Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them

As you may know, Japan has no national civil or criminal legislation outlawing and punishing racial discrimination, meaning businesses with “Japanese only” signs aren’t doing anything illegal.

Problem is, I’m not sure it would matter if such a law existed.

To illustrate, consider one business sector that — technically — cannot exclude customers by race or nationality: hotels. … However, the Hotel Management Law is frequently ignored. Quick online searches (try Rakuten or Jalan) soon uncover hotels either outright refusing non-Japanese (NJ) lodgers, or, more circumspectly, those that say, “We don’t take reservations from NJ without addresses in Japan” (which is still unlawful).

Furthermore, when a government agency allows — even promotes — the systematic exclusion of NJ clients, we have a real problem with the rule of law in Japan.

Consider the curious case of the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Association ( www.tif.ne.jp ). In September 2007, I was notified that their English site was offering member hotels two preset options for “acceptance of foreigners” and “admittance of foreigners” (whatever that difference may be). Of the 142 hotels then listed, 35 chose not to accept or admit NJ customers….

Let’s connect some dots: We have public policies working at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism wants more NJ to visit and pump money into our economy, with Japan relaxing visa requirements for mainland Chinese tourists as of July 1. Yet the Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies just want to keep policing NJ, and that includes deputizing hotels. This is why since 2005 they’ve been demanding hotels photocopy all NJ passports at check-in — again, unlawful (Zeit Gists, Mar. 8 and Oct. 18, 2005). Of course, this assumes that anyone pays attention to the laws at all.

Japan’s lack of legal support for hapless NJ tourists (not to mention residents) — who face unfettered exclusionism precisely where the HML says they shouldn’t — are thus finding local government bodies conspiring against them…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2010

Table of Contents:

THE CHINESE ARE COMING
1) Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly
2) Toyoko Inn opens “exclusively Chinese” hotel in Susukino Sapporo, refuses Japanese and other NJ; media ignores questionable legality
3) Taiwanese-Japanese Dietmember Renho becomes first multiethnic Cabinet member; racist Dietmember Hiranuma continues ranting about it
4) Debito.org Reader asks for advice regarding Chinese “Trainees” exploitation, stolen wallet, and local police

THE IMMIGRANTS ARE NOT
5) Asahi poll: Japan would rather be poorer as a nation than accept immigration
6) Osaka Minami public campaign: “exclude bad foreigners” like yakuza, enlists enka singer as spokesperson
7) Kansai Scene June 2010 article on issue of refugees and J Detention Centers (“Gaijin Tanks”)
8 ) Guardian on benefits of immigration to UK, NW on GOJ’s history promoting anti-racism 90 years ago at League of Nations!

TANGENTS
9) Reuters: Showings of Oscar-winning documentary The Cove cancelled in Japan due to threat of protest
10) Support and preview FROM THE SHADOWS documentary on Japan’s Child Abductions: Tokyo Shibuya Thurs Jun 24 7PM, admission free
11) Kyodo: GOJ survey indicates 70% of J disabled feel discriminated against. Nice they, unlike NJ, even got asked.
12) Fun Facts #15: Percentages of J high school grads matriculating into college by prefecture
13) Excellent Mark Schreiber article on history of crime terms in J media

… and finally …

14) Kansai Scene June 2010 interview re NJ PR suffrage issue (full text)

Asahi has whiny article on how Chinese tourists don’t spend properly

The Asahi opines and whines: China tourists stingy in some areas

Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.

The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips–buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.

In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.

But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights. The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan. But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.

COMMENT: Chinese spend too much of their time SHOPPING! Heavens to Murgatroyd! I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places. But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway. What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 7, 2010

Table of Contents:
MORE DEBATES FROM BIZARROLAND
1) Eikawa GEOS claims in NZ court that workplace harassment is “The Japanese Way”, loses big
2) JIPI’s Sakanaka in Daily Yomiuri: “Japan must become immigration powerhouse” (English only, it seems)
3) Japan Times satirical piece on Gunma Isesaki bureaucrat beard ban
4) Kyodo: MOFA conducts online survey on parental child abductions and signing Hague Convention (in Japanese only)
5) Japan Times exposes dissent amidst scientist claims that eating dolphin is not dangerous
6) Economist London column on DPJ woes, passim on how senile Tokyo Gov Ishihara seems to be getting
7) Mark in Yayoi comments on Futenma affair: grant Okinawa its independence from Japan!
8 ) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JUNE 1, 2010 (Japanese), May 15 speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

UPDATES
9) AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki
10) Robert Dujarric in Japan Times: Immigrants can buoy Japan as its regional power gives way to China
11) Tangent: Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

… and finally…

12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column June 1, 2010: Okinawa Futenma is undermining Japanese democracy (full text)

Yomiuri: Nouveau riche Chinese buying up Japan, Niseko

Yomiuri: China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.

“Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.

Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.

A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.

All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.

In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent…The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”

A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”

The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.

