Arudou Debito s Home Page: Issues of Life and Human Rights in Japan
Post-passage of State Secrets Bill, watch as Abe further dismantles Japan’s postwar anti-fascism safeguards
My conclusions first: If you really want to "look on the bright side" of recent events, we could say "we live in interesting times". Given the normally glacial pace of reforms in Japan, the Abe Administration is proceeding with incredible speed -- which he can do, given LDP control over both houses of Parliament. It's a pity that things are heading in the Rightist direction, dismantling the Postwar order of governance and the safeguards against Prewar fascism faster than the public or media can keep up. As discussed here before Debito.org got tackled, both inside and outside observers (including the UN) were alarmed at the contents of the State Secrets Protection Law (himitsu hogo hou), the one that leaves vague what a "government secret" is exactly (for better public non-transparency), and offers criminal penalties of up to ten years' incarceration for violators, including journalists. The tone of this law is pretty clear: Anyone who gets in the way (and according to LDP Secretary General and defense policy wonk Ishiba Shigeru, "noisy" protestors will be labeled "terrorists"; I'm waiting for Ishiba to say the same thing about the perennially noisy, intimidating, and sometimes violent right-wing sound trucks) with be dealt with accordingly. Debito.org said that the protests in any case were too little, too late, and it would make no difference. It didn't (except in Abe's approval ratings, which dipped below 50% for the first time for this administration; never mind -- a few more saber rattlings with the Chinese bogeyman will remedy that), and the bill was rammed through both the Lower and Upper Houses and is now law. SITYS. This after, as also noted on Debito.org previously, Abe's Gaijin Handlers were sent off on a mission to placate the one country that might get them to avert this course: The United States. Top Abe advisor Kitaoka Shin'ichi recently visited Hawaii and points mainland to sell Japan's remilitarization as a means to help America's security exploits abroad, saying it would be possible by a mere circumvention of the Constitution by reinterpretation. Who needs to go through that laborious process of actual Constitutional revision when you can just ignore it? And it seems the Americans have signed off on it. And on Japan's new protection measures of "state secrets". And on a creation of a National Security Council that reports to Abe, modeled on the USG's NSC, so who could object? Checkmate. Look, some people might be surprised by all this, but I'm not. Debito.org saw this coming more than ten years ago, and watched it play out since 2000 as innate fears of outsiders in general were made into public policy seeing foreigners as criminals, then terrorists etc. Now. it's Chinese foreigners in specific (what with the two-plus "Lost Decades" of stagnant to negative growth causing Japan to be eclipsed by China as the largest economy in the region). I've charted the arc of this public debate here in a paper for Japan Focus, showing how officially-sponsored xenophobia was used to undermine, then decimate, Japan's Left. And with no opposition Left, there's nothing to stop a dedicated silver-spoon elite like Abe, who has known no war (and accepts no responsibility for Japan's historical role in it), for swinging the pendulum the furthest Right it has been in the Postwar Era. Provided his health holds up, he's got three years to do it. Just watch him do it as quickly as possible.
It's good to be back after nearly two weeks of being down after being hacked. Just a brief paragraph recap of what happened for those who are interested: On November 29, I tried to log in but found that my password wouldn't work. I got in touch with my provider but they were slow in answering, and after being bounced between a couple of helpful and unhelpful techies, I got signed up for a cleaning-out service. This took some time, as Debito.org after nearly two decades of service has accumulated around 16 GBs of data. But once that was cleaned out, I still had trouble logging in. So I had to manually update themes and change passwords here and there, only to find out that the only password that would now work to avail me of this dashboard was the old one (I've now gotten in and changed it officially via the blog dashboard). So here we are, back, as of this morning, ready to resume discussion. Meanwhile, the question remains, who hacked Debito.org and why? Several techies wrote to me saying that Wordpress is particularly vulnerable to hacks and spiders that implant viruses with delayed infection times. I don't doubt that, but hours after Debito.org was taken offline, I got this weird message (see full blog post): In response, we've signed up for a program offering constant security scans and cleaning, and although that increases maintenance costs, we've gotten donations (and lots of free advice, thanks for both!) from very kind people out there. Much obliged. If you like what you see and want to keep Debito.org up and hack-free, please consider contributing a little something by Paypal (click here).
