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Arudou Debito s Home Page: Issues of Life and Human Rights in Japan
27 Jan
RocketNews: In 2014, Dr. Shuji Nakamura, along with two other scientists, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work in creating bright blue LEDs. In 1993, Nakamura held only a master’s degree and worked with just one lab assistant for a small manufacturer in rural Japan, yet he was able to find a solution that had eluded some the highest paid, best-educated researchers in the world. If his story ended there, he would no doubt be the poster boy for Japanese innovation and never-say-die spirit, but in the years since his discovery, he has instigated a landmark patent case, emigrated to the US, given up his Japanese citizenship and become a vocal critic of his native country. Last week, the prickly professor gave his first Japanese press conference since picking up his Nobel and he had some very succinct advice for young Japanese: Leave... “In the world, Japanese people [have] the worst English performance,” he said. “Only they are concerned about Japanese life. That’s a problem.” He also said that lack of exposure to foreign cultures breeds a parochial ethnocentrism and makes young Japanese susceptible to “mind control” by the government. COMMENT: Wow. "Slave" Nakamura not only refused to settle for the pittance regularly doled out to inventors in Japan that transform innovation and profit for Japan's corporate behemoths (yes, he sued -- millions of people do in Japan every year -- and he won!), but also he wouldn't settle for life in Japan as it is. He emigrated and now publicly extols the virtues of not being stifled by Japan's insularity (and mind control!?). Pretty brave and bracing stuff. Bravo. It isn't the first time this sort of thing has happened within Japan's intelligentsia. How many readers remember the "Tonegawa Shock" of 1987? It set off a chain of events that led to the despotic Ministry of Education deciding to "enliven" (kasseika) Japan's education system by doing away with tenure. Sounds great to people who don't understand why tenure exists in an education system, but what happened is that the MOE first downsized everyone that they could who was not on tenure -- the NJ educators on perpetual contract eemployment (ninkisei) -- in what was called the "Great Gaijin Massacre" of 1992-1994 where most NJ teachers working in Japan's prestigious National and Public Universities over the age of 35 were fired by bureaucratic fiat. It was the first activism that I took up back in 1993, and the underlying "Academic Apartheid" of Japan's higher education system exposed by this policy putsch became the bedrock issue for Debito.org when it was established in 1996. With this in mind, I wonder what reverberations will result from Dr. Nakamura encouraging an exodus? Hopefully not something that will further damage the NJ communities in Japan. But if is there more NJ scapegoating in the offing, you'll probably hear about it on Debito.org. That's what we're here for.
24 Jan
Here's something for the Shoe on the Other Foot Dept.: A "No Japanese Passengers" taxi in Thailand, refusing to take all "Japanese" passengers (sign courtesy of Khaosod English). Naturally, Debito.org condemns all exclusionism of this type, and encourages people to challenge it and have these signs and rules repealed. We have devoted much cyberspace to recording and archiving the converse, "Japanese Only" signs that exclude all "foreigners" (that unfortunately have gone largely unchallenged in Japan). not to mention the occasional "Japanese Only" establishment run for Japanese clientele outside of Japan (that excludes all "foreigners" in their own country, natch). What's important is how swift and decisive the challenge from society is, and whether it is effective. In the Thai taxi case below, according to media, the taxi driver (rightly) lost his license to do business at the airport, and quite a furore happened both online and in print media denouncing this act as wrong-headed, even racist. Good. A similar furore also happened when a hotel in India had "Japanese Only" rules (the Indian authorities did not brook this kind of discrimination either). Now, if only the Japanese authorities would be so decisive about this kind of exclusionism in Japan (as Debito.org has demonstrated over these past twenty years, they generally aren't; they even deny racial discrimination ever happens in Japan, quite counterproductively). Of course, some hay has been made about this Thai taxi on Japanese social media, with rightly-deserved (but unironic) condemnations of the "discrimination" against Japanese overseas. One last point: Koki Aki, the Japanese gentleman who set this issue in motion by complaining online after being ripped off by a Thai cabbie (prompting the cabbie to exclude), subsequently defended himself against trolls who said he must not like Thailand: "I criticize Thailand, but I don't hate Thailand." Well put. Now, if only other debaters in Japan's debate arenas would be so cognizant.