It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest–it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
INTERESTING VIEWS
1) Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese
2) David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective
3) Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”
4) Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses
5) Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?
6) Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”
7) Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey
8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)
9) JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

NEWS YOU CAN USE
10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.
11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ
12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association
13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.
14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general
15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008
16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

… and finally …
17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”

Was offline Friday and Saturday: Speech in Kani-shi, Gifu-ken

Been on the road the past few days, giving speeches at Daito Bunka Daigaku in Tokyo on Thursday, and on Saturday at a place quite “in the middle of nowhere” called Kani City in Gifu Prefecture, close to an hour north from Nagoya, in a quite spread-out and leafy area of the country.

I’ll have more details on the speech soon (as soon as I can get to a scanner; I have copious documents) but this is a very, very progressive place regarding the treatment of its high NJ-resident population (it even signed the Hamamatsu Sengen nearly a decade ago), and I was invited to speak on what Japan needs to do as a country to make things better. Good audiences, great fun, more on it later.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ
1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors
2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed
3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns
4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo
5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?
6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori
7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

ISSUES RESPARKED
8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it
9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr
10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause
11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince
12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”
13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer
14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

TANGENTS
15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!
16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada
17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included
18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

… and finally…
19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”

Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns

As a natural extension of the strengthened policing of NJ by the GOJ (for we can only anticipate what scams NJ might get up to, untrustworthy lot), starting with fingerprinting them at the border every time as potential terrorists, criminals, and disease carriers, then tracking their money wherever they earn it, we now have the Tax Bureau doing the Immigration Bureau’s job of checking visa status if NJ were so good as to file their own tax forms. How dare they engage in such suspicious activities! It’s all part of expanding Gaijin Card Checks to unrelated agencies nationwide.

KYA writes: Can someone help me shed some light on this situation? I’ve filed my taxes in Japan every year for the past 8 years. I can’t swear that I ws never asked for a gaijin card or other form of ID before, but I KNOW that last year I wasn’t, wasn’t even asked to fill out that form asking how many days you spent in and out of the country, etc (I was asked to do that one two or three times, definitely not every year). And I know that my refund has NEVER been delayed, I’ve always filed early and got my money back early.

But this year, I filed my return in early March, and until today had heard nothing. Today, [I got a form in the mail requiring my Gaijin Card] (reproduced). I called immediately, asked why they needed it and if it was necessary, and got a big variety of non-answers in response. The first time I called, the person whose name was on the letter wasn’t there, so the guy who answered the phone said he’d answer my questions… I probably got more honest answers from him, although he was a bit of a jerk. He said that it’s always been like this, it’s not starting from this year, and that if I never had to do it before, it was because the person reviewing my return in the past decided that my name sounded Japanese enough, but that whoever did it this year thought it sounded foreign. I did challenge this, and asked him if it was okay to just judge people and choose who to question ad delay based on their NAME, would he have done the same to one of the many Japanese people who don’t have any NJ heritgage, but just have parents who gave them a katakana name? He basically said it just depended on the judgement of whoever got the return to review.

I asked why this NEVER popped up when I was preparing my tax return on the tax department’s homepage. There were all kinds of lists of necessary documents, including some things that said “(when applicable)” etc beside them. Nowhere did it say Gaiijn Card (for those who have one) or something similar. He said “Well, the homepage is written with Japanese people in mind. If you’d asked for help at city hall they would have told you to submit it.” So… you are delaying my tax return BECAUSE I can read Japanese, look at the homepage and prepare my own tax return WITHOUT wasting the time of someone at city hall or at the tax office? That seems very counterprductive, and when I pointed out as much, again he had no reply.

Then I told him I wanted to Google the law that made this necessary and asked him to tell me the name of the law requiring a gaijin card to get a tax refund. He said there was no law…

Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo

Japan has changed its approach to international tourism from “YOKOSO Japan” to “Japan. Endless Discovery”. Mutantfrog blog thinks its a step in the right direction. Less appraisable to me is Tokyo City’s new flash website welcoming tourism, with its cloying multilingual “Honey Anime” that makes everything just a little too clean-line. In sum, the campaign feels “terrarium in a fishbowl”, with little apparent knowhow of how to appeal to outsiders and what they want after a very expensive plane trip plus hotels (oooh, Tokyo’s got a ZOO!!). Like seeing the waxwork dish of lunch outside the restaurant, and coming in to see it’s not at all what it was advertised. But that’s only my impression. What do others think?

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column April 6, 2010 prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

CONCLUSION

In light of all the above, the Japanese government’s stance towards the U.N. Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination is easily summarized: The Ainu, Ryukyuans and burakumin are citizens, therefore they don’t fall under the CERD because they are protected by the Japanese Constitution. However, the zainichis and newcomers are not citizens, therefore they don’t get protection from the CERD either. Thus, our government effectively argues, the CERD does not cover anyone in Japan.

Well, what about me? Or our children? Are there really no ethnic minorities with Japanese citizenship in Japan?

In conclusion, I would like to thank the U.N. for investigating our cases. On March 16, the CERD Committee issued some very welcome recommendations in its review. However, may I point out that the U.N. still made a glaring oversight.

