Debito’s SNA VM9 archived: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (link to full text)

SNA opening from VM9 two years ago: Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

Read the full text archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=16031

MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners

MRI: I have been working and living in Shizuoka City for [close to a decade] now. I have not had any serious illnesses other than a mild case of chronic gastritis but in recent years, I know it has become more serious due to my symptoms becoming more severe regardless of the Takecab that I take daily for it. Due to this health issue becoming more serious, I have been needing to visit various clinics and I have been experiencing what I call indirect refusal.

So, I know that in the past, many foreigners were refused medical care due to not having kokumin kenkou hoken but even though I have a valid card, the doctor will always ignore me while I am trying to explain my symptoms and reason for my visit. Both the doctors and staff of various clinics here in Shizuoka City have almost systematically acted cold, uncaring, unresponsive and even downright rude to me.

After this happened the first couple times, I thought it was just that one particular nurse or doctor that was the problem, but after numerous experiences just like this at a number of other clinics, I realized that this is a big problem that needs to be brought to light.

Every time I am waiting in the lobby of a clinic or hospital here in Japan, I have a constant feeling that I am wasting my time and money. I almost always leave a clinic kicking myself because the doctor did indeed do everything they could to avoid helping me… [Specific names of institutions and their treatment follow.]

Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

Kyodo: A Japanese-born American said Thursday she has filed a lawsuit with a Japanese court claiming that the country’s nationality law, which bans its citizens from also holding a foreign nationality, violates the Constitution.

Yuri Kondo, 75, who currently lives in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan and filed the lawsuit at the Fukuoka District Court, said at a press conference with her legal team that acquiring U.S. citizenship should not have automatically stripped her of her Japanese one. Kondo, who was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, moved to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school and began practicing law in Arizona in 1997.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004, she attempted to renew her Japanese passport in 2017 but her application was rejected. She is currently in Japan on her U.S. passport. Kondo claims that Article 11 of the nationality law, which stipulates that Japanese citizens automatically lose their nationality upon gaining a foreign nationality, violates the right to pursue happiness and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

COMMENT: Let’s go through just how arbitrary, complicated, and racialized Japan’s Nationality Law is…

Archiving Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (Link to full text)

SNA (March 2020) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…
Full text now archived on Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/?p=15978

My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

SNA: Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes, patrician among Japan’s foreign correspondents since 1964, recently died in Tokyo at the age of 83, but not before he did untold damage by performing as a foreign handmaid to Japan’s fascists.

A man described as “tweedy” and “entertaining and congenial,” Briton Scott-Stokes was nonetheless a man of privilege, lucky enough to land in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times only three years after graduating from Oxford.

Becoming bureau chief of a major newspaper at the wizened old age of 26 might seem odd today, but back then foreign journalism in Japan had lower standards, and the field was infused with neocolonial attitudes towards the “natives.” Fluency in your assigned country’s language was not required.

Nor was Japanese required at the other “Big Three” English-language newspapers in Japan, as Scott-Stokes later became bureau chief of The Times of London and the New York Times through the 1970s and early 1980s. For a man described as “someone who really understood Japan,” he spent his entire 58 years in Japan as a functional illiterate, unable to fluently read, write, or speak Japanese…

Most hacks in his station moved on to other countries or settled into a quiet life in Japan, living a harmless twilight existence as cottage consultants in their cups. Scott-Stokes didn’t. He didn’t just continue to rely on his privileged access to Japan’s elite for his income; he decided to embrace their fascist tendencies…

Entire article at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/05/23/visible-minorities-henry-scott-stokes-sell-out-to-gaijin-handlers/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 23, 2022

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities column 32: “On the Naomi Osaka Heckling” at Indian Wells tournament (March 21, 2022)

2) Kyodo: “63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police”, part of systemic racial profiling by the National Police Agency

3) My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

My SNA Visible Minorities 33: “Why Progressives keep losing” (short answer: because they alienate their own allies), April 18, 2022

SNA VM 33: Yale historian Timothy Snyder said recently in a television interview, “The Left loses for the right reasons; the Right wins for the wrong reasons.” One of the reasons why the Left, particularly the Progressives who have not enjoyed much power worldwide for more than a century, keeps losing is because of their fractiousness.

Just as soon as they gain an advantage or start making headway in the policy arena, they lose focus and begin turning on themselves. They alienate natural allies because they are not ideologically pure enough, or worse yet, as seen in critics of my columns [who claim that I have no standing to talk about racial discrimination in Japan or anywhere because I’m White], the wrong skin color.

Granted, the Left has always had a tougher time mobilizing people than the Right. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the Left wants leaders they can fall in love with, while the Right wants leaders they can fall in line with.

Let’s unpack that. Voices from the Left are discordant and diverse, and expectations are high and sometimes uncompromising. It’s also a lot tougher for a Leftist leader to gain and sustain the “love” of their supporters since, no matter what else happens, there will always be winners and losers with every decision they make. But for Rightists, it’s a lot easier to “fall in line” behind an ideological camp whose basic organizing principle is money (and the shameless acquisition of it). And once they gain enough of it, money in itself not only buys power, but also, oddly enough, credibility. […] Sadly, that’s why the Right understands power better…

But that’s Right vs. Left. Now let’s talk about Left vs. Left, and how they undermine themselves…
Read whole column at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/04/18/visible-minorities-why-progressives-keep-losing/

Kyodo: “63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police”, part of systemic racial profiling by the National Police Agency

Kyodo: A total of 62.9 percent of people in Japan with foreign roots were questioned by police over the past five years, preliminary results of a recent Tokyo Bar Association survey showed, with the group saying the outcome is evidence of biased behavior by officers.

