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Embedded Racism: Japan's Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination

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  • AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 7th, 2011

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    Hi Blog.  Here’s another reason why people ought to think carefully before attending Japanese schools as a student of diversity, and it’s not just because funding to being them over without sufficient institutional support afterwards is being cut.  Bullying.  Here we have a Japanese university apologizing for the suicide of one of their ethnic students (raised in Japan with Japanese citizenship, no less).  It only took them three years.  And yet, like the recent Uemura Akiko suicide, the possibility of it being racially-motivated is not dealt with by the authorities.  Thanks for the apology, I guess, but this will hardly fix the problem for others.  Hence think carefully.  Arudou Debito


    Japan university sorry for death of bullied Indian student

    Agence France-Presse
    Tokyo, December 27, 2010
    Hindustan Times (27/12/2010), courtesy of ADH

    A Japanese university on Monday apologised to the family of an Indian student who committed suicide in 2007, after leaving a note saying he would kill himself because of bullying at school.

    The male student, then aged 20, at Otemon Gakuin University in Osaka prefecture, jumped from a building three years ago, leaving a note saying: “The bullying I keep getting at school … Cannot take it any more.”

    The student, who was born to Indian parents and grew up in Japan, had earned Japanese citizenship, a university official said.

    Compounding the tragedy, his father, depressed about his son’s suicide, later jumped to his death from the same building, according to local reports.

    “I would like to express my heartfelt apology to the bereaved family members,” said university dean Masayuki Ochiai at a press conference.

    The university refused to comment on whether the abuse was racially motivated saying the specific nature of the bullying was not known.

    Local media said he had been forced to take his trousers down in front of other people and that he had been nicknamed “bin Laden”.

    An independent third party panel was created in October to probe the incident after the Sankei newspaper and public broadcaster NHK reported the case.

    Japan, a country where more than 30,000 people commit suicide every year, often sees school children kill themselves, with many leaving notes referring to harsh bullying by their peers.


    5 Responses to “AFP: Otemon Gakuin Univ finally apologizes for Indian student suicide in 2007, still refuses to comment if racially-motivated bullying”

    1. Ryan V Says:

      They found out he was nicknamed “bin Laden” and are unable to find racism in the bullying? Really?

    2. AJ Says:

      Well, local media succeeded where the university failed. My guess is they didn’t study there, or read the script from the folks in Nagata-cho. More credit to them.

    3. Jay Says:

      Just plain sad.

    4. unknown Says:


      Racism does not exist in Japan because Japan is defined by Japanese as “Where Japanese live”. They do not see any other ethnicity as being intrinsically part of Japanese society, which is why you have people saying that “Japan has no racism because there are only Japanese here”. It is not that there are only Japanese here, it is that ONLY Japanese are accepted as belonging here. This is the subconscious train of thought which I believe exists here. Japan, Japanese people and the Japanese language are all inseparable and interdependent concepts in the minds of most Japanese. While you may be living on Japanese soil, a legal concept, you are never actually living in Japan as only Japanese actually live here.

      Whether or not the bullying was racially motivated (of course it was though), there needs to be some serious cracking down on the bullying culture here. People hate it, hate being bullied and hate seeing their friends or family getting bullied. Why does it continue to exist then?

      — Perhaps because it’s seen as a rite of passage, something you endure until you get into senpai status, and feel a sense of entitlement to behave like a bully?

    5. manule Says:

      They nicknamed him “Bin Laden”, and the guy was of indian ethnicity?
      What kind of university is that, where ignorance is that pathetic?

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