Positive Steps for Non-Japanese in Japan” (Jan 23, 2024), a report of a month spent in Tokyo and all the progress towards tolerance observed.
7) Japan Times: “Japan should aim to maintain population of 80 million by 2100”, says private panel of business interests. 24 years later, no new ideas, since it calls for rises in birthrates, not immigration, yet again.

… and finally …
8 ) 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”.

My SNA Visible Minorities Column 50, “Memory-holing the ‘Japanese Only’ signs” (Oct 31, 2023), where I conclude that, since racial discrimination is unconstitutional but not illegal in Japan, the most effective way to get “Japanese Only” signs down is to get the media and government involved. If they won’t help, you’re probably out of luck.

Opening: For this, my 50th column for SNA, I’d like to take the reader on a little nostalgia trip through a project I’ve been working on for a quarter century:  “Japanese Only” signs.  

I’ve investigated and interviewed hundreds of these exclusionary places, published and updated seven books on this issue in English and Japanese, and curated on Debito.org the “Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments” since 1999 to make sure this issue doesn’t get memory-holed.   

For it seems that memory-holing is happening.  A SoraNews24 article on the Naha Case didn’t do much research, claiming somehow that, “Bars with Japanese-customers-only policies aren’t unheard of in Japan, but they’re becoming increasingly uncommon in the modern age. Moreover, when you do come across such establishments, they’re generally dedicated bars.”  (Incorrect.  The highest incidents of exclusionary rules are in fact hotels.)  

Then we get to the public reaction to the news.  When I put it up on Debito.org, some readers were defensive as usual, basically ranging from the “self-othering” by the Guestists (quote:  “I understand why they do it. I’m not offended. It’s their business and country.”) to the Ostriches who prefer, in spite of decades of evidence to the contrary, to bury their head in the sand and pretend the problem simply doesn’t exist (quote:  “You are overdramatizing things.  It doesn’t say we do not allow foreigners.  Being to those places as long as you speak Japanese you can enter anywhere.  You have to see things from their perspective too you know.  They don’t wanna get in trouble because a tourist doesn’t read nor understand.  As simple as that.”)

But it’s not as simple as that.  “Japanese Only” signs in fact predate the massive tourist influx to Japan over the past decade and thus cannot be blamed on them…

Kyodo: “Japanese population falls in all 47 prefectures for first time”. Actually, untrue, even according to the article itself. Once again, Japan’s exclusionary population tallies are only for “Japanese nationals”, not all people living in Japan

The point of this quick blog post is to demonstrate that once again, in its official population tallies, Japan will only count “Japanese nationals” as actual people living in Japan.  Foreigners are mentioned in the Kyodo News article below, yes, but look how things are worded.  I’ve underlined the questionable bits.

This is normal in Japan’s population tallies, even after more than 10 years since the local registry reforms began including foreign residents on juuminhyou Registry Certificates.  It’s a highly questionable practice in terms of accurate demographics and social science, not to mention disrespectful of all the contributions foreign residents make.  

Debito.org says that anyone registered as a resident in Japan gets counted as a part of the population of Japan.  No walls or caveats.  Little reforms like these can start now to normalize no distinctions and cost no tax money.  It’s just a matter of considering NJ as fellow human beings living lives in Japan like everyone else.

My SNA Visible Minorities 46: “Visible Minorities: Departing Japan at Middle Age” (May 15, 2023)

My latest column offers a frank assessment of living your life out in Japan as an immigrant. It of course can be done, but most of you will find that even after decades swimming against the current in terms of legal status and social acceptance, you will get no commensurate reward after all your efforts.  In fact, I found that life opportunities dwindle as you age in Japan, and you get locked into a dreary, impoverished lifestyle like most other elderly here. If you think you can avoid this situation, power to you, but I suggest you make your decision to stay permanently or not by age 40.  Good luck:

Excerpt: I lived in Japan for 24 years, married and had kids, became tenured faculty at a university, bought land, built a house, and learned the language and culture well enough to write books in Japanese and take out Japanese citizenship. In terms of trying to assimilate into Japan, I don’t think there’s a lot more I could have done. I was an ideal immigrant. But then, like Michael Penn at the Shingetsu News Agency, I too left Japan.

That’s both a pity and, in my case, an inevitability. Japan should be trying harder to keep people like us. It really doesn’t. The longer you’re in Japan, the more your opportunities dwindle. Let’s first talk about the natural obstacles to people staying on, starting with how difficult it is to keep a visa…

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

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.

Mainichi: Due to a revision in the basic salary levels, Miyazaki International College cut their former professors’ base salaries by 20% once they reached sixty years of age. Plaintiffs sued for breach of labor contract, demanding 42,500,000 yen of unpaid salaries. Although they lost in lower court, on December 8 the Fukuoka High Court overruled and awarded the plaintiffs all claims. 

COMMENT:  This matters because there’s a long tradition in Japan of Academic Apartheid, where foreign academics in higher education are given contracted status (increasingly, term-limited) while Japanese-citizen academics are given uncontracted, permanent tenure from day one of employment.  This is probably the oldest issue we’ve taken up on Debito.org, and it’s only gotten worse over the quarter-century of coverage:  Instead of more foreign academics becoming tenured like Japanese, the trend is to “gaijinize” the Japanese faculty (as a money-saving effort encouraged by the Ministry of Education all the way back in 1995) by putting them on contracts, eliminating tenure in an attempt to clean out disagreeable leftists from Japan’s universities.

MEI’s move to put everyone above a certain age (Japanese and foreign) on a different lower pay scale as well was a line the Fukuoka High Court was not willing to allow under the law.  Good to have that precedent set. Conclusion:  Join a union if you’re working in Japan.  Then fight these things in court as a union.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 20, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) 2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) still mentions Debito.org’s works: “Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading ‘Japanese only’.”

2) Karst Campsite in Okinawa has “Only Japanese” rules due to Covid. Another one for the pile. UPDATE: Rules have been amended to exclude people who can’t “understand Japanese properly”.

3) Igarashi Kanoa, California-born athlete who won Silver for Japan in 2020 Olympics, rates himself worthy of representing Japan because “My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.” Dangerous old-school Olympian thoroughbred-ism.

… and finally …
4) My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) still mentions Debito.org’s works: “Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading ‘Japanese only’.”

