Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2006

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1) ROGUES’ GALLERY UPDATE MAY 2006: Ikebukuro, Hiroshima, and Okinawa
2) H.I.S. TRAVEL PRICING DUPLICITY, INFO SITE UP ON DEBITO.ORG
3) MHLW DATA SITE ON INTERNATIONAL MARRIAGE, BIRTHS AND DIVORCE
4) YAMATO DAMACY INTERVIEWS TWO AND THREE
5) BOSTON GLOBE ON U.S. EXECUTIVE POWER
6) ASIA TIMES ON DRAFT “CONSPIRACY LAW” IN JAPAN
7) YOMIURI ON NEW GAIJIN CARDS
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アーカイブより:萱野茂氏死去、国連ディエン再来日、旅行会社国籍別料金、「外人をこき使え!」英会話ゼミはサイトを改訂、緩和

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1)人権かつマイノリティー権を唱えた萱野茂元国会議員死去
2)国連代表ドゥドぅ・ディエン氏は5月中旬沖縄、大阪かつ東京へ訪問
3)旅行会社HISとNo.1トラベルは外国人客に料金を上乗せ
4)「外人をこき使え!」英会話ゼミはサイトを改訂、緩和
5)「鳥取県人権侵害救済推進及び手続に関する条例」について私のJapan Timesコラム
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Mainichi: Female NJ Trainee Visa workers underpaid by Yamanashi company, beaten, attempted deportation

Six Chinese female trainees at a dry-cleaning company in Yamanashi Prefecture got into a row with the company when they complained that they were being paid under the minimum wage, and three of them suffered injuries including a broken bone, it has been learned.

Trouble reportedly erupted when the company, located in Showa, Yamanashi Prefecture, tried to force the six to return to China after they complained about their wages. The three injured workers are considering filing a criminal complaint over their injuries.

The three injured workers were later taken into the custody of the Zentoitsu Workers Union, which supports foreign trainees and apprentices. The remaining three were taken to Narita Airport by company officials and returned home.

中国人実習生:給与改善求めトラブル…帰国無理強い

山梨県昭和町のクリーニング会社「テクノクリーン」(内田正文社長)で働いていた30代の中国人女性実習生6人が、最低賃金を下回る給与の改善を求めたところ、同社が6人を無理やり帰国させようとしてトラブルとなり、実習生3人が骨折などのけがをしていたことが分かった。3人は傷害容疑での刑事告訴を検討。最低賃金との差額の未払いは、労働基準法に違反するとして、労働基準監督署へ申し立てる方針。

 3人はその後、外国人研修・技能実習生を支援する「全統一労働組合」(東京都台東区)に保護された。残る3人は24日、同社関係者に連れられ成田空港から帰国した。

Jon Dujmovich speculates on media distractions: PM Fukuda’s resignation vs. alleged NJ Sumo pot smoking

Jon Dujmovich guest comments: “In the Japan Times article (Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2008, “Aso gets set for run at LDP presidency: Party election slated for Sept. 22” by Jun Hongo and Setsuko Kamiya) there is a line that reads “…senior members of the LDP scrambled from early Tuesday to control the damage in the wake of Fukuda’s hasty departure.”

“Is this coincidence? Does “control damage” include media censorship? “Hmmm…I wonder.”

“Now I am not qualified enough to speak officially on the subject, nor do suggest this is good social science, I am merely pointing out a very suspicious coincidence where smoke and mirrors seem to be employed to deflect media attention from the LDP and government woes, to an easy minority group target. For heaven’s sakes why does a story about two foreigners who may or may not have smoked pot trump a story (that is less than 48 hours cold I might add) about the nation’s prime minister resigning!?!”

Plus a quick subsidiary comment from me on how the media has generally been careful to not presume guilt, and avoid making the sumo thing into a “foreigner issue”. Good. That’s progress.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7: Sequel to “Gaijin” as a racist word

Now for the more controversial claim: my linking “gaijin” with “n*gg*r”. Although I was not equating their histories, I was drawing attention to their common effect–stripping societies of diversity.

