Dr. ARUDOU, Debito's Home Page

From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • (Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield HB 2015, PB 2016)

    Click on book cover for reviews, previews, and 30% discount direct from publisher. Available in hardcover, paperback, and Kindle eBook on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Archive for August, 2008

    Upcoming speeches Sept in Hamamatsu, Nagoya, Osaka, Nagano, Sendai and Iwate

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th August 2008

    Hi Blog.  Upcoming speeches, FYI.  Debito in transit Mon Sept 1, 7PM-9PM, Speech for JALT Hamamatsu, Shizuoka (CONFIRMED): Writeup: Hamamatsu- An evening with Debito. One of the leading human rights activists in Japan and co-author of the “Handbook for newcomers, migrants, and immigrants, to Japan” will present on various human rights issues relative to language […]

    Posted in Speech materials | 1 Comment »

    Japan Times: GOJ claims to UN that it has made “every conceivable” effort to eliminate racial discrim

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 30th August 2008

    Read and guffaw: “In a new report to the United Nations, the government outlines the situation of ethnic minorities and foreign residents in Japan, claiming it has made “every conceivable” effort over the past several years to eliminate racial discrimination.

    “The government has long held that Article 14 of the Constitution, which guarantees equality under the law, makes any antidiscrimination legislation superfluous, a point reiterated in the report.

    “Japan has taken every conceivable measure to fight against racial discrimination,” the report’s introduction says, later adding that apartheid is unknown in Japan.”

    COMMENT: Entitled “the third, fourth, fifth and sixth combined periodic report” [Japanese pdf, English pdf]–indicating just how late they’re filing a report that is actually due every two years. What bunkum. More on the GOJ’s relationship with the UN here. And more here about how the GOJ seeks input from human rights groups but not really (when they allowed right-wingers to shout down a meeting last year).

    Finally, just a point of logic: If the GOJ had taken “every conceivable measure” as it claims below, that would naturally include a law against racial discrimination, wouldn’t it? But no. And look what happens as a result…

    Posted in Human Rights, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Japanese Government, United Nations | 8 Comments »

    Japan Times: GOJ Panel begins process to rectify Ainu woes

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 29th August 2008

    The government panel on Ainu policies held its first meeting Monday, aiming to look into the lives and discrimination the indigenous group faces and come up with remedial action.

    The group, headed by Koji Sato, a professor emeritus of constitutional law at Kyoto University, will meet about once a month and submit proposals to the chief Cabinet secretary by next summer.

    “There needs to be broad public understanding and cooperation,” Sato said. “The most important starting point is to have the public accurately understand the history and grasp the situation of the Ainu.”

    The panel’s creation followed the Diet passage in June of a resolution to officially recognize for the first time the Ainu as an indigenous people.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Cultural Issue, Good News, Japanese Government | No Comments »

    2-Channel’s Nishimura again ducks responsibility for BBS’s excesses

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 28th August 2008

    Yet another interview with BBS 2-Channel’s Nishimura, where he claims that what goes on at 2-Channel is not his responsibility.

    Love the section below where he says, “Unless there is a court order, we will not delete any messages.” That’s a lie. He’s had a court order since January 2006 to delete the posts on me judged by a court to be libelous. More than two and a half years later, they’re still there…!

    I don’t think this guy realizes that sooner or later, there’s going to be legislation passed that will ultimately deprive the Internet of the privacy he allows his BBS to so wantonly abuse.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Injustice, Ironies & Hypocrisies, 2ちゃんねる, Lawsuits, Media | 4 Comments »

    LetsJapan Blog on new Saitama Pref stickers for NJ-friendly realtors

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 27th August 2008

    To make renting an apartment easier for non-Japanese, and deal with discrimination by apartment landlords and owners, one prefecture in Japan is sponsoring an effort to establish a database of “multicultural” real estate agents.

