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Police ‘foreign crime wave’ falsehoods fuel racism

by Debito Arudou

These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,” depicting non-Japanese (NJ) as a threat to Japan’s public safety (see “Upping the fear factor,” Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007; “Time to come clean on foreign crime,” ZG, Oct. 7, 2003; “Foreigner crime stats cover up a real cop-out,” ZG, Oct. 4, 2002, for just a few examples).

A decade ago, the NPA could make a stronger case because NJ crimes were going up. However, as we pointed out then, Japanese crimes were going up too. And, in terms of absolute numbers and proportion of population, NJ crimes were miniscule.

Then bust followed boom. According to the NPA (see www.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf, or the images accompanying this article), “foreign crime” has fallen below 1993 levels (see H5 column, representing the year Heisei 5)!

That’s why the NPA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its claims of a foreign crime wave. So, to keep up appearances, the agency has resorted to statistical jiggery-pokery.

For example, look again at the NPA chart. The time frame has been expanded to 30 years; in previous annual reports, it covered just a decade. By stretching the parameters, the overall chart depicts a comparative rise rather than a small peak before a precipitous drop.

Not accounted for, however, is the fact that the NJ population has also risen — more than doubling since 1993.

Another method of manipulation has been to focus on partial rises in certain types of NJ crime, despite the overall fall. And I bet you can guess which got more media attention.

The most creative NPA rejig is arguing that NJ crime has been “stopped at a high plateau” (takadomari no jōtai) — even if that “plateau” is downward-sloping.

Every NPA argument leads to the same predictable conclusion: Further crackdowns on “foreign crime” are necessary, because NJ are importing criminality into a once-peaceful Japan.

Yet neither the NPA, nor the Japanese media parroting their semiannual reports, have ever compared Japanese and NJ crime, or put them on the same chart for a sense of scale. If they had, they would see something resembling the 3-D graph that accompanies this column.

The other chart in Japanese (that can be found at hakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_2_1_1_1_0.html and in the accompanying images) — on whose data the 3-D graphic is based — breaks down all crime committed in “peaceful” postwar Japan. Note the (less-reported) concurrent “Japanese crime wave” (especially the middle, yellow set of bars, which depict thefts alone).

Since the right-hand scale is in tens of thousands, the graph tells us that there was a spike to well over 2.5 million non-traffic crimes in the peak year of 2002, a number that dropped to just over 1.5 million by 2009. Compared to 2009′s total “foreign crimes” of 30,569 (including visa violations, which Japanese cannot by definition commit), there is a difference of about a factor of 49. Thus “foreign crime” would barely even register on the chart.

So how can the NPA still sex up the stats? They found a new way.

In its 2009 white paper, the NPA talked about how “foreign crime gangs” are increasingly moving into Japan and creating “crime infrastructure” (hanzai infura).

It’s still such an obscure term that NPA websites have to define it for the public as “things and organizations that are the basic foundation of crime,” i.e., cellphones under fake names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions and fake IDs (see www.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif)

Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds (complete, of course, with racist caricatures, at www.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html)

You see this “criminal NJ” narrative again and again on NPA posters, such at the one reproduced here (www.debito.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/bouhaninfurabokumetsutaisakuJune2013.jpg), found at an immigration bureau last March, warning potential NJ miscreants against “forgery,” “bogus marriage,” “false affiliation” (i.e., claiming paternity on a foreign child to get it Japanese citizenship) and “false adoption.”

Note at the bottom, where the NPA has secured a special goro awase mnemonic phone number (hanzai infura nakuse — “get rid of crime infrastructure”) to help Japanese remember it better.

Clearly this “crime infra” campaign is not bowing out anytime soon. In fact, the NPA is now citing it to discount the drop in foreign crime! As their 2010 white paper reports, “the extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics” (Kyodo News and Mainichi Shimbun, July 23, 2010).

Seriously? So, suddenly, despite all the Nihonjinron mythologies, NJ are now supposedly more likely than Japanese to act in groups?

Swallow this, as well as the argument that foreigners are somehow more “invisible” in Japan (of all places), and voila, the only conclusion you can possibly draw is that all “foreign crime” statistics come from a little black box that only the NPA has access to.

Look, this is getting silly. You can’t ask for a more docile foreign population than Japan’s.

Almost all NJ do their work (no matter how unequal salaries and benefits are compared to those of Japanese), pay their taxes and try to get along without committing any crimes. NJ don’t even cause trouble by clumping into huge ghettos or keeping a high profile (a recent government poll indicated that 46 percent of Japanese surveyed didn’t even know nikkei South Americans are living in Japan!). Nor do they riot every now and again about how horrendously they get exploited; they just hang on by their fingernails hoping for a fair shake in society — one that rarely comes, as protection from discrimination is far from guaranteed by enforceable laws.

That should be enough hardship to contend with, but then in pounces the NPA to make things worse, picking on the weakest members of Japanese society (as it has done for decades, according to scholar Wolfgang Herbert’s “Foreign Workers and Law Enforcement in Japan”) to justify bogus budgets for fighting exaggerated NJ crime.

Of course, foreigners are a soft target anywhere (by definition, they do not have rights equal to citizens in any country), but in Japan they are so disenfranchised that if anyone points a finger at them, there is no way for them to point back.

NPA excesses have gone on long enough to encourage other bullies. We’ve seen a recent spike in the activity of Japan’s hate groups, most famously the “kill all Koreans” march through Tokyo on Feb. 9. Now how about these anonymous posters making the rounds?

One (reproduced in the images accompanying this column) warns of the allegedly “rapid rise” in fake international marriages for illegal overstayers and workers. Another one calls for kicking out foreign crime (murder, mugging, arson, rape and theft, totaling 25,730 cases — again, a drop in the bucket of Japanese crime).

So, the threat to public safety isn’t “crime infrastructure”; it is in fact the “propaganda infrastructure,” reinforced by false NPA arguments, that normalizes public displays of xenophobia and hatred in Japan.

One measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Japan’s systemic and unchecked bullying of NJ is going to hurt others, as emboldened haters eventually turn their attention to other weak social minorities.

Message to government: Rein in the NPA, and stop them constantly bashing Japan’s foreign residents. Expose their statistical hogwash for what it is, and redirect budgets to fight crime in general, not “foreign crime” specifically.

Debito Arudou’s updated “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” is now available as a downloadable e-book on Amazon. See www.debito.org/handbook.html . Twitter @arudoudebito. Just Be Cause appears on the first Community pages of the month. Send comments and story ideas to community@japantimes.co.jp .

  • Johnny T

    Excellent article Debito. The NPA is rotten to the core, and its ongoing treatment of NJ is disgraceful.

  • robertwgordonesq

    It is natural to be suspicious of non-Japanese in what is perceived as a homogeneous culture.

    Isn’t it possible that when a non-Japanese commits a crime, it is viewed as more “serious” by the Japanese than when a Japanese person commits a crime?

    In the United States, if an illegal immigrant hits and kills someone while driving drunk, there is more outrage than if it was a citizen driving. Why? Because the immigrant is essentially a guest in the county trying to take advantage of the benefits the U.S. has to offer and therefore he or she should be on their best behavior.

    If you are a guest, you should strive to act better than the natives. Your article seems to give guests a “pass” and ignores this legitimate (though irrational) suspicion in the native population.

    The best way to fight negative stereotypes of foreigners (I think) is for foreigners to not to play into those stereotypes…at all.

    • Ron NJ

      To begin with, comparing legal immigrants in Japan to illegal immigrants in America is the very definition of a “tu quoque” logical fallacy.

      That said, speaking of all foreigners as guests is frankly insulting when a great many of us are here long-term, with Japanese spouses, permanent residency in our own right, and other legitimate reasons for being here.

      Is it natural for (white) Britons to be suspect of non-whites, guests in their ethnically Northern European nation? Should all Germans look down on Turkish “guests” – the majority of whom, let’s remember, entered under the Gastarbeiter program – literally “guest worker” program – and then stayed on? Should Arabians treat Filipino or African workers differently simply because they come from another place? Should all of these people just be treated as second-class because of their differing origin, despite their entering these respective countries legally, with the legal permission of the respective governments to remain?

