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  • MG International ballet school in Tokyo Azabu refuses Pakistani child–with responses from school & people who were refused

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on December 14th, 2007

    Hi Blog. Report from Ms Amira Rahman, the wife of a foreign diplomat, Mr Rahman Hamid, Commerce Section, Embassy of Pakistan in Tokyo, who received a terrible shock when trying to enroll their 3-year-old daughter in a Tokyo ballet school.

    Letter of protest from the Pakistani Embassy (click on image to expand in browser):
    Balletschool001.jpg

    Report follows. Contact courtesy of the Tokyo With Kids.com website forum. Text authored by Ms. Amira Rahman, adapted by Arudou Debito from the original. Copious debate and comments follow.

    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    Dear Sir,

    I am a wife of a foreign diplomat representing the Government of Pakistan, and we wanted our little girl to start ballet (she is almost 4)–we thought she would look soooo cute in a tutu.

    The place we went to enroll her MG International Arts of Ballet located in Photo house MG Hall, 5-5-9 Azabu Minato Ku Tokyo, December 13th 2007, around 4pm.

    MGインターナショナル・アーツ・オブ・バレエ
    東京都港区麻布5丁目5-9 後藤ハウスB1F MGホール
    地下鉄日比谷線 広尾駅下車 徒歩 5分
    info@mg-ballet.org, Person in charge Gotou Mariko.
    No phone number listed at 104.
    http://www.mg-ballet.org/home.html
    MG International Arts of Ballet, MG Hall, B1F GOTO House 5-5-9
    Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo.

    My husband took his official translator along for this exchange also. At the reception we were greeted coldly from the start, and when we requested information about ballet for our daughter we were told that this school does not accept international students.

    Thinking she meant they needed students to understand ballet instruction in Japanese we argued that our daughter goes to a local Hoikuen and can understand Japanese. But to our surprise the lady told us that we would need a reference to enter this school.

    Still misunderstanding her attitude my husband informed her that his blood relative, an aunt who is Japanese, referred us to this particular school. The lady flat out refused to entertain anything, and after being insulted in such a fashion we left the place with our daughter crying.

    We will not under any circumstance be sending our child to such a racist establishment and have already enrolled her in another school.

    My husband will be raising this issue with the Japanese Foreign Ministry and the Minato ]-Ku ward. He says that it is not a petty issue. Such people and establishments should be exposed for their racist behavior, and the general public should be made aware of their attitude.

    Your dissemination on your blog of what happened to us to other people will serve as a means to identifying such people, and save a lot of them the heartache and disgust we felt when we left that place. Turning such a beautiful art form into something this ugly is a crime in our books.

    I have no need to be anonymous because I want people to know what happened, and want to find ways to make sure this does not happen to other expatriate families.

    Yours sincerely,
    Amira Rahman
    ////////////////////////////////////////////////

    COMMENT: I have tried to contact Ms Gotoh to confirm for myself what happened (I will send her this blog entry at the email address listed above), but cannot find her phone number by any public means. I also called the Japan Ballet Association (Nihon Barei Kyoukai) at 03-5437-0371 and talked to two people there, but they neither could tell me much about what might have gone on (as MG is not a member of their association), nor could believe that she could be turning away a student on the basis of her nationality.

    Nor can I. Ms Gotoh clearly has benefited a great deal from her contacts and opportunities in foreign countries. According to her school’s site, she has trained at Academic de Dense Classique Princesse Grace in Monte-Carlo, The Royal Ballet School in London, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Staats Theater Hannover, and Buhnen der Landeshauptstadt Kiel in Germany. She was also in the New National Theatre Tokyo in Japan.

    The site says she also “speaks English well” (she even advertises her classes on a website in English), so what’s with the language barrier?

    The author is willing to be identified by name, is willing to take responsibility for her claims, and has given sufficient detail in her report, so I’m blogging it. I hope that after I email Ms Gotoh this blog entry at info@mg-ballet.org that she will contact me and clear this issue up.

    Arudou Debito in Sapporo, Japan
    debito@debito.org
    http://www.debito.org
    ENDS

    ================================
    UPDATE DEC 15:

    I received a very prompt response in English and Japanese from the ballet school:

    /////////////////////////////////

    From: info@mg-ballet.org
    Subject: Re: To Ms Gotoh: “Japanese Only” Ballet school in Azabu, Tokyo?
    Date: December 14, 2007 11:45:46 PM JST
    To: debito@debito.org

    有道 出人 様、
    お問い合わせありがとうございます。
    日本がお長く、ご堪能なご様子ですので日本語で失礼いたします。
    小樽の「湯の花」の件は、日本人としても恥ずかしく改めなくてはならないと共 感を感じておりました。

    今回、このようなメールを突然頂き驚きました。
    下記の英文(あまり英語に自信が無いのでお許しください)に述べました通り、 事実誤認に基づく
    一方的なクレームであり当惑しています。

    有道さんの断定的な発言は大変残念で、下記文書をc.c.のメーリング・リストを 含め回答しようかと
    思いましたが、大きな誤解があるようなので、熟慮の末、無用な行き違いを避け るためにも事前に
    当メールを差し上げる事としました。ご容赦ください。

    下記文書をお読みの上、もしコメントがあればお知らせください。

    当方の要望は有道さんのblogの当件に関する文書の即時削除と既に配信なさった メーリングリスト
    に対する訂正文の配布です。

    今回の件は”Japanese Only”には該当しませんが、クレームをいただいた夫婦の 方に嫌な思いを
    させてしまったことは大変残念で申し訳ないと感じております。
    今後とも対応には十分注意したいと考えております。

    上記要望が有道さんにとって難しければお知らせください。
    下記文書を本日頂いたメールに返信する形にて配信させていただきたいと思います。

    ご連絡をお待ちしております。

    事務局 内野秀紀

    == DRAFT ====================================

    Mr. Arudou Debito
    Thank you for your inquiry to us.

    Regrettably I suggest that you should examine the “FACT” before blogged in public.

    You made a couple of critical mistakes on this claim.
    We have international students now and for these past 8years after establishment of our school.
    And Ms. Goto did not meet this lady yesterday because of class teaching, it was our school staff woman that I confirmed having interview..
    I’m afraid that you, Mr. Arudou Debito, already have a kind of preoccupation based on a one-sides e-mail from a lady.
    If our school is “Japanese Only” and refuse foreigners having racial discrimination, Why do we have international students now and in the past?
    Why do we have website in English as you know?

