Archive for the 'Tourism' Category
Entries dealing with how tourism is being used as a means to stimulate the Japanese economy. Now, if only we could get around to passing some anti-discrimination laws to protect the tourists after they get here…
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th May 2016
Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:
Yomiuri: With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave. These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.
Shinjuku Foreign Resident Manual: “Helping you avoid getting caught up in criminal activity and have a peaceful and safe time in Japan.” With pages on how to avoid “criminal activities” such as not sorting your garbage properly, smoking outside of designated areas, and talking loudly on the phone while on the train or bus.
Submitter Concerned NJ says: This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.
Comment from Debito: I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments. But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful. Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).
Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 23 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th April 2016
Nossal: Japan is a country which is largely opposed to free enterprise. As one who has studied economics and subscribes to the notion that the ability for individuals to do business is integral to a society’s wealth and commerce, as well as that society’s ability to solve problems generally, I find this condition amusingly shortsighted. As one who is living in and attempting to do business in Japan I find this condition depressing. After all, what is it that individuals can do best as entrepreneurs? We stand to make money by solving problems for other people. I will discuss some extraordinary barriers to business created by just a few layers of legal or bureaucratic excess which discourage or disable free enterprise in two examples of personal experience. It is assumed that there is some reason that people have gone through such troubles to erect these legal barriers, and I can only speculate what some of those possible reasons might be. On the microeconomic level, the effects of the clearly anti-business atmosphere created by those specific barriers are devastating. Businesses which could and should be thriving, multiplying, growing, and revolving multiples of yen back out into the local economy are stopped dead. Theoretically, all money gets spent somewhere, but inevitably some of that money which would have been spent in the local Ishikawa ken economy (where these stories take place) gets saved, sent away, or spent elsewhere and the greater Ishikawa ken economy suffers for this.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Tourism, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 29 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st April 2016
Mainichi: The Hokkaido Prefectural Government has prepared 2,500 stickers for use by foreigners driving rent-a-cars, in order to identify them to other drivers and prepare against on-the-road trouble. The stickers, which read “A person from a foreign country is driving,” were distributed to rent-a-car companies in Hokkaido. In fiscal 2014, around 24,000 rent-a-cars were used by foreign tourists, around 14,000 more than in fiscal 2012. Accidents and driver arguments are expected, so the stickers were created to warn other drivers, similar to stickers for new drivers. The magnetic stickers are 14.5 centimeters square and carry Hokkaido’s tourism character “Kyun-chan,” a Japanese pika. A prefectural government official says, “When people see (a car with the sticker), we want them to act kindly.”
Comment: It would seem that the Japanese reflex of pointing out differences over similarities (a byproduct of the quest to keep Japan “unique” in the world narrative) has created perennial blind spots towards the effects of “stigmatization”. That is to say, if you keep pointing out how different a group of people is (in this case, “foreign drivers”, even if you say you are doing it “out of kindness”), it still differentiates and “others” people — with the inevitable subordinating presumption that foreign drivers are somehow more prone to accidents, need to be taken notice of, or treated with special care. Why else would the public be notified (if not warned) that a foreign driver is present?
Shoe on the other foot: How would people like it if females behind the wheel had to bear a “women driver” sticker? What if the “foreign driver” (for example, somebody who has been driving in Japan not as a tourist for years, or on the British side of the road the same as Japan?) would rather opt out of all the special attention? And what of the Japanese tourists from the metropolises who are “paper drivers” and probably have much less road experience than average compared to any motorized society in the world? Let’s see how a “tourist driver” sticker (slapped on Japanese drivers too) would fare. This sticker is, to put it bluntly in Japanese, 有り難迷惑 (arigata meiwaku), or “kindness” to the point of being a nuisance. And it is not even the first “foreign driver” sticker Debito.org has heard of — last October we reported on similar stickers in Okinawa with the same purpose.
Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tourism, 日本語 | 15 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th April 2016
Debito.org Reader Onur updates his post here last month about discrimination at Japanese hotels being, in one case, coin-operated (where all “foreign guests” are unlawfully forced to provide photocopies of their passports, moreover at their own expense) at police behest. Now he gets to the bottom of police chicanery in Mito, Ibaraki Prefecture, where he catches them in an outright lie. Three lies in one police notice, as a matter of fact:
Onur: I wrote my Japanese address on the guest registration form during check-in [at Mimatsu Hotel, Mito City, Ibaraki Prefecture]. However, the reception asked for my passport and said that they must copy my ID. I asked the reason. They said that it is the rule of the hotel(!) and also the law of Japan to copy the ID of all foreigners. I said that according to law it is not necessary and they are not allowed to copy my card, but they insisted they must copy, showing me a poster on the wall by the Mito City Police Department Security Division saying that “Japanese law requires that we ask every foreign guest to present their passport, photocopy of which we keep on file during their stay with us”. I said that I will inform this incident to Mito City Public Health Department (保健所), which has authority over the hotels regarding the implementation of laws. I enclose the poster. After visiting both the Public Health Department and the Mito Police, I had phone call from the Public Health Department. They said they went to the Mimatsu Hotel to check it and saw that the poster on the wall of the hotel has changed. It seems that the police department printed a new poster and distributed to all hotels only in a few hours after I left the police department! They said the new poster clearly states “foreign nationals who do not possess an address in Japan”, so complies the regulations. They said they informed the hotel about the laws and regulations and warned the hotel to not to the same mistake again.
COMMENT: It would seem that, according to a number of past Debito.org posts on Ibaraki Prefectural Police posters and activities, the officially-sponsored xenophobia runs deep there. Put a nasty Gaijin Detention Center there, allow the police to project their bunker mentalities by lying on public posters, and you get panicky residents who sic cops on “people who look suspicious” because they look foreign (even if they are Japanese). Are you seeing what happens when you give the police too much power to target people? Ibaraki Prefecture is developing into a nice case study. Well done Onur for doing all this great detective work. I did some investigative work like this more than a decade ago. Remarkable that despite having this pointed out again and again, the NPA continues to lie about the laws they are supposed to enforce.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tourism, Victories | 15 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th April 2016
Once again hosting an international event brings out the worst excesses of Japan’s attitudes towards the outside world. Mutou Toshio, CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, talked to The Japan Times about Japan’s superiority to Rio 2016 in broad, arrogant strokes. Some highlights:
The CEO of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics says security is his greatest concern but believes Japan will be safe from the kind of mass street protests currently overshadowing this summer’s Rio de Janeiro Games.
“If I had to choose just one challenge from many it would have to be security,” Toshiro Muto told The Japan Times in an exclusive interview. “There are many threats of terrorism in the world. […] To combat this, the organizing committee, Tokyo Metropolitan Government and national government need to be able to deal with it at every level. Cooperation is vital.”
COMMENT: Yes, we’ve seen what happens when Japan’s police “cooperate” to ensure Japan is “secure” from the outside world whenever it comes for a visit. Many times. Consider whenever a G8 Summit is held in Japan, Japan spends the Lion’s Share (far more than half the budget) on policing alone, far more than any other G8 Summit host. Same with, for example, the 2002 World Cup. The government also quickly abrogates civil liberties for its citizens and residents, and turns Japan into a temporary police state. (See also “Embedded Racism” Ch. 5, particularly pp. 148-52). I anticipate the same happening for 2020, with relish.
But Mutou goes beyond mere boosterism to really earn his paycheck with arrogance, elevating Japan by bashing current hosts Rio. (Much like Tokyo Governor Inose Naoki, himself since unseated due to corruption, did in 2013 when denigrating Olympic rival hosts Istanbul as “Islamic”.) Check this out:
Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Social Science, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, History, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Sport, Tourism, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 10 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th March 2016
Japan Times: The number of foreign residents in Japan reached an all-time high last year, the Justice Ministry reported Friday. There were 2.23 million long-term and permanent foreign residents in Japan as of the end of last year, up 5.2 percent from 2.12 million people at the end of 2014, according to the ministry. It was the highest number since the ministry began keeping data in 1959. […]
Meanwhile, the number of residents who had overstayed their visas has also increased. The ministry reported that there were 62,818 foreign nationals overstaying their visas as of Jan. 1, up 4.7 percent from the same date last year. This marks the second year the figure has risen. Last year’s increase was the first in more than two decades, and the trend comes despite recent efforts by the ministry to crack down on overstayers.
COMMENT: Typically, Debito.org sees a rise in the NJ resident population as good news, and it is: Japan needs them or, as I argue in Chapter 10 of “Embedded Racism”, it won’t survive. But it’s never portrayed as good news in the media, where it counts. Even when it’s put through the lenses of the foreigner-friendly Japan Times, the bias of the Justice Ministry still seeps through: After giving the numbers and some speculation about what is bringing more NJ to Japan again, we get into what NJ are doing here. As “Embedded Racism” Chapters 5 and 7 describe, it’s never a matter of what good NJ residents are doing: It’s always what sort of mischief they’re up to. Because when you have a government with no Immigration Policy Bureau to institute a viable immigration and assimilation policy, and instead have a policing agency solely entrusted with “administrating” foreigners in Japan, naturally you’ll get an embedded mindset that treats everyone as a potential criminal. Read the entire article and see for yourself. Feel the criminality steadily creep in and have the last word.
Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Good News, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Tourism | 22 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th March 2016
Onur: I travel often, so I stay in many business hotels in Japan. Not all but many of them caused many problems due to the passport copy rule. Of course I carry only my residence card, not my passport. In the past I used to allow them when the hotel wants to copy my residence card. I remember that a hotel in Asakusa ward of Tokyo even asked me to copy my residence card by myself! The woman at the reception pointed the coin operated photocopier in the hall and told me to copy my residence card and bring it to the reception. I said it is coin operated, not free and she said pay the money to the machine. I paid the money, copied my residence card by myself and gave the copy to the reception. Even though it was hotel’s photocopier, they did not pay the money back!
Later I learned that as I have an address in Japan, hotels do not have the authority to ask my residence card and started to reject them when they asked to copy it. Still I was showing the card when they asked. Two years ago I had a bad experience at Inuyama Central Hotel in Aichi Prefecture. I wrote my Japanese address to the guest registration form, but two old male receptionists asked my passport. As I don’t carry it, I showed them my residence card and my address on it. They wanted to copy it, but I said no. They said that they must copy my residence card according to the law of Japan. I said copying is not necessary and they did not allow me to check-in! We had a long argument, but they refused me service. […]
Arguing with the hotels on this residence card check and copying is very annoying. Refusing to allow copying the card may not be enough as the hotel may continue asking it to other foreigners. Recently, when I stay in a hotel that asked to copy residence card, I am writing a review on Rakuten hoping that the hotel and checks and learns the real law. I also give a low rating to those hotels in the review. Average rating in on-line reservation sites is somewhat important in Japan, so probably many hotels would take it into account. If many foreigners people do the same thing, more hotels may abide the law.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tourism | 38 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 4th March 2016
Here’s something that feels more problematic the more I think about it: “Foreigner-friendly” taxicabs being introduced in Kyoto. As noted below, they are government-sponsored vehicles with multilingual drivers and more space for tourist luggage. Sounds good so far. Until you get to the fact that they have a separate alighting point at one station in Kyoto. Already, we are getting into shades of “separate but equal” (as opposed to equal and undifferentiated), which we are seeing in a number of venues dealing with foreign tourism (for example, here).
While I applaud the effort to improve service, it doesn’t resolve the root problem (mentioned within the Kyodo article below) — that taxi cabs are refusing NJ passengers. So instead of going after miscreant taxis, they’re creating a separate taxi system to equalize things. Except that it won’t. Think about it. Now we’ll have busybody train station ojisan waving “foreign-looking” people over to the foreign taxi stand even when they’re not tourists. Or we’ll have people being told that they have to go to that solitary Kyoto Station stand, regardless of where they are, if they want to get a “foreigner-friendly” cab. And, with the law of unintended consequences, we’ll have even more taxi drivers refusing to pick up foreign-looking people — after all, their logic will go, “There’s already a taxi designated for them, so I don’t have to bother picking them up — they can wait for one.” As if foreign-friendly taxis could ever have the same coverage as regular taxis. See, “separate but equal” essentially never works because, as history demonstrates, it’s too hard to achieve.
If they really want to improve service, have the city assign somebody “foreign-looking” to hail taxis in Kyoto, and have him or her officially report misbehaving taxis to the Kyoto Tourist Agency (there is one, and I’ve done this very thing for at least one exclusionary Kyoto hotel; there were repercussions). And tell those taxis (like restaurants hear that they’re being reviewed by reviewers posing as regular customers) that there will be person(s) posing as an evaluator so you better not avoid picking up customers. Monitoring for consumer quality is quite normal, and if Japan is serious about omotenashi, it had better avoid making historical mistakes.
Posted in "Embedded Racism", Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 21 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd December 2015
I love year-end roundups, and this year I was given the privilege of compiling the year in quotes. Fuller version follows with more quotes that didn’t make the cut and links to sources:
JT: The past year has seen a number of tensions and tugs-of-war, as conservatives promoted past glories and preservation of the status quo while liberals lobbied for unprecedented levels of tolerance. This year’s Community quotes of the year column will break with tradition by not giving a guided tour of the year through quotations, but rather letting the words stand alone as capsule testaments to the zeitgeist. Quotes follow:
“I cannot think of a strategic partnership that can exercise a more profound influence on shaping the course of Asia and our interlinked ocean regions more than ours. In a world of intense international engagements, few visits are truly historic or change the course of a relationship. Your visit, Mr. Prime Minister, is one.”
— Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during his Japanese counterpart Shinzo Abe’s December trip to India, where agreements were reached on infrastructure investment (including a much-feted high-speed train), nuclear energy cooperation, classified intelligence sharing and military hardware sales to deter China from encroaching upon the Indian Ocean.
“Since taking office, I’ve worked to rebalance American foreign policy to ensure that we’re playing a larger and lasting role in the Asia Pacific — a policy grounded in our treaty alliances, including our treaty with Japan. And I’m grateful to Shinzo for his deep commitment to that alliance. He is pursuing a vision of Japan where the Japanese economy is reinvigorated and where Japan makes greater contributions to security and peace in the region and around the world.”
— U.S. President Barack Obama, during a joint press conference marking Abe’s visit to the United States in April, during which he became the first Japanese leader to address both houses of Congress.
“If Japan gets attacked, we have to immediately go to their aid. If we get attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us.”
— Donald Trump, U.S. Republican presidential candidate, on the stump.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Gaiatsu, History, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Lawsuits, Media, Tangents, Tourism | 3 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 21st November 2015
It has been a busy past few months. August and September were spent proofing and indexing my new book Embedded Racism. But while doing that, I was working for a group called Netmobius who asked me to do some touristy writeups on Sapporo and environs. Since I’ve lived in the area for more than two decades and already written three chapters for Fodor’s Japan Travel Guides, I was happy to do it. Here are links to the eleven articles and titles I wrote for them:
Sapporo New Chitose Airport — how it’s run like airports everywhere should be.
Transportation from New Chitose Airport to Sapporo
Hokkaido Shinkansen – Traveling from Tokyo to Sapporo (or at least Hakodate by March 2016)
History of Sapporo Station — From Meiji to the Present
Sapporo Station Layout and Facilities
Shopping Near Sapporo Station (Paseo, Stellar Place, APIA, ESTA, Daimaru, Tokyu)
Sightseeing near Sapporo Station (Odori Park, Sapporo Chikagai, Akarenga, Hokkaido University, Tanukikoji, Sapporo Clock Tower)
Prominent Hotels Near Sapporo Station (JR Tower Nikko, Century Royal Hotel, Keio Plaza Hotel, Sapporo Grand Hotel, Hotel Monterey)
Getting Around Sapporo: Sapporo Subway Namboku, Tozai and Toho Lines
Getting Out and About: JR Hakodate Main Line for Otaru, Niseko, Hakodate, and Asahikawa
Getting Off the Beaten Track: JR Hokkaido Train Lines Accessible from Sapporo (Asahikawa/Furano, Obihiro/Kushiro)
You see, there is plenty to like about Japan, and I can switch off the critical tone when I want to.
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, History, Media, Practical advice, Tangents, Tourism | 12 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 13th November 2015
This is an update to the previous post, but it deserves a separate blog entry for the deceitfulness. Thanks to Debito.org Readers contacting the organizers in Hong Kong, the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon made it clear to their Japan tour organizers (http://www.hkmarathon.jp) that restricting applications “exclusively for Japanese people” is unacceptable, as “all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour”.
The Japan-side website then changed its wording to “This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.” But if you actually go to the website registration page (http://www.hkmarathon.jp/pre.html), the requirement for applicants of Japanese citizenship (item six in the bullet points: 私は日本国籍を有しています) is still there (screen capture).
So although the English has changed for the purposes of placating the English-reading world, in Japanese are the same “Japanese Only” rules. It is very hard to see this as a mere oversight. And as written, NJ resident applicants still face refusal and then a non-refund of their deposit payments. It’s gone from mere exclusionism to the potential for misleading applicants into corporate theft. How duplicitous and unprofessional of the Japan-side organizers. Imagine the internet uproar if a Japanese company made a mistake this big for its Japanese customers. Again, its seems, foreign customers in Japan don’t matter.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015: Was tweeted this picture in regards to the Standard Chartered Bangkok Marathon registration desk for Japanese in Bangkok, Thailand. Seems to be more systematic than just Japanese organizers within Japan. More like the organization is excluding foreigners everywhere in the world, including in those nations where Japanese are foreigners themselves.
