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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
  • New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on April 9th, 2013

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    Hi Blog.  I am pleased to announce the eBook release of my book “JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan” Tenth Anniversary Edition, available for immediate download for Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble NOOK.

    The definitive book on one of Japan’s most important public debates and lawsuits on racial discrimination, this new edition has a new Introduction and Postscript that updates the reader on what has happened in the decade since JO’s first publication by Akashi Shoten Inc.  A synopsis of the new book is below.

    You can read a sample of the first fifteen or so pages (including the new Introduction), and download the ebook at either link:

    Price:  $9.99 (a bargain considering JO is currently on sale on Amazon Japan used for 3100 yen, and at used for $390.93!), or the equivalent in local currency on all other Amazons (935 yen on Amazon Japan).

    If you haven’t read JO yet (as clearly some media presences, like TV Tarento Daniel Kahl or decrier of “bathhouse fanatics” Gregory Clark, have not; not to mention “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo would rather you didn’t), now is a brand new opportunity with additional context.  Here’s the Synopsis:


    If you saw signs up in public places saying “No Coloreds”, what would you do? See them as relics of a bygone era, a la US Segregation or South African Apartheid? Not in Japan, where even today “Japanese Only” signs, excluding people who look “foreign”, may be found nationwide, thanks to fear and opportunism arising from Japan’s internationalization and economic decline.

    JAPANESE ONLY is the definitive account of the Otaru Onsens Case, where public bathhouses in Otaru City, Hokkaido, put up “no foreigners allowed” signs to refuse entry to Russian sailors, and in the process denied service to Japanese. One of Japan’s most studied postwar court cases on racial discrimination, this case went all the way to Japan’s Supreme Court, and called into question the willingness of the Japanese judiciary to enforce Japan’s Constitution.

    Written by one of the plaintiffs to the lawsuit, a bilingual naturalized citizen who has lived in Japan for 25 years, this highly-readable first-person account chronologically charts the story behind the case and the surrounding debate in Japanese media between 1999 and 2005. The author uncovers a side of Japanese society that many Japanese and scholars of Japan would rather not discuss: How the social determination of “Japanese” inevitably leads to racism. How Japan, despite international treaties and even its own constitutional provisions, remains the only modern, developed country without any form of a law against racial discrimination, resulting in situations where foreigners and even Japanese are refused service at bathhouses, restaurants, stores, apartments, hotels, schools, even hospitals, simply for looking too “foreign”. How Japan officially denies the existence of racial discrimination in Japan (as its allegedly homogeneous society by definition contains no minorities), until the Sapporo District Court ruled otherwise with Otaru Onsens.

    JAPANESE ONLY also charts the arc of a public debate that reached extremes of xenophobia: Where government-sponsored fear campaigns against “foreign crime” and “illegal foreigners” were used to justify exclusionism. Where outright acts of discrimination, once dismissed as mere “cultural misunderstandings”, were then used as a means to “protect Japanese” from “scary, unhygienic, criminal foreigners” and led to the normalization of racialized hate speech. Where even resident foreigners turned on themselves, including Japan Times columnist Gregory Clark’s repeated diatribes against “bathhouse fanatics”, and future “My Darling is a Foreigner” manga star Tony Laszlo’s opportunistic use of activism to promote his own agenda at the expense of the cause. Where the plaintiffs stay the course despite enormous public pressure to drop the lawsuit (including death threats), and do so at great personal risk and sacrifice. Remaining in print since its first publication in 2003, JAPANESE ONLY remains a testament to the dark side of race relations in Japan, and contains a taut story of courage and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.

    Now for the first time in ebook format, this Tenth Anniversary Edition in English offers a new Introduction and Postscript by the author, updating the reader on what has changed, what work remains to be done, and how Japan in fact is reverse-engineering itself to become more insular and xenophobic in the 2010s. Called “a reasoned and spirited denunciation of national prejudice, discrimination, and bigotry” (Donald Richie, legendary Japanologist), “clear, well-paced, balanced and informative” (Tom Baker, The Daily Yomiuri), “a personal and fascinating account of how this movement evolved, its consequences and how it affected those who participated in it” (Jeff Kingston, The Japan Times), and “the book of reference on the subject for decades to come and should be required reading for anyone studying social protest” (Robert Whiting, author of You’ve Gotta Have Wa), JAPANESE ONLY is a must-read for anyone interested in modern Japan’s future direction in the world and its latent attitudes towards outsiders.

    More reviews at

    9 Responses to “New eBook: “JAPANESE ONLY: The Otaru Onsens Case”, 10th Anniv Edition with new Intro and Postscript, now on Amazon Kindle and B&N Nook $9.99”

    1. Loverilakkuma Says:

      This is fantastic! I personally wonder why it took a decade to bring the book on an international market, possibly due to distribution issue with the Japanese publisher, I guess. It’s really great to make it available worldwide, since Japan’s problems are still novel to many international audiences, especially in the west, today.

