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  • “Japanese Only” hospital Keira Orthopaedic Surgery in Shintoku, Tokachi, Hokkaido. Alleged language barrier supersedes Hippocratic Oath for clinic, despite links to METI medical tourism

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 20th, 2012

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    Hello Blog.  As part of a long list of “Japanese Only” establishments, which started with bars and bathhouses and has since expanded to restaurants, stores, barber shops, internet cafes, hotels, apartments, and even schools denying NJ service, has now taken the next step — denying NJ medical treatment.  Read on.  Comment and confirmation from me follows.  Forwarding with permission.

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    December 17, 2012
    Re: Advice regarding discrimination at a hospital

    Dear Sir, My name is Hilary. I am originally from Canada and I’ve been employed by the Town of Shikaoi in Tokachi, Hokkaido as an Assistant Language Teacher for the past four years.

    Today, I was experiencing a problem with my foot; I thought I broke a toe over the weekend. I spoke with a Japanese Teacher of English with whom I work with and she offered to call a clinic in neighbouring Shintoku and accompany me to the clinic after school for treatment. She made the telephone call in Japanese and was advised of their location and hours of business and took down their information. Once we arrived there, she spoke with reception and a man (presumably a doctor) motioned to me, making the “batsu” gesture and said (in Japanese) that the clinic’s system doesn’t allow for the treatment of foreigners because of our inability to understand Japanese. I looked at my colleague for confirmation on what I heard and she looked completely dumbstruck.

    She turned to me and asked if I understood what they said. I said yes and repeated what the man said back to her in English. Her mouth just hung open and she said “I’ve never heard of such a policy”. The man leaned into my colleague and asked her if I understood Japanese, to which I replied, yes I do. He then said that he would check with the attending physician but doubted that I could receive treatment.

    As he went to talk with the attending physician, a receptionist said to my colleague that she (the receptionist) explained the clinic’s policy to my colleague over the phone. My colleague started to tear up as the man returned and said that I could not receive treatment from this clinic due to the reasons he already stated. At that time, the receptionist told the man that she did explain that to my colleague over the phone. My colleague asked the man what we should do and he gave us the telephone number of another hospital in a different town and advised us to go there. I gripped my colleague by the arm and simply said “let’s go”. As we walked out of the clinic, my colleague was very distraught and she said to me “they never told me that on the phone”. I said to her “of course they didn’t. The receptionist was lying”.

    We returned to our hometown and went to our local hospital. I received very good care from an English speaking doctor who told us not to worry about the other hospital. However, I was advised by an independent friend that you would be the best person to contact over such a situation.

    If needed, this is the clinic’s information:

    keiraseikeigeka

    Keira Orthopaedic Surgery (Seikei Geka Iin)
    けいら整形外科医院
    13 Jominami 5 Chome
    Shintoku, Kamikawa District
    Hokkaido Prefecture, Japan
    0156-69-5151

    If you could advise me as to what, if anything, I should do, I would appreciate that very much. Best regards, Hilary

    Hospital details (courtesy http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php)
    けいら整形外科医院
    院長 計良 基治
    診療科 整形外科
    病床数 無し
    所在地 〒081-0013 北海道上川郡新得町3条南5丁目
    電話 0156-69-5151
    FAX 0156-69-5152
    URL 無し
    診療時間
    月、金曜日:8時から12時、13時30分から18時30分
    火、水、土曜日:8時から12時
    休診日
    火、水、土曜日午後・木曜日・日曜日・祝祭日・年末年始

    /////////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  I called Keira Seikei Geika Iin first thing in the morning JST on December 18, 2012, and talked to a man who did not give his name.  He apologetically confirmed that his institution does not take foreigners.  The reason given was a language barrier, and that it might cause “inconvenience” (meiwaku).  When asked if this did not constitute discrimination, the answer given was a mere repeat of the meiwaku excuse and apology.  When asked about having an interpreter along to resolve any alleged language barrier, the answer became a mantra.  I thanked him for his time and that was the end of the conversation.

    Feel free to telephone them yourself if you wish further confirmation.  I think Hokkaido Shinbun should be notified.  For if even Japanese hospitals can get away with defying the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next?  I have said for at least a decade that unchecked discrimination leads to copycatting and expansion to other business sectors.  Now it’s hospitals.  What’s next?  Supermarkets?  And it’s not even the first time I’ve heard of this happening — click here to see the case of a NJ woman in child labor in 2006 being rejected by 5 hospitals seven times; it only made the news because it happened to pregnant Japanese women a year later.

    Postscript:  Hillary fortunately did not have a broken toe.  It was chilblains.  Wishing her a speedy recovery.  Arudou Debito

    Postpostscript:  The information site for this clinic has links to a METI-sponsored organization for international medical tourism, through a banner saying, “We support foreign patients who wish to receive medical treatments in Japan.”  Click here for more info.

    42 Responses to ““Japanese Only” hospital Keira Orthopaedic Surgery in Shintoku, Tokachi, Hokkaido. Alleged language barrier supersedes Hippocratic Oath for clinic, despite links to METI medical tourism”

    1. debito Says:

      I just notified my contacts at the Hokkaido Shinbun as per the following. Let’s hope they think this story is newsworthy. Debito

      (転送歓迎)
      北海道新聞の記者の皆様、こんにちは。お久しぶりです。1999年〜2005年の「外国人お断り小樽温泉訴訟」の原告ひとりの有道 出人です。いつもお世話になっております。

      さて、先日耳にしたことですが、十勝の鹿追にて4年間AETとして勤めているカナダ出身のヒラリ氏によると、新得町の「けいら整形外科医院」は外国人患者の治療をお断っているようです。彼女は日本人の友人を通訳者として連れていても、院長の計良氏に「日本語が分からない」を理由にして門前払いされました。事件は12月17日に起きました(ヒラリ氏からのお知らせは私のウエブサイトにあり (http://www.debito.org/?p=10915) 、英語が心配ならGoogle Translateをご利用下さい)。