Posted in "Embedded Racism", "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport, Tourism, 日本語 | 3 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th November 2015
We’ve seen exclusionism in Japan’s sports leagues before (baseball, hockey, the Kokutai, the Ekiden, and Sumo, for example). Now we can see that Japan uses the same exclusionary practices when it processes paying customers to participate in overseas events THROUGH Japanese companies. Such as can be seen here at the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon, which refuses all NJ customers (and will not refund their application fees, either):
Source: http://www.hkmarathon.jp. Screen captures of the site, dated November 9, 2015: Note the bottom-right black box that says [ONLY JAPANESE]. This is reconfirmed when you scroll down to the next section, where it says in red script:
“This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people. Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”
Who is managing this? Kinki Nippon Tourist Agency, The Club Tourism Marathon Tour (their slogan, “Let’s run the world!”), and HIS Travel Agency (aka No. 1 Travel, which has had “Japanese Only” pricing and different (higher) prices for foreign customers in the past).
Who’s sponsoring this? The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Hong Kong Tourist Agency. I wonder if they know this is going on.
COMMENT: What’s wrong with this? The assumption that anyone who does not have a Japanese passport is not a resident of Japan. What about those people living permanently in Japan who might like to join this tour but do not have citizenship? How are they supposed to partake in this tour? Oh, I guess as customers, they just don’t count because they’re foreign.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 12, 2015: They didn’t know what was going on. After the Hong Kong sponsors were contacted by Debito.org Readers, the Japanese marathon tour site was amended to read:
“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan. Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded. ”
The Hong Kong Tourism Association has written (full letter in comments):
“After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site.”
Gone is the assumption that foreigners in Japan are not residents of Japan. It’s a pity that this wasn’t obvious in the first place and required a caution from the overseas sponsors of the event. Bravo HKAAA and HKTA for their quick and decisive work.
UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015: Alas, the job is not quite done. On the application website itself, the requirement of Japanese Citizenship is still there. Hello HKTA…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport, Tourism, Victories, 日本語 | 24 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th October 2015
In another turn of logic in Japan, where differentiation between foreigners and Japanese is so normal that it’s standard operating procedure for a significant amount of public policy, we have a case where “Foreign Driver” stickers have been created in Okinawa to call public attention to rental cars rented by foreigners. (image) Of course, with this constant differentiation comes the facile logical conclusion by policymakers that foreigners get into accidents BECAUSE they are foreigners. And presto, more public policy that once again targets foreigners. All the heart marks and polite language below in the “Foreign Driver” sign can’t overcome that fact. Anyone want to find out if domestic NJ residents with Japanese driver licenses, who of course also become tourists if they travel within Japan, also get stuck with this sticker?
Fukuoka Now Magazine: The number of foreign visitors renting cars is on the rise. In fiscal 2014, the number of car rentals around Fukuoka Airport jumped 250% to 6,572. Meanwhile, the Kyushu District Transportation Bureau offers a ¥2,500 2-day “all-you-can-drive” expressway pass. In the three-month period of last October to December, about 2,000 foreign tourists used the service, and the bureau expects this year’s numbers to outstrip last year’s. In Okinawa, a spate of minor accidents has led car rental shops to put “Foreigner Driving” stickers on cars rented to foreign tourists.“I keep an eye out for rental cars with wa license plates now,” admits a local taxi driver, referring to the rental car license plates whose numbers are prefaced by the hiragana character wa (わ).
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism, 日本語 | 14 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th October 2015
Here is an excellent video featuring the former Japan synchronized swimming team in various hot springs (onsen) around Oita Prefecture. I have been to some of these myself, and can attest to the magic of both the location and the waters. However, I hate to pee in the pool here, but there are several things happening here that are absolutely impermissible by Japanese standards (in fact, they were cited as reasons for excluding all “foreigners” entry to the baths during the Otaru Onsens etc. Case of 1993-2005):
Making noise in the bathing area.
Wearing bathing suits in the pool.
Wearing towels in the pool.
Mixed bathing in a non-rotenburo area.
Not washing off one’s body completely before entering (note that they get in dry after only a cursory splash).
If anyone does any of these things in real life, they will probably get thrown out of the bathhouse. Worse yet, if anyone who DOESN’T LOOK JAPANESE did anything like this, everyone who doesn’t look Japanese (i.e., a “foreigner”) a priori would be denied entry at the door, merely by dint by phenotypical association. That’s why I have a hard time enjoying this video knowing the history of Japanese public bathing issues, where stone-headed onsen owners looked for any reason to enforce their bigotry on people they thought couldn’t learn Japanese bathhouse rules. Instead, without any irony whatsoever, we have the Japan synchro swim team breaking most of them. To raucous applause. Good thing they didn’t bring in a NJ synchro team to do this stunt — because then “cultural insensitivity” would creep into the mix.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, NJ legacies, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism, 日本語 | 11 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st October 2015
Debito.org hasn’t talked as much as other topics about the Government of Japan (GOJ)’s attitude towards refugees (in that, the acceptance of refugees is one measure of international contributions by the club of rich, developed countries and UN treaty signatories). But it is safe to say that the GOJ has not been cooperative, accepting fewer people in total over the past sixty years than some countries do in a single year — as the United Nations is aware. So now the Abe Administration is trying a different tack: Accepting refugees as temporary students, and then sending them “home” someday. Debito.org Reader JK parses that to bits by citing articles below.
Mainichi: “The idea is that by accepting refugees as students, Japan could aid in training personnel for the later reconstruction of Syria.” …and… “The plan represents the government’s efforts to think of a way to contribute to solving the Syria issue, without influencing the current refugee authorization system.”
JK: Translation: GOJ doesn’t want to look bad at the UN in front of the other nations who are actually doing something to help refugees, so what to do?…Ah! Accept refugees as students to make it look like Japan is making a difference — Japan trains the Syrians so that one day they can go ‘home’ and fix everything up, and as students, they’re not in a position to stay for good as would be the case if they were accepted as refugees. It’s a win-win!
Mainichi: “As an issue of demography, I would say that before accepting immigrants or refugees we need to have more activities by women, by elderly people and we must raise (the) birth rate. There are many things that we should do before accepting immigrants,” Abe told a news conference, according to the official translation of his comments.
JK: Translation: Accepting immigrants is the last thing we should do.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Politics, Refugees, Tourism, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society, 日本語 | 17 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th September 2015
Yomiuri: Restrictions on tattooed customers at bathing facilities and resort swimming areas are being loosened around the country. A number of facilities allow people with tattoos to enter if the tattoos can be covered by stickers. This is aimed at treating foreign tourists, many of whom consider tattoos a fashion item, differently from gangsters, some of whom sport elaborate tattoos. With the Olympics and Paralympics scheduled for Tokyo in 2020, some facilities are calling for greater understanding of cultural differences.
COMMENT FROM JK: 1) Having a tattoo in Japan while being foreign AND not being a yakuza is an idea that is just now gaining traction?!
2) The (faulty) underlying assumption at work is that all yakuza have tattoos.
3) Despite the lack of a link to a Japanese translation, the idea being conveyed is that NJ with tattoos are outside of societal norms (read: betsuwaku), and so should not be treated as a yakuza since money can be made off them — this notion is beautifully illustrated by Mr. Toshiki Yamasaki who says, “The number of foreign tourists has increased, so I felt we needed to accept tattoos as a form of culture”. […]
COMMENT FROM DEBITO: During the Otaru Onsens Case, where “Japanese Only” bathhouses were excluding customers because they didn’t look “Japanese” enough, one issue that was raised was, “Well, what about tattoos, then?” — and then conflated the two issues to muddy the debate with relativity (not to mention conflate the treatment of “foreigners” with the treatment of organized crime in Japan). Debito.org has always seen tattoos as a different issue from skin color and other features determined from birth, as tattoos are something a person decides to put on themselves. That said, this sudden “change of heart” (dressed up as a “respect for” and “understanding of” foreign cultures) is ahistorical and purely motivated by economics — i.e., the need for Japan to put on a good show for international events without the embarrassment of having bigots continue to cloak their exclusionary behavior with the specter of potential criminal activity (and there has been at least one case where “respect for foreign culture” involving tattoos didn’t matter one whit).