Here’s something that makes me smile.  The 2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) includes something that might not otherwise be there — had Debito.org not taken up the task of describing and cataloging discrimination for the past 25 years (back when people were even denying that racial discrimination actually happened in Japan!).  Everything mentioned in the UN excerpt below is covered in my book “Embedded Racism in Japan” (Lexington Books, 2015).  But especially close to my heart is in enlarged text below. One of my lifetime goals is leaving the planet a better place than when I arrived. This feels like proof that we at Debito.org have done something positive.

UNITED NATIONS: 33.The Committee is concerned that:
(a)Non-citizens have reportedly been denied housing and employment because they are foreign nationals;
(b)Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading “Japanese only”;
[…]
34. Bearing in mind the Committee’s general recommendation No. 30, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure access to housing and employment to non-citizens and foreign nationals without discrimination;
(b) Create and enforce legislation against the posting of discriminatory signs and the practice of excluding public services by privately owned facilities, such as hotels and restaurants, to persons on the basis of being a foreigner or of foreign appearance; […]

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 17, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) Kyodo: “300 people per day re-entering Japan breaking COVID self-quarantine”. But NJ report government incompetence, which punishes them disproportionately.
2) Senaiho’s final update on Yamanashi School Bullying Lawsuit: They basically lost, because bullying is an “expected and normal” part of Japanese Education (UPDATED with full court decision text)
3) Problematically racialized Education Ministry-approved primary-school “Morals” textbook: “Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-nen” (Kōbun Shoin, 2020)
4) Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)
And finally…
5) SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

SNA — I’ve been involved in activism in Japan for many years. Indeed so many that my online archive of work, Debito.org, just turned 25 years old last week. With that in mind, I’d like to devote this column to a retrospective of the past quarter century: What, if anything, has Debito.org contributed to help make conditions for Non-Japanese residents and Visible Minorities better?

Debito.org first went live on April 15, 1996, during the earlier days of the World Wide Web, as a means to respond to online bulletin board critics. When topics came up over and again, I’d just archive a previous essay on Debito.org and send a link. After a couple hundred essays were organized into general information sites, Debito.org became a platform for issues involving foreign residents of Japan.

The first major issue I took up was “Academic Apartheid” in Japan’s universities. This is where all Japanese full-time faculty were granted contract-free tenure from day one of employment, while all foreign academics, despite many being better qualified than their Japanese counterparts, got perpetual ninkisei contracts (some of them term-limited) without the opportunity for tenure.

I discovered a “smoking gun” one day in my university mailbox: A paper directive from the Ministry of Education encouraging national and public universities to fire their older foreign professors by not renewing their contracts. I scanned it, archived it, and sent a link to prominent advocates like Ivan P. Hall (author of Cartels of the Mind) for further exposure. It turns out that a government demanding their universities axe all their foreigners over forty is state-sponsored discrimination, and it blew up into an international issue that even then-US Ambassador Walter Mondale took up.

All of that information is still up on Debito.org today, and it turns out that a permanent archive that is searchable, citable, with context and without paywall, is a valuable resource, especially as many unscrupulous people would rather have a history of their actions and policies disappear into the ether. Once archived on Debito.org, it didn’t. Soon other issues on Debito.org garnered national and international attention, even generating public policy movements…

Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/04/19/visible-minorities-retrospective-on-25-years-of-activism/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2021

Table of Contents:
CELEBRATING A QUARTER CENTURY OF DEBITO.ORG
1) April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.
2) Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities Column 21: “Visible Minorities: A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”

NOW BACK TO BUSINESS
3) Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site
4) “Foreign nationalities OK” apartments bin at Century 21 Saitama realty, and “We’re sorry about our foreign staff’s language & cultural barriers” notice in Family Mart Kyoto (SECOND UPDATE with answer from Century 21 Japan)
5) German media Tagesschau on what it’s like to be Covid-quarantined in Japan (basically a prison run by sweaty-headed bureaucrats)
6) It’s official: Tokyo 2020 is a “Japanese Only” Olympics: Japanese living abroad still allowed to attend, not foreigners. (UPDATED: This probably includes Japanese who have given up their J citizenship.)
7) SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

And finally:
8) SNA Visible Minorities Column 20: “The World’s First ‘Japanese Only’ Olympics?”, on how Japan’s new ban on “overseas spectators” may lead to banning all foreigners (out of linguistics and force of habit) (UPDATED)

April 15 2021: Debito.org celebrates 25 years of existence! Here’s to another 25 years! A brief retrospective.

I’m pleased to announce that Debito.org is celebrating its 25th birthday today! Yes, as far back as April 15, 1996, Debito.org first went live. Things have changed for better and for worse, and I’d like to think Debito.org had a hand in promoting the “for better”.  We’ve broken major international news stories, including the Otaru Onsens Case, Trade Barriers and the Dr. Tanii Suicide, the embedded racism of the 1995 Kobe Earthquake, Ninkisei Academic Apartheid in Japan’s Universities, Japan’s Racial Discrimination covered by the United Nations, Ministry of Justice foreigner “Snitch Sites”, discrimination at Japan World Cup 2002, racist “foreign DNA” crime research at the National Police Agency, “Tama-chan” sealion and the Juuminhyou, and more listed at our “Activists’ Page”.

Debito.org’s archives have also been a launching pad for books, hundreds of newspaper articles and columns, and cited research papers.  Thanks in part to Debito.org (as opposed to all the other information in the academic canon dismissing Japan’s racial discrimination as “ethnic discrimination”, “foreigner discrimination”, and “cultural misunderstandings”), Japan is no longer claiming with a straight face that racism doesn’t exist. Some are even coming to the conclusion that we need actual laws against racial discrimination (now more than 25 years after signing UN international treaty promising to eliminate it).