“N*gg*r”, for example, has deprived an entire continent of its diaspora. I love faces; I have gazed at many notable African-Americans and wondered about their origins. Is Michael Clarke Duncan a Nuban? Do Gary Coleman’s ancestors hail from the Ituri? How about the laser gaze of Samuel L. Jackson, the timeworn features of Morgan Freeman, the quizzical countenance of Whoopi Goldberg? Where did their ancestors come from? Chances are even they aren’t sure. That’s why Alex Haley had to go all the way to The Gambia to track down his Kunta Kinte roots.

The “non-n*gg*rs” are more fortunate. They got to keep closer ties to their past–even got hyphens: Italian-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Chinese-Americans, Japanese-Americans, etc. But Black people in the US just became “African-Americans”–a continent, not an ethnicity. Thanks to generations of being called “n*gg*r”.

“Gaijin” has the same effect, only more pronounced. Not only do we foreign-looking residents have no hope of hyphenation, we are relegated to a much bigger “continent” (i.e. anyone who doesn’t look Japanese–the vast majority of the world). Again, this kind of rhetoric, however unconscious or unintended, forever divides our public into “insider and outsider” with no twain.

Get Japan Times today Tues Sept 2–sequel to my JUST BE CAUSE Column on “Gaijin as racist word”

Hi Blog. Today (Tuesday, Wednesday in the provinces) sees my seventh Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column. I’ll devote another 700 words on some of the points raised in an avalanche of letters (according to the Japan Times, mostly critical) to explain more about my contentious “gaijin” and “n*gg*r” linkage.

Results of our fourth poll: Do you think the word “gaijin” should be avoided (in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?

The result was still that most people (but not an absolute majority) thought the word “gaijin” should be avoided, due to unwelcome connotations. Perhaps par for the course for Debito.org types of readers.

It was an interesting poll to follow in real time. For the first few days, the first choice, “Yes”, had an absolute majority of over 50%. But as more voted, the “maybe, if derisive” and “no” responses whittled that down. I was surprised at how few chose “maybe, depends on listener”. Also interesting was how almost everyone had a clear opinion–almost nobody was neutral or unknowledgeable about the subject.

Upcoming speeches Sept in Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Osaka, Nagano, Sendai and Iwate

Hi Blog.  Upcoming speeches, FYI.  Debito in transit Mon Sept 1, 7PM-9PM, Speech for JALT Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (CONFIRMED): Writeup: Hamamatsu- An evening with Debito. One of the leading human rights activists in Japan and co-author of the “Handbook for newcomers, migrants, and immigrants, to Japan” will present on various human rights issues relative to language …

Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim

Read and guffaw: “In a new report to the United Nations, the government outlines the situation of ethnic minorities and foreign residents in Japan, claiming it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past several years to eliminate racial discrimination.

“The government has long held that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, makes any antidiscrimination legislation superfluous, a point reiterated in the report.

“Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination,” the report’s introduction says, later adding that apartheid is unknown in Japan.”

COMMENT: Entitled “the third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” [Japanese pdf, English pdf]–indicating just how late they’re filing a report that is actually due every two years. What bunkum. More on the GOJ’s relationship with the UN here. And more here about how the GOJ seeks input from human rights groups but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year).

Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? But no. And look what happens as a result…

Japan Times: GOJ Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes

The government panel on Ainu policies held its first meeting Monday, aiming to look into the lives and discrimination the indigenous group faces and come up with remedial action.

The group, headed by Koji Sato, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Kyoto University, will meet about once a month and submit proposals to the chief Cabinet secretary by next summer.

“There needs to be broad public understanding and cooperation,” Sato said. “The most important starting point is to have the public accurately understand the history and grasp the situation of the Ainu.”

The panel’s creation followed the Diet passage in June of a resolution to officially recognize for the first time the Ainu as an indigenous people.

2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses

Yet another interview with BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura, where he claims that what goes on at 2-Channel is not his responsibility.