21 Jan
I've been sitting on this blog post for nearly six years, so I think it's safe to say that nothing has come of this. Back in 2009, somebody claiming to be a lawyer representing the publisher of The Australian Magazine contacted me, claiming copyright infringement, and demanded that Debito.org remove from its archives a 1993 article concerning Japan pundit Gregory Clark (who writes articles occasionally so embarrassingly xenophobic and bigoted that at least one has been deleted from the Japan Times archive). Funny thing is that once I reproduced an email from 2000 from The Australian Magazine that permitted reproduction of said article on Debito.org, that somebody and her threat vanished. Again, that was back in 2009. It's now 2015, so let's put this up for the record. Something tells me that Gregory Clark really doesn't want you to read this very revealing article in The Australian about him, his modus operandi, and his motives in Japan.
16 Jan
Yomiuri: In an effort to address population declines in provincial areas, the government plans to create a database to provide people thinking of moving from urban to regional areas with information about potential destinations, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned. The government hopes to encourage more urbanites to move to regional areas by making it possible for them to extensively search for information on such issues as residency and welfare services anywhere in the country... The government plans to promote the development of robots for use in the service industry, such as at hotels and pubs, to cope with the industry’s worsening problems of labor shortages and heavy workloads, according to sources. In September, the government is expected to establish a panel dubbed the “committee for the realization of the robot revolution,” which will comprise manufacturers and users of robots, and plans to subsidize programs judged to have bright prospects. COMMENT: Of course, the Yomiuri diligently types it down and offers it up uncritically, with the typical pride of showing off "Japan's stuff". The policy assumption is that if you offer people information, they'll magically want to move out to the countryside -- up to now they were just chary because they didn't know where they could get an onigiri in Nakamura-son, Inaka-Ken. That's unrealistic. It's not a matter of lack of information. It's a matter of lack of economic opportunity for Japan's largely white-collar labor force (the "potential migrants" being mentioned, of course, are Japanese) being offered out in The Boonies. Hasn't the GOJ gotten the memo yet after more than a quarter century of Japanese turning their noses away from 3K blue-collar work? Not to mention the inevitable "Taro-come-lately" outsider treatment from the locals that greets many Japanese urbanites deciding to move out of the cities? Fact is, Japan's ruralities are even giving their land away for FREE, and it's not stemming the exodus from. Moreover, how about that other proposal below of introducing more robots in service areas to produce the 3K stuff? Laced within that Industrial Policy is an appeal to national pride, as in Japan's future as a world leader in robot use (without the actual substance of practicality behind it). Ooh, our robots can produce bentos? Can yours, France? Then what: build robots to consume what robots produce? No matter what, offering robots as replacements for humans in the labor market inevitably overlooks how this does nothing to revitalize Japan's taxpayer base, because ROBOTS DO NOT PAY TAXES. There is another option, the unmentionable: Immigrants assuming the mantle of Japan's farming economy and rural maintenance. No, you see, that would be a security risk. Too high a local foreign population would mean those areas might secede from Japan! (Seriously, that is the argument made.)...
14 Jan
Another complete tangent, but hey, it is January 13 where I am and it's my birthday and my blog, so... Did I mention it's my birthday? Well, I'm the type of person who loves to be wished "Happy Birthday!", so I even go out of my way tell people that today is the day. And as my Facebook shows, people very kindly respond with greetings and best wishes. Thanks! But since I broached the subject , I've had interesting conversations yesterday and today with people who take a dim view of birthdays. No, it's not for the reason you might think (i.e., growing older and more clearly one day, month, year closer to death). They put it down to modesty, even culture. One friend I talked to today never advertises his birthday because he's afraid that doing so will invite somebody to give him a present. Then he'd feel obligated to give something back and that causes him stress. He prefers his birthdays and his celebrations be immediate family affairs celebrated only by the people who care enough to remember it's his birthday without being told. Telling other people kinda spoils something. He'd rather enjoy fruit fallen from a tree due to a windfall, not because he deliberately shook the tree. Another friend talked about how birthdays are to him an artificial Western invention -- who celebrated birthdays in days of yore, and in his Eastern culture? He also feels that a celebration of oneself on one day is silly, when every day that one is alive should be a cause for celebration. Why focus in on one day? To them I said...
