Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards

Charles McJilton: For most foreigners in Japan, receiving a visa to stay in Japan begins the road of registering at the local ward, applying for a gaijin card, opening a bank account, and eventually paying taxes. All of these things are milestones signifying that one is a bona fide member of society. But how does one survive if the do not have a visa? How do they go about legitimizing their existence, and is it possible?…

There is an unwritten rule among the foreigners I deal with and that is we do not ask about one’s visa status. There is no reason to ask. So, in 2002 I was having coffee with Miss X when she casually told me, “I have all my paperwork except my visa.” She then pulled out a folder filled with documents. And sure enough, one was a copy of her foreign registration at her local ward. And then she showed me her gaijin which had written in black 在留資格なし(no permission to stay). She explained that each year she was required to “renew” her gaijin card.

Then she explained why she registered. As registered foreigner and single mother she was eligible for support from the government for specific things related to her son. For example, when she gave birth, the ward office picked a part of the hospital bill. When her son went to daycare while she was working the ward stepped in and provided some assistance. And when her son entered elementary school the ward subsidized his lunch meals. This would not have been possible had she not registered her son…

UN News: US among 18 nations elected to UN Human Rights Council

From two UN News articles: In becoming a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council, a country not only takes on greater responsibility for tackling abuses worldwide, but also lays bear its own record for the scrutiny of others, the world body’s top rights official said today…

She noted that critics of the Council point to the fact that among its 47 members are countries with “less-than-pristine” human rights records.

“To those critics I say two things: Is there any country that has a blemish-free record? Human rights violations are not the bane of any particular country or region. And even if such a thing were possible, what impact would a club of the virtuous have on those outside?”

The General Assembly on May 12, 2009, elected 18 countries to serve on the Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council for three-year terms starting next month, including – for the first time – Belgium, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Norway and the United States.

The Assembly also re-elected Bangladesh, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Jordan, Mauritius, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal and Uruguay. All 18 members elected today will begin their terms on 19 June.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 6, 2009

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

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

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

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

Japan Times ZEIT GIST Mar 24, 2009: “Punishing Foreigners, Exonerating Japanese”

Excerpt: Examine any justice system and patterns emerge. For example, consider how Japan’s policing system treats non-Japanese. ZEIT GIST has discussed numerous times (Jul. 8 2008, Feb. 20 and Nov. 13 2007, May 24 2005, Jan. 13 2004, Oct. 7 2003) how police target and racially profile foreigners under anti-crime and anti-terrorism campaigns.

But the bias goes beyond cops and into criminal prosecution, with Japanese courts treating suspects differently according to nationality. We’ve already discussed how judges discount testimony from foreigners (ZG Aug. 14 2007), but here’s the emerging pattern: If you are a Japanese committing a crime towards a non-Japanese, you tend to get off lightly. Vice versa and you “haven’t a Chinaman’s chance,” as it were…

Thoughts on Suo Masayuki’s movie “I just didn’t do it”: A must-see.

See Suo Masayuki’s movie SORE DE MO, BOKU WA YATTENAI (I Just Didn’t Do It), everyone. I did. It’s an excellent illustration of court procedure in Japan — long, drawn-out, well researched, and necessarily tedious. Experience vicariously what you might go through if arrested in Japan.

Don’t think it just won’t happen to you. Random searches on the street without probable cause are permitted by law only for NJ. If you’re arrested, you will be incarcerated for the duration of your trial, no matter how many years it takes, even if you are adjudged innocent (the Prosecution generally appeals), because NJ are not allowed bail (only a minority of Japanese get it as well, but the number is not zero; NJ are particularly seen as a flight risk, and there are visa overstay issues). And NJ have been convicted without material evidence (see Idubor Case). Given the official association with NJ and crime, NJ are more likely to be targeted, apprehended, and incarcerated than a Japanese.

