Who owns these bodies?

Interesting mini article from the Taipei Times a few days back.

WWII graves located

Taiwan’s representative office in Papua New Guinea has located graves that it believes to be those of Republic of China (ROC) soldiers who died in World War II while they were enslaved by the Japanese army on the Pacific island, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. Lee Tsung-fen (李宗芬), deputy-head of the ministry’s Department of East Asia and Pacific Affairs, said that local Chinese compatriots said the graves at Rabaul were first discovered by an Australian pilot. It is thought that more than 1,600 ROC soldiers were captured by the Japanese and sent to Papua New Guinea camp during the war. Many of the soldiers reportedly either died in the camp or on the way to it. Lee yesterday said the Ministry of National Defense would send officials to the island to ascertain the identities of those in the graves, adding that the ministry would decide whether to transport the remains back to Taiwan after consulting with the relatives of the men.

The ROC is of course the official name of the government which now runs Taiwan and its accompanying islands, but during WW2 it was one of the two governments competing for mainland China, along with the CCP, while Taiwan was a Japanese colony. Presumably these soldiers were in fact soldiers from the ROC of that time, i.e. NOT Taiwan, were were fighting against Japan and then captured as POWs. Of course, this brings up the question of who should claim these bodies. Is it today’s ROC, i.e. “Taiwan”, or the PRC, i.e. “China”? While similar questions have come up in the past regarding property disputes between the two governments, this case is complicated by the fact that much of the surviving ROC military moved to Taiwan, along with many of their relatives. Should these remains be brought to:

A: Their place of origin (China, NOT Taiwan)

B: The place held by the successor to the military and government that they fought for (Taiwan, NOT China)

C: The location of their closest living relative (could very well be either Taiwan OR China)

Norms of citizenship law

I glanced at Debito’s blog earlier, in which he linked to a piece he wrote a few years back which includes the following line:

For the purposes of this essay, by “foreigners” I do not mean “Zainichis” (ethnic Korean, Chinese, Indian, etc.), born in Japan, often with Japanese as their native tongue, who would be citizens already in other developed countries.

I’m not sure why so many believe this myth. A small minority of countries (about 35 out of about 200) actually follow the doctrine of jus soli, or citizenship due to place of birth, and of those, the only ones generally considered to be “developed countries” are: (caveat: according to Wikipedia’s list)
United States
Britain (with some restrictions)
France (only upon reaching adulthood)
Australia (upon reaching the age of 10)
Ireland (with restrictions)
New Zealand (with restrictions)

And that’s it. Note that jus soli is common only in countries following the Anglo system of law, specifically former colonies of the UK (India used to have jus soli but abolished it, Pakistan still does.) Of the 26 current member states of the EU, the only ones that have jus soli citizenship are the UK, Ireland, and France. The rest of them follow the tradition of jus sanguinis or citizenship by blood, which comes out of the Germanic legal tradition that Japan based their entire modern legal code on. If one considers “developed countries” to be Australia, Canada, Europe (26 countries),  Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Singapore, Taiwan and USA, then we have 34 countries (apologies if I’ve left any off the list, but I’m going for a rough count here), of which only 7 have the jus soli legal policy that Debito described as standard in “other developed countries.”

By pointing this out I am in no way endorsing the legal quasi-limbo in which many people, such as the Zainichi but also including various stateless populations living in far worse conditions around the world, have been left due to the vagaries of jus sanguinus, but I would like to try and correct the odd misperception among Westerners in Japan (who are almost all from either Anglo law countries or France) that Japanese nationality law is in some way an aberration, when it is in fact the international norm.

Don’t blame the hospital; blame the newswire

In the news today:

A baby with foreign nationality was left at Japan’s first “baby hatch” at a Kumamoto hospital, according to a report on Monday by a panel examining the practice.

A baby hatch, for those of you who don’t know, is a place where people can essentially drop off children who are unwanted or who cannot be cared for, no questions asked.

