Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated: Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, & Ishikawa added

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

The “Rogues’ Gallery”, an archive of “Japanese Only” exclusionary establishments spreading nationwide across Japan, has now been updated for the season.

Added have been Tokyo Akihabara (shop), Minami-Asabu (ballet school), Kabukichou (nightlife), Tsukiji (seafood restaurant), and Ishikawa (a newspaper subscription outlet for the Hokkoku Shinbun — yes, a Japanese newspaper outlet refusing NJ subscribers).  

This brings the tally to (places and types of establishment):

Onsens in Otaru (Hokkaido), Bars, baths, karaoke, and restaurant in Monbetsu City (Hokkaido), Public bath and sports store in Wakkanai (Hokkaido), Pachinko parlor, restaurant, and nightlife in Sapporo (Hokkaido), Bars in Misawa (Aomori Pref), Disco in Akita City (Akita Pref),  Hotels and Bar in Shinjuku and Kabukicho (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku), Ballet School in Minami-Azabu (Tokyo Minato-ku), Seafood restaurant in Tsukiji (Tokyo Minato-ku), Weapons etc. store in Akihabara (Tokyo Chiyoda-ku), Women’s (i.e for women customers) Relaxation Boutique in Aoyama Doori (Tokyo Minato-ku), Bar in Ogikubo (Tokyo Suginami-ku), Bars in Koshigaya (Saitama Pref), Bar in Toda-Shi(Saitama Pref), Stores and nightclubs in Hamamatsu (Shizuoka Pref), Onsen in Kofu City (Yamanashi Pref), Nightlife in Isesaki City (Gunma Pref), Nightlife in Ota City (Gunma Pref), Bars in Nagoya City (Aichi Pref), Internet Cafe in Okazaki City (Aichi Pref), Hokkoku Shinbun Newspaper in Nonochi, Ishikawa Pref. (yes, you read that right),  Onsen Hotel in KyotoEyeglass store in Daitou City (Osaka Pref), Apartments in Fukshima-ku (Osaka City), Bar in Kurashiki (Okayama Pref), Nightclub and Bar in Hiroshima(Hiroshima Pref),  Restaurant in Kokura, Kitakyushu City (Fukuoka Pref), Billiards hall in Uruma City Gushikawa (Okinawa Pref),  Miscellaneous exclusionary signs (Tokyo Ikebukuro, Kabukicho, Hiroshima).

Update details as follows:


Akihabara (Tokyo Chiyoda-ku)
Shop “Mad”
東京都 千代田区 外神田 3丁目16番15号
電話 東京03-3251-5241 FAX: 03 3255 0012

(their website says they will only take phone calls between two and three pm on weekdays)
After the famous stabbings in Akihabara in June 2008 (by a Japanese), a shop which sells weapons and knives in Akihabara had the temerity to maintain a sign up on their shop refusing foreigners entry.  Photos received May 24, 2008.

(Click on images to expand in browser)

UPDATE:  After calls (June 9 and 16, 2008) and meeting with the owner of the shop (June 17, he was very friendly and cooperative), the store agreed to take down their sign and replace it with a new one written by Rogues’ Gallery monitor Arudou Debito (photo by same taken June 17).

Now while I’m not a fan of making weapons obtainable by anyone, there are more things in the store than just knives etc.  The misleading sign has at least been made nondiscriminatory.
Nevertheless, as of October 10, 2008, “MAD”s website still explicitly says their knives are not for sale to foreigners.

Rogues’ Gallery entry at


Mass-produced neighborhood signs for excluding all foreigners.  Note how sophisticated the English language level of exclusionism has gotten.  

These cellphone staps taken March 16, 2008 by Rogues’ Gallery monitor Arudou Debito at the address above (look down the stairwell to see the sign just to the left of the black stand).  

But there are many other businesses now displaying the same sign in Kabukichou.  Ironic, given that Kabukichou has the highest concentration of businesses run and staffed by foreigners in Japan.  How do they go to work?  I guess they’re not “guests”.  See what I mean about the increasing sophistication of the exclusionary language?

Full report at


Minami-Azabu (Tokyo Minato-ku)
Ballet School 
東京都港区麻布5丁目5-9 後藤ハウスB1F MGホール
MG International Arts of Ballet, MG Hall, B1F GOTO House 5-5-9
Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo

Full report here:


Address and phone number unknown (was not able to check for myself from Sapporo), photo taken February 2008, courtesy CG.  Sign describes complicated rules, and indicates that even Japanese who cannot follow them will be refused entry.  However, the assumption still remains that non-Japanese will be unable to understand the rules of the establishment, so it blanket refuses them.  
Full report here.

UPDATE:  Exclusionary pign is now down as of February 2008, thanks to others contacting the restaurant and encouraging the management to reconsider.


