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  • Japan Probe: GAIJIN HANZAI publisher Saka responds

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

    Briefly:

    JAPAN PROBE reports the overseas press is calling the publisher of GAIJIN HANZAI Mook, and cracks are starting to show in the logic:

    http://www.japanprobe.com/?p=1109

    Very good excerpts from two news media:

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

    Bloomberg has published a story on the Foreigner Crime File, in which they mention Debito and Japan Probe:

    Feb. 7 (Bloomberg) — FamilyMart Co., Japan’s third-largest convenience store chain, yesterday pulled a magazine on crimes committed by foreigners from store shelves, citing the publication’s “inappropriate racial expressions.’’
    FamilyMart withdrew copies of “Gaijin Hanzai Ura Fairu,’’ or “Secret Foreigner Crime Files,’’ after receiving at least 10 complaints from customers since Feb. 3, Takehiko Kigure, a spokesman for Tokyo-based FamilyMart Co., said in a telephone interview yesterday. About 1000 copies of the magazine, which costs 690 yen ($5.74), were sold.

    “We decided to remove it from our shelves because inappropriate racial expressions were found in the magazine,’’ Kigure said. The company removed the book from 7,500 stores in Japan yesterday.

    […]

    Secret Foreigner Crime Files featured widely in Japanese blogs and other Internet forums after it appeared on FamilyMart’s shelves.

    Debito Arudou, a naturalized Japanese citizen and author of “Japanese Only,’’ posted a bilingual letter for readers to take to FamilyMart stores protesting against “discriminatory statements and images about non-Japanese residents of Japan.’’

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

    Another blog, Japan Probe, asked readers to check that FamilyMart is complying with its pledge to remove the publication.

    The Spanish Media has also picked up on the story, and they have published an interview with the publisher of the magazine. Here is an English translation by Julián Ortega Martínez:

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

    Publishing date: 7/2/2007 14:11:16
    Magazine [editorial] director: “I feel I am in danger”
    Shigeki Saka, director of a xenophobic magazine, receives a wave of complaints and threatening mails. Interview.
    Tokyo – IPCJAPAN/Shiho Kohinata

    Shigeki Saka, Eichi Shuppan’s editorial director, which published Gaijin Hanzai Ura File, a magazine accused of being xenophobic and racist, told ipcdigital.com he was conscious the magazine could arise criticism from foreigners, but he claims his intention was to lead Japanese people to discuss the increase of crimes by foreigners and the country’s internationalization.

    He denied the magazine has any xenophobic sentences, claimed he’s not a racist and refused to apologize. During the dialogue with ipcdigital.com he received threatening e-mails whose content he did not want to disclose.

    ipcdigital.com: What is your opinion on the reaction of the public about your magazine?

    Shigeki Saka: I don’t understand it yet well. There are a lot of questions from foreign press [outlets] as Reuters or Bloomberg. I know there are a lot of complaints. But that depends on how you receive this stuff. In principle it is a magazine written in Japanese and sold in Japan. Then, it’s for Japanese people to read it. Besides, on the magazine there are not any discriminatory claims, though I imagine that foreigners who are always discriminated are a little bit more sensitive.

    ipcdigital.com: What did you wanted with the approach given to the magazine?

    SS: Currently Japan is facing a lot of offences starred by foreigners. There must be a why. I wanted to find that “why”. I can’t act as if nothing was actually happening. Today there are some Japanese afraid of foreigners and I wanted to survey these people’s psychology. I want you to read the magazine. You’ll see.

    ipcdigital.com: And what have you discovered so far?

    SS: Foreigners’ crimes in Japan have a profile which changes depending on the country and this is what I also wanted to know. For example, about Chinese and Koreans. Japan welcomes them as kenshusei and that system is officially intended to they to learn Japanese working techniques and that they take them back to their countries. But it happens that they are put to work as common employees, but with low salaries and some of them cause minor offences. The kenshushei system is the problem that has been generated by Japan. It is a problem from here.

    ipcdigital.com: What are you based on to give an opinion about the crimes?

    SS: We have spoken with Japanese police in order to write each article. For them this issue is serious and they have provided the data. I have also spoken with Japanese specialists, as university professors devoted to this issue. This magazine is a summary of these data and focused on the foreigners’ issue.

    ipcdigital.com: Don’t you think the way the photographs are used is tendentious?

    SS: If you read the magazine you will understand it. Maybe foreigners can’t read the articles in there and they only see the pictures of the discriminated. The magazine has a lot more than photographs, which is 1/4 of the total. I wanted the magazine to be read by a lot of people, so many people bought it we put shocking pictures, to call everyone’s attentiona. But I don’t want they think it’s a discriminating magazine only because of the pictures. Besides, I’m not a racist. In Japan there are a lot of contradictions and, in order to have a coexistence between different cultures we have to erase those contradictions. To solve those contradictions is one of the goals of this magazine.

    ipcdigital.com: How did you get the photographs you published?

