Monday, December 13, 2010

Foreign victims of domestic violence band together

Foreign victims of domestic violence band together
By Karryn Cartelle

Mardonia Nishimoto longed to live in Japan since she was a child. After meeting a number of wealthy, kind Japanese people in the Philippines, she had come to think of the foreign land as one of limitless opportunity. So in 1982, when a friend offered her a job working in a “snack” bar, Nishimoto was delighted — and at 28 years of age, she left to earn money abroad and support her family.

Upon her arrival, she quickly learned that working at a snack bar had little to do with preparing food, and instead involved serving men drinks and engaging in overly friendly conversation. Although her salary was competitive, she felt something was amiss and returned to her homeland after her three-month tourist visa expired. But later that same year, Nishimoto was persuaded to return to Japan to work, again, as a hostess.

It was in this new bar she met her first Japanese husband — who soon became abusive. Nishimoto escaped and eventually moved to Kawasaki, where she met her second husband. After several years of marital bliss, Nishimoto invited her daughter over from the Philippines to stay with them. But when she was away from home, her husband began to sexually abuse the 16-year-old. Once again Nishimoto’s life had been turned upside down.

Rather than once more return to her native country, Nishimoto shared her story with other victims of domestic violence through the Catholic Diocese of Yokohama Solidarity Center for Migrants. Though the group eventually dissolved, its core members, including Nishimoto, Margaret Lacson and Leny Tolentiho, wanted to continue to help migrant workers and in December 2002, formed the Kalakasan Migrant Women’s Empowerment Center. Kalakasan, meaning “strength” in Tagalog, reflects their vision to instill a sense of empowerment to the hundreds of migrant women who seek their support each year.

In 2007, Kalakasan helped in 207 migrant cases, dealing with everything from domestic violence to child custody to unpaid wages. Many cases are immigration-related as well.

Kalakasan takes a four-fold approach to providing support: crisis intervention, follow-up care, children’s program, and advocacy/networking. When the crisis first hits, the group offers telephone support to women and children, and also helps remove the language barrier by translating on their behalf.

“Women who have been through similar experiences are able to provide support and encouragement to help victims rebuild their lives,” says Nishimoto. Their follow-up care services involve home visits; counseling; workshops and seminars for traumatized victims; and assistance with finding a new home and job. They also help to build skills by offering weekly Japanese classes, in cooperation with a church.

The children’s program involves monthly events ranging from strawberry picking to pottery lessons, and every second Saturday, budding chefs can whip up some Japanese and Filipino treats in a cooking class. On top of these events, Kalakasan provides the children with a space where they can safely do their homework. “More and more moms are starting to participate with their young ones,” says Nishimoto. “These programs have helped strengthen the bonds between mother and child and between the children.”

The Kalakasan team participates in a number of local conferences and mutual exchange events to help get the word out about what these women are going through.

The upcoming “Skylines Meet, Greet, Eat, Drink, Be Involved” event will help raise awareness (and much-needed funds) for the organization. The late afternoon gathering on Saturday, June 14 — hosted by People for Social Change, in alliance with Net Impact, NPO Social Concierge, International Women in Communications and the Japanese Americans Citizens League — will offer attendees a chance to network while enjoying live entertainment and dining on a selection of appetizers from Harajuku restaurant Fujimamas.

Funds raised from cash donations, drinks and a raffle will benefit several worthy Tokyo NPOs, among them Kalakasan.

June 14, 4-7:30pm. 7,000 yen. 20F Shinsei Bank, 2-1-8 Uchisaiwaicho, Chiyoda-ku. Email for details.

For more information on Kalakasan, call 044-580-4675, email or visit (Japanese).

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (



Center for Japanese American Studies / Japanese American National Library

Special Event Christ United Presbyterian Church
Tuesday December 28, 2010 1700 Sutter Street (Laguna Street)
11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. San Francisco

Tradition must go on! It's the 41st annual mochi-tsuki time! All of you and your friends are invited to join us on Tuesday December 28 at Chirst United Presbyterian Church's social hall. We'll start at 11:00 a.m. and continue until the final mochi is formed around 3:00 p.m. (We can use willing hands from 9:00 a.m. to help with preparations.) Mochigome (rice) is donated by Mr. George Okamoto of Nomura and Co.

