Arudou Debito/Dave Aldwinckle's Home Page

From Debito's doctoral research:

Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

  • Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination
  • Pre-order now on

  • Book IN APPROPRIATE: A novel of culture, kidnapping, and revenge in modern Japan
  • Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 15th, 2009

    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 Japansourstrawberriesavatartwitter: arudoudebito
    Hi Blog. Case number #4534 of why one does not allow untrained bureaucrats to make Immigration decisions: The potential for misunderstanding and abuse.

    Last April, the GOJ decided to offer unemployed Nikkei workers (only — this did not apply to Chinese etc. “Trainees and Researchers” because they did not have the correct blood) a 300,000 yen Repatriation Bribe for airplane tickets “back home”, not only asking them to void their visas and give up their paid-in pensions, but also to go elsewhere and just be somebody else’s problem.

    Now, according to the Mainichi of Sept 14, 2009, a local government tried to make any possible welfare benefits to a NJ contingent upon promising to take the Bribe and go home — a Catch-22 if ever there was one.

    Not too surprising. This is the same prefecture which around up to ten years ago restricted or denied NJ the right to sign up for the National Health Insurance (kokumin kenkou hoken) because they weren’t “kokumin” (citizens) .

    Fortunately, this case came out in the press. How many others have been duped here and elsewhere and forced to go home without it being reported?

    Shame on the GOJ for creating this policy avenue for abuse in the first place. Arudou Debito back in Sapporo


    National News
    Local gov’t makes foreign welfare applicant sign up for cash to return to Brazil

    (Mainichi Japan) September 14, 2009, Courtesy of David P

    FUKUROI, Shizuoka — The Fukuroi Municipal Government has promised to apologize to a Brazilian woman of Japanese descent after forcing her to sign a pledge to use government assistance to return to her country when she applied for a welfare payment.

    The assistance program provides government funds enabling jobless people of Japanese descent and their families to return to their countries when they decide to give up working in Japan.

    When questioned by the Mainichi, a municipal government representative admitted the city’s error, saying, “The payment of welfare benefits and the support to return to one’s country are separate things. Our behavior disregarded the person’s wish to live in Japan.” The city has promised to annul the pledge and apologize to the woman.

    The woman, a third-generation Japanese-Brazilian in her 20s, lives with her 5-year-old son. She came to Japan about 10 years ago. In mid-July, she was dismissed by the cell-phone parts manufacturer she had worked for, and she applied for livelihood protection payments on Aug. 31.

    The woman and city officials said that when she applied, a worker told her, “Unless you promise to undergo procedures to apply for financial support to return to your country, we will not accept the application for livelihood protection.”

    When the woman said that she wanted to continue to work in Japan, the worker reportedly told her, “You have no driver’s license and you can’t speak Japanese, so you can be 100 percent sure you won’t find work. It would be better for you to take the 300,000 yen (payment to return to Brazil), and go home.”

    Along with the application for welfare payments, the woman was handed a blank A4-sized sheet of paper. On it she wrote a message in Portuguese saying that she would apply for assistance to return home. She reportedly signed it and marked it with a fingerprint.

    Commenting on the incident, a city official initially said that the city had received a notice from the government saying that when livelihood protection benefits were provided, if there were other payments that could be made, such as pension payments or allowances, then those payments should take precedence. Accordingly, the city judged that assistance to return home fell into that category, the official said.

    Later, however, a city representative said, “Livelihood protection is for people facing adversity while living in Japan, and making the support money to return home apply to the utilization of other laws and policies constituted a mistaken interpretation of the government notice.”

    Commenting on the incident, the woman said, “In Brazil I have ageing parents and a sick younger sister. Even if I go back home I don’t have the freedom to work, and I can only work in Japan. To think that they went as far as to make me write a pledge …”

    Original Japanese story:

    生活保護:申請の日系人に帰国支援手続き強制 誤り認め謝罪へ‐‐静岡・袋井市










    7 Responses to “Mainichi: Shizuoka bureaucrats force Brazilian woman to take “Repatriation Bribe””

    1. Marius Says:

    2. debito Says:


      Many Brazilians who live in the city of Fukuroi and were going through requirements, were in the desk in an awkward position: having to write a letter giving up to stay in Japan in order to be able to take advantage of livelihood assistance for one to three months . The clerk through a translator dictated the words that the needy person was required to write, even if the person declared that he was intending to continue in Japan

      One of the reporters of the newspaper Mainichi Shimbun was in our meetings where we discussed the matter and she was the mayor of Fukuroi to know the reality. He spoke with Brazilians who had come under pressure to be able to argue at the desk of Social Welfare (Shakai Fukushi Jimusho).

      After 2 days the reporter received the news that the city would be apologizing for the treatment and that this does not happen again.

      We were reports of similar cases in the cities of Kakegawa, Iwata, Ichinomiya, Komaki and other cities in Aichi.

      The city of Hamamatsu had no complaint of such will, despite the large number of Brazilians in need.

      Today several newspapers and TV channels in the Japanese media and Brazilian went to the headquarters of Brazil Fureai order to know more details. The Brazilian Vanessa Sato was giving interviews to reporters.
      ————————————————– —————-

      Monday 20:30 pm ………… We just got a call from Vanessa Sato. She was visited by representatives of the Municipality of Fukuroi who apologized that they made, saying it was a big mistake and that it would never again be repeated. The livelihood assistance, should be headed tomorrow the 10 hours to finish fulfilling the requirements of the subsidy was approved.

      With that she can breathe relieved and return to seek employment in Japan Vanessa told the reporters who loves Japan and wants to stay here, she reached 19 years and now has 29.
      from 09/15/2009

    3. Mark McBennett Says:

      Of course this is the same Fukuroi where, two years ago, residents teamed up to stop a Nikkei Brazilian from buying land in their area (as reported on this site: I’m reminded of that story every time I drive past the place on the Tomei Expressway. The saddest thing is that attitudes have clearly not changed in the area.

    4. 日本国民 Says:









    5. john Says:

      How will they say sorry?
      Will they be contacting those Brazilians who were effectively forced back to Brazil to inform them that they can return? There is no point in saying sorry(if they did something wrong) if you are not going to fix this problem.
      Will they give a list of all people who were forced into returning to Brazil to the Brazilian embassy and are they involved in this?

      How many were forced to return?

    6. JP Says:


      Are having a Japanese Driver’s License and speaking Japanese requirements for being treated fairly in Japan or finding work in Japan? I know many people who don’t speak Japanese and don’t have any need for a Driver’s License, but they have been able to find legal employment. The question here is just one of fairness and following laws. Bureaucrats making up their own policy is unacceptable.

      Not to mention, comparing how other countries treat their foreign workers doesn’t make it OK to treat foreign workers here unfairly or take advantage of them, even if Japan treats those workers better than other countries.

    7. PeteMcC Says:



    Leave a Reply