Terrie’s Take: Oji Homes and asbestos–and treating NJ customers badly

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking in California August 2008, then Honshu first half of September

Just to let you know: I’ll be in California all August (working at UC Santa Cruz, then visiting San Francisco Bay Area for a couple of weeks), and then Honshu Japan for the first half of September.

Want me to come speak anywhere I’m nearby? Fairly firm schedule:

1) Sat or Sun, Aug 23 or 24:
Speech in San Francisco for local human rights group (BEING FINALIZED)

2) Weds Aug 27, 2008, Noon, University of California Berkeley, Center for Japanese Studies (CONFIRMED)

3) Sun Sept 1, 7PM, Speech for JALT Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (BEING FINALIZED)

4) Thurs Sept 4, 2008, 7PM, Lecture on “The Japanese Legal System–Cognitive Dissonances to Consider”, for Kansai Attorneys Registered Abroad, Osaka (CONFIRMED)

5) Sat Sept 6, 2008, 7PM Speech for Osaka FRANCA, at Osaka OCAT Building (BEING FINALIZED)

Fri Sept 12, Speech in Saitama (TBD)
Sat Sept 13, 2008, Speech in Nagano (TBD)
Sun Sept 14, 2008, Speech for Sendai Forming NGO FRANCA, 14.00-16.00, at: Sendai Chuo Shimin Centre Kaigi Shitsu (CONFIRMED)
Mon Sept 15, 2008, Afternoon Speech in Kitakami, Iwate Pref. (BEING FINALIZED)

Good News #2: Non-native NJ wins Akutagawa, Japan’s most coveted book award

Hi Blog. Good news. Yang Yi, a NJ (not a Zainichi, which would be good news too, but a non-native NJ to boot), has just won Japan’s most coveted literary award. Congratulations!

This is not the first time a NJ (or even a non-native) has won a prestigious book award (hark way back to Dave Zopetti’s Subaru-sho). But it’s the first for an Akutagawa, and that says something positive about Japan’s assimilation. Well done all around! Article and interview blogged here.

Good News #1: Zainichi lodges complaint re Nihon U debate club discrim, university takes appropriate action

Asahi: The debate club of Nihon University’s College of Law suspended activities after a third-generation Korean resident said she was refused entry because of her ethnicity, The Asahi Shimbun learned.

The 21-year-old first-year student said she could not join the club in April because several senior members had a problem with her South Korean nationality.

Along with her mother, she lodged a discrimination complaint to the Tokyo-based university in early June.

The university administration commissioned lawyers to investigate the case and determined that the student was indeed discriminated against because of her nationality and ethnicity.

…The club suspended activities in late June after a request from the university’s human rights committee.

SMJ Tokyo July 21 Tokyo Symposium on amnesty for visa overstayers

From the writeup: “It has past almost 20 years since the arrival of “new comers”. The number of the unqualified foreign residents who recorded its peak in 1993 started to decline and currently there are about 170,000 living in Japan. Until now, tens of thousands of unqualified foreign residents were amnestied by receiving “special permanent residents”. On the other hand, in Japan, people started to see unqualified residents as “Illegal residents” which is considered as a nest of crime. In this circumstance, the government has strengthened its regulation. In addition, from 2008, the new system to control residents was built and the government is trying to eliminate the unqualified foreign residents completely.

“Take place the background of declining birth rate; the argument on “acceptance” of immigrants is developing among various fields as using a keyword of “multi-cultural society”. However, that is the “society” over the elimination of unqualified foreign residents, and it differs from “multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society” that the NGOs and civil societies have been aiming to create.

“In this symposium, from the viewpoint of the unqualified residents, we will be discussing the current situation that the “multi-cultural society” and “elimination of unqualified residents” is preceding simultaneously.”

2008緊急シンポジウム 非正規滞在(オーバーステイ)2008年7月21日東京都千代田区、など


■日時:2008年7月21日(月・祝日) pm. 2:00〜5:00 (開場 pm. 1:30)
■会場:韓国YMCA (東京都千代田区猿楽町2-5-5)
    地図は以下URLを参照 http://www.ymcajapan.org/ayc/jp/map1.htm 
■参加費:1000円  通訳:英語





Kyodo: Mock trial for upcoming lay judge translation system puts NJ on trial for drug smuggling!

