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  • Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 10th, 2008

    Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan

    Hi Blog.  Here’s a breathtaking statistic.  Courtesy of several people this morning:

     

    Japan: No room at inn for foreigners

    http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/10/09/japan.inn.room.foreigners.ap/index.html

    TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs says over 70 percent of Japanese inns and hotels that didn’t have foreign guests last year don’t want any in the future either.

    The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel unable to support foreign languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.

    The survey released Thursday shows that over 60 percent of Japan’s inns and hotels had foreign guests last year, but the majority of the rest don’t want any.

    It was released as Japan continues its efforts to attract more foreign visitors. The country’s “Visit Japan Campaign” aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year. 

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

    「外国人泊めたくない」ホテル・旅館3割 07年国調査

    朝日新聞 2008年10月9日

     ホテルや旅館の少なくとも3割が「外国人旅行者を泊めたくない」と考えていることが、総務省が9日に公表した観光関連業者に対する意識調査でわかった。小規模な業者ほど「もてなし」に消極的で、総務省は「国が主導して受け入れやすい環境を整える必要がある」としている。

     06年時点で政府が把握している全国の旅館・ホテル1万6113業者すべてに調査票を送り、7068業者(44%)が回答した。「これだけ大規模な調査は初めて」(総務省行政評価局)という。

     07年に外国人旅行者の宿泊が全くなかった業者は38%。このうち72%が「宿泊してほしくない」と答えた。全体の27%にあたる。理由を複数回答で聞くと「外国語対応ができない」(76%)、「施設が外国人向きでない」(72%)、「問題が発生した時の対応に不安がある」(63%)の順に多かった。

     宿泊がなかった業者の割合を規模別に見ると、100室以上は6%、30〜99室は18%、30室未満は51%。規模が小さいほど多く、総務省は「地域振興の観点からも、地方に多い中小の業者の受け入れが進むことが望ましい」としている。

     1日に発足した観光庁は、07年に835万人だった外国人旅行者を、20年に2千万人とする目標を掲げている。

    ENDS

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

    COMMENT:  This is not news to me (although I am grateful to the GOJ for conducting this survey and making this information available to the public).  I’ve called a number of hotels (in places like Shinjuku, Wakkanai and Nagano) with “Japanese Only” rules and signs up and their most common excuse was, “we don’t speak any foreign languages” (they’ve also said “we don’t have Western beds” and “we can’t handle NJ problems if they come up”, precisely those listed in the Asahi article above).  I’ve even pointed out to these hotels and to the local police box (with a keitai snap of the sign and a copy of the laws they have to enforce) that this is in fact an illegal activity under the Ryokan Gyouhou (which is very specific under what conditions hotels can refuse clientele; being a foreigner is not one of them); in all cases I was told to get lost.  Even the police (in Ohkubo) couldn’t be bothered.

    I even found a website last year put up by the Fukushima Prefectural Government Tourist Information Association which had several places stating (again, with government knowledge and sponsorship) that they explicitly did not want NJ to stay there.  That was taken down after I pointed out the laws to the tourist agency and they spent several weeks researching, but gee whiz, doesn’t the government even know their own laws?

    As the CNN article points out, how can Japan get more tourists when (mathematically) a estimable 27% or all hotels surveyed in Japan (72% of 38%, according to the Asahi above) don’t want their money because they can’t be bothered to offer their services properly?  They are part of the sa-bisu gyoukai, aren’t they?

    What to do?  It’s pretty simple, really.  Suspend their operating licenses until they shape up.  And sic the press on them.  Like the Kumamoto Pref Govt did the hotel that refused Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) ex-patients in 2004.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

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

    UPDATE:  The Manchester Guardian quoted me soon afterwards.  I’m not too comfortable with how my quotes came out, but here’s the article FYI.  Debito

    =====================
    Japanese hoteliers turn backs on foreign tourists
    Justin McCurry in Tokyo, The Guardian (guardian.co.uk) 
    Friday October 10 2008 14.57 BST
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/10/japan-japan
    WITH ADDENDA TO MY QUOTES (I’m not all that comfortable with how they came out)

    Japan’s mission to boost the number of overseas visitors suffered a setback this week after hundreds of hoteliers and inn owners said they would turn away foreign guests.

