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  • “Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on March 9th, 2014

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    Hi Blog. Going viral on Saturday (I’ve been away from my computer this weekend, sorry to be blogging late) was news of a banner up at a sports meet on March 8, 2014, that said “Japanese Only” (the Urawa Reds soccer team in Saitama Stadium, which according to Wikipedia has some of the best-attended games in Japan).  Here it is:


    (Photo courtesy, from BS)

    According to media outlets like Al Jazeera, “the sign could be considered racist”, Kyodo: “seen as racist”, or Mainichi: “could be construed as racist”. (Oh, well, how else could it be considered, seen, or construed then? That only the Japanese language is spoken here?).  Urawa Stadium management just called it “discriminatory” (sabetsu teki) and promised to investigate.  Fortunately it was removed with some solid condemnations.  But no media outlet is bothering to do more than blurb articles on it, barely scratching the surface of the issue.

    And that issue they should scratch up is this: Since at least 1999, as has covered more than any other media on the planet, Japan has had public language of exclusion (specifically, “Japanese Only” signs spreading around Japan) that have justified a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”, particularly those as determined on sight. It’s also perfectly legal, since the GOJ refuses to pass any laws against racial discrimination, despite promises to the contrary it made back in 1995 when signing the UN CERD.

    This much you all know if you’ve been reading this space over the decades. But it bears repeating, over and over again if necessary. Because this sort of thing is not a one-off. It is based upon a mindset that “foreigners” can be treated as subordinate to Japanese in any circumstances, including in this case the allegedly level playing field of sports, and it is so unquestioned and hegemonic that it has become embedded — to the point where it gets dismissed as one of Japan’s “cultural quirks”, and the language of the original Otaru Onsens “Japanese Only” sign has become standardized language for the exclusionary.

    But the problem is also in the enforcement of anti-racism measures.  You think any official international sports body governing soccer (which has zero tolerance for racism and is often very quick to act on it) will investigate this any further? Or that the Olympic Committee before Tokyo 2020 is going to raise any public eyebrows about Japan’s lackadaisical attitude towards racism in its sports?  For example, its outright racism and handicapping/excluding/bashing foreigners (even naturalized “foreigners”) in Sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai, or in the Ekiden Sports Races, which deliberately and overtly handicaps or outright excludes NJ from participation?

    I’m not going to bet my lunch on it, as scrutiny and responsibility-taking (as in, finding out who put that banner up and why — speculation abounds) could happen. But it probably won’t. Because people can’t even say clearly and definitively that what just happened in Urawa was “racism” (and Al Jazeera, the Asahi, or the Mainichi didn’t even see fit to publish a photo of the banner, so readers could feel the full force and context of it). And that we’re going to see ever more expressions of it in our xenophobic youth (which was a huge political force in Tokyo’s last gubernatorial election) as Japan continues its rightward swing into bigotry. ARUDOU Debito


    「JAPANESE ONLY」 J1で差別横断幕か
    朝日新聞 2014年3月9日01時03分

    8日のサッカーJ1浦和―鳥栖戦があった埼玉スタジアムのコンコース内に、「JAPANESE ONLY」との横断幕が掲げられ、浦和側が撤去した。浦和は「差別的と解釈されかねない行為。事実確認のうえ、適切な対応に取り組む」とのコメントを発表した。



    Japanese club remove banner
    The Urawa Red Diamonds remove a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.
    Al Jazeera from AP and AFP, 09 Mar 2014 08:49

    PHOTO CAPTION:  Urawa did not have a single foreigner in their squad for Saturday’s match against Sagan Tosu [AFP]

    The Urawa Reds club, who play in Japan’s J-League Division 1, have removed a banner from their home stadium over fears the sign could be considered racist.

    Most teams in the J-League have foreign players on their roster but Urawa did not have a single foreigner in its squad for Saturday’s match, despite having a Serbian coach in Mihailo Petrovic.

    A photograph of the ‘Japanese Only’ banner went viral on Saturday with it believed to be aimed at foreign tourists.

    A statement on the team’s official website read: “As far as the club is concerned, racist language or behaviour is totally inexcusable.”

    It was not known who put the sign up but the team said they are “working to establish the facts of the incident.”

    After losing the match 1-0 Urawa Reds defender Tomoaki Makino said, “This is what should not be done as our players play for Urawa with pride”.

    He continued “If we can’t be united, we can’t win”.