I conclude: What’s at play here isn’t fair-mindedness. It’s merely the phenomenon of “not in front of the foreigners”, especially since pretty soon there will be millions of them watching Japan. I bet that once the Olympics pass, those open-minded rules will be rescinded and managers will revert to banning customers (particularly NJ) at whim all over again.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Exclusionism, Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Sport, Tourism | 8 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th May 2015
An interesting exercise in propaganda is Japan’s display at the Expo 2015, currently underway in Milano, Italy. It is a useful exercise to parse out the themes, memes, and dialectic within the display, as it is a good example of how Japan officially wants to be seen by the outside world. For example, chew on this word salad (the Exhibit Message) and digest the tropes:
Japan’s agriculture, which coexists with nature, cherishing all forms of life. Japan’s nutritionally balanced diet, as represented by the traditional menu of “one soup, three dishes” that is rich with diverse fermented foods and plant proteins. Japan’s cherished food culture, produced and nurtured by tradition and innovation. Building upon the spirit of mutual respect and appreciation of coexisting diversity, we will creatively address global issues to pioneer a bright future.
That’s amazingly easy to poke holes in, even before we get to calling Japan “diverse”. The government makes its case, and I perforate away in this blog entry. Opening:
Scene Ⅱ DIVERSITY
●The diversity and additional development of Japan’s agriculture, food, and food culture
There is a great variety of agriculture in the world, with diverse food to match. Similarly in Japan, unique agriculture, food and food cultures have been cultivated in the various regions according to weather and climate, with additional developments based on learning from the world. In this zone, visitors will fully realize the diversity of Japan and the world by taking in an overview of more than 1000 content items related to agriculture, food and food culture…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Food, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism, 日本語 | 12 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th April 2015
AFP: A top notch Michelin-starred sushi restaurant in Tokyo on Monday defended its special reservation rules for foreigners after a report in Japan it had refused to accept a booking from a Chinese customer. Sushi Mizutani, which has two of the coveted Michelin stars, told AFP it has an “across-the-board policy” of not accepting bookings by non-Japanese customers—unless they are made through a hotel concierge or a credit card company.
“Non-Japanese customers may not show up for their reservations,” a member of the staff at the restaurant said, adding employees do not have the foreign language proficiency to explain requirements to patrons. “We prepare fish for the number of expected customers and have to turn down other requests for booking sometimes. We simply cannot afford it if people don’t show up. “We don’t think it is anything discriminatory,” he said… No one from the Michelin Guide was available for comment.
COMMENT: Given the relativism and exceptionality that pervades the world’s treatment of Japan (giving it a free pass for some pretty egregious examples of racism), I would be rather surprised if Michelin took their stars away. Let’s wait and see.
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Food, Human Rights, Tourism | 28 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th March 2015
JT: Narita International Airport on Monday abolished ID checks for non-passengers at the airport in Chiba Prefecture. Since the airport opened in 1978, cars and buses have been stopped at various points, with occupants having to show ID such as passports, even if they weren’t departing on flights. Drivers were also required to get out and open the trunk of their cars. The ID checks at railway ticket gates have also been scrapped. […] A state-of-the-art camera surveillance system consisting of 330 individual cameras will be used with 190 of the units dedicated to facial recognition and related tasks, while the other 140 would be monitoring the exterior of the buildings and tracking license plate numbers, suspicious behavior and other relevant security information.
COMMENT: One of the larger issues that Debito.org has taken up, that of Instant Gaijin Card Checkpoints (as in, racial profiling) for people for walking in public while NJ, might be (overtly) coming to an end, at least in the place where new entrants (and their entourage) get their first taste of it: Narita International Airport.
We have discussed Narita Airport’s treatment of NJ customers in detail before. According to the article below, they are installing spy cameras instead of having the labor-intensive (and unnecessarily invasive, given that the Narita Prefectural Police Force stoppages that Debito.org has concentrated on were targeting NJ who had ALREADY cleared security screenings) face-to-face singling out of people for extra scrutiny in a not-at-all-random manner. One might counterargue that this is swapping Big Brother for Bigger Brother. But I will still say that not having a potentially temperamental local cop, trained to see NJ as suspicous, getting into a jet-lagged person’s face is an improvement. Let’s at least see if this will make Narita Airport behave less like a fortress, with cops manning the pikes against the international hordes.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Good News, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Tourism | 8 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th January 2015
JDG: Hello Dr. Debito, I wondered if you had chanced upon this article in the JT:
Now boastful Japan not really in tune with what visitors want, foreign expert warns | The Japan Times
It’s really interesting, since it was written about a guy who has no connection (AFAIK) to the debate about NJ human rights, and is not a scholar of Japan. However, he has independently reached a conclusion that you yourself have expressed several times on Debito.org; Japanese deciding amongst themselves what NJ want/need/have difficulty with, is a sign of cultural arrogance aimed at controlling NJ. I think this is important external reinforcement of your point of view. It shows that you are not alone and paranoid (as the apologists always try to portray you), but rather shows that in a totally different field of expertise, another observer has witnessed the same phenomena as you.
There are many interesting points that he raises, and I agree with him, but the main takeaway from the article is that the concept of ‘omotenashi’ is being used as a system of control over NJ in Japan (and we know how much the Japanese establishment believes that NJ need to be controlled), whilst at the same time serving a very racist nihonjinrongiron function of reassuring the Japanese themselves that they are unique and superior to NJ.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Government, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Tourism | 19 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th November 2014
DEBITO.ORG READER AM: Debito, I saw an internet banner ad on the asahi.com website that along with a cartoon figure, posed the question “gaikokujin no jinken mamotteru?” [Are you protecting the human rights of NJ?] I thought I must have been seeing things, but clicking through I landed on a Japan Ministry of Justice page offering advice on how to protect the rights of non-Japanese.
It seems that this is a campaign is part of Japan’s push to ready the country for the 2020 Olympics, addressing issues such as ryokan denying service to non Japanese. Definitely a nice change from the focus on hooliganism leading up to the World Cup in 2002.
DEBITO: I would agree. It’s much better to see Non-Japanese as people with rights than as rapacious and devious criminals who deserve no rights because, according to the Ministry of Justice’s own surveys, NJ aren’t as equally human as Japanese. And this is not the first antidiscrimination campaign by the Japanese Government, in the guise of the mostly-potemkin Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yougobu, or BOHR) nominally assigned to protect human rights in Japan (which, as Debito.org has pointed out before, have put out some pretty biased and insensitive campaigns specifically regarding NJ residents in Japan). And did I mention the Japanese Government in general has a habit of portraying important international issues in very biased ways if there’s ever a chance of NJ anywhere getting equal treatment or having any alleged power over Japanese people? It’s rarely a level playing field or a fair fight in Japan’s debate arenas or awareness campaigns.
So now that it’s 2014, and another influential Olympics looms, how does the BOHR do this time? (And I bother with this periodic evaluation because the Japanese Government DOES watch what we do here at Debito.org, and makes modifications after sufficient embarrassments…) I’ll take screen captures of the whole site, since they have a habit of disappearing after appearing here. Here’s the top page:
CONCLUSION: Again, much talk about NJ and their lives here with minimized involvement of the NJ themselves. As my friend noted, it’s better this than having NJ openly denigrated or treated as a social threat. However, having them being treated as visitors, or as animals that need pacifying through Wajin interlocutors, is not exactly what I’d call terribly progressive steps, or even good social science. But that’s what the BOHR, as I mentioned above, keeps doing year after year, and it keeps their line items funded and their underwhelming claims of progressive action to the United Nations window-dressed.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Sport, Tourism, United Nations, 日本語 | 4 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 23rd September 2014
Continuing our occasional series on “The Blame Game” (I’ve written about this before in the Japan Times), where embarrassing and inconvenient domestic problems are blamed on foreigners, here’s a report by a Japanese media source that Japan’s venerable symbolic Mt. Fuji is covered in human hiker crap.
Fine. I’ve hiked up many mountains, and I’m sure a hike up Fuji would challenge many an intestine. But then the article headlines that it might be due to the increase in foreign tourists (particularly Chinese and Koreans), parroting internet speculation. Not so fine. It does add “balance” by saying that others have said that Japanese also do it. But again, that’s not what the headline says, and you’d have to read further to get that. The story should in fact be that people are bashing foreigners, not that NJ pooping on Fuji might be happening.
Click bait is one thing, but the media practice of picking on foreigners because they are too weak in Japan’s media to respond against group defamation (as I discuss in my doctoral dissertation; more on that later, sorry) is another. Japan needs stronger anti-defamation leagues (we at Debito.org have tried; remember McDonald’s Japan’s “Mr. James” campaign?) to nip this sort of thing in the bud.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism, 日本語 | 25 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th August 2014
Joining the ranks of hundreds of other places nationwide that have “Japanese Only” rules in place is this capsule hotel called “Kapuseru In Ohmiya” in Miyamachi 5-3-1, Ohmiya-ku, Saitama, close to JR Omiya Station East Exit, phone 048-641-4122. Incidentally, and also in violation of Japan’s Hotel Management Law, it does not allow women to stay there either. Here’s a screen capture of their entry on Rakuten as of August 18, 2014, with all their contact details.
