What’s a charitable bengoshi to do?

A Japanese lawyer, who I have introduced to a number of foreigners with various legal queries over the years, has come up with (what I feel to be) a proposal that may : “How do I start a legal practice to act for foreigners living in Japan?”

By way of introduction, this lawyer currently works at a mid-size Japanese firm in central Tokyo doing a broad range of civil, commercial and family law. The lawyer has many friends who are foreigners, and is aware that a number of them have had issues in the past with irresponsible and irresponsive lawyers, and sympathetic with the opacity of Japan’s legal system that many foreigners may not understand. The lawyer genuinely wants to make Japan an easier place to live for non-natives.

My intial reaction is… build it and they will come! But thinking about it, I have a number of questions and concerns:

  • Surely there is the need for this practice—there are large numbers of foreigners who are confused by Japan, the legal system, the bureaucracy, and the way things work, and who face difficulties in resolving disputes and navigating processes. I am concerned that there may not be a market, in that the individuals clients will be unable or unwilling to pay for the services.
  • How should the practice be publicized? Should there be a website to get out the word?
  • Would the practice be enough to sustain be done as an independent operation, or while at a law firm with other lawyers?
  • Are there areas that the lawyer should seek to specialize, or areas to avoid? I would be interested in the ratio of work that the lawyer gets, and what ratio would be contract disputes, negotiating and litigating divorce and family law matters, criminal defense, immigration, etc.

As this proposal is still at the brainstorming level, I’d be curious to hear the MF community weigh in advice as to how to proceed.

The Haneda trick

Haneda Airport has been all over the Japanese news lately, so it’s about time that I write some more about it.

The new international terminal opened today, and long-haul flights will commence at the end of this month. The catch is that they will all have to operate between 10 PM and 7 AM, the hours when Narita Airport is closed. Only flights to certain cities in East Asia are allowed to operate during the day. This is commonly interpreted as a compromise to keep Narita traffic up, but there is a more subtle and less reported effect of the schedule: it helps Japanese airlines and screws over foreign airlines. Here’s why.

Within this rule, the most attractive schedule from a passenger’s perspective is to leave Haneda between 10 PM and 1 AM, and to arrive at Haneda as close to 7 AM as possible. If you leave Haneda in the early morning hours, you either have to get there on the last train the evening before (requiring a wait) or take a car or taxi in the wee hours of the night (expensive). If you land at Haneda after 10 PM, you have to hustle to get ground transportation to your final destination in Tokyo.

It’s easy for JAL and ANA to offer such schedules because they have operations at Haneda during the day. If a JAL plane comes in from Europe at 6 AM, it can be cleaned, refueled and sent on a round trip to Seoul, Beijing or Shanghai, and still get back in plenty of time to take people overseas at 10 PM. On the other hand, if a foreign plane flies in at 6 AM, they have to sit at Haneda for fifteen hours until they can fly again. The best compromise that non-Japanese carriers can come up with is to have their flights arrive at Haneda around 10:30 and depart around 6:30—meaning that most Tokyoites will have to get up very early and catch the first train of the morning, then catch the last train home after their trip. A couple have managed to put together flight schedules that leave Haneda around midnight, but this is not always realistic because of time zones and the longer turn-around times for long-haul aircraft.

JAL and ANA will run their first long-haul flights on October 31, but American, Delta, Air Canada and British Airways won’t start flights until next year, and might even decide that Haneda isn’t worth it unless the hours are relaxed further. The only non-Asian carrier that will serve Haneda this year is Hawaiian Airlines, who will bring their daily flight into Haneda right at 10 pm, then turn it around back to Honolulu after midnight. They can get away with this because Honolulu is only a few hours ahead of Tokyo (minus a day), so the midnight departure translates to a lunch arrival, and the 10 pm return arrival translates into an afternoon return departure—both good timings for vacationers. On the other hand, American’s proposed HND-JFK flight is horribly timed, leaving HND around 6 AM and arriving at JFK around the same time, virtually guaranteeing that every passenger on it will be jet-lagged out of their mind for a week. But they don’t have much of a choice.

The new division of duties between the airports won’t be sustainable, and I believe Kasumigaseki will eventually open up HND to flights around the clock—in which case Tokyo’s airport situation will eventually look like London’s. Haneda will be the equivalent of Heathrow: close-in, popular, charging a premium, and a key intercontinental hub. Narita will be the equivalent of Gatwick or Stansted: a haven for cheap flights to holiday destinations, mainly serving Tokyo locals.