Nonoichi City (Ishikawa Prefecture)
Dealer for Hokkoku Shinbun

販売所名: 野々市三馬(石川県)
電話: 076−247-2120 (changed to 076-243-1810)
〒920-8588 石川県金沢市香林坊2丁目5番1号 TEL.076-263-2111

As was reported on the blog on January 8, 2008, in November 2007 a NJ resident of Ishikawa Prefecture was offered a subscription, by a sales manager of an independent company selling magazine subscriptions, to the Hokkoku Shinbun, a regional Ishikawa Japanese newspaper.  Receipts dated November 13, 2007 as follows:  (click here to see larger scans and a fuller report):

The subscription was abruptly cancelled the next day, with a postcard from the salesman, a Mr Matsuda, confirming that the company will not sell subscriptions to foreigners (click on images for larger scans and a fuller report).  The company’s standpoint as revealed in telephone interviews here.  (The Hokkoku Shinbun itself has disavowed any connection with this company.)

This outcome is confounding.  As can be seen in other entries on this Rogues’ Gallery, we have managers worried that letting NJ into their facilities might cause, they claim, problems with manners, sanitation, violence, or just plain discomfort to the owners for their own langauge insecurities or xenophobic tendencies.  It’s confusing why a newspaper outlet (in these days when print journalism is scrambling for paying customers) would unilaterally void a subscription contract.  Are they worried the foreigner might be able to read their paper?  UPDATE (February 2008):  After investigation by reporters from Kyodo News, the Mainichi Shinbun, and a shuukanshi weekly, reporters on the case told me that their editors said this was a non-story, and no article on this issue appeared in any publication.  The Rogues’ Gallery moderator’s interpretation of this outcome is that newspapers are not happy to investigate other newspapers when there are financial interests involved.  This is how uncritical our media gets.  

Anyway, as newspapers themselves advise, avoid subscription outlets that are not official newspaper sales offices.

See whole Rogues’ Gallery up at


34 comments on “Rogues’ Gallery of “Japanese Only” Establishments updated: Tokyo Akihabara, Kabukicho, Minami-Azabu, Tsukiji, & Ishikawa added

  • I could understand a few of these “Japanese Only” establishments existing, but in hotels, an internet cafe, a sports store?! Insane. Especially if under the excuse of the language/culture barrier. How cowardly can you get? In “gaikoku land” employees at least TRY to communicate with foreigners (although I I realize I’m speaking in stereotypes, too). I’m glad many Japanese establishments DO like to be patronized by foreigners. Hope the “J.O.” trend doesn’t increase. It makes me pity them more than us.

  • Why is the Tsukiji sign going on the list? I thought that issue was cleared up. You even wrote:

    UPDATE: Exclusionary sign is now down as of February 2008, thanks to others contacting the restaurant and encouraging the management to reconsider.

    Also, wasn’t the ballet school issue dealt with as well?

    Update: The school apologized, the aggreived parents are satisfied with the outcome.

    Does that mean the Rogue’s Gallery is all signs that have been up at any time in the past, even if they have been corrected? It seems like a very dangerous precedent to set if there is absolutely no way to have your place of business removed from this list even after taking steps to correct it.

    –Read the Rogues’ Gallery. It’s explained under “What This Page is For”.

  • Unbelievable!!! I did not expect so many in Tokyo itself as “Int`l ” city This is Japan trying to make more visitors to Japan, but doing nothing to stop this kind of things. I have never seen such things in Europe (no black people, no Indians, no Asians etc.) OK, now what we need is addresses of those establishments. I would like to drop by close there and record it. I think int`l audience watching YouTube will be happy to change their holiday plans and Japanese Board of Promoting Japan would be delighted as well.

    –Addresses and phone numbers when available are up on the Rogues’ Gallery as well.

  • Upss…I can see links to those shops. Sorry, I didn`t realized first.
    Time to go there with video camera 🙂

  • For AWK: There are so many in Tokyo because Tokyo has so many dwellers. I mean, man it is world`s biggest urban area, and that makes it also world`s biggest conentration of stupid/ignorant/idiots. Add that to Japanese xenophoby, and, well, you got the picture. Anyway, do you have any IDEA why a newspaper shouldn`t accept subscriptions? That REALLY puzzles me

  • –Read the Rogues’ Gallery. It’s explained under “What This Page is For”.

    I re-read the description after I posted my message, but I urge you to rethink this Gallery page – or at least rework it. By keeping businesses who have taken proactive steps to fix discrimination on the same page as businesses that actively practice it, it’s unclear which businesses are still discriminating or not, and it seems extremely damaging to those who aren’t.

    Take a look at the following quotes from the page:

    This page will call for the sanction of public shame by putting up photos of those exclusionary enterprises, including name, address, phone number, etc. The photos have dates for when they were taken. Some signs depicted may (thankfully) no longer be up; however, the photos will stay up in perpetuity, as a record of past misdeeds that should not be allowed to fade into anecdotery (criminal records, after all, linger for individual miscreants). Contact the business in question to see if an excusionary policy is still in effect.

    I recommend that readers tell their friends, particularly their Japanese friends, to stay away from the following establishments, even register a complaint with the owner or manager for an unreasonable policy.