    Reds remove banner seen as racist
    KYODO/Japan Times MAR 9, 2014

    Urawa Reds said they removed a banner that could be construed as racist from an entrance gate to spectator seats at a J. League match Saturday between Reds and Sagan Tosu.

    The banner in question had the words “Japanese Only” written on and club staff asked for it to be taken down. The person that put up the banner has not been identified, according to Urawa.

    A statement on Reds’ official website said: “We are working to establish the facts of this incident.”

    “As far as this club is concerned, racist language or behavior is totally inexcusable. Urawa Reds abide by the six tenets of the Sports For Peace program, including a ban on racist conduct”

    Opinion was divided among Reds supporters over whether the banner was racist.

    One man, a 36-year-old company employee said, “It’s terrible. Inexcusable,” while another, a 50-year-old salaryman said, “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League.”

    Mainichi Daily News adds:

    Urawa did not have a single foreign player in their squad for Saturday’s match.

    A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

    March 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)


    読売新聞 2014年3月9日00時51分 スポーツ報知

    埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJ1の浦和―鳥栖で、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられたことが、浦和への取材で分かった。「日本人以外お断り」との差別的な意味にも取れる可能性があるため、クラブのスタッフが要請して横断幕は外されたという。



    See also:

    More elaborate discussion in Japanese at

    UPDATE: I did a Japan Times column on this issue shortly afterwards. Read it at:

    25 Responses to ““Japanese Only” banner in Saitama Stadium at Urawa Reds soccer game; yet media minces words about the inherent racism behind it”

    1. john k Says:

      When you consieer what occured in HK:

      This should be reported to FiFa. As noted in FiFa’s guidelines:

      Just one of many edicts:

      “..requires all organisers of football matches to impose regulations that refuse admission to football grounds to any persons indulging in, or suspected of intending to indulge in acts of racism or related violence, and to ban all articles that convey any message of a racist content in words or in symbols..”

    2. arudou debito Says:

      Huffington Post Japan weighs in with some deeper analysis. However, it too minces words about the racism:

      As does the Nikkan Sports article it cites:

      2014年3月9日 ニッカン スポーツ

       埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJ1の浦和-鳥栖で、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられたことが、浦和への取材で分かった。「日本人以外お断り」との差別的な意味にも取れる可能性があるため、クラブのスタッフが要請して横断幕は外されたという。



    3. Baudrillard Says:

      Arguably proves that the Western Media is the Message/Massage, i.e. handling Japan with kid gloves so as not to offend the rightists in power. The western media is following a tradition of offhandedly assuming Japan is the “nice” Asian country.

      All part of the western business agenda to re-brand Japan in the western public’s consciousness as “one of us”. Its magical transformation overnight since 1945 as a paragon of democracy in an otherwise problematic region of fascist dictatorships (S Korea, S. Vietnam, Taiwan) versus communist dictatorships in the cold war. Of course, in that outdated world, Japan did indeed seem relatively “western” (with an occupying USA making sure they at least paid lip service to buzzwords like “democracy” “human rights” and “individualism”).

      “a narrative that says it’s perfectly all right to allow places to say “no” to foreigners”,

      A narrative that the media has been following for decades. Somehow it has just got into your average western liberal with a case of white guilt that Japan- apart from a few minor cultural differences/quirks- is basically nice to NJs. When I try to tell even my family that its not that nice, their eyes tend to glaze over and they get a “Does not Compute” look.

      My grandfather had it right when he told me the Japanese (Govt) were Xenophobic and always had been. I thought he was biased because he fought in the war and set out to prove him wrong.

      But he was right and I was wrong.

    4. Baudrillard Says:

      And here is the J apologism, gotta love the excuses, havent they ever heard of Occam’s Razor? It should do well in Japan’s cliche of “Zen Simplicity”- I have always argued that only naive newbie NJs think there is a great mystery to Japan- things ARE as they seem!

      Hence: a 50-year-old salaryman said, “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League.”

      Really. Thats deep, I dont see that at all. But maybe, as an NJ, I can never understand such a subtlety. Or do you mean pump up the J league with non Japanese players?

      A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

      Ingenious, but surely then, it means its a tongue in cheek twisting of a racist term to mean something completely different? A bit like a Japanese Monty Python?

      Given the vast pool of Pythoneseque irreverent and ironic humor available on J-TV (sarcasm mine), then yes, thank you, I can now get the irony of the statement, Ms. 28 year old Tongue in Cheek (皮肉を込めて).