      18日の朝一番に、私も当医院に電話してみました。中年の男性の方と相談し、その通り、外国人患者を一切お断りです。なぜなら、言葉が通じないという心配で、通訳者がいてもダメです。

      言うまでもないことですが、医者は病人を治療する義務があります。「ヒポクラテスの誓い」違反です。外国人はせめて医学のサービスをまらえないといけないのです。

      小樽温泉の事件の当時、私は「『外国人お断り』をここで歯止めをしないと、他所と他ビジネスセクターに蔓延する。次はどこにいく?店舗?レストラン?学校?スーパー?病院?」と推測しました。

      やがて、病院になりました。

      是非、ご取材下さい。連絡先は:

      http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php
      けいら整形外科医院
      院長 計良 基治
      診療科 整形外科
      病床数 無し
      所在地 〒081-0013 北海道上川郡新得町3条南5丁目
      電話 0156-69-5151
      FAX 0156-69-5152
      URL 無し
      診療時間
      月、金曜日:8時から12時、13時30分から18時30分
      火、水、土曜日:8時から12時
      休診日
      火、水、土曜日午後・木曜日・日曜日・祝祭日・年末年始

      宜しくお願いします。有道 出人

    2. Bitter Valley Says:

      That’s not only discrimination, it’s just plain shameful.
      A doctor refusing to treat someone because of a language barrier or because it’s meiwaku is mind boggling, whether or not a translator was there or not.
      It makes no difference.

      Can someone tell these morons that a doctor is supposed to treat patients regardless of their race, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or belief in the end of the world tomorrow. But that’s just being human, isn’t it?

      Or doesn’t Japan have an Hippocratic Oath?
      Is there any way to sue the clinic or get the doctor struck off.
      Or does the Japanese legal medical establishment not have the Hippocratic Oath?
      Is failure to follow Hippocratic Oath grounds for discipline in this country?
      If it is, surely it should be taken to someone in the medical hierarchy.
      Given that doctors look after their own everywhere, not optimistic about anything being done.
      But surely an official complaint should be registered?
      Or a lawsuit?

      Anyway, before any of that, shame, shame shame on the clinic, its quacks, and any apologists who surface.

    3. Bitter Valley Says:

      Irony oh irony: went to this quack clinic’s web page and there is a banner add below for “Medical Excellence Japan” saying “We support foreign patients who wish to receive medical treatments in Japan.”

      You could not make it up. I initially thought it was to ghetto gaijin, you know, make sure they go to their own clinics and so as not to be meiwaku to the Japanese. But a closer look tells me it’s to ghetto rich gaijin and take their money- to encourage medical tourism. They want your cash you make you better and then ship you back off to your home country!

      Here is the link in the banner add just below http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php

      The link:
      http://www.medical-excellence-japan.org/en/mej/index.html

      Message: Rich gaijin welcome, just so long as you go home after we got your money.

      – Well spotted. Yes, this organization is run by, of all people, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (page down to very bottom):
      https://www.medical-excellence-japan.org/jp/

      I have sent details on this transgression of their member status both to my journalist contacts and to MEJ. Let’s see what comes of it.

      =========================
      From the MEJ site:
      https://www.medical-excellence-japan.org/en/

      Medical Excellence JAPAN is here to Support You

      “Medical Excellence JAPAN (MEJ) was established in 2011 with the support of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

      “Should you wish to receive treatment or examination in Japan, our coordinator will first consult with medical institutions and, if necessary, with the MEJ consultant physician to decide what specifically can be done, and will then propose a customized plan together with a schedule and approximate cost. When preparing for your trip to Japan, we will support you in arranging visas (including attendants), accommodation, transport to and from airports, interpreting, and so on, as well as booking the initial examination. In Japan, we will of course provide interpreting during your examination and translation of post-treatment reports, and will respond to any requests you may have. After your return home, we will continue to respond to queries and give advice. To help you seek this advice in reassurance, we offer an email and telephone service in English, Chinese, and Russian.

      “In this way, we provide the services required in various situations before your trip, during your stay, and after your return home, to make your healthcare experience in Japan as satisfying as possible. Please do not hesitate to inquire. Medical Excellence JAPAN”
      ends

    4. Becky Says:

      Some time ago a visiting scholar atually died after being withheld treatment because the doctor didn’t want to deal with a non-Japanese (speaking) patient. The case caused quite a stir at the time. Sorry, I’ve searched online but I can’t find it. I do remember that it happened in Osaka in the late nineties, and the poor man in question was from Indonesia. He’d had a stroke or a heart attack, I think.

      – I’ll approve this comment in hopes that others might track this story down. If we can’t find it, however, I’ll have to take this comment down, as it’s unsubstantiated. Thanks for contributing it anyway.

    5. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I guess the irony of this incident is that the policy emotionally affects her colleague (Japanese) more than her (NJ). Let’s not be naive about the mindset of people on NJ. Not all people in this country are given substantial opportunity for learning human rights, and because of that, people in some areas(especially in rural areas) fall into a knee-jerk reaction toward individuals who physically and culturally look different from so called Wajin. There is nothing wrong with being ignorant about race and ethnicity at first time. What we really need to do is to teach these people it is their pre-conceived assumptions that matter most–not who their clients are–on affecting relational communication in any context.

      – Let’s hope that a few calls from reporters (if not somebody affiliated with METI) will offer Mr. Keira a quick lesson. This isn’t somebody raised by wolves. This is a medical doctor.

    6. Jim di Griz Says:

      This is the future of Japan. Open your eyes; ‘Gajin go home’ is the underlying message.

    7. Fight Back Says:

      I remember the visiting scholar who died in Osaka. That was a terrible to happen, again it shows that Osaka is one of the least hospitable cities to NJ in Japan.

      Kudos to Debito for moving on this so quickly. It’s great to see you in action!