If it happens to you, as SOREBOKU demonstrates, you will disappear for days if not weeks, be ground down by police interrogations, face months if not years in trial if you maintain innocence, have enormous bills from court and lawyers’ fees (and if you lose your job for being arrested, as often happens, you have no income), and may be one of the 0.1 percent of people who emerge unscathed; well, adjudged innocent, anyway.

Like getting sick in the US (and finding that the health care system could destroy your life), getting arrested in Japan could similarly ruin yours. It’s Japan’s SICKO system…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 1, 2009

IRONIES
1) Outrage over Mie-ken teacher criminalizing students thru fingerprinting. Well, fancy that.
2) The Australian Magazine 1993 on Gregory Clark’s modus operandi in Japan
3) Tsukiji Fish Market reopens, the NJ blame game continues
4) BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura sells off his golden goose
(and my upcoming JT column Feb 3 on 2-Channel and Japan’s Bully Culture)
5) IHT on Buraku Nonaka vs Barack Obama
6) Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice
7) Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)
8 ) Kirk Masden on NJ crime down for three years, yet not discussed in media.

NOT TAKING IT LYING DOWN
9) Kyodo: Brazilian workers protest layoffs at J companies
10) Wash Post on GOJ efforts to get Brazilian workers to stay
11) Google zaps Debito.org, later unzaps thanks to advice from cyberspace
12) Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions
13) Question on Welfare Assistance (seikatsu hogo) and privacy rights
14) UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

… and finally …
15) Documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES on Japan’s hidden NJ labor market
Japan Roadshow March 20 – April 1
Screenings in Tokyo, Tsukuba, Hikone, and Okayama confirmed
more being arranged in Nagoya, Osaka, Fukuoka, Kumamoto, and Sapporo

Kyodo/JT: Death penalty obstructs “presumption of innocence” in Japanese justice

This is not a “NJ issues”-specific post today (although issues of criminal justice ultimately affect everybody, except maybe bent cops). But this short article on a presentation, regarding the aftermath of the famous 1948 Teigin Bank Poisoning Incident (where a bank robber posed as a doctor, told everybody that there had been an outbreak of dysentery, and to take medicine that was actually poison; themes of Milgram’s Experiment), calls into question the use of the death penalty not as a preventive deterrent or a form of Hammurabian justice, but as a weapon during interrogation. I have brought up issues of “presumption of guilt” (where the accused has to prove his innocence, despite the Constitution) here before. This too-short article is still good food for thought about the abuses of power, especially if governing life and death. Choice excerpt:

“The death penalty is a ‘weapon’ for investigators. They could tell suspects, ‘You will be hanged if you do not admit to the charges,’ ” he said.

As for the Teigin case, more than 30 justice ministers refused to sign the execution order, and Yasuda told the audience of about 50, “They must have had concerns over the possible discovery of the real culprit, but they refused to release Hirasawa to save the ‘honor’ of the legal system.”

UN News on upcoming Durban human rights summit and Gitmo

Two posts from UN NEWS that are tangental but within the pale of Debito.org.

First up is news about the next big human rights summit in Durban, South Africa. The last one was at the beginning of this decade. Those interested in attending (I would, but again, no money) might want to start making plans.

Second, I was asked recently by a friend, “What do you want to see Obama do immediately after taking office?” I answered back with a question, “You mean personally, or big-picture?” Both. “Okay, personally, state publicly that the USA will not support any application by Japan to the UN Security Council until it honors its treaty promises, including passing an enforceable law against racial discrimination.” But that’s easily backburnerable. “But big-picture, I want to see Obama close Guantanamo, that running sore of human-rights abuses that is arguably doing more to encourage anti-American sentiment worldwide than anything else.”

Well, the big-picture was precisely what Obama took steps to do his first working day in office. Bravo. And the UN recognizes it as such.