    Before confirming these facts and truth, you’ve already blogged one-sides story and Ms.Goto’s privacy in public.
    How do you take your responsibility against the fact?
    If you would like to injure reputation of our school or Ms.Goto , we should consider taking official steps to deal with the situation
    like you do with several cases.
    I also would like to ask you on the “RIGHTS” standing point, what’s your idea of keeping Ms.Goto’s privacy and rights?
    You may say you tried to contact us but could not find phone number…but you should send a e-mail like many people do before blogged.

    The reason why we could not accept her application yesterday was simply “pre-ballet class” is full capasity now.
    A little pretty girl had no blame, including her nationality, for the reason why we couldn’t accept.
    We are trying to treat fairly all people if they are Forigner, Japanese or any nationality even a diplomat or any occupation.
    And our staff confuzed hearing this lady’s reaction…..We dazed our communication gap.
    I know we both side have each story to tell and it’s not appropriate to claim each other’s story in public,,because we don’t
    have international human rights issue here..

    We sometime don’t accept application even Japanese if someone, or parents of small child, is not appropriate to our
    school with some reason….. manner, attitude, decency, cooperation, security etc.
    Our ballet school is small private school for membership.

    Your claim is coming from human rights standing point and we have foreign student now and in the past as I mentioned.
    If you would like to confirm this fact/truth, I’ll accept your coming to observe students with no making trouble condition.
    I know we have no obligation to accept you but I do .
    After your confirming this evidence by yourself, I strongly request your apology in public for giving irrationality impression in public,
    I think that’s the fair manners for RIGHTS of our ballet scool and Ms.Goto.

    I took a look at your website and your book “Japanese only”, and I can understand your claim on this.
    Personally I have 20years experience of working for foreign company, so I understand we have multiculturalism
    issue to solve in Japan.
    I understand your point and I’m sorry that our case does not fit to your campaign.
    I don’t response to your further question on this except your coming request to confirm the FACT/Truth.

    I know Sapporo got into very cold winter season with lots of snow.
    I hope you take good care of yourself.

    Thank you for living Japan and your social activities.

    Love People, Love Arts, Love Ballet!
    Secretary < < MG International Arts of Ballet >>
    MG Hall B1F GOTO House 5-5-9 Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo.
    /////////////////////////////////

    HERE’S HOW I RESPONDED:

    /////////////////////////////////

    内野さま、ご返答ありがとうございました。有道 出人です。

    ラーマンさまからいただいたレポートの件ですが、ご返答を転送しました。時間の節約のため、英語で答えさせて下さい。

    To M. Uchino,

    Thank you very much for your speedy response. I reply in English for the sake of saving time.

    I have forwarded your response to Ms. Rahman, and will await her response before taking any further action on my blog. I will of course put your answer in both English and Japanese on my blog, and Ms Rahman’s answer (if there is one) also on my blog later. If there is a discussion to be had, I will gladly facilitate it. Please feel free also to respond directly on the blog if you would prefer.

    And yes, I would be happy to stop by your school in January (when I will be in Tokyo for speeches) to meet you and hear your side of the story.

    You do admit in your explanation that your school does refuse students. Of course, the reasons for refusing any student are very important (and I have a hard time believing that “security” could ever be a concern). If, as Ms. Rahman claims, your representative refused her daughter because MS School does not take international students, there clearly is a communication problem, especially in the face of how your school portrays itself on its website.

    In any case, Ms Rahman is very upset at this situation. Having this much upset happen in customer relations is something that should be avoided. Let’s hear her side of the story next.

    Thank you for engaging in a dialog on this issue, and, as you note in the Japanese version of your email, for reading my website so carefully. I hope we can reach an understanding on this issue between you and Ms. Rahman.

    Sincerely, Arudou Debito in Sapporo
    December 15, 2007

    ===============================

    UPDATE: 8PM SATURDAY DEC 15, 2007:

    I JUST RECEIVED A PHONE CALL FROM THE HONORABLE RAHMAN HAMID, HEAD OF THE COMMERCE SECTION IN THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN. I HAVE RECEIVED HIS CONTACT DETAILS FOR CONFIRMATION AT THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN, AND CAN REPORT TO DEBITO.ORG THE FOLLOWING DETAILS:

    1) MR HAMID CAME TO JAPAN FOUR MONTHS AGO, CHOOSING JAPAN OVER SEVERAL OTHER POSSIBLE COUNTRIES BECAUSE HE WANTED HIS CHILDREN TO LEARN JAPANESE AND THE DISCIPLINE AND MANNERS OF JAPAN. HE SAW THE DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS IN THE YOUTH OF OTHER COUNTRIES, AND THOUGHT JAPAN WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE FOR HIS CHILDREN.

    2) HE HAS SENT PROTEST LETTERS ABOUT THIS INCIDENT TO VARIOUS OTHER JAPANESE AGENCIES, AND WILL SEND ME A COPY OF THE LETTER (IT’S A PUBLIC DOCUMENT) FOR INCLUSION ON DEBITO.ORG IN DUE TIME.

    3) HE HAS SINCE BEEN CONTACTED BY OTHER BALLET SCHOOLS THANKS TO THIS INCIDENT COMING OUT ON DEBITO.ORG, AND HAVE BEEN ASKED TO ENROLL THEIR DAUGHTER THERE INSTEAD.

    NOW THAT THIS IS A MATTER OF THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN TAKING OVER RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS ISSUE, THE THREAT OF LAWSUIT FROM THE SCHOOL (MADE CLEAR IN THE ENGLISH BUT NOT THE MUCH MILDER JAPANESE VERSION OF THE LETTER FROM THE SCHOOL) IS A NON-ISSUE.

    THANKS FOR EVERYONE’S CONCERNS. ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO

    ===============================

    RESPONSE FROM MS RAHMAN AGAIN:

    From: Amira Rahman
    Subject: Response to MG International
    Date: December 15, 2007 8:11:55 PM JST

    Dear Sir,
    I can believe their claim that they have had foreign students in the past but I would like to contradict one small important point which is we were told that this school does not accept foreigners and no mention whatsoever was made of pre ballet classes being full. If they had said this in the first place we would understand immediatly and have had no hard feelings at all because we had a list of 6 other schools in the area we were going to visit.

    My only question is have they ever had a student from Pakistan in their school. Please accept their invitation to see their school for yourself and verify the information I have asked. If there has been even one of us there I will gladly chalk it up to misunderstanding on my behalf and apologize otherwise my husband and I will continue in trying to get an apology for their behaviour towards us.