      People should be treated as just that: people. I am not a nationality, I am not a “foreigner”, I am a person. Because I happen to look different or come from a different place gives no one any right to treat me any differently or worse simply because of that fact, especially when I came here via the official route and followed all of the, let’s be frank, quite stringent rules and policies in doing so. I have no obligation to be more respectful of anything or act differently than the “natives” simply because I was not born to one.

      Why is it that Japan always gets a free pass when the rest of its “first world” peers are not?

      • robertwgordonesq

        Good point. Well argued. Here is my reply.

        Comparing an illegal immigrant in the U.S. with a legal immigrant in Japan is not an entirely fair comparison, I admit. But I stand by the example as the sentiment among the native population is the same regardless. I could have said “legal immigrant” and the point would have been the same. Legal immigrants can be deported just the same when they commit a crime in the U.S.

        Legal or illegal doesn’t matter. If you are not a citizen then you are a guest.

        Japanese spouse or no spouse you are still a guest. I have a Japanese spouse and I still consider myself a guest when in Japan as that is how I will be perceived so therefore I pay extra attention to my behavior.

        If I become a legal resident of Japan, I still have no expectation of being treated as a “Japanese”, it simply does not make sense to expect that and I think it would be rather rude of me to expect that. However, that is just me, I could be wrong.

        Mr. Arudou’s argument seems to say “If you are a foreigner, it is ok to commit crimes in Japan, just as long as you don’t commit them out of proportion to the total foreign population in Japan.”

        I don’t accept that.

        If you come to Japan to partake of its benefits, or for whatever reason, you need to behave yourself.

        Period.

        If you don’t, then you should return to your home country.

        When my Japanese friends come to the U.S. and lament about American society, I tell them, this ain’t Japan and you can’t expect or demand Americans to act like the Japanese. If you don’t like it, go back to Japan (and I’ll be right behind you).

        In terms of “should” Arabs treat Filipinos differently because they are different….that’s a normative statement and I am not talking about “norms” or what is “metaphysically correct”.

        What I said was that it is “natural” to look at foreigners differently and by natural I don’t mean “ideal”, I mean it is understandable. That doesn’t mean it is “right”.

        Mr. Arudou seems to feel that such subjective feelings in the Japanese are not legitimate, not understandable, and not to be tolerated. So if he can’t accept the way some Japanese look at things, why should those Japanese accept the way he looks at things?

        What makes Mr. Arudou’s way of looking at things the “correct” way?

        You said that you have no obligation to be more respectful than the natives. Sure. However, if there is a stereotype against foreigners, I would think it prudent (wise) for you to act more respectful in order to help neutralize those stereotypes.

        Those stereotypes are based on something be it real or imaginary and there is a reason why the stereotype exists. Dismissing or failing to understand the stereotype is just as rude as the stereotype itself.

        I don’t think anyone is forcing foreigners to live in Japan. And no, we don’t have a right to live anywhere we want and act anyway we want regardless of where we are.

        I love Japan I would do my utmost to respect it so that I can benefit from the culture and remain in the country. You show your appreciation by behaving yourself the best you can and by not expecting the Japanese to act like people in your home country. If you don’t like it…there’s always your home country to return to. True?

      • Frogger88

        “Why is it that Japan always gets a free pass when the rest of its “first world” peers are not?”

        Oh God, yes, this. I absolutely HATE this. Any time I go to Facebook or a blog about Japan, it is nothing but white people defending Japanese bigotries. The thing is, a lot of white people ENVY Japan and wish that THEY could be like Japan. As you say, should white Britons be suspicious of non-white Britons? Well, plenty of them think, “YES!” and wish to God and Heaven that they had a “homogenous” society just like Japan that would excuse and accept their bigotries.

        My friend even pointed out a racist blogger (forget the link, obviously, I don’t read that garbage) who specifically pointed to Japan’s “homogeneity” as proof that America should kick out all non-whites. Ugh. It’s disgusting.

    • Toolonggone

      I highly disagree with your assertion that immigrants must be treated like guest, especially with your attempt to make generalization by drawing on the questionable understanding of your American perspective on immigrants. Your last statement is NOT a solution to the problem at all. It’s tantamount to say “shut the hell up!”

      • robertwgordonesq

        What do you perceive “the problem” to be?

        And what would be your solution to that problem?

      • Toolonggone

        The problem #1: NPA exaggeration of increasing foreign crime–as if it were a national terror threat

        Problem #2: your assumption that immigrations are the guests and should not/must not raise voices against authority regardless of ill treatments.

        Solution: organize a civil union/non-profit organization(I.e., ACLU/JCLU, Kuni-Bengodan) raising voices to NPA and its upper divisions.

      • robertwgordonesq

        Toolonggone wrote: “The problem #1: NPA exaggeration of increasing foreign crime–as if it were a national terror threat”

        Yes, but who is that a problem for?

        Seems to me it’s only a problem for foreigners who commit crimes as they will be put under more scrutiny, making it harder for them to get away with their crimes.

        But… I know, I know… you’ll probably say that we will go down a slippery slope and if we don’t check this exaggeration, what is to stop the police from overly exaggerating against anyone else?

        Well…if foreigners stopped committing crimes, there would be nothing for the police to exaggerate. Correct?

        Toolonggone wrote: “Problem #2: your assumption that immigrations are the guests and should not/must not raise voices against authority regardless of ill treatments.”

        One, if you can be deported….you are a guest.

        Two, I never said a foreigner/immigrant can’t or shouldn’t raise their voice against perceived injustices. I don’t think I even implied that. You are perfectly free to protest anything you want.

        However, it’s one thing to protest being harassed for simply being “black” (or whatever ethnicity).

        It’s quite another, to protest for being harassed for doing illegal and unsocial activities (i.e. crimes).

        If someone doesn’t want to be called a “crack head”…they should stop using crack cocaine.

        If someone doesn’t want to be characterized as a criminal…they should stop committing crimes.

        It’s just that simple.

        Toolonggone wrote: “Solution: organize a civil union/non-profit organization(I.e., ACLU/JCLU, Kuni-Bengodan) raising voices to NPA and its upper divisions.”

        It is interesting that you don’t even suggest that foreigners stop committing crimes as part of the solution.

        At the very least these criminal entities should stop their illegal activities so that other foreigners don’t get a bad name.

        Are you against advocating against immigrant-based crime as a possible solution as well?

        Or do you feel foreigners should be free to commit crimes, but just not singled out for special condemnation?

      • Toolonggone

        I’m not gonna answer your questions. You’re simply wasting your breath with
        a load of nonsense alongside with your false speculation. You said I am a guest. Nope. I am a Japanese citizen. Both of my parents are born in the mainland Japan. None of my family members have cultural root in foreign countries.

        There’s no need to emphasize the uniqueness of foreign crimes in contrast to
        those made by Japanese nationals. Statistics of foreign crimes have decreased significantly in the last two decades. NPA clearly acknowledges this trend, but
        they still continue this kind of non-sense until today. Speaking of obsession with perfection. No foreign crime doesn’t lead to eradication of overall crimes in Japan. If not, then, we don’t need police anymore because Japanese people don’t steal, assault, defraud, and kill whatsoever???

      • robertwgordonesq

        Sorry, my choice of words may have been confusing. When I said “If you can be deported…then you are a guest”, I didn’t mean you personally.

        I was speaking of anyone in the abstract, or anyone theoretically. It is the same as if I said “If one can be deported, then one is a guest.”The words ”you” and “one” do not refer to anyone specifically. I apologize for the confusion.

    • Frogger88

      “It is natural to be suspicious of non-Japanese in what is perceived as a homogeneous culture.”

      Which is precisely why we, as non-Japanese people living in Japan, need to take every opportunity we can to debunk the myth of Japan-as-homogenous-nation. Japan has never been and never will be a homogenous nation. Go to a popular site like Tofugu or any blog about Japan and you’ll see that even people in other countries who will never set foot in Japan buy fully into this myth.

      As you point out, the myth of homogeneity is nothing more than an excuse to be bigoted against outsider. You hit the nail on the head. As long as the myth of homogeneity persists, the myth that it’s “natural” to be suspicious of foreigners will persist.

