Bread & Roses: Pandemic Drives Women into “Nighttime Work”

On November 16, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced the disciplinary dismissal of a 28-year-old school nurse for moonlighting as a sex worker for more than a year. 

Tokyo officials interrogated her after receiving an anonymous tip about her after-hours work. The primary and middle school nurse said she wanted to save enough money to live on her own in the city. The officials used the word menshoku (removal/dismissal from office) rather than kaiko (dismissal from employment) since she was a local government civil servant. 

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Bread & Roses: Osaka Rules Against Taxi Dispatcher for Transphobic Dress Code

SNA (Tokyo) — We were told that the 1985 Equal Employment Opportunity Act (EEOA) marked the “dawn” of a new age for female workers in Japan. No more could employers blithely set up special marry-and-leave retirement systems for their female employees, a practice that had been considered perfectly legal. Several amendments boosted the reach of the law and wording revisions extended protection from gender discrimination and sexual harassment to male workers.

But, in many ways, Japan remains stuck in its old patriarchic ways. Bucking an international trend, Japan still prohibits same-sex marriage and post-nuptial couples must choose one surname, usually the husband’s (unless one partner is a foreign national). And the law retains the word “gender,” leaving unclear what if any protection is extended to LGBTQ workers.

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Bread & Roses: Should Progressives Celebrate Ibuski’s Hero Award?

SNA (Tokyo) — On July 1, the US State Department cited Attorney Shoichi Ibuski as one of seven heroes in its 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report for his long years of work fighting for the rights of foreign workers caught up in Japan’s technical intern program.

The TIP report explained how domestic and overseas brokers continue to abuse this system, ostensibly to provide technical training to those from poorer countries, to exploit foreign workers. It went on to condemn the Japanese government for lacking the political will to investigate the system’s victims and provided them real protection.

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Bread & Roses: Overhaul Japan’s Immigration System

SNA (Tokyo) — During a May 30 demonstration in front of central Tokyo’s JR Takadanobaba Station, my labor union, Tozen Union, called upon the Japanese government to overhaul its immigration system and to protect the human rights of foreigners.

We persisted despite a heavy downpour, joined by the two younger sisters of Wishma Sandamali, a 33-year-old Sri Lankan woman who died after medical neglect in a Nagoya immigration detention center.

Wayomi Rathnayake called on the Immigration Bureau to release all video, documents, and information related to her sister’s death. Japan’s immigration bureaucracy has a history of opacity and arbitrary treatment of foreigners. We demanded that the government guarantee foreigners’ right to life, regardless of visa status. We must not accept valuing some lives less than others, due to flukes of fate that determine citizenship and residence status.

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Bread & Roses: Covid, Not Olympics, Requires Our National Effort

SNA (Tokyo) — I teach a weekly class on social security theory at a nursing college. When I read comments from the aspiring nurses, I can see their passion for alleviating human suffering, as well as for the class, which is gratifying as a teacher.

The Covid pandemic that has spread over the globe over the past year has impacted medical facilities the most. Tokyo recently declared its third state of emergency, as the daily toll of new patients sometimes exceeds 1,000 people. Japan doesn’t restrict people’s movement as in a mandatory lockdown; the state of emergency means only that restaurants and department stores close an hour earlier than usual, and restaurants serve fewer alcoholic beverages.

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Bread & Roses: Needless Death of a Sri Lankan Detainee

 

SNA (Tokyo) — “Japan is safer than other countries; the Japanese are kind; the streets are clean; and it’s easy to live here.” I hear foreigners say these things. But I also hear it from Japanese who have never lived abroad. The mainstream media’s Nippon Sugoi! campaign is working, perhaps, but it’s not far off from the nation’s general reputation. But read on: The current reality may blow your image of my country to smithereens. Can such a thing be happening in Japan in 2021?

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Bread & Roses: Osaka Court Overturns Welfare Cut

SNA (Tokyo) — A Japanese court overturned a welfare reduction for the first time ever on February 22, 2021. The Osaka District Court ruled against the government’s 2013 public assistance reduction of ¥67 billion (US$632 million), marking the first court win for the Inochi no Toride litigation campaign, involving more than 1,000 plaintiffs in 29 prefectures around Japan.

Attorney Tetsuro Kokubo, deputy head of the defense team, said, “This is the first time in my long career as a lawyer that I cried when I heard the verdict.” The comment poignantly conveys the challenges of fighting state power.

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違法の指摘にたいし「報復」か? シェーン英会話学校が講師を解雇 Shane Dismisses Leading Labour Union Organisers

English is after Japanese.
英文は日本語の下。
元々 Yahoo News掲載.
English translation originally posted on Shingetsu News Agency.

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Bread & Roses: Workers of the World! Unite and Stay Home!

SNA (Tokyo) — May Day came into this world on May 1, 1886, with a general strike to win “eight hours for work, eight hours for rest, and eight hours for what you will.” Three days later, workers gathered in Haymarket Square, Chicago, and clashed with cops sent in to shut them down. At least four civilians and seven officers died. Four workers were later sentenced to death for conspiracy to riot, despite not a shred of evidence. May Day spread beyond the borders of the United States to Europe and elsewhere. Today, we see the eight-hour workday as a social norm, albeit observed more in the breech. But workers shed blood and tears to bequeath this right to us. We should devote one day a year to recognizing those heroes’ achievement and sacrifice.

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Bread & Roses: Worker Rights in the Age of Coronavirus

SNA (Tokyo) — Last Friday, the Covid-19 global pandemic passed the horrifying milestone of one million infections and 50,000 fatalities worldwide. There have, as of this writing, been 4,592 confirmed cases and 106 deaths in Japan. Graphs of new cases and deaths trace the left half of steep parabolas as the world’s nations fail to flatten the curve. The global catastrophe and its grim toll traps workers between the closing jaws of infection risk and dire economic straits. As US commentator Krystal Ball noted, “the working class has been shoved into the front lines of this crisis.”

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