Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Aug 3 2010: “The victim complex and Kim’s killer con”

It’s fascinating whenever someone cons people out of pots of money — doubly so when someone cons a whole government. Take, for example, Japan’s biggest news story two weeks ago: Kim Hyon Hui’s four-day visit to Japan.

You might recall that in 1987 this North Korean spy, traveling on a fake Japanese passport, blew up a South Korean commercial airliner, killing 115 passengers.

Last July 20, however, this agent of international terrorism was allowed into Japan for a reception worthy of a state guest. Bypassing standard immigration procedures, Kim had her entry visa personally approved by our justice minister, boarded a chartered flight that cost Japan’s taxpayers ¥10 million, and was whisked by helicopter to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s private dacha to eat with political elites.

Then, flanked by a phalanx of 100 cops (who made sure nobody raised any uncomfortable questions), Kim got to meet the parents of Megumi Yokota, the cause celebre of North Korean kidnappings of innocent Japanese citizens decades ago. Next, at her request, Kim boarded another helicopter (at around ¥800,000 an hour) for an aerial tour of Mount Fuji. As a parting gift, she got an undisclosed amount of “additional remuneration.” Sweet.

And what did Japan get? Kim said she had information for the Yokotas about their missing daughter and other Japanese abductees who trained her to be a multilingual spy — even though, way back when, she said she had never met Megumi. So suddenly Kim has a quarter-century-old brain fart and gets the red carpet?

The Megumi Yokota tragedy has for the past decade been a political football in Japanese politics, a means for Japan as a whole to claim victimhood status…

Sunday Tangent: AP: A Milestone For Russia: African-born Town Councilor Is Country’s 1st Black Elected To Office

(AP) – People in this Russian town used to stare at Jean Gregoire Sagbo because they had never seen a black man. Now they say they see in him something equally rare – an honest politician.

Sagbo last month became the first black to be elected to office in Russia.

In a country where racism is entrenched and often violent, Sagbo’s election as one of Novozavidovo’s 10 municipal councilors is a milestone. But among the town’s 10,000 people, the 48-year-old from the West African country of Benin is viewed simply a Russian who cares about his hometown…

COMMENT: Already seen it in Japan with people like Tsurunen Marutei, Anthony Bianchi, and Jon Heese…

UPDATE: Additional thoughts on the DPRK Spy Kim Hyon Hui Japan Visit: The Big Con

Excerpt: Kim Hyon Hui, a wannabe actress-turned-terrorist who blew up a 747 filled with 115 people back in 1987 when she was a North Korean agent and who got the death penalty, only to see it revoked for reasons that are still unclear, arrived at Haneda airport Wednesday by special charter plane from her home in South Korea. Ms. Kim saw Japan’s fine hospitality at its best, and was even given her own motorcade to former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama’s summer home in Karuizawa. No delays at train stations or red lights for our Ms. Kim!…

Yes, Ms. Kim did suffer a memory loss when she originally told Japanese officials she’d never met Megumi Yokota. But that was then and this is now. The Japanese government is quite happy to learn she has regained her memory, calling it a miracle and dismissing cynics who wonder whether Kim’s memory loss was restored with the aid of both hypnosis and secret bank accounts in Switzerland, Macau, or the Cayman Islands.

So busy were Japanese officials with their one-woman “Yokoso Japan!” on behalf of Ms. Kim and her testimony about children abducted from Japan by foreigners in violation of domestic and international law that readers will surely sympathize with our nation’s overworked and understaffed bureaucracy when they insist they have no time to meet with Americans, Canadians, British, Germans, French, Indians, or anyone else who would like–just a few minutes, if you please — to discuss the issue of children abducted to Japan by Japanese in violation of domestic and international law.

North Korean spy and terrorist skirts Immigration, gets to stay in Hatoyama summer home, due to Yokota Megumi Case

As a friend most poignantly pointed out to me yesterday evening, something’s very wrong with Japan’s current top news story:

“Have you been following the reaction to the treatment given that ex-North Korean spy who blew up a plane and murdered 115 people, yet came to Japan as a VIP and is now staying at Hatoyama’s Karuizawa retreat? David McNeil and Justin McCurry did pieces with a hint of outrage, especially David, who noted that, if Japanese authorities had bothered to follow the immigration law, she would have been arrested. To be fair, some Japanese journalists noted last night (on TBS, I think) that something isn’t quite right.

“You may be interested to know that the group “Bring Abducted Children Home” is pretty upset as well, noting that the Japanese government rolls out the red carpet for a mass murderer just because she might have some information on Japanese children who were kidnapped out of Japan but doesn’t want to deal with anybody seeking a meeting about Japanese children kidnapped back to Japan by a Japanese parent.”

Quite. As far as I recall not a peep about the terrorism on NHK 7PM last night. Only the meeting with the Yokotas and all the smiles. Elite politics indeed trumps all.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 11, 2010

Table of Contents:
CALLS FOR CHANGE, WELL MAYBE NOT:
1) JET Programme on GOJ chopping block: Appeal from JQ Magazine and JETAA in NYC (plus Debito.org Poll)
2) Powerpoint presentation: “Japan Past the Point of No Return”
3) Alarmist Nikkei Business cover re Chinese business practices: “Chapan: Your new boss is Chinese”
4) Japan Times: LDP & rightists still clinging to anti NJ PR Suffrage, even though not an issue in this election
5) Metropolis Mag has thoughtful article regarding the convoluted debate for NJ PR suffrage
6) Japan Times Zeit Gist on how NJ can participate in Japanese elections
7) Japan Times & Kyodo: Foreign “trainees” dying at rate of two to three a month, takes two years for one to be declared “from overwork” (karoushi), more than a quarter from “unknown causes”
8 ) IMADR Connect Magazine article on recent UN visit by High Commissioner of Human Rights to Japan May 2010

CRIME AND PUNISHMENT, WELL MAYBE NOT:
9) Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japanese enforcement of vague laws: “No need to know the law, but you must obey it”
10) FCCJ No.1 Shimbun & Jiji on Japanese police’s extralegal powers, and how that power corrupts
11) Kyodo: Police raid car scrap yards run by NJ, suspecting them as “breeding grounds for crime”
12) NYT guest column on racial profiling of Japanese for “looking too tall and dark”. Just like arrest of “foreign-looking” Japanese back in 2006.
13) TBS: Daring heist of expensive watches in Sapporo. So daring it might have been foreigners!, says Hokkaido Police
14) J protesters of “The Cove” lose injunction in Yokohama District Court, cannot stop screenings, so they target people’s homes for intimidation
15) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST JULY 1, 2010

