Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)

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Hi Blog. Last week I received the following information from around the internet (h/t to GG, WX, XY, and YZ) and about a “Japanese Only” establishment that put up some exclusionary signs. Their report follows, my comment comes at the very end.

//////////////////////////////////
From: XY
Subject: Foreign people are forbidden sign in Nagasaki
Date: April 16, 2021
To: <debito@debito.org>
[anonymized and edited for brevity]

Dear Debito,
I’m XY, who shared the racist signs outside a restaurant in Nagasaki on Facebook this week. GG, an old friend, tells me that he contacted you about the signs and that you’d like more information. Another long-term resident, WX, originally posted the photos on Tuesday on Facebook and I shared them, as did YZ. The signs were still there as of yesterday.

The restaurant is called Bronco, address 850-0852 Nagasaki, Yorozuya machi 5-4.

Phone 095-825-9377.
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ステーキハウス-ブロンコ-206688849396493/

This is in Kanko dori, the main downtown shopping area in Nagasaki. Online photos of the interior show a Confederate flag on display. [All signs courtesy of YZ as of April 17, 2021; click on image to expand in browser.]

Caption by YZ: The first two were taken two days ago by a student of mine who lives near that place. The third picture was the original one that WX had taken And the last is a screenshot of my comment on their Facebook page about the confederate flag. The inside of the restaurant is decorated in pretty much anything you can think of from the United States and especially from Texas. (Ironic, don’t you think?)

XY continued: After we posted the photographs, many people both foreign and Japanese either called the restaurant or contacted local government agencies to complain. The owner didn’t answer any of the calls and the person who did said they realised the signs were problematic. The agencies contacted said the signs were offensive or discriminatory but they had no legal recourse to action.

YZ and I planned to visit the restaurant to talk to the owner yesterday, but it was their 定休日. Apparently the owner has a bad reputation of being extremely unpleasant and we suspect he knows fully well that the signs are discriminatory and doesn’t care. YZ contacted someone in the local chamber of commerce in the hope that they can pressure the owner to remove the signs.

In all my decades of living in Nagasaki I have never seen anything like this. I’m deeply upset that Nagasaki, with it’s long history of interaction with foreign countries, and it’s image of a peace-loving city, is allowing this. I have no desire to eat in this restaurant but I believe the signs are infringing on my human rights, by discriminating against me as a foreigner, and suggesting that foreigners are the source of COVID-19 infection. Thank you for your interest in our story. Please let me and YZ know if you need more information. Kind regards, XY

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

COMMENT FROM DEBITO:  Another one to add to Debito.org’s collection of “Japanese Only” signs.  In addition to all of the other places archived both here on the Debito.org Blog and on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, it looks like the owner of Bronco is so much of a fan of America that he’s adopting America’s long history of racism, down to the Confederate Flag (supporters of which would historically no doubt have supported America’s Asian exclusion laws, WWII internment camps for Japanese, and other measures that would exclude Non-Whites like him).

The interesting thing about this bigot is that his racism has evolved with the times.  No longer is it a matter of excluding people because they don’t “look Japanese” or “don’t understand Japanese customs or language” etc., etc.  Now it’s a matter of infection (which in fact is a Japanese government-supported narrative).  No matter that Japan’s primary vectors of infection in recent months have been Japanese returning from overseas themselves, what with Japan’s honor-system quarantines for Japanese only until relatively recently, a willful under-testing of the asymptomatic or much contract tracing of infected Japanese (to keep the numbers low and the Olympics coming), and abysmally low vaccination rates in Japan, leading to the distinct possibility that Japan has incubated its own Eek Variant of the Coronavirus.

If anything, foreign returnees and even tourists are probably more likely to be vaccinated and therefore less contagious than the average Taro. But no matter.  Blame the foreigner.  After all, it’s what even the main Japanese scientist advising the government told us we should do.  Bad physical science, coupled with even worse social science, has once again enabled the racists.  Debito Arudou, Ph.D.