      So surely then, there is no need for the J Embassy to complain about that recent BBC comedy program about the double A bomb survivor?

      The BBC was just being “tongue in cheek” surely? (^-^)

    5. Enginerd Says:

      can you be sure someone wasn’t just stealth marketing for your books, Debito ? 😉

      I jest, of course – pretty interesting to see something like this pop up just a few days after I asked about japanese sports. The handwringing inability of the (J) press to call a spade a spade makes it seem to me that they care about racism (if they do at all) more for the PR-damage it might do for Japan than, you know, the actual victims who they hurt by it. Priorities, man. And the good old cover of “misunderstandings”, sure… maybe the person who wrote this was japanese who misunderstood english and actually meant something totally different. Or maybe the Saitama Stadium actually doubles as an Onsen in the off-season…

    6. Bitter Valley Says:

      Again, this is a 180 bullseye of the need for a clear, unambivalent, no-quibble-or-get-out-clause included, anti-discrimination law. Since when could such a sign, which looks to be carried by a moron-thug soccer lout, reminding me of the 1970s in England, NOT be considered racist.

      Urawa is a boring concrete eyesore pit anyway.
      Even less excuse for me to go there again (I went once to watch) and rush past onto better places, well if you call cattle trucking along on the Saikyo Line, etc. rushing…

    7. Jim Di Griz Says:

      A 28-year-old female company employee said, “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not being bolstering the team with foreign players.”

      What? You mean to say ‘All Japanese’?
      In this day and age (what with the internet and all) there is no excuse for the type of poor English the Japanese regularly trot out from supposedly international institutions and companies.

      In other news, just watched BBC’s Top Gear; Burma Special, which aired on Sunday. It was supposed to have been the 2013 Christmas Special, but was postponed without explanation. Given that the show includes a visit to the mass grave of 20,000 commonwealth soldiers who died as Japanese prisoners of war, and includes reading of a POW’s eyewitness account of Japanese warcrimes, did the BBC decide to pull it after Abe visited Yasukuni? Remember how the BBC show QI was slammed by the J-Gov for it’s Hiroshima survivor comments.

    8. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      I just hope that the folks who made the banner – assuming, of course, that it was indeed the alleged “tongue in cheek” reference to the 100% Japanese fielding – were aware that one of the Reds players is in fact a naturalised citizen.

    9. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      Urawa has looked into it and questioned the person who put up the banner. This individual has claimed that he had no racist intents. [taken with a bucket-sized pinch of salt]

      読売新聞 3月10日(月)21時4分配信

      J1の浦和―鳥栖戦が行われた埼玉スタジアムで8日、「JAPANESE ONLY(日本人のみ入場可)」という人種差別ととれる垂れ幕が掲げられた問題で、浦和の淵田敬三社長は10日、都内のJリーグ事務局を訪れ、掲示した人物を特定して事情を聞いていることなどを報告した。


      — No express intent? Oh, that’s okay then! :) Not!

    10. john k Says:

      JDG #7

      Sorry for slight hijacking the thread. But…how did you watch Top Gear? I only know it being shown on BBC knowledge, which no broadcaster in Japan shows. Or have you found one that does?

    11. Jim di Griz Says:

      John K #10

      BBC iPlayer

    12. MA Says:

      Yosshu, I gotta’ remember this effective magical phrase, “(insert crime here) ito wa nakatta.”

      It seems adding “ito wa nakatta” spins a crime admittance into an acceptable “shakumei”. Great.

    13. David Adams Says:

      The Japanese Only sign at the Reds’ game was noticed by the Japan office of, which is collecting signatures in a petition to the J League. Earlier when I mentioned this to Debito, it seemed as if they were aiming for 1500 signatures, but now they have nearly 1700 as of this message, and the goal has been raised to 2500. (my comment earlier was, that’s a start, and now it’s “let’s see how high it goes”)
      Incidentally, allows you to login w/ Facebook to sign the petition, and has a share-friendly function where you can send individual messages to all of your FB friends. Twitter and e-mail as well.

      Sorry if the link is mojibake. There are Japanese characters in the URL.

      — The link works.

    14. gg Says:

      As an NJ who has attended roughly 75 Reds’ games since 2003, this one hits home. I find this sign alarming to say the least, and wonder more and more if I can continue to be a supporter.