DVB News: Japan’s lack of transparency threatens Burma’s development (as PM Abe seeks to contain China)
A bit of a tangent today. The author of this article asked me for some input some months back, and I steered him towards some resources that talked about Japan's historical involvement with Burma (and deep ties between the ruling junta and Japan's WWII government -- to the point of using the Imperial Army's public order maintenance style over its colonies as a template to repress domestic dissent). Even with recent changes in Burma's government, Japan's engagement style is reportedly not changing -- it's still up to its old nontransparent policymaking tricks. I put up this article on Debito.org because it relates to the Abe Administration's perpetual use of China not only as a bugbear to stir up nationalism and remilitarization, but also something to encircle and contain, as Abe visits more Asian countries in his first year in office than any other PM (without, notably, visiting China). Nothing quite like getting Japan's neighbors to forget Japan's wartime past (and, more importantly, Japan's treatment of them as a colonizer and invader) than by offering them swagbags of largesse mixed with a message of seeing China instead as the actual threat to regional stability. Result: Who will agitate for the offsetting of Japan's historical amnesia if the descendants of their victims (or their governments, lapping up the largesse) will not? These are the "arrows" Abe is quietly loosing, and this time outside Japan in support of his revisionism. DVB News: Japan’s traditional approach to diplomacy – characterised by “quiet dialogue” – is becoming a threat to Burma’s fragile reform process. In recent weeks, the Japanese government has demonstrated an alarming lack of transparency regarding both its role in Burma’s peace process and land grabbing problems at Thilawa, Japan’s flagship development project near Rangoon. Eleven News also reported on Tuesday that a Burmese parliament member demanded greater transparency about how Japanese financial aid is distributed to Burma’s health sector...
UN News: “Independent UN experts seriously concerned about Japan’s Special Secrets Bill” Fine, but too late.
UN News: Two independent United Nations human rights experts today expressed serious concern about a Government-sponsored draft bill in Japan that would decide what constitutes a State secret. The Special Rapporteurs on freedom of expression and on the right to health requested further information from the Japanese authorities on the draft law and voiced their concerns regarding its compliance with human rights standards... “Transparency is a core requirement for democratic governance,” said the Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue. "The draft bill not only appears to establish very broad and vague grounds for secrecy but also include serious threats to whistle-blowers and even journalists reporting on secrets.” According to reports, information related to defence, diplomacy, counter-intelligence and counter-terrorism will all be classified as a state secret, while ministers could decide what information to keep from the public. COMMENT: The snowball is rolling and a version of this legislation, even if "watered down" (or perhaps not), will probably be rammed through into law, since both houses of Parliament are in the hands of ultraconservative parties without a viable opposition party anymore. Why wasn't this seen coming down the pike in the first place before it got to this stage? The warning signs were all there from last December's election (before that, even, if you read PM Abe's manifestoes about his "beautiful country") about Japan's rightward swing. This consolidation of information control has always been part and parcel of state control -- no surprises, especially in Japan. So this public reaction of both naiatsu and gaiatsu is too little, too late. Get ready for the politicized criminalization of public disclosure.
