Thursday, August 25, 2005

Shall [h/w]e overcome? Someday... 

A friend of mine recently sent me this book review. Some of you out there might find it interesting, so...

>Immigration Battle Diary (Nyukan Senki)
>By Hidenori Sakanaka
>Reviewed by
>Special to www.debito.org
>Released May 24, 2005
>Freely Forwardable
>In March 2001, just weeks before Junichiro Koizumi became Prime Minister
to the squeals of "Jun-chan" from (senile?) middle-aged women enthralled by
his looks, Japan's most notorious middle-aged political matron stopped off
in Osaka to lend her voice to the growing chorus of Koizumi supporters.
>Makiko Tanaka was then the country's most popular politician, at least
among members of the public. But she knew she was hated in Nagata-cho, and
was thus stumping for Junichiro Koizumi in the upcoming LDP election, an
election that would decide who would get the dubious honor of replacing
Prime Minister Mori.
>Ms.Tanaka is loved by reporters for her sharp, barbed quotes and fiery
populist rhetoric. Rarely is she at a loss for words when speaking to
assembled reporters, be they foreign or Japanese. But although I was not
trying, I managed to startle her into relative silence.
>It happened during a quick interview after her speech when, rather than
the usual questions about why she was supporting Koizumi, I asked about
what discussions were taking place in the Diet regarding the future of
Japanese immigration and the integration of foreigners into the workplace.
>Ms.Tanaka had played a large role in helping many Japanese born in China
during the war years to return to Japan. So I figured that, with her
reputation for being one of the more internationally-minded Diet members,
she would be able to respond at length to what I thought was a simple
>Instead, she looked at me with a surprised glance and said, "Nobody in the
Diet is really discussing the issue seriously or in detail. Which is
exactly why we need to start discussions." End of interview.
>In the four years since, the issue of opening up Japan to foreign
immigrants has simmered just under the surface of the mainstream media. But
despite United Nations' reports that Japan may need 30 million foreigners
by 2050 in order to maintain current levels of economic prosperity, serious
discussion of bringing in more foreigners seems taboo.
>Instead of thoughtful, reasoned public debate in the mainstream press, we
get "educated" business leaders (complete with advanced degrees from
America's best universities) arguing in business journals over whether or
not it's best to bring in Brazilians or Asians to do the hard, dirty work
in the factories and service industries, and expressing their fears that
too many Brazilians will result in late-night samba parties that will keep
the neighbors awake, while too many Asians could lead to gang problems.
This is the sad and pathetic state of quasi-official "discussion" of future
immigration needs.
>Until now, that is. In late April, one of bureaucratic officialdom's most
interesting and controversial people, Hidenori Sakanaka, published a work
that will, hopefully, take the issue of increased immigration out of the
hands of moronic and self-interested businessmen and place it squarely
where it belongs --in the realm of public debate.
>Sakanaka, until he retired in March, headed the Tokyo Immigration Bureau.
He is a life-long civil servant and a maverick who has seen the best, and
worst, of Japan's immigration policies over the past 30 years. An outspoken
humanist who basically favors more immigration, Sakanaka details his
experiences and concerns in "Nyukan Senki", and offers a scenario for what
Japan might be like in 2050 with a more open immigration policy.
>While he does not name names, Sakanaka lashes out at the greed, stupidity
and criminal behavior of Japanese politicians, businesses, and his own
immigration bureau for their attitudes towards legal and illegal
immigrants, their refusal to treat Japanese-Koreans as citizens, and their
turning of a blind eye to human trafficking.
>It is clear Sakanaka despises the right-wing fueled paranoia and
xenophobia towards foreigners. It is also clear, however, that he
understands the real concerns of ordinary Japanese that lie behind the
rhetoric, and that he has few illusions about the kinds of problems and
issues Japan would face if it decides to welcome millions of immigrants.
>The foreign community in Japan, rightly, has passionate views of the
immigration debate and those views have many intellectual merits.
Individuals often have their own immigration stories, sometimes with happy
endings, sometimes not. But Sakanaka has been on the front lines, had his
life threatened by yakuza thugs, and been reassigned out of Tokyo by
politicians getting rich off of human trafficking and illegal immigrant
labor when he refused their requests to ignore the problem. He is neither a
well-meaning but inexperienced human rights activist nor a corporate
executive simply looking at the bottom line. He's an insider, a man who
reached the top of the heap, and he has an authority on the issues that is
unmatched anywhere in Japan.
>While Sakanaka's experiences make for interesting reading, especially for
those who have always wondered about foreign crime in Japan, it is the last
few chapters, which offer alternate scenarios for life in Japan by 2050 and
policy advice on how to integrate immigrants into Japanese society by then,
that really make this work stand out.
>Fundamentally, Sakanaka argues, the issue before Japan is what kind of
country it wants to become by the middle of this century: a "big" country
or a "small" country. Becoming a Big Country means accepting, by 2050,
roughly 20 million immigrants in order to maintain current economic levels
of prosperity. The alternative is to become a Small Country, let the
population drop to about 100 million, keep most foreigners out, and use
robots to do some of the work often done by immigrants elsewhere.
>To achieve the goal of becoming a Big Country, Sakanaka advocates the
establishment of an Immigration Ministry, a separate government organ with
full ministerial powers that would be responsible for all aspects of
Japan's immigration policy, as well as the immigrants themselves once they
have arrived and until they have obtained Japanese citizenship. Sakanaka
basically favors Japan becoming a Big Country, not just for economic
reasons but to serve as the "Canada of Asia", a multicultural, multiethnic
salad bowl of a country where people of all races and creeds can feel
>The analysis is not perfect, and even Sakanaka the humanist falls into
some racial stereotyping traps. For example, he assumes that, by 2050,
certain immigrants will remain in certain positions they are often
dominating now. In Sakanaka's Japan of the future, Chinese and Indian
immigrants are taking the lead in information technology businesses while
taxi drivers, busboys, and service industries are dominated by Southeast
Asians. Perhaps this will come to pass, and perhaps he simply wanted to
present a theoretical possibility that he thought readers could easily
identify with. But a slightly wider imagination would have allowed for the
possibility of large professional class of immigrant doctors, lawyers, and
others. And, most damningly, Sakanaka has little to say about the children
of immigrants and what their role in Japanese society might be.
>Still, Sakanaka is an idealist. He is also an engaging writer. No academic
jargon or (for the most part) sentences that sound as if they were written
by Kasumigaseki bureaucrats. His book will serve as a primer to anybody
interested in immigration issues, and how Japan might adopt an enlightened,
progressive, and, above all, humane, immigration policy in the years to
>So, despite the flaws, this book needs to be read by as many people as
possible, and soon, for it's thoughtful analysis and reasonable
suggestions. An English language version would be greatly appreciated, but
appears not to be forthcoming anytime soon. This is sad. For the
immigration debate, in my opinion, is rapidly becoming hijacked by the
corporate world, which, if they get their way, will simply dictate to
politicians and bureaucrats behind closed doors what kind of an immigration
policy serves their narrow interests, rather than the interests of the
>Human rights groups and other experts including, yes, immigration
officials, are being shut out of these back-room debates when they try to
join. But, sadly, many don't even try, seemingly believing that if they
just hold enough symposiums with like-minded souls, the problems, current
and future, will get resolved.
>As Sakanaka shows, they are dreaming, and all responsible residents of
Japan, no matter what their passport says, as well as the international
community would do well to consider the merits of his arguments and