    I can also believe that the owners of the establishment or the teachers may have no clue as to what happened at the reception and were not a part of this incident at all but they must acknowledge that somehow, somewhere a misunderstanding took place that led to us feeling insulted. I know the owner is a ballerina of repute and has international credentials to her name and her business is in Hiroo which incidentally is a center of Embassies from around the world, therefore it is my observation that she should lay great emphasis on training staff to deal with “Foreigners”. If I have not stated this earlier the lady at the reception was most cordial but her changing requirements for enrollment and attitude left no room for error that we were not wanted in this place.

    Yours sincerely,

    Amira Rahman

    Dear Arudou,
    My husband says it was nice talking to you and he will be emailing his letter to the school to you on Monday first thing in the morning.

    Please do not apologize to anyone on our behalf because you are the voice with which people like us can speak and because of you 2 schools contacted us for our daughter already.
    Please keep up the good work and our prayers and blessings are with you.
    ENDS
    //////////////////////////////////////////////////

    UPDATE DEC 18, 2007:
    Balletschoolending.jpg
    ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL. ARUDOU DEBITO

    40 Responses to “MG International ballet school in Tokyo Azabu refuses Pakistani child–with responses from school & people who were refused”

    1. James Says:

      Sounds like a really strange event, given the existence of their English language homepage that is clearly meant to encourage foreigners to apply for lessons.

      Did a little bit of searching and found that almost every directory they are listed on leaves their phone number blank. However,this site does list a number for them, though [03-3373-2587]:
      http://www.sagasu.co.jp/bal/list/list20.html

    2. TJJ Says:

      Of course, this kind of thing shouldn’t happen to anyone, regardless of their profession, or any other ‘status’, but having said that I wish I could be there to see the ballet school owner’s face when she is informed that the people she dicriminated against are diplomatically connected.

      Ballet classes: 12,000 yen
      Discriminating against customers: free
      The look on her face when political heavies call her: priceless

    3. Will Says:

      Have you noticed that on the home page, there is even a picture of two cute little caucasian children dancing? With a name like MG International the SE Asian theory mentioned above sounds ominously likely.

    4. Kimpatsu Says:

      “…nor could believe that she would be turning away a student on the basis of her nationality”

      No, David, they were turning her away on the basis of her RACE. I know that many Japanese mistakenly conflate the two, but the message we have to hammer home here is that this is RACISM, not “nationalism”. Look, over on expat.net, there’s at least one guy who constantly slags you off as an “imposter” and a “poseur” because you “claim” to be Japanese without any Yamato blood. (Which nonsense is a scientific fiction anyway, but I digress.)
      Look, the bottom line is that we have to repeat ad nauseum the message that this is not “Japanese fear of language barriers” (the Japanese being pathologically shy), nor is it a “fear of cultural misunderstanding”. This is RACISM, pure and simple, and we need to keep pushing that fact.
      At least until people with real power outside Japan actually DO something.

      –I WAS REPORTING WHAT THE ASSOCIATION SAID. THEY DIDN’T UNDERSTAND THE ISSUE EITHER. THEY EVEN TRIED TO EXPLAIN IT AWAY AS A PERSONALITY CONFLICT (WHICH I DIDN’T GET INTO IN THIS REPORT)–AS BALLERINAS, THEY INDICATED, ARE VERY SELECTIVE OF THEIR STUDENTS. I SAID WHAT KIND OF TEACHER WOULD TREAT A 3-YEAR-OLD THIS WAY–HOW COULD PERSONALITY POSSIBLY BE A FACTOR HERE? THEY DIDN’T EVEN ACKNOWLEDGE THAT MUCH, SO I LEFT IT AT THAT.

    5. Riccardino Fuffolo Says:

      Maybe I acted on the moment rage, but sent them a letter in Japanese telling plainly they should be ashamed of what they have done.

    6. Turner Says:

      I don’t know about that. It sounds like a big misunderstanding. Let’s hope so.

    7. Liam Says:

      Surprised that this woman identifies herself by name without giving details of which country her husband represents, unless you’ve removed that yourself Debito?

      Certainly though….after a bit of digging, I have to admit I’d be amazed that anyone would dare turn him down like this, and risk him causing a big scene. The husband is no minor functionary, he’s the ambassador for that country, and was from 2003 to 2006 the ambassador of that nation for its permanent mission to the United States in New York. To say he’s diplomatically connected would be an understatement.

      –I KNOW THE COUNTRY HER HUSBAND REPRESENTS, BUT SINCE SHE DIDN’T MENTION IT, I DIDN’T EITHER.

    8. Turner Says:

      The timing on this is just crazy though, as we were discussing a hypothetical situation involving an ambassador’s daughter in one of your earlier entries:

      http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=818#comment-99312

      I’ll guess we’ll see if it comes to fruition.

    9. jon Says:

      It does seem odd that this school with “international” in their name and an English language website with pictures of caucasion dancers would act this way. We definately need more info hear because something seems odd here about this story.

    10. A Says:

      Debito,

      I think a little more due diligence may have been “due” here. The accusation of racism seems to rest entirely on the Mrs. Rahman’s post and on the Association’s lack of understanding on the issue. While Mrs. Rahman’s post may be accurate, it only represents one side of the story, and the Association’s understanding, or lack thereof, has no bearing at all on Mrs. Gotoh or the incident in question.

      Frankly, I think you should have waited to get Mrs. Gotoh’s side of the story (by e-mail, alternate phone number/fax(?), snail mail or even a direct visit on one of your Tokyo trips), or at least a “no comment” from her, before you posted Mrs. Rahman’s letter on your prominent blog. If Mrs. Rahman’s version of the events bears out, it won’t be an issue but if it turns out to be a misunderstanding, you will have done quite a bit to discredit what I consider to be your otherwise good work.

      I am a big fan of your blog and your work on racism/nationalism in Japan, of which I have also been subjected. You’ve done considerable research on many incidents in Japan, and I’ve admired the way that you are always going to pubs/hotels/wherever to directly address the staff and management about issues raised. However, I think you’re setting yourself up for some serious credibility issues in the future if you start posting “hearsay” incidents of racism/nationalism. Eventually, one of those incidents will turn out to be a misunderstanding or, even worse, an out-and-out lie. As you know, you have enemies (for lack of a better word) in both the Japanese and the foreign community that would love to be able to wave around a story about Arudo Debito making up stories of racism to promote his own agenda, which is inevitably how they would interpret it.