    Of the 7,068 hotels and inns that responded to a survey by the communications ministry, 62% had received at least one foreign guest last year, while 38%, or 2,655 establishments, had received none. Of that number, 72% said they would prefer their doors to remain closed to non-Japanese.

    The results were published only days after Japan’s newly formed tourist agency said it planned to increase the number of foreign visitors to 10 million by the end of the decade, compared with 8.35 million last year. It then hopes to double the number to 20 million by 2020.

    Many cited language problems, while others said they did not have the facilities for foreign guests, although what that actually meant wasn’t specified. Some said they would be unable to respond properly if any problems involving foreigners arose on their premises.

    Smaller hotels and traditional inns, called ryokan, are most reluctant to court the international tourist yen.

    In theory at least, the country’s thousands of ryokan, often located deep in the mountains or near the coast, are supposed to offer old-fashioned hospitality: faultless service, rooms with sliding paper screens and tatami-mat floors, communal hot spring baths and exquisitely presented local delicacies.

    “The survey sheds light on a pretty dark part of Japan,” said Debito Arudou, an American-born naturalised Japanese citizen. [I'm grateful to the Japanese government for dealing with this kind of problem, usually kept quiet.]

    Arudou, the author of a book on racial discrimination in his adopted country, called on local government to enforce anti-discrimination laws and revoke the business licenses of offending hotels and inns.

    “They are supposed to be part of the service industry, but they’re not providing that service to foreigners.

    [It's a paradox.] “They claim they can’t provide foreign guests with a proper standard of service, so instead they deny it to them altogether. That’s arrogance on a grand scale.” [How can the hotel decide what the customer likes like this, and based upon their presupposition just say they're not even going to try? In any case, it's the law. They legally cannot refuse people just because they're foreign.]

    Officials from Visit Japan, a government-sponsored tourist drive launched in 2003, conceded there was little they could do to encourage reluctant hoteliers to change their ways.

    “It is up to the individual hotels and inns to decide who they have as guests, but we would like them to realise that the influx of foreign visitors represents a huge business opportunity,” Daisuke Tonai, a spokesman for the Japan National Tourism Organisation, told the Guardian.

    “Although we can’t force them to act, we certainly want hotels and inns to do more to make overseas visitors feel more welcome.”

    Renewed efforts to woo overseas visitors got off to an inglorious start last month when Nariaki Nakayama, the transport minister, was forced to resign after saying that Japan was “ethnically homogeneous” and that the Japanese, in general, “do not like foreigners”.

    His replacement, Kazuyoshi Kaneko, whose brief includes tourism, admitted that foreigners were unwelcome in some places.

    “Some people might not like the idea of having foreign tourists very much,” he told the Japan Times. “Although it’s not our intention to change the people’s mindset, [the tourism agency's] major task will be to attract a large number of foreign tourists.”

    Though tourist numbers have risen significantly from 5.21 million five years ago, Japan has strict visa and immigration rules and has been criticised for its sometimes frosty attitude towards outsiders.

    ENDS

    18 Responses to “Asahi/CNN: GOJ survey report: 38% of J hotels had no NJ guests in 2007, and 72% of those (as in 27%) don’t want NJ guests”

    1. Alexander Says:

      I’d say this 27% is almost all ryokan.

      I also think that a good chunk are not actively pursuing a policy of discrimination. But when the GOJ asks such a loaded question with answer choices that so obviously play to existing fears of Japanese people towards foreigners, the result is entirely unsurprising.

      It’s hard to know how these ryokan would actually respond if a foreigner showed up on their doorstep. But the GOJ is certainly not helping Japan’s image.

    2. Max Says:

      It is because most of the people cannot speak English
      (I say it to anticipate a comfortable largly used commonplace)

    3. Oidon Says:

      > The ministry says that a survey of such businesses showed they feel
      > unable to support foreign languages
      > 理由を複数回答で聞くと「外国語対応ができない」(76%)

      So then speak Japanese, the language of the country.
      Rather, I’d be offended if they tried to speak anything except Japanese to me.
      Most hotels in the US will only be able to communicate in English for the same reason.

      > that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.
      > 「施設が外国人向きでない」(72%)

      Absolute nonsense.
      What does this even mean? Tatami and futon? That’s how I sleep every night, and I prefer it to wooden floors and beds. Traditional Japanese toilets? You hardly need training to use them.
      Facilities need to be for humans, not for J or NJ.