Love the section below where he says, “Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.” That’s a lie. He’s had a court order since January 2006 to delete the posts on me judged by a court to be libelous. More than two and a half years later, they’re still there…!

I don’t think this guy realizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be legislation passed that will ultimately deprive the Internet of the privacy he allows his BBS to so wantonly abuse.

LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors

To make renting an apartment easier for non-Japanese, and deal with discrimination by apartment landlords and owners, one prefecture in Japan is sponsoring an effort to establish a database of “multicultural” real estate agents.

The government of Saitama Prefecture began it’s effort in 2006. There are now 113 multicultural real estate agents registered.

Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan

Imagine the trauma of the mother being permanently denied visitation with her own children in this family court decision handed down by the Tokyo High Court. Being told to pray, watch and love “from the shadows.”…

In January 2006, David Hearn, Matthew Antell and Sean Nichols began research on a documentary film that would dramatically affect their lives over the next few years.

They had heard about high-profile cases of parental child abduction, such as the two children of Murray Wood being abducted from their home in Canada by their Japanese mother, but these filmmakers had not yet realized all the muck they would have to work through in order to gain a clearer understanding of what has increasingly become Japan’s own scarlet letter…

Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

Three Indian nationals have been appointed to the board of the community association at the Ojima 6-chome public apartment complex in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, in a rare move among such buildings…

The three joined the residents’ association after veteran board member Yorio Kuramata approached one of their compatriots in an attempt to open a dialogue with Indian residents during the same festival two years ago…

Once they started talking, Kuramata taught Sankar about the roles played by the local community and its residents’ association in locals’ daily lives and emergencies. For instance, he learned that Japanese communities stock water and emergency foods to help each other in case of a major disaster, Sankar recalled.

“It has made it easier for foreign households who do not have Japanese-speaking members to join community life,” Hemant said…

Thanks to their activities, an unprecedented number of Indian participants joined activities at this year’s spring koinobori festival to hang carp-shaped pennants to pray for healthy growing children.

Excellent essay on Wikipedia on the origin of “Criticism” sections

Update on my previous blog entry. I have been proven wrong by the editors on Wikipedia — they have shown themselves to be conscientious and serious about the editing they do. One even took the trouble yesterday to write an essay about how Wikipedia articles on controversial subjects develop. It answered a lot of questions, so I’ll put it up here on Debito.org for a wider audience.

My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”

In my most recent Japan Times column (JUST BE CAUSE August 5, 2008), I intimated that I feel rather negatively about Wikipedia (I call it “that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists”). As much as I don’t think I should touch how historians render my history, Wikipedia’s entry on me has been a source of consternation. Years of slanted depictions and glaring omissions by anonymous net “historians” are doing a public disservice — exacerbated as Wikipedia increasingly gains credibility and continuously remains the top or near-top site appearing in a search engine search.

The issues I have with the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry are, in sum:

A “Criticism” section not found in the Wikipedia entries of other “controversial figures”, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — meaning there is overwhelming voice given to the critics and no voice given any supporters for balance.

An avoidance of quoting primary source material just because it is archived on my website, Debito.org — even though it is third-party material published by other authors.

Omissions of books I published months and years ago.

Other historical inaccuracies and misleading summaries of issues and cases.
Privacy issues, such as mentioning my children by name, who are still minors and not public figures.

“Criticism” sources overwhelmingly favoring one defunct website, which seems to be connected to the “editors” standing guard over this entry.

Other information included that is irrelevant to developing this Wikipedia entry of me as a “teacher, author, and activist”, such as my divorce.

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Instead, where are the (positive) quotes from the people and published authors who actually have something verifiably meaningful to say about Japan and social issues, such as Donald Richie, Ivan Hall, Chalmers Johnson, John Lie, Jeff Kingston, Robert Whiting, Mark Schreiber, Eric Johnston, Terrie Lloyd, Bern Mulvey, Lee Soo Im, and Kamata Satoshi? Omitting them makes the Wikipedia entry sorely lacking in balance, accurate research, and respect for the facts of the case or the works of the person biographied. It comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.