Monday, August 22, 2005

Of course, all this was empty talk. 

This from a recently translated Japanese Wiki article:

"...For [blogging] is not like the nursery; in [blogging] obedience and support are the same. And just as you supported and carried out a policy of not wanting to share [Japan] with [other]...people and the people of a number of other nations--as though you and your superiors had any right to determine who should and who should not inhabit [Japan]--we find that no one, that is, no member of the human race, can be expected to want to share [Japan] with you. This is the reason, and the only reason, you must hang."

-- Hannah Arendt speaks out [from the grave] on the Japanese "administrative blogging massacres" being carried out daily in the name of postmodernism.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Topics I like to see Marxy blog on this week 

1. Bon Jovi is coming to Japan soon in support of his new single...and to speak out against PM Koizumi!
2. Postal Service privatization debate
3. It is the 60th aniv. of the end of WWII...and GERMAN year in Japan!

Beyond Thunderdome 

DIGIKI and I biked the FUCK out of Tokyo the day before yesterday, and I'm sure we'll do it again soon.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

RSD (Rabbinical Saying of the Day) 

"Let them kill you, but don't cross the line."

Friday, August 12, 2005

Everybody must get stoned! 

Radio Friendly Unit Shifter 

Use just once and destroy
Invasion of our piracy
Afterbirth of a nation
Starve without your skeleton key

I love you for what I am not
Did not want what I have got
Blanket acne'd with ciggarette burns
Speak at once while taking turns
Second-rate third degree burns

What is wrong with me?
What is what I need
What do I think I think?