    4. Ariel Says:

      “I’d say this 27% is almost all ryokan. I also think that a good chunk are not actively pursuing a policy of discrimination.” (Alexander, comment #1)

      How is prefering to deny a service to someone based on their nationality and/or race NOT active discrimination? I’m pretty sure that’s actually the definition of discrimination!

      These hotel owners might not realize that this is what they are doing, but it is precisely because people (both J and NJ) keep excusing and downplaying it that discrimination continues to be a problem despite there being a law on the books.

      And the language excuse is bogus, communication is so much more than just spoken language.

    5. debito Says:

      ———————————————————————
      Thursday, October 9, 2008 (AP)
      Foreigner-free Japan hotels want to stay that way
      By JAY ALABASTER, Associated Press Writer

      http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2008/10/09/international/i071653D53.DTL

      (10-09) 07:16 PDT TOKYO, Japan (AP) —
      Most Japanese inns and hotels that didn’t have foreign guests last year
      don’t want any in the future, according to a government survey released
      Thursday.
      While the majority of such establishments do accept foreigners, the survey
      showed the country’s more traditional inns are not as hospitable, even as
      the government mounts a major campaign to draw more tourists from abroad.
      Japan’s countryside is dotted with thousands of small, old-fashioned
      lodgings called “ryokans.” Many are family run and offer only traditional
      Japanese food and board, such as raw seafood delicacies, simple straw-mat
      floors and communal hot spring baths.
      Some such establishments have barred foreign guests in the past, leading
      to lawsuits and government fines for discrimination.
      The survey carried out by the Ministry of Internal Affairs shows that 72
      percent of establishments that didn’t have foreign customers in the past
      year don’t want any, and the majority are ryokans and hotels with fewer
      than 30 rooms. Such businesses said they are unable to support foreign
      languages and that their facilities are not suited to foreigners.
      While more than 60 percent of the country’s inns and hotels hosted foreign
      guests last year, the results indicate it may be hard to expand this
      number.
      Tokyo spends about $35 million per year on its “Visit Japan Campaign,”
      which aims to draw 10 million foreigners to the country for trips and
      business in the year 2010, up from 8.35 million last year.
      Campaign spokesman Ryo Ito said in general Japanese inns have been
      accepting of foreigners, noting that some now take foreign currencies and
      have staff that can speak multiple languages. He said the dire state of
      the global economy was more of a concern.
      “The business environment has become very harsh,” he said.
      The government survey was done by mail earlier this year, and 7,068
      establishments responded.
      ENDS

    6. debito Says:

      THE STORY HAS LEGS…

      JAPAN TIMES Friday, Oct. 10, 2008
      http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081010a9.html

      Language barrier spurs most inns to snub foreigners: poll
      Kyodo News
      Of all the hotels and inns in Japan that did not accommodate foreigners last year, more than 70 percent said they were unwilling to serve them mainly due to an inability to handle foreign languages, an Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry survey showed Thursday.

      The ministry conducted the poll to see how the visitors are being received in Japan. The results appear to indicate that many small facilities are unprepared to handle foreigners, despite the government’s Visit Japan campaign aimed at luring 10 million annual visitors to Japan by 2010.

      Of the 16,000 inn and hotel operators queried by the poll, 43.9 percent responded.

      According to the survey, 62.2 percent had at least one foreign guest in 2007, while 37.8 percent, or 2,655 establishments, served none.
      ENDS

    7. TJJ Says:

      Boring of me to always bring it up,

      but…

      how do they know whether they’ve served a foriegn guest or not? If they don’t ask people who look and sound Japanese and have a Japanese name, but aren’t Japanese, for their passports? I bet this percentages are way off.

      You might say, well, we don’t consider those people foriegners. Well, they either are foreigners or they are not. The law says they are but you say they are not, one of you must be wrong.

    8. iegumo Says:

      My in-laws run a minshuku in the countryside. They have hosted a handful of NJ guests before but have told me that they would prefer not to. Why? They are very serious about wanting to provide quality service to their guests and they believe that communication problems could cause misunderstandings, as a result of which NJ guests may not be satisfied. They also believe that NJ guests will have different norms and expectations that will not be fulfilled. Now please read on before commenting.

