Is Japan sanctioning slave labour?

In a headline straight from my generator, the Japan Times produces another load of skewed bollocks. First, the photo is of an Indonesian nurse, but as far as I understand, the system for nursing students can no way be described as “slavery”.

The article is built around this argument:

Japan is desperately short of workers to pay taxes to fund pensions and health care for its rapidly graying population

However, this is, I believe, a false premise. If the idea was to support the tax base, surely one person on a wage of, say, 4 million yen will pay more tax than two people on 2 million yen, once one takes into account personal allowances. Furthermore, there are tax breaks for taking in trainees, so surely from a government standpoint the trainee program is a cost, not a benefit. Additionally, the trainees can get a large percentage of their pension payments back when they leave the country, so again the trainee system is a terrible way to increase the tax base.

by comparison, around 13 percent of British residents are foreign-born

How much does the EU contribute to this, and how much do former colonies contribute?

Japan allows no unskilled workers into the country amid fears by some they would threaten the nation’s culture of consensus, an argument others view as mere cover for xenophobia.

The good old “some” and “others”. And aren’t the trainees unskilled by definition?

The (Japanese) government did not prosecute or convict forced labor perpetrators despite allegations of labor trafficking in the TTIP

Perhaps the allegations were merely allegations, thus not prosecuted? I also seem to recall prosecutions for abuse of the trainee program, but not specifically for “forced labor”.

Past allegations include unpaid overtime work, karoshi (death from overwork), and all kinds of harassment, including company managers restricting the use of toilets or demanding sexual services.

I’m glad to see that the trainees are having the full range of experiences of working in Japan. :roll: 

One in four want all gaijin to go home

In the run up to the general election, a shock poll shows that one in four want all foreigners, legal or not, to go home, and another quarter couldn’t decide whether to agree or disagree with such a statement. Furthermore, the most trusted of all party leaders on the issue of immigration was none other than the leader of the ultta-rightist party, the UKIP. I’m sure we’ve all read the miles of newsprint condemning this lurch to the right in the New York Times, press wires like the AFP and Reuters, etc, etc – or have we?

Tops, bottoms, chickens and eggs

This month’s Just Be Cause starts off, quite frankly, like an undergraduate posting to a Japan-related forum hoping to get the regulars to do his homework for him. I’ll just look at a couple of points, although there is lots more no doubt my readers will wish to look at.

the top-down approach: the egg before the chicken

Recently, his articles have been relatively free from tortured metaphors and cliches, so it’s nice to see the return of a :facepalm: or two.

Moreover, many of the great grassroots successes in history got lucky. Mahatma Gandhi’s grass-roots achievement of Indian independence was aided by the fact that the grip of the British Empire had been weakened by two world wars. Nelson Mandela was lucky not to meet the same fate as Steve Biko, and to see a more liberal South African government in his lifetime.

“Lucky” seems a quite out of place word to describe these two great men’s life works; “fortunate” is slightly less poor, but I’d say that, for example, Dr Arudou was fortunate (from his own point of view) to be turned away from a sento, as that gave him the hook to hang his career on.

However, this leaves me to ponder that since he mentioned the luck of these greats, does he reckon it is just ill fortune that he does not have his seat in the pantheon of human rights activists? If only there had been a passing TV camera when he dressed up as Tama chan!

Tomorrow’s Japan Times headlines today

I have haxxored into the Japan Times’ system (why else do you think it is down right now?) and obtained the secrets on how they generate stories:


Code based on the Daily Mail-o-matic.

The Popcorn Thread

Or, doctoring Debito Arudou.

First, I actually do think that the current Wikipedia article is pretty awful, but converting it to his CV, as the not-at-all sock puppets are trying to do, is not the way to go and is certainly not going to fly. I’d kill most of the Early Life and Divorce sections, make the publications into a bullet list and trash the academic papers section – from what I understand, publishing three papers on almost identical topics within a short period (“Embedded Racism …fill in the blank… Critical Race Theory“) is frowned upon – and the criticism section could do with pruning. Indeed, for such a minor figure, I think the Simple English entry is enough.

So, let us go back in time to 2008, where the first attempt at editing his own article resulted in this:

 I’m just supposed to shut up and take it by people who won’t take any personal responsibility for what they say or reveal who they are, even when there is a potential conflict of interest with an editor and a source (in other words, the COI is perpetually placed on me, never you). The process here is neither fair nor professional. And I’ll have no part of it since it will have no part of me.

(My highlighting)

Fast forward to August of this year, when Sweetandloveable and Mister_Mtzplk appear and start favourably editing various pages relating to Dr Arudo – notably, despite having lots of detailed information about him at their fingertips, somehow both manage to spell his name without the final “u”, and despite both having lots to say about him, their editing trails never cross.

Now, things heat up on the 30th of September when Mr Googles adds a little about the then Mr Arudou getting fired instead of quitting so he could get unemployment insurance. After this entry, by some strange quirk of fate, Dr Arudou (or someone else with the keys to decides to edit the source of this text, and by an even more quirky quirk of fate, Mister_Mtzplk reports this change just five minutes after Eido says Firefox reports the last edit time as. I have also double-checked this with Chrome, one of the HTTP Response headers is “Last-Modified: Tue, 30 Sep 2014 02:08:13 GMT”.

Thus I am led to conclude that even if we assume that S&L and MM were previously operating independently of Dr Arudou, he must surely have been made aware of the Wikipedia edit war at this point in time, and I would expect him to recall issues of Conflict of Interest and be aware that S&L and MM were potentially breaking these guidelines.

Next, the page “gatekeeper” or whatever it is called in Wiki-world manages to rub S&L up the wrong way:

These wikipedia edit disputes really get on my nerves. I’m not used to them (I know, I’m new here, which Oddexit keeps pointing out) I’m trying to assume good faith in editors, but I’m having a lot of trouble.

I felt the appeals to “good faith” were a bit out of place, as S&L is not declaring their COI.

So, Eido decides to take things to the next level by calling for a sock-puppet investigation on MM, which seems a reasonable step to me – let’s wait and see how that turns out. This appears to annoy the good Doctor, as he calls in a retaliatory Request for Arbitration against Eido and Oddexit, reactivating his account after a six-year hiatus. However, a cursory reading of Wikipedia rules is that an RFA is a last resort after other resolution means fail, so not surprisingly a third party tells him to start from the beginning:

Maybe WP:DRN or WP:ANI should be tried first before arbitration.

Now, the interesting thing about Dr A’s RFA is that he somehow omits to mention S&L and MM’s roles (who co-incidentally have fallen silent) in the dispute or his awareness of a potential COI since, as I indicated above, it appears he made an edit to in direct response to an edit on Wikipedia. I also await with bated breath his promised “Mr Googles is a big meanie”:

Will discuss Eido Inoue’s WP:COI based upon published personal animus towards BLP subject later.

UPDATE 16th October:

After going strangely quiet, and after a not-too-surprising rejection of Dr A’s arbitration request, he now posts this epic to the Biographies of Living Persons Noticeboard. The post includes mentions of both Japologism and Tepido, with the Tepido link being prefixed with:

the forums that [Eido] contributes to engage in cyberbullying and cyberstalking

The destination of the link, however, is an article where I unmask James Grey (now Jim Di Griz, one of Dr A’s favoured commenters) as a troll. Furthermore, there is a second link that leads to a dead page on a rather strange site.

There is also perhaps an unintentional revelation of motivations that further suggest Mister_Mtzplk is a sock-/meat-puppet:

Even after I removed the section in question from my website, in order to see how Wikipedia would enforce its own rules, Eido decided to use the Wayback machine as a source, which violates WP:SELFPUB. For if Wayback becomes the template for citing internet-archived self-published sources when current sources exist, issues will arise. This has been raised on the Talk page by Mister Mtzplk

Eido also suggested to me privately that perhaps Dr A is unaware of the sock-puppet investigation. We still haven’t got the bottom of the popcorn bucket, folks!

Government defines Hate Speech

There was an interesting piece on Newswatch 9 tonight, also available on the NHK web site, covering what local governments think about Hate Speech. 94% of 90 prefectures, major cities and the Tokyo 23 wards said it was a problem, 4% weren’t sure, and none said it wasn’t. Furthermore, 41% felt legislation was needed, just 2% that it wasn’t, and 53% didn’t know or otherwise sat on the fence.

Finally, an official definition of hate speech from the Justice Minister was presented:


That sounds quite succinct and to the point to me. What do others think?

Calling the Dokdo Crusader!

I couldn’t help noticing parallels with Japan in this story from Korea, right down to these photos:

The story also has the old chestnut:

If I took a seat, the seat next to me would often remain empty even during rush hours in crowded subways

Paging Yokohama’s Osaka pal! (I note also that that guy’s son blamed his inability to get a convenience store job on his dreadlocks, not on the colour of his skin; what a Blapologist!)