During the committee’s questioning of Japan last Feb. 24 and 25, very little mention was made of the CERD’s “unenforcement” in Japan’s judiciary and criminal code. Furthermore, almost no mention was made of “Japanese only” signs, the most indefensible violations of the CERD.

Both Japan and the U.N. have a blind spot in how they perceive Japan’s minorities. Newcomers are never couched as residents of or immigrants to Japan, but rather as “foreign migrants.” The unconscious assumption seems to be that 1) foreign migrants have a temporary status in Japan, and 2) Japan has few ethnically diverse Japanese citizens.

Time for an update. Look at me. I am a Japanese. The government put me through a very rigorous and arbitrary test for naturalization, and I passed it. People like me are part of Japan’s future. When the U.N. makes their recommendations, please have them reflect how Japan must face up to its multicultural society. Please recognize us newcomers as a permanent part of the debate.

The Japanese government will not. It says little positive about us, and allows very nasty things to be said by our politicians, policymakers and police. It’s about time we all recognized the good that newcomers are doing for our home, Japan. Please help us.

FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas

We had a NGO FRANCA (Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association) meeting last Sunday in Sendai. We’ll be having another one this coming Saturday evening in Tokyo, so if you like what you read below, please consider coming to our meeting and joining our group. FRANCA Chair Arudou Debito gave a presentation on what FRANCA is and what it’s doing. (You can download that presentation at https://www.debito.org/FRANCA.ppt). What follows are some photos and minutes of the meeting.

Rough draft text of my speech to UN Rep Bustamante Mar 23 in Tokyo

Excerpt: I wish to focus on the situation of peoples of “foreign” origin and appearance, such as White and non-Asian peoples like me, and how we tend to be treated in Japanese society. Put simply, we are not officially registered or even counted sometimes as genuine residents. We are not treated as taxpayers, not protected as consumers, not seen as ethnicities even in the national census. We not even regarded as deserving of the same human rights as Japanese, according to government-sponsored opinion polls and human rights surveys (blue folder items I-1, I-6 and III-6). This view of “foreigner” as “only temporary in Japan” is a blind spot even the United Nations seems to share, but I’ll get that later.

Here is a blue 500-page information folder I will give you after my talk, with primary source materials, articles, reference papers, and testimonials from other people in Japan who would like their voice heard. It will substantiate what I will be saying in summary below.

[…] [I]t is we “Newcomers” who really need the protections of a Japanese law against racial discrimination, because we, the people who are seen because of our skin color as “foreigners” in Japan, are often singled out and targeted for our own special variety of discriminatory treatment.

Here are examples I will talk briefly about now:
1) Discrimination in housing and accommodation
2) Racial Profiling by Japanese Police, through policies officially depicting Non-Japanese as criminals, terrorists, and carriers of infectious disease
3) Refusal to be registered or counted as residents by the Japanese Government
4) “Japanese Only” exclusions in businesses open to the public
5) Objects of unfettered hate speech…

UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well

The United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) Committee just issued its latest recommendations to the GOJ on March 16, stating what Japan should be doing to abide by the treaty they effected nearly a decade and a half ago, in 1996.

Guess what: A lot of it is retread (as they admit) of what the CERD Commitee first recommended in 2001 (when Japan submitted its first report, years late), and Japan still hasn’t done.

To me, unsurprising, but it’s still nice to see the UN more than a little sarcastic towards the GOJ’s egregious and even somewhat obnoxious negligence towards international treaties. For example, when it set the deadline for the GOJ’s answer to these recommendations for January 14, 2013, it wrote:

UN: “Noting that the State party report was considerably overdue, the Committee requests the State party to be mindful of the deadline set for the submission of future reports in order to meet its obligations under the Convention.”

Again, some more juicy quotes, then the full report, with issues germane to Debito.org in boldface. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

7. The Committee notes with concern that insufficient information regarding the concrete measures for the implementation of its previous concluding observations (2001) was provided by the State Party and regrets their overall limited implementation as well as that of the Convention as a whole.

9. The Committee notes the State party’s view that a national anti-discrimination law is not necessary and is concerned about the consequent inability of individuals or groups to seek legal redress for discrimination (art. 2). [meaning under current Japanese law, FRANCA cannot sue the Sumo Association for its recent racist rules counting foreign-born sumo wrestlers as foreign even if they naturalize. Nor will Japan allow class-action lawsuits. The UN says this must change.] The Committee reiterates its recommendation from previous concluding observations (2001) and urges the State party to consider adopting specific legislation to outlaw direct and indirect racial discrimination…

13. […] The Committee reiterates its view that the prohibition of the dissemination of ideas based upon racial superiority or hatred is compatible with freedom of opinion and expression and in this respect, encourages the State party to examine the need to maintain its reservations to article 4 (a) and (b) of the Convention with a view to reducing their scope and preferably their withdrawal. The Committee recalls that the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities, in particular the obligation not to disseminate racist ideas and calls upon the State party once again to take into account the Committee’s general recommendations No. 7 (1985) and No. 15 (1993)…

14. […] the Committee reiterates its concern from previous concluding observations (2001) that discriminatory statements by public officials persist and regrets the absence of administrative or legal action…

22. (b) […] the principle of compulsory education is not fully applied to children of foreigners in the State party in conformity with articles 5 (e.v) of the Convention; 28 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and 13 (2) of the Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, all of which Japan is a party;

24. The Committee expresses its concern about cases of difficulty in relations between Japanese and non-Japanese and in particular, cases of race and nationality-based refusals of the right of access to places and services intended for use by the general public, such as restaurants, family public bathhouses, stores and hotels, in violation of article 5 (f) of the Convention (art. 2, 5).

