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  • Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 73, “J.League and Media Must Show Red Card to Racism” on Saitama Stadium “Japanese Only” Urawa Reds soccer fans, Mar 13, 2014

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on March 11th, 2014

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    Hi Blog and JT Readers.  Thanks again for putting this article top of the JT Online for two straight days again! ARUDOU Debito

    ISSUES| JUST BE CAUSE
    justbecauseicon.jpg
    J.LEAGUE AND MEDIA MUST SHOW RED CARD TO RACISM 
    JBC Column 73 for the Japan Times Community Page
    To be published March 13, 2014
    By ARUDOU Debito
    Courtesy http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2014/03/12/issues/j-league-and-media-must-show-red-card-to-racism/
    Version with links to sources

    Urawajapaneseonlysideview030814

    On Saturday, during their J. League match against Sagan Tosu at Saitama Stadium, some Urawa Reds fans hung a “Japanese only” banner over an entrance to the stands.

    It went viral. Several sports sections in Japanese newspapers and blogs, as well as overseas English media, covered the story. The banner was reportedly soon taken down, and both the football club and players expressed regret that it had ever appeared. Urawa investigated, and at the time of going to press Wednesday, reports were suggesting that the club had decided that the banner was discriminatory, reversing a previous finding that the fans behind the incident had “no discriminatory intent.”

    So case closed? Not so fast. There is something important that the major media is overlooking — nay, abetting: the implicit racism that would spawn such a sign.

    None of the initial reports called out the incident for what it was: racial discrimination (jinshu sabetsu). News outlets such as Kyodo, Asahi, Mainichi, Yomiuri, AP, AFP, Al-Jazeera — even The Japan Times — muted their coverage by saying the banner “could apparently be considered/construed/seen as racist.” (Well, how else could it be construed? Were they trying to say that “only the Japanese language is spoken here”?) Few ran pictures of the banner to give context or impact.

    Japanese media appended the standard hand-wringing excuses, including the cryptic “I think the meaning behind it is for Japanese to pump up the J. League,” and even a reverse-engineered claim of performance art: “I think it was just tongue-in-cheek because the club is not bolstering the team with foreign players.” (Oh, and that’s not prejudiced?)

    The Internet buzzed with speculation about the banner’s intent. Was it referring to the fact that Urawa was allegedly fielding a Japanese-only team for a change (notwithstanding their Serbian coach)? Or were the bleachers to be kept foreigner-free?

    Doesn’t matter. “Japanese only” has long been the exclusionary trope for Japan’s xenophobes. The phrase came to prominence in 1999 in the Otaru onsen case, which revolved around several public bathhouses in Otaru, Hokkaido, that refused entry to all “foreigners” based on their physical appearance (including this author, a naturalized Japanese). Later, exclusionary businesses nationwide copycatted and put up “Japanese only” signs of their own. “Japanese only” is in fact part of a social movement.

    The upshot is, if you don’t “look Japanese,” you are not welcome. That’s where the racism comes in. Why should the Urawa banner be “construed” any differently?

    The better question is: Why does this language keep popping up in public places? I’ll tell you why. Because Japan keeps getting a free pass from the outside world.

    Just look at Japan’s sports leagues and you’ll find a long history of outright racism — excluding, handicapping and bashing foreigners (even the naturalized “foreigners”) in, for example, sumo, baseball, hockey, rugby, figure skating, the Kokutai national sports festivals and the Ekiden long-distance races. So much for a sporting chance on a level playing field.

    Nevertheless, Japan keeps getting rewarded with major international events, such as the FIFA World Cup in 2002, the Rugby World Cup in 2019, and the Olympics in 2020. So be as racist as you like: There’s no penalty.

    Anyplace else and soccer governing body FIFA would probably take swift action to investigate and penalize offenders in line with its policy of zero tolerance for racism, as has been done in the past, most recently in China. In January, the Hong Kong Football Association got fined for shirking its responsibility to stop racial discrimination against Filipino supporters by Hong Kong national team fans during a “friendly” match.

