Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site


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Hi Blog.  In anticipation of Japan becoming a less avowedly monoethnic society over time, what with international marriages, more Visible Minorities becoming prominent, and naturalized citizens, the Powers That Be are coming up with new terminologies to keep a firewall between the “real” pure-blooded Japanese and the mongrels.  We’ve had the “Mixed-Blood Children Problem” (Konketsuji Mondai) as a Postwar Japan issue for policymakers to “fix”, the offsetting epithet “Haafu” for generations, and recently the official term “Gaikokujin Shimin” used throughout Japan’s local government offices and ministries to lump anybody (including Japanese citizens, born and naturalized) into the “foreigner” category if they have any foreign connections. (Official definition of GS: “In addition to people with foreign nationalities with an address within [our jurisdiction], this includes people like those who obtained Japanese citizenship, children born from international marriages, people with foreign cultures in their backgrounds, and people who have foreign roots.”)

Not to be outdone, creative purists are coming up with new terms.  Check out this screen capture from a Ministry of Justice site (courtesy of CJ, click to expand in browser):


Check out the first word of the message: “honpougai shusshinsha” (本邦外出身者) , or “people originating from outside our homeland state”.

Yes, that is being used by the Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights (Jinken Yougo Kyoku) website, and this fresh, new term creates another (this time very nationalistic) definitional line a non-Wajin cannot cross. After all, “shusshin” (origin) is something you’re born into, and a new legal status (such as a new citizenship) cannot change it.  Even naturalized Japanese (such as sumo wrestlers) are forever stuck with “gaikoku shusshin” in official categorizations.

But note the invective this time.  It’s not even “nippongai” (outside Japan) or “kaigai shusshin” (overseas origin).  It’s “Honpougai” (outside the real homeland of Japan), adding a “motherland/fatherland/our country” patriotic flavor.

Finally, note the occasion for using it: “Kokusai jinshu sabetsu teppai dei ni muketa jinken yougo kyoku kara no messeiji” (A message from the Bureau of Human Rights on the International Day for Eliminating Racial Discrimination).  Wow, TPO.

COMMENT:  I’m actually not all that shocked that this is coming from the MOJ BOHR. We’ve talked about them many times on (see for example here, here, here, here, here, here, and here)  It’s an organization technically assigned to investigate and defend our human rights in Japan, but it is in fact a Potemkin system. It has no enforcement powers (as they will tell you in every conference you have with them), only existing to deflect international criticism of Japan’s human rights record. Remember this the GOJ agency that actually violated UN Treaty on racial discrimination (CERD), specifically advising the City of Otaru during the Otaru Onsens Case that passing legislative measures to eliminate racial discrimination were “okay if necessary”, and that “there would be no penalties” for not doing so. Lest we forget, here’s the actual document about it, courtesy of the Otaru City Government:

(From Arudou Debito, “Japanese Only” 2nd Ed. in Japanese, all editions in English.)  

This is how the GOJ will delay the erosion of Japan’s ethnostate by the mudbloods and interlopers for as long as possible. Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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22 comments on “Weird new Govt term to firewall naturalized and mudblood Japanese off from “real” Japanese: “Honpougai Shussinsha”: racist AND patriotic, ironically found on Justice Ministry’s Bureau of Human Rights site

  • 永遠本邦外 says:

    Thanks for finding this, Debito.

    I suspect this change has ramifications for passports and dual nationality.

    本邦外: If you take Japanese nationality, you must relinquish all other nationalities. Your origins cast doubts on your trustworthiness.

    本邦内: You can adopt other nationalities without relinquishing Japanese nationality. You have the proper origins, so you can be trusted.

    I wonder how the new status will affect people born with both Japanese and foreign nationality. Could they keep both, or does the honpougai aspect of one parent mean that the child is essentially honpougai?

