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  • Asahi: ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan (E&J)

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 2nd, 2014

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    Hi Blog.  Big news this week I hadn’t gotten around to blogging was Monday’s front-page story in the Asahi Shinbun, about Japan’s “Japanese Only” signs, with a sizable chunk of the article devoted to the research that Debito.org has done on them.

    It made a huge splash in the media.  So much so that TV Asahi will be doing a segment on it on Sunday during their show『報道ステーションSUNDAY』(毎週日曜日10時~11時45分)for being one of the Asahi’s most viewed online articles of the week. So switch it on and have a watch. Anyone want to record the segment for replay on Debito.org?

    Here’s the article from the English version of the Asahi (significantly different from how it appeared in Japanese), followed by the original Japanese.  Have a read.  And thank you, everyone, for reading and supporting Debito.org.  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

    AsahiJapaneseOnly0428141

     ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan

    April 28, 2014, AJW: THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
    http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201404280062

    A “Japanese Only” banner at a professional soccer game made international headlines and led to unprecedented penalties. But such signs are not new in Japan, and some have even appeared at tourist hotspots.

    It is true that some signs like these have been put up by people who genuinely dislike citizens of other countries. But many others say they had no intention to be discriminatory, and that their “Japanese Only” displays stem from the language barrier and problems with foreign customers unaware of Japanese rules and customs.

    Two apparent reasons why these signs keep showing up is a general sense of apathy among the public and a lack of understanding at how offensive the words can be for foreigners in Japan.

    That behavior was evident on March 8 at Saitama Stadium, where a large “Japanese Only” banner was set up at an entrance to seats at the Urawa Reds’ home opener.

    A 33-year-old company employee from Tokyo asked security guards to tell the soccer team to remove the banner. It remained on display throughout the game.

    “Even though it was clearly discriminatory, people did not notice, or they just ignored it because they did not want to become involved,” the man said. “The stadium on that day may have been a microcosm of Japanese society today.”

    The man said responsibility should be shared by those who displayed the banner, as well as the team and fans who ignored the banner. He also blamed himself for lacking the courage to remove it.

    The J.League penalized the Urawa Reds over the banner by requiring it to play a match at an empty Saitama Stadium.

    The Urawa Boys Snake, the group that made the banner, along with other fan groups that regularly cheer the Reds behind the goal, were disbanded.

    The offending banner was apparently planned well in advance.

    In February, a member of the Snake fan group tweeted: “We may have to take matters into our own hands and further worsen Japan-South Korea relations.”

    Hours before the March 8 match, three members of the group, intoxicated, brought in a white cloth measuring 70 centimeters high and 2.5 meters wide. They put the cloth on the concrete and spray-painted “Japanese Only” in black letters. The banner was set up beside a Hinomaru national flag.

    Why was the banner set up?

    The small amount of information still left on the Internet led to a college student, who said he was a Snake member but denied any involvement in the creation of the banner.

    At his Tokyo campus in mid-April, the student, in his 20s, said he joined the group when he was in senior high school. He said there were about 20 members, including company employees and civil servants.

    The student said he gradually began disliking China and South Korea because of the jeering from their fans at soccer matches.

    “Their cheers are clearly ‘anti-Japanese,’” the student said. “It is obvious to anyone who attends the games.”

    The Reds fans considered the area behind the goal as their domain, and some wanted to keep foreigners out of that space, the student said.

    Although nationalistic emotions are common at sporting events, “Japanese Only” signs have appeared in areas of Japan that are geared toward tourists from overseas.

    On Christmas Day in 2013, a 25-year-old American on his third trip to Japan visited the Imperial Palace and the popular Sensoji temple in Tokyo’s Asakusa with a Japanese senior high school student. The two became friends when the student was studying in the United States.

    On that day, the American said he wanted to eat “tendon,” tempura placed over a bowl of rice, so they waited in line for five minutes at a well-known tempura restaurant in the Asakusa area.

