TT-728 -- Why is Hate Speech not a Crime? E-biz news from Japan

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A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd.

General Edition Sunday, Sep 29, 2013, Issue No. 728


- What's New -- Why is Hate Speech not a Crime?
- News -- Consumption tax may have to rise to 20%
- Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies
- Upcoming Events
- Corrections/Feedback
- Travel Picks -- International events in Gunma and Okinawa
- News Credits

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Normally we don't comment on political issues, but this last week, a small politically-related criminal event occurred that really bothers us. Two Japanese men were arrested by the police for slapping the faces of several anti-Korean demonstrators in Shin-Okubo. As many readers would be aware, groups of up to 200 right-wingers have been gathering in the Korean area, spouting hate slogans such as Roaches, Go Back to Korea, and even Let's Kill Koreans... enough to incense any right-minded person to want to slap their faces. Indeed, there have been other scuffles in the past. The two men deny the allegation, although apparently the police have them on videotape.

Anyway, what disturbs us is that while it is obviously illegal for someone to strike someone else, no matter what the reason, inflicting hurt by voice and actions (hate speech) is not only not illegal, but with this police action one could say that the authorities appear to be actively protecting and encouraging the right-wingers. This tells us two things that in our minds significantly affect Japan's human rights standing in the civilized world: firstly that the authorities don't care about minorities and in fact are willing to turn a blind eye to violent (non-physical) actions towards them, and secondly, the law condones the action of verbal race-centric abuse and it is not considered a violent act -- a very different situation to many other first world countries (although notably not the USA) where hate speech is generally considered a crime.

[Continued below...]

-------------------- DELTA AIR LINES ----------------------


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[...Article continues]

Looking at minorities in Japan, you have the traditional indigenous outcasts, who out of respect we won't name, then you have the foreigners. Because these minorities are present in such small numbers, and in the case of foreigners, can't vote, Japan deals with them and their problems by pretty much sweeping them under the carpet. This worked in the past because such groups have no public voice and because in any case the average Japanese person is polite and respectful of others. But now with democratization of the media (i.e., the Internet and social networks) this formerly pragmatic approach is starting to break down. Extremists are finding it easier to find each other and meet up, and ordinary people are being exposed to ugly incidents of racism that the traditional media would never cover, and understandably they are reacting badly to such naked hatred.

Ethnic Korean's are of course a special case. Japan has a guilty past in having imported (by conscription or coercion) at least 2.4m Koreans, before and during the second world war. Although the right-wing argument is that they came willingly, when you're a citizen of an occupied country the term "willing" can mean having to choose between doing military service for your overlords, working in a factory or coal mine in Japan, or death. Furthermore, after the war, the roughly 650,000 Koreans who decided to stay on and make lives in Japan suddenly found in 1952 after the San Francisco peace treaty (signed for South Korea) that their Japanese nationality was taken away and they became stuck in limbo between the motherland and their new home. Now, 61 years later, they and their descendants are still stuck in the same semi-stateless situation.

Nowadays, there are about 900,000 people of Korean ethnicity living in Japan, making them the largest ethnic group in the country by far. About ten thousand people a year naturalize as Japanese, meaning that most remain proudly Korean, even though they are mostly second or third generation, fluent in Japanese, and understand Japan like the Japanese themselves do. While historically the act of retaining one's heritage was seen as a failure to integrate, in today's society ethnic identity is a point of pride. It's just a shame that the nation's laws and some parts of society haven't kept up with social norms and can't accept there might be inhabitants who identify as being different.

To be honest, we can't understand why the government doesn't take some kind of action to restrict hate speech and more definitively outlaw acts of racial discrimination. The nation needs to create a more attractive and fertile environment for the coming decades of immigration that it will so badly need as the workforce shrinks. Police statistics relating to the foreign community show that if you remove overstayers, not a problem with zainichi Koreans anyway, that the minorities in this country are even more law-abiding than their hosts.

