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Hi Blog. Turning the keyboard over to someone who had a bad experience at one of the allegedly “foreigner friendly” public accommodations in Japan. According to Shiki, this hotel is racially profiling its customers in violation of the law and blaming the police for it. Dr. ARUDOU, Debito
November 6, 2016
Hello Dr. Debito,
My name is Shiki, and I’m a long term resident in Japan, having been living for almost 9 years now, and I’m actually in the process of naturalization.
I wanted to report about the most horrible experience I’ve had in Japan, which happened on October 25, 2016, at a Hotel called “Sakura Hotel Jimbocho“.
I live in Sapporo, and a few weeks ago I was told by my boss that they needed me to go Tokyo in less than a week from that date. I reserved my air ticket, and looked for hotels near where is the Tokyo office of my company.
I looked at many capsule hotels, but since I needed to finish some work before the next day I preferred to get a single room so that I could work in my Notebook, but the problem was that all hotels around that area where more expensive that what the company was willing to cover for my stay.
Then I remembered that near that place, I saw once this “Sakura Hotel”, which even thou I never used any of “Sakura” services, I knew it they offered guest houses and weekly mansions mainly targeted to foreigners, so I just went to their site to see what that place was about, and it appeared to be a normal hotel, mainly targeted to tourists, but they were also offering it as a cheap business hotel for Japanese people. So I took a look at the prices, and it was perfect.
It was a small room, with free wifi, and so close to the office that I could actually just walk to it, and I could arrive late at night to check in (which I needed to), so with no second thoughts I just reserved it.
And this was the time I saw the first red flag of what was about to come. In the registration they asked for my nationality, which is something I’ve never been asked before. And it said that “Foreigners were required to show their passports”, so I looked at this, and saw your posts about the subject, and then I just thought “Thet are just doing this for the tourists”, so I just left the default that was “Japanese” in nationality.
I arrived at the hotel past 11pm, and went to the lobby and it was the usual check-in, until the guy asked me for my passport, to what I just said “I’m not a tourist”, then this guy asked me if I was Japanese, and I told him that no but that I was not a tourist and didn’t even had my passport with me.
So he then started to ask for my Residence Card, and I told him that my Residence Card contained private information, so I was not comfortable showing it, and then the guy, late at night told me that then they could not take me as a guest unless I showed them my residence card.
At that moment I was not sure if it was even legal for them to refuse me service, so I insisted that the whole thing of the passport is supposed to be targeted at tourists who do not have a residence in Japan, and that since I had an actual address in Japan that rule did not apply to me. Then this guy proceeded to say that it was “hotel policy”, and that if I didn’t wanted to comply with “hotel policy” I was free to search for another hotel.
It was late at night, I’ve searched mant cheap hotels on internet and I knew all of them were full, my phone battery died, so i couldn’t even search anything, so really I was forced to give him my card, which he took a copy witbout my permission, and asked him to destroy the copy, thing he refused to do, and threatened me to “return me my money” if I continued “causing trouble”.
So I got to my room and immediately searched for my legal standing on this matter, and this us when I knew that they cannot refuse me service, so I went down with a copy of the law, and told the guy on the lobby to read it.
He took a look at it, and then told him that it was actually illegal for him to refuse me service, and that I wanted them to destroy the copy of my residence card or that I would sue them.
The first response of this guy was “you are free to do whatever you want”, and then I proceeded to ask for his name, and told him I was going to contact management of the company and tell them what he just said.
The he proceeded to make excuses that he dodn’t knew about the law, that he has to report foreigners to the police, and almost telling me that he was gping to “get scolded” by the police if they saw my name without any ID.
I told him it wasn’t my problem, and that he just needed to show the police that I have an address in Japan. He told me that police was going to scold him for not giving the ID of a foreigner, and when I asked him how would they even know if I’m a foreigner and not of Japanese nationality, he proceeded to make a racist statement about how “He can tell by their face, or their accent”. I told him that was racist and he proceeded to once again threaten me about “returning me my money” even after was I told him.
So I returned to my room, and wrote a mail of what just happened to the management of the hotel. The next day when I was about to check out, this new guy told me he was in charge of the hotel and that he saw my mail.
He apologized for how the guy last night handled the situation, and then he started to explain me that they have many foreign customers, and because of this they are tightly under the watch of the police, and that ws tbe reaspn for their policy.
I told him that his policy is illegal, since the residence card is contains sensitive information and that they cannot ask and then try to refuse service if I don’t comply.
He told me that they need some kind of identification, and I told them that I was more than happy to give them my identification, but just not my residence card.
He continued trying to justify himself, at one point he even started out of nowhere to speak in broken Spanish (he probably saw in the residence card info I refused to give that I was from a Spanish speaking country, which made me more mad than anything, specially when I was talking with him in Japanese without any problem), and I was running late, so I just told him that I have never been asked by a hotel to provide any extra information outside of my name and address, and he told me that they “may” change their policy.
I’m really considering taking legal action against this company, and I hope this helps to expose this company to their foreign customers, so that next time they want to use their services they are aware that they are a company that racially profiles people and ask them illegally based on this to provide personal information under the illegal threat of refusal of service.
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