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

One problem with our NJ brethren who leave us — through returning to their native countries, finding opportunities elsewhere, or, in Daniel’s case, death — is the disappearance of institutional memory. With a constant recycling of people, we as a community often know little of what happened before us, and have to start again from scratch.

That is the ultimate disempowerment: the ability to erase someone’s life work by not recognizing it.

This is why, at least in the case of death, we have an obligation to honor and remember NJ lives and efforts. Otherwise what is the point of making those efforts in the first place?

So let me propose a corrective measure: obituaries in The Japan Times. We should offer, say, a “Legacy Corner,” where someone who knew a recently deceased NJ of note well can submit a eulogy for possible publication. This way a print record remains of what they contributed to Japan and to us.

Many overseas newspapers, including The Guardian, already have this system in place. So should the JT…

Asahi: NJ Nurse trainees leave Japan despite 1-year extension to taking qualifying test

The GOJ is trying to plug the leak of NJ trainee nurses leaving Japan despite their best efforts on the qualifying exam. But after all these years of insufficient institutional support, it’s too little, too late, and disorganized at that; according to the Asahi article below, morale is clearly low for them. Mayhaps the jig is up, and word is getting round at last that the NJ nurse training program was after all just another guise for a revolving-door labor force?

Asahi: Many Indonesian nurse trainees who failed their exams have returned home amid confusion over who would be allowed to stay for another year to retake the test.

The government decided to allow 68 of the 78 Indonesians who failed this year’s nursing exam to stay and take another exam next year. But 25 of the 91 Indonesians who took the exam in March have already left.

“I first heard about an extended stay some time ago, but I was not given any details,” said a woman in her 30s who failed the exam and left in April. “After all, I think we are not needed.”…

[Another] woman, who failed in the exam by a slight margin, knew she could be allowed to stay. But she said she has lost her enthusiasm to work in Japan because of a lack of support from the government.

Asahi Tensei Jingo (Vox Populi) Mar 20 offers ponderous column with gratuitous alienation of NJ

Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:

Asahi Shinbun column Mar 20, 2011: This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.

While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese…

Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 29, 2011

Table of Contents:
ECCENTRIC

1) Japan Times Community Page on long-termer coping strategies in Japan,
where even Dietmember Tsurunen seems to advocate accepting your foreign status and working with it
2) Dietmember Tsurunen offers clarification and apology for calling himself a foreigner in Japan Times article
3) Japan Times publishes reactions to their Dec. 28 article on Old Japan Hands accepting their foreigner status
4) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Feb 1 critiques the “naturalized but still foreign” rubric
5) AP video: Sting talks to Ric O’Barry on “The Cove” and dolphin slaughters
6) Weekend Tangent: The future of Eikaiwa: AFP: Robots replace english teachers in SK

ODD AND STRANGE

7) QB House Tameike Sannou, Tokyo, requires Japanese language ability for a haircut (UPDATE: Sign has been replaced)
8 ) “To De-Sign or Not to De-Sign”: A debate about what to do re exclusionary signs
9) Tangent: End of an era: Asahi Evening News presses to close
10) TMC reports on TV Asahi “Super Morning” rupo re Shibuya Center Gai citizen patrols harassing buskers, NJ
11) AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying
12) Tangent: BBC show QI gets scolded by J media and embassy for insensitivity re atomic bombings

SIMPLY WRONG-HEADED

13) Suspected murderer of Lindsay Ann Hawker, Ichihashi Tatsuya, publishes book about his experiences. Ick.
14) Caroline Pover on protesting Gentosha Inc’s publication of Ichihashi’s book after Lindsay Ann Hawker’s murder
15) DEBITO.ORG POLL: What’s your take on suspected murderer Ichihashi Tatsuya’s book on his experiences
evading arrest for the homicide of Lindsay Ann Hawker? (Multiple responses OK)
16) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun: A killing separation: Two French fathers suicide 2010 after marital separation and child abduction
17) Yomiuri on “Lehman Shock” and Japan’s foreign crime: Concludes with quote that “living in harmony with foreign residents might be just a dream”
18) AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.
19) NY Consulate Japan’s Kawamura Yasuhisa offers more rosy picture of immigration to Japan in NYT Letter to the Editor
20) Economist.com offers microcosm of Nagasaki as example of Japan’s urban decline

THIS IS MORE LIKE IT

21) Kyodo: Tourism to Japan hits new record high in 2010
22) Japan Times: Otaru Beer, with NJ braumeister, revolutionizing microbrews and beerdrinking styles in Japan
23) JT on Rita Taketsuru, Scottish mother of Japan’s whisky industry, and her connections to Nikka’s factory in Yoichi, Hokkaido
24) MOFA now requiring consent of both parents for their child’s J passport renewal
25) Hollywood Reporter: JT “Richard Cory” child abduction story optioned as possible movie/TV production
26) Tangent: Elderly J activists sue GOJ to allow different last names after marriage
27) Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors

Japan Times et.al: Suraj Case of death during deportation sent to prosecutors

Japan Times: Chiba police have turned over to prosecutors their case against 10 immigration officers suspected of being involved in the death of a Ghanaian deportee they had restrained and physically placed aboard a jetliner last March at Narita International Airport.

The action Monday came six months after the man’s Japanese widow and her lawyers filed a criminal complaint demanding that prosecutors take action against the airport immigration officers who overpowered Abubakar Awudu Suraj to get him on the jet, where he subsequently died of unknown causes while handcuffed in his seat.

The police turned their case against the 10 men, aged 24 to 48, who are still working, over to the Chiba District Public Prosecutor’s Office. They could face charges of violence and cruelty by special public officers resulting in death, a Chiba police officer said… Handcuffed and his mouth covered with a towel, Suraj was found unconscious in the aircraft and confirmed dead at a hospital, Yoshida had quoted the officer as saying. The police were unable to pinpoint the cause of death…

AP: Japan population shrinks by record numbers in 2010. NYT: Its workers aging, Japan turns away immigrants.

AP: Japan’s population fell by a record amount last year as the number of deaths climbed to an all-time high in the quickly aging country, the government said Saturday.

