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Arudou Debito s Home Page: Issues of Life and Human Rights in Japan
4 Feb
Asahi: Around 42.3 percent of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward “often” or “sometimes” feel discriminated against by Japanese people, particularly during searches for a home, a survey showed. In comparison, 47.2 percent of non-Japanese in the ward said they “never” or “not too often” experience such discrimination, according to the survey by the Shinjuku Ward government. The situation most cited for prejudice or discrimination against foreign residents was “when they were searching for a place to live,” at 51.9 percent, followed by “when they were working,” at 33.2 percent, and “when they were going through procedures at a public agency,” at 25.6 percent. COMMENT: Note that the Asahi is also asking for feedback from NJ readers: "The Asahi Shimbun is also seeking opinions from foreign residents about life in Japanese communities at the AJW website. Please send in your contributions in English to asahi_forum@asahi.com". Please do so. Many of you are already, like it or not, Visible Minorities. Now be Visible Residents.
31 Jan
On Jan. 15, the Osaka Prefectural Assembly passed the first local ordinance against hate speech in Japan. JBC sees this as a step in the right direction. Until now, there was no way to define what “hate speech” was, let alone take any measures against it. Defining a problem is fundamental to finding a solution. Moreover, passing an ordinance makes a general statement to society that the existence of hate speech is not only undeniable but also impermissible. This matters, given Japan’s high tolerance for racist outbursts from public officials, and clear cases of bullying and intimidation that have otherwise been protected under “freedom of speech” (genron no jiyuu). Osaka has made it clearer that there is a limit to what you can say about groups of people in public. However, this still isn’t quite at the stage where Osaka can kvell. There are no criminal or financial penalties for haters. An earlier version of the ordinance offered victims financial assistance to take their case to court, but that was cut to get it passed. Also, an adjudicating committee (shinsa-kai) can basically only “name and shame” haters by warning and publicizing them on a government website — in other words, it can officially frown upon them. Even the act of creating a law against hate speech has invited criticism for opening up potential avenues to policymaker abuse. They have a point: tampering with freedom of speech invites fears, quite reasonably, about slippery slopes to censorship. So let’s address the niggling question right now: Should there ever be limits put on what you can say? JBC argues yes... Read the rest in the Japan Times at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/31/issues/osakas-move-hate-speech-just-first-step/
29 Jan
O'Day: SEALDs is suggesting that students can use some of the freedom that their positioning affords for political engagement, instead of channeling it into more traditional activities like sports clubs and social circles, that tend to dominate students’ leisure time. Yet SEALDs is also proposing something more significant than a reallocation of students’ time—they are also attempting to construct a different kind of political identity among college students. Another SEALDs member explained it this way: "Our movement is not our life; it is a part of our life not our whole life. I went to class yesterday as usual, and we have rappers, people who do music, people who just study, people who are trying to be teachers, we have all kinds of people, and our movement is a part of what we do in our life but not our whole life. If you focus on the movement and movement only, you will become narrow." What this SEALDs member is suggesting is a reconfiguration of what constitutes student political identity. SEALDs is essentially showing other students that it is acceptable to seriously engage political ideas, without become radical, or having to completely devote themselves to the cause. SEALDs is challenging an all-or-nothing orientation to politics that tends to cleave most students into taking either an apolitical stance, or fully committing to a cause that will likely marginalize them. Instead, SEALDs is coming up the middle with a proposition that you can be a regular student, have conventional ambitions, aspire to a middleclass life, and still carve out a piece of yourself that is informed and engaged with political issues. If this proposition is hardly radical, it is currently resonating with a broad spectrum of students.