13 Jan
Just a personal entry for today. This sort of thing only happens once, and it's happening now in Japan (tomorrow in Hawaii), so I'll enjoy 48 hours of birthday this year. I turn fifty on January 13. This is a personal milestone in many ways...
11 Jan
This is a photograph of a subway banner last month designed by an eighth grader in a Fukuoka Junior High School, taking first place in a Fukuoka City Subway contest for "Riding Manners". The caption: "Don't overdo the freedom." December 25, 2014, Reader TJL remarks: Hmmm...Fukuoka is now jumping on the "ugly American" bandwagon by portraying a rude Lady Liberty taking up too much space and playing her music too loud...the poor old lady in kimono can't sit down and the salary man is disturbed by the noise. My graduate student from Chile found this on the subway. So much for the kinder, gentler Japan welcoming visitors by 2020 for the Olympics. COMMENT: First, praise. It's a clever, well-rendered poster by a Junior High School student who at a surprisingly young age has a great grasp of space, color, perspective, and poster layout (I've done a lot of posters in my day, and I wasn't anywhere near this quality until high school). I especially love the jutting out bare foot, the extra-spiky headdress, the update to include noisy iPod headphones, and the open flame of Liberty's torch on the seat. The artist also displays careful attention to detail -- he even remembered Liberty also carries a book (it's on the seat by the torch). Now, critique. It's sad to see such a young artist with an image of seeing freedom as an American symbol that can be so abused in a Japanese context. Remember, just about anything humanoid could have been posed here taking up too much space, and comically too. However, as rendered, it comes off more as a cheap shot at something foreign...
7 Jan
JDG: Hello Dr. Debito, I wondered if you had chanced upon this article in the JT: Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns | The Japan Times http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/25/national/now-boastful-japan-really-tune-visitors-want-foreign-expert-warns/ It's really interesting, since it was written about a guy who has no connection (AFAIK) to the debate about NJ human rights, and is not a scholar of Japan. However, he has independently reached a conclusion that you yourself have expressed several times on Debito.org; Japanese deciding amongst themselves what NJ want/need/have difficulty with, is a sign of cultural arrogance aimed at controlling NJ. I think this is important external reinforcement of your point of view. It shows that you are not alone and paranoid (as the apologists always try to portray you), but rather shows that in a totally different field of expertise, another observer has witnessed the same phenomena as you. There are many interesting points that he raises, and I agree with him, but the main takeaway from the article is that the concept of 'omotenashi' is being used as a system of control over NJ in Japan (and we know how much the Japanese establishment believes that NJ need to be controlled), whilst at the same time serving a very racist nihonjinrongiron function of reassuring the Japanese themselves that they are unique and superior to NJ.
2 Jan
As is tradition for JBC, it’s time to recap the Top Ten human rights news events affecting non-Japanese (NJ) in Japan last year. In ascending order: 10) WARMONGER SHINTARO ISHIHARA LOSES HIS DIET SEAT This newspaper has talked about Shintaro Ishihara’s unsubtle bigotry (particularly towards Japan’s NJ residents) numerous times (e.g. “If bully Ishihara wants one last stand, bring it on,” JBC, Nov. 6, 2012), while gritting our teeth as he won re-election repeatedly to the National Diet and the Tokyo governorship. However, in a move that can only be put down to hubris, he resigned his gubernatorial bully pulpit in 2012 to shepherd a lunatic-right fringe party into the Diet. But in December he was voted out, drawing the curtain on nearly five decades of political theater... Read the next nine and five bubble-unders below with links to sources:
1 Jan
Table of Contents: 1) DEBITO.ORG ELECTION SPECIAL DECEMBER 2014: A clear LDP victory, normalizing Japan’s Rightward swing 2) Japan Election 2014: “Why taboo?” Grotesque foreigner-bashing cartoon by Hiranuma’s Jisedai Party, features “Taboo Pig” sliced in half over NJ welfare recipients “issue” 3) Grauniad: Police in Japan place anti-Korean extremist group Zaitokukai on watchlist; good news, if enforced 4) Holiday Tangent: Hanif Kureishi on UK’s Enoch Powell: How just one racist-populist politician can color the debate in an entire society 5) Quiet NJ Success Story: Go game master and naturalized citizen Seigen Go dies at age 100 …and finally… 6) My Japan Times JBC Column 82: “Time to Burst your Bubble and Face Reality”, December 4, 2014
25 Dec
