Xenophobic policy in Japan

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Picture of ethnic Kurds from Syria at the Turkish border

adapted from National Geographic, http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/03/syrian-refugees/salopek-text

Today so many people, especially from Africa and the Middle East, are compelled to flee their countries for political reasons or because of ongoing conflicts. It might be a normal reaction for locals to dislike immigrants and refugees, but Japan is known as a country the least welcomes foreigners, while many other developed countries such as Germany and France accept a lot of refugees.

In Japanese, there are two words to translate foreigners: 外人 (GaiJin) and 外国人 (Gaikokujin). These two words refer to exactly the same people, but the former sounds quite offensive. For example, gaijins are rude and not punctual, and steal money etc. Although this is a joke, it is sometimes said if you do not like Japanese politics or Japan itself, you are Korean. They do not really mean it, but there is a xenophobic mood even in casual conversations.

Foreigners have no right to vote in Japan even if they live in Japan permanently. Despite the lack of the right, they are supposed to pay the same amount of taxes as Japanese.

They often say there is no refugee in Japan. Yes, it is almost true. According to Human Rights Watch, while the number of asylum applications has increased dramatically in recent years (7,586 in 2015 and 5,011 in the first half of 2016), only 27 asylum seekers were recognized as refugees in 2015 and 4 in the first half of 2016. In May 2016,  Japan announced a plan to accept up to 150 Syrian youths, including refugees as international students, over five years. However, only six asylum seekers from Syria had been recognized as refugees.

Considering the aging society in Japan, they need more young foreign workers. Actually, most of fast food restaurants in Japan could not do their business without foreign part timers (mostly international students). In a sense, they can lead a good life thanks to foreigners they discriminate against.

In my opinion, great power should come with great responsibility. Japan is a rich country, generally speaking. There are so many people in need and you must not make an excuse saying “It’s none of my business.” Japan is expected to act for humanity.

References 

Human Rights Watch Japan, https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2017/country-chapters/japan#2b4ae4, accessed on November 22, 2017

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Aung San Suu Kyi

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Myanmar pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi gives a speech on voter education at the Hsiseng township in Shan state, Myanmar, 5 September 2015

adapted from BBC NEWS, available fromhttp://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-pacific-11685977

Aung San Suu Kyi, a Novel Peace Prize winner, is a symbol of democracy in Myanmar. Everyone expected her to do something when raids against Rohingya started. She is now being criticized for her inaction in the face of the genocide.

It is true that she is one of the people who could stop the massacre, but what she is doing might be the lesser of the two evils. I found nothing to support this assumption, but she is likely to be the puppet of Burmese military even after Myanmar became a democratic country. If she raises her voice for humanity, the country might have a civil war and much more blood will be shed. What is worse, some terrorist groups, such as Taliban and ISIS, might possibly join the war. According to BBC NEWS, some veterans from Afghanistan are already involved with Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA).

What would you do if you were in her position? People in Myanmar are not really aware of the Rohingya crisis because the government itself has censorship and local journalists are not allowed to visit Rakhine state. They cover only ARSA. Who would support her?

If she raises her voice, Myanmar might have to face a conflict and much more people will die. This is just my opinion but please try to think about her in a different way asking yourself “What if…?” instead of criticizing her blindly. Thank you for reading.

References

Myanmar: Who are the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army?, BBC NEWS, September 6, 2107, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41160679, accessed on November 19, 2017

Read “Stingy Bodies and Generous Bodies” by Mustafa Taj al-Din al-Mousa

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(جثث بخيلة وجثث كريمة) – مصطفى تاج الدين الموسى

It is said that literature reflects society. I would like to introduce a Syrian writer Mustafa Taj al-Din al-Mousa to you. He publishes very short novels on the Internet so that everyone can read his work.He kept writing in Syria until 2014 and now he is said to live in Turkey. I translated one of his novels into English and would like you to read it. (original version is available from http://www.alraafed.com/2016/06/12/جثث-بخيلة-وجثث-كريمة/ )

 

Stingy Bodies and Generous bodies

 

I have been trying to leave this town forever with my mother for months. The war is getting uglier. I am sure that it won’t end in years. It’s been months since the hospital where I worked for years as one of the most popular nurses was destroyed. I am jobless and surviving with my mother. With the knowledge our neighborhood was bombarded, we are leaving for Europe in search of a better life, and Subhi, my former colleague, called me. He had been missing for months.

“I want you for something important. I’ll give you a once-in-a-lifetime chance.’

We met in the market, then he took me to the district very far from our neighborhood, which is almost abandoned and destroyed. We went down to the basement.

I sighed deeply; I saw a large table and a small one on which there were surgical tools used in operating rooms.

“I’ve worked here for months since the revolution broke out… Now I’m going far from this horrible place and the war… I advise you to work at this place. They will bring you several disfigured or unidentified bodies every day… Extract sellable internal organs and give the organs to them, and you will get big money..”

I was happy with the idea and told my mother about it asking her to delay the departure for a few weeks. We can wait for a little more since we’ve endured a lot. And she agreed.

I started working here and my mother calls me every morning telling me to pray at dawn. After that masked guys come with bodies and I begin my job until late at night. They return to take plastic boxes filled with removed internal organs, ice, and the remains, and give me hundreds of dollars… I think there’s an international network behind this job… I don’t care since I’m getting money.

Once I said to the masked guys angrily:

“Only two? I heard the radio saying tens of people died in the fierce raids…”

“We can’t take all of the bodies, fool. Identified ones are buried. We can bring only unidentified ones and do so quietly trying not to cause a problem.”

Weeks passed, and the revolution is getting fierce. My mother calls me every morning and always tells me to pray at dawn. Then I soon start to prepare for the escape to Europe in search of a great life.

While working among these bodies, I got to classify unidentified bodies as stingy bodies and generous bodies; Stingy bodies are ones the war crushed so thoroughly that I can’t extract anything from them.

The revolution was getting fierce and they were bombarding near places more and more, while I was extracting internal organs.

I got so tired today. I played with several bodies. When the sun set, the masked guy came to take the goods and the remains, and left three unidentified bodies. I carried one and put it on the large table… Being fatigued, I lay down at the corner of the basement and took a nap.

In hours, I noticed the body getting up and getting off the table. It walked and bent over above me. I was almost asleep… I felt something tender on my forehead.

“Hey, wake up… May Allah bless you. Come on, it’s time to offer a dawn prayer, boy.”

—END

 

One of the human rights violations happening in Syria is human organ trafficking. It is forbidden by International law (if you’re interested, please refer to UNODC, assessment toolkit, Trafficking in Persons for the Purpose of Organ Removal, https://www.unodc.org/documents/human-trafficking/2015/UNODC_Assessment_Toolkit_TIP_for_the_Purpose_of_Organ_Removal.pdf ) Sometimes it is better to read literature than newspaper since newspaper gives us only numbers and, on the other hand,  literature invites us to the world the writers actually saw and you can feel the real situations.

References

Al-Raafed Syria مصطفى تاج الدين الموسى جثث بخيلةلوكريمة, June 12, 2016,

http://www.alraafed.com/2016/06/12/جثث-بخيلة-وجثث-كريمة/

accessed on November 16, 2017

Let’s think about the Death Penalty

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I want your opinions

My question is “should we practice capital punishments?”

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) does not prohibit death penalty. And International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights says as follows in its article 6.2.

“In countries which have not abolished the death penalty, sentence of death may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law in force at time of the commission of the crime and not contrary to the provisions of the present Covenant and to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. This penalty can only be carried out punishment to a final judgment by a component court”

Any country can carry out the death penalty although authorities are supposed to decide on the punishment so carefully.

There are pros and cons of the death penalty (source: THE LEADING SOURCE FOR PROS & CONSOF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES,https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000 )

1, Morality

Pro: The death penalty promotes belief in and respect for the majesty of the moral order and for the system of human law that both derives from and supports that moral order.

Con: It will be hard to bring an end to the death penalty, but we will be a healthier society as a result.

2, Deterrence

Pro: Indeed, other recent investigations, using a variety of samples and statistical methods, consistently demonstrate a strong link between executions and reduced murder rates… In short, capital punishment does, in fact, save lives.

Con: There is not the slightest credible statistical evidence that capital punishment reduces the rate of homicide.

3, Retribution

Pro: This is not revenge and retribution must be limited. However there are some people who deserve the capital punishment.

Con: No one can blame victims and their families for wanting revenge, including through the death penalty. In their pain and loss, they are entitled to that desire. However, laws exist to prevent individuals from pursuing vengeance and their own vision of justice. If they do anyway (if, for example, a victim kills a perpetrator) then they become perpetrators and pay the price, both legally and morally.

4, Irrevocable mistakes

Pro: Now that our science technology is so developed that we are the least likely to make a wrong decision when it comes to the death penalty which is examined the most carefully.

Con: There are cases where prosecutors withheld exculpatory information. They knew that there were bogus pieces of evidence introduced. They knew that there were defendants who were coerced into entering a guilty plea to a crime they had not committed.

