Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules

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Hi Blog.  Here’s something interesting, courtesy of alert reader M-J:

Japan’s ministries are bickering with each other over an NJ issue (tourism), demonstrating how MOJ and MLITT are stepping on MOIA’s toes and goals.  (Not to worry, alphabet soup defined below.)

Also exposed is how Japan’s hotels aren’t keeping their legal promises.  They’re snaffling tax breaks for registering with the GOJ to offer international service — without actually offering any.  Two articles (AP and Mainichi, E and J) follow.  Comment from me afterwards:

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Ministry seeks faster entry procedures for foreigners at airports
March 2, 2009, Associated Press

http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96M81NG1&show_article=1

TOKYO, March 3 (AP) – (Kyodo)—The internal affairs ministry on Tuesday recommended that the Justice Ministry take measures to shorten the time foreign nationals must wait at airports before being able to enter Japan.

The Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry recommendation is intended to help Japan attain its goal of boosting the number of foreign travelers to the country to 10 million a year by 2010.

The ministry also proposed that the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry implement steps to improve accommodation services in Japan for foreign travelers.

The Justice Ministry has set the goal of reducing the entry-procedure time for foreign nationals to an average 20 minutes at all airports in Japan.

But the percentage of months during which that goal was achieved came to 0 percent at Haneda and Kansai airports in 2008. The rate stood at 17 percent at Narita airport and 25 percent at central Japan airport the same year.

The latest recommendation calls for the Justice Ministry to review the deployment of immigration control officers at airports to shorten the amount of time foreign nationals must wait.

The recommendation to the tourism ministry includes boosting the number of hotels able to provide foreign-language service.

In 2007, 40 percent of 1,560 hotels where foreign travelers stayed provided no foreign-language service, though they were registered as hotels giving such service in line with the international sightseeing hotel law.

No signs written in foreign languages were posted at 41 percent of those hotels.

ENDS

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

Ministry says Japan needs to become more tourist-friendly

Mainichi Shinbun March 3, 2009
http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090303p2a00m0na012000c.html?inb=rs

The Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has made a string of recommendations to other ministries to make Japan more tourist-friendly, including speeding up the immigration process and promoting foreign languages in hotels.

The recommendations are designed to help meet the government’s target of 10 million inbound tourists by 2010.

The Ministry of Justice has been asked to reduce the waiting time for foreign visitors at immigration centers.

Average waiting time targets are 20 minutes at the maximum, but during 2008 those waiting for processing had to wait an average of 30.4 minutes at Haneda, Narita International, Kansai International and Central Japan International airports.

At Kansai International Airport alone, that figure shot up to an average of 49 minutes in one month.

The figures are largely the result of the new photograph and fingerprint entry system, which Japan introduced in 2007. While supposedly reducing the risk of terrorism and illegal entry, it has also served to severely slow down the immigration process for foreign tourists.

Other measures include improving foreign-language services at hotels. A survey of 1,560 hotels and inns registered under the Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels showed that 40.1 percent couldn’t serve customers in a foreign language, and 22.9 percent said they had no intention of providing such a service in the future.

The law is designed to provide tax breaks to hotels catering to foreign tourists.
ENDS  Original Japanese:

======================
外国人観光:入国審査30分、ホテル対応も不備 改善勧告
2009年3月3日 毎日新聞
http://mainichi.jp/select/today/news/20090303k0000e010032000c.html

 来日した外国人の入国審査に時間がかかり過ぎているとして、総務省は3日、法務省に改善を勧告した。またホテルなどでの外国語での対応に不十分な点があるとして国土交通省に改善を勧告した。

 総務省は外国人に対する政府の観光施策について、07年8月~今年3月まで、法務省や国土交通省など6省を対象に調査した。

 勧告によると、空港での入国審査の待ち時間を最長でも20分にするとの政府目標に対し、羽田、成田、中部、関西の主要4空港の待ち時間は08年平均で30.4分。06年は25.5分、07年が26.8分だった。特に関西では、08年に待ち時間が平均49分に達した月もあった。

 入国審査は、07年11月に指紋や顔写真提供を義務付ける新制度が米国に次いで導入され、審査終了までの待ち時間が大きく増えた。政府は外国人観光客を10年までに1000万人に増やす目標を立てているが、テロや不法入国防止目的の新制度が障害となっている。勧告は、入国審査官の適切な配置や、外国人を担当するブースの増設などの対応が必要とした。

 また、外国人が安心して泊まれる基準を満たしているとして「国際観光ホテル整備法」(1949年制定)の登録を受けたホテルや旅館のうち、07年に外国人が宿泊した1560施設にアンケートした結果、40.1%が外国語によるサービスを行っていないことが判明。22.9%は外国語のサービスを「行っていないし、行う予定もない」と回答した。同法に基づいて登録されると、固定資産税の軽減など税制上の優遇措置を受けられる。
ENDS
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COMMENT:  First, love those last paragraphs in both the AP and Mainichi articles, about how hotels aren’t enforcing international standards they’ve agreed to.  

Let’s do the math:  40% of 1560 member hotels is 624 hotels with no foreign-language service, whatever that means.  Moreover, according to the AP, 41% of those 624 hotels couldn’t be bothered to put up even a foreign-language sign (how hard could that be?).  That means 256 hotels are accepting the international registry advertising, along with concomitant breaks on property taxes, but not doing their job.

Weak excuse time:   Some accommodations have claimed they turn away NJ simply because they don’t feel they can provide NJ with professional service, as in service commensurate with their own standards (sources here and here).  As if that’s the customer’s problem?  Oh, but this time there’s no excuse for those shy and self-effacing hoteliers.  They’re clearly beckoning NJ to come stay through the International Sightseeing Hotel Law.

But the rot runs deep.  As Debito.org reported last year, we’ve even had a local government tourism board (Fukushima Prefecture) as recently as 2007 (that is, until Debito.org contacted them) advertising hotels that won’t even ACCEPT foreigners.  (Yes, the tourism board knew what they were doing:  they even offered the option of refusal to those shy hotels!)  You know something is really screwy when even the government acquiesces in and encourages illegal activity . (You can’t turn away guests just because they’re foreign, under the Hotel Management Law.)

And that’s even before we get to the MOJ’s ludicrous and discriminatory fingerprinting system (targeting “terrorists”, “criminals”, and carriers “infectious diseases”, which of course means targeting not only foreign tourists, but also NJ residents).   It has made “Yokoso Japan” visits or returns home worse than cumbersome.  The ministries are tramping on each other’s toes.

Do-nothing bureaucratic default mode time:  Honpo Yoshiaki, chief of the Japan Tourism Agency, in an Autumn 2008 interview with the Japan Times and a Q&A with Nagano hotelier Tyler Lynch, diffidently said that those hotels that don’t want NJ (and an October 2008 poll indicated 27% of hotels nationwide didn’t) will just be “ignored” by the ministry.

Yeah, that’ll fix ’em.  No wonder MOIA is miffed.  Sic ’em.  

Arudou Debito in Sapporo

PS:  MJ offers more comments and links below.  He says it best, I’ll just copy-paste.

11 comments on “Interior Ministry scolds MOJ for treatment of tourists, also notes member hotels not following GOJ registration rules

  • FORWARDING COMMENTS FROM SUBMITTER M-J. DEBITO

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96M81NG1&show_article=1

    There was nothing revolutionary about this article. Mostly, it seemed to point out the lackadaisical implementation of measures to accommodate foreigners.

    The part of the article that I actually found most interesting/disturbing was unrelated to the headline. It was the number of hotels in contravention of the “international sightseeing hotel law” (never heard of it though is could be related to http://www.ih-ra.com which is an organisation recognised by the UN). I can assume that those hotels that have registered would at some point be receiving some sort of compensation (monetary or at least some sort of free advertising in travel literature). It would be similar to western corporations who jump on the “green” bandwagon simply to appear attractive to a certain market. I highly doubt there is any type of deterrent to their actions, so change won’t be in the near future… as usual.

    UPDATE

    So the plot thickens…

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/national/news/20090303p2a00m0na012000c.html?inb=rs

    The Mainichi was able to clarify the hotel service issue that I had mentioned yesterday:

    “Other measures include improving foreign-language services at hotels. A survey of 1,560 hotels and inns registered under the Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels showed that 40.1 percent couldn’t serve customers in a foreign language, and 22.9 percent said they had no intention of providing such a service in the future. The law is designed to provide tax breaks to hotels catering to foreign tourists.”

    So, it is nice to see that 22.9% of hotels are happy to take he money and run even if it means breaking the law. Oh, wait. I suppose it’s not a REAL law because it only affects foreigners.
    M-J

    UPDATE

    I was looking to put something together and started some research. Searching for “Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels” leads almost nowhere; however; a search with 国際観光ホテル整備法 brings plenty of results. I know there is something of substance in there – …I’m not trying to make you my workhorse or anything, but I doubt I could make a solid article I’d be comfortable putting my name on. It simply requires more language proficiency than I currently possess.

    If you feel like taking a look, I’ve included a list of the most pertinent links to information below (Including the actual Law in Japanese, revisions, and the Japan Hotel Association which provides a search-able list of registered hotels).

    M-J

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    Mainichi Article

    http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20090303p2a00m0na012000c.html
    http://mainichi.jp/select/today/news/20090303k0000e010032000c.html

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

    国際観光ホテル整備法 : Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels
    http://law.e-gov.go.jp/htmldata/S24/S24HO279.html

    Japanese version of the Law. *Section 9 describes punishments (罰則).

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

    An International Tourist Hotel maintenance method enforcement order with revisions
    http://www.lawdata.org/law/htmldata/S25/S25SE186.html

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

    Japan Hotel Asociation (In English and Japanese)
    http://www.j-hotel.or.jp/en/index.html

    Provides a searchable list of hotels registered under this law.
    Seach is available by area or alphabetical

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

    Address by Mr N. ITO, Deputy Chief of Mission, Japan
    International Conference and Exhibition on Rural Tourism
    September 7-8, 2001, Udaipur, Rajasthan

    http://www.ficci.com/media-room/speeches-presentations/2001/sep/sep-tourism-ito.htm

    (The folowing is the most relevant excerpt)
    “Hotels and ryokan satisfying certain conditions and standards are
    registered with the Minister of Transport under the Law for Improvement
    of International Tourist Hotel Facilities. Special privileges may
    subsequently be granted to the registered hotels and ryokan, including
    tax concessions and financial assistance for the construction or
    remodeling of their facilities.

    The government provides financial assistance for the construction and
    extension work of hotels and ryokan to maintain specific standards,
    enhance international tourism promotion and meet domestic tourism
    requirements.

    The Japanese government has also sponsored a series of training courses
    and the Seminar on Tourism Promotion and Marketing was organized by Japan
    International Cooperation Agency (JICA), inviting trainees and
    representatives from the governmental agencies or tourism-related
    organizations of developing countries. The purpose of such seminars is to
    provide participants, who would in future be responsible for tourism
    promotion in their respective countries, with a substantial opportunity
    to obtain up-to-date knowledge and understanding about the experience of
    tourism promotion in Japan.

    The government of Japan is a member of the World Tourism Organization
    (WTO), which is the only global inter-governmental organization operating
    in the field of tourism. As a member, the government wishes to contribute
    not only to enhancing mutual understanding among nations, but also to
    their economic development. The government also wishes to contribute to
    the economic development of Asian and Pacific countries, by supporting
    many activities of WTO’s Regional Support Office for Asia and the
    Pacific, which was established in Osaka in June 1995.”