I was a bit curious when I read this story, asking one question: How do you know the baby is of foreign nationality when someone anonymously left it somewhere? It wouldn’t be right to judge that based solely on physical appearance. In fact, under Japanese law, if a child is born in Japan and the identity of both parents is unknown (or if both parents are stateless), the child is considered a Japanese national–the only way to acquire nationality by jus soli here.

Then Asahi Shimbun added some clarity to the story. According to their report, there are ten cases of baby drop-offs in which the source of the baby was clear. In two of those cases, the mother came by herself and dropped the baby off. There were also cases “where both parents were zainichi gaikokujin,” i.e. special permanent residents of Korean/Chinese descent who are largely indistinguishable from Japanese nationals, “and where grandparents and males deposited [the child].”

So Kyodo was being a bit too vague for information’s sake: the kid was not visibly foreign, but rather they deduced the kid’s foreignness from the nationality of the parents. Now let’s see what happens when a really foreign kid gets dropped in one of these hatches…

“Jenkins cleared for residency”

Of tangential relevance to my previous post, and the highly tangential references to the 1899 Nationality Law in the comments section, is the news that Charles Jenkins was just granted permanent residency. I think it is fair to say that the fact that it was announced personally by Justice Minister Kunio Hatoyama shows that he received special treatment (after all, would a retired man with no education normally meet the standard?) but in his case I think the double standard is acceptable.

Another Western family with old ties to Japan

The Asahi English website has a very interesting article entitled “Family planted Japan roots over a century ago“, on the history of the Apcar family, who first came to Yokohama around a century ago.

The family business, A.M. Apcar & Co., was established by Michael Apcar’s grandfather and run by his grandmother, Diana Agabeg Apcar after her husband’s sudden death in 1906. A.M. Apcar was born in what was then Persia and moved to India, then under British rule, and married Diana Agabeg. They were both from well-off Armenian families and decided to settle in Yokohama after spending part of their honeymoon here.

The entire history presented in the article is quite fascinating, but the following section is the one that really jumped out at me.

Life took a terrible turn as Japan moved toward a war footing.

In hindsight, it is curious the Apcars did not join other Westerners who left Japan before fighting broke out with the United States.

Leonard M. Apcar, Michael’s son, recalls a passage from memoirs written by Michael’s mother, Araxe, about an exchange with her husband about leaving Japan. Araxe asked her husband if Japan would ever go to war with the United States.

Michael Apcar Sr.’s reply was: “No, it would be suicide for the Japanese to go to war with the United States. It’s crazy and wouldn’t happen.”

On Dec. 8, 1941, after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, military police surrounded the Apcar home and hauled Michael Apcar Sr. off to prison.

Among the reasons for the detainment was the fact that the elder Apcar was the highest-ranking member of his Masonic lodge in Yokohama.

He was imprisoned for 14 months, during which time he was often tortured for information about his fellow Masons, according to his son.

During his father’s imprisonment, Michael’s sister, Dorothy, died. Her tombstone was made in the United States and he had never seen it in the cemetery until Tuesday.

Life did not get any better after his father’s release. The Apcars were given the choice of moving to either Hakone in western Kanagawa Prefecture or Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture. They chose Karuizawa because it was thought there was a better chance of bartering for food with local farmers.

“My father knew the war was on and there was no business to be conducted, so he sold everything in the house,” Apcar said, noting that the family moved to a much smaller cottage in Karuizawa.

“(My father) knew he had to get enough money to live on during the war and he didn’t know how long the war was going to last,” Apcar said.

The Apcars lived in Karuizawa for about two years, raising goats and chickens and growing potatoes after clearing land filled with tree stumps.

“The winters would get terribly cold,” Apcar recalls. “If we spilled water anywhere in the house, it would immediately freeze.”

What turned out to be a lifesaver for the Apcars was a makeshift oven for heating and cooking that was put together from sheet metal saved by Apcar’s father from crates he received as an importer of horse liniment.

As the war situation facing Japan worsened, conditions in Karuizawa grew harsher.