      Just an opinion from a fan.

      –THANKS. I TRY TO ADMIT THE SHORTCOMINGS IN MY RESEARCH IN MY REPORT–AND OF COURSE I WOULD RATHER HAVE BOTH SIDES COMMENTING BEFORE REPORTING. BUT IT’S STILL A REPORT ON WHAT I DID THUS FAR. AND IT FUNCTIONS AS A LETTER TO THE PERSON FROM WHOM WE NEED AN ANSWER. IF I MADE THE RESEARCH CONTINGENT ON WHETHER OR NOT THE PERSON ANSWERS (THERE’S NO WAY FOR ME TO GET A DIRECT RESPONSE FROM HER SHORT OF GOING DOWN TO TOKYO–OR BY EMAIL), THEN THE PERSON HAS NO INCENTIVE TO ANSWER. THIS LETTER GIVES MORE INCENTIVE FOR THE PERSON TO RESPOND, AND GET A DISCUSSION GOING.

      SHOULD I HAVE WAITED FOR TOYOKO INN HQ TO RESPOND BEFORE POSTING MY LETTER TO THEM ON THIS BLOG?

      I HAVE TAKEN MEASURES TO ESTABLISH THE IDENTITY OF THE PERSON WHO SAYS THIS HAPPENED TO HER. IF IT TURNS OUT I WAS WRONG, I WILL OF COURSE CAPITULATE AND APOLOGIZE. BUT LET’S SEE WHAT HAPPENS. IN ANY CASE, THANKS FOR THE ADVICE. DEBITO

    11. Tact Says:

      Actually, they have an English-language homepage here:

      http://www.mg-ballet.org/english/home.html

      With the following:

      We offer training classes for adults and children of all ages in Classic Ballet.
      We teach all levels of Dance offering 11 classes each week.
      Classes are 5days in a week.
      It takes 5min. walk from Hiroo station.
      Teacher can speak English well.

      Plus,

      Mariko Uchino Goto
      Trained ” Academic de dense Classique Princesse
      Grace” in Monte-Carlo.
      Also Trained ” The Royal Ballet School” in London.

      She was dancing at ” Deutsche Oper am Rhein”
      ” Staats Theater Hannover”,
      ” Buhnen der Landeshauptstadt Kiel” in Germany.
      Also ” New National Theatre Tokyo” in Japan.

      So, it seems strange they would turn away someone who was not Japanese. Maybe the real reason is a little more fvcked – for example, Japanese and Caucasians are okay but not SE Asians, blacks and other ‘colored’ races ?!

    12. elena Says:

      By the way, was it Mrs Gotoo answering to Mrs Rahman, or the receptionist? THe message says “she” but there is no actual name specified…

    13. A Says:

      Debito,

      To qualify my previous post and this one, I’m not addressing the situation with Mrs. Gotoh specifically (the story might be true for all I know). I’m speaking generally about the method of reporting used in this post.

      Yes, I do think it would be appropriate to get a reply, or a refusal to comment, from the concerned individual or establishment before labelling them racist/nationalist. I’m sure you can appreciate the difference between the value of a person’s refusal to comment and simply not having a phone number available for you to call.

      I understand that you have not directly labeled Mrs. Gotoh as racist/nationalist, but making reports on racist behavior by public individuals/establishments is a core part of this blog and as such, indirectly labels Mrs. Gotoh as such before she has even had an opportunity to respond (assuming she cares to).

      You can clearly see from the comments above (and in your replies to them) that people already assume that Mrs. Gotoh is racist/nationalist, even though they have read but one side of the story. In your initial post you imply sarcastically that the incident may have been due to them being South East Asians. Have you considered that you could be held liable for defamation if this (or some other incident in the future) turns out to be a misunderstanding? (or if you are unable to prove accusations that you make, even if by proxy) My concern is that some day, this posting style may come back to bite you in a personal way, such as legal proceedings, or in a professional way, such as your credibility and position on very important issues being damaged to the point that people will not take you seriously in Japan.

      You know how the Japanese media and your detractors can be. Like it or not, you are a high-profile individual in the community. Once they smell blood, they will be all over you. I’m sure that’s happened in the past but unsubstantiated accusations can be weathered. If you ever get caught MIS-labelling someone as racist/nationalist, that’s what you will become known for, not the good work that you have done in the past.

      At any rate, it’s your blog and that’s all I’ll say on the matter. I just wanted to throw my 2 bits in, rusty as they may be. I appreciate your reply and wish you luck in all of your work.

    14. Jerry Billows Says:

      Debito,

      Let me start off by saying that I am a really big fan of yours. You’ve done a lot of good work making the public aware of discriminatory establishments, presenting useful information on a variety of issues, and (most of the time) trying your best to be fair and objective.

      The thing is, dude, I agree with “A” above and your reply to him just now kinda scares me. It shows that you either don’t get it or you don’t care. As a public figure, posting hearsay on your website and then compounding the problem by agreeing (implicitly?) with Kimpatsu that Ms. Gotoh’s actions must be “racist” seems to be a really dangerous and silly thing to do.

      If it turns out to be a misunderstanding or worse a lie, like A says, you might find yourself being dragged into court for libel one of these days, not to mention getting the kind of reputation-damaging publicity splashed all over the newspaper headlines and spread through the internet like wildfire that no one would ever want. On top of that, you’d then have serious damage control problems to deal with while you’re wasting time and money on defending yourself in court when you could be spending it on more constructive, concrete issues.

      You may not care about any of that, but people who take your work seriously and want you to stick around for the long haul do. You’re a great voice in our community, Debito. As a constructive comment, you could (and should) pass these kind of legally dangerous hearsay issues onto a lawyer first before posting them to your very prominent blog. At least a lawyer can advise you on what is and is not a safe thing to do in cases like this. Again, it’s for everybody’s sake…especially yours.

      Peace

      –THANKS FOR THE CONCERN AND THE ADVICE, JERRY. IF I DIDN’T HAVE REASONABLE GROUNDS FOR BELIEVING MS. RAHMAN WAS TELLING THE TRUTH, I WOULDN’T PUT THIS REPORT UP.