It is getting more difficult for the "Japan is not shifting hard right" claimers out there to continue arguing as such. Consider the emerging evidence of xenophobia-fed nationalism spreading nationwide, according to scholars of the Internet. Their research as it appeared in the Asahi follows. The more these people howl in public, the more likely their invective will be normalized as a tone of public expression. Legislation against hate speech must be carefully considered, created, and passed ASAP -- it must not just be left up to the courts to restrain (as expressions of racial discrimination and exclusionism already are). However, I don't see much chance of legislation happening under the Abe Administration, for these bigots are in fact his base of support. Asahi: Hate rallies mostly targeted at ethnic Koreans living in Japan have spread beyond Tokyo and Osaka to smaller regional cities over the past six months or so. A group of scholars who analyzed Internet postings by organizations behind this disturbing phenomenon found that between March and August there were at least 161 instances of street marches or vehicles mounted with loudspeakers blasting hate-filled slogans. The group, called "Kodo hoshu (active conservatives) archive project," includes Kei Nakazawa, a professor of literature at Tokyo's Hosei University, as well as sociologists in the Kansai region. It found that March had the most instances of protests with 35. July had the least with 14. The average number of participants was 43, although in some protests in Tokyo's Shin-Okubo district, which boasts a sizable Koreatown, as many as 200 protesters took part. In addition to Tokyo and Osaka, protests were also held in Hokkaido as well as Aomori, Yamagata, Gunma, Chiba, Aichi, Shizuoka, Nara, Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Oita prefectures. The hate speech-filled protests picked up pace in January. In June, police made a number of arrests after a clash between protesters and those opposed to such behavior. Subsequently, protests in major urban areas became temporarily less popular. However, protests in smaller regional cities have continued. The protests go beyond those organized by Zaitokukai...
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 69, Nov 7 2013: “Japan brings out big guns to sell remilitarization in U.S.” about PM Abe’s charm offensive thr...
Last month in Hawaii I attended a speech titled “Japan’s new National Security Strategy in the Making” by a Dr. Shinichi Kitaoka. A scholar and university president, Dr. Kitaoka is deputy chairman of the “Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security” within the Shinzo Abe administration. I sat in because I wanted to see how a representative of Japan’s government would explain away Abe’s militaristic views to an American audience. Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He was smooth. In impeccable English, to a packed room including numerous members of Hawaii’s military brass, he sold a vision of a remilitarizing Japan without a return to a prewar militarized Japan. (You can see the entire speech at http://www.vimeo.com/77183187.) He laid out how Japan would get around its ban on having a military beyond a “self-defense force,” i.e., one that could project power beyond its borders. It would be the same way Japan got around its constitutional ban on having any standing military at all: Japan would once again reinterpret the wording of the Constitution. His logic: If Japan has a sovereign right to “individual self-defense” (i.e., the right to attack back if attacked), it also has an inherent sovereign right to “collective self-defense” (i.e., the right to support Japan’s allies if they are attacked). A reinterpretation must happen because, inconveniently, it is too difficult to reform the Constitution itself. That legal legerdemain to undermine a national constitution should have raised eyebrows. But…
Restoration Party Shinpuu’s xenophobic candidate in Tokyo Katsushika-ku elections: “Putting Japanese first before foreigners”
As Tokyo is having some elections (or by this time of blogging, had; sorry), I thought it within the role of Debito.org to archive yet another example of xenophobia used as a campaign strategy. Xenophobic party Ishin Seitou Shinpuu (Restoration Party New Wind) is up to its old anti-foreigner tricks again. This time, front and center, is a candidate for Tokyo Katsushika-ku by the name of Kaneko Yoshiharu, a former employee of Ishikawa Prefecture and former town councilor for O-i Chou in Kanagawa Prefecture, clearly skipping to the other side of Tokyo to rent an apartment and rally up a few fellow fearmongerers. His slogan, front and center: "More than foreigners, Japanese are first!" (Gakokujin yori nihonjin ga daiichi!). He's also calling for limits to foreign products being "dumped" (i.e., being sold overseas for lower than production cost or domestic pricing in order to capture market share -- which is kinda rich to say given Japan's trade record) and for a hardening of policy against Japan's low birthrate (sorry, potential pun acknowledged). He also wants (see below within his public statement) an end to "superfluous (kajou na) support for foreigners", whatever that means. In case you're wondering whether anyone would have the courage to put this up on campaign poster walls (or wonder whether Japan's election laws would allow for such divisive language), he does and they do. If you want to know more about what Kaneko wants done, have a look at this. Keep an eye on this party, folks (http://www.shimpu.jpn.org). It's the most brazen, but by no means the only xenophobic party of grumpy old Japanese men out there who want to jerk Japan's political chain hard right. It helps to have somebody extremely hard-line so that other hardliners (such as Ishihara/Hashimoto's Japan Restoration Party -- without the New Wind) look milder by comparison. Helps to normalize the invective.