      Debito’s article may or may not be right – I don’t really care. I appreciate his perspective, at least, and his voice in the milieu. But this right here – the myth of homogeneity is what I personally feel needs to be pushed back against. The myth of homogeneity is the root of a LOT of Japanese prejudices, and if we could only debunk it, the Japanese themselves would have a better understanding of their own nation, and people around the world would have a better understanding of Japan.

    • Frogger88

      “The best way to fight negative stereotypes of foreigners (I think) is
      for foreigners to not to play into those stereotypes…at all.”

      Ugh. Look up “model minority.” The bottom line with this is that you are wrong, dead wrong, and you are playing into the bigots’ hands by saying, “Oh, well if you don’t want people to be racist to you, just stop acting so foreign!” No, no, no. That’s not how it works.

      I am who I am. I walk down the street the way I walk down the street. If someone points and sneers and calls out, “Gaijin!” to me, it is not MY fault for being different. It is THEIR fault for being a racist jerk. Geeze, try looking at Feminism 101 and “slut shaming.” It’s the same thing. You don’t get to point and laugh at me because I’m different, and then tell me to just stop being so different, and maybe you’ll stop. Ugh. Look up anti-gay bullying in America, and look at how many school principals literally said to bullied chilren, “Just stop acting so gay.”

      Go back and re-read your sentence. “Not play into those stereotypes…at all.” Oh, and which stereotypes are those? What does this even mean? Does this mean that I can never use a fork in public for fear that a Japanese person might assume that I can’t use chopsticks? That’s a stereotype I encountered TWO DAYS ago. Should I never eat bread in public so I don’t accidentally walk into someone’s stereotype that foreigners eat bread-not-rice? Should I go get PLASTIC SURGERY so people won’t walk up to me and tell me how stereotypically big my nose is?! What the hell do you even MEAN by “don’t play into those stereotypes”? What about stereotypes that are physically a part of me that I can’t stop? I can’t peel off my skin or cut off my nose.

      No, just no. This is wrong on every level, and I’m not going to bother explaining to you why, because all you need to do is Google “model minority” to understand how wrong this idea is. Ugh, can I downvote your comment twice?

      • robertwgordonesq

        Thank you “Frogger88” for your spirited debate. I appreciate your comments and your willingness to contribute your perspective. I think varied perspectives are important, so thank you for your contribution.

        You said “I am who I am…it’s not my fault for being
        different.”

        Ok.

        I take that to mean that other people should accept you for who you are and what you do because you were either “born that way”, “acculturated that way”, “raised that way”, or something of that nature.

        Correct?

        So why is it that you expect the Japanese to accept YOU for who you are, but you (and others) can’t accept the Japanese for who THEY are?

        It cuts both ways.

        Second, when I say “don’t play into those stereotypes”. I am specifically referring to Mr. Arudou’s claim that some Japanese perceive “foreigners to be more prone to commit crimes in Japan”.

        That is the only stereotype I am referring to.

        Therefore I said, if you don’t want the perception of foreigners as being more prone to criminal activity, then foreigners should not commit crimes while in Japan. Period.

        It did not seem that Mr. Arudou had any condemnation for
        foreigners who actually do commit crimes in Japan.

        He felt free to lambast the National Police Agency for their seemingly racist propaganda, but at the same time, why didn’t he also say “Hey foreigners, you should behave yourself as well!”

        But he did not say that.

        Thus giving the impression that his article is politically, or dare I say, racially biased.

        Are there no crimes committed by foreigners at all in Japan?

        Are you advocating for an “equal right” to commit crimes for
        foreigners???

        I will get back to you on the topic of “model minority” as there appears to be lots to read on it and I’d prefer to be better informed before I speak about it.

        However, thanks again for your feedback.

      • LukeCorrigan

        Interesting, Robert, that you use the phrase “racially biased”. While I’d never acuse Mr Arudou himself of racism, it does seem to me that he allows his site to be exploited by some unpleasantly racist types, who use the equal rights platform as a vehicle to spread a rather hateful, anti-Japanese message.
        It’s the same, nasty, white-supremacist vibe that you get sometimes when a bunch of foreigners are out drinking together, and it kind of detracts from his essentially worthwhile campaigning.

      • Viva75

        “it does seem to me that he allows his site to be exploited by some
        unpleasantly racist types, who use the equal rights platform as a
        vehicle to spread a rather hateful, anti-Japanese message”

        100% correct, well said

      • Frogger88

        There is so much wrong and asinine in what you’re saying that it’s hard to even think of what to say in response.

        ” I take that to mean that other people should accept you for who you are and what you do because you were either “born that way”, “acculturated that way”, “raised that way”, or something of that nature.

        Correct?”

        Um…incorrect. I mean that I don’t give a shit what people think of my culture or how I was raised – I mean that I don’t want people to be racist towards me. I don’t give a shit what people think of how I was raised, I just want to be treated with human dignity. You know, as in, not have cops target me because I’m foreign?

        “So why is it that you expect the Japanese to accept YOU for who you are, but you (and others) can’t accept the Japanese for who THEY are?”

        Um, stop one second. You have no idea who I am. You don’t know a single thing about me. What do you know about what I do and do not accept about Japan? Do I accept when children point at me and shout, “Gaijin”? Um, no? Should I? I mean, honestly, should I?

        “Are you advocating for an “equal right” to commit crimes for foreigners??? ”

        Stop right there. Are you…what the hell are you even talking about? Do you even know what racial profiling is? Do you even know what Arudo’s article is about in the first place? It’s pretty clear that you have no idea what you’re talking about.

        Re-read the article, because you’ve missed every single point he made.

      • robertwgordonesq

        Wow. You do seem quite angry. But I will not respond in kind. I respect your position and opinion.

        For the “record”, I am a minority in my own country and I do know what racial profiling and discrimination are all about on a personal level (I even have discrimination lawsuits pending).

        “Gaijin” as a hurtful word? Oh please, I’ve been called much worse than that.

        Anyway.

        You can’t control how people treat you. You can only control your response to it.

        For example, I can’t control your manner of speaking or relating to me…calling my arguments “asinine” or apparently trying to insult my intelligence.

        I could respond in kind, but I choose not to. I think that is a more positive approach.

        But just as an observation, for a person who wants to be treated with human dignity, you seem awfully fast to attempt to denigrate me.

        I could be wrong about that, since as you say, I have no idea who you are.

        It’s just my interpretation of the evidence in front of me.

      • Viva75

        Sorry but as an Australian married to a Japanese woman and travel to
        Japan regularly, I could never and would never be Japanese and I
        completely respect that. Japan have a long and rich culture which they
        hold dearly. I absolutely love the country and respect the traditions
        and beliefs.

        Speaking Japanese, looking Japanese and dressing
        Japanese, does not make you Japanese. There are a myriad of cultural
        subtleties that only Japanese understand, it runs through to the core of
        their essence. It is their sovereign right to determine the course of
        THEIR country and the policies in a manner in which they choose. Japan
        does have it’s problems and yes of course they should be courteous and
        respectful of non-Japanese, and there are racist bigots and xenophobes
        of all nationalities, but we must never forget that we are guests,
        whether married to Japanese or having lived there a lifetime.

        The
        West is quickly beginning to wake up to the drawbacks of
        multiculturalism and Japan is wise not to rush into that trap. It’s
        never nice to be an ‘outsider’ but at the end of the day you choose to
        be there and that is their country, plan and simple. From reading these
        posts, this seems to be a bitter pill for a lot of people to have to
        swallow, but that fact remains that Westerners and other non Japanese
        need to respect and accept that Japan and Japanese should have the final
        say in what kind of country theirs is to become going forward. The
        overwhelming vast majority of Japanese are pacifist with a friendly
        and polite nature, whom are very proud of their long and rich culture and
        heritage…as they should be! They don’t and should never have to
        change for anyone, otherwise it risks being just another once great
        culture, watered down beyond recognition.

      • Frogger88

        “West is quickly beginning to wake up to the drawbacks of multiculturalism and Japan is wise not to rush into that trap.”

