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  • Review of GAIJIN HANZAI Mag: what’s wrong with it?

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on February 8th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Had some time in train transit between Kashihara and Kyoto, so I decided to take care of some outstanding business:

    GAIJIN HANZAI URA FAIRU 2007
    WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE BOOK?
    A VERY QUICK REVIEW
    By Arudou Debito, Hirakata, Japan

    To deflect the cultural relativists and naybobs who make a sport of poking holes in any argument or social movement, it’s probably a good idea to give a review of the “GAIJIN HANZAI UNDERGROUND FILES” publication. and why it’s symptomatic of so much of what is wrong about a media which has insufficient safeguards against hate speech and defamation of ethnic groups.

    (And for those who haven’t seen the mook, here’s the whole thing, scanned, and available for free:
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/ultraneo/sets/72157594531953574/)

    The review is organized thusly:
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
    COVER
    OPENING SECTION
    FURTHER SECTIONS
    WHY THIS BOOK IS MYSTERIOUS
    WHY THIS BOOK IS SYMPTOMATIC
    THE REACTIONS

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

    LET’S START WITH THE COVER

    gaijinhanzaifile2007.jpg

    The first impression is one which hardly needs explanation. Crazed faces of killers putting bullet holes in the cover, with classic ethnic profiles (center stage is what appears to be a slitty-eyed member of the Chinese Mafia), with a Jihadist, generic white and black people, and caricatures of both N and S Korean leadership in the very back–all coming to get you, the reader. Along with a listing of the countries covered inside (complete with flags), it advertises interviews with the National Police Agency (NPA–who will be “thoroughly” chasing down “gaijin crime”) and ex-cop and “crime expert” Kitashiba Ken (who is quoted as saying that “everyone will become a target of ‘gaijin crime’ in 2007″).

    The take-home message at the bottom: “SHOULD WE LET THE GAIJIN LAY WASTE (juurin) TO JAPAN?”. As if “gaijin crime” is the main element of crime in Japan (it is not), and alarm towards hordes of gaijin is warranted.

    Of course, the use of the word gaijin (a housou kinshi kotoba, or word not permitted for broadcast in the media) already shapes the debate. Whenever official stats are quoted within, they use the official word for it–”gaikokujin hanzai”. But whenever there is any analysis, “gaijin” becomes the rhetorical currency. Conclusion: From the start, there is no attempt to strike a balance or avoid targeting, alarmism, or sensationalism. The rest of the book will bear this out.

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

    OPENING SECTION: GLOSSIES OF BLOOD AND VIOLENCE ORGANIZED BY NATIONALITY

    This is no exaggeration. The very first page asks the questions in the “Why do you beat your wife?” genre: “Why is gaijin crime frightening? Why is it rising? Why is it happening?…” with a collared gaijin splayed out on the sidewalk by police with the headline in blood-red, “GOKUAKU GAIJIN” (evil foreigner). “WE CANNOT ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!” reads the final departing thought.

    The next pages develop their case for Tokyo as a “Lawless Zone” (fuhou chitai, or “dangerous zone” in katakana, just in case you missed the point), listing up the obviously anarchic areas of Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Roppongi. Often categorized by country (China, South Korea, Iran, Brazil, Philippines, black people…) and crime (stabbing, smuggling, kidnapping, attempted murder, assault, petty theft, gangland whacks, youth gangs…), it liberally interprets the scenes in an unfavorable light: A stabbing of an exchange students is questioned as a “battle between Chinese groups?”, a person found unconscious in the bar district of Roppongi, receiving medical attention from officials while gaijin and Japanese rubberneck, is interpreted as “the surrounding gaijin look as though they have no concern whatsoever”. After all, Roppongi is apparently “a city without nationality” (mukokuseki toshi–as opposed to, say, more accurately, “multicultural”?) where, as the article portrays, only the fittest survive.

    One would get the impression from reading all this that the Yakuza don’t exist in Japan, and that they also do not have a long history of committing the same crimes in the same areas (if you doubt that, take a crime tour of Kabukichou with friend Mark S, who has been here for as long as I’ve been alive and has written books on Japanese crime). Ah, but you see, that would fall outside the purview of this book. This is about *FOREIGN* crime, after all. So no need to ground this in any context or give comparative statistics at any time with Japanese crime… (They don’t, in case you were wondering.)

    Bonus points for the editorial tendency throughout the magazine to mosaic-over Japanese faces to mask their identity, but leave the gaijin faces intact. Gaijin are, after all, not entitled to the same rights of privacy in our country. Photo credits, by the way, are given to what looks to be a Chinese name. He must be everywhere at once, or at least as patient as Ansel Adams…

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

    FURTHER SECTIONS

    give us profiles and motivations of perps based upon nationality (since naturally, their premise is that crime is committed by nationalities, not individuals).

    We have an interview with an Instructor at Nihon University School of International Relations named O-izumi Youichi (who shares his insights into the general gaijin criminal mind through his studies of criminality in Spain), included to demonstrate that Japanese police and soft Japanese society don’t have the mettle to deal with more hardened foreign criminals.

    A section depicting China as a breeding ground for hardened criminality (and South Korea as the same but bolstered by an extra booster of hatred for Japan). A more sympathetic section about Nikkei Brazilians (who given their hardships overseas would understandably want to re-emigrate back to the homeland–pity they’re corrupted by foreign criminality).

    Something on the US military, whose crimes are “too small” (bag snatching, shoplifting, petty theft, bilking taxi drivers…) yet still cast doubt on their real ability to “keep peace in the Far East”. Something on foreign laborers in general (now 700,000 souls), with some background on their situation, but with a focus more on the apparent social damage than on their possible benefit to Japan (such as making Toyota the world’s number two automaker, for example).

    Finally, the NPA are selectively quoted to make the case, naturally, that they are understaffed and need more money (which is quite possibly one major motivation for cooperating with this publication in the first place).

    The bulk of the remainder of this book is devoted to developing stories beyond the visual, and into the graphic storytelling. Written by the same small number of authors (who demonstrate a clear voyeuristic tendency found in people with an extraordinary taste for the macabre), the next section leads off with a Top Ten of Foreign Crime Cases (subtitled in English, “ALIEN CRIMINAL WORST 10″–Chilean Anita, who landed her J husband in jail in Aomori for 13 years on corruption charges, is merely Number 4), and each gets a full page. The majority are murders.

    Naturally, North Korea then gets its due, over six pages, where they make the case that “FOR THE DPRK, CRIME IS BUSINESS”. Then it finishes off with a lovely screed about how Japanese criminals may be taking refuge in the cruelty of foreign crime. As if foreigners are raising the bar.

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

    But the coup de grace surely belongs to a six-page manga recreating the 2003 murders of a Fukuoka family suspected of being rich by Chinese “exchange students”. After they break into the premises, they drown the wife (who is a state of undress and drawn titillatingly), then smile (and say, “Good, that’s put paid to one”) and strangle her nearby sleeping child. Then the father returns home and finds the Chinese threatening to knife his other daughter in the genkan, then strangles her in front of him. Then, when the father is unable to produce the riches they killed everyone for, he gets strangled by two Chinese pulling a rope between them taut (one puts his foot on his head for leverage). How these actions, conversations and thoughts were recreated when there were no witnesses is unclear. Finally, they are dumped in a Fukuoka harbor, weighed down with weights.

    Pretty nasty stuff. But the jewel in the manga’s crown is the final caption: “Nihonjin ni wa kangaerarenai kono rifujinsa. koumo kantan ni hito ga korosareru no wa chuugokujin da kara na no ka?” “The unreasonable of this is unthinkable to Japanese. Does killing come so easily because these people are Chinese?” I guess thiis assumes that killings of this sort don’t happen between Japanese. History begs to differ.