      It makes it all the more despicable that while Debito is fighting for our rights, the apologist group run by Adrian Havill and Ken Y-N are on the stalker website discussing ways they can try to take over ownership of debito.org! This website is a beacon for NJ rights in Japan and it’s clear they want to shut it down, possibly with blessing from Donald Keene.

      And yet Debito is still right here, getting things done. And for that I tip my hat to you, sir.

    8. Welp Says:

      “If even Japanese hospitals defy the Hippocratic Oath to treat their fellow human beings, what’s next?”
      Easy mistake: thinking Japanese view foreigners as full human beings. If the Supreme Court of Japan can reason that foreigners and Japanese don’t share the same human rights, then that basically implies that foreigners are not “as human” as Japanese, just by definition.

      Surprised? No. Disappointed? Very.

    9. Doug Says:

      Debito-san

      This is a very good post and it is information like this that keeps me reading your blog. This is a terrible incident that needs to be called out. I do not think it is near the majority feeling of doctors in Japan. However what this clinic did was truly sickening.

      I think that some type of lawsuit should be filed against this facility. Not to belittle your Otaru Onsen case, I believe that this is a much bigger deal than the Onsen case as it involves medical treatment and discrimination. However this is up to the Hilary as I know this would take time and effort to bring forth such a suit. If she did wish to do so I would be willing to contribute financially to the cause as I find this disgusting and it could effect any of us foreigners in Japan, regardless of whether we read this blog or the other.

      Fight Back – I do not believe for a moment that folks on the other site (japologism) would for a moment think this is OK or try to defend it. I also do not believe that most people there are “trying to take over debito.org”, however I am sure some on the other site would like to do so (as I believe there are readers of this blog that would like to “shut down the opposition”).

      I still wish you would not have posted the essay by the “concerned citizens” as it is full of unproven inuendo and in my opinion detracts from a truly valuable post such as this one.

      (It has provided me with a bit of entertainment value however….from “both sides”)…shame there is “2 sides” as it prevents the foreign online community (an extreme minority of foreigners in Japan albeit) from uniting against a very obvious injustice like this.

      Anyway this is an excellent post and it is unlikely I would ever have heard about this if it was not for this website. Thanks.

      Cheers

      – Thanks. But a quick point: I doubt the ACS post had any effect whatsoever regarding polarizing the “foreign online community” against “uniting against a very obvious injustice like this”. Even during the Otaru Onsens Case, when Japanese children were being refused entry to a public house of cleanliness, we had much of the “foreign online community” (such as it was; it’s much more sophisticated in style now) refusing to unite against a very obvious injustice like that or be in any way supportive of the victims. (Source: Book JAPANESE ONLY)

      The “2 sides” you speak of is a simple matter of NJ internalizing the whole trope of the “nail sticking out” and accepting their fate of being forever disenfranchised (or fighting each other for whatever crumbs fell from the table). Or not. There’s where the polarization lies. It is not being created by the NJ agitating for more rights or for freedom from bullying, IMHO.

    10. Doug Says:

      Debito-san – Thanks for your reply…you are right as the ACS post preceeded this one so it has not yet had an effect (and may not).

      However I do not think the ACS post was helpful. We disagree on leaving the ACS post up, but it is your blog. I also appreciate your feedback and opinion rather than attacking me for disagreeing.

      All things aside, thanks again for putting up this one as I think this clinic is really over the top. I would sure hate to pull into a clinic somewhere with something worse and have the same reaction. It is really amazing this would happen in a 21st century developed country!

      Also Fight Back (or anyone) having more information about the visiting scholar I would be interested in hearing about it.

      – Sorry, another point of order: :) I don’t “attack people for disagreeing”. (You of all people should know that I’ve defended your right to express unpopular or disagreeable opinions in the past here on Debito.org — remember March 2011?) What I do instead is offer sharp critique in return for nasty, ill-informed, disingenuous, or willfully ignorant commentary (which you for one don’t do). I give back as good as I get.

    11. john k Says:

      What would have happened if she turned up “comatosed” (or just sleeping :) )..unable to respond/speak?
      Aahh…her eyes are not almond shaped…her hair is not black…her skin is not yellow…ergo..she must be a foreigner…thus, no treatment??

      Shocking..

    12. john k Says:

      One assumes the Doctor is member of the Japanese Medical Association?

      If so their Ethics states:
      http://www.med.or.jp/english/about_JMA/principles.html

      Item 5.
      “5.The physician should respect the spirit of public service that characterizes health care, contribute to the development of society while abiding by legal standards and establishing legal order…”

      Failed here matey!

    13. Survivor Says:

      This is just sick. If the facts are as reported this is definitely not acceptable.

      Just a couple of thoughts for Hilary:

      1) Call the government office local to the hospital, that’d be the Shintoku-cho yakuba, and report the incident to them. Not sure that they can do much, but they can, and probably will, call the hospital and ask what’s up, and then get back to you with some kind of response. Just one more clue to the hospital that they might be in trouble.

      2) I assume that since you have been working in Hokkaido for four years you have Japanese heath insurance. That ought to be a factor as well. Contact the insurance section in your own local government office (or wherever it was issued) and report the incident there as well. They’ll probably also attempt to follow up.

      The more the merrier. Hit ‘em from every possible angle.

      I sincerely hope that at least a proper apology and a promise that it won’t happen again is forthcoming (in writing, of course), although they’ll probably make every excuse in the book and then some to avoid admitting to any wrongdoing. But this is just over-the-top unacceptable and the hospital needs to be raked over the coals for it, hopefully with penalties.

      I’ll be keeping an eye on this one.

    14. Becky Says:

      Re: the visiting professor from Indonesia who died in Osaka after being refused medical treatment. I have searched and searched online for an overview of this case, and I simply cannot find it! (I am stymied by the fact that I can’t read Japanese.) It’s as if it’s disappeared into thin air, or as if it never happened in the first place. Is my mind playing tricks on me?