Japan faces a looming demographic squeeze. Baby boomers are moving toward retirement, with fewer workers and taxpayers to replace them. The Japanese boast among the highest life expectancies in the world but have extremely low birth rates.

Japan logged 1.19 million deaths in 2010 — the biggest number since 1947 when the health ministry’s annual records began. The number of births was nearly flat at 1.07 million.

As a result, Japan contracted by 123,000 people, which was the most ever and represents the fourth consecutive year of population decline. The top causes of death were cancer, heart disease and stroke, the ministry said…

Saturday’s report showed 706,000 marriages registered last year — the fewest since 1954 and a sign that birth rates are unlikely to jump dramatically anytime soon.

NYT: Despite facing an imminent labor shortage as its population ages, Japan has done little to open itself up to immigration. In fact, as Ms. Fransiska and many others have discovered, the government is doing the opposite, actively encouraging both foreign workers and foreign graduates of its universities and professional schools to return home while protecting tiny interest groups — in the case of Ms. Fransiska, a local nursing association afraid that an influx of foreign nurses would lower industry salaries.

In 2009, the number of registered foreigners here fell for the first time since the government started to track annual records almost a half-century ago, shrinking 1.4 percent from a year earlier to 2.19 million people — or just 1.71 percent of Japan’s overall population of 127.5 million.

Experts say increased immigration provides one obvious remedy to Japan’s two decades of lethargic economic growth. Instead of accepting young workers, however — and along with them, fresh ideas — Tokyo seems to have resigned itself to a demographic crisis that threatens to stunt the country’s economic growth, hamper efforts to deal with its chronic budget deficits and bankrupt its social security system…

TV America’s Most Wanted on unsolved questionable death of an American in Shinjuku Aug 2010. Any press in Japan?

In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.

I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 1, 2010

Table of Contents:
NOW THAT’S MORE LIKE IT…
1) Economist London on corrupt public prosecutors in Japan
2) Not only China, Japan eyes India for tourist influx, eases visas
3) CRNJapan’s checklist for avoiding J child abductions during marital problems
4) Weekend Tangent: What Canada does about racial slurs and abuse in public: jail time
5) Weekend Tangent: Discovering how cheap, yes cheap, parts of Japan are becoming
6) Yomiuri: Tokyo bathhouses scrub up to lure NJ visitors. My, how the worm turns. Why couldn’t they have done this ten years ago?
7) Referential website of note: Asia Pacific Memo at UBC

CHOTTO MATTA…!
8 ) Allegations that GOJ’s Hello Work refuses NJ applicants, as evidenced by “Japanese Only” employer Zeus Enterprise of Tokyo Ginza
9) JT’s Philip Brasor analyzes J media claims of bias towards Ichiro’s and Hakuho’s sports records
10) Mainichi & Asahi: “4 arrested for helping Cambodian men work illegally”. Odd, given shysterism of Trainee Visa program
11) NYT on Japan’s deflation: “Japan, Once Dynamic, Is Disheartened by Decline”
12) CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack
13) New Book: “In Defense of Japan: From the Market to the Military in Space Policy” by Pekkanen and Kallender-Umezu
14) CNNGo.com does odd article on “Controversial Activist David Schofill” and NJ refusals at hotels and onsens
15) NHK 7AM this morning: Offer coupons at Narita Airport to NJ with “preferential exchange rates”. The catch is…

BASTA!
16) Kyodo: Court overrules Oita Pref who tried to deny a 78-year-old NJ welfare benefits
BUT
17) Mainichi: “NJ have no right to welfare payments”, rules Oita District Court two weeks later. Gee that was a quick kibosh.
18) Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant
19) Japan Times: Eikaiwa Gaba: “NJ instructors independent contractors w/o labor law coverage”, could become template for entire industry
20) Fukuoka General Union info site on how BOEs are outsourcing ALTs through dispatch companies, not through JET Programme
… and finally …
21) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 2: How the “Cult of Japan’s Uniqueness and Homogeneity” interferes with good scholarship on Japan

CJFF: Immigration raids Filipino family home, husband has heart attack

CJFF: Afternoon of October 13, 2010 immigration officers questioned Victor de la Cruz in his work site at Gako Ishikaya located at the basement of Tokyo’s Shimbashi station of JR line. The immigration officer is asking if he and his wife, Susan Lubos de la Cruz who is an employee of an African embassy and Victor as her dependent are real husband and wife. There is no established case and Victor went home afterwards.

Today, October 20, 2010 at around 11:30 a.m. the immigration officers went to the home of Mr. and Mrs. de la Cruz in Meguro-ku and Victor was alone in the house. Later an immigration officer who gave his name as Mr. Kato of Shinjuku immigration with telephone number 03 5155 0496 called Susan, the wife of Victor, informing that they, the immigration officers, sent Victor to the National Organization Tokyo Medical Center at around 1:00 p.m. Victor suffered heart attack and in comatose given a 10-20 % chance to live by the doctor as of this writing (October 20, 2010, 11:50 pm).

Susan learned that her husband heart have stopped beating for an hour before Victor was sent to the hospital. Upon arriving home, Susan found all of their things and belonging are scattered and she also learned from the immigration officers that they went to their house to look for evidence if their marriage is real or not…

Susan, a member of Gabriela-Japan, a chapter of the Philippine national women organization Gabriela with 2 seats in the Philippine House of Representatives, is asking her organization for legal assistance and possibly to question the Immigration Bureau about the legality of their actions. Nobody knows what transpired and what kind of treatment, pressure, or intimidation or whatever the immigration officer employed to make Victor to suffer from heart attack. Susan is also doubtful about the legality of the immigration officers’ action in raiding her house…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 12, 2010 (forgot to blog)

Table of Contents:
DEVELOPMENTS
1) The 2010 Japan Census from October 1: Flash GOJ multilingual site explaining what it’s all about
2) Summer Tangent: DailyFinance.com on Japan’s generation-long economic stagnation leading to a lost generation of youth
3) Keishicho Kouhou on organized crime in Japan: Places NJ gangs in context for a change
4) Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program
5) Thrice-convicted crooked Dietmember Suzuki Muneo gets his: Supreme Court rejects appeal, jail time looms
6) Kyodo: Japan to join The Hague Convention on Child Abduction. Uncertain when.