      My best guess is that the fan clubs who gather in sections 209 and 210 of Saitama stadium – the hardcore types that stand sing and jump the whole game – have grown tired of the tourist spectators who come to the game to take in the experience in their sections. Perhaps there have been some issues with them in the last couple seasons. I have no idea actually because I don’t go as nearly as much as I used to before I had kids.

      As fortune would have it, I have a plan to go to a game on April 29th with my sons. Family date with another NJ father and his son. For now, I still plan to go, weather permitting, and will definitely take it up with the staff when I am there and see what they have to say about it then.

      I also really want to hear it from the “call leader” of the ouendan. If he says something apologetic and critical of that behavior then I think there is some meaning in the effort to address that behavior.

      I think the whole tangent of discussion about the team having only one foreign player on the roster currently is grabbing at straws. They almost won the league championship last year with the same team and in recent years they had their full allotment of NJ players. They also had some doubles like Tulio and Santos who took Japanese citizenship to play on the national team and to be counted as Japanese on their club team’s roster.

    15. arudou debito Says:

      Japan Today weighs in, via AFP. Once again, it’s couched as “apparently racist”. And no photo of the banner published there either.

      ‘Japanese only’ banner scandal hits J-League
      SPORTS MAR. 11, 2014 – 06:30AM JST ( 41 )TOKYO —

      Japan’s professional soccer league said Monday it was investigating after an apparently racist banner reading “Japanese only” appeared at a weekend match.

      The large banner, written in English, was hoisted near a gate to the stands of a stadium in the city of Saitama near Tokyo, where home club Urawa Red Diamonds were taking on rivals Sagan Tosu.

      Social media was abuzz with speculation that the sign could have been targeting South Korean-born striker Tadanari Lee, who was released by English club Southampton for a transfer to Urawa before the J-League season kicked off this month. Lee also holds Japanese citizenship.

      Urawa said Monday it was questioning an unspecified number of people who had displayed the banner, which also featured a Japanese flag, saying their “words and deeds evoked discrimination”.

      “Staff from a security guard company in the stands has reported that discriminatory remarks were heard during the match,” the statement said, without elaborating.

      Urawa is managed by Austrian Mihailo Petrovic and has Brazilian Marcio Richardes as one of its midfielders.

      Sagan’s manager and coach are both South Korean, as are several players.

      Urawa defender Tomoaki Makino tweeted after his team’s 1-0 loss on Saturday that “this is not the way to treat players who fight for this team with pride”.

      “Players and supporters cannot unite as one and produce results this way,” he wrote.

      Urawa, the 2007 Asian champions which draws passionate backing from its large fan base, said the results of its probe would be released to the public.

      “Discriminatory remarks and actions cannot be condoned,” it said.

      J-League chairman Mitsuru Murai told Japanese media that “we will deal with it in a stern manner” if the message was proven “discriminatory.”

      The Japan Football Association had no immediate comment.

      Japan’s often rocky relationship with Seoul was on display at the 2012 London Olympics when South Korea’s football team beat Japan in the bronze-medal match.

      South Korean player Park Jong-Woo waved a sign claiming that islands at the center of territorial dispute with Tokyo were Korean territory, earning him a two-match suspension.

      © 2014 AFP

    16. Karjh12 Says:

      Jim Di Griz @ 7

      Regarding your last paragraph.

      Can anyone tell me whether the film “The Railway Man ” is being /has been or yet to be screened in Japan ?

      While the film was not overly critically acclaimed for the personal relationships and took some shortcuts for the sake of film narrative,
      but was reasonably historically accurate, can it be screened/is being screened in Japan with a sense of historical recognition and reflection ?

    17. Jim Di Griz Says:

      @ Karjh12 #16

      I haven’t seen or heard anything about this film being shown in Japan, but seriously;
      ‘screened in Japan with a sense of historical recognition and reflection’? LOL!
      The Japanese are all too busy sending a right-wing revisionist penned FANTASY about the beauty of being a Kamikaze to the top spot, so what on earth would lead you to even ask such a question?

    18. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      @ JDG and Karjh12,

    19. John (Yokohama) Says:

      “Soccer fans behind ‘Japanese Only’ banner may be barred from stadium

      SAITAMA — Soccer fans who put up a banner reading “JAPANESE ONLY” in Saitama Stadium here during a March 8 match may be banned from future games, it was learned March 12.