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

UPDATE:  EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS ARE DOWN

From: XY
Subject: Re: Foreign people are forbidden sign in Nagasaki
Date: April 25, 2021
To: Debito Arudou <debito@debito.org>

Hi Debito,

I’m sorry for not getting back in touch with you sooner. Thank you for blogging about Bronco. I’m happy to report that the signs were taken down by Sunday April 18th, we think because of pressure from the local shop owners’ association. YZ had contacted MICE, an organization which promotes the new conference center being built here [info in English, Japanese], who told her they would ask the shop owners’ association to talk to the owner. Also some of YZ’s friends are members of the association and also acted on our behalf, after seeing her posts on SNS.

We are both glad that the local Japanese community stood up against racism.
Kind regards, XY

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

DEBITO COMMENTS:  See?  If the government has an interest or a duty to stop this exclusionary behavior, it can happen quite rapidly.  Yet another reason why we need actual laws against racial discrimination.

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20 comments on “Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)

  • You have to read between the lines.
    That small place, with the AC blowing from side to side and no social-distance-closed-seats between customers is really an infection spreading machine.
    I wouldn’t eat there even if it was welcoming and free, so while the sign is clearly racist, he’s unintentionally doing the foreign population a favor.
    For the time being I am sticking to chain restaurants during off-peak hours, I like it when I see the staff following a strict safety protocol and even “scolding” me if I forget to sanitize my hands when I get in.

  • @peppe “he’s unintentionally doing the foreign population a favor”

    No one is ever doing us a favor by having idiotic racist signage. Its very existence reinforces the view that foreigners, not Japanese, are carriers of disease. Are you OK with that?

  • Baudrillard says:

    He should stop appropriating American symbols if he is going to exclude Americans. Same old “they just want our stuff” theft.
    Maybe someone should point out to him how “unpatriotic” he is. Why isnt he displaying a Japanese flag? Is he a wannabe American? I am being ironic here but in Hong Kong I heard it is now deemed illegal and seditious to display a non Chinese flag, so surely he is doing the same thing?
    Anonymous tip off to black van rightists about the “Pro American” paraphenalia on display?
    Fight rightists with rightists.

  • I havent run up against this yet but I also prefer not to eat or visit these kind of places that cater mainly to Japanese. There is just a kind of atmosphere that gives me stress, (like they would rather I not be there) so I avoid and would prefer the chains or hotel lobbies etc. Most of these kind of places, at least for me, are severely lacking in quality and knowledge of cuisine, unless you visit a very well known place in a big city, then your going to pay a huge sum for a small portion of food.
    The sign is still very racist however. Who is to differentiate between those who have had the COVID vaccination, and who hasnt?

    • Someone needs to pretend naive go there with a Japanese person and say in Japanese “But… youre advertising to Americans as you have an American flag. Which is it? Are you really a Japanese? (Ishihara’s fave put down)” I’d do it it if I were near.

      • Jim Di Griz says:

        But this is why they do it, isn’t it?
        Their trapped in this failed ideology of ‘We Japanese (insert anything) are unique IN the world, but ‘ware ware nihonjin’ (insert some platitude about equality)’ trap.
        It’s oppressive and rejects diversity.
        Like wearing a baseball cap backwards= ‘I’m a DJ’ or going to Hawaii for 5 days a year = ‘I’m a surfer’ despite being forced into restrictive, prescribed social ‘norms’ that define self-conceits of ‘Japaneseness’.
        For this guy, it’s his ‘Superman’ thing; just like Clark Kent, he is inconspicuous in the (Japanese) masses until he goes into a phone booth (his restaurant) where he magically transforms into a ‘Superman’ by virtue of his so-cool cosmopolitan American style.
        Except that when a real American walks in, it embarrasses him in front of the (usually) adoring Japanese customers by exposing his affected worldliness and ‘not like other Japanese’ act as a total fraud pastiche cobbled together from misunderstood Hollywood movie scenes, bursting his fragile bubble and reminding him he is play-acting his life whilst still a prisoner to Japanese conventions.
        That’s why he doesn’t want to let NJ in, surely?