    (Then again, the editors have that base covered–if heinous crimes of this ilk occur, they are inspired by or encouraged by gaijin all over again, according to that previous essay about raising the bar. Wareware nipponjin can do no similar wrong, right?)

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

    Then we get into crime profiles of wanted criminals–two pages of gaijin killers, thieves, drug runners, smugglers, etc. All with photos, ages, body measurements, descriptions for the crimes, and phone numbers of the local police stations in charge. Like TV show America’s Most Wanted.

    Two more manga follow–one with the botched kidnapping last June of a rich plastic surgeon’s daughter by two Chinese and one Japanese (only the Japanese perp is drawn with “normal” non-slitty eyes, of course). Of course, the narration only allows us to hear what goes on inside the Japanese’s head, and how he was a rather hesitant accomplice (even though at the end he’s the one with the gun to the kidnapped girl’s head, and who pulls the trigger on a jammed gun).

    The other manga is about a Chinese “research” laborer working on a pig farm, and this time, for a change, we hear about the plight of the worker being exploited by nasty Japanese bosses (who are drawn like the pigs the Chinese keeps feeding at all hours of the day). It’s the most sympathetic story in the book, but the Chinese still ends up knifing his bosses. It’s an oasis with some sympathy, if anything.

    But in between them is an interview with an ex-cop, Kitashiba Ken, famous for his pronouncements about law enforcement in Japan. His points (in headline): Stop illegals, Understand that “the age of internationalization” also means “the age of internationalized crime”, and that this spring there will be “an unimaginable planned organized event”–a Tet Offensive of foreign criminality, if you will?

    There is another article speculating on whether Japanese society is creating foreign crime, another on crime by foreign cults (like Asahara’s, perchance?), more pages on smuggling, another on the CIA’s involvement in all this, another on foreign prostitution (focussing on the supply, not the demand, naturally), underground hospitals dealing with foreign abortions…

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

    But then we go off the scale with the most famous pages iin the book–showing gaijin and Japanese women engaging in public displays of affection and heavy petting on the street. The headlines are full of vitriol: “OI, N*****R, GET YOUR HAND OFF THAT J GIRL’S ASS!!”, “YOU B*TCH*S THINK GAIJIN ARE THAT GREAT?!!” (with subtitles about comparative size and hardness), “HEY HEY HEY, NONE OF THAT T*T RUBBING ON THE STREET!!”, and, of course, the prize-winner: “HEY HEY HEY, GET YOUR HAND OUT OF THAT GIRL’S P***Y IN PUBLIC!”

    The problem here is that, given that this is all apparently consensual, none of this qualifies as a crime. It’s just an eyesore to the editors who wish they could switch places.

    Next up (superimposed over a photo of a naked woman’s backside) is a story about prostitution servicing US servicemen. Then another bit on foreign copyright violators (as if Japanese industry doesn’t have a long history of engaging in widespread copying and innovation of foreign goods). And then a long section on the foreigner sex industry in Japan (again, focussing on supply, not demand). In the interest of full disclosure, the magazine provides great detail on how to deal with foreign hookers, particularly how to procure them (even market prices). And a Q&A section on “Delivery Health” Korean pros, including speculation on how their nether regions smell.

    The book closes with a calendar of crime–187 cases over 2006 organized by month stretched over 12 pages. (Good thing they didn’t include Japanese crimes, since that would have made the book a lot thicker!) And a back page that says that “Gaijin Crime in Japan–47,000 cases per year. (Again, good thing they didn’t include Japanese crime…), with a world map surrounded by guns, knives, syringes, and skull-and-crossbones danger ratings for 14 countries that are “targeting Japan” (and, not mentioned, giving the overwhelming majority of domestic criminal elements some competition…)

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

    WHY THIS BOOK IS MYSTERIOUS

    1) It is unclear who published it, and how it got so much shelf space in national chains. The name given, “Joey H. Washington”, is clearly a pseudonym, and books by law are apparently not allowed to be published anonymously like this. But in this current media culture, where outlets like 2-Channel can say whatever they like to a huge audience (even if it’s not true and it maliciously hurts people) with impunity.