      MEANWHILE, WE HAVE GOTTEN A RESPONSE FROM THE SCHOOL. GOOD. THE BALL IS NOW IN MS RAHMAN’S COURT. IF IT TURNS OUT I WAS WRONG, I WILL OF COURSE DELETE THE BLOG POSTING WITH A PUBLIC APOLOGY TO THE SCHOOL. BUT I HAVE NO REASON NOT TO BELIEVE MS. RAHMAN WHEN SHE SAYS THAT WHAT HAPPENED HAPPENED.

      IT’S BEEN HAPPENING ENOUGH THESE DAYS IN JAPAN. PLENTY OF PEOPLE ARE BLAMING FOREIGNERS FOR ALL MANNER OF PROBLEMS (THE SASEBO GYM SHOOTING IS BUT ONE EXAMPLE). LET’S HOPE THE BALLET SCHOOL DID NOT ACT AS PORTRAYED. BUT I STILL GET THE FEELING THEY DOTH PROTESTETH TOO MUCH. DEBITO

    15. JOHN G Says:

      Debito,
      We all love you mate and the superb work you do on all our behalfs. But take care though.

    16. vegetablej Says:

      It seems to me that some people are more worried about splitting hairs about whether Debito should have posted the letter rather than the issue of racism, which we all know exists here(in Japan), and to me is a far bigger issue.

      Thank God he is not a chicken afraid to cross the road. If he were, there would have been absolutely nothing done about the “Japanese Only” issues he has raised. He, for heaven’s sake, isn’t an ambassador of non-Japanese in Japan who has to bend over backwards to be seen as getting every fact right, doing extensive research before he opens his mouth to take a breath. He does the best he can and is an advocate against racism. And this is a blog not the front page of the New York Times.

      People who don’t agree with him will always have something to criticize, whatever he does. He can’t live his life worrying about them.

      I think he’s doing a good job of bringing us both sides of the story, and I can make my own mind up about what’s happening. I’m sure not thinking he’s crossed the line just because some angry letter (which he hasn’t hesitated to post) accuses him of it.

      And though it’s trivial, isn’t it “Academic de D_A_nce Classique Princesse Grace”. Sure hope it wasn’t “HRH the dense”.

    17. Johnny Says:

      I’m sorry, but Ms. Uchino’s reply seems awfully fishy to me. Damage limitation only.

      Surely had the classes been full, would that not have been the first thing the receptionist had said?

      Secondly, if there was an ‘official translator’ there, I would assume that there were no issues with language being misunderstood.

    18. elena Says:

      “BUT I STILL GET THE FEELING THEY DOTH PROTESTETH TOO MUCH.”

      Absolutely so! That’s the impression…

    19. DM Says:

      Thanks Debito for providing a place for foreign residents to report racism in Japan. There should be a legal framework to protect the human rights of people living here, but as we know there are no laws (with penalties) that forbid racial discrimination. Keep up the good fight, I wish I shared your hope that things will will one day change for the better, frankly what I see is a paranoid xenophobia being encouraged by the government and media, and it has soured me enough that I’ve started formulating exit strategies.

    20. elena Says:

      Also, there is a significant discrepancy between Japanese and ENglish versions, it seems to me, when “gorenrakuwo omachishiteorimasu” in Japanese is “mirrored” by “we will not respond to you any more unless …” in the English version, which resembles an attempt of intimidation at that.

      ALso, on a more personal note, I guess you should not be worried by the thoughts that some people maybe distracted and have your image distorted if a media campaign or something similar will ensue when “they” jump at an awkward step of yours – the people who read your site well and do not only pay attention to someone’s “reputation” but have a real understanding of things will see through any insinuations and you should rest assured that they will still be there to support you! – Although, no doubt, it would be better to avoid this sort of thing, but I think that your courteous reply and gentle handling of the matter so far does not suggest that something like this is likely to follow.

      And finally it’s
      ACADEMIE DE DANSE CLASSIQUE PRINCESSE GRACE,
      because it’s in French.
      It’s a sister school of the similar “academie” in Monte-Carlo (supervised by the same person), so maybe it’s evolved from
      “Le Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo” of the beginning of the 20th century?
      As a Russian, I’d be proud of this (probably, imaginary) history and… maybe it’s one of the stereotypes I hold re Japanese but often it’s so annoying that they do not even care to check a dictionary before writing something in a foreign language? Or do they think that nobody is going to understand what they write anyway?

    21. debito Says:

      UPDATE: 8PM SATURDAY DEC 15, 2007:

      I JUST RECEIVED A PHONE CALL FROM THE HONORABLE RAHMAN HAMID, HEAD OF THE COMMERCE SECTION IN THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN. I HAVE RECEIVED HIS CONTACT DETAILS FOR CONFIRMATION AT THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN, AND CAN REPORT TO DEBITO.ORG THE FOLLOWING DETAILS:

      1) MR HAMID CAME TO JAPAN FOUR MONTHS AGO, CHOOSING JAPAN OVER SEVERAL OTHER POSSIBLE COUNTRIES BECAUSE HE WANTED HIS CHILDREN TO LEARN JAPANESE AND THE DISCIPLINE AND MANNERS OF JAPAN. HE SAW THE DISCIPLINE PROBLEMS IN THE YOUTH OF OTHER COUNTRIES, AND THOUGHT JAPAN WOULD BE A BETTER PLACE FOR HIS CHILDREN.

      2) HE HAS SENT PROTEST LETTERS ABOUT THIS INCIDENT TO VARIOUS OTHER JAPANESE AGENCIES, AND WILL SEND ME A COPY OF THE LETTER (IT’S A PUBLIC DOCUMENT) FOR INCLUSION ON DEBITO.ORG IN DUE TIME.

      3) HE HAS SINCE BEEN CONTACTED BY OTHER BALLET SCHOOLS THANKS TO THIS INCIDENT COMING OUT ON DEBITO.ORG, AND HAVE BEEN ASKED TO ENROLL THEIR DAUGHTER THERE INSTEAD.

      NOW THAT THIS IS A MATTER OF THE EMBASSY OF PAKISTAN TAKING OVER RESPONSIBILITY FOR THIS ISSUE, THE THREAT OF LAWSUIT FROM THE SCHOOL (MADE CLEAR IN THE ENGLISH BUT NOT THE MUCH MILDER JAPANESE VERSION OF THE LETTER FROM THE SCHOOL) IS A NON-ISSUE.

