20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.”

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Hi Blog. We’ve seen exclusionism in Japan’s sports leagues before (baseball, hockey, the Kokutai, the Ekiden, and Sumo, for example). Now we can see that Japan uses the same exclusionary practices when it processes paying customers to participate in overseas events THROUGH Japanese companies. Such as can be seen here at the 20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon, which refuses all NJ customers (and will not refund their application fees, either):

Source: http://www.hkmarathon.jp, courtesy of HW.

Screen captures of the site, dated November 9, 2015:

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20151

Note the bottom-right black box that says [ONLY JAPANESE].

This is reconfirmed when you scroll down to the next section, where it says in red script:

This tour is designed exclusively for Japanese people.  
Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20152

And again in the right-hand column, just for good measure before you click on anything:

“This website is designed exclusively for Japanese people. Applications from other nationalities are not acceptable. Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

Who is managing this?  Again, scrolling down.

HongKongMarathonJapaneseOnly20153

We have Kinki Nippon Tourist Agency, The Club Tourism Marathon Tour (their slogan, “Let’s run the world!”), and HIS Travel Agency (aka No. 1 Travel, which has had “Japanese Only” pricing and different (higher) prices for foreign customers in the past).

Who’s sponsoring this?  The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Standard Chartered Bank, and the Hong Kong Tourist Agency.  I wonder if they know this is going on.

COMMENT:  What’s wrong with this?  The assumption that anyone who does not have a Japanese passport is not a resident of Japan.  What about those people living permanently in Japan who might like to join this tour but do not have citizenship?  How are they supposed to partake in this tour?  Oh, I guess as customers, they just don’t count because they’re foreign. I would love to hear how this was justified at their board meetings when they decided upon this exclusionary policy.

As submitter HW said, “Apparently marathons are only for Japanese people. I wonder if they will let us watch, though?”  Dr. ARUDOU, Debito

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

UPDATE NOVEMBER 12, 2015:  After the Hong Kong sponsors were contacted by Debito.org Readers, the Japanese marathon tour site was amended to read:  

“This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.  Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded. ”  

The Hong Kong Tourism Association has written (full letter below):

After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site.

Gone is the assumption that foreigners in Japan are not residents of Japan.  Bravo HKAAA and HKTA for their quick and decisive work. And also thank you Debito.org Readers.  

UPDATE NOVEMBER 13, 2015:  

Alas, the job is not quite done.  On the application website itself, the requirement of Japanese Citizenship is still there.  More details here

24 comments on “20th Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon Japan tour registration is “Japanese Only”: “Applications from non-Japanese runners ‘invalid’, deposit payment not refunded.”

  • This is ridiculous. I’m running this in Bangkok this weekend and had no problems whatsoever registering here as a non-Thai. They DO charge you more if you’re not a native of the country the marathon is being run in which I don’t like but have accepted. Wonder if Standard Chartered know about this?

    Reply
  • @Laura #1 – Thanks for that report directly from Bangkok. So, your experience of successfully being allowed to register for this marathon directly, by the actual Bangkok registration authority there, shows that this immoral Japan-based “Japanese People Only will be allowed to sign up through this site” policy is of course being illegally created and enforced by the Japan-based companies: “Kinki Nippon Tourist Agency”, “The Club Tourism Marathon Tour”, and “HIS Travel Agency (also known as No.1 Travel).”

    Reply
  • Edward J. Cunningham says:

    Running in a marathon is NOT like voting in an election—there’s no good reason why legal residents should not be allowed to run. Somehow, I have the sickening feeling that if somebody like Debito or any other Japanese citizens that don’t LOOK Japanese would not be welcome at this race, either.

    — Too bad I’m not a runner.

    Reply
  • I just called the number connected with this discrimination 03-6891-9590 (近畿日本ツーリスト株式会社 ECC営業本部 KNT SPORTS事務局、〒101-0024 東京都千代田区神田和泉町1‐13 住友商事神田和泉町ビル12F) and the man who answered the phone officially confirmed, without the slightest amount of denial (and with absolutely zero amount of hansei), that “Yes, my company is registering Japanese People Only, and yes that fact is written on the web in both Japanese and English, and yes we are keeping the money of all non-Japanese who send us registration fees, because, they should not have sent us the money in the first place, because as we have clearly written: our company is registering Japanese People Only.”