    2) There is no advertising whatsoever in the magazine. This is extremely odd because the book is printed often in full color on very fine quality paper, and runs for 130 pages. A friend who worked in the trade estimated this would run about a quarter-million dollars US for a nationwide press run. Yet it sells for 657 yen–a steal. Who is behind this? Smells like a rich and powerful patron…

    3) They editors apparently thought nobody would notice. Foreigners, particularly those most often targeted for exposure, don’t read Japanese, of course. Wrong. And that’s why the reaction has been so interesting overseas. More on that in a sec.

    4) This book is very well researched. The photos are incredible. It’s hard to believe that this came about without police cooperation. In fact, I don’t believe it. There is information in it that only the police are generally privy to (such as passport photos of suspects)! Another great method for the police to increase budgetary outlay–by inspiring fear in the public…?

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

    WHY THIS BOOK IS SYMPTOMATIC

    Because it falls into the old fallacies that “we Japanese” rubric and faulty Japanese social science has for generations promoted. Attributing behavior to nationality, as if Chinese kill because they are Chinese (cf Gov. Ishihara’s Ethnic DNA speech to explain Chinese Crime). As if foreigners lead the way into harder crime (hardly). As if foreigners and Japanese are innately different (if foreigners are criminals, logically Japanese must not be–after all, who needs proper comparison?). And those aberrant exceptions are the results of foreign influences, not possibly sui generis…

    It is a distressing tendency, not the least because it falls into a very common pattern in Japan of avoiding responsibility, and pinning the blame for your own problems (such as the general upward trend in domestic crime) on other people.

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

    THE REACTION

    has been one of general revulsion all around. Blog Japan Probe led the charge for a boycott of the sellers of this mag, and some, particularly FamilyMart, have quickly decided to withdraw it from their stands (although several friends nationwide report that it is still on the shelves). Amazon.com defends the sale of the book with pat slogans of freedom of speech. The issue and developments have made AFAIK the Times London, the Guardian, IHT/Asahi, Bloomberg, Metropolis, and dozens of major blogs on Japan in the Blogosphere. I have mentioned this issue in my recent speeches (even projected some scanned images), and people have said they will be on the lookout. Meanwhile, the publisher, Eichi Shuppan, has said that this book is not racist because it is “based on established fact” (never mind interpretation or invective), and that “n****r is not an offensive word in Japan” anyway (sez who?). http://www.japantoday.com/jp/quote/2077

    No doubt there will be more interesting ripples to come, particularly if the overseas press coverage boomerangs into the domestic. Let’s hope the real media watchdogs ferret out who’s really behind this and why. Meanwhile, I offer this quick review of the publication as a primer to those who cannot procure the book or read it. In haste, so sorry for any errors.

    Arudou Debito
    Hirakata, Japan
    February 8, 2007
    debito@debito.org
    http://www.debito.org

    REFERENTIAL LINK:
    HOW THE JAPANESE POLICE AND POLICYMAKERS DISTORT FOREIGN CRIME

    http://www.debito.org/foreigncrimeputsch.html
    ENDS

    20 Responses to “Review of GAIJIN HANZAI Mag: what’s wrong with it?”

    1. equinoXio » » Aparece una publicación racista en Japón Says:

      [...] ACTUALIZACIÓN (07.02.2007 13:37 COT): Aunque en los medios nipones nada que informan acerca de esto, en International Press, publicación dirigida a la población iberoamericana en Japón, entrevistan al editor de esta revista, que afirma que no se va a disculpar y que está "en peligro". Ah, y también les recomiendo esta reseña del señor Debito, con datos muy interesantes. [...]