Table of Contents: GOOD NEWS 1) Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial discrimination 2) Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009 3) Tokyo Metro Govt issues manual for J employers hiring NJ employees: Lose the “Staring Big Brother” stickers, please! 4) Japan Times Community Pages expanding from two-page Tuesdays to four days a week BAD NEWS 5) AFP: Asylum-seeker dies after collapsing at J detention center while doctor at lunch 6) Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize MIDDLING NEWS 7) Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price. 8 ) TheDiplomat.com: “In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?”, on the debate about Japan’s increasing diversity … and finally … 9) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
Tokyo Metro Govt issues manual for J employers hiring NJ employees: Lose the “Staring Big Brother” stickers, please!
Debito.org Reader JF found this sticker up in Ikebukuro a few weeks ago. Issued by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Youth and Safety Policy Division, it says that the employer of this establishment will not hire illegal foreign workers. The slogan above says, "Office declaring its promotion of the proper employment of foreigners", complete with The Staring Eyes of Big Brother that probe all souls for criminal intent, sorta thing. Like this one snapped in Tamagawa last September: JF comments: "I sort of see what they are trying to say with it, but I still think this sticker is bad style and puts all of us in a bad light. Suggesting yet again that many foreigners work illegally, while the actual percentage is probably tiny." It is, the number of so-called "illegal foreigners" long since peaking in 1993 and continuing to drop, despite police propaganda notices claiming the contrary (see for example here and here). JF did a bit more searching about the origin of the stickers, and discovered a downloadable manual directed at employers about how to hire foreign workers legally. Here's the cover. Entitled "Gaikokujin Roudousha Koyou Manyuaru" (Hiring Manual for Foreign Workers), you can download it from Debito.org at http://www.debito.org/TokyotoGaikokujinHiringManual2013.pdf. Synopsis of the Manual follows...
Here's another long-standing issue within Japan's criminal justice system -- the two-tiered system of incarceration for foreigners only. When one is being detained for a violation of Japan's criminal code, you have prison for those convicted and the daiyou kangoku interrogation centers for those awaiting conviction (and almost everyone (95%) who is indicted under this system confesses to a crime, thanks to the unsupervised and harsh interrogation techniques). Almost everyone who confesses to a crime (the most-cited figure is >99%) gets convicted and probably goes to prison. But then there are the detention centers for foreigners with visa issues who can be incarcerated indefinitely. This is unlike Japan's prison system where 1) there are international standards for incarceration, and 2) there is a maximum limit -- as in a prison sentence -- to the duration for inmates. Not so Japan's foreigners. And not so, as you can see below, Japan's asylum seekers, where yet another NJ has died in custody due to, the article notes below, lax oversight over the health of their detainees. I bring this up because this case will no doubt soon be forgotten. Like the other issues of violence, unsanitary food leading to hunger strikes and suicides, Immigration brutality leading to an uncharged murder of a detainee, and more. No wonder some people would prefer an overseas refugee camp than come to Japan to languish and perhaps die in a Gaijin Tank. Best to archive it here as yet another brick in the wall. AFP: An asylum-seeker collapsed and died after staff at a Japanese immigration center failed to call for a medic, allegedly because the doctor was having lunch, a pressure group said Thursday. Anwar Hussin, a member of Myanmar’s Rohingya ethnic group, fell ill shortly after he was detained on Oct 9, according to People’s Forum on Burma, a Japan-based NGO headed by a Japanese lawyer. Citing the 57-year-old’s cousin, the group said Hussin had been complaining of a headache all morning and fell unconscious as he began eating lunch in his cell. Fellow detainees—seven people of different nationalities—called for help because he was vomiting and having spasms, the NGO said. Detention center staff rejected their requests that a doctor be called, saying Hussin was just “having a seizure” and that the duty medic was on his lunch break, the group said, citing detainees who had spoken to the dead man’s cousin. A doctor was summoned 51 minutes after Hussin’s collapse, according to a timeline given to his cousin by the center. Staff made an emergency call four minutes after the doctor’s arrival and 55 minutes after being made aware of the problem, the timeline showed. Hussin died in hospital on Oct 14, it said.
