A bit more on KMT remnant in SE Asia

I was pretty surprised and fascinated by a BBC mention last week of KMT soldiers who had fled to Southeast Asia instead of Taiwan, and turned to banditry and drug trafficking instead of soldiery. In an excellent coincidence, the Taipei Times ran an article on Saturday’s issue on just this subject.

Descendants of KMT soldiers living in limbo

ON THE MARGINS: The offspring of former KMT soldiers who fled China are finding that while they are welcome to study in Taiwan, they may not be able to reside here
By Loa Iok-sin
Saturday, Nov 03, 2007, Page 2 “Stateless” descendants of former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) troops stationed in northern Myanmar and Thailand yesterday pleaded with the government to naturalize them.

Tens of thousands of KMT troops retreated across the Chinese border and stationed themselves in northern Myanmar and Thailand following the defeat of Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) Nationalist forces by the Communists in the Chinese Civil War.

As the push to retake China never took place, many of the soldiers and their families were stranded in the region.

Since these people entered Myanmar and Thailand illegally, they are not recognized by the two countries. Their descendants have thus been denied citizenship, although many of them were born and raised in these countries.

Some of these stateless people faced a new challenge after coming to Taiwan to attend college.

Chen Chai-yi (陳彩怡), from northern Myanmar, told her story during a press conference held at the legislature yesterday.

“I passed the college entrance exam held by Taiwan’s Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission [OCAC] and was accepted by a university in Taiwan in 2003,” Chen said.

However, since she had no citizenship from either country, Chen purchased a forged Burmese passport to travel with, she said.

It was only once Chen arrived in the country that she discovered she would be required to prove her status before receiving Taiwanese citizenship.

“I wasn’t aware of this and the OCAC didn’t tell me when I took the exam [in Myanmar],” Chen said.

“I cannot return to Myanmar because I will be imprisoned for life for holding a forged passport, but my stay in Taiwan will also become illegal once I graduate from college,” Chen said. “I’m basically stuck.”

Liu Hsiao-hua (劉小華), chief executive of the Thai-Myanmar Region Chinese Offspring Refugee Service Association, estimated that more than 1,000 students from the region are in a similar situation.

Lee Lin-feng (李臨鳳), an Immigration Bureau official, said that there are difficulties involved in granting these people citizenship.

“What has blocked these people from obtaining Taiwanese citizenship is that neither they nor the Ministry of National Defense have any proof that they are descendants of former soldiers,” Lee said. “Even when some had proof, they were unable to submit a certificate renouncing their original nationality.”

Lee said she would seek a solution at the next Ministry of the Interior meeting, “considering the special circumstances.”

I’m rather surprised that these former KMT soldiers and their descendants have remained stateless for so long. It is hardly expected that Burma or Thailand would have granted them citizenship. Although both countries do have communities of Chinese citizens, they would hardly have put escaping soldiers and criminals in the same category as immigrant merchants. The article does explain that “these people [do not] have any proof that they are descendants of former soldiers,” but I have yet to see any reason for why the KMT remnant in SE Asia never rejoined their main force on Taiwan, once it was clear that they were well established there, and the threat of invasion from the mainland began to recede.

The article mentions the Overseas Compatriot Affairs Commission [OCAC] (see their official English language website here,) which handles documentation and residency for overseas Chinese citizens (Overseas Compatriot.) While in a strict technical sense, Republic Of China citizenship theoretically extends to all of China, as the ROC is constitutionally the government of China, but as the ROC itself has shrunk to include what may someday be called merely the Republic Of Taiwan, ROC citizenship today more or less means Taiwanese citizenship, and in practice excludes any citizen of the People’s Republic of China.

While I do not have time at the moment to examine it in detail, the OCAC provides rules on Overseas Compatriot status, as well as rules for applying to study in Taiwan through the OCAC, using the process referred to in the above article.

Another mention of the KMT remnant turned criminal in SE Asia comes from a surprising source- the subject of the new Denzel Washington film American Gangster, the famous real-life New York based drug dealer Frank Lucas. The following text is from an interview article in New York Magazine:

Lucas soon located his main overseas connection, an English-speaking, Rolls-Royce-driving Chinese gentleman who went by the sobriquet 007. “I called him 007 because he was a fucking Chinese James Bond.” Double-oh Seven took Lucas upcountry, to the Golden Triangle, the heavily jungled, poppy-growing area where Thailand, Burma, and Laos come together.