5, Cost

Pro: The existence of the death penalty as a possible sentence leads to guilty pleas that save the money spent on trials and limit the opportunity for appeals

Con: All of the studies conclude that the death penalty system is far more expensive than an alternative system in which the maximum sentence is life in prison.

 

Well, everyone has his or her own opinion and I want to hear yours. I would appreciate it if you could share yours here. Thank you very much for reading.

 

References

PROCON.ORG, THE LEADING SOURCE FOR PROS & CONSOF CONTROVERSIAL ISSUES, Last updated on: 12/9/2016 2:19:47 PM PST, https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=002000, accessed on November 9, 2017

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, available from http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/ProfessionalInterest/ccpr.pdf

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, available from http://www.ohchr.org/EN/UDHR/Documents/UDHR_Translations/eng.pdf

Betrayed humanity and wrong efforts

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We are living in the 21st century but still we have not eliminated poverty. Kind people donate some money to orphanages in developing countries or make an effort to support children in poor living conditions. They merely mean to support children. But sometimes their actions cause problems.

According to a survey released in April by the Cambodian government and the United Nations Children’s fund, there are estimated 16,500 children in 406 residential care institutions in Cambodia. A lot of people all over the world go to Cambodia to volunteer for poor children, which is called “orphanage tourism”, and ironically their money is not spent property; sometimes directors take the money in their pockets. Some of kindly donated items, such as clothes and toys are not given to children; they are sold in the market and directors take the money. Actually most orphanages are unnecessary; according to Friends International, roughly 80 percent of children in the institutions have a living parent. They chose to go to orphanage because of poverty and orphanage tourism facilitated the choice, which led to exploitation of children. In a word, orphanage tourism deprives parents of their children. Think about how many children each director takes care of. Children are often neglected and subject to abuse. They lack love that they can receive if they stay with their parents.

In Cambodia, because of the lack of budgets, teachers are not paid enough to make a living. They do not cover all curricula in their regular classes and cover the rest in extra classes, which are optional but not free. Poor students cannot afford to take those classes and fail exams.

I do not think orphanage tourism efforts are completely wrong, but I would like to suggest you donate money to raise teachers’ salary or support poor parents to keep their children instead of to orphanages, if you donate to Cambodia. Please do not donate blindly. Your humanitarian reactions will change the world in a good way, but sometimes they might make the conditions worse.

References

Christopher, Knaus. The race to rescue Cambodian children from orphanages exploiting them for profit, the guardian, August 18, 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/19/the-race-to-rescue-cambodian-children-from-orphanages-exploiting-them-for-profit accessed on October 25, 2017

Kevin Ponniah, Cambodia crackdown on corruption in schools scores low with exam cheats, the guardian, September 2, 2014

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2014/sep/02/cambodia-corruption-crackdown-exam-cheats accessed on October 25, 2017

People with albinism in Africa

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We are living in the 21st century and no one should be discriminated against or suffer based on their race or skin color. Some albino people in Africa are persecuted because of their skin color. Albinism in humans is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes.

In some African countries, albino body parts are said to have magical power and used in rituals to bring good luck and wealth by witch doctors. People with albinism are kidnapped, killed, and dismembered in those countries. Their body parts are sold for up to $75,000. Sometimes the victims are tortured before mutilated because it is believed that the more pain they suffer from, the more luck their body parts bring. Infants are especially vulnerable to this brutal action. The UN estimates that around 80 people with albinism have been murdered in Tanzania since 2000.

1 in 1,400 people in Africa lives with albinism and some of them have to lead their life fearing abduction. Rituals with albino body parts are too inhumane and have no scientific proof. Everyone has equal rights regardless of our difference today. Some traditions should be preserved so that we can enjoy our cultures. But is this brutal and nonsense custom worth keeping? I don’t think so.

 

References

Ross, Velton. The ‘silent killer’ of Africa’s albinos, April 25, 2017, BBC

http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20170425-the-silent-killer-of-africas-albinos accessed on October 9, 2017

Robyn, Dixon. In parts of Africa, people with albinism are hunted for their body parts. The latest victim: a 9-year-old boy, June 15, 2017, Los Angels Times

http://www.latimes.com/world/africa/la-fg-malawi-albinos-hunted-2017-story.html accessed on October 9, 2017

