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  • Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 15th, 2013

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    Maori woman refused entry to bath due to traditional tattoos
    SAPPORO, Sept. 12, 2013 Kyodo News, courtesy of JK
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/09/245956.html

    A public bath facility in Eniwa, Hokkaido, refused entry to a Maori woman from New Zealand due to her face tattoos, a facility official said Thursday.

    The Maori language lecturer, 60, has the tattoos, called ta moko, worn traditionally by some indigenous New Zealanders, on her lips and chin. She was in Hokkaido for a conference on indigenous languages in the town of Biratori in the northernmost prefecture.

    On Sunday afternoon a group of 10 people involved in the conference visited the thermal baths but were refused entry by a facility staff member.

    When a member of the group claimed the decision was discriminatory, the staff replied that the facility prohibits entry to anyone with tattoos in order to put customers at ease.

    “Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos,” the facility official told reporters.

    An Ainu language lecturer who was in the group said he felt sorry to disappoint an important guest.

    “It is unfortunate that other cultures are not understood,” he said.

    According to the food and sanitation section of the Hokkaido prefectural government and the National Federation of Public Bath Industry Trade Unions, the law on public baths allows operators to refuse entry to customers with infectious diseases, but does not rule on customers with tattoos.

    Prohibition of tattoos is often used by public facilities in Japan to prevent entry by members of the country’s organized crime groups, many of whom have tattoos on their bodies.

    ENDS

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

    Hi Blog.  Oh the ironies of the above happening.  It’s standard practice nationwide at many public bathhouses to refuse entry to Japanese with tattoos because they might be yakuza, and it’s long been a debate when one gets NJ who have tattoos as fashion statements.

    isawafront

    (Courtesy Debito.org Rogues’ Gallery. Note sign and people with tattoos, on left.  And while we’re at it, note sign that refuses foreigners who can’t speak Japanese and who don’t have valid visas.  More information here.)

    But what really floors me is that a) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the famous Otaru Onsens Case (where people were refused entry just for being foreign; well, okay, just looking foreign), b) it’s in Hokkaido, site of the indigenous Ainu (whose conference in Biratori this indigenous Maori lecturer was attending), and c) it’s a traditional face tattoo, which the Ainu themselves used to have before the GOJ outlawed them:

    ainuliptattooing

    (Courtesy http://www.ksc.kwansei.ac.jp/~jed/CompCult/)

    Well, luckily for these bathhouse owners the GOJ erased that culture in its indigenous Ainu, not to mention erased most of the Ainu culture and people themselves.   So nobody in Japan can claim cultural suppression of expression of tattoo culture anymore since suppression worked so well.

    But wait, there’s more irony.  Check this out:

    Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
    http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

    アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
    http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

    Full text of articles below.  Submitter JK notes:

    ====================

    On the one hand, it’s about time the Ainu get the recognition they deserve.  Yet on the other hand, focusing on the Ainu creates a cultural blind spot:

    “The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony.”

    Wait, hold on – why stop with just the Ainu? Why not end discrimination against *all* people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony?

    My fear is that the GOJ will use the Olympics to politicize the Ainu at the expense of other NJ (e.g. Zainichi  Koreans, immigrants).

    ====================

    That’s precisely the point, really.  If we’re the GOJ, we’ll turn a blind eye towards (if not actively promote) the cultural suppression and denial of domestic ethnic diversity.

    Except when we’re on our best behavior because the eyes of the world are on us.  Then we’ll pay lip service to the ending of discrimination against one minority group.  Never mind the others.

    And if anyone comes here during the Olympics and gets refused service somewhere?  Sorry, shikata ga nai.  We have no laws against racial discrimination in Japan.  Even though it’s closing in on twenty years since we promised to do so when signing the UN CERD in 1995.  Maybe if you give us the Olympics a few more times, we’ll promise to protect a few more minorities.

    I assume the Maori researcher has a topic for her next research paper.  Arudou Debito

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

    先住民族マオリ女性の入浴拒否 北海道・石狩管内の温泉、顔の入れ墨理由に(道新 09/12 06:25)

    http://www.hokkaido-np.co.jp/news/donai/491172.html
    ニュージーランドの先住民族マオリの言語指導者で、日高管内平取町で6日まで開かれたアイヌ語復興を目指す講習会の講師を務めた女性が、石狩管内の民間の温泉施設で顔の入れ墨を理由に入館を断られていたことが11日、分かった。講習会関係者は「入れ墨はマオリの尊厳の象徴であり、大変残念」としている。