    However, the American noticed the “Japanese Only” sign at the entrance and asked what it meant. They eventually decided not to enter.

    After business one day, the owner of the restaurant explained the purpose of the sign.

    “It only applies when we are busy,” the owner said. “We have no intention of discriminating.”

    The owner explained that the sign was put up mainly because of trouble caused by groups of Chinese tourists who stepped on the tatami mats with their shoes on or who ventured up to the second floor without asking permission.

    “If we have to close business because of public hygiene problems, we will be the ones facing trouble,” the owner said. “Who will take responsibility when that happens?”

    The owner, who received a phone call saying the sign was inappropriate, showed a new sign that will be displayed at the entrance. It says, “Japanese Language Only.”

    Debito Arudou, 49, who was born in the United States but became a naturalized Japanese in 2000, has carefully followed the display of such signs for more than a decade.

    Arudou said he found more than 50 examples from around Japan of signs saying “Japanese Only” or “Foreigners are not allowed.” They were posted at a pachinko parlor in Hokkaido, bars in Gunma, Aichi and Hiroshima prefectures, a real estate agency in Osaka and a karaoke shop in Okinawa.

    Arudou, who wrote his doctoral dissertation about discrimination in Japan at the University of Hawaii, asked whether the Japanese have ever imagined how many foreigners have been hurt by such words.

    His interest in discrimination in Japan began in 1999, when he was teaching at a private university in Hokkaido. He was denied entry to a hot spring in Otaru, which he visited with his family.

    In 2001, he filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from the hot spring operator and the Otaru municipal government. The following year, the Sapporo District Court found the “Japanese Only” sign posted at the hot spring to be discriminatory.

    Whenever he found such signs in other areas of Japan, Arudou talked to the owners to ask their reasons. Some said foreigners made other customers nervous, while others claimed foreigners did not abide by Japanese manners. Half of the owners refused his request to take down their signs.

    A bar in Kobe displayed a sign that said “Japanese People Only,” but removed it after receiving advice from a stranger.

    “A very kind individual told me that the sign was not appropriate,” said the 51-year-old owner.

    Kobe is home to many foreigners because consulates and universities are located in the area.

    “There were fights or rowdy customers so I decided to ban those who did not speak Japanese since I was not fluent in English,” the owner said.

    Two years ago, the owner received an e-mail from a Japanese he did not know, saying the sign should be changed.

    “I never thought it could be taken as discriminatory,” the owner said.

    After removing the “Japanese Only” sign, the owner placed a new sign in English that laid out the bar rules, including the various prices charged.

    “I was lazy even though I knew that something could have been done if I just spoke to the customers,” the owner said. “Nationality is irrelevant when it comes to loud or rowdy customers.”

    Both Japanese and foreigners now frequent the bar.

    ENDS

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

    ORIGINAL JAPANESE

    「ジャパニーズオンリー」店にも 貼り紙に傷つく外国人
    朝日新聞 2014年4月28日07時17分

    http://digital.asahi.com/articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html?_requesturl=articles/ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W.html&iref=comkiji_txt_end_s_kjid_ASG4R6SBPG4RUTIL04W
    AS20140427001051SaitamaJapaneseonly
    埼玉スタジアムに掲げられた「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕=サポーター提供

    キックオフの2時間前。酒に酔った30代の男たちが、1階通路に集まっていた。3月8日午後2時すぎ、快晴の埼玉スタジアム。Jリーグ浦和レッズのサポーター集団「ウラワボーイズ・スネーク」の3人だ。本拠地開幕戦だった。

    縦70センチ、横2・5メートルの白い布と、スプレー缶を持ち込んでいた。コンクリートの床に敷き、黒い文字で、英語を吹き付けた。

    JAPANESE(ジャパニーズ) ONLY(オンリー)