Sankei: manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police: 「不法滞在者向け職質逃れマニュアル出回る」

Mark in Yayoi translates yet another inflammatory article from the Sankei Shinbun, warning police that even overfriendly foreigners may be suspicious, thanks to some mail-in underground manual on how to evade police ID Checkpoints:

“We’ll teach you how to get away when the police stop you on the street!” This is the catch copy for a manual that is now circulating, instructing illegal aliens on how to escape from police questioning. Supposedly it was sold through newspapers and free magazines aimed at Chinese and Koreans in Japan. Organized Crime Bureau No. 1 of the National Police Agency has obtained this manual, and is sending warnings to each police station. The police are strengthening their vigilance as these newspapers, carrying illegal advertisements, are becoming breeding grounds for crime [hanzai no onshou]…

“Here is another interesting technique. File a ‘lost item report’ at all the police boxes in the area. Then, on the same day, go to one of them and get the report erased, saying that ‘the person who found my wallet got in touch with me’. In the evening, when you pass that police box, greet them [aisatsu] yourself and say ‘my wallet has been returned’. By saying hello to them three times a day, they’ll think of you as one of the area’s ‘polite foreigners [reigi tadashii gaikokujin da na]’, and you’ll be able to walk by without fear.”

The Bureau has circulated an internal memo to police stations warning that illegal aliens are using these methods to escape detection, and have advised the police to take care in questioning people [shokumu shitsumon jou no chuui o yobikaketa]. There is no applicable law, however, making sale of this manual a crime.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 6, 2008

Table of Contents:
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////
THE “GAIJIN” DEBATE
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6: The case for “Gaijin” as a racist word
2) Japan Times readers respond to my “Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin’?” JUST BE CAUSE Column
3) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 7: Sequel to “Gaijin” as a racist word
4) The Japan Times Community Page on the JBC “Gaijin Debate”, part two.
5) Results of our fourth Debito.org poll: Do you think the word “gaijin” should be avoided
(in favor of other words, like, say, gaikokujin)?
6) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 8 out Tuesday Oct 7, on how the concept of “gaijin”, or “outsider”, hurts Japan’s countryside

WIKIPEDIA WOES
7) My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”
8) Excellent essay on Wikipedia on the origin of “Criticism” sections
9) Citizendium, the more responsible replacement for Wikipedia, does better article on Arudou Debito
… but when Wikipedia is notified of editing concerns, “guardian editors” go on the offensive…

STRAY THOUGHTS
10) Some thoughts on former PM Koizumi as he resigns his Diet seat
11) Thoughts after seeing Li Ying’s movie “Yasukuni” at PGL
12) Tangent: Metropolis Mag (Tokyo) on the annual August Yasukuni “debates”

TANGENTS
13) Japan Times FYI on Japan’s Supreme Court
14) Very good report on Japanese criminal justice system from British Channel 4
15) Iwate NichiNichi on recent speech
16) Tanya Clark reviews HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS very favorably.
17) Had a phenomenal experience at Nagoya University with multiculturalism
18) Results of our first Debito.org poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to live?
19) Results of our second poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?
20) Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?
21) Bankruptcy of a monopoly: Good riddance to Yohan foreign book distributor

TALKS OF INTEREST
22) Linguapax Conference Symposium Univ of Tokyo Sun Oct 26
23) FCCJ Kansai Professor’s Workshop Sat Nov 15, Doshisha Univ for aspiring journalists
24) JALT PALE SIG Featured Speaker Sun Nov 2 Tokyo
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 3, 2008

Table of Contents:
///////////////////////////////////////////
GOOD NEWS:
1) Glimmers of hope: New PM Aso does not single out NJ as potential terrorists or agents of crime
2) The Aso Cabinet gaffes start from day one: Minister retracts “ethnically homogeneous Japan” remark
3) First Aso Cabinet member resigns — tripped up (inter alia) by comments regarding Japan’s ethnic mix
4) Tangent: JK asks what happens to scandalized Japanese politicians
5) Japan Times on worries about Post-Fukuda immigration policies
6) LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors
7) Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan
8) Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

