The End of the Nikkei Visa?

A while back I wrote a post regarding the Ministry of Justice proposing changes to immigration/foreign worker policy, and specifically how the Nikkei (Japanese ancestral) visa will be affected.
Gen Kanai left a comment on that post yesterday which I will reproduce here in full (the only change I made was to add hyperlinks and remove double hyphens because I think they might still cause problems in MT):

J, I was holding back my opinion on this because I knew that there was information lacking.
I’ll forward a review by Arudou Debito of the proposed changes. He was, like you, initially angered by the proposal, but after investigation into the details, his tone has changed significantly.
Please take a moment to read the actual proposal. I’d appreciate your evaluation afterwards.

July 4, 2006. Freely forwardable
Last newsletter, I wrote you about how Dietmember and Senior Vice Minister of Justice Kouno Taro and folks at the Ministry of Justice have issued a statement regarding future policy regarding immigration and foreign workers. They are accepting feedback on this until Saturday, July 15, so time is of the essence here.
I sent you a blurb of three bullet points, but of course there are more. So before bed last night I pored over the document (available at ). At seven pages, it’s not a bad read. And it’s not all bad news. Allow me to summarize the recommendations immediately below.
(These are not direct translations. All errors, and there may be several in this hasty translation, are mine. Please see original document if you need to check or clarify any sections.):
(1) Cap the foreign population at 3% (not including the Zainichis).
(2) Increase foreign tourism, exchange students, and working holidays.
(3) Increase foreign workers to fill the gaps in sectors where there are labor shortages, working in sectors such as assisting the elderly, part-time, and developing economic sectors. Change (henkou) policy regarding low-wage labor (particularly regarding systems to accept trainees, researchers, and Nikkei workers). [NB: Unclear what direction this “change” will take.]
(4) While expanding foreign labor, increase administration of their residency (zairyuu kanri).
(5) Require foreign laborers to have equal wages with Japanese unemployed (hikoyousha), along with equal social insurance. Punish noncomplying companies.
(6) Have compulsory education for the families of foreign workers.
(7) For a diversifying (tayouka) Japanese society, give due consideration to the nationalities of resident foreigners, without favor towards any one particular country.
(8) Make Immigration procedures rational and efficient.
– Require Japanese language ability and study for foreign trainees and researchers. Make continuation of employment contingent on improvement in language ability.
– Allow for exceptions under bilateral agreements with countries.
– Restrict these workers to specific economic sectors deemed to need them.
– Restrict this system to allow workers from countries with good guest worker programs (soushutsu taisei).
– Pay workers the equivalent of a Japanese worker if the level of skill is equivalent.
– Create a revolving-door system for foreign workers if they do not plan to stay in Japan.
– Create a system for resident foreign workers to bring over their families, and require a degree of Japanese language ability from them.
– Create a system for understanding their lifestyles and statuses of residency.
– Require them to advise the authorities whenever they change jobs. This requirement also includes employers to do the same, in order to avoid overstayers.
– Create a similar system for understanding the situations for overstayers.
– Punish offenders and organizations severely.
– Create an information bank between administrative organs overseeing foreigners, in order to serve them better.
– Create a super Gaijin Card which will service foreigners beyond just administrative registering.
– Increase awareness (haaku o okonau) that Zainichis are also residents. [NB: Does this mean they will get a Juuminhyou residency certificate at last?]
– Create a system for severe enforcement and policing of employers who employ foreign overstayers.
– Stop importing Nikkei just because they are blood related to Japanese. Increase the technical quality of Nikkei workers from the start.
– Acknowledge that Nikkei families (including those with Japanese citizens) who have been here long-term have increased qualifications to be here.
– Require language ability for their continued residency.
– Crack down on the water trade business expressly importing “entertainers” for prurient purposes.
– Crack down on exchange students becoming overstayers by capping the degree of students to between 1 and 10% of the foreign population.
– Make it easier for the real educational institutions to bring in foreign students.
– Encourage (sokushin) foreigners who are contributing to our economy to become established (teichakuka), and loosen restrictions for them to become Permanent Residents.
– Give due consideration those nationalities which will increase our country’s diversity (tayouka).
– Make naturalization more difficult for those applicants who do not have Permanent Residency or Zainichi status.
– Even after granting Permanent Residency, check on their residential status (zairyuu joukyou) and punish offenders. [NB: Unclear what those offenses might be even if you have PR.]
– Accept foreigners as part of Japanese society, and guarantee their reasonable rights (gouriteki na kenri no hoshou) and make them pay taxes. [NB: Naturally, I’m wondering what kind of rights are involved and how they will be guaranteed.]
– Give foreigners the same social security (nenkin, shakai hoken etc) as unemployed Japanese. Also, take responsibility for their housing and living environment (juukyo tou seikatsu kankyou).
– Enforce compulsory education for families of foreigners, and shorten residency for noncompliers. [NB: I see lots of problems here-see comments below.]
– Greatly (oohaba ni) increase the number of working holidayers and tourists.
– Increase scholarships, confer credits to international universities, and bring higher-quality students here.
– Increase the brain drain by bringing foreigners with educational qualifications higher than baccalaureate. [NB: Humph. Watch the universities and Monkashou shoot this down promptly by refusing to reform Japan’s academic apartheid. [ ]