The survey on racial profiling drew responses from 2,094 people with roots in foreign countries. The association said it conducted the poll after receiving complaints that many such people had been questioned by police apparently due to their appearance.

Among individuals who were approached by the police over the past five years, 50.4 percent were stopped “two to five times,” while 10.8 percent were questioned “six to nine times” and 11.5 percent “10 times or more,” according to the survey conducted between Jan. 11 and Feb. 28…

In a free description section, some wrote that after officers learned of their foreign nationality, they showed “overbearing behavior” toward them. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo had warned on its official Twitter account last year that it had been receiving reports of “suspected racial profiling incidents” with several foreigners “detained, questioned and searched” by the police.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 32: “On the Naomi Osaka Heckling” at Indian Wells tournament (March 21, 2022)

SNA: At a recent tournament in Indian Wells, California, Japan tennis champion Naomi Osaka was heckled by some troll in the audience who shouted out “you suck!” while she was playing on court. That reduced Osaka to tears. She asked the referee if she could address the crowd, then asked to have the troll ejected. Both requests were denied, and play resumed. Osaka then lost in straight sets.

In post-game comments, Osaka tearfully noted the distraction and compared her situation to a 2001 incident where Venus and Serena Williams faced crowd abuse, again at Indian Wells. The Williamses boycotted the venue for more than a decade after that. Fortunately, this time Osaka’s heckler was the outlier. The audience at the venue, fellow players afterwards, media and internet chatter were overwhelmingly supportive of her.

Still, others noted that Osaka needs to develop a thicker skin. I’m afraid I agree. Osaka has been around on this circuit for quite a while. She’s now 24, and obviously has the talent to be world champion. Now the question is, does she have the mettle to maintain it? […] At some point in time Osaka has to stop letting hecklers take her focus away. This is that point in time…

My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

SNA: Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who died February 1, was an evil man. Any honest obituary would admit as such. Unfortunately, the media’s retrospectives have tended to eulogize him, using weasel words so as to not speak ill of the dead.

But that’s the wrong reflex. Evil should never be whitewashed, especially when it comes to a person as evil as Ishihara, and by doing so they are complicit in historical revisionism. I will try to rectify that with this column by recounting Ishihara’s actual record…

A hateful man who poured his hate into concrete policies, Ishihara eventually found himself in a position of real power, elected multiple times to the governorship of the world’s largest and richest city. Ishihara installed Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras specifically in areas of Tokyo he claimed were “hotbeds of foreign crime,” and went on TV at regular intervals to propagandize that Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi at night were no longer Japan.

He also said that Japanese politicians who support more civil and human rights for foreign residents must have “foreign ancestors” themselves, and abetted political witch hunts and loyalty tests to root out politicians with international connections.

Essentially, Ishihara was trying to ethnically cleanse Japan, undoing the “internationalization” phase of the 1980s and 1990s of openness and tolerance. In its place, he sponsored overt racism and normalized xenophobia.

And it worked. To this day, entire political parties, candidates, and hate groups publicly rally for the expulsion of foreigners and the extermination of Koreans. That’s why current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can’t easily lift the world’s longest, most draconian and unscientific Covid border policies–because polls say 57% of the fearful Japanese public want them kept…
Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 21, 2022

Table of Contents:
1) Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives
2) Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.
3) My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”.  Of course, we here at Debito.org are all in favor of inclusivity.  But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science.  No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse the article. Here’s the opening, with my comment:
/////////////////////////////////////////////

PORTRAITS OF JAPAN
BEYOND TOKYO 2020: LEADING THE WAY TOWARD AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY
Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/_userdata/pdf/2021/winter2021/beyond_tokyo_2020.pdf

The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment from Debito:  So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability?  Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan?  Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

Article continues, and so do I…

Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89. Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc. Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.

My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

Excerpt: Shingetsu News Agency has reported for two years on how the Japanese government and media have gone out of their way to blame foreigners for the domestic spread of Covid. Each time we’ve gone out of our way to point out that Covid was usually brought in by Japanese citizens disobeying lenient quarantines. The government’s exclusionary border policies, treating people without Japanese passports as somehow more contagious, is routinely supported neither by logic nor science. The latest mutation of this narrative has been the blame targeted at US military bases in Japan for community spread.

For example, Japan Times reported on January 8, stitching together wire reports from Jiji Press and Kyodo News, that “US military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in [Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima]. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the US forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.” […]. But this is contradicted by what the US Forces Japan say are their actual policies, with 92-98% vaccination rates and limitations on movement.

So is the blame game grounded in facts and science? Or are these reactions to people trying to find another foreign scapegoat for the latest Covid spike? We don’t know because US Forces Japan aren’t making their practices sufficiently loud and clear. As usual.

The upshot: How US Forces Japan are yet again ignoring being used for domestic political capital is irresponsible. USFJ has the duty to recognize that what they do affects Visible Minorities in Japan, whether it be inspiring “Japanese Only” bigots to slam shop doors in their faces, or giving more ammunition to reactionaries who seek to seal off Japan’s borders.
Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

Combating xenophobic rumors and media: Debito.org asks US Forces, Japan for clarification on their COVID testing and vaccination policies

Query to US Forces, Japan: In recent weeks, the Japanese media has portrayed US Forces in Japan as a major vector for infection in Japan, portraying the US military presence in Japan as a leak in their otherwise tight border policies… As you know, Japan’s border policies for most of the past two years have refused entry to most foreigners, including foreign residents regardless of visa status, while letting in Japanese under often lax quarantine conditions to spread Covid anyway. Yet media and policymakers in Japan have frequently portrayed Covid as an exogenous, “foreign” disease, with the highly problematic interpretation of seeing foreigners as more likely to spread Covid than Japanese…

My point is that the US Military in Japan has a responsibility to dispel rumors and reports that are playing a part in potentially increasing xenophobic attitudes towards foreign residents of Japan… Please permit me to ask some clarifying questions, for publication on Debito.org:

1) Pursuant to President Biden’s order that all federal employees and military be vaccinated and tested by February 15, does this mean that all US Forces in Japan, both incoming and resident, have been vaccinated and boosted, and tested for Covid, including the Omicron variant?