Japan is still testing its lay judge system before inauguration in 2009. According to Kyodo, they’ve uncovered a bug–how to deal with court translation. Ironically, they use a case where the NJ accused is charged with carrying narcotics. Very ironic, given the recent scandal of Narita Customs planting drugs on NJ….

UNHCR on Japan’s UN Human Rights Review, June 30, 2008

(iii) Conclusions and/or Recommendations

In the course of the discussion, the following recommendations were made to Japan:

– Consider ratifying/Ratify the Hague Convention on Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, 1980 (Canada, Netherlands);

– Encourage the continued taking of measures relating to discrimination against women in particular to raise the age of marriage to 18 for women as for men (France);

– Continue to take measures to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children, inter alia, by ensuring that law enforcement officials receive human rights training, and to fund recovery and counselling centres for victims of violence (Canada);

– Continue the efforts to combat trafficking in persons with a special emphasis on women and children (Canada);

– Develop a mechanism to ensure the prompt return of children who have been wrongly removed from or prevented from returning to their habitual place of residence (Canada);

– Prohibit expressly all forms of corporal punishment of children and promote positive and non-violent forms of discipline (Italy);

Anonymous on J police treatment of disputes between J and NJ

Hi Blog. What follows is an account from a NJ writer friend who has a street-scuffle dispute (with his aitekata demanding money from him) being mediated by the police. Or kinda that, as he writes. With some interesting indications that data from mere investigations goes down on an actual criminal record. Blogged with permission.

By Anonymous, name withheld on request

(excerpt) “So, my concern here is: 1) how many people – Japanese as well as foreigners – with no official criminal record may be treated otherwise because of such standard procedures in subsequent encounters with police and the legal system? And 2) everyone, especially foreigners who seem to have a clear disadvantage in law-and-order matters that involve a contest with a Japanese person, should know that despite “standard procedure” they are apparently not required by Japanese law to have their fingerprints and photo logged into the National Police Agency’s criminal database unless they have actually been convicted of a crime. It’s apparently info police don’t readily volunteer (or, in some cases, even know about).”

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

OYAKO NET Meeting and rally July 13th Tokyo: The First Conference of the Nationwide Network For Realizing Visitation In Japan

“Why can’t we meet?—the children and parents after divorce—”


The First Conference of the Nationwide Network For Realizing Visitation In Japan

l July 13th 2008 Open 12:30pm, 13:00~16:30

l Academy Meidai Gakusyu-Shitu A, Kasuga 2-9-5 Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo

(Tel 03-3817-8306) 15 minutes-walk from Kourakuen station or Myo-ga-dani station. (Tokyo Metro, Marunouchi-line) http://www.city.bunkyo.lg.jp/gmap/detail.php?id=1995

l 1. Guest Speaker Subjects: “Children in the custody battle.”

Paul Wong, US citizen, Attorney at law admitted in California.
Misuzu Yuki (an alias)
Mitsuru Munakata

2. Lecture: “Joint Parenting After Divorce and ‘The Best Interest of the Children.’”

Takao Tanase, Chuo Law School Professor of Sociology of Law, Attorney at Law.
l Question, discussion, and report from the Oyako-Net about lobbing the Diet members and local council initiatives.
l Street Demonstration 16:30~
l Admission \1,000

7月13日文京区で「なぜ会えないの? 離婚後の親子」親子の面会交流を実現する全国ネットワーク発足集会

「なぜ会えないの? 離婚後の親子」


■日時 7月13日12:30会場13:00開始〜16:30

■場所 文京区立アカデミー茗台会議室A


■ 内容


ポール・ワン 米国籍。日本国籍の妻の死別後、義父母によって娘と引き離され、児童虐待をでっち上げられて訴訟に

結城みすず(仮名) 子どもの前で夫に突然離婚を告げられ家を出される。弁護士にも調停でも二次被害を受ける。次第に面会を制約され現在は3人の子どもと会えていない

宗像 充 事実婚のため人身保護法により親権者である元妻と同棲相手のもとに子どもを移され、引き離しの間に養子に入れられた。面接交渉調停に相手は出てこない



*その他国会他各地の取り組みの報告、意見交換 (後略)

Jenkins get his Permanent Residency in record time. Congratulations, but…

Just heard yesterday that Charles Jenkins, long-suffering veteran of North Korea (who got a very harsh life after defecting from the US military from South Korea, before I was even born!), just got his Permanent Residency (eiuuken) in record time (a coupla weeks). And with fewer years spent here (four) than the average applicant (generally five years if married to a Japanese, ten if not married). With personal consideration from Justice Minister Hatoyama.