    The Urawa Reds incident is still fresh. I await FIFA’s reaction (if any) with anticipation. But after more than two decades of watching this stuff — and even doing a doctoral dissertation on it — I’m not hopeful.

    After all, Japan is not China. The developed world sees Japan as their bulwark of democracy in Asia, and is willing to overlook one very inconvenient truth: that a racialized narrative in Japan is so commonplace and unchallenged that it has become embedded in the discourse of race relations. Foreigners are simply not to be treated the same as Japanese.

    People often blame this phenomenon on legal issues (foreigners are not treated exactly the same as citizens anywhere else either, right?) but the pachyderm in the parlor is that the practical definition of “foreigner” is racial, i.e., identified by sight. Anyone “looking foreign” who defied that Urawa banner and entered that stadium section would have gotten — at the very least — the stink-eye from those (still-unnamed) xenophobes who put it up. What other purpose could the banner possibly serve? In any case, it has no place under official FIFA rules.

    Make no mistake: “Japanese only” underscores a racialized discourse, and the media should stop making things worse by kid-gloving it as some kind of cultural misunderstanding. It does nobody any favors, least of all Japanese society.

    Consider this: As Japan’s rightward swing continues, overt xenophobia (some of it even advocating murder and war) is getting more vociferous and normalized. Not to mention organized: The Asahi Shimbun reported that in Tokyo’s recent gubernatorial election, about a quarter of the 611,000 people who voted for extreme-right candidate Toshio Tamogami, an overtly xenophobic historical revisionist, were young men in their 20s — a demographic also over-represented at soccer games.

    Giving their attitudes a free pass with milquetoast criticism (J. League Chairman Mitsuru Murai said that he will act if the banner was proven to be “discriminatory” — meaning he could possibly find otherwise?) only encourages discriminatory behavior: Be as racist as you like; there’s no penalty.

    Point is, the only way to ensure Japan keeps its international promises (such as by creating a law against racial discrimination, after signing the U.N. Convention on Racial Discrimination nearly 20 years ago!) is to call a spade a spade. As scholar Ayu Majima notes, Japan has a fundamental “perception of itself as a civilized nation,” an illusion that would be undermined by claims of domestic racism. Remember: Racism happens in other countries, not here.

    (Source:  Ayu Majima, “Skin Color Melancholy in Modern Japan.”  In Kowner and Demel, Eds., RACE AND RACISM IN MODERN EAST ASIA.  Brill, 2013, p. 409.)

    By always denying racism’s existence, Japan preserves its self-image of civilization and modernity, and that’s why calling out this behavior for what it is — racial discrimination — is such a necessary reality check. FIFA and media watchdogs need to do their jobs, so I don’t have to keep writing these columns stating the obvious. Stop abetting this scourge and show some red cards.

    Arudou Debito is the author of the “Guidebook for Relocation and Assimilation into Japan” (www.debito.org/handbook.html) Twitter: @arudoudebito. Comments and story ideas: community@japantimes.co.jp
    ==============================

    UPDATE:  A lot happened soon after this article came out; I believe some of it because.  You can read comments below for some updates, and see my separate blog entry for the conclusions and lessons I learned from it – that essentially you’re not going to get any progress on the human rights front by appealing to moral arguments, because Japan’s elites and national narrative-setters don’t really care about that.  What they really DO care about is Japan’s image abroad as a “civilized” country, and that is the only pressure point NJ have.

    25 Responses to “Japan Times JUST BE CAUSE Col 73, “J.League and Media Must Show Red Card to Racism” on Saitama Stadium “Japanese Only” Urawa Reds soccer fans, Mar 13, 2014”

    1. arudou debito Says:

      – Complete tangent, but I saw this up at the JT website this morning below my article. Hilarious. Computer search engines and their keywords!

      JTfindracialdiscriminationnearyou031314

    2. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I just saw the survey below the article. Is this your request or the JT editor’s idea?