  • I second Icarus’ opinion. Keeping reformed establishments at the same page as still actively discriminating ones is counter-productive. I can imagine myself in their shoes, saying: hey, we realised we were wrong, we corrected our policies and we’re trying to do better than before, but they’re still blaming us! What do they want from us, ittai?

    Maybe you should consider making a separate page for them? It would be fairer.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Debito, I have to agree with Icarus on this one – if we know that steps have been taken to remove or correct discriminatory language from a sign, such as the Tsukiji sushi shop and MAD, we should not be pointing out the sins of the past.
    I’m also not quite sure about the wisdom of posting the Kabukicho adult shops, as these establishments are in themselves often pushing the bounds of legality. Maybe waiting to see if the signs spread to more legitimate businesses would be more prudent.
    That said, I support the Rogues Gallery and believe that any business that displays discrimitory signage AND refuses to remove or correct it is fair game.

    — Sorry, no. People should have the sense never to put up a “Japanese Only” sign in the first place. If they do, they’ll live with it, in perpetuity. I will update (and have done so) if the sign comes down, as I wrote. But there’s got to be some notice, recidivism or not, that this place has a history of xenophobia. People have to live with criminal records, especially in Japan, and there’s a very good reason for that — it acts as a deterrent to others. There’s no other way, since excluding people by race or nationality is not a criminal offense in Japan, for them to rue their decision and repay their debt to society, such as it is. After all the trouble one has to take to get Japanese Only signs down, just saying, “gee, I’m sorry, I’ll take it down, I guess” is not enough; them putting it up in the first place indicates that it’s legally permissible in Japan to do so and encourages others to copycat. And they do. That’s social damage that one has to counteract somehow. Which brings me to my next point:

    As for the Kabukicho signs, just wait. Signs as generic as these these have a habit of spreading to businesses unconnected to the water trades (see Sapporo and Monbetsu cases). Those making them suddenly find themselves with a cottage industry.

  • Debito,

    You should take the establishments that have redeemed themselves down or put them in a different section pointing perhaps, to what can be achieved with reasoned argument. They’re no longer “rogues”. Yes, they had no sense to put the signs up in the first place, but upon advisement, corrected themselves. They should be punished in perpetuity for that? Your point about criminal records is incorrect – in a forgiving society, even criminals slates are wiped clean after a few years.


  • I disagree that the shops that have “improved” should be taken down just because they remove the sign… They are taking down the signs due to pressure and the owner probably still have the same attitude. Besides, it is clearly stated on the site when a sign is taken down and what lead to them taking it down.

    If a shop has had this type of sign up, I would like to know about it and I will take my business somewhere else.

  • A solution that should make all parties happy (except perhaps the offenders) would be to make two Rouges’ galleries for both past and current offenders. There are two basic reasons to differentiate these groups:

    1. Incentive to stop their discriminatory policies

    2. Lets readers know where the problem still exists so they can go to the store to protest the policy.

    By the way, I think mizu-shobai establishments belong on this page. Even though most NJ do not go to these establishments, these signs will perpetuate certain stereotypes such as the idea that STD’s are more prevalent in NJ’s.

  • People should have the sense never to put up a “Japanese Only” sign in the first place. If they do, they’ll live with it, in perpetuity. I will update (and have done so) if the sign comes down, as I wrote. But there’s got to be some notice, recidivism or not, that this place has a history of xenophobia.

    Is it xenophobia, or are they just unaware of how to communicate “Japanese knowledge/identification required” politely? If so many shops take their signs down after a friendly chat with a non-Japanese customer, where is the xenophobia in that? I think you are holding everyone up to a very high standard for English knowledge. How would I like it if I made a “rogues’ gallery” of people with bad attitudes and refused to take you off it even after you apologized?

    — You can read their reasons behind putting up their exclusionary signs up on the Rogues’ Gallery. If you would bother, you might see it’s rarely purely an apparent linguistic barrier. In fact, in the majority of cases, English knowledge has nothing much at all to do with it.

  • Debito,

    Let the Japanese know how Americans handle this issue.

    “We Reserve The Right To Refuse Service To Anyone”

  • I have to agree with the idea of splitting the page. Prudent visitors will be able to tell the difference but others will not. I do believe that some of these signs are truly a result of plain ignorance or misunderstanding. Those who realize their mistakes and respond positively to the call for change should not be grouped with the other offenders.

  • Debito, I strongly opposed to others’ suggestions on removing pictures of establishments which had history of xenophobia. Many who took down the signs did not sincerely regreted for what they have done to harmless foreigners. They did so out of disgrace, not because they felt it was wrong to do so.

  • James Says:

    >Many who took down the signs did not sincerely regreted for what they have done to harmless foreigners. They did so out of disgrace, not because they felt it was wrong to do so.


    I am curious. How do you know how they feel? Any evidence?