        Dude, you could have avoided all that typing by just saying, “Hi, I’m Viva75, and I’m racist. I think the Japanese have a right to be racist, too!” I’ll bet you totally believe that Japan is a homogenous nation, too, don’t you?

        “…that fact remains that Westerners and other non Japanese need to respect and accept that Japan and Japanese should have the final say in what kind of country theirs is to become going forward.”

        Stop right there. Don’t bring the West into this. Japan wasn’t colonized like India or Viet Nam was. Multiculturalism in Japan isn’t the West’s fault, so don’t waste anyone’s time acting like this is something that America forced on them.

        Japan was a colonial power. They invaded, occupied and colonized other nations. They outlawed native languages. They forced people to become Japanese. Here’s the thing – you talk about Japan’s proud and rich history? Japan wanted an empire. That’s their history.

        They wanted a multi-cultural society. Now they have it. That’s not history – that’s NOW. And they have to deal with the reality of that multi-cultural society NOW – just like ALL ex-empires do. Don’t bring “rich history” up unless you’re willing to acknowledge ALL of it.

      • Sam Gilman

        Do you think your ascription of blame and intention to “Japan” is entirely free of prejudiced thinking on your part? The way you talk about “the Japanese” as a collectively responsible and ideologically cohesive group makes me deeply uneasy.

        By the way, “model minority” doesn’t mean conforming to social norms of the majority ethnic group. It refers to certain immigrant groups in various western/”white” countries that are perceived to be positively thriving in contrast to the typical difficulties faced by other non-white groups. That is, they are outperforming the average of the whole society (not just other immigrant groups) academically and economically. Asian Americans are a typically discussed case. I’m really not sure the concept applies here.

      • Viva75

        I am far from a one eyed, pro-Japanese racist. I am an Anglo-Australian who had relatives fight and die against Japanese military aggression in WW2…but that was 70 years ago, let go. No empire or great nation has a blemish free record, don’t be so naive to think otherwise. But since 1945 Japan has become a model pacifist nation, dedicating itself to business and industry.

        They have their problems, nobody is perfect, and they have always been an isolationist nation, bordering on xenophobic. They have their geographical and historic reasons for this, every country is different and right or wrong, it is their choice and theirs alone. So unfortunately, for frustrated Japanese bashers like yourself who visit this website, you’ll just have to live with it.

      • Ron NJ

        You should probably tone down the nihonjinron.

      • Ron NJ

        Excellent points.
        I’ve actually noticed that I do avoid using knives and forks, eating bread, or drinking soft drinks in public simply so as not to draw attention or reinforce Japanese stereotypes of foreigners. It’s sad, really.

      • Frogger88

        That is sad. I mean, I get that racism in Japan is pretty light compared to what people go through in other countries, but trying to be a model minority like that – trying to never trip a latent stereotype is stressful as hell. I gave up on the whole model minority song and dance a long time ago.

        And I fully recognize the fact that I can even give up the model minority act in the first place is an example of just how easy I have it in Japan. Still.

      • robertwgordonesq

        Hello Frogger88. I did some research on “model minorities”. Please tell me if my understanding is correct.

        “Model Minority” is a term used by a dominant ethnic group to “praise” a minority ethnic group for its accomplishments (usually in economics, business, and academia).

        The praise however is deceptive because the “model minority” group is really being used as evidence that there is no discrimination being practiced by the majority group and thus other minority groups who complain of unfair or biased treatment perpetrated by the majority group are simply making excuses for their own lack of initiative and personal discipline.

        Thus “model minorities” are used as evidence to mute any criticism of the majority group of racism.

        “Model minority” groups are also used as evidence in arguments against policies such as affirmative action, or preferential treatment for historically oppressed minorities in terms of college admission, jobs, promotions, etc.

        Although the “Model minority” is being used as an example of “success”, the harm arises when 1) “Model minorities” are used as a basis to criticize other minority groups who have not been as “successful” and 2) “Model minority” status puts pressure on members of the model minority group to continue “keeping up appearances” and trying to meet exaggerated social expectations, thus leading to stress, anxiety, loss of personal identity and perhaps even suicide.

        For example, in the United States, European Americans are considered the “dominant” group as these Caucasians as a whole comprise roughly 78% of the total U.S. population. [Fn 1].

        In addition, Caucasians are the predominant face of leadership roles in business (e.g., CEOs, investment banking), politics (senators, congressmen, elected officials), law (law firm partners, law professors) and media (movies, movie stars, film production, etc.).

        African Americans comprise roughly 13% of the U.S. population, Hispanics 17%, and Asians 5%. [See also Fn 1].

        African Americans have fought for greater rights in the form of legislation and affirmative action programs as recompense for over 250 years of American slavery. [Fn 2]

        These efforts however have led to calls from Caucasians of “reverse discrimination” and “special privileges” for minorities. That is, African-Americans are getting *special* privileges because of their race which is an unfair advantage against Caucasians and other European-Americans.

        Thus Asian Americans such as Koreans, Japanese, and Indians have been held up by Caucasians as “model minorities” because these groups seemed to have achieved a measure of social, economic, and academic success *without* the need of “affirmative action” programs.

        Thus these groups are used as evidence to suggest that affirmative action is not necessary and that discrimination does not exist, for if discrimination did exist, how can you explain the “success” of these minorities?

        Therefore African Americas should stop complaining about racism and instead should focus on their own lifestyles, life choices, and behavior as the source of their depressed economic, social, and political status.

        So what does this have to do with alleged discrimination of foreigners in Japan?

        Frogger 88 suggests that I (Robert) am advocating that some foreigners in Japan become a “model minority” by behaving better than the prevailing stereotypes.

        However, I think Frogger88 believes that creating such “model minorities” will only serve add undue psychological stress on foreigners and also serve to mask Japanese racism and lead to the idea that foreigners only have themselves to blame for their bad reputation and for the way they are generally treated in Japanese society.

        In other words, the “model minority” approach will result in “blaming the victim” for their own persecution. Such as how some women are blamed for their own rape due to the provocative way they dress rather than due to the criminality of the rapist.

        If this is Frogger88’s belief, here is my response:

        I fully agree that the concept of a “model minority” is often used as a tool to mask the racist motive of a majority group.

        However, I firmly believe that discriminated minority has to take responsibility for their own status and not rely on the “good will” of the majority to “correct” discrimination.

        Here’s why.

        If (as in the case of African-Americans towards American Caucasians) the minority group feels that the majority group is prejudice, racist, even evil…then it really makes no sense for the minority group to appeal to the majority group for “better treatment”.

        It would be like asking the devil for a cool drink of water while you are languishing in hell. The devil does not have a nature to make your life any better or more comfortable, so it would be insanity to think a devil would help you and insanity to ask a devil for help.

        It would make much more sense to focus on your own actions and expend your energy in finding a way out of this hell.

        This doesn’t mean the majority group is a literal devil or morally wicked. It just means, it is not in the majority group’s interest to assist the minority if the majority is deriving economic and psychological benefits from putting minority groups down. They have no incentive to help you.

        I think it is more empowering and more productive for those who consider themselves minorities to look to themselves for their own salvation.

        If there is a notion that foreigners are more prone to criminal activity in Japan, then the way to combat that is to make sure no foreigners commit crimes while in Japan and thus deprive the Japanese of evidence for this stereotype.

        African-Americans complain about the “Rockefeller Drug laws” in New York which seem to overly criminalize things such as crack cocaine (primarily used by blacks), yet do not have as harsh a punishment for being caught with powder cocaine (primarily used by European-Americans/whites).

        Sure. There is a valid argument that these laws are racially motivated. No doubt.

        But the solution to me would be for blacks to stop using crack cocaine rather than to complain that they are being “unfairly treated”.

        If you don’t want to be called a “crack head”…don’t smoke crack cocaine.

        If you don’t want to be characterized as a criminal…don’t commit crimes.

        It’s just that simple.

        (I’m not white…by the way…not that that should matter).

        Complaining that the majority is racist also sets up a very dangerous precedent. I.e., that minorities or blacks by their very nature are *incapable* of ever doing anything wrong just by virtue of being black or ethnic.