Donald Keene Center opens in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture. His life and library can be seen, for a price.
Donald Keene, currently aged 91, had his Donald Keene Center opened up on September 21, in order to transmit "the excellence of Japanese literature" (watashi wa ninon bungaku no subarashisa o tsutaetai). This is an important event, as it counts as an established NJ legacy on the scale of Edwin Dun and of course Lafcadio Hearn/Koizumi Yakumo. Now, where Debito.org has taken issue with Keene is with not with his scholarship or contributions to the field of Japanese studies (indeed admirable), but with his naturalization while publicly denigrating NJ. As chronicled here and in the Japan Times, he himself made a big fuss about how he was becoming a Japanese citizen for selfless reasons, e.g., to "become one of them", to show "solidarity with the Japanese people" in their time of great need, so that he might help victims of the Tohoku Disasters in some way. Fine. But he also threw in all sorts of irrelevancies and nastiness, such as making himself out to be morally superior to other NJ residents (contrasting himself with those allegedly fleeing Japan like the mythical "Flyjin", mentioning how he wasn't committing crimes like they were -- despite actual NJ crime trends). It was a poor show of social science by a trained researcher. If he's going to be mean, then he's going to have his record scrutinized like everyone else. So, despite his promises to "contribute to areas affected by the [Tohoku] disaster", by now what has he done? Put his Donald Keene Center in Tohoku to attract tourists? Sorry, Kashiwazaki is quite far away from the disaster areas, and the Donald Keene Center website doesn't even mention the events in Tohoku as any form of motivation. Visited Tohoku like other NJ to help out with relief efforts? Well, according to Wikipedia, he gave a speech in Sendai; thanks, but... Or opening up his library for free to the public? No, sorry, that's not how business is done:
Come back Brazilian Nikkei, all is forgiven!, in a policy U-turn after GOJ Repatriation Bribes of 2009
In an apparent policy U-turn, the GOJ decided last week to lift the ban on certain South Americans of Japanese descent (Nikkei) from re-entering Japan. This after bribing them to leave in 2009 so that they would not become an inconvenient unemployment statistic (not to mention that it was cheaper to pay their airfare than to pay them their social welfare that they had invested in over the decades, or pay them their pensions in future when reaching retirement age). The reasons for this U-turn are being discussed in a recent Japan Times article, excerpted below. The article speculates that a couple of embarrassing lawsuits and visa-denials might have tipped the GOJ's hand (I for one doubt it; Japan's visa regimes, as can be seen for example in its perennial stance towards refugees, are generally impervious to public exposure and international pressure). I believe it was more an issue of the GOJ facing reality (as happened more than one year ago at the highest policymaking levels, where even the GOJ still maintained the stance that if immigration was an inevitability, they had better bring back people with Japanese blood; after all, the only ones in attendance were all Wajin and one token Nikkei). Debito.org has spoken out quite hot-tonguedly about how ludicrous the Nikkei Repatriation Bribe was, not the least because of its inherently racialized paradigms (because they only applied to Nikkei -- people who were also in even more dire financial straits due to the economic downturn, such as the Chinese and Muslim factory workers laboring in conditions of indentured servitude, were left to fend for themselves because they lacked the requisite Japanese blood). So as a matter of course Debito.org cheers for the lifting of the ban. But the Bribe and the Ban should never have happened in the first place. So the GOJ can also take its lumps even if they are ultimately making the right decision. Does this mean that the numbers of registered NJ residents of Japan will start to increase again? I will say it could happen. I stress: could, not will happen. But if it did, that statistic, not any asset bubbles and transient stock-market numbers that people keep championing as the putative fruits of "Abenomics", will be the real indicator of Japan's recovery. That is to say, if Japan ever regains its sheen as an attractive place to work for international labor, then an increase in Japan's NJ population will cause and signal a true leavening of Japan's economic clout and prowess. But I remain skeptical at this juncture -- as I've said before, the jig is up, and outsiders generally know that Japan has no intention or enforceable laws to treat immigrants as equals, no matter how much of their lives and taxes they invest. At this time, I believe international migrant labor will continue to vote with their feet and work elsewhere. So good luck with significant numbers coming to Japan even with this ban lifted.
