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  • Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on May 17th, 2007

    Hi Blog. This just came through this morning on the Asahi. They haven’t bothered to translate it for the IHT, so I will:

    ==============================
    PERSON REFUSED HOTEL LODGING IN KURASHIKI BUSINESS HOTEL “BECAUSE HE’S A FOREIGNER”
    THE ASAHI SHINBUN May 17, 2007

    Translated by Arudou Debito. Thanks to about ten people for notifying me.
    Original Japanese blogged at
    http://www.debito.org/?p=400

    KURASHIKI, Okayama Pref: In April, a Chinese man (45) living in Hiroshima was refused lodging in a Kurashiki business hotel. The reason given was that he was a foreigner.

    According to Japan’s Hotel Management Law, refusals may only take place if there is a clear risk of infection from a patient, or the suspicion that illegal activities will occur, such as gambling [tobaku]. [sic]

    The City Government of Kurashiki apologized for causing discomfort to the refused man. They added that they will redouble their efforts to ensure that every hotel in the area is informed not to refuse non-Japanese.

    The Chinese man first went to a Kurashiki hotel on the evening of April 3, which was full, so management phoned around and found another hotel with rooms available.

    Unfortunately, they were told by the management there that “we don’t allow foreigners to stay here”.

    When the Chinese man went to the other hotel to find out more, he was told by the manager (70) that “our rule is to not give foreigners accommodation”, and was refused a room.

    A few days later, a friend of the man contacted the Kurashiki Tourism Convention Bureau, which followed up on the issue. Kurashiki’s Desk for Promoting International Peace and Communication then called the Chinese man in late April to apologize, saying “We’re sorry for the discomfort caused you by our city, which is promoting itself as a a place for international tourism.”

    The same bureau sent a letter of warning (chuui kanki) and guidance to its affiliated members dated May 7.

    The Chinese man works in Japan and has no problems communicating in Japanese. He fumed, “This is outrageous. How would Japanese feel if the same thing happened to them? It must stop.”

    The management of the hotel refusing foreigners, on the other hand, said, “We can’t deal with all the language issues regarding foreign lodgers, so that’s why we refuse them.” They indicated that they would continue doing so.
    ======================
    ARTICLE ENDS

    COMMENT: Not mentioned in the article is that the hotel in question is

    BUSINESS HOTEL APOINTO
    (Kurashiki Miwa 1 chome 14-29, phone 086-423-2600), website http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~apoint/

    I called the Kurashiki City Government (particularly the Kankou Convention Bureau, 086-421-0224, Mr Ono), and a few other places today to find out more about the case.

    Finally calling the hotel, I talked to a Mr Kawakami, who said that they saw the error of their ways (thanks to administrative guidance from the city government), and would no longer be refusing foreign guests.

    Good, but this is quite a U-turn, on the very day an Asahi article comes out saying that they would continue. Guess it remains to be seen. I have notified my friends in Kurashiki to keep an eye out.

    In the end, thanks are owed the Kurashiki City Government (unusually; see other cases of government inaction in the face of clear and signposted racial discrimination archived at the ROGUES’ GALLERY OF EXCLUSIONARY ESTABLISHMENTS) for actually doing something about the problem.

    They were, of course, legally bound to, since the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law) Article 5 requires hotels to keep their doors open to anyone, unless there is a health issue involving contagious disease, a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or because all rooms are full. (See Japanese original of the law here.) [No mention of “gambling” as one of the endangerments, despite what the Asahi article says above.]

    Which is what makes hotels a relatively refusal-free haven for NJ in Japan (on the books, anyway). One of the issues brought forth in the Otaru Onsens Case was that the Otaru City Govt’s hands were tied because the bathhouses were private-sector, therefore outside of any legal control vis-a-vis discrimination. As I keep saying, racial discrimination is not illegal in Japan.

    But hotels in particular are specifically-governed by a law preventing wanton refusals, including those based upon race or nationality. See more here.

    Still, the law is only as good as those who enforce it. Tokyo Shinjuku-ku, for example, has a business hotel named TSUBAKURO (Tokyo Shinjuku-ku Hyakuninchou 1-15-33, Tel 03-3367-2896, website here.).

    TSUBAKURO has been refusing foreigners for years (see their signs at http://www.debito.org/roguesgallery.html#Shinjuku) and have been called and visited a number of times (last time by Debito and friends in February 2005).

    I have even told the local Hyakuninchou Police Box about this, shown them the law, and photos of the sign. They told me to take it up with the Shinjuku Police HQ. Great job, boys.

    Meanwhile, the signs and exclusionary rules stay up at Tsukaburo. Anyone want to take this up with the authorities? (I’m too far away to make any visits to police HQ.)

    In any case, thanks Kurashiki City Govt.! Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    5 Responses to “Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners”

    1. Dan Says:

      Interesting. If they only say “we don’t allow foreigners to stay here,” then it’s fairly cut-and-dry, but if they give some reason (excuse) like “We can’t deal with all the language issues regarding foreign lodgers, so that’s why we refuse them,” then it possibly opens up something else. Regarding foreign guests who have Japanese language qualifications, if they were to bring a certificate of Japanese language proficiency to the reception desk of the hotel, one has to wonder what would happen then? Would they still refuse just for being a foreigner, or would they go on to ask for a passport or alien registration card, or would they just allow him to stay without any complaint? In any case, for a hotel to use a perceived language barrier as a reason to refuse a foreign guest (who had no trouble communicating), that seems a bit strange.

    2. Joe Says:

      A couple of years ago I booked a room online at a cheap business hotel in Osaka, and got an e-mail the next day (in Japanese) saying, in effect, “Our hotel does not have English language capabilities. Please bring an interpreter if you do not understand Japanese.”

      I followed up with them about this message, and they explained that it was because there was a somewhat complicated system for locking the door at night, which would make it easy to be locked out unless you knew how to use the system. I offered to translate the instructions into English, but they told me that the instructions were already translated, at which point I was too puzzled to continue the conversation any further. Some people…

    3. Transpacific Triangle » links for 2007-05-18 by Graham Webster Says:

      […] debito.org » Blog Archive » Asahi: Kurashiki hotel refuses foreigners […]

    4. Turner Says:

      Dan – I haven’t encountered this reaction before, but their arguments remind me of the onsen discussion I read about in Debito’s book. Apparently instead of just refusing the foreigners who don’t speak Japanese (or understand Japanese customs), they refuse all foreigners. Why? Wait for it…

      “Discriminating against everybody, as long as they are not Japanese, is fair.”

    5. Dan Says:

      Turner – Yes, I suspected just that, more as a seemingly-justified front to cover up more blatant discrimination.

      On a related note, I also saw that Hotel Tsubakuro on its website changed its policy some time ago from 外国人のご利用は不可(日本在住の方はOK) to 外国人(日本語話せる方はOK)は利用不可 … Maybe that would be worth a follow-up.

      ————————
      –I NOTICED THAT. BUT TO ME, IT’S SIX OF ONE, HALF-DOZEN OF THE OTHER. LEAVING ASIDE THE QUESTIONABLE METHODS THAT WILL WIND UP BEING USED TO GRADE GUESTS ON THEIR LANGUAGE ABILIITIES, EITHER WAY, THESE ARE NOT LEGALLY-PERMITTED GROUNDS TO REFUSE CUSTOMERS. DEBITO

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