TANGENTS
16) Newsweek: Immigrants do not increase crime
17) How the US deals with Arizona racial profiling: Federal lawsuits and Jon Stewart humor
18) Activist Junichi Sato on International Whaling Commission corruption and GOJ/NPA collusion
19) Canada spending even more than Japan this time on G8/G20 summits. However, controversy ensues.
20) Yours is no disgrace, World Cup Japan Team. Otsukare. I hope the J media does not spin this as a loss.
21) Sunday Tangent: “A Growing Love for ‘Cool Japan'” by Akira Yamada (of MOFA)

… and finally …

22) JUST BE CAUSE column July 6, 2010: “Japan’s hostile hosteling industry”: how government agencies want NJ tourists yet are accessories to excluding them (full text)

AFP: Another hunger strike in Immigration Detention Center, this time in Ushiku, Ibaraki

AFP: Scores of foreigners in a Japanese immigration detention centre have been on hunger strike for more than a week, demanding to be released and protesting the mysterious death of an African deportee.

Some 70 detainees — many of them Sri Lankans and Pakistanis — have refused food since May 10, also seeking to highlight suicides there by a Brazilian and a South Korean inmate, say their outside supporters.

The protest comes after UN rights envoy Jorge Bustamante in March raised concerns about Japan’s often years-long detentions of illegal migrants, including parents with children as well as rejected asylum seekers…

Human rights activists, lawyers and foreign communities have complained for years about conditions at Ushiku and Japan’s two other such facilities, in the western prefecture of Osaka and in southwestern Nagasaki prefecture.

At Ushiku, about 380 people are detained, with eight or nine inmates living in rooms that measure about 20 square metres (215 square feet), said Tanaka, a member of the Ushiku Detention Centre Problem Study Group.

“They are crammed into tiny segmented rooms that are not very clean, and many contract skin diseases,” she told AFP…

Hiroka Shoji of Amnesty International Japan said: “The immigration facilities are supposed to be places where authorities keep foreigners for a short period before deportation.

“But some people have been confined for over two years as a result. The government must introduce a limit to detentions.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
INTERESTING VIEWS
1) Singapore Straits Times: Lee Kwan Yew advises Japan not to accept immigrants who don’t look Japanese
2) David McNeill interviews ultranationalist Sakurai Makoto, lays bare his illogical invective
3) Former J employees sue Prada for sexual and power harassment, TV claims “racial discrimination”
4) Yomiuri, Terrie’s Take offer thoughtful essays on easing language hurdles for NJ on a tight deadline, such as Filipine or Indonesian nurses
5) Further reading: Indonesian “care givers” and those pesky qualifying exams: a means to maintain “revolving door” NJ job market?
6) Times London on “Peter Rabbit Tax”: Optional 5GBP surcharge for Japanese tourists in England derided as “discriminatory”
7) Meat67 on “City of Urayasu Globalization Guidelines” Survey
8 ) Suraj Case of death during deportation makes The Economist (London)
9) JALT PALE NEWSLETTER May 2010 (pdf file)

NEWS YOU CAN USE
10) Terumi Club refuses NJ for travel fares and tours, has cheaper fares for Japanese Only. Like H.I.S. and No.1 Travel.
11) Takasago Hotel, Fukushima-ken, has “rooms all full” if lodger is NJ
12) Japan Times: Housing glut resulting in more assistance for NJ renters, e.g., Japan Property Management Association
13) Matthew Apple on how to take child care leave in Japan. Yes, even in Japan. Sanctioned by the GOJ.
14) Sunday Tangent: Cato Institute on dealing with police racial profiling in general
15) MOJ: Numbers of people naturalizing into Japan 1999-2008
16) NYT: More American Expatriates Give Up US Citizenship

… and finally …
17) DEBITO.ORG BLOG POLL: “What do you think about the whole Okinawa Futenma Issue?”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 24, 2010

Table of Contents:
PROACTIVE POLICYMAKING TOWARDS NJ
1) Tokyo Gov Ishihara encourages witch hunt for J politicians with naturalized ancestors
2) Xenophobic rantings of the Far-Right still continue despite NJ Suffrage Bill’s suspension; scanned flyers enclosed
3) Gaijin Card Checks expand to Tax Bureau, now required for filing household tax returns
4) Mutantfrog on Death of Yokoso Japan, plus birth of Welcome to Tokyo
5) Asahi: J companies abandoning old hiring and promotion practices, offering NJ employees equitable positions. Come again?
6) Eurobiz Japan Magazine Jan 2010 Interview of JIPI’s Sakanaka Hidenori
7) “Pinprick Protests” #1: GOJ authorities finally telling hotels correct enforcement procedures for NJ check-ins. Pity it only took five years.

ISSUES RESPARKED
8 ) Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it
9) FCCJ Press Conf on Ghanian death while being deported, 2 more deaths in Ibaraki Detention Ctr
10) Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause
11) GhanaWeb: Suraj apparently a son of a Ghanian Prince
12) Japan Times on “Little Black Sambo” controversy, cites Debito.org’s parody “Little Yellow J*p”
13) Case study about university contract termination of NJ reversed due to getting a lawyer
14) Kyodo: Japan’s depopulation accelerates in 2009

TANGENTS
15) Tokyo Shinbun: Fussa City bureaucrat blames NJ residents for more children’s cavities!
16) Sumo Suits Controversy in Canada
17) NJ and Abandoned Konketsuji Negishi Cemetery in Yokohama; photos included
18) Congratulations to Oguri Saori for her successful opening of “Darling wa Gaikokujin” movie

… and finally…
19) Debito.org Poll: “Do you think ‘Little Black Sambo’ should be in print and in educational institutions in Japan?”

Japan Times on Suraj Case: Wife of Ghanian who died while being deported demands info on cause

Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died last month while he was being deported for overstaying his visa called Tuesday on police and the Immigration Bureau to disclose exactly how he died…

The wife’s lawyer, Koichi Kodama, questioned the police investigation, which has not resulted in any arrests.

“If a man died after five or six civilians, not public servants, held his limbs, they would undoubtedly be arrested,” Kodama said, adding he told “exactly that to the prosecutors” he met with Monday in Chiba.