26 Jan
JT: Opposition to the government’s aggressive push to loosen restrictions on the use of military force is being heard from many corners. The beacon for students opposing the bills has been the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy, or SEALDs. Under the slogan of protecting “freedom, peace and democracy,” these students have loudly voiced their opposition to the government’s push for militarization at protests around the country. SEALDs have put paid to two tired tropes that have been regularly trotted out over the years about Japan’s students: first, that they have no interest in politics, and second, that student social movements here are a thing of the past. Inspired by SEALDs, even high schoolers and mothers who had never before engaged in social activism have taken to the streets to demand that our country commit to never again waging war, and that our youths are never asked to kill those of other countries. Jumping on the bandwagon have been the elderly, under the collective banner of OLDs, and even the middle-aged, or MIDDLEs. This resolute, relentless movement has already begun to have a clear impact on our society. The recent drop in support for the Abe government is at least in part a result of grass-roots movements such as SEALDs. One Liberal Democratic Party member of the Lower House tweeted: “SEALDs members just don’t want to go off to war, i.e., their actions are based on extreme selfishness.” [...] For politicians chomping at the bit to deploy Japan’s forces overseas, SEALDs are apparently quite an irritant. An independent member of the Yukuhashi city assembly in Fukuoka Prefecture also stuck his foot firmly in his mouth when he riffed on a comment by one SEALDs member that “we tremble at the thought of going to war.” Shinya Kotsubo parodied it on his blog on July 26, titling his article “SEALDs members should tremble at the thought that they’ll never get a job.” He explained further, writing, “You are demonstrating now while you’re students, so don’t come crying when no one will hire you later on.”
22 Jan
In a reversal, the Tokyo High Court determined Monday that the government was not responsible for the 2010 death of a Ghanaian alledgedly subjected to excessive force by immigration authorities while being deported. In overturning a lower court’s ruling, presiding Judge Izumi Takizawa said the level of physical force used by officials to restrain Abubakar Awudu Suraj, who was 45 years old at the time of his death, was “not illegal” and even “necessary.” “Immigration authorities’ effort to subdue him was necessary to ensure his deportation would go smoothly,” Takizawa said. “They are not culpable” for his death, the judge concluded. COMMENT: This case has become a farce. The Tokyo High Court has just ruled that nobody is responsible for killing him. In the ultimate blaming of the victim, the judge, named Takizawa Izumi, essentially ruled it all an issue of heart failure. Just an accident. It was even, quote, "necessary." Despite the Japan Times calling his death "brutal" back in 2011. Clearly human life is cheap if it's foreign in a Japanese Gaijin Tank. Once again, NJ in Japan can be killed with impunity (more in "Embedded Racism", Chapter Six).
18 Jan
ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS Demanding Prevention with Handbills Mainichi Shinbun, December 8, 2015 (translation by HJ) Hoping to prevent illegal employment of foreigners and illegal foreign residency, on December 7th the Akabane police department held a flyer-distribution campaign around JR Akabane station, distributing handbills, which urge the proper hiring of foreigners, to restaurant owners and area residents. Other than police officials, city officials and Tokyo immigration bureau officals also participated, for a total of about 20 participants. They also distributed a ‘Foreign Laborers’ Employment Manual,’ created by the city, and introduced the penal regulations for business owners who knowingly employed illegal foreign laborers. A police official stated that in light of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, more foreigners are expected to be visiting Japan, so ‘from here on out we want to regularly urge caution’ [in regards to illegal foreign residency/employment]. ================================== Comment by HJ: What I noticed particularly is the lack of any effort to cite any statistics that might justify this blatantly fear-mongering use of taxpayer money. No citation of illegal foreign employment statistics, or what harm such infractions might meaningfully bring on society, or really any attempt to establish any reason for this “campaign” at all. It’s as if there’s no need at all to demonstrate why this behavior is necessary or what occasioned it in the first place. We want to urge caution about illegal employment practices…because why? They’re on the rise? They cost taxpayers lots of money last year? There’s a lack of procedural knowledge? Where’s the handbilling to remind employers not to abuse their foreign employees? Haven’t we already seen many instances where that factually does occur? Where’s the “regular cautioning” about that? The whole thing is just completely disgusting.
16 Jan
Good news. Japan finally has something on the books that deals with hate speech in Japan, giving it definition and scorn: A local ordinance (jourei) in Osaka. The bad news is that this ordinance does not criminalize or penalize the perpetrator, or give much support to the victim. As Eric Johnston notes below, there are no fines for haters, insufficient help for victims, and little more than an official frowning-at (a "naming and shaming") of people who are probably beyond shame. However, one bright side is that naming and shaming is precisely what Debito.org does to racist exclusionary "Japanese Only" businesses (that is basically all Debito.org can do, of course). The reason why this is a source of brightness is that our naming and shaming has occasioned criticism from apologists for being "un-Japanese" in approach. This ordinance now officially makes the approach Japanized. So there. And given that the last attempt to do something like this, a decade ago, ended in dismal failure (where anti-discrimination legislation in Tottori was passed and then UNpassed), I have the feeling that this time the legislation will stick. It's a step in the right direction, and Debito.org salutes Osaka for finally getting something on the books.