    UPDATE

    A side note to that hotel law-breaking going on in Japan.

    It’s like Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said regarding the decision to boot Noriko Calderon’s family out of Japan, “Of course it would be best for them to live together as a family…and I understand the public’s sentiment wishing to realize their wish, but at the same time, the law is the law.” *

    Well, if “the law is the law”, then it won’t be long until all of those hotels are reigned in by the courts, right?

    Also, isn’t it funny how public sentiment is used as an excuse to punish, harass, and discriminate against foreigners, but is totally insignificant when it comes time to help them (or should I say “us” since I am one of them)?

    *Japan to stick to deportation decision for Filipino family+ (Mar 2 11:13 PM US/Eastern)
    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=D96MASL81&show_article=1

    ENDS

    Reply
  • Sounds like a good opportunity for some English speaking foreigners or any language for that matter to start opening or working at hotels. If the government becomes strict about this, then it gives people with a language ability an advantage in an industry looking to always cut corners.

    Reply
  • It appears as if humble-pie is on the menu for me this week. The Japan Tourism Agency could actually be taking this seriously!

    ‘Foreigner friendly’ hotels, inns to be surveyed by tourism agency
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090309TDY02309.htm

    The Yomiuri Shimbun March 9 2009

    The Japan Tourism Agency is expected to survey about 3,000 inns and hotels to see if they conform with a law they are registered under obliging them to offer foreigner friendly facilities, according to agency sources.

    To be registered under the law as a place where “foreigners can stay in comfort,” accommodation must have a senior staff member who can deal with foreign guests and conduct relevant employee training.

    The registration law was introduced in an effort to improve services at hotels geared toward international tourism.

    However, a survey conducted by the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry recently revealed that the level of service given at some of the registered facilities was inadequate.

    The findings are believed to have prompted the agency to carry out the fact-finding survey.

    The agency will ask registered facilities to submit written reports on their operations as early as next month.

    Hotels that do not meet the registration criteria, for example by not having an appropriate senior staff member, could have their registration revoked.

    (Mar. 9, 2009)
    ends

    Reply
  • So, the solution is to just keep sending out survey forms? Letting law-breakers continue to police themselves?

    The real shock to me is that 22% of those surveyed ADMITTED they were taking the tax breaks for serving gaijin yet had no intention of ever actually serving gaijin.

    It begs the questions, “What percent of the surveyed hotels who claim to provide service for gaijin just lied, thinking that admitting they don’t provide services would lose them their tax break immediately?”

    and secondly

    “Why they hell aren’t those 22%’s tax breaks not only being cancelled immediately, but all tax breaks until now be demanded paid back in full?”

    Nokoso Japan.

    This could be a good net^based project. Where is the list of “gaijin-friendly” hotels? How can we all check up on them, do an actual INVESTIGATION, instead of letting the bureaucrats get away with just lazily sending out survey forms for crooks to report themselves?

    Reply
  • Debito-san, Thanks as always for the great info.

    I conferred with my Inbound “senpai” here in Nagano, and offer the following possible explanation of why inns registered as “international” aren’t actually international.

    In the ryokan universe, there are 3 main organizations with whom we typically register:
    Nikkanren — Japan Ryokan Assoc. (www.nikkanren.or.jp; 4000 members, including yours truly)
    Kokkanren — Japan Ryokan & Hotel Assoc. (www.ryokan.or.jp, boasts 1300 members of a total of 55,000 ryokans in Japan)
    Zenryoren — All Japan Assoc. (www.yadonet.ne.jp; the remaining 49,700 inns?)
    Back in the 40’s, JR formed what became the Japan Ryokan Assoc. based on accreditating inns that met a minimum level of requirements.
    Then a group of snazzier inns formed the Kokusai (=International) Kankou Kyoukai aka Kokkanren supposedly for a more international level of service, but in actuality mainly for a more cosmopolitan image. Both organizations are now under MLITT.
    The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare overseas the Zenryoren, which is focused more on cleanliness issues than marketing.
    The Kokkanren inns are likely the ryokan component of the above-mentioned 1560 establishments, and 40% is likely a low figure. That’s because they use the international image as status in attracting domestic guests, not because they provide service to foreigners. And any tax benefits are offset by high membership fees.
    FYI, there are groups of ryokans actively working to provide better service to guests from overseas, such as
    Japanese Inn Group http://www.jpinn.com/
    Welcome Inns http://www.itcj.or.jp/
    Our inn recently joined the former. I thought it would be a slam dunk, as I am a native English speaker. But when they came to inspect, they pointed out we had no English sign out front of our inn. (Got that fixed right away!) My point is, they are serious about serving foreigners.