The Chiba police are questioning about 10 immigration officers and crew of Egypt Air, Kodama quoted a Chiba prosecutor as saying. Police said March 25 the cause of death was unclear after an autopsy. Kodama said a more thorough autopsy is being performed.

Ghanian dies while being deported March 22, scant media on it

Japan Times: The Japanese wife of a Ghanaian who died while being deported from Japan last month and some 50 supporters took to the streets Monday in Tokyo to demand a thorough investigation.

Holding a banner that read, “Uncover the truth behind the death of Mr. Suraj during his deportation,” the protesters, including Ghanaians living in Japan, marched through Roppongi shouting “We want justice.”

Although a police autopsy on Abubakar Awudu Suraj, 45, reportedly failed to pin down the cause of death and found no traces of violence, his wife and her supporters believe the death was probably caused by immigration officers…

Asian People’s Friendship Society, a support group that organized Monday’s protest, said on its Web site that the immigration officers put a towel into Suraj’s mouth as they tried to subdue him, and he died shortly afterward.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 7, 2010

SPECIAL ON THE UNITED NATIONS AND NGO FRANCA MARCH 2010 TOUR
UNITED NATIONS RAPPORTEUR BUSTAMANTE COMES TO TOWN MAR 23-31

1) UN CERD Recommendations to GOJ Mar 2010 CERD/C/JPN/CO/3-6, takes up our issues well
2) FRANCA meeting with UN Rep Bustamante yesterday: How it went, with photos
3) Table of Contents of FRANCA information folder to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
4) Japan Times: UN Rep Bustamante meets Calderon Noriko, comments on GOJ harsh visa system that separates families
5) Assn of Korean Human Rights RYOM Munsong’s speech text to UN Rep Bustamante, Mar 23
6) Mar 31 UN Rep Bustamante’s Full Press Release on Japan’s Human Rights Record
7) Download audio podcast of UN Rep Bustamante Mar 31 press conference

MORE FRANCA WORKS, INCLUDING NGO JIPI INTERFACE
8 ) FRANCA Sendai Meeting Proceedings, Photos and Project Ideas
9) Mar 27 2010 NGO FRANCA Tokyo meeting minutes
10) NGO Japan Immigration Policy Institute requests information from, meetings with NJ Residents
11) March 29, 2010 FRANCA/JIPI speech on why Japan needs immigration: Download my powerpoint presentation (Japanese)
12) Going back: Japanese porkbarrel airports as “infrastructure in a vacuum”,
and how JR duped me into buying a train ticket to nowhere

… and finally …
13) Japan Times prints my speech to UN Rep Bustamante on “blind spot” re Japan immigrants

UN: Transcript of the Japanese Government CERD Review (76th Session), Feb 24 & 25, Geneva. Point: Same GOJ session tactics as before.

What follows is the full text of the GOJ’s meeting Feb 24-25, 2010, with the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, something it faces for review every two years.

Media-digested highlights of this meeting already up on Debito.org here.

Although it was noteworthy for having 14 Japanese delegates from five different ministries (something the UN delegates remarked upon repeatedly), quite frankly, the 2010 session wasn’t much different from the previous two reviews. In that: The CERD Committee tells the GOJ to do something, and the GOJ gives reasons why things can’t change (or offers cosmetic changes as evidence that things are changing; it even cites numerous times the new Hatoyama Government as evidence of change, and as a reason why we can’t say anything conclusive yet about where human rights improvements will happen). The 2008 review was particularly laughable, as it said that Japan was making “every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination”. I guess an actual law against racial discrimination isn’t a conceivable measure. As the GOJ delegates say below, it still isn’t. But it is according to the CERD Committee below.

In sum, the biannual to-and-fro has become Grand Kabuki. And while things got bogged down in the standard “minority” questions (Ainu, Ryukyuans, Burakumin, and Zainichis — all worthy causes in themselves, of course), very little time was spent on “Newcomer” minorities, as in, the NJ (or former-NJ) immigrants who are now here long-term. People like me, as in racially-diverse Japanese, aren’t seen as a minority yet, even though we very definitely are by any UN definition. Plus, hardly any time was devoted at all to discussing the “Japanese Only” signs extant throughout Japan for many UN sessions now, the most simple and glaring violation of the CERD yet.

I haven’t the time to critique the whole session text below, but you can look at the 2008 session here (which I did critique) and get much the same idea. I have put certain items of interest to Debito.org in boldface, and here are some pencil-dropping excerpted quotes:

Saturday Tangent: Historian Howard Zinn, author of “People’s History of US”, dies at 87

It is with great sadness that I write to you about the death of one of my personal heroes, Howard Zinn. A person who departed from historical orthodoxy to write history books from the minority point of view. His “People’s History of the United States” is a must-read. Good man. Already missed. Obits below.

That’s one less of the ideological lions out there who have made an impression on me, speaking up for the little guy as much as possible, and narrating against the grain with tireless activism no matter how ripe the age. Including Noam Chomsky, Chalmers Johnson, Ralph Nader…

Japan Today article on naturalized former-NJ politicians in Tsukuba, Inuyama, and Parliament

On a happier note for a change, here’s an article from Japan Today on naturalized former NJ who have been elected to Japanese political bodies. Well done them, and it’s nice to have a kind word for them (as opposed to racists like Dietmember Hiranuma Takeo, dissing former-NJ Dietmember Ren Ho recently for her foreign roots; I’ll be devoting my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column to that nasty little incident, out next Tues Feb 2). PS: Jon Heese has commented to Debito.org before, twice, as has Tsurunen Marutei. And of course, Anthony Bianchi has been prominently featured here as well. Links enclosed.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 9, 2009

Table of Contents:
YET EVEN MORE ON CHILD ABDUCTIONS
1) 22 US Senators sign letter for Obama to address Child Abductions Issue during Japan visit
2) AOL on Child Abductions and child retriever Gus Zamora, letter to Debito.org from Gus
3) Open Letter to Pres. Obama re Nov 12 Japan Visit and Child Abductions from Left-Behind Parent
4) Sauce for the gander: Czech national abducts his child of J-NJ marriage; MOFA “powerless w/o Hague”

UNFINISHED BUSINESS
5) Ichihashi Tatsuya, suspect in Hawker murder, according to NPA has new face after plastic surgery
6) Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?
7) NYT on South Korea dealing with racism: Prosecutors spring into action. Contrast.
8 ) Greg Goodmacher’s EFL textbook on NJ issues: Why aren’t there more like these?
9) Asahi and Mainichi: J Supreme Court rules against Nationality Clause for employment in judiciary

BLOWBACK
10) NHK’s lingering bias favoring the opposition LDP. Anyone else noticing this?
11) Eyewitness report of Shinjuku’s overreaction to NJ Hallowe’en revelers on Yamanote
12) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts

SOME STUFF I’M GETTING UP TO
13) DEBITO.ORG PODCAST OCTOBER 31, 2009
14) My Thurs Nov 5, Sapporo Gakuin Dai speech “Legal Equality for NJ Residents” (download Japanese Powerpoint)
15) “Lifer” Cartoon in SAPPORO SOURCE: “Things to do in Hokkaido”
16) New Debito.org Poll: “What are the TOP THREE things you think the DPJ should do policywise for NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …

17) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column: “Demography vs. Demagoguery” (full text)

Japan Focus: Lawrence Repeta on DPJ and Ministry of Justice: fundamental reforms at last?