“It wasn’t too bad, getting up there,” says Lucas. “We was in trucks, in boats. I might have been on every damn river in the Golden Triangle. When we got up there, you couldn’t believe it. They’ve got fields the size of Tucson, Arizona, with nothing but poppy seeds in them. There’s caves in the mountains so big you could set this building in them, which is where they do the processing . . . I’d sit there, watch these Chinese paramilitary guys come out of the mist on the green hills. When they saw me, they stopped dead. They’d never seen a black man before.”

Likely dealing with remnants of Chiang Kai-shek’s defeated Kuomintang army, Lucas purchased 132 kilos that first trip. At $4,200 per unit, compared with the $50,000 that Mafia dealers charged Stateside competitors, it would turn out to be an unbelievable bonanza. But the journey was not without problems.

“Right off, guys were stepping on little green snakes, dying on the spot. Then guess what happened? Banditos! Those motherfuckers came right out of the trees. Trying to steal our shit. The guys I was with — 007’s guys — all of them was Bruce Lees. Those sonofabitches were good. They fought like hell.

“I was stuck under a log firing my piece. Guys were dropping. You see a lot of dead shit in there, man, like a month and a half of nightmares. I think I ate a damn dog. I was in bad shape, crazy with fever. Then people were talking about tigers. I figured, that does it. I’m gonna be ripped up by a tiger in this damn jungle. What a fucking epitaph . . . But we got back alive. Lost half my dope, but I was still alive.”

(Via the Fighting 44s blog, pointed out by my friend Jon Lung.)

Tangential end-note: searching for “military remnant” on Google produced an article on the remnant of the Galactic Empire in Star Wars, following the end of Return of the Jedi.

Some people are just dicks in any country

I am generally quite careful not to post anything work related on here, but this particular quote from an internal corporate employee survey I’m translating was just too choice, and utterly anonymous and unidentifiable.

I am opposed to foreigners in the front office. Since it is difficult to convey minor nuances of Japanese within the company it must be even more difficult for customers to understand when conversing with them. I have received two whole claims about this.  (One claim said they could not understand what they were saying, and the other said, a foreigner huh? A Japanese would be better.)

For contrast, here is an excerpt from a customer survey from some rich asshole country club in the US that was forwarded to me a few weeks ago.

I am personally upset about the use of the Mexican labor on the golf
course. I understand you have contracted, and it is the contractors
who are responsible for hiring, but the club is responsible for hiring
the contractor. We get letters about “responsibility” and “right and
wrong,” well, I think the club management had better look at itself.
If all these workers are legal, then I will apologize, but I very much
doubt they are legal. This is a very poor example of judgment and
sends the wrong message. I know I am not the only one that thinks like
this, and if my concerns are unfounded, then the club should issue an
explanation and correct the image.

It’s well worth remembering that there is a certain extent of xenophobia in any country, and I believe that suffering from it firsthand when traveling or living abroad-such as the minor (or major in some unfortunate cases) annoyances that many of us have experiences in places like Japan-is actually a rather good learning experience, which can make one more sensitive to despicable attitudes back home that one may have overlooked before.

Japan’s continuing influx of foreigners and what it means for YOU

Quiz time! What percentage of Tokyo is non-Japanese?

Answer: 2.93% – that’s the percentage of registered foreigners in Tokyo as of January 1, 2007 (an increase of 1.8% over last year), says Shukan Toyo Keizai. That means that 3 out of every 100 people you see in Tokyo are foreign (one of whom could be a white dude staring at the Daily Yomiuri [picture courtesy STK]). There are 371,000 registered foreigners among Tokyo’s overall population of 12.69 million. The information comes from a “population movement survey” conducted by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

white-dude-47_1.jpgTop nationalities:
Chinese – 126,000
Korean – 109,000
Filipino – 31,000

Most foreign districts:
Shinjuku-ku (where Tokyo’s Koreatown is located): 30,000
Adachi-ku: 21,000
Edogawa-ku (home to Indiatown in Nishikasai): 21,000

Tokyo’s foreign population has surged 2.5-fold over the past 20 years, going from a mere 150,000 in 1987 to the present 371,000 (18.5% of the estimated 2 million registered foreigners, or about 1.5% of the total population).