    2. The Foreigner Crime File situation: February 8th 2007 » Japan Probe Says:

      [...] Debito has written a review of the magazine, summarizing what exactly is wrong with it. I agree with many of his points. [Link] [...]

    3. someguy Says:

      By the way, one of the handheld video games on the page about copyright violating prodcuts is the GP32, which is a completely original game platform made by a Korean company. It in no way has anything to do with the GameBoy, and should not have been included on the page.

      Can anyone else confirm this?

    4. JH Says:

      Is there any way to contact the Nichidai professor quoted and find out exactly what the context was in which he did this interview? If he’s studying International Relations at a reputable institution, I think other academics in particular have a right to ask what he’s up to being interviewed for a rag like this.

    5. Ron Says:

      Perhaps it is time for us to start posting book reviews on the major online bookstore websites (like Amazon) so that people have a better understanding of the contents of the book? I would recommend a nice long list of the contents and examples of racist speech contained for a start.

    6. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Japan: what’s wrong with Gaijin Hanzai Underground files Says:

      [...] Gaijin Hanzai Underground Files is a comic book in Japan about “foreign crime”. Many foreigners complained that the book has full of racial discrimination and distortion. Debito explains the details of the distortion. Oiwan Lam [...]

    7. Nick Says:

      Thanks for all your hard work!

    8. The Marmot’s Hole » On the ‘Foreigner Crime File’ front Says:

      [...] Debito posts a review of the, ahem, controversial Japanese book “Foreigner Crime File.”  Meanwhile, the publisher of the book is unrepentant, denying that he’s a racist and, at any rate, the book is in Japanese and, therefore, for Japanese to read. (HT to Japundit) Related Posts (Maybe)Aye, yo, I’m Japanese [...]

    9. Trans-Pacific Radio Says:

      Seijigiri #17 – February 9, 2007 – Ministerial misspeak leads to the birthrate leads to 外人犯罪裏ファイル leads to some intemperance…

      problems in the government underlying the ill-considered remarks of Ministers, xenophobia and racism on the conbini shelf……

    10. Ken Says:

      No advertising is certainly odd; though I can’t imagine many companies wanting to be associated with it. The publisher’s comment that the book was written in Japanese and published in Japan has to be one of the most foolish things I’ve ever seen, though that kind of attitude persists: What happens here is unknowable/incomprehensible to the outside world. At least one guy learned that’s no longer true…

    11. Philip M. Adamek Says:

      I am going to copy the letter I received from the customer relations person representing Family Mart, along with my English translation of the same. I distrubuted the letter of complaint drafted by Debito to Family Marts in Kagoshima on Sunday, February 4. The following letter arrived in my inbox on February 6. I think the speediness with which this decision was taken merits recognition.
      ………………………………………………..
      2007年2月6日

      アダメック・フィリップ様へのご返信

      拝復 平素は格別のお引き立てを賜り、また、この度は貴重なご意見を
      お寄せ頂き、誠にありがとうございました。

      今回の件につきまして、ご指摘を賜り大変恐縮いたしております。

      「外人犯罪白書」につきましては、ファミリーマートとして販売にそぐわない商品と判断を致し、2月5日を以て全国ファミリーマートでの売場撤去が決定いたいしました。

      私どもと致しましては、皆様に気持ち良くご利用頂ける店舗を目指し
      鋭意努力して参りますので、何卒御理解の程お願い申し上げます。

      以上簡単ではございますが、お客様へのご返事とさせて頂きます。

      最後に、今後とも相変わりませぬご愛顧をお願い申しあげ、お客様の益々のご健勝をお祈りし、まずは書中にてご返信申し上げます。

      * * * * * * * * * * * *
      (株)南九州ファミリーマート 顧客サービス
      担当:中西
      フリーダイヤル 0120−778−867
      (月〜金 9:00〜18:00)
      E-Mail:mkokyaku@neo.family.co.jp
      * * * * * * * * * * * *

      February 6, 2007

      Dear Mr. Philip Adamek,

      In response to your letter, I thank you deeply for your valuable opinion and request that you continue to extend us your esteemed patronage.