      Here’s what I remember: around 1997 or thereabouts, a visiting scholar in his fifties at Minpaku – the National Musuem of Ethnology – presented with serious symptoms of a stroke or heart attack or something. He was taken to a hospital accompanied by a colleague, a Korean (female) professor who spoke Japanese. He was refused treatment by a doctor who didn’t want to deal with a non-Japanese-speaking person. He died as a direct result of this lack of treatment. Surely I’m not imagining the whole thing?

      I am greatly encouraged by the fact that Fight Back remembers the case, and I’m sure there are others who do too, because it received widespread coverage in the English-language newspapers at the time, possibly less so in the Japanese media.

      I remember mentioning it to a few Europe-based friends, and they were shocked, because, according to them, in their countries the onus of communication is on the doctor rather than the patient.

      Can anybody help me by doing a Japanese language search? Otherwise, I’m seriously beginning to doubt my sanity! Now I finally understand how some of you must have felt in Japan. I’m sorry.

    15. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Debito

      ‘What’s next? Supermarkets?’

      Maybe not supermarkets, but I was thinking more along the lines of private health insurance/life assurance for those of us with families. Something invisible, but important.

    16. Andrew Says:

      I don’t understand the reactionary tone of the comments on this website. While fighting discrimination is commendable, why are the reactions here so extreme? I’m talking about comments like this:

      “Easy mistake: thinking Japanese view foreigners as full human beings. If the Supreme Court of Japan can reason that foreigners and Japanese don’t share the same human rights, then that basically implies that foreigners are not “as human” as Japanese, just by definition.”

      There isn’t a country on Earth that I know of in which foreigners have the same rights as citizens. This is inherent in the notion of a social contract. But I know of know of no court decision or behavior in modern Japan which suggests a belief that non-Japanese are “less human.”

      More broadly, why does the existence of a few bad actors get extended to a mass condemnation of an entire society? I’ve spent plenty of time in Japan as a non-asian foreigner, and, despite knowing almost no Japanese beyond the very basic, I have had no trouble getting treated by doctors when need be, including one ER visit (where I was seen to much more quickly than I would have been in the US). I have never been denied service in a restaurant or a hotel, even in very rural, remote areas. I was never told I could not enter a museum or a temple. In a full year of cumulative experience throughout Japan, I have yet to have a single experience which would suggest to me widespread cultural xenophobia.

      I think discrimination is a world-world problem and should be fought where it occurs. And surely incidents like this should be objected to. But aren’t these reactions a bit extreme?

      – Sure. But arguing “It hasn’t happened to me therefore…” (in the face of direct evidence of it happening to others — and in enough cases to convince some that it is systematic) is not going to convince them to amend or temper their views. Try again.

      PS: “I know of no court decision or behavior in modern Japan which suggests a belief that non-Japanese are ‘less human.'” Supreme Court in 2008 ruling demonstrates that citizenship is required for human rights in Japan: “In light of the fact that obtaining nationality is essential in order for basic human rights to be guaranteed in Japan, the disadvantage created by such discriminatory treatment cannot easily be overlooked,” the justices stated in the court decision. Ergo the concept of human rights in Japan is not seen a matter of simply “being human” as far as the highest court in the Japanese judiciary goes.

    17. dude Says:

      Great topic Debito.

      I think efforts to bring this incident/issue tho the attention of Japanese authorities are wasted, as they just don’t care. Let them find out (and be embarrassed) by watching it on CNN, or other foreign media. I think the teacher/translator with Hilary was shocked, and can only hope that most Japanese people would be disgusted to learn of this kind of behavior. I would really enjoy seeing something like this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anti-jp.jpg, which I believe is the only way that Japanese people are going to become emotionally invested enough to demand proper treatment of NJ in Japan (if we do it to them in Japan, they will do it to us overseas).

      That said, I seriously doubt that any foreign media would publish this story. I would love to see this kind of behavior in japan exposed.
      Maybe we need to do what Japan & China have done for decades, and enlist racist organizations as a vehicle to spread this information? (I don’t see this move being popular among Debito.org readers).

      – No, I’m not a fan of that. I think that racism blowback just gets exploited by Japanese xenophobes, feeds back into the victim mentality, and is used to justify the purported “normality of racism worldwide”. (I first experienced those counterarguments during debates covered in book JAPANESE ONLY — cf. pg. 72: “I went overseas and was seated by the toilet in an American restaurant, which is discrimination. So as a recipient of discriminatory behavior myself I can’t protest it when it happens in Japan.”). So you see, cause and effect get confused, not “If we do it to them in Japan, they will do it to us overseas”, but “Everyone’s doing it [to us, or just in general], so we’re justified in doing it too.” Thus, it’s a very difficult thing to tease out any degree of critical self-reflection in terms of racism in Japan, and I believe it’s in part due to what I talked about in my last JT column: The reflex is to always “like” Japan (conversely dislike those who “dislike” Japan) and see Japan in a good light.

      I think the ultimate conclusion of this case, as it has for so many other cases I’ve seen, will be Dr. Keira being singled out as a crank, sequestered to “mura hachibu” status, and then ignored by his community for a stretch (awaiting a kind of “misogi” for his misdeeds). That’s fine, but the “that’s just him” mentality leaves the system intact without reform, so that when this sort of thing happens again somewhere else, victims and protesters have to start from zero all over again.

    18. Welp Says:

      As with most things here I doubt much will honestly change without another bout of heavy and prolonged gaiatsu. We had a good thing going with all the foreign coverage of the Hague conventions but once that dried up so did any indications by the Japanese government that they would consider implementing it. I don’t see why (medical, or really any form of) discrimination will be any different.

      It’s either that or get them to do a find and replace on “国民” in the constitution. Both are equally likely within our lifetimes, in my opinion.