These numbers may just be the tip of the iceberg. The ‘registered’ foreigners are merely the people in the country legally for purposes other than tourism, some of whom are temporary visitors who have no intention of making a life here. But many do plan to (there were 349,804 permanent residents that are not zainichi Koreans/Chinese as of 2005). According to Immigration Bureau statistics, there were approximately 190,000 people illegally residing in Japan (presumably concentrated mainly around Tokyo) as of 2006. Though the number of illegal immigrants has decreased as controls have gotten stricter over the years, Japanese manufacturers have no intention of turning back from their use of cheap, often illegal, foreign labor to stay competitive as the numbers of Japanese workers decrease and fewer people are willing to take such jobs. On top of that, other industries, including the medical, restaurant, and agricultural industry are eager to expand their use of foreign labor.

While many of the legal immigrants were educated at least partly in Japan (and in the cases of Chinese and Koreans, their families may have been in the country for 3 generations or more) and lead normal, middle class lives, the conditions for illegal workers in Japan can be downright dreary. A recent government-produced documentary depicting the daily activities of immigration officials features a scene in which the “Immigration G-Men” break up a textile operation in a small Tokyo apartment that was making handbags for local consumption. The workers are Korean, speak poor Japanese, and look like they rarely leave their work stations. Even among legal residents of Japan, many are “trainees” at manufacturing companies whose “training” consists of full time work on an assembly line for low pay.

The regular publication of statistics like these, and the regular, adversarial reporting of developments in this issue, should remind the public as well as the authorities that real “internationalization” based on economic interests, rather than the abstract concept of peace, cooperation, and English study that is usually associated with that term, has already arrived in parts of Japan, making it necessary to adjust and respond. Recently publicized cases of some issues facing foreign laborers, such as abuse in the “trainee” system the difficulty that children of foreign residents face in getting an education, have resulted in increased attention by the authorties, and even some incremental reform. Justice Minister Nagase is heading efforts at the ministry to provide a legal framework to tap unskilled workers, a move that would give legal credibility to the current practice but at the same time would give the foreign workers rights and proper status. The Ministry of Education has begun requiring children of permanent residents to attend school.

These are necessary steps forward, but I feel like the current developments facing foreign residents in Japan have yet to receive the top spot on the agenda that they deserve. Back in 1990, Japan began a program to accept Brazilians of Japanese descent as temporary guest workers. I wasn’t around at the time, but it’s clear that the issue received very wide coverage that I think helped prepare people mentally for the small-scale but significant change in policy. Today, with the foreign population exploding (by Japanese standards), where are the public opinion polls, dramas featuring foreign laborers, rants by unqualified political commentators, etc etc?

Corporate-led Social Revolution

Generally, Japan’s immigration policies are much more liberal than the US – in the rare case that you speak Japanese fluently and have connections within the country. For the rest of the world, Japan’s immigration policies focus on attracting skilled foreign workers in areas such as computer programming where Japanese skills aren’t enough to meet demand. Some industries, meanwhile, are calling for an addition to that policy of allowing more low-skilled workers in to either fill shortages or drive wages down. The most recent victories for advocates of such policies were the “free trade agreements” signed with the Philippines and Thailand, which will allow foreign nurses and chefs, respectively, to work in Japan. However, the Japanese side insisted on language requirements that guarantee virtually no significant numbers will be let in.

This is a radical change for Japan, which has traditionally coddled its low-skilled workers with decent wages and living standards and kept out large numbers of non-Japanese foreigners. Like the US, Japan has a valuable currency and lots of industry, making it an attractive destination for low-skilled workers. Bringing in lots of foreign unskilled labor would make Japan’s immigration structure more like the US, which imports millions of unskilled laborers with poorly enforced immigration laws while making highly skilled jobs very difficult through unofficial barriers such as difficult licensing requirements and tight visa quotas. From the perspective of an average citizen who wants to see the best people in the right jobs, I would advocate opening up the books for all levels of jobs. The US situation is a nightmare for both the illegal immigrants from Mexico who have no prospects back home but must leave their families and live as an outlaw to support their families in the US, and the Americans who have seen low-skilled jobs with decent pay evaporate as a result of the immigration and outsourced manufacturing.

