Table of Contents Yoseba Annual 20
Some thoughts and suggestions on the occasion of the twentieth
anniversary of the founding of the Japan Association for the
Study of Yoseba
This issue of the Yoseba Annual marks the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the Japan Association for the Study of Yoseba (Nihon Yoseba Gakkai). This is therefore a good opportunity to look back on what we have achieved and consider what we have yet to achieve. The yoseba, or open-air day-labor markets, that gave this association its name, such as Kamagasaki and San'ya, have now almost collapsed or have undergone rapid and drastic change. However, the social problems of poverty and deprivation that the yoseba symbolized have not gone away. On the contrary, they have spread through broader society, so that the proletarian day laborers who used to engage in life and death struggle in the yoseba now appear as the ancestors of a new generation of downtrodden workers. I therefore propose to sum up the study of the yoseba of yesteryear, along with the structure of domination that gave rise to it, and the various schools of thought and movement that struggled against that system, and seek to apply the fruits of those studies in order to better understand the situation today, and, still more importantly, tomorrow. I further propose that we join hands in further joint research projects on these important issues.
FEATURE: HOW TO GRASP CONTEMPORARY WORLD EVENTS: GOING BEYOND 'MULTITUDE THEORY'
PART 1: THE WORLD TODAY
Round Table on the Palestinian Problem
The current tragic events in Palestine are drawing the attention of the whole world. We look on in horror as the Israeli army of occupation confiscates land, destroys dwellings, blockades the economy, oppresses, imprisons, expels and slaughters the Palestinian people in an orgy of violence; while the anti-occupation forces led by Hamas appeal for ever greater violence against the Israeli state, including suicide bombings, killing and maiming both Israeli citizens and their own people. Meanwhile the internal divisions in the Palestinian movement become ever more apparent, with the relatively moderate Fatah party showing willingness to negotiate with Israel but being drawn into an ever more complex and brutal armed conflict with the anti-Israel Hamas party. Faced with this terrifying situation, what on earth are the questions we should be asking about Palestine here in Japan? This round table attempts to see past the superficialities of the present situation, and discuss the Palestinian problem from the distinctive JASY standpoint that seeks to observe the modern world from the perspective of those at the margins and at the bottom of society. Fujita Susumu's keynote address launches the discussion; the other participants are ODAWARA Norio, TANAMI Aoe, UKAI Satoshi, NAKANO Makiko and MATSUZAWA Tessei.
A Report on the Kamagasaki Symposium on 'Problems Arising
from the Situation in Israel, Palestine and Lebanon'
The end of developmentalism: The great lie of aid for Palestine
Armed with a highly detailed map prepared by the Dutch topographer and Palestine expert Jan de Jong, the author has recently been to Palestine and gives a detailed account of the very latest situation. I argue that aid to Palestine does not necessarily benefit the Palestinian people. In fact, I conclude that the massive injection of Japanese capital following then Prime Minister Koizumi's visit to the Middle East has served mainly to benefit the oil-related interests of Japanese big business.
Globalization, ecological capitalism, and indigenous people:
in search of a perspective to revive the Chiapas struggle.
As is well known, Negri and Hardt in their book Multitude (2004) point to the struggle of indigenous peasants in the Mexican province of Chiapas as a representative example of resistance to the international networks that have been turning into a global empire. As one who has been conducting research on Chiapas for many years, I beg to differ. I find in Negri and Hardt a kind of romantic utopianism that seeks instinctively for ideal situations across the sea, but is ultimately completely worthless. It is vital to be aware that along with many fine aspects to the Chiapas struggle that people around the world can learn much from, there are also many problematical aspects that cannot simply be applauded. Rather, I argue, it is important to engage in constructive mutual criticism on the basis of a full understanding of one's own position.
PART 2: JAPAN TODAY
Japan in 2007: Looking beyond the bleak landcape.
Gazing in horror on the depressingly awful neo-liberal administrations of Koizumi and Abe, the author, an unashamed member of the 'old left' intelligentsia, raises an impassioned lament and a defiant war cry, calling for all-out opposition to the dominant ideology.
Who becomes a freeter? The production of freeters and the
intergenerational reproduction of social inequality
This paper examines the phenomenon of 'freeters' ? 'free arbeiters,' i.e. young people working in insecure part-time jobs. The object of this paper is look at young people from relatively low social status groups, and inquire into what sort of families they are born into, how they came to be in the freeter situation, and to trace that process back to the families in which they were raised. The method employed is the writing of life histories for some 40 young people who have graduated from a certain public senior high school in Osaka which is known to have a high concentration of pupils from discriminated 'buraku' communities, and to generate a lot of freeters among its graduates. The author attempts to describe in some detail the conditions of these young people who have been excluded from mainstream society and also from mainstream social awareness. The picture that emerges is of a complex of interacting problems in the household that combine to send them out into the world of insecure employment. The big picture is one of class reproduction, as lower-class status is passed on from generation to generation.
Re-examining the history of post-war Kamagasaki's formation
in relation to longshoring work
This paper is an attempt to re-examine the postwar history of Kamagasaki. Empirical analysis of the Osaka longshoring industry shows how day laborers were drawn into the structure of that industry in the 1950s and 1960s. The paper starts by looking at the structure of the longshoring industry, identifying the entrenched subcontracting system that grew up in response to powerful fluctuations in demand for labor as the key feature. I then seek to explain why the local employment exchange[s] failed to wipe out informal labor supply systems by looking at that failure in the context of the industry's structure. I describe the position of day laborers, as defined by the subcontracting system and discriminatory hiring practices. I go on to show how the principle of the Employment Exchange Act, which was designed to get rid of street-corner recruiters and labor camps, was in direct contradiction with the principles of the longshoring industry that necessitated these things. I conclude by showing how the net result of this conflict of principles was a concession in which the local authorities officially allowed the old informal recruitment processes to continue at the Kamagasaki yoseba as a special exception to government policy.
'New Christian' movements in the yoseba: focusing on Kamagasaki
Any research on homeless people naturally has to consider
the role of civil society groups who do voluntary work or conduct
campaigns for homeless people's rights and welfare. Homeless/yoseba
research to date has had plenty to say about the role of labor
unions and support groups with political motivations, but very
little about the role of Christian groups. The latter have generally
been assumed to operate out of private concerns to make converts
etc. However, the fact of the matter is that the most noticeable
support for homeless people, especially since the problem became
very noticeable in the latter 1990s, has come from Christian
groups. In Kamagasaki, Christian activists have been working
since the 1970s, mainly with a social welfare orientation that
does not seek to proselytize. Since the late 1990s, however,
there has been a noticeable increase in missionary activity that
does seek converts among homeless people.
Interactive factors in hanba life: What it is like to live
in a labor camp
This paper looks at the living conditions of workers in hanba (labor camps). I identify three key characteristics of hanba life: (1) the overlapping of workplace interpersonal relations and living-place interpersonal relations; (2) the fluidity of interpersonal relations; and (3) the very poor quality of the living environment. In the hanba these three facts of life combine to maintain a constant state of tension in which one must always be extremely careful about relations with others. Because there is a rapid turnover of dwellers in the hanba, it is very difficult to establish solid, lasting relationships. Shared workplace experience is the main basis on which personal relations are formed. However, because the hanba system joins workplace to living place, such relationships are always under stress. Harsh working conditions combine with the difficulties of everyday life in the hanba to severely constrain the working and living choices made by hanba-dwelling workers.