Japan Association for the Study of Yoseba

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No.15 No.16


Yoseba Annual No.14 Summary

Prefatory Note: How to Read The Feature Articles

-----Resistance to Globalization-----

From ECONOMY to ECONOMOS : Globalization, Gender and Undocumented Status

In an attempt to critically review existing feminist arguments on the globalization of the economy, this essay first outlines the formative process of todayユs global economy: how the expansion of cash-crop farming in the periphery (the third world) created a system of cheap wage-labor by men subsidized by the super-exploitation of women through under/non-wage labor, i.e. household work and subsistence production. From the 1970s onward, the transfer of manufacturing operations from the center of capitalism to the periphery promoted the feminization of labor. Since the 1990s, international migration of laborers has become rampant, as third-world workers have been lured by the massive wage discrepancies between the capitalist center and the periphery. With this in mind, we critically examine some feminist analyses on the globalization of the economy, focusing on the capitalist-patriarchy theory advocated by Maria Mies. Then we look at the lives of undocumented migrants to Japan from the peripheries. The disturbing facts of their existence, upsetting the conventional assumption of human rights as something vested in the citizenship of a given nation, seem to offer clues to a new understanding of the fundamental right of humankind to live.

The Retrospective Gazeムthe Basis of Nostalgic Feelings

During the postwar period yoseba (day laborersユ living districts in Japan) were formed by various day laborers who left their home villages. At the present time, when the yoseba is an institution on the wane, we need to review the process of modernization. In 1943, folklorist Miyamoto Tsuneichi published a book under the title of Kakyo no Oshie (Lessons from My Home Village). In this book Miyamoto told about his own home village on the island of Suo-Oshima, off the coast of Yamaguchi prefecture, southwestern Honshu. This island supplied a steady stream of human resources to the Japanese economy before, during, and after World War II. Miyamoto depicted in his book the ideal type of the ヤgood villagerユ who is forced to leave his home village due to poverty, but gets to know the outside world through migrant labor, and finally contributes the acquired knowledge to the home village on returning there. However, like the negative compared to the positive of a photograph, there is another aspect to this process of challenging the outside world that could not be depicted in his book, namely the severe process of modernization, and the wanderings of many laborers who never returned to their home villages, ending up rather in places like the yoseba. Many villagers from Suo-Oshima also migrated to the sugar plantations in Hawaii, which functioned as an international version of the yoseba as globalization progressed.

The Role of Indentured Labor in the Integration of the Asia-Pacific Region into the 19th Century World
KATO Haruyasu
After the abolition of slavery, many Indian and Chinese workers were introduced to the sugar plantations of the West Indies, or to newly opened plantations on the islands of the Indian Ocean or the South Pacific, under the Indentured Labor System. This system was often called 'New Slavery' But it played a crucial role not only in the reorganization of World Capitalism but also in the integration of the Asia and Pacific regions into the 19th century capitalist World. This paper is an attempt to understand the historical significance of this phase in colonialist history.

Social Movements Beyond Borders: The Urban Poor Movement in Quebec
INABA Nanako

In this article, I discuss ヤdual societiesユ ミ societies divided between the rich and the poor ミ in the globalization era. In Quebec, local social movements against poverty have gained political opportunities during the 1990s because of the waning of the political conflict over separatism, which has helped campaigners against poverty in Quebec to form ties with other movements developing in the English-speaking region of Canada. Since the establishment of the NAFTA, a coalition of progressive movements has come together to campaign against ヤneo-liberal globalizationユ. One of their major activities is the Tobin Tax campaign, which seeks to levy a small tax on international currency transactions. This represents an alternative to the present situation, where decision-making is carried out far beyond the reach of citizens, even if those decisions directly affect citizens in their everyday life. The Tobin Tax campaign is an attempt by members of civil society to establish their own cross-border channels of decision-making.

-----From the Perspective of Gender and Ethnicity-----

Voting Rights for Foreign Residents and their Implications for Nationality Issues
TANAKA Hiroshi

The question of political suffrage is emblematic of the latest conditions of foreign resident affairs in Japan. First of all, the question of extending the franchise to non-nationals has called into question the existing framework of nationality, which has been taken as self-evident. To the accusation by foreign nationals of institutionalized discrimination, the Japanese authorities have traditionally replied that they can become Japanese citizens if they want to vote. Those who are against foreign enfranchisement also use the option of naturalization as a shield, but this puts them in a position to advocate the relaxation of conditions for naturalization, which would imply a review of the existing framework of nationality. (In fact, the pressure has been such that the government has approved 98.5% of all applications for naturalization during the last eleven years). The second point is that the question of foreign suffrage has historically been viewed primarily as an issue of special permanent residents (such as ethnic Koreans who lost Japanese citizenship upon the collapse of the empire), but a rapid influx of newcomers suggests that sooner or later the argument needs to be extended to encompass permanent residents in general. The majority of newcomer permanent residents are Brazilians and Peruvians of Japanese descent, and they are quite active in protesting against discrimination. The provocative presence of this self-assertive group has been gaining influence in local communities and schools everywhere in Japan, shaking the collusively manufactured social consensus.