The Committee recommends that the State party counter this generalized attitude through educational activities directed to the population as a whole and that it adopt a national law making illegal the refusal of entry to places open to the public.

29. The Committee encourages the State party to consider making the optional declaration provided for in article 14 of the Convention recognizing the competence of the Committee to receive and consider individual complaints.

Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Spec. Rapporteur Bustamante, Mar 23. Last call for submissions from Debito.org Readers.

What follows is the Table of Contents for an information packet I will be presenting Special Rapporteur for the Human Rights of Migrants Jorge A. Bustamante, who will be visiting Japan and holding hearings on the state of discrimination in Japan. Presented on behalf of our NGO FRANCA (Sendai and Tokyo meetings on Sun Mar 21 and Sat Mar 27 respectively).

It’s a hefty packet of about 500 pages printed off or so, but I will keep a couple of pockets at the back for Debito.org Readers who would like to submit something about discrimination in Japan they think the UN should hear. It can be anonymous, but better would be people who provide contact details about themselves.

Last call for that. Two pages A4 front and back, max (play with the fonts and margins if you like). Please send to debito@debito.org by NOON JST Thursday March 18, so I can print it on my laser printer and slip it in the back.

Here’s what I’ll be giving as part of an information pack. I haven’t written my 20-minute presentation for March 23 yet, but thanks for all your feedback on that last week, everyone…

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 28, 2010

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 27, 2010
Table of Contents:

WHY THINGS DON’T CHANGE
1) Dejima Award for racist Sumo Kyoukai: Decides to count naturalized Japanese as foreigners and limit stables to one “foreigner”
(this will be the subject of my next JAPAN TIMES JUST BE CAUSE column, due out March 2, 2010)
2) Colin Jones and Daily Yomiuri on J judiciary’s usurpingly paternal attitudes re families post-divorce
3) SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record
4) Kyodo & Mainichi: 14 prefectures now oppose NJ PR suffrage (Debito.org names them)

WHY THINGS ARE CHANGING
5) International community serves demarche to MOFA re Int’l Child Abductions Issue, Jan 30 2010
6) Int’l Child Abductions Issue: USG formally links support to GOJ re DPRK abductions with GOJ’s signing of Hague Treaty
7) Japan Times: Foreign press pulling out of Japan in favor of China
8 ) Kyodo: NJ “Trainees” win Y17 million for trainee abuses by employer and “broker”
9) DailyFinance.com: McDonald’s Japan loses big, shutting 430 outlets, thanks in part to “Mr James” campaign
10) Japan Times: Immigration dropping social insurance requirement for visa renewal
11) Comfort Hotel Nagoya unlawfully tries Gaijin Card check on NJ resident, admits being confused by GOJ directives

THEN THERE IS OUTRIGHT NASTINESS
12) Tokyo Edogawa-ku LDP flyer, likens granting NJ PR suffrage to UFO alien invasion. Seriously.
13) Mainichi: Rwandan Refugee applicant jailed for weeks for not having photograph on GOJ-issued document
14) Ariel updates experience with not-random Gaijin Card and Passport Checks by Narita cops
15) Day Care Center in Tokorozawa, Saitama teaches toddlers “Little Black Sambo”, complete with the epithets
16) Kyodo et.al falls for NPA spins once again, headlines NJ “white collar crime” rise despite NJ crime fall overall
17) Laura Petrescu, MEXT Scholar, update: Bowing out of Japan, reasons why.

TANGENTS
18) Olympic Tangent: US-born Reed siblings skate for “Team Japan” despite one being too old to have dual nationality
19) UK Independent: Toyota’s problems being pinned on foreign parts.
20) Debito.org Poll: “Are you rooting for Team Japan in the Vancouver Olympics?” Vote on any blog page https://www.debito.org
21) LA Times: “Korea activists target foreign English teachers”
22) Odd treatment of “naturalized” people (guess who) by Air Canada/Canadian Government at Narita Airport
23) Dentistry in Canada, wow, what a difference!

… and finally …
24) SAPPORO SOURCE DEBITO column on Middle Age (full text)

SMJ/NGO combined report for UN CERD Committee regarding Japan’s human rights record

The Government of Japan comes under review this month in Geneva by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. I was invited to submit a chapter for a report to the UN by the NGO Solidarity with Migrants Japan (SMJ) on how Japan is doing with enforcing it.