    Let’s see what the president of the company (小川 亘 さん (おがわ わたる) Ogawa Wataru 社長 (代表取締役社長) 03-6891-9661 近畿日本ツーリスト株式会社 本社 東京都千代田区東神田1-7-8、ユニゾ東神田一丁目ビル3F) says when confronted with the fact that this decision is possibly going to cost him a lot of money in legal penalties…

    http://www.knt.co.jp/kouhou/company/01index.html#01

    Reply
  • Baudrillard says:

    called and emailed the HK marathon but the student part timers who answered the phone found the whole situation to be so outside their daily experience that they just fielded the complaint with “our terms and conditions state that ALL deposits will not be refunded”.

    They giggled girlishly and thanked me for my warning, but probably are not going to do anything about it until someone else causes a stink and their and Standard Chartered”s name is dragged through the racist mud.

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma says:

    This gives us pretty good reason to boycott these three Japanese travel agents for good. I haven’t used them for reserving a plane ticket or a travel package for many years, and I will never consult with them for any future travel plans whatsoever. The last sentence: “Applications from non-Japanese runners will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded” is totally unbecoming as business professional. It’s tantamount to saying, “we can’t accept your entry, but we will take your money.” Speaking of Omotenashi.

    Reply
  • The Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association at least may take umbrage, as their initial reaction on the phone was that the appropriation of the name on the website http://www.hkmarathon.jp was perhaps illegal.

    They were much less interested in the discriminatory nature of the registration, however. Said they would look into it.

    Reply
  • Mr_Alex123455679 says:

    Debito, i have emailed the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association, Hong Kong Standard Chartered Bank and Hong Kong Tourism board, if it does not work i would pay them a visit in Hong Kong too bad i do not live there anymore

    Reply
  • Mr_Alex123455679 says:

    Debito, also if the email I sent them does not work here are some contact numbers

    Hong Kong Tourism Board and preferably request for someone in the higher up of the board
    +852 2807 6543

    Standard Chartered Bank
    +852 2886 8868 (General Inquiries)

    Hong Kong Amateur Athlete Association
    +852 2504 8215

    In regards to the Amateur Athlete Association, request to speak with somebody in the management position

    Reply
  • Loverilakkuma – I have been boycotting HIS since debito announced their two tier price system (foreigners pay more) several years ago.
    Now I just added to my personal boycott list.

    There has got to be a way to get the word out about race-based Japanese business practices. If companies in Europe or the U.S. did this, it would be front page news. Why the double standard?

    Reply
  • Does anyone have any thoughts about what are behind so many race-based policies in Japan?
    If you take just this one issue, alone, it could be discounted as a “communication” issue (by some), but when viewed with
    -foreign player restrictions in baseball,
    -the max. quota on NJ runners in any ekiden team,
    -“Japanese only” bars, restaurants,
    -double standard on air ticket prices from HIS,
    -hotels that refuse NJ guests…

    … this is quite a patchwork quilt they have constructed.
    If I were creating this from scratch, and trying to keep an “undesireable” group out, the tactics mentioned above would be a great start…

    Is it possible? Do they really not like us?
    And do our own governments, embassies, etc. really not care at all???
    I mean, I know the U.S. Embassy won’t lift a finger to help Americans overseas, but I thought Australia, New Zealand, or some other progressive nation would care about how its citizens are treated…

    Reply
  • Mr_Alex123455679 says:

    Got a reply from the Hong Kong Tourism board:

    Case Ref No. FEED-VRSUP2-20151112-0378054 (BaCh/FiCh)

    Dear Alex,

    Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

    After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site .

    Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email.

    Best Regards,

    Fion Cheng
    Senior Executive, Visitor Services
    Hong Kong Tourism Board

    Direct line: +852 2807 6108
    Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
    Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

    — Thanks everyone for your help getting this amended.

    Reply
  • Mr_Alex123455679 says:

    That site has changed its tone after a email to the Hong Kong Tourism Board:

    This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.
    Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.

    Reply
  • here is the reply from HK Tourism Board:

    “Dear Mr RP,

    Thank you for contacting the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) on 10 November 2015, letting us know the comments posted on Dr. Arudou Debito’s website in regard to the registration requirements for the “2016 Hong Kong Marathon tour package” sold in Japan.

    After receiving your email, we have immediately communicated with the Hong Kong Amateur Athletic Association (HKAAA), who is the organiser of Standard Charted Hong Kong Marathon. According to HKAAA, all people who are residing in Japan, regardless of their nationalities, are allowed to join the mentioned tour. They have already advised the tour operator “Kinki Nippon Travel” to amend relevant wordings on the registration site .

    Once again, thank you for bringing this matter to our attention. Should we could be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to call me or send me an email.