Repeta: The landslide victory of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) in parliamentary elections held on August 30, 2009 is likely to result in policy change in many areas. There seems little doubt that we will see a very different approach to calibrating the balance between police power and individual rights.

One of the more startling appointments to the new Cabinet is that of Yokohama lawyer Chiba Keiko to be Minister of Justice. The authority of the Ministry is great, with responsibility to enforce criminal laws, protect individual rights, manage the immigration system, and generally oversee the legal system itself, including preparation and review of draft legislation. Ms. Chiba’s appointment should result in a sharp change in policy. She brings with her a history of more than two decades in the Diet in which she opposed nearly all LDP initiatives related to Ministry operations…

If there was any doubt on this score, she wiped it away in formal comments released on September 16, the day the new Cabinet took office. In her first message to the nation as Minister, Chiba declared that her mission is to help build a society that respects human rights and a judicial system that is “close to the people” (kokumin ni mijika na shiho). To achieve this, she listed three specific steps. First is the establishment of a new human rights agency. Second is ratification of so-called “Optional Protocols” to human rights treaties. Third is creating transparency in criminal interrogations…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 31, 2009

Table of Contents:
CHILD ABDUCTION ISSUE STILL HAS LEGS
1) Letter from US Senators Boxer and Corker to Obama re Child Abductions, for his Nov 12 visit to Japan
2) Joint statement by eight governments re Japan’s untenable stance on international child abductions
3) Global Post’s Justin McCurry on Savoie Child Abduction Case. Issue isn’t passe yet.
4) Letter to Prime Minister Hatoyama regarding Child Abductions and legislative lag, from a Left-Behind Parent
5) MSNBC.com/AP on left-behind dads in Japan regardless of nationality

FALLOUT FROM ISSUES OF LABOR, HISTORY, IMMIGRATION, DOLPHIN AND OTHER SLAUGHTERS
6) Mainichi: Numerous foreign trainees forced to work under harsh conditions in Japan, even to death
7) Mainichi: Chinese trainees file complaint with labor bureau over 350 yen per hour overtime
8 ) Sakanaka Hidenori’s latest paper on assimilation of NJ now translated into English, full text
9) Economist.com BANYAN column on DPJ moves to right historical wrongs
10) Fallout from “The Cove”: TV’s “South Park” takes on Japan’s dolphin slaughters and whale hunts
11) Tangent: Microsoft apologizes for photoshopping out black man from its Poland advertising. Contrast with “Mr James”
12) Tangent: Japan Times reporter Eric Johnston on getting freelance reporting jobs in Japan
13) Tokyo International Players present “Honiefaith”, true story of NJ murder, Nov 6-7-8 in Shibuya’s OUR SPACE Theater
14) New Debito.org Poll: “What should be the DPJ’s NUMBER ONE priority policy for helping NJ in Japan?”

… and finally …
15) My next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column Tues Nov 3 on Japan politicization of demographic science

THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT, TEN YEARS ON: Article for Japonesia Review

Today is the tenth anniversary of our visit, on September 19, 1999, to “Japanese Only” Yunohana Onsen et al in Otaru, a life-changing event that to this day has not been fully resolved — mainly because we still don’t have a law against racial discrimination in Japan. This situation remains more than 13 years after Japan effecting of the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, where it promised to take “all measures, including legislation” to effectively eliminate all forms of RD. And it deserves comment and reflection after years of protests, two books, countless articles, and successful lawsuits against the onsen (albeit not against the negligent City of Otaru).

My thoughts on this day are bittersweet. I know we did the right thing (as Olaf noted, when I called him today, people are still talking about the case), and we had a good outcome in court. But I judge things like this based upon whether or not they could ever happen again. The answer is, unfortunately, yes. After all, all Yunohana Onsen has to do is put up another “Japanese Only” sign and we’d have to take them to court all over again just to get it down. There is no law to stop it, nothing for authorities to enforce. Ten years later, it feels more overdue now than in 1999.

TITLE: THE OTARU ONSENS LAWSUIT: TEN YEARS ON

What has and has not changed regarding human rights for Non-Japanese in Japan…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPTEMBER 18, 2009

SPECIAL ON EXCLUSIONISM AND TARGETING
EXCLUSIONISM
1) Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”
2) American journalist banned from “Japanese Only” Toyota press conference in America!
3) Kyodo & JT: Osaka JH school reluctantly takes preteen NJ kid despite teacher opposition!
4) J population drops, Internal Ministry converts it into rise, excludes NJ from tally.
5) Interview with the Berlin Institute for Population and Development re Japan’s int’l future
6) BBC: British furniture store puts up “no foreign students” sign (parallels with Otaru Onsens Case)
7) Japan Times: NJ visas now contingent on enrollment in Japan’s health insurance program starting April 2010
8 ) Contrast: Naturalized Caucasian Korean becomes SK’s National Tourism Org leader

TARGETING
9) Collating update: upcoming IC Gaijin Cards, RFID hackability, next generation police walkie-talkie, and NPA access to TASPO information
10) Debito.org reader Brian reports on Shinjuku Police 9-day incarceration of 74-year-old tourist for pocket knife
11) SITYS: Japan Times confirms that 74-year-old tourist WAS indeed incarcerated for 10 days for carrying a pocket knife
12) Update: Ibaraki Police’s third new NJ-scare poster
13) Comparison: Open Society Institute report on police racial profiling in France
14) Yomiuri, Sankei, FNN: Sakai Noriko’s husband fingers NJ dealers as source of their drug habit
15) Japan Times: New “lay judge” court system sentences first NJ
16) Economist.com: Far higher proportion of NJ in Japanese prison than proportion of population
17) Freeman offers specific dialogs to deal with J police during Gaijin Card Check