2) What happens when members of the US Military test positive for Covid? If in Japan, are they quarantined within the base? If outside Japan, are they denied entry into Japan and quarantined overseas?

3) Do you have any response to the claims within the following reportage in the Japan Times?
“It was revealed in December that U.S. forces had been lax in their border measures against the virus… But it was found that the U.S. side was not conducting pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as required by Japan, and that it had shortened the period of restrictions on arriving personnel’s movement from 14 days to 10. It also allowed people in the restriction period to move freely within U.S. bases.”

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2022:  We received no answer.

Why COVID keeps being seen as a “foreign” disease in Japan: Uncritical reportage in the Mainichi of Shizuoka Mayor blaming Omicron on “foreign nationals at work”, claiming it’s not “community transmission”. Wait, let’s parse that.

Mainichi: Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.” According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus. The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: A few more simple questions needed to be asked of Mr. Mayor before his speculation got passed through by the Mainichi editors, and allowed to filter into the public sphere:

1) Were these “overseas people” freshly-arrived in Japan from overseas despite a near-blanket ban on any foreigners at the border?

2) Were these “overseas people” in fact foreign residents who were here anyway, therefore those people are in fact part of “the community” (meaning, yes, “community transmission”).

3) Is there any evidence that these individual “overseas people” were in fact COVID-positive? Were they tested? Was there any other vector testing of other people in the community? Or are we just simply assuming that foreigners are more likely than Japanese to have COVID and leaving it at that?

We should know.  But we don’t.  Why not?  Because the constant and uncritical assumptions that foreigners a) are vectors, and b) are not part of the “Japanese community” at large anyway, are precisely what I mean when I refer to Japan’s Embedded Racism.  Presumptions like these are so normalized as to be embedded and unquestioned in Japan, even by media professionals who are supposed to be asking these questions before they let these racist ideas infect and spread throughout society.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022: Tokyo Asakusa “Suzuya” theatrical prop store bars “foreign customers” to “prevent COVID infection”. (Plus Momosaku, another repeat offender in Asakusa.)

Let me open the year inauspiciously with a post about new “Japanese Only” signs. The first one is from a store called “Suzuya Buyou Kodougu” (Suzuya Traditional Dance Props) in Asakusa Kouen Nishisandou.

Sign: “Foreign customers are not allowed to enter the store to prevent the new corona virus (COVID-19) infection.”
Sign: “Foreign tourists are not allowed to enter the store.”
Store: Entertainment Goods 浅草公園西参道
有限会社すずや舞踊小道具店
電話 03-3844-3798
〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-7-13

COMMENT: Feel free to contact Suzuya and tell them what you think about their sign, particularly since no foreign tourists (and very few foreign residents) are being allowed into Japan to spread Covid. Yet that doesn’t stop racist signs depicting foreigners already here (who like regular Japanese residents probably haven’t travelled abroad) as more infectious than Japanese from appearing on stores (again).  Because (again) there’s no law against racial discrimination in Japan stopping anyone from putting up a “Japanese Only” sign for any reason whatsoever.

Meanwhile, also in Asakusa:
Name: 100 (izakaya) (Momosaku 百作)
Address: 4 Chome-7-12 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032
Sign: “Japanese Only (in English), “None of our staff at this establishment speak foreign languages, so we refuse entry to all overseas people (kaigai no kata) (in Japanese)

COMMENT: No “overseas people” could possibly speak Japanese to their staff, of course. But the funny thing is, we featured Momosaku on Debito.org back in April 2018!  Back then, the submitter pulled down that sign, and it was replaced a day later.  Clearly Momosaku’s managers don’t like foreigners, Covid or no Covid.  Feel free to drop by and let them know how you feel about their “Japanese Only” sign.  Perhaps pull it down again.

My annual “Human Rights Top Ten for 2021” countdown now at Shingetsu News Agency, VM 29 Dec 27, 2021

Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, DEC 27, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
SNA (Tokyo) — Since 2008, I have always devoted my end-year columns to counting down the Top Ten human rights issues as they pertain to Non-Japanese residents of Japan. This year I’m moving this feature to the Shingetsu News Agency. Let’s get started:

10) Debito.org Turns 25 Years Old…
9) Tourism to Japan Drops 99% Since 2019…
8 ) Vincent Fichot Hunger Strike against Japan Child Abduction…
7) Tokyo Musashino City Approves, Then Defeats, Inclusive Voting Proposal…

Full countdown with write-ups at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/12/27/visible-minorities-human-rights-top-ten-for-2021/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 28, 2021: END YEAR SPECIAL

SPECIAL: “Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021”, Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 27, 2021 by Debito Arudou

GOOD NEWS
1) US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.
2) Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.
3) Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)
4) Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

OTHER NEWS
5) My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021
6) My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021
7) My SNA VM7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)
…and finally…
8 ) Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

JT: Q: How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?
A: The Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times in April that some 890,000 are in a position to be dual nationals, according to data from local municipalities from the years 1985 to 2016.

Q: Has anyone been stripped of their dual nationality by the Japanese government?
There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked. In April, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that the justice minister had never issued a warning to a dual citizen by birth to decide upon one nationality, meaning that no such dual national has ever been stripped of their Japanese citizenship under Article 15 of the Nationality Act.