12 Jan
As Debito.org celebrates its 20th Anniversary this year in March, I want to thank Readers for all of their support throughout the decades. The research and archiving done here has helped thousands of people and enabled me to create books, including my recent magnum opus, "Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination" (Lexington Press / Rowman & Littlefield, 2015/2016) This year, and I would like to do something unprecedented: Launch a 20th Anniversary Fundraising Drive. Naturally, there are costs of hosting and safeguarding against online elements who would sooner see Debito.org taken down (they succeeded in doing so once). There are also projects I would like to support if possible, and having funds available under the aegis of Debito.org would be beneficial for supporting this website further. So if over the years you have found the thousands of documents and information sites on Debito.org helpful, please consider giving something back for all the volunteer work. Donations by Paypal accepted. Please remit to debito@me.com at Paypal, and please indicate in a message there whether or not you would like your gift acknowledged on Debito.org (and if so, using what moniker). Thank you all again for reading and supporting Debito.org!
8 Jan
Here's an article that is about a year and a half old, but it's remarkable how much the landscape of the debate on immigration into Japan has not changed since. We have immigration proponent Sakanaka Hidenori (of whom I am a fan: I cite him extensively in book "Embedded Racism", and deal with the arguments below in Ch. 10) meeting with people who are only concerned about money, and arguing that immigration is also important for them to keep their fix. Meanwhile, from a political standpoint, it is clear in the article below that Abe and his power elite aren't really going to budge on the issue either: To them, foreign residents are merely temporary workers, who should come here and contribute but not expect a stake in their investments into this society. Not really news, I guess, but the issue is laid out so nakedly clear here, especially in the last half of the article.: JT: “What are immigrants? The U.S. is a country of immigrants who came from all around the world and formed the (United States). Many people have come to the country and become part of it. We won’t adopt a policy like that,” Abe said on a TV program aired April 20, [2014] “On the other hand, it is definitely true that Japan’s population will keep shrinking and Japan will see a labor shortage in various production fields,” Abe said, adding he will consider easing regulations on issuing three- to five-year visas. “It’s not an immigrant policy. We’d like them to work and raise incomes for a limited period of time, and then return home,” Abe said. Among the core supporters of LDP lawmakers, including Abe himself, are nationalistic voters opposed to welcoming large numbers of unskilled foreign laborers, who are now barred from Japan. They fear that bringing in such people would increase the crime rate and deprive Japanese of job opportunities in the still-sluggish economy. This concern seems to be shared by a majority of Japanese. According to a poll by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun in April, while 74 percent of the 1,512 polled said they believe population decline will hurt Japan’s economy and contribute to its decline, 54 percent said they opposed bringing in more foreigners versus 37 percent who backed the idea.
5 Jan
Table of Contents: GOOD NEWS 1) Asahi: Immigration Bureau inundated with e-mails “snitching on” Korean nationals, suspends program after nearly 12 years of snitching 2) Asahi: Justice Ministry issues first-ever hate speech advisory to Sakurai Makoto, ex-leader of xenophobic Zaitokukai group 3) JT on Japan’s Brave Blossoms rugby team: “Imagining a Japan that thinks beyond blood and binary distinctions” NOT SO GOOD 4) Saitama Pref. Kawaguchi City Assemblyman Noguchi Hiroaki (LDP): “We have more foreigners registered than dogs,” querying about potential NJ tax dodgers 5) JT: Anti-war student organization SEALDs to disband after Upper House poll in 2016 … and finally … 6) The Year in Quotes: “Much jaw-jaw about war-war” (2015 Roundup), Foreign Element column, Dec. 23, 2015
4 Jan
2015 was another year of a few steps forward but many steps back in terms of human rights in Japan. The progressive grass roots consolidated their base and found more of a voice in public, while conservatives at the top pressed on with their agenda of turning the clock back to a past they continue to misrepresent. Here are the top 10 human rights issues of the year as they affected non-Japanese residents: 10) NHK ruling swats ‘flyjin’ myth In November, the Tokyo District Court ordered NHK to pay ¥5.14 million to staffer Emmanuelle Bodin, voiding the public broadcaster’s decision to terminate her contract for fleeing Japan in March 2011. The court stated: “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” and that NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company. This ruling legally reaffirmed the right of employees to flee if they feel the need to protect themselves. So much for the “flyjin” myth and all the opprobrium heaped upon non-Japanese specifically for allegedly deserting their posts... Rest at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2016/01/03/issues/battles-history-media-message-scar-2015/
2 Jan
Happy New Year 2016 to all Debito.org Readers and their families. I wish you all health and happiness as we celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Debito.org this year, and continue onwards to discuss life and human rights in Japan. One very pleasant news that happened at the end of last year was Dr. Jeff Kingston, Director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan, mentioning "Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination" as one of his "Recommended Readings" in The Japan Times. Thank you. That book would not have come about without Debito.org cataloging events and issues in real time over the decades, and a good chunk of that research was done with the assistance of people reading and writing for Debito.org. Thank you all very much for helping me to write my magnum opus. And just to tell you: my publisher has kept me appraised in real time of the sales, and it is selling far better than anticipated (and it's about to be released in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America). I hope you will ask your library to get a copy.
