This article makes my brain hurt

Mr Arudou had an article published on Japan Focus entitled "Japan’s Rightward Swing and the Tottori Prefecture Human Rights Ordinance", the basic thrust of which will be familiar to regular readers of this or his blog, so I won’t dwell too much on the arguments.

However, the article is very, very hard to read, not just due to my unfamiliarity with sociological writing style, but some of the grammar is quite, quite wonky, and the interchanging of "ordinance", "bill" and "law" with gay abandon just confirms my views on the peer review process that goes on in the journal; I’m sure VK will have much, much more to say on this topic. "Unproblematized" fair got on my tits too.

As of this writing, the text of the ordinance, Japan’s first legislation explicitly penalizing racial discrimination, has been removed from the main Tottori Prefectural website and buried within a new link.

Rubbish. They moved the web site to a new domain and a new CMS, so all the old links stopped working.

“foreigners” in Japan had become a political football within a whirlwind of time, money, organization, and energy devoted to nationalistic, xenophobic, and exclusionary causes

I haven’t an emoticon to illustrate my reaction to the above!

Given this political climate, any public support for universal “human rights issues” in Japan will remain political poison for any legislator as long as there is any alleged benefit to “foreigners.”

So why is the government going to sign the Hague Convention?

  1. Two questions:

    1) Why doesn’t he try and publish somewhere just a bit more prestigious? He’s doing a PhD, he must be able to do better than a posh blog.

    2) Why doesn’t he include any proper citations? Himself, himself, a newspaper, himself…this doesn’t look like doctoral-level work.

  2. @Rob
    I think you answered your own questions there.

  3. Where does Debs dig up all those racisty right wing comic books from?

    I wish his assistant would translate more of it.

  4. Proxy thesis advisor

    a quibble regarding the Nagoya mailbox flyer, which is too fuzzy to make out well

    “claiming with unsourced (and by then erroneous) statistics that “foreign crime” is on the rise ”

    As debito should be aware, it’s most likely these were pulled from the infamous NPA crime report. The numbers themselves are cherry picked. But writing “by then erroneous” is not the correct angle to take here, as as foreign crime was already on a 5 year down trend in 2008. If the racists are claiming foreign crime is on the rise, it’s already erroneous. The racists aren’t deliberately citing old data either. Crime stat reports likely used by the racists (for year 2008) are as up to date as was possible at the time (Feb 2010) because the full annual report is usually released around March of the following year. The problem is not that they should have waited a month to get the 2009 stats and then abused those.

    Since these are just anonymous asshole racists, it’s not a big problem to accuse them of being out-of-date even though they are using the most recent stats. Just be careful if you’re gonna try that tactic in criticizing a real publication.

    But why not go after them with easy-to-find facts, and boost the legit citation count, rather than the throwaway “it’s outta date” accusation, which just seems lazy?

    Also, please limit graphic captions to 1 or 2 lines at most and incorporate your arguments into the text.

    When possible, be sure graphics are legible.

    When possible, focus anger at the racists and not the people who hope you learn from your mistakes.

  5. Chrysanthemum Sniffer

    It’s not atrocious, but it is pretty bad. There are a lot of assumptions made that just aren’t really backed up.

    In any case, I’m not sure I understand how the Tottori ordinance and non-citizens’ inability to vote (I’m not sure “disenfranchisement” especially when it is combined with “political” is the right word here) are related.

    The Tottori ordinance seems like a well-intentioned effort that was not explained to the public and in any case might have had worrying consequences. The governor saying that problems would be cleared up as they arose should be warning enough, but then he had to mention that some others were using unassailable tropes like “freedom of speech” to cover their xenophobia. Maybe. Or perhaps they were concerned about freedom of speech.

    The voting law was a highly charged political issue at the national level which not only brought into the frame issues of identity, but also issues of electoral advantage and disadvantage for particular political parties in Japan. He didn’t ignore this, but it seems to me to be the most sensible explanation for the rejection of the bill, so he needed to deal with that rather than assuming the bill’s defeat came down to “xenophobia” because there were also people handing out racist flyers.

    He’s also right to note that there was a lot of fear-mongering about North Korea. But there are also some very legitimate and mainstream concerns about North Koreans in Japan. When you consider that Mindan members are naturalizing at a much faster rate than Chongryun members, you see that resistance to naturalization has become a political tool not only on the Japanese side of the debate. He may disagree with singling out North Koreans who live in Japan, but he has to deal with those concerns before landing on xenophobia again as the primary reason that the bill was rejected.

    That said, finding a common xenophobic strand in the debates about the two policies might well have been interesting, but only if he had presented the other objections to the legislation honestly and/or specifically noted that he was constructing some kind of framework to analyze and criticize the logic implicit in the activities of a particular group within the larger Japanese political discourse. For example, his critique on the manga in the “fringe” publication could have actually been harsher: he was right to point out that what the manga author saw as “reasonable” reactions by employers and landlords to foreigners was precisely the problem. This wasn’t helped by the fact, as mentioned above, that his primary sources – the xenophobic flyers – were removed from the main narrative of his article that made it more difficult for him to walk us through what he thought the common themes presented in the flyers were.

    There was certainly a lot of xenophobic scaremongering in the pamphlets he cited opposing the voting law, but were their arguments really the very point of the problem that the voting law intended to solve? If not where is the link besides the rather banal fact that some people in Japan don’t like foreigners? What has this article told me about the nature of xenophobia in Japan? That it is there? Great.

    I actually think he should have just focused on the debate surrounding the voting law and linked it back to some sort of theory about discourse or, better yet, political capital, if he wanted to write an “academic” paper.

  6. @Rob:
    Why don’t you cite other sources? You, you, you, got any facts to back up anything you say?

    I still don’t understand a whole blog devoted to taking down one guy… Are you seeing a psychiatrist?

    I want to see what you will write if he says “Japanese carrots are orange!” I know you will find fault with anything he says…. it used to be funny, now it is just sad.

    Well, good luck with your project.

  7. I was writing a comment on a blog post, as opposed to an “academic” paper. One is expected to contain sources and citations reviewing the literature, the other is not.

    I did not reference myself. I did not reference anything. See above for the reason.

    This blog is not devoted to taking down one guy, it is devoted to highlighting spurious and erroneous reports and claims about Japan. Your guy just happens to produce rather a lot of them.

  8. Japan Times sells out! | Japologism - Unapologetic apologism - pingback on March 26, 2013 at 2:19 pm

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