So why is hate speech not a crime? As we mentioned earlier, part of the reason is because minorities were too few to matter and because the crazies who practice hate speech had no platform other than pamphlets and some sound trucks until the Internet arrived. However, there is another rationale that has been showing up in the media recently, where academics are saying that because the U.S. doesn't recognize hate speech as a crime, due to the right of freedom of speech guaranteed in the Constitution, Japanese conservatives are simply practicing the same values. We believe the difference, though, is that the U.S. does outlaw various acts of racial discrimination (through Federal and other bodies), and to anyone not just citizens. So while hate speech may not be contained on one level, practically speaking it can be restricted in other ways. Further, we wonder why Japan feels it needs to follow the U.S. lock-step in an area of law that is probably lacking. It's a poor excuse for continuing a bad situation.

Instead, as the lack of physical violence in reaction to the rightists demonstrations in Shin-Okubo shows, the Korean community are remarkably tolerant, and with such desirable characteristics, this is a group that the government should be protecting.

...The information janitors/


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+++ NEWS

- Corporate investment leaves Japan
- Nomad workers
- Sazae-san goes digital
- Consumption tax may have to rise to 20%
- TPP basic deal announcement in October?

=> Corporate investment leaves Japan

Although PM Abe has unleashed hundreds of billions of dollars in stimulus to kick start the country again, the biggest blockage to his plan to reflate the economy appears to be the unwillingness of companies to part with their cash hoards by investing domestically in people and plant. Instead, as this Reuters report indicates, it appears that most companies are stepping up their expansions abroad, and allowing natural attrition here at home to occur. Apparently Japan-based capital expenditure has dropped 4% in the first 6 months of 2013, compared with investment elsewhere in Asia, which has surged by 22%. In fact, Japanese investment into SE Asia jumped 30% in the first half of this year, to US$6bn, setting new records for M&A and Japanese bank lending in the region. As a result, at least 18% of all manufacturing is now done outside Japan and in the last 30 years the share of manufacturing as a contribution of GDP has fallen from 27% to just 19%. (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 25, 2013)

=> Nomad workers

Japan loves evocative descriptions of its demographic segments. We had freeters, parasite singles, then ara-fo's, and now we have "nomad workers". Apparently this new demographic of teleworkers, who may be full or part-timers, and who in either case are trying to reduce company costs, are increasingly using coffee shops as their offices. As a result, a website called Dengen Cafe lists over 1,700 restaurants, coffee shops, and convenience stores around the nation which have free power outlets and WiFi for their customers. The site is quite popular, reaching about 150,000 unique users per month. ***Ed: No word on how many nomad workers there are, but our guess would be about half a million, comprising probably about 20% of the overall sales force. We arrived at the sales force number by assuming that about 10% of Japan's 12m or so 25-34 year old staff are working in sales -- based on the fact that almost all young Japanese businessmen and some women are required to do sales for 1-3 years as part of their training. Then we assumed in addition there would be about an average of five older and more experienced sales staff for the nation's roughly 200,000 active companies.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 29, 2013)

=> Sazae-san goes digital

Loved by generations of Japanese, Sazae-san is the world's longest-running cartoon. After 44 years of being lovingly produced by hand, the Fuji TV Network cartoon series will now go fully digital. While you might not notice the difference, for the many animators who have been producing the series by hand, it is one more nail in the coffin of their art. This is a big deal for them, and the founder of Studio Ghibli, Hayato Miyazaki, decided he'd rather retire than abandon his love of hand-drawn cells for his cartoon features. Luckily the series itself will continue on. ***Ed: You can see Sazae-san bigger than life at her own museum in Setagaya's Sakura Shinmachi township, on the Denentoshi train line.** (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 28, 2013)

=> Consumption tax may have to rise to 20%

A senior economist leading the investment panel for the nation's Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) has said that Japan must raise its consumption tax to at least 20% by 2020 if it is to avert a financial disaster. The dire warning comes from a man who controls a fund of JPY121trn, the world's largest retirement fund. He reckons that for the GPIF to stay viable it will need to diversify away from its current practice of buying massive amounts of government bonds, and therefore the government will need an alternative way to fund itself. Japan's public debt will grow to 245% of GDP this year, compared with 179% for Greece and 108% for the USA. Japan spends JPY22.2trn servicing this debt and is primarily able to do so because more than 90% of its bonds are held by domestic "captive" investors such as the GPIF, banks, and other semi-public or publicly-controlled entities. (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 24, 2013)

=> TPP basic deal announcement in October?