Congratulations Mr Jenkins. Seriously. I’m very happy you can stay here with your family as long as you like, and may you have a peaceful and happy rest of your life out on Sadogashima.

But I wish the often strict procedures given other applicants could have applied to him as well. Again, as with the case of Fujimori (who was “naturalized” in about the same amount of procedural time) and certain sports figures, politics keeps infiltrating the application process for assimilation. Inevitable, some might say, but still a shame when there are people as eminently qualified as Mr Jenkins being refused…

World media on uselessness of G8 Summit(s)

Concomitant to my recent assertion that the world media is waking up to how much of a useless gathering, if not an outright scam, these G8 Summits are, let’s collect some articles on this blog entry demonstrating as such. Feel free to add articles in the comments section below, only please take care to include the name of the media publication, date, full text of article, and link. Thanks. Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Kicking off with the Financial Times, London:

Pipe dreams and cigar smoke
Published: July 10 2008 03:00
For proof that the G8 has outlived its usefulness, one need look no further than the inability of the world’s richest democracies to forge an agreed global strategy for tackling climate change. The refusal by China and India to endorse its proposed cuts in carbon dioxide emissions renders this week’s G8 summit in Japan pointless. Any notion a club of eight nations could run the world – never plausible – is now so discredited as to call into question the value of all its declarations. More…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kyodo: J Man arrested for making bomb threat at Sapporo Chitose airport

Here’s something simultaneously scary and amusing: a bomb threat by a Japanese man during (but unrelated to, he claims) the G8 Summit. Naturally, as contributor AW points out, he would not have been snagged by the Hokkaido Police’s racial profiling. And image the hay the police would make if the perp had been NJ. “Hey, good thing we did all the security checks on the gaijin!.” Sorry there’s not much hay to be made this time around–wrong race. Maybe it’s time the police disengaged race and nationality from criminal intent. But I’ve suggested that both to them and to readers here ad nauseam by now. Sigh. Debito in Sapporo


Man arrested for making bomb threat at Chitose airport

Kyodo/Japan Today Wednesday 09th July, 06:40 AM JST
Read article…

Good news from Summit Sapporo: security cops are mellow

Here’s a quick eyewitness report on what effect security forces in downtown Sapporo are having on residents. The good news–the cops are mellow while plentiful, and not quick with a daystick when they see someone like me taking pictures. I was not stopped for an ID check once, a definite improvement on World Cup 2002. The bad news–people are staying away from Summit security areas and business is being adversely affected. Now let’s just hope something good comes out of this goddamn Summit to justify all the time, effort, expense, and inconvenience inflicted upon everybody. On-site photos included.

Paul Arenson on media coverage of G8, particularly Japan Times

Paul Arenson writes a thoughtful letter regarding media coverage of the G8, particularly his misgivings with the Japan Times. Originally sent as a comment, I am reproducing this as a full-on blog entry. Opinions are his. Debito


July 4

It is undoubtedly true that the Japan Times’s coverage of the G8 Summit is superior to that of the other news media. Only you give voice to the concerns raised over the heavy-handed security, which has already seen entry denied to some non mainstream journalists and activists and has served to intimidate counter-G8 activists from exercising their democratic rights.

As well, you do occasionally carry an article critical of the posturing by G8 leaders, such as ” NGOs worried Africa will get short shrift” in the July 4 issue.

All in all, however, your G8 coverage tends to stick closely to the scripted comments of government leaders and only the most mainstream NGOs. What is missing are the voices of those who are critical of the summit itself. Dozens of international and local GROUPS are attempting to gather near the summit venue and around Japan in order to address the inequalities imposed by the neoliberalism of the G8 economies on the rest of the world. These include drastic reductions in social welfare, the growth of the working poor, food safety held hostage to free trade agreements and pro agro-business policies, wars fought for oil and drastic attacks on civil liberties with post-9-11 hysteria being used to justify increased police surveillance in the US and Japan.

A glance at any of the counter-G8 summit websites will reveal dozens of multi-issue groups, from those representing the homeless of Sanya to people concerned with the possible loss of Article 9 of the Japanese Constitution, to those who seek dept cancellation. Representatives of these groups have been most affected by the extreme “security” measures. Your lack of coverage only serves to aid and abet the overzealous authorities in silencing their voices, which is certainly not becoming for a newspaper which claims to print all the news “without fear or favor”.

Hokkaido Shinbun: Hokkaido Police report 15 requests for demos, grant permission for one

Hokkaido Shinbun on the police’s control over Japan’s right of assembly: According to the police, applications to hold a total of ten demos in Sapporo were lodged from June 2 to 8, and five around Iburi Subprefecture’s Toyako Town were applied for between June 6 and 9. The Hokkaido Public Safety Commission has granted permission for one of them, to be conducted in Sapporo on July 2. The other approaches are now under consideration.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On-Site Briefing: Summit seeps into Sapporo on little cat feet…

Final word for now: It seems the Japanese police are more concerned about giving the appearance of security than creating actual security. A friend of mine, trained in undermining infrastructure and assassination (yes, I talk to a lot of people) due to his stint in a foreign military, has eyewitnessed numerous flaws in the Chitose security (such as being able to drive a van into Chitose with tinted windows–and not be stopped! Could have brought in all manner of subversive elements that way). And that any trained assassin is capable of coming months before the event and hiding out in the woods until needed. He doubts that we’re significantly more secure after all this expense, public inconvenience, and precedent renewed of subverting Japan’s civil society.

Forget these summits. How about a video conference for world leaders? Stop putting overreactive societies like Japan through these sorts of things.


Table of Contents:

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

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

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

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

Japan Times: Foreign reporters covering G8 face harassment: media group

The G8 Media Network, a Japan-based group of journalists from grassroots media outlets, said six people involved with its summit-related events have been wrongfully held and questioned by Immigration officials.

The relentless grilling of journalists and political activists entering Japan constitutes a threat to freedom of expression, the group said.

“This is suppression of freedom of thought and expression,” said Go Hirasawa, a representative of the group. “This is harassment (of journalists).”

Another journalist who was detained for 11 hours after arriving in Tokyo on Friday said she was asked to hand over a detailed itinerary and account for every hour of her stay in Japan. She told The Japan Times that she has no criminal record that would justify the detainment.

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

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

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

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

Like me…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Times on dangerous precedents set by G8 Summit security overkill

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

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

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

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

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

Japan Timesコラム和訳:「魔のG8サミット接近中:7月のG8長談義は日本で悪いことばかり目立ち、ホスト北海道には何の利益もないだろう」





ポイントは、国際イベントは日本に悪い習慣をもたらす、ということである。それでは、2016年オリンピック開催の候補地に名乗りを上げている東京はどうなる? 一般市民を押さえつける、さらなる騒々しい公式の恐怖と取り締まりキャンペーンのきっかけになり、この幼稚な国家で最も得をするのは、警察なのだ。

結論。政治システムの点から日本はこのようなイベントのホスト国としてはまだ十分成熟しているとはいえない、と私は思う。訪問するだけなのに日本以外の国が恐ろしいかのように日本社会を脅かして人々を煽るのをやめるために、メディアは言うまでもなく、行政の適切なチェックとバランスを日本は発達させなければならない。日本の役人にブレーキをかけ、未熟のままの市民社会で取り締まるという警察国家に日本が変わっていかないよう防ぐ必要がある。 (後略)

Registered overseas journalists being detained, refused entry into Japan due to Summit

Kimura Kayoko of Nikkan Berita reports:

Recently, as the eve of the G8 Summit approaches, we are seeing incident after incident of non-Japanese being stopped at airports.