Good news. With an imminent tie-up between The Japan Times and The New York Times, the Community Pages (which I have written for since 2002) will expand from its present two pages on Tuesday to four days a week. The JT explains in more detail below. Proud to be part of this writing crew. We are the only English-language newspaper that is covering issues in this degree of depth in ways that matter to the English-reading NJ communities, and now we're getting even more space. Bravo. Thank you to everyone for reading and encouraging this to happen. -- Arudou Debito, JUST BE CAUSE Columnist, The Japan Times
Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, Chair of Council on Security and Defense Capabilities, speaks at UH EWC Oct 11, 2013 on Japan’s need to remilitarize
Yesterday I attended a speech by Dr. Kitaoka Shinichi, President of the International University of Japan in Niigata, and currently the Deputy Chairman of the Advisory Panel on Reconstruction of the Legal Basis for Security for PM Abe. I attended because I wanted to see what was making one of PM Abe's leading advisors tick. Dr. Kitaoka did not disappoint. He spoke in excellent English, and came off as a very articulate, passionate, and fluent advocate of his cause, which is essentially to make Japan strong enough militarily to deter China. He did not feel a need to be restrained by a diplomat's training, calling various schools of thought "totally wrong" and "stupid", nor an academic's subtlety that should come with a doctorate, where he said with firm certainty at various stages that "no Japanese" wants things like expansion of Japan's borders (he also called Koreans an "emotional people"). Almost all of the geopolitical problems he referred to in his talk were traced back to China, and he made a strong, reasoned plea for Japan's inherent sovereign right for collective self defense in order to "contribute to peace and stability" by being empowered to assist Japan's friends and allies (particularly, naturally, the Americans). Dr. Kitaoka was very smooth. He pushed all the right rhetorical buttons with an American audience (this one at the EWC quite full of American military brass; as you can hear in the speech, the audience was quite emotive), contrasting rich, democratic, non-nuclear, and "peace-loving" Japan with richening, undemocratic, nuclear and unfree China, which is increasing its defense budget every year and seeking territorial expansion (he even mentioned China's dealings in Africa in that context). He also smoothed feathers to head off the "Genie in the Bottle" argument (which is one image the US military uses to justify its continued presence in Japan -- to stop Japan from remilitarizing) by pointing out five conditions why today's Japan is different. (See them well elaborated in his Yomiuri article scanned below.) So to this end, Japan would need its first National Security Council, which would hopefully be established by November 2013.
Kyoto District Court orders anti-Korean Zaitokukai to pay damages in first J court decision recognizing hate speech as an illegal form of racial di...
Good news from the Japanese judiciary. A lower court in Kyoto has finally ruled for the first time that a) hate speech exists in Japan, b) it is an illegal activity, subject to restriction, sanction, and penalty, and c) it is covered under international treaty (since Japan has no law against hate speech) such as the UN CERD. That is a hat trick in terms of jurisprudence (on par with the Ana Bortz Case and the Otaru Onsens Case, although they were arguably more about issues of business and access to services than abstract concepts like freedom of speech). Let's hope a higher court does not overturn this. But I think the zealous bigots at Zaitokukai are realizing they've gone too far and set a spoiler precedent. About time -- when their followers advocate murder and massacre of an ethnic minority, I think that's when even timorous Japanese judges, who are sensitive to media attention, have to draw a line somewhere. Here's where it was drawn. Articles from the Mainichi/Kyodo and Japan Times follow: Mainichi: The Kyoto District Court ordered anti-Korean activists Monday to pay damages for disrupting classes at a Korean school by staging a demonstration during which they directed hate speech at the ethnic Korean community in Japan, banning them from staging further demonstrations. It is the first court decision in connection with hate speech, which fans discrimination and hatred toward a certain race or minority, lawyers for the school said.