    19. Norik Says:

      Dear Hillary, what terrible, heartbreaking experience have you had! To sustain injury, in foreign country, and especially in freezing Hokkaido, and to be refused treatment in the most asshole-ish way possible.
      I’m moving to another town right now,but if you give me some time (the first week of the next year is best), I’ll take some time and translate your story, and send it to the Ministry of Health, and to the Japanese Orthopaedic Association.Or maybe it would be even better if I just send you the text, and you send it yourself, adding the name of your colleague, who was present there, so that when either the Ministry, or theAssociation decide to investigate the matter, they could verify your story.
      Anyway, I can assure you, that for all 10 years I’ve been living in Japan, I haven’t been refused treatment, the doctors have been friendly and most of the time competent(although I’ve run into pumpkins too). Merry Christmas and get well soon!

    20. debito Says:

      Debito here. Hilary writes in with an update:

      =====================
      December 21, 2012
      Hello! Thank you so much for your continuing advice. Hokkaido Shinbun is going to interview me about the matter next week.

      Today, Hokkaido Shinbun called my Board of Education asking to speak with me. I hadn’t had the chance to tell the BOE what happened so they were obviously confused about the phone call. When I came in today (for the first time this week), I told the BOE about what happened. I showed them our emails and the blog post you made on your site and the Japanese letter you sent to Hokkaido Shinbun and gradually they understood what happened. My Kacho-san also called the colleague who accompanied me to the hospital to hear the story from her. Afterwards, he repeated it back to me and our office translator and completely understood what happened. He apologized for that hospital’s actions and I told him that I know that the hospital’s thoughts about foreigners don’t reflect Shikaoi’s opinion, as I’ve never had this kind of experience in Shikaoi.

      The interview will take place at my Board of Education with our office translator as the language of the interview might be a bit too difficult for me, as I only have the JLPT N3.

      I’m not JET actually, I’m a sister city hire, so I’m not sure if CLAIR would care so much but I can try!

      Thank you again and I’ll keep you informed. Best regards, Hilary
      ends

    21. Jim di Griz Says:

      Well done Hilary!

    22. Anonymous Says:

      Dear Hilary,

      I know someone who works at a medical school, and since he is surrounded by doctors, he was alerted to this case.

      He says: if your description is accurate (and he sees no reason to believe it is not) it IS a clear legal violation of the Medical Practices law. One doctor he spoke to said a case like this would be close to a slam dunk in court. But, threatening litigation may not be the most effective agent of change at this stage.

      What is? Well, just the down the hall from him is a high-ranking member of the Medical Ethics committee. A strong reprimand from this committee, and another from the national association of whatever speciality this clinic/doctor is associated with, would have a huge impact.

      He says that, if you would like him to Hilary, he can check if such a case comes under this nearby professor’s jurisdiction – and if not, he can find out whose jurisdiction it comes under.

      Please let us know if you would like him to help as described above.

    23. Kerusso Says:

      Hokkaido Shimbun is not so popular in the Tokachi area, I heard. Rather they have the Tokachi Mainichi Shimbun to serve their needs. I wonder if it’s worth contacting this local Tokachi newspaper with the story…

      – The Hokkaido Shinbun has a virtual stranglehold over print media in Hokkaido, last I heard. But thanks for the tip. Will do.

    24. Bignose Says:

      What Anonymous Says is just fine as far as it goes, but it’s stupid to think that’s the way to go if you have any aspirations to really solve this issue.

      It’s only a step. A great step in as far as it goes.
      But this is inevitably a pinprick protest without clear legislation to outlaw such disgraceful and unethical (and lazy and childish IMO) behavior.

      This is not a case of malpractice.

      It’s goddamn outright discrimination.

      As you would say. “There ought to be a law against this sort of thing.”

      But there ain’t no such animal in good old Nippon, the last time I checked.

      There needs to be a law to make this sort of garbage toxic and illegal and deal with it, rather than relying on a bunch of doctors to police their own…

      Just my two cents worth….

    25. Inflames Says:

      I believe this contains information about the Indonesian person mentioned.

      http://amda-imic.com/modules/NewsLetter/index.php?content_id=170

      – Thanks for this. Note that the names of both the victim and the hospital are omitted. That’s one reason why this system won’t improve — no responsibility within the historical record.

      ===========================
      NEWSLETTER 案内 > NO.31 ある外国人学者の死
      ある外国人学者の死

       昨年1月の3連休のはじめに、大阪にある国立民族学博物館のインドネシア人客員研究員が、呼吸困難の発作等体の不調を訴えて、いくつかの病院に行きました。しかし、検査では異常が認められず、息苦しさのため入院を希望しましたが、本人が言うほど重症でもないし、コミュニケーションもとれないので入院受け入れはできないと言われました。連休中でもあり、詳しい検査も休み明けにということになり、帰宅しました。しかし、その後も嘔吐と息苦しさが続き、翌日の夜、自宅で意識不明で倒れて救急車で近くの大学病院に運ばれ、その2日後に脳幹こうそくによる急性腎不全で死亡しました。

       当ケースについて、いくつか問題点が考えられます。まず、休日中であり、病院が通常の診療日と同じ体制で臨めなかったということです。この方の病状に対して、担当医師が患者サイドから見て適切な判断を下せなかった、詳しい検査をすることができなかった、病院のスタッフの数が足りなかった等です。少なくとも救急指定の病院であるなら、患者に対してちゃんと対応できるはずと思いたいですが、日本の救急医療体制にまだ不十分な点があるのでしょうか。

       そして言葉の問題。入院を断られた理由のひとつに、「入院中のケアをするものが患者とコミュニケーションをとれないから」ということがありました。確かに言葉の問題は大きいのですが、救急のケースでは入院を拒む理由にすることはできないでしょう。もし、言葉の問題で入院させられないなら、どの病院に行けばよいかを指示すべきだと思われます。診察そのものに関しては、この方が滞在していた宿舎にいる、日本語の堪能なインドネシア人の大学講師が付き添ったので、本人の症状や希望はしっかり医師に伝わっていたはずです。また、この方はインドネシア語しか話せないというのではなく、英語、フランス語、ドイツ語を話すことができました。診察を受けた病院で、入院の受け入れができないなら、英語が通じる別の病院を紹介してほしいと頼んだらしいのですが、それもわからないと言われたそうです。