    — But one example: Onsen Yunohana, defendant in the Otaru Onsens Case, does not have a “Japanese Only” sign up anymore, but I have heard from customers who look NJ going in the management still gives the third-degree to them (i.e. they have to speak Japanese, indicate that they have lived in Japan for at least one year, have some knowledge of Japanese bathing customs, and agree not to disturb the peace).

    Sounds justifiable, maybe, until you really think about the illogic of singling people out by race like this, as race and nationality have no inevitable bearing on behavior (taking a bath in Japan is not rocket science, for crissake, and there are plenty of Japanese customers who do not follow the rules). Yunohana management’s continuous correlation of nationality and behavior, even after three years of debate (when they refused even then to appear at public forums on the subject) and four years in court, indicates to me a lack of self reflection and regret.

    Again, that’s one example. There are more. Read the Rogues’ Gallery reports of why the signs stayed up or went down in other places and you might learn. That’s why I took the trouble to write them. Please take the trouble to read them.

  • Mark in Yayoi says:

    One more vote for splitting the “reformed” establishments off to their own page. In particular, several of the bathhouses in which Debito got to know the owners and have the signs amicably removed, plus the Tsukiji restaurant, in which the fish-loving owner was happy to change his policy, are examples of places which are, at worst, “former rogues”. I support the idea of presenting these places in a more positive light and setting up a second page of reformed formerly-discriminatory establishments.

  • Andrew Smallacombe says:

    Thanks for clarrifying your position. While I can’t agree with you 100%, you make a good argument, and it is your page.
    And if the Kabukicho signs spread from fuzoku to mizushobai to regular businesses, I’m all for the hammer.
    Thanks for your hard work.

    — Thanks for the kind reply!

  • “You can read their reasons behind putting up their exclusionary signs up on the Rogues’ Gallery. If you would bother, you might see it’s rarely purely an apparent linguistic barrier.”

    But it was in 2 of the 3 new additions, now wasn’t it? The Akihabara shop had a misleading sign as they couldn’t properly express what they needed to say: people lacking an domestic address in Japan are forbidden from buying knives under Japanese law. That was all in the article you wrote. You sent them the correct English, and they fixed their sign. True, their website says (in Japanese) “no foreigners”, but what does the whole statement say? “Foreigners or those under 18 years old forbidden. Proof of identity must be shown when purchasing.” I don’t read that as a blanket “no foreigners” ban, it is perfectly clear they are complying with Japanese law regarding age and residence requirements. “Foreigners” means “those without a fixed address in Japan”. We both know full well that if we walked in there and showed our IDs, they’d sell to us without problems. The shop would not have deserved to be put on the “Rogue’s Gallery” when you first wrote about them, and they certainly don’t deserve it now.

    The same with the Tsukiji restaurant sign. The sign was laying out a whole litany of “rules” peculiar to that restaurant (and “peculiar” is the operative word), and that those rules applied to everyone, Japanese, foreign, whoever. Said so right on the sign! When someone actually went and talked to the owner, he was shocked that the sign was being interpreted as “discriminatory” as that was not his intent, and promptly pulled it down! Again, he would not have deserved to be put on the “Rogue’s Gallery” when you first wrote about them, and he certainly doesn’t deserve it now.

    Which brings us to the Ballet School: You should re-read that thread. There was no racism at the school, that was made clear and you admitted a “mea culpa”. What you did not do was apologize, as you said you would if you were wrong. You also did not erase that blog entry, again as you said you would if it was proven there was no racism. Instead you drag the school out again months later with this claim of, well, what exactly? You just gave their name and address, but no new information, and just steer us to an old entry that shows they AREN’T racists.

    I am confused. What are you trying to do here? Combat real incidents of racism? Provide incentive for businesses to be conscientious and “do the right thing”? Or are you just trying to destroy all your credibility by making things up and defaming innocent people?

    — You are indeed confused. You are saying things I did not say and claiming others said things they did not say. If one puts up a sign or a website saying “Japanese Only” or “we will not sell to foreigners” (in Japanese, too), they’ll get called on it and a record made. If one refuses a kid entry into a school (and this time it turned out to be a child of a diplomat; imagine if it hadn’t been somebody able to write up the incident for public view on Pakistani Embassy stationery), they’ll get called on it. The school admitted they refused the child, then let her in with an apology once it became a potentially international issue. Live with the facts of the cases. Plus there is no case for defamation, either; learn the definition of the legalese you bandy about.

    Instead of criticizing the people (yes, not just me) who do something about exclusionary signs and rules, how about criticizing those ignorant or short-sighted enough to create them in the first place? Your confusion is in victimizing the perpetrators.

  • I also side with the faction that says something should be done more positively to differentiate those establishments that do take corrective measures to remove signs, or take other steps to be non-discriminatory. I think that both goals can be served: Debito’s goal of pointing out past transgressions, while also rewarding those who take positive steps to reform. All rogues, past or present, can even be on the same page, and with the same pictures/evidence of past wrongs. We’re simply saying that those who do amend their ways should be treated differently from those who do not, rather than a blanket policy of “You make one mistake and forever shall you be damned.” Establishments that take corrective measures should be highlighted, in some way rather than a minor footnote, apart from those who do not.