That’s where the work of Debito.org lies for the next 25 years — getting a law against racial discrimination, with penalties, on the books.  I hope you will join us in keeping the record alive and updated as we keep pushing for a Japanese society more tolerant and accepting of diversity.  Japan’s inevitable multiethnic future depends on it.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 25, 2020

Table of Contents:
THE EMBEDDED RACISM IN JAPAN’S BORDER POLICIES
1) The text of the Ministry of Justice’s “Foreigner Re-Entry Ban”, on paper. Debito.org Readers are invited to offer their experiences in practice.
2) Human Rights Watch calls for law against racial discrimination in Japan, in light of COVID and BLM
3) Followup: Mark proposes a class-action lawsuit, against Japan Govt for Foreign Resident Travel Ban, to Human Rights Watch Japan
SAME WITH JAPAN’S UNIVERSITIES
4) Former student reports on how “Tokyo International University segregates and exploits its foreign students”
SOME BETTER NEWS
5) Cabby on “Ten Days in May: A Memorable Japan Hospital Experience during the COVID-19 Crisis”
…and finally…
6) “A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 12 on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry

Summer post: Human Rights Watch calls for law against racial discrimination in Japan, in light of COVID and BLM

HRW (machine translated): “Black Lives Matter” (black lives are also important) and a protest against racism spread from the United States to the world and were held in Japan. The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is also ratified by Japan, is said to include not only racial discrimination but also discrimination based on skin color and ethnicity.

Even in Japan, there are people who have been exposed to discrimination and prejudice, such as Koreans living in Japan. According to a Ministry of Justice survey released in 2017, 25% of the people were refused employment because they were foreigners, and about 40% were refused. About 11% of people consulted somewhere because of discrimination. The fact that the victim is crying himself to sleep instead of getting assistance becomes apparent.

Before the spread of the new coronavirus, Japan had a chronic shortage of manpower and the government created a new status of residence. Once the infection is settled, it will return to the situation of actively accepting foreigners. It must be said that Japan is not ready for a society that lives with many people of different races, ethnicities, religions, and nationalities.

For many years, I have thought that Japan, like many developed countries, needs to enact “Racism Prevention Law.” The effect of the government’s rule is easy to understand, considering the fact that societies have changed significantly in the fields of hiring, dismissal, and sexual harassment in the decades since the Equal Employment Opportunity Law was enacted. Though far from true gender equality, it would be horrifying if there were no law.

Now is the time to start discussing anti-racism laws.

2020 Tokyo Olympics drops Ainu performance from its Opening Ceremonies, despite 2019 law officially recognizing and promoting them as an indigenous people in Japan

Guardian: Japan’s commitment to the rights of its indigenous people has been questioned after organisers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics dropped a performance by members of the Ainu ethnic minority from the Games’ opening ceremony. Members of the Ainu community, originally from Japan’s northernmost island of Hokkaido, had been expecting to showcase their culture to the world in a dance at the Olympic stadium, but learned recently that the plans had been scrapped. The Tokyo 2020 organising committee said the performance had been dropped from the ceremony due to “logistical constraints”. “Unfortunately, this particular Ainu dance performance could not be included because of logistical constraints related to the ceremonies,” it said in a statement to the Guardian.

COMMENT: Now that overseas media has finally decided to pick up this story, let’s open a dedicated blog entry to it. Debito.org’s take is that including the Ainu performance for the world to see would have too clearly contradicted the postwar-created and carefully-curated narrative of Japan as a homogeneous monocultural monoethnic society.  In contrast to how numerous Opening Ceremonies elsewhere have showcased the diversity of the hosting country, this is an enormous slap in the face to the Ainu not only socially, but also legally, given the 2019 law that finally recognizes them as Japan’s indigenous people, and promises to help promote their culture. First chance they get, the GOJ fumbles it.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (full text)

The Diamond Princess cruise ship case (which has been discussed extensively on Debito.org this past week) fell within my SNA monthly column window this time, so here’s my take on it:

Visible Minorities: Japan’s Botched Response to the Coronavirus
By Debito Arudou, Shingetsu News Agency, Feb 17, 2020

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis.

The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands.

Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…

SITYS: MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, book excerpt by former J prosecutor Ichikawa Hiroshi Ichikawa on jiadep.org

A translation of Chapter 2 (Yakuza to gaikokujin ni jinken wa nai ) from the book Kenji Shikkaku ( A Prosecutor Debarred ) by Hiroshi Ichikawa. Published by Mainichi Shinbunsha, 2012. Copyright, 2019-Japan Innocence and Death Penalty Information Center, excerpt reprinted on Debito.org with kind permission.

Translator’s Introduction: Hiroshi Ichikawa was born in Kanagawa in 1965. In 1990, he passed the notoriously difficult national bar exam after graduating from Chuo University. Those who pass the exam then serve a two year judicial apprenticeship and work along judges, prosecutors and attorneys. At the end of this period, the apprentice can decide, for the most part, to become a lawyer, prosecutor, or judge.

“A Prosecutor Debarred” is the tale of a young idealistic jurist whose career began with a commitment to fairness and justice. This is finely demonstrated when Ichikawa anxiously consults a superior after forgetting to advise a suspect of the right to silence during investigation. Some years later, Ichikawa would become mercilessly violent. In 2000, he was working in Saga prefecture in Kyushu, and undertook investigation of a financial scandal involving the Saga city Co-op. While interrogating a recalcitrant suspect, Ichikawa became enraged. He would later be called to testify in court, and admit on the stand to screaming “You lousy SOB. I’ll beat you to death!” in the face of a suspect.

The event was widely broadcast in the media. The suspect was tried and found not guilty in both the court of first instance, and the appeals case. Ichikawa would later be dismissed as a prosecutor, but allowed to continue to practice law, hence ‘debarred’ and not ‘disbarred.’ He performed a dogeza, a deep bow on hands and knees, in public, to the former defendant who was found not guilty. Until recently, this was viewable on YouTube. This chapter begins with Ichikawa’s first day on the job at the Yokohama prosecutor’s office. In Japan, the fiscal year, the employment year, and the school year begin in April.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
WHOLESALE ALIENATION BY OFFICIALDOM

1) 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.
2) MH Fox translation: “Gangsters and foreigners have no rights”, by Hiroshi Ichikawa (former prosecutor) on jiadep.org.
3) Mainichi: “‘Prison camps for Brazilians’: Foreign kids in Japan being ushered into special education.” Perpetuates the Japan-“educated” NJ underclass.
4) “Educating the Non-Japanese Underclass”, my Shingetsu News Agency “Visible Minorities” Col 2, Sept 17, 2019.
5) Senaiho Update 3: Civil suit to be launched over school “Hair Police” forced-haircut bullying of student in Yamanashi JHS (UPDATED).