As a Holiday Tangent, the Guardian offers an excellent account of life for migrants, immigrants, and citizens of color in a society in flux (Great Britain in the 1970s, as it adjusted to the effects of a post-empire Commonwealth). It depicts well how one racist-populist politician, Enoch Powell, could affect an entire society, and though fear-mongering invective effectively accelerate the othering and subordination of residents. But that was just one person. Imagine the effects of a proliferation of Enoch Powellesque racists and fearmongerers throughout a society, such as the leader of a party (Hiranuma Takeo), the governor of the capital city (like Ishihara Shintaro), or the Prime Minister of an entire country (like Abe Shinzo), or Japan's entire national police force (see here, here, and here in particular). Enoch had his effects, and Kureishi can now look back with some degree of "the past is a foreign country" relief. Japan cannot. Not right now. Kureishi: I was 14 in 1968 and one of the horrors of my teenage years was Enoch Powell. For a mixed-race kid, this stiff ex-colonial zealot – with his obscene, grand guignol talk of whips, blood, excreta, urination and wide-eyed piccaninnies – was a monstrous, scary bogeyman. I remember his name being whispered by my uncles for fear I would overhear. I grew up near Biggin Hill airfield in Kent, in the shadow of the second world war. We walked past bomb sites everyday. My grandmother had been a “fire watcher” and talked about the terror of the nightly Luftwaffe raids. With his stern prophet’s nostalgia, bulging eyes and military moustache, Powell reminded us of Hitler, and the pathology of his increasing number of followers soon became as disquieting as his pronouncements. At school, Powell’s name soon become one terrifying word – Enoch. As well as being an insult, it began to be used with elation. “Enoch will deal with you lot,” and, “Enoch will soon be knocking on your door, pal.” “Knock, knock, it’s Enoch,” people would say as they passed. Neighbours in the London suburbs began to state with some defiance: “Our family is with Enoch.” More skinheads appeared... The influence of Powell, this ghost of the empire, was not negligible; he moved British politics to the right and set the agenda we address today. It’s impossible not to summon his ghost now that immigration is once again the subject of national debate. Politicians attack minorities when they want to impress the public with their toughness as “truth-tellers”. And Powell’s influence extended far. In 1976 – the year before the Clash’s “White Riot” – and eight years after Powell’s major speeches, one of my heroes, Eric Clapton, ordered an audience to vote for Powell to prevent Britain becoming a “black colony”. Clapton said that, “Britain should get the wogs out, get the coons out,” before repeatedly shouting the National Front slogan “Keep Britain White”.
22 Dec
According to the Grauniad (article below), hate group Zaitokukai (which has been part of a group publicly advocating the killing of Japan's generational Korean residents, the Zainichi) has been placed on a National Police Agency "watchlist" as a threat to law and order. That is good news. However, I wonder if it will deter Zaitokukai's bullying activities, where they can verbally abuse, knock down, and even punch (watch the video to the end) an old man who counterdemonstrates against them: Where were the police then? (Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or then? Or within the movie Yasukuni?) As Debito.org has argued before, the Japanese police have a soft touch for extreme-rightists, but take a hard line against extreme(?) leftists. So placing this particular group on a watch list is a good thing. As having laws against violence and threats to law and order is a good thing. Alas, if those laws are not enforced by Japan's boys in blue, that makes little difference. We will have to wait and see whether we'll see a softening of Zaitokukai's rhetoric or Sakurai Makoto's bullying activities. Meanwhile, according to the Mainichi Shinbun at the very bottom, local governments (as opposed to the foot-dragging PM Abe Cabinet) are considering laws against hate speech (well, they're passing motions calling for one, anyway). That's good too, considering that not long ago they were actually passing panicky resolutions against allowing Permanent Residents (particularly those same Zainichi) the right to vote in local elections. Methinks that if the world (e.g., the United Nations) wasn't making an issue of Japan's rising hate speech (what with the approaching 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all), this would probably not be happening. In other words, the evidence suggests that it's less an issue of seeing the Zainichi as fellow residents and human beings deserving equal rights, more an issue of Japan avoiding international embarrassment. I would love to be proven wrong on this, but the former is a much more sustainable push than the latter.