Upshot: International couples with dual national children in Japan, take note:  Do not let your children sacrifice one side of their identity merely for the sake of bureaucratic convenience, especially when they don’t have to.

Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.

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

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

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

US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

US Embassy: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained.”

COMMENT: We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it. Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media. Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this. Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.

Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)

Senaiho (excerpt): In the final judgment in our civil case against the city of Yamanashi and the school system, the court awarded 110,000 yen to us, the plaintiffs. A bitter/sweet, long and hard fought victory since 2018.

First the positives. Any judgment against a public entity in Japan is almost unheard of… In the brief of the judgment the court found the teachers/school and city of Yamanashi liable for the damages of [forcibly] cutting our daughter’s hair [without her permission in front of everyone in school]… It also vindicated her from the some of the extensive damage to her self-esteem. Unfortunately, these scars she will most likely carry for the rest of her life. No mention was made of the root causes of her having her hair cut; racism and abuse against her for the sin of being born from a mixed racial couple.

The downside of our small victory is that it is small. One judgment in a regional court in Japan changes nothing really. There will be some media coverage for a little while. After that dies down, the bullies will continue to bully, the racists will continue to rant, and the public officials will continue to cover up their culpability… Thank you again to everyone here at Debito.org who supported us with your encouragement and prayers.

My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021

Excerpt: In my new Second Edition of Embedded Racism (2022), I’m now arguing that Japan’s long-ignored racial discrimination undermines the rest of the world, especially its liberal democracies, because Japan is in fact a fast-breeder reactor of radioactive racism…

The conclusion is that my second edition of Embedded Racism is a clarion call for liberals and progressives to wake up, and get ready to defend democracy from the ethnocentrists. Fight with all your might the fiction that the way to deal with a race problem is to exclude and cleanse races from your society. That’s the Japan template. Don’t let it be yours.

Again, if you leave discrimination alone, it spreads. Leaving Japan alone to practice its embedded racism has finally reached the point of blowback. It’s time for a new set of templates to fight racial discrimination in the world, including and especially Japan’s.

Overseas policymakers should also be ready to make Japan take responsibility for what it’s wrought upon the world. It’s time to pressure the Japanese government to observe its treaty promise to the United Nations more than 25 years ago—passing a law against racial discrimination—and begin the process of enfranchising its minority voices.

That includes doing more than just scolding or issuing strongly worded letters. I suggest putting pressure where Japan’s elites care—limiting access to overseas markets. Or else Japan will remain a fast breeder reactor of racism irradiating the rest of the democratic world.

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

Back in February 2020, Covid created the modern equivalent of the “hell ship” in the Diamond Princess luxury liner, which trapped its passengers in Yokohama Port (until they were rescued by their respective governments) because of Japanese Government stupidity.  It’s been nearly two years gone by, so in lieu of a new blog entry, let me archive and link to the full text of my SNA column on it.  Excerpt:

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis. The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands. Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…

Another thing the Japanese government botched: the willingness of all the passengers to simply gaman the stupid. The Diamond Princess is an international ship, and passengers from other countries aren’t going to do what’s expected by Japanese authorities. They are not going to quietly do as they’re told.

In fact, many people with different historical touchstones about being quarantined might object to being trapped on a Kalaupapa, a Swinburne Island, a Poveglia, or a wartime “hell ship.” So they did something about it. Passengers and crew have internet access, and they complained loudly to their respective governments and media about the increasingly intolerable conditions they have been subjected to.

Viral videos and interviews have turned the Diamond Princess into a much bigger embarrassment than some statistical infection rate blip. Instead of looking like Asia’s foremost modern, clean, and civilized country, Japan has only managed to look unprepared to handle international standards of disease control, or for that matter the international tourism Japan wants so badly.
Full text now archived at Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/?p=15942.

My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021

SNA: As the pandemic stretches into yet another season, the media is starting to assess how Covid is changing the world permanently. At least one pundit has called the situation “epochal,” with the ever-rising worldwide death toll causing disruptions to politics, government, economics, and social life in general. It’s no longer a matter of just getting everyone vaccinated and then everything going back to normal: for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to accept some form of deprivation as the new normal.

Some countries are coping with deprivation (or at least a deferred gratification) less well. The United States is a good example. Despite being one of the most advanced economies and developed civil societies in the world, it has botched the pandemic badly–and it is not only because the previous president was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people to maintain his power. It’s also because of a design flaw deeply embedded in America’s national psyche.

American society is oddly susceptible to charismatic frauds posing as leaders, inept at everything except the uncanny talent of playing off social expectations framed as “freedoms”: 1) “freedom from want” (i.e., in a land of plenty, you should be able to get whatever you want); and 2) “freedom from being told what to do by government” (better known as “liberty,” where, as long as it’s not specifically illegal, you should be able to do whatever you want).

Consider how Covid has devastated American expectations. In terms of want, supply chains worldwide have broken down, meaning Americans have had to defer consumer gratification in places where it hurts, from toilet paper to used cars to sudden exorbitant rents. In terms of government nonintervention, the audacity of a national vaccine mandate demanding people get a Covid shot is being denounced as “tyranny.” Not all societies have reacted like this…

This is where Japan comes in. At a time of historic stressors around the globe, I realized that my decades living in Japan have come in handy. In fact, Japan has been an excellent training ground for deprivation and deferred gratification. They seem to lack the ability to keep things in perspective, particularly the one I gained from living under Japan’s “Culture of No.”…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/10/18/visible-minorities-the-bright-side-of-japans-culture-of-no/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 18, 2021

1) My SNA Visible Minorities 27, Oct 2021: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No'”: Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan.
2) My SNA Visible Minorities 26, Sept 2021: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

My SNA Visible Minorities 26: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

SNA: The signature function of the United Nations is to promote world peace, and one way to do that is to encourage ethical standards of behavior from its member countries. They get people to agree on those norms and standards through signing international treaties.

