DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 20, 2009

POLICING
1) Yomiuri et al. on new “Zairyuu Cards” to replace “Gaijin Cards”
2) Zainichi also get cards, although with relaxed conditions
3) GOJ claims victory in “halving overstayers” campaign, maintains myth that NJ fingerprinting did it
4) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Noriko Calderon, born in Japan, child of overstayers, and deportation

NJ CRIME EXPOSURE: MEDIA EXCESSES AND RESTRAINTS
5) Japan Today on Spa! magazine’s expose of “Monster Gaikokujin” running amok in Japan
6) Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned
7) Mainichi: 3 Chinese arrested over paternity scam to get child Japanese citizenship
8 ) Asahi: NJ overstayers finding housing through name laundering ads

A MIXED BAG OF POTENTIAL LEGAL PRECEDENTS
9) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Berlitz’s lawsuit against unions for “strike damage”
10) The Economist on international divorce and child custody (Japan passim)
11) Japanese stewardesses sue Turkish Airlines for discriminatory employment conditions

…and finally…
12) Fun and Games at Hokuyo Bank: Extra questions for the gaijin account holder

Full four pages of Feb 17 2009 SPA! article on “Monster Gaikokujin” scanned

For your discussion are the full four pages of the SPA! magazine article on how NJ (rendered “monster gaikokujin”, abbreviated to “Monga” to save space) are coming to Japan and doing bad bad things. Have a read.

I offer a brief synopsis, then a critique. SPA! still tries to sensationalize and decontextualize (where is any real admission that Japanese do these sorts of things too, both domestically and internationally?), and commits, as I keep saying, the unscientific sin of ascribing behavior to nationality, as if nationalities were breeds of dogs with thoroughbred behaviors. Again, if you’re going to do a story on foreign crime (and it should be crime, not just simple faux pas or possible misunderstandings), talk about the act and the individual actor (yes, by name), and don’t make the action part of a group effort. Doing so just foments prejudice. But I’m sure the editors of SPA! are plenty sophisticated to know that. They’re just pandering to sell papers.

Happy New Year: Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008

To open 2009, here’s my annual essay where I note ten things that caused me to think quite a bit last year. Some things I partook in (books and media and whatnot) might also be interesting for you to delve into as well. For what they’re worth, and in no particular order: Iijima Ai’s death, 2008 Cycletrek, FRANCA, Toyoko G8 Summit, California Trip 2008, ENRON and SICKO movies, two Francis Wheen books, my Japan Times column, Ken Burns THE WAR, and HANDBOOK for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants.

Xmas List: Ten things Japan does best

Here’s my Christmas Present to readers: The top ten things I think Japan does better than just about everyone else.

I include Toilet Culture, Calligraphy Goods, Packaging, Anime, Public Transportation, and several others I’m not going to list up here ‘cos I think you might enjoy reading the essay straight through (yes, I’ve put in a couple of rather surprising topics).

This is an antidote to those people convinced I don’t like Japan.

Mainichi: NJ cause Tsukiji to ban all tourists for a month

Tsukiji is enforcing an outright ban for a month on all visitors to Tsukiji fish market, the world’s largest. The Mainichi says the Tokyo Govt claims it’s due to NJ tourists and their bad manners (or so the Japanese headline says below — the English headline just says they’re too numerous; thanks, Mainichi, for sweetening your translations, again). And the fish market itself claims they cannot communicate the rules with Johnny Foreigner in their foreign tongues (nobody there has ever heard of handing out multilingual pamphlets upon entry or putting up signs?). Anyway, I wonder if this issue is so simply a matter of NJ manners?

Anyway, this isn’t the first time Tsukiji Market has threatened to do this, but this is the first I’ve heard of an outright ban. Moreover, using a purported language barrier as a real barrier to entry and service is becoming the catch-all excuse, as we are increasingly seeing in Japanese businesses, such as banks and insurance agencies. Beats actually making more efforts to cater to the customer, in this case the tourists eating the fish around the marketplace after the marketing, I guess.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2008

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

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

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

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

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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.