ACTIVISM ON BOTH SIDES
7) NYT: “New Dissent in Japan Is Loudly Anti-Foreign”
8 ) Success Story: Takamado English Speech Contest reform their “Japanese Only”, er, “Non-English Speakers Only” rules
9) Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept 9, regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights
10) Asahi: Zaitokukai arrests: Rightist adult bullies of Zainichi schoolchildren being investigated
11) “The Cove” Taiji Dolphin protesters cancel local demo due to potential Rightist violence
12) Japan will apologize for Korean Annexation 100 years ago and give back some war spoils. Bravo.
13) Sendaiben digs deeper on those Narita Airport racially-profiling Instant NPA Checkpoints
14) M-Net Magazine publishes FRANCA March 2010 report to UN Rapporteur in Japanese

INTERESTING TANGENTS
15) Economist.com summary of Amakudari system
16) Coleman Japan Inc. has instructions “For Japanese Consumers Only”
17) Discussion: “If you could change one thing about a society…”

… and finally …
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: ‘Don’t blame JET for Japan’s bad English”

Meeting with US Embassy Tokyo Sept. 9, 2010 regarding State Dept. Country Reports on Human Rights

Yesterday three friends and I visited the US Embassy in Tokyo to discuss employment and other issues of discrimination in Japan. The consular official who received us, a Mr Thomas Whitney, kindly gave us 90 minutes to give as much information as we liked for consideration in the US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights, an annual report given by the USG on individual countries that has in past years included information on even the Otaru Onsens Case (thanks). What follows are the summaries provided in advance of what we would say. Here’s mine, since it’s shortest:

The Japanese Government (GOJ) has a history of not abiding by its treaty obligations. With “Japanese Only” signs and rules in businesses nationwide (despite unlawfulness under both the Japanese Constitution and the UN CERD) and clear and present inequality towards non-Japanese in both the workplace and in protections under the law, Japan still has no national law with penalties against racial discrimination. The GOJ continues to make arguments to the UN against adopting one (i.e., freedom of speech and the efficacy of the Japanese judiciary for redress), while abuses towards non-Japanese and ethnically-diverse Japanese worsen (e.g., new and overt examples of hate speech and xenophobia, racist statements by politicians and media, even targeting of naturalized citizens for suspicion and exclusion). The GOJ has had more than a decade (having effected the CERD in 1996) to make legislative attempts to rectify this system, and its negligence presents ill precedent for abiding under future treaty signings (such as the Hague Convention on Child Abductions). Friends must help friends break bad habits, and gentle international pressure to assist the GOJ under a new reformist administration move in the right direction is a good thing for all concerned.

Arudou Debito

NB: Since our focus was on employment issues, I cited my experiences with TADD and Ambassador Mondale back in 1995 (See Ivan Hall CARTELS OF THE MIND), and the systematic full-time contracting of NJ in academia as witnessed through the Blacklist of Japanese Universities. I also mentioned that the GOJ has constantly refused attempts to release hard numbers on how many NJ academics in Japan have contracts vs tenure compared to Japanese academics getting contracts vs tenure (see more on this Academic Apartheid here). I also tied everyone’s presentations at the end with a request for USG visits to the Ministries of Education and Labor (following on Mondale’s precedent), to express awareness of the problem and the desire for proper enforcement of existing labor laws (if not the creation of a law against racial discrimination). Finally, I gave Mr Whitney the FRANCA handouts I gave the United Nations last March regarding general issues of discrimination in Japan (here and here).

Wash Post: “Strict immigration rules may threaten Japan’s future”, focus on nursing program

Here’s more information that we’re making public seeping into overseas media. Nothing terribly new to regular readers here (but no doubt new to many readers overseas). But brace yourself for the Comments section of this article, full of the nastiness that goes beyond cultural relativity. Amazing how immigrants are the eternal bashables, told to abide by whatever vague rules the nativists come up with (and don’t always follow themselves), told to accept inferior wages and working conditions, and told to go home if they have any problems or complaints. Worse yet is when the government is essentially saying the same thing by setting up hurdles that are nearly insurmountable. As the article gets into below. Enjoy.

Wash Post: “There’s a lack of urgency or lack of sense of crisis for the declining population in Japan,” said Satoru Tominaga, director of Garuda, an advocacy group for Indonesian nurse and caretaker candidates. “We need radical policy change to build up the number” of such workers. “However, Japan lacks a strong government; if anything, it’s in chaos.”

When Japan struck economic partnership agreements with Indonesia and the Philippines, attracting nurses and caretakers wasn’t the primary objective. Japan sought duty-free access for its automakers to the Southeast Asian market. Accepting skilled labor was just part of the deal.

But by 2025, Japan will need to almost double its number of nurses and care workers, currently at 1.2 million. And because of the test, substandard language skills, not substandard caretaking skills, are keeping the obvious solution from meeting the gaping need.

The 998 Filipino and Indonesian nurses and caretakers who’ve come to Japan since 2008 all have, at minimum, college educations or several years of professional experience. Nurses can stay for three years, with three chances to pass the test. Other caregivers can stay for four years, with one chance to pass. Those who arrive in Japan take a six-month language cram class and then begin work as trainees.

They are allotted a brief period every workday — 45 minutes, in Paulino’s case — for language study. Many also study for hours at night.

“The language skills, that is a huge hurdle for them,” said Kiichi Inagaki, an official at the Japan International Corporation for Welfare Services, which oversees the program. “However, if you go around the hospital, you understand how language is important. Nurses are dealing with medical technicalities. They are talking to doctors about what is important. In order to secure a safe medical system, they need a very high standard of Japanese.”