Education and Human Rights of Children with Foreign Nationality
IWAMOTO Kazunori

Children of foreign nationality, especially those who are undocumented (for residential status and alien registration), have largely been hidden from the public eye. Being invisible, they have been subject to rampant violations of their basic human rights. Few attempts have ever been made to quantitatively grasp the plight of foreign-national children. Against this background, a Tokai region-based Catholic organization and sympathizers ran a campaign in support of foreign workers called ヤJubilee 2000 Childrenユ during the two years to the end of 2000. The basic activity of the campaign was a survey of general conditions of foreign-national children, which led to further research examining administrative documents concerning these children and their school attendance. The general survey sampled more than 600 foreign children, of whom 150 were undocumented. The surveys revealed two major institutional problems: 1) being denied access to health care insurance and state welfare provision (for infant medical care), these children are systematically kept outside the safety net of life preservation; and 2) undocumented children are effectively excluded from schools and thus deprived of the right to education. Such acute problems as health and education need to be dealt with by local communities on their own initiative.

Looking at the Big Surge in Homeless People as a Menユs Issue

In Japan, people sleeping rough are predominantly men. The core of the street homeless and day laboring population in Kamagasaki today consists of men who were born sometime around 1945. They share some common features: they came into this world amid a birth rate explosion reflecting state policy to encourage reproduction and thereby boost the population, and were given a single-minded careerist school education. What happens to these men, who have sought their fortune in the urban centers of capitalism, gripped by the fixed idea that they can only attain manhood by supporting a family, when they find themselves unable to succeed? Being ヤlosersユ, they cannot return home nor be accepted by the family; they are prone to end up living in solitude.
In Kamagasaki, many men have lost touch with the quiet pleasures of trivial routines and family life; their frustrated competitive instincts lead them to gambling instead, and many are bad at getting along with others. Diminishing job opportunities may be the prime reason why aged day laborers are forced to sleep rough, but their inability to live on a meager budget and stick together with their fellow men also play into the homeless condition. The stereotyped ヤmasculineユ attitudes of Japanese homeless men make a sharp contrast to those of foreign workers and elderly women in Kamagasaki, who often get by with mutual help and communal living. Note, however, that these masculine patterns of behavior should be understood not as individualsユ fault but as a menユs issue in a society that has planted in their mind the idea that ヤadvancement in lifeユ and ヤself-relianceユ are the hallmarks of manhood.

Migrant Laborers from the Viewpoint of Gender ム the case of the Philippines

Today, there are about a million migrant workers from the Philippines around the world. Their total remittances home surpassed the Philippinesユ overall exports in 1995 and 1996. Nearly half of them are women. Behind the rampant migration of laborers lies the penetration of the money economy into villages and the ヤGreen Revolution,ユ which in effect impoverished many farmers. Within the Philipines poverty has forced women to work outside the household for cash. Despite their substantial contribution to household budgets, however, female workers have been regarded as secondary and paid less than males as their labor is considered to be an extension of domestic work.
Destinations and occupations of Filipino migrant laborers show clear gender patterns, which directly reflect stereotyped gender roles back home. Typical occupations for Filipinas are domestic work and nursing care, notably in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and ヤentertainment,ユ which usually means working in bars and night clubs, their main occupaption in Japan. Their male counterparts are almost exclusively engaged in production-line work, driving and various forms of unskilled labor. The conditions of Filipina workers in Japan are particularly appalling, reflecting the low social status of female workers in entertainment districts, as well as the ignorance of the Japanese society about the vital role these Filipinas play in support of their familes back home.

Roundtable: A Utopia of Resentment
ミ A Tribute to the late Miyauchi Ko

A posthumous edition collecting almost the entire works of Miyauchi Ko, who died seven years ago at the tragically young age of 55, was recently published under the title of Utopia of Resentment (Enkon No Y柎topia). In memory of the publication, a roundtable discussion was held to review the thoughts and deeds of Miyauchi, one of the most politically aware Japanese architects.
Miyauchiユs essence was his commitment to creating ヤstructuresユ as an alternative to both ヤarchitecture,ユ which he condemned as essentially an expression of power, and ヤbuildings,ユ a vulgar and prevailing form chiefly reflecting economical and practical requirements. The mission of an architect, he believed, was to criticize and deconstruct established architecture and its proponents, and to seek alternatives based on the housing needs of ordinary people. Miyauchi and JASY came together in the joint project to build a day laborersユ center in Sanユya. The Sanユya Workers Welfare Hall, completed in 1990, was a full embodiment of Miyauchiユs pursuit of ヤstructure.ユ Discussing the contemporary value of the workersユ hall and evaluating Miyauchiユs thought in relation to the mass protest movements of the late ヤ60s and early ヤ70s, the roundtable highlighted the significance of reading his work from the perspective of the present day.

-----Yoseba Critiques-----

ヤThe Illusion of Middle-class Homelessnessユ Reading narratives of homelessness in recent popular reportage.

ヤWhat Are the Alternative Values in the Yoseba?ユ
On Tom Gillユs Men of Uncertainty ? The Social Organization of Day Laborers in Contemporary Japan, State University of New York Press, 2001.

ヤCan Workers, Their Movements and Researchers Defeat The Capitalist Stateユs Design for Them?ユ On Aoki Hideoユs Gendai Nihon no Toshi Kaso (The Urban Underclass in Contemporary Japan), Akashi Shoten, 2000.

ヤMen of Ungregarious Disposition.ユ On Oyama Shiro's San'ya Gakkepuchi Nikki (San'ya Diary of Desperation), TBS Britannica, 2000

ヤWhat's the Use of Identifying Their Needs?ユ
On reports from a pair of large-scale homeless surveys, conducted in Osaka by the Osaka City University study group and in Tokyo by the Urban Life Association, 2000.

Multi-dimensional Analysis on The Soldier Writer during and after The War: A Reading of Ikeda Hiroshiユs Hino Ashihei Ron (On Hino Ashihei), Impact Shuppankai, 2000.