“It got so bad in Karuizawa that my father and I had to keep watch because people were so hungry they would come and dig up the potatoes,” Apcar said.

One of the few advantages to living in Karuizawa was the fact it was not a target for Allied bombing raids.

The same could not be said for Yokohama. After Japan surrendered, Apcar found work as a guide and interpreter for Swiss officials who were seeking permission from the U.S. Army to move the Swiss Embassy from Karuizawa back to Tokyo.

He went to his place of birth.

“Yokohama was flat,” Apcar said. “I couldn’t find my way in Yokohama because the house where I was born was gone. All I saw was a bathtub. Everything was burned up, gone.”

Apcar eventually sailed with one of his sisters in September 1946 to San Francisco, where they had relatives.

This particular episode is in stark contrast to another long term expat family who remained in Yokohama during World War 2, which some readers here may remember. Almost two years ago I made a long post on William R. Gorham, an American engineer who moved to Japan for business, helped to found the predecessor to the Nissan Motor Corporation, and eventually became, along with his wife, a Japanese citizen in May of 1941-about 5 months before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Gorham children returned to the US around this time, having been raised and educated in Japan but never naturalizing there. William R. Gorham survived the war with no particular hardship, was treated well by the occupation authorities-who he worked for as an advisor-and had a successful consulting firm in the postwar period, which helped such companies as Canon. His son Don Cyril Gorham, who was perhaps the first (or at least among the first) Westerner to receive an undergraduate degree from Tokyo University, served as a translator for the US both during and after the war, and visited Japan as recently as last October, at the age of 90.

The question looms of why one Western family, who as Americans were citizens of the very country Japan was going to war with and had been in Japan only for a couple of decades, was given the royal treatment, while the other, who had lived in Japan far longer and had no ties to the US (although they did move there postwar) were imprisoned like POWs. It seems likely that family connections were key.

While the Apcar family presumably had strong connections to the Yokohama business community, the many overseas contacts needed to run a successful trading company may have alarmed security officials. And as the article points out, membership in the Masons was also a key factor. Foreign-based quasi-mystical secret brotherhoods would not have been well regarded by the militaristic government of 1941 Japan.

By contrast, William R. Gorham’s business interests were pretty much Japan based. He was an inventor and engineer more than a businessman, and seems to have been little involved in any sort of international dealings. The Gorhams moved in high society. His wife studied traditional arts such as ceramics and ikebana with masters of the crafts, and even tutored a princess in English. Mr. Gorham’s close friend and business partner was Yoshisuke Ayukawa, famous for expanding Nissan (which Gorham himself contributed greatly to) into a zaibatsu, and helping develop Japanese industry in Manchuria. In fact, Don Cyril-his son-speculated in an email to me (actually transcribed by his daughter) that Ayukawa used his personal influence to fast-track the Gorham’s unusual eve-of-war application for citizenship.

Mr. Chang – Mr. Oyama

After having my aching knee MRI-ed and examined by a sports medicine specialist at Kyoto University Hospital last week and been told that the problem wasn’t particularly serious and that riding a bicycle should be safe, I decided to finally go and buy one. I asked a Japanese girl I know who is a bit of a bicycle otaku to accompany me on the shopping trip so I would be decently advised in buying something a few times the price of the crappy mama-chari I rode during my previous two periods of residence in Kyoto, and she took me to a shop she likes inside the Sanjo Shotengai. After picking out the bike I wanted and the accessories that needed to be attached, I went out to the east exit of the shotengai to withdraw some cash at the 7-11 and grab something to drink.

With a cold drink in hand (Thursday was a bloody hot afternoon in Kyoto), I sat down on the bench just outside the convenience store next to a middle aged man smoking a cigarette, in the typical fashion of a 50-ish Japanese guy who would be hanging out with a cigarette in front of a 7-11 in the middle of the afternoon, and looking over his envelope of documents. I had my headphones on, listening to some podcast or other, but the man said hello, and having an hour to kill before my bike was ready I took off the headphones and talked to him for a bit.