… and finally…
18) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column: “Unlike Humans, Swine Flu is Indiscriminate” (full text)

Japan Times, NHK, Terrie’s Take & Mainichi on Japan’s child abductions from broken marriages, and Hague Treaty developments

What follows are several articles on Japan not signing the Hague Convention on Child Abductions, and how after divorce in Japan one parent gets denied all access to their child (especially in international marriages, where children get abducted to another country). This has been getting international press and diplomatic attention. Finally NHK did a report on it this morning, and it was a crock — trying too hard to present the Japanese as being kawaisoued (even presented a Japanese mother as being forced to live in Japan against her will, hostage to American courts, while one who abducted to Japan managed to escape the NJ “cultural” tendency towards violence. Very, very disappointing NHK, if not damaging of the case being made internationally by left-behind parents. I get the feeling the wagons are circling to galvanize public opinion against Hague. And I speak too as a left-behind parent who hasn’t really seen his kids for more than five years now.

Thoughts on DPJ rally Sat Jun 27, 2009, Sapporo

What follows is a synopsis of a political rally for the opposition party, DPJ, which featured possible next PM Hatoyama Yukio as a speaker. Taking place in DPJ stronghold Hokkaido (which Hatoyama represents), I give a quick overview (with analysis, even pictures) of the speaking styles of Hatoyama, croaking Suzuki Muneo, Hokkaido political superman Yokomichi, and the far-Right Happiness Realization Party, who gave the best speeches of the day as they took DPJ left-of-centrism into Re-Arm Against North Korean Missiles territory.

Opening paragraph: In case you haven’t heard (the J press has been making headlines of it), we’re amidst a “Hatoyama Boom”. Hatoyama (Yukio, aka Hatopoppo) being the current leader of the opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), replacing Ozawa Ichiro (whose old-school J politics still include accepting bribes, directly or indirectly). With the anticipated boost in PM Aso’s approval ratings (after a lot of hay was made of Ozawa’s associates’ corruption) petering out to nothing, and an election required by law by October at the latest, there are a number of rumors floating around that other contenders may rise to fill the soulless golem of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP the party essentially in power in Japan for more than five decades, whose policy platform is essentially just staying in power). A couple of prefectural governors (Osaka’s Hashimoto, Miyazaki’s Higashikokubaru) are rumored to have designs on future local and national governance. But so far, Hatoyama seems to be outdistancing them all, riding the crest of his “boom” on a nationwide whistle-stop tour with stern-faced posters and constant public speeches.

All caught up now? Well, Hatoyama gave a speech at a DPJ rally last Saturday, June 27, in Sapporo’s Odori Kouen. I was there in the front row wearing a lot of sunscreen, enjoying a lot of old people’s company. Let me give you the scene:

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 27, 2009

IC CHIP GAIJIN CARDS
1) Japan Times: New Gaijin Cards bill looks set to pass Diet
2) Japan Times: New IC Chip Gaijin Card passes Lower House, expected to pass Upper too
3) Text of proposed amendments to new Immigration Law, including IC Chip Gaijin Cards
Plus NEWS FLASH on upcoming Japan Times articles
4) MMT on Aso Admin’s plans for “secure society”: reforms in five areas. But not immigration.

J MEDIA SPOILS PUBLIC IMAGE OF NJ
5) NHK’s “Cool Japan” keeps their guest NJ commentators naive and ignorant
6) Japan Today feature on how media focus on crime negatively impacts upon NJ
7) NPR’s Geoff Nunberg on semantics and their control over public debate

INJUSTICE
8 ) Kyodo: 34 NJ “Trainees” died FY 2008, 16 from suspected overwork, up from 13 FY 2007
9) Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.
10) Tangent: Japan Times on crackdowns on students at Hosei University

GOOD NEWS?
11) Bernama.com on new proposed “points system” for NJ work visas
12) Teigaku Kyuufukin: Have you collected your 12,000 yen tax kickback yet?

… and finally… JUST FOR FUN
14) Japanpodshow: Podcast on Arudou Debito by Joseph Tame
15) Sapporo Source DEBITO Column June 2009 on Hokkaido Winters

Anonymous re Scott Tucker, killed in a Tokyo bar by a man who got a suspended sentence.

Anonymous on Scott Tucker, murdered in a bar by a Tokyo DJ who got a suspended sentence:

“Now, this is why I’m writing this addendum. Clearly, I knew Scott Tucker. I knew him very well. I drank with him, Japanese-style, at least a hundred times. We drank beer, we ate very good sushi and drank sake; we drank expensive whiskey most foreigners couldn’t, or wouldn’t afford–in keep bottles at very nice, exclusive clubs and snacks in central Tokyo. I never, ever, ever, saw Scott Tucker get belligerent. I never saw him get argumentative, even after polishing off a full bottle, with my help, of pricey Japanese whiskey. The implication that somehow, because of his drunkenness, he was threatening enough to pose a danger to a 154-pound disk jockey is so absurd that it leaves me livid. If I were there, and I were tanked up, and the disk jockey decided to come down and take charge of things, it would make sense. I am not a diplomat: when I’m drunk and unhappy and things are waxing ridiculous, I will throw a few people around. But Scotty, no. No, I’m sorry. Whatever the official account, he was a diplomat. Again, I never saw him belligerent, ever, and I knew him for many, many, years. This is what bothers me about the whole “Official” account; it is simply not accurate, and is stilted towards character assassination and implication that is wholly unjustified and clearly driven by agenda. To think that someone can get a probationary sentence for what amounts to ‘sucker-punching’ a neighbor to death just rubs me the wrong way. It doesn’t surprise me–as I say, I spent the better part of my life in Japan, and I never assumed for a moment that justice would err in my favour were I to be caught out for an indiscretion–but I feel compelled to to say something on Scotty’s behalf.

I feel compelled for this reason: were a wealthy Japanese property owner from Azabu, with a famous, elegant wife, to go into a club next door, a club operating in violation of city ordinance, and get into a row with the owners, or the disk jockey, and be killed–and were that disk jockey to be a non-Japanese–the media would have a field day with it. And were the non-Japanese disk jockey–an American, or a Brit, or an African– to claim he had asphyxiated the wealthy Japanese neighbor out of fear or his own life–he would be hung from the highest tree in Japan, on national tv, as a murderer, and a fiend, and a crazed violent foreign interloper. But if it’s just a guy who blindsided Scotty, by all means, give him a suspended probationary sentence. A simple self-defense accident.”