Advocates for foreign nurses and caregivers do not play down the importance of speaking and understanding Japanese. But they emphasize that the Japanese characters for medical terminology are among the hardest to learn; perhaps some jargon-heavy portion of the certification test, they say, could be given in English or workers’ native language.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 6, 2010

Table of Contents:
SPECIAL ON THE DPRK SPY KIM HYON HUI JAPAN VISIT: THE BIG CON

1) North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case
2) UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit from a friend in the know
3) My Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3: Kim uses Japan’s “perpetual victimhood” to her advantage

OTHER BIG CONS

4) Japan’s Centenarians are missing: Registry systems that ignore NJ residents are also registering long-dead Japanese as alive
5) Kyodo: NJ crime down once again, but NPA spin says NJ crime gangs “increasingly” targeting Japan, whines about difficulty in statistically measuring NJ crime
6) More racism in NPA police posters, this time Kanagawa Ken Yamate police and big-nosed “int’l NJ crime groups”.
(UPDATE: Contrast with same Kanagawa Police site in English: “we patrol community hoping smiles of residents never vanish.” Retch.)
7) Shame on Berlitz Japan for its court harassments, firing teacher for having cancer
8 ) Yomiuri: New “lay judges” in J judiciary strict about demanding evidence from prosecutors, give ‘benefit of doubt’. Well, fancy that.
9) Economist London on Japan’s treatment of Chinese: Welcome tourist money, work “Trainees” to death
10) NYT has video and article on JITCO NJ “Trainee” Program, including sweatshop conditions and karoushi
11) Mainichi/Kyodo: J companies will boost hiring of NJ by 50%! Yeah, sure.
12) JIPI’s Sakanaka on Gaijin Tank detentions for visa overstays: Put a maximum time limit on them
13) Toyota QC and “culture” again, says it will increase safety by dealing with mechanical and cultural defects, with Japanese-only review panel
14) Asahi: South Korea, China overtaking Japan in ‘cool’ culture battle, whatever that means
15) AP and JT on “Soft Power” of JET Programme, projecting Japan’s influence abroad
16) IMADR Connect Mag: UN CERD concerns and recommendations 2010 for the GOJ; rinse and repeat

OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION

17) NJ population falls in 2009 for the first time since 1961
18) New separate blog with details about taking Japanese citizenship, in English, written by other fellow naturalized Japanese
19) Thoughts on GOJ Upper House Election July 11, 2010: A DPJ loss, but not a rout, regardless of what the media says.
20) Asahi editorial supports NJ PR Suffrage, published during election-period debates

INTERESTING TANGENTS

21) AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office
22) Japan Times columnist CW Nicol (a whaling supporter) on why “The Cove’s” Taiji dolphin culls bother him

… and finally…

23) My Schofill family roots include Cherokee and lots of American South skeletons

Japan Times: Another NJ death in Japanese Immigration custody while being “subdued”; details as yet unclear

In another case of NJ dying in Immigration’s custody, we have a person who came to Japan this weekend, apparently felt ill, allegedly tried to escape from Immigration’s questioning, and died in custody after “being subdued”.

Now while there are insufficient details to determine whether foul play was involved, it has been documented how rough Immigration can be towards people in their care, with for example “being subdued” leading to death in the Suraj Case earlier this year. Since Immigration (aka “Japan’s Bouncers”) still hasn’t come clean about what happened there, this is yet another case worth mentioning on Debito.org. JT article follows.

UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit: The Big Con

Excerpt: Kim Hyon Hui, a wannabe actress-turned-terrorist who blew up a 747 filled with 115 people back in 1987 when she was a North Korean agent and who got the death penalty, only to see it revoked for reasons that are still unclear, arrived at Haneda airport Wednesday by special charter plane from her home in South Korea. Ms. Kim saw Japan’s fine hospitality at its best, and was even given her own motorcade to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s summer home in Karuizawa. No delays at train stations or red lights for our Ms. Kim!…

Yes, Ms. Kim did suffer a memory loss when she originally told Japanese officials she’d never met Megumi Yokota. But that was then and this is now. The Japanese government is quite happy to learn she has regained her memory, calling it a miracle and dismissing cynics who wonder whether Kim’s memory loss was restored with the aid of both hypnosis and secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Macau, or the Cayman Islands.

So busy were Japanese officials with their one-woman “Yokoso Japan!” on behalf of Ms. Kim and her testimony about children abducted from Japan by foreigners in violation of domestic and international law that readers will surely sympathize with our nation’s overworked and understaffed bureaucracy when they insist they have no time to meet with Americans, Canadians, British, Germans, French, Indians, or anyone else who would like–just a few minutes, if you please — to discuss the issue of children abducted to Japan by Japanese in violation of domestic and international law.

Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?

Here are a few articles that have sat in my “Drafts” section for months, waiting for the right time to be posted on Debito.org (it happens sometimes, sorry). Their point is that we have plenty of voices saying that the NJ nurses brought under the special visa program ought to be given a bit more of a break when it comes to language training (again, these people are qualified nurses — it’s only a language barrier), and yet the GOJ intransigently says that these people don’t deserve one — they should pass the same exam that only about 50% of native Japanese speakers pass anyway. Can’t you at least simplify the language and add furigana? Noooo, that would be unfair! As if it’s not unfair already.

I understand the argument that in emergency situations, people should be able to be communicated with without error, but surely there’s some grey in there. My belief, as I said yesterday and numerous times before, is that this is just taking advantage of fear to mask the program’s true intention, of keeping NJ on a short-term revolving door visa program so they don’t come here to stay permanently. These articles below are further evidence I believe of the subterfuge. Sorry to have taken so long to get to them. One-two punch for this week.

Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses

Here is a slew of articles regarding the Japan-Asian countries’ EPA program to import health care workers to Japan, which we have discussed on Debito.org before.

First up, some background FYI on the issue from the Japan Times, then an article by the Yomiuri on the language barrier faced by NJ nurses over here on the nursing visa program — once just Filipinos/Filipinas and Indonesians, perhaps being expanded to Thais and Vietnamese. Then a thoughtful essay by Terrie Lloyd on the prospects of overcoming the language barrier in a decent amount of time. And finally, a Japan Times article calling for a serious revision of the program to give people more time to come up to speed in the Japanese language.