    午後4時前。ゴール裏の観客席は、浦和のユニホームを着た熱心なサポーターで、真っ赤に染まっていた。席の出入り口に、3人はつくったばかりの横断幕を掲げた。隣には、日の丸が掲げられていた。

    「同じ言葉だ」

    6日後、東京都内の高校3年金居弘樹さん(18)は新聞の写真に目を奪われた。3人の横断幕で、浦和に無観客試合の処分が下されたと報じていた。

    3カ月ほど前、浅草で「Japanese Only」を目にしていた。

    クリスマスの日。アメリカ留学時に親友となった米国人男性(25)に、東京を案内していた。日本びいきで3度目の来日。皇居、浅草寺、仲見世通り……。お昼どき、友は「天丼が食べたい」と英語で言った。

    老舗(しにせ)の天ぷら屋へ。寒空の下、5分ほど並び、店に入ろうとした時、友がささやいた。「どういうことだ」。視線の先には引き戸に貼られたA4ほどの紙。「Japanese Only」と書かれていた。

    「やめたほうがいいかな」。悲しげな友の表情。ショックで、何と返事したのか、覚えていない。入らずに帰宅して、思った。

    「オリンピックを開く東京が、これでいいのか」

    茨城県常総市に住む日系3世のペルー人男性(31)も同じ経験をした。4月5日。昼の行列に並び、その紙に気づいた。一緒にいた日本人の友人が、真意を尋ねようと店に入った。

    数分後。「信じられない」と怒りもあらわに、友人は戻ってきた。「日本に来て6年以上。日本が好きでマナーも文化も分かる。こんなことが放置されているのに失望しました」

    記者が店を訪ねてみると、観光客の列の先に、その貼り紙はあった。

    「忙しい時だけ。差別のつもりはないよ」

    閉店後、片付け中の店主に声をかけた。白い調理服姿で店の外へ出てくれた。

    「貼り始めたのは、だいぶ前」「はっきり言って中国人だよ。団体客に困ってたんだ」「土足で畳に上がったり、勝手に2階に上がったり。衛生面で営業停止になったら困るのはうちだ。誰が責任をとってくれるんだい」。早口で話した。

    貼り紙に気づいた人から「不適切ではないか」と電話で注意も受けたという。

    「こっちの立場にもなってほしいよ」。そう言い、一枚の紙を記者に見せた。

    Japanese Language Only

    「日本人だけ」が「日本語だけ」になった。

    「これからは、これ貼るから。もういいだろ」

    店の奥へ引き返した。

    元私立大教員の有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)=米ハワイ州在住=は10年以上、日本での人種差別を研究してきた。米国出身。2000年に日本国籍を得ている。

    「Japanese Only」「Foreigners are not allowed」。北海道のパチンコ店、群馬のパブ、愛知のクラブ、大阪の不動産屋、広島のバー、沖縄のカラオケ店……。いたる場で、「外国人お断り」を意味する看板や案内を確認した。その数、50以上。

    「あちこちにあるこの言葉が、どれだけの外国人を傷つけているか。想像したことはありますか?」

    ■「今の日本社会の縮図かも」

    「日韓関係を俺たちがさらに悪化させるしかねーだろ」。埼玉スタジアムに「JAPANESE ONLY」の横断幕を掲げた「スネーク」。メンバーの一人が2月、ツイッターで、そうつぶやいていた。

    ネット上に残された数少ない記録をたどると、東京都内の20代の男子大学生に行き着いた。4月中旬。その学生は、ビル群に囲まれたキャンパスを歩いていた。声をかけた。横断幕を掲げたのか、と。

    「自分じゃないですよ」。記者をにらみつけた。「メンバーでしたけど」

    少しずつ口を開き始めた。スネークには、高校時代から参加していること。会社員や公務員、大学生などがいる20人程度のグループであること。スタジアムで知り合った人が大半で、結束は強かったこと――。