      Of course they are presuming that language will be a problem when it may well not be. They are wrongly assuming that NJ guests will insist on comforts that they cannot provide. But this is the root of many stated wishes (not outright refusals- that is a very different animal) to not deal with NJ guests- because they sincerely believe that NJ guests will not be satisfied with the service. Therefore, I don’t agree with this situation being regarded a lack of proper service, or as a service problem (which it is according to Debito said).

      My in-laws simply hold the (often untrue) belief that NJs will be very different in their norms and habits than Japanese guests (although unfortunately a few NJ guests have in fact helped to reinforce this notion). Why? Are they gaijin-hating racists? No. There is a ton of literature around the world that focuses heavily on how different cultures are- how misunderstandings naturally arise because of our fundamental differences, different values in conflict, fundamental differences in perceptions and so on and they believe it. Not only that, but many NJs spout this stuff as much as Japanese do and it ends up reinforcing the beliefs of perfectly good and honourable people, like my in-laws.

      So, what to do? Should we then take away their licenses until they ‘shape up’, as Debito said or have the press go after them, as Debito likewise suggests? Wouldn’t it be far, far more effective to help show these people (and it will take time) that NJs might well communicate in Japanese, that perfect communication may not be necessary for a happy stay, and that NJ guests will probably not expect a bed plus ham ‘n eggs for breakfast. Wouldn’t it be more productive in the long run to help create understanding that man NJs are not so different and are willing and/or able to adapt to Japanese norms rather than throw laws, punishments, and other types of harassment at them for this alleged transgression?

      Please!

    9. TJJ Says:

      Iegumo

      If they just say “We only cater to people who can communicate in Japanese” I wouldn’t have a problem with it.

      What is so hard about that?

    10. Tyler (平) Lynch Says:

      I caught this disappointing news on my home town’s newspaper (Seattle Times) website and checked debito.org — sure enough, Debito-san had this news covered. I say ‘disappointing’ because a large group of other innkeepers and I here in Nagano are actively trying to make the prefecture even friendlier to guests from overseas (=”Inbound”).

      As I mentioned elsewhere,

      01-Oct. marks the start of the Japan Tourism Agency, tasked with the goal of increasing the number of tourists from abroad.
      By coincidence, today I took part in a meeting by the Nagano Regional Gov’t Agency on increasing the number of foreign tourists. And the day after tomorrow I have been invited as a consultant to a research group on the same subject for Nagano Prefecture. All of this is coming off the Nagano Inbound Summit, which I organized last Sunday.
      More and more attention is being given to the Inbound subject. This is in conflict, according to the newspaper (http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20081001f1.html), with a tendancy towards inward-looking here. According to a recent opinion poll, almost one-third of Japanese people don’t want an increase in Inbound numbers; more than half don’t want tourist visa restrictions eased.
      In my opinion, if you were to ask a typical Japanese person “Do you find increased numbers of foreign tourists a problem?” you might get anti-Inbound results. However, if you were to ask the same person, “Would you like to share Japanese culture with guests from overseas?”, the result would be favorable.
      That’s the spirit I am using here at Kamesei Ryokan (our inn) — trying to share the warmth and relaxing atmosphere of our traditional onsen inn with travellers from abroad

      Finally, a note to Iegumo-san, please reassure your in-laws that any Inbound tourist that makes the effort to stay in a minshuku in the countryside is not going to expect ham ‘n eggs for breakfast. If that’s what they wanted, they would go to the Tokyo Hilton instead. Now, I’m not saying your in-laws should serve natto to guests from overseas, but I do think they should share the traditional minshuku experience with foreigners. An unwillingness to do so may not be racist, but it is in the very least being selfish and inconsiderate.

    11. debito Says:

      Japanese hoteliers turn backs on foreign tourists
      Justin McCurry in Tokyo
      guardian.co.uk, Friday October 10 2008 14.57 BST
      http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/oct/10/japan-japan
      WITH ADDENDA TO MY QUOTES (I’m not all that comfortable with how they came out)

      Japan’s mission to boost the number of overseas visitors suffered a setback this week after hundreds of hoteliers and inn owners said they would turn away foreign guests.

      Of the 7,068 hotels and inns that responded to a survey by the communications ministry, 62% had received at least one foreign guest last year, while 38%, or 2,655 establishments, had received none. Of that number, 72% said they would prefer their doors to remain closed to non-Japanese.

