BBC: British furniture store puts up “no foreign students” sign (parallels with Otaru Onsens Case)


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 JapansourstrawberriesavatarUPDATES ON TWITTER: arudoudebito

Hi Blog.  The parallels with the Otaru Exclusionary Onsens Case are pretty straight, so let’s keep an eye on this one.  Will be interesting to see how the British authorities treat this case.  I have a feeling the government will demand they take the sign down, and if not threaten with criminal procedure.  The article suggests as much.  That is, however, where the parallels end.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo


Foreign students banned from shop
BBC News Monday, 3 August 2009 20:36 UK, courtesy of MMT

A notice on the door of Perfect Homes bans foreign students from entering
Polite notice
A furniture shop in a south coast town has banned foreign students who it says take their fast food into the store to eat on the sofas and coffee tables.

Chris Moffet, manager of Perfect Homes in Eastbourne, said he put up a sign barring foreign students after his stock was damaged.

Solicitor Paul Gilbert said the store could be leaving itself open to prosecution under race relations laws.

But Mr Moffet said: “I am not prepared to have damage done to my products.”

Rubbish on floor
A “polite notice” on the shop doorway asks foreign students not to enter because of the actions of a small number.

Mr Moffet said students spilt drinks on the tables and left rubbish on the floor.

Eastbourne has 25 language schools, with 25,000 foreign students visiting the town every year and contributing some £12m to its economy.

Students interviewed by BBC South East said they did go into shops to eat, but Jergen Matthes, owner of one of the language schools, said he did not believe students would behave in such a way.

“They will go to sports shops and internet cafes and spend hours and hours there, where they are welcome because they are spending money,” he said.

“But a furniture shop is not an attraction for students anywhere in the world that I know.”

Mr Gilbert said there was no limit on the amount of compensation that could be awarded against the shop by a court if a successful prosecution ever took place.


21 comments on “BBC: British furniture store puts up “no foreign students” sign (parallels with Otaru Onsens Case)

  • Hi Debito, I am, as always, indebted to you for your indefatigable vigilance. I have seen foreign students actually go into furniture stores and take their home-stay made sandwiches, or home-made onigiri and kimchee with them to picnic there, and been given the bum’s rush by Vancouver proprietors. They learned, and the matter resolved itself. The sign, though, goes a bit too far, especially as the “Polite” notice is often mistaken for a “Police Notice,” especially by the ESL learner. That’s the intention.

    On a topical note I’m linking this: for you to post here or on another occasion, at your discretion. This is the story:

    Spain acquits sole black man in ‘bad’ line-up
    Spain has acquitted a Nigerian man convicted of assault after it was revealed that he was the only black man in a police lineup that ultimately led to his conviction.

    “A badly assembled identity parade, with a lack of resemblance (between the suspects in the parade) can lead to mistaken identity and consequently an error of justice,” the official EFE news agency cited the Supreme Court as saying on Tuesday.

    Spain’s highest court dropped all charges against Henry Osagiede, who was facing up to 10 years in prison, the report added.

    Last year, a Madrid court had found Osagiede guilty for attacking one woman and sexually assaulting another in 2005 based on the evidence, including the witness identification.

    Comment: Possible lesson or potential disaster for the J-Police, especially with this new lay jury system getting into full swing, all be it reluctantly?

    Spanish language link here:

  • Nickals W Bjurman says:

    Hmm, I don’t like that… The sign would be respectable if it was merely a no food sign allowed and the rule was strictly insisted upon.

  • dwrightman says:

    A Freudian slip perhaps……

    Debito, this sounds similar to the NJ bans in the Hokkaido onsens. If the problem is that the owner forbids eating whilst in the shop then say so!!

    I had a similar rule explained to me in a J company where I was first told don’t walk and eat snacks, etc at the same time. It seemed strange until they explained that the bins in the grounds of the company were not suitable to receive food scraps, but the canteen was well equipped. (The result of a strict recycling policy). Then it made perfect sense.

  • Obviously, the right answer to this is for a bunch of Britons to get together and have picnics in the guy’s store.

    — You taking the piss?

  • Is it just stating the obvious by saying the problem with is with people eating in the store and just that should be banned? Regardless of nationality.

  • I agree with Joe Jones.
    That’s a typical British way of dealing with such things..point out the idiocy with dry humour

  • ‘Tony Says:
    August 6th, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Dwrightman, many Japanese people consider it rude to walk and eat at the same time.’