    中国や韓国での試合にも駆けつけた。相手サポーターからブーイングが飛ぶこともあった。次第に、中韓が嫌いになった。

    「向こうの応援は『反日』をがんがんやってくる。行けばわかりますよ」。口調が強くなった。

    ゴール裏は自分たちの「聖地」だ。「外国人を退けようとする空気は、ほかのメンバーにもあった」

    元リーダーの男性(40)にも会った。埼玉県内の自治体の中間管理職。終業後の夕方、駅へ向かう男性に尋ねた。「あの日ゴール裏で応援していたが、横断幕には気づかなかった」。足早に、改札を抜けた。

    日本から南東に約6200キロ。「米国籍を放棄した私が、ここでは外国人です」。有道(あるどう)出人(でびと)さん(49)がほほ笑む。米国のハワイ大学で、博士論文「日本の人種差別」をまとめた。

    米国生まれの白人。北海道の私大の教員だった1999年、家族で訪れた小樽市の温泉で、入浴を拒否された。「Japanese Only」の表示があった。

    2001年、店と小樽市に損害賠償を求めて提訴。札幌地裁は翌年、判決で「人種差別」と認定した。

    日本全国で「外国人お断り」の情報を集め、経営者にわけを聞いた。「外人は不安を与える」「日本のマナーに従わない」。半数以上は撤去に応じなかった。

    「Japanese People Only」と書いた紙を貼っているバーが、神戸市にあるという。今月18日夜、記者はJR三ノ宮駅近くの店を訪ねた。

    しかし貼り紙が見当たらない。扉を開け、もう貼っていないのかと尋ねた。「親切な人がいてね。この表示はよくない、って教えてくれたんですよ」。男性オーナー(51)が答えた。

    領事館や大学があり、外国人の客も多い土地柄。

    「けんかしたり、騒いだり。こちらも英語が苦手だから、日本語が出来ない方をお断りしていた」

    2年前、面識のない日本人から、正すべきだとメールが届いた。「差別だなんて、思ってもみなかった」

    店の前に貼っていた紙を外し、代わりにチャージ料金など店のルールを英訳し、貼り付けた。「話せば何とかなるのに、さぼっていた。騒ぐとか暴れるとかに国籍は関係ないよね」

    ミラーボールが回り、ソウルミュージックが流れる店には今、夜ごと日本人と外国人が集っている。

    「スネーク」は横断幕を張り出した数日後、解散した。ゴール裏で応援を共にした11のサポーターグループも解散を決めた。

    あの日、横断幕は最後まで掲げられていた。試合中に気づき、警備員を通じてクラブに外すよう求めたサポーターもいた。東京都内の会社員男性(33)はその一人だ。掲げた人、見過ごした観客やクラブ、はがせなかった自分。男性はそれぞれに責任があると思う。

    「明らかな差別なのに気づかない。あるいは面倒だから放置する。あの時のスタジアムは、今の日本社会の縮図なのかもしれない」

    ENDS

    9 Responses to “Asahi: ‘Japanese Only’ banner at soccer stadium a microcosm of discrimination in Japan (E&J)”

    1. Chris Clancy Says:

      Think there’s anything plagiarized from my April 2 Japan Times piece? This fatefully unfortunate career ALT could sure use a bit more ¥¥ to supplement his discriminatingly stagnant salary.

      http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/04/02/reader-mail/right-response-to-soccer-banner/#.U2Qt1ScaySM

    2. B Says:

      I was so happy when I read this story, knowing that this issue was getting some real press in the Japanese media… FINALLY. It was a start.

    3. Jim di Griz Says:

      “I never thought it could be taken as discriminatory,” the owner said.

      Try replacing that with “I never thought, about anything. Ever.”

    4. Fred Says:

      Dr. Debito,

      I see allot about discrimination at rentals, at soccer games, public places etc., but I havent seen too much about labor discrimination. Speaking for myself, I havent experienced much discrimination outside of work, with exception to the usual police eyeballing or profilling me. This could be due to racism, because of the way I look, Im OK, or Im safe. I would never argue that it does not happen, just I havent experienced it that much.