31 Dec
Let's keep the good news coming, on the heels of the suspension of the anti-foreigner government online "snitch sites". Anti-Korean hate group Zaitokukai's activities have been singled out for official frowning-at for some time now, including being put on the National Police Agency watch list, being publicly berated by the Osaka Mayor, and losing big in court--setting a good anti-defamation precedent recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination. Now the "former leader" of Zaitokukai, Sakurai Makoto, has been issued Japan's first ministerial warning that his activities are unlawful and violate human rights. And that individuals (not just groups) are also covered against hate speech. Good. But let's take into account the limitations of this "advisory". One is that it has no legal force (it's basically, again, an official frowning-at). The other is that it can only claim this is unlawful, not illegal, because even after twenty years of signing the UN Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, Japan still has no laws against racial discrimination. And, as noted below, the GOJ declined to pass any laws against hate speech in 2015. Thus, the debate in Japan can only focus on abstract issues of victim reaction such as "dignity" and "personal agony", which are much harder to proactively enforce in a legalistic manner. All the GOJ can do is run on fumes and frown--not actually arrest these extremists for encouraging violence against an entire ethnicity within Japan, or even stop the police for selectively keeping order in favor of the rightists. Asahi: The Justice Ministry for the first time issued a hate speech advisory, warning the former leader of a group against ethnic Koreans on Dec. 22 that its activities are unlawful and violate human rights. The advisory was issued to Makoto Sakurai, former chairman of Zainichi Tokken wo Yurusanai Shimin no Kai (Group of citizens who do not tolerate privileges for ethnic Korean residents in Japan). The group is more commonly known as Zaitokukai, and it has gained international attention for blaring discriminatory and menacing taunts at its street rallies in ethnic Korean neighborhoods. Although the advisory does not carry legal force, the ministry deemed Zaitokukai’s actions to be unlawful. The advisory also recognized individuals as victims of hate speech for the first time.
28 Dec
Asahi: Baffled by a surge of e-mails snitching on resident Koreans as “illegal aliens,” the Immigration Bureau shut down its tipster program on people overstaying their visas and contacted the police for assistance. “This is a highly regrettable situation,” said an official with the bureau’s general affairs division. “Sending e-mails to slander foreigners does not meet the purpose of the system to inform on illegal residents.” The bureau, an arm of the Justice Ministry, said that since May it had received more than three times as many e-mails informing on supposed illegal residents than in fiscal 2014. It attributed the surge to misinformation that spread on the Internet claiming Korean nationals would become illegal aliens as of July 9. The Immigration Bureau adopted the tipster system in 2004 to crack down on people overstaying their visas. It received 460 or so e-mails on a monthly average on the topic last fiscal year. But in May of this year, the figure jumped to 1,821, with 1,562 in June. The number of e-mails received in July through September is still being tallied, but could exceed 10,000, according to the official. Comment: Good news. After the Immigration Bureau instituted this easily-abusable program of "snitch sites", where the general public can anonymously rat on "foreigners" for any reason whatsoever, it has finally been suspended (not abolished) after people really began abusing it. Pity it only took nearly twelve years (it was instituted on February 16, 2004) before Immigration realized it. Yet another example of callous disregard by the bureaucrats towards the very people they are charged to serve.