BAD NEWS
9) Mainichi: Female NJ Trainee Visa workers underpaid by Yamanashi company, beaten, attempted deportation
10) Guardian UK on child abductions in Japan, this time concerning UK citizens
11) Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight
12) UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards
13) Reader AS voices concerns re Softbank regulations and Japanese Language Proficiency Test
14) Third Degree given NJ who want Post Office money order

MIXED AND ABSURD NEWS
15) Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim
16) IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor
17) GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.
18) NJ baby left at anonymous “baby hatch”. Kokuseki wa? Eligible for Japanese! Er, yes, but…
19) Jon Dujmovich speculates on media distractions: PM Fukuda’s resignation vs. alleged NJ Sumo pot smoking
20) 2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses
21) First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights
22) Irony: Economist reports on Chinese Olympic security; why not on similar Hokkaido G8 security?

… and finally…
23) Letter to California Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program
///////////////////////////////////////////

UK now considering introducing Gaijin Cards

Here’s another brick in the wall, alas. The UK is also proposing the introduction of Gaijin Cards. Just when you thought you could point to other countries and say, “Look, they don’t do something like this, so let’s not do it here,” they go ahead and do it too. Sigh.

It’s not absolutely the same system at this point — not all foreigners have to get this card. Yet. But I like how the counterarguments to the scheme are similar to ones I’ve made in the past — about how guinea-pigging a segment of the population is the thin edge of the wedge to introducing the scheme for everyone. And no mention as yet in this article as to whether it’ll be a criminal offense, warranting arrest and interrogation after instant street spot checks, if you are not carrying the card on your person 24-7. Meanwhile, let’s wait and see what Japan does with its long-announced intention to Gaijin Chip all NJ with new improved RFID. In the club of developed countries, I don’t think Japan will be outdone in its policing of its foreigners.

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2006

///////////////////////////////////////////
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
///////////////////////////////////////////

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like me…

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

Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008

Here’s what investigating countries at the United Nations are saying about Japan’s human rights record. First, some highlights of what the GOJ itself says it’s doing about following treaties and human rights standards, then other countries respond with a surprising degree of awareness. The biggest issues seem to be the death penalty, human trafficking, and rights for women (with historical issues brought up by neighboring Asian countries), but as far as Debito.org is concerned, there is plenty of attention devoted to issues we’ve been raising all along. Even if Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene’s reports on racism in Japan are mostly being ignored by our government, they certainly are being read by members of the UN. Do try to read parts of the UPR Report with a straight face, as that’s what our government is making a number of risible claims with. I offer links to sections on Debito.org that are at odds with the GOJ’s claims.

UN OHCHR Minority Update: Japan reviewed by Human Rights Council

Here are two updates on Japan’s human rights behavior being considered for periodic review by the UN Human Rights Council. This is a new activity by the UN after the old Human Rights Commission was disbanded, accused for many years of having the world’s worst human-rights offenders as leaders, there covering up their own abuses. Now under this new organ with the same acronym, everyone is being subject to review once every four years. And according to the press releases below, Japan’s turn came last week. Forwarding primary-source documents to you. Pertinent sections underlined. As it says below, you can also submit documents to the OHCHR if you want about human-rights abuses in Japan. Five pages max, deadline July 14, 2008, email included in this blog entry.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 11, 2008–SPECIAL ON CRIME AND PUNISHMENT IN JAPAN

JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ VICTIMS OF CRIME
1) Filipina allegedly killed by J man, let out of jail despite suspicion of killing another Filipina in past
2) Japan Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”
3) Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault
4) Yomiuri and Japan Times on Matthew Lacey Case:
Fukuoka Police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration”

JUDICIAL TREATMENT OF NJ ACCUSED OF CRIME
5) “Hostage Justice”: Swiss woman acquitted of a crime,
but detained for eight months anyway during prosecution’s appeal
6) Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty
7) Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan
8) Yuyu Idubor’s Statement to High Court April 23, 2008, letters from prison parts five and six