    The government of Saitama Prefecture began it’s effort in 2006. There are now 113 multicultural real estate agents registered.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Human Rights, Japanese Government | 13 Comments »

    Japan Times Community Page on upcoming movie on divorce and child abduction in Japan

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 26th August 2008

    Imagine the trauma of the mother being permanently denied visitation with her own children in this family court decision handed down by the Tokyo High Court. Being told to pray, watch and love “from the shadows.”…

    In January 2006, David Hearn, Matthew Antell and Sean Nichols began research on a documentary film that would dramatically affect their lives over the next few years.

    They had heard about high-profile cases of parental child abduction, such as the two children of Murray Wood being abducted from their home in Canada by their Japanese mother, but these filmmakers had not yet realized all the muck they would have to work through in order to gain a clearer understanding of what has increasingly become Japan’s own scarlet letter…

    Posted in Exclusionism, Human Rights, Injustice, Media | 3 Comments »

    Asahi Shinbun on how some NJ are assimilating by joining neighborhood associations

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 25th August 2008

    Three Indian nationals have been appointed to the board of the community association at the Ojima 6-chome public apartment complex in Tokyo’s Koto Ward, in a rare move among such buildings…

    The three joined the residents’ association after veteran board member Yorio Kuramata approached one of their compatriots in an attempt to open a dialogue with Indian residents during the same festival two years ago…

    Once they started talking, Kuramata taught Sankar about the roles played by the local community and its residents’ association in locals’ daily lives and emergencies. For instance, he learned that Japanese communities stock water and emergency foods to help each other in case of a major disaster, Sankar recalled.

    “It has made it easier for foreign households who do not have Japanese-speaking members to join community life,” Hemant said…

    Thanks to their activities, an unprecedented number of Indian participants joined activities at this year’s spring koinobori festival to hang carp-shaped pennants to pray for healthy growing children.

    Posted in Anti-discrimination templates/meetings, Good News, Immigration & Assimilation | 2 Comments »

    Excellent essay on Wikipedia on the origin of “Criticism” sections

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 24th August 2008

    Update on my previous blog entry. I have been proven wrong by the editors on Wikipedia — they have shown themselves to be conscientious and serious about the editing they do. One even took the trouble yesterday to write an essay about how Wikipedia articles on controversial subjects develop. It answered a lot of questions, so I’ll put it up here on for a wider audience.

    Posted in Good News, Media, Tangents | 1 Comment »

    My problems with Wikipedia: Its biased entry on “Arudou Debito”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 22nd August 2008

    In my most recent Japan Times column (JUST BE CAUSE August 5, 2008), I intimated that I feel rather negatively about Wikipedia (I call it “that online wall for intellectual graffiti artists”). As much as I don’t think I should touch how historians render my history, Wikipedia’s entry on me has been a source of consternation. Years of slanted depictions and glaring omissions by anonymous net “historians” are doing a public disservice — exacerbated as Wikipedia increasingly gains credibility and continuously remains the top or near-top site appearing in a search engine search.

    The issues I have with the “Arudou Debito” Wikipedia entry are, in sum:

    A “Criticism” section not found in the Wikipedia entries of other “controversial figures”, such as Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama — meaning there is overwhelming voice given to the critics and no voice given any supporters for balance.

    An avoidance of quoting primary source material just because it is archived on my website, — even though it is third-party material published by other authors.

    Omissions of books I published months and years ago.

    Other historical inaccuracies and misleading summaries of issues and cases.
    Privacy issues, such as mentioning my children by name, who are still minors and not public figures.

    “Criticism” sources overwhelmingly favoring one defunct website, which seems to be connected to the “editors” standing guard over this entry.

    Other information included that is irrelevant to developing this Wikipedia entry of me as a “teacher, author, and activist”, such as my divorce.