For these reasons, I will put a “neutrality disputed” tag on the “Arudou Debito” Wiki entry and hope Wikipedia has the mechanisms to fix itself.

Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?

[poll id=”4″ type=”result”]  COMMENT:  Completing the trilogy of “life in Japan” polls, our first talked how easy Japan is as a place to live; the second how easy a place Japan is to work.  Regarding living in Japan, a clear majority–62%–indicated Japan is an easy place.  However, asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited …

Third Degree given NJ who wanted Post Office money order

Difficulties with changing money orders for NJ at the Post Office: “And, then when all finished, and I spent just under 10,000 yen for the $65 money order (recall that extra 2000 yen charge) and wasted over 90 minutes. Then came the question. That QUESTION . They asked me what the cash was for. I said it was for a watch.

They then said to me: “Is it a North Korean watch?” (while making the cross sign meaning this would be illegal if it were). “WHAT !!” I screamed. I was FURIOUS! First, the person getting the MO was located in Texas, USA, as they checked the name and location on their money order perhaps over a thousand times. Second, the person’s name was “Johnson”, hardly a Korean name. And finally, even if the watch belonged to Kim Jong Ill himself, this is only for a damn $65 to purchase a friggin watch !!!!!”

IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor

NYT: “The foreign trainee system was established in the mid-1990s [sic], in theory to transfer technical expertise to young foreigners who would then apply the knowledge at home. After one year of training, the foreigners are allowed to work for two more years in their area of expertise. But the reality is that the foreign trainees — now numbering about 100,000 — have become a source of cheap labor. They are paid less than the local minimum wage during the first year, and little emphasis is placed on teaching them technical skills. Advocates for the foreign workers have reported abuses, unpaid wages and restrictions on their movements at many job sites. Nakamura, the Liberal Democratic politician, said the foreign trainee system was “shameful,” but added that if it were dismantled, businesses would not be able to find Japanese replacements.”

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
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Tangent: Letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program

I’m on vacation, I know, but duty calls. My school has a tie-up with a (very good) English-language program here in Santa Cruz, California. And yet budget cuts are eliminating it. First an article that came out in the local newspaper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel (which, despite the reporting, sees a lot more than three jobs affected). Then my letter from the perspective of a participant to the people in charge, including the University of California Regents and California Governor Schwarzenegger. Then an article which appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel as a follow up.

Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight

Michael Hassett: One year ago, The Japan Times (Zeit Gist, Aug. 7) printed some findings of mine that showed that there is a 21.1-percent likelihood that a man who marries a Japanese national will do the following: create at least one child with his spouse (85.2 percent probability), then divorce within the first 20 years of marriage (31 percent), and subsequently lose custody of any children (80 percent). And in a country such as Japan — one that has no visitation rights and neither statutes nor judicial precedents providing for joint custody — loss of custody often translates into complete loss of contact, depending on the desire of the mother.

And if this figure is not startling enough, this year’s calculation using more current data would leave us with an even higher likelihood: 22 percent. Having this information, we must now ask a question that most of us would dread presenting to a friend in a fog of engagement glee: Is it the behavior of a wise man to pursue a course of action that has such a high probability of leaving your future children without any contact with their own father?

Archive: 2006 Course on how to “slavedrive” your “gaijin” workers

Archiving 2006 Campaign against a company advertising English lessons for “Slavedriving your Gaijin” (sic!), i.e. how to stop “gaijin” employees from taking advantage of you linguistically, and how to squeeze the most out of them as an employer. Yow. Talk about increasing the divide between J and NJ!

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6: The case for “Gaijin” as a racist word

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column arguing that “Gaijin” is a racist word:

Thus gaijin is a caste. No matter how hard you try to acculturalize yourself, become literate and lingual, even make yourself legally inseparable from the putative “naikokujin” (whoever they are), you’re still “not one of us”…

This must be acknowledged. Even though trying to get people to stop using gaijin overnight would be like swatting flies, people should know of its potential abuses. At least people should stop arguing that it’s the same as gaikokujin.