SYSTEMATIC POLICE TREATMENT OF NJ EVEN WITHOUT CRIME
9) Japan Today: Male Shinjuku cops rough up Singaporean women during “passport check”
(with link to Japan Probe site with information about possible police identity fraud)
10) Hiragana Times July 2006 on NJ police brutality by Toyonaka, Osaka cops
11) Potential Olympic torch problems in Nagano? All the more reason to target NJ!
12) Asahi, Mainichi, and Yomiuri: Replacement “Gaijin Card” system, increasing police powers
13) Japan Times: Critics deride future extra policing of NJ under new proposed registration policy

WHY THIS IS UNJUST: JAPAN’S EXTREME POLICE POWERS
14) Reuters: Study says immigrants and crime rate not linked
15) Japan Times ZEIT GIST: G8 Summit and the bad “security” habits brought out in Japan

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

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

Tokyo Police apparently drop case of Peter Barakan’s assault

Update: Police seem to have dropped the case of TV tarento Peter Barakan getting assaulted by last December. In his words, they have done “absolutely zilch”, even though they found the car, they found somebody in the car, they found the mace. Yet the suspect didn’t get the regular 23-day interrogation one would expect if a NJ had assaulted by a Japanese. I guess a lack of “100% certainty” means police can drop the case completely.

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

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

Rough Guide on what to do if and when arrested in Japan

Anonymous Guide: “In Japan, police can arrest anyone, any time. They do not come announced. There are no government leaflets that prepare you for the catastrophe. So, I wrote this one instead, compiled from my own painful experience and those of many other foreigners in Japan. The actual chances to be arrested in Japan are much higher than the chances to be hurt by an earthquake in Japan – especially if you are a foreigner. Don’t think that you will be able to deal with it just because “you know your rights” from back home or from Hollywood court movies. Japan is not about justice, it is about bustice. So prepare yourself for the real big bang – read this.”

Two articles from The Economist on bent Japanese criminal justice system, death penalty

The Economist, two articles: “Article 34 of the Japanese Constitution guarantees the right to counsel and habeas corpus, but is systematically ignored. Police and prosecutors can detain suspects for 23 days. Interrogations are relentless and sometimes abusive. Prosecutors are reluctant to bring cases to trial without a confession. Indeed, it is considered a first step in a criminal’s rehabilitation. When asked about the country’s 99% conviction rate, Japan’s justice minister, Kunio Hatoyama, corrected your correspondent to state that it was actually 99.9%, because prosecutors only present cases that are watertight.”… “The notion of being innocent until proven guilty is not strong in Japan. Mr Hatoyama calls it “an idea which I want to constrain”. But confessions are important and the courts rely heavily upon them. Apart from helping secure convictions, they are widely interpreted as expressions of remorse. A defendant not only risks a longer sentence if he insists he is innocent, he is also much less likely to be granted bail before trial—often remaining isolated in police custody, without access to counsel, for long enough to confess. Toshiko Terada, a private lawyer, calls this hitojichi shiho—hostage justice. Perversely, where little supporting evidence exists, the system helps hardened criminals, who know that if they do not confess they are unlikely to be indicted. Innocents, on the other hand, may crack—as in the Kagoshima case, or in a notorious 2002 rape case when the accused confessed under pressure but was released last October after the real culprit came forward.”

J Times et al on homicide of Scott Tucker: “likely to draw leniency”

We have a situation here I’ve been waiting to draw conclusions on for some days now. But here are some articles which substantiate what I’ve been fearing all along. The indication of differing judicial standards for similar crimes based upon nationality.

When a NJ killed a J in 1984 (see the Steve Bellamy Case, where a NJ defending a woman against a drunk and disorderly Japanese wound up killing him with his advanced martial arts skills), he was exonerated, then convicted, then exonerated again for, colloquially, “yarisugi” (and it became a case that changed jurisprudence for kajou bouei in Japan).