    女性はエラナ・ブレワートンさん(60)。講習会関係者ら約10人で8日、札幌市内でのアイヌ民族の行事を見学後、入浴と食事のため温泉施設に行った。その際、ブレワートンさんの唇とあごの入れ墨を見た温泉側が「入れ墨入館禁止」を理由に入館を断った。同行したアイヌ民族の関係者らが温泉側に「多様な文化を受け入れることが必要では」と再考を求めたが聞き入れられなかった。

    同温泉は、入り口に「入れ墨入館禁止」の看板を設置。入れ墨がある人の入浴はすべて断っているという。ブレワートンさんは「深い悲しみを感じた」と落胆。温泉の支配人は「入れ墨にもいろいろな背景があることは理解するが、一般客はなかなか分からない。例外を認めると、これまでの信頼を裏切ることになる」と説明している。<北海道新聞9月12日朝刊掲載>

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

    Gov’t aims to complete national Ainu museum for 2020 Olympics
    September 11, 2013 (Mainichi Japan)
    http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130911p2a00m0na034000c.html

    SAPPORO — The national government’s panel to work on revitalizing Ainu culture has decided to complete the building of an Ainu-themed museum and memorial park around Lake Poroto in Shiraoi, Hokkaido, by the summer of 2020, with a goal to promote Japan’s multiethnic culture during the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

    Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, chairman of the Council for Ainu Policy Promotion, said, “The government aims to make the 2020 Olympics an opportunity for people overseas to learn about Ainu culture.” His comments came during a panel meeting on Sept. 11 to explain the plan to complete construction of the “Symbolic Place for Ethnic Harmony” as a national center for Ainu culture revitalization before the Games begin in Tokyo in July 2020.

    The project aims to end discrimination against Ainu people in Japan and create a society where people of different ethnicities can live together in harmony. It will conduct studies on Ainu history and culture while working on human resource development for the cultural preservation of the Ainu. The government also plans to bury bones of Ainu people at the site, which have been collected from their graves for research purposes by institutions including the University of Tokyo and Hokkaido University.

    An expert panel on Ainu policy blueprinted the idea of building the memorial museum and park in 2009 as the 2008 Diet resolution concluded that the Ainu were an indigenous people of Japan.
    ENDS

    Original Japanese:

    アイヌ政策推進会議:「象徴空間、20年に」 五輪に合わせ政府方針
    毎日新聞 2013年09月11日 東京夕刊
    http://mainichi.jp/select/news/20130911dde041010025000c.html

    政府の「アイヌ政策推進会議」(座長・菅義偉官房長官)が11日、札幌市であり、北海道白老(しらおい)町のポロト湖周辺に整備するアイヌ文化の復興拠点「民族共生の象徴となる空間」(象徴空間)を2020年度にオープンする工程表を決定した。

    菅官房長官はあいさつで、東京五輪が開催される20年7月までに象徴空間を完成させる考えを示し、「(東京五輪を)海外の皆さんにアイヌのことを知っていただく機会にしたい」と述べた。

    象徴空間はアイヌ差別の歴史に終止符を打ち、多民族共生社会の実現を目指す拠点。アイヌの歴史や文化の展示・調査研究、アイヌ文化の伝承と人材の育成などを行うほか、北海道大や東京大などが研究目的でアイヌ墓地から収集した遺骨を慰霊する。

    「アイヌを先住民族とする」とした国会決議(08年6月)を受け、政府の「アイヌ政策のあり方に関する有識者懇談会」が09年に象徴空間構想を打ち出した。【千々部一好】
    ENDS

     

    32 Responses to “Is Japan ready for Olympics? Kyodo: Hokkaido bathhouse refuses entry to Maori visiting scholar due to traditional tattoos”

    1. Olaf Says:

      Wouldn’t it be nice if the GOJ drafts and passes an antidiscrimination law hefore the Olympics? Grassroot, lobby activity will be tough but necessary.
      Seize the moment!

    2. Ron Says:

      What about all the young women who now have their eyebrows tattooed on? You know, the ones who find it too bothersome to pencil in their eyebrows every morning and so get the “permanent make-up” tattoos instead. Are they all being stopped from entering hot spring baths as well? I don’t think so…

      http://www.assu.jp/artmake/

    3. Tatted dude Says:

      *ahem*

      http://www.debito.org/whattodoif.html#refusedservice

      “But a word of caution before you go off half-cocked: If management requires shoes and shirt from everybody for service, put on the shoes and shirt. If it is a matter of refusing people with tattoos (which is unfortunate for you–you chose to get tattooed, and in Japan it carries the image of organized crime), ask if covering up the offending area would suffice for entry. If not, sorry, but you’re going to have to live with the fact that Japanese society considers a tattoo a branding. It’s not an issue of race here.”