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      Good question. More mumbo-jumbo put onto paper and rubber stamped without being adequately thought through. But since when has logic ever stopped nationalist/racist idiots from exposing how intellectually flawed their belief system is when they attempt to present it in official policy?
      It really sounds like a throwback to the dark ages, like an article in the Onion or something- ‘born outside the homeland’?!? Lolz!
      For example, with Japan’s incessant need to categorize and place EVERYTHING into binary relationship hierarchies, how will they resolve the next inevitable conundrum?
      Child A was ‘born inside the homeland’ to one Japanese and one NJ parent.
      Child B was born overseas to two Japanese parents.
      Which child is ‘more’ Japanese?
      What if child A chooses Japanese citizenship at 21, whilst child B chooses the nationality of the country they were born in; which is more ‘Japanese’ now?

      And this is the mess that antediluvian ideas about blood and race, and deliberate obfuscation of legal definitions of citizenship get you! Enjoy.

  • Up North Somewhere says:

    These things should be picked up by the international media. Make Japan explain or at the very least show the world that this is what Japan really is like officially.
    The government here hides a lot behind the Japanese language.

  • Anonymous User No. 666 says:

    MOJ link archived.
    Sent a written complain and demanded a public apology.
    In the event they reply back, I’ll post here.

  • This is terrifyingly close to Full blown ethno nationalist state crap, if not the definition of it. Disgusting. Tells you the direction of things coming.

  • Mr.Debito and contributors of I don’t know where to put this but, after incidents like the atlanta anti-asian shooting, I am really stuck in a limbo. If asian american friends who are deathly terrified of anti-asian violence but want to migrate to Japan, how should I answer them?

    I am getting alot of western NJ here are getting homesick after all the anti-NJ sentiments they have to endure in Japan, but does anyone here think its sticking with and fighting for social justice in japan?

    Reading /r asianamericans, with some who are willing to go to Japan and wanting to return to Japan, I am really torn what to do or what advice I should give for asian friends I have in western countries.

    Incidents like the Atlanta shooting makes it very tough to not give into Japan apologia of some kind, as in “well the Japanese haven’t gone physical yet to the likes of british chavs and american rednecks.” And I know there are Japanese who are using western anti-asian sentiment to attract asian-americans, hongkongers and taiwanese to come to Japan as if Japan is some sort of savior for persecuted asians. No doubt Japan, to some extent, will take advantage of anti-asian sentiment in the west to take advantage of disenfranchised westernized asians to come to Japan to be exploited.

    At the end of the day, my question is, for western born asians, is Japan really still the lesser of the evils? The anti-asian violence I see in the west makes it rather difficult to avoid the lotus allure of Japanese apologism to some extent, and somewhat attractive to western born asians and mixed race folks living in fear of growing racial violence in the west. Is it worth it for asian-americans to tough it out in Japan? or encourage more to come? /r asianamericans is really depressing, my fiance is scared, and my asian american friends want to flee thinking I have it good. At the same time, Japan is becoming more xenophobic and openly racist. The biggest apologist excuse I’ve heard is that Japanese racists haven’t gone physical to the extent that white supremacists in the west have (atlanta style violence) and is pretty much the only thing apologists have going for them.

    The spike in anti-asian violence in the west does make me wonder if Japan is the lesser of evils, atleast for western born/ westernized asians. me and my friends know Japan is racist, but feels it is a price worth paying as opposed to being randomly being beaten on the streets of London, New York, Vancouver etc…

    Is it really worth toughing it out and fighting for social justice in Japan at the end? /r asianamericans has been a very depressing read to the point where I am feeling more hope in Japan and its apologia being sort of enticing.