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 11, 2009

IMMIGRATION AND JAPAN’S FUTURE
1) DIJ Tokyo Symposium 2009: Japan’s Demographic Science overtaken by anti-immigration politics
2) Tokyo Trip June 2-5 overview, plus report on NJ nurses and caregiver program talks at DIJ
3) Asahi: More NJ “trainees”, “interns” face dismissal
4) Mainichi: Foreign researchers, tech experts may get preferential immigration treatment
5) Asahi on future of Japanese pension plans: oldies below poverty line
6) Sunday Tangent: Shinjuku-ku issues its own quadralingual guidebook to life in Tokyo
7) Protest IC Chipped Gaijin Cards every Tuesday anytime between 9AM-12:30PM, Diet Building, Tokyo

TANGENTS
8 ) Sunday Tangent: DPJ submits bill to limit seshuu seijika (hereditary politicians)
9) Japan Today Kuchikomi: Oddly includes NJ stats in article on gang rape at Kyoto U of Education
10) Sugaya Case: M-J on policing and Japanese jurisprudence

FOLLOW-UPS
11) Bankrupt Eikaiwa NOVA’s Saruhashi admits wrongdoing in court
12) Sumo Stablemaster gets his for Tokitaizan hazing death
13) More on fingerprinting, tracking people electronically, and RFID technology

… and finally…
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column Jun 2 2009: “The issue that dares not speak its name” (full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 29, 2009

THE SHADOW OF BIG BROTHER
1) Metropolis & Japan Today: “Proposed NJ resident registry card creates Big Brother concerns”
2) Japan Times on May 24 2009 new IC Chip Gaijin Card protest
3) Brazilian MTV on May 24 Protests on proposed IC Chip Gaijin Cards
4) Kyodo: GOJ proposes GPS tracking of criminals. SITYS.
5) Charles McJilton on how visa overstayers too get Gaijin Cards
6) Various respondents: Police crackdowns in Roppongi and elsewhere, Olympic Bid cleanup?
7) Sankei: Police “cleaning up” Roppongi of shitsukoi NJ

TANGENTS
8 ) Kyodo: 2 NJ defendants among first 13 new lay jury cases
9) NYT: Japanese Fans Mobilize to Keep Valentine as Their Manager
10) Sunday Tangent: America’s Japan Society now led by a Japanese
11) Sunday Tangent: Economist on UN racism conference fiasco, April 2009

UPCOMING PERFORMANCES
12) Monty DiPietro’s new play “Honiefaith”, June 5, 6, 7, Tokyo Shinjuku
13) Trans-Pacific Radio’s Live Seijigiri June 4 7:30 PM Shibuya Pink Cow

… and finally…
14) Japan Times May 19, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards, full text

Japan Times May 20, 2009: “IC you: Bugging the Alien” article on new Gaijin Cards

Japan Times: I mentioned that embedded computer chip. The new Gaijin Card is a “smart card.” Most places worldwide issue smart cards for innocuous things like transportation and direct debit, and you have to swipe the card on a terminal to activate it. Carrying one is, at least, optional.

Not in Japan. Although the 2005 proposal suggested foreign “swiping stations” in public buildings, the technology already exists to read IC cards remotely. With Japan’s love of cutting-edge gadgets, data processing will probably not stop at the swipe. The authorities will be able to remotely scan crowds for foreigners.

In other words, the IC chip is a transponder — a bug.

Now imagine these scenarios: Not only can police scan and detect illegal aliens, but they can also uncover aliens of any stripe. It also means that anyone with access to IC chip scanners (they’re going cheap online) could possibly swipe your information. Happy to have your biometric information in the hands of thieves?

Moreover, this system will further encourage racial profiling. If police see somebody who looks alien yet doesn’t show up on their scanner (such as your naturalized author, or Japan’s thousands of international children), they will more likely target you for questioning — as in: “Hey, you! Stop! Why aren’t you detectable?”

Metropolis & Japan Today: “Proposed NJ resident registry card creates Big Brother concerns”

Metropolis and Japan Today: If enacted, the bills submitted by the Cabinet in March would revise three laws — the Basic Resident Registration Law, the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Act, and the Special Law on Immigration Control — with the government looking to pass them before the end of the current ordinary Diet session on June 3. Once passed, the revisions would become effective in less than three years.

According to the immigration bureau, the government’s main aims are to simplify the administration of foreigners by having the bureau handle nearly all paperwork related to immigration and residency; reduce the burden on foreigners living legally in Japan by extending visa periods and relaxing re-entry rules; ensure all legal aliens join social insurance and state pension schemes; track the movement of foreigners more closely; and clampdown on illegal aliens such as visa overstayers by denying them the right to carry the new card.

However, opposition parties, legal organizations and migrant activists have slammed the revisions. They claim the changes could impose excessive fines for failure to carry the card, make notification of status changes less convenient, and lead to undue dissemination of personal information and excessive monitoring of foreigners…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 16, 2009

ILLNESSES AND RESUSCITATIONS
1) Wash Post on GOJ border controls of Swine Flu,
Mainichi/Kyodo on hospitals turning away J with fevers or NJ friends
2) GOJ shuts down NJ academic conference at Josai University due to Swine Flu
3) Revamped article on the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe, and BBC on what’s happening to returnees
4) Tokyo Shinbun: GOJ to amend Nikkei Repatriation Bribe exile to Mar 2012
5) Japan Times: “Immigrants” magazine & advocates’ moves to establish J immigration policy
6) Kirk Masden resuscitates debate on TV Asahi show KokoGaHen

DEBATES FROM BIZZAROWORLD
7) Hokkaido Kushiro gives special Residency Certificate to sea otter
8 ) AP on resuscitating discriminatory Buraku historical maps on Google Earth
9) Chunichi Shinbun May 11, 2009 on New IC Gaijin Card debate
10) Thoughts on May 11’s TV Asahi TV Tackle on NJ issues
11) Thoughts on May Day 2009 in Odori Park, Sapporo
12) Kambayashi Column: Self-censoring media abets incompetent politicians.
13) Sunday Tangent: Obama’s March 8, 2008 speech on race, link to full text

… and finally …
14) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column May 5, 2009 on Alberto Fujimori’s 31-year sentencing
(full text)

