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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • Otaru Onsens 10th Anniv #5: How the debate still rages on, article by TransPacific Radio

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on September 25th, 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 Japansourstrawberriesavatar
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    Hi Blog.  In their own commemorative-edition article, TransPacific Radio last night came out with a synopsis of how the Otaru Onsens Case is very much alive and well today as an issue, at least in terms of the NJ community and a few NJ pundits in particular (one of whom obsesses over it to the point of distraction and inaccuracy).  Excerpting TPR:

    In the ten years since the case, much has changed and debate over Arudou’s goal and tactics continues apace. As with any heated issue (and human rights issues are always heated), the disagreements range from perfectly legitimate concerns to objections that are, to put it nicely, based on misinformation or incorrect assumptions.

    It is no secret that Arudou has many critics (in the interest of disclosure, it is worth it to point out that while we here at TPR pull no punches with the man and feel it necessary to play Devil’s Advocate at the least, we do know him sociably and will say that, politics aside, he’s a likable guy – just exercise caution before bringing up the topic of Duran Duran.) It is also no secret that, for a variety of reasons, his most vocal critics are almost entirely non-Japanese.

    Among the most high profile of those critics is Gregory Clark, whose column in the Japan Times gives him perhaps a wider audience than most other writers on the topic. On January 15th of this year, Clark wrote a risible and deeply disingenuous column for the paper headlined “Antiforeigner discrimination is a right for Japanese people”.

    In the column, Clark tries to paint a picture of a contemptible rabble-rousing jerk that he very clearly hints is Arudou (it’s not. As far as we can tell, there is no such person as the one Clark is writing about.) Wondering at Clark’s vitriol and some of his more outlandish statements, this observer settled on the following paragraph:


    TPR article continues here:
    Have a read and a comment there if you like.  More TV media from the case blogged on tomorrow.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    5 Responses to “Otaru Onsens 10th Anniv #5: How the debate still rages on, article by TransPacific Radio”

    1. arin Says:

      Forbidding the bad guys from entering is OK, but the innocent ones too? I strongly disagree… or am I missing something?

    2. Neil Says:

      Gregory Clark’s article linked above was maddening in its stereotypes about Westerners living in Japan: the non-Japanese speaking foreigners who live in “gaijin ghettos” and complain about what Clark sees as completely justified racial profiling.

      Prof. Clark evidently wants to view himself as a unique butterfly: a Westerner who has defied all odds and mastered the “impossible” Japanese language, and who, except for the unfortunate issue of skin color, is able to blend in perfectly with Japanese society as a whole.

      It is unfortunate that he appears to view denigration of the ethnically Euro-American populace of Japan through vitriol, stereotypes, strawman arguments, and ad hominems as a way to curry favor with the Japanese majority.

    3. Anonymous Says:

      “And since it is not possible to bar only Russians, barring all foreigners is the only answer.”

      The first half of the statement assumes discriminating against race is impossible. The second half of the statement says it’s the only possible thing to do.

    4. jonholmes Says:

      Whats wrong with Duran Duran? They got me into pop music and they pi$$ on any band around nowadays and play their own instruments.

      Oh well, each to his own. I suppose Arudou prefers Spandau Ballet?

      Or Smap? (thats taking assimilation too far, but don’t be surprised if it becomes a visa requirement, or question at immigration “Do you like Japanese pop music?” errrr)

      — No, quite the opposite, I’m a huge DD fan. Listen to any of my podcasts and see. In fact, I brook no disrespect towards the Durans! That’s what TPR was referring to!

    5. Philip Says:

      Wow, that Clark article is the real deal. Focusing on a caricature of an offensive know-nothing foreigner the likes of which I’ve yet to meet here, he attempts to paint our complaints as merely the manifestation of some vague dislike of Japan and desire to stir up trouble (as for his nonsensical term “Japan girai”, I’ve never heard it before, and a quick google search makes me think he made it up).

      He moves on to throwing out the claim that Barack Obama was elected President due to “affirmative action law demanding preference for blacks and other minorities.” Funny, that’s not how I remember it.

      In the end, though, the worst part of Clark’s article is not the gaijin stereotype, nor the impugning of our motives and means, nor even his constant claims that having some degree of linguistic ability somehow precludes his views from being racist. It is his inability to admit that the fundamental assumption of racism – that one may fairly characterize groups of people based upon the color of their skin – is ultimately a vicious, bigoted farce.

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