Friday, July 31, 2009

Things ya don't wanna know

With dozens of half-completed posts waiting to be finished, it seems the only thing I can post about is that which I least want to think about.

The first is an article in the usually waste-of-time Letter to Nagatacho section of the decreasingly interesting Japan Times:

On July 2 in Shinjuku, a 74-year-old American tourist walked into a police box to ask directions....

...The American asked where Kinokuniya bookstore was, and the older police officer responded by asking the tourist if he had a pocket knife. The American, being the law-abiding citizen that he is, said "yes" and handed it to the senior officer. After a quick measurement of the blade, the officer arrested the 74-year-old for having a pocket knife 1 cm over the legal limit...

...It's astounding that a tourist in Japan has more to fear from the Japanese government or national police force than the citizenry.
Japan Times

Once again, details are lacking. Once again, a Japanese newspaper publishes something with no attempt to investigate the facts. Hey, Japan Times...what are your reporters paid to do?*

If it is accurate, (certainly the last sentence is true) why was the man arrested for possessing a pocket knife? My recollection of the law which took effect on 4 July, is that it outlawed only double-edged dagger-type knives with blades of 5 cm or more in a lazy-assed attempt to convince citizens that clueless politicians and bureaucrats were seriously addressing problems which led to the Akihabara mass murder. Is there another law which restricts the carry of pocket knives? Could one carry a 15cm kitchen knife legally? What if one buys the kitchen knife at Tokyu and is carrying it somewhere to murder someone? Is that OK as long as the koban-sitter is not aware of the murder plans? If he is, would he take action? Why arrest a 74 year-old man? Because he is a foreigner? No, recently, the criminal justice system has been cracking down on the elderly. And to the letter writer---why are you using the term gaijin? (Sorry, noobi question I suppose. Gaijin is a neutral term for non-Japanese of European/Caucasian origin which has now magically expanded to include non-Japanese Asians and others---in theory and fantasy, at least.)

I am now trying to avoid the discrimination area, as there is plenty and it is not hard to find and experience. The longer I live here and the better my Japanese becomes, the more I notice the little subtle things as well as the larger points. However, I have found that dwelling on it tends to make one overly-sensitive and can lead to imagined slights. There's not much that can be done about it anyway at the personal, everyday level. We cannot live our lives for the ignorant.

The other article in the JT, concerns the new immigration reform which the kind, polite, and caring folks in the government created to make life better for bakagaijin.

In your wallet or somewhere at home, do you have a blue or pink card showing that you are enrolled in one of Japan's national health and pension programs? If not, and if you are thinking of extending your stay here, you may want to think about a recent revision to visa requirements for foreign residents. The changes, which the Justice Ministry says were made in order to "smooth out the administrative process," may have major consequences for foreign residents and their future in Japan.

Not so sure I object to this, since it is a Japanese law to be enrolled in health insurance. Some folks have managed to get coverage by private insurance in their home country at reasonable cost and have been able to opt out with evidence of the same in some wards---or so I have heard. Now, they will no longer have that option as Uncle Taro has decided to put immigration in the hands of the national government and remove it from those closest to the needs of immigrants.

The good point---maybe---is that those sleazeball companies which ignored the laws before and had non-Japanese on their payroll while not providing the required insurance may have to quit being sleazeballs that take advantage of workers. We can remember the eikaiwa factories such as Ber....Ber...(sorry, I cannot utter the name or I will vomit) that used various scams to avoid making sure their employees were covered in case of serious illness or injury in order to save a few yen.

*What has made the Japan Times an interesting newspaper in the past was the fact that it is not a member of the so-called press clubs and thus was free to publish articles critical of the sacred cows of Japan's establishment. I remember an excellent full page investigative report in early 1993, I believe, which was extremely critical of the Japan police and its response to rape victims, and non-Japanese victims of crime. I no longer see this type of reporting. Bershitz gets away with a "no comment" in every critical report of its polices. Japan Times investigate no further. We get garbage apparently published under the guise of giving "both sides" of an issue supporting racism and discrimination based on the group one belongs to. I suppose budget cuts may have contributed to this, but it ain't worth my ¥160 anymore, even if it were not available free on the Internut.

3:32pm edited to correct an error. JT is not a member of the press clubs.