Japan, meanwhile, has relied almost exclusively on what the Japanese government coyly calls “international division of labor” and less on importing labor. Large Japanese corporations are major investors around the world, particularly in China and SE Asia, and employ hundreds of thousands if not millions throughout the region. This decision by the Japanese companies no doubt increases the supply of labor for the companies and allows them to save on wages. But Japan managed to avoid the US situation by maintaining stable employment in domestic industries such as service and construction, sometimes at the expense of efficiency or economic rationality.

But the business community has changed its tone over the years, and now the two top business lobbies, the Keidanren (made up of manufacturers) and Keizai Doyukai (a more brazenly neo-liberal group of top executives), are calling for massive importation of labor to avoid a drop in GDP due to the shrinking native work force that will accompany Japan’s population drop to 100 million by 2050.

No more – Economic analysts have been pointing out for years that Japanese consumer consumption is low relative to other developed countries, and that poor consumption is holding back Japan’s GDP growth. The low consumption is blamed on two factors – deflation that makes people delay large purchases, and stagnant wage growth – the latter of which Morgan Stanley economist Stephen Roach argues stems from the “powerful global labor arbitrage that continues to put unrelenting pressure on the labor-income generating capacity of high-wage industrial economies.” In other words, Japanese labor is in competition from foreigners, a prospect that means money for the global corporations but hardship for the domestic workers.

Japan’s media has been sensitive to this issue, if a bit reluctant to blame it on globalization. Economic disparity between the rich and poor (known succinctly as “kakusa” in Japanese) has been a persistent buzzword over the past 2 years. A host of phenomena – growing income disparity, the collapse of stable employment and the rise of fluid ‘temporary’ employment, a jump in the welfare rolls, the rise in prominence of a new wealthy class, the bankrupt finances of local governments, the near-collapge of the social insurance system, low economic growth for more than a decade, a shrinking/aging population, and on and on – have given average Japanese people the sense that the future looks rather dim.

Now the manufacturing interests, among others, are calling for more foreign labor to come to Japan, and as we’ve seen above it is on its way, putting perhaps more pressure on the average worker. But in my opinion this is only a problem if only labor is allowed to be fluid while corporations with stable management and shareholders reap the profits. Highly skilled laborers such as lawyers, doctors, professors, journalists, and especially corporate managers/investors should be allowed into Japan. Allowing a full spectrum of business opportunities into Japan, which with a highly educated population, peaceful society, and hyper-developed infrastructure, would allow for a wealth of more business and labor opportunities.

But of course that’s a silly proposition. The stewards of Japanese society will continue to hoard the top positions and continue making hypocritical appeals to racial harmony out of one side of their mouths when it comes to reform of corporate boardrooms while pushing for internationalization of cheap labor from the other side. Like it or not, the choice average citizens have is how to deal with the situation that’s been thrust upon us.

Where East and West meet

It’s easy to see a disconnect between, say, the interests of English teachers, IT workers, and businessmen that make up the bulk of Japan’s semi-permanent Western population, and those of the “low-skilled” world of immigrants from Asia.

But that would be wrong. Apart from entry requirements and visa stipulations, Japanese law treats all foreigners basically the same. And while perceptions of foreigners is different based on skin color and culture, the rights of foreigners and the level of their acceptance in Japan will depend on the experiences of other populations. There are already many examples of this connection. The question of whether zainichi Koreans will be accepted as a distinct “Japanese-Korean” identity or whether they will end up mostly assimilated and forgotten will decide how future populations will be dealt with. And if human rights activist Arudo Debito is successful in his campaign to get a national law passed banning racial discrimination, that legal framework will be enforceable for the entire foreign population.

At the same time, the bad deeds of a small group of people can ruin things for everyone else, fairly or not. Crimes committed by foreign nationals are often highly publicized thanks to a xenophobic police force that I suspect is in search of a scapegoat to help market security equipment and grab bigger budgets. Whatever the case, the anti-foreign crime campaign has resulted in bothersome ID checks and humiliating signs warning citizens to watch out for suspicious foreigners. And as limited as its impact was (thanks mainly to successful protests that cut its shelf life to mere months), the “Foreign Crime File” book, a despicable, short-lived multimedia diatribe against the foreign population in Japan, did not distinguish between Asians, Africans, or Westerners in its cheap attempts to cast foreigners in a negative light.