Now we have the opposite circumstance–a J killing a NJ–and according to the Japan Times, leniency is expected.

Historically, America had the expression, “he doesn’t have a Chinaman’s chance” (the modern-day equivalent of “a snowball’s chance in hell”), showing how bent the American judiciary was towards Asians a century or so ago. In Japan’s judiciary, are we to say, “he doesn’t have a gaijin’s chance”? Mr Yuyu Idubor, convicted for a rape he says he never committed, or Mr Valentine, crippled due to police medical negligence during interrogation, might.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 14, 2008

JUSTICE SERVED, JUSTICE DENIED

1) Moharekar Case: Parents raise questions about baby’s death to Sapporo’s Tenshi Hospital
2) Matthew Lacey Case: Fukuoka police dismiss NJ death by blow to the head as “dehydration” (Yomiuri & Japan Times)
3) Mainichi: Chinese Trainees wage successful back-wage lawsuit against strawberry farm
4) Sankei compares NJ computer operators with toxic Chinese gyouza
5) Update on Valentine Lawsuit High Court Appeal
6) Idubor Case: A conversation with Mrs Idubor about life in Japan, and letters from Mr Idubor from prison specially for Debito.org

ISSUES OF BORDERS AND EFFECTS OF FOREIGN INFLUX

7) Asahi on how the GOJ doesn’t recognize NJ schools for tax funding, and why they should
8) Kyodo on USG pressure on Japan to do more fingerprinting
9) “Japanese Only” sign in Tsukiji Fish Market
10) Japan Times on Tsukiji’s tamping down on tourism
11) Alex Kerr on being a “Yokoso Ambassador” for the GOJ
12) DPJ at odds with itself over NJ voting rights

SPEECHES, PODCASTS, TV SPOTS, AND A BOOK TOUR

13) Italian TV SKY TG 24 on the Sapporo Snow Festival… and racial discrimination in Japan
14) January 22, 2008 speech to Waseda’s Global Institute for Asian Regional Integration, podcast and soundfiles in full
15) HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS on sale March 15, Japan Book Tour March 15 to April 1…

Next Valentine Lawsuit Hearing Feb 12, 2008 1:30PM

Mr. Valentine, a Nigerian national, is defending himself against the Tokyo Metropolitan Government after a police beating incident which took place in Shinjuku almost 4 years ago. This is an appeal, as the District Court not only exonerated the NPA for refusing him medical treatment for his broken leg for the duration of his interrogation (which resulted him in becoming crippled for life), but also did so on such spurious grounds as ignoring expert medical testimony of the degree of injury, and dismissed testimony because it came from a black person. Come see his High Court appeal Tues Feb 12, 2008, 1:30PM.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 30, 2008

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

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

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

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

FCCJ Photo Journalist Per Bodner’s account of his arrest on fictitious “assault charges”

Per Bodner, a professional photo journalist from Sweden (8 years resident in Japan, married with a house here), was arrested and charged with a alleged assault on a Tokyo taxicab driver right outside the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan on his way home from work November 28. His account of the incarceration and legal treatment (and ignored testimony) as a defendant, presented at the FCCJ December 12, 2007, blogged here.

Japan Focus: Michael H. Fox translates Justice Minister Hatoyama interview re capital punishment

Translation of a Shuukan Asahi interview on screwball Justice Minister “my friend of a friend is in al-Qaeda” Hatoyama Kunio, on capital punishment. And a window not only into how screwed up the Japanese justice system is, but also into the people who run it.