NJ who are coming here for G8 Summit activities (including reportage and convocations), without connections to governments or major press outlets, are apparently being subjected to background searches. 24-hour detentions are not unusual.

Last night (June 27), three Hong Kong citizen journalists who have been registered with the Citizens’ Media Center (Sapporo) were detained by Immigration, and were on the verge of being deported.

This morning, Susan George (ATTAC France) was stopped and questioned at the airport. Ms George is 74 years old, and her detention demonstrates a lack of humanity on the part of authorities.

Similar measures on the part of Immigration are forecast to continue in this vein.





今朝は、スーザン・ジョージさん(ATTAC France)が空港で足止めされているとのことです。74歳のジョージさんを拘束するのは、人道上の配慮にも欠けていると思われます。


World-famous company, Tohoku branch, refuses to employ Japanese kid expressly because he’s “half”–even retracts original job offer

Summary: A world-famous company in northern Japan, with branches and products overseas for generations, refuses to employ a young Japanese (despite giving him a job offer)–expressly, despite being a citizen, because he’s “half”.

This could have major repercussions in Japan if other Japanese with international roots get discriminated against similarly. Read on. More details to reporters if they want a story. I have the feeling we have a major lawsuit here.

I’ve anonymized it for now because the family fears that the employer will refuse to employ the job candidate further if this article can be traced back to him. Read on:

国土交通省から全国のホテル宛の指令:「サミットのテロ対策」として「外国人宿泊客の旅券確認強化」Ministries order all hotels nationwide to target all “foreign guest” passports


Despite the Hokkaido Police only yesterday telling us bald-facedly that NJ were not being specially targeted for spot ID checks as potential terrorists, the ministries have sent out a directive to all hotels nationwide (not just near Summit areas) to check and photocopy passports of all “foreign guests” (not, as the law indicates, NJ without addresses in Japan) as a means to prevent Summit terrorism. Again, still want to make the argument that NJ aren’t being targeted?

Full report: Press conference goes well, but Hokkaido Police use every trick in the book to evade responsibility and press scrutiny.

Full report on how the meeting went with the Hokkaido Police (they did everything they could to evade responsibility) and the press conference (all the major print and TV media were there, went fine). Third best press conference I’ve ever done–mp3 recording of the event included without cuts. Article after article in English and Japanese appearing in the comments section.

Press Conference at Hokkaido Govt Press Club follows Letter of Protest to Hokkaido Police

FYI, I will be giving a quick press conference tomorrow, Wednesday, June 25, 2008, after giving in a letter of protest regarding all the recent racial profiling happening during the G8 Summit anti-terrorism moves.

Schedule as follows:

10:45AM Gather at Hokkaido Police HQ (Kita 2 Nishi 7)
11AM Formal presentation of Protest Letter (text in Japanese here) to Hokkaido Police
11:45AM Short Press Conference at Hokkaido Government Building Press Club to give the media a better understanding of what’s going on

All appointments have been made with the Hokkaido Police and the Hokkaido Government Press Club. All parties have received advance copies of the press release and letter. Download everything you need from this blog entry.

サミット反テロ対策の改善を要請する抗議文(全文)Text of protest letter to Hokkaido Police



午前10:45 道警本部で集合
午前11:00 道警本部に以下の抗議文を渡す(予約済み)
午前11:45 記者会見 道庁記者クラブにて(予約済み)


北海道警察署本部 御中 
警視庁 御中

 冠省 私は北海道情報大学准教授の有道 出人(あるどう でびと)と申します。この度、サミット反テロ対策の改善を要請致します。



Protest letter to Hokkaido Police for Racial Profiling, presented Weds June 25, 11AM, Hokkaido Police HQ


In the wake of being treated like a suspected terrorist by Hokkaido Police, just for exiting Chitose Airport Baggage Claim while Caucasian on June 19, I will be handing in a protest letter to Dou Keisatsu Honbu (Sapporo Kita 2 Nishi 7) tomorrow asking for the cessation of the Hokkaido Police’s clear policy of racial profiling, targeting people as potential terrorists just because they look foreign…

「外人狩り」反テロ措置6月25日(水)午前10:45 道警本部で集合、改善要請の抗議文を提出

6月25日(水) 午前10:45 道警本部で集合、有道 出人は改善要請の抗議文を提出

皆様おはようございます。有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。



J Times: Radical GOJ immigration plan under discussion

Japan Times: Foreigners will have a much better opportunity to move to, or continue to live in, Japan under a new immigration plan drafted by Liberal Democratic Party lawmakers to accept 10 million immigrants in the next 50 years.