      The hand-made banner was hung above the entrance to a seat section dominated by fans of the hometown Urawa Reds during the match against visiting Sagan Tosu, and was accompanied by a Japanese national flag. The Urawa Reds club is now considering barring the fans responsible for the banner from coming to the stadium for games, and a final decision is expected to be announced soon.

      The banner was taken down following the Reds-Sagan match. However, the Urawa club identified the fans who had put it up and contacted them for questioning. The club is also continuing to investigate why the culprits put up the discriminatory banner.

      Furthermore, according to a source with the soccer club, the Urawa Reds have now recognized that the banner was explicit discrimination. The club had formerly stated only that the banner “could be interpreted as discriminatory.”

      March 12, 2014 (Mainichi Japan)”

      Original Japanese:
      サッカー:J1 差別的横断幕の観客、浦和が入場禁止処分を検討
      毎日新聞 2014年03月12日 東京夕刊


       横断幕は「日本人以外お断り」の意味もある「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれたもので、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに掲げられていた。試合後に撤去された。浦和では、掲げた人物を特定し、事情を聴いていた。なぜ横断幕を掲出したかなどの調査は進める。また浦和の関係者によれば、クラブではこれまで横断幕の内容について「差別的な意味に解釈できる」と若干幅を持たせていたが、「差別的表現」と認識を改めるとしている。【村社拓信】


      Plus related articles:

      毎日新聞 2014年03月12日 11時49分(最終更新 03月12日 14時03分)


       横断幕は「日本人以外お断り」の意味もある「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれたもので、浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに掲げられていた。試合後に撤去された。浦和では、掲げた人物を特定し、事情を聴いていた。今後も、なぜ横断幕を掲出したかなどの調査は進める。



      社説:差別的横断幕 「割れた窓」放置するな
      毎日新聞 2014年03月12日 02時30分

       埼玉スタジアムで8日に行われたサッカーJリーグの浦和−鳥栖戦で浦和サポーター席へ入るゲートに日の丸とともに「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれた横断幕が掲げられ、試合後に撤去された。


      Editorial: ‘Japanese Only’ banner signal for sporting world to fight back against racism
      March 12, 2014(Mainichi Japan)

      One cannot ignore a broken window, even if it’s just one pane in a house made of glass. To keep silent, to look away from the shattered pane will lead to more broken windows, until the whole house — our society — is reduced to a heap of shards. Discrimination, based on race, religion or gender, is like that broken window. We must have the strength to stand up against such baseless hatreds before they can spread, before they can break more windows in our house.

      “JAPANESE ONLY.” So read a banner above the entrance to a seat section in Saitama Stadium during a March 8 J-League soccer match between the Urawa Reds and Sagan Tosu. The English-language banner and the Japanese flag next to it were taken down after the match.

      The ugly phrase reminds us of the “white only” signs that were once such common sights at facilities both public and private in the American South and apartheid South Africa. It has also turned out that someone in that section full of Urawa fans made discriminately remarks during the match.

      On March 9, J-League Chairman Mitsuru Murai was quick to show that Japanese soccer would not stand for such discrimination, demanding the Urawa club conduct a thorough inquiry into the incident and report back to the league. Murai’s response was, we must say, the obvious and natural thing to do. The Urawa club has apparently already begun questioning the person or persons who put up the banner, and expects to file its report within the week. However, whatever the culprits intended to say with the banner, they must take full responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

      In recent years, instances of hate-driven verbal attacks against and exclusion of those with different opinions and cultural backgrounds have become markedly more prominent. One obvious example is the recent rash of hate speech. It’s deeply regrettable if this intolerant eddy within Japanese society had reached Saitama Stadium.

      Stamping out racism among fans of Europe’s football teams has so far proved impossible. In other words, ridding the sport of discrimination is a major task for soccer as a whole.

      In November 2013, the Japan Football Association (JFA) followed the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)’s lead and added provisions against racial discrimination to its disciplinary regulations. Under the rules, players who commit discriminatory acts are subject to a minimum five-match suspension and a fine of at least 100,000 yen. The rules also make clubs responsible for monitoring the actions of their fans. If a club’s fans cause a serious racist incident, then the club may be forced to play matches in empty stadiums or forfeit games entirely.

