Monthly Archives: September 2012

Gaijin Gulag swallows a new victim

You’ve probably all heard the story about Michael Q Todd, the dolphin-botherer-botherer who got nicked in Taiji for not having a passport and chucked in the Gaijin Gulag (© CJ). When the story first broke I had a soupçon of sympathy for him as he apparently had a fiance and a child in Tokyo, but now it has all vaporized. An update on his fundraising page says (scroll to the bottom):

Michael is in Japan on a tourist visa.

His LinkedIn profile suggests that he has been running a company for seven months – two tourist visas plus an overstay, perhaps – in Tokyo. Strike One!

Michael knew his Japanese visitor’s visa was going to expire and [his fiancé] reports that he had applied for an extension.

You cannot extend a visitor’s visa except in exceptional circumstances, or by doing a visa run… Strike Two!

Before he connected with the Canadian filmmakers, he was then asked to produce his passport by the authorities. He could not produce it as he had left his passport in Yokohama where he has lived with [his fiancé].

Not carrying your passport as required by law. Strike Three!

There’s a bit of extra information/rumour/scandal in a Japan Probe comment here, and Eido clears up tourist visa issues here.

Perhaps after deportation he can ask Christopher Johnson to write up his case? :roll:

ハローFight Backさん – a history lesson

For some reason or other, I have an urge to post about this Japan Probe entry from November 2010:

The Japanese blogger behind the Sora blog called up the manufacturer of the product and told them about some of the complaints non-Japanese have made about the “Hello Gajin-san” set. The company representative said it was the first time the company had ever received a complaint about that product.

Furthermore, a commenter with a Japanese name notes:

I complained about 10 days ago. Customer service sent me a message. They are in the process of changing the name.

Anyway, I think Japan Probe can claim credit for the 外人 to 外国人 change. Who else is covering this issue and archiving it?

Flyjin kill salaryman

According to this story on NHK, a Fujitsu employee was judged to have died from karoshi thanks in part to:


Two foreign bosses suddenly returned to their home country and an indeterminate number of underlings were hospitalised, so he had to cover but died from the strain.

Japan Today finds a real-life Fookooshimar!

Forgive me commenters for I have sinned! I was reading Japan Today and came across this portrait of western-looking people at the no-nukes demo outside the Kantei. The first person up was portrayed thusly:

Peter, the first visible Westerner to arrive at the protest, has lived in Japan since 1982. He works as a salaryman. He believes the severity of the earthquake has been exaggerated (from roughly 7 to 9 on the Richter Scale) to soft-pedal the avoidability of the Fukushima disaster. He would like to start an English-language talk group to discuss this and other revelations from alternative news sources; he has discovered that Japanese environmentalists are often preoccupied with beer and beef.

:facepalm: But "beer and beef"?

[Peter] was concerned that he would be photographed by police and deported. “I dressed as much like a tourist as I could.” (Slacks, blue dress shirt, ball cap). He wore large, dark sunglasses over his corrective lenses. He brought a surgical mask to cover his thick, white beard.

The best way for someone of (presumably) foreign build to appear inconspicuous is, I am sure, to wear sunglasses at dusk and what all tourists are wearing this season, a mask. Anyway, if he has a new RFID-ready Zairyu Card, I’m sure he can look forward to a fun time next time he goes through Narita.

The remaining people were also quite, err, odd, including one bemoaning the lack of violence, so for the first (and last, I hope) time I recommend you read a Japan Today article.

Japan Times returns to form over Senkaku

(BTW, they also give Arnie Gundersen far too much space, but that’s another story.)

In a story that starts off promisingly, looking at right-wing loon Akihiro Suzuki and his hate for China:

The Japanese must stand tall, not be afraid, and "take pride" in "defending our territory from China," says Suzuki, who refers to Japan’s biggest neighbor throughout our interview with the derogatory wartime term "Shina." "We have truth and history on our side."

However, it soon deteriorates into rather pro-China territory, and makes erroneous assumptions with false authority.