        — I strongly doubt this person has thought this through so deeply. If the bigots I’ve encountered over the years are any guide to mentalities, he just heard the narrative that foreigners are infectious and reacted accordingly. Thank you GOJ for once again sponsoring a narrative that the outside world is a threat.

        • interested in this as its postmodern identity acquisition through commodity fetishism (Debord, Marx).
          -Like wearing a baseball cap backwards= ‘I’m a DJ’ or going to Hawaii for 5 days a year = ‘I’m a surfer’ despite being forced into restrictive, prescribed social ‘norms’ that define self-conceits of ‘Japaneseness’.
          For this guy, it’s his ‘Superman’ thing; just like Clark Kent, he is inconspicuous in the (Japanese) masses until he goes into a phone booth (his restaurant) where he magically transforms into a ‘Superman’ by virtue of his so-cool cosmopolitan American style.
          That DJ baseball cap was so ubiquitous in the 90s it got annoying, ditto “Oka Surfa” so could you eleborate more, Jim?

          • Jim Di Griz says:

            Well, it’s kinda like the inverse of the weaboo thing; NJ who ‘wish’ they were Japanese and avoid other NJ because it reminds them of who they are.

        • you might be onto something. I used to go to this karaoke bar with filipina bartenders (not a hostess bar per se). And when I sang the filipinas dug it, but a few oyaji walked out.
          I get the feeling I was a bit better than them and had ruined their fantasy/ego trip.

  • I saw this on Twitter a few days ago. Someone renamed the place to “xenophobic restaurant” on Google. Unfortunately the entry was deleted 24 hours later. But it was fun till it lasted. The fact that the owner displays the Confederate, and US flag is even more ironic. Reminds me of the time I saw a bar called “All American Girls Bar” or something like that, that had a “Japanese Only” sign. I guess the girls aren’t American after all. Well, they’re probably Eastern European Girls who pretend to be American anyway, but you probably get my point. Japan loves to appropriate US, or western culture, but at the same time they try to keep that foreign and imported culture away from NJ. And they don’t even see the irony in it. But then again, I guess you can’t expect logic and reasoning from these people. The sad thing here is that Japanese laws and society at large support such things. Mostly not actively of course, but staying indifferent and just saying “shouganai” is almost the same as outright supporting such signs in my opinion.

  • Jim Di Griz says:

    Japan’s racist imperial era ideology had its chance and it failed. ‘Our’ ideology was better. But Japan had been allowed by cold war imperatives and a language barrier to keep its addiction to a failed ideology.
    And where has it got Japan?
    An image that shatters when NJ come to experience it?
    An identity so fragile it cannot tolerate the very sight of NJ?
    The ‘3rd largest economy in the world’ with 240% debt as a ratio of GDP?
    Yeah, so much ‘winning’…
    And this, ‘no foreigners’ signs.
    I was going to write something about ‘omotenashi’ but what’s the point; it’s symptomatic of a larger problem. One where the ‘vaccines’ Minister can’t face the criticism of Japan’s slow vaccine rollout compared to other countries telling NJ to ‘go back home’ to get the vaccine (with obligatory ‘your country is more dangerous than Japan’ insult thrown in);
    ‘ “If you would like to go back to your home country for inoculation, that’s fine,” Japan’s vaccine chief Taro Kono said last Friday. “Some countries have a higher rate of COVID-19, so you should consider which is safer for your health.”’
    https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan's-foreign-residents-ponder-travelling-for-vaccines-amid-slow-inoculation-push

    Or the sexism that see’s 100 female doctors quit over a pay cut during a pandemic (because, ingrained sexism);
    https://news.yahoo.co.jp/articles/237e5b661c48815722a52ded7a59612c71c6e0be

    Japan would rather cling to its failed myths and ideology than embrace any change at all; like I said, it’s a death cult.