      Question: What were they thinking? What do you think the culprits behind the “Japanese only” banner at the Urawa Reds game actually meant to say?

      -Only Japanese fans are welcome here

      -Only Japanese should be spoken here

      -No foreign players in our team, and we’re so darn proud of it

      -No foreign players in our team, in contrast to Sagan Tosu

      -No foreign players in our team, and we don’t want Tadanari Lee (who’s, er, Japanese) tainting our racial purity

      - Only Japanese players in our team? What the hell is that about?

      – The survey and the questions were not my content, request, or concept.

    3. Johnny T Says:

      http://headlines.yahoo.co.jp/cm/main?d=20140313-00000025-nksports-socc&s=lost_points&o=desc&p=2

      One game in an empty stadium is Urawa’s punishment. Most commenters seem to think this is lenient, however I suspect these are probably non-Urawa fans using this as a stick to bash Urawa with.

    4. arudou debito Says:

      – Excellent news:

      Reds ordered to play behind closed doors for racist banner
      March 13, 2014 (Mainichi Japan), courtesy of MS
      http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140313p2g00m0dm074000c.html

      TOKYO (Kyodo) — The J-League came down hard on Urawa Reds for what it deemed as racist fan behavior, ordering the former Asian champions on Thursday to play an upcoming match behind closed doors.

      In the stiffest punishment yet issued by the 20-year-old J-League, Urawa, the best supported club in Japan with an average attendance of more than 37,000 last season, must host their March 23 league game against Shimizu S-Pulse before an empty crowd at Saitama Stadium.

      Playing at home to Sagan Tosu on March 8, Reds allowed a banner that read, “Japanese Only” and did not remove it until after the game. Urawa have fielded an all-Japanese lineup in both matches this season.

      Reds are holding their own investigation into the matter, having already identified the responsible fans who claim they had no racist intentions.

      That, however, is besides the point, says league chairman Mitsuru Murai, who took over for Kazumi Ohigashi in January.

      “There are various ways of determining what constitutes discrimination,” Murai said in a statement. “But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.”

      “Over the last several days through the media and on the Internet, these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community.”

      Reds have been sanctioned before for racist behavior by their frenetic supporters, being fined 5 million yen and censured in 2010 when fans taunted foreign players of Vegalta Sendai.

      Murai said past offenses by Urawa fans — and not just those involving racism — were taken into account as the league’s judiciary committee decided on the punishment.

      Following Thursday’s decision, Reds announced they will prohibit their supporters from displaying signs and banners of any kind across all competitions.

      “With regards to Urawa Reds, they have had repeated trouble with their supporters in the past and the club have previously been sanctioned for racist behavior by their fans,” Murai said.

      “While these most recent acts were conducted by a small group of supporters, it is with utmost regret that Urawa Reds — who have been with the J-League since its founding year in 1993 and who ought to be an example for all of Japanese football — allowed an incident like this to happen.”

      “The league has strongly demanded Urawa Reds to accept this decision with the full weight of responsibility and to make sure it does not happen ever again.”

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

      差別横断幕:浦和に無観客試合 Jリーグ初の処分
      毎日新聞 2014年03月13日 13時15分(最終更新 03月13日 13時37分)
      http://mainichi.jp/sports/news/20140313k0000e050187000c.html

       8日に埼玉スタジアムで行われたサッカーJリーグ1部の浦和−鳥栖戦の試合中、会場内に人種差別的な内容を含む横断幕が掲げられた問題で、Jリーグの村井満チェアマンは13日、浦和に対し、けん責と、23日にホームの同スタジアムで開催される清水戦を無観客とする処分を科すと発表した。Jリーグでの無観客試合の処分は初めて。

       横断幕には「日本人以外お断り」の意味がある「JAPANESE ONLY」と書かれており、浦和のサポーター席へ入るゲートに掲げられた。試合後に浦和が撤去し、掲げた人物から事情聴取するなど調査を進め、13日までにJリーグに報告した。