24 Dec
I love year-end roundups, and this year I was given the privilege of compiling the year in quotes. Fuller version follows with more quotes that didn't make the cut and links to sources: JT: The past year has seen a number of tensions and tugs-of-war, as conservatives promoted past glories and preservation of the status quo while liberals lobbied for unprecedented levels of tolerance. This year’s Community quotes of the year column will break with tradition by not giving a guided tour of the year through quotations, but rather letting the words stand alone as capsule testaments to the zeitgeist. Quotes follow: “I cannot think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions more than ours. In a world of intense international engagements, few visits are truly historic or change the course of a relationship. Your visit, Mr. Prime Minister, is one.” -- Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe’s December trip to India, where agreements were reached on infrastructure investment (including a much-feted high-speed train), nuclear energy cooperation, classified intelligence sharing and military hardware sales to deter China from encroaching upon the Indian Ocean. “Since taking office, I’ve worked to rebalance American foreign policy to ensure that we’re playing a larger and lasting role in the Asia Pacific — a policy grounded in our treaty alliances, including our treaty with Japan. And I’m grateful to Shinzo for his deep commitment to that alliance. He is pursuing a vision of Japan where the Japanese economy is reinvigorated and where Japan makes greater contributions to security and peace in the region and around the world.” -- U.S. President Barack Obama, during a joint press conference marking Abe’s visit to the United States in April, during which he became the first Japanese leader to address both houses of Congress. “If Japan gets attacked, we have to immediately go to their aid. If we get attacked, Japan doesn't have to help us.” -- Donald Trump, U.S. Republican presidential candidate, on the stump.
18 Dec
One important item that Debito.org has been negligent in celebrating is the victories of the Japan "Brave Blossoms" multiethnic rugby team. They did very well, finishing ninth in the world rankings, even unexpectedly beating South Africa in a match, and part of that was claimed as being due to their multiethnic mix. An interesting think-piece (that says much of what Debito.org has been saying for decades, and it's nice to see that others share that view in print) came out in the Japan Times last October. I'll excerpt bits below that are pertinent to the rugby issue. Bear in mind, however, that rugby in Japan has been decried as being TOO foreign in the past, and seen as a reason why Japan was losing (which was why the team was afterwards ethnically cleansed (see Embedded Racism p. 156), albeit clearly temporarily). Then, once Japan wins, those very same characteristics are claimed as the reason why. It would be nice if someday people would just keep analysis on the level of the talents of individual players, but that's pretty far off (what with the beating of nationalistic drums every Olympics). Anyway, Debito.org (belatedly) congratulates the Brave Blossoms on a job well done, and wishes them well in the future. Sport can have a positive effect too on social tolerance. As long as your teams wins, of course. JT: The recent heroics of Japan’s team in the Rugby World Cup — three wins in the group stage, including the historic nail-biting victory over South Africa — pave the way for two potentially positive outcomes: a bright future for rugby on these islands, and, just maybe, a template to discuss identity and belonging in Japan. It was obvious to anyone watching the Brave Blossoms’ games that of the 31 players included in Japan’s squad, some of the players did not appear — how should we put it? — typically Japanese. In fact, 11 players were born outside Japan — the same number, incidentally, as for the Welsh and Scottish teams. Under current rugby union rules, a player can be considered for selection for the national team if, amongst other considerations, they have lived in the country for three consecutive years. But in 2015, how do we define “typically Japanese”? Do we do so through blood, race and ethnicity? Or would we not be better off opening up the field, and, much like the vaunted rugby squad, considering new ideas, while relegating outdated terms and modes of thinking to the sin bin?
14 Dec
JT: A 58-year-old official in the city of Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture, has pointed out that the city’s non-Japanese population is larger than the number of registered dogs. He later withdrew the remark after coming under criticism from other assembly members, according to local media reports. Hiroaki Noguchi, a Liberal Democratic Party assemblyman, made the remark at an assembly session Wednesday when he was asking questions about the number of foreign residents who had failed to pay their taxes, the daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported. After receiving complaints from some assembly members that his remark was inappropriate, Noguchi reportedly apologized, saying he only wanted to illustrate that the number of foreigners living in the city is on the rise. He said he did not mean to discriminate against them, but agreed that the remark was misleading. [...] According to the local daily Saitama Shimbun, Noguchi said Wednesday the number of foreign people in the city is increasing, pointing out that the number of dogs registered at the city is 26,000 while the number of foreign residents totals 27,000. Inagawa told Saitama Shimbun that the remark could be regarded as being discriminatory, adding he believes it is similar to the “Japanese only” banner put up at Saitama Stadium by supporters of Urawa Reds soccer team last year. COMMENT: I suspect a slow news day. These sorts of things usually don't attract this much attention (because they're so normalized in Japan), and implicit suspicions of NJ as people criminally indisposed to taking advantage of the system (unlike those "stereotypical law-abiding Japanese"; yet there are whole movies out there about the art of tax dodging done by Japanese -- it's normalized to the level of parody). I'm also pleased that the comment was retracted (they often are not, especially if the person is very powerful), although I doubt there will be any sanction against this person for implicitly putting NJ residents at the level of dogs. I'm also pleased that there has been a connection made between the "Japanese Only" exclusions at Saitama Stadium and this event (perhaps this is why there was a peg for the issue in the local media) -- although a racist tweet by a Urawa Reds supporter last month resulted in no punishments either. So all-in-all, mixed feelings. This kind of comment cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged because it demonstrates the unconscious dehumanization of NJ by Japan's registry systems (see more on that in my book EMBEDDED RACISM pp. 219-222), where until 2012 animals and fictional characters could be registered as "residents" but not foreign resident taxpayers. And that's before we get to the explicit attribution of tax dodging to NJ. But all that resulted from this case was that the comment was deleted from the records, and all will continue as before, soon forgotten without recorded reprisal against the xenophobe. Meaning there is nothing to preempt some other official saying something as thoughtlessly dehumanizing as this. Clearly, more structural sanction is necessary.
10 Dec
Now here's something I find profoundly disappointing. One bright outcome of Japan's Right-Wing Swing was the reenergizing of the Grassroots Left, with regular public demonstrations promoting anti-racism and tolerance. However, one group that attracted a lot of attention for opposing PM Abe's policies, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs), made an announcement (at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan, no less) last October that their leadership wasn't just stepping down due to graduation from university -- they were disbanding the entire group within a year. That makes the leadership comes off as human-rights hobbyists. There is no need to make what should be a handing over of the reins to the next generation into a public spectacle of disbandment. Alas, they're quitting, and taking the brand name with them. Abe must be grinning in great satisfaction. From eroding Japan's democratic institutions to making investigation of government chicanery illegal to marching Japan back to its martial past (while decimating Japan's Left in formal Japanese politics), Abe is truly winning this fight. He's even got these brave kids running scared.
10 Dec
Table of Contents: WEIRD INCENTIVE SYSTEMS 1) WSJ: PM Abe Shinzo First Non-American to Win Conservative Hudson Institute Award — and other American neocons egging on Japan’s remilitarization 2) 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.” 3) UPDATE: Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour “Japanese Only” registration is sanitized to include NJ residents, but “Japanese Citizenship” remains requirement on actual registration page 4) Mainichi: Miss Universe Japan Ariana Miyamoto spurns ‘half Japanese’ label, seeks end to prejudice. Good, but article in English only, not for Japanese-reading audience. BETTER INCENTIVE SYSTEMS 5) Asahi & Mainichi: “No Hate” “No Racism”, “Refugees Welcome” say protesters at Tokyo anti-discrimination rally. Bravo. 6) JT: Court orders NHK to compensate NJ Anchorwoman who fled Japan during Fukushima crisis for lost salary: So much for “Flyjin” myth. 7) Eleven touristy articles of mine about touring Sapporo, Hokkaido, and environs, published by Netmobius … and finally … 8 ) My Japan Times JBC Col 93: “Tackle embedded racism before it chokes Japan”, summarizing my new book “Embedded Racism”
6 Dec
Here's something else that happened a few weeks ago that warrants mention on Debito.org, if only to show that NJ do sometimes get the justice they seek in Japanese courts (it only took nearly three years). And given the text of the court decision itself, so much for the accusations made about "Flyjin" deserting their posts. Rubbish then, verifiably so now. It was all just bullying, and in this case lying about the record by NHK in court (also known as perjury, but this being both Japan and NHK, nothing will come of it). Japan Times: The Tokyo District Court on [Nov. 16] nullified a decision by NHK to end the contract of a French anchorwoman who temporarily fled Japan during the Fukushima nuclear crisis in March 2011. The ruling also declared that Emmanuelle Bodin’s decision to leave Japan in the face of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear crisis and prioritize her life over work did not represent professional negligence. “Given the circumstances under which the Great East Japan Earthquake and Fukushima No. 1 plant’s nuclear accident took place, it is absolutely impossible to criticize as irresponsible her decision to evacuate abroad to protect her life,” the ruling said. Although lauding those who remained at work with the public broadcaster following the disasters, the court said NHK “cannot contractually obligate people to show such excessive allegiance” to the company.