      Concerning the matter at hand, I appreciate the trouble you have taken to share your remarks.

      Having been deemed an unsuitable item for Family Mart, The Foreigner-Crime File 「外人犯罪裏ファイル」 was pulled nationwide from the sales racks of Family Mart stores as of February 5th.

      I ask that you kindly extend your understanding that it is my intention to strive earnestly to establish a sales environment in which everyone feels welcome.

      This message, though simple, is sincere.

      Finally, I would request again that you continue to offer your business and I send my best wishes for your prosperity.

      Southern Kyushu Customer Service Representative for Family Mart,
      Nakanishi

      Toll-free number: 0120-778-867 (Mon thru Fri, 9 AM to 6 PM)
      E-Mail:mkokyaku@neo.family.co.jp

    12. AsiaPundit » Blog Archive » links for 2007-02-09 Says:

      [...] JAPAN – Review of GAIJIN HANZAI Mag: what’s wrong with it? “The first impression is one which hardly needs explanation. Crazed faces of killers putting bullet holes in the cover, with classic ethnic profiles (center stage is what appears to be a slitty-eyed member of the Chinese Mafia), with a Jihadist, generic w [...]

    13. Mutantfrog Travelogue » Blog Archive » Foreign Crime File - is all the fuss really necessary? Says:

      [...] Today I want to talk about the “Foreign Crime Files” manga. It’s an offensive, disgusting book that tries (albeit poorly) to exploit Japanese people’s fears and prejudices. By now many of my readers will have heard about this since the Japan bloggers have duly reported it with furious anger. But my preliminary and very unscientific research seems to indicate that this book has not made much of a splash in Japan as of yet. It’s enough to make me worry that this outrage might actually be building more of a market for the book (and a platform for its fear-mongering) than it would have had otherwise. [...]

    14. Update on the Foreigner Crime File: FamilyMart Apologizes » Japan Probe Says:

      [...] As you may already know, Japan Probe has been calling for a boycott of FamilyMart and other Japanese convenience stores that sold a racist magazine called “Foreigner Crime File.” We have the following news to report: [...]

    15. Circle K Sunkus has apologized for their sale of the Foreigner Crime File magazine » Japan Probe Says:

      [...] Scratch another konbini off the boycott list: Circle K Sunkus has apologized for their sale of the Foreigner Crime File magazine. Dear James, [...]

    16. WujouMao Says:

      quote- Meanwhile, the publisher, Eichi Shuppan, has said that this book is not racist because it is “based on established fact” (never mind interpretation or invective), and that “n*gger is not an offensive word in Japan” anyway (sez who?). -quote

      forget about offensive word in japan, its an offensive word full stop, no matter which bloody country is saying it. and that goes for the word j*ps. can us black aficans sue a japanese person for calling us n*gger?

    17. jasonsausto.com » Blog Archive » Shinzo Abe’s hidden hand Says:

      [...] Last week my friend sent me a link to a website that described a strongly anti-foreigner manga magazine. http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=214  [...]

    18. Learn Japanese @ Japancast.net Says:

      [...] If you were under the impression that all Japanese are infatuated with America, or westerners in general, then this article at Debito.org will change your mind. [...]

    19. Japan-Blog » Blog Archive » Akte G — die Wahrheit über die da draußen Says:

      [...] Wer ein bisschen mehr erfahren will, kann hier eine ziemlich ausführliche Analyse mit Infos zum Inhalt lesen und sich sogar eine gescannte Version des kompletten Gaijin Hanzai Fairu zu Gemüte führen, wenn er will. [...]

    20. Japan is a racist country (re-post) | Japan and all that Jazz Says:

      [...] For that Japanese interviewer, race is fundamental part of one’s identity – it predetermines your failure or your success, or heck, your tendency to do crime. [...]

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