MORE ALIENATION JUST FOR KICKS

6) XY on being racially profiled–by a designated police task force looking for “bad foreigners”–for a traffic fender bender caused by someone else!
7) Reuters: Japanese police urged to take “light-touch” towards NJ during Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup. Yeah, sure.
8 ) ICI Hotel Kanda unlawfully requires ID from all “foreign guests”, including NJ residents of Japan, as a precondition for stay; claims it’s demanded by Tokyo Metropolitan Police (UPDATED).
9) 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.
10) My Shingetsu News Agency Visible Minorities col 3: “Racial Profiling at Japanese Hotel Check-Ins”, October 23, 2019.
11) Fujisankei-owned Japan Today posts article on “What to do if stopped by J police” for Rugby World Cup visitors, after consulting with Debito.org. Then does not acknowledge Debito.org and leaves out valuable advice.
12) Kyoto JET Programme teacher TS on being made homeless due to xenophobic landlord, and Kyoto Board of Education (who found the apartment) refuses to help.
13) Dr. Oussouby Sacko, African-born President of Kyoto Seika U, speaks at JALT, shows more blind spots re racism and tokenism.

… and finally…
14) “The Xeno-Scapegoating of Japanese Halloween”, my SNA Visible Minorities Col 4, Nov 18, 2019.

Mainichi: “‘Prison camps for Brazilians’: Foreign kids in Japan being ushered into special education.” Perpetuates the Japan-“educated” NJ underclass

What follows are two articles that should make you shudder, especially if you have children in Japan’s education system. Here we have kids being treated by Japanese schools as low-IQ “disabled” students just for not being proficient in Japanese language or culture! To make things more abhorrent, according to a Mainichi headline below, they’re putting these NJ children to work in “prison camps” instead of educating them. This is not only violates the spirit of Japan’s Basic Education Law (or Kyouiku Kihon Hou — which, note, ONLY guarantees a compulsory education to kokumin, or citizens), but also violates once again Japan’s child labor laws. And it creates and perpetuates the underclass of NJ children “educated” in Japan.  

Mainichi: Many foreign children in Japan are being placed in special education against their wishes amid a lack of consensus building with schools and doctors as they have trouble understanding Japanese […] In one case, a 14-year-old Brazilian girl who was born in Japan and is now in her second year of junior high school was placed in a special education class for her first four years of elementary school, without her or her mother being given a sufficient explanation. […] One day, when the girl was in her fourth year of elementary school, it emerged that she couldn’t do multiplication. When the girl was asked, “Don’t you learn that in school?” she replied, “We dig for potatoes at school.” […]

When it came to study, however, the girl was taught hardly anything. Later, when she moved schools and took an IQ test in the sixth grade, she was judged to have the intellectual ability of about a 6- or 7-year old. In junior high school, she has remained in a special education class. A Brazilian woman in her 20s who has already graduated described these special education classes as “prison camps for Brazilians,” as she has seen many friends from her country as well as children being urged to join such classes. […]

When approached by the Mainichi Shimbun, the school’s vice principal responded, “We decide whether or not a student goes into special education based on objective data such as hospital tests, and obtain parental consent.” But the vice principal divulged, “When foreigners increase in number, the learning progress of Japanese students is delayed. As far as is possible, (foreign students) should go to classes to be taught one on one.”

US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

Every year, the US State Department issues its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.  As highlighted by the Shingetsu News Agency, the 2018 Report on Japan came out last March.  Now while it’s quite rich for the US to be reporting on other countries (but not, notably, itself) while it has an ongoing human-rights debacle for detained foreign entrants and asylum seekers (and their children) around its southern border, this Report has been cited over the years as authoritative (and it has also included the work of Debito.org and others). So here are the highlights on issues pertaining to Debito.org.  As you can see, a lot of information is glossed over.  Here are some highlighted sections for Debito.org Readers:

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Japan, March 13, 2019

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Pretrial Detention

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
A. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS
Freedom of Expression
D. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, PROTECTION OF REFUGEES, AND STATELESS PERSONS
Access to Asylum
Access to Basic Services
Elections and Political Participation
Participation of Minorities

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Government Human Rights Bodies

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
International Child Abductions
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Section 7. Worker Rights
B. PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR
E. ACCEPTABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK

SCMP: Japan needs thousands of foreign workers to decommission Fukushima nuclear site. High irony alert: First blame NJ, then have them clean up your deadly messes.

SCMP: Anti-nuclear campaigners have teamed up with human rights activists in Japan to condemn plans by the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to hire foreign workers to help decommission the facility.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) has announced it will take advantage of the government’s new working visa scheme, which was introduced on April 1 and permits thousands of foreign workers to come to Japan to meet soaring demand for labourers. The company has informed subcontractors overseas nationals will be eligible to work cleaning up the site and providing food services… Activists are far from convinced working at the site is safe for anyone and they fear foreign workers will feel “pressured” to ignore the risks if their jobs are at risk.

COMMENT: In the wake of renewed interest in nuclear disasters thanks to HBO’s miniseries “Chernobyl” (which I watched from more of a political science perspective than a popcorn disaster movie), I harked back to the Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown of 2011.  There was a similar outcome, in that the fiasco demonstrated the shortcomings of a system built upon institutional lying.  However, the main difference was that Fukushima helped bring down the government (the DPJ), but, unlike the Soviet system, not the architects of this corrupt system in the first place (the LDP), who remain in power stronger than ever.

But as far as Debito.org is concerned, the other big difference is that the Soviets didn’t import foreigners to do their cleanup. Unlike Japan, as Debito.org has pointed out for many years now — to the point where TEPCO not only tricked Japan’s poor or homeless into doing this dirty work, but also NJ asylum seekers! Kudos to the SCMP for reporting on an angle the overseas media has largely ignored.

Mark: New Discriminatory Policy by Rakuten Mobile Inc., now “stricter with foreigners”, refusing even Todai MEXT Scholarship Students cellphones

MARK: I would like to make public a New Discriminatory Policy being implemented systematically in Rakuten Mobile. It seems that the company recently decided to deny the service to foreign customers. I have living in Japan for 2 years. When I arrived, I applied online for their service and they accepted my application immediately. This week, I tried to make a contract online for 2 friends that just came to Japan. Their online application was rejected 3 times without providing the reason. I checked everything in their application and was correct. They uploaded their scanned residence card and the quality of the image was perfect. Also the contents of the application were correct.

Hence, we went to a Rakuten Mobile Store in Ikebukuro on the afternoon of April 23. They asked for their residence cards: after seeing the residence card they denied the service arguing that the company just established new rules and are now stricter with foreigners.The 2 persons that were denied the service have a valid visa until April 2021 (2 years). They are graduate students at the University of Tokyo as me. They didn’t ask anything about the applicants. They just turned down the request based on being foreigners. I asked the reason and the lady was ashamed and said that recently the Company has began to be stricter with foreigners. I replied back saying that 2 years ago my application was accepted under the same conditions and the lady was ashamed. It seems to be a new a discriminatory policy set by a well-known company.

COMMENT: Here’s another example of how unequal treatment in customer service, when predicated upon things such as visa status (which is in fact none of the company’s business), leaves NJ open to discrimination.  According to Submitter “Mark”, this is affecting people on Student Visas, where denial of service is apparently new and arbitrary.  He describes his experience at Rakuten Mobile below.  It’s tough enough for NJ to do the basics for life in Japan, such as open a bank account or rent an apartment.  Now NJ students can’t even get a cellphone from Rakuten.  Alas, this is in fact nothing new (I’ve written about NTT DoCoMo’s unequal policies before, which were so silly that they eventually abandoned them after the information came out in one of my Japan Times columns).  But it still should be known about, so people can take their business elsewhere, if possible.  Anyone know of an alternative cellphone company with less discriminatory policies?

NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

NYT: Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination. The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions… (The new guidelines do not interfere with health and safety reasons for wearing hair up or in a net, as long as the rules apply to everyone.)

The guidelines, obtained by The New York Times before their public release, are believed to be the first of their kind in the country. They are based on the argument that hair is inherent to one’s race (and can be closely associated with “racial, ethnic, or cultural identities”) and is therefore protected under the city’s human rights laws, which outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion and other protected classes.

COMMENT: Related to our recent posts by Senaiho about the unchecked bullying power of the self-appointed “Hair Police” in Japan’s secondary education system, here’s how a progressive system deals with it, particularly when it comes to hairstyles in the professional world. New York City’s Human Rights Commission will soon be enforcing guidelines dealing with racial discrimination when it comes to how people choose to wear their hair professionally. And these penalties have real teeth: The NYC HRC can levy fines on companies of up to a quarter-mil, plus damages in court afterwards!

This is, of course, absolutely unimaginable in Japan, where their state-sponsored “Bureau of Human Rights” (Jinken Yougobu) is but a Potemkin system (with no ability to levy penalties, and arbitrary guidelines for launching investigations) that only exists to deflect criticism from overseas that Japan isn’t respecting treaty obligations towards human rights. Consequently people of diversity are forced into an absolutist narrative where “looking Japanese” is not only quantifiable as a standard (e.g., hair must be straight and black), but also enforceable under normalized racial profiling by the Japanese police (which has detained people for “looking foreign” while Japanese). This is why “Embedded Racism” remains so unchecked in Japan. So consider the NYC HRC as a template.

Japan Times JBC 114 DIRECTOR’S CUT of “Top Ten for 2018” column, with links to sources

Now that the clicks have died down on my latest Japan Times JBC column of January 28, 2019 (thanks for putting it in the Top Ten trending articles once again), what follows is the first final draft I submitted to the Japan Times for editing on December 29, 2018.  I blog this version because a lot of information is lost (inevitably) as we cut the word count from 2800 to 1600 words. (I generally put everything in the first final draft, then cut it down to fit the page; that way we don’t overlook anything and have to backtrack.)

People have been asking what got cut (and yes, the original version mentions Michael Woodford and Jeff Kingston), so the piece below is quite a bit different from what appeared in the Japan Times here (meaning it shouldn’t draw away any readers from the JT version; in fact, it will probably spur more views from readers wanting to compare). Also, having links to sources matter, so here it all is, including my regular acerbic tone.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 27, 2019

Table of Contents:
THE FAULTY DYNAMIC OF “NIPPON CLAIMING”
1) Japan Times JBC Col 113: “Warning to Naomi Osaka: Playing tennis for Japan can seriously shorten your career” (Sep. 19, 2018)
2) SCMP: “Tennis queen Naomi Osaka a role model, says ‘Indian’ Miss Japan Priyanka Yoshikawa”. A little more complex than that.
3) “Nippon Claimed” multiethnic tennis star Osaka Naomi gets “whitewashed” by her sponsor. Without consulting her. Compare with singer Crystal Kay.

SHENANIGANS
4) Fuji TV’s “Taikyo no Shunkan”: Reality TV targeting NJ as sport. Again.
5) Japan Times officially sanitizes WWII “comfort women” and “forced laborers”. Pressure on my JT Just Be Cause column too.
6) Excellent Japan Times feature on dual citizenship in Japan: “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy leaves many in the dark

GOOD NEWS?
7) Nikkei: Japanese-Brazilians snub Tokyo’s diaspora residency program, attracting exactly ZERO applications after starting 3 months ago
8 ) BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

HOT DISCUSSIONS ON DEBITO.ORG
9) Nikkei Asian Review: “In rural Japan, immigrants spark a rebirth”. An optimistic antidote to the regular media Gaijin Bashing
10) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
11) SendaiBen on “Anytime Fitness” Sports Gym Gaijin Carding him, and how he got them to stoppit
12) JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.
13) Surprising survey results from Pew Research Center: Japan supportive of “immigration”

… and finally…
14) Pop Matters.com: Interview with Activist and Writer Debito Arudou on Foreigners’ Rights in Japan

JT: GOJ Cabinet approves new NJ worker visa categories. Small print: Don’t bring your families. Or try to escape.

JT: The Cabinet approved a bill Friday that would overhaul the nation’s immigration control law by introducing new visa categories for foreign workers, in an attempt to address the graying population and shrinking workforce. “Creating a new residence status to accept foreign workers is of utmost importance as the nation’s population declines and businesses suffer from lack of personnel,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a news conference on the day.