Unsaid (so I’ll say it) is the quite possible goal of setting a hurdle too high in the first place, so that few NJ will qualify to stay longer than three years, and the visa status remains a revolving-door employment program. It wouldn’t be the first time the GOJ has acted in such bad faith towards NJ labor.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 10, 2010
SOME ODDS AND ENDS OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS
Table of Contents:

ODDS
1) MHLW clamps down on NJ spongers of system claiming overseas kids for child allowances. What spongers?
2) More Juuminhyou idiocies: Dogs now allowed Residency Certificates in Tokyo Itabashi-ku. But not NJ residents, of course.
3) Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)
4) Asahi: Prof pundit on Toyota uses “culture” benkai to explain auto recall issues
5) More anti-NJ scare posters & publications, linking PR suffrage to foreign crime and Chinese invasion
6) List of countries with voting rights for non-citizens, with Japan of the group the absolutist outlier

ENDS
7) A personal hero, Chong Hyang Gyun, retires her nursing post at 60
8 ) Japan Times update on current J child abductions after divorce & Hague Treaty nego: USG still pressuring GOJ
9) Mainichi: Supreme Court defamation ruling sounds warning bell over online responsibility
10) Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa
11) Fun Facts #14: JK provides budgetary stats to show why current immigration-resistant regime is unsustainable

AN ISSUE THAT SHOULD NOT HAVE FIZZLED OUT
12) Japan Times & Sano Hiromi on violence towards NJ detainees at Ibaraki Detention Center, hunger strike
13) Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san
14) UPDATE: Ibaraki Detention Center Hunger Strikers pause strike, arrange meetings
15) Japan Times on Ibaraki Detention Ctr hunger strikers: GOJ meeting because of UN visit?
… then, kerplunk, the issue dies…?

… and finally …

16) Tangent: Japan Times on staggering the Golden Week holidays across the J archipelago

Yomiuri: 3 Filipina and Indonesian GOJ EPA nurses pass exam (less than 1% of total, after two years)

Success at last, for some. For less than one percent of all the NJ nurses brought over on a special trilateral visa program, to help care for Japan’s aging society, we have some overcoming quite difficult hurdles to stay — including passing a difficult Japanese nursing exam within three years that challenges even native speakers. For the overwhelming majority of NJ, however, it’s bye bye and thanks for your three years of unsupported toil, and we look forward to replacing you with more dupes on yet another GOJ revolving-door work visa plan. More on the difficulties of the nursing program in the words of the nurses themselves on Debito.org here.

Yomiuri: Two Indonesians and one Filipina have become the first foreign nurses to pass Japan’s national nursing qualification test after work experience at Japanese hospitals under economic partnership agreements, the health ministry said Friday.

The three are among the 370 foreign nurses who have visited this country under an EPA-related project launched in fiscal 2008, hoping to pass the nursing exam after receiving Japanese-language training and gaining working experience under the supervision of Japanese nurses.

In 2009, 82 foreign nurses took the exam, but all failed. This year, 254 such nurses applied for the test, with the two Indonesians and one Filipina passing it, according to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry.

Japan Times front pages NJ abuses at Ibaraki Immigration Detention Center, updates from Sano-san

Japan Times: At least 70 detainees at the West Japan Immigration Control Center, which has long been criticized by human rights groups and Diet members, have been on a hunger strike since Monday, center officials and volunteers helping them confirmed Thursday.

Activist Sano-san reports: Our group decided not to use [name deleted’s] name on articles that goes to public from now on. He has hepatitis B and has fever since December. Obviously bad health condition. But the center is not taking to him to the hospital, and also did I mention that they share the same razor to shave? We talked to Nishimura at the center, but they denied it , and said that each razor has the number so that the detainee will know which one is his. Detainees said there is no number on the razor. Nishimura also said that razors are sterilized after detainees use them.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 11, 2010

UNITED NATIONS REVIEWS JAPAN

1) Kyodo: GOJ criticized by UN CERD (once again) for inaction towards racial discrim;
GOJ stresses “discrim not rampant”
2) UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva.
Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.
3) UNHCR CERD Recommendation 30 (2004): UN says non-citizens equally protected under treaty and domestic law as citizens
4) UN Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante visiting Japan 3/21 – 4/1

SOME ODD DEVELOPMENTS

5) DPJ backs down from suffrage bill for NJ Permanent Residents, as “postponement”. Hah.
6) Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program
7) MOJ removes “health insurance” as guideline for visa renewals

SOME ODDER TANGENTS

8 ) Newsweek column: “Toyota and the End of Japan”
9) 2-Channel BBS downed by Korean cyberhackers
10) China Daily publishes snotty anti-laowai article

DEBITO’S MARCH TOUR:

11) Tokyo-Sendai-Shiga Schedule March 19 to April 3

… and finally …

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column March 2, 2010 on Racist Sumo Kyoukai (full text)

Emily Homma on Filipina nurses in Japan being abused by GOJ EPA visa program

Emily Homma reports: “EPA Foreign Nurses and Caregivers Working in Japan Urgently Need Help

The Economic Partnership Agreement of Japan (EPA) with other countries, especially with the Philippines (JPEPA), has placed many Filipino nurses and caregivers working in Japan in a miserable situation where they are subjected to unfair labor practices, extreme pressure to study kanji, and poor salaries.

When they arrived in Japan in May 2009, the Filipino nurses and caregivers were glad to be finally given the opportunity to serve Japanese society as hospital workers. However, after only six months of Nihongo study and three months of hospital work in hospital, the Filipino nurses along with their Indonesian counterparts have been suffering from various hardships not only from unfair work policies, low salaries, and local workers’ rejection but also from strong pressure to master medical-nursing kanji and the Japan nursing system. It is a system that, unfortunately for the foreign workers, only those with high level-Grade 12 Japanese training or nursing graduates could understand.

