Sometime during your life in Japan, you will probably feel a chilling attitude in Japan’s bureaucracy: as a foreign resident, you don’t really matter. To Japan’s policymakers, you’re at best an existence to be tolerated, at worst an unpredictable element that needs constant policing.
On August 28, Toshimitsu Motegi, Japan’s foreign minister, was giving an official press conference to reporters in Japanese. A foreign reporter for Japan Times, Magdalena Osumi, asked some questions in Japanese. When Osumi followed up on a point he left unclear, Motegi responded to her in English.
These are sobering times for Japan fans. Thanks to the pandemic, even the most starry-eyed and enfranchised foreigners are having their bubbles burst, realizing that their status in Japan, no matter how hard-earned, matters not one whit to Japan’s policymakers.
We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms.
A roundup of the most significant news stories from Japan reported in the last half of March 2020.
The editors of the Japan Times published an announcement today regarding its now infamous “Editor’s Note” of November 2018, with the evident purpose of drawing a line under the affair and to recover their reputation for “fair, accurate and transparent journalism.” Unfortunately, it seems that the newspaper’s internal investigation bypassed all of the most serious and credible allegations.
For almost two-and-a-half decades, Japan and the United States have insisted that a new US Marine airbase at Henoko—a replacement for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma—is absolutely needed as a solid foundation for the US-Japan Alliance. Last year, however, it was officially revealed that the sea floor where the base is being constructed consists of mayonnaise-soft earth, and that any airstrip built there now could sink into oblivion.
After Halloween, you could be forgiven for thinking Shibuya was set aflame and Hachiko knocked off his plinth. But drop by sometime; everything is still there just fine.
I look forward to writing for a Shingetsu News Agency that challenges the stale conventions and speaks truth to power. The point is to increase the visibility of minorities, and to assist Japanese of goodwill in dismantling the systems that keep them disenfranchised.
Between 2012 and 2018, I wrote a monthly column called “Labor Pains” for the Japan Times. I have left Japan Times. I am so delighted to begin a new column this month called “Bread and Roses” for the Shingetsu News Agency.