One of the standards that matters most is human rights practices. After all, countries which want to belong to the respected club of “civilized” countries are expected to sign the treaties covering a whole host of noble issues: the elimination of torture; the protection of women, children, and people with disabilities; and the protections of people in general in terms of economic, political, social, civil, and political rights. Signatories are expected to submit periodical reports (usually about every two years) to UN Committees to demonstrate how they are progressing.

Japan has signed most of those treaties. My favorite one, of course, is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which protects people, especially our Visible Minorities, against discrimination by “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” But getting Japan to actually abide by CERD is one of the hobby horses I’ve been riding for decades.

When Japan signed the CERD in 1995, it explicitly agreed to “prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination,” and they were to do it “without delay.” Yet more than a quarter century later, Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination…

So when called upon to justify its record of nasty treatment of its foreign, ethnic, historical, and visible minorities, how does Japan get away with it? By delaying, of course. Let’s take a look at the last time Japan submitted its Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CERD, and reveal its pattern of reporting in bad faith…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Covid strikes again.  Here’s a campground in Okinawa that says that foreigners can’t make reservations there due to Covid.  Screen capture:

“Only Japanese can take a reservation because of COVID”
KARST CAMP SITE
〒905-0219 沖縄県国頭郡本部町字山里東屋比久原1381番地
050-6864-3379, email karstcampsite115@gmail.com
https://karstcampsite.com/facility/

COMMENT:  I’ve said this many times before, but associating contagion with nationality is unscientific.  Again, because a) there are Non-Japanese residents who live in Japan the same as Japanese, exposed to the same risks of contagion as Japanese, b) there are few foreigners in Japan from overseas at the moment due to the mostly-closed border controls, and c) chances are that foreigners who do come in from overseas are better vetted (not to mention more likely vaccinated due to better jab regimes overseas) than Japanese.

So there is no scientific reason to put up a rule like this.  There is, however, plenty of reason if you’re a xenophobe, like so many people who reflexively put up “Japanese Only” signs are, and will use any excuse (including foreign “health scares” from SARS and AIDS) to justify, even if they are a health care provider.  These are the people we will continue to expose for the record on Debito.org.  Adding to the pile.

UPDATE AUG 27: After phone calls to the campsite, the website has been amended to say “we can take a reservation for someone who can understand Japanese properly Because you need to understand our rules correctly.” Because of course, campsites are fraught with danger, and one language miscommunication and all goes to hell.  After all, foreigners don’t know how to camp if they can’t “understand Japanese properly”. And that’s after they decided in good faith just to blame Covid.

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

Just a follow-up on my Shingetsu News Agency column of this week. When I was talking there about the roots of the Olympics, I made the case that the Games are less about athleticism than about national demonstrations of power, particularly in the vein of racial superiority.  In my summary of their history, I wrote:

SNA: “When the Games were resuscitated by aristocrats in 1896, in spirit they were still grounded in contemporary attitudes equating national strength with physical strength. Thanks to the racialized social theories in currency at the time, including Social Darwinism and eugenics, the Games soon became a public demonstration of the social engineering of supermen, which depended on how racially ‘thoroughbred’ an athlete and a society was. It’s not difficult to draw a straight line from the geneticist attitudes promoted by the prewar Olympics to The Final Solution.”

Those attitudes can still be felt not only in the bad-habit national medal tallies, but also in the athletes themselves. Consider how Igarashi Kanoa, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, who won Silver for Japan in Surfing, decided to depict himself. As I wrote for SNA above:

SNA: “Igarashi indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic ‘thoroughbred-ism:’ ‘I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.’

“Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka Naomi, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness…”

Again, you can self-identify with and play for whatever country will have you.  But a person like this who has benefited from both systems does not deserve respect for this throwback-Eugenicist attitude, and it should be challenged appropriately in public. Doing so at Debito.org.  

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

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/. Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 16, 2021: SPECIAL ON THE TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS

Table of Contents:
PREVIEW: Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, Shingetsu News Agency, Aug 16, 2021, by Debito Arudou
1) “Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath?
2) “Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.
… and finally…
3) My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan.

“Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath? UPDATE: The “Japanese Only” rule has been removed.

Another casualty of the Covid scare in Japan has been the Hippocratic Oath, where this English-language medical service called Fast DOCTOR (see Japanese site, and English site) (where a doctor will make house calls for a flat fee of 50,000 yen) is now closed to all foreigners. Screen captures of the English site follow.

You can comment below about the rather odd things about the English site (including the iStock photos of non-Asian practitioners, and the testimonials at the bottom without a single recommendation in English). But the fact remains that this medical service is contravening their medical oath to treat all patients. Second, the “foreign” patients they are likely to treat (especially in this time of strict Covid checks at the border and better vaccination programs overseas) at this time are less likely to be infected by the pandemic than the average Japanese patient. Finally, it of course assumes that foreigners who read English are travelers, not Japan residents. Given all of these things that defy both good physical and social science, I wonder what kind of medical care they offer in the first place.

FYI, their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fastdoctor.tokyo/
UPDATE: A defender of these practices steps forward below to gaslight, claiming “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” See comments section for this blog entry.

UPDATE AUGUST 29, 2021:  FastDoctor’s website has been amended to remove their “Japanese Only” rules.  I have received no notification or justification for this from the company — I simply rechecked their website as a followup.  But it’s gone.  Naming and shaming xenophobes once again works.

“Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.