Child soldiers

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It is estimated there are 250,000 child soldiers in the world. What did they choose to fight for? There are several factors behind their choice. Poverty is a major environmental factor making children vulnerable to involvement in armed force and armed group. This is obvious. For example, in Democratic Republic of Congo 61 percent of three hundred children surveyed said that their family had no income, and more than half of them had at least six siblings. Armed soldiers are able to live reasonably well, so if they are not to go hungry or starve to death, becoming one of the soldiers sounds enticing or even the only and best option. Armies and armed groups often make promises of rewards to come after the conflict. Some promises are so attractive to young people, such as building schools. For some, the motivation is to benefit their families. Most of them take up arms to get their families out of misery. Poverty itself is a major factor of making children involved in the war, but it also affects other issues for them such as the ability to access schooling, which in turn limits the employment or other economic opportunity for young people. Lack of education is also a critical factor. In the situation mentioned above, children cannot go to school. Education has the potential to give change in values and attitudes. In addition, not being in education or employment is a critical risk factor for young people. If they are not involved in either education or employment, what are they going to do to fill their time, to make a living, and to give a meaning to their life? Also unemployment causes poverty, which is a vicious spiral.  For some, involvement in the military is normal and acceptable part of family life. And being part of a family and peer group that opposes the authorities creates an identity different from those who are part of the ruling class. As a result, some young people join the military out of conviction with strong ideological motivation. Sometimes, radio and TV are used as direct tool for recruitment, and some are influenced by movies and movie characters. They are volunteers, but how voluntary is the military service? If you have nothing, you volunteer for the army, which is not voluntary because the situation requires it. At first children join the armed groups by their own will, but they are forced to kill their families and friends. They are beaten in order to make them obedient. Sometimes they are ordered to commit bomb suicide. When they get to hate the armed groups, they try to flee. If they fail, they are killed or at least punished badly. Girls are used as sexual slaves even if they are voluntary soldiers. They are ruled with fear. This is not voluntary, though a lot of child soldiers think they are voluntary soldiers. When they realize the truth, a lot of them try to flee or try fleeing. War itself is the most crucial and fundamental environmental factor in the participation of young people in warfare. As long as war continue, young people will keep being involved.

Not only boys but also girls take guns by their own will. What makes them fight? Some girls join in order to prove their equality to boys. Other girls join armed groups because they are abused at home. Both boys and girls are subject to violence, but girls have the additional problem of sexual violence. They prefer to die in the war rather than staying at home and keep suffering, and join the military. Some of them, however, bitterly regret their decision to join, feeling that perhaps after all life at home was not so bad. Girls abducted also join the military. They are beaten as much as boys, and what is worse, they have a duty to serve men in the group sexually or forced to marry adult soldiers. Some of them give birth to their babies in the battlefield and fight with babies on their back.

Today, a lot of children are abducted and forced to be child soldiers. Why are they targeted? The reason is that they are much more obedient and easier to control than adults. In the interview, children who were abducted and fled from armed groups said that they were forced to kill their families and friends as a practice to kill people, it became easier for them to murder, and they learned to be obedient. They are so often beaten or tortured and forced to obey adults. Sometimes they are made to no longer fear death or being wounded with drug. In the battlefield, some child soldiers are used to shield adult soldiers. They are fed just to survive as child soldiers and rob their enemies of clothing and wear them. Children are supposed to go to school and take pencils instead of guns. ISIS is known as abducting a lot of children and forcing them to be child soldiers. Several countries are fighting against it and take a measure to damage it economically and to keep people from joining it. Ironically, however, the more we damage it the more children it kidnaps, and we have to fight against child soldiers. In order to prevent it from recruiting child soldiers, war itself must end.

Let’s take a look at two worst cases of child soldiers. In Iran-Iraq war, it is estimated 2,000 child soldiers joined the war on Iranian side. They were ordered to walk abreast and check if there were land mines. Only 200 are said to have survived intact. Sierra Leone has one of the most brutal cases. Assaulted people including civilians were raped and cut off their arms and legs and left alive so that they would become burden for enemies to look after. For the same reason, recent land mines are made to rob people of their arms or legs but not to kill them. Children were concerned with this brutal action.  Even after they manage to quit fighting, they kept suffering from nightmare.

One of the most significant and yet least-considered aspects of child soldiers in all respects is war itself. Few young people go looking for war to join, but for many, war comes to them and becomes part of their normal environment. Children have no choice and war brings insecurity. It causes schools to close, impoverishes and disrupts families through deaths and injury, and leaves few avenues of employment other than military ones. The presence of war creates military role models and status symbols far beyond the conflict areas itself, and justifies the violence as a means of protection. It is self-evident that eliminating armed conflicts is the single and most effective way to prevent youth from participation.

 

References

Rachel, Brett. Irma, Specht. Young Soldiers: why do they choose to fight, Geneva: International Labour Office, 2004