       浦和によると、横断幕を掲げた人物は事情聴取に対して「差別的な意図はなかった」と釈明していたが、その後、当日のスタンド内で差別的発言を聞いたという複数の証言が寄せられたことなどから、クラブ側は「差別的な言動があった」と判断。村井チェアマンも12日に「発信者の意図の問題よりも、受け手が明確に差別されたと意識を持ちうる表現であれば、(差別だと)そう思う」とし、厳しい態度で臨む姿勢を示していた。【平本泰章、村社拓信】

      – Note that the Japanese even calls it “racial discrimination” (jinshu sabetsu). Bravo Mainichi. And bravo J.League! Well redeemed!

      I wonder if they read my column. If they did, this has been a good day’s work.

    5. john k Says:

      Indeed excellent news.

      Pity ANA/Panasonic et al, don’t take these issues as seriously.

    6. Jim di Griz Says:

      An astonishingly enlightened attitude. A first in my experience.

      “But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.”

    7. Baudrillard Says:

      Harsh but fair.

      But I am waiting for some Govt intervention from the likes of The Divine Mori or similar to say why its not racist.

      Still, this is a rare achievement for opponents of racism in Japan.

      Just my personal take but I have been a victim of racially motivated aggression or vandalism only when I lived in Dasaitama and Kawasaki.

      Does anyone have any coroborating stories?

    8. arudou debito Says:

      – Urawa Reds’ official statement on the issue, as of March 11, with some important facts of the case confirmed within:

      http://www.urawa-reds.co.jp/reds-en/news/regarding-the-incident-during-the-match-against-sagan-tosu/

      14.03.11

      Regarding the incident during the match against Sagan Tosu

      Statements and actions liable to be interpreted as discriminatory were observed during today’s J. League 2nd Sec match between Urawa Reds and Sagan Tosu.

      We sincerely apologise for the considerable distress and concern that this incident has caused for all who love and support Urawa Reds, everyone involved in the J. League and the entire sporting community.

      As a club, Urawa Reds reinforced the SPORTS FOR PEACE! Project from the start of this season. To make our stadium a safer place, we have been appealing for everyone’s compliance and understanding with regard to six prohibited items (discriminatory remarks, violent behaviour, throwing things onto the pitch, damage to property, trespassing in prohibited areas and smoking in the stands).

      Further to the club inquiry, we have now confirmed the following:

      [The banner]
      A member of club staff reported at about 17:00, on the basis of information received from security personnel and through social media, that a banner reading “JAPANESE ONLY” had been placed on the concourse side of Gate 209. The instruction to remove the banner was issued promptly at 17:09. Generally, however, in order to prevent further trouble, the removal of banners is only conducted by mutual consent with the cooperation of the parties involved. This incident occurred during the match, with the result that the club eventually only had the banner forcibly removed at 18:04.

      The question of exactly when of the banner was put up is still being investigated. The party which raised the banner is being interviewed and the findings of this questioning will be reported in due course.

      The club will, without fail, remove any such items which may be deemed discriminatory in future.

      [Discriminatory remarks]
      Members of club staff and security firm personnel were deployed on the pitch-side on the day of the match under the reinforcement of the SPORTS FOR PEACE! Project. They heard no discriminatory remarks during the match.

      However, security firm personnel deployed in the stand did report afterwards that they had heard some discriminatory remarks during the match. The club will investigate the case to verify the facts of this report .

      We are appealing for the cooperation of anyone who heard discriminatory remarks in the stadium to tell us about it at redsinfo@urawa-reds.co.jp.

      [Message from the Club]
      It is extremely regrettable that such an incident occurred during Urawa Reds’ first home match of the season despite our efforts to reinforce the SPORTS FOR PEACE! Project from this season. We extend our deepest apologies to all who love and support Urawa Reds and all who may have been offended by it. We will reflect deeply on this incident and do our utmost to act more promptly in the future.