Here are some more “Japanese Only” signs that have appeared in Hokkaido (and nationwide) since the original ones back on 1993 that occasioned the Otaru Onsens Case. This time they are gracing restaurants in the eatery area of Chitose, a major city just outside of Sapporo that hosts Hokkaido’s largest international airport. Courtesy of Keiron, taken June 21 and June 24, 2021. Details follow.  Enjoy the omotenashi of un-Embedded Racism.

1) Yakitori Restaurant “Kawasemi”
北海道 千歳市 千代田町 2-1-1 1F, Ph: 0123-27-6700
(Photo of exclusionary sign and storefront here)

2) Restaurant “Yokaro”
北海道 千歳市 幸町 1-1 新橋通り商店街 Ph: 0123-24-5448
(Photo of exclusionary sign and storefront here)

My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan

SNA: On the eve of the Tokyo Olympics, let’s talk about the mess.

Much space has been devoted to the idiocracy behind spending record amounts of money on infrastructure that is not built to last, or even if it is, it often winds up abandoned. Further, holding a superspreader sports meet during a global pandemic is a surefire path to social discord and preventable death.

But it matters that Japan is hosting this mess. This column as usual will first focus on the Olympics’ impact on our minorities, and then talk about the IOC’s responsibility for scamming Japan…
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/07/19/visible-minorities-the-tokyo-olympics-trap/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 19, 2021

Table of Contents:
THE EARLY FALLOUT FROM THE OLYMPICS
1) SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.
PRELUDE TO THE TIGHTENED-SECURITY AFTERMATH
2) Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.
3) Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.
4) Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?
… and finally …
5) My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards.

SNA: “Japanese Only” elevators at Tokyo Akasaka Hotel Excel Tokyu; hotel blames Olympic Organizing Committee! Plus Duty-Free Stores asked to rat on foreigners.

SNA: Akasaka Excel Hotel Tokyu separated its elevators between “Japanese Only” and “Foreigner Only.” SNA called the hotel to ask them why they did it. The answer is that this was their interpretation of guidance from the Olympic authorities. Seems all non-Japanese are visitors. (MP)

COMMENT: The assumption is, as usual, that rates of infection for foreigners and Japanese are different.  Never mind that:
1) “Foreigners” as signposted includes ALL Non-Japanese (including Residents), regardless of whether they’ve actually left Japan and come back  As Michael mentioned above, foreigners are no matter what treated as an exogenous force.
2) Plenty of Japanese have gotten infected from each other, not from foreigners.  In fact, many cases of variants have been carried in and incubated by Japanese themselves.
3) Even foreigners who HAVE come in from overseas have been checked and cleared both inside and outside Japan for infection, and if the systems are working properly, the foreigners (only) are barred entry.  That especially goes for people connected with the Olympics, as we have seen.
4) And many of those foreigners have gotten their vaccines overseas already, and at rates higher and more successful than Japan’s current lackluster (and slowing down) procedures for getting vaccinated.
5) I’m not an epidemiologist, but I daresay you’re LESS likely to get infected from inbound foreigners going through the current GOJ quarantine procedures than from the (generally unvaccinated) average Japanese clustered in poorly-ventilated urban transportation, non-remote workplaces, and eateries.

Finally, in addition to enlisting the general public to find “illegal foreigners” (including a downloadable app to scan Gaijin Cards like a game of Pokemon Go), the Japanese Government is now asking Duty-Free Stores to check passports and rat on foreigners for breaking quarantine (since after all, we can’t do that to Japanese).  From the Japan Times:

JT: The government will ask duty-free stores to check the date of entry to Japan in customers’ passports and report if they were shopping during their required 14-day quarantine period. […] In the request sent to shop operators, the health ministry asks them to provide information including the names, nationalities and passport numbers of violators to its Health Monitoring Center for Overseas Entrants. If an Olympic-related visitor is found to be violating the rule, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will report the matter to the Tokyo Organising Committee.

UPDATE: “Foreigner Only” signs amended to “Foreigner Priority”. Fixed. Not.

Nikkan Sports: Aggressive Japanese man harasses Muslim woman and 3-year-old daughter in park, demands her Gaijin Card; then aggressive Japanese police detain, interrogate, and release the woman and child’s private info. I told you this would happen.

Nikkan Sports: “A Muslim woman in her forties from South Asia living in Tokyo, who was subjected to wrongful voluntary questioning by officers of the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and had her name, address, and other private details leaked to a third party, submitted a formal complaint to the Tokyo Public Safety Commission on July 5. Her legal representation criticized, “This is a use of public power grounded in discriminatory attitudes towards foreigners.”

COMMENT: Let’s summarize this case:  A man accuses a three-year-old kid of assault, gets aggressive with a Muslim woman (and reportedly SPECIFICALLY demands her Gaijin Card), and then siccs six also-aggressive cops on her.  Then the cops cart only her and her toddler daughter off to the nearest cop shop for hours of interrogation, and hold her hostage until she releases her private information to this strange man.  And later they give that man even more information in case he decides to sue a three-year-old!  Clearly this has been blown out of proportion.  And the cops abetted it!  What a nightmare.

I’m pleased the woman sought out legal representation and filed the formal complaint with the Public Safety Commission.  But that will probably result in nothing.  (I’ve done the same for over-the-top police reactions in the past, and never gotten any satisfactory conclusion.)  You can’t expect much when it’s wolves policing other wolves. So I hope she files an actual civil suit against the police and the person who harassed her and her daughter, so we can get some legal precedent behind this complaint. We need some kind of damper put on all the social damage done by the Japanese police demonizing foreigners for decades, and then deputizing the general public to target them.

Mainichi: Japan wants its COVID vaccine passports accepted by foreign countries, but won’t accept foreign countries’ versions; does the GOJ understand the concept of comity?