NGO Report Regarding the Rights of Non-Japanese Nationals, Minorities of Foreign Origins, and Refugees in Japan.

Prepared for the 76th United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Session February 2010
Compiled and published by: Solidarity Network with Migrants Japan (SMJ)

CHAPTER 2 Race and Nationality-based Entrance Refusals at Private and Quasi-Public Establishments By Debito Arudou. Page 7

As I conclude:

“In conclusion, the situation is that in Japan, racial discrimination remains unconstitutional and unlawful under the ICERD, yet not illegal. Japan has had more than a decade since 1996 to pass a criminal law against RD. Its failure to do so can only be interpreted as a clear violation of ICERD Article 2(1): “States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay [emphasis added] a policy of eliminating racial discrimination.” We urge the Committee to make the appropriate advisements to the Japanese government to pass a law against racial discrimination without any further delay.”

Enjoy. Let’s see how the UN and GOJ respond. Here’s how the GOJ responded in 2008 — read and guffaw at their claim that they have taken “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”.

Saturday Tangent: Historian Howard Zinn, author of “People’s History of US”, dies at 87

It is with great sadness that I write to you about the death of one of my personal heroes, Howard Zinn. A person who departed from historical orthodoxy to write history books from the minority point of view. His “People’s History of the United States” is a must-read. Good man. Already missed. Obits below.

That’s one less of the ideological lions out there who have made an impression on me, speaking up for the little guy as much as possible, and narrating against the grain with tireless activism no matter how ripe the age. Including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Ralph Nader…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2010

Table of Contents:
DISCUSSIONS
1) Query: What to do about J children being rude towards NJ adults? (also Debito.org Poll on the subject)
2) Discussion: KFC Australia’s “racist” CM vs McD Japan’s “Mr James”
3) NZ publisher prints “Tales of Gaijin”; I have to withdraw submission due to rubric I cannot accept

UPDATES
4) Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Information website advertises that now 318 of its hotels refuse NJ clients
5) GAIJIN HANZAI Magazine becomes a “Taboo” topic in a 2007 magazine, victimizing J publisher
6) A Debito.org Reader updates on Toyoko Inn’s discriminatory treatment of NJ clients
7) Asahi Shinbun Jan 8 “Japan edges closer to signing Hague Convention” on Child Abductions issue, still mentions NJ “DV concerns”
8 ) Mainichi: New real estate guarantor service set up for NJ residents

WEIRD STUFF
9) Getchan on Japan Post’s recent anti-terrorism half-measures regarding parcels
10) DNA checks of “hakujin” at my university (?!?)

… and finally …
11) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Jan 5 with my top ten NJ human rights issues for 2009 (full text)
read aloud in
DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JANUARY 10, 2010

Shark updates on Toyoko Inn’s discriminatory treatment of NJ clients

I’ve reported on nationwide bargain business hotel chain Toyoko Inn before, regarding their lousy treatment of me at check-in back in 2007 (when they decided to gaijinize me, and quite nastily too; my letter of complaint to HQ went unanswered), and for refusing reservations for other NJ if they don’t produce Gaijin Cards (something they are not entitled to do under laws governing Immigration or hotels). Not to mention their lousy treatment of handicapped guests (receiving GOJ subsidies earmarked for barrier-free facilities and spending it on other things). It’s a place I’ll never stay at again.

Now for an update. Over the past couple of days, a Debito.org Reader who calls himself The Shark has been sending us good reports on Toyoko Inn as comments that deserve a blog entry of their own. We aim to please. Other people with experiences (Doug also commented, and I’ll repost that too) at Toyoko, feel free.

The most customized (and presumptuous) “email scam” letter I’ve received yet

I got this morning an email from somebody asking for help. That’s not unusual (I get at least one a day, two on Sundays), and I do my best to accommodate, within reason, depending on the reasonableness of the request and my depth of knowledge about the problem raised.

But this is the Internet, and things can get kinda odd at times. The requests I’ve tended to ignore are the ones asking me to abet an illegal activity (some people have friends who are going down for drugs and want me somehow to assist them; sorry, TS), asking for free legal advice (when I’m no lawyer), asking questions they could easily find either with a quick Google search or in our HANDBOOK (such as how long a Japanese visa is or what kinds of visas are out there), asking me how hard is it to naturalize (usually from high schoolers who are entranced by Japanese anime and have never even been to Japan), or even those who want me to write their college term papers for them (most cryptic question: “Is Japanese a left-leaning or right-leaning language? Why or why not?” Huh?)

But then, this morning, I got the most jarring one yet…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 20, 2009

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

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

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

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

Sunday Tangent: Headachingly bad Japan travelogue by Daily Beast’s “new travel columnist” Jolie Hunt. Go to town on it.