Specifically, the Filipino nurses find themselves in the following extremely frustrating situations that leave them no choice but contemplate leaving Japan soon:…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thoughts on DPJ rally Sat Jun 27, 2009, Sapporo

What follows is a synopsis of a political rally for the opposition party, DPJ, which featured possible next PM Hatoyama Yukio as a speaker. Taking place in DPJ stronghold Hokkaido (which Hatoyama represents), I give a quick overview (with analysis, even pictures) of the speaking styles of Hatoyama, croaking Suzuki Muneo, Hokkaido political superman Yokomichi, and the far-Right Happiness Realization Party, who gave the best speeches of the day as they took DPJ left-of-centrism into Re-Arm Against North Korean Missiles territory.

Opening paragraph: In case you haven’t heard (the J press has been making headlines of it), we’re amidst a “Hatoyama Boom”. Hatoyama (Yukio, aka Hatopoppo) being the current leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), replacing Ozawa Ichiro (whose old-school J politics still include accepting bribes, directly or indirectly). With the anticipated boost in PM Aso’s approval ratings (after a lot of hay was made of Ozawa’s associates’ corruption) petering out to nothing, and an election required by law by October at the latest, there are a number of rumors floating around that other contenders may rise to fill the soulless golem of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP the party essentially in power in Japan for more than five decades, whose policy platform is essentially just staying in power). A couple of prefectural governors (Osaka’s Hashimoto, Miyazaki’s Higashikokubaru) are rumored to have designs on future local and national governance. But so far, Hatoyama seems to be outdistancing them all, riding the crest of his “boom” on a nationwide whistle-stop tour with stern-faced posters and constant public speeches.

All caught up now? Well, Hatoyama gave a speech at a DPJ rally last Saturday, June 27, in Sapporo’s Odori Kouen. I was there in the front row wearing a lot of sunscreen, enjoying a lot of old people’s company. Let me give you the scene:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 29, 2009

THE SHADOW OF BIG BROTHER
1) Metropolis & Japan Today: “Proposed NJ resident registry card creates Big Brother concerns”
2) Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest
3) Brazilian MTV on May 24 Protests on proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards
4) Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.
5) Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards
6) Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?
7) Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

TANGENTS
8 ) Kyodo: 2 NJ defendants among first 13 new lay jury cases
9) NYT: Japanese Fans Mobilize to Keep Valentine as Their Manager
10) Sunday Tangent: America’s Japan Society now led by a Japanese
11) Sunday Tangent: Economist on UN racism conference fiasco, April 2009

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
12) Monty DiPietro’s new play “Honiefaith”, June 5, 6, 7, Tokyo Shinjuku
13) Trans-Pacific Radio’s Live Seijigiri June 4 7:30 PM Shibuya Pink Cow

… and finally…
14) Japan Times May 19, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards, full text

Asahi: Foreign nursing trainees face unfair hurdles

Asahi: At hospitals and nursing homes for the elderly across the nation, 208 Indonesians have commenced work. They are trainees who came to Japan hoping to become nurses and certified care workers under the economic partnership agreement (EPA) signed between Japan and Indonesia. Having finished a six-month Japanese-language study program, they started working in January and February. All of them are qualified to work as nurses in their home country and many of them have a lot of nursing experience. But most of those I met expressed anxiety and frustration.

This is because of the system that requires them to pass Japanese state exams within specified periods. If they fail, they must return to their home country. Would-be nurses have three chances to sit for the exams in three years of their stay. Conditions are tougher for aspiring care workers. Since foreign trainees are required to have actual working experience in Japan for at least three years before they can take the exam, they only have a single chance to pass in four years…

COMMENT: What does the GOJ want? Easy. Revolving-door cheap foreign labor, which won’t stay and get expensive or start demanding its own rights. Unfortunately, that’s not how immigration works, even though with its aging society, immigration is what Japan needs. We’ve said this umpteen times before, but lemme just repeat it for the noobs, sorry. What the GOJ wants and what it needs are working against each other. Its unforgiving and inflexible policies such as these that are hurting Japan’s future.

Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

Japan Times: I mentioned that embedded computer chip. The new Gaijin Card is a “smart card.” Most places worldwide issue smart cards for innocuous things like transportation and direct debit, and you have to swipe the card on a terminal to activate it. Carrying one is, at least, optional.

Not in Japan. Although the 2005 proposal suggested foreign “swiping stations” in public buildings, the technology already exists to read IC cards remotely. With Japan’s love of cutting-edge gadgets, data processing will probably not stop at the swipe. The authorities will be able to remotely scan crowds for foreigners.

In other words, the IC chip is a transponder — a bug.

Now imagine these scenarios: Not only can police scan and detect illegal aliens, but they can also uncover aliens of any stripe. It also means that anyone with access to IC chip scanners (they’re going cheap online) could possibly swipe your information. Happy to have your biometric information in the hands of thieves?

Moreover, this system will further encourage racial profiling. If police see somebody who looks alien yet doesn’t show up on their scanner (such as your naturalized author, or Japan’s thousands of international children), they will more likely target you for questioning — as in: “Hey, you! Stop! Why aren’t you detectable?”

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…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2009

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

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

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

Amnesty Intl May 24 Tokyo protest against Diet bills under deliberation to further police NJ residents

Here’s a nice roundup from Amnesty International about upcoming GOJ proposals for further policing NJ residents, and what you can do to protest them. Amnesty International says:

Say no to immigration law revision!

An assembly and rally will be held to protest amendments to the law.
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Date : May 24th (Sun) 14:00-15:30
Assembly 16:00-17:00 Rally
Place : Koutsu Biru (Tokyo, Minato-ku, Shimbashi5-15-5) 6minutes’ walk from Shimbashi station (JR Line, Karasumori-guchi)

This is information from Amnesty International Japan regarding controversial bills under discussion in the Diet to impose tighter control on foreign residents. Brochures with background on the issue in different languages are available in this blog entry:

Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”

What follows is a story of a person, in his own words, who dealt with a language company called Interac in Yokohama, which disciplined him for being late for classes despite his explanation that his pregnant wife was undergoing complications. The baby eventually died. And Interac said they would not be renewing his contract. Read on. Suggest the labor unions be informed of this.