Kyodo: SDF’s Tomogami revisionist history shows cosiness between J military and right-wing nationalists

Kyodo: Sacked air force chief Toshio Tamogami testified in parliament Tuesday over his controversial war essay but his unapologetic rhetoric only highlighted a large difference in perception with the government regarding Japan’s role in World War II.

His testimony also posed a question even among Self-Defense Forces officers about whether the 60-year-old former general was ever fit for the post of Air Self-Defense Force chief of staff and prompted politicians to have second thoughts about the effectiveness of their efforts to maintain civilian control of the defense forces…

Revelations about Tamogami’s cozy links with a nationalist real estate businessman who organized the competition was also among topics taken up by the committee.

The essay contest was organized by hotel and condominium developer Apa Group and its head Toshio Motoya, a friend of Tamogami. Apa Group is also known for its support of hawkish former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

On top of that, an orchestrated submission of essays by ASDF personnel is also suspected.

Tamogami also denied in the parliamentary session that he received any inappropriate benefits from Motoya’s side and that he had played a role in the organized submission of essays.

But the ministry has found that in addition to Tamogami, 94 of the 235 essay submissions came from the ASDF.

Another senior official of the ministry questioned the fairness of the essay contest saying, ”It must have been fixed.”

Get Japan Times today: New JUST BE CAUSE Column out on “Truth Octane”

Get yourself a copy of the Japan Times today, Tuesday November 4 (Weds Nov 5 outside major urban areas) for my latest JUST BE CAUSE Column.

Topic: “Truth Octane”, talking about how some people simply find too much “truth” in debate too much to take. And how those activists that can give their side of the story with a slow-drip amount of truth can change the world. Have a read today!

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…

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 14, 2008

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

… and finally…
9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column on how “gaijin” concept destroys Japan’s rural communities
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Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated: Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, & Ishikawa added

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

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

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

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

Update details as follows:

Tanya Clark reviews HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS very favorably.

Tanya Clark HANDBOOK review excerpts:
“So, it was with my [mental] fingers tightly crossed that I first opened Arudou and Higuchi’s book. I have interacted with Arudou off and on over the years as his editor and as someone who paid passing attention to his activities as a Japan-based activist for foreigners’ rights. Arudou had taken the challenging path of adopting Japanese nationality (he was an American citizen) and creating a life for himself in Hokkaido, itself a frontier-esque northern island in Japan. Knowing Arudou knew his subject had raised my hopes. But, he and his writing partner pulled it off?

Indeed they had. The two of them (Higuchi is a Hokkaido-based lawyer) had summarised the nuts and bolts of life for people whose Japan stay is extended. Whether it is maintaining a funeral plot in Japan, buying a car, joining a union or tips on divorcing a troublesome partner — life’s essential tips and tricks are covered…

Yes, living in Japan is just like living in most other places (pretty much) — but there is a twist. This Handbook is an excellent guide to set you on the way to learning all those twists (and a few turns).

In brief, Arudou and Higuchi have put together an essential handbook covering the key topics and questions anyone living in Japan (or intending to) needs to address.

Tangent: In Niseko, playing Cricket!

I’m here in Niseko for a little while longer after coming here to learn how to play Cricket. Yes, that sport played by the Commonwealth on a field lacking two bases, using that wickedly hard ball without gloves. And I can still type this morning without broken fingers. Attending an international Cricket competition and charity event and discovering the game is actually a lot of fun! More details on the event (consider attending next year, Cricketeers!) in this blog entry.

Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test

Finally got done with my marvelous class (a joy from start to finish, we went several hours overtime just discussing the issues), and been too busy to revise my blog every night revising my powerpoints to reflect the threads of our conversation. So let me forward this germane email and open a discussion about issues regarding Softbank and the JPLT.