Although details remain hazy, the new bill marks a departure from previous policy in allowing foreign individuals to work in blue-collar industries for a potentially indefinite amount of time if certain conditions, such as holding a valid employment contract, are met. Yet amid concerns over whether the nation has the infrastructure and environment to accommodate an inflow of foreign workers, the government has categorically denied that the overhaul will open the doors to immigrants. “We are not adopting a policy on people who will settle permanently in the country, or so-called immigrants,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the Lower House Budget Committee on Thursday. “The new system we are creating is based on the premise that the workers will work in sectors suffering labor shortages, for a limited time, in certain cases without bringing their families.”…

COMMENT: As the JT notes, the next wave of NJ temp labor has been officially approved by the Abe Cabinet. The new statuses mostly still have the caveat of being temp, unrooted labor (bringing over families is expressly verboten).  And you can qualify for something better if you manage to last, oh, ten years — around one-fifth of a person’s total productive working life.  Because, as the JT reported in a follow-up article days later, time spent working under these visa statuses in particular does NOT count towards their required “working period” when applying for Permanent Residency.

Another interesting part of this article is the bit about how many Indentured “Trainee” NJ workers had “gone missing” from their generally harsh modern-slavery working conditions (4,279) so far this year, and how it might even exceed last year’s record total of 7,089.  Anyway, with the news above, the GOJ looks set to invite in even more people, in even more work sectors, and with the regular “revolving-door” work status (i.e., not make immigrants out of them).  Some people have gotten wise to this practice and are staying away from Japan, but I bet many won’t.  Unless we let them know in venues like Debito.org.

Farrah on Hamamatsu’s city-sponsored “Gaijin Day” event: Problematic wording and execution, esp. given the history of Hamamatsu, and who attended.

FARRAH: In late-August, an ALT friend of mine from Kansai told me about this event that was happening in Hamamatsu, called, “Gaijin Day”. Amused and slightly offended by the wording, she was actually interested in coming all the way down to my neck of the woods to attend it. The flyer for the event went viral in many expat groups on social media, and posts were flooded with comments about the title of the event. I figured that the organizers chose to call this event “Gaijin Day” to get lots of attention, and they did.

At first I thought that it would merely be a spectacle of foreigners flying into Japan to perform. But when I looked at the list, it was a bunch of people who were sansei/yonsei, Japanese people of mixed-heritage who lived in the Tokai region. I was immediately offended by the name of the event at that point. This is my fifth year living in Hamamatsu, and I’ve done extensive ethnographic research on Brazilian and Peruvian immigrant communities since November of last year. I know that referring to such an established part of the Japanese diaspora as merely “gaijin” was inaccurate and disrespectful. The worst part of all was that the Hamamatsu City Government and HICE Center (Hamamatsu Foundation for International Communication and Exchange) were the main sponsors for the event. […]

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  First, it is disappointing that the site of Gaijin no Hi is Hamamatsu.  Given Hamamatsu’s special history with NJ residents (particularly its very progressive Hamamatsu Sengen of 2001), using exclusionary language such as “Gaijin” (given its history as an epithet as well; see below) feels truly, as Farrah put it, regressive.  Have they also learned nothing from the Toyoda Sengen of 2004 and Yokkaichi Sengen of 2006?  Second, about that word Gaijin.  As I’ve argued before, it’s essentially a radicalized epithet with “othering” dynamics similar to “nigger”.  My arguments for that are in my Japan Times columns here, here, and here. Bad form, Hamamatsu.  You should know better by now.  And if not by now, how much will it take?  That’s the power of Embedded Racism:  It even overcomes history.

NYT: Dr. Sacko, Kyoto Seika University’s African-Born President, claims no experience of racism in Japan. Just of “being treated differently because he doesn’t look Japanese”. Huh?

People in Japan are still accepting the antiquated notion of “race” as an abstract, biological concept. As opposed to a socially-constructed one that differs from society to society in its definitions and enforcement, or as a performative one that is created through the process of “differentiation”, “othering”, and subordination. So strong is this centuries-old belief that even Mali-born naturalized Japanese Dr. Oussouby Sacko, recently-elected president of Kyoto Seika University (congratulations!), made the bold statement in the New York Times that his differential treatment in Japan is not due to racism: “Dr. Sacko, a citizen of Japan for 16 years, says he is treated differently because he does not look Japanese. But he distinguished that from racism. ‘It’s not because you’re black,’ he said.”

Sorry, that’s not now modern definitions of racism work anymore, Dr. Sacko. Differential treatment of Visible Minorities in Japan is still a racialization process.  But I guess anyone can succumb to the predominant “Japan is not racist” groupthink if it is that strong.  Read the NYT article below for fuller context. But the questions remain:  Is this a form of Stockholm Syndrome?  A cynical attempt to parrot the narrative for the sake of professional advancement?  A lack of awareness and social-science training on the part of a person, despite fluency in several languages, with a doctorate in a non-social science (engineering/architecture)?  I’m open to suggestion.  Especially from Dr. Sacko himself, if he’s reading.

In any case, congratulations, Dr. Sacko.  But I would suggest you utilize your position also to raise awareness about the very real issues of racism in Japan, not attempt a mitigating or denialist approach.  

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 16, 2018

Table of Contents:
CHANGES IN POLICY
1) Japan lowering age of adulthood to from age 20 to 18 in 2022: Also means Japan’s dual nationals now must declare by age 20, not 22.
2) Japan Times: Preferential visa system extended to foreign 4th-generation Japanese [sic]: Allowing even NJ minors to build Olympic facilities!
3) Reuters/Asahi: New “minpaku” law stifles homesharing with tourists, on grounds insinuating foreigners are “unsafe” for children walking to school! (or ISIS terrorists)
4) JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)
POLICY NEEDED
5) NHK World: Japan’s social media “rife” with fake rumors after recent Osaka quake, including foreigner “thefts and burglaries”, “looting convenience stores”. Again.
…and finally…
6) Tangent: What I Learned Today #1: Hitler showed a documentary to Scandinavia, and got them to surrender in 1940.

JT/JIJI: Japan plans new surveillance system to centralize NJ residents’ data. (Actually, it’s to justify police budgets as crime overall continues to drop.)

JIJI: Japan plans to set up a system to centrally manage information on foreign residents to prevent overstayers from growing as the national labor crunch worsens, officials said. The Justice Ministry will play a key role in handling the information, which will include records on employment, tax payments and marriage that is currently being separately managed by central and local government agencies. The system is intended to strengthen government surveillance of overstayers as the nation imports more foreign labor to ease a severe nationwide labor shortage. As part of the effort, a new organization might be set up within the ministry to collect and analyze information on foreign residents.