Sunday Tangent time: I saw one of the worst Star Trek (TOS) shows ever (one that makes you say, “Give me my 50 minutes back!”, and no, it wasn’t “Spock’s Brain” — it was “Catspaw”; enough said). In the same genre of howlingly bad copy and information, let me send along this little ditty of Japan travelogue by a Ms Jolie Hunt for you to scratch at:

Excerpt: “I hadn’t been to Tokyo in three years and what struck me on a recent three-day visit was how the city seems vaster, yet more accessible for Westerners, than it did when I was last here. Now nearly everyone, from your cabbie to your masseur, can manage a few words in English. And speaking of cabbies, Tokyo’s are glorious. All wear white gloves, have doily-adorned seats, and accept American Express. And no more renting one of those weird cellphones when you visit; 3G now works here. All these comforts and conveniences have a way of making Japan feel less foreign—almost, I dare say, like any other major city.”

Open season.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 8, 2009

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

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

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

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

Post #1500!: Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Dec 1 2009 on making Japan more attractive to immigrants (with links to sources)

Japan Times: We are about to start a new decade. This past one has been pretty rotten for NJ residents. Recall the campaigns: Kicked off by Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara’s “Sankokujin Speech” in 2000, where he called upon the Self-Defense Forces to round up foreigners in the event of a natural disaster, we have had periodic public panics (al-Qaida, SARS, H1N1, the G8 Summits and the World Cup), politicians, police and media bashing foreigners as criminals and terrorists, the reinstitution of fingerprinting, and increased NJ tracking through hotels, workplaces and RFID (radio-frequency identification) “gaijin cards”. In other words, the 2000s saw the public image of NJ converted from “misunderstood outsider” to “social destabilizer”; government surveys even showed that an increasing majority of Japanese think NJ deserve fewer human rights!

Let’s change course. If Hatoyama is as serious as he says he is about putting legislation back in the hands of elected officials, it’s high time to countermand the elite bureaucratic xenophobes that pass for policymakers in Japan. Grant some concessions to non-citizens to make immigration to Japan more attractive.

Otherwise, potential immigrants will just go someplace else. Japan, which will soon drop to third place in the ranking of world economies, will be all the poorer for it.

Advice re Japan Law Society, Tokyo/Osaka association of NJ lawyers: they really won’t pay you if they invite you to speak

I gave a seminar for the Japan Law Society in Osaka a year ago, something that was even applied for legal profession education credit overseas. Checking my records recently I realized I never got paid anything for it. Contacted, they replied that they never were going to pay me anyway (not even the general minimum standard in Japan of 5000 yen for travel expenses).

More fool me, you might say, for accepting the invitation. I guess the lesson to be learned here is that when the Japan Law Society invites you as a speaker and then says it will not pay you, take it seriously. It won’t. But that’s in my opinion quite unprofessional and deserves to be known about. Professionals who want related professional assistance should be willing to compensate the provider for the service. That’s how the system works when professionals are involved.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 22, 2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 8, 2009

SPECIAL ON McDONALDS JAPAN’S BURGER-PROMOTING CHARACTER “MR JAMES”
Intro to the issue:
1) McDonalds Japan’s new creepy “Mr James” burger campaign, featuring katakana-speaking gaijin
2) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Sept 1 2009 on why “Mr James” is a problem

Protest begins:
3) NPO FRANCA protest letter to McDonald’s USA HQ re “Mr James”
4) NPO FRANCA’s downloadable protest letter in Japanese
5) “I Hate ‘Mr James’ Facebook page created (not by me), now at 232 members

Reactions:
6) South China Morning Post on “Mr James” , quotes FRANCA
7) San Francisco Chronicle on McDonald’s Japan “Mr James” campaign, and similar ethnically-insensitive sales campaigns overseas
8 ) TIME Magazine on “Mr James”, misses point
9) McDonald’s Japan CR Director Kawaminami Junichi responds to FRANCA, no apologies or retractions

Repercussions:
10) McDonald’s Japan “Mr James”: Reports of improvements
11) Sports drink uses katakana- and KANJI speaking alien:
Contrast with McDonald’s “Mr James” katakana-only character
12) Quick follow-up letter to McDonald’s USA “Contact us” website re “Mr James”:
Compare to Subway Sandwiches’ J-speaking NJ shills

Bumping into Ramos Rui, one of my heroes, by chance in Nagoya

Just a quick blog entry for today. I was in Nagoya a few days ago finishing up one of my intensive courses on Media Professionalism, and at checkout from my hotel who should I bump into on the elevator but somebody I could have sworn looked just like one of my heroes.

Ramos Rui, a famous soccer player who has done a great deal in my opinion for assimilation of NJ (he even naturalized in 1989), toughing it out in what would become the J-League, then the Japan National Team, was standing right there. I asked him, he acknowledged, and we had a quick conversation in Japanese about things. Photo enclosed.

McDonald’s Japan “Mr James”: Reports of improvements

McDonald’s Japan seems to be tweaking the “Mr James” campaign in a more positive direction: 1) Losing the katakana tray inserts, 2) Giving him a more endearing backstory, 3) Having him speak in hiragana too, not just katakana, 4) Not featuring him in more international neighborhoods of Japan. Readers, confirm, deny, or expand?