        For example, take the Trayvon Martin case in Florida where a Hispanic-American (George Zimmerman) was accused of killing an unarmed African-American 17 year old who only had an iced tea drink and some Skittles candies on him at the time.

        The prevailing view in the African-American community is that Trayvon was killed simply because he was black.

        However, these blacks are also suggesting that because he was black it was *impossible* for him to have done anything wrong.

        All Black people, including Trayvon, are all “saints”, incapable of any wrongdoing whatsoever.

        That is the hidden, underlying assumption.

        That thinking is just as racist, if not more, because it just isn’t true.

        Black folk do at times perform bad acts and they should be held accountable for those acts.

        If a police officer pulls me over for driving too fast, I make sure I keep my hands where the officer can see them and that I don’t make any sudden moves.

        I know there is a tendency for police to view African-Americans suspiciously, so I don’t give the officer a reason to get more nervous than he already is.

        I would think it foolhardy for me to argue with the officer and start frantically rummaging around under my seat, and then cry “racial profiling” if I get shot.

        That’s just stupid.

        It’s unfortunate, but racial stereotypes are a fact of life. However, some races or groups contribute to these stereotypes by their attitudes and actions and then complain when they are stereotyped.

        That’s stupid as well.

        So asking foreigners in Japan to “behave themselves” isn’t unreasonable, even if it leads to model minority status. If you take away the basis for the stereotype, the stereotype itself will disappear as a result.

        I’m strictly speaking in terms of criminal acts however.

        This does not mean minorities should take the opposite track and try to conform themselves physically to the majority group such as lightening their skin with chemicals so they look “more white” (as they do in India and Jamaica). Or getting plastic surgery to alter their eyes and lips to appear more “western” as they do in South Korea.

        That is just plain sick and a form of self-hatred. I’m not advocating that.

        What I do advocate is that if you are in someone else’s country, you should try to understand their culture and sentiments and not impose your values on them.

        If people such as Debito Arudou feel that Japan is racist, they should return to their home country (in his case, the U.S.) [Fn 3] and fight racism in the U.S. after having experienced it first hand in Japan.

        My thought is that people (usually white Americans) who are used to being “privileged” in their home countries, taking that status for granted, suddenly find themselves the object of discrimination in Japan.

        Taking affront to that, they then appeal to “universal rights”.

        However, this may really be a guise for extending “white privilege” into a foreign land (a form of imperialism), which is just as “wrong” as the alleged discrimination.

        But of course, that us just a theory.

        I could be wrong about that.

        Robert
        ——-footnotes——-

        [Fn 1]: Year 2012 census figures found at: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html

        [Fn 2]: De jure (legal) slavery from 1619 to 1865 (246 years) (Jamestown to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution); defacto (practical) slavery from 1619 to 1954 (335 years) (Jamestown to the Supreme Court ruling “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional in Brown vs. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)).

        [Fn 3] Yes, I know Debito Arudou is now a legitimate, full fledged Japanese national. However, it seems that choosing that nationality was more of a political strategy rather than out of a genuine love for Japan. Again, I’m just speculating here. I could very well be wrong. He also seems to enjoy a certain celebrity status here in Japan (infamous maybe? It’s all the same), something he may not have received in his home country and that may also be a motivation for his staying in Japan. There is nothing wrong with that motivation, but you still can analyze a person’s motivations for doing what they do. You can certainly do “good things” for totally selfish or self-serving reasons. It is also possible that he is an agent of foreign powers seeking to infiltrate, weaken, and subjugate Japan to make it more accommodating to Western powers…much the same way Commodore Perry did way back when with his arrival and the subsequent “unequal treaties” that resulted. Again…just speculation.

    • GIJ

      “It is natural to be suspicious of non-Japanese in what is perceived as a homogeneous culture.”
      No, there’s actually nothing natural about being suspicious of non-Japanese people in Japan. That suspicion of non-Japanese is instilled through education, indoctrination, and socialization. There is nothing natural about it.

  • FightBack

    Another strong showing Debito! I can confirm that some of these posters and flyers warning of NJ-related crime have been seen in Osaka and the resulting effect is one of wariness toward any NJ on the part of the local populace. Osaka has always been unfriendly toward NJ in general but this propaganda campaign has forced the NJ community even further underground. Even as a victim of verbal abuse I am loathe to go to the police as I know I would be victimized for not being Japanese almost immediately.

    I wonder if these kinds of discriminatory campaigns are contributing to the rise in Japanese on NJ hate-crimes that have been reported in Osaka recently. I certainly only travel by taxi at night rather than risk walking on the streets. Is this part of the effect the NPA wishes to have? Given the byzantine nature of Japanese society in general I would not be surprised.

  • Ron NJ

    Every year the statistics bear it true: Japan’s foreign population is one of the safest groups in the world, and probably the least likely to commit crimes of any minority population on the entire planet. But apparently we’re all part of a crime wave according to the NPA and need to be constantly cracked down on, complete with posters bearing racist caricatures?

  • HSM

    Soldiers and policemen have work to do, but, when the work is not there, the less we see of them the better.

  • http://www.dadsarmy.co.uk/ GMainwaring

    “Message to government: Rein in the NPA”

    Mr. Arudou, the NPA is under the oversight of the National Public Safety Commission precisely to *prevent* the politicization of the police. We realize you have not grasped that fact (as in previous columns where you erroneously claimed that former Tokyo Governor Ishihara would be able to use the Tokyo Metropolitan Police as his personal army – he cannot as no governor, not even the Prime Minister, can order the police to do anything), but have you thought your own argument through? You have made it abundantly clear you don’t trust the police, don’t trust the LDP (indeed, don’t trust your fellow Japanese at all…), and yet you want to give the government the power to tell police what they can and cannot do?

    “Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds”

    1. Using false names to rent cellphones etc. to aid in money swindles or drug sales – no foreigners mentioned

    2. Running illegal websites to sell drugs – no foreigners mentioned

    3. Taking advantage of illegal aliens trying to transfer funds home to create illegal “banks” for laundering the proceeds of criminal activity – sounds like the foreigners are the victims here!

    4. Loan scammers – no foreigners mentioned

    5. Hiring foreigners without proper working visa status or renting apartments to illegal aliens – foreigners mentioned, but in the context of crimes *Japanese* would commit

    6. Running fake “hospitals” or “taxi services” to take advantage of illegal immigrants “etc.” – again, foreigners mentioned, but in the context of crimes *Japanese* would commit

    7. Falsifying documentation for illegal aliens – finally got one right, good job Arudou!

    8. Fake marriages/paternity claims – Expressly involves a foreigner, yes, but just as expressly involves a Japanese, does it not?

    And where were those “racist caricatures” in there, anyway? The big-nosed fellows in the car? Is that what passes for “racist” amongst privileged white men nowadays?

    JUL 8, 2013

    ARTICLE HISTORY

    PRINT

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    These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,” depicting non-Japanese (NJ) as a threat to Japan’s public safety (see “Upping the fear factor,” Zeit Gist, Feb. 20, 2007; “Time to come clean on foreign crime,” ZG, Oct. 7, 2003; “Foreigner crime stats cover up a real cop-out,” ZG, Oct. 4, 2002, for just a few examples).

    A decade ago, the NPA could make a stronger case because NJ crimes were going up. However, as we pointed out then, Japanese crimes were going up too. And, in terms of absolute numbers and proportion of population, NJ crimes were miniscule.

    Then bust followed boom. According to the NPA (seewww.npa.go.jp/sosikihanzai/kokusaisousa/kokusai/H23_rainichi.pdf, or the images accompanying this article), “foreign crime” has fallen below 1993 levels (see H5 column, representing the year Heisei 5)!

    That’s why the NPA has found it increasingly difficult to maintain its claims of a foreign crime wave. So, to keep up appearances, the agency has resorted to statistical jiggery-pokery.

    For example, look again at the NPA chart. The time frame has been expanded to 30 years; in previous annual reports, it covered just a decade. By stretching the parameters, the overall chart depicts a comparative rise rather than a small peak before a precipitous drop.

    Not accounted for, however, is the fact that the NJ population has also risen — more than doubling since 1993.