The TPP negotiations appear to be moving forward much more quickly than originally anticipated, and there could be a basic deal announced as early as next month. There will be a summit of the 12 nations in a little over a week's time in Indonesia, and while the details will not be available, there is a possibility that there will be a general declaration made at that time. It seems that the areas in greatest agreement have been customs procedures, telecommunications, and cross-border services. As can be expected, those in greatest disagreement are agriculture, financial services, and auto manufacturing. (Source: TT commentary from, Sep 23, 2013)

NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days of posting them, thus breaking our links -- we apologize for the inconvenience.



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----------------- ICA Event - October 24th-----------------

Speaker: Dr David Sweet , Managing Director of the human capital consultancy, Top Grade Japan
Title: "Aftershock: The New Job Market Landscape in Japan"

Details: Complete event details at

Date: Thursday, October 24th, 2013
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members), open to all. No sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: RSVP by 10am on Monday 21st October
Venue is The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan



=> No corrections this issue.


---------------- Help Still Needed in Tohoku --------------

The Japan Emergency Team, operator of Japan`s only Disaster Relief Vehicle is asking for help to keep the Disaster Relief Vehicle running. The DRV, a 30 foot converted Motorhome sleeps up to ten, has shower, cooking, facilities and is still on site in Tohoku where it assisted in providing showers, food and emergency assistance as it still does. In addition it has a mobile `convenience store` which provides necessities to those in temporary housing.

The Japan Emergency Team was formed in 1989 when 38 students from Chuo University went to assist in the San Francisco Earthquake making history as the first overseas disaster assistance from Japan. When there is not an ongoing disaster in progress the DRV visits schools, government and other events to promote disaster awareness and is as much in demand when there is a disaster as when there is not.

Sponsorship includes a logo on the side of the DRV, participation in regular disaster awareness events and more. Those able to help are asked to contact for a sponsorship packet or to invite the DRV to an event.



=> Minakami Adventure Festival, Gunma
Outdoor fun at Gunma's activity capital

Minakami Adventure Festival started off 10 years ago as just a fun, late season weekend arranged by a few of the outdoor companies. It's now grown into a much larger event with big name sponsors, an adventure race, and lots of other activities going on all weekend. In 2012 it falls on September 29th and 30th. We make a point of going every year with friends as lots of the activities on offer are available at a discount and there is plenty to do for the kids.

The main festival area is in Yubiso Park, which is on the road to Tanigawadake Ropeway (right next to the Melody Road - drive at 40 kilometers an hour and the grooves in the road play a famous tune). Here you'll find most of the kids' activities, food stalls and some shops. There are always some big name brands here who take advantage of the gathered outdoor enthusiasts to offload some excess stock. Expect some amazing bargains, especially if you are there early on Saturday, and we usually come back with something we didn't actually need but that was too good a price to resist.

=> American Base Festivals On Okinawa
U.S. Military Sponsored Festivals Open to the Public

Friendship festivals held on American military bases in Okinawa each year feature headline entertainment acts like Alien Ant Farm, Hinder, Jessie James, Gary Sinese and the Lt Dan Band, One Republic, JET, David Archuleta, and Hailey Reinhart. Ten festivals are held on bases across Okinawa and are open to the public free of charge. The widely popular festivals feature music, entertainment, food and games similar to off-base festivals but with distinct American fare and flair.

Access to the base is limited to the area of the festival. Always bring identification; if not an American or Japanese citizen, bring ID showing where you are residing. Bags are usually inspected prior to entry. Coolers and glass containers are not allowed. Bring sun block and yen or U.S. dollars for food and games.

When? The America Fest at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa City is usually held the first weekend in July each year from 12:00 ~ 21:00; this event is restricted to U.S. military personnel on the first day but is open to Japanese citizens on the second day. The event was cancelled for 2013.

The Hansen Fest at Camp Hansen in Kin Town was held between August 17 and 18, 2013 from 14:00 ~ 22:00. One Republic was the headlining musical act for this year, so it's very good value.



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I scratch my head a lot when I hear how vitriolic and over the top some of these hate speeches get in Japan. Things that would never fly in the USA after our long history with KKK and what nots. I can only guess that today's Japan is a weird mixture of left-over fedualism and democracy. Democracy depends on individualism and what I can read from how rare vocal dissensions are in Japan against what should be an unacceptable behavior in any modern society I can only mutter backwards provincial people. I wonder if, in 100 years, an inside of an average Japanese will match the modern facade.