Regarding Sovereignty of the Spratleys, and the threatening neighbor

I have already considered, and rejected, doing some sort of detailed post on this subject (at least for the time being) as there is no shortage of such reporting already, but I did just stumble on one citation that is too good not to post.

From the September, 1941 issue of Pacific Affairs, an article entitled Third Conquest of the Philippines?, begins with a summation of the Japanese threat at that moment, which perhaps sounds a bit hysterical until one recalls that Japan was in fact, at that time, working quite hard to conquer the entire Pacific, and that they would very soon after attack both Hawaii and Manila.

There is a shadow of Japan everywhere you turn your eyes in the Philippines. Stories of Japanese fishing depradations, for instance, are almost a daily routine in the papers. When you hear Philippines independence discussed, Japan and her imperial conquests are mentioned in the same breath. The fact is that Japan’s adventures in Manchuria and China have sent chills down the spines of nationalist Filipinos.[...]

For it is being made apparent in the most realistic fashion that such a political freedom-soon to be realized- may yet expose the Philippines as ripe for spoilation by a powerful militaristic neighbor. This is no chimera or idle preoccupation; it is born of facts which are tell-tale evidence of a Japanese plan of conquest of the entire Asiatic Continent including all the rich island tributaries along the coastline. Japan has methodically followed a very logical course of action. The seizure of Hainan Island at the gateway to French Indo-China gave Japan tactical control of the French and British sea-lane to the East Indies.


And after that introduction, we get to what was to the author of this piece (S.P. Vak, Jr. – a name that could almost be out of Star Wars) probably considered to be an idle aside, but in light of current events I found to be the most fascinating lines.
The seizure of the Spratley Islands has tactically brought Japan near to a complete encirclement of the Philippines. The Spratley Islands are barely 200 miles west of the Palawan group. (It is of interest to cite in this connection a farseeing move on the part of Hon. Elpidio Quirino, who as Secretary of the Interior of the Philippine Government memorialized the State Department at Washington in 1937 for a formal declaration of claims to the Spratleys for national defense purposes. Unhappily, the State Department did not see fit to act ion the question. The islands apparently had no official owners, though geographically the Philippines should have been their rightful claimant.)

While we know from both looking at a map and from the current controversy that “geographically,” claims on the islands by Okinawa or Taiwan (which were both Japanese territory at the time), and China via a more convoluted legal route, also seem quite feasible, but it is interesting to see that this author did not even so much as consider those options.

Let us also take a moment to remember that Japan was also considered somewhat of a trade threat at the time, although hardly on the scale that it was in the 80s, or China is now.

Japanese industrialists employ every possible device to flood the market [note: the Philippine market] with cheap imitations of popular American articles. In 1937, for instance, Japan sold 32 million pesos’ worth of commodities in spite of the high tariff barrier, reaching as high as 65 per cent ad valorem on some articles.

[...]

Japan, fighting tooth and nail for markets, has resorted to all sorts of weapons. She has unscrupulously copied patents and designs which are purportedly American in Origin. Peculiarly Filipino textiles of the Ilocos and Visaya regions, copied on Japanese looms, sell for less than the originals because of the advantages obtained in organization, technology and cheaper cost of labor.

The threat of foreign labor

I was just skimming some old journal articles  looking for an appropriate citation for the paper I’m writing and ran across a 1929 paper entitled The Philippine Problem: Attitude of American Labor Toward Filipino Immigration and Philippine Independence. (Note that the article can only be read by those with access to a JStor subscription, i.e. people at libraries or university campuses.) It struck me that the following excerpt could be published today with only a few minor details changed, and the significant replacement of “Filipino” with “Mexican.”

The Filipinos are human beings with the normal desire to improve their conditions of living. In their native land they are paid a wage of about 40 cents per day. In Hawaii they receive from $1 to $1.50 per day. On the Pacific coast they can easily command double that amount. Under the circumstances one can hardly hold ill will against the individual Filipino who refuses to be happy in Hawaii and continues to move Eastward until he arrives in the promised land.

[...]