15 Dec
In the Japanese media run-up to this election, there was enough narrative of doomsaying for opponents to PM Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), what with Japan's Left in disarray and Japan's Right ascendant after 2013's electoral rout. The LDP was to "win big by default" in a "landslide victory". The day after the election, we can say that yes, Abe won, but "big" is a bit of a relative term when you look at the numbers... CONCLUSIONS: The Far-Right (Jisedai) suffered most in this election, while the Far-Left (JCP) picked up more protest votes than the Center-Left (DPJ). My read is that disillusioned Japanese voters, if they bothered to vote at all, saw the LDP/KMT as possibly more centrist in contrast to the other far-right parties, and hedged their bets. With the doomsaying media awarding Abe the election well in advance, why would people waste their vote on a losing party unless they felt strongly enough about any non-issue being put up this election? Nevertheless, the result will not be centrist. With this election, Japan's lurch to the Right has been complete enough to become normalized. PM Abe will probably be able to claim a consolidated mandate for his alleged fiscal plans, but in reality his goals prioritize revising Japan's "Peace Constitution" and eroding other firewalls between Japan's "church and state" issues (e.g., Japan's remilitarization, inserting more Shinto/Emperor worship mysticism in Japan's laws, requiring more patriotism and "love of country" in Japan's education curriculum, and reinforcing anything Japan's corporatists and secretive bureaucrats don't want the public to know as "state secrets"). All of this bodes ill for NJ residents of Japan, as even Japanese citizens who have "foreign experiences" are to be treated as suspicious (and disqualified for jobs) in areas that the GOJ deems worthy of secrecy. And as Dr. Jeff Kingston at Temple University in Japan notes, even the guidelines for determining what falls into that category are secret. Nevertheless, it is clear that diversity of opinion, experience, or nationality/ethnicity is not what Japan's planners want for Japan's future.
12 Dec
As everyone in Japan probably knows (as they cover their ears due to the noise), it's election time again, and time for the sound trucks and stump speeches to come out in force until December 14. And with that, sadly, comes the requisite foreigner bashing so prevalent in recent years in Japan's election and policy campaigns (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Here's 2014's version, from "The Party for Future Generations" (Jisedai no Tou; frontman: racist xenophobe Dietmember from Okayama 3-ku Hiranuma Takeo), courtesy Debito.org Reader XY: XY: Today I ran across this election campaign video that isn't as bad as the usual CM fare, but seems to suggest that 8 times as many foreigners as native Japanese are receiving welfare hand-outs. Here's the lyrics (from the video's own description): DEBITO: Debito.org is concerned about this normalization of NJ bashing -- to the point of believing that blaming foreigners for just about anything gains you political capital. Look how this alleged "NJ welfare cheats" issue has become one of Jisedai's four (well, three, actually, since the first issue mentioned is a grumble instead of a substantive claim) planks in their platform. Even though, as we have discussed here earlier, this is a non-issue. Link to CM and screen captures enclosed with analysis.
8 Dec
Yomiuri Obit: Go master Seigen Go, heralded as the strongest professional player in the Showa era, died of old age early Sunday morning at a hospital in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture. He was 100. Go was born in 1914 in Fujian Province, China. His talent at go was recognized at an early age, and in 1928 he came to Japan at the age of 14. Go became a disciple of Kensaku Segoe, a seventh-dan player, and was quickly promoted to third dan the following year. He was granted the ninth dan in 1950 and became a naturalized Japanese citizen in 1979. Submitter JK: IMO there's more going on here than just a typical obituary -- to me, the article is an NJ success story. BTW, it's a shame the article doesn't detail Go's decision to naturalize at 65 instead of earlier (e.g. 1950 when he reached ninth dan). Debito: Quite. We hear all sorts of provincial navel-gazing whenever somebody foreign dominates a "Japanese" sport like sumo (to the point where the Sumo Association has to change to rules to count naturalized Japanese as "foreign", in violation of the Nationality Law). Maybe there was that kind of soul-searching when Go ascended, I don't know (it was two generations ago). But it is a remarkable legacy to leave behind, and I wonder if there are any Go-nerds out there who might give us some more background. Like JK, I think there's a deeper story here.