This had nothing to do with what you think
If you ever think at all
Bi-polar opposites attract
All of a sudden my water broke
I love you for what I am not
Did not want what I have got
Blanket acne'd with cigarette burns
Speak at once while taking turns

Hate, hate your enemies
Save, save your friends
Find, find your place
Speak, speak the truth

- Nirvana, Radio Friendly Unit Shifter, In Utero

The Great Game 

Now reading "The New Rulers of the World" by John Pilger, Verso Books

"We have 50 per cent of the world's wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. In this situation, our real job in the coming period...is to maintain this position of disparity. To do so, we have to dispense with all sentimentality...we should cease thinking about human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation."

- George Kennan, US strategic planner, 1948

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Jack and Coke and him... 

The boy with the thorn in his side
Behind the hatred there lies
A plundering desire for love
How can they see the love in our eyes
And still they donユt believe us ?
And after all this time, ah
They donユt want to believe us
And if they donユt believe us now
Will they ever believe us ?
And when you want to live
How do you start ?
Where do you go ?
Who do you need to know ?
Oh no no no ...









Sunday, August 7, 2005


Read the following quotation:

"...the citizens [who] had grown up since...took the new regime for granted and admired it. They learnt about the past only throught the official history; doubts were set aside by the material achievements visible...and by well orchestrated and incessant indoctrination. The result was a state whose subjects appeared more aware of the benefits given to them than of the handicaps they suffered and one in which politics effectively came to an end for the mass of the population. The party provided the elite where the only debate that mattered took place, and even there it was muted."

Question: Which country is being described here?

A) USSR circa 1935
B) Japan circa 2005
C) America circa 2025
D) All of the above

Saturday, August 6, 2005

Is one of these [re/de]contextualizations not like the others? 

Ex cathedra via Marxy's blog

Thursday, August 4, 2005

"It's an older code sir, but it checks out. I was about to clear them." 

OK, for some reason I have gotten several requests for this link recently. Here is it.


Koji Tano obituary 

Koji Tano obituary
Dear friends,
unless you have already heard, I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news:
Our friend Koji Tano died yesterday, sunday july 31st.
My information is limited, but what I know is that Koji was diagnosed
with stomach cancer in may, but after surgery the doctors could only
conclude it was too late, the cancer had spread too far, and he was
given maximum a year left to live. It lasted only two months.
Koji did more in his short time (I believe he was only 43) than most
of us can hope for in a full lifetime. He had many friends around the
world. As an organizer of shows and tours in Japan he was the key to
almost everyone in the noise/experimental community coming to Japan.
He seemed tireless, as he was constantly networking and helping
people out (myself included).
As a musician Koji made a name for himself with his project MSBR,
with countless releases and tours all over the world. (On his tours
he always took with him younger acts, giving them exposure). Koji
also launched the first extensive website for noise music, up and
running in 1996. He published a magazine, ran an online mailorder,
booked shows and tours, ran several labels, and in the last two years
had his own store in Tokyo. His dedication and support for the music
he loved was something extraordinary and his passing leaves a huge
void in the noise scene.
I have been corresponding with Koji for over ten years and met him in
person on a handful of occasions. This april I was in Japan, touring
with John Hegre and John Sharp. During our time in Tokyo we stayed at
his apartment, Koji sleeping on the livingroom floor, insisting we
use his bedroom. He guided us around and made sure our stay was the
best it could be. I believe the show he set up with us at Shibuya O-
nest on April 16th was not only the last show he ever set up, but
also his last MSBR concert performance.
Usually when people pass away people remember the good stuff, but I
can honestly say I've never heard anybody say a single bad word of
Koji. He was, simply, a hero. Rest in peace Koji, we will miss you.
My condolences to Koji's close friends and family.
Lasse Marhaug
August 1st 2005

This was a telling thread 


This and that part ??? 


Just now a friend of mine showed me something funny.

If you go to the Momus entry on the artfacts webpage,


you'll find a picture under his 'Images' section

that leads right to a fun essay that I wrote last year, near the beginning of the 'Blogging Wars Japan' thingy...but my friend said that when he read it now, after having slogged thru our little spate of inter-blogging chivvies, he felt like it seemed somehow Joycean AND YET still made somehow a lot of sense...go figure!

Anyway, I just want to tell everyone out there what a warm and fuzzy feeling I get from being graced with this radically cool linkage...enshrined right next to the Tender Perv himself!

Well, I'm sure Nick himself noticed this little perturbation in the Google image search algorithm when he first posted about his ART FACTS page, but as he's been too humble too mention it anywhere as yet, I thought I'd do him the favor here and how.

I guess it IS really like the man said: it's all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!


Tuesday, August 2, 2005

To die by your side 

And if a double-decker bus
Crashes into us
To die by your side
Is such a heavenly way to die

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