  • “You are saying things I did not say and claiming others said things they did not say.”
    “Live with the facts of the cases.”

    Fine with me. I will be happy to match you point for point, for now let’s start with Akihabara.

    Here is the original sign:

    It very clearly says in (bad) English “Not for sightseeing” “Sorry, an order by the authorities we can’t selling our knives and weapons for the FOREIGNER”. It also says in Chinese “Not possible to sell weapons or knives to foreigners”. What they were obviously trying to say (not entirely successfully, true) was that Japanese law requires purchasers of knives to have an address in Japan, therefore tourists could not buy knives. This was a point you yourself admitted:

    “–Quite. Then the sign should not assume all foreigners are tourists, without Japanese addresses, soon to depart from Narita. Everyone buying a weapon, without question, should be ID-ed and properly tracked. Regardless of nationality.”

    And granted, as you said in that same post: “It is the store’s responsibility to make signs that signal their needs and intentions properly”. I couldn’t agree more, especially at Christmas when the local shopping center advertises their “lapping service”. 😉

    And do you remember saying this?

    “UPDATE JUNE 9, 2008, AFTERNOON. I gave “Mad” a call this afternoon during their call-in window and spoke to a very friendly clerk. He said the sign is there because foreigners will only just have to give up their knives etc. once they reach Narita, so they’d be wasting their money. (He said the “authorities” referred to in the are air transport officials.)

    I mentioned that there are many different types of NJ in Japan, and not all of their customers are simply leaving Japan afterwards. He said that they don’t mind selling to NJ with addresses in Japan as long as they present ID. I said that that’s not what the sign out front says, and suggested he change the sign to reflect what he just told me. He suggested we send him text for how the sign should be, via MAD’s fax number:”

    Or this?

    “–I think it’s a matter of being careless with the language(s) of a sign…”

    And this?

    “–I was there too today–no problems at all. And the new sign is up…”

    So, the only thing perpetrated was an assault upon the English language. You admitted so yourself, now didn’t you?

    “(H)ow about criticizing those ignorant or short-sighted enough to create them in the first place?”

    Fine, criticism is warranted here: Dear Owner of Akiba-Mad, you need to work on your English before you try to write another sign in it. Reflect on this.

    Again, the shop would not have deserved to be put on the “Rogue’s Gallery” when you first wrote about them, and they certainly don’t deserve it now. You are accusing them of exclusionary business practices when they are guilty of no such thing.

    And defamation – here’s the definition. Fits to a T what I see here: Any intentional false communication, either written or spoken, that harms a person’s reputation; decreases the respect, regard, or confidence in which a person is held; or induces disparaging, hostile, or disagreeable opinions or feelings against a person.

    — Yep, that’s what I said. I never said it was merely an assault on the English language. I said it was in part ignorance and short-sightedness. But that doesn’t excuse putting up the sign. Ever. Nor does it mean there was any language barrier involved. In the case of MAD the were in full control of their language abilities, as the signs say the same exclusionary things in Japanese. While we’re at it, kindly explain away the fact that their website still says they won’t sell to foreigners. In Japanese. I brought that up with MAD when I met them. They said they would adjust that. Months later, they still haven’t. Are you going to claim a language barrier there too?

    Meanwhile, defamation: Operative words here are “false communication”. We have the primary source material in MAD’s hand. The rest is interpretation, mine or others, based upon that. MAD is the type of place that knows its position in society. As I do mine. If they really had a case for defamation they would have brought it by now. Point here is, they don’t. It’s part of the record, and I’m not lying about it.

    Meanwhile, it’s still funny how people will defend the very practitioners of exclusionary language, and bash those who try to do something about it. It’s easy to be a critic, I guess. Still, thanks, “Murphy”, for at least researching and citing the record. That puts you streets ahead of the average foamer.

  • MAD does not discriminate foreigners, since if a qualified foreigner wants to buy a knife there, he or she can. Then I don’t think their website’s descriptions matter.
    What really bothers me is the fact that some landlords reject foreigners as 10/03 Asahi Shimbun reports.
    I agree that Onsen cases look very bad. But who cares about pubs, weapon sellers, and peculiar restaurants. Debito, I think you should concentrate on cases which really help NJ. (Unless there are so many NJ in Japan who really want to go to one of those pubs.)

  • God, these guys defending FRIGGIN EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS are annoying. I wonder how they are able to feel the Japanese “pain” (in the ass) to come here and post all this bullshit. I bet they’re unhappy right-wing persons.

    I’m sorry for the lack of respect toward these persons, but seeing as you treated them with respect, I thought someone would just say what is he thinking AND feeling (not that you felt like me, of course).

  • RandomGuy,

    So are you saying that this is not the issue of racial discrimination, but feelings?