5 Dec
OPENING: I want to open by saying: Look, I get it. I get why many people (particularly the native speakers of English, who are probably the majority of readers here) come to Japan and stay on. After all, the incentives are so clear at the beginning. Right away, you were bedazzled by all the novelty, the differences, the services, the cleanliness, the safety and relative calm of a society so predicated on order. Maybe even governed by quaint and long-lamented things like “honor” and “duty.” Not that the duties and sacrifices necessary to maintain this order necessarily applied to you as a non-Japanese (NJ). As an honored guest, you were excepted. If you went through the motions at work like everyone else, and clowned around for bonus points (after all, injecting genki into stuffy surroundings often seemed to be expected of you), you got paid enough to make rent plus party hearty (not to mention find many curious groupies to bed, if you happened to be male). Admit it: The majority of you stayed on because you were anesthetized by sex, booze, easy money, and the freedom to live outside both the boxes you were brought up in and the boxes Japanese people slot themselves in. But these incentives are front-loaded. For as a young, genki, even geeky person finding more fun here than anywhere ever, you basked in the flattery. For example, you only needed to say a few words in Japanese to be bathed in praise for your astounding language abilities! People treated you like some kind of celebrity, and you got away with so much. Mind you, this does not last forever. Japan is a land of bubbles, be it the famous economic one that burst back in 1991 and led two generations into disillusionment, or the bubble world that you eventually constructed to delude yourself that you control your life in Japan... Read the rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/12/03/issues/time-burst-bubble-face-reality/
4 Dec
Table of Contents: 1) Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights 2014 on raising public awareness of NJ human rights (full site scanned with analysis: it’s underwhelming business as usual) 2) “Japanese Only” nightclubs “W” in Nagoya and newly-opening “CLUB Leopard” in Hiroshima 3) Japan Procter & Gamble’s racialized laundry detergent ad: “Cinderella and the Nose Ballroom Dance” 4) Mainichi: Thousands of anti-hate speech demonstrators take to Tokyo streets Nov 2, 2014 5) Louis Carlet et al. on the misunderstood July 2014 Supreme Court Ruling denying welfare benefits to NJ: “no rights” does not mean automatic NJ denials 6) University of Hawaii at Manoa Center for Japanese Studies presents, “Japan’s Visible Minorities: Appearance and Prejudice in Japanese Society”, by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito And finally… 7) Japan Times JBC 81, Nov 5 2014, “Does social change in Japan come from the top down or bottom up?”
30 Nov
DEBITO.ORG READER AM: Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question "gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?" [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?] I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese. http://www.moj.go.jp/JINKEN/jinken04_00101.html It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan's push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese. Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002. DEBITO: I would agree. It's much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice's own surveys, NJ aren't as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there's ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It's rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan's debate arenas or awareness campaigns. So now that it's 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments...) I'll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here. Here's the top page: CONCLUSION: Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves. As my friend noted, it's better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat. However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I'd call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science. But that's what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations window-dressed.