On the road: Debito.org blog updated less often

Writing you from Tokyo, just a quick post. I’m on the road from now until April 1, stopping in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Nagoya, Shiga Hikone, Osaka, Okayama, and Kumamoto. Showing an hourlong documentary on Japan’s hidden NJ labor force, SOUR STRAWBERRIES, in case you haven’t heard, at venues there. Come and see it if you like. Screening schedule here.

So in the interim I’m not sure when I’ll be online (every morning provided I have internet access, and probably most evenings after the movie and beers with friends), but I’ll try to approve posts as quickly as possible. I also can’t guarantee a daily update with a new post and commentary, but I’ll try.

If people have essays they want put up (Mark in Yayoi sent me a doozy today), please pass them by me. And you’ll get another Japan Times article (not a 700-word JUST BE CAUSE column, but a 1500 word ZEIT GIST article) next Tuesday March 24 if you’re feeling lonely.

Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way

Here’s a roundup from The Economist on how conservatives just don’t have the answers regarding Japan’s future anymore (with their wan and waning hope that immigration can somehow be avoided). Good also that this article is coming from The Economist, as it has over the past eighteen months done mediocre stuff on Japan’s future demographics without mentioning immigration at all. And when it later mentioned NJ labor in follow-up writings, it merely inserted one token sentence reflecting the Japan conservatives’ viewpoint. It seems even the conservatism within my favorite newsmagazine is also giving ground. Bravo.

Excerpt: “The answer is self-evident, but conservatives rarely debate it. Their notion of a strong Japan—ie, a populous, vibrant country—is feasible only with many more immigrants than the current 2.2m, or just 1.7% of the population. (This includes 400,000 second- or third-generation Koreans who have chosen to keep Korean nationality but who are Japanese in nearly every respect.) The number of immigrants has grown by half in the past decade, but the proportion is still well below any other big rich country. Further, immigrants enter only as short-term residents; permanent residency is normally granted only after ten years of best behaviour…

“For the first time, however, an 80-strong group of economically liberal politicians in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), led by Hidenao Nakagawa, a former LDP secretary-general, is promoting a bold immigration policy. It calls for the number of foreigners to rise to 10m over the next half century, and for many of these immigrants to become naturalised Japanese. It wants the number of foreign students in Japan, currently 132,000, to rise to 1m. And it calls for whole families to be admitted, not just foreign workers as often at present.

“The plan’s author, Hidenori Sakanaka, a former Tokyo immigration chief and now head of the Japan Immigration Policy Institute, envisages a multicultural Japan in which, he says, reverence for the imperial family is an option rather than a defining trait of Japaneseness. It’s a fine proposal, but not very likely to fly in the current political climate, especially at a time when the opposition Democratic Party of Japan is fretting about the impact of immigration on pay for Japanese workers.”

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.

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…

Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests

CNN: Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn’t have foreign guests last year don’t want any in the future either.

The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel unable to support foreign languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.

The survey released Thursday shows that over 60 percent of Japan’s inns and hotels had foreign guests last year, but the majority of the rest don’t want any.

It was released as Japan continues its efforts to attract more foreign visitors. The country’s “Visit Japan Campaign” aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2008

Table of Contents:
///////////////////////////////////////////
GOOD NEWS:
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

BAD NEWS
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

MIXED AND ABSURD NEWS
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
///////////////////////////////////////////

NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…

(Kyodo) _ A baby with foreign nationality was left at Japan’s first “baby hatch” at a Kumamoto hospital, according to a report on Monday by a panel examining the practice.

Comment: According to a friend of mine, the baby just might be eligible for Japanese citizenship! Er, but…

From the archives: 2005: Economist on robotizing J health care, contrast with what’s happening nowadays

From the archives: Pap and pseudoscience from The Economist in December 2005, regarding why Japanese prefer robots over foreigners (excerpt):

“Foreign pundits keep telling Japan to do itself a favour and make better use of cheap imported labour. But the consensus among Japanese is that visions of a future in which immigrant workers live harmoniously and unobtrusively in Japan are pure fancy. Making humanoid robots is clearly the simple and practical way to go.

“Although they are at ease with robots, many Japanese are not as comfortable around other people. That is especially true of foreigners. Immigrants cannot be programmed as robots can. You never know when they will do something spontaneous, ask an awkward question, or use the wrong honorific in conversation. But, even leaving foreigners out of it, being Japanese, and having always to watch what you say and do around others, is no picnic.

“What seems to set Japan apart from other countries is that few Japanese are all that worried about the effects that hordes of robots might have on its citizens. Nobody seems prepared to ask awkward questions about how it might turn out. If this bold social experiment produces lots of isolated people, there will of course be an outlet for their loneliness: they can confide in their robot pets and partners. Only in Japan could this be thought less risky than having a compassionate Filipina drop by for a chat.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79

Kyodo/Japan Today: The first foreign resident in Japan to reject alien fingerprinting, Han Jong Sok, died of respiratory failure at a Tokyo hospital on Thursday, his family said Friday. He was 79. Han, a Korean resident in Japan, in 1980 rejected the fingerprinting required under the then alien registration law, and was the first foreign resident to do so.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 13, 2008: SPECIAL ON SUMMIT AND POST-SUMMIT HOKKAIDO

The themes as far as I can see of the G8 Summit in Toyako, Hokkaido was largesse (gourmet meals while discussing a food crisis), waste (a ton of lamb left uneaten, and idling hundreds of police cars creating a huge carbon footprint at an “Eco Summit”), sequestering (both activists and the media), and ineffectuality (what was accomplished that could not have been done by video conferencing, without all this expense and public inconvenience?).