For gaijin is essentially “n*gg*r”, and should be likewise obsolesced…

First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights

Here we have an article talking about how the sights are turning from the Mainichi Waiwai to the Japan Times “Tokyo Confidential” column–in the same spirit of making sure outsiders don’t “misunderstand” Japan (by reading potentially negative stuff already found in the domestic press). The Japanese language is only supposed to be for domestic consumption, after all, right? How dare non-natives translate the secret code? Anyway, it’s one more good reason why you don’t deal with anonymous Internet bullies–giving in to them only makes them stronger–and more hypocritical given press freedom and the freedom of speech they wallow in. Let’s hope the Japan Times has the guts to stand up to them.

GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.

Here’s something quite odd. We have the GOJ saying that the population of Japan is rising (ii n ja nai?). Then they make it clear that the figures doesn’t include foreign residents. Now why would any government worth its salt decide to exclude taxpayers thusly? Aren’t registered foreign residents people too, part of a “population”?

読売:「人口3年ぶり増加」と言うが、「住民基本台帳」のみに基づき外国人住民は数に入らん。

読売:「総務省は31日、住民基本台帳に基づく今年3月末現在の人口を発表した。

 「全国の人口は前年同期比1万2707人増の1億2706万6178人で、2006年3月末現在で減少に転じたが、3年ぶりに増えた。」

というが、なぜ「人口」を言うのに外国人住民(つまり外国人登録者数)は入らないのでしょうか。国内に住居であり、納税して、社会のメンバーなのに、加算しないメリットはありますか。

Bankruptcy of a monopoly: Good riddance to Yohan foreign book distributor

Yohan (Nihon Yousho Hanbai), the monopolist distributors of foreign-language books, just went bankrupt. To quote Nelson Muntz: “Haa haa”.

Yohan is essentially the Darth Vader of Japanese book distributors. I know from personal experience (trying to sell my books published by Akashi Shoten Inc., which refused to pay Yohan’s extortionate subscription rates or meet its restrictive conditions) that if you want to sell even Japanese books written in English, you either go through Yohan, or your books don’t get shelf space.

Here we have a cartel masquerading as a company, with exclusive rights to sell cash cows like Harry Potter in English, overcharging us for books, controlling stores’ contents and shelf space, and keeping out rivals. And they STILL couldn’t stay in business! Good riddance to bad rubbish.

Irony: Economist reports on Chinese Olympic security; why not on similar Hokkaido G8 security?

The Economist: “FOREIGNERS deemed potential protesters are being kept out of China during the Olympic games (August 8th-24th). Beijing is ringed with police checkpoints to keep troublemakers at bay. But the authorities have named three city parks where demonstrations, in theory, will be allowed. They are well out of earshot of the main Olympic venues and police permits will be needed (five days’ notice required). Chinese rules ban any protest that threatens public security or social stability. This is routinely used to block any demonstration that citizens have the temerity to propose.”

Er, sounds a lot like the G8 Summit in Hokkaido this month. Now why wasn’t that as newsworthy to The Economist?

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008

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

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

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

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

…and finally…
Passing of an era: First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79
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The Sydney Morning Herald on death of Mainichi Waiwai column

Hi Blog. One more article on how the Internet has turned nasty: The campaign by anonymous posters to get rid of the English translation service of Japan’s weekly magazines, the Mainichi Shinbun Waiwai column, has been effective. Instead of standing up to anonymous hotheads making death threats, and suppressing the free speech they hold so sacrosanct, they talk about Japan’s image being besmirched internationally (when the information comes from Japanese sources in the first place). By suppressing this media outlet, all they are achieving is keeping the debate domestic and covering up the issues the Weeklies are bringing to the fore. However disgusting the topics the Weeklies can bring up are, the contents are the Weeklies’ responsibility, not the Mainichi’s and not editor Ryann Connell’s. Attack the Weeklies for their contents, not the people who merely translate them.

