debito arudou

The Japanese Constitution and How It Affects You (Foreigner)

12:37 AM

Well, it doesn't, as a matter of fact.

As a general, and personal rule, I've wanted to keep complaints about the current society I live in at a minimum in terms of what I post here. I'm obviously living here by choice, so if  I don't like it, I should just go home right? Except, it's just not that simple.

Well today I read an article that has truly, truly bothered me, and I thought it was something that needed to be shared with others interested in Japan as a place they'd like to visit or live in.

The article that I read on The Japan Times is about human rights and how the rights of foreigners in Japan are not protected under the Japanese Constitution. You can read the entire article here, but I also wanted to share a couple lines, just in case you want a little incentive.

The first line that blew my mind a little: "When respondents (to a Cabinet survey) were asked, 'Should foreigners have the same human rights protections as Japanese?' 59.3 percent said yes. This is a rebound from the steady decline from 1995 (68.3 percent), 1999 (65.5 percent) and 2003 (54 percent)." (Zeit Gist, Oct. 23, 2007)
My first thought is "Why not??" I can't believe this is even an issue. But I guess that's because I was taught, while growing up, that all people were created equal. :/

Another good one: "We were taught that . . . foreigners have no human rights." (Hiroshi Ichikawa, Saga Prefecture public prosecutor, May 23, 2011 — see www.debito.org/?p=8997)
And now I'm going to stop posting the things from the top of the article.

Here's a little from the bottom:

But unfairness is systematic — even expected, particularly if (and because) you're a foreigner in Japan. A few examples:

Want to live someplace or get a loan? Many landlords, realtors and credit agencies state up front that they will not rent or lend to foreigners; as long as there is no contract signed, there is generally nothing legally you can do about it.
I already knew about this bit, but it never occurred to me that this was because we, as foreigners, don't have the basic rights to a loan or place to live or to go into debt through a line of credit. :<

One reason these practices can be perpetuated is that the Japanese public tacitly (and not so tacitly) acquiesces to them, instead of reflexively helping foreigners fight against them. I believe the root cause is how little cultural value is generally assigned to "fairness."
 I'd like to attest that this isn't true, but I have to agree a little. When I told Shota about foreigners not having any rights, his first response was "Ah.. well there's really nothing to be done.." Soooo disappointed. I hounded him a little more about it, and he said he'd write a letter (to who!? Who knows, but he won't anyway).
I don't think he was able to sympathize or understand how bad a problem this is. :<<

I have to keep reminding listeners that foreigners are in fact humans with human rights. That sinks in, but people eventually reset to the default mind-set that "foreigners are not the same as Japanese," and that recognizing difference (kubetsu) does not necessarily equal willful discrimination (sabetsu).
Ohhh, but it does. Just like the author said.

I'm sure for most this won't really affect whether or not you want to go to Japan, but it is something to think about. 

The author has a continuing series called JUST BE CAUSE where he writes about some of the "bad habits in Japanese society that impede positive social change" (quote taken from the same article). I'll definitely be reading up on these.

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