    Unlike the Kokkanren inns.

    Also, for the record, the Q&A w/ Honpo-san you mentioned was part of a lecture, not a one-on-one. I’m not on a first-name basis with the man. Yet.

    Keep up the good work!

    — As always, thank you for the inside story, Tyler! Debito

    Reply
  • COURTESY OF JEFF K:

    Agency seeks eased rules on tourist visas for Chinese
    The Yomiuri Shimbun Mar. 10, 2009
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20090310TDY02310.htm

    The Japan Tourism Agency likely will ease conditions to be met in issuing Chinese visas for family trips to Japan to increase tourist numbers and boost domestic demand, agency sources said.

    The proposal will be included in a set of economic stimulus measures to be submitted during a meeting by the Council on Economic and Fiscal Policy on Tuesday, sources close to the matter said.

    The agency hopes to implement the changed rules by the end of fiscal 2009 at the earliest.

    The draft calls for an amendment of the rigid conditions of having two tour guides travel with a family. Instead, the agency is considering new conditions, such as having would-be tourists provide a guarantee of sufficient travel funds, the sources said.

    Since March last year, the agency started issuing family visas for tourists from China allowing two to three family members to travel together. In 2005, it abolished a condition implemented in 2000 that placed limitations on what regions Chinese tourists could come from in group tours of five members or more.

    In 2007, the number of tourists from China hit 940,000–an increase of 16.1 percent from the previous year. Chinese tourists that year surpassed Americans as the nationality of the third most numerous group of visitors to Japan.

    However, as most Chinese tourists come on package tours, the number of wealthy tourists from China has slowed.

    (Mar. 10, 2009)
    ENDS

    Reply
  • Well, lookie here. Just a few months ago there was a thread on debito.org about a case in which the same MLITT performed a survey of innkeepers all over Japan in which 27% said they did not wish to host foreign guests (the link is in the article at the top of this page). The outrage over this at debito.org was predictable, with Debito saying that those inns who indicated ‘no’ deserved to lose their licenses for this act of discrimination (answering a survey?).

    At that time and on that thread I responded that many of those innkeepers who responded negatively did so because they believed that hosting foreign guests would mean requiring them to use special “foreign services”, services that they did not feel they were able to offer.

    Now what? As we can see above, by joining the Kokkanren, innkeepers must keep up stringent requirements that are ‘suited to foreigners’, such as having translations and signs in English, English speaking staff etc. Isn’t it, as I said before, any wonder that many inns would therefore not want to go on record as wishing to host foreign guests? It’s because they can’t meet the requirements! (Again, answering ‘no’ did not mean that they refuse foreign guests, but rather that they did not want to be placed on a list, like the X, that would further obligate them).

    Well, bingo! This just proves what I said before. Indicate that you want to be a host for foreign guests and look at what’s required! Any wonder why my in-laws, who run a modest countryside inn on a limited budget, might respond with a ‘no’ to the survey??? In the world of Debito they should lose their licenses and be publicly ostracized (see the linked thread again).