      Sports stadiums are places where we can all express excitement and enthusiasm beyond what’s possible in our everyday lives. However, these places have rules, too. It goes without saying, we hope, that acts which do violence to individual dignity — like that banner in Saitama Stadium — cannot be tolerated let alone forgiven.

      That being said, we recommend avoiding measures such as minutely detailed regulations, an overbearing security presence or harsh penalties, as they risk limiting our freedom. We call for self-restraint and moderation as we tackle the ugly specter of discrimination.

      Soccer and sports as a whole can communicate some very powerful messages to the public. We call on the sporting world to use the Saitama Stadium incident to show it is ready and willing to battle discrimination head-on.


    20. John (Yokohama) Says:

      “Urawa Reds to ban fans responsible for ‘discriminatory’ banner


      A “Japanese Only” banner is displayed in the concourse at an entrance gate to seating on March 8 at Saitama Stadium. (Provided by a fan of Urawa Reds)

      Officials with the Urawa Reds professional soccer club plan to ban fans who displayed a banner declaring “Japanese Only” at a recent J.League match, sources said.

      Sources added the fans involved have denied discriminatory intent, but team officials who have been investigating the incident have concluded punishment is necessary for a discriminatory message, regardless of their intent.

      “At first we only thought that the banner ‘could be construed as a discriminatory message,’ but we were too lenient,” a public relations official for the team said. “We now consider it as definitely ‘a discriminatory message.’ ”

      The English-language banner had been displayed on a concourse at Saitama Stadium on March 8 during the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Sagan Tosu in Urawa’s home opener.

      According to the sources, those responsible are expected to be banned from entering stadiums for both home and away Reds matches.

      Sources said team officials are still investigating the intent of the perpetrators, but will impose the ban by March 15, when the Reds play an away match against Sanfrecce Hiroshima.

      The team is also considering punitive action against its staff members for allowing the banner to be hung at least for about an hour because they initially underestimated the seriousness of the incident.


      — That’s very good news. Especially the last paragraph, which if it happens will be a pleasant surprise.

    21. Mick Hardwick Says:


      Good post. I was coming here to say the same thing. Perhaps they`re tired of NJ not joining in with the non-stop cheering.

    22. Jim di Griz Says:

      A surprisingly satisfactory result.
      But just wait for all the ‘gaijin are too sensitive’ backlash.

    23. Baudrillard Says:

      “the fans involved have denied discriminatory intent, “- I would love to hear what their justification/excuse was!
      @ Mick, Perhaps they`re tired of NJ not joining in with the non-stop cheering.

      Well, you know that We Japanese soccer fans do have a unique culture and way of supporting. Irony aside though, it would not surprise me if this group of J fans saw it as a private club, with its own hierarchy of sempai and kohai, and thought explaining this to a gaijin would just be “mendokusai”.

      I ll give you another example how this hierarchy extends to just about all segments of J society, even the hobbies (other than solitary hobbies, which are probably popular because the whole group dynamic is hierarchical). Just one of many, many examples in my 20 years in Japan, I was asked by someone to show films at an event, but my GF, who knew the self styled organizer warned me, “Dont do it, he will expect a lot from you and there is no pay or anything. Some people really hate this, its like exploitation”.

      But I kept an open mind, and in any case, this guy had apparently lived in Australia so I figured would be easy going. However, it turned out he expected me to attend all night (and I had to work the next day) and got very upset when I said I was leaving on the last subway home.

      He said “We work as a team (for free). Minna gambatteimasu, except you. You gaijin always want to do it your way, “you one man play”.

      At this point you really have to question if it is worth taking part in any kind of these social events that just seem like unpaid work.

      I bet the rationale behind the banner was this kind of thinking; that the NJs wouldnt take orders from a self styled sempai, cheer on demand, understand the Japanese chants, show “team spirit”, go drinking afterwards, accept all the “giri” etc??

    24. gg Says:

      Thanks Mick Hardwick. I think it’s significant that it was the first game of the season too. I believe this suggests it was not a knee jerk reaction to one event/incident but something that had been discussed and agreed upon during the off season.

      But I was also a little surprised that the J. League commissioner came out and had some of the toughest words yet. Perhaps he’s feelinga little pressure from it being a WC year and not wanting things to escalate with the Tokyo Olympics not too far off.

      Now I’m really looking forward to going to the game at the end of April…

    25. Bob Says:

      J-League is banning all fans from 1 game, a first-of-its-kind punishment in the J-League, the most serious sanction ever imposed on a team.

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