As always, everyone is encouraged to participate in the pounding of the rice, shaping of the mochi cakes, and eating and socializing all afternoon. Participants can purchase the mochi to take home. Help us recruit mochi pounders. We need all the muscles we can find.

Our mochi-tsuki has been held annually for the last thirty-seven years. We pound old fashion way - hand pound. Issei did it, Nisei did it, and Sansei do it. We want Yonse and Gosei to continue the uniquely Japanese American cultural custom. Round up all your young generations of off-spring and relatives. Once they see the mochi-tsuki, they will get hooked.

The Japanese American National Library is carrying on the tradition established by the Center for Japanese American Studies. Naturally, it’s the same softest sweet mochi in the world for which CJAS has been known to produce.

Tell your friends and bring your entire extended family to our annual year-end festivity and perpetuate a fun part of our Nikkei cultural heritage. Any question? Call Karl Matsushita (415) 567-5006.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Buraku Youth Today: Findings from Recent Questionnaire Survey by BLL

Buraku Youth Today: Findings from Recent Questionnaire Survey

From 2009 to 2010, the Central Headquarters of the Buraku Liberation League (BLL) conducted a survey through a questionnaire with the support of Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Institute. Although the final report is to be completed in due course, this serves as an interim report based on numerical results that are already available.
The aims of the survey were: i) to grasp the conditions of Buraku youth today for the purpose of improving conditions that may encourage youth to continue their involvement in the movement in their own communities; ii) to provide opportunities for Buraku youth, including those who have left Buraku communities, to develop a network; and iii) to help the BLL Youth Division expand linkages with youth in neighboring communities.
The survey was conducted with youth (aged 15 to 39) living both in and outside Buraku communities for a year, from July 2009 to July 2010. A total of 851 valid responses were received. As the survey was conducted through the Buraku Liberation League, it does not represent the whole picture of Buraku youth. It is reasonable to say that the survey was conducted with people with close ties to the BLL liberation movement. It is recommended that these results be viewed as an indication of the present condition of those who responded to the survey. Despite this, the responses from the 851 young people provide very precious data that cannot, by any means, be ignored.
Report by Ryushi UCHIDA
Researcher, Buraku Liberation and Human Rights Research Institute

Survey result:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Eclipse Rising invites you to its Annual Holiday Party & ‘US-Japan Solidarity Tour 2010’ Report Back Part 2!

Presented with improved materials on

the first-ever radical grassroots solidarity exchange with minority communities in Japan by a US-based Zainichi organization!!

Date: Thursday, December 16, 2010
Time: Presentation from 7pm, Doors open at 6:45pm
Location: at the School of Unity and Liberation Office,
1904 Franklin St., Suite 904, Oakland, CA 94612

Space is limited, so please RSVP (contact information at the bottom)

We would like to show appreciation for your tremendous support throughout the year of 2010, by holding our Annual Holiday Party, coupled with an improved version of the Report-Back from our US-Japan Solidarity Tour!

Come bring your curiosity and high spirit of solidarity to this event and hear Eclipse Rising delegates give a narrative & multimedia account of their 9-day long solidarity visits to communities and institutions in Japan - including:

1. Meeting with Kazuo Ishikawa (Buraku-min political prisoner) & Buraku Liberation League Campaign for ‘Sayama Justice’

2. Radical Women’s Active Museum on War & Peace on their continued global exposure of and campaign for justice for ‘comfort women’

3. Fureai-House, multicultural community center in one of Japan’s most ethnically diverse cities, providing culturally appropriate community services from kindergarten to senior housing to immigration services for Zainichi, Nikkei Latin Americans, Okinawans, migrant workers, etc.

4. Iju-ren, national solidarity network with migrants, serving and advocating for some of the most vulnerable, invisible and and fragmented foreign mirant constituencies in Japan.

ER represented at a protest rally against Japanese government for Justice for “Comfort Women” on the day of the100-year anniversary of Japanese annexation of Corea - in Tokyo, August 11, 2010

Because of your unwavering support, we were able to begin cultivating organization-to-organization relationships with various communities resisting injustice and advancing their vision for multicultural Japan. Please join us to learn more -- and our vision for Eclipse Rising's future work!

Bring your friends along!!

Space is limited, so please RSVP with Haruki by e-mailing
Any questions or concerns, including accessibility, can be addressed by Haruki,

We look forward to reconnecting with you and having a fun and inspiring evening together!

Zainichi leprosy patient at sanatorium. About 10% of victims of forced quarantine have been Zainichi.