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 28, 2006

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1) INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGES INCREASE TO ONE IN FIFTEEN
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE COMING BACK TO JAPAN MAY 15 TO 19
3) PART TIME UNIV TEACHERS GET HISTORICALLY BIG SETTLEMENT
4) NEW JAPAN TIMES COLUMN ON TOTTORI DEFEATED HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE
5) FORMER JAPANESE ARMY MAN RETURNS AFTER 63 YEARS
6) FUTURE UPDATES ON HIS TRAVEL AND JAL HOTEL MILEAGE
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2006

//////////////////////////////////////////////
1) MAINICHI et al: POLICE RACIAL PROFILING RESULTS IN MISTAKEN ARREST OF JAPANESE THEY THINK IS A FOREIGNER
2) MOFA TO HOLD HEARING RE UN CERD COMMITTEE REPORT
3) NUGW “MARCH IN MARCH” SUNDAY MARCH 5 IN SHINJUKU
4) “REVERSE DISCRIMINATION” AT KYOTO FORMER IMPERIAL PALACE
5) BOOK “JAPANESE ONLY” 2006 REVISED VERSION HITS STORES
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Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly

Terrie’s Take on Oji Seishi: As work has progressed, the families became suspicious that Oji may have had another reason for doing the construction work and decided to hire a professional architect to come in and assess the work. To their shock, he pointed out a number of areas fitted with asbestos and worse still, PCBs — perhaps from the same source as those found in the Nagano soil by Seiko Espon.

When confronted by the families, Oji initially denied any presence of either substance and continued their work as if everything was OK. However, the two families persisted and in June (last month), in front of lawyers and staff representing the families AND the Minato-ku Ward Office, Oji Real Estate and Takenaka Construction company representatives admitted that the building does in fact have both substances, with the asbestos being present in significant amounts, and that they’d known for some time about the presence of these substances.

Now, let’s think about this. A luxury apartment full of young kids, top-level international executives, and their guests, and yet Oji had known for possibly up to two years about the presence of asbestos and PCBs! What does this tell you about the company and its ethics?

As far as we know, we’re the first to break this story to the public, but the families are obviously hoping that the media will pick up on the situation and give Oji the coverage that the company obviously still needs in order to get the message: “a quick admission of the problem and proper settlement of tenant claims is the only reasonable outcome”.

In the meantime, if you are living in or have lived in any of the Oji apartment complexes, you may be wondering what the presence of asbestos means. Providing it is inert, probably the buildings have been/are reasonably safe, but the problem with asbestos is that one never knows when it or the binders it is applied with will age and start to flake off. Oji Palace is even older than the Oji Homes facility and there has been no indication at this stage that Oji plans any investigation or remediation of substances possibly present there. We think this is extremely irresponsible…

Then of course, there is the matter of the two families and their kids left in the building… We find it incredible that Oji Real Estate is able to engage in such dangerous construction work with tenants still present. This represents a level of bloody mindedness on the part of Oji managers that wouldn’t be tolerated if those families were Japanese. The proper venue for a showdown of this nature is the courts, and if Oji wants the resisting tenants to move, it should take them to court, reveal the levels of compensation being offered, and wait for the courts to decide before continuing their work.

Japan Times Tokyo Confidential with amusing anecdotes about G8 gifts and local offput business…

(excerpt) So this time [the G8 Summit organizers are] cutting back, with expenditures only about one-fourth that of the Okinawa Summit. Participants will receive a bag embroidered in the style of Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu. In keeping with the conference’s ecological message, press kits handed out to reporters in “eco bags” were made from recycled materials. Other commemorative souvenirs such as furoshiki (a wrapping cloth used for carrying items) and chopsticks were also made from recycled materials.

Perhaps, the magazine remarks, foreign newsmen who recall Japan’s magnanimous generosity at the previous Nago Summit were a bit disappointed this year.

Among the local delicacies the foreign visitors could partake, Shukan Shincho continues, was Mame no Bunshiro Kazuno Natto, a gourmet variety of fermented soybeans, which are typically disdained by many foreigners due to their unfamiliar odor and texture, from Donan Hiratsuka Shokuhin Co. The beans also contain reishi (Ganodermalucidum), an edible fungus that boasts medicinal properties…

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 Eric Johnston’s July 10 Sapporo speech on G8 Summit–with audio recording, powerpoint, photos

Wrapping up this long-running series on the G8 Summit, here’s a blog entry on last night’s Sapporo speech by Japan Times Deputy Editor Eric Johnston, sponsored by the Hokkaido International Business Association (HIBA). Photos and links to his powerpoint and an audio recording of the event below.

