Monthly Archives: November 2014

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!