    • Jim Di Griz says:

      At the risk of getting slammed…
      Watching CNN the past couple of weeks, ‘anti-Asian’ assaults I saw in the USA captured on camera showed three cases of blacks attacking asians.
      The ‘massage parlor’ shootings were perpetrated by a Muslim guy.
      On that (admittedly) limited sample, I would posit that marginalized US citizens who feel they are victims are looking for someone ‘lower’ on the social hierarchy to victimize in turn.
      If (N.B. big IF) that is the case, then it suggests to me that US ‘anti-Asian’ feeling may be a case of the abused learning that abuse is acceptable and abusing others in turn.
      This is deplorable AND a deplorable statement on race relations in the US.
      However, I certainly would not suggest that Japan is any better in that regard since Japanese society’s institutionalized bully culture has shown us that the Japanese when abused by their sempai/erai-hito/betters/elders/men etc have simply learned that abuse is natural and seek out others (NJ, other ‘asians’) whom are perceived to be ‘lower’ on the social hierarchy to bully in turn.
      (Ok, discuss).

      • its the “Mcgloin phenomenon” from “Gangs of New York”. As an effort to fit in as an ex Irishman in the Native Whites gangs, he picks on blacks as inferior. Kind of to gain acceptance. Several essays on its significance.
        I have been abused by Japanese co workers when the boss was giving them a hard time, dovetails with the “gaijin cant be the boss of me” trope/meme/mental disorder than pervades the Abe Zeitgeist, as job security, social benefits erode and taxes rise, in return membership in the Herrenvolk of Wajin is stressed to compensate, though missing the volkswagen, social benefits/healthcare and cheap holidays, ie the Socialist bit of National Socialism.
        Oh hang on, there is “Go To Travel”..

        • This is also a problem. There are times where I wonder if the oligarchs that run asia with an iron fist (abe, xi, modi, duterte etc.) are theoretically allied with each other to screw everyone else for personal gain. i.e, Japanese nationalism works to the benifit of Chinese and Korean nationalism, with average joe asian people stuck and almost forced to pick sides, at the end of the elites win out and everyone else are pawns.

          Thinking outside the box abit is it possible that despots like Xi and Abe are less afraid of each other than their fear of the Asian diaspora who are western educated and are actively fighting for democratic and human rights values, and may, in the future reform the asian continent which is why oligarchs in Asia may be desperately shoring up domestic nationalism. It kinda explains why (deduction wise), why many domestic Japanese are hostile toward foreign.

          Given how indian nationalists are bombastic of indian americans criticizing mohdi’s regime for example, I wonder if oligarchs in asia are deathly afraid of an evergrowing Asian diaspora who are capable of critical thought and self reflection of the regimes in their homeland and capable of bringing change to their homelands as well.How else can you explain Japan’s and increasingly, india’s hostility toward its own diaspora for example?

          The CCP may be too hopeful though given the distaste than Asian Americans have for the CCP and all the problems they have to put up with thanks to the CCP and in part of people like Abe in the LDP whose anti-chinese and anti-korean rhetoric makes things worst for asians to collectively collaborate for progressive change. Also, the Edo regime who are deathly afraid of Japanese who are returning from abroad does raise some suspicions.

          A growing number of Asian Americans who are trying to gain solidarity with each other, progressive and are against their oligarch regimes is what kinda gives a ray of hope for Asia as a whole.

          Given the average Taro’s increasing willingness to marry an asian partner, I highly doubt being mixed raced is the biggest concern for the average Japanese, but rather the progressive values obtained by the average Taro’s experience by interacting outside world that is the biggest fear of the Japanese elite. The fear of an internal revolution in asia i believe is probably bigger than Japan and China’s fear of each other.

          Besides I remember hearing from someone, i think was mongolian(?), that a despots days are always numbered and must face the music of the disenfranchised people at the end of the day.

          Perhaps anti-mixed race in Japan for example is just a cover up for a bigger fear of having partners of having progressive values instead. The LDP is already pissed with its royal family’s liberal ideas already (which I suspect it is the chief reason why J-anon hates its monarchy. Google up on J-anon, a subset of pro-trump Japanese nationalists that believe that the monarchy has been hijacked by NJ is why the monarchy is spouting progressive ideas.), which may explain the LDP’s tripping down with its nationalist rhetoric.

