Sunday, 19 April 2015

Japanese Immigration Policy (Near Zero)

To make a long story shortwhat follows below is a somewhat boring paper that I wrote on Japanese immigration policy.  I wasn't really planning to post it to the internet, as I thought it wouldn't be interesting to anyone aside from undergraduate students trying to copy an essay on the subject.  However, the contrived serendipity of the internet (i.e., google searches for related terms) drew my attention to the video below, and this made me aware of just how many misconceptions abound on this subject… and how wishful thinking may be misrepresenting the basic political facts.

So, to offer just a few points for those who don't have the patience to to read this (and I can't blame you),
  1. Yes, Japanese citizenship is based on "blood" (the legal principle of jus sanguinis), contrary to what Mira tells you in the video below.
  2. Yes, Japanese law does tightly restrict and discourage permanent migration, and even temporary labor-migration (although the government is less restrictive now than it was in the 1960s, through a series of changes in policy discussed below).
  3. While the statistics do reflect Japan's (remarkable) history of discouraging immigration, the numbers are actually skewed by the bizarre legal treatment of Korean-Japanese and Brazilian-Japanese [日系人], who are labelled and counted under special categories.  If you look at the bar-chart, above, Japan's apparent number of foreign residents is dramatically lower than Denmark, but the real number is lower still, roughly half of what it appears to be (as explained in the essay below, e.g., "Out of the census-total of 1,686,444 foreign residents (for the year 2000), we would therefore have come to a smaller estimate of 781,934 by excluding zainichi [在日] and nikkeijin [日系人]").
Read on for all the glorious charts, legal details and citations.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

The Meaning of the Word "Statism"

In current, casual English, statism is most often used with an implicitly polemical sense of condemning authoritarianism; within the discipline of political science it is sometimes used to suggest highly centralized government, with or without insinuating disapproval.  Both of these diverge from a 19th usage that still remains as one possible denotation of the word.

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

R.J. Lifton & The Psychohistory of the Cultural Revolution

Lifton's Legacy in China:
The Psychohistory of the Cultural Revolution

§1. A Research Question Out of Season.
This essay chooses to engage with an outmoded philosophy of history, partly to question in what sense it has become outmoded.  Robert J. Lifton's "psychohistorical" approach has become unfashionable, though not because of any single event (or error) that discredited it (i.e., we cannot point to an event like the collapse of the Berlin Wall, in its effect on Marxist historicism, as an equivalent "breaking point" for Lifton's approach).

R.J. Lifton published an influential analysis of Chinese Communism in 1961, followed by a separate volume dealing with the Cultural Revolution in 1968.  Although Lifton was not the first author to address "brain washing" and the psychology of "thought reform" in China (cf. Hunter, 1951, as an earlier precedent) the success of his book, Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism, was influential both in its methods and in its selection of certain key issues for examination within Chinese Communism.  A review in The Journal of Asian Studies began by declaring that "this study by Robert Lifton is probably the most profound, the most intellectually rewarding and the most universally significant work which has yet appeared on any aspect of Chinese Communism." (Pye, 1961)

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Kita Ikki [北 一輝] and the Origins of Democracy in Japan.

The 1936 uprising in historical photographs.
The 1936 uprising in cinema: 1962's 二・二六事件 脱出 & 1989's 226.
At a time when Article 9 of the Japanese constitution is being re-examined, Kita Ikki ( 一輝) provides a political philosophy of military domination that is as blunt and direct as Thomas Hobbes or Machiavelli --and yet (unlike Hobbes or Machiavelli) his objectives were to create and maintain a "citizen state" of "social democracy". (Wilson, 1966, p. 91)  Kita's combination of militarism, socialism, and democracy (with an expansive view of Japan's leadership for the rest of Asia) is, perhaps, more salient to 21st century Japanese politics than anyone would like to admit.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

協, Kanji of the Week

If you're interested in politics, you see the symbol 協 quite a lot, in both Japanese and Chinese.

In Japanese, 協 is a rare example of a character in common use that has just one sound (consistently): kyō (きょう).

Vegan Politics (Real Talk)

The unadorned monologue, Youtube in its purest form:

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Lil B, Not Yet Vegan

In a career pinioned (verb) by the audience's apprehension that anything (and everything) the artist says is likely to be an act of self-parody, Lil B's support for veganism is a grey area within a grey area.  When he says he's gay, you know he's not really gay --and, let's not forget, CNN covered this as news.  When he finally comes out and says he's vegan, presumably he'll find some way to switch it up and score a newspaper headline.  Hey, even if he never follows through with it, Lil B > Nelly's vegan credentials.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

The Japanese Red Army (日本赤軍), Wakamatsu Kōji (若松孝二) & Adachi Masao (足立正生)

Shigenobu Fusako in the 1971 film and (in handcuffs) in 2000.
The decade of the 1970s began with an airplane hijacking (called the Yodogo incident) that elevated the Japanese Red Army from obscurity into front-page headlines; the film-makers Wakamatsu Kōji (若松孝二) and Adachi Masao (足立正生) attached an artistically-respectable "call to arms" to the movement's name soon thereafter.  The hijacking itself linked the Japanese Red Army to North Korea and Cuba, while the 1971 film by Wakamatsu and Adachi linked the radicals to Palestine (explaining, at length, how the Proletarian struggle and the Palestinian struggle were supposedly one and the same).  Thus, a radical dissident group that never led more than a few dozen followers at a time created the illusion that the future of Japan would be contested by an international network of professional revolutionaries.  The illusion didn't last long, and the Japanese revolutionary clique disintegrated due to the same type of infighting (self-criticism and purges) familiar from the history of China --although on a miniature scale.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

露, Kanji of the Week

When typing in pictographs (in languages like Japanese and Chinese) I sometimes put the character into Google image-search to confirm that I've got the right one (i.e., that I haven't ended up with a similar-looking glyph that's slightly wrong).

With characters like 露, the results can be surprising.

The primary meaning of 露 in both Chinese and Japanese is "dew" (つゆ), but in Chinese it somehow ended up with a sense of revealing something that should not be revealed (my dictionary provides the unusually comical example of, 你褲子破的都露屁股了).  In Japanese, this has become yet another word for "nude" with the phonetically-unrelated あらわ as its Kun-Yomi (cf. the Japanese use of 露骨, ろこつ, "blatant/blunt", but sometimes meaning "lewd").

So, if you're expecting images of dew (つゆ) you'll be strangely disappointed in putting 露 into Google.