    2. npritt Says:

      Just to inform you, I get this error from Amazon. “This title is not available for customers from your location in: Asia & Pacific”

      — That’s weird. Thanks for letting me know. I also looked at Amazon Japan. It’s priced at 975 yen on the search page, then is not available for purchase when you look at the product page:

      I’ll look into it. Odd that only Amazon Japan (unlike all the other Amazons) would stock it but not sell it. It’s done the same thing with my IN APPROPRIATE eBook too:

      Surely not an issue of editorial conceit, given the amount of xenophobic literature Amazon Japan freely sells? Meanwhile, can you purchase it where you are from Amazon US/UK/Canada etc? Please let me know. Again, thanks.

    3. Todd Says:

      Ive come across this allot when ordering books on Amazon from the U.S. Its an opposite situation; if there isnt any stock here in Japan some shippers wont ship to Japan so I get the same error message.

    4. Todd Says:

      Glad to see there are 2 positive reviews. I think the first review was honest; that is there tends to be a bit of tit for tat going on. Given the crap slinging that Debito has put up with for the last decade, I guess some of Debitos reaction should be put in the “shoganai” catagory by us in the know. Its the uninformed, unbiased reader who might start to naively disqualify the overall positive contribution of the book. I think reaction to the apologist and others should be left for blogs etc, but its a tough call because you sometimes feel you must preempt an attack. personally I think the apologist reactions and attacks elevate debitos work even more, and there is no need to defend yourself. There is currently nobody out there, that I know of, doing what Debito is doing. I personally dont have the courage or time to do it; I deal with mess on a case by case basis, so Im not judging at all, just my opinion.

    5. debito Says:

      Debito here. Update on Kindle availability for my eBooks.

      Amazon was very prompt in getting back to me to fix the issue. Both books are now up for purchase properly in Japan. However, this is the message you will get if you are trying to buy the eBook from the US from Japan:

      有道 出人, this title is not available for you.
      Due to copyright restrictions, the Kindle title you’re trying to purchase is not available in your country: United States.

      FYI. You might have to buy your eBook in your current country of web access. Not to worry, I pegged all Amazon country prices to the current US exchange rate, so they adjust to equivalence. (Except Canada, which I fixed at $9.99 Canadian no matter what. They get screwed by sticker price differentials all the time despite the CAD being around par or better with the USD for years now! You’re welcome, Canucks!)

    6. Peter Says:

      Thanks Debito!!

    7. Todd Says:


      I dont know how to submit a topic for a new discussion here, but I think Japans push to join the TPP and US Congress opposition is quite newsworthy.

      There are many comments and opinions on this; and Im in the camp that thinks Japan is manipulating in order to do something that benefits only Japan. Nobody buys US cars here in Japan, so its a no brainer, even with tarriffs lifted, that the auto market has nothing to gain from Japan. For me, I think Abes push to join the TPP has something to do with Japans remilitarization. Havent got a finger on it yet, but there is something behind all this. Would like to know others opinions.

      — Send me an article to peg this on with a comment of yours for an interpretation (as you have begun above) and we can start up a discussion., thanks.

    8. Don MacLaren Says:

      Debito Arudou’s tenth anniversary edition of “Japanese Only” is a book that belongs in the curriculum of courses on Civil Rights. Though Japanese racial discrimination is not as well known as the history of racism in the US or Europe, it is just as prevalent – if not more so.

      In this updated version of his book, Arudou tells the story of a lawsuit he and some friends engineered against hot springs in Otaru, Hokkaido that refused entry to foreigners and the “foreign-looking.” He meticulously documents court transcripts, emails, conversations and news stories. Though it is a disturbing story, I believe it is uplifting in the end – because we see that someone has the courage, tenacity and intelligence to take on injustice and make a mark, even though he doesn’t completely win in the courts. (His case against the city of Otaru, Hokkaido went all the way to the Supreme Court of Japan.)

      We see the many difficulties he dealt with in his pursuit of justice, such as infighting among those of his activist group, hate mail and even one letter to him that states, “WE WILL KILL YOUR KIDS.” These are things that would have made many give up the fight. Arudou, however, seems to have been mentally prepared for all this, and prevails in the end, I think, by simply telling his story.

      That being said, Japan still has a long way to go before it truly embraces the foreigners and the foreign-looking (Arudou is a naturalized Japanese citizen, but a Caucasian), and he articulates this sad state of affairs within a new conclusion at the end of the book.

      I salute Arudou for writing this important work and for paving the way for those who wish to partake of the good things Japan has to offer, including the Japanese custom of bathing in hot springs. I believe you will see that we owe him a debt of gratitude for his activism after you have finished the 2013 edition of “Japanese Only.”

      Don MacLaren

    9. Baudrillard Says:

      A foreigner is ejected from a Japanese bathhouse in the new movie “Thermae Romae 2”. I have only seen this in the trailer, in which he is carried out with cries of “foreigner!” but I fear most of the running gags in this movie are “cultural faux pas” of a time travelling Roman (who looks oddly Japanese, because he is is ironically played by a Japanese actor)are downplayed or excused along the lines of “Dont mind him, he is a foreigner, haha”.


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