    Another method of manipulation has been to focus on partial rises in certain types of NJ crime, despite the overall fall. And I bet you can guess which got more media attention.

    The most creative NPA rejig is arguing that NJ crime has been “stopped at a high plateau” (takadomari no jōtai) — even if that “plateau” is downward-sloping.

    Every NPA argument leads to the same predictable conclusion: Further crackdowns on “foreign crime” are necessary, because NJ are importing criminality into a once-peaceful Japan.

    Yet neither the NPA, nor the Japanese media parroting their semiannual reports, have ever compared Japanese and NJ crime, or put them on the same chart for a sense of scale. If they had, they would see something resembling the 3-D graph that accompanies this column.

    The other chart in Japanese (that can be found athakusyo1.moj.go.jp/jp/59/nfm/n_59_2_1_1_1_0.html and in the accompanying images) — on whose data the 3-D graphic is based — breaks down all crime committed in “peaceful” postwar Japan. Note the (less-reported) concurrent “Japanese crime wave” (especially the middle, yellow set of bars, which depict thefts alone).

    Since the right-hand scale is in tens of thousands, the graph tells us that there was a spike to well over 2.5 million non-traffic crimes in the peak year of 2002, a number that dropped to just over 1.5 million by 2009. Compared to 2009′s total “foreign crimes” of 30,569 (including visa violations, which Japanese cannot by definition commit), there is a difference of about a factor of 49. Thus “foreign crime” would barely even register on the chart.

    So how can the NPA still sex up the stats? They found a new way.

    In its 2009 white paper, the NPA talked about how “foreign crime gangs” are increasingly moving into Japan and creating “crime infrastructure” (hanzai infura).

    It’s still such an obscure term that NPA websites have to define it for the public as “things and organizations that are the basic foundation of crime,” i.e., cellphones under fake names, fake websites, false marriages, false adoptions and fake IDs (seewww.police.pref.kanagawa.jp/images/h0/h0001_04.gif)

    Although this “crime infrastructure” technically assists thieves of any nationality, the NPA’s online explanations focus on non-Japanese, with five out of eight examples offered specifically depicting NJ misdeeds (complete, of course, with racist caricatures, atwww.pref.ibaraki.jp/kenkei/a01_safety/security/infra.html)

    “You see this “criminal NJ” narrative again and again on NPA posters, such at the one … found at an immigration bureau”

    I see a warning to immigrants that certain activities are illegal. We are not allowed to do that now? So when I visit the US and see those colorful posters in company windows saying that they use the everify system to check with the Federal Government as to whether their hires are legally able to be employed, that is a racist plot designed to ostracize foreigners and remind them of their place?

    “NPA excesses have gone on long enough to encourage other bullies. We’ve seen a recent spike in the activity of Japan’s hate groups”

    The NPA is to blame for the Zaitokukai now? Really?!? Is that what the news in Hawaii is saying now?

  • jliu

    This is the same error nationalists in Europe make. They use crime as an excuse to reject outsiders, when the very presence of outsiders alone is all that’s needed to reject them. Even if they are nice people, they are still contributing to diversity, and thus there very existence within that majority group is the problem. With this mindset, it effectively removes the apologist’s excuses on whether or not the intruding group is actually disproportionately criminal.

    I am a Chinese immigrant living in the US, and from what I’ve seen multiculturalism is nothing but trouble and infighting. Japan may not be the most kindred of countries, but this disease of pluralistic thinking needs to be eradicated from all of East Asia before it threatens the interests of our ethno-states.

    People like Debito need to be sniffed out for what they are. A minority resentful of the majority, using politics and human rights as an excuse. This may fool most whites, but Asians need to be more vigilant and assess their intentions closely.

    • Samuel Ofoli

      Jlui, you are wrong in your thought.First,your thoughts about even the existence of minority and majority means there will always be concerns to be addressed.Are Chinese one ethnic group?There is no ethno-state in East Asia.Japan has many ethnic groups just as China.the Uighurs etc are in China just as the Ainus etc in Japan.
      You are an immigrant living in the US,are you saying,they should deport you because you are a foreigner or a minority?Or your very presence is a threat to America?

    • Toolonggone

      Then, you will end up finding no one who is willing to stand up for you– or even worse, you will pass the puck to a wrong one who inflames anti-immigration sentiment in your adopted country, which is the Land of Free/Home of the Brave. You should know better that many human right activists and critics in the US and elsewhere are very aggressive, and some of them are much more militant than
      Debito.

  • JS

    Paranoia, xenophobia and discrimination are unfortunately commonplace and endemic in many Japanese institutions, including the police, the judiciary and the courts.

    Kudos to Debito for a well written, informed, objective and balanced article about an important topic. Any reasonable non-Japanese person who has lived in Japan would agree with the points made by Debito. It frankly baffles the mind on how anyone can disagree with this article, unless they are driven by some hidden personal agenda.

    Keep up the good work, Debito!

    • shinjukuboy

      Sarcasm?

  • zer0_0zor0

    As their 2010 white paper reports, “the extent of how much crime has become globalized cannot be grasped through statistics”

    It seems to me that I’ve read multiple articles in this newspaper over the past year addressing international organized crime groups in Japan. The most recent article being about the New Zealand rugby player and his problems with one group in Aichi prefecture.

    This article also fails to note that substantial actions that have been taken against Japanese organized crime groups in the past several years.

    One measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. Japan’s systemic and unchecked bullying of NJ is going to hurt others, as emboldened haters eventually turn their attention to other weak social minorities.

    That quote, in fact, sounds a bit like the pseudo chivalrous garbage espoused by the yakuza and their neo-feudalistic mission in the yakuza tabloid press. And let’ recall that according to the most recent statistics from Robert Whiting, the members of yakuza crime groups are composed of 60% burakumin and 33% Koreans, leaving only 7% non-minority Japanese, I gather. (The burakumin are Japanese from the former outcaste class.

    Hmmm, how do those statistics relate to alleged NPA xenophobic propaganda, etc?

    • LukeCorrigan

      While it’s true that the NPA seem to be manipulating the figures to sensationalize foreign crime (which police force, anywhere in the world isn’t pretty darned racist?), Mr Arudou himself should be very careful.

      The “poster” at the top of the article is simply not a poster, it’s a design posted on a blog by a particularly unpleasant right-wing activist. It’s never been “posted” anywhere and has no connection with the police.

      Mr Arudou knows this very well; have a look at his site and read where this very fact was pointed out to him, but he chooses to ignore the facts in favor of adding a bit of fuel to his sensationalist fire.

      The NPA and Arudou: trouble-stirring, race-obsessed haters. Why can’t they leave the rest of us, normal Japanese and foreigners to live together happily?

  • Sam Gilman

    I’m afraid Debito is up to his old tricks. He is putting forward his fantasy that Japan is a brutal and racist police state. It seems to be a kind of ideological reverse engineering: He needs this fantasy to be true to maintain his belief system and his following as some kind of iconoclastic firebrand. Alas, he’s not a reliable witness.

    He claims that the report for 2011 has changed the stats, moving from a ten year to a thirty year period in order to mask the decline in crime. The thing is, I have the report from 2008 (the earliest version of its current incarnation I could find.) The same chart has a thirty year time frame. I also have the report for 2012. I’ve not read all of it, but I was struck by how the main text begins like this:

    “In 2012 the total number of cleared cases (criminal offences and special law violations) committed by foreigners in Japan was 15,368 (down 1,904 on the previous year (11.0% decrease)), the total number of individuals convicted was 9,149 (down 899 (8.9% decrease)); both fell from the previous year.”

    These are not the words of an agency hell bent on exaggerating foreign crime, or one that talks of plateaus. The newest report in English (for 2010) says:

    “(1)
    Long-term trend
    • The numbers of cleared-up cases and arrests of foreign visitors have been decreasing after peaks in 2004 and 2005.”

    Again, not quite the picture that Debito wants us to believe is being constantly put out. I’m trying to find the report which claims now in 2013, that foreign crime is merely plateauing. Perhaps he could give a reference.