Kyodo rehearsed the now-standard Japanese narrative of the dispute this weekend, saying that the Senkakus "have effectively been held by Japan since 1895 except for when the U.S. seized them briefly after the war." The news agency continued: "After it was reported in the 1970s that the area around the islets may have vast mineral and gas reserves, China laid claim to them."

OK, that’s basically where I stand.

Well, that’s one version of the truth, though hardly the only one. In China, many believe that Japan claimed the islets during a period of imperial expansion, at the end of the Sino-Japanese War — then kept the seizure secret for half a century. The Americans occupied them (as part of the Okinawan chain) from 1945-1972, after which many in Taiwan, Hong Kong and China expected them to be returned. Chinese claims hardly came out of the blue.

I’d expect a bit more evidence than "many believe", although there is a link at the bottom of the story to this, which I’ll look at later.

Although the two nations have roughly the same amount of coastline, Japan enjoys a total exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 4.5 million sq. km in the high seas, five times more than its much bigger and more populous neighbor.

So? simple geometry will tell you that a vaguely straight coastline hemmed in by other countries will have a much smaller EEZ than hundreds of islands dotted throughout open water.

Tokyo takes these EEZs very seriously. Consider its jurisdiction of a string of islands extending into the Pacific. At the farthest reaches is Okunotorishima (literally "remote bird island"), almost 2,000 km from the capital, roughly the same distance as from London to Reykjavik, Iceland.

It’s Okinotorishima, an error copied from the referenced article for this story, it seems. I’m also pretty sure Hawaii is more than 2,000 km from Washington. However, I do think the claims on this rock is very weak, but that’s another story.

Says McCormack: "From the Chinese viewpoint the Okinawan islands resemble nothing so much as a giant maritime Great Wall . . . potentially blocking naval access to the Pacific Ocean."

Indeed it is. Is Mr McCormack validating China’s claims on the whole of Okinawa?

Perhaps all this has been explained in the Chinese and Japanese media and we simply missed it.

Sigh, here is the appeal to ignorance. Yes, you simply missed it. I’ve heard all the above on various news and current affairs programs.

Dwyer concludes that there is no need to panic over China’s rise, but warns, "Don’t provoke the Chinese by hemming their country in with air bases, carrier fleets and military alliances, and they’ll probably behave well."

Call me brainwashed or whatever, but if Japan cedes the Senkakus to China, I do believe that it will move on to other Okinawa islands. China’s also not behaving terribly well in the South China Sea, but I’m sure that’s also all our in the West’s fault. :roll:

Suzuki, the only member of the Tokyo assembly to land (illegally) on the Senkakus, insists his hardline stance is popular. "Ninety percent of my constituents support what we did," he says. Perhaps that’s because the people who vote for him believe everything they read in the newspapers.

Two appeals to ignorance, from both Suzuki and JT here. :facepalm:

Now, on to the referenced document, "Troubled Seas: Japan’s Pacific and East China Sea Domains (and Claims)" on Japan Focus. :roll: A rant with footnotes does not an academic article make.

Commonly denounced for its [China’s] claims to islands, reefs and shoals in the South China Sea, when viewed in global terms China is a minor player in its claims on world oceans, although that fact might reinforce its determination not to yield in the spaces where it has a claim.

Aww, poor widdle China; let’s give them what they want (regardless of if it is valid or not) as we were awfully beastly to them before.

The islands (sometimes also known as the Bonin Islands), were first formally claimed by Japan and a Japanese flag was raised over them in 1862.

That was before the USA claimed Hawaii.

Since then, however, though not setting foot on them for 70 years, they have continued to collect "rent" from the Government of Japan

Why the scare quotes around rent?

There is little dissent in Japan from the proposition that, in the words of former senior diplomat Togo Kazuhiko, Japan’s position is "fundamentally solid and quite tenable under existing international law."

If the author of this article doesn’t believe the Japanese claim, why does he not question why China doesn’t bring this issue to the International Criminal Court? One reason is that China hasn’t ratified it…

Where Japan’s claim rests on a strict reading of international law (the terra nullius principle, unchallenged by China until 1970), China’s claim rests rather on longer history (and geography).

The author’s argument seems to be that international law is biased against China.