Eclipse Rising
--Building Solidarity Network between the Oppressed Communities in the US and Japan--

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Standoff Amplifies Angst Over Pro-Pyongyang Schools in Japan


TOKYO—The name of the biggest North Korean school in Japan—Tokyo-North Korean Junior-Senior High School—is carved into the two cement columns lining the walkway to the entrance. It's in Japanese on one side and Korean on the other. Traditional North Korean folk music booms over the outdoor loudspeakers and students dribbling soccer balls on the field shout out greetings to passing administrators.

But the relative tranquility here belies a tense standoff between Japan's 140 pro-Pyongyang schools and the Japanese government, following North Korea's artillery barrage on a South Korean island. The Japanese government threatened to cut off support for North Korean schools here, thrusting the pro-Pyongyang ethnic Korean community in Japan under the spotlight.

Japan has the largest network of North Korean schools in the world outside of North Korea itself, due to the nearly 600,000 Koreans who were forcibly taken or moved to Japan during the country's colonial rule. At these schools, classes are taught in Korean and portraits of Kim Jong Il hang from the walls.

The Japanese government is in the final stages of a yearlong debate over whether to extend public subsidies to the country's North Korea-leaning high schools. The policy, one of the cornerstones of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan's campaign platform in 2009, exempts Japanese public senior high school students from tuition, while private educational institutions receive an annual subsidy of as much as 237,600 yen ($2,827) per student. Japanese public and private high school students have been included in the government initiative since it was implemented April 1, but 10 North Korean high schools that had sought assistance were excluded and required to undergo a screening process.

Education Minister Yoshiaki Takaki indicated, after a meeting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan, that the process should be halted in light of North Korea's deadly attack, a shift from comments made earlier in the month when the minister said politics wouldn't influence his final decision. An education-ministry official declined to comment on the matter.

Supporters of the schools say the North Korean attack has nothing to do with the students themselves.

"These students have nothing to do with what could happen on the Korean peninsula at any given time…it is extremely unreasonable to suspend the process of making the North Korean schools free of charge by linking it to the current tension on the Korean peninsula," said Shin Gil-ung, the head of the association of North Korean schools in Japan, at a news conference Thursday. As Mr. Shin spoke to the media, a small group of Japanese nationalists protested outside the building with megaphones and banners, underlining the contentious nature of the schools' presence in Japan.

The debate over schools raises a sensitive relic from Japan's past. There are about 600,000 ethnic Koreans living in Japan, a community largely composed of third- and fourth-generation descendants of Koreans who arrived in Japan during the country's 35-year colonial rule that ended in 1945. Experts estimate the family trees of more than 90% of the residents have roots in the South. But in the post-World War II period when Japan refused to fund schools that taught Korean-related topics, North Korea stepped in. Pyongyang provided the early financial support that built and maintained educational facilities where Korean language, culture and history were taught in the 1950s.

Financial subsidies from North Korea peaked in the 1970s, with as much as 3 billion yen, or $35.7 million, by some estimates. The donations have fallen drastically over the years as the North's economy tanked. The General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, or Chongryon, which is considered the de facto North Korean embassy, said the hermit country has contributed 46 billion yen during the past 50 years. About 10,000 students attend the 140 Pyongyang-friendly schools nationwide—that includes kindergarten through senior high school and one university—according to documents provided by Chongryon. The financial and ideological ties with North Korea have caused the association, and by extension the community, to come under fire in the past.

The schools' curriculum today includes history lessons on North Korea as well as modern and world history. Third-year students at the four North Korea-leaning high schools in Tokyo spend as much as three hours a week in North Korean history class and five hours focused on Korean language. Senior year is a particularly exciting one for the students. It's the year the class goes to Pyongyang on a two-week school trip in what is usually the first time many of them have touched North Korean soil.

"It was different from what had been shown on the Japanese media," said Koh Yon-jae, a third-year student. "It was much more developed and everyone was very kind to us. It is a very hospitable country."

He added: "That's not to say that as someone who was born and raised in Japan but identifies himself as North Korean I didn't have complicated feelings."

Mr. Koh, who plans to attend the North Korean university next April, said he and his friends have been discussing the skirmish on the Korean peninsula with hopes it will be resolved soon.

"To be sure, they [North Korea] did attack. But to say that's the whole story, to define a country based on the event is not accurate," Mr. Koh said.