    Instead, where are the (positive) quotes from the people and published authors who actually have something verifiably meaningful to say about Japan and social issues, such as Donald Richie, Ivan Hall, Chalmers Johnson, John Lie, Jeff Kingston, Robert Whiting, Mark Schreiber, Eric Johnston, Terrie Lloyd, Bern Mulvey, Lee Soo Im, and Kamata Satoshi? Omitting them makes the Wikipedia entry sorely lacking in balance, accurate research, and respect for the facts of the case or the works of the person biographied. It comes off less as a record of my activities as a “teacher, author, and activist”, more as an archive of criticisms.

    For these reasons, I will put a “neutrality disputed” tag on the “Arudou Debito” Wiki entry and hope Wikipedia has the mechanisms to fix itself.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, History, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, Otaru Onsen Lawsuit | 26 Comments »

    Upcoming speeches in the Bay Area August 23-27

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th August 2008

    Got some speeches coming up this weekend and early next week in the California Bay Area (Albany CA, Mountain View, and UC Berkeley). Attend if you like.

    Posted in Speech materials | 1 Comment »

    Results of our third poll: Would you choose Japan as your permanent residence?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th August 2008

    [poll id=”4″ type=”result”]  COMMENT:  Completing the trilogy of “life in Japan” polls, our first talked how easy Japan is as a place to live; the second how easy a place Japan is to work.  Regarding living in Japan, a clear majority–62%–indicated Japan is an easy place.  However, asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited […]

    Posted in Blog Polls | No Comments »

    Japan Times readers respond to my “Once a ‘gaijin,’ always a ‘gaijin’?” JUST BE CAUSE Column

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 20th August 2008

    The Japan Times received a firestorm of letters regarding my last JUST BE CAUSE Column, and reprinted some of them in their most recent ZEIT GIST. On whether or not “Gaijin” is a racist word.

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Cultural Issue, Discussions | 50 Comments »

    Third Degree given NJ who wanted Post Office money order

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th August 2008

    Difficulties with changing money orders for NJ at the Post Office: “And, then when all finished, and I spent just under 10,000 yen for the $65 money order (recall that extra 2000 yen charge) and wasted over 90 minutes. Then came the question. That QUESTION . They asked me what the cash was for. I said it was for a watch.

    They then said to me: “Is it a North Korean watch?” (while making the cross sign meaning this would be illegal if it were). “WHAT !!” I screamed. I was FURIOUS! First, the person getting the MO was located in Texas, USA, as they checked the name and location on their money order perhaps over a thousand times. Second, the person’s name was “Johnson”, hardly a Korean name. And finally, even if the watch belonged to Kim Jong Ill himself, this is only for a damn $65 to purchase a friggin watch !!!!!”

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 21 Comments »

    IHT/NYT: As its work force ages, Japan needs and fears Chinese labor

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 18th August 2008

    NYT: “The foreign trainee system was established in the mid-1990s [sic], in theory to transfer technical expertise to young foreigners who would then apply the knowledge at home. After one year of training, the foreigners are allowed to work for two more years in their area of expertise. But the reality is that the foreign trainees — now numbering about 100,000 — have become a source of cheap labor. They are paid less than the local minimum wage during the first year, and little emphasis is placed on teaching them technical skills. Advocates for the foreign workers have reported abuses, unpaid wages and restrictions on their movements at many job sites. Nakamura, the Liberal Democratic politician, said the foreign trainee system was “shameful,” but added that if it were dismantled, businesses would not be able to find Japanese replacements.”

    Posted in Immigration & Assimilation, Labor issues | 6 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th August 2008


    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Newsletters | No Comments »

    Very good report on Japanese criminal justice system from British Channel 4

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 16th August 2008

    Here’s a very good report on the Japanese criminal justice system from Britain’s Channel Four. Courtesy of Gary.