  • Well I see the debate continues… Let’s see…

    “I never said it was merely an assault on the English language. I said it was in part ignorance and short-sightedness.”
    No, actually you did say it was only a language problem. Full stop. Now you are saying those who put up such signs are “ignorant and short-sighted” (post #19 above), a stance I don’t necessarily disagree with. The question is whether they are ignorant because they are flaming racists or whether they are ignorant because they don’t realize the impact of the words they use in the sign at the front door of their business. Akiba-mad (and the Tsukiji restaurant, but I’ll get to that later) are quite clearly if the latter group, not the former.

    “While we’re at it, kindly explain away the fact that their website still says they won’t sell to foreigners. In Japanese.”
    Already covered that above, I’m not going to repeat myself. Go back and read it again.

    “Meanwhile, defamation: Operative words here are “false communication”.”
    You claim Akiba-mad is an “exclusionary establishment”. Says so right at the top of this page. And yet that “fact” has been proven false, by you yourself (among others). They do not deny service to any group based solely on race, nationality, creed or any other standard that would classify them as “exclusionary”. Therefore your communication that they are exclusionary is, demonstrably, false.

    I’m all for going after businesses that are exclusionary and racist. But they need to be proven to be so, and holding up a sign that no longer exists and that was put up by a business that, through their actions, has shown they are not exclusionary is most definitely not proof that they are racist.

    “ If they really had a case for defamation they would have brought it by now. Point here is, they don’t.”
    Or perhaps they don’t know about your blog, or can’t be bothered with it. Neither of which is relevant to the issue of your claim being defamatory.

    If you are doing 100 kph in a 50 kph zone, but don’t get stopped, are you not guilty of breaking the law? Hardly. Just because one has not been caught does not mean what one is doing is OK.

    “That puts you streets ahead of the average foamer.”
    Foamer. Professor, I assume you are capable of conducting a debate without resorting to ad hominem attacks (I think I heard somewhere you teach or taught a debate course at your university?), so I will ignore this.

    Now, about the Tsukiji restaurant:
    “Problem is, they indicate that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.”

    Could you point out where on the sign it says that? Here’s the pic again:

    And the text:

    ・当店は”お魚が大好き”な方の為のお店です。日本人の方でも下記事項をご理解いただけない方のご入店はお 断りさせていただきます。
    This restaurant is for those who “LOVE FISH”. We reserve the right to deny entry to those who do not appreciate the following points, even if they are Japanese.

    We open after 7:30 in the morning.

    開店前”毎日必ずお見えになる親戚みたいな方”がご入店されている事があります。また、奥のお席が予約席に なる事があります。
    Before we open you might find some customers “WHO VISIT US EVERYDAY AND THUS ARE REGARDED AS FAMILY”. Also there are occasions that the tables in the back are reserved. They are “SPECIALLY RESERVED” for the people who visit us everyday regardless if it rains, snows, there is a typhoon, or when it is over 40 degrees celsius or 5 degrees celsius below zero.

    *We will take orders only AFTER WE SERVE TEA!!!

    Quantities of dishes are limited, and racing to place orders will cause problems, so please order only in turn.

    in the restaurant. except for the food.

    ・大きな声で話されたり、みだりに他のお客様に声をかけたり迷惑になる行為をされる方には退店していただき ます。
    We reserve the right to have those who talk loudly, speak to other customers abruptly or cause inconveniences to others leave the restaurant.
    Please follow the rules and enjoy your meal.

    ・席数の少ない小さなお店ですので”2名様以上の団体様”は別々にお座りになられることをお願 いします。
    We are a very small restaurant with few tables, and we would ask those who enter in groups larger than 2 people to be seated at separate tables.

    ・混雑時(満席の場合は絶対に)品物の出てくるのが遅くなります。焼き魚は最低15分お時間が かかります。
    *When the restaurant is busy (and absolutely when it is full), it takes time before the dishes are served. Grilled fish takes at least 15 minutes. Thank you in advance for your understanding.

    ・「天然・生ものの魚しか使ってません」というと格好は良いのですが、それはつまり、品切れ、未入荷が多く て値段が高いという事なのです。店内品札が売っているものの全てになります!!
    *”WE SERVE ONLY NATURAL AND FRESH FISH” sounds great, but that means we’re often out of stock, and the prices are expensive. The dishes shown on the tags on the walls are all we have for that day!!

    Well, he certainly has a lot of rules, but it is his restaurant after all. And being as it is within the Tsukiji market it is obviously catering to those who work there, with a regular and established clientele. I don’t see anything on the sign about indicating “that NJ cannot have this degree of food appreciation, and so refuse them entirely.” Sure, the sign says “Japanese people only” at the top, but is that a statement that non-Japanese are forbidden to enter, or that the rules below only apply to Japanese (in other words, we gaijin get a free pass and can benefit from reverse discrimination), or what does it mean, exactly? You have made an assumption, but we need evidence. Such as talking to the owner. Like this:

    “I interviewed with the shop owner. It was a small restaurant where there is only a counter-table with just 11 seats.