TheDiplomat.com: “In Japan, Will Hafu Ever Be Considered Whole?”, on the debate about Japan’s increasing diversity
I was contacted recently for a few quotes on this subject (an important debate, given the increasing diversity within the Japanese citizenry thanks to international marriage), and I put the reporter in touch with others with more authoritative voices on the subject. I will excerpt the article below. What do you think, especially those readers who have Japanese children or are "half Japanese" themselves? TheDiplomat.com: By the year 2050, 40 percent of the Japanese population will be age 65 or older. With Japanese couples having fewer children than ever before, Japan is facing a population decline of epic proportions. However, one demographic continues to grow: Japanese and non-Japanese mixed-race couples. But in one of the world’s most homogeneousous countries, is Japan ready to accept their offspring? Biracial Japanese nationals like Takagi are an increasingly common sight in Japan. The latest statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare indicate that one out of every 50 babies born in 2012 had one non-Japanese parent. Additionally, 3.5 percent of all domestic marriages performed last year were between Japanese and foreigners. To put those numbers into perspective, the earliest reliable census data that includes both mixed race births and marriages shows that fewer than one out of 150 babies born in 1987 were biracial and only 2.1 percent of marriages that year were between Japanese and non-Japanese. Takagi is one of a growing number of hafu – or half Japanese – who have grown up between two cultures. The term itself, which is derived from the English word “half,” is divisive in Japan. Hafu is the most commonly used word for describing people who are of mixed Japanese and non-Japanese ethnicity. The word is so pervasive that even nontraditional-looking Japanese may be asked if they are hafu.
Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013: “Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan’s resurgent right”
Blame news cycles, but I’m coming in late to the discussion on Tokyo’s successful bid for the 2020 Olympics. Sorry. The most poignant stuff has already been said, but I would add these thoughts. Probably unsurprisingly, I was not a supporter of Tokyo’s candidacy. Part of it is because I have a hard time enjoying events where individuals are reduced to national representatives, saddled with the pressure to prove an apparent geopolitical superiority through gold medal tallies. Guess I’m just grouchy about international sports. That said, this time around, the wheeling and dealing at the International Olympic Committee has been particularly distasteful. Unlike the IOC, I can’t forget Tokyo Gov. Naoki Inose’s denigration of fellow candidate city Istanbul for being “Islamic” (conveniently playing on widespread Western fears of a religion and linking it to social instability). This was especially ironic given rising xenophobia in Japan, where attendees at right-wing rallies have even called for the killing of ethnic Koreans who have lived in and contributed to Japan for generations. Nor can I pretend to ignore the risk of exposing people to an ongoing nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima. Even if you think the science is still unclear on the health effects of radiation in Tohoku, what’s not in doubt is that there will be incredible amounts of pork sunk into white-elephant projects in Japan’s metropole while thousands of people still languish in northern Japan, homeless and dispossessed. When so much work is incomplete elsewhere, this is neither the time nor place for bread and circuses. All of this has been said elsewhere, and more eloquently. But for JBC, the most important reason why the Olympics should not come to Japan is because, as I have argued before, Japan as a government or society is not mature enough to handle huge international events...
Table of Contents: TOKYO GETS 2020 OLYMPICS 1) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 68 Oct 1 2013 (yes, today) on what I think about that: "Triumph of Tokyo Olympic bid sends wrong signal to Japan's resurgent right" (excerpt and link to article) 2) Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos 3) Zakzak: Counterdemos against hate speech in Japan, now supported by Olympic fever … and finally… 4) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 67 Sept 10 2013 “If you’re jozu and you know it, hold your ground”
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013 Guest Speaker: Arudou Debito: What is "Racism?" Rather like art or intelligence, everyone believes that they know what racism is, but many of us would have difficulty actually defining the concept. Based on his long experience campaigning for human rights and anti-racist legislation in Japan, and on the research for his recently-completed PhD thesis, Arudou Debito, a naturalised Japanese citizen, will introduce a definition of racism that is not based solely on biology. Join us for what is certain to be a stimulating presentation and discussion. Nishi Azabu / Roppongi Participation fee: 500 yen Sponsored by Amnesty International Tokyo English Network (AITEN)
Here's some good news. Finding a silver lining in Japan's successful Olympics 2020 bid, here's Zakzak reporting that Olympic fever has seized the groups protesting against the anti-Korean demonstrations happening in Tokyo: They are blocking demonstrations and not wanting them to spoil Tokyo's Olympics. Well, very good. Should think that as the time draws nearer the xenophobic elements within Japan's ruling elites will be leaning on the rabid Rightists as well. But it's nice to see the Grassroots doing it for themselves. May it become a habit.
Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos
Kyodo: A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday. The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture. On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member. Oh the ironies of the above happening: a) it's in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it's in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it's a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them. But wait, there's more irony. Check this out: Mainichi: Gov't aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics: “The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”...
(Debito.org Readers please note: Debito.org is technically still on break, and I will be slow once again to approve comments. Please be patient. Thanks.) It’s been a long, hot summer, so time for a lighter topic for JBC: A non-Japanese (NJ) friend in Tokyo recently had an interesting experience while out drinking with coworkers. (For the record – and I only say this because how you look profoundly affects how you are treated in Japan – he is a youngish Caucasian-looking male.) His Japanese literacy is high (which is why he was hired in the first place), but his speaking ability, thanks to watching anime in America from childhood, is even higher — so high, in fact, that his colleagues asked him whether he is part-Japanese! That kinda harshed his buzz. He wondered how he should respond. Should he abide by Japanese manners and deferentially deny his jouzu-ness? Or accept the praise with a “thank you” and a smile? I commented that he should not only say thank you and accept the accolades, but also claim the part-Japaneseness. Yes, lie about it. Why? Because this simple-looking interaction involves several issues, such as social hierarchy, bad science and privacy. And if not handled well, this episode could end up eroding his standing within this group...
Interesting report: Eleven minutes of video on the Zaitokukai, the Rise of Hate Groups in Japan, and the tensions between Right, Left, and "Foreign" in Japan's public debates. Very much worth a viewing. Courtesy of The Real News Network (theRealNews.com). Published on Sep 8, 2013 Tensions in East Asia are putting stress on Japanese society as rightwing activists begin to target resident Koreans. This has led to some politicians calling for legislative action against "hate speech" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MgvfMHYYv2E
Tokyo's bid for the 2020 Olympics was successful over Madrid's and Istanbul's, it was announced earlier today. In lieu of any comments from me (you can probably anticipate that Debito.org did not support Tokyo's bid, and not least because Tokyo Governor Inose resorted to inappropriate comments about other candidates in public), I'll just open up this blog entry for discussion. Commenters are welcome to also include articles that present cogent arguments pro and con, and more to the point how Japan could get the Games despite an ongoing nuclear crisis (all that CNN below can speculate were detractors for the other candidates was a neighboring conflict in Syria and continuing economic malaise in Spain -- something Japan has plenty of experience with too). Read on: CNN: Tokyo has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee to host the 2020 Summer Games. In voting Saturday in Buenos Aires, the committee picked Tokyo over the two other contenders, Madrid and Istanbul... Japan's bid for 2020 billed the city as the safe choice -- despite radiation leaking from the Fukushima nuclear plant. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe personally made a presentation to the committee and promised an effective cleanup... Istanbul would have been "a more emotional choice," Hula said. But its huge bid would have been needed to fund infrastructure improvements, including modernization of its transportation system. Turkey's border with Syria also might have troubled some committee members, he said... Madrid, like Tokyo, was a repeat bidder -- making its third consecutive case for the Games, one that was little changed from previous attempts, Hula said.The Spaniards' $2 billion bid said they had little need for new infrastructure, he said. And they have ample sports experience, having hosted a number of other high-profile, international events. But the country's economic plight remained a drawback, with one out of four adults unemployed. Though Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted that rate is improving, "the fact is that most reasonable, sensible economists think unemployment is going to linger at a high level for years to come," Hula said.
1) Japan’s “hate speech” debate proceeds apace, but not sinking in, according to university survey cited in Mainichi 2) Summer Tangent: Korea Times on racial discrimination in South Korea: Striking parallels with Japan 3) Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 66: “Ol’ blue eyes isn’t back: Tsurunen’s tale offers lessons in microcosm for DPJ”, Aug 5, 2013