“The plan means (some politicians) are seriously thinking about Japan’s future,” said Debito Arudou, who is originally from the United States but has lived in Japan for 20 years and became a naturalized citizen in 2000. “While it is no surprise by global standards, it is a surprisingly big step forward for Japan.”

The group of some 80 lawmakers, led by former LDP Secretary General Hidenao Nakagawa, finalized the plan on June 12 and aims to submit it to Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda later this week.

The plan is “the most effective way to counter the labor shortage Japan is doomed to face amid a decreasing number of children,” Nakagawa said…

Japan had 2.08 million foreign residents in 2006, accounting for 1.6 percent of the population of 128 million. Raising the total to 10 million, or close to 10 percent of the population, may sound bold but is actually modest considering that most European countries, not to mention the U.S., have already exceeded this proportion, Sakanaka said.

Fukuda outlined in a policy speech in January his aim to raise the number of foreign students to 300,000 from the current 130,000, but without specifying a timetable.

However, the immigration plan calls for the goal to be achieved soon and for the government to aim for 1 million foreign students by 2025. It also proposes accepting an annual 1,000 asylum seekers and other people who need protection for humanitarian reasons…

Arudou, a foreigners’ rights activist, noted the importance of establishing a legal basis for specifically banning discrimination against non-Japanese.

“Founding a legal basis is important because people do not become open just because the government opens the door,” he said…

But wait, there’s even more to this excellent article:

Japan Times Eric Johnston speaks for HIBA Sapporo July 10 on G8 Summit aftermath

Speech July 10 in Sapporo of interest, sponsored by the Hokkaido International Business Association:

By ERIC JOHNSTON, Deputy Editor, The Japan Times

With the Group of Eight (G-8) Leaders’ Summit concluding on July 9th, the world is now asking what next for progress on a post Kyoto Protocol climate change treaty, aid for Africa, the price of oil, the food crisis, and other issues that G-8 leaders addressed. Did the Lake Toya Summit make any progress on these issues, or was it a waste of time and taxpayer money?

At the same time, many in Hokkaido are anxiously wondering what, exactly, the effect of hosting the summit will have the region’s economic and social development. Hopes are high, but are they too high? Meanwhile, Japan’s English language media, seeing the sharp increase in international tourists to Hokkaido these last few years, are now wondering if the summit will lead to more foreingers visiting and moving to Hokkaido.

Eric Johnston, deputy editor of The Japan Times, will address these summit-related questions in a presentation on July 10th, the day after the summit’s conclusion. A two-decade resident of the Kansai region, Eric covered the U.S. delegation at the Lake Toya summit. He has been a frequent visitor to Hokkaido since 2001, having visited the region over a dozen times. Eric is especially eager to meet HIBA members, and get their advice on how The Japan Times might better service the Hokkaido region.










Hokkaido Police at Chitose Airport only stop non-Asian passengers for G8 Summit anti-terrorist ID Checks, ask me for ID three times. Voice recording as proof (UPDATED)

When I was exiting baggage claim at Shin-Chitose Airport on June 19, 2007, plainclothes policemen pounced on me and other Caucasians for walking while White in a Japanese airport. A soundfile I made of the ID check and photos of the police hiding in plainclothes (available in this blog entry) confirm that 1) I was stopped because the policeman thought I looked like a foreigner, 2) my claims that I am a Japanese initially fell on deaf ears, 3) the police have no power to stop non-Asians when they say they are Japanese, 4) the police will continue to carry out these ID Checks until the end of the G8 Summit, and 5) they are hearing protests from people who dislike being treated like suspected terrorists.