    Being explained that the sign was misleading, he took down the sign and threw it away. A Japanese blogger contacted the Tukiji association and advised what to do.

    He said, “First and foremost, I apologize for causing troubles. As for the English sentence on the sign, I apologize for causing unpleasant sentiments among gaikokujin”

    I asked why he posted the sign besides the reasons he gave me in the morning. He said, “when foreigners came”, he responded in Japanese, “they ordered Sushi, but the shop is not sushi restaurant, its main dish is ankou(an angler)and anago(sea eel). And the restaurant is pretty busy at launch, I can’t speak English , don’t have time to explain it in particular when busy , and the customers are mainly tourists who can’t speak Japanese. And the price is high for fishes. When complained I can’t explain it in English”. Sometimes a group of foreign tourist came in line, realizing the shop does not offer sushi, they just went away, that gives other customer trouble”.

    Interestingly he said even after he posted the sign, there were foreigners coming. He didn’t reject them because they had a memo in Japanese saying what they wanted. More interestingly it was a foreigner who speaks Japanese that suggested him to set the shop for Japanese people only hearing troubles he had.

    That’s how he posted the English sign.

    He emphasized that he did not hate foreigners. He was working at Roppongi, he met a lot of foreigners whom he respects. But Tukiji is a place for tourists. That makes difference.

    He said he is a big fun of Gundam (an anime that is popular among foreigners and Japanese), and he holds the belief that we can understand each other.

    I told him, there were suggestions from gaijin, rewriting the post to “Entry restricted to people that understand the rules written below ” ( Matt) or “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” (Gerbilbastard )

    He said he had no intention to post the sign, for the time being at least and that shop would welcome anybody, Japanese or foreigners, who keep their manners.

    He looked frightened being explained what Debito’s post says.

    Look at the photo I took today, the sign says “Please keep the manner when drinking. Don’t speak to other customer without reason””

    So the owner was not banning foreigners at the door, seems to have no particular prejudice against foreigners per se , just against customers who don’t understand what type of shop he runs, or who cause problems. That is a perfectly reasonable stance to me. The restaurant is not, by any stretch, an “exclusionary establishment”. He could have done a better job with the sign, but he admits he doesn’t speak English, and asked a foreigner what he should do and received bad advice. In any event, the restaurant certainly has done nothing to be “branded in perpetuity” based on a misunderstanding created here on

    — Then he (or MAD) shouldn’t have put “Japanese (People) Only” up on the sign. There is no excusing or getting around that: a sign like that is NEVER permissible. He was fully in charge of his facilities when he created the sign — what’s next, are you going to claim temporary insanity? Or are we going to blame foreigners now for “the evils that people do”? Sorry, it’s his responsibility for using that exclusionary wording and inviting that misunderstanding. And no backpedalling by him or claims of mitigating circumstances from people like you changes that.

    Thanks for the discussion, but that’s my final stance and I’ll leave it at that. As I said, I appreciate your getting the sign down and changed. But getting defensive and pedantic changes nothing about the fundamental fact the sign(s) said “Japanese Only”. The end. Now go out and expend some of your not inconsiderable energies getting some of the other establishments out there on the Rogues’ Gallery to take their signs down too.

  • Sorry, “pedantic”? You are making accusations, without grounds, and in the face of proof that those accusations are false, that could potentially damage people’s livelihoods. You need to be very, very careful before making such accusations. If a business is exclusionary then they need to be confronted. No question. But you better have all your ducks in a row before you make that charge. If you’re wrong, and in all three of these cases you’ve put in the update you are, no question, the accused party has grounds to go after you just like you went after 2ch. They do, you lose. Not just the court case, you lose everything. Your word won’t be worth the bytes it takes to save them to this blog. You might even want to check your employment contract to be sure your university doesn’t have a clause in there that would give them grounds to can you.

    You sure you want to risk all that?

    “Now go out and expend some of your not inconsiderable energies getting some of the other establishments out there on the Rogues’ Gallery to take their signs down too.”
    Why? Are you going to take them out of the “Rogues’ Gallery” if they do?

    Rhetorical question. You’ve already answered it above.

  • Dear Debito,

    I am sorry to come in with this rather late, but it only just occurred to me. There seems to be an inconsistency or difference in how you treat Business Establishments like those listed above versus Educational Institutions on your Blacklist/Greenlist.

    I scanned through some of the Blacklisted/Greenlisted entries, and although some institutions appear on both lists, in at least one of your explanations, you indicated that REMOVAL from the Blacklist has been granted. With respect to ICU, you stated “ICU was for many years on the Blacklist, but has become the first university in the decade-long history of the Blacklist to not only be Greenlisted, but be permanently removed from the Blacklist as well.”

    Is there some reason why permanent removal from the Blacklist is possible, but business establishments that even once put up an exclusionary sign must be FOREVER be branded as exclusionary places, instead of being moved into another category, such as “Formerly Exclusionary and Reformed Establishments”?