Brief: On July 10, 2008, Eric spoke for an hour and change on the state of newspaper media (versus the bloggers, who at times were better connected to Summiteers than the mainstream journalists), the inefficiencies of Summit reporting and how it blocked true journalism (including a press center far away from the Summit site, and a GOJ stranglehold over press schedules–one example given was four hours’ travel and wait time for a sixty-second press conference with PM Fukuda), the incredible economic and ecological waste that goes on at these Summits (including, he says, a ton of lamb meat left uneaten due to journalist time constraints), and the flat-out lying to the local governments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs re getting the local economies involved in Summit events (this was apparently Tokyo’s show all the way–shutting out local pensions for “Ministry-certified hotels”, which gouged the journalists with JPY 60,000 hotel rooms, and not allowing local businesses to take much advantage of the world’s attention). Thus sequestered and sealed off from the stories they had come a long way to report, the journalists at the media center could have been anywhere in the world, and all that any journalist (working 16 to 18 hour days), who didn’t have the gumption to leave the site and go searching for his or her own stories, saw of Japan was the center’s sushi bar.

Oh yes, and Eric talked about the goal of the Summit and appraises whether or not it was successful. Most people don’t think so. And despite the relative boosterism by GOJ-influenced press like NHK, the world media is now beginning to see these summits for what they are–basically highly wasteful and expensive parties for politicians, with only one real working day to consider a few major issues and, for the most part, agree that something is “a good idea”, rather than hammer out any specific policy or agreement. All with us taxpayers footing the bill (particularly us Japanese taxpayers, paying ten or more times more, as usual, than last year’s Summit).

As one of the attendees of tonight’s speech commented, it was like the circus had come to town, set up their tent on a vacant lot, then shut the locals out from their show. Then they departed, leaving nothing behind but a vacant lot. More…

Japan Times July 8 2008 45th Zeit Gist Column: Gaijin as Public Policy Guinea Pig

GAIJIN AS GUINEA PIG
Non-Japanese, with fewer rights, are public policy test dummies
By ARUDOU Debito
Column 45 for the Japan Times Zeit Gist Community Page
Draft Seventeen, “Director’s Cut”, with links to sources
Published July 8, 2008:

Anywhere in the world, non-citizens have fewer legal rights than citizens. Japan’s Supreme Court would agree: On June 2, in a landmark case granting citizenship to Japanese children of unmarried Filipina mothers, judges ruled that Japanese citizenship is necessary “for the protection of basic human rights”.

A shortage of rights for some humans is evident whenever police partake in racial profiling–for example, stopping you for walking, using public transportation, even cycling while gaijin (Zeit Gist Jul. 27, 2004). Japanese citizens are protected against random questioning by the “Police Execution of Duties Act”; requiring probable cause of a crime. But non-citizens, thanks to the Foreign Registry Law, can be questioned at any time, any place, under penalty of arrest (with some caveats; see SIDEBAR below).

The societal damage caused by this, however, isn’t so easily compartmentalized by nationality. Denying legal rights to some people will eventually affect everyone, especially since non-Japanese (NJ) are being used as a proving ground for embryonic public policy. Read more…

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.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 1, 2008: SPECIAL ON PRE-SUMMIT

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 1, 2008
SPECIAL ON EVE OF HOKKAIDO TOYAKO G8 SUMMIT
Table of Contents:

THE BIG PICTURE: JAPAN G8 SUMMIT’S SECURITY OVERKILL
My April 22 2008 Japan Times column on excesses of G8 Summit, now also in Japanese
Vindication: Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 security
Japan Times Eric Johnston speaks for HIBA Sapporo July 10 on G8 Summit aftermath
Registered overseas journalists being detained, refused entry into Japan due to Summit

IN MICROCOSM: PROTESTING RACIAL PROFILING BY HOKKAIDO POLICE
My most recent Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column (July 1) as primer to this issue
Background: Being stopped by Hokkaido Police for walking while White in Chitose Airport
(links to audio recording, stakeout photos, and bilingual transcript of police questioning)
Text of Protest Letter handed into Hokkaido Police (Japanese)
Full report: Press conference goes well, but Hokkaido Police deny racial profiling
despite evidence, use every trick in the book to evade accountability and press scrutiny.