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 19, 2009

JAPAN SLOWLY RUNNING DOWN
1) Economist: First mention of Japan’s “two lost decades”:
Calls into question efficacy of “Japan Inc” business model
2) Mainichi: Kofu Laundry taken to cleaners over abuses of Chinese “trainees”
3) See I told you so #2: Oct-Jan 1000 “Trainees” repatriated, returning to debts.
4) Yomiuri: NJ students brought to J universities by the bushelful, but given little job assistance
5) In contrast: Korea Times: South Korea proposes dual citizenship

HISTORY AND HISTORICAL EVENTS
6) Japan Times on the Calderon Noriko Case: “The Battle for Japan’s Future” and fascist demo on YouTube
7) Calderon Case: Two protesters against right-wing demo arrested, supporters group established
8 ) Sunday Tangent: NPR interview with late scholar John Hope Franklin: feel the parallels
9) Peru’s Fujimori really gets his: 25 years jail for death squads

PLEAS FOR HELP
10) Michael Collison Case: “Fired from Interac after death of infant daughter”
11) Friend requests advice on how to approach JHS PTA, regarding repainting rundown school
12) Filmmaker requests interviewees for documentary on NJ visa overstayers

… and finally…
13) Sapporo Screening of documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES Thurs Apr 23 7PM HIBA
14) Japan Times on Tokyo Takadanobaba SOUR STRAWBERRIES screening

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…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 8, 2009

2-CHANNEL AND DEALING WITH INTERNET BULLIES
1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum” (full text)
2) Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies
3) NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery

THE RECESSION BITES
4) JASSO eliminating exchange student funding on medical expenses, meaning sicker ryuugakusei
5) Japan Times/Kyodo: Decrease in NJ “Trainees”

KARMA BITES BACK
6) Sumo wrestler Wakakirin expelled for smoking pot: Why’d it take so long?
7) Newly-elected Tsukuba City Assemblyman Jon Heese on the hows and whys of getting elected in Japan

…and finally…

8 ) Debito.org Poll on whether “discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
…surprising is that 20% effectively say yes.

NYT on “The Trolls among us” and measures against trollery

Here’s an excerpt of an excellent (if overlong) article from the NYT about Internet trolls, the world they inhabit, and the logical games they employ. For many, this will be a rude awakening, for if they tried to deal with trolls like this reasonably (when trolls had no intention of ever being reasonable) or (heaven forbid) empathize with them, this is what they got for their trouble. For the trolls themselves, it’ll be more like, “WTF, it’s your own fault for ever taking us seriously! What took you so long to figure us out?” It’s a good read and will convince people who care overmuch about what other people think to stop doing so if the other person is anonymous or pseudonymous. It’s about time the earnest people on the Internet took some measures against the intellectual gamers and malicious life wasters.

Japan Today & Yomiuri: Criminal charges against Internet bullies

Further to my Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column earlier this week, here is somebody else who is finally taking action against Internet stalkers and bullies. Smiley Kikuchi, a comedian (whose name is listed in today’s Yomiuri), has finally gotten the NPA to get off their asses and actually prosecute people criminally for posting threatening messages.

Good for him. I get death threats all too frequently. The first time I got a major death threat, the police did nothing except take the threat letter, hold it for six years, and send it back with “inconclusive results”. The second time, much the same. In Kikuchi’s case, the messages were posted directly to his blog, by fools who didn’t realize that (unlike 2channel) their IP addresses would be visible.

Given how inept I consider the NPA to be about enforcing its own mandate, or even court decisions, I usually just delete messages to my blog that are malicious or threatening in tone. Now, thanks to Smiley, they just might be legally actionable.

Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Feb 3, 2009: “2channel the bullies’ forum”

Excerpt: Some salute [2channel’s coordinator] Nishimura as a “hero” and an “evangelist.” He’s also a willing abettor in the pollution of cyberspace, legitimizing an already powerful domestic bully culture with a worldwide audience. He had his day in court to explain himself. He didn’t show. He lost. Now he must pay up.

If not, there will be blow-back. Our government has already made reactionary overtures to limit “illegal or harmful content” (whatever that means) on the Internet. Be advised: Once you give the unsophisticated Japanese police a vague mandate over anything, you’ll have random enforcement and policy creep, as usual. Kaplooey goes cyberfreedom of speech.

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

Irish Times on Jane v. NPA rape case (she lost, again)

Irish Times: Jane is one of hundreds of women assaulted by US military personnel annually around the world, including in Japan, home to over 80 American bases and about 33,000 troops. The military presence is blamed for over 200,000 mostly off-duty crimes since the Japan-America Security Alliance was created in the early 1950s.

The bulk are petty offences but in one of the most notorious, a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped and left for dead by three US serviceman on the southern island of Okinawa, reluctant home to nearly three-quarters of all US military facilities in Japan.

That 1995 crime shook the half-century alliance, sparking huge anti-US rallies and cries of “never again”. Last year a 14-year-old was raped by a US marine, one of several similar assaults against Japanese and Filipino women.

Protests forced the US military to set up recently a “sexual assault prevention unit”. Opponents say, however, that the incidents are an inevitable consequence of transplanting young and often traumatised trained killers into a local population they neither know nor respect.

Tensions between locals and the military are exacerbated by extraterritorial rights enjoyed by US personnel under the Status of Forces Agreement, which often allows them to avoid arrest for minor and sometimes even serious crimes. The agreement was reinforced by a recently uncovered deal between Washington and Tokyo to waive secretly jurisdiction against US soldiers in all but the most serious crimes, according to researcher Shoji Niihara.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 16, 2009

Table of Contents:

=========================================================
BAD SCIENCE
1) Gregory Clark argues in Japan Times that “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”
2) Japan Times Zeit Gist followup on Dec’s Otaru Onsen lawsuit analysis
3) Sankei: A manual to help NJ “illegal overstays” evade police
4) Kyodo: Special unemployment office being studied, only for “NJ workers with PR”
5) AP/Guardian on Japan’s steepest population fall yet, excludes NJ from tally
6) Kyodo: NJ to be registered as family members (residents?) by 2012
7) AFP and Yomiuri: How to get around J border fingerprinting: Tape!
8 ) Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman:
Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

BAD BUSINESS
9) German documentary SOUR STRAWBERRIES preview, with Debito interview
10) Japan Times on NJ workers: No money for food or return flight
11) Japan Times on future J housing markets, tax regimes, and why J houses are built so crappily