    Etiquette is at its all time low in Europe, as far as I can remember (I’m ‘only’ 33).In Europe it
    was considered impolite to eat in public back in the days. I take pride in being a polite person. I try to avoid eating and walking at the same time too.

    Another thing that bugs the hell out of me when I am back in The Netherlands, is people yapping on-and-on on their keitais in public. Especially when you’re on a train. STFU already, I don’t want to hear how your day was.
    That’s why I like living in Japan.(in Holland now for the moment, back to JP next month).In everyday public life people usually try to be as least offensive as possible. Love the keitai policies on the train. zen :).

    Like this site points out nicely, JP is far from Utopia. I couldn’t believe some stuff that’s going on in JP. I try to be as conscious as I can be about it, and talk about it with my JP friends, trying to create some awareness. […]

  • Great for putting this up.Now the japanese government can point to it and say what they always say “See,you do it, so why are you complaining?”.”It’s not problem”I think this should be about looking at japan not the United Kingdon where this will be taken down or changed to “no students allowed” or something less controversial.

    — That’s the point of this blog entry. To track this issue in real time and see how the GBG reacts to it. Case study.

  • Local news links..
    Store slaps a ban on foreign kids
    Published Date: 29 July 2009
    PERFECT Homes furniture store in the Arndale Centre has banned foreign students from entering the premises.
    The ban comes after students were, according to the joint managing director, sitting on beds and furniture and eating their McDonalds.
    The store now has a notice up in the window stating, “Polite Notice, as this store has no interest to foreign students, we are asking you not to enter. This is due to a small minority causing problems. We hope you understand.”
    Joint managing director Chris Moffett said, “It is a very polite notice. A small minority have ruined it for everyone else. It’s not that we are picking foreign students out but, because we have had this hassle, we are not having it anymore.”
    Mr Moffett claims that the students were sitting eating on furniture worth around £1,000.
    “How can we sell the furniture as ‘new’ to people? We are not anti-foreign students, though. They bring a lot of business and money into the town.”
    Every year around 15,000 foreign students visit Eastbourne, boosting the town’s economy.
    A spokesperson for Eastbourne Borough Council said, “Any retail business will want to encourage customers to come into their premises to view and possibly sample the goods.
    “However, anybody that abuses or damages the stock will be unwelcome.
    “The particular area of the store in question is a showroom and is not for use by the general public. Local people are aware of this but our young visitors may need this explained.
    “The council works very closely with language schools to make sure the messages of good behaviour are understood, but there will always be those who choose to ignore instruction.”
    Eastbourne Borough Council is urging anybody who has a problem with students to contact the chairperson of the Overseas Advisory Committee, Penny Shearer, and discuss the matter with her.
    Eastbourne shop owner in foreign student ban row denies he’s racist
    7:00am Tuesday 4th August 2009
    By Samuel Underwood »

    A shop owner denied he is racist after he put up a sign banning foreign students.
    But he denied his stance is racist – and says he also has the backing of town chiefs.
    Mr Moffet said he was driven to take action after groups of students used his showroom to eat takeaway food.
    He claimed his patience snapped on the third time he found students lounging on his furniture tucking into their McDonald’s dinner.
    Mr Moffett said: “We have a small downstairs showroom selling general furniture.
    “I came down to see four students on a three piece suite, four lying on one of the beds and another two sitting on the bedroom furniture.
    “First of all the smell was terrible and fabric really holds in smells.
    “Secondly one of them had spilled drink on one of my coffee tables and thirdly we found gherkins all over the floor when they left.
    “They obviously didn’t like the gherkins.”
    Mr Moffett added: “After the students left we thought enough was enough and put the sign up because we have to sell the furniture to the public and it’s not fair on them.”
    The sign on the shop, in the Arndale Centre, Eastbourne, reads: “Polite notice: As this shop is of no interest to foreign students we are asking you not to enter.”
    When asked by The Argus if he thought the sign was racist, Mr Moffett said: “Not at all.”
    He said he recognised the contribution the influx of overseas students has on the Eastbourne economy.
    Mr Moffett said: “Foreign students bring in a tremendous amount of money into the town and our business. Every year the host families need to buy new beds and things and they get them from us.
    “So I have nothing against the foreign students but they have to abide by our rules.”
    Mr Moffett added that there had been no further incidents since the sign went up two weeks ago and hardly anyone had complained.
    He said: “So far I have only had one person ring me up and call me a racist.
    “He was from Worthing though and seemed to think he was Mr Sussex.
    “Certain people need to get a life. I am in business and will not have anyone ruining it.”
    Mr Moffett said he has the backing of both Penny Shearer, who chairs the Overseas Student Advisory Committee on Eastbourne Borough Council and Norman Kinnock, head of tourism at the council.
    Neither were prepared to comment but the council released a statement.
    It said: “Any retail business will want to encourage customers to come into their premises to view and possibly sample the goods. However anybody that abuses or damages the stock will be unwelcome.
    “The particular area of the store in question is a showroom and is not for use by the general public. Local people are aware of this but our young visitors may need this explaining.
    “The council works very closely with language schools to make sure the messages of good behaviour are understood but there will always be those who choose to ignore instruction.
    “Any business that has a problem with students is welcome to contact Penny Shearer and discuss the issue with her.”