      The results were published only days after Japan’s newly formed tourist agency said it planned to increase the number of foreign visitors to 10 million by the end of the decade, compared with 8.35 million last year. It then hopes to double the number to 20 million by 2020.

      Many cited language problems, while others said they did not have the facilities for foreign guests, although what that actually meant wasn’t specified. Some said they would be unable to respond properly if any problems involving foreigners arose on their premises.

      Smaller hotels and traditional inns, called ryokan, are most reluctant to court the international tourist yen.

      In theory at least, the country’s thousands of ryokan, often located deep in the mountains or near the coast, are supposed to offer old-fashioned hospitality: faultless service, rooms with sliding paper screens and tatami-mat floors, communal hot spring baths and exquisitely presented local delicacies.

      “The survey sheds light on a pretty dark part of Japan,” said Debito Arudou, an American-born naturalised Japanese citizen. [I'm grateful to the Japanese government for dealing with this kind of problem, usually kept quiet.]

      Arudou, the author of a book on racial discrimination in his adopted country, called on local government to enforce anti-discrimination laws and revoke the business licenses of offending hotels and inns.

      “They are supposed to be part of the service industry, but they’re not providing that service to foreigners.

      [It's a paradox.] “They claim they can’t provide foreign guests with a proper standard of service, so instead they deny it to them altogether. That’s arrogance on a grand scale.” [How can the hotel decide what the customer likes like this, and based upon their presupposition just say they're not even going to try? In any case, it's the law. They legally cannot refuse people just because they're foreign.]

      Officials from Visit Japan, a government-sponsored tourist drive launched in 2003, conceded there was little they could do to encourage reluctant hoteliers to change their ways.

      “It is up to the individual hotels and inns to decide who they have as guests, but we would like them to realise that the influx of foreign visitors represents a huge business opportunity,” Daisuke Tonai, a spokesman for the Japan National Tourism Organisation, told the Guardian.

      “Although we can’t force them to act, we certainly want hotels and inns to do more to make overseas visitors feel more welcome.”

      Renewed efforts to woo overseas visitors got off to an inglorious start last month when Nariaki Nakayama, the transport minister, was forced to resign after saying that Japan was “ethnically homogeneous” and that the Japanese, in general, “do not like foreigners”.

      His replacement, Kazuyoshi Kaneko, whose brief includes tourism, admitted that foreigners were unwelcome in some places.

      “Some people might not like the idea of having foreign tourists very much,” he told the Japan Times. “Although it’s not our intention to change the people’s mindset, [the tourism agency's] major task will be to attract a large number of foreign tourists.”

      Though tourist numbers have risen significantly from 5.21 million five years ago, Japan has strict visa and immigration rules and has been criticised for its sometimes frosty attitude towards outsiders.

      ENDS

    12. Iegumo Says:

      First, I’m sorry about the typos and a few clunky sentences in my post above, but thank you Debito for posting it anyway.

      A coupla things. It should be noted that the negative responses on the survey mean that the proprietors “don’t want” foreign guests to stay, NOT that they have refused or will refuse foreign guests. The Japanese and English are consistent in the wording here. The latter has legal ramifications and would constitute a type of ‘refusal policy’ whereas the former merely states a wish or preference. I can easily see a countryside minshuku operator getting a government survey asking if they want foreign guests and, thinking that a ‘yes’ will place them on some kind of list, feeling that they don’t have the linguistic capacity to deal with this, or believing (perhaps wrongly, but genuinely nonetheless) that their facilities will not be suitable, they tick the ‘no’ box. (Just to clarify something; my in-laws have never refused an NJ, which is quite distinct from saying that they’d prefer not to have NJ guests. Which brings me to TJJ’s post…)

      TJJ- making Japanese skills a requirement might sound like a good compromise (but is it OK to refuse a guest on the basis of language proficiency?) and in fact I have suggested this to them. After all, I, the son-in-law, am a living, breathing example of an NJ who speaks Japanese and is at home in a traditional Japanese environment (OK- I actually dislike traditional J breakfasts but…). So, why don’t they ‘get it’? Well, as I said before, their precepts and assumptions are based upon years and years of believing that NJs in general will not ‘really understand’, a false belief, but a belief reinforced by much of what they hear (and not just in Japan) about ‘different cultures’. It takes some time to help get them past this overly rigid notion of what NJs will say or want, but I chip away- although they see me as a rare exception. One thing’s for sure though- legal actions or finger-pointing media campaigns will not help them understand.