The organized workers of the Pacific coast states have become apprehensive of this new uncontrolled flood of cheap Asiatic labor. Filipinos have taken the place of white workers in the culinary trades; they have replaced white bell boys and elevator operators and made it more and more difficult for white hotel maids to find employment. Steamships in the highly protected coastwise trade have been manned with Filipinos while American seamen are vainly walking the docks looking for jobs. The whole situation is extremely puzzling to the average American worker.


On the other hand, there are some elements in the 1929 narrative that, thankfully, have no parallel today, showing that despite the regular cycles of xenophobic panic, progress has been made on a fundamental level.
As to the assimilation of these people, the Attorney-General of the State of California has ruled that they are Mongolians and therefore under the state law cannot marry whites.

You can also see examples of blatant bigotry that reminds one significantly of today’s anti-immigrant ranting, while at the same time maintaining a level of course racism that is no longer considered widely acceptable in the public discourse.
In September, 1927, the annual convention of the California State Federation of Labor, by unanimous vote, adopted a resolution calling up the California Congressional delegation to work for the enactment of a law which would effectively exclude Filipinos. The annual conventions of labor federations in several other Pacific coast states have done likewise. The Washington State Federation of Labor convention declared the Filipinos undesirable on the following counts:

“First, because they represent cheap and irresponsible labor of a type that cannot be assimilated, and as such they threaten American standards of wages and living conditions. Second, because they have given serious offense to communities in which they have congregated because of their moral conduct, with the result that one community in Washington the citizens became so aroused that they organized and forcibly evicted the Filipinos. We feel sure that it is not good for labor nor for American institutions and standards to permit the free and unrestricted influx of these people, and we endorse the position of the California State Federation of Labor in asking for their exclusion, and instruct the officers of this Federation to assist in securing the legislation necessary to accomplish this end.”

What the English languages owes Japan

A discussion of this topic with friends led me to look into English etymology and I unearthed the following list of words:

soy” 1670s, saio “sauce for fish, made from soybeans,” from Dutch soya, from Japanese shoyu, which is from Chinese shi-yu, from shi “fermented soy beans” + yu “oil.” Etymology reflects Dutch presence in Japan long before English merchants began to trade there.

ginkgo” 1773, from Japanese ginkyo, from Chinese yin-hing, from yin “silver” + hing “apricot” (Sino-Japanese kyo). Introduced to New World 1784 by William Hamilton in his garden near Philadelphia. One was planted 1789 at Pierce Arboretum (now part of Longwood Gardens) in Kennett Square, Pa., and by 1968 it was 105 ft. tall.

tycoon” 1857, title given by foreigners to the shogun of Japan (said to have been used by his supporters when addressing foreigners, as an attempt to convey that the shogun was more important than the emperor), from Japanese taikun “great lord or prince,” from Chinese tai “great” + kiun “lord.” Transferred meaning “important person” is attested from 1861, in reference to U.S. president Abraham Lincoln (in Hay’s diary); specific application to “businessman” is post-World War I.

hunky-dory” 1866, Amer.Eng. (popularized c.1870 by a Christy Minstrel song), perhaps a reduplication of hunkey “all right, satisfactory” (1861), from hunk “in a safe position” (1847) New York City slang, from Dutch honk “goal, home,” from M.Du. honc “place of refuge, hiding place.” A theory from 1876, however, traces it to Honcho dori, said to be a street in Yokohama, Japan, where sailors went for diversions of the sort sailors enjoy.

futon” 1876, from Japanese, said to mean “bedroll” or “place to rest.”

geisha” 1887, “Japanese girl whose profession is to sing and dance to entertain men;” hence, loosely, “prostitute,” from Japanese, lit. “person accomplished in the social arts,” from gei “art, performance” + sha “person.”

nisei“, “American born of Japanese parents,” from Japanese ni- “second” + sei “generation.” Use limited to U.S. West Coast until c.1942.

kamikaze” 1945, Japanese, lit. “divine wind,” from kami “god, providence, divine” + kaze “wind.” Originally the name given in folklore to a typhoon which saved Japan from Mongol invasion by wrecking Kublai Khan’s fleet (August 1281).

honcho” 1947, Amer.Eng. “officer in charge,” from Japanese hancho “group leader,” from han “corps, squad” + cho “head, chief.” Picked up by U.S. servicemen in Japan and Korea, 1947-1953.

shiatsu” 1967, from Japanese, lit. “finger-pressure.”