    Posted in Human Rights, Injustice, Japanese police/Foreign crime | 1 Comment »

    Tangent: Letter to Gov. Schwarzenegger on eliminating UCSC English program

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 15th August 2008

    I’m on vacation, I know, but duty calls. My school has a tie-up with a (very good) English-language program here in Santa Cruz, California. And yet budget cuts are eliminating it. First an article that came out in the local newspaper, The Santa Cruz Sentinel (which, despite the reporting, sees a lot more than three jobs affected). Then my letter from the perspective of a participant to the people in charge, including the University of California Regents and California Governor Schwarzenegger. Then an article which appeared in the Santa Cruz Sentinel as a follow up.

    Posted in Education, Tangents | 2 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 14th August 2008


    Posted in Newsletters | No Comments »

    Japan Times on how divorce and child custody in Japan is not a fair fight

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th August 2008

    Michael Hassett: One year ago, The Japan Times (Zeit Gist, Aug. 7) printed some findings of mine that showed that there is a 21.1-percent likelihood that a man who marries a Japanese national will do the following: create at least one child with his spouse (85.2 percent probability), then divorce within the first 20 years of marriage (31 percent), and subsequently lose custody of any children (80 percent). And in a country such as Japan — one that has no visitation rights and neither statutes nor judicial precedents providing for joint custody — loss of custody often translates into complete loss of contact, depending on the desire of the mother.

    And if this figure is not startling enough, this year’s calculation using more current data would leave us with an even higher likelihood: 22 percent. Having this information, we must now ask a question that most of us would dread presenting to a friend in a fog of engagement glee: Is it the behavior of a wise man to pursue a course of action that has such a high probability of leaving your future children without any contact with their own father?

    Posted in Cultural Issue, Human Rights, Injustice | 7 Comments »

    Archive: 2006 Course on how to “slavedrive” your “gaijin” workers

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 12th August 2008

    Archiving 2006 Campaign against a company advertising English lessons for “Slavedriving your Gaijin” (sic!), i.e. how to stop “gaijin” employees from taking advantage of you linguistically, and how to squeeze the most out of them as an employer. Yow. Talk about increasing the divide between J and NJ!

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Bad Social Science, Education, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Labor issues, Problematic Foreign Treatment, 日本語 | 6 Comments »

    Results of our second poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to work?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 11th August 2008

    [poll id=”3″ type=”result”]  COMMENT:  As opposed to the previous poll, whether or not Japan is an easy place to live (a clear majority–62%–indicated it was), asking the question about Japan as a workplace elicited responses that were less clear.  Total 49% of 227 respondents leaned towards “difficult” or “very difficult”, whereas 31% leaned towards “easy” or […]

    Posted in Blog Polls | 2 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 10th August 2008


    Posted in Newsletters | 1 Comment »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th August 2008


    Posted in Newsletters | 2 Comments »

    From the archives: 2005: Economist on robotizing J health care, contrast with what’s happening nowadays

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 8th August 2008

    From the archives: Pap and pseudoscience from The Economist in December 2005, regarding why Japanese prefer robots over foreigners (excerpt):

    “Foreign pundits keep telling Japan to do itself a favour and make better use of cheap imported labour. But the consensus among Japanese is that visions of a future in which immigrant workers live harmoniously and unobtrusively in Japan are pure fancy. Making humanoid robots is clearly the simple and practical way to go.

    “Although they are at ease with robots, many Japanese are not as comfortable around other people. That is especially true of foreigners. Immigrants cannot be programmed as robots can. You never know when they will do something spontaneous, ask an awkward question, or use the wrong honorific in conversation. But, even leaving foreigners out of it, being Japanese, and having always to watch what you say and do around others, is no picnic.

    “What seems to set Japan apart from other countries is that few Japanese are all that worried about the effects that hordes of robots might have on its citizens. Nobody seems prepared to ask awkward questions about how it might turn out. If this bold social experiment produces lots of isolated people, there will of course be an outlet for their loneliness: they can confide in their robot pets and partners. Only in Japan could this be thought less risky than having a compassionate Filipina drop by for a chat.”