      To Tyler: No doubt the vast majority of NJs who make it out to a country minshuku are unlikely to expect, or want, flapjacks and a bowl of Sugar Crisp for breakfast- as you say, most such people are probably hoping for the traditional Japanese experience. Again, I have mentioned this to my in-laws, and hopefully it resonates. But it is still a slow chipping away against the long-held overgeneralization that NJs want NJish facilities and service (whatever those may be), particularly so if the proprietor believes that by saying ‘yes’ on a survey they may actively be putting themselves on some type of list which will encourage groups of first-timers to appear at their humble family inn.

      I don’t think my in-laws (and by extension, many of the proprietors who answered ‘no’on the survey) are guilty of anything more than a few overgeneralizations and of jumping a bit quickly to some unnecessary conclusions (which I think some people in this thread may be guilty of- that is, jumping to the conclusion that these “Don’t wants” constitute outright refusals and otherwise make the worst possible interpretation of the proprietor’s motives). Finally, it’s never good form to call someone else’s relatives “selfish” and “inconsiderate”, but anyway, please keep in mind that they actually believe they are fully considering the needs and wishes of the NJ guest. But how do we persuade such people that the case might be otherwise? I hope you’d agree that fist-waving of any sort would not really be persuasive.

      Last point- the headline of the Japan Times article above is misleading. It says “Language barrier spurs most inns to snub foreigners”. Of course, it is not “most” inns. It is 27%. 27% of the 43% who responded to a survey sent out to 16000 establishments. I mention this because many here have criticized misleading headlines regarding foreign crime in Japan. I think this sword cuts both ways.

      Sorry- long post

    13. adamw Says:

      to iegumo

      frankly speaking if they have a nj son in law and still are unhappy with foreign guests,then there isnt much to be done with them.
      the whole service thing strikes me as an excuse to not say to you what they really feel.
      laws are the only thing that will change this.

      for the fukushima tourist office to see this discrimination as perfectly normal beggars belief..

    14. Iegumo Says:

      My last post on this topic (as obviously it holds some personal interest for me).

      I asked my wife to bring the issue up with her parents (the innkeepers) while on the phone the other day. Her parents were aware of the survey, though they had not been surveyed themselves, and had also seen the results in the local press.

      My wife: Would you have said checked the “don’t want foreign guests list” if you’d been surveyed?

      Parents: Possibly.

      Wife: But what about Iegumo (me)? He’s a foreigner but he speaks Japanese well and he knows what’s going on, right?

      Parents: Absolutely no problem. We’ve had foreign guests in the past who speak Japanese. In fact, we’ve never turned anyone away because of their nationality. That would be unethical.

      Wife: So, why would you check “don’t want” on the survey then?

      Parents: Because when you get a survey from a government ministry asking if you want to host foreign guests you don’t get the image of people like Iegumo, foreigners living in Japan who know what’s what. You get the image of visitors fresh from overseas. You get the impression that you would have to upgrade your facilities to some kind of international level and conform to standards so that your minshuku is suited for international tourism. And we just don’t have the capacity to do that. I’m pretty sure that’s how a lot of people like us would take it.

      (Iegumo speaking here) Food for thought. I truly believe that if those Japanese who have some anxieties about the alleged norms and expectations of NJs sat down and talked with them they would find that the NJ expectations and differences are not as profound as they believe. Likewise, if NJs who treat occurences like these first and foremost as acts of gaijin-hating xenophobia had the same types of discussions they would find that the hearts and motivations of many such Japanese people are quite different from what they had imagined.

    15. Tyler (平) Lynch Says:

      Perhaps the ‘anketo’ should read something like this:

      1. Would you want a gorilla as a guest?

      2. Would you want a Martian as a guest?

      3. Would you want a fellow human being as a guest?

      4. (Optional) If you answered ‘yes’ for #3, what if the fellow human being happened to be a foreigner?

      Maybe then the “Don’t Wants” would realize how ridiculous and close-minded (and, as viewed by an ‘unwanted’ foreigner, arrogant) they are being.

      One other issue here is what was the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ intention by doing this survey in the first place? And do they just publicize the data and run? Will there be any follow-up effort to correct the inns’ misconceptions (like the ones Iegumo-san mentioned about his in-laws)? Is this our tax money at work — being spent on irresponsible surveys?