    Of course at that time, some posters noted (quite correctly) that innkeepers could make themselves understood in other ways, that language skills aren’t always a requirement, that foreigners don’t always need special services and are often happy to ‘go Japanese’. I would hope to persuade innkeepers of this. However, I added that many innkeepers often believe that special services for foreigners is a requirement due to ‘differences’.

    And so, apparently, does Debito. Debito writes above that the lack of meeting the required ‘needs’ for foreigners “points out the lackadaisical implementation of measures to accommodate foreigners“, a sentiment later parroted by Level3 who actually equates a failure to provide English speaking staff and such with an outright unwillingness to host gaijin, writing that they “had no intention of ever actually serving gaijin.” (!?).

    So, here we are, with Debito and his followers perpetuating the myth that foreigners require special services, and that failure to meet these foreign guests’ requirements make an inn delinquent. And further, that those inns which express a wish not to be included in the Kokkanren (international inn group) in the first place, as per the original survey, should lose their licenses.

    Are you freaking kidding me?

    — Look, thanks for sharing your thoughts, but dim the anger a bit, huh?, and stop feeling persecuted by “Debito and his followers”. (It’s not as though we get a Central Committee together every month to figure out how next to bullyrag hotels etc.). 🙂

    If you really must blame somebody, blame the GOJ. Remember the requirements are the GOJ’s (because it believes there should be minimum standards in service), and it’s not as though these “special services” were demanded all those years ago by “Debito’s followers”.

    Moreover, regarding the “special services”, I haven’t seen the GOJ requirements in specific, but I doubt it’s like “wear a full suit of armor whenever you greet an NJ, and always avert your eyes when talking to them and call them ‘sir’ at the end of every sentence” sorts of things. Sure, there might be some investment (in signs etc) involved, but that gets offset in tax breaks, right? And if you sign up as a provider of the service, you have to provide that service. That’s what a promise means. There’s no excuse, for those surveyed this year who signed on, to answer “will not provide”.

    Get more miffed if you prefer about the earlier survey last year. We’ve already made it clear through through this thread that perhaps some of the people who were initially surveyed some months ago never agreed to provide GOJ-certified “special services” in the first place. That was news to me (thanks Tyler). Obviously that wasn’t a terribly sophisticated survey, alas.

    However, even if you don’t agree to provide GOJ-certified and -rewarded international standards, you legally as a hotelier cannot refuse a person just because they are foreign. That’s the law. It is not a survey.

    Anyway, why blame the foreigner for being foreign and why use it as a justification to say “no foreigners” based upon the hotelier’s own expectations of what a foreigner expects? That’s called prejudice.

    For the record, I do not think NJ should receive “special services”. I think they should receive equal service. At the very least, they should not be refused service (moreover just because of some anticipation of “special service”). But if hotels promise to provide something special and don’t, they should be exposed for breaking their promise and lose the benefits of that promise. If hotels promise to offer a service to the general public (and yes, that includes tourists) and don’t, they should be punished with a loss of license.

    I hope you can untangle the anger you feel and somehow lose the victim and persecution complexes. Providing a service to the general public means the provider tries to accommodate, not decides “not to accommodate” just because of presumptions of provider inability (i.e. not because of unlawful behavior by the individual being served, which is a different matter). That’s not how a service sector works. Sorry.

    Those who have a stronger sense of delicacy, please take the ball from here.

    Reply
  • This is a response to both Tyler’s post and (mostly) Iegumos’ post.

    Iegumo posted, “Now what? As we can see above, by joining the Kokkanren, innkeepers must keep up stringent requirements that are ‘suited to foreigners’, such as having translations and signs in English, English speaking staff etc. Isn’t it, as I said before, any wonder that many inns would therefore not want to go on record as wishing to host foreign guests? It’s because they can’t meet the requirements! (Again, answering ‘no’ did not mean that they refuse foreign guests, but rather that they did not want to be placed on a list, like the X, that would further obligate them).
    Well, bingo! This just proves what I said before. Indicate that you want to be a host for foreign guests and look at what’s required! Any wonder why my in-laws, who run a modest countryside inn on a limited budget, might respond with a ‘no’ to the survey?”