DEBITO.ORG READER JDG: Government plans to take responsibility for ‘managing’ NJ away from city halls and ‘centralize’ the management of all NJ by the Justice Ministry in order to ‘increase surveillance’. To this end, the police will have access to all NJ info; addresses, employment, tax, marital status, visa information, etc. Imagine that the police will now demand to see your residence card so that they can radio the office and check all your details. ‘Increased surveillance’? Why are NJ being surveilled at all to start with? Here’s a top tip for the police; detect crime, and then investigate it.

[Yet according to this Irish Times article, there may in fact be too many cops in Japan vis-a-vis the ever-decreasing amount of crime.] With fewer crimes, and more police than ever before, Japanese police are getting ‘inventive’ in order to look busy; investigating crimes way beyond the level of resources that the crime warrants, and setting up intensive sting operations for minor offenses. The police are looking to criminalize people in order to defend their budgets. I guess the Japanese won’t mind hundreds of officers and millions of yen being squandered in operations that end up with NJ being harassed until the police can charge them with any petty crimes. Given Japan’s huge national debt, not enough crime, too many police, should equal some lay offs. But TIJ!

Also, if they’re so overstaffed, how come it takes them six months to raid big companies like Kobe steel who admitted defrauding their customers for years with sub-standard product data manipulation? How come they didn’t send a truck load of cops straight round to the finance ministry to investigate dodgy land sales and public document falsification? Nah, got to collar that guy who overstayed his visa!

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.

A Top Ten for 2017: Debito’s Japan Times JBC 110: “In 2017, Japan woke up to the issue of discrimination”

As is tradition, here is JBC’s annual countdown of the top 10 human rights events as they affected non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan over the past year. In ascending order:

10) As Japan’s population falls, NJ residents hit record
Figures released in 2017 indicated that Japan’s society is not just continuing to age and depopulate, but that the trends are accelerating. Annual births fell under 1 million — a record low — while deaths reached a record high. The segment of the population aged 65 or older also accounted for a record 27 percent of the total. In contrast, after four years (2010-2013) of net outflow, the NJ resident influx set new records. A registered 2.38 million now make up 1.86 percent of Japan’s total population, somewhat offsetting the overall decline. Alas, that didn’t matter. Japanese media as usual tended to report “Japan’s population” not in terms of people living in Japan, but rather Nihonjin (Japanese citizens), indicating once again that NJ residents simply don’t count.

9) ‘Hair police’ issue attracts attention with lawsuit…
Entire article at https://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2018/01/03/issues/2017-japan-woke-issue-discrimination/
Version with links to sources now on Debito.org.

Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage

Nikkei: This year, the country released a first of its kind national survey that highlighted the extent of housing discrimination foreigners face. According to the study, released by the Ministry of Justice in March, out of 2,044 foreign residents who had sought housing within the past five years, 39.3% reported being turned down because they were not Japanese.

The impact is now being felt by employers. In recent years, numerous Japanese manufacturers and services have been trying to make up for the country’s shrinking labor force by looking elsewhere for workers. They want to create an inflow of talent, but housing discrimination could become a dam. As of last October, Japan had 1.08 million foreign workers, up 58% from five years earlier, accounting for around 2% of the total workforce, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare. […]

The IT industry is suffering from a significant labor shortage, and the consultancy was acutely aware of the discrimination problem last year when it welcomed a systems engineer from the Philippines. To dodge any hassles, the company consulted a property agent that caters to foreigners, whom industry players describe as an “underwhelming minority” in Tokyo. Even real estate agencies with experience helping foreigners run into the same problem: “Almost nine of 10 private housing units in Tokyo do not allow foreign tenants,” according to Masao Ogino, CEO of the Ichii Group. “It is still an extremely exclusive market.”

Tsuyoshi Yamada, a human resources manager at Total OA Systems, said a lack of sufficient support for non-Japanese employees, including in regard to housing, could throw a hurdle up in front of the company’s plan to bring in overseas talent. This concern is particularly strong for smaller IT companies like Yamada’s. “Even if we finally find a promising engineer,” he said, “retention could become a problem.”

Asahi: Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’, and shouldn’t. Another recycled hopeful article.

In the wake of my previous blog entry about a new exploitative visa system for the next generation of Nikkei workers, here’s a hand-wringing article from the Asahi about how people don’t (but really should) accept NJ as part of Japanese society.  It seems like these articles are cyclical — I remember them from a good ten years ago (for example here and here and here and here).  Fortunately, the Asahi draws the same conclusions I would. Alas, next serious economic downturn, all this will be out of the window and foreigners will be unaccepted again.  

Asahi: Foreign workers in Japan are increasingly being seen as a valuable resource amid Japan’s declining birthrate and growing elderly population. However, recent headlines in the media express concern about the influx of immigrants. “Should we accept immigrants?” one publication asked. Another worried that, “What will happen if foreigners become our bosses?” The reality is that the number of foreign workers now totals more than 1 million. Japanese are increasingly coming in contact with foreigners in their daily lives, so they are no longer an “invisible presence.” Acceptance is unavoidable

Yomiuri: 4th generation Nikkei to get new visa status. Come back, all is forgiven! Just don’t read the fine print.

Ten years after bribing and booting out its Nikkei “Returnee” workers from South America (who had been given sweetheart visas of de facto Permanent Residency, higher-paying jobs than the “Trainee” slaves from places like China (but still lower than real Japanese, natch)), and four years after lifting a ban on their return, the government has officially decided to introduce a new residency status to exploit the next (4th) generation of Nikkei. As long as they a) speak Japanese, b) are young enough to devote their best working years here, c) come alone, and d) only stay three years. Those are some tweaks that makes things less advantageous for the foreigner, so I guess the previous racist policy favoring Wajin foreigners has been improved (as far as the government is concerned) to keep them disposable, and less likely to need a bribe to go home when the next economic downturn happens. That’s how the Japanese government learns from its mistakes — by making the visa status more exclusionary and exploitative.

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of Survey results. Note the article’s editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

NIKKEI: Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.” […] These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says. This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation. And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism? Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate? And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!? On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism? I guess Planet Nikkei.]