    >I’m sure any Japanese students there feel right at home, until they realize they are the gaijin.

    Fascinating how a story about racial discrimination on the other side of the world still causes some to have a completely unnecessary desire to just mindless bash the Japanese.

    >I think if this is going to upset people i am sure the owner will change this to “NO STUDENTS ALLOWED”.

    If this happened over here, we’d have the usual moans and complaints about “racist Japan”. And yet, because it’s happening in a “western” country, already people are dismissing it, or suggesting as above that it is SURE that it is rectified. Really? So racism in Japan is to be condemned out-of-hand, but when it happens in the UK it’s just a “mistake” that is easily corrected. Pathetic hypocrisy at its worst.

    And those are just a couple of examples – there are plenty more. I hate to sound like an apologist for Japan, but it’s a real shame to see slowly turning from a site that once promoted equality for all, into a place that seems to draw those who just want to bash the Japanese, or treat Japan differently to other countries, when we all know racism exists everywhere.

    — DEBITO REPLIES: Touche.

    But again, wait and see how the issue turns out. Exclusionary signs were up in Otaru from 1993 until 2001 (they are still up in other places nationwide); the last one didn’t come down in Otaru until it became clear that there was to be a lawsuit.

    In other words, the authorities didn’t intervene; in fact, according to JAPANESE ONLY page 347, documentation shows the Ministry of Justice Bureau of Human Rights Sapporo Branch made it clear to the Otaru City Government that there would be no penalty for doing nothing to stop signposted discrimination. That’s official encouragement in the wrong direction.

    I can’t speak for every poster here (obviously), but I for one hope the GGB does better than the GOJ. As I said, eyes peeled.

  • I am sure he will be educated in the ways of cultural awareness.
    He will probably remove this sign and change it to “NO FOOD or DRINK” to be consumed on the premises. It is unlikely he is going to be pulled infront of a judge.The Uk has strict laws against any discrimination.Including gender,age,sexuality, and race.I think he is guilty of a LACK OF COMMON SENSE and he can be re-educated.i would like to think thats the first port of call.

  • How about “no food or drink allowed” and maybe an additional “punishable by a fine of 500 pounds” or something like that?

    At least it’s nice to see people are idiots worldwide.

  • I looked up Perfect Homes`s website and sent them the following message through their contact form.

    “Dear Mr Moffett, While I understand your frustration at students causing problems in your shop, I must protest about your sign singling out foreign students, which I saw quoted on, an anti-racism website operating in Japan. As a foreign resident in Japan, it causes me great pain and embarrassment when negative assumptions are made about me based on the colour of my skin and on my accent. I sympathise with any foreign student who happened to see your sign. There was no need for you to target foreigners per se. Why not simply have stated that eating and drinking in your shop was strictly forbidden? I can assure you that the pain of being racially discriminated against greatly exceeds the inconvenience of cleaning up soiled furniture. Both here in Japan, and in England and elsewhere, the reality is that people of all races and cultures are coming into greater and greater contact with one another. It is our collective responsibility to work for mutual understanding and harmony, and not to cause hurt and division. In future, I beg you to seek more pertinent ways of addressing any problems you may have.

    Tamsin Jones, Kure City”

    To be honest, knowing how tight UK laws concerning discrimination have become lately, I would not be surprised if I read that Mr Moffett has received a visit from the police in the wake of this.,


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