      THANKS FOR EVERYONE’S CONCERNS. ARUDOU DEBITO IN SAPPORO

    22. debito Says:

      RESPONSE FROM MS RAHMAN AGAIN:

      From: Amira Rahman
      Subject: Response to MG International
      Date: December 15, 2007 8:11:55 PM JST

      Dear Sir,
      I can believe their claim that they have had foreign students in the past but I would like to contradict one small important point which is we were told that this school does not accept foreigners and no mention whatsoever was made of pre ballet classes being full. If they had said this in the first place we would understand immediatly and have had no hard feelings at all because we had a list of 6 other schools in the area we were going to visit.

      My only question is have they ever had a student from Pakistan in their school. Please accept their invitation to see their school for yourself and verify the information I have asked. If there has been even one of us there I will gladly chalk it up to misunderstanding on my behalf and apologize otherwise my husband and I will continue in trying to get an apology for their behaviour towards us.

      I can also believe that the owners of the establishment or the teachers may have no clue as to what happened at the reception and were not a part of this incident at all but they must acknowledge that somehow, somewhere a misunderstanding took place that led to us feeling insulted. I know the owner is a ballerina of repute and has international credentials to her name and her business is in Hiroo which incidentally is a center of Embassies from around the world, therefore it is my observation that she should lay great emphasis on training staff to deal with “Foreigners”. If I have not stated this earlier the lady at the reception was most cordial but her changing requirements for enrollment and attitude left no room for error that we were not wanted in this place.

      Yours sincerely,

      Amira Rahman

      Dear Arudou,
      My husband says it was nice talking to you and he will be emailing his letter to the school to you on Monday first thing in the morning.

      Please do not apologize to anyone on our behalf because you are the voice with which people like us can speak and because of you 2 schools contacted us for our daughter already.
      Please keep up the good work and our prayers and blessings are with you.

    23. Mark Says:

      First off, I’m glad that this situation has been brought to light, whether simply a case of misunderstanding or something more sinister. Until recently, many people would have just grumbled under their breath and let it slide.

      To the people with heart-felt concerns for Debito and his posting of this situation; while it may seem as if he “jumped the gun” as it were, I have a lot more confidence in him that he wouldn’t do so unless there was some compelling evidence that what was stated by Ms. Rahman was as close to accurate as possible. Having gone through a defamation case of his own a few years ago with 2-channel, Debito has a fair bit of first-hand experience with the laws regarding Internet postings.

      There are a few things about Ms. Rahman’s story that bare repeating. Firstly, as a poster earlier mentioned, Ms. Rahman’s husband IS the ambassador to Japan for a major Asian country, and they are not likely to fly off the handle shouting baseless accusations in their country of residence. Second, and most importantly, that the ambassador and his wife brought along their offical translator from the embassy to listen and speak on their behalf in Japanese. So, it would seem that there would be little chance that a simple matter of enrolling in a dance school would be cause for such a serious misunderstanding. On this point, I would be very interested in hearing the translator’s point of view on the subject, if Ms. Rahman would be willing to provide it.

      I’m waiting to hear more before passing judgement on the situation, and I consider the school innocent until then. However, based on Ms. Rahman’s account and the school’s response thus far is worrying and reminds me a lot of certain school boards in Japan denying education to Brazilian Nisei and other international children on the excuse that the school “is full” and they cannot be accommodated.

    24. CB Says:

      To everyone who thinks Debito was a little hasty, I can understand those concerns, however, he has a forum here for open “dialogue” on the subject. The fact that he presents both sides of the story, and also posts the comments from people who are against the course of action taken, show that he is not just here to present one side. He is here, however, to bring issues to light that otherwise would not get heard. Had this incident happened to anyone, and was confirmable, I am sure Debito would have given it some attention. The fact that it happened to the family of a diplomat elevates it to a new level. The fact that the school is concerned about what is being said shows that traction is being gained. The fact that they said they were considering “official steps” is actually a measure of success. That clearly shows that what Debito is doing is not something to be ignored. This is critical, because up until now it has been Debito, who had to take “official steps” on a stage where the deck is stacked against the foreign community (forgive the mixed metaphor).

      If it hadn’t been the family of a diplomat, and Debito hadn’t posted, this issue would never be heard. If it hadn’t been the family of a diplomat and Debito had posted, it likely would have been ignored by the school. Next time something happens to one of us “regular” foreigners perhaps it will gain a little more attention, and attention is exactly what the issue needs.

      I absolutely understand the concerns about posting one side of an issue. But this is not a newspaper — this is a forum. The initial opening of the dialogue is not the entire story. The open discourse that follows is what is important. The willingness to accept and post opinions that are not his own is critical to that. The opening dialogue was made, and the people involved were invited to participate. The fact that they are participating is what is most critical.

      Cheers,

      CB

    25. MG International Arts of Ballet Says:

      Mr. Arudou Debito
      I would like to request you,again and again, to blog our attached two comments here for fair treatment.
      My message contains apology to Mr. and Mrs. Hamid and their daughter for our responsible of misunderstanding.
      and answer to her question about our international students.
      Because this is a only way to give message to Mr and Ms. Hamid now.
      And if I hava chance to meet Ms.Rahman and her family,I would like to aplogize and explain the situation.

      And I’d like you, Mr. Arudou:
      to make it clear that our school is not “No foreigners Ballet school” as your title of the post suggests

      to make it clear it was the receptionist, not Ms Goto who talked to Mr and Mrs HAMID.

      to make it clear that you posted not based on the facts and evidence but based on a hearsay.

      to delete the title “No Foreigners” Ballet school in Azabu”

      to delete the comment #4 which suggests we are racist.

      The fact is that we accept foreign children, in fact we have ten foreign students NOW including three Chinese children.

      The fact is that we couldn’t accept Mr and Mrs Hamid’s daughter because of our capacity for pre-ballet lesson ; we have only one teacher for that and we are a small private school.

      I appreciate your keen sensitivity to “Rights”. You can not evade your responsibility for your own blog.

      Due to your post, Mr.Arudou, we have received several e-mails that blame us for the ungrounded allegations:
      There was even an e-mail that I felt equivalent to threat. Our damage, Mr. Arudou, is not small.

      Ataached 2comments are what I already send you at
      12/15 22:53 & 12/15 18:07.

      >
      : 2007/12/15 22:53

      > Mr. Arudou Debito
      Thank you for your attention on this.
      And please upload our attached response of today in Japanese to your blog for fair treatment.(I’m afraid my less capability in English)
      If you don’t blog our message again, we blog our comment on another site.