When I asked his name, instead of just telling me, he reached into his wallet and pulled out, to my mild surprise, an Alien Registration card very much like mine. I say very much, because there were a few important differences. The first being that, as the card of a Korean national permanent resident, the fields for such information as “Landing date” and “Passport number” were filled with asterisks instead of numbers, and the name field contained both his legal Korean family name of Chang (I will leave the personal name out) as well as a Japanese family name of Oyama, in parenthesis and with the same personal name for both.

Mr. Chang was born and raised in the south part of Kyoto, where the so-called Zainichi Koreans are clustered, and described himself as “basically half-Japanese” despite having Korean citizenship and speaking Korean. He is the oldest of three children, at 55, with a younger brother practically half his age at 29 who is currently in graduate school at Kyoto University and a younger sister in the middle, around 40 years old. He mentioned that when he was younger his Korean was good enough to do simultaneous translation, for which he would practice by reading the Japanese newspapers aloud to himself in Korean, but these days he has gotten a bit rusty. Although he was actually born with North Korean (DPRK) citizenship, he changed it to South Korean (ROK) years ago, as traveling abroad is extremely difficult for DPRK citizens. He mentioned having visited New York, which I presume would have been virtually impossible as a North Korean. He also spoke more English long ago, when for a time he lived with an English woman who had no interest in learning to speak Japanese (or, presumably, Korean, although he did not even mention that possibility) but says that these days he would not even be able to string a sentence together.

Now essentially retired, aside from having to take care of certain kinds of corporation registration and tax documents such as the envelope he was holding, he is the owner of three different companies, which include several drinking and eating establishments in Kyoto, Osaka and Nagoya. He started with one izakaya 30 years ago out in the “sticks” of southern Kyoto, then opened another in Nagoya, and now at the end of his career has reached a high level of success as owner of a highly priced Gion hostess bar.

He was quite keen to talk about how the hostess club is an important part of Japanese culture, the high pricing of and lack of sexual availibility therein often baffles and angers foreigners. He mentioned that on a few occasions foreigners came to the club, and were then outraged at the final tab, not understanding that this was not the sort of place one goes for a drink if one is the sort of person who worries about the tab. There was a specific anecdote about a Turkish man who, while not outraged about the price per-se, was quite angry that such a sum of money did not allow him to bring one of girls home with him. The problem, Mr. Chang explained, was that in the West there is not such a clear distinction between businesses which provide girls for “fun” (i.e. hostesses) and those which provide girls for sex. In his own country, the Turkish gentleman would be able to take the girl home for a night of what he might consider “fun” but in Japan, there are entirely separate businesses which cater to the physical. This is, he said, the modern version of the Geisha system, which in the past also separated the working girls into those for higher and lower pleasures.

But Mr. Chang does not actually spend time in any of his bars or clubs anymore-not even the hostess bar in Gion. He has cancer, and it has metastized beyond the realm of surgical efficacy, not leaving him long for this world. As owner he takes care of the paperwork, but no longer does anything one might actually call work. The pain of the cancer is often intense, and he has trouble sleeping at night. He is close with a singer in Tokyo, who sings to him over the phone when the cancer pain keeps him up at night, until the gentle voice lulls him to sleep, with the reciever falling off to the side.

He never had any children, but he wanted to do something positive for the world, to “make up for [his] sins.” To that end, he has become the official sponsor of an AIDS hospice in Chiang Mai, Thailand, whose several-dozen residents are all, as he says, his children. Although he is the active sponsor, he was not the sole fundor. To gather funds for the community, building their bungalows, providing their education and health care, he went around to all of the “shady characters” he knew from his business dealings over the years- the fellow bar owners, the real estate people, the local yakuza-and strongarmed donations out of them. “Think about what you did to get that money,” he says he told them, “surely you can spare a few yen for this.” It turned out that they could. Tragically, every time he visists there are “those who are no longer there.” He can afford to make them comfortable and provide some level of treatment, but the drugs cocktail that keeps wealthy first-world AIDS patients alive indefinitely is still too expensive in mass quantities.