          The brush with Indian pro-modi nationalists with american human rights activists to me speaks volumes of what the oligarchs in Asia fears, an ever-growing diaspora that can bring about change, and the oligarchs having to face the music after finding out all the time they have been duped.

          Am I putting too much hope in the Asian diaspora who can bring about change?

          • It’s well documented that nationalism is way in which the powers that be use our primal fear of the other to achieve their goals. Until the mid-20th century it was greatly to fight in wars. The workers of various countries have nothing to gain from killing each other, yet ‘fighting for your country’ still somehow sounds honourable.

            Now, it’s more frequently a way to move people’s attention away from how badly the system is using them. It’s very efficient to convince the average worker the problem is the other (Korea, China or any ‘other’ within the country’s border) to keep their attention away from the ridiculous working hours, low wages and utterly irresponsible pandemic response right now. Stigmatizing and labelling people with ‘foreign’ ancestry, as Dr. Arudou points out in this post, conveniently creates an other that can be thrown under the bus whenever it suits the establishment (e.g., ‘foreign covid clusters’ or ‘foreign crime’). This can also go for the nation’s diaspora. In my anecdotal experience, there is quite a bit of mistrust towards Japanese people who have spent time abroad not only by people in power but also by regular citizens. Having their pure minds tainted by ‘foreign’ thinking somehow seems undesirable rather than an opportunity to introduce new and progressive ideas.

            I’m not sure though that Modi, Duterte, Suga or Xi have a ‘plan’ to keep it that way. It seems to me more like a strategy that has proven to work. I might be wrong on that one though.

          • Jim Di Griz says:

            MT just reminded me of documentaries by Adam Curtis (they all used to be on YouTube last time I looked). Made for the BBC, he explores various aspects of systems of social control. Whilst looking at these systems from a UK/US perspective, his ideas about ‘the unhappy robot’ (modern society has turned us all into docile selfish automata for shopping to prevent us from questioning the nature of our societies) and ‘the power of nightmares’ wherein post Cold War politicians grew weary of being merely bureaucratic managers of society and instead decided to be charismatic visionary leaders who needed an ‘other’.
            Watching those I was able to see parallels with Japan.

    • I believe it’s worth fighting for social justice whenever there is injustice. The point shouldn’t be do determine who has it worse or to decide if the west or Japan are better places to live. There doesn’t have to be a dichotomy. If we can all agree that racism and prejudice are bad, we can oppose it whatever the circumstances.

      If you’re from a wealthy country, you might not have to worry about the brutal treatment of J detention centers if you overstay your visa. You still can (and will), however, be denied basic necessities such as housing and (depending on the whim of a bureaucrat) welfare or things J citizens can take for granted such as credit cards or loans. If you have children who don’t look quite Japanese, they might get singled out for having ‘non-standard’ hair. Not to speak of all the NJ permanent residents who found themselves cut off from their livelihoods and families last year because the government decided their foreignness made them a threat.

      This behaviour doesn’t amount to street-level violence. However, it still is a form of violence and injustice.

      Ultimately, I think everyone needs to decide for themselves. Personally, I am a non-white European. The situation of minorities in my old country has been deteriorating for years, fueled by the refugee crisis and the rise of the populist right. I feel safer in Japan than in my country of birth right now. However, that doesn’t mean I’m willing to ignore the unfair treatment NJ people get here. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, hardly anyone will.

      Also, I know it’s no consolation for anyone affected by it, but it’s quite probable the spike in anti-Asian violence around the world is a temporary issue. Japan’s racism isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

  • Dr. Arudou, forgive me for being contrary, but I don’t see the problem.

    First, your translation of 本邦 as “real homeland” suggests you misinterpreted the meaning of the prefix 本. It means “this” in this context. My cereal bag similarly states 本商品にはリンゴ汁を使用しております to mean “this product.” Other examples include 本校 meaning “this school” or 本人 meaning “the person (in question).” A simple search of a Japanese dictionary confirms this.