    SS: There is a very special photographer. He walks the commercial districts as Roppongi, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Shibuya. He’s around the city all day. He’s a freelancer. I did not ask him to take pictures of the foreigners, but he offered the ones he had to us. In the city there are a lot of foreigners, but he doesn’t go only after them.

    ipcdigital.com: What do you think about Familymart’s withdrawal of the magazine?

    SS: I’m sad about that. We can’t say anything else about the withdrawal of the magazine at the combini because Familymart has not communicated anything yet, they withdrew it without asking us. Normally distributors are more powerful. We can’t do anything, but I think that withdrawing it is a way to reject the debate. The magazine raises an issue to discuss. Why there are so many crimes by foreigners? What can we do? Without a magazine of that kind we can’t know the positive or negative opinion from the people. I want a discussion and I want to find the way to solve this problem. This is my other objective. But I see that the foreigners who are angry, but that’s because they’re afraid to be discriminated, that’s why they overreact. At the internet blogs I see they’re only putting the pictures and they discuss from that, I confess I’m discouraged about that. I want a discussion. Else, we will never be able to internationalize this country

    ipcdigital.com: Will you apologize?

    SS: Look. First, I’m receiving a lot of e-mails which seem like a joke.

    ipcdigital.com: What do they say?

    SS: I can’t tell you, but I feel I’m in danger. I want opinions, but most of the ones I receive are overreactions from the foreigners. Most complaints come from foreigners. I want to know the reactions of the Japanese. I must say I’m a little worried. I know there are some people bothered but if you read the magazine, you’ll see there’s no single discriminatory phrase, so I don’t know why should I apologize.
    ================================
    EXCERPTS END

    You can see what the problem is in my full review of the magazine, available at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=214 No single discriminatory phrase? Makes me wonder if HE actually read the book.

    One more article, while I’m at it. From the South China Morning Post:

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

    JAPAN: Magazine’s focus on crimes by foreigners sparks outrage
    Graphic collage of foreigners’ crimes touches on Japanese xenophobia, say rights groups

    South China Morning Post
    Wednesday, February 7, 2007
    By Julian Ryall
    http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article-eastasia.asp?parentid=63195

    A lurid “true-crime” magazine that depicts foreigners as red-eyed criminals bent on causing mayhem in Japan has been criticised by a rights group as “ignorant propaganda” which will increase intolerance towards people from other countries.

    Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes went on sale across Japan on January 31, according to Eichi Publishing, but quickly caused outrage with its garish depictions of Chinese, Koreans, Iranians and US military personnel.

    Eichi is an otherwise unremarkable publisher which also publishes mainstream magazines, including hobby and movie magazines, as well as some soft-core pornography.

    The one-off, glossy 128-page magazine, which sells for 690 yen (HK$45), includes graphic, manga-style comic strips retelling the story of the murder of a family of four by three Chinese nationals in 2003, grainy pictures of a police raid on a brothel, images of off-duty American soldiers in a street scuffle, and shots of foreigners holding hands with Japanese women under the headline, “Yellow cab real street photo”.

    One is captioned “Hey nigger! Get your f****** hands off that Japanese lady’s ass!” Another reads: “This is Japan! Go back to your own f****** country and do that!”

    “It’s disgusting,” said US-born Debito Arudou, a naturalised Japanese who campaigns for foreigners’ rights. “It’s fallacious, baiting, ignorant propaganda from cover to cover.

    “It focuses exclusively on the bad things that some foreigners do, but has absolutely nothing about crimes committed by Japanese,” he said. “Crime is not a nationality issue and they are simply equating evil crimes with evil foreigners.”

    A spokeswoman for the publisher declined to comment.

    The publication is on sale in bookshops and convenience stores throughout Japan, as well as through Amazon Japan, although Mr Arudou said the FamilyMart chain, with nearly 7,000 stores, had removed it yesterday morning.

    Mr Arudou said conservative politicians and media were edging Japanese society to the right and heightening fear of foreigners, and a magazine such as Eichi’s bordered on incitement to racial hatred and would not be tolerated in most other societies.

    One chapter of the magazine reveals the alleged tricks that foreign sex industry workers use to take advantage of drunk Japanese men – adding a dig about Korean women smelling of kimchee.

    Another article is titled “City of violent degenerate foreigners”, while a map of the world gives a “danger rating” for countries, with China top of the pile, followed by Korea and Brazil.