STILL MORE EVIDENCE OF GAIJIN TARGETING:
G8 Summit Security in Roppongi: Flyers asking NJ for cooperation
“in carrying out security inspections and police checkups”
Nagano Ryokan: Ministries order all hotels nationwide to target
all “foreign guest” passports to unearth terrorists

…and finally…
American tarento Pakkun bullies eager language learners at G8 Summit Site

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 5: July forecast: rough, with ID checks mainly in the north

My latest JUST BE CAUSE column, on racial profiling for Summit security:

“I have suggested before (Zeit Gist Dec. 18, 2007) that Japan shouldn’t host major international events. Unfettered police power and insufficient media scrutiny create a virtual police state inconveniencing everyone.

I’ve likewise criticized the Hokkaido G8 Summit (ZG Apr. 22)–not only as a waste of resources (an estimated $700 million spent, mostly on “security”), but also because police harass foreign-looking people as potential terrorists.

Like me…

Conclusion: Hang on, folks–it’s going to be a rough July. And just wait: These Summits happen here every eight years. So if Tokyo also gets the Olympics in 2016, we’ll have a double whammy. Which means, unless Japan develops more public accountability, more money for the police, and more meiwaku for those who unfortunately look foreign.”

Narita Customs Cannabis and Sniffer Dog Training part 2: Kyodo says it’s happened 160 times since last September

Updating older issue about Narita Customs lacing NJ bag with drugs to test their dogs. Kyodo reports:

“Three customs officers have planted packages of cannabis resin in the luggage of travelers arriving at Narita International Airport outside Tokyo without notice a total of 160 times since last September to train drug sniffer dogs, Tokyo Customs said Monday.

Disciplinary actions have been taken against the three officers and nine senior customs officials as such acts are banned under Tokyo Customs’ in-house rules.

Among the three was a 38-year-old customs officer who planted cannabis resin in the luggage of a traveler from Hong Kong earlier this year…”

Bonus irony: World’s Customs body has just elected their Japanese representative as their head…

Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 Summit security overkill

Japan Times article by Eric Johnston says what Debito.org has been saying all along–that security overkill sets dangerous precedents for everyone in Japan:

“Their region having played host to three Group of Eight ministerial conferences over the past month, many in Kansai are breathing a sigh of relief and hoping the security measures that residents, and even summit participants, found excessive are now in the past.

But human rights activists warn the heavy police presence and security checks seen in Kansai are setting a dangerous precedent for next month’s G8 summit in Hokkaido and future international events throughout Japan…

Jun Yamamoto, secretary general of Asian Wide Cooperation Kyoto, an anti-G8 NGO, said it was clear both the June 10 arrest and the refusal to allow the South Korean activist into Japan were aimed at intimidating those the government fears, and warned the heavy security seen in Kansai this past month bodes ill.

“The G8 summits have provided a dangerous pretext for the authorities to use preventing terrorism as an excuse to violate the constitutional rights of Japanese and the human rights of foreigners entering Japan. As bad as the security in Kansai was, it’s going to be worse at Hokkaido next month, ” Yamamoto said.

American tarento Pakkun bullies eager language learners at G8 Summit Site

Saw Pakkun (American tarento) on NHK last night before bed and boy did I see red. Had him and his partner Makkun descend on the Toyako area before the Summit and bully the locals about their language ability. Telling volunteers that an English-language mistake would cause an “international incident” (not likely), uselessly teaching people ersatz German accents and telling them it’s Russian, and walking into onsen with slippers and towel on and trying to show earnest locals, who had spent years preparing for this event linguistically, that their efforts were essentially hopeless. Way to go, Pakkun. Japanese have glass jaws anyway when it comes to language ability, and your bullyragging was some of the most insensitive (and unfunny) television I’ve seen all year.