    Of course there are some police officials who think foreigners are especially criminal, and have said so. There are some who act out their prejudices when dealing with foreigners. However, people who do not live in Japan might come away after reading this article with the impression that there are constant visible police campaigns against foreigners, and that constant harassment of foreigners by police is a fact of daily life. As someone who has lived here rather a long time, I can say with confidence: there aren’t, and there isn’t. Such cases as there are, and as impermissible as they are, are the exception, not the rule. I don’t wish to get into some kind of p*ssing match and say this only to offer a good reference point for overseas readers: a foreigner in Japan will typically have rather fewer problems with the police than ethnic minorities in places like the UK and US.

    We should always, in whatever country we live in, be wary of police turning bad. However, Debito is positively willing the police to be a lot worse than they actually are. That doesn’t help debate.

  • Toolonggone

    I don’t have a problem with the article for addressing the problem with NPA. Their crime-prevention posters send a very clear message that crimes committed by NJ should be treated far more seriously than crimes committed by citizens. That is indeed misleading many people who don’t have much input about NJ in the first place. And, ironically, that makes us even more skeptical of NPA, who is already being distrusted by the general public due to the series of alleged scandals, misconducts, and wrong arrests in the last several years.

    Perhaps the main problem with the article is the conviction of author’s argument. While I don’t disagree with the author over NPA’s anti-foreign crime campaign, the link between the anonymous posters with NPA is unclear–or weak at best. He doesn’t provide other credible evidence that suggests NPA’s hostile attitude and stigma on race and nationality–just like the ones depicted in anonymous posters. So that’s where there’s a moot point in the argument.

  • iago

    Statistics are like lamp-posts: Some people use them for illumination, others use them for support. Unfortunately the NPA are not the only ones playing fast and loose with statistics and with the facts in order to fuel suspicion and paranoia.

  • ChrysanthemumSniffer

    “These Community pages have reported many times on how the National Police Agency (NPA) has manufactured the illusion of a “foreign crime wave,””

    Given the sources, shouldn’t that “These community pages” be rewritten as “I” and “reported” be “expressed an opinion”.

  • JS

    There are those here who feel that since Japan is an independent country and a unique homogenous culture, therefore it should be allowed to act in any way it wants to. This is an extremely narrow minded perspective. Let me remind these people that Japan may be an independent country, but it is not an independent planet or an independent galaxy. At a deeper level, we are all citizens of this world, and the effects of what happens in one part of this planet do ripple through the rest of this world.

    This is precisely why the world united against apartheid in South Africa, why Australia has taken Japan to the highest court in the world for its stance on killing whales, and why the world is united in condemning slavery, human trafficking and pedophilia. Citizens of this world, especially those living in Japan regardless of their passport, have a perfectly legitimate right to protest if they feel that the Japanese discriminate against them, deny them basic human rights, do not treat them with respect and dignity, and if they do not get equal treatment under the Japanese law by the Japanese institutions such as the police, businesses, the judicial system and the Japanese courts. I would even argue that, foreign residents of Japan not only have a right to protest these things, but that it is their obligation and responsibility to protest when their basic human rights and legal rights are violated in Japan.

    Those non-Japanese who say that Japan has a right to do anything it feels, as long as it is within its physical borders, have just bought into this narrow Japanese mindset and are blindly mimicing the feelings of some of their Japanese hosts. I urge them to start thinking for themselves, so they can realize that Japan is a part of this planet and its shared values and civilization. Japan does not, and should not, exist in some The Twilight Show-like alternative reality or parallel universe.

    • Sam Gilman

      You’re trying to set up a false dichotomy.

      I don’t think the Japanese government has a right to do whatever it wants to non-citizens on its territory. I am not a “guest” here; I am a working parent quite integrated into the socio-economic institutions here like any other resident. I deserve as much legal protection and support as any other resident here. I don’t forgive racism here as I wouldn’t anywhere else. I also think Japanese society has some serious problems that need to be rectified.

      That doesn’t contradict my opinion that Debito and his followers here put forward an utterly weird dystopian fantasy of what life is like in Japan for foreigners. For you to even hint at comparisons between apartheid South Africa and Japan simply boggles the mind. Are you sure you haven’t just got a really bad dose of culture shock paranoia? No one I know here lives in any kind of fear of the police, nor gets hassle from them. I’m sure there must be a few cases somewhere in Japan of regular problems (it would be remarkable if there were zero), but I don’t think I’m unusual in feeling safer walking around here any time of day or night than I would in my country of origin, and that includes feeling safer from the police.

      • JS

        You’re missing an important distinction. Japan is a developed “First World” country. It was the world’s second largest economy for a long time and it is still the third largest. It is a wealthy country, has a highly educated population, and is home to the world’s largest newspapers by circulation. As such, of course, it has to be held to a higher standard than a country like South Africa. Japan fails in its obligations and responsibilities to its foreign populace based on this higher standard. If you read my post carefully, you will see that I did not make a direct comparison between South Africa and Japan.

      • Sam Gilman

        JS, I read your comment carefully, which is why I objected not to your direct linkage, but your clearly implied linkage between Apartheid era South Africa (where the ruling minority was actually very wealthy – that was kind of the point of the system) and Japan in 2013.

        But do you read other people’s comments carefully? As with I think just about all Debito’s columns since the Japan Times opened them to comments, one has to read the reader reaction to discover the extent to which Debito has made serious factual errors and misrepresentations. Do you take these corrections in, or do you ignore them as inconvenient? By the way, you have an interesting theory about how poorer and/or smaller countries have less of a duty to be nice to foreigners (eg Luxembourg by virtue of its smaller GDP can be acceptably nastier than Turkmenistan). It’s not one I buy into, personally.

        Out of interest, what “obligations and responsibilities” do you feel the Japanese government has failed in towards you personally? Towards people you know? How does this failure compare to the treatment of foreigners and ethnic minorities in your country of origin? I’m not saying that Japan is perfect, but I don’t recognise the surreal fascist police state depictions of Debito’s writings.

        The thing about Debito is that he appears to campaign on behalf of western men. This is a group of people that are able to do pretty well economically despite widespread functional illiteracy in the national language. On the other hand, regarding those groups which genuinely suffer, particularly women from poorer countries exploited in the adult entertainment industry, his main contribution seems to be demanding equal rights for western men to see them perform.

      • JS

        I totally disagree with you. First, I have read a great deal of the material written by Debito in the Japan Times and elsewhere. I find his writings to be very accurate, well researched and informed. I think he is sincere and thorough, and I have not found any inaccuracies in his articles so far.

        Second, Debito speaks for the vast silent majority of non-Japanese living in Japan. It is a myth that he speaks only for priviliged Western men. I have a vast circle of Western and non-Western friends and acquaintences in Japan, and I would say that they agree with Debito roughly ninety percent of the time. I think that’s a pretty good batting average for anyone.

        I was also part of the silent majority of non-Japanese residents of Japan for a long time who would read Debito’s articles, agree with his writings and positions, yet never publicly came out to defend him. I finally had enough of the small, but very vocal, minority of commentors who have taken it upon themselves to create a cottage industry of Debito-bashing. They use falsehoods, convoluted logic, innuendo and half-baked ideas in their ill informed comments attacking Debito and his positions. I generally do not post my comments on Websites, but I honestly got so fed up with the constant unfair and unjustified vitriol against Debito that I finally felt that I had to come to his defense.

        I have tremendous respect and admiration for The Japan Times for having the independence, courage and perseverance to publish Debito’s articles. I hope they do not stop doing this, since I know for a fact that Debito speaks for the silent majority of all non-Japanese residents of Japan.

      • Steve Novosel

        Huh. In my years in Japan I have yet to meet anyone who actually agrees with Debito’s screeds. I thought they were like unicorns, or were simply people who didn’t live in Japan and know any better.

      • JS

        We clearly move in different circles. In my more than ten years living in Japan, and having worked for several Japanese and foreign companies here, my experience is quite different from yours. Perhaps you need to expand your circle of friends.

      • Steve Novosel

        Nah, I think it’s because I actually try to integrate myself into Japanese life and live here normally unlike most of Debito’s fans (and I think Debito himself these days – after all, wasn’t he the one complaining a few years ago that it is impossible for foreigners to make deep bonds with Japanese people?)