    “The publication feels like a sales pitch for keeping foreigners out of Japan, and that’s a campaign that the Japanese police began in 2000 when they began to get tougher on people from overseas,” Mr Arudou said. He pointed out that the magazine contained an interview with a former police officer and mugshots of suspects. “I get the impression the police have been co-operating with the publishers.”

    According to the National Police Agency, 47,865 cases involving foreigners were solved in 2005, an increase of 737 cases from the previous year. Some 21,178 foreign suspects were arrested, down 664 in the same period.

    Date Posted: 2/7/2007
    ===========================

    Still waiting for this to catch fire domestically… here’s hoping. Will cite this in my speech tomorrow to human rights groups here in Wakayama. Bests, Debito in Shirahama

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

    UPDATE MARCH 15, 2007

    Here’s an article I tracked down this morning while doing research for an academic piece on this subject. Was on the road, missed it, sorry. From China’s PEOPLE’S DAILY. Surprisingly, the issue of how evil Chinese criminality was portrayed in the book was completely ignored in the article. Hm. Debito

    World
    Japan stores withdraw ‘foreigner crime’ book
    UPDATED: 16:55, February 06, 2007
    PEOPLE’S DAILY, CHINA

    http://english.people.com.cn/200702/06/eng20070206_347955.html

    Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart and other retailers are pulling copies of a book on “foreigner crime” from their shelves after a wave of complaints, the stores said yesterday.

    The front cover of Shocking Foreigner Crime: The Undercover File, published in Japanese, features caricatures of non-Japanese, alongside the question: “Is it all right to let foreigners devastate Japan?”

    “We are removing the book from our shelves today,” said Takehiko Kigure of FamilyMart Co’s public relations department. “We had complaints from customers, and when we checked the content of the magazine, we found that it contained some inappropriate language,” he added.

    Inside the glossy magazine-style book, photographs and illustrations show what the editors say are non-Japanese engaged in criminal or reprehensible behaviour.

    “We wanted to take this up as a contemporary problem,” said Shigeki Saka of Tokyo-based publishers Eichi, which also publishes magazines on popular US and South Korean television dramas. “I think it would be good if this becomes a chance to broaden the debate,” he added.

    One caption in the magazine refers to a black man as “nigger”. “This is not a racist book, because it is based on established fact,” Saka said. “If we wanted to be racist, we could write it in a much more racist way,” he added, saying that the word “nigger” was not considered offensive in Japan.

    Details of well-known past crimes committed by foreigners are also given, such as last year’s kidnapping of the daughter of a wealthy plastic surgeon by a foreign group.

    Source: China Daily/Agencies
    ENDS

    14 Responses to “Japan Probe: GAIJIN HANZAI publisher Saka responds”

    1. debito Says:

      UPDATE FEB 8 EVENING–EICHI SHUPPAN WEBSITE SAYS THEIR GAIJIN HANZAI MAG IS “SOLD OUT” (shina gire). HMM….

    2. notwhoyouthink Says:

      If anyone wants the full text of the magazine for any reason (language study, to refute it, morbid curiosity) you can probably download the entire full color issue from bittorent. If you can’t you can email me at gaijinhanzai@gmail.com and I’ll email you a full copy.

      (To Debito: I hope you will approve this comment. I just want to avoid people buying it to see all that it says so that no more money goes to the publisher for this.)

    3. Gaijin on the Run Says:

      I think you and James from Japan Probe have already set the wheels in motion for spreading the word domestically. Ahhh… the power of blogging.

      Still, so much of what that publisher said makes me want to shake some sense into him (but not in a threatening way as he suggests). He defends himself very well, but his attitude is completely black and white.

    4. Simon Says:

      Reply from publisher.
      Now they are claiming that they are asking convenience stores to remove it!
      It doesn’t seem like this person has read it either.

      このたびは弊社商品に関するお問合せをいただきましてありがとうございます。さて、サイモンさまのご指摘と同様に弊社発行のムック『驚愕の外人裏ファイル2007』 の内容につきまして「人種差別ではないのか?」とのご指摘をいただいております。 弊社といたしましては決して、そのような意図で刊行に及んだのではありませんが、ご指摘を真摯に受け止めるとともに、多方面の方々に多大なるご迷惑とご不快をおかけしたことを深くお詫び申し上げます。 また、当該商品はコンビニエンスストア全店舗より早期返品のお手続きをお願い申し上げている次第にございます。 今後このようなことが無きよう精進いたしますので、今後ともご指導やご鞭撻のほど賜りたくお願い申し上げます。

      …………………………………………………
      株式会社 英知出版 お問い合わせ担当
      〒150-0001 東京都渋谷区神宮前5-38-4
      電話:03-6419-2750
      FAX:03-6419-2751
      E-Mail: info@eichi.co.jp
      …………………………………………………

    5. Karina Says:

      I live in Aomori prefecture, (not in Aomori city though) and luckily, I know that my local bookshop does not carry it.
      I’ve checked my local bookshop’s online shop, http://www.e-hon.ne.jp/bec/SF/ShotenHome?shotenCode=22099&List&TohanShotenHome

      and if you search for this book, it says 現在ご注文できません(You cannot order this book.)