These are all evidence that McDonald’s Japan is taking complaints about this campaign seriously. But I still say the campaign must be suspended entirely. They may be trying to make him a character with more redeeming characteristics. But he’s still, in my book, a gaijin — an epithet made flesh; that’s how he was designed, and now McDonald’s Japan, for better or worse, is saddled with him.

Tangent: Links to American artist David Stanley Hewett’s work

Tangent: Being A Broad founder Caroline Pover has recently started managing the business of American artist David Stanley Hewett. Both David and Caroline support a lot of charities and individuals in the international community in Japan, and Caroline has been very supportive of my books, so I’d like to support them in return by spreading the word:

David Stanley Hewett is an American artist who has been living in Japan since 1992. He comes from a family of artists and began painting as a small child, alongside his mother in her studio… Hewett creates Japanese-influenced abstract art, incorporating references to Japanese history, the Shinto religion, martial arts, and the Bushido code…

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…

Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

Big news last week was Sugaya Toshikazu’s acquittal after nearly two decades in prison. It describes well what’s really sick about Japan’s judicial system (primer on that here), which you had better pay attention to because as NJ you’re more likely to be stopped, prosecuted, and convicted in Japan (primer on that here) by the police forces.

Here’s what the Mainichi had to say last week about the Sugaya Case, followed by an appraisal of the situation by reader M-J…

Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?

Debito.org has received word of police crackdowns and raids in Roppongi these days, perhaps in a bid to weed out the marijuana so popular in sumo circles, perhaps in a bid to clean things up for the 2016 Olympic Bid. The US Embassy is also advising Americans to stay away. Feel free to share similar experiences in this blog entry.

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)

GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu

A friend of mine was supposed to come to Tokyo from the U.S. for an academic conference next week. There would be around 800 mostly North American participants — good business for hotels and lots of tourism money in general in these tough economic times. Last week, the GOJ started pressuring the host university to cancel the conference. The host, Josai University, managed to negotiate the following conditions to have the conference:

1. Detailed location/contact info for participants during conference and 10 days after
2. Temperature taken every day of the conference; those with 100.4 F given additional test and possibly quarantined
3. Fill out health declaration every day
4. Wear masks every day
5. Participants are required to pay all quarantine and medical costs

Needless to say, many did not want to attend under these strict conditions, and the conference ended up being canceled…

Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu, Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends

Wash Post: Armed with thermographic guns, Japanese health inspectors in surgical gowns, goggles and masks boarded United Flight 803 from Washington Dulles. They prowled the aisles, pointing their fever-seeking machines at jet-lagged faces.

Asia was stung in 2003 by an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which killed about 800 people and caused temporary harm to the economies of Hong Kong, Singapore, China and Malaysia. As a result, governments and health bureaucracies across the region are ready and willing to move aggressively against swine flu.

For jumbo jets arriving from North America, a shortage of health inspectors [in Japan] has meant that considerable time is being spent by passengers in parked airplanes. Thousands of travelers have waited for hours in their seats before inspectors could clear them to pass through immigration.

“We’re just about managing to handle the situation with a limited number of inspectors,” a government official told the Yomiuri newspaper. “But I wonder what will happen if more outbreaks occur in other countries.”…

COMMENT: My critique of this situation might surprise you… But then it turns out, according to the Mainichi and Kyodo, that unprofessional hospitals are turning away people with fevers or a foreign friend! Read on.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori

Japan Times: Sociopaths like Fujimori are by definition incurious about how they affect others, especially when granted power in young, weak constitutional democracies. At least Peru and Chile had the sense (and the chance) to lock him up and re-establish the rule of law.

No thanks to Japan, of course, from whom the world expects more maturity. Rumor has it the International Olympic Committee has been nudged by rival candidate cities about Ishihara and Fujimori. If this knocks Tokyo out of contention for the 2016 Olympics, more hurrahs for poetic justice.

In sum, Fujimori is a classic case of how power corrupts. A former math teacher comes to power, comes to believe that he can do anything, then comes to a dazzlingly rich society run by elites who shelter him and further encourage his excesses.

A pundit friend said it well: “Fujimori is an accident of birth. If he had been born in North America, he’d have been a dentist, not a dictator.”

At least this time, this kind of “accident” has not gone unpunished.

Asahi: Multiethnic Japan in LA’s Little Tokyo

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Tokyo Reader” on odd rental contracts for apartments: “lease” vs. “loan for use”? Plus Kyoutaku escrow for disputes

Tokyo Reader: I am currently in a dialogue with company HT. Over the winter, HT looks to have lowered rents on the 1K apartments. What used to be advertised as 150,000 yen a month is now 135,000 yen. (I say “used to be advertised” because there is some evidence that different parties are paying different rents, having nothing to do with a discount system.)

Since I had been paying the higher rent, I proposed paying the new advertised price. According to the Land & House Lease Law (“LHLL”), Article 32, a tenant can propose a rent reduction when there is evidence that rents in a given neighborhood have declined. The landlord may disagree and then a mandatory arbitration panel is supposed to decide the matter.

