This month’s JUST BE CAUSE (which I always think should be renamed "JUST ME, ‘COZ") has the story of what apparently transpired at Mr Arudou’s passport renewal. As it’s a retelling of a blog post from a couple of weeks ago I’ll skip over the details, although the ever-useful sums up my impression. There’s a line that can be drawn between standing up for one’s rights and being arrogant, and I feel he crosses it here, especially as his target is a lowly clerk (or the lowly clerk’s supervisor, according to the earlier report) with little or no power to change the system.
However, when he comes to wrap up the article he makes some rather interesting claims regarding "when our government decides that things within the domain of the individual are instead privileges granted at the whim of The State":
middle names and different last names after marriage (forbidden by the family registry system)
Hmm, OK. It feels like there must be a flaw in the above statement, but I can’t quite spot it.
minority names with alternate spellings (e.g., Ainu and Ryukyuan names)
I’m not really sure what he’s getting at here. Have Ainu and Ryukyu people adopted kanji with irregular readings? Haven’t these names been grandfathered into the system? Or is he talking about Romaji representations, an alphabet that is foreign to these people? Cannot they do as Mr Arudou and file their own alternative spellings?
parental rights to child access during marital breakdowns
No, there are many situations when this should, indeed must, be "at the whim of The State".
even to the contents of a mother’s uterus
What he seems to be implying from this is stated in a much earlier article:
The Japanese government (and the popular public) has long had the unofficial attitude that the uterus is the Property of the State, not the property of the mother
Of course, we are offered no evidence for this apart from a reference to a book that is not available online, but alternative references suggest this is an ancient expression from when wives were viewed as merely birth-giving machines for the next heir. Furthermore, he has promoted the "unofficial attitude" towards foetuses to now being a "whim of The State".
PS: I’m more than a little sad not to see a cheap shot at either Mike Guest or I in the article.