(Front door with directions there)
(Entire site with “No Foreigners” and “No Women” rules listed at very bottom)
Anyone want to give them a call, and/or to report them to the authorities? Here’s how…
UPDATE AUGUST 21, 2014: THEIR RAKUTEN ENTRY HAS REMOVED THE “JAPANESE ONLY” RULE, AMENDED IT TO A “BRING A JAPANESE SPEAKER IF YOU DON’T SPEAK JAPANESE, AS THE STAFF DOESN’T SPEAK FOREIGN LANGUAGES”. THE “MEN-ONLY” RULE REMAINS. RAKUTEN PAGE SCREEN CAPTURE BELOW:
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Bad Business Practices, Exclusionism, Good News, Tourism, 日本語 | 59 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd August 2014
KM: Hi Debito! Here’s another indication that the government cares more about short-term visitors than about the foreigners who actually live here:
Yomiuri: The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry will develop a system to show Japanese TV programs with subtitles in foreign languages, including English and Chinese, to provide a more comfortable viewing experience for foreign visitors, according to sources. In response to the increasing number of visitors from overseas, the envisaged system will be launched by 2020, the year in which the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will be held, the sources said. Behind the ministry’s decision were requests from foreign visitors for more foreign-language subtitles for domestic TV programs. The envisaged system will be offered for news programs related to visitors’ safety and security during their stay, as well as variety shows.
KM: I have a few thoughts about this:
1) It probably would be nice to have more programing with English subtitles (and subtitles in other languages) but I’m a bit surprised that such a huge adjustment to daily programing in Japan would be made on behalf of those visiting short-term for the olympics. Of course, it would be open to anyone but the article (and a similar article in Japanese) makes it sound like the olympics and the comments of short-term visitors are primary motivations for the change.
2) The article says that Japanese content will be “automatically translated by a system to produce the foreign-language subtitles.” Such subtitles might be intelligible for things like a weather forecast, but I can’t imagine them being of much use (except as something to laugh at — because of their poor quality) with variety programs.
3) Instead of making a major adjustment like this to satisfy the whims of short-term visitors, perhaps the money to make this change could be spent to improve the quality of disaster information and disaster warning systems for people who actually live here.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Sport, Tourism, 日本語 | 26 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th June 2014
Here is my latest publication, expanded this time from one chapter to two:
FODOR’S Japan 2014 Travel Guide
Two full chapters on tourism in Hokkaido and Tohoku
Pp. 707-810. ISBN 978-0-8041-4185-7.
Available from Amazon.com (for example) here.
Here are some excerpts. Get a copy, or advise your touring friends to get a copy!
Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Practical advice, Tourism | 2 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th June 2014
Any good organization wanting public approval (or in this case, approval from its geopolitical “friends”) does outreach. And this very professional online magazine issued yesterday from the Abe Administration, called “We are Tomodachi”, is worth an introduction to Debito.org Readers. It offers fascinating insights into what the PM Abe Administration is thinking (or trying to convince you it is thinking — something few branches of Japan’s governmental organs do in any convincing detail even for its citizens). As The Economist (London) recently noted, Abe is “Japan’s most purposeful prime minister for many years”, and herein many of Abe’s purposes are clearly argued in well-proofed English, albeit in all their stiff transparency. Here’s the Table of Contents: […]
Part travel guide, part geopolitical gaijin handling, part cultural screed (cue those shakuhachis!), “We Are Tomodachi” magazine is a great read to deconstruct how the Abe Administration is trying to march the Post-Bubble discourse on Japan back into the first-generation Postwar discourse. Ah, those were the days, when Japan’s elites had near-total control over Japan’s image in the world, and so few outsiders had any understanding (or or had experienced Japan in great depth) that they would ever be taken seriously by anyone who wasn’t a “real Japanese” (moreover, the handful of NJ who did know something could be co-opted as anointed cultural emissaries; they’re still trying to do it within this very magazine). No, since then millions of people have since experienced Japan beyond the GOJ boilerplate, have lived and invested their lives in Japan, and have learned the Japanese language. So the dialogue is not so easily controlled by the elites anymore. (PM Abe’s Gaijin Handlers: If you’re dropping in on Debito.org again, Yokoso and enjoy our Omotenashi!)
So, Gaijin Handlers, here’s a lesson on what to avoid next time: What irritates people like us who know better is your cultivated mysticism in elite conversations about anything cultural in Japan. Consider this example of bogus social science (depicted as a “secret”) from page 72:
“The Japanese have a reputation for being taciturn and hard to communicate with. Probably the most difficult part of Japanese communication for people from other countries is the way people here converse wordlessly. When people are standing silently at some natural attraction, they’re using their five senses to feel nature and commune with it. So if you notice some quiet Japanese in such a spot, you might try joining them in their silence, taking in everything around you with all your senses: light, wind, sky, clouds, sounds, smells. Because even when nobody is talking, there is plenty of communication going on in Japan.”
This is a juicy claim for deconstruction under a number of genres of social science. The biggest confusion you’re going to cause in NJ tourists and newbies will come when they confront the amount of noise at many a tourist trap (especially from those trying to “nigiyaka” the place up with their megaphoned music), and wonder how they’re supposed to use all their five senses like the mystical Japanese apparently do. Logically, this also means the purported J-silence around awkward conversations could be due to the inscrutably “shy” Japanese trying to take NJ in with all their five senses too (I wonder what happens when they get to “Smell”, “Touch”, or “Taste”?). What rubbishy analytical tools. And it’s one reason why so many people (Japanese and NJ) go nuts in Japan, because they’re constantly told one thing yet experience another.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Media, Tourism | 20 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th January 2014
Only a few days into the case of racialized advertisement from ANA, I got tapped by the Japan Times to cover it. Debito.org Readers and Facebook Friends certainly gave me plenty of food for thought, so thank you all very much. Here’s my more polished opinion on it, which stayed the number one article on the JT Online for two full days! What follows is the “Director’s Cut” with excised paragraphs and links to sources. Conclusion:
Look, Japan, if you want to host international events (such as an Olympics), or to have increased contact with the outside world, you’ll face increased international scrutiny of your attitudes under global standards. For one of Japan’s most international companies to reaffirm a narrative that Japanese must change their race to become more “global” is a horrible misstep. ANA showed a distinct disregard for their Non-Japanese customers—those who are “Western,” yes, but especially those who are “Asian.”
Only when Japan’s business leaders (and feudalistic advertisers) see NJ as a credible customer base they could lose due to inconsiderate behavior, there will be no change in marketing strategies. NJ should vote with their feet and not encourage this with passive silence, or by double-guessing the true intentions behind racially-grounded messages. This is a prime opportunity. Don’t let ANA off the hook on this. Otherwise the narrative of foreigner = “big-nosed blonde that can be made fun of” without turnabout, will ensure that Japan’s racialized commodification will be a perpetual game of “whack-a-mole.”
Posted in "Pinprick Protests", Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Education, Good News, Humor, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Racist Images in Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism | 35 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th January 2014
In an amazing bit of non-news completely devoid of historical context, some cub reporter at Kyodo reports that Tokyo bathhouses are taking steps to put up posters to explain Japanese bathing rules to foreigners!! To “ensure they behave” (those rapscallions!) and “avoid embarrassments” (such as being turned away at the door before they have the chance to display any deviant behavior?). Even though these types of posters have been up around Japanese bathing facilities for at least a decade (Introduction: Book JAPANESE ONLY) — thanks in part to the landmark Otaru Onsens Case (which was not even mentioned in the article as background information). Again, it’s not news. It’s in fact recycling news from 2010.
This is another reason that Japan’s obsession with hosting international events (such as the 2020 Tokyo Olympics) is kinda dumb — the domestic media has to reinforce the “Island Society” narrative by manufacturing yet another round of silly navel-gazing articles about how extraordinarily difficult it is for apparently insular Japan to cope with visitors from the outside world. At least this time the subjects are not hostilely treating all “foreigners” on sight as potential “hooligans” (World Cup 2002) or “terrorists” (2008 Hokkaido G8 Summit), or as the source of discomfort for hotel managers (such as in pre-Fukushima Fukushima Prefecture and other hotel surveys).
Plus these bathhouses are recognizing NJ as an economic force that might help them survive. As opposed to the even more stupid behavior by, for example, Yuransen Onsen in Wakkanai, which booted out foreigners (okay, consigned them to an unlawful unisex separate “Gaijin Bath” at six times the price) until it finally went bankrupt anyway due to lack of customers. Good. But again, Kyodo, do some research.
Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, G7/G8 Summits, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit, Practical advice, Tourism | 11 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th April 2013
JDG: “Saw this story on Japan Today (link): It’s a story about a poster campaign to advertise a TV show where NJ straight off the plane are asked why they came to Japan. In the poster, ‘talent(less)’ J-celebs, and a variety of caricatured NJ are proffering answers (‘maid’ cafes, lolitas, etc). I think that there are two ways of looking at this: The first is that they are proceeding from the false assumption that all NJ in Japan are visitors who must be here for some uniquely crazy ‘Japanese’ experience that they can’t get at home, and plays into the myth that there are no NJ long term residents who are here because of their jobs, or family connections. Whilst ignorant and not very helpful for understanding the wide variety of NJ identities, it is a common enough mistake for the Japanese to make.