    So, the message from BHR is directed towards “people born outside of this country.” In my estimate, this is an improvement over directing the message towards “foreigners,” as if no Japanese are ever born from outside Japan. In other words, the wording acknowledges the discrimination naturalized Japanese face. I see this as an improvement over the blanket use of “foreigner.”

    Obviously, “people born overseas” should be replaced with “minorities” to include native non-Wajin as well as immigrants, and the BHR should put their money where their mouth is, but…baby steps. Just my two cents.

    — Of course. Thanks for your thoughts. Naturally, I disagree.

    First, the translation. I provided a link to the translation of 邦, which is a rare less-used kanji that in context essentially means “state”, “our state”, and especially in this context “Japan”. Look at the link to see the jukugo.

    If you’re fixating on 本, yes, it’s a common kanji with many meanings and contexts. But 本 does have context of “real” or “genuine” (as in 本物), with patriotic contexts as well (as in 生まれ育った国(本国) and 本土, “the mainland”, or “Japan proper”) which historically excluded, for example, Hokkaido. So it’s another way of claiming ownership over the meaning space of “our country”.

    So using 本邦 like this (as opposed to “日本”) is in my read an especially ethnostatist way of saying “wagakuni” (because you’re bringing statist elements into the lexicon). The jukugo in the dictionaries back this up. Therefore it’s not just some strong-willed ojisan colloquially saying “it’s ours”. The bureaucrats have come up with a fancy, legalistic-sounding word to express in-group/out-groupism with non-permeable barriers.

    Regarding that, remember the context here too of attaching the word “shusshin”, which is a fixator from birth. If you were born outside the “mainland”, there will always be an asterisk qualifier appended to you no matter how much you assimilate into Japanese society from outside.

    This is not the rhetorical dialog a government human rights organization should be engaging in.

    • Loverilakkuma says:

      No matter how you look at it, it will lead to the conclusion that the word is a product of government’s rhetorical history of ‘othering.’ They will never abandon their politics of place.

  • I would have to agree with Jim; the US is like 50 different countries. Some cites are run or have by Asian majorities, like San Francisco and Hawaii. To claim that the situation is critical and you must move to Japan; your just trading one problem for another. Instead just move to a state where your represented. The initial euphoria will wear off once you land in Japan, then your hit with “what am I going to do for work, where am I going to stay?” Not saying dont give it a try, might even work out, but for me, I would just move to another state, or Canada.

  • Japan is drawing ever closer to its older brother China. Just like no foreigner can become Chinese and all members of the Chinese diaspora are also Chinese, according to China, now Japan has the 本邦外出身者. Now we only need to wait for the inevitable case where two elite Japanese have kids overseas and then despite being partially raised somewhere else their kids are allowed into the 本邦外出身者 club. I bet you a million quatloos that this will happen.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    “Honpou”/ “Honpougai”

    I’ve never heard of such word while growing up in Japan. 😆 It’s definitely not the word commonly used in ordinary Japanese conversations. I wonder if native speakers of Japanese could even pronounce it, let alone understand the meaning. 🧐

    —- It’s a kanji composite of convenience.

  • GaijinLivesMatter says:

    FWIW, the word 本邦外出身者 appears 18 times in the 2016 anti-hate-speech law, including in the law’s title
    but that specific wording (as opposed to the law’s only applying to legal residents) doesn’t appear to have been among this blog’s criticisms of the law at the time.

    Furthermore, I doubt it’s fair to call 邦 a “rare” kanji — it’s used in common terms for “Japanese music” (邦楽) and “Japanese films” (邦画) in record stores, Book Offs, etc. throughout Japan, to give just two examples.

    — Sorry it escaped my notice earlier. And I’ll retract the “rare” claim. Personally, I rarely saw it in my life in Japan, and I’m a pretty big kanji nerd. But according to this source, it’s Jouyou Kanji basically at the level of a JHS graduate. So duly noted.


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