My biggest worry is that without proactive efforts to make this immigration smooth and easy, Japan will start to experience something like the US illegal immigration problem, with all the poverty, crime, and mistrust that goes with it. Occasional statements from high-level politicians, like Education Minister Bunmei Ibuki’s statement that Japan is a “homogeneous nation,” should remind people that race consciousness and nativism are not dead and work as appeals to a conservative voter base. The time to lay the groundwork is now to prevent a backlash against foreigners that would prove a major headache for the entire foreign population, and a loss of the culture of tranquil co-existence with neighbors that has defined Japanese society.

Government of Japan STILL violating the privacy of naturalized foreigners

It’s been almost a year since I exposed the Ministry of Justice’s inappropriate practice of placing the names, birthdates, and addresses of foreigners who naturalize as Japanese citizens. So I figured I would check back and see if the MOJ had decided to stop violating the privacy of the citizens it’s supposed to be protecting, and the answer is a big fat NO. As of February 23, the government gazette still publishes the information in the exact same place. It might be hidden from Google searches, but the information is contained on PDFs that can be used to easily copy paste the name and address information and used for God know’s what.

I don’t feel like taking the time right now to compare this practice to the MOJ’s own “personal information protection policy” but is it safe to assume that this kind of blatant disclosure violates the spirit of privacy protection if not the letter of the law?

Kokaryo- a 40 year old thorn in China / Japan / Taiwan relations

One week ago, The Asahi Shimbun reported on the latest development in a 40 year old court case that leaves Japan’s supreme court in the touchy position of having to abjudicate a dispute between The People’s Republic of China and Taiwan/The Republic of China over which government is the proper owner of a decrepit student dormitory located near Kyoto University, know as Kokaryo(光華寮).

For some of the basic facts of the case, here are some quotes from the Asahi article:

Located near Kyoto University in a quiet residential area, the five-story Kokaryo dormitory has a total floor space of about 2,000 square meters. A few students still reside there.

Kyoto University rented out the building from a private company during World War II and used it as a dormitory for Chinese students.

After the end of the war, the Republic of China purchased the dorm and left the students living there to manage it. Taiwan purchased the structure in 1952 to allow it to be used as a dorm for foreign students as before. This came after Mao Tse-tung established the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

In 1967, the Taiwanese government filed a lawsuit in the Kyoto District Court seeking to have students who supported the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing removed from the building.

The situation became even more complicated after 1972, the year Japan and China re-established diplomatic ties. At the same time, Japan broke off diplomatic relations with Taiwan.

In 1977, the Kyoto District Court ruled against Taiwan, but a 1982 Osaka High Court ruling overturned the lower court decision and sent the case back to the district court.

In 1986, the Kyoto District Court ruled in favor of Taiwan, and the Osaka High Court backed that ruling in 1987.

Beijing heatedly protested the court ruling, arguing that it recognized two Chinas in opposition to the official Japanese government stance that Beijing is the sole, legitimate representative of China.

The case then went to the Supreme Court, but for two decades it took no action because of possible diplomatic implications.

On Tuesday, it was learned that the Third Petty Bench of the Supreme Court had sent letters to lawyers for the two sides involved in the lawsuit seeking their opinion on which government held the right to represent China.

The lawsuit was originally filed with Taiwan as the plaintiff. If the Supreme Court eventually rules that China should become the plaintiff as the successor government, Taiwan would have no choice but to allow Beijing to continue with the case.

At one point, the dormitory lawsuit became a major diplomatic issue between Japan and China that was taken up during meetings of leaders of the two nations.

The late Deng Xiaoping criticized the Japanese court rulings supporting Taiwan.

Japanese government officials were forced to seek Beijing’s understanding that under Japan’s constitutional separation of powers, the administrative branch could not interfere with decisions made by the judicial branch.

The Supreme Court’s apparent decision to dust off the case could point to a new focus on legal issues.

Until the second Osaka High Court ruling, the focus had been whether the communist government set up in Beijing should be allowed to assume ownership of overseas assets.