Der Spiegel: “Border Controls: Japan’s fear of foreigners”

Der Spiegel on Japan’s fingerprinting: “No Japanese citizen even needs an Identity Card; yet the biometric data of foreigners will be stored for 70 years. Civil rights campaigners can smell the terrorism hysteria and racism, while the National Tourist Office fears for the country’s image… And Ms. Ogawa from the Tourism Office fears that worse may still come: “The Government has asked us to carefully observe tourists’ mood regarding these changes over the coming few weeks. If Japan’s image really does drastically deteriorate, then in our final report, we may have to include the recommendation that that these measures be abandoned.”

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 20, 2007

1) NEW MHLW DIRECTIVE: ALL COMPANIES MUST CHECK & REGISTER THEIR NJ WORKERS
2) GLOBE & MAIL ON GOJ’S NASTY IMMIG AND REFUGEE POLICIES
3) ASAHI: UNHYGIENIC FOOD IN IMMIGRATION GAIJIN TANK TRIGGERS HUNGER STRIKE
4) ASAHI: NJ DIES DURING POLICE “SNITCH SITE” HOME ID CHECK
5) IDUBOR CASE UPDATE: DENIED RELEASE, NEXT HEARING IN TWO MONTHS!
6) WHAT TO DO IF… YOU ARE THREATENED WITH EVICTION
7) TEMPLATE PROTEST LETTERS RE UPCOMING FINGERPRINT LAWS

…and finally…
8) FORTHCOMING ARTICLES IN JAPAN TIMES AND METROPOLIS
ON REINSTATING FINGERPRINTING AND GOJ CABINET HUMAN RIGHTS SURVEY

Globe and Mail (Canada) on “Japan’s Unfriendly Shores”

I sometimes post pretty mediocre articles on Debito.org by journalists just going through the motions to file stories, without much attempt at bringing new information or angles to the surface. In contrast, here is an excellent one that could probably after a bit of beefing up be reprinted in an academic journal. Lots of good information here, have a read. I think the reporter followed quite a few of our leads…
IMMIGRATION: JAPAN’S UNFRIENDLY SHORES
‘One culture, one race:’ Foreigners need not apply
Despite a shrinking population and a shortage of labour, Japan is not eager to accept immigrants or refugees

Valentine Lawsuit: NPA denies medical treatment to suspect, Tokyo Dist. Court rules testimony invalid due to witness being African

NPA denies medical treatment to Nigerian in custody with broken leg, latter becomes crippled. Nigerian plaintiff sues, but Tokyo District Court rules against him. Also overrules Plaintiff’s friend’s witness testimony invalid because he is African, an Plaintiff’s doctor’s medical opinion on the egregiousness of Plaintiff’s injuries as “not rational”. Fact is, coupling this lawsuit outcome with the McGowan “I don’t like black people” Osaka Eyeglass Store Case, not only do NJ increasingly have different standards of evidence in J courts, but now The NPA clearly can do pretty much whatever they want to NJ in custody, even if it causes permanent damage. Case is under appeal.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 12, 2007: SPECIAL ON JAPAN’S JUDICIARY

1) UN COMMITTEE AGAINST TORTURE CASTIGATES J JUDICIAL SYSTEM
2) LAT: FIRST RECORDED POLICE CONFESSION OKAYED AS COURT EVIDENCE
3) DIETMEMBER CRITICAL OF J’S UPCOMING JURY SYSTEM
4) UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII’S ASIAN PACIFIC LAW JOURNAL ON CHILD ABDUCTION IN JAPAN

and finally…
5) I GET SMACKED BY A CAR WHILE ON MY BIKE IN JUNE…
AND HAVE A GOOD EXPERIENCE WITH TRAFFIC COPS!

J MSDF demoting military officers with NJ spouses (UPDATED)

The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force plans to move officers with foreign spouses away from posts with access to military secrets after sensitive data was leaked through an officer with a Chinese wife, the Sankei Shimbun reported Wednesday, June 28, 2007. Cyberspace feedback from someone who has experienced the SDF institutional distrust of NJ spouses included.