Mainichi: “Japan is making arrangements for its COVID-19 vaccination passports to be accepted by over 10 nations, including Italy, France and Greece, after the certificate program begins in late July, government sources said Sunday. If the agreements are reached, certificate holders will be exempt from quarantine or showing negative test results for COVID-19 when traveling from Japan to those countries, the sources said. But the Japanese government plans to continue requiring travelers entering Japan, including returnees, to quarantine for two weeks even if they have been vaccinated. The position has complicated negotiations with countries such as Singapore and Israel, which have called for mutual exemption, the sources said.”

COMMENT: Funny, that. It’s yet another example of how Japan’s authorities expect to have their cake and eat it too. Like how institutions in Japan can discriminate against foreigners without much if any international sanction. But woe betide anyone who seems to discriminate against Japanese overseas. Japan has gotten away with this for so long (e.g., more than 25 years since it signed the UN CERD without passing any laws against racial discrimination) that the GOJ has accepted it as normal transactional behavior for Japan in the international arena. (That, or the bureaucracy is so silo-ed off that getting a coordinated vaccine passport policy across all of the veto gates would involve discomfiting ministerial turf battles. Boo hoo.)

Well, tough. Let’s hope that overseas negotiators have the sense to not be taken in by the “unique Japan” arguments as usual, and demand comity. You don’t get without giving back in kind. But given how lenient the outside world has been regarding, say, the overt racism of Japan’s exclusionary border policies during the pandemic (and now the “Japanese Only” Olympics), it’s not a slam-dunk conclusion as of this writing.

Japan’s “Gaijin Tank” Immigration Detention Centers: The Death of Sri Lankan Wishma Sandamali highlights a senseless, inhuman, and extralegal system killing foreigners they’ve trapped.

Japan’s Immigration Bureau Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) are an extra layer of incarceration that only non-citizens must deal with. Regular Wajin Japanese, when detained, arrested, and/or incarcerated, go through Japan’s criminal justice and prison system.  However, because non-citizen detainees cannot renew their visas while in detention, any arrest and incarceration by police increases the probability of detention later in separate Immigration detention facilities (specifically reserved for non-citizen visa overstayers and refugees/asylum seekers). Detainees in these Immigration facilities (nyūkoku kanri sentā) face a different system both in terms of criminal procedure and living conditions.

In terms of living conditions, rights of detainees to adequate food, exercise and living space in Immigration Bureau detention centers are less regulated than in Japanese prisons (which are subject to international oversight regarding standards of favorable treatment). Consequently, inhospitable, unsanitary, and generally unmonitored conditions in these detention centers have occasioned protests both from human rights organizations and from the detainees, in the form of hunger strikes and suicides. Immigration detainees have also suffered and died from their medical conditions being neglected by detention officials, and from the over-prescription of sedatives and painkillers.

In 2021, the senseless death of a Sri Lankan named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali, due to medical negligence in a detention center, brought national attention and protest against the GOJ’s treatment of visa overstayers and asylum applicants—and the withdrawal of a bill before the Diet that would have only strengthened the ability for bureaucrats “to keep any foreign national in custody without the approval of a judge”, thus violating constitutional guarantees of due process.

Sources follow. There is no defense for this inhumane extralegal detention system that is killing people through willful negligence simply because they are foreigners incarcerated.  We catalog it all here on Debito.org for the record.

My SNA VM Column 23: “Gaijin Card Reader App Obliterates Privacy,” June 21, 2021, on how NJ privacy is of so little concern that the Govt. has enabled anyone to swipe Gaijin Cards

SNA: “Privacy in Japan… is not being seen.” This quote, usually attributed to former US Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer, was made in the context of an overcrowded Japan in his day, used to explain the stark difference between public and private behaviors of Japanese (sneaking off, for example, to love hotels for a bit of private time).

But privacy is taken quite seriously in Japan, especially if it will damage a reputation. Television broadcasts of criminal suspects on perp walks often have their handcuffs blurred, since the person hasn’t been convicted yet. Media reporting on businesses accused of unsavory activities (such as food poisoning or putting up “Japanese Only” signs) often refuse to report their company names so it doesn’t adversely affect their sales. Even people who park their cars in those love hotels may find themselves in a parking garage with curtains, or with their license plates covered up by pieces of plywood provided by the establishment.

So why doesn’t this concern for privacy apply to foreign residents? (Examples of egregious violations of privacy by nationality, contrasted with all the legal protections for citizens, follow. Then we get to the new Gaijin Card Reader App…)
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/06/21/visible-minorities-gaijin-card-reader-app-obliterates-privacy/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 21, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.
2) NHK: Ibaraki Public Health Center targets foreigners as vectors of Coronavirus, then retracts discriminatory claims as “misleading” and “inappropriate”
3) Mainichi Editorial: Foreign workers would also serve roles as consumers, taxpayers. Bravo. It needs to be said by somebody in the Wajin media
4) Celebrating 15 Years of the Debito.org Blog (June 17, 2006-2021)
…and finally…
5) My SNA Visible Minorities column 22: “Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal”, May 17, 2021

Celebrating 15 Years of the Debito.org Blog (June 17, 2006-2021)

June 17, 2021 celebrates 15 years since the Debito.org Blog went live.  (The Debito.org Website as a whole, however, went live in 1996, and we celebrated that quarter-century of online activism earlier this year in a separate post.) The Debito.org Blog was created in addition after a friend named Jim suggested that a WordPress template would make things a lot easier for me to respond to and archive daily events in real time. He was right.

As of today, in addition to the Debito.org original Website (which is still up, of course; artery site here), as of this morning the Blog alone has 2,935 individual posts by me (amounting to 16,703 pages) and 34,737 individual comments (of which only 862, or less than 2.5%, are mine). That’s about one post every two days on average, and about 12 comments per post.