Fun Facts #10: Excellent Japan Times FYI column on the sex industry in Japan

Excellent FYI Column in the Japan Times on the Sex Industry in Japan:

“What law bans prostitution in Japan? The Prostitution Prevention Law, enacted in 1957, forbids the act of having “intercourse with an unspecified person in exchange for payment.”

It also punishes acts including soliciting by prostitutes and organized prostitution, such as operating brothels. Legal experts say it is hard for police to crack down on prostitution because it is tricky to verify if a couple had consensual or compensated sex. The law meanwhile does not ban paid sex with a “specified person,” or someone who has become an acquaintance. It also defines sex exclusively as vaginal intercourse. Thus other paid sexual acts are not illegal…”

Lots more interesting data within. I’m not going to comment more specifically on why I’m reposting it on Debito.org (because anything I say will just be misconstrued). It’s just a great article on a pervasive topic in Japan…

Eric Johnston on extreme security at Kobe G8 Environmental Ministers Summit

Eric Johnston on the recent mess that passed for G8 Environmental Ministers Kobe Summit: “Readers of this website are no doubt familiar with Debito’s warning about Sapporo and parts of Hokkaido becoming a virtual police state during the main Leaders’ Summit, which takes place at Lake Toya in early July. Here, I owe Debito something of an apology, as I originally thought he may have been a bit hyperbolic, as I often am, for dramatic effect in order to emphasize a larger truth. Surely things weren’t that bad? Unfortunately, after my experience at the G8 Environment Ministers’ conference, I’m wondering if he might not have been prophetic… Many readers of Debito.org will be in or around not only Hokkaido during the main G8 Leaders Summit in July, but also Tokyo, Kansai, and other areas of Japan where the lesser ministerial summits are taking place. The security of the Environment Ministers conference may foreshadow the kinds of security measures that will be seen around Japan over the next month, as we approach the Toyako Summit. More ominously, these may be the kind of security measures we may yet see for more “international conferences” following the Hokkaido summit, as the government and their police and media allies bray on and on about possible “terrorist attacks.” The second reason is to illustrate, in a small way, just what your tax money is buying -a stronger police state and a bureaucracy that is balkanized and increasingly unable, in my experience at least, to get the simple things done at these huge international conferences to the extent that they once could…”

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

Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!

Kyodo: “The association of hotels and Japanese inns in the city of Nagano has requested that its members fully check the identifications of their foreign guests prior to the Beijing Olympic torch relay on Saturday as part of efforts to counter suspicious individuals, local officials said Tuesday.” Naturally, that follows–protesters must be foreigners…

Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

Japan Times column on the Hokkaido G8 Summit: The point is, international events bring out bad habits in Japan. And now we have Tokyo bidding for the 2016 Olympics? Cue yet another orgiastic official fear-and-crackdown campaign foisted on the public, with the thick blue line of the nanny state the biggest profiteer. Conclusion: I don’t think Japan as a polity is mature enough yet to host these events. Japan must develop suitable administrative checks and balances, not to mention a vetting media, to stop people scaring Japanese society about the rest of the world just because it’s coming to visit. We need to rein in Japan’s mandarins and prevent them from converting Japan into a police state, cracking down on its already stunted civil society.

US State Dept Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, 2007, Japan

Although the US is certainly no paragon of human rights worldwide (what with torture, renditions, abuses under SOFA, denial of Habeas Corpus to non-citizens, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, and the largest arms sales worldwide, to name but a few caveats under this administration), here is their annual report on human rights in Japan in full. For what it’s worth. Note how the situation of “Japanese Only” signs nationwide is no longer mentioned, like it was in previous reports. I guess the US State Department considers the situation resolved. I beg to differ.

