While specific publications may come and go, at any given time Japan is home to several dozen free newspapers in the Chinese language, which are distributed to shops, restaurants and other places patronized by Chinese residents here. Their names include Huafeng Xinwen, Lianhe Zhoubao and Wenshengbao. Most are printed in the simplified characters utilized by Chinese from the mainland.
The newspapers' contents run the gamut of political, economic and social issues between Japan and China, as well as featuring stories on culture and other topics. Most of their articles are excerpted from sources in China, including Internet media.
Along with general news and feature stories, notes Tadasu Nishitani in Sapio (April), by reading between the lines, much can be gleaned about various concerns that affect the lives of Chinese residing in this country. This particularly applies to the advertisements. Many are job-wanted ads for female applicants to toil at sex shops or eating and drinking establishments. Others are run by offices that offer legal services pertaining to status of residence for foreigners. Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, quite a few of these ads offer assistance in obtaining permission to work, or to obtain a status that would enable a person to remain in the country for an extended duration. The euphemism for this in Mandarin Chinese is "hei zhuan bai" (literally, "black changed to white"). In Chinese slang, "black" refers to illegal activities and "white" is the opposite.
Kazuo Nakamura, an administrative scrivener ("gyosei shoshi"), believes ads that make such claims are deceptive.
"There is no way that a person's 'illegal' status can be changed to a legal one," he asserts. "Activities that are prohibited by law would damage the status of such a scrivener, and so doing would constitute an infringement on Article 10 of the statute concerning administrative scriveners' activities."
Other ads in the newspapers suggest that some administrative scriveners appear to be working in tandem with matchmaking agencies.
"Remuneration for smoothing the way to obtain a spouse visa tends to be high, and many offices are in on the business," a scrivener involved in immigration procedures is quoted as saying. "While there's nothing particularly problematic about introducing prospective mates per se, if evidence can be found that suggests the marriage was made under false circumstances however, they can lose their license."
According to the aforementioned scrivener, Japanese immigration officials now scan ads in the Chinese newspapers looking for telltale words or phrases -- like "spouse visas arranged in one week!" -- that indicate intention to defraud clients or the possibility of other illegal activities, such as fabrication of personal histories.
Then there are off-the-wall ads, such as those offering a telephone which, for the outlay of 260,000 yen, can be used in perpetuity to make domestic and international telephone calls at no additional charge. Or ads claiming to provide piecework by which women working from home can earn 100,000 yen a month, with no special training or skills needed.
It seems everybody's got a racket: There are even ads appealing to people to serve as middlemen for Japanese-produced disposable infant nappies, which had been in heavy demand in mainland China.
"These days there aren't big profits to be made any more," said a source involved in the disposable diaper trade. "The resale value in China, at their peak, had been 3,600 yen per package, but now it's about one half of that, roughly the same as their current market price. These days, the latest big-selling items from Japan are oxygen supplements."
Shinjuku restaurant operator and former street guide Li Xiaomu, a native of China's Hunan province, who is now a naturalized Japanese citizen, told Sapio that Chinese-language free newspapers began proliferating about 30 years ago. Back then, he recalled seeing ads for underground banks that would transfer money from Japan to China.
"These days you can also find a lot of that sort of information via Chinese SNS's like Weixin (also known as WeChat)," Li said. By his estimate, between 30 and 50 such newspapers are being printed in Japan, mainly in the Kanto (East Japan) region. Apparently they generate enough revenues to keep the business competitive for publishers and advertisers alike.© Japan Today