      – Quite. One of the problems with surveys of this genre is they ask leading questions — why is refusing anyone even offered as an option?

    16. Iegumo Says:

      I said that the previous post would be my last one this topic but I’d just like to add a final point (well, two).

      First, “refusal” was not actually an option on the survey. It asked if the proprietors “wanted foreign guests” or not- not whether they in fact would refuse a foreign guest. Saying that you don’t want to do X on a survey and actually refusing to do X in practice are two different things, both legally and psychologically. This distinction is important for the reasons pointed out in my previous post.

      Secondly, most of the posters here are (I believe) like me. They were born and grew up elsewhere and came to Japan as adults where they (hopefully) picked up the language, adapted to the culture and tried to contribute to this society. This image of an NJ is high in our consciousness because this is the baggage we carry around everyday. It is the default image of NJ in our minds.

      But is it really fair to expect a country innkeeper in Japan to hold the same image uppermost in their minds? No. Their image of gaikokujin no kyaku sama will first and foremost be that of visitors from abroad (as was my in-laws’ image), the vast majority of whom actually do not speak Japanese and are unfamiliar with many aspects of Japanese culture. The innkeepers may still overestimate these alleged differences, but I can nonetheless understand why some country innkeepers may hold such an image of gaikokujin no kyaku sama when answering a Jichisho survey.

      Thanks to the blog owner for allowing me to participate in this discussion despite being critical on some points.

    17. adamw Says:

      looking at the article above amongst the furore there are some bizarre comments which have gone uncommented on:
      new tourist minister:

      Some people might not like the idea of having foreign tourists very much,” he told the Japan Times. “Although it’s not our intention to change the people’s mindset.

      you mean they arent trying to change the mindset of racists who dont want foreigners?
      well what are they doing then?
      can you imagine a minister getting away with saying this in other countries??
      also,
      “It is up to the individual hotels and inns to decide who they have as guests
      JNTO spokesman..

      well according to japanese law,thats not the case now is it????

    18. Tyler (平) Lynch Says:

      Debito-san,
      Yesterday I attended a tourism symposium in Matsumoto (Nagano Pref.) Yoshiaki Hompo, the 長官 of the newly created Japan Tourism Agency, was the guest speaker, and he commented on this issue of 27% of ryokans not wanted foreign guests.
      Hompo-san presented some impressive stats on Japan’s tourism and (declining) population trends. One important figure was how much tourist expenditure it would take to cover the economic loss of one resident: 24 Japanese tourists (76 if just day trippers) or just 5 tourists from overseas. The point is Japan’s economy needs “Inbound” tourists to keep the economy stable during its population loss. In 2003, ex-PM Koizumi declared the goal of 10 million foreign tourists per year by 2010. Seemed pretty ambitious with there only being 5,100,000 at the time, but ’08 is on target for 9,150,000. (That target is now in danger due to the recent climb of the Japenese Yen.) As Koizumi’s goal will likely be achieved earlier than expected, the JTA is now considering a new goal of 20 million by 2010. That would mean 1 in every 6 宿泊者 (lodgers) would be a foreigner (compared with 1 in 14 in 2007).
      Hompo-san then said he is often asked: “With that type of stat, are you just going to ignore the 27% of the ryokans that don’t want to accept foreigners?” You know what his reply was? “Yes, we are going to ignore them.” The reasoning was that the 1 in 6 won’t be spread evenly across all inns and hotels. The percentages will obviously be higher in Tokyo than the countryside. The inns in the 27% group tend to be in the countryside and tend to not want foreigner guests because they are not confident they can provide satisfactory service to them (c.f. Iegumo-san’s in-laws). Hompo-san indicated he would prefer to let such inns persist in their ignorance rather than forcing Inbounders on them, which would only create unpleasant experiences for both parties. As Japan’s population (and therefore their customer base) shrinks, then maybe the inns will wake up to the reality of needing to direct their omotenashi towards foreigners. Or maybe they’ll just keep on sleeping… (My editorializing, not his, but Hompo-san did say he would ほっとく the 27% in the hopes of avoiding them providing 忠太半端 service to foreign guests.)

      Side note to Debito-san the activist as opposed to Debito-san the blog, I have 22 pages of juicy (and up-to-date) stats and figures from the 観光庁 if you want.

      – I want.

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