PRESS RELEASE for Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants

For the record… released March 4, 2008: ////////////////// PRESS RELEASE ////////////////// NEW BOOK “HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS AND IMMIGRANTS TO JAPAN” ON SALE FROM MARCH 15, 2008 AUTHOR ARUDOU DEBITO’S NATIONWIDE BOOK TOUR MARCH 15 TO APRIL 1 ////////////// FREELY FORWARDABLE ////////////// Akashi Shoten Inc, Japan’s biggest human rights publisher, will sell “HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, …

“Foreign crime” in reverse: The Miura Kazuyoshi Case

Of tangental interest to Debito.org is the case of Miura Kazuyoshi. Here is a person convicted of killing his wife in a lower Japanese court unusually vindicated by a higher court. Then he gets arrested in US territory (which avoids double jeopardy) for the same crime nearly 25 years later. Wouldn’t it be yet another black eye for the Japanese judiciary if the US convicts him instead? We won’t know for a little while (but it will take definitely less time than the Japanese judiciary; hey, it took Miura four years for his High Court verdict, and Asahara has been on trial for more than a decade now…) Is this guy the Japanese O.J. Simpson or what? Instead of using the race card, he uses the “foreign crime” card…

LA Times: Okinawa, alleged rape, and “outrage for show”

LA Times: In light of recent allegations of an indecent assault, Japanese officials privately acknowledge that their recent criticisms of US military conduct in Okinawa are motivated, in part, by the need to assuage Okinawa public opinion, especially at a time when Washington and Tokyo are seeking to relocate a major Marine air base in the face of strong local opposition. “It’s all a performance,” said Kantoku Teruya, an Okinawa lawmaker in the upper house of Japan’s parliament.

Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ

Based upon the Japan Times article immediately below, Alex Kerr, author of DOGS AND DEMONS and famous social commentator, has been chosen as a GOJ tourism representative. The Community interest group questioned whether one of Japan’s fiercest social critics of devastating porkbarrel and GOJ excess had in some way “sold out”. Alex was kind enough to answer them specially for Debito.org…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 30, 2008

FURTHER POLICING IN JAPAN
1) Gyaku on upcoming GOJ regulations of the Internet: Online content, keitai, and file sharing
2) Kyodo: MOJ says GOJ to scrap NJ registration system and Gaijin Cards
3) Japan Times: Foreigner registration revision to include ID chip, probably same policing function
4) GOJ floats trial balloon: Japanese language improvement for visas
5) ABC Radio Australia: “Expatriates concerned by plans for Japanese language tests”
6) Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit
7) Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”
8) Asahi: NPA Survey: 25% of hotels not following NPA demands to check “foreign guest” passports.
9) FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”
10) Kandai PR Harassment: Why you don’t let non-Immigration people make Immigration decisions…
11) Jeff on Japanese police documenting neighborhood residents
12) TIME: “Japan thwarts abusive police” by tweaking interrogation rules
13) Permanent Resident protests US Govt’s hypocritical apathy towards NJ Fingerprint policy
14) Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

GOOD NEWS
15) Yomiuri: DPJ pushing bill for NJ voting rights in local elections
16) Economist Leader makes the case why immigration is a good thing
17) Christian Science Monitor: “Japanese youth help compatriots embrace diversity”

ODDITIES AND STUPEFIERS
18) Yomiuri et al: 71% of NJ tourists come for Japan’s food, yet 35% of J don’t want NJ tourism increase
19) KTO on a naturalizer back in 1985
20) Historical artifact: NJ Jobs in 1984 (Tokyo Shinbun)

…and finally…
21) Speech by Arudou Debito at Waseda Jan 22, 5PM, on Japan’s Immigration and Human Rights Record (with links to paper and powerpoint presentation)

“Japanese Only” Newspaper Outlet: Hokkoku Shinbun in Ishikawa Pref (UPDATED)

Here’s something weird. A newspaper refusing a NJ a subscription (paid in advance), even though reps from the paper came to his door and sold him a contract! What are they afraid of, that the foreigner might be able to read? It’s not the threat of nonpayment, or cultural misunderstandings, or anything that could be stretchably plausable in any other situation I’ve ever encountered. Scans of the contract and the notice of refusal blogged here. Update with responses from Hokkoku Shinbun et al. now also included.