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Newsletters | 4 Comments »

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Column 6: The case for “Gaijin” as a racist word

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 6th August 2008

    Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE column arguing that “Gaijin” is a racist word:

    Thus gaijin is a caste. No matter how hard you try to acculturalize yourself, become literate and lingual, even make yourself legally inseparable from the putative “naikokujin” (whoever they are), you’re still “not one of us”…

    This must be acknowledged. Even though trying to get people to stop using gaijin overnight would be like swatting flies, people should know of its potential abuses. At least people should stop arguing that it’s the same as gaikokujin.

    For gaijin is essentially “n*gg*r”, and should be likewise obsolesced…

    Posted in Articles & Publications, Bad Social Science, Cultural Issue, Exclusionism, History, Media, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 33 Comments »

    First Waiwai, now Japan Times’ Tokyo Confidential now in Internet “Japan Image Police” sights

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 5th August 2008

    Here we have an article talking about how the sights are turning from the Mainichi Waiwai to the Japan Times “Tokyo Confidential” column–in the same spirit of making sure outsiders don’t “misunderstand” Japan (by reading potentially negative stuff already found in the domestic press). The Japanese language is only supposed to be for domestic consumption, after all, right? How dare non-natives translate the secret code? Anyway, it’s one more good reason why you don’t deal with anonymous Internet bullies–giving in to them only makes them stronger–and more hypocritical given press freedom and the freedom of speech they wallow in. Let’s hope the Japan Times has the guts to stand up to them.

    Posted in 2ちゃんねる, Media, 日本語 | 7 Comments »

    Heading to California tomorrow for a month: Blog updated less often

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd August 2008

    Hi Blog. Off to the California Bay Area for a month from tomorrow on business. Not sure what my Internet access will be like, and it’s summertime anyway, so let’s all take it easy. My next JUST BE CAUSE column comes on in the Japan Times on Tues, August 5, anyway. Topic: Making the case that “Gaijin” is a racist word.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments »

    GOJ announces J population rises. But excludes NJ residents from survey.

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd August 2008

    Here’s something quite odd. We have the GOJ saying that the population of Japan is rising (ii n ja nai?). Then they make it clear that the figures doesn’t include foreign residents. Now why would any government worth its salt decide to exclude taxpayers thusly? Aren’t registered foreign residents people too, part of a “population”?

    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, Problematic Foreign Treatment | 5 Comments »


    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 2nd August 2008




    Posted in Bad Social Science, Exclusionism, Immigration & Assimilation, Japanese Government, 日本語 | No Comments »

    Bankruptcy of a monopoly: Good riddance to Yohan foreign book distributor

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st August 2008

    Yohan (Nihon Yousho Hanbai), the monopolist distributors of foreign-language books, just went bankrupt. To quote Nelson Muntz: “Haa haa”.

    Yohan is essentially the Darth Vader of Japanese book distributors. I know from personal experience (trying to sell my books published by Akashi Shoten Inc., which refused to pay Yohan’s extortionate subscription rates or meet its restrictive conditions) that if you want to sell even Japanese books written in English, you either go through Yohan, or your books don’t get shelf space.

    Here we have a cartel masquerading as a company, with exclusive rights to sell cash cows like Harry Potter in English, overcharging us for books, controlling stores’ contents and shelf space, and keeping out rivals. And they STILL couldn’t stay in business! Good riddance to bad rubbish.

    Posted in Bad Business Practices, Good News, Handbook for Newcomers, Ironies & Hypocrisies, Media, 日本語 | 9 Comments »

    Results of our first poll: In your opinion, is Japan an easy place to live?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on 1st August 2008

    [poll id=”2″ type=”result”]  COMMENT:  Clearly, the majority (62%) felt that Japan was an easy or very easy place to live.  Well and good. Next poll:  Is Japan an easy place to WORK?  Vote early, vote often!  Debito

    Posted in Blog Polls | 6 Comments »

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