       次に考えられるのは、医師がしっかり患者の話に耳を傾けようとしたかということです。この患者さんは、息苦しいまま自宅で過ごすことに不安を感じて、何度も入院したいと訴えました。しかし、大丈夫、風邪だろうと言うばかりで、患者が苦しくて暴れたのに対しても、精神的ストレスが原因ととり精神安定剤をだした病院もありました。医師が、患者の訴えをじっくり聞く姿勢で臨まないと、元来コミュニケーションのとりにくい外国人患者が、不安と不信感を一層強く感じるようになるのも想像に難くありません。このケースについては、結局、呼吸困難などの症状と死亡との因果関係は明らかになりませんでした。もっと適切な医学的処置はできなかったのかという疑問に答えることは、今となっては難しいことです。ただ、この研究員の奥さんや、患者を病院に連れていった友人たちが、医師の対応に強い不信と不満を抱いたことは確かです。

       この方の死は、新聞やテレビ等のマスメディアで取り上げられました。報道後の反響から、同じことが自分の身に起こるかもしれないと感じた外国人が少なからずいたようです。また、この研究員が住んでいた宿舎にいる民族学博物館や大阪外国語大学の外国人教官たちは、急に病気になってもすぐに対応できるようにと、話し合いの場をもったり、勉強会を開いたりしたと聞いています。私たちも、このケースに接して、誰がどんなときに病気になっても、安心して診療を受けられる環境を整備していかねばならないと改めて思いました。それは、AMDA国際医療情報センターの設立の趣旨のひとつでもあるわけですし、このケースについて、休日でなければ私たちにできたことがあったのではないかと残念に思います。しかし民間のボランティア団体が、年中無休24時間体制で活動することは難しく、できることに限界があります。医療機関、行政、そしてわれわれのような民間の支援団体が連携しあって、状況を改善するために取り組んでいく必要性を感じています。(センター関西事務局Y)
      ENDS

    26. Anonymous Says:

      Mike Guest says what the doctor is doing is illegal.

      Nobody can claim that the victim was a rowdy drunk.

      Nobody can claim the old language barrier excuse.

      So, we have illegal racial (RACIAL) refusal of entry.

      Now, if someone did something illegal to you, would you go ask your boss,

      “Umm, boss, somebody did something illegal to me, I just want to leave it up to you, is it OK if I do my best to prosecute the 加害者 to the fullest extent of the law?”

      “What’s that boss? You don’t want your city’s name to be tarnished with this scandal? You would prefer to keep this quiet? You don’t want me be like the Olympus CEO who blew the whistle on the illegalities, call the media, and have the 加害者 arrested?”

      “Really boss? You prefer I leave the decision about how to proceed up to you, even though this has nothing to do with you, and even though you are obviously going to be motivated highly to keep this whole thing quiet?”

      “Are you sure that’s what is best here for me and for other victims? So I should simply allow you to have a quiet back-room talk with the 加害者, and the 加害者 will promise to be a good boy from now on, and the 加害者 doesn’t have to pay any penalty, and the 加害者 doesn’t have to serve time in prison?”

      “Boss, it sounds to me like you are prioritizing your city’s reputation more highly than following the law. Mike Guest, a rational neutral man, has admitted that this is illegal. Are secret back-room talks and LACK OF PROSECUTION the way you think society should treat law-breakers?”

      “If I were to commit a crime, I would be arrested and imprisoned. Why does 加害者 get a free-pass, is it because he is old? Is it because he is a Japanese Citizen and I am not a Japanese Citizen? Is it because you value harmony more than truth? Is it because you think his crime has a good excuse?”

      “Would you really allow me to continue to teach if I refused to teach Japanese students? Would you allow me to go un-penalized if I announced tomorrow, ‘Sorry, Gaijin only in this classroom, No Japanese students, I only teach gaijin. Even if you have a translator sitting next to you, it doesn’t matter, I don’t deal with Japanese students.’?”

      “If an illegality happened to you or your family, you should prosecute to the full extent of the law. And even if you chose not to, laws mean that people have the right to prosecute to the full extent of the law, and to blow the whistle on illegality as hard as possible, and to have press conferences with every possible media outlet to publicize the arrest of the 加害者.”

      “So, thank you for your kind offer to avoid the police, to avoid the press, to avoid having the doctor penalized, and thank you for your suggestion that I take no further action to see the 加害者 prosecuted, but I am going to do what I can to see that the law is upheld.”

      “I am going to see if the constitution of Japan really protects all PEOPLE as originally written, or if it only protects ‘Japanese Citizens’ as subsequently wrongfully translated.”

      “This is not a bar, this is not an onsen, this is a doctor who refused entry based on race. Not based on anything else but race. Thank god the ‘language barrier’ lie can not be used in this case. Thank god I had a Japanese native-speaker translator with me. This is finally the undeniable case that people can’t hide with the old standard excuses.”

      “The 加害者 must be punished, not just allowed to say ‘sorry, my bad’. Because that’s how society REDUCES crime, that’s why laws are there: to scare people into realizing ‘You break the law, you get imprisoned.’ ‘Don’t want to get imprisoned? Don’t break the law.’”

      “This is going to the supreme court of Japan, and I will do everything I can to make sure that this 加害者 is prosecuted to the full extent of the constitution of Japan.”

      That’s how the conversation could go.

      On the other hand, perhaps the conversation could go like this:

      “Well Boss, he didn’t hurt my body, and he didn’t damage my property, so I am not a victim, and a sane society can not penalize him if he didn’t damage my body or my property.”

      “Damaging somebody’s body or property is the only time there is a true victim. Words or actions which damage reputations or feelings don’t count as crimes. No victim, no crime. People have the right to be stupid, or rude, or racist, or exclusionary.”