      And I would like to answer Ms. Amira Rahman’s question at this time.
      We have about ten international students in our school NOW including three Agian students.
      We don’t have a student from Pakistan simply because we have no request to join our school by so far. Ms.Amira was the first case for us.
      I would like to apologize to this family for our unexpected communication as I already mentioned twice in my previous Japanese note.
      I know Mr.Hamid took some actions to our school and we will correspond with sincerity.

      At last,
      We officially request to Mr.Arudou Debito,at the point of deframation of character, to delete your comment in your blog concluding our school or Ms.Goto is RACISM. You blogged untuth things without confirming the fact
      and evidence. Or please explain me why your can say our school is RACISM> with 10 international students?

      H.Uchino
      Secretary >

      >>
      : 2007/12/15 18:07>>

      有道出人様、

      お返事ありがとうございます。大変申し訳ございませんが私も英語が不自由な た め日本語でお返事させていただきます。

      基本的に私も有道様の論点は理解しているつもりですし、Ms. Rahman様がお怒 り になっていることは大変残念で申し訳>> ないと思っております。コミュニケーションギャップがあったことをMs. Rahman 様に重ねてお詫びいたします。

      但し、残念ながら我々は先生が一人しかいない、小さなプライベート・バレエ ス クールですし、貴殿のHPでディスカッションを展開する力も意図もありません。

      私どもはこれまで誠意を持って返事をしているつもりなので、有道さんにも前 の メールでお問い合わせした、
      1.十分に確認もせず、事実に反して、あたかも人種差別を存在するかのよう に 当スクールのプライバシー情報が公開された点。
      2.対応したのが後藤先生ではなく、事務員であるのに、あたかも後藤先生が 対 応したような内容で事実に反する誹謗内容を公開した点。
      に対する貴殿の対応をお尋ねしたいと思います。互いの論点を確認するのであ れ ば、まず私の質問に答えていただくことが先ではないでしょうか?
      Ms. Rahmanさんには質問はありません。ギャップがあったこと大変申し訳ない と思います。有道さんにはキチンとご回答いただきたいと思います。

      コメント欄でも言及されておりますが、当スクールでは英語版のホームページ を 持っております。有道さんのブログ記事が掲載されてから匿名の
      外国人の方々から嫌がらせのメールが届くようになり混乱しております。
      本来外国人の方々向けに作成したHPですが、今回の混乱から、英語版の閉鎖の 検 討をせざるを得ず大変残念です。
      また、東京でお会いするのは議論するのためではなく、どうしても有道様がご 希 望なさるのであれば、当スクールに日本人以外の生徒が
      在籍する証拠をお見せするためですし、我々にはそのような必要性がないのに そ こまで誠意を見せるわけですから、きちんと確認できたら
      有道様には公式な謝罪をお願いせざるを得ないと考えております。

      何か昨日お送りしたメールの日本語訳のようになり申し訳ありません。有道様 の 貴重なお時間を頂いてしまったようです。

      上記に対するご回答と前提をもった有道様との面談設定以外の質問については 今 後回等をいたしませんことを繰り返し申し上げます。

      事務局
      内野秀紀

    26. Mike Says:

      I believe due fairness would require non-public communication with the accused party stating the claims made against it and requesting a response. The response would lay the foundation for subsequent investigation into the incident. The investigation could and should then be carried out in a public forum from a neutral perspective.

      Were the accused party to neglect or delay response after a certain reasonable number of verified contacts, then such could and should be reported.

      Caution is encouraged because judgments made in public before complete and thorough investigation may be faulty and incur liability.

      –THE CLAIMS ARE NOT MINE. I WAS REPORTING WHAT SOMEBODY ELSE WROTE. I ACKNOWLEDGED THE SITUATION AS SUCH. THIS REPORT IS NOT ANONYMOUS–THE ORIGINAL WRITER GAVE HER NAME, AND HER HUSBAND ALLOWED ME TO REPORT HIS SOCIAL POSITION. THE CLAIMS MADE WERE THEIRS, NOT MINE. IF THOSE CLAIMS TURN OUT TO BE FALSE, OR IF THE ORIGINAL WRITER IS SATISFIED THAT THIS SITUATION HAS BEEN RESOLVED TO THEIR SATISFACTION, I WILL NOTE THAT, AND REMOVE THIS BLOG ENTRY.

      IF ANYONE CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT A BONAFIDE MISTAKE HAS BEEN MADE–THAT THE GIRL WAS NOT REFUSED ENTRY TO THE SCHOOL–THEN I WILL APOLOGIZE FOR MISTAKEN INFORMATION.

      HOWEVER, THE ORIGINAL WRITER HAS INDICATED THAT SHE AND HER HUSBAND WILL STAND BY THEIR CLAIMS, AND THE SCHOOL HAS ITSELF ABOVE INDICATED THAT THEY DID REFUSE ENTRY TO THE DAUGHTER, JUSTIFYING IT BY SAYING, QUOTE, “We don’t have a student from Pakistan simply because we have no request to join our school by so far. Ms.Amira was the first case for us.”

      IF THE SCHOOL WISHES TO TAKE THE CLAIMS UP AS FALSE, THEY SHOULD DO SO WITH THE ORIGINAL WRITERS. I HAVE MERELY GIVEN BOTH SIDES THE RIGHT OF REPLY ON THIS SITE AND FACILITATED COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THEM. ANY CLAIMS AGAINST ME OR AGAINST DEBITO.ORG FOR LIBEL, SLANDER, DEFAMATION, OR INVASION OF PRIVACY WILL NOT STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW (I KNOW FROM EXPERIENCE), AS THEY ARE SHOOTING THE MESSENGER, NOT THE ORIGIN OF THIS INFORMATION. I ADVISE THEM TO CONTACT A LAWYER AND RECEIVE THE SAME ADVICE.

    27. Johnny Says:

      To call the situation a ‘misunderstanding’ seems to me to be a clear attempt at obfuscation.

      Purely speculation, but if the classes were full, surely that should have been the first thing said?

      Regardless of what the facts of the matter are, Ms Uchino’s explanation is far from sufficient.