5 Dec
It's a bit of a busy time for me right now (come to think of it, when is it not?), so let just put up a quick pic of me looking all happy and such for getting my copy of "Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination". It's my first hardcover book published in the United States. How sweet it is. Just wanted to share the joy. Holding your new book in your hand is one of the greatest feelings an author can have. May you all experience the feeling for yourselves someday (if you haven't already).
30 Nov
WSJ: On Sept. 25, [2013,] Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will join an elite group of right-leaning leaders like Ronald Reagan, Henry Kissinger and Dick Cheney, as the recipient of an award from conservative Washington D.C.-based think tank, Hudson Institute. [...] Mr. Abe won’t be the first Japanese politician to speak at a Hudson Institute event, though. In December 2011, Nobuteru Ishihara, then secretary-general of Mr. Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party, also gave a speech, calling for swift nationalization of disputed islands in the East China Sea and deployment of Japanese troops there. The islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China, have been a major source of diplomatic strain between the two countries. [...] Mr. Ishihara’s speech was quickly followed by one at the Heritage Foundation, another conservative U.S. think tank, given by his more famous–and controversial–father, Shintaro Ishihara. At that April 2012 speech, the elder Ishihara, who was then governor of Tokyo, unveiled a plan for the Tokyo government to purchase the disputed islands. Japan’s national government headed off that purchase by nationalizing the islands itself later in the year, sparking massive anti-Japanese protests in China. Hudson Institute Website: At a gala luncheon in New York on September 25, 2013, Hudson presented its annual Herman Kahn Award to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in recognition of his extraordinary career on the world stage—and his vigorous, principled promotion free markets, global security, and democratic ideals. “Japan should not be a weak link in the regional and global security framework where the U.S. plays a leading role,” the Prime Minister said. “Japan is one of the world’s most mature democracies. Thus, we must be a net contributor to the provision of the world’s welfare and security. And we will. Japan will contribute to the peace and stability of the region and the world even more proactively than before.” COMMENT: According to the articles above, less than a year after being returned to power and decimating Japan's Leftists, PM Abe received this award from an American conservative think-tank. It's clear that conservative elements in the hegemon wish Japan to have a leader like Abe honored and in power. I'm not quite sure why. It would be facile to think it's merely because the US wants to maintain bases and a weapons market, or even contain China. No, think tanks like these are also grounded in morals and values that transcend economics and politics (such as, in this case, Abe's alleged dedication to "democratic ideals"). The funny thing is, these people seem to think Abe shares their values. He really doesn't, unless these people are fundamentally positive towards a racialized reorientation of Asia, where Japanese bigots settle old historical scores, pick fights, destabilize the region, and return Asia back on the course of an arms race. I'm probably missing something (again, this isn't quite my field), but I'm aghast at the short-sightedness of American neocons (especially, as noted above, the Heritage Foundation egging on the Ishiharas to purchase the disputed Senkaku rocks and inflame Sino-Japanese tensions). As I was the similar short-sightedness of the Obama Administration honoring Abe years later. In sum, positive overseas recognition like this helps keep Abe's popularity ratings up (and the money to the LDP rolling in, and Japan's right-wing swing swinging, etc.). I don't think they understand what Frankenstein they're creating.