    Best Regards,

    Fion Cheng
    Senior Executive, Visitor Services
    Hong Kong Tourism Board

    Direct line: +852 2807 6108
    Direct fax: +852 2807 6581
    Website: http://www.DiscoverHongKong.com

    Reply
  • and the website is hereby updated to :

    “This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.
    Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.”

    Reply
  • they changed it to:

    This tour is designed exclusively for people residing in Japan.
    Applications from other countries are not acceptable. Applications from runners who are not residing in Japan will be treated as “invalid” and any deposit payment would not be refunded.

    this is on the right:
    お申込みは各種目とも日本在住の方のみの先着順で受け付けております。お申込みはお早めにお願いします. No mention of non-refundable deposits…

    Note:
    The other Japanese text is more specific:
    エントリー登録開始の日時が決定いたしました。お申込みいただけるのは日本国籍を持つ方のみです。
    日本の方のの枠は限られており、エントリーは先着順となります。

    So the English says this tour is only for people residing in Japan.
    But then the Japanese seems to confirm this by saying only “nihon zaijuu” people (Japan residents) can apply.

    But then the final Japanese says this tour is only for “nihon kokuseki” people, i.e. Japanese, not students, not permanent residents, not Koreans who were born in Japan, and presumably not Debito (if pressed, they will say they are sold out).

    Wow. I am impressed. They are listening, and acting promptly – to try to fool anyone who might be watching. But they are not allowing non-Japanese to join in the tour. How very Japanese…

    — Ah yes, the presumption that anything written in Japanese is in secret code and “for domestic consumption only”. However, it looks like that text mentioning “Japanese nationality” also has since been removed.

    Reply
  • I’m still seeing the clause about Japanese nationality on the application page. (お申し込みこちら)

    — Quite so. Thanks for pointing it out. Screen captured.

    Reply
  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    Congratulations to Mr. Alex and RP for getting this fixed!

    This line from KNT: “日本の方のの枠は限られており、エントリーは先着順となります”

    …makes me think that the marathon has more entry slots for international (non-HK) runners; perhaps specific numbers of slots for specific nationalities.

    In these kinds of events, the country an ordinary entrant is “representing” is typically that person’s country of residence (that is, the return address from which the race application is sent). Years ago, when preparing for a major international marathon, a local-residing friend had her parents in a faraway country send her application in for her so she could run as a South African rather than someone from the next town over. She had a much higher chance of getting her application accepted as an international runner than she would have as a local.

    If KNT is just concerned about Hong Kong locals looking to go on a “tour” with them just so they can have a better chance of getting accepted into the race because it looks like they reside in Japan, then KNT is guilty of some bad wording, and should be happy to have been corrected to the new wording.

    But if KNT genuinely mistook residence for nationality, they need to re-evaluate their thinking.

    (If the marathon does in fact look at people’s passport nationalities, then disregard this argument. It’s been over a decade since I ran in the race that had the above system.)

    Reply
  • Kinki Nippon Tourist (KNT) is using the “nationality” rule to weed out NJ, plain and simple. Sure, there are a few visible whites or blacks who will be inconvenienced. But most importantly, this rule is designed to exclude ethnic Koreans born and raised in Japan.

    Because what self respecting Japanese citizen wants to go on a group activity with Koreans???
    After excluding Koreans from attending the same kindergartens, elementary schools, middle schools, high schools and Universities;
    After excluding Koreans from joining college “circles” with Japanese;
    After excluding Koreans from working in the “right” companies in the “right” positions;

    Why would they now allow Koreans to rub elbows with them on a tour? It just isn’t done.

    This issue is not going away. In fact, I think the anti-Korean sentiment is growing.

    Great work to all of you who got the word out about this. But under the surface, nothing has changed.

    Reply
  • @ Dude, #20

    Very good point, and I’d go a step further; this is an attempt to head off the debate/criticism/cognitive dissonance of having a zainichi Korean win, and then have to deal with the fact of being congratulated on a ‘Japanese win’ by the international community whilst at the same time telling themselves the winner ‘isn’t a Japanese citizen’. Oh, the shame of having to discuss Japans apartheid with outsiders!

    Reply
  • I dont quite get the policy change; it seems the HK Tourism board is doing right by notifying the Japanese but if a forienger went there to run, would they be accepted in the marathon? If they werent, what action if any would be taken?

    Reply
  • This would fall under the exclusionary thread, so I thought Id ask here. Why is it in Japan when you apply for any job they ask you for your age and nationality?

    Is there a reason for this? Ive asked and usually got some twisted excuse like “for communication” but that makes no sense when everyone is supposed to speak japanese at the work place.

    — Because those data are treated as facts of the case, and are not regarded as private.

    Reply

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