      – Ahem right back atcha. Where in this blog entry am I claiming refusals of tattoos is racial discrimination? I am saying that Japan at this time is not ready to host a major international event because it has not resolved issues of diversity well enough to deal with all the diversity that hosting one would bring. Instead, its constant blind-eying (as seen in the lack of legislation to protect people from this kind of closed-minded vigilantism) is going to needlessly exclude innocent people. Japan has had enough time and incidents to occasion measures to stop this kind of behavior by now. Rewarding this kind of social negligence with another Olympics is precisely the wrong incentive system.

    4. Karjh12 Says:

      Once again the underlying insular tone of Japanese society has come to the forefront..But of course Japan is a ” good international citizen ”
      because:-

      Japan is hosting the 2019 Rugby world Cup . This will be a PR precursor to the Olympics as it how Japan has changed, if at all, toward the international community and to what extent the international community will be able to see through the tatemae / honne .

      Having grown up in New Zealand, now in Australia , my Maori friends are now somewhat looking forward to , hopefully a 2019 pool draw , where Japan will play an NZ team undoubtedly consisting of quite a few tattoed Maori .

      And then there will be all the tattoed Maori supporters coming to Japan .

      Onsen visit after the game anyone ?

    5. Jim Di Griz Says:

      The answer is clearly ‘no’.
      In the years since your onsen case, nothing has changed, because nobody learned anything.

      I noticed that their was a tourism trade fair in Tokyo last week (saw it on the news), I wonder if it was made clear that racist rules will be applied to visitors to Japan?
      I also noticed in the news last week that there was a governmental meeting held in Tokyo to decide how to make the city more tourist friendly. Luckily no NJ were invited to attend! Narrow escape from reality smashing the complacency.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/abe-inose-discuss-how-to-make-tokyo-more-visitor-friendly

      The results of these high level deliberations?
      1. 24 hour bus service from Roppongi to Shibuya (this will help tourists how?).
      2. Street signs using English not romaji (can you imagine what going to happen when a tourist gets in a cab and asks to be taken to ‘(nantoka) street’ instead of ‘(nantoka) dori’? I don’t think J-taxi drivers are up to that).
      3. Menus in other languages (ah, now that’s a cheap fix! Costs the J-gov nothing to do, and no need to try and enforce it; meaningless).

      This laughable action plan shows clearly how there is no serious attempt to address the issue. Still, what with Fukushima and all, who is going to come?

    6. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      The Ainu angle is interesting, but I’m not entirely sure that there is much “irony” here. I certainly don’t see how this amounts to racial discrimination. In fact, as I understand it, the whole “no tattoos” thing is enabled by the freedom of contract clauses of the civil code that allows owners of private establishments to place restrictions on those they serve, employ, etc as they see fit, with certain restrictions for the protection of other fundamental rights. So (as debito has established) banning individuals based on their ethnicity, nationality, or natural appearance is illegal. Banning them based on how they choose to present themselves is not. I suspect an individual can’t be banned on the basis of his group affiliation either, hence no straightforward “yakuza” ban. So the logical workaround is to ban tattoos, because hardly any other Japanese sport them.

      This being so, it would actually be a case of outright racial discrimination if the onsen owner did let the Maori lecturer in. What it essentially says is that those tattoos worn as a matter of choice by some Maori are more culturally significant than tattoos on Japanese. Why? Well, because Maori have “tradition” of course. Never mind that the tattoos worn by Japanese who choose to wear them have “tradition” as well. Who is an onsen owner to judge between good and bad “tradition”? Like a bar owner who can refuse you entry if you are wearing workboots, he can say no if you have a tattoo.

      As far as I can tell, most Maori women get along fine without tattoos on their mouths. This lady chose to wear one to signify her commitment to her roots. Fine. Great, in fact. But that was her choice. And she should understand that not everybody will accept it. And not everybody has to, because they have choices too. I actually think our Maori lecturer understands this herself, as news reports state that she has refrained from commenting to the media about the issue.

      Of course, one could claim that this is not really about “rights” but cultural acceptance. That Japan is some backward, isolated country that doesn’t really understand multiculturalism, and needs to get with the global program. Be more tolerant and multi-cultural, just like those kiwis.

      Well, there are things that I’m not sure our lecturer could do in New Zealand because of her choice to be tattooed. I’m not sure, but it seems that the national airline would refuse outright to hire her in a front line position, for example.

      http://www.3news.co.nz/Potential-air-hostess-denied-for-moko/tabid/423/articleID/299314/Default.aspx

      And that’s because, presumably, New Zealand, like Japan and other good liberal democracies, has freedom of contract written into its statutes. And some people don’t like tattoos. Not an issue of ethnicity at all.

    7. DR Says:

      To answer the question about Japan’s readiness to host the Olympics, I say it in one word….”No!” Not culturally, not economically and certainly not environmentally. But don’t just take my word for that. Dr. Helen Caldicott is one of the eminent people whose opinion shapes mine. Her take……

      “Nuclear Olympics
      Given these impending problems, how can Japanese Prime Minister Abe possibly say that Tokyo will be safe for the Olympics? He actually said that “there is absolutely no problem” and “the situation is under control.” Does he not understand that parts of Tokyo are already radioactively contaminated and that his government is dumping ashes from the incineration of thousands of tons of radioactive debris from the tsunami and earthquake into Tokyo Bay? Is this what the athletes will be swimming in?

      What if there is another major release of radiation before the Olympics? Young fit people who have spent years in rigorous training must, under no circumstances be exposed to radioactive air, food or water. And how can Abe possibly consider spending all that money housing people in expensive accommodation and constructing stadiums etc. when his own people – 160,000 Fukushima refugees – live in shacks and millions still live in highly radioactive zones and when the Fukushima complex is out of control?”

      Source: http://rt.com/op-edge/fukushima-catastrophe-nuclear-olympics-883/

      I reiterate: “No!”

    8. Markus Says:

      “Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos.”

      If this bath house had in fact a zero tolerance policy towards tattoos, and handled the case politely, then the traditional aspect of it should indeed play no role as in “context doesn’t matter”. This of course only given the screwed up “context” of Japanese culture and the special meaning of tattoos here. That is, the completely “tatemae” notion that if you don’t see anyone with tattoos out here, then “the Yakuza” has been eliminated. Another stink covered with a lid.

      I can only quote “The Yakuza” of course because the idea that “The Yakuza” is simply an easily identified gang of low-life criminals is part of the Japanese lie.

    9. Tim Says:

      Well, not to sound like an apologist or anything, but I do give the Japanese government credit for at least taking the step forward to first recognize the Ainu as an indigenous people of Japan, and then to attempt to educate the world outside of Japan about them, given the fact that the Ainu for a long time were and still are discriminated against and nearly wiped out and were forced to assimilate into mainstream Japanese society. It may be ironic in connection with the banning of the Maori lecturer from the onsen for her tattoos, which of course, is discriminatory. But at least I am thrilled that the Ainu are being recognized as an ethnic group in Japan. It`s not enough, and it is only a small step, but it is a step nonetheless. I give Japan credit for that. But yes, other non-majority (non Yamato/ not ethnic Japanese, whatever) residents and of Japan, need also to be acknowledged and celebrated as part of Japanese society and culture.

    10. Irezumi_Aniki Says:

      @Debito

      Really now? You:

      * switched up my name to ‘Tatted Dude’ (that actually really hurt . . . I’m not here calling you David)
      * remove my question and replaced it with *ahem*
      * didn’t even really answer my question

      Since when do you care about tattoos? If you just wanted to slam the Japanese for their treatment of ethnic minorities, why use an article about an inked up woman who was refused entry to an onsen? If you’re not trying to mix this issue up with racial discrimination you wouldn’t have gone out of your way to plug the Otaru incident, Ainu, and cultural tattoos.

      – No, actually I got two comments like yours at the same time. I chose to approve the one with less acerbic comments and better reading comprehension.

    11. Loverilakkuma Says:

      >“Even if it is traditional culture, a typical person cannot judge the context behind the tattoos.”

      Speaking of sarcasm. The bathhouse officials are indeed living evidence of those who are incapable of discernment in the contexts. Why? Because they push conventional cultural assumption(or stigma) on tattoo to associate it with yakuza mobster, falsely assuming that any criminal gangs have a tattoo on the body–which is ‘unwarranted.’

      Solution: 1) mandate organizers and the representatives to take graduate seminars (human rights/race, or social movement in the US or Europe, etc.) at TUJ, UN University, or equivalent for one-year minimum; and 2)take the exams to receive the certification to welcome international athletes and visitors to the games.

    12. DR Says:

      And, sadly, my previous “No!” is further reinforced by some other eminent people whose opinions I respect.

      Take Arnie Gundersen: “The seismic response of these buildings is not really designed for moist soil. The soil’s a lot wetter now than it was when the plants were designed.
      So, now you’ve got plants essentially sitting in a mud. And so their seismic response in the event of a severe earthquake is going to be much worse – in other words they might topple.
      If they build and keep the water in, they risk changing the seismic characteristics of the building, and that’s not a good thing […] something called liquefaction — when you have water and soil together and you shake it just right – the soil essentially disappears, taking buildings with it.
      It can happen at Daiichi because of the things that Tokyo Electric is doing to keep the radiation from getting into (the) Pacific.”