      “Houses have the right to control who comes in and who doesn’t, and so do clubhouses, and so do businesses. Nobody can force anybody to keep their door open to everybody. Racist exclusion hurts my feelings, but so what.”

      “If he punched or raped me, I could call myself a victim and have him imprisoned. But words are just words. Again, in a sane world: no victim no crime.”

      Personally, I think both arguments are valid. Extreme, yet valid.

      The emotional side of me says the first stance is correct, the rational side of me says that the second stance is correct.

      But the can’t both be correct at the same time.

      And simply saying, “Let’s just settle in the middle” seems like a cop-out that allows people to run away from this extreme question:

      Should society punish humans for the act of exclusion?

      I don’t believe it is right to say, “Well, this exclusion should be punished, this exclusion shouldn’t be.”

      Either you think humans have the right to close their doors to ANYONE who isn’t causing bodily harm or property harm, or humans have to keep their doors open to EVERYONE who isn’t causing bodily harm or property harm.

      Yes Ken, very much a dichotomy. I don’t think “Non-Dual” philosophy applies here. Either you think hurting someone’s feelings is a crime, or you don’t. Either you think hurting someone’s reputation is a crime, or you don’t. Either you think there is only one law “Don’t hurt others’ body or property” or you think there are millions of laws which say, “Well, it’s OK to penalize people who HAVEN’T hurt others’ body or property.”

      I’ll tell you the truth; right now, at this moment, I’m really on the fence.

      I know you folks will probably say, “Let’s continue to have a million conflicting rules, which we debate endlessly forever.”

      I think that society needs to choose this very basic question about what constitutes a crime.

    27. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Anonymous #26

      Why are you telling us what Mike Guest thinks about this? And why are you replying to Ken Yasumoto Nicholson; ‘Yes Ken’? Did you copy and paste this from ‘the stalker site’? Are you trying to stir up a flame war?

    28. Doug Says:

      Hilary. I am sorry you had this experience and good for you for exposing this. Also thank you for sharing your experience as this is the type of issue that could have serious repurcussions for any foreigner in Japan. I hope you let us know how it turns out.

      Inflames – Thank you very much for the link

      Jim – I am sorry but I do not understand what is wrong with posting what Mike Guest thinks? I also do not see how this could stir up a flame war. Because I see this as such a terrible incident (involving medical treatment), I put a link to this article on “the stalker site” and sounds like most people over there agree that this is terrible as well. I am sharing this blog entry with anyone I know living in Japan.

      Due to the potential grave consequences involved with a lack of medical treatment I think this specific incident (which I do not think is the norm) transcends what blog you read or other internet squabbles. This is a time when people should set aside differences for a short while and support Hilary in whatever way they can.

    29. Anonymous Says:

      No, I’m not trying to start a flame war, are you Jim?

      Post 22 of this thread is clearly trying to give Hilary the option of connecting with that high-ranking member of the Medical Ethics committee.

      Post 26 of this thread is clearly me giving my opinion about what constitutes a crime. Either you think Body damage and property damage are vital factors to the definition of a crime, or you think people should ALSO be punished for hurting people’s feelings or reputation (punished meaning: fined/imprisoned/imprisoned for not paying the fine.)

      Obviously, while giving MY opinion in post 27, I mention Mike Guest’s opinion as well because even HE is admitting that what happened to Hilary is illegal, even though he is from the “apologist” camp. Even that “jerk” is trying to help Hilary get justice.

      If anything Jim, I’m prioritizing Hilary getting help higher than some old personal feud between D & M. The first step is to see if Hilary wants that high-ranking member of the Medical Ethics committee to investigate or not.

      And yes, I am concerned that Hilary’s BOE bosses are going to tell her to SHUT UP about this, in which case she probably WILL shut up about it to keep her job, in which case there is nothing we can do but respect Hilary’s wishes and back down.

      (That reminds me of the case where a mother CLEARLY wrote, in no uncertain terms, how that ballet school refused her daughter due to race, even though the daughter was attending a Japanese preschool so was perfectly able to understand Japanese, the ballet school’s reason for refusal was NOT about language at all, it was totally due to race, check her first letter here, but then… after the mother received a little pressure from somewhere suddenly she released an official note which totally contradicted her first note, “oops, nevermind, it was all mis-communication.” Anyone who read the original letter knows that it was racial refusal plain and simple, and yet, in the end, we had to give up because of the mother’s subsequent story reversal. The apologists still only want to remember the second letter, as proof that it was all just a big mis-understanding, but I remember the original letter. The original letter was the truth: http://www.debito.org/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/Balletschool001.jpg )

      So Jim, are you going to continue to make incorrect accusations, or are you going to try to connect Hilary with some people who can help her?

    30. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @Doug #28 & Anonymous #29

      At least make your minds up and decide who posted what. Or are you both sock-puppets?

      – Let’s take it down a notch and keep on target with the topic of this blog post.

    31. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Wow. Looks like the things are going real quick. It’s fast & furious (no reference to a notorious gun control group); no need for the sting operation since you and your friends made the precedence in the northern soil 13 years ago. There are many people out there who would dismiss the incident primarily due to the locus of discourse and the bias toward Hokkaido Shinbun. But, what I (or we) learned from Otaru Onsen cases is that it is mainstream media–rather than Hokkaido Shinbun, who eventually skewed the public perception of racial discrimination once the discourse was pierced from peripheral to center. There are very few mainstream media who put their leg in the north, but that may be a blessing for local media in terms of professional freedom and independence. There’s absolutely no reason to dismiss the locality of newspaper, as long as their media ethics and professional journalism are guaranteed, if not compromised by conglomerate or ownership of the mainstream media.