And so it was time for Mr. Chang to pick up his laundry and drop his papers off at city hall, and for me to pick up my new bicycle. He asked if I would be willing to give him some English refresher lessons, so he could have some simple exchanges with the foreigners that came into his establishment, despite having said that he no longer spent any time there. While I do not normally have any interest in English conversation tutoring, I gave him my phone number.

Visas I have known

This is the first visa in my passport, the student visa from when I studied abroad at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Japan in 2002. Note that although it is a multiple entry vis, in Japan one still must obtain a re-entry permit sticker at the local immigration bureau to be placed in one’s passport before leaving the country, or the visa becomes invalid. Naturally, this is an extra fee.

This is my first tourist visa for the People’s Republic of China. Note that unlike the Japanese visa, it actually uses Chinese characters the fill out some of the fields, most notably the “Issued at” field, which is marked “Osaka.” In fact, I applied for this visa at a very strange “travel agency” office around the corner from the Japan immigration bureau in Kyoto, which in addition to accepting applications for visas to China also serves the role of selling the payment stamps which one must use to pay fees at the Japan immigration bureau in lieu of actual cash when paying for such things as reentry permits or visa extensions.

The only differences from the first one is that A: this one is double entry, so I could reenter China after my bus trip to Kazakhstan from Urumqi, and that it was glued to my passport in an extremely crooked fashion.

This is actually two separate, but related documents. The yellow thing is my tourist visa for Kazakhstan, and the blue thing above it is the “Registration Certificate” that non residents are required to keep in their passports until they leave the country. Notice that the visa is glues, and the certificate is stapled so it can be removed. It is, however, too cool to remove. The Kazakh visa is notable for a couple of things. First of all, it is handwritten-the only 21st century visa I have ever seen which is. Secondly, the “Inviting Organization” of “Sunrise Travel.” One cannot just apply for a Kazakh tourist visa like with most countries-instead you must have a letter of “invitation.” Tourist agencies, such as Sunrise Travel, will provide these letters for a small fee-I believe it was on the order of US $20.

There is an item I wish I could place right next to mine, and there is a story to it. My traveling companion on this particular trip was “Saru”, formerly also a contributor to this site. For some reason instead of indicating a one month span as I did on my visa application, he listed the exact seven-day period we had been planning to be there. Unfortunately, he got the range slightly off, so that if we had actually left on the date indicated on his passport we would just barely miss the local celebration of Nauryz-the biggest public holiday of the year! Obviously, this would have been extremely undesirable, so on the day after we arrived in Almaty, our local friends with whom we were staying took us to the office of this Sunrise Travel who had “invited” us to the country and asked how to resolve it.

Saru asked, “what happen if I overstay my visa?”

In reply, the tall, somewhat manly Russian woman with coarse black hair and a gigantic mole on her nose laughed heartily saying, “you go to jail!”

In the end, for a moderate fee she managed to work something out for Saru, but it was a rather odd solution. Instead of an extension to his tourist visa, or even a new tourist visa, she got him a business visa, which kicked in the day after the tourist visa ended. A one-day business visa. It looks much like the tourist visa, except for being blue, but I imagine that a single day business visa for Kazakhstan must be very nearly unique in the history of travel.

This is my “Visitor Visa” for Taiwan (legal name, “Republic of China”). I went there to study Mandarin in Taipei immediately following my undergraduate graduation from Rutgers University on a Taiwan government Summer term scholarship for Mandarin study, originally planning only to stay for the three-month Summer term. You may notice that the Duration of Stay is only 60 days. This is because a Visitor Visa has a term of only 60 days, which may be extended twice, for a total stay of 180 days. Why was I on a Visitor Visa instead of a Student Visa? Due to a very peculiar visa system, Taiwan does not actually HAVE such a thing as a Student Visa-only Visitor and Resident. Although a full time university student from abroad would qualify for a Resident Visa, since ordinary Chinese language schools there only enroll on a quarterly basis, language students are issued Visitor Visas. But what if you want to stay and study for longer than 180 days? The answer is below.