It’s a familiar refrain. But I got lucky: my interrogator, a Mr Ohtomo (Hokkaido Police Badge #522874) was a gentle and conscientious person–not like some police I’ve encountered in situations like these in the past… For once, however, I have audible proof of what goes on in these situations, so look, listen, and learn how to stand up for yourself.

English transcript of the Japanese recording of our conversation now enclosed.

G8 Summit Security in Roppongi: Flyers asking NJ for cooperation “in carrying out security inspections and police checkups”

Your taxes at work: New E/J flyers handed out last Friday June 13, 2008 advising people to “cooperate with the police in carrying out security inspections and police checkups”. No matter that the G8 Summit is hundreds of kilometers away. Or that Roppongi, where the notice was distributed (and nowhere else, AFAIK), is not exactly a high-risk security zone. Nope, it’s just seen as a gaijin enclave. Which is why you’d better steel them for being treated like criminals during the Summit. It is of a genre of oversecuritization and targeting NJ for terrorism… which even snagged me for an ID check at Chitose Airport yesterday for leaving baggage claim while White (more on that tomorrow).

Yomuiri: Japan’s universities scramble for foreign students

Some very good articles in the Yomiuri on just how far behind Japan’s universities are in attracting foreign students. And how Japanese companies aren’t willing to hire them (We’ve discussed this briefly here before.) Plus how Japanese universities treat certain nationalities of students differently, and some signs of Japanese students’ exodus for education overseas. Good reading. Excerpt:

Although prestigious universities like Tokyo, Waseda and Keio have made efforts to attract foreign students, Japanese universities in general struggle to attract students from abroad, many commentators say.

David Satterwhite, the executive director of the Japan-United States Educational Commission, better known as the Fulbright Program, is one of those concerned.

“The crisis is real,” Satterwhite said. “Japanese universities have traditionally been very slow to change… Traditional elements of Japanese education, such as the administration system, are hindering the internationalization.”…

Japanese universities lag far behind internationally acclaimed U.S. and British colleges in global university rankings.

In the 2007 Times Higher Education-Quacquarelli Symonds (THE-QS) World University Rankings, one of the most closely watched college league tables, Harvard University held onto top spot, with Cambridge, Oxford and Yale just behind.

Far down the list, Japanese universities finally start appearing, with Tokyo University and Kyoto University ranked 17th and 25th, respectively…

The Australian: PM Rudd spearheading “Asia-Pacific Union” like the EU, Japan “interested”

The Australian: “Australian Prime Minister KEVIN Rudd wants to spearhead the creation of an Asia-Pacific Union similar to the European Union by 2020 and has appointed veteran diplomat Richard Woolcott – one of his mentors – as a special envoy to lobby regional leaders over the body.

The Prime Minister said last night that the union, adding India to the 21-member APEC grouping, would encompass a regional free-trade agreement and provide a crucial venue for co-operation on issues such as terrorism and long-term energy and resource security.

And he outlined his plans for his visits to Japan and Indonesia next week, saying he would explore greater defence co-operation between Australia, Japan and the US…

Pundit: “If the US or China or Japan or some other big power were to suggest it, other nations might be apprehensive and back away. It’s better for a middle power like Australia to take the initiative…”

According to the AAP, two former Ozzie PMs, Hawke and Keating, are opposed to the idea…

American tarento Pakkun bullies eager language learners at G8 Summit Site

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

JT/Kyodo: “Innocents” apprehended by police rise to 2.9%!

Japan Times/Kyodo: The Supreme Court said Monday that 2.9 percent of defendants who pleaded not guilty to criminal charges were found innocent at their initial trials in 2007, marking the highest level in a decade. Other data by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office indicated that more district courts have declined to accept depositions, which show defendants’ confessions, as evidence. In several cases, the focus of dispute was whether the confessions were voluntary and/or credible…

Friday, June 20th, 2008 Symposium “Migration in East Asia: Cases Studies from Japan, China and Taiwan”, Waseda University

The Waseda University Doctoral Student Network (WUDSN), with the generous support of Waseda University’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration (GIARI) will hold a symposium on Friday, June 20th 2008, from 15:00 to 18:30. The symposium is entitled “Migration in East Asia: Cases Studies from Japan, China and Taiwan”.