      This club categorically holds all discriminatory remarks and actions to be completely unacceptable. We are convinced that the most effective way to defeat discrimination is through the hearts and minds of each and every individual. As a club, we are making a dedicated effort to teach such awareness through the SPORTS FOR PEACE! Project.

      The club takes this incident extremely seriously and will further reinforce its measures against all anti-social behaviour, including discriminatory remarks. We will introduce specific measures before our next home match. These will be reported in due course.

      Urawa Red Diamonds
      ENDS

    9. arudou debito Says:

      – Now the Yokohama Marinos soccer team fans have created an anti-discriminatory banner to rival the Urawa fans’ racist one! More bravos!

      showracismtheredcard031214

      http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/2014/03/12/show-racism-the-red-card_n_4952616.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

      横浜マリノスサポーターが横断幕「差別にレッドカードを」
      朝日新聞デジタル | 執筆者: 朝日新聞社提供
      投稿日: 2014年03月13日 09時16分 JST | 更新: 2014年03月13日 09時16分 JST

      フォロー: JAPANESE ONLY, Jリーグ, Show Racism The Red Card, サッカー, サッカー 差別, レッドカード, 差別, 横浜マリノス, 浦和レッズ JAPANESE ONLY, 社会, ニュース
      「差別にレッドカードを」 横浜マ、サポーターが横断幕

      横浜国際総合競技場で12日夜に行われたサッカー・アジアチャンピオンズリーグ(ACL)の横浜マ―広州恒大(中国)戦で、横浜マのサポーターがハーフタイムに「Show Racism the Red Card」(人種差別にレッドカードを)と書かれた横断幕をゴール裏のスタンドに掲げた。Jリーグでは、浦和のサポーターが差別的な横断幕を掲げたことが問題になっている。

    10. MA Says:

      Mr. Mitsuru Murai (J-League Chairman) we respect your honesty.

      村井満様 (Jリーグのチェアマン) 我々はあなた様の正直さを尊敬します。

      「黒人がこの所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別
      「白人がこの所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別
      「アイヌがこの所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別
      「部落民がこの所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別
      「日本人がこの所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別
      「日本人以外この所に入れない」=完全に違法人種差別

      村井満様の言うったとおりに、“The acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.”

      違法なことについて「意図」がどうでもいい、その所に入れない被害者がありまして、裁判で違法人種差別を書いた加害者に罰がでるはず。

    11. Brooks Says:

      Well, this story has been on the major channels and was the lead story on Asahi News last night just before 10 o’clock.
      It does make me wonder that with the Olympics happening in 2020 that people felt the stuff has to be taken care of finally, or perhaps there
      was pressure from FIFA.

    12. arudou debito Says:

      – This is big. The issue hit the Asahi’s page-one Tensei Jingo column today. Have a read, then I’ll comment:

      //////////////////////////////////////////
      VOX POPULI: The battle between hospitality and xenophobia in Japanese society
      March 13, 2014, courtesy of MGS

      http://ajw.asahi.com/article/views/vox/AJ201403130034

      Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.

      Tokyo’s Shinagawa Ward is starting a project called “A shopping district with people who understand and speak a little English.” I like the part that says “a little.” Shinagawa will be the venue for some of the events during the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The ward came up with the idea as a way to welcome athletes and visitors from abroad.

      Why “a little”? Few Japanese can confidently say they can speak English. Many more think they can perhaps speak “a little” English. According to Kiyoshi Terashima, the ward official in charge of the project, it is aimed at encouraging such people to positively try and communicate in English. The ward will ask foreigners to visit the stores so that attendants there can learn how to take orders and receive payments using English.

      Writer Saiichi Maruya (1925-2012) vividly depicted the trend of 50 years ago when Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics for the first time. Just because we are having the Olympics, “there is no need to stir up an atmosphere that all 100 million Japanese must turn into interpreters,” he wrote. The quote appears in “1964-Nen no Tokyo Orinpikku” (1964 Tokyo Olympics), compiled by Masami Ishii. I wonder if we can be a little more relaxed when Tokyo hosts the Olympics for the second time.

      Warm smiles are considered good manners in welcoming guests. By contrast, I found the following development quite alarming: On March 8, a banner with the English words “Japanese Only” was put up at the entrance to a stand at Saitama Stadium during a soccer game.

      Posting such a xenophobic message is utterly thoughtless to say the least. This is not the first time. In the past, an onsen bathhouse in Otaru, Hokkaido, put up a sign that said “no foreigners” and refused the entry of some people, including a U.S.-born naturalized Japanese man. The Sapporo District Court in 2002 ruled that the action was “racial discrimination” and ordered the bathhouse to pay damages to the plaintiffs for pain and suffering.

      Hate speech against foreigners is another example. Hostility is becoming increasingly prevalent and Japanese society is losing its gentleness. Are we a society that denies and shuts its doors to people or one that welcomes and receives them? Which one is more comfortable to live in? Let us learn to be more tolerant toward each other; for starters, if only by just a little.

      –The Asahi Shimbun, March 13

      * * *

      (I tried to get the Japanese original, but it’s only available to paid subscribers. Whoever has a subscription please post here for the record, thanks.)

      COMMENT: Sorry, but I don’t like the article. It takes up half of column space on the windup, gives us some necessary background, then ends up with a grade-school-level “nakayoshi shimashou” conclusion. When will we get beyond this dumbing down of the issue? The theme starts off about talking about “a little” and ends up being twee.

      A friend said that it’s a matter of baby steps. I disagree. I think Japan is perfectly capable of taking strides. By uttering brave words. As J.League Chair Murai did yesterday. Requoting from the Mainichi article above:

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

      ““There are various ways of determining what constitutes discrimination. But what is important is not so much why discrimination occurs, but how the victim perceives it and in this case, the acts must be considered nothing short of discriminatory.”

      “Over the last several days through the media and on the Internet, these acts have had unexpected social repercussions both domestic and abroad, and it is clear that they have damaged the brand of not just the J-League but of the entire Japanese football community.”

      “While these most recent acts were conducted by a small group of supporters, it is with utmost regret that Urawa Reds — who have been with the J-League since its founding year in 1993 and who ought to be an example for all of Japanese football — allowed an incident like this to happen.”

      “The league has strongly demanded Urawa Reds to accept this decision with the full weight of responsibility and to make sure it does not happen ever again.”

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

      That’s not saying a little, like the Asahi is when copping out by not thinking deeply about the issue. That’s saying a lot. So, again, Banzai Murai!

    13. Jim Di Griz Says:

      You have to wonder, Mr. Murai is putting his neck out over this (rightly so in my opinion), and deserves to be a poster boy for a new wave of anti-discrimination in J-society. However, I secretly wonder how much his outspoken progressive attitude is being tolerated because Tokyo has the Olympics, and whether too much praise for his actions will incur a backlash.
      Wait and see.

    14. john k Says:

      #12 Debito

      Agreed. baby steps not required any more, this is 21st Century!!

      In addition, I would also add that the “… According to Kiyoshi Terashima, the ward official in charge of the project, it is aimed at encouraging such people to positively try and communicate in English…” is also a misnomer.

      I have been lucky, I have travelled the world, to some very odd places. In the country/places I have been where English is not spoken (many places oddly enough) never once have I felt discriminated or unable to communicate. Why..??…it is down to the attitude of the person one is attempting to communicate with. Using hand signs and pointing along with a sense of humour goes a very very long way. I have gotten what was required almost every single time, without at times uttering a single word in English or words at all. If the recipient recognises the lack of a common language, is there a desire to help/communicate? …it is that simple.

      Sadly i rare find this attitude anywhere in Japan.

      As for the “…The ward will ask foreigners to visit the stores so that attendants there can learn how to take orders and receive payments using English….”