      Source: http://enenews.com/gundersen-fukushima-reactor-buildings-essentially-sitting-mud-soil-could-disappear-during-quake-bring-structures-down-liquefaction-happen-due-tepcos-actions-audio

      And, Dr. Chris Busby: “I’ve seen a statement made by Tokyo’s mayor saying this will not affect the application of Tokyo to be considered for the Olympic Games. I actually thought they ought to consider evacuating Tokyo. It is very, very serious.”

      Source: http://rt.com/op-edge/fukushima-radiation-threat-level-288/

      Sigh! That tatami mat must be bulging right now, considering everything that’s being swept under it. And that’s not even considering the lack of cultural, or even human, awareness in light of the treatment of the individual in the story above. How the heck will the world perceive treatment of multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-religious, multi-everything you can imagine if they have similar experiences?

      I reiterate: “No!”

    13. Doug Says:

      Doesn’t anyone wonder why the Ainu lecturer in the group didn’t seem aware of the Japanese custom of prohibiting tattooed customers? Not that I agree with the onsen at all, but they seemed rather unprepared for a well-known form of exclusion here.

    14. Markus Says:

      @DR (#12) I agree on the Tatami mat. It must be close to the ceiling by now. But I said it on another thread: That Tokyo got the Olympics is huge win for all of Japan, the good and people of this society. There’s just no way around it – Japan will not “fumble the ball” and reveal it’s true nature during this time, thereby creating masses of foreign visitors who will go home impressed and excited about this “quirky” country and spread the “Duuude, Japan is soo awesome!” gospel.

      Remember your very first visit to Japan and how excited you were (OK, I’m guessing now, but I think that’s the impression of a huge majority of first-time visitors). I sure know I was excited and too busy figuring out my way around as I didn’t speak much Japanese back then. I remember I saw an ad somewhere near Tsukiji which had photos of people in blackface, but I was more than ready to give the benefit of doubt back then.

      Being given the Olympics has won Japan a good deal of time to postpone facing up to reality (and history). But it’s a dangerous peace, because the longer the delusion is kept alive, the harder it will crash.

    15. Loverilakkuma Says:

      A couple of critiques by Jeff Kingston
      and Colin P. Jones provide foods for thought on the collective attitude toward international events in the context of post 3/11 tragedy.

      http://awsadmin.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2013/09/07/commentary/dont-worry-team-abe-is-tackling-the-nuclear-crisis-at-fukushima/#.UjnQoy8o7Mx

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/09/16/issues/fukushima-and-the-right-to-responsible-government/#.UjeiES8o7Mw

      This is part of the reason why some of us (don’t know how many, though) still have hope in Japan, even though we are tempted to give up on. But, make no mistake about it. They are not giving De Tocqueville-like narratives to make everyone feel overly optimistic about the nation. Worry about detractors would call them leftist or Japan bashers for revealing the truth? Well, then, why not bring more ‘bashers’ to bash ‘Mad Men’ in the capital?

    16. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      I’m not sure understand the connection that some commentators are trying to make between this incident and Japan’s preparedness for the Olympics. Even if this were a simple case of stupid Japanese insensitivity resulting in unfair outcomes (which I still maintain it is not), it’s not as if the Olympics are always awarded to nations with spotless human rights records. By the standard being applied here: China, with its persecution of religious groups; Australia, the UK, and Greece with occasional outright race riots; South Korea, which at the time was still a military dictatorship; etc, etc, etc; should never have been awarded the games. And let’s not get started with the whole gays in Russia thing. Plus, if Japan today is not ready to hold the Olympics on the basis of its supposedly closed and backward society, how did it manage to run a fairly successful Olympics in 1964 when it was presumably more closed and backward?

      As for the notion that the Olympics are some kind of magnificent pageant of humanity in all its glory, I’m kind of with Christopher Hitchens and George Orwell on that:

      http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/02/04/fool-s-gold.html

    17. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      Oh. I forgot. Berlin. 1936.

    18. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Oh mai goddo!
      I am actually going to agree with Winning Gold!

      ‘As for the notion that the Olympics are some kind of magnificent pageant of humanity in all its glory, I’m kind of with Christopher Hitchens and George Orwell on that.’

      Yes, quite.
      Summer Olympics 1936: Nazi Germany
      Winter Olympics 1936: Nazi Germany
      Summer Olympics 1940 (cancelled due to war): Imperialist Japan
      Winter Olympics 1940 (cancelled due to war): Imperialist Japan
      Winter Olympics 1944 (cancelled due to war): Fascist Italy

      Gee, the IOC sure likes to get into bed with fascists, doesn’t it? So much for ‘olympic values’.
      Anyway, how many times has Japan been awarded the Olympics? 6 times! That’s more than any other nation! Why is it so damn important to the Japanese to host the olympics? And, since the papers are dubbing 2020 as Abe’s ‘fourth arrow’, if it didn’t work all the other times, why should they think that it will work now?

