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Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011


Dual citizens, tokenism, Futenma, the case against rants: responses

A right to dual citizenship

Re: "Japan loses, rest of the world gains from 'one citizenship fits all' policy" by Glenn Newman (Hotline to Nagatacho, Dec. 9):

I am Japanese-Brazilian. My grandparents (both sides) were Japanese. For some reason that I still do not understand, both my parents, although born in Brazil, are Japanese citizens. Yes, the argument is that they were born in the wartime (my father was born in 1938 and my mother in 1940), and they were, at the time, registered as Japanese citizens at the Japanese Consulate. Back then, most Japanese immigrants in Brazil still believed that sometime in the future they'd go back to their ancestral homeland.

Anyway, they only found out that they were entitled to a Japanese passport when they were about 45 years old, at the time my father got an expat contract to live and work in Japan.

I live in Germany and every time my parents come, they come with their Japanese passports! And they are much older than 21 years old.

They have two passports, but they were never questioned by the Japanese authorities whenever they tried to renew the document, or told to choose between one or the other nationality.

If they are entitled to two nationalities, that means that as a child of two Japanese nationals, I should also be entitled to the Japanese nationality! If my family was Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or even German, having one grandparent of that nationality would be enough for me to be entitled to the nationality.

However, I agree that the Japanese government should strike a balance. Giving that right to everyone who has at least one Japanese grandparent may be too much, but forcing young people to choose between Japanese citizenship and another — denying them the right to dual citizenship — is also too much.


Last straw from Arudou

Re: "MOFA gets E for effort in 'with or without U' farce" by Debito Arudou (Just Be Cause, Dec. 7):

Can this can guy find anything else about Japan to complain about? Why does The Japan Times keep publishing him?

I have lived and worked here as an assistant language teacher for 15 years, and I have to ask: If he dislikes Japan and the way things are done here that much, why doesn't he go back to the States?

We've all had to deal with misspellings, misunderstandings and mistakes in our time here, and I imagine that it would be the same no matter what country I lived in other than my native country, the U.S. Converting a family name to katakana is never going to be as precise as one might like, but if it works for the Japanese — here, in Japan, the country where we chose to live — we should shut up and deal with it.

I choose to live here because I love this country — "warts and all," as my grandmother used to say. I choose to live here because it is not the U.S. with all of its needless litigation and senseless acrimony.

I have held my tongue on the issue of Mr. Arudou and his hostility towards Japan for many years now, but I feel that his constant harping about Japan does more harm than good for the cause of foreign residents in Japan — which, ironically enough, is exactly the opposite of his stated mission in life.

When I lived in the States, I worked as a bakery manager for a large grocery store chain. One of my employees was a very good baker who just couldn't get along with anyone. He and I were chatting one day and I asked him why he had worked at so many different bakeries in the course of a 20-year career as a baker.

The guy explained to me that "all of my bosses were jerks." Another gentleman overheard our conversation and asked the guy, "Did you ever consider that the jerks might not have been your bosses?"

I would like Mr. Arudou to consider the same thing. Maybe his problems with people in Japan have less to do with the Japanese and more to do with how he deals with them.

There are two sides to every story. Lighten up, Mr. Arudou. It is a beautiful country full of wonderful people if you would just open your eyes and take a look.

Kakegawa, Shizuoka

English speakers 'ranked'

Re: "Color politics reign on campuses" by Karmo Tharn (Hotline to Nagatacho, Dec. 14):

Point taken. Seeing my Harvard- educated Chinese-American friend being refused a simple part-time EFL teaching job was an eye-opening experience.

However, this opinion piece fails to point out that there is also a pecking order of preferences among native English-speaking nationalities, with North American teachers (i.e. American) clearly at the top. Canadians seem to run a close second, followed by British and then the field is more or less open. The author has been fortunate that he has an American passport to support his CV.

As an Australian with a 10-year teaching career in Japan, I was frequently seen as a less competent teacher in comparison to my American colleagues.

The bottom line is that ranking systems and hierarchies are deeply embedded into Japanese culture/history, resulting in discrimination becoming second nature and being accepted as almost normal by most Japanese people. I cannot see any improvement in this situation happening any time soon.


Please stop the rants

Please stop printing what are basically just personal rants in your so-called newspaper. "Color politics reign on campuses" is one such rant.

Does the author, Karmo Tharn, actually have something they wish to say to the education minister? Is there a question? Or even a point?

If the writer's experience lets them think that "linguistic imperialism" reigns supreme, may I suggest they broaden their experience?

Secondly, regardless of how he attempts to justify his comments, suggesting that two female teachers only had their jobs because of "positive discrimination" is not only insulting to the teachers concerned, but also rude and an bit racist in itself.

As I'm sure the writer is aware but has ignored in this piece, Caucasian workers are subject to discrimination too.

Is he 100 percent sure that all the Caucasian instructors weren't there on merit? How does he know that the two female workers were only there because of their skin color, and not because they were the best candidate for the job? He doesn't. And the insinuations against these people — that they don't deserve their jobs — is again rude and smacks of victimism.

While I appreciate the Hotline column is an opinion piece, it should at least be filled with opinions that can be back up with fact, rather than rants that draw crude stereotypes of Japanese people.

It strikes me as though the writer does not wish to be seen as a stereotype, and I think he should do others the same courtesy.


Futenma relic of another age

In reply to my request for specific scenarios to justify the retention of U.S. Marine Corps Air Station Futenma ("Ditch Futenma to resurrect Japan-U.S. ties," Hotline to Nagatacho, Nov 30), James Guthrie writes, "China attacks Taiwan. A base in Okinawa provides the most immediate location to launch an air counter attack" following "the destruction of Taiwan's air defenses" (Have Your Say, Dec. 21).

What targets, however, is Guthrie suggesting the U.S. counter-attack? Targets on mainland China? What would be the point of such needless escalation? Beijing cannot control Taiwan via remote control. In order to enforce its will, it would have to dispatch troops over the Taiwan Strait. The U.S. could simply commit to intercepting the invasion force while waiting for the import-dependent Chinese economy to shudder to a halt under international embargo.

One furthermore has to wonder whether Guthrie understands that the primary rationale of Futenma is the transportation of marines. If the U.S. wished to launch air operations from Okinawa, it could easy do so from the base that is designed for that purpose: Kadena Air Base, located in southern Okinawa.

Can Okinawa-based U.S. marines play any sort of role in a Taiwan scenario? It is highly unlikely. Any attempt to transport them prior to an outbreak of hostilities would be resisted by the Chinese military. Any attempt to do so after hostilities had broken out would be an act of suicide.

Moreover, what would the marines do on Taiwan, if, by some miracle, they arrived in one piece? Probably little else other than sit around in bunkers hoping that nuclear brinkmanship did not play itself out to its most terrifying conclusion.

Futenma is a relic from a time when America had free reign to move around Asia as it pleased. For better or for worse, those days have passed. It would be helpful if the U.S. could accept the realities of this fact and close the base down.

Saitama City

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