        I even distinctly remember sitting on a long train ride one time relatively recently with a few friends, one of whom had PR and the other who was married to a Japanese person and living here for some time. The topic of conversation turned to something regarding foreigners in Japan, and Debito came up. We all had a good laugh at how ridiculous, how blinkered he had become in his opinions. Maybe he wasn’t always this way, but this article and all other of his recent postings sure are.

      • JS

        I’ve lived in several different countries myself and completely agree with you about the need to integrate when you are a foreigner in a host country. However, what I see too often among foreigners in Japan is that in their desire to integrate, they lose all perspective. I don’t think integration should mean that one loses one’s own values and moral compass about what is right and wrong.

        As much as I myself have integrated into Japanese society, I have resisted the urge to leave my critical thinking skills and sense of perspective at the door when setting foot in the archipelago of Japan. It does Japan no good if non-Japanese residents self-lobotomize themselves in order to live in Japan, and if they buy into the thinking that self-analysis and critical thinking are dirty things.

      • Steve Novosel

        “However, what I see too often among foreigners in Japan is that in their desire to integrate, they lose all perspective.”

        Huh? What does this mean?

        “It does Japan no good if non-Japanese residents self-lobotomize themselves in order to live in Japan, and if they buy into the thinking that self-analysis and critical thinking are dirty things.”

        This is a pretty big strawman argument, JS. Who says this?

        What I do see is a whole lot of Debito readers who see everything through the distorted lens of racism – “I am a victim, Japanese people will discriminate against me” There’s not a whole lot of use to that perspective, IMO. It’s reductive and almost always wrong.

      • Sam Gilman

        So, unless someone holds your negative attitude towards the Japanese, they’ve had a bit of their brain removed? That’s a bit extreme.

        Earlier you stated that you “knew for a fact” that a majority of people who had never given their opinion on Debito agreed with Debito. Can you help me with how you “know” this? It looks like you’ve turned the words “opinion” or “gut feeling” into the word “fact”. You see, critical thinking skills involve assessing the validity and reliability of what other people say.

        I also asked you to address the evidence-based criticisms made here. You didn’t. Instead you dismissed everything as smears and half-truths, and alluded to some Internet conspiracy. That doesn’t look like an application of critical thinking skills on your part.

        Are you sure you’re genuinely engaging in why people find this column problematic? It doesn’t look like it to me at all.

      • JS

        I am trying to bring positive change through my words and actions, since I care deeply about Japan. I was raised and educated to think that if you care about something, you don’t take the easy way out.

        In my view, your comments are more negative and detrimental for Japan. I think we have different perspectives on this. Your comments do not seem rational to me, so I chose not to respond. I do not like to get into circular arguments. I hope you can understand.

      • Sam Gilman

        I’m afraid your answers are strangely evasive. It feels like you’re being challenged on some deeply held belief, rather than a rational position. Is it so difficult to address the factual criticisms made here?

      • JS

        Your comments are anything but factual.

      • Sam Gilman

        My comments are “anything but factual”? That’s flat out wrong, JS. Look at my main comment – the one with all the upvotes (a silent majority?). It links to documents from the NPA that flatly contradict both some of the detail and the general thrust of Debito’s argument – that the NPA don’t admit that foreign crime is falling, and that they’ve manipulated the presentation of data this year to conceal the fall.

        Can you not see that Debito made some mistakes here?

    • robertwgordonesq

      Will Australia take Denmark and the Faroe Islands to court for their dolphin and whale hunt?

      (this link shows a whale hunt in Europe which was not featured in the movie “The Cove”. I am providing the link to show that this hunt appears to be more extensive than anything the Japanese have been accused of in the film “The Cove”, it is out in the open so there is no need to sneak around to film it, yet The Cove and Sea Shepherds seem to ignore or downplay this whaling taking place in Europe)

      See: http://www.lifeinthefastlane.ca/gruesome-whale-and-dolphin-bloodletting-massacre-in-europe/offbeat-news

      JS wrote: “This is precisely why… Australia has taken Japan to the highest court in the world for its stance on killing whales…”

      And what about the hunting of kangaroos?

      (the following link shows Australians hunting for kangaroo and eliminating them as “pests” which is what the film “The Cove” accused the Japanese of doing towards dolphin…I’m providing the link to show a double standard)

      See: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zbn3c8EcNRk

      …and if the argument is that dolphins are “cute” and “smart” (smarter than kangaroo), well if they are so smart…why don’t they just simply avoid swimming near Japan during the hunting season?

  • Roan Suda

    Graphs and statistics are not my forte, but I find all of this puzzling for non-technical reasons. One crime that goes unmentioned in Arudou’s rants is illegal immigration. Yes, living in Japan without citizenship or a proper visa is against the law. But for various reasons, including the state of the economy, that crime statistic has fallen. The vast majority of NJs just want to get through the day, just like everyone else. There are, however, a few adventurers, driven by greed, sometimes mixed with hatred and contempt for the Japanese. The police have every reason to be on the lookout for them…But why would they engage in “jiggery-pokery” with the facts and figures? What is there to gain from that? Arudou never explains that. He simply assumes, it seems, that there is a racist/fascist agenda. But if the police and the current government were half as wicked as he assumes, why wouldn’t we be seeing a drastic decrease in de-facto immigration?

    • jmanngod

      Police manipulate statistics in order to increase their budgets, maintain control over perception and drive policy towards their own ends. This is a well known phenomenon and is NOT peculiar to Japan. Arudou’s excellent point is that Japanese police do this to forward a right-wing and essentially racist agenda. His point is well illustrated above

      • Roan Suda

        The tendency of all organizations is to make themselves seem more essential to society’s well-being in order to garner more support, so the first argument is reasonable, even if there is no proof. But the rest of this is circular reasoning. One does not have to be naive about the golden hearts of the police to be skeptical about wild, irresponsible charges of “racism”

      • Toolonggone

        People don’t have to be naïve about the black heart of NPA until they stop being
        obsessed with their chimerical idea of seeking perfection for no-crime state by singling out foreign-looking persons as potential crime suspects. It doesn’t make sense because 1) the statistics of reported crimes by both Japanese and
        non-Japanese have declined by 40% from 2002 to 2009; and 2) over 97% of
        those are committed by Japanese nationals.

    • Toolonggone

      Because NPA knows for sure the number of NJ will never exceed that
      of Japanese citizens no matter how the government cuts red tapes on work visas. It’s a drop in the bucket. And Mr. Arudou makes it very clear that NPA even acknowledged a decline trend of crimes committed by NJ in their 2010 white paper reports.

  • http://ameblo.jp/cluttered-talk/ Michiko

    I think it should be carefully separated, or divided in two defferent things that foreign people came from former Japanese colony, or places where Japan invaded into, almost means Korean and Chinese, and other foreigners.
    As to think the weight of each, the population of Koreans and Chinese in Japan, estimated to be over 1.2 million, is almost half of all population of foreigners in Japan.
    Also they have their reasons and histories and rights which have to stand differing from other foreigners, I mean new comers, and their life style seem to be more like ordinary Japanese, joining Japanese society for much long time, as none or less thing to specifically point out if they are not so fitting into, or contributing to.
    Besides, they’re not distinguished by their looking, no difference with us, in spite of many of new comers are like.
    There’s one more thing, our “xenophobia”, correctly to say which some of our members strongly have, is very complicated.
    The xenophobia we have, is including almost two things that one toward old comers, and another the rest of the others, these two things have quite different aspects and circumstances.
    So I think these things are not appropriate to discuss just like these are the same, when some of us are any afraid or scared of new comers, I mean many of you people in here, the feeling the Japanese have is quite different from one toward old comers.
    I’d like you to know about it into any few degree.

  • Steve Novosel

    Politeness difficulties? YES. Don’t be rude, JS.

  • JS

    Oh, so you can dish it out, but can’t take it?

  • Steve Novosel

    I wasn’t “dishing it out”, JS. I pointed out part of your comment made no sense and the other was pointing out you were refuting a comment nobody made – a strawman. Fact.

    I repeat: don’t be rude, JS.