    The hotels in the article posted above are registered under Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels (I assume your inlaw’s hotel is not). Only registered hotels were surveyed. These hotels / ryokan / inns are not signing up to be part of any organisation as Tyler posted earlier. These businesses are willfully agreeing to be registered with the government and be bound by a LAW and to receive compensation in exchange for providing certain services. This law clearly indicates what services are to be provided (see below). It also details punishments for not following certain sections possible fines and jail time).

    These businesses are making a free choice. To register with the government and then not provide the services required BY LAW (but still collect the money), it is fraud!

    I completely support businesses Iegumo’s in-laws. Whether they provide English service is of no concern to me because I stay in Japan for language and culture. However, what I don’t support are hotels (or any business, for that matter) who are knowingly breaking the laws and draining the government of money specifically earmarked to attract and serve foreign tourists.

    Like the Mainichi said, “Other measures include improving foreign-language services at hotels. A survey of 1,560 hotels and inns registered under the Law for Improving International Tourism Hotels showed that 40.1 percent couldn’t serve customers in a foreign language, and 22.9 percent said they had no intention of providing such a service in the future.”

    When we look at the numbers, 625 hotels surveyed are breaking the law and 357 know they are and have every intention of continuing to break the law and steal money. (And remember, these numbers are smaller than the actual number of lawbreakers because it is only a sample survey)

    Although I don’t always agree with Debito and his followers, in this instance I do, Iegumo, they SHOULD lose their licence! And no, I am not freaking kidding you.

    ———————

    And just an FYI for those interested in what the 国際観光ホテル整備法 requires. The main tidbits are:

    -Having a bilingual senior staff member on shift
    -Signages in foreign languages (i.e. toilet, exit, emergency plans)
    -Internet access
    -A business name that can’t be the same as another major foreign hotel chain
    -Provide food for sale
    -Clearly visible sign outside the building

    Note to Iegumo: If you would pass along the info to me for your in-law’s inn, I would appreciate it. I am planning a tour after work slows down this fall and I like staying in the country.

    Reply
  • FROM A FRIEND: DEBITO

    It isn’t difficult to understand why ministries (in any country )are having problems balancing their respective raison d’etre.

    The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) is responsible for ensuring domestic security and part of that security is immigration control. The newest entry requirements are part of that strategy but also related to Japan’s relationship with the United States and the demands the US has put on Japan in terms of monitoring the movement of people.

    The reason why the Minstry of Internal Affairs and Communications (MIAC) gives flak to the MOJ is because of its responsibilities in terms of supporting local governments, financial support of quasi-governmental organisations such as CLAIR and it’s 2006, 2007 Plans on Multicultural Coexistence which all have relatively favourable stances to foreign residents (although not advocating immigration or a loosing of immigration rules).

    ENDS

    Reply
  • Hi there.
    Just a little note on my recent experiences when my parents visited Japan.

    The exchanges below took place in Japanese -not English.

    While sitting in the arrivals waiting area at Narita airport I was approached by a police officer who asked if he could see my passport. I simply replied “No”. He did a double-take, said “I understand” and then walked away. Most odd I thought.

    When checking into a hotel in Hiroshima with my parents I was asked for my “G-card”. Again, I simply replied “No” then said “I live in Japan – I made the bookings – where do I sign?”
    They didn’t even ask for my parent’s passports – which I would have handed over of course – odd.

    When checking into a rather nice Kyoto hotel – the same thing – although this time the young guy tried on a bit of English. He was surrounded by other staff etc. and I took pity on him and offered to show him my J-driving license to prove I have an address in Japan. He pushed his luck however and asked to make a copy of it to which he got the straight “No” reply again. A more senior staff member told him to let it go. Again, they didn’t ask for my parents passports – odd.

    Post it where you will and make of it what you will.

    Have a nice day.

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