    19. DeBourca Says:

      @ posts 16 and 17: Suits Japan perfectly, given their disgusting treatment of other Asian peoples during world war 2 (I challenge you to define their treatment of those in Nanking for example as something less than disgusting)plus their ongoing suppression of Ainu/burakumin plus “undesirable” foreigners. It really is a country that is so hard to justify living in, perhaps a little similar to apartheid era south Africa, where those in comfortable situations managed to ignore gross racial discrimination of fellow humans. So, well done WGADDC, enjoy living with your conscience!

    20. Paul Says:

      @DR

      Quoting Caldicott and Gundersen as nuclear “experts” with any sort of credibility is like me quoting the heads of the Creation Museum as experts on the Theory of Evolution. Just Google their names plus “credibility” to see all the evidence you could ever want of their activism and lack of any scientific objectivity.

      Frankly, there are very real reasons to be worried about the situation in Fukushima, but pointing to those scare mongers as a genuine source of information undermines the reality of the problem.

    21. Winning Gold at Dressage Doesn't Count Says:

      So, let me see if I understand this. I post a comment essentially saying that people who think this recent Maori tattoo incident proves that Japan is not ready for the Olympics need to get some sense of proportion. I am then accused of being a Nanjing denier and defending a state which was akin to one with clear policies of racial discrimination, where minorities were kept in perpetual policy with no rights and where white on black murder is more or less condoned by the government.

      Prove my point much?

    22. DR Says:

      This is playing far and wide: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-09-20/fukushima-operators-apologise-to-japanese-pm-over-name-gaffe/4972212 with the comments that “If TEPCO can’t be trusted to spell the PM’s name correctly, then how can they be trusted to clean up a nuclear mess?” I’ve seen it now alluded to on two or three different news sources.

      Related: http://enenews.com/official-the-government-is-lying-about-fukushima-this-is-a-big-problem
      & http://enenews.com/afp-tepco-spell-prime-ministers-name-wrong-on-we-are-very-sorry-for-printing-an-inaccurate-name

      My take is: “How can we trust the PM telling us that ‘everything is under control!’?” It’s not. Pure and simple. It’s not.

    23. helmut schoeck Says:

      I actually think that focusing on this kind of thing hurts our cause, by muddying the waters. If our cause is ‘exposing, and fighting against discrimination against foreigners in Japan’, then we should focus on things that are actual discrimination. The ‘no tattoos’ policy applies to Japanese, as well. We should also not focus on signs in Okinawa that say ‘only Japanese speaking people’. Because, in that case, they have a legitimate reason not to serve you. We don’t want to give the discriminators anything that they can use as a distraction. So, if the topic of racial discrimination comes up, they will bring up this tattoo thing because it is much easier to justify, and distracts from the many cases of real discrimination that are not addressed. So, by focusing on this, you are playing right into their hands.

    24. DeBourca Says:

      @21. The thing is that you’ve consistently downplayed the reality of discrimination in Japan. You did it again by advising critics to “get a sense of proportion.”

      Discrimination in Japan is endemic. In my view it’s analogous to apartheid era south Africa, albeit not as overt. Black people and Asians couldn’t use the same public facilities as the Whites (Check), jobs, especially government and state ones, were restricted (Check) and so on. It’s so endemic that many people in Japan think this is normal or at least nothing to get worked up about, including you.

      For example, before I left Japan, I went to a hotel/onsen complex with my family. This complex has two hotels/onsen, separated by a road and linked by a shuttle service of about three minute ride. One ENTIRE hotel was reserved for “Foreigners”, in this case, mainly Chinese and Koreans. While the other was reserved for Japanese. As my wife was Japanese and her family reserved the hotel (now I remember, using their Japanese family name), we stayed at the Japanese hotel. However, one evening we took the shuttle bus to the other hotel to sample the evening buffet. There were no Japanese there. You could tell the residents of one hotel from the other because we were given Yukata with different designs. Nothing overt, of course.

      Now, this was apartheid, pure and simple, but NO_ONE saw anything wrong with this. For example, I’m sure my relatives didn’t consciously avoid using my name when booking, but it was simply the way things were done, to save “misunderstandings”. Likewise, I stayed at the Japanese hotel, so people such as yourself can hold up this example and declare “you weren’t discriminated against: You’re just overreacting.”

      Behaviour like this goes on in Japan all the time: Even me, after a few years, stopped noticing it much. It just becomes too much hassle. It was only after leaving the country and thinking back on incidents that I realised how endemic racial apartness was in Japan.