– Enliven Japan’s international business knowhow by allowing longer-term visas for business expats.
– Increase worker flow from the US and South Korea by considering making border controls more automatic.
– Unify application and renewal procedures.
– Allow for Internet applications and announcements.
It’s surprisingly not all bad news. There are proposals and ethos that we have been saying repeatedly over the years (particularly about foreigners being taxpayers and contributors to society-bravo!). So let’s give praise where due and criticisms where not.
I basically agree with compulsory education of immigrants. I think anyone who lives in Japan should become as fluent in the Japanese language as possible (as the alternative-functional illiteracy and a lifetime of limited communication ability with society-limits one’s world and severely impinges upon one’s ability to control their own fate). The emerging underclass of uneducated Nikkei youth gangs down south illustrates this quite well.
The requirement of improvement of language in order to continue employment, or compulsory education for minors with reduction in residency for noncompliers is definitely open to abuse.
a) Who controls the education of workers, and who assesses their ability and improvements? If it is the employer, any nasty boss could simply report that the level has improved insufficiently and use it as a means of sanction or firing (I personally have experience with this situation). Standards and qualifications should be made clear even at this stage. Nihongo Kentei Shiken at least.
b) What systems are in place for children of foreigners who face bullying and ostracization at school, and cannot for psychological reasons attend? Will they and their families be exiled back to their native country simply because their kids got a raw draw of classmates or teacher? I suggest the Ministry of Education offer ethnic alternatives (such as accrediting the ethnic schools found nationwide) for children who do not, for whatever reason, fit in.
I herald increased enforcement of laws regarding overstayers as long as they zero in more on the employers which encourage the practice, by specifically employing foreign labor from a standpoint of weakness (confiscating passports, etc.), and threatening them with exposure if they complain about slave work conditions. Not all overstaying is deliberate, or avoidable, and there has been too much punishment of the victims in Japan. Consequently Japan, as the US State Dept. has famously pointed out, is an egregious human trafficker. Glad to see a crackdown on that at last.
However, this crackdown is also open to abuse with nascent policing (including Permanent Residents) all over again. Central control and notification of even change of employment is open to abuse, with people squealing on foreigners already (through Immigration Snitch Sites, see, and opening them up to all manner of harassment. There has to be a check on police powers here or else there will be wanton raids and racial profiling.
I also cheer the lowering of the bar for receiving Permanent Residency and citizenship, and hope that awareness raising campaigns (if any) will be successful in encouraging the popular view that citizenship and residency are not a matter of race. However, there is no clear sign that foreigners will yet get a “juuminhyou” residency certificate. When will Japan do away with the requirement of citizenship for formal registry registration? (
I also am happy with the news that human rights (whatever “reasonable rights” is supposed to mean) should be guaranteed. However, given that Japan’s government recently applied to the newformed Human Rights Committee (and received a seat) without mentioning ONCE a single thing about guaranteeing foreigners’ rights in their application, I think I will take a “wait and see” attitude. More on this later in a Japan Times article.
If Dietmember Kouno and the MOJ were really interested in getting feedback from the public, particularly the international residents whom it will affect, one would hope they would make the Japanese as easy as possible (with furigana as a minimum, and simplified Japanese as a nicety). Not to sound provincial, but an English translation would also have helped. Instead, the proposal starts out with flowery bureaucratic language (such as “honne to tatemae no kairi” (??), the last word I spent at least twenty minutes just trying to find!), completely unnecessary for public (not to mention international) consumption. If you want more feedback from the public, make the policy proposal easier for the public to understand!
Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ve commented on the arbitrary and unreasonable 3% population cap, so others can point that sort of thing out themselves to the MOJ. I encourage you to do so. By July 15.
Address: 100-8977 Houmushou Nyuukoku kanrikyoku Kanri Kikaku Kanshitsu
Fax: 03-3592-7940
Questions to 03-3580-4111 ext 5685
It’s all up at in Japanese.
Or you can contact Dietmember Kouno Taro directly (he reads English)
Thanks for reading. Back to work.
Arudou Debito in Sapporo
July 4, 2006
My response to the MOJ document follows in the extended entry.

Read moreThe End of the Nikkei Visa?


I miss big fireworks shows on the 4th of July at the beach every year. Hell, I miss just having the day off from work. Barbecue, longnecks, bottle rocket wars, I miss all of it. Y’all have a good time on my behalf, I think I will go out of my way to buy a bottle of shitty American beer at the convenience store and maybe light off some incense when I get home.
On the brighter side of things, I intend on seeing a natural fireworks show as soon as I get to Thailand in October: The Naga Fireballs
And I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to tell the difference between methane plumes rising from the Mekong and tracer fire from the Lao side of the river.
Speaking of tracers, the first time I saw them in person was down the street from my grandparents’ house in Los Angeles, on the fourth of July. I believe that was the year when a police officer deftly caught in his hand a bullet that fell from the sky and bounced off a car window.
Happy fourth.