There’s also the hard to fathom being strangled by a Samsung employee in a taxi (how did that all come about – the lack of details lessens the impact, I feel) and this familiar statement:

the police refused to take any action on the grounds that “racial discrimination does not exist in Korea.”

There’s more on this reddit thread, including a link to a quite impressive Koreapologist:

“The billions of pieces of human genetic code sequenced thus far are most notable for what they do not appear to contain – a genetic test to tell one race of people from another. All scientific finds point to the conclusion that race doesn’t exist”
This means the Bible is correct and there is no such thing as racism, just hatred for others ― and that is sin. Korea is not racist and racism is not serious in this country; sin is, and that is not limited to the Korean people, for the westerner is as guilty as those they falsely accuse. 

Umm, if you say so.


Quite competent, but questions a-begging

Just Be Cause:

As my doctoral research demonstrated, “Japaneseness” is linked to physical appearance by Japan’s laws, law enforcement, public policy, jurisprudence and media messages.

While I can agree with some of that list, I’d love to learn what laws mention physical appearance. I’d also disagree that research can demonstrate things.

Permanent residents should claim their minority status themselves. After all, if you can stay here as a permanent part of a society, you can qualify as a minority.

I haven’t a clue about how I would go about claiming my minority status, and I’m not really sure I want to either.

That includes the foreign scholars of minority issues, who despite decades living in and researching in Japan, don’t appear to consider themselves members of a minority.

I’m not sure if this is some subtle dig against someone, or a boast, or what. And given he says “the foreign scholars”, is he implying none consider themselves a minority?

First, if the Japanese police must go gaijin hunting, then train them properly in immigration law.

“Must” they? Are you tacitly approving? :shock: Furthermore, the immigration law issue he brings up is, I think, more down to lazy news reporting than to ignorant police.

However, we can start off small by officially depicting Japaneseness as a legal status, not a bloodline-determined mystical concept entwined with racial purity.

Isn’t that how it is already officially seen – even Shintaro Ishihara says foreigners should naturalise if they want to vote, and I don’t think you can get much more officially Japaneseness than participating in elections here. What exactly do you mean?

Fookooshimar TIME

There’s a new TIME article on Fukushima entitled The World’s Most Dangerous Room, containing a pull “quote” that I think will offend many people in the prefecture and beyond. First, the story’s lead picture of this “most dangerous” room has a new-looking notebook PC seemingly fixed in position, which would suggest to me that it can’t be that radioactive otherwise the PC would soon get fried, and if I remember correctly, the reactor control room is heavily shielded, so it is actually relatively safe, I think.

The latest plan by TEPCO, Japan’s largest power provider, is to build a wall of frozen earth around the damaged reactors and other highly radioactive areas to prevent radiation from seeping out of the site.

I thought the point of the ice wall was to prevent ground water entering; I suppose the ground water currently picks up radiation and some inevitably leaks out, but that is a side-effect; the wall is primarily for keeping water out, not in.

Fukushima was not just an epic natural disaster

*sigh* It was not the Fukushima earthquake, it was all of the north-east coast that suffered from the quake and subsequent tsunami.

Half-way down the page there is a bizarre photo of a topless women standing in a washing machine while washing her hair.

Many suicides aren’t reported by families who worry about being stigmatized, say local doctors, obscuring the real death toll.

Err, what? How does that work?

Now, the most offensive part of the article in huge lettering:

“[Fukushima] is finished. It’s only fit for ghosts.”

Note the square brackets – the actual comment from a former resident of Futuba in the article is:

Still, Shiga has no wish to return to her farmhouse, one of the few in her community to have escaped the tsunami’s wrath. “That place is finished,” she says. “It’s only fit for ghosts.”

“That place” is either her house or her community, not the amorphous “Fukushima”.

I wanted to log in to post a comment to this effect, but the comment system won’t let me.

More dodgy science and dodgier Kyodo reporting

Japan Times reprinted a useless Kyodo press release bordering on Fookooshimar. Paragraph two starts:

One of the experts, Timothy Mousseau …

I think I can stop here. The article is here, but I don’t know what is the difference between a full article and a “symposium article” as this is entitled.

There’s also an interesting article on the Pale Grass Blue Butterfly – well, what is more interesting is this criticism – where in a sub-section entitled “Science and Politics” the author rails against the apologists:

The Nature News article (Callaway 2013) may be wrongly interpreted to imply that we (scientists who study this topic seriously) are mad scientists who do not care about people living in the Fukushima area (Steen and Wayne 2013), partly because our data may “scare people” there.

I cannot access the referenced articles, but that smells of a straw man!