      I will repeat my statement. You may well be happy living in Japan. However, it is effectively an Apartheidt state, and, by living in the society and not speaking out against it (indeed, advising others who do so to get a sense of proportion) you (and many others) are perpetuating the system. I’m sure many Indians in South Africa thought that Ghandi should have got a sense of proportion when he started speaking out against apartheid there. After all, they were in a relatively comfortable situation compared to blacks, so, if you were prepared to bow to discrimination, why rock the boat?

    25. Tony Says:

      Just a small point, but it is worth pointing out that Tokyo is hosting the Olympics, not Japan. The Rugby World Cup will be hosted by Japan, but the Olympics is a city thing, although the central government has generously offered to cover any deficit from taxes paid by the whole of Japan.

    26. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Paul, #20

      > Quoting Caldicott and Gundersen as nuclear “experts” with any sort of credibility is like me quoting the heads of the Creation Museum as experts on the Theory of Evolution.

      Your attempt to discredit these persons for being ‘unscientific’ based on their opposing perspectives, does not get you out of your own bias on “scientific objectivity.” Its biggest problem? “Scientific objectivity” does not always meet the needs from humanitarian perspectives, due to its difficulty to provide better understanding to ordinary people. In the context of Fukushima, what is so called “scientific objectivity” has so far failed to win public understanding because very few nuclear experts were capable of translating technical vocabulary into ordinary language understandable to lay persons regarding its situation and the prognosis for recovery. Scientific research draws public concern over the risks of health hazards on human or environment. Most of scientific research tends to overlook or compromise humanitarian moral ethics due to its cookie-cutter, narrow-down approach to collect the data for whatever goals researchers have in their study. This becomes obvious especially when research involves million dollars funding from the national government or big private industries. Here’s a perfect example:
      http://www.salon.com/2012/09/24/bad_science_gets_busted/

      See why many Japanese nuclear scientists linked with the national government are called “Goyougakusha” (御用学者), or an academic flunk? People like Mr. Shunichi Yamashita spread lies to the general public like “it’s safe to swallow plutonium,” and get nixed by upsetting the local residents. They can’t stick to their moral ethics on their research because of money and peer pressures. That’s why we have such term as ‘bad science.’

      As side note, Creation Museum does not embrace the Theory of Evolution; they simply deny it.

      – One of the problems of talking about nuclear-power issues is that people get bogged down in scientific arguments (this is deliberate: the industry itself keeps the public largely in the dark about the science behind nuclear energy). I don’t want things to get bogged down in debates over the credibility of sources, as it’s not the thrust of this blog entry. Please let’s all relate counterarguments back to the original issue raised here. Those that don’t will not have their comments approved, sorry.

    27. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Well, now I’m really confused.
      Here is Tokyo governor Inose repudiating Abe’s claim to the IOC that Fukushima is ‘all under control’, and yet, didn’t Inose stand up himself on not one but two seperate occasions in the same week and tell the IOC and reporters himself they very same thing? On the second occasion, he grew tired of the constant Fukushima questions, and told everyone that Abe was flying out to explain to the IOC that is was safe.
      Why the sudden change of mind?

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tokyo-governor-contradicts-pms-claim-that-fukushima-is-under-control

      And now the citizens of Fukushima have found a voice and dare to speak out contrary to Abe’s claim!

      http://www.japantoday.com/smartphone/view/national/fukushima-town-protests-abes-global-promise-on-crippled-plant

    28. Baudrillard Says:

      “although the central government has generously offered to cover any deficit from taxes paid by the whole of Japan.””

      Yes, how very generous…not. Pure corruption and confirms that it really is Tokyo uber alles. Thus Sendai aid money from overseas that goes thru Tokyo stays in Tokyo, into the coffers of central Govt to be spent on…roads in Okinawa or whaling.

      “tokyo” and “Japan” are interchangeable brand names. But he who lives by over centralization will die by it.

    29. Loverilakkuma Says:

      Here’s a recent Japanese article on tatoos and bathhouses.

      http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/hl?a=20130922-00000784-bengocom-soci

      民族伝統の「入れ墨」で入浴拒否 「合理性を欠く差別」として許されない?
      弁護士ドットコム 9月22日(日)17時15分配信

      ニュージーランドの先住民族マオリの女性が「顔の入れ墨」を理由に、北海道恵庭市の温泉施設で入浴を断られていたことが明らかになった。2020年の東京オリンピック開催に向け、菅義偉官房長官が「外国の文化に対して敬意を払い、理解をおし進めることが大事だ」と述べるなど、波紋を広げている。

      報道によると、女性はマオリの言語指導者で、唇とあごの入れ墨は「モコ」と呼ばれる伝統的なもの。アイヌ民族の行事のために来日していた9月8日、関係者とともに温泉施設を訪れたが、入浴を拒否された。女性側は「反社会的な入れ墨とは異なる伝統文化であり、差別ではないか」と抗議したが、施設側は「入れ墨に威圧感や恐怖感を覚える人がいる」「背景までは判断できない。入れ墨が見えれば一律で断っている」と説明したという。