Promoting Decay

Article in question: “YouTube” Web site has Japan’s broadcasters in a tizzy

“Piracy of web contents, both in Japan and abroad, has been increasing recently,” an NHK spokesperson tells Shukan Asahi. “NHK devotes time to confirming these violations one by one, and requests their removal. Even if extra efforts are involved, we believe that it serves as a discreet means of preventing illegal use of program contents.”

Good luck with that, assholes. And stop coming around my house to beg for money to squander on this bullshit… Resistance is futile, biooootches!

“One of Japan’s top promoters of showbiz talent, Johnny’s Jimusho, the office of Johnny Kitagawa, said it is mulling legal action to make sure its performer’s rights are not infringed upon. A spokesman for the agency said it was determined to “root out” YouTube and similarly predatory web sites.”

Watch out, the Kinki Kids are coming to root your ass out! (only after Johnny’s done with them first, though)

“Once, TV would broadcast a segment and that was the end of it,” recalls a program director. “But now things have come to the point that anybody can watch things anytime and anywhere. This is creating a sense of alarm among the people on the production side and can be expected to impact on programming quality. To discourage lowbrow piracy, it might be better for us to try to improve, even slightly, the type of programs we air on a daily basis.”

Okay, that whole blurb is just a pile of shit, but here are my immediate thoughts:

  1. Fuck people on the production side. It’s called work for a reason.
  2. I fail to see how inspiring TV networks to improve is a bad thing.
  3. Isn’t this the same argument made against Sony when the first BETAMAX machines went to market? That one worked out real well for these idiots, too.

[Note: I just headed over to Riding Sun and realized I’ve again unintentionally covered the same article after he has, which has happened a couple times recently. I swear it’s not intentional, GB. Besides, you earn the serious linkage, so I don’t imagine it bothers you too much… But writing the same comparison to the VCR issue of old is just plain spooky.]

Retirement Lawson

As if it wasn’t already official, convenience store chain Lawson has now sealed the fate for my beloved island as the Isle of Dentures (and Onions): Lawson opens 1st store tailored for elderly
I am so gonna get the first photos of the brown Lawson sign up on the net. w00t.
BTW, Awaji-shi is the new name for the area of the island north of Sumoto, including Tsuna-cho, Higashiura, Hokudan, and Iwaya.
UPDATE: Oh no, I’ve been scooped! So I imagine photos are online at some Japanese news site, as well. Oh well, I’m just gonna have to make up for it by taking really good photos, say of an elderly gang of ojisan squatting in the parking lot eating yakisoba UFOs and loudly lamenting how much they want to get their hair cut… I think I got a good tip as to the store’s location (interesting story: A coworker who took a week off to see the world cup noted that a Lawson near the airport bus terminal in Higashiura was shut down for about ten days for remodeling). Thanks to stu for the tip.

Ocean Odyssey

I have just watched possibly the best ocean documentary, ever.
That’s pretty much all I can say, because it just completely blew me away.
Well, on second thought, I guess I can quickly describe it as a two-part show (1 hour each) that traces the life and amazing journeys of a sperm whale. I should also add that this show features some of the best computer graphics I have ever seen in the sense that the models are just real enough – they aren’t too real so as to seem spooky ala the Uncanny Valley effect, but they were good enough in places to make me wonder if it was actual camera footage or not (if you do happen to see it, tell me if you think the arctic ROV footage was real, and if it was real, whether it was CG-enhanced or not).
The BBC produced it and you can read a bit about it here (the BBC has stupidly moved or removed the page for this show on their own site). I hope this is eventually shown in the states on the Discovery Channel, because it deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. In short, I highly recommend you try and see it.
Fighters vs. Bombers (Orcas vs. Sperm Whales)

Sumoto River Barge

I took my camera to work last Thursday so I could snap some photos on the way home.

This is a construction barge that’s been scooping mud from the river bed in the city’s effort to deepen it, as an anti-flooding measure.

There was a huge school of mullet fingerlings under a bridge I crossed, where two branches of the river merge and the current runs strongest.

Another shot of the barge, and the adjacent “dump boat,” taken from the opposite bridge.
The high resolution shots are available here: 2006 Sumoto River

obvious conclusion

me: i need to delete this chat later
Taro: hahaha
me: or my grandchildren will know what a disgusting old man their grandfather is when they go through my gmail account
Taro: How?
me: you can access all of your past chat sessions through gmail
look at the Chat item in the menu on the left
Taro: oh
but it was not me
it was not written by Taro.
me: holy shit, I am not me, either!
who the fuck is taro?
who the fuck are you?
Taro: I dont know
me: dont write depraved shit here!
Taro: maybe somebody just broke in this chat
me: hah
you’re a hacker!
Taro: bad people
me: i am innocent!
oh wait… i’m a hacker, too!
Taro: not me
me: i’m not me, you’re not you