A particular highlight is an eyewitness account by Eric Johnston, Japan Times reporter on the scene, who gave a stunning speech July 10 in Sapporo, which you can download and hear/read in full below. By all account (including the very fact that the Summit Site is generally rendered in overseas media as “Toyako”, not “Hokkaido”, in contrast to the “Okinawa Summit” eight years ago), an event which gave back little to nothing to us locals. Writing this Newsletter as one:

Table of Contents:
DURING THE SUMMIT:
On-Site Briefing: Summit seeps into Sapporo on little cat feet…
Hokkaido Shinbun: Hokkaido Police report 15 requests for demos, grant permission for one
Hokkaido Shinbun: Summit Activists get sequestered to faraway campsites
Kyodo: J Man arrested for making bomb threat at Sapporo Chitose airport
Good news from Summit Sapporo July 8: security cops are mellow (photo record)

SUMMIT AFTERMATH AND WOOLGATHERING:
Japan Times Eric Johnston’s July 10 Sapporo speech on G8 Summit
with audio recording, powerpoint, photos
Japan Times: JPY 60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls
World media on uselessness of G8 Summit(s), including FT’s Clive Crook

Japan Times: ¥60 billion G8 Summit budget draws flak, amid social shortfalls

Japan plans to spend more than ¥60 billion in taxpayer money to host next week’s Group of Eight summit in Hokkaido and related events, prompting some to question if that sum could better be used to alleviate the national health-care and social welfare crises…

“The previous (Japanese) summit was held for the first time in a provincial area. So we wanted no mistakes and tried to provide as much hospitality as possible,” Masamoto said. Before the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering, Japan hosted three summits, all in Tokyo.

Masamoto admitted the Kyushu-Okinawa gathering drew public criticism about spending at a time when Japan’s economy was in a prolonged slump.

During the leaders’ banquet hosted by Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, they feasted on black Russian caviar, lobster from Bretagne, France, and Foie gras.

Souvenirs were also given to the leaders, their wives and journalists.

They included wine glasses with their names inscribed, clothing by famous designers, lacquer letter boxes, IC recorders and Licca-chan dolls…

The Foreign Ministry said it has no comparable data of other countries’ budgets for past G8 meetings.

But according to the British government’s Web site, the U.K. budgeted about £12.1 million, or around ¥2.6 billion in present value, for the 2005 summit it hosted in Gleneagles, Scotland.

LA Times: US giving liver transplants to Yakuza with FBI assistance

LA Times: “UCLA Medical Center and its most accomplished liver surgeon provided a life-saving transplant to one of Japan’s most powerful gang bosses, law enforcement sources told The Times. In addition, the surgeon performed liver transplants at UCLA on three other men who are now barred from entering the United States because of their criminal records or suspected affiliation with Japanese organized crime groups…

The most prominent transplant recipient, Tadamasa Goto, had been barred from entering the U.S. because of his criminal history, several current and former law enforcement officials said. Goto leads a gang called the Goto-gumi, which experts describe as vindictive and at times brutal. The FBI helped Goto obtain a visa to enter the United States in 2001 in exchange for leads on potentially illegal activity in this country by Japanese criminal gangs, said Jim Stern, retired chief of the FBI’s Asian criminal enterprise unit in Washington…”

The FBI did not help Goto arrange his surgery with UCLA but did help him gain entry to this country, Stern said. The agency had long been frustrated by the reluctance of Japanese law enforcement to share information on yakuza members in the United States.

…”For American law enforcement, it’s been like pulling teeth to get criminal intelligence from Japanese authorities,” said David Kaplan, a journalist who co-wrote the book “Yakuza: Japan’s Criminal Underworld,” published in 2003 by the University of California Press…

Akihabara stabbing incident June 8, 2008–yet Akihabara knife shop with “Japanese Only” sign up

Japan Times article June 8, 2008, has a recount of the recent spate of stabbings in Japan, particularly the shocking incident the same day in Akihabara. But an irony I see in this horrible event is that a store in Akihabara–a knife and weapon shop, no less–has limited its customers to “Japanese Only”. Store called “MAD”. Photos in this blog entry.

Are “the authorities” being cited in “MAD”‘s sign still going to make the case that non-Japanese customers are less safe than Japanese? The shopkeeps of “MAD” might. Let’s use this occasion to reflect a bit on how insanity and nationality are not linked. And my condolences to the families of the victims…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 17, 2008

IRONIES AND HOW TO SWING THEM:
1) No bank accounts allowed at Mitsui Sumitomo for NJ without minimum six-month stays.
Okay at Japan Post Office, however.
2) Japan proposes language requirement for foreign long-term visas,
yet protests when Britain proposes the same.

GOOD NEWS:
3) Mainichi: MOJ overturns deportation order, allows NJ couple to stay with child in Japan.
4) Yomiuri: 80% of hospitals interested in employing foreign nurses.
5) Japan Times: Canada, U.S. nudge Japan to join child abduction resolution framework
(and it appears to have worked).

WORD GETS OUT:
6) US State Dept Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2007, Japan
7) UN News recent articles on Human Rights Council
8) UN News: first group of 16 nations reviewed by HRC

9) Debito.org Podcast April 5, 2008: My March 18 FCCJ Speech in full on Trans Pacific Radio
10) Japan Times Feb 16 Symposium, my question from the floor makes the paper
11) “WELCOME NON-JAPANESE CUSTOMERS” stickers for businesses
now on sale at Debito.org (Paypal OK)
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column 3: “Activism vs Academia”

And finally…
13) Humor: Sankei Sports Pure-Ai Keitai dating service advertisement

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 11, 2008–SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN

JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six

SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
(with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

Filipina allegedly killed by J man, one let out of jail despite killing another Filipina in past

We have (insufficient) news reports about a case earlier this month of a Filipina suspected of being killed by a Japanese man, and having her body parts stowed in a locker in Hamamatsu Station. Then it turns out this guy, Nozaki Hiroshi, had killed a Filipina some years before, and apparently tried to flush her body parts down a toilet. For that previous crime, Nozaki was convicted, but only sentenced to three years plus. It wasn’t even judged a murder. And he got out allegedly to kill again. Oddly enough, Nozaki’s jail sentence was only a bit more than Nigerian citizen Mr Idubor’s, and Idubor’s conviction was for alleged rape, not murder. Yet Nozaki was apparently caught red-handed, while there was no physical evidence and discrepant testimony in Idubor’s Case. Ironically, that means that under these judicial litmus tests, the women involved could have been killed and it would have made no difference in the sentencing. That is, if you’re a Japanese criminal victimizing a foreigner, it seems. It’s getting harder to argue that the J judiciary is color-blind towards judging criminals and victims.