That’s an active blog by many definitions, and still going strong. And materials archived here been cited in various newspapers, journals, and books.  People take it seriously. Long may it continue.  While I’m limiting myself to posting here about once a week (I’ve got other writing projects), I don’t see myself giving up the Debito.org Project anytime, ever.  By now, it’s just what I do.

Justice Ministry’s new “Gaijin Card Reader App” now unlawfully enables the general public to scan you. So much for GOJ promises of privacy.

The Ministry of Justice has made a “Residence Card Checker App”, available from December 25, 2020, downloadable from their website (English, Japanese). It’s available for Windows PC, Apple Mac App Store, Google Play, and iOS (with manuals!). It scans RFID Zairyuu Cards, aka “Gaijin Cards”, which is personal ID required of foreign residents only, and must be carried 24/7 on pain of criminal penalty. In their words, “This app reads and displays the information (such as the bearer’s name) stored on the IC chips of residence cards and special permanent resident certificates, helping users to confirm that the card is not a forgery.”

How nice. Except that the only people allowed to demand, let alone scan, Gaijin Cards are people connected with the Ministry of Justice (Immigration, the police, etc.). This has now unlawfully put the ability to read private information within the general public’s grasp. Such as people posing as fake cops (which does happen). It’s not that far removed from the government “snitch sites” where anyone could anonymously report their local gaijin to the government and have them harassed, er, investigated by local authorities. (They’ve since disappeared after nearly two decades in action, so this is a new form of potential harassment.)

Debito.org will archive below the sites in English and Japanese for the record, with some screen captures. Especially enjoy reading the Privacy Policy, especially since one initial reason why the government advertised that the RFID card was a better system was due to privacy (and “convenience”)–random people wouldn’t be able to read the embedded information. Now they can. Where is the outcry over “privacy concerns” that Japanese citizens enjoy whenever the government makes personal ID policy affecting them?

Mainichi Editorial: Foreign workers would also serve roles as consumers, taxpayers. Bravo. It needs to be said by somebody in the Wajin media

Mainichi Editorial in 2018: Important viewpoints are apparently lacking in discussions on accepting more foreign workers to Japan. The discourse treats foreigners only as a “workforce” to alleviate labor shortages, and fails to shed light on a variety of other roles they can play. Boosting the workforce is a vital challenge for the Japanese economy. Seeking people from overseas when labor-saving measures alone are not enough is a natural response to the reality. But foreigners working in Japan can contribute more than labor to Japanese society. This point should not be overlooked.

First of all, they are also consumers [in a depopulating workforce]. Foreign workers will push up housing and educational spending, like Japanese households do, when they live in Japan with their family members for longer periods of time. Moreover, their wide-ranging needs can be expected to create new products and services and even lead to new jobs.

Another important role that foreigners can play is paying taxes. They pay income tax when they work, and they shoulder the consumption tax as Japanese do in the course of their daily lives… [If we choose to invite] long-term settlers with family members to increase their income and spending… we need to make necessary preparations, and make corresponding commitments. This means exploring ways to benefit both foreign workers and the Japanese economy.

NHK: Ibaraki Public Health Center targets foreigners as vectors of Coronavirus, then retracts discriminatory claims as “misleading” and “inappropriate”

TR: A health center in Itako City this week retracted an “inappropriate” advisory that stated foreigners are the source of an increase in novel coronavirus infections, reports NHK (May 22). On May 19 and 20, the Itako Health Center distributed the notice by email to agricultural cooperatives and city halls within its jurisdiction. The document stated, “There are many coronavirus patients likely infected by foreigners.” It advised, “If you talk to a foreigner, wear a mask. As well, please do not eat with them.”

On May 21, the health center and the Ibaraki Prefectural Infectious Disease Control Division retracted the document. “The document’s content was inappropriate,” they said. “Though we had no intention of discriminating against foreigners,” the Itako Health Center told NHK, “we are sorry if any of the expressions were misleading.”

COMMENT: “Misleading”?! “Inappropriate”?! “Unintentional”?! How about unscientific and discriminatory, especially for an official bureau safeguarding public health that should know better. But given what we know at Debito.org about Japan’s constant “Blame Game”, used to distract from official policy errors and scapegoat Non-Japanese for just about anything, we could see it coming. The bigger surprise is how quickly NHK jumped on this so quickly and got it retracted. Media watchdogs are supposed to look out for the general public, including Non-Japanese Residents. Please get ready to do more of the same in future.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 22: “Interrogating the Discriminatory Covid Self-Quarantine Scandal”, May 17, 2021

SNA (Tokyo) — Sometimes government-designed policies lack sense. Or, in places where the government is as unaccountable as Japan’s, policymakers ignore cautions—-or don’t get cautioned at all because a docile mass media is mobilized behind a national goal. So when things go wrong, very bad things can happen, especially when punishments for noncompliance only go one way and hurt innocent people.

That is what’s in the cards yet again with Japan’s Covid border controls. The current policy is that if you are a resident of Japan returning from overseas, you face a mandatory self-quarantine system. Everyone, regardless of nationality, signs must notify the authorities of their current location each day. If not, authorities will contact them via Skype, WhatsApp video call, or by voice cell phone number.

If you are found to be breaking quarantine as a Japanese, you get your name exposed to the public. However, foreign residents will lose everything—their lives, livelihoods, and anything they ever invested in Japan—by getting deported. So with punishments this disproportionate, the government had better make sure nothing goes wrong. Guess what? Things are going wrong, and it’s the government’s fault…
Rest is at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/05/17/visible-minorities-interrogating-the-discriminatory-quarantine-scandal/ 

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 17, 2021

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