      Its simple…just be part of the 21st century and allow everyone to use debit/credit cards, instead of this antiquated notion for the love of “touching” and “seeing” cash.

      In the above regarding my travels…since the early 80s I have always used my CC and just gone to a hole in the wall, or just paid at the shop/restaurant with my CC card..simple. Have been doing that for over 30 years on my travels….can I do that easily and simply in modern 21st century, supposedly the most technologically advanced country in the world??…nope. Not at all. Hopeless!

    15. Baudrillard Says:

      @ Jim, I sincerely hope that he doesnt become the nail that sticks out, the poster boy of the new wave, as these individuals are usually seen as just that; individual nails like Horie of Livedoor who then get hammered down.

      In Japan, the Oyajis like Divine Mori rule, but I am hoping that by ironically being awarded the Olympics, they will have to tolerate or pay lip service to the anti racist aspects of the Olympic charter.

    16. Markus Says:

      I have to play the devil’s advocate for a moment here. As much as I hope that all the apologies and statements are sincere, they strike me as a little overblown and ‘out of character’ compared to how such things have been handled up to very recently (e.g. “it’s just a joke, we can’t be racist, etc. etc.”)
      What if the people in charge, i.e. the “Monbu-kagaku-shō”, decided that this banner was a very good opportunity to repair Japan’s reputation for the 2020 Olympics and show the world how far advanced Japan is at fighting racism in football? The banner made international news and it was to be expected that reactions would do so, too. I wouldn’t be surprised if the official reaction to this incident will be used from now on over and over again to present Japan’s stance on racism in football as superior to “the West”.
      In Europe (Italy mainly, but elsewhere too), there are unfortunately many incidents of racism in football stadiums, and while the people who are responsible will be prosecuted, it is an ongoing issue or at least seen as one.
      Western Europe of course doesn’t nearly have the level of institutionalised xenophobia and racism that Japan still has and does very little against – therefore I wouldn’t rule out that this incident is used for nothing more than an opportunity to polish the Tatemae and create a trump card to use when needed.

    17. Jim Di Griz Says:

      Well, the timing of this stand against racism is handy for Abe now that Suga has confirmed that the government is considering ‘utilization of foreigners’ to maintain Japan’s population by ‘accepting 200,000′ per year.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/03/14/national/japan-may-boost-immigrant-numbers/

      ‘Utilization’? Thanks very much, very kind of you Suga. How about something less exploitative?
      ‘Foreigners’? Not if the goal is to maintain Japan’s population. I think you mean ‘citizens’.
      ‘Accepting’? Mr. Suga has a rather self-important attitude regarding the international appeal of Japan. Perhaps I could suggest ‘attracting’, as a more realistic alternative?
      ’200,000 a year’? Ha! Fat chance!

    18. arudou debito Says:

      – More facts of the Urawa case confirmed. It was clear exclusionism of NJ by fans:

      Murai deserves praise for taking bold action against Urawa
      BY ANDREW MCKIRDY
      The Japan Times, March 14, 2014 (excerpt)

      …That Murai was willing to dole it out speaks volumes of his intention to lead by example. The 54-year-old has only been in the job since January, but the way he confronted the issue head on and brooked no excuses bodes well for the remainder of his tenure.

      Murai made explicit mention of Urawa’s long history of fan misbehavior when announcing the punishment, and clearly something needed to be done about an unruly element that had begun to think of itself as being above the law.

      “The supporters viewed the area behind the goal as their sacred ground, and they didn’t want anyone else coming in,” Urawa president Keizo Fuchita said Thursday as he explained how the banner came to be displayed in the stadium.

      “If foreigners came in they wouldn’t be able to control them, and they didn’t like that.”

      Full article at http://www.japantimes.co.jp/sports/2014/03/14/soccer/murai-deserves-praise-for-taking-bold-action-against-urawa/

    19. Andrew in Saitama Says:

      Debito, that really needs to be out in the vernacular press. No pussyfooting around saying that “Japanese only” was some kind of “Urawa is a team made up entirely of Japanese players” or some other nonsense.