I find this form of bullying disgusting, and the Mainichi’s caving in appallingly irresponsible. When are people going to learn that this is not a fair fight, and ignore people who won’t make themselves public in the media and open themselves up to the same scrutiny they demand other media? You have the right to know your accuser. Those who won’t reveal their identity should be justly ignored themselves.

Here’s an article from The Sydney Morning Herald. Further links and a letter to the Mainichi follows it.

Tangent: The Economist on how the Internet is turning nasty

Continuing with a recent theme on Debito.org, regarding how nasty the Internet has become (with cyberanonymity allowing people to make accusations without any accountability or sense of responsiblity to either the truth or to fair play), we have an excellent article from The Economist on how blogs and online media are in fact disseminating hatred and even racism:

“And then there is history. A decade ago, a zealot seeking to prove some absurd proposition—such as the denial of the Nazi Holocaust, or the Ukrainian famine—might spend days of research in the library looking for obscure works of propaganda. Today, digital versions of these books, even those out of press for decades, are accessible in dedicated online libraries. In short, it has never been easier to propagate hatred and lies. People with better intentions might think harder about how they too can make use of the net.”

First Zainichi resident to refuse fingerprinting in 1980 dies at 79

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

Tangent: Why I don’t debate outside of Debito.org

Every now and then (actually, practically every day) I get word that somebody is taking up an issue on another list/blog/what have you and debating something on Debito.org. Great. That’s exactly what I want.

But I rarely ever go on those blogs and answer the claims (often erroneous — the product of people who either haven’t read what I said thoroughly, or think that nobody will follow up and actually read what I said in context) made. Even when they email me individually to say, “C’mon, we’re talking aboutcha.”

Thanks for the invites, but I have a very specific reason for not doing that… Nowadays, given that there are whole groups of attack blogs (i.e. people united by a common interest of spending their lives attacking me) out there who have no problem whatsoever with issuing outright lies (no longer even deliberate misquotes, not even misreadings due to sloth or political bent), I follow this policy even more so, I’m afraid. Thanks to the inverse proportion of anonymity and responsibility, the Internet has only gotten nastier over time…

An example of a recent interesting and entertaining debate (on Big Daikon) which still gets fogged up by recalcitrant critics also included…

Economist.com: Interesting business time capsule book published by Asahi Shinbun in 1958

Interesting article from Economist.com:

What a 50-year-old periodical tells about how the country has changed—and how it has not

THE cover is a cliché: a frothy crested wave with Mount Fuji in the background. Emblazoned on the image of Hokusai’s woodblock print from the 1830s are the words “This is Japan” and “1958”. At a hefty two kilos and 420 pages, the oversized coffee-table book was published annually by the Asahi newspaper between 1954 and 1971. Early editions came nestled in a wooden box.

The book was designed to present the emerging country to foreigners, largely to drum up business. The articles cover the spectrum of all that a Western reader might associate with Japan, from rice and kimonos to sake and shrines. Their very titles stand as totems of an earlier era: “Japan’s Ports—Past and Present”; “Iron and Steel: A Success Story”; “American Girl Finds Japan.” But while the articles appear self-conscious, the advertisements offer a more candid account of where the country was headed…

Some woes with the Koseki (Family Registry) system for NJ and others in Japan

We’ve had a couple of good comments recently from a couple of mailing lists I belong to, concerning the Family Registry System (koseki) in Japan (not to mention the Juuminhyou Registry Certificate, equally problematic), particularly when it comes to recognizing international marriage, naming children, and child custody after divorce. It affects a lot of people adversely, not just NJ, so let’s devote a blog entry to the issue. We’re considering making the Koseki System a lobbying issue at forming NGO FRANCA, especially since South Korea, with its similar hojeok registry system, abolished it this year.

Discussion: Why do NJ have such apparently bipolar views of life in Japan?

At the suggestion of one of our commenters yesterday, let’s discuss why the NJ communities seem to have such a bipolar view of life in Japan:

Commenter: “I wonder what the factors are for this divide. Is it related to work? Is it related to the location where each person is living? Is it related to political beliefs in the country of origin? Is it based simply on personality, or maybe on language skills? Does the period of residence in Japan have anything to do with it?”