  • *holds envelope to forehead*
    Xenophobes, the Confederacy, and the New York Jets.
    *opens envelope*
    Name three losers.

    — That’s unfair to the Jets.

    • Hahaha, I mean, at least they DID win something once. Granted, it s when the original Star Trek was still on the air.

      • Baudrillard says:

        Japan could learn much from Star Trek’s inclusivity. Currently theyre more like the Klingon Empire….who were ultimately doomed by a reactor meltdown and had to reform. Hmm, OK maybe Japan is more like the Romulan Empire, which just went extinct. Discuss.
        Come to think of it, most Japanese don’t know Star Trek, especially the TV series.

        — I don’t know about that. I found fans easily.

      • The Star Trek III portrayal of Klingons took inspiration from Japanese history. “Harve [Bennett] had the notion that the Klingons were like Samurai warriors,” explained linguist Marc Okrand. (Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 27) Robert Fletcher agreed with Bennett, later saying of the Klingons, “I always liked to think of them as authoritarian, almost feudal, like Japan had been.” (The Making of the Trek Films, UK 3rd ed., p. 52) As such, both the Klingon costumes and Klingonese language in Star Trek III were influenced by the feudal Japanese culture. (The Art of Star Trek, p. 226; Star Trek: Communicator issue 114, p. 27; The Making of the Trek Films, UK 3rd ed., p. 52) https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Depicting_Klingons

        — Wow, some dedicated fans out there. I’ve speculated on a lot of the alien races out there in the Star Trek Universe, and I’ve found Ferengi diet practices and the Cardassian legal system to be redolent of Japan as well. Lots of fertile ground for speculation, but you’ve gone to the sources. I surrender.

        • the link given actually says different designers had different (racial stereotypical) intentions. The Japanese references were the preference of a later designer as in the 60s the Klingons were obviously the Russians or the Asiatic “Other”. (Volgans?)
          Theres also a reference to Cardassians as Chinese though not sure if the current hyper sensitive Chinese regime bears this similarity ( I havent watched the Cardassian episodes).
          Cant find the link but I recall an English post in Japan comparing the ad about “we are not invaders, just promoting quality of life” posted by a Japanese company in America in the 80s to The Borg’s “Resistance is Futile.” “We are The Borg”= “we Japanese” monolithic collective thinking used by some Wajin to coerce NJs into acceptance of anything they tell them.

      • Baudrillard says:

        Or The Borg. Certainly the inflexible culture and the Japan that can only say No.
        The Borg are the most pernicious representation of techno-orientalism. As symbols of a future Japanese society, they represent the end product of dehumanised technological power, the nightmarish dimension of capitalist progress.
        If the Borg are the fear, Seven is the hope. In her Borg incarnation, she is modelled on two icons of contemporary Japan. The first are the kids of the otaku generation, lost to everyday life because of their immersion in information technologies. Techno-orientalism imagines these young people mutating into machines, a cyber-biological mode of being for the future. The second is a brand of techno-body horror imagery (drills entering eyeballs, wires bursting the flesh) that comes straight from Shinya Tsukamoto’s cult film Tetsuo.
        https://www.newstatesman.com/node/149247

        — I can’t believe a blog post on exclusionary signs has become a discussion of Star Trek. 🙂 I guess the BBS online chat room phenomenon will never die.

    • Andrew in Saitama says:

      I can’t say anything about the last one, but the first two also seem to think that history can be rewritten if it is inconvenient, and that they only lost wars because the other side was somehow cheating.
      Also, free speech as long as we agree with it.

  • Loverilakkuma says:

    Bigots can be elsewhere, and you just don’t know what kind of fish you will get. People tend to assume that racism in Japan is somewhat less evil and treatable like a benign tumor, and
    owners putting up “Japanese Only” signs will be compliant once they get called out. The problem is that it’s wrong in so many ways.
    What’s really mind-boggling is that this kind of thinking is shared among people across ideology(e.g., left/right, liberal/conservative).

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