      Employment, however, has provided me with a wealth of experiences when it comes to discrimination. It is clearly written in the Japan labor law that discrimination based on nationality etc is prohibited, and I think age discrimination is also forbidden. Japanese are discriminated based on age and gender.

      I have found employment under the most unusual circumstances in Japan. Usually, there was a problem child Japanese employee who became a headache, then the Japanese manager was fed up with them and wanted to try a one size fits all magic bullet gaijin solution. This are not exactly the ideal conditions to be hired under. The expectations are too much, and the gaijin usually ends up doing twice the work load just to feel accepted.

      I once applied at many places, only to be told, “shorry, Japanese onri” This seems, to a reasonable person, to violate the law. A part of me is glad I screened out such a place, but another part ask, how can Japan attract foriegn investment with such situational ethical attitudes?

      If Japan is to move forward with these reforms, I think a hard look must be taken at these issues.

    5. john k Says:

      #3 JDG

      You could replace it with “I never thought any one could be discriminated”

      One needs to be careful when jumping too quick to conclusions that suits one’s own point of view. We can all paint a scenario that suits our own thoughts on such issues, but if NJs are really to make any inroads in affecting the nation’s psyche and piquing them into self analysis jumping to conclusions, no matter how “obvious” it ‘may’ seem to others, gets nowhere fast. It usually makes matters worse. Always ask the owner of a sign, or their thoughts, what is their reason for such. Japanese are not known for their English comprehension ability. I would rather err on the side of caution until it has been categorically proven to be otherwise, than inflam a situation based upon an unproven assumption.

      In countries like the UK/US etc, exposing is easy and laws can be cited and a media only too complaint to the “victims” plight can be found. Not so in Japan, thus a different approach is clearly warranted.

      Simply noting and highlighting to a wider audience, (as has been noted above in the title thread), with little or no narrative is already showing to yield results. Public shame is a great tool.

    6. Paul Says:

      Well, I watched their Sunday morning show and while it was put up on their news ranking board, they spent so much time on the same Golden Week coverage we see every year that they never actually talked about it. Disappointing in more ways than one.

      – Thanks for doing so. TV Asahi had arranged to do an interview with me, but called yesterday to cancel because Asakusa’s Ten-take tempura shop had refused to be interviewed. Wasn’t aware that refusing to talk to the press was grounds for the press giving up on a story, but there you go. It’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen in Japan’s media. Once again, racial discrimination is not really an issue that beckons much of a moral imperative.

    7. B Says:

      You’re kidding… they quit the entire interview and gave up that easily?! Well, Asahi just lost the respect they had just earned.

      – Not kidding.

    8. FaithnoMore Says:

      Let’s see. We have a massive issue here and one that is treated like a small but painful boil to be lanced. By focusing on people and restaurants and situations, and focusing on the idea that the soccer thugs were drunks and extremists (and somewhat provoked since they felt they had been the victims) and that others were well-meaning and gormless this is a classic J-media washover.

      I think someone took a decision not to let Dr.D. on TV. Boy would he be an antidote to the range of house gaijins and entertainers who currently gum up the stodge.

      Still, some credit for Asahi for at least writing about this. Now they feel they’ve covered it, they can forget about it, or use it to show they care, while not pressing for any change at all.

    9. Loverilakkuma Says:

      I think the main reason why Asahi dumped the issue is because they think it’s a tiny incident that would only affect very small number of people going there, and there are no other sources but this blog and the Tentake that people can learn the whole story about the incident for its verification. Even though Asahi is the cornerstone of left media, they are not Japanese equivalent of MSNBC or ABC News. So, either put it in writing or web blog is the best they were able to do. It would be even better if they have national syndicated columnists who could put a pen across several news media outlets.

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