LAT: First recorded police confession OK as evidence

LA Times: For the first time, a DVD recording of a suspect confessing his crime to police was admitted as evidence in a Japanese court Friday, a move that could lead to stricter checks on the lengthy, secret police interrogations that defense lawyers say result in pressure on suspects to make false confessions. Prosecutors and police have long resisted demands from human rights activists and lawyers to record their questioning of suspects, who can be held without charge for 23 days in special police cells with limited access to defense lawyers. But a court case here may open the way for greater oversight of the confession-based investigation culture.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 13, 2007

1) IPS ON JAPAN XENOPHOBIA’S EFFECT ON ECONOMIC GROWTH
2) KTO ON GAIJIN HANZAI AND SEXING UP FOREIGN CRIME FIGURES
3) NYT ON FORCED CONFESSIONS BY JAPANESE POLICE
4) LUCIE BLACKMAN’S ALLEGED KILLER ACQUITTED, ODDLY
5) ANTHONY BIANCHI REELECTED TO INUYAMA CITY ASSEMBLY
6) PEACE AS A GLOBAL LANGUAGE CONFERENCE, KYOTO, SUBMISSIONS DUE MAY 31
and finally…
7) KYUSHU CYCLETREK 2007: REPORT OF THE 768-KM TRIP WITH PHOTOS

NYT on forced confessions by Japanese police

In all, 13 men and women, ranging in age from their early 50s to mid-70s, were arrested and indicted. Six buckled and confessed to an elaborate scheme of buying votes with liquor, cash and catered parties. One man died during the trial — from the stress, the others said — and another tried to kill himself. But all were acquitted this year in a local district court, which found that their confessions had been entirely fabricated. The presiding judge said the defendants had “made confessions in despair while going through marathon questioning.” The Japanese authorities have long relied on confessions to take suspects to court, instead of building cases based on solid evidence. Human rights groups have criticized the practice for leading to abuses of due process and convictions of innocent people.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAR 3, 2007

LINKS TO RECENT SPEECHES AND HANDOUTS
along with FCCJ SPEECH WITH UN RAPPORTEUR DOUDOU DIENE TRANSCRIPT
2) BUTTER AND METABOLIC SYNDROME: IBUKI AND PM ABE DISS HUMAN RIGHTS
along with DIENE’S COUNTERCOMMENT: SCOOP FOR JAPAN TIMES
3) WHAT OTHER SOCIETIES DO ABOUT DISCRIMINATION: JAPAN, TAKE NOTE
4) JAPAN TIMES ON MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE. HOW THE POLICE AND MEDIA ABET
5) ASAHI: TOKYO JH SCHOOL REFUSES CHILD ADMISSION FOR BEING FOREIGN
and finally…
6) ASAHI: NEED TO BROADEN DEFINITION OF “JAPANESE”

Ibuki & Abe on human rights & butter, plus reactions from media and UN

Ed Minister Ibuki Bunmei and PM Abe are joined at the hip on this issue, where Ibuki says that paying too much attention to human rights will be detrimental to Japanese society (comparing it to ingesting too much butter and getting Metabolic Syndrome). Oh, and some racial purity comments thrown in as well. Back to business at usual by the clowns in the LDP. Asahi, JT, Daily Telegraph, Kyodo report, with links to UN and Amnesty comments

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 20, 2007

1) NEW JAPAN TIMES ARTICLE OUT TODAY ON “MYTH OF JAPAN’S CRIME WAVE”
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE BACK IN TOKYO NEXT WEEK
–ANYTHING YOU’D LIKE ME TO SUBMIT TO HIM? BY NOON FRIDAY
3) UPCOMING SPEECHES IN TOKYO, ONE WITH DIENE RE GAIJIN HANZAI MAGAZINE
4) ECONOMIST ON J POLICE INTERROGATIONS AND NEW SUO MOVIE
5) J TIMES: PREFECTURES RANKED RE SUPPORT FOR FOREIGN RESIDENTS