Well, commenters, fire away with your theories. I only ask that you try to leave me out of it–I’m not that important a factor.

Tangent: Hong Kong’s new anti racial discrimination workplace laws

Hong Kong solicitors’ report: “It may seem odd that Hong Kong : Asia’s business hub a diverse modern metropolis and a city of live has no remedy for individuals experiencing private racial discrimination. Ethnic minorities form 5% of the population in Hong Kong and those who face racial discrimination whether in employment, housing, provision of medical services, education or transport have no protection. This is despite laws against discrimination in other areas such as gender, family status and disability.

“The much debated Race Discrimination Bill (the “Bill”) was only passed by the Legislative Council on 10 July 2008. The Bill aims to make racial discrimination and harassment in prescribed areas and vilification on the ground of race unlawful, and to prohibit serious vilification on that ground. It also seeks to extend the jurisdiction of the Equal Opportunities Commission to cover racial discrimination, harassment and vilification.” Read more…

Tangent: Palm Beach Post on dual citizenship in EU countries

SIDEBAR
Dual citizenship criteria

Ireland: Automatically grants citizenship to the child of an Irish-born citizen. A person can also claim descent based on a grandparent or great-grandparent as long as a grandparent had also claimed descent on or before the date of the person’s birth.

Italy: For those born after 1948, citizenship is granted if their father or mother was a citizen at the time of the applicant’s birth. Citizenship is also granted under these conditions:

Father is an American and the paternal grandfather was a citizen at the time of the father’s birth.

If born after 1948, when the mother is American and the maternal grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of the mother’s birth.

Paternal or maternal grandfather was born in America and the paternal great-grandfather was an Italian citizen at the time of the grandparent’s birth.

United Kingdom: Descent based on a grandparent allowable only in exceptional cases.

Greece: Native-born parent or grandparent.

Latvia: Native-born parent.

Cyprus: Father was a citizen.

Holland, Finland, Germany and Norway: Applicant must have been born in wedlock with one parent a citizen, or he can claim descent based only on the mother.

All other European Union countries: A parent was a citizen of the given country. People who can’t claim descent can apply after living in the country for a certain number of years.

The creation of the European Union and its thriving economy is very appealing for Americans in a global economy.
Entire article…

Discussion: Softbank’s policy towards NJ customers re new iPhone

Hi Blog. This issue has been brought up on other blogs (most notably Japan Probe), so I thought I need not duplicate it on Debito.org (I try to limit myself to one blog entry per day). But recently I received through the FRANCA Japan list a series of thoughtful discussions on the iPhone that are good enough to reprint here. Anonymized. And note that Softbank already seems to have reacted to the situation. Arudou Debito

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From: Writer A
Subject: [FRANCA] Yodabashi Akiba Restricts iPhone 3G Sales To Foreigners
Date: July 17, 2008 8:14:32 PM JST
To: francajapan@yahoogroups.com

Where else but Japan would one find a huge electronics retailer, located in a tourist center, that refuses to sell to certain foreigners a phone marketed simultaneously around the world, designed by an American company and distributed by a firm headed by a Zainichi Korean?

Yodabashi Akiba (YA), the largest store of the Yodobashi Camera electronics retailer chain, is located in Akihabara, the tourist center that is Ground Zero for anime nerds (otaku). On any given day, one is likely to find Western and Chinese customers shopping at YA, in addition to Japanese customers. Like any cell phone retailer that wants to remain in business. YA has a huge display for Apple’s 3G iPhone, which went on sale in Japan on July 11 and promptly sold out at YA.

But if a foreigner wished to buy an Apple 3G iPhone at YA, that foreigner would find that YAs policy is to refuse to sell a phone to a person with an authorized stay of less than 90 days, and refuses to allow a sale on the installment plan to foreigners with less than 16 months of authorized stay.

Read discussion…