“However, my second thought is that this poster is an inadvertent and unintended insight into a darker aspect of Japanese psychology on the NJ issue. What if we suppose that this poster is not the product of some ignoramus who genuinely knows nothing of NJ realities in Japan, and believes the myth totally? What if this poster simply reflects a more widespread and deep rooted opinion that NJ shouldn’t be living in Japan because they have families or business here? What if the poster is deliberately not offering reasons such as ‘I’m here because I’m on the board or directors of (insert J-company here)’, or ‘I’m here to get my children back’, or ‘I’m here with the IAEA to inspect your reactors’? These are exaggerations, of course, but the point that I am making is that this poster in itself is a tool of devision, disenfranchisement, exclusion, subjugation, and othering. All that, and created with a lack of self-awareness in the process? A frightening indicator of the extent to which discrimination is normalized in japanese society.”
COMMENT: I would concur in particular with the aspect of maintaining the dominant discourse in Japan of NJ as “guests”, i.e., “temporary visitors, not residents”, mixed in with the shades of “Cool Japan” that helps Japanese society revalidate and even fetishize itself through foreigners. But when you look back a bit historically, there’s more editorial subterfuge here…
Posted in Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, History, Immigration & Assimilation, Media, NJ voices ignored, discounted & discredited, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 41 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th September 2012
Kyodo: The transport ministry said Thursday it will start conducting random body searches on international passengers at 29 airports across the country in October to prevent explosives from slipping through metal detectors. At present, body searches are only performed on passengers who set off metal detectors before boarding, the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry [sic]. The ministry did not elaborate on how the body searches would be carried out or by whom.
COMMENT: Well, the ministry might well use the word “random”, but precedent dictates that enforcement of any policing operation in favor of “security” tends to see anyone who “looks foreign” as the security threat. Examples are Legion here on Debito.org, but see a few here, here, here, here, and here. My point is that we’re just making racial profiling, which is standard procedure in policing operations in Japan, ever more systematic and justified under formal policy. After all, without the “probable cause” of a metal detector alarm, the procedure has now become completely discretionary.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Tourism | 12 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th April 2012
I’m happy to announce that more than a year after writing my piece within (and what with major disasters in Japan naturally setting back the publication date), FODOR’S has just released their JAPAN Guide, 20th Edition (of which I got a copy yesterday, thanks!).
I was privileged to be allowed to write their Section on Hokkaido, so if you can’t get enough of my writing, get yourself a copy!
Scans of the cover, Table of Contents, and my opening essay on what’s so nice about Hokkaido are below. Enjoy!
Posted in Articles & Publications, Practical advice, Tangents, Tourism | 5 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th January 2012
In line with the current theme of the GOJ targeting NJ, here’s some idea of just how ignorant Japanese are of what happens to foreigners in Japan, e.g., Gaijin Card Checks. This is an excerpt of a variety show called “Manaberu News” (date unknown, sometime in 2010) discussing new laws to catch illegal aliens in Arizona (permanent carrying of ID and criminal penalties if caught not doing so) signed into law in April 2010, which critics have argued increases the probability of racial profiling and wanton detention of suspects. The show mentions the requirement for foreigners in Arizona to carry ID 24/7, and how they could be arrested for not doing so. We get gasps all around at how “kibishii” this is.
COMMENT: I find this amusing, less because the ditzy Japanese panelists don’t seem to realize that once outside of Japan THEY become foreigners, more because nobody there seems to realize (or, for the purposes of balance in this admittedly short segment, have it pointed out) that this practice of random search with criminal penalties is already standard procedure in Japan. NJ have been profiled this way for at least two generations now, regardless of whether or not they’re tourists!
No shock/horror here except for the ignorance. Most people I’ve ever talked to in Japan (save for bureaucrats and employers of NJ) even know that there’s a Gaijin Card system in existence for tracking and targeting foreigners, not to mention a separate regime for registering (or not registering, as in Juuminhyou) them.
Lack of public awareness of this issue is part of the problem, and it enables the Japanese police, as we have seen on Debito.org, to feel like they can take liberties with their law enforcement as soon as a foreigner is involved. “Do unto others…” should also entail that regular Japanese folk consider what might happen to them if THEY were foreigners (but as this show demonstrates, for many that is simply pin to konai).
Posted in Bad Social Science, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Tourism, 日本語 | 45 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th January 2012
Relating to the current Debito.org topics of racial profiling, searches, horrendous detentions, and even killings of NJ in Japanese airports, here is a harbinger of future policy: More of the same. In fact, according to the Mainichi, a “strengthened” more of the same — affecting 10% of all air passengers. All in the name of anti-terrorism. Sounds jolly. It’s still in the “mulling” stage (but it’s at the bureaucratic level, so no doubt it’ll be smoothly rubber-stamped into law by politicians loath to “touch the controls” when the “safety of wagakuni, the kokutai and kokumin” (i.e., not foreigners) is at stake.
Proponents claim these searches will be “random”. Yeah, sure. Just like they have been so far. After all, GOJ official policy has long been that foreigners are more likely to be terrorists. So, find the foreigner, and Bob’s your uncle, yuppers; it’s a short cut. Narita Airport, a pretty crappy and inconvenient airport to begin with, sounds like it’s becoming a real funhouse.
Mainichi: The transport ministry is considering strengthening antiterrorism measures at international airports in Japan from as early as April by conducting body searches on randomly selected passengers, airport sources said Sunday.
Departing passengers who do not pass screening at walk-through metal detectors are currently asked to go through a body search. With the new inspection procedure, about 10 percent of passengers will be randomly selected for a body search and baggage check, the sources said. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism expects the reinforced inspection procedures to act as a deterrent to terrorism, including acts involving explosives and weapons which metal detectors do not pick up, they said.
The new airport security practice is expected to be introduced at Narita airport and some other international airports, the sources said. The ministry and airlines are discussing whether the longer time needed for the security inspection would cause significant delays in plane boarding.
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Human Rights, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 17 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th December 2011
As the sands in the 2011 hourglass trickle away, here are a couple of posts to be filed away under Ironies. Today’s deals with how the GOJ sees “Tohoku disasters relief measures” — both in terms of funding foreign tourists and in funding ships killing whales.
Looks like one ministry is more prone to feeling public shame than the other, so, according to the announcements below, the suddenly “insensitive” proposal to give free plane tickets to foreign visitors to visit Japan has been cancelled. The Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries Ministry, however, is singularly shameless, so I doubt that will happen to whaling. Now, sooner or later, we’ll have to show sensitivity somehow to those afflicted by the Tohoku disasters. I wonder which ministry that falls under. Probably a lot of it under the former Construction Ministry arm of MLIT (Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism), which has a long history of being even more shameless in ripping off the Japanese public than MAFF. Once again, evidence of just how out of touch Japanese bureaucrats are with the public they purportedly serve. I guess the next disaster, sadly, will have to happen in Tokyo.
JNTO: This autumn there were many reports about the Japan Tourism Agency proposing to give away 10,000 free flights to Japan in 2012. After the proposal was reported, people from around the world sent messages to Japan National Tourism Organization saying they would like to participate in the programme to visit Japan and to help revitalize Japan’s tourism industry following the March 2011 earthquake. So it is with regret that the Japanese Government announced the budget for this proposal has been declined, so the flight give away will not be going ahead.
Thanks to the support of the international community, Japan is making vigorous progress towards reconstruction in the earthquake and tsunami affected northeast of Japan, but recovery from the earthquake continues to be a pressing issue.
“We realise that this announcement is going to disappoint thousands of people around the world, but we hope people will understand how insensitive it would appear for the Japanese Government to give people free flights to Japan when the cities, towns and villages devastated by the tsunami are still in desperate need of funding for reconstruction. We also would not want people thinking that the generous donations given from around the world to aide [sic] those affected by the disaster was being spent on giving people free flights,” said Kylie Clark, Head of PR & Marketing, Japan National Tourism Organization.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese Politics, Tangents, Tourism | 2 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th October 2011
In one of the more hare-brained schemes I’ve seen devised to stimulate Japan’s economy (it ranks among the bigger boondoggles spun together when you give a political elite too much power over public money, including the LDP’s public bribe/tax kickback coupon campaigns in 1999 and 2008, PM Obuchi’s creation of the 2000 yen note, and the many, many construction projects that take a generation or so to complete, examples here and here), we have the Tourism Agency bribing, excuse me, offering to pay the round-trip airfares of 10,000 NJ tourists to visit Japan — as long as they do a homework assignment presumably saying how nice a time they had here, and that the world should stop worrying and love Japan’s increasingly irradiated food chain.