MULTICULTURAL DEVELOPMENTS
12) Excellent Japan Times roundup on debate on J Nationality Law and proposed dual citizenship
13) Another excellent JT article on dual nationality and the conflicts within
14) Japan Times on international trends towards allowing citizens to become multinational
15) Economist on Japanese immigration and conservatism giving way
16) All registered NJ will in fact now get the 12,000 “economic stimulus” bribe
17) Japan Times Zeit Gist on Chinese/Japanese bilingual education in Japan

HOLIDAY TANGENTS
18 ) Xmas List: Ten things I think Japan does best
19) Retrospective: 10 things that made me think in 2008
20) Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants
21) Humor: Robin Williams stand-up comedy on Obama’s election
22) Humor: “Beware of the Doghouse”: For you men with thoughtless holiday gifts
23) History tangent: Japan Times FYI on Hokkaido development

… and finally…
24) Interview with Debito on TkyoSam’s Vlog: Shizzle!
=========================================================

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

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

Tokyo High Court overrules lower court regarding murder of Lucie Blackman: Obara Joji now guilty of “dismemberment and abandonment of a body”

Serial rapist and sexual predator Obara Joji yesterday had his “innocent on the grounds of lack of evidence” lower court decision overturned by the Tokyo High Court, with Lucie Blackman’s rape and murder now added to his long list of crimes against women. A hair was split between actual murder and just doing nasty things to her corpse, but for people outraged about the rather odd consideration of evidence in this case (which I in the past have indicated might have something to do with a J crime against a NJ, as opposed to the opposite), this is a victory of sorts. Given that Obara got away with a heckuva lot before he was finally nailed (including some pretty hapless police investigation), I wonder if the outcome of his cases will be much of a deterrent to other sociopathic predators out there. Anyway, this verdict is better than upholding the previous one, of course. Two articles follow.

Tangent: Metropolis Mag (Tokyo) on the annual August Yasukuni “debates”

As a follow-up to yesterday’s thoughts on the movie YASUKUNI, here’s an article that came out in August’s Metropolis Magazine (Tokyo) regarding the “debate” between Right and Left at the shrine. Bit of a tangent to Debito.org, but worth a read:

(excerpt) The above scene unfolded just prior to last year’s pacifist demonstration in Kudanshita on August 15, the anniversary of the end of World War II. The protest, which will be repeated next week and preceded by various other marches near the shrine, highlights the one day of the year where downtown Tokyo could nearly be confused for Pakistan or Tibet during times of political unrest—the city literally turns into a riot zone as right- and left-wing groups stand off against one another.

Perhaps Japan’s most notorious rallying point for nationalist sentiment, Yasukuni confounds its left-leaning detractors and inspires patriots due to its honoring of roughly 2.5 million military men, many of whom were encouraged by the belief that their spirit would be enshrined should they die in battle fighting heroically for the emperor. For South Korea and China, two countries that suffered most heavily at the hands of Japan’s military over a half-century ago, a crucial point of criticism is the enshrinement of 14 Class-A war criminals, including wartime Prime Minister Hideki Tojo. A heated debate on an average day, Yasukuni and its surrounding area is like a spark landing in a tinderbox on the anniversary.

Archive: DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 8, 2006

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
1) FORMER AINU DIETMEMBER KAYANO SHIGERU DIES
2) UN’S DOUDOU DIENE TO REVISIT JAPAN MAY 15-19
3) “SLAVEDRIVE YOUR GAIJIN!” CEO ENGLISH SITE DISAPPEARS
4) HIS TRAVEL ADMITS TO HAVING DIFFERENT AIRFARES FOR FOREIGNERS
5) JAPAN TIMES ON TOTTORI HUMAN RIGHTS ORDINANCE
///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 29, 2008

Table of Contents:
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
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
////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 6, 2008

BIG SURPRISES:
Japan’s Supreme Court rules Japan’s marriage requirement for Japanese nationality unconsitutional
Chinese now outnumber Koreans as Japan’s largest NJ Minority
Narita Customs spike HK passenger’s bag with cannabis
Exclusive! Eric Johnston on extreme security at Kobe G8 Environmental Ministers Summit
UN OHCHR Minority Update: Japan reviewed by Human Rights Council
Highlights of UN OHCHR Universal Periodic Review of Japan’s Human Rights Record, May 14, 2008

OTHER SURPRISES:
Terrie’s Take 469: GOJ to sign Hague Convention on Child Abduction by 2010
Japan Times’ Colin Jones on Japan’s offer to sign Hague Convention on Child Abductions by 2010
Japan Times Community Page May 28, 2008 on Permanent Residency: “Bad PR for Japan”
…and consequently… NYT on Japan’s dearth of NJ techies, scientists, and engineers
…and even Japan’s first Caucasian Geisha got her application for PR rejected!

GOOD NEWS:
Kyodo/Japan Today on Anthony Bianchi’s moves as Inuyama City Councilor
Daily Yomiuri May 30 2008 reviews HANDBOOK positively
Jornal Tudo Bem interview, May 9 2008 (Portuguese)
Bulgarian Kotooshuu wins first Sumo Tourney
Debito.org “Japanese Only” T-Shirt appears in Italian SkyTG24 report on G8 Pre-Summit

LUDICROUSIES
Tony Laszlo, “Administrator of NGO Issho Kikaku”, in Asahi “Money” Section for his wife’s “Darling wa Gaikokujin” series
Yahoo News/AP: Newest “Yokoso Japan” rep: Hello Kitty!
Wired Magazine on 2-Channel’s Nishimura Hiroyuki

GATHERINGS OF INTEREST:
3rd Annual Tokyo Refugee Film Festival, June 20-27 2008, Sponsored by UNHCR
SMJ Forum On NJ Rights and Living Standards, Sat June 14, Kawasaki
Call for Presentations, Peace as a Global Language Conference 7 Sept 27-8, Tokyo

…and finally… a tangent:
Economist obit on Mildred Loving, defeater of US anti-miscegenation laws

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.

Reuters: UN’s Doudou Diene checking out racism in USA

UN Special Rapporteur Doudou Diene, who has visited Japan three times in the past, called racism here “deep and profound”, and urged Japan to pass laws against racial discrimination, is now visiting the US for the same reason. Good. Let’s see how the USG deals with his report (and let’s see how high up Diene gets meetings. Even Tokyo Gov. Ishihara found no time to meet Diene on any of this trips…). The GOJ essentially ignored his reports, alas.