Yomiuri: GOJ shutting out ‘hooligans’ (i.e. antiglobalization activists) from Hokkaido G-8 summit

The latest permutation of the NJ Fingerprinting Law: Yomiuri: The Justice Ministry has begun preparations to put into force a hooligan provision of the immigration law to prevent antiglobalization activists from entering the country to protest the Group of Eight summit meeting to be held in Hokkaido in July. Policy creep. SITYS.

Patricia Aliperti & Catherine Makino on NJ Sexual Slavery/Human Trafficking in Japan

Hi Blog. Here is a situation covered only infrequently by the media and by the likes of Debito.org (mainly because there is so little public information out there, and it’s a topic I’m not at liberty to research myself)–how sex trafficking, particularly that involving non-Japanese, is a flourishing business. And how Japan is one of …

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 10, 2007

1) TOWARDS FOUNDING A NPO FOR PERMANENT RESIDENTS, NATURALIZED CITIZENS, AND IMMIGRANTS
2) GOJ “JINKEN SHUUKAN” HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK AND ITS FLAWS
3) UNHCR DISMAYED BY SECRET DEATH PENALTY OF CONVICTS
ALSO TRYING TO PUT A BRAVE FACE ON JAPAN’S REJECTION OF REFUGEES
4) LITTLE BLACK SAMBO & GOLLIWOG DOLLS ON SALE AT RAINFOREST CAFE, NEAR DISNEYLAND
5) TOYOKO INN’S RACIAL PROFILING, PROTEST LETTER, AND SUGGESTED BOYCOTT
6) FUN FACTS: DIVORCE RISING, WORKFORCE TO PLUMMET, JAPAN’S MINUS GDP GROWTH,
AND 39% OF DIETMEMBER SEATS INHERITED
7) MORE ON NJ FINGERPRINTING:
CHUUGOKU SHINBUN, HOKKAIDO SHINBUN, DER SPIEGEL, NEWSWEEK, THE ECONOMIST,
THE JAPAN TIMES, THE MANITOBAN, AND JAMES FALLOWS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY
PLULS ANONYMOUS ON SHINAGAWA FINGERPRINT PREREGISTRATION: A FARCE
8) IRONY: JAPAN POST CREATING “YOKOSO JAPAN” STAMPS. WITH DOMESTIC POST VALUE ONLY!
9) JAPAN TIMES PREZ OGASAWARA INTERVIEWED ON FUTURE OF PRINT MEDIA IN JAPAN
and finally…

10) ARUDOU DEBITO DOING NEW BOOK TOUR IN MARCH 2008. DROP BY AND SPEAK?

Manitoban: NJ FP etc. “The Land of the Rising Shun”

An article in The Manitoban (Canada) using lots of information from Debito.org, dispersing what’s been going on in Japan vis-a-vis NJ in Japan legally, socially, and logistically over the past 50 years throughout the Canadian steppes. Mottainai. Best to also put it on Debito.org for a wider audience.

REPORT: Racial Profiling at Toyoko Inns; suggest boycott (letter of complaint unanswered)

SUMMARY: Toyoko Inn, a high-profile nationwide chain of hotels in Japan, have a clear policy of racial profiling at their hotels. They illegally demanded a passport from the author on the basis of his race alone last on November 30, 2007, reflecting their history of even illegally threatening to refuse accommodation to NJ residents unless they provide Gaijin Cards at check-in. This systematic harassment of NJ clientele is unnecessary and unlawful, especially in the face of hotels increasingly refusing all foreigners accommodation across “Yokoso” Japan. Toyoko Inn’s continuing refusal to abide by the laws, despite advisements from NJ customers in the past, forces this author to conclude that NJ residents and international Japanese citizens, not to mention supporters of human rights in Japan, should take their business to hotels other than Toyoko Inn–until the chain at the national level agrees in writing to improve their services.