It takes about ten seconds before the obvious begins to sink in: Shouldn’t this money be going instead towards helping Japanese who are suffering from these disasters?
Naw, that would be too selfish — (SARCASM ALERT!:) the whole country is suffering due to Fukushima, so everyone worldwide should realize that the troubles are confined to that one area and just come here and stay away from there.
Yeah, that’ll fix things! Hope they don’t get turned away from too many xenophobic Japanese hotels (the costs of which are not covered under the bribe, of course), or if they do, they have the ‘nads to mention to the GOJ in their homework that inviting them over here, without protecting their rights as consumers and humans, puts a damper on the feelings of hospitality. But I digress.
JT: The Japan Tourism Agency said Tuesday that 10,000 foreigners will be given free round-trip tickets to the country in the next fiscal year as part of a campaign to reverse the plunge in tourists since the March 11 disasters and amid a prohibitively high yen… The successful applicants will receive return air tickets but will have to pay for their accommodations and other expenses, said Shuichi Kameyama, head of the agency’s international tourism promotion division. The agency has requested ¥1.1 billion in the fiscal 2012 budget to cover the campaign, he said…
“First and foremost, we will need to show (the world) that Japan is a good place to visit,” Kameyama said.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tourism | 26 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th May 2011
AFP: Japanese business leaders launched a campaign Thursday to woo tourists back to Japan after the devastating earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster that sent foreigners fleeing the country.
“I would like to say: Japan is safe,” said Atsutoshi Nishida, the chairman of Toshiba, told a high-powered gathering of travel and tourism executives and officials from around the world.
Accepting the group’s invitation to host the next Global Travel and Tourism Summit in Tokyo in April 2012, Nishida said he hoped to welcome participants to a Japan at “full strength” by then.
International travel to and from Japan plunged after the 9.0 magnitude quake March 11 off Sendai, Japan that sent a tsunami surging through nuclear power complexes along the coast, magnifying a disaster that killed 15,000 people. While tourism represents only a small part of economy impacted, it is an important bellwether of confidence in Japan.
In the immediate aftermath of the quake, the number of tourists arriving in the country dropped by more than 50 percent, and leisure travel collapsed by 90 percent, according to the Japanese Tourism Agency…
Japanese officials said their campaign to bring back tourism will begin with education campaigns to dispell what they say are public misperceptions about the effects of the nuclear disaster. Only later will they proceed to ad campaigns and the like to get tourists to come back, they said…
Nishida contended it was misleading to put the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex on a par with the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, telling reporters the release of radiation in that meltdown “dwarfed” the amounts released in Japan.
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Tourism, Unsustainable Japanese Society | 28 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 9th April 2011
Check out this Asahi Shinbun editorial (Japanese, then English), which offers an assessment of the victimization of Japan by 3/11, and insinuates that NJ in Japan are deserting us in our time of need:
Asahi Shinbun column Mar 20, 2011: This past weekend, there were fewer foreigners than usual to be seen in Tokyo’s typically busy Ginza and Omotesando districts. Not just tourists from abroad scrambled to leave Japan, but also business travelers, students and reportedly even diplomats.
While I am deeply grateful to people around the world for their moral and material support, I understand too well that rebuilding our country is ultimately the task of none but the Japanese…
Let us all believe that, and let us stand by our fellow citizens who survived the catastrophe. We have nowhere to go back to, except this country of ours, which we must rebuild again out of the rubble.
Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Tourism, 日本語 | 35 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 17th January 2011
I’m busy working on my next Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column (out February 1, addressing concerns I have, and other naturalized Japanese citizens have, when other long-term and naturalized residents called themselves “foreigners” in the Japan Times December 28). So for today, a short entry, and it’s good news. Record numbers of tourists coming in last year and pumping money into our economy:
Kyodo: “The number of foreign nationals arriving in Japan last year rose 24.6% from a year earlier to a record-high 9,443,671 due to the economic recovery in Asia and the relaxation by Tokyo of visa regulations for Chinese tourists, government data shows.”
I may have had some cross words here in the past about how NJ tourists are being treated once they get here, but why speak ill of this development? Bring them in and show them a good time — everyone wins. Let’s just hope that people will see sense and not decide to exclude NJ from their business just because there’s nothing legally stopping them from doing so.
Posted in Good News, Tourism | 4 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th January 2011
Director’s Cut with excised text from published version and links to sources:
Top Five for 2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) RENHO BECOMES FIRST MULTIETHNIC CABINET MEMBER (June 8 )
4) P.M. KAN APOLOGIZES TO KOREA FOR 1910 ANNEXATION (August 10)
3) TOURIST VISAS EASED FOR CHINA (July 1)
2) NJ PR SUFFRAGE BILL GOES DOWN IN FLAMES (February 27)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Top Five for 2000-2010 (plus five honorable mentions):
5) THE OTARU ONSENS CASE (1999-2005)
4) ISHIHARA’S SANGOKUJIN RANT (April 9, 2000)
3) THE SECOND KOIZUMI CABINET (2003-2005)
2) THE POLICE CRACKDOWNS ON NJ (1999- present)
1) THE DROP IN THE REGISTERED NJ POPULATION IN 2009
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Education, Exclusionism, Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Hate Speech and Xenophobia, Human Rights, Immigration & Assimilation, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Japanese Politics, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Shoe on the Other Foot Dept., Sport, Tourism, United Nations, Unsustainable Japanese Society | No Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th December 2010
Kyodo: The Japan Student Services Organization said in its report that a record-high 141,774 foreigners are studying in Japan, up 9,054 from the year before, while the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology said the number of Japanese studying abroad totaled 66,833 in 2008, 8,323 less than the previous year.
The number of Japanese students studying abroad has been on the decline since peaking at 82,945 in 2004, while that of foreigners studying in Japan has been growing. In 2008, the number of foreign students in Japan was 123,829.
Education ministry officials said the current job recruitment process in Japan is apparently discouraging Japanese students from studying abroad for fear of missing out on opportunities to apply for jobs in a given period…
The number of foreign tourists visiting Japan from January to November hit a record high for the 11-month period, but the government’s annual target of attracting 10 million overseas visitors is unlikely to be achieved, a Japan National Tourism Organization survey showed Wednesday.
The number of foreign visitors during the reporting period surged 29.2 percent from the corresponding period last year to 7.963 million, according to the organization.
Achieving the government target of 10 million tourists would require an additional 2 million tourists in December. But considering that the largest number of visitors in a single month this year was the 878,582 recorded in July, it is highly unlikely the target will be met…
Still, it is almost certain the number of foreign visitors this year will surpass the record high 8.35 million marked in 2008.
Posted in Education, Japanese Government, Tourism | 2 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th November 2010
In line with yesterday’s theme of foreign crime (in this case, crimes perpetrated against the foreign), has anyone heard of this case of a questionable death (ruled by police as an accident) of an American in Shinjuku last August in the domestic media? If the reverse were true (a US tourist killing a Japanese), you bet we’d hear about it, and have all manner of people screaming about how tourists are now part of the alleged foreign crime wave we must protect Japanese from.
I hope I don’t have to make the argument again that there is a double standard of justice and attention depending on whether the perp or the victim is Japanese or not, like I did in the Japan Times March 2009.
Posted in Gaiatsu, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment, Tourism | 12 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th November 2010
I get letters like this on a daily basis (thanks everyone; can’t respond to all). This one dovetails with something Debito.org is increasingly focusing attention upon: Japan’s attempts to rebrand itself as a “cool tourist destination”. This is fine, of course, but if you’re going to make it easier for NJ tourists (such as Chinese or Subcontinental Indians) to visit, you better make sure that they have a good time while here. And I certainly see some room for improvement there.
I was waking up to NHK last Monday morning, and in line with their general cluelessness about how to treat NJ (such as acclaiming 30-sen discount coupons for exchange rates), this time they were surveying airport tourists about what they’d like to see done to make Japan more attractive. Some of the advice was decent (such as making clear on menus the contents of food, as in, what items are safe for vegetarians or diabetics). But others were of the “whiny” variety (as in, “In America, we have menus in English”; this in a land where menus are very conveniently visual indeed). Nice try, but if you’re trying to appeal to Asian-Region tourists, why not ask more Asian tourists what THEY want, NHK?
But one thing is of course being overlooked — how tourists and NJ in general are being targeted and harassed by police for instant passport checks. It starts at Narita Airport, where the Narita Police are essentially using gaijin for target practice. And as Debito.org Readers keep hearing here, it keeps happening once inside as well. Witness this letter below, redacted only in name.