26 Nov
Asahi: “Refugees welcome” was a rallying cry among 2,500 or so Tokyo Democracy March demonstrators who paraded through the capital’s Shinjuku district on Nov. 22 following the recent Paris terror attacks. The crowd, protesting all forms of discrimination, urged Japan to welcome those fleeing danger with some waving a banner displaying the asylum seeker-friendly slogan. [...] Causes on the agenda included the prejudice experienced by ethnic Korean residents in Japan, the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and people with disabilities. The third annual demonstration also focused on asylum seekers amid concerns over anti-refugee sentiment in and outside Japan after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris that left 130 people dead and hundreds injured. [...] The event was first organized in 2013 chiefly as a protest against groups which staged a number of hate speeches targeting the numerous ethnic Korean residents in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo district. The demonstration has so far drawn on various themes, including the display of a discriminatory banner declaring “Japanese Only” at Saitama Stadium during a J.League football match on March 8, 2014. “We participate in this event because of our desire to improve our society,” said a 30-year-old organizer of the protest. COMMENT: This development is a positive one, both in that it happened (as an annual rally, no less), and that it was reported in the news.
22 Nov
It has been a busy past few months. August and September were spent proofing and indexing my new book Embedded Racism. But while doing that, I was working for a group called Netmobius who asked me to do some touristy writeups on Sapporo and environs. Since I've lived in the area for more than two decades and already written three chapters for Fodor's Japan Travel Guides, I was happy to do it. Here are links to the eleven articles and titles I wrote for them: Sapporo New Chitose Airport -- how it's run like airports everywhere should be. Transportation from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo Hokkaido Shinkansen – Traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo (or at least Hakodate by March 2016) History of Sapporo Station -- From Meiji to the Present Sapporo Station Layout and Facilities Shopping Near Sapporo Station (Paseo, Stellar Place, APIA, ESTA, Daimaru, Tokyu) Sightseeing near Sapporo Station (Odori Park, Sapporo Chikagai, Akarenga, Hokkaido University, Tanukikoji, Sapporo Clock Tower) Prominent Hotels Near Sapporo Station (JR Tower Nikko, Century Royal Hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel, Sapporo Grand Hotel, Hotel Monterey) Getting Around Sapporo: Sapporo Subway Namboku, Tozai and Toho Lines Getting Out and About: JR Hakodate Main Line for Otaru, Niseko, Hakodate, and Asahikawa Getting Off the Beaten Track: JR Hokkaido Train Lines Accessible from Sapporo (Asahikawa/Furano, Obihiro/Kushiro) You see, there is plenty to like about Japan, and I can switch off the critical tone when I want to.
18 Nov
Mainichi: As Japan's internationalization continues, the country's representatives in competitions abroad are also becoming increasingly diverse. The 31-man roster of the national rugby team that so electrified Japan in the recent Rugby World Cup, for example, boasted no less than 10 players born outside the country. And then there is Ariana Miyamoto, who this year became the first mixed-race woman to be crowned Miss Universe Japan. "There are foreigner athletes representing Japan, and then there's also me," Miyamoto, 21, told the Mainichi Shimbun in a recent interview. "I think Japanese society has changed a bit, but it still has a ways to go." Miyamoto, the daughter of an African American father and Japanese mother, is set to represent Japan in the annual Miss Universe pageant on Dec. 20 this year. Though she has become a positive symbol of Japan's internationalization, when she was selected to represent Japan in the pageant, she was also the target of many Internet attacks that she "doesn't look Japanese." […] "I want to end racial prejudice," said Miyamoto, adding that this was her reason for auditioning to represent Japan at the Miss Universe pageant. […] Meanwhile, the Japanese sports world is also looking more diverse, with Japan-born athletes like high school sprinter Abdul Hakim Sani Brown and baseball player (and recent Nippon Professional Baseball draftee) Louis Okoye making their mark. "I don't want to be summed up with the word 'haafu' (half)," said Miyamoto, referring to the Japanese colloquial term for those with one foreign parent. "It's the same as saying they're not really Japanese," she went on, and expressed hope that the presence of mixed race Japanese people like herself will eventually be considered completely natural. COMMENT: I am increasingly impressed by the resilience of Ms. Miyamoto in keeping her message on track. Bravo. However, the Japanese media is making sure her message of tolerance and inclusiveness is being contained and rendered ineffectual. This article in English, for example, was not featured as a Japanese article, for a Japanese-reading audience. Which, naturally, is the audience that most needs to hear it and be convinced by it. Here is a screen capture of web search engine for the Mainichi in Japanese, where the article does not exist. Keep at it, Ms. Miyamoto, and someday your message may even get through the editors of Japan's most liberal daily national newspaper.
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