    It seems like the arguments you’re making for keeping them listed as exclusionary businesses could apply just as well to formerly Blacklisted Universities (not to mention that universities _are_ businesses): “There is no excusing or getting around that: a sign like that is NEVER permissible.” How about -> “There is no excusing or getting around that: Employment discrimination based on race/nationality is NEVER permissible.” (And in fact, a published employment policy is a kind of a sign.)

    Could you explain to me why a Greenlist (and removal from the Blacklist) for universities is proper, but a similar handling/recategorization of truly reformed and former exclusionary businesses is not offered?

    Thanks, Paul

    — Because putting people on contract employment is not unlawful (in fact, current laws, including the sentaku ninkisei hou, legalize it for everybody; the courts have ruled as such as well). Just exceptionally undesirable, for reasons that are so counterintuitive to some that we’ve had to argue them on the Blacklist. Those who CHOOSE to treat employees fairly and well deserve recognition for it.

    There is, however, NEVER any justification for putting up a sign and enforcing rules saying “Japanese Only” (and the courts have acknowledged that as well). Even before Japan signed the CERD, it still went against our Constitution. You make a move that stupid (and, sadly, only technically, unlawful), you’ll live with it in perpetuity. Places that take their signs down are still getting recognized for it anyway — by updates on the Rogues’ Gallery.

  • “Even before Japan signed the CERD, it still went against our Constitution.”

    Could you clarify, please. I have read the Constitution, and don’t recall anything in there about foreigners or “Japanese Only” signs.

    — You don’t read well. Try Article 14:

    “All of the people are equal under the law and there shall be no discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

    And don’t give us the “kokumin” vs “people” J/E translations argument back. NJ are also covered by the J Constitution, as my lawyers and legal precedent have advised me.

  • “And don’t give us the “kokumin” vs “people” J/E translations argument back.”

    Don’t worry, I won’t, as I don’t even bother reading the English translation anyway. It isn’t worth the paper it is written on.

    As the Constitution (of any country) is a contract written by the citizens of that country enumerating the rights and responsibilities of those citizens, and those of the government of the country, any lawyer that holds it to be binding on non-citizens has got to have a screw loose and needs to go back and study up on contractual law. A constitution is not a contract between the country that produced it and all and sundry. I mean, if you are going to argue that Article 14 applies, then how about Article 15? Do foreign residents have the right to vote? No, of course not.

    Foreigners and “Japanese Only” signs are not covered by the Constitution, period, end of sentence.

    — I smell troll. IP Address

  • – I smell troll.

    Yes, of course you do. Because anyone who disagrees with you in any way, shape, or form is of course a troll. Natch. There is no other valid viewpoint, besides your own.

    You need a sign: 俺と違う意見を持つ人 お断り

    — I smelled right. Don’t bother posting here again. (New IP

  • I regret that my question got hijacked and spawned an exchange that I was less interested in. But thank you for replying.

    I appreciate the line you are drawing, and it has a certain logic to it, I guess. However, I think it’s hair-splitting to the extreme.

    On the one hand you say, “Because putting people on contract employment is not unlawful … Just exceptionally undesirable” and based on this rationale, you’ve concluded that if one modifies one’s “exceptionally undesirable” behavior (and stops being “exceptionally undesirable”), they’re entitled to be removed permanently from a blacklist and awarded placement on a greenlist.

    On the other hand you say, “Putting up a sign and enforcing rules saying “Japanese Only”” is illegal. Although then you admit, that such behaviors are “sadly, only technically, unlawful”. So based on this rationale, if a business only once perpetrates the stupidity of committing such a “technically illegal” act, they have to live with it in perpetuity, and are incapable of redemption or forgiveness. Seeing reason and modifying one’s “technically illegal” behavior can never be rewarded or forgiven in your view.

    To be honest, I don’t perceive a very meaningful line that you are drawing, based on legality/illegality of the act.

    Let us take the contract employment issue. Although you say that “putting people on (short term) contract (versus tenured) employment is not illegal,” isn’t this the same thing as putting up a sign saying “Japanese Only” in terms of those who are permitted to be tenured? Universities like this are doing the same thing as those business you revile. They’re saying, “ONLY JAPANESE” can be tenured. That’s a big, flagrant and ugly sign, in my view, just as big as the other “Japanese Only” signs put up by those businesses.

    Other than technical legality (I think we can agree that in many countries some innocuous behaviors are illegal while lots of horrible behaviors are not illegal), can you explain to me what’s really different about the offenses these universities are committing?

    I am trying to argue logic with you. But my honest appeal, since I think it would inure to your benefit and show more fairness, is that you should do something similar to your blacklist and greenlist, both for universities as well as other businesses. Certainly, you can keep all of the pictures and evidence of past transgressions on your website. But why not acknowledge, as with universities, that “Those [businesses] who CHOOSE to treat [customers] fairly and well deserve recognition for it”?

  • Hmm. This put Japan toward the bottom of the list of countries to visit. I don’t want to go to a place and spend my time and money, to be insulted by signs like these. If I’m not welcome, I’m not coming.

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