Point is, if you want to make Japan a more attractive tourist destination, please heel your police dogs, GOJ. The NPA is spoiling the party with its racial profiling and treating NJ as suspicious. Being treated as a criminal can really spoil one’s vacation…
Posted in Fingerprinting, Targeting, Tracking NJ, Japanese Government, Tourism | 7 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th October 2010
As another move by the GOJ to stimulate our economy through tourism (first big move was the Chinese back in July), we have the easing of visa restrictions for subcontinental Indians too. Good idea.
Indian Express: Visiting Japan for business or holiday will be easier after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s official tour to the country starting Sunday. After negotiating for four years, the two countries are set to sign a memorandum that will provide longer duration visas to Indians.
The new visa deal will benefit businesspersons the most who —on receipt of a request letter from “a duly recognized company” or from chambers of commerce or industry or trade groups —will be eligible for a five-year multiple-entry visa instead of the current “short-term” 90-day visa. Their dependents will automatically be eligible for three-year multiple entry visas. These applicants will also be exempt from submitting a host of supporting documents.
Posted in Good News, Japanese Government, Tourism | No Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th October 2010
Related to my post last Saturday talking about how things were becoming cheaper in a deflationary Japanese economy:
Something came on NHK News this morning at 7AM that nearly induced reverse peristalsis on my corn flakes due to excessive laughter. Deep breath:
The exchange rate this morning was 81 yen and change to the dollar. The (well-grounded) complaint is that this is discouraging tourism to Japan and purchases from NJ tourists, due to things being make more expensive upon exchange.
So NHK was breathlessly reporting (live) from Narita Airport this morning how authorities had come up with a great wheeze to stimulate spending!
Ready for it?
“PREFERENTIAL RATE COUPONS!!”
Meaning that if you hold one of these coupons (they provided a graphic with a big-nosed (of course) gaijin clutching this precious slip of paper), you would get a discount on your exchange from dollars (or whatever) into yen.
And that preferential rate would be?
Ready for it?…
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Media, Tourism | 18 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th October 2010
I just finished a first draft of an update of the Hokkaido chapter in a famous travel guidebook (tell you more later after it hits the press), and thought I’d tell you what I noticed:
Japan is becoming surprisingly attractive for tourism. One thing I’ve seen when traveling overseas is just how surprisingly expensive things are — like, say, dining out. Inflation, Euro-currency-inflation, tips and service charges of ten to twenty percent, etc. have made eating in a sit-down restaurant a rather unattractive option (when traveling I usually self-cater, visiting overseas supermarkets where things are far cheaper).
In contrast, Japan’s currency sans inflation, a stable tax regime, and deflationary prices in many sectors have ultimately kept prices the same while they gradually rise overseas. After all these years of hearing about Japan as “the place where you goggle at hundred-dollar department store melons”, it’s finally reached a point where generally speaking, it’s now become cheaper in Japan. While travel costs seem about the same (if not slightly higher in some cases due to fuel-cost-appreciation), once you get here, you’re able to predict costs, stick to budgets, and pay comparatively less without hidden fees creeping in.
Then look at Hokkaido, which is becoming a bargain destination…
Posted in Discussions, Food, Tangents, Tourism | 19 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 7th July 2010
As you may know, Japan has no national civil or criminal legislation outlawing and punishing racial discrimination, meaning businesses with “Japanese only” signs aren’t doing anything illegal.
Problem is, I’m not sure it would matter if such a law existed.
To illustrate, consider one business sector that — technically — cannot exclude customers by race or nationality: hotels. … However, the Hotel Management Law is frequently ignored. Quick online searches (try Rakuten or Jalan) soon uncover hotels either outright refusing non-Japanese (NJ) lodgers, or, more circumspectly, those that say, “We don’t take reservations from NJ without addresses in Japan” (which is still unlawful).
Furthermore, when a government agency allows — even promotes — the systematic exclusion of NJ clients, we have a real problem with the rule of law in Japan.
Consider the curious case of the Fukushima Prefectural Tourist Association ( www.tif.ne.jp ). In September 2007, I was notified that their English site was offering member hotels two preset options for “acceptance of foreigners” and “admittance of foreigners” (whatever that difference may be). Of the 142 hotels then listed, 35 chose not to accept or admit NJ customers….
Let’s connect some dots: We have public policies working at cross-purposes. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism wants more NJ to visit and pump money into our economy, with Japan relaxing visa requirements for mainland Chinese tourists as of July 1. Yet the Ministry of Justice and other law enforcement agencies just want to keep policing NJ, and that includes deputizing hotels. This is why since 2005 they’ve been demanding hotels photocopy all NJ passports at check-in — again, unlawful (Zeit Gists, Mar. 8 and Oct. 18, 2005). Of course, this assumes that anyone pays attention to the laws at all.
Japan’s lack of legal support for hapless NJ tourists (not to mention residents) — who face unfettered exclusionism precisely where the HML says they shouldn’t — are thus finding local government bodies conspiring against them…
Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Japanese police/Foreign crime, Media, Tourism | 22 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 19th June 2010
The Asahi opines and whines: China tourists stingy in some areas
Japanese businesses and local governments that have gone all out to win over the throngs of Chinese tourists are finding that their guests can be a frugal bunch at times.
The Chinese tourists have shown a tendency to scrimp on accommodations and meals and bypass tourist attractions for the main purpose of their trips–buying electronic appliances and designer brand clothing and accessories.
In Fukuoka, where 66 cruise ships from China are scheduled to call port this year, city officials have estimated an economic windfall of 2.89 billion yen from the Chinese visitors.
But according to a travel agency official in the city, the cruise ships moor in Fukuoka for only about 10 hours, and most tourists are more interested in shopping than taking in the sights. The central government has eased visa requirements for individual tourists and increased promotion campaigns to lure more Chinese tourists to Japan. But experts say this may not be enough to spread the wealth.
COMMENT: Chinese spend too much of their time SHOPPING! Heavens to Murgatroyd! I think Japan’s media in this economic climate should be happy that rich Chinese are coming here to spend at all (and not staying on to trouble Japanese society through illegal overstays); they’re already being sequestered in some places. But no, we’ll get the grumbles that they’re not getting out enough anyway. What would be the perfect tourist in Japanese media eyes, I wonder?
Posted in Bad Business Practices, Cultural Issue, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism | 14 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th June 2010
Yomiuri: China has also replaced Australia as the main foreign player in tourism and investment in and around Niseko, a southwestern Hokkaido town recently popular among foreign visitors as a ski resort.
“Australia was once the chief player in tourism and investment here. Since the [global] financial crisis, however, there has been an increase in the number of Chinese companies [conducting such activities],” Tomokazu Aoki, a senior official of Niseko Promotion Board Co.’s secretariat, said.
Founded in 1897, Niseko’s Yamada Onsen Hotel is renowned as the first resort to be built in the area. However, sold to a Chinese corporation this year, the hotel will reportedly be rebuilt as a villa-style accomodation.
A relative newcomer, the Hanazono ski resort has also been acquired by a foreign buyer, a Hong Kong-based communications company.
All this means progress and the go-ahead for further resort development in Niseko.
In April, The Times, a British newspaper, carried an article that read: “Chinese visitors to Niseko used to take a simple view of apres-ski: head to the nearest izakaya and scoff as much Hokkaido crab as possible. Nowadays, after the last run of the day, they scramble for the nearest real estate agent…The Chinese who come to this resort generally have money, are hungry for luxury and find a Japan that, increasingly, is for sale at knockdown prices.”
A local real estate agent said, “Most villas here are priced between 50 million yen and 100 million yen. Few Japanese can purchase such property, but there are Chinese paying cash to buy them.”
The business-savvy Chinese view the resorts as moneymaking assets and rent the villas out to tourists except when they themselves wish to stay there. This can earn them annual profits equivalent to about 5 percent of the villas’ original purchase price.
It is a trend that is set to continue. Teikoku Databank Ltd. estimates more than 300 Japanese corporations are currently funded by Chinese capital. Honma Golf Co., a major golf equipment manufacturer, is one of the latest–it became a Chinese subsidiary this year.
Posted in Cultural Issue, Tangents, Tourism | 11 Comments »
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th April 2010
Japan has changed its approach to international tourism from “YOKOSO Japan” to “Japan. Endless Discovery”. Mutantfrog blog thinks its a step in the right direction. Less appraisable to me is Tokyo City’s new flash website welcoming tourism, with its cloying multilingual “Honey Anime” that makes everything just a little too clean-line. In sum, the campaign feels “terrarium in a fishbowl”, with little apparent knowhow of how to appeal to outsiders and what they want after a very expensive plane trip plus hotels (oooh, Tokyo’s got a ZOO!!). Like seeing the waxwork dish of lunch outside the restaurant, and coming in to see it’s not at all what it was advertised. But that’s only my impression. What do others think?
Posted in Cultural Issue, Discussions, Japanese Government, Media, Tourism | 11 Comments »