    32. Olaf Says:

      Hilary
      Please go for it! If this case of discrimination bothers you, pursue it. It might be a loooong and stressful journey, but stay true to yourself. Don’t let yourself be talked into a ‘wakai’ from which you feel it would leave you unsatisfied. Remember, it is you who has to be able to look youself in the mirror each morning. Dont thinkabout what the doctor or your superiors might feel. It is about your rights and your feelings, and your future.
      What hapoened to you is a shame for this beutiful island of Hokkaido!
      I have lived in Sapporo for 18 years and if you need to talk to somebody who has experienced his shareof discrmination, feel free to contact me. Debito knows my email.
      We could even meet if you wish. I was in Shintoku this autumn but dunno when my next visit will be.
      So, Chitose or Sapporo might bebetter

    33. Kirk Masden Says:

      I’d like to point out that the hospital got some positive press for a NJ (Indonesian) worker there who passed the national nursing examination:

      http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/about/topix/news/24-03-27ka.jpg
      and
      http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/howto/topix/public/120327.php

      This of course, does not lessen the culpability of the hospital. It only shows how mired it is in contradictions.

      Speaking of contradictions, if communication is the problem, can they treat children who are too young to communicate verbally with anyone? Can they treat people with dementia or other mental illnesses who cannot communicate clearly? It is fine for them to suggest other doctors or medical facilities that are better equipped to communicate in languages other than Japanese, but the ultimate decision about where to receive treatment should be the patient’s.

    34. Kirk Masden Says:

      I just realized that I was confusing Hokuto Hospital with “Keira Orthopedic Clinic” (the offending clinic) in my last post. Information about Keira Orthopedic Clinic is hosted as a page on the web site of Hokuto Hospital under the heading “Registered Medical Facilities in Shintoku Town”:

      http://www.hokuto7.or.jp/medical/gbnet/shintoku/keira.php

      It seems that Keira Orthopedic Clinic doesn’t have its own web site. Thus, the contradictions between acceptance of medical tourism and support for foreign trainees are not really internal contradictions for Keira — just differences between Keira and Hokuto Hospital, which happens to have some information about Keira Orthopedic Clinic on its website.

    35. Daniel McBane Says:

      I’ve lived in South Korea and China, as well as Japan and the racism in those two countries is much more prevalent than in Japan (with most of the hatred directed at the Japanese, ironically). Not only is it more prevalent, it is also much more in-your-face and I was never really able to decide if I preferred having people be racist directly to my face or having them be friendly to me but hate me behind my back.

    36. Flyjin Says:

      Daniel, in my experience since 2007 or so the racism in Japan is starting to resemble that of S. Korea or parts of China; more direct, verbal threats, tantrums, trip ups on a crowded train etc.
      A political scientist commented in the South China Post last week that “actuially, the whole of E.Asia has become more nationalist”.

      And they take it out on local foreigners the most-easy target of a bully, especially as they cannot (and do not have the guts) to take on America directly. Again, Hatoyama tried- he was rebuffed. Maybe he saw the pointlessness of trying.

    37. Daniel McBane Says:

      Flyjin,

      I left Japan in 2006, so I haven’t witnessed that change. The real question is: is that a change for the better or worse? I felt a lot more welcome and appreciated in Japan than in Korea, but I also was never sure how people really felt about me. In Korea I knew, but knowing didn’t always feel so good and often made me quite angry.

    38. Jim Di Griz Says:

      I agree with Flyjin about the level of racism in Japan matching China and Korea. I think that the big difference is that only in Japan do they keep on ramming down NJ throats that ‘Japan is a civilized country’, ‘Japan is a polite country’, ‘Japan is a country of law’, ‘Japan is a safe country’, when clearly none of the above are any more true for Japan than they are for Korea or China, and I think that that is why it really sticks in my craw.

    39. Glenski Says:

      I am the person who directed Hilary to Debito.I’m glad that some further explanations have come of the situation, and that Hilary has been given some advice and that she found a good doctor. I hope things work out for everyone. Has the interview with the Hokkaido Shimbun been published?

      One small question I have is related to the language issue itself. As far as I determine, the man asked Hilary if she can speak Japanese, and she answered yes. (“The man leaned into my colleague and asked her if I understood Japanese, to which I replied, yes I do.”) Forget the fact that she has JLPT3, a fairly low level. If he asked in Japanese, and she responded in kind, how is it that the doctor felt she couldn’t understand enough to undergo his examination? Just curious.

      Best of luck, Hilary.

      – Dunno. Ask her. Or ask him.

    40. Becky Says:

      @Glenski#39
      I think it’s possible that the doctor was asking whether Hilary understood medical terms in Japanese, or whether she was familiar with Japanese medical examinations which sometimes differ greatly from Western ones. For example, gynaecological exams often take place with a strange curtain above the waist that separates the doctor from the patient (my gaijin-savvy doctor asked me if would prefer to have the curtains removed, and I said yes! If someone is going to be poking at me down there, I’d like to see his face first) and the examinations themselves often take place within full earshot of other patients. There are many other things that are quite different from the way that medical care is practiced in Western countries … but I think it’s quite unforgivable that a Japanese doctor refused to treat Hilary for a suspected broken toe. That is not the act of a supposed “first world country.”

    41. Johnny Says:

      I’m surprised Glenski is still allowed to post here given his past behaviour.

      http://www.debito.org/?p=6864 takes the cake.

      – I compared the IP addresses of the commenters at that old thread who claimed to be Glenski with the IP that Glen uses in real life (he contacted me offlist to notify me that he had been framed). Turns out they were different. Anyway, the imposter poster’s IP from the previous old thread still remains banned, but Glen at his current genuine IP can still post on Debito.org. My apologies for the confusion.

    42. Becky Says:

      A couple of days ago I found this post on Reddit:

      http://www.reddit.com/r/japanlife/comments/2cbs0k/denied_hospital_admission_by_racist_japanese/

      The poster, who was accompanied by two Japanese people, describes being accused of being a “doctor shopping” foreigner who was lying in order to get pain killers for a torn calf muscle. This pronouncement was apparently made in full view and hearing of the entire reception area. He was then refused treatment.

      Worth a follow-up?

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