Then, the captain of a Chinese fishing boat that collided, twice, with a Japanese coastguard vessel in waters off these islands was arrested and subsequently released when the furore the event caused threatened to spin out of control.

No, he rammed two coastguard vessels, and "spin[ning] out of control" could describe the author’s position quite well.

Ishihara accused China [of…] "seeking hegemony in the Pacific, with the Senkaku/Diaoyu issue merely the first step of its ambition."

If you are quoting Ishihara, I’m pretty certain he wouldn’t say "Senkaku/Diaoyu".

A little later, asked for a comment on the birth of a baby panda at Ueno Zoo, [Ishihara] suggested it be named "Senkaku" and sent back (sic) to China.

No, he said "Sen-Sen" and "Kaku-Kaku", and there should be no "(sic)" as the panda loan agreement states that all cubs are Chinese property so they would be sent back.

Seven of them landed, this time carrying both PRC (China) and ROC (Taiwan) flags, before being detained, sent briefly by Japanese authorities to Okinawa, and then deported without trial.

Just a nice day out for a picnic! However, for the Japanese:

Days later, on 19 August, came the Japanese riposte: a convoy of 21 vessels (150 people) including national and local assembly politicians and Ganbaru Nippon’s head, Tamogami Toshio (former Chief-of-Staff of Japan’s Air Self-Defence Force and a noted right-wing revisionist and agitator) and members of the National Diet’s "Dietmembers acting to protect Japan’s territory") sailed from the Okinawan island of Ishigaki, planted Japanese Hinomaru flags and conducted ceremonies to commemorate Japan’s war dead. They were given a pro forma official rap over the knuckles for having done so without authorization, accompanying a generally positive and congratulatory national reception.

Although it is not clear from the above, just 10 people landed, and I must have missed the "generally positive and congratulatory national reception" while I was watching the Chinese getting a heroes’ welcome in Hong Kong. :roll:

By this time, passions ran high on all sides. Anti-Japanese disturbances broke out in Hong Kong and more than 20 cities across China – cars were overturned, Japanese restaurant windows smashed, and boycotts of Japanese goods threatened. Negative sentiments were reciprocated in Japan. An opinion poll conducted by the Japanese cabinet in November 2011, less than a year before this hot summer, found that 71.4 per cent of Japanese people reported having no feelings of "familiarity" or "warmth" (shitashimi) for China (against 26.3 per cent who had such feelings).

71.4% not warming to China – such high passions that surpass a riot disturbance! :roll: Furthermore, the survey actually reported 34.8% not really feeling warmth and 36.6% feeling no warmth at all.

One June 2012 survey found an overwhelming 84.3 per cent of people in Japan declaring their image of China to be "unfavourable." In China a survey conducted by a Communist Party paper Huanjing shibao (though only through its website) found 90.8 per cent of readers agreeing to the proposition that China should discuss all means, including military, for addressing the Senkaku/Diaoyu problem.

An "overwhelming" number of Japanese felt unfavourable to China, yet another 6.5 percentage points of Chinese calling for military action does not merit an adjective.

There is also a possible fourth party to the matter: the American family of descendants of the prominent late Qing official (Minister for Transportation), Sheng Xuanhuai, who by unconfirmed accounts was granted three of the islands by the then Empress Dowager, Cixi in 1893

And the grave of Jesus Christ is possibly in Aomori. :headdesk:

Through the hot summer of 2012, Ishihara’s bold populist rhetoric was matched by a rising tone of righteousness and fury at China in the Japanese media.

There may have been righteousness, but fury? Certainly I’ve not been aware of any in the mainstream media. Of course, there is no mention of Chinese media for balance.

Now I have actually had a look at a Japan Focus article in detail, it only confirms my feelings that any peer reviewing they perform is for checking writers are sticking to the party (Party?) line. :headdesk:

Japan Times looks at stayjin

For a change, Japan Times takes a reasonably proficient and quite positive look at stayjin 18 months on.

First, we have "Mitch", a Canadian trainjin who took a week-long break from Tokyo to stay in Osaka. He says:

"A few Japanese friends indicated that they felt I was overreacting by leaving Tokyo, but I never sensed any real resentment from anyone over my decision," he says.