26 Nov
Two more places to add to the roster of "Japanese Only" Exclusionary Establishments in Japan, and this time, they are places that Japan's youth frequent: nightclubs (nothing like catching them when they're young and possibly more open-minded...) 1) Nightclub "W" 名古屋市中区栄3-10-13 Wビル 6F&7F TEL 052-242-5705 Contributor SM writes: Last night I was in downtown Nagoya (Sakae) and I saw this sign posted at the entrance of a large dance club called "W." There was a very buff bouncer beside the sign. I approached him and asked if I'd be allowed to go in. He apologized and said no. I asked if it was because of dress code or because I was foreign. (I was in a nice outfit, having gone out for dinner with my husband earlier.) He said it was because I was foreign. I asked why this was a policy. He said it was the rule of management, and he had to enforce it. I took some photos (although he had said no photos allowed.) He didn't try to stop me from taking the photos, we said good night, and went on our way. 2) CLUB Leopard in Hiroshima (opening December 5) 住所 広島市中区流川町7-6 第五白菱ビルB1F TEL 082-569-7777 It also has a pretty impressive website: http://clubleopard.jp, and here is a very impressive number of rules that all patrons must follow, including those NJ who apparenty can't be patrons: "DO NOT ENTER NON-JAPANESE"
20 Nov
Debito.org Reader: Dear Dr. Arudou, Thank you for your continued work raising awareness on issues of race here in Japan. Have you seen this latest ad campaign for Bold detergent, [which retells the Cinderella story with exaggerated noses on their Caucasian characters]? Full video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pjFsvkm7pws Campaign website: http://boldbutoukai.com/ Debito: After ANA airlines got pretty badly stung for its "change the image of Japan" (into a Caucasian Robert Redford lookalike) ad earlier this year, Toshiba got slapped for their racialized home bread maker ad, and McDonald's Japan faced enough pressure that they terminated their "Mr. James" burger campaign early, one wonders whether Japan's advertisers will ever learn their lesson that grounding their product in racialized stereotypes is pretty bad form. Imagine if you will some overseas company marketing an "Asian" product that was so delicious, it made your incisors go all "Asian buck teeth" reaching out to eat it? No doubt Japan's patrol of internet police would soon start howling racism and lobbying the company (and Japan's missions abroad) to send out protests and orders to withdraw the ad campaign. People making fun of Asian "slanted eyes" has been criticized before, and withdrawn with apologies. So what about this? Do you think Procter & Gamble HQ in the US would approve of this?
15 Nov
Good news. With the upswell in hate speech in Japan, particularly against Zainichi Koreans, we have social antibodies kicking in, with public counterdemonstrations on Nov. 2 to say that this behavior is unacceptable. Of course, this is only the second time that the anti-racists have demonstrated, as opposed to the many, many, many times the pro-racism forces have turned out on the streets. But it is a positive step that Debito.org salutes, and I hope that they will take a more proactive (as opposed to reactive) approach to set the public agenda. That agenda should be: punitive criminal laws against hate speech and racial discrimination in Japan. For the lack of legislation in Japan means that the xenophobic elements can essentially do as they please (short of breaking already-established laws involving more generic violence towards others) to normalize hatred in Japan. And they will probably succeed in doing so unless it is illegal. My fear is that opponents of public hatred might think that just counter-demonstrating is sufficient, and if hate speech ever dies down, they'll think problem solved. As the United Nations agrees, it won't be.
12 Nov
Two weeks ago Debito.org wrote on the aftermath of the Supreme Court of Japan's ruling that NJ have "no right" to social welfare (seikatsu hogo) because they are not citizens. I have been hearing rumblings that the media have been misinterpreting this ruling due to linguistics and politics, and that an adjudged no legal right has not resulted in denials. I submit to you the corrections from Tozen Union's Louis Carlet, with a followup from another Debito.org Commenter that are simply too good to languish within comments. Nevertheless, as noted in that earlier Debito.org post, the point remains that there are some very nasty and xenophobic people in Japan's political system who are capitalizing on what people think the Supreme Court said. Which may mean, in this increasingly ultra-rightist political climate, that the effect might ultimately be the same. CARLET: [Japan Times'] Otake’s article is mistaken on two major points. First, the Supreme Court in no way found foreigners ineligible for welfare. Second, the ruling, far from landmark, upheld the status quo. The highest court overturned the High Court’s actual landmark ruling which said that foreigners have “quasi rights” to welfare. Up until then foreigners never had the “guaranteed right” (kenri) to welfare but they were and are eligible just like Japanese citizens. I think the problem is mistranslation. Kenri means a guaranteed right whereas “no right” in English suggests ineligible. The only difference arising from not having the kenri is that if the welfare office rejects an application from a citizen