If you love Japan, make it better. Our mission statement 2019

Criticism is caring.

Happy New Year 2019

 

If you don’t address social problems or recognise they exist, nothing changes. I love Japan and many Japanese people are hard-working, honest, and polite. That doesn’t mean the society doesn’t have problems, such as child poverty, gender inequality, discrimination against: the handicapped, women, foreigners, especially Korean Japanese—powerful organised crime, nuclear dangers, staggering injustice in the legal system, repression of the free press, sexual assault on women with impunity for many assailants, rampant labor exploitation, death by overwork, and political corruption. Ignoring the problems doesn’t make them better. If you are offended by that, rethink your love of Japan.

The Japanese government has stated: “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that all human beings are born free and have the right to live with dignity. Many people in the world, however, are not able to enjoy their rights. The United Nations has thus engaged itself in activities to improve human rights situations. Japan strongly supports UN activities in the human rights field, believing that all human rights are universal
Is it unfair to expect Japan to live up to its promises?

It’s a cute Japanese dog photo because who doesn’t love these loyal dogs?

The argument that “It’s worse in XXX (China,North Korea, US) so it’s okay to have XXX (sexism/racism/fascism/wage slavery/death by overwork) in Japan” is silly. It’s like the accused in a murder trail arguing, “I should be declared innocent because I only killed one person in the robbery but my partner killed three.” Some things are never okay. Whataboutism is the last resort of the intellectually dishonest weasel. (Sorry kids).

I don’t think that the work we do is shouting to the wind. Every effort matters. Sometimes sarcasm is an effective tool. We try to be polite in our response to the comments but rudeness is sometimes met with rudeness. 親しき仲にも礼儀あり

Does any of our work make a difference? Yes.
Actually, in my time as a reporter, me being “Jake Adelstein”, on editing duty today–criticism of huge problems in Japan, via articles that I have written and written with others, resulted in better laws against human trafficking, comprehensive measures to deal with dioxin pollution, and the Japanese government recently admitting that there is a huge problem with exploitation of underage girls that needs to be dealt with.

I and many of the writers on this blog who live in Japan, love this country, and loving a country doesn’t mean remaining silent; it means speaking up about what is wrong, and correcting it. The effort doesn’t always work but sometimes it yields results. And people who can’t see any fault or social problems in their country or refuse to do anything about it or just as complicit in the rise “dark corporations,” greedy nationalists, death by overwork, exploitive enterprises, corrupt politicians, and the nuclear industrial complex that have done so much harm to the nation. For decades many warned of the dangers that TEPCO and its poorly managed nuclear power plants held. They were ignored. It doesn’t make them any less correct.

The battle to protect human rights, worker rights, equal rights, the environment, democracy, the public right to know, justice, gender equality and to fight poverty and end corruption are important struggles. All over the world. Japan is no exception.

I’m a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in training, which is a part of Japanese culture–surprise! I wouldn’t argue the metaphysics of Buddhism are true, but there are universal truths and there is a motto that I have as an editor and journalist and try to keep in my own personal life. Pardon the idealism but I believe this creed applies everywhere in the world.
So below is a modified version of our editorial policy, adapted from the Dhammapada (法句経). Thank you for your consideration.

Jake Adelstein, Japan Subculture Research Center, editor in chief

Conquer anger with compassion.
Conquer evil with goodness.
Conquer trolls with humour & sarcasm
Conquer ignorance with knowledge
Conquer stinginess with generosity. 
Conquer lies with truth

Combatting human trafficking: 1st Winner of Michiel Brandt Memorial Prize Announced

Thanks to her Professor Tsuneo Akaha, Michiel  Brandt, was able to posthumously graduate from the Monterey Institute of International Studies on December 8th, 2012. Professor Akaha and Maria Pacana also helped set up a memorial fund in her honor. The first recipient was chosen this year.
Details are at the bottom of the post.
The Michiel Brandt Memorial Prize Fund — Please help us keep Michiel’s dream alive:
Here is how to give to this Fund:
1) Go to:http://www.miis.edu/giving<http://lists.middlebury.edu/t/684068/711859/1372/0/>;
2) Click on “Giving Now”; and,
3) Complete the giving form: under “2. Gift Information” “Direct Your Gift”, please select “Michiel Brandt Memorial Prize Fund.”

Elena Kokhanovski, a first year MPA student, has been awarded the $1500 cash prize to support her internship in the anti-human trafficking field. Elena is undertaking academic and non-academic activities focused on this issues, according to the Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS).

The award is given in honor of the late Michiel Brandt, a former MIIS student from Japan who died of leukemia while preparing for a career in this field and received her MA in International Policy Studies posthumously in December 2012. Michiel-chan aka Mimi-Chan (ミミちゃん) was one of the founders of this blog and my BFF.

The prize is made possible by generous gifts from Michiel’s family and friends in Japan and the United States. This award is designed to encourage students with professional aspirations to work in this field with the hopes of eradicating and/or preventing human trafficking.

Amy Sands, Provost of Monterey Institute of International Studies and the staff of Japan Subculture Research Center wish to extend congratulations to Elena on receiving this prize and good luck as she begins to pursue her career and fights the good fight.

Michiel wrote a very eloquent and heartfelt essay on why she wanted to work to stop sexual slavery. From 2006-2007, when I was working on a US State Department sponsored study of human trafficking in Japan, including the supply side and the traffickers–Michiel was an invaluable research assistant and translator. The essay is below.

On Modern Slavery: Thoughts on Human Trafficking by Michiel Brandt

Michiel Brandt in 2008, after a day doing research.
Michiel Brandt in 2008, after a day of fact-checking early drafts of Tokyo Vice.

 

Michiel Brandt was a good friend and a comrade in arms in the fight against human trafficking. (November 2011). She was a very brave woman. It's good to see her remembered.)
Michiel Brandt was my closest friend and a comrade in arms in the fight against human trafficking. (Photo/November 2011. Saint Marianna University School of Medicine Hospital). She was a very brave woman. It’s good to see her remembered.

Michiel and Hanami