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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • Chosun Ilbo: Korean sues for apartment refusal, wins in Kyoto Court

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on October 10th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Got enough stuff backlogged recently to have two updates per day. Here’s a quick one, which didn’t appear in the Japanese media in English or Japanese, according to Google News. Thanks to the Korean press for covering it. Good news:

    Korean Woman Wins Discrimination Damages in Japan
    Chosun Ilbo, South Korea, October 5, 2007
    Courtesy of Neil Marks

    A Kyoto court ruled partially in favor of a Korean woman who sued a Japanese landlord for refusing to rent a room to her. A Kyoto district court ruled that refusing to rent a room to a person due to her nationality is illegal and ordered the landlord to pay the woman W8.65 million (US$1=W916) [about 110 man en, pretty much the average award in these lawsuits] in compensation.

    Courts have taken a dim view of refusal to let rooms to foreigners since an Osaka court in 1993 ruled this went against the constitutional stipulation of equality before the law. But in reality, Japanese homeowners often reject foreign tenants citing differences in the lifestyle and customs. Counsel for the plaintiff said the ruling was a “head-on attack on discrimination based on nationality” and predicted it would help eradicate unfair discrimination against foreigners.

    The woman signed a contract to rent a room through a real estate agency in January 2005. But after she paid the deposit to the landlord and commissions to the realtor, the landlord changed his mind since she was a foreigner.

    ( )

    Moral: Get refused for being a foreigner, sue. It’ll only take you a year or two and you had better have signed a contract.

    Next step necessary in the precedent ladder: winning in court for getting refused a room for being a foreigner, before a contract was even signed. Any takers? No doubt there are plenty of readers out there who have experience…

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo

    One Response to “Chosun Ilbo: Korean sues for apartment refusal, wins in Kyoto Court”

    1. Greg M Says:

      Somewhat related-

      In an interesting turn of fate, my wife was refused a job on the fact that she is NOT a foreigner. She responded to an annoucement for an opening in a wedding gospel choir and seemingly got in because of her (katakana) last name. When the company called to set up an audition/interview they were surprised at her level of Japanese and then refused her when she said that she was in fact Japanese. They told her that they are only hiring people of a certain ethnicity to give the atmosphere of a “real” gospel chorus.

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