Thompson: As Japan predicts a rise in the number of immigrants and foreign tourists in the coming years, a new television show has turned migrant deportations into entertainment. The program provoked some outraged viewer reactions and insights about the plight faced by visa overstayers and undocumented migrants in Japan. Taikyo no Shunkan (タイキョの瞬間) (English translation: “At the Very Moment They Were Deported”) premiered on Fuji Television in a Saturday evening prime time slot on October 6, 2018.
Using a typical reality show format, the two-hour program follows a group of so-called “G-Men”, or immigration officers, employed by the Tokyo regional office of the National Immigration Bureau as they hunt down visa overstayers and so-called “illegal aliens” (fuhotaizaisha, 不法滞在者) and squatters (fuhosenshu, 不法占有) on camera. In one segment, the immigration officers stake out the apartment of a Vietnamese man suspected of violating the conditions of his trainee visa. He and two others are arrested and interrogated on camera before being deported 24 hours later.
COMMENT: Debito.org has focussed on this kind of programming before. Consider this segment from a larger archive of broadcast media bashing NJ as terrorists and criminals, a phenomenon that gained political traction as former Tokyo Gov. Ishihara fanned the flames of xenophobia starting from around 2000. Not to mention the racist and propagandistic “Gaijin Hanzai” magazine (2007) that also seemed to be made with the cooperation of the Japanese authorities.
In the end, will there be any retractions, apologies for stereotyping, or even acknowledgments and caveats that NJ do good things in Japan too? As book Embedded Racism points out in Ch. 7, not likely. After all, NJ have so little right-of-reply in Japan’s media that bashing and blaming NJ for just about anything has long been normalized in Japan’s media. It’s simply part of standard operating practice — at the level of entertainment. Even a sport. It’s a foxhunt for gaijin.