Company HT insists that my 1K is somehow special that it requires the higher price (150,000 yen). Funny is that when I moved into the building, there was no such tiered pricing. Further, Company HT claims that my lease is not covered by the Land & House Lease Law, but rather is a “Loan for use” under Civil Code, Article 593…

Michael Fox: Can anything be done if your rent is increased unfairly? Or what if people moving into your building are paying less? Good news, there is a designated process for alleviating overcharges…

If negotiation fails, the next step is to deposit the money into escrow (kyoutaku 供託)with the local government. The papers for such procedure can be obtained from the Legal Affairs Department (Houmukyoku法務局) of your city/town office.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”:
Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model
2) Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”
3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.
4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance
5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube
7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established
8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels
9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

PLEAS FOR HELP
10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”
11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school
12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

… and finally…
13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA
14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

Peru’s Fujimori really really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori was convicted and sentenced to 25 years in prison Tuesday for death squad killings and kidnappings during his 1990s struggle against Shining Path insurgents.

The court convicted the 70-year-old former leader, who was widely credited for rescuing Peru from the brink of economic and political collapse, of “crimes against humanity” including two operations by the military hit squad that claimed 25 lives…

Fujimori, who proclaimed his innocence in a roar when the 15-month televised trial began, barely looked up, uttering only four words — “I move to nullify” — before turning, waving to his children, and walking out of the courtroom at the Lima police base where he has been held and tried since his 2007 extradition from Chile…

Fujimori’s congresswoman daughter, Keiko, called the conviction foreordained and “full of hate and vengeance.” She said it would only strengthen her candidacy for the 2011 presidential race.

“Fujimorism will continue to advance. Today we’re first in the polls and will continue to be so,” she said outside the courtroom. She has vowed to pardon her father if elected.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

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

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

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

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

Mainichi: Tourism to Japan plunges by over 40% compared to last year

Mainichi: The JNTO said Wednesday that 408,800 foreigners visited Japan in February, a 41.3 percent decrease from the same month the previous year. The rate of decline was the second largest since statistics were first kept in 1961, after a 41.8 percent reduction in August 1971, the year following the Osaka Expo.

COMMENT: We have tourism to Japan plunging, the second-highest drop in history. Of course, the high yen and less disposable income to go around worldwide doesn’t help, but the Yokoso Japan campaign to bring 10 million tourists to Japan is definitely not succeeding. Not helping are some inhospitable, even xenophobic Japanese hotels, or the fingerprinting campaign at the border (which does not only affect “tourists”) grounded upon anti-terror, anti-crime, and anti-contageous-disease policy goals. Sorry, Japan, must do better. Get rid of the NJ fingerprinting campaign, for starters.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 14, 2009

THE DARK SIDE
1) NPA targeting NJ zones, “to ensure safety”. (Oh, and to prevent crime.)
2) NJ company “J Hewitt” advertises “Japanese Only” jobs, in the Japan Times!
3) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES, on Japan’s NJ labor, screening schedule Mar 21-31
Tsukuba Tokyo Nagoya Hikone Osaka Okayama Kumamoto

POINTS OF LIGHT
4) Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules
5) Officially proposed by Soumushou: NJ to get Juuminhyou
6) AXA Direct insurance amends its CNN advertising to sound less exclusive to NJ customers
7) Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese Pt II: Why you should run for office in Japan

MISCELLANEOUS
8 ) Books recently received by Debito.org: “Japan’s Open Future”, et al.
9) Fun Facts #13: National minimum wage map
10) Tangent: Terrie’s Take on Japan going to pot
11) Economist.com on jury systems: spreading in Asia, being rolled back in the West

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Mar 3 2009 on “Toadies, Vultures, and Zombie Debates” (full text)

NPA targeting NJ zones, “to ensure safety”. (Oh, and to prevent crime.)

Sit down and stifle your mirth. The NPA says it’s going to start implementing “crime prevention measures to ensure safety in areas where many foreigners reside”, in order to “enable foreigners in Japan to live a better life”. Yeah sure. We’ve heard that one before.

Kyodo doesn’t seem to have, however, reporting this as though it’s some kind of new policy. Hardly. The first anti-crime action plans this decade happened before the World Cup 2002 with all manner of “anti-hooligan” measures. Then came the “anti-NJ and youth crime” programs under Koizumi 2003-2004. Then came the anti-terrorism plans of 2004 which resulted in passport checks (for all NJ, erroneously claimed the police) at hotels from 2005. Not to mention the al-Qaeda scares of 2004, snapping up innocent people of Islamic appearance. Then the border fingerprinting from 2007. Then the overpolicing during the Toyako G8 Summit of 2008. Now what? The “anti-NJ-organized crime” putsch in the NPA’s most recent report (see Debito.org entry of last week), with little reference to the Yakuza organized crime syndicates in Japan.

And that’s before we even get to the biannual reports from the NPA saying “foreign crime is rising” (even when it isn’t). Never lets up, does it.

And this is, again, for our safety? Save us from ourselves?

Okay, now you can laugh.