      公衆浴場ではしばしば、「入れ墨お断り」という注意書きを見かけるが、そのようなルールによる入浴拒否は、どこまで許されるのだろうか。北海道で開業する中村憲昭弁護士に聞いた。

      ●入浴拒否は「差別」にあたる可能性がある

      「このような入浴拒否は、合理性を欠く差別として許されない可能性があります」

      中村弁護士はこう語る。その根拠はどこにあるのだろうか。

      「『法の下の平等』を定めた憲法14条です。条文には『すべて国民は、法の下に平等であつて、人種、信条、性別、社会的身分または門地により、政治的、経済的又は社会的関係において、差別されない』と書かれています。

      憲法は本来、国と国民の関係を規律した法ですから、温泉施設の管理者と利用者の間、すなわち私人間に直接憲法が適用されるわけではありません。しかし、そこで結ばれた契約が『公序良俗』に反するか否かの判断の際には、憲法の趣旨が間接的に及びます」

      入浴拒否が「差別」となるかどうかは、どう判断すればいいのだろう。

      「差別的取り扱いが許されるかどうかは、目的や手段が社会通念上、合理的かどうかで判断されます。

      本件の場合、人によっては『暴力団排除の目的は合理的である』『不利益覚悟で入れ墨を入れたのだから、温泉に入れなくても我慢しろ』と考える人もいるでしょう。

      しかし、あえて言いますが、入れ墨を入れている人が、すなわち暴力団といえるのでしょうか。昔の任侠映画ならともかく、最近の経済ヤクザはタトゥーなど入れません。外見では暴力団員と分からない者も多いです」

      ●タトゥー(入れ墨)の有無による入浴拒否は「合理的」ではない

      「逆に、今やタトゥーはファッションとして、若者に広く受け入れられています。サッカーやバスケットの選手などは、タトゥーだらけです。安室奈美恵など、芸能人にもタトゥーを入れている人は多くいますし、弁護士にだっています。

      そういったものや、今回の事例のように文化的な意味をもつ入れ墨は、反社会性とは無縁で、暴力団員でないことも明らかです」

      時代は変わった——ということだろうか。

      「社会通念は、時代によって変化します。かつて『長髪』は反社会性の象徴でした。米映画『イージーライダー』(1969年)で、主人公のキャプテン・アメリカは長髪を理由に住民に撃ち殺されます。でも、いま長髪にそこまでの意味を見いだす人はいないでしょう。

      それと同じで、もはや『入れ墨=暴力団』という考え方こそ偏見です。暴力団排除という目的を達成するために、全ての『入れ墨』を拒否するというのは、もはや手段として合理的とは認められないでしょう。

      現実に、外国人観光客の多いニセコの温泉では、事実上、入れ墨拒否というルールを撤廃した施設が多数あります。また、『入れ墨お断り』としながらも、一見して暴力団関係者といえない場合は黙認している施設も多いようですね」

      日本でも古代~江戸時代にかけては、一部の入れ墨が『刑罰』として使われていた時代もあったようだが、いまのタトゥー(入れ墨)はそれとは完全に離れた存在だ。「入れ墨」の存在だけをもって、その人の反社会性を判断するのは、もはや不可能だということなのだろう。

      (弁護士ドットコム トピックス)

    30. Azog Says:

      Well, surely there are a lot of issues to solve, and rewarding Tokyo with the Olympic Games may not have been the right move.

      But I am sooooo happy that the Olympics didn´t go to Madrid (I was born there). In Spain, we don´t have a Democracy, we have a Cleptocracy.

      And Turkey has more issues than Japan. So, shikata ga nai.

    31. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      Maybe you can get into a bathhouse if you look and behave like this:

      http://youtu.be/Hi5ovc7C6FY

      – Or: Get the same bath experience at home, so don’t come by the sento.

    32. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Is Japan ready for the Olympics?
      No, I would say. Should focus on getting ready for the 20th century first.

      Here’s a report of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Committee Chairman complaining about Japanese ice-skaters as athletes that the USA didn’t want. Comment based on the assumption that they were US citizens who became naturalized Japanese citizens in order to compete. This is incorrect. The brother/sister skaters in question have a Japanese mother, and are Japanese citizens by birth, having chosen Japanese nationality and rejecting US citizenship at the required age.

      http://www.japantoday.com/category/sports/view/tokyo-2020-chairman-mori-critical-of-asada

      Debito, you may remember this guy, he’s the head of Japan Rugby. You posted about him complaining about foreign rugby players on the Japanese national team before (two years ago?).

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