Asahi & Kyodo: Japan’s soccer leagues taking anti-discrimination courses, meting out punishments for racism
Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on June 2nd, 2014
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Hi Blog. Some good news:
The Urawa Reds’ fans “Japanese Only” banner last March (which, as Debito.org reported, could have been as usual swept under the carpet of cultural relativism) has occasioned much debate (see here and here) and even proactive and remedial measures. Witness this:
“J.League players to take anti-discrimination classes after racist banner
The Asahi Shinbun, May 30, 2014, courtesy of Yokohama John
J.League’s players and team officials will be forced to take mandatory anti-discrimination classes as fallout from a fan’s banner that said “Japanese Only” and was not removed from a stadium during a league game in March.
Officials with the Justice Ministry’s legal affairs bureaus and local volunteer human rights advocates commissioned by the agency, in agreement with the league, will visit all 51 teams in the J1, J2 and J3 divisions from June onward to give the classes.
“Team players and spectators sometimes commit discriminatory acts without realizing the significance,” said a public relations official with the J.League.
“We will equip the players and staff members with the proper knowledge through the training course.”
The decision came in response to a discriminatory incident that occurred on March 8 when the banner appeared in a concourse over an entrance gate to seating at the Urawa Red Diamonds’ stadium in a game against Sagan Tosu.
Urawa Reds employees failed to remove the banner even after the game, prompting criticism of the team’s handling of the incident. The Reds were forced to play their next home game in an empty stadium as punishment by the J.League.
Similar well-publicized incidents have occurred in other countries during professional league soccer games, including one where a player made a discriminatory remark during a match and another where a spectator threw a banana at a black defender.
The class instructors will expound on what acts constitute discrimination and use specific incidents, such as when a foreigner was denied admission to a “sento” (public bath), to demonstrate discriminatory acts. They will also discuss ways to improve interactions with foreigners, sources said.”
Well, good. I’m not going to nit-pick this well-intentioned and positive move. It’s long overdue, and Debito.org welcomes it.
(Well, okay, one thing: It’s funny how the lore on our Otaru Onsens Case (i.e., the “sento” denying entry to “a foreigner”) has boiled down to one “foreigner” (which I was not, and it was more people denied than just me) going to just one sento (there were at least three with “Japanese Only” signs up at the time in Otaru). Somehow it’s still a case of “discrimination against foreigners”, which is the wrong lesson to take from this case, since the discrimination also targeted Japanese people.)
Now witness this:
J3 player handed three-game ban for racist comments
KYODO NEWS MAY 30, 2014 Courtesy of Yokohama John
Defender Sunao Hozaki, who plays for Kanazawa Zweigen in the J. League’s lower-tier J3 division, will be suspended for three games due to racist comments he made to an opposing player in a match against FC Machida last Saturday in Ishikawa Prefecture, his club announced Friday.
Kanazawa said in consideration of the opposing player’s rights, they have not made public the comments used against him. They also have not mentioned him by name. Hozaki will be suspended for matches on June 1, June 8 and June 14.
The Japan Football Association’s disciplinary standard for a player who commits acts of racism is suspension of at least five games and a fine of ¥100,000 or more. However, Hozaki’s punishment was lightened, taking into consideration that he apologized directly to the player following the match.
Good too, on the face of it. But I will nit-pick this a little: It would have been nice to know what was said, and what constitutes “racist” in this context. But the fact that tolerance for this sort of behavior has gone way down, and is not being dismissed as mere “misunderstandings”, is a positive step.
Perhaps the Urawa Reds Case is in fact a watershed moment. I just hope the lore doesn’t bleach out as many important facts of the case as it has the Otaru Onsens Case. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito