Libraries, Scholarships, and the Open Meeting

This entry has been very delayed, because my parents were over for Mayuki’s 7-5-3, and I didn’t have much time for writing the blog. I’ve not written about the 7-5-3 yet, because I’m waiting for Sonoe’s photographs, but I do plan to. I also plan to write something about our visit to Nara. Today, however, I want to write about the most recent meeting of the Kawasaki Representative Assembly for Foreign Residents, which was on the 7th.

The first, and most important thing, is the Open Meeting. If you are actually reading this from Kawasaki (or, indeed, somewhere close by), please come to the Open Meeting, on December 5th, at the Takatsu Shiminkan, which is at the top of the Marui building in Mizonokuchi. It starts at 2pm, and there is more information in Japanese here. The whole meeting will be in Japanese, so some competence in the language would be useful. Mind you, the same is true if you are living in Japan.

The Open Meeting was also an important part of our discussions at the meeting on the 7th. After commiserating over the lack of a Citizen’s Festival, which was cancelled due to a typhoon, we split into our subgroups. The first thing we, in the Life and Society group, had to discuss was how we would limit the number of topics suggested at the Open Meeting, to make things easier for people. I could have handled this discussion better; it went on for far longer than I would have liked for such a purely administrative matter. One problem was making it clear that the suggested topics would not limit what the attendees said; rather, they were to give some idea of what people might like to comment on. Then there were a number of procedural problems, including the subcommittee agreeing on a resolution, then drifting towards changing its mind, before the secretariat reminded us that we would have to have another vote to do that. We decided to stick with the original resolution, and picked three topics to suggest to the Open Meeting.

Then we were able to get back to our proper job. We revisited family visas briefly, agreeing that our recommendation should be focused on one thing, and phrased gently, rather than attacking the government (because, as I’ve mentioned before, the Japanese immigration system is not at all bad from a global perspective). However, since that is one of the topics we will suggest to the Open Meeting, we then left it, since we have lots of time to finalise our recommendation. It makes sense to listen to what other people have to say before deciding.

The next topic was foreign language books in Kawasaki libraries. As with the weekend opening hours of the ward offices, the situation was rather better than most of us expected. There are a lot of foreign language books, and the council has a deliberate policy of buying them. The main concerns were that the foreign books tend to be a bit old, and that there may be a bit too much bias towards English. However, it is possible to recommend books, and the library committees have a basic policy of buying books that are recommended (which I suspect explains the seven Sanskrit books), so we asked for the details on how to do that. We also asked for the details of how we can donate books to the libraries. These are, of course, ways that we, and foreign residents of Kawasaki more generally, can improve the library book situation, rather than just asking the council to act, and this is an important part of how the committee is supposed to work.

We also looked at the information the secretariat had provided on scholarships and support for foreign students, but there wasn’t time to do more than go through the information and get some clarifications. As a result, I suspect that we will discuss the same three topics at the next standard meeting, in January. I think we’ll be able to finish discussions on immigration, and we may be able to finish discussions about the libraries as well, but I don’t think we’ll finish with student support, nor with housing issues. Still, it is possible that we will get through the short topics within our first year, which would be a good achievement.

Posted in Foreigners' Assembly.

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