According to a history of Kyoto University, the Kokaryo was first provided by Kyoto University in May of 1945 for the use of foreign students born in the Republic of China and the South Pacific islands that were in Japan to receive “special education.” Interestingly, it does not say “China”(中国) or “overseas Chinese” (華僑) , but quite specifically “Republic of China.” (中華民国) Of course, this is not an original document showing the intent of the university at the time they first rented the dormitory, but there may be something to it. Certainly there were many Taiwanese students in Japan at the time, but Taiwan was still Japanese and not Republic of China territory. Were there many ROC citizens studying in Japan before the end of WWII? Were there also PRC students at the time? This architecture page says that the building was constructed in 1931, and was originally an apartment building, presumably private, intended for Kyoto University students, and also gives a more detailed location, Sakyo-ku, Kitashirakawa,

According to this Yomiuri story, the legal battle started when Taiwan attempted to evict 8 students due to “trouble related to the management of the dormitory,” who then filed a lawsuit protesting the eviction, but the reason that Taiwan actually decided to throw out the students at this time is not indicated in any Japanese or English language articles that I found. However, according an article I found in the Liberty Times, (a Taiwanese newspaper well known for its pro-independence stance) the Chinese students were originally kicked out of the dorm in response to complaints by dorm-resident Taiwanese students, who were annoyed by shouts of “Banzai Chairman Mao!” from Chinese students in the grip of Cultural Revolution fever.

The PRC consulate in Fukuoka web page has a page outlining the official PRC government version of the story. Interestingly, this appears to be a direct translation of a Chinese page that I had originally read on the website of CCTV, where it is part of a September 2002 special on “30 Years of Normalized China-Japan Relations.”Aside from giving me a handy way to check how well I understood the Chinese page (I would say I got a passing grade, but not an A), the fact that a consulate general web page has exactly the same text as CCTV (China Central Television) is a strong reminder that CCTV is in fact an official government mouthpiece, and not a government sponsored but editorially independent media organization, like the BBC or NHK are supposed to be.

At least one possibly critical detail was left out of all Japanese and Taiwanese reporting on the case that I found, but can be found in Chinese language articles PRC side, as well as the aforementioned Japanese text of the Chinese consulate web site. Since the basis of the conflict is over which government has rights to overseas property of China, but since Kokaryo was not actually purchased by the ROC government until AFTER they had fled to Taiwan and the People’s Republic had been officially established, why is it even under contention? That is, the PRC is contending that overseas property owned by China before the PRC officially became China’s successor state should be transferred to their control. OK, fine- even if you accept that argument, why should they gain control of something that was purchased by the de-facto independent government on Taiwan? (Note that China does not seem to be attempting to harm Taiwanese property rights in general, perhaps because that would be too threatening to the massive Taiwanese investment in China.) The answer seems to be, at least according to China, because the Kokaryo was purchased by Taiwan’s representative in Japan using money received from the sale of property that had been seized by the Japan military’s invasion of China during WW2. I don’t have enough information to be entirely clear, but this seems to imply that while Taiwan may have the rights to property held or controlled by Taiwan before the establishment of the PRC, since the resources used to purchase Kokaryo were originally stolen from China, they must also be returned to China, which the ROC government on Taiwan was longer the legal representative of at that time. I have not yet found a second, independent, source for this information, or in fact for the Taiwanese account of the Chinese students’ eviction. Interestingly, and unsurprisingly, there are essential facts reported by the media of both sides that are not reported by anyone else, making it very difficult to uncover the reality without doing a significant amount of independent research.

Expect translations (more like paraphrase in the case of Chinese sources) of articles from both the Chinese and Taiwanese perspective.

Ministry of Health releases marriage stats

Japan’s ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare have released their 2006 report on marriage statistics in Japan. While the headlines are reporting that now 25% of marriages are 2nd marriages (or 2nd and thereafter), I saw some more interesting highlights:

  • The number of marriages continues to fall, from 720,000 in 2004 to around 714,000 in 2005. This is down from a peak of 941,000 in 1975.
  • Divorces were down to 260,000 from a peak in 2002.
  • The average marriage age continues to rise (Men: 31, Women: 29)
  • The ratio of international marriages to total marriages jumped once again from 5% in 2004 to 6% in 2005.
  • Japanese men and women who marry outside their nationality continue to marry a distinctly different set of foreigners. In 1995, most internationally marrying Japanese men (35%) took Filipina brides, while a quarter of them married Chinese women. In 2005, the tables were turned, with only 30% marrying Filipinas and 35% marrying Chinese.
  • As for the international women, 18% of them (the 2nd largest group) marry American men, a statistic that has remained stable since 1995. However, the largest group in 1995 at 41% (Koreans, including Japanese-born “zainichi”) shrunk to 24% and was supplanted by 2005 by “Other countries” at 32.7%. What to make of this striking diversification? Perhaps there is a larger group of women marrying both Commonwealth-born native English speakers (other than the UK which makes the list at 4%) as well as the many African/Iranian/Turkish/Indian etc immigrants who are making their way to Japan. Or perhaps it is simply an indication of the “diaspora” of Japanese women that the Western media has reported. No explanation is given in the report, unfortunately, nor was there a breakdown of what these mysterious “other countries” might be (other countries that made the list were China, Peru, Brazil, the Philippines, and Thailand).
  • Also, the ratio of Japanese men marrying foreign women:Japanese women marrying foreign men has increased from about 3:1 in 1995 to 4:1 in 2005, evidence that may speak of an even more noticeable “diaspora” effect among men. Nevertheless, the growing number of international marriages could indeed be caused by the palpable divide between the sexes.
  • Marriages tend to peak during months in which members of the imperial family get married, as well as in months that share the same number as the year (example: Feb 2002 =2/02). Cute.

I was looking for a statistic comparable to the famous “2/3 of all US marriages end in divorce,” but I couldn’t find anything like that. Ah well, chew on that for a while!

There are so many things to prepare for when you are getting married. So many little details, like wedding reception favors, can get lost in shuffle. Thankfully, finding unique wedding favors and fabulous bridal shower favors can be found online and at great prices. You already have so much to think about for your wedding so leave the favors to the experts!

Good foreigner, bad foreigner

I’ve noticed several English-language articles on foreigners in Japan lately: Tony McNichol takes a trip to Tokyo’s Indiatown in Nishi-Kasai, the Japanese government’s PR machine coincidentally also dips into the Indiatown well (English-language video report here) and dedicates a whole magazine issue to portraying multiculturalism as a “force for change” moving Japan “toward a multicultural society”, and Joseph Coleman sees some similarities between Brazilians in Oizumi, Gunma prefecture and the dissaffected Africans in Paris.

Why all the interest now, when no major government reports have been recently released or any groundbreaking events are taking place? Beats me, but remember: there is one thing we can all agree on:

“Everybody, I think, is agreed on one thing: We want to attract the `good’ foreigners, and keep out the `bad’ ones,” said Hisashi Toshioka, of the Justice Ministry’s Immigration Bureau.

While this statement, taken out of context, begs all sorts of questions, I am fully prepared to take it at face value. Bad foreigners not only need to be kept from coming to Japan, if they make it to the country they need to get stomped. My favorite case in point? This drunken sod who gets his ass beaten by a garbage man in Osaka:

That’s bad. Thankfully my youthful carousing occurred in a time before cell phone cameras.

What might have been?

Speaking of the Philippines and historical predictions, there is a great discussion going on over at the blog Coming Anarchy over the past, present and future status of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines were all transferred from Spanish to United States control together, with the 1898 December 10 signing of the Treaty of Paris that concluded the Spanish-American War (as well as a payment of $20 million from the US to Spain.) Both Puerto Rico and Guam remain unincorporated territories of the United States of America, but the US and the Philippines parted company long ago. Reading this discussion gives you a pretty good idea of why the Philippines was spun off into an independent country instead of being either incorporated into the union or kept in colonial status. Today Americans are concerned about being demographically overwhelmed by Hispanics, but true annexation of the Philippines would have been a massive and sudden demographic shock that would have profoundly changed the subsequent development of both. For the people who think the Puerto Rico situation is complicated, try and imagine what might have happened if the Philippines, with a population twenty times that of Puerto Rico, and speaking a polyglot of languages, had all become US citizens overnight.

Zainichi Korean History textbook: Timeline

A couple of months ago I picked up The History of Zainichi Koreans, a Japanese language middle school text book intended for use either by ethnic Korean Japanese residents at Mindan (South Korean) affiliated schools, or as a supplemental text for history teachers in Japanese schools. It was published by Akashi Shoten in February 2006, and written by the history textbook creation sub-committee of Mindan and can be bought through Amazon Japan.

Looking at how history is presented in textbooks is, as readers may know, something that I find rather fascinating and so I would like to translate some small sections of interest in this text for everyone. Today I will start with the timeline of key events in Zainichi history. It is divided into two parts, Pre Liberation and Post Liberation, with the respective timeline being placed at the beginning of that half of the book. Notice which events, some of which are probably unknown to over 99% of Japanese citizens (i.e. the details of foreigner registration) are selected as key to Zainichi history.