      When I clicked on the 現在ご注文できません, a window popped up explaining what that means.
      It basically applies to books that are either “out-of-print” (that’s probably not the case for this one), “not on sale yet” (it’s already been on sale in other parts of Japan so that’s not the case either), or that “We cannot carry this title.”
      The final reasoning, “We cannot carry this title” is most likely the reasoning as to why the book is classified as “You cannot order this book.”

      I haven’t been to the local convenience shops yet, but I haven’t seen the book in my local area, nonetheless.

    6. Tobias Says:

      Hi David, thanks for all the sterling work… I will be getting involved, have been looking for an outlet and stumbled upon this (at last…)

      RE: Your posts on immigration and cultural backlash, this is a link to an OECD report that makes the government immigration policy, and the future of Japan, clearer in the context of the current right-wing nationalist ‘ressurgence’ –

      http://www.olis.oecd.org/olis/2006doc.nsf/linkto/eco-wkp(2006)54

      Makes for interesting reading on the economic realities of the situation. The government’s trapped in a the dilemma of needing to increase immigration (massively, in relative terms) to maintain its economic dominance, while facing a culturally conservative trend in a society which has been dominated by eugenic concepts for the last 100 years. Good luck to them, we’ll need it.

      Best regards,

      Tobias

    7. Philip M. Adamek Says:

      I am not sure what “Gaijin on the Run” had in mind when writing that the publisher “defends himself very well,” but if that means that he managed to justify the publication, or detract from those who argued for its removal, then I would completely disagree. Can anyone read his statement, for instance, that he wanted to “internationalize Japan” and not gasp in disbelief? Later, I intend to link to my own reading of his “defense.”

    8. Ben Steiner Says:

      Dear Debito & others,

      As I just got done blogging about on my site, 2 interesting developments…not earth shattering or anything, but interesting nonetheless and thought I’d share them w/ you all.

      1) According to sitemeter, I’ve had 2 hits on my blog today from a corporate FamilyMart computer doing Yahoo! & Google Blog searches for “外人犯罪” and “外人犯罪裏ファイル”. Wonder what they’re looking for?

      2) Wrote to and got back a standard “thanks for your concern, but we’re gonna continue to sell it” mail from Amazon.co.jp stating why they’ll continue to sell the mag. If anybody’d like to see it, I’d be more than happy to forward it to you.

      Thanks!

      Ben Steiner
      Tohma, Hokkaido

    9. Chris Says:

      It is interseting that the publisher also has quite a few hip-hop magazines featuring black people on the covers.
      I wonder what these guys think about the same people who publish magazines about their music calling them “niggers.”
      http://www.eichi.co.jp/esp.cgi?_file=magazine_man&_page=_index&_page2=thumbs_magazine&_global_md=man

    10. Gaijin on the Run Says:

      I should rephrase – he didn’t “defend himself very well”, but rather had a quick and practiced reply for every question posed to him. Doesn’t mean I agree with his politics or ethics in the least.

      The way he speaks so matter-of-factly about these issues is enough to drive me insane – he actually believes he’s spreading the word about legitimate research into the Japanese community, or at least he’s deluded himself into thinking that.

    11. Drew Says:

      Mini Stop, at least my local branch, refused to stop selling it. The tencho did not even blink when I repeated for her some of the troublesome phrases.

      I’m really annoyed, I will not be happy having to switch stores.

      – awh

    12. Karina Says:

      I’m a bit irked that this whole matter has not appeared in Japanese media (news and whatnot).

      I’ve seen a couple of posts online from Japanese bloggers, but no Japanese media sites seem to have picked up on the issue.

    13. Japan: Stippy » Outrage Over Racist “Anti-Gaijin” Magazine Says:

      […] However, the editorial director of Tokyo-based publishers Eichi, Shigeki Saka, has defended the magazine and insists that it is not racist, despite several references to black men in the magazine as “nigger (ニガー、niggaa).” He justified the publication by saying that “This is not a racist book, because it is based on established fact.” “If we wanted to be racist, we could write it in a much more racist way,” he added, and then explained that the word “nigger” was not racist because it is not considered offensive in Japan. He refused to issue an apology, justifying himself by saying “If you read the magazine, you’ll see there’s no single discriminatory phrase, so I don’t know why should I apologise.” […]

    14. M Says:

      Interestingly, the price has been raised on the amazon.jp listing- I think it’s being listed as a collector’s item now?

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