      And, indeed, banzai Murai! For once we have have someone who is being strong by making a statement and taking a stand (other than taking swipes at the politically powerless). We keep hearing about collective responsibility when it comes to NJs not following the rules. It’s about time the majority have to live with the consequences of their minority’s actions.

    20. john k Says:

      #16 Markus,

      I fear you may be right. Only time will tell…

    21. dude Says:

      Unlike most (if not all) of the previous posts on debito.org citing racial discrimination, this one is different in at least one way:
      FIFA is watching. Which is ironic, in a way, that despite so many blatant, overt acts of discrimination, this little sign (ok, it was a big banner) is what put the spotlight on Japan’s well-established “Japanese Only” discrimination policy.

      It is possible that the attention brought to this issue may force the GOJ to finally make racial discrimination illegal. But that may be to much to hope for.

      – I think it still is too much to hope for. I’ll have a post up with what I think are the lessons of this case soon.

    22. Loverilakkuma Says:

      @Dude, #21

      Same as Debito. It’s just a wishful thinking since the GOJ’s mentality clock rests with the mid-to-late 19th century of US when politics of equality eventually gave way to rhetoric of place. That’s sort of discourse directing politicians to respect the idea of central government but adopted the local jurisdiction under universal(God-given)rule of race-science implicating difference in labor and social status.

      Court decisions on city authority in Otaru Onsen case, I think, is a classic example for this.

      If you have time, see Dr. Kirt Wilson’s book “Reconstruction Desegregation Debate.” It well explains how and why 1875 civil right debate eventually died out at the consequence of ideological arguments on equality and culture.

      http://www.amazon.com/The-Reconstruction-Desegregation-Debate-1870-1875/dp/0870136178

    23. MA Says:

      Dear brother Debito, 鉄は熱いうちに打て your next article will be printed in the big 3 Japanese newspapers, if written in Japanese with apartment examples.

      They WILL print a Japanese-language letter from you, the biggest court-win-certified victim of racial discrimination in Japan, while this Murai admittance is hot.

      Your most powerful statement ever can be, “Since ‘No Foreigners’ is illegal at soccer, ‘No Foreigners’ is illegal anywhere, Japan. Let’s start with Apartments.”

      List in this Japanese article (with just a few phone calls) 3 real estate agencies that stupidly say, “Sorry, our landlords don’t accept Gaikokujin.”

      Imagine, naming and shaming 3 well-known Real Estate agencies in Tokyo who when called about “a foreigner friend who wants to rent” answer “ごめんなさい、失礼します。”

      This is not the “pub/sex” category, this is not an old case where the offender has hidden his sign, this is a solid case of Apartment Refusal Now.

      During all my discussions with Japanese defenders of Racial Discrimination in Japan, they have the most difficulty defending the Apartment Refusal category.

      Please disregard my Apartment push if you disagree, but please do send YOUR Japanese-language article to the J-press now brother: 鉄は熱いうちに打て。 :-)

    24. arudou debito Says:

      UPDATE: A lot happened after this article came out; I believe some of it because. See my next blog entry for the conclusions and lessons I learned from it — that essentially you’re not going to get any progress on the human rights front by appealing to moral arguments, because Japan’s elites and national narrative-setters don’t really care about that. What they really DO care about is Japan’s image abroad as a “civilized” country, and that is the only pressure point NJ have.

    25. arudou debito Says:

      – Just received word of this blog post via Twitter re this column. He does what a commenter should do: He quotes my argument at length to represent it properly, gives his counter argument clearly without tangental rant, and does not get personal about me. This is how it’s done. Pity more people can’t do this. Too many arguments about issues pertaining to Japan remain so petty and infantile.

      http://thelimpingphilosopher.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/the-only-one-debito-arudou-on-football-hooliganism-in-japan/

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