This is my Resident Visa for The Republic of China (Taiwan). After studying in Taiwan on a Visitor Visa for four months, one is eligible to apply for a Resident Visa. Once you have a Resident Visa, you are then eligible to apply for the ARC (Alien Registration Card) and upon having that, to the national health system (which incidentally works very much like the one in Japan).

The entire system is absurdly cumbersome, with Visitor Visa extensions and ARC applications being handled by an office of the county or city police, but the Resident Visa application being handled by the immigration department, in an entirely different part of the city (at least in the case of Taipei). Visitor visa extensions for language study also require the submission of an attendance tracking form, which one obtains from the administrative office of the language school. If a student has more than a couple of absences, they may then be subject to questioning and browbeating by a member of the foreigner registration section of the Taiwan police.

All in all, it is extremely bureaucratic, containing a number of overly complex and supervisory elements which I suspect (but do not know) are based in the former police state period of Chiang Kai Shek’s regime.

After leaving Taiwan, I got a job working in the office of the College of Information Science and Engineering at Ritsumeikan University’s Biwako Kusatsu Campus, near Kyoto. Although the contract was technically only for one year, it was of a type commonly renewed twice, which I suppose explains why I was granted a 3-year visa.

This is the one I got yesterday.

Tokyo getting more anal about dual nationality

Japan’s ban on dual nationality is less toothless than it used to be, as the government finds creative ways to keep people from maintaining multiple passports. Terrie Lloyd‘s e-mail newsletter this week quotes an unidentified source who says:

It seems that if you are Japanese and you renew your Japanese passport at your local US consulate, when you go to pick it up you are asked to show your green card or other residency documentation which allows you to be in the US. If you cannot produce this documentation, and you wouldn’t be able to if you held a US passport, they won’t hand over your new Japanese passport. Apparently this is how they are now catching dual citizens living abroad.

To avoid this, I could renew my passport in Tokyo, but if I do, I have to show them my juminhyo. That means I have to re-establish residency and live back in Japan for a few months — which of course is difficult to do when one has a career to fulfill.

Note that this particular procedure only affects people living outside Japan. Dealing with Japanese nationals resident in Japan while retaining a foreign passport is still much trickier to visualize, although with the new fingerprinting and photographing systems, anything is possible…

Jenkins book finally available in English

For those of you who have been waiting for it, the story of the famous Vietnam war era deserter to North Korea, Charles Jenkins, is finally out in English. Normally I would explicitly avoid promoting something I was notified about through spam from the publisher, but I think I can safely say that a clear majority of people who would be reading this blog want to read Jenkins’ story.

I’m sure it’s on Amazon etc. but here’s the official book web page at the University of California Press site.

I can’t wait to read this book. I just hope there’s a special edition, in which Jenkins’ impenetrable southern drawl is transcribed phonetically, like an Irvine Welsh novel.

One foreigner’s perspective on American and Japanese immigration security procedures

Jade OC, a long time reader and commenter of MFT, has graciously posted a detailed comparison of his experiences passing through both US and Japanese airline security and immigration checkpoints as a comment on an earlier blog post on the subject. As I suspect that many of our readers look only at the actual posts and not the comments, I thought I would promote this one to the front page.

As promised, here is my short report on the fingerprinting-immigration process in the US and Japan from the POV of a non-citizen of either (though a resident of Japan).

First big complaint. I never wanted to go to the US at all, at least not the first time. But you cannot bloody transit in the US – there’s no such thing as a transit lounge. Everyone who enters a US airport from outside the country, even if, like me, you are just taking a flight to Canada in about 90 minutes, needs to go through Immigration and Customs. This is seriously Fucked Up.

Continue reading One foreigner’s perspective on American and Japanese immigration security procedures