"I didn’t feel any resentment towards the people who chose to leave Japan," he says. "In fact, I half-expected I would soon join them if the situation continued to deteriorate."

Good, good. Next we have John Loynes who, as a resident of Iwaki city, can truthfully claim to be a Tohoku victim.

As to why he and his family decided to stay in Fukushima when, seemingly at the time, a large proportion of the non-Japanese population was leaving the country, Loynes says he did not feel it was necessary to leave after reading information from sources he trusted, such as the chief science adviser to the British government.

Yay for good old British common sense!

"[…] I would have liked maybe a smidge more stoicism from the British Embassy, such as endorsing the evacuation zones suggested by the Japanese and Americans."

I’m not sure what he’s trying to say here. This story, for instance, indicates that the US stopped endorsing the Japanese zones, and initially the UK advised everyone in Tokyo and north to evacuate. However, if you’re being interviewed, you cannot stop and check Google to make sure what you are saying is correct, so perhaps he was just mis-remembering information?

"The majority of foods, whilst not completely unaffected, are still safe to eat," he says. "In fact, we’re eating the local vegetables."

I predict that quote will make EneNews. :facepalm:

Deportation for flytipping?

When I read one of Colin P.A. Jones’ columns I usually think he is a fine writer and knowledgeable about his subject, but this recent column on rights or otherwise of non-Japanese and half-Japanese did have one error that normally I might have accepted as the truth. He wrote as an aside:

(like the Peruvian man of Japanese extraction who, despite having resided in Japan for over a decade, the government has been trying to expel after he was fined for dumping an old washing machine in a vacant lot)

Over on reddit, someone asked for a source, so I did a quick Google and came up with this tale, headlined

国外退去は「妥当性を欠く」 洗濯機不法投棄のペルー国籍男性 東京地裁が処分取り消し命じる

I might translate that as "Deportation ‘inappropriate’. Peruvian washing machine flytipper. Tokyo District Court ordered to quash the conviction". Looking at the story in detail, he had at a maximum 6 years of legal residence followed by 4 years of overstaying due to a renewal refusal due to his flytipping offence, deportation, then two years later getting it overturned on appeal. I really do expect better from Mr Jones, and furthermore Eido has pointed out more issues over on Google+.

Now THIS is satire!

Last month’s Just Be Cause failed to raise many laughs, although it did raise the hackles of some nikkei, but this month’s was a quite entertaining satire on the life of a researcher.

Within that contrast lies immense subliminal and normalized pressure to be humble and modest in society.

In America? :lol:

For another example, if you’re doing research, you must reference other people and refrain from citing yourself — even if you’ve been the only one doing your kind of research in such breadth and depth for decades.


You have highly trained, disciplined and motivated individuals beavering away for lifetimes getting good at something, yet unable to make it "valuable," i.e., lucrative (after all, you’re apparently not "professional" at anything until it earns you enough money).


Furthermore, consider the activists, who are at a particular disadvantage since they are not supposed to be celebrities or media hounds. They have to be self-sacrificing, fighting not for themselves but "for the cause," rarely gaining the wherewithal (especially in Japan) to make their activism sustainable.

Julian Assange and "Captain" Paul Watson spring to mind, and the recent anti-nuclear demos have spawned quite a cottage industry of professional protesters.

If due to humility (or fear of being seen as profiteering from the suffering of others) activists cannot embed themselves within a fund-raising group

So that’s why FRANCA never went anywhere! :headdesk:


I’ve noticed that he often has a paragraph starting with "Look" in his recent articles – I’m sure it’s bad English, and it always reminds me of Tony Blair. :roll:

Debito Arudou is the author of seven books

Two EFL text books, English and Japanese versions of Japanese Only, The Handbook, In Appropriate, and …? Is he counting the chapter of Fodor’s guide book? :facepalm:

Not "The Movie of the Book", but…

…more like the CM of the JBC, where the Sanitizer-General deals with a few WASPs.

Arse jet my ping-pong indeed.