View the entire post to see the timeline.

Continue reading Zainichi Korean History textbook: Timeline

The first baby (almost) adopted from China

The Foreign Relations of the United States series is the official documentary historical record of major U.S. foreign policy decisions that have been declassified and edited for publication. The series is produced by the State Department’s Office of the Historian and printed volumes are available from the Government Printing Office.

While perusing the table of contents of a random volume of this wonderful collection I found the following very fascinating exchange. They are of course all fascinating, but perhaps since my own little sister is adopted (although not from China) I found this one particularly special. Apologies for the lousy formatted text, but it is the product of un-edited OCR software. I have corrected a few obvious errors, but making it all pretty is a bit much.


Minister Rockhill to the Secretary of State.
Peking, September 6, 1906.

SIR: I have the honor to enclose herewith copies of my correspondence with the American consul-general at Hankow regarding the adoption by an American of a Chinese baby girl. My opinion is asked as to whether the child may, through adoption, become an American citizen, and be taken to the United States and brought up as any ordinary adopted child of American extraction.

I have expressed my belief that under the present laws a Chinese infant
can not thus become an American citizen, but that possibly the child could
be taken to the United States and there educated under the privileges pertaining to the exempt classes of Chinese persons.
I have the honor to beg that the department will express its opinion as
to my course of action.
I have, etc., W. W. ROCKHILL.

[Inclosure 1.J

Mr. Martin to Mr. Rockhill

HANKOW, August 21, 1906.
SIR: I have the honor to inclose herein the copy of a letter just received
from Miss Carrie M. Ericksen, together with a copy of my answer thereto.

Will you be so kind as to express your opinion on the subject, through me,
to her, that she may be the better satisfied.

[Subinclosure 1.]

Miss Ericksen to Mr. Martin.

AUGUST 15, 1906.
DEAR MR. MARTIN: I am writing these few lines to ask a favor of you. We
have under our care a Chinese baby girl who was thrown out to die by her
parents and we want to know if it is possible to take her with us to the
United States next spring. If so, under what conditions. I wish to adopt
her and have her brought up in my home as an American citizen. Will you let
me hear from you at your earliest convenience, and oblige, CHINA. 289

[Subinclosure 2.]

Mr. Martin to Miss Ericlcsen.

Sin Tsai Hsien, Honan:
I am in receipt of your letter dated August 15, 1906, and in reply would
say, that as to your asking whether you can take a baby Chinese girl into
the United States, you having adopted her, as far as 1 know it would not
be permitted. I will, however, communicate with the American minister at
Peking on the subject, and on receiving his answer will forward it to you.


[Inclosure 2.]

Mr. Rockhill to Mr. Martin.

PEKING, September 6, 1906.

SIR: I have to acknowledge the receipt of your No. 218 of August 21, inclosing copies of your correspondence with Miss Carrie M. Ericksen regarding her proposed adoption of a Chinese baby girl as an American citizen and asking my opinion on the subject.
In reply I beg to say that I can find no record in this legation of a similar
case, but I am of the opinion that under the present laws the child could
not be declared a citizen of the United States through adoption. It might
be possible, however, for her to be brought to America for the purpose of
education under the laws governing persons of exempt classes, but that is
not the point upon which Miss Ericksen desires information.
I have submitted the case to the Department of State, and on receiving a
reply therefrom will immediately inform you of its contents.

The Acting Secretary of State to Minister Rockhill.
Washington, November ~, 1906.

SIR: In answer to your dispatch, No. 389, of September 6 last, asking whether
a Chinese child adopted by an American citizen in China may be admitted to
the United States for the purpose of being educated, I inclose herewith,
for your information, a copy of a letter from the Acting Secretary of Commerce
and Labor, stating that a~ child born of Chinese parents in China can not
be permitted to enter the United States as an American citizen because of
its adoption by a temporary resident of China who is a citizen of the United
States, and that you are correct in holding that the persons interested in
the child should adopt the usual procedure to insure its admission to this
country, namely, the procurement of a certificate under the provisions of
section 6 of the act of July 5, 1884.
I am, etc., ROBERT BACON.