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 26, 2017

Table of Contents:
IT’S A HARD KNOCK LIFE FOR NJ
1) Fukushima Pref Police HQ online poster asking for public vigilantism against “illegal foreign workers, overstayers”
2) Mainichi: 80% believed fake rumors of crime by foreigners in Japan after 3/11 quake: poll
3) Cautionary tale: Bern on how no protections against harassment in Japan’s universities targets NJ regardless of Japan savviness and skill level
4) Reuters: Japan’s foreign asylum seekers tricked into Fukushima radiation clean-up

PROVABLY SO
5) Unprecedented Ministry of Justice survey of NJ discrimination results out, officially quantifies significantly high rates of unequal treatment
6) Japan Times JBC 106: “Government, survey thyself”, on unprecedented nationwide poll of NJ on discrimination, with one big blind spot (March 5, 2017)

AND OFFICIALLY SO
7) Kyodo: “Russian’s conviction for handgun possession dismissed”, due to bent J-cops’ “arrest quotas” that illegally entrap NJ
8 ) Yomiuri on “Sharp decline in tourist spending”, with GOJ measures to certify NJ in “Cool Japan” for preferential visas
9) NHK repeatedly racially profiles prototypical criminal (the only NJ person in a crowd) on TV program Close-Up Gendai, Apr 5, 2017
10) Irish Times: Abe Admin in trouble due to ultranationalistic kindergarten Moritomo Gakuen, its perks, and its anti-Korean/Chinese racism
… and finally…
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 105: “Media, stop normalizing sumo as an ethno-sport”, Monday, Feb 20, 2017

Cautionary tale: Bern on how a lack of protections against harassment in Japan’s universities targets NJ regardless of Japan savviness and skill level

Here’s a crie du coeur from an academic I respect mightily named Bern. He has spent umpteen years in Japan’s higher education, both at the faculty and the Dean level (there have been very few NJ Deans ever in Japan’s universities), and has complete fluency in reading, writing, and spoken Japanese. Yet even after all his work acculturating and developing the same (if not greater) job skills as native speakers, he could not avoid institutional harassment. As he says below, “until harassment and discrimination laws are clarified and given real teeth” in Japan, all NJ faculty and staff are at risk.

And I speak from personal experience that this can happen to anyone. For NJ educators’ mental and vocational integrity, due consideration should be taken before ever considering a career in Japanese academia. Someday I’ll give an opinion piece about why Japan’s positions for NJ academics are, quite simply, a hoax, and why Japanese educational institutions should be avoided, full stop. But not yet. Meanwhile, here’s Bern:

Unprecedented Ministry of Justice survey of NJ discrimination results out, officially quantifies significantly high rates of unequal treatment

Japan Times: “Rent application denials, Japanese-only recruitment and racist taunts are among the most rampant forms of discrimination faced by foreign residents in Japan, according to the results of the country’s first nationwide survey on the issue, released Friday. The unprecedented survey of 18,500 expats of varying nationalities at the end of last year paints a comprehensive picture of deeply rooted discrimination in Japan as the nation struggles to acclimate to a recent surge in foreign residents and braces for an even greater surge in tourists in the lead-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It also represents the latest in a series of fledgling steps taken by Japan to curb racism, following last year’s first-ever video analysis by the Justice Ministry of anti-Korea demonstrations and the enactment of a law to eradicate hate speech.[…]

The study found that 39.3 percent of 2,044 respondents who applied to rent apartments over the past five years got dismissed because they are not Japanese. In addition, 41.2 percent said they were turned down because they couldn’t secure a Japanese guarantor, while 26.8 percent said they quit their pursuit of a new domicile after being discouraged by a “Japanese-only” prerequisite. Workplace discrimination appears rife, too. Of the 4,252 respondents, 2,788 said they had either worked or sought employment in Japan over the past five years. Of them, 25.0 percent said they had experienced being brushed off by potential employers because they are non-Japanese, while 19.6 percent said they were paid lower than their Japanese co-workers…

Kyodo: Trainee program, small firms drive rise in Japan’s foreign worker numbers. More data, same misleading gloss.

Kyodo: Juroku Bank, Ltd., based in Gifu Prefecture, last April hired two Chinese who had been studying at a university in Nagoya. It was the first time for the company to hire foreign bank clerks, and came as part of a new personnel strategy to deal with the growing number of visitors to Japan.

Zhang Yijun, 26, has been assigned to handling remittances and other duties related to foreign exchange matters at one of the regional bank’s Nagoya branches. Zhang can get by in everyday Japanese-language conversations but is still learning from co-workers about banking and handling customers. Zhong Shouzhen, 29, meanwhile handles foreign exchange matters at the bank’s head office in the city of Gifu. She struggles with polite Japanese expressions but hopes to get involved in business mergers and acquisitions in the future. “I want to be an intermediary for Chinese and Japanese companies,” Zhong said. […]

Tran Hong Kien, 28, from Vietnam, has been working for Yoshimoto Factory, a metal-processing firm in Ome, western Tokyo, since last March. He studied mechanical engineering at a top university in Vietnam. “I was impressed by the high technical competence in Japan,” said Kien, who is tasked with running a lathe under instructions from senior workers at the company, which employs 25. “If possible, I would like to remain living in Japan.”

COMMENT: I’ve said plenty about this issue in my previous post. Here’s more information and gloss from Kyodo, which once again erroneously conflates “Trainees” with “workers”. Perhaps a new word is necessary to distinguish them. Oh, how about “foreign trainees and workers”? Because they are simply not the same. And what woe looms for these bright-eyed young workers who “want to stay on in Japan”. Not likely, at this writing. Especially since even the labor unions (as noted in the article) aren’t going to defend them. And I saw essentially the same bent to articles on foreign workers (for real, before the grey zone of “Trainees”) during Japan’s “kokusaika” period in the late 1980s (when I first arrived). Look how that turned out.

Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10) Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years…

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/
Version with links to sources now up on Debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 8, 2017

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains
2) MOJ Bureau of Human Rights Survey of NJ Residents and discrimination (J&E full text)
3) Kyodo: Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign “Trainees”. But unclear how it’ll be enforced.
4) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s facelift; outstanding issues with Index Page and appearance on mobile devices

NOT SO GOOD
5) Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!
6) JT: The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights, by being excepted from labor laws
7) Japan Times: “Five-year rule” triggers “Tohoku college massacre” of jobs; harbinger of a larger looming purge, sez Debito.org
8 ) CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ
9) Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JBC column 103: “Trump’s lesson: You can lie your way to the very top”, Nov. 16, 2016
11) Tangent: James Michener’s “Presidential Lottery” (1969) on dangerous US Electoral College

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.”