then the Japanese person can appeal the decision to the office. A foreigner with no kenri for welfare cannot appeal at the office but only in court. That is the ONLY difference between how foreigners and Japanese are treated by the welfare office. Foreigners get welfare just like Japanese do. In fact the plaintiff currently gets welfare although originally rejected. OSFISH: The clarification that needs to be repeated over and over again is that “welfare” here does not mean “welfare” in its biggest sense of all social expenditures, such as pensions, health costs, unemployment insurance and so on. It does not mean shakai hoken in any sense at all. Welfare in this limited sense is a means-tested benefit for people who have fallen through the gaps of insurance-based social protection because they cannot contribute, or are not under the umbrella of a contributor. The main recipients are long-term disabled, single mothers (abandoned by their partners) and elderly with inadequate or no pension rights. It is a completely different system to shakai hoken and operates on a different logic of desert and eligibility. Broadly speaking, the same social insurance/social assistance split operates in large parts of the industrialised world. Japan more or less imported its system from Europe. To repeat: welfare here does not mean shakai hoken. Please rest easy, and do NOT consider opting out based on this ruling; it’s got nothing legally or logically to do with shakai hoken. And in any case, welfare is not being taken away. People in dire straits need to know that.[...] [According to this GOJ source] 66% of all recipients are Koreans – almost all probably zainichi SPRs: a group that really stretches the concept of “foreign”, I’m sure you’ll agree. Of those Koreans, and quite disproportionately compared to other groups, around half of the recipients are old people. I would hazard a guess that this is a strong reflection of the economic disenfranchisement of the first post-war generation of zainichi. These are people who were disproportionately not properly or poorly integrated into the economy and welfare system. (For what it’s worth, incomer “foreigners” claim less than their “share”, but this shouldn’t be too surprising or interpreted as anything meaningful, as residence status is attached to visa status, is attached to good evidence of financial stability. Of course there are going to be fewer incomer recipients.) Let’s combine this fact that Koreans make up the bulk of recipients with the far-right party’s suggestion that “foreign” recipients should naturalise or leave. For a westerner claiming social assistance, it would be very hard indeed to naturalise if you could not demonstrate financial stability. It’s pretty much out of the question. However, for zainichi Koreans, that financial stability condition doesn’t apply. The rules for SPR naturalisation are not strict. So it looks to me like an attempt to coerce elderly impoverished zainichi Koreans into giving up their nationality and identity. That’s why this relatively small amount of budget money matters to these thoroughly unpleasant people.
8 Nov
Forgot to put this up: Speaking at University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus November 7, 2014, on my doctoral research.
6 Nov
Opening: This month I would like to take a break from my lecture style of column-writing to pose a question to readers. Seriously, I don’t have an answer to this, so I’d like your opinion: Does fundamental social change generally come from the top down or the bottom up? By top down, I mean that governments and legal systems effect social change by legislating and rule-making. In other words, if leaders want to stop people doing something they consider unsavory, they make it illegal. This may occur with or without popular support, but the prototypical example would be legislating away a bad social habit (say, lax speed limits or unstandardized legal drinking ages) regardless of clear public approval. By bottom up, I mean that social change arises from a critical mass of people putting pressure on their elected officials (and each other) to desist in something socially undesirable. Eventually this also results in new rules and legislation, but the impetus and momentum for change is at the grass-roots level, thanks to clear public support. Either dynamic can work in Japan, of course... (Your thoughts on the question welcome here and at the JT site.)
5 Nov
Table of Contents: THE WEIRD EFFECTS OF JAPAN’S INTERNATIONAL BULLYING 1) From hate speech to witch hunt: Mainichi Editorial: Intimidation of universities employing ex-Asahi reporters intolerable; JINF Sakurai Yoshiko advocates GOJ historical revisionism overseas 2) Georgetown prof Dr. Kevin Doak honored by Sakurai Yoshiko’s JINF group for concept of “civic nationalism” (as opposed to ethnic nationalism) in Japan 3) Fun Facts #19: JT: Supreme Court denying welfare for NJ residents inspires exclusionary policy proposals by fringe politicians; yet the math does not equal the hype 4) Osaka Mayor Hashimoto vs Zaitokukai Sakurai: I say, bully for Hash for standing up to the bully boys 5) Two recent JT columns (domestic & international authors) revealing the damage done by PM Abe to Japan’s int’l image … and finally… 6) Japan Times JBC column 80: “Biased pamphlet bodes ill for left-behind parents”, on MOFA propagandizing re Hague Treaty on Child Abductions
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