    28. debito Says:

      有道出人様、

      お返事ありがとうございます。大変申し訳ございませんが私も英語が不自由なた め日本語でお返事させていただきます。

      基本的に私も有道様の論点は理解しているつもりですし、Ms. Rahman様がお怒り になっていることは大変残念で申し訳
      ないと思っております。コミュニケーションギャップがあったことをMs. Rahman 様に重ねてお詫びいたします。

      但し、残念ながら我々は先生が一人しかいない、小さなプライベート・バレエス クールですし、貴殿のHPでディスカッション
      を展開する力も意図もありません。

      私どもはこれまで誠意を持って返事をしているつもりなので、有道さんにも前の メールでお問い合わせした、
      1.十分に確認もせず、事実に反して、あたかも人種差別を存在するかのように 当スクールのプライバシー情報が公開された点。
      2.対応したのが後藤先生ではなく、事務員であるのに、あたかも後藤先生が対 応したような内容で事実に反する誹謗内容を公開した点。
      に対する貴殿の対応をお尋ねしたいと思います。互いの論点を確認するのであれ ば、まず私の質問に答えていただくことが先ではないでしょうか?
      Ms. Rahmanさんには質問はありません。ギャップがあったこと大変申し訳ないと 思います。有道さんにはキチンとご回答いただきたいと思います。

      コメント欄でも言及されておりますが、当スクールでは英語版のホームページを 持っております。有道さんのブログ記事が掲載されてから匿名の
      外国人の方々から嫌がらせのメールが届くようになり混乱しております。
      本来外国人の方々向けに作成したHPですが、今回の混乱から、英語版の閉鎖の検 討をせざるを得ず大変残念です。

      また、東京でお会いするのは議論するのためではなく、どうしても有道様がご希 望なさるのであれば、当スクールに日本人以外の生徒が
      在籍する証拠をお見せするためですし、我々にはそのような必要性がないのにそ こまで誠意を見せるわけですから、きちんと確認できたら
      有道様には公式な謝罪をお願いせざるを得ないと考えております。

      何か昨日お送りしたメールの日本語訳のようになり申し訳ありません。有道様の 貴重なお時間を頂いてしまったようです。

      上記に対するご回答と前提をもった有道様との面談設定以外の質問については今 後回等をいたしませんことを繰り返し申し上げます。

      事務局
      内野秀紀

      =====================

      –YOU ARE IGNORING THE FUNDAMENTAL QUESTIONS HERE:

      1) DID A REPRESENTATIVE OF YOUR SCHOOL REFUSE MS. RAHMAN’S CHILD ENTRY INTO YOUR SCHOOL OR NOT?

      2) IF YOU DID NOT, THEN WHAT ARE YOU APOLOGIZING FOR?

      3) IF YOU DID, THEN WHY DID YOU?

      MS. RAHMAN SAYS IT WAS BECAUSE SHE WAS TOLD YOU DON’T TAKE INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS. SHE IS WILLING TO STAND BY THAT COMMENT.

      JUST BECAUSE YOU HAVE OTHER INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS DOES NOT PROVIDE EVIDENCE THAT YOUR SCHOOL DID NOT REFUSE HER CHILD. YOU EVEN STATED IN YOUR LETTERS ABOVE (WHICH YOU HAVE NEVER ACCURATELY TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH, AND ARE NOT DOING SO AT ALL NOW) THAT YOU NEVER HAD A PAKISTANI CHILD BEFORE. AND YOU DON’T NOW, EVEN THOUGH IF YOU HAD ACCEPTED HER CHILD YOU WOULD BY NOW.

      THE PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE BASED BOTH UPON MS. RAHMAN’S REPORT AND THE LETTERS YOU HAVE WRITTEN INDICATES THAT YOU DID REFUSE HER CHILD ENTRY. WHICH MEANS THERE IS NO ERROR IN THE REPORT.

      ANY ACCUSATION OF RACISM IS MADE NOT BY ME, BUT BY OTHER POSTERS, DRAWING THEIR OWN CONCLUSIONS FROM THE EVIDENCE PROVIDED HERE. JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SAYING THINGS YOU DON’T LIKE DOES NOT MEAN IT IS LIBELOUS–ESPECIALLY WHEN BASED UPON FACT. AND BECAUSE YOU ARE A COMPANY OFFERING A PUBLIC SERVICE, THIS IS NOT AN ATTACK ON AN INDIVIDUAL’S PRIVACY EITHER. I SUGGEST YOU LEARN A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE LAWS GOVERNING FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN JAPAN BEFORE MAKING EMPTY THREATS THAT WILL NOT STAND UP IN A COURT OF LAW.

      ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. TO THE BLOG. AND TAKE ANY ISSUE OF INACCURACY YOU HAVE UP WITH MS RAHMAN AND MR HAMID. CONSTANT BLUSTER AND THREAT WILL NOT CHANGE THE FACTS OF THE CASE.

    29. elena Says:

      I think we have here exactly this “cultural” thing (that sometimes is not taken into account) causing problems, because obviously Mr(?) Uchino is trying to assume collective responsibility – which was historically introduced in Japan by ruling circles sometime around Edo Period (I’m not good at history, please forgive me the lack of exact data re this) – which seems to have left deep traces in the society, if you recall the “big family” of a Japanese company, so-called “Japanese method of (business) management”.

      THey are so used to it, they just don’t notice, and I think we are here to help them notice this, because, as psychoanalysis goes, you can only overcome some problem if you become aware of it! – SO Mr. Uchino DOES NOT have to take the responsibility for the receptionist, and what everybody would be glad to see here (I suppose) is an account of what the receptionist has to say about the whole interaction, because it seems that noone else was present there at the moment on behalf of the school. For all we know, it might be just some misunderstanding on the part of the receptionist as to the “rules” of the school, but this is what has to be uncovered, made clear to everyone, and what the school is going to undertake to prevent such incidents from happening in the future.

      Noone here intends to bully the school or anyone, but to make constructive although critical comments so as to help the school make improvements in management, or whatever aspect they would find failing. It’s good to notice that they already have thought that they have to check their English language homepage, and I hope Mr Uchino will realise that there are some people out there who are just frustrated for some completely unrelated reason, and who only look for something outlet to their discontent, and these people might write the hate mails etc. But these things should never be taken personally – unless these are the people that know Mr Uchino personally and have therefore the right to tell him what they think.

      We have to make it clear to Mr Uchino that people on this blog are not of the kind who take pleasure in bullying others, but are seriously concerned about disrespect to another person that seems to go unhindered in this society and is the basis of all the bullying here actually.

      ここでの批判的な発言などは弊社に関する「憎しみ」などの表れとしてではなく、何らかの「改善」の切っ掛けとして受け止めていただいて、事実関係を明確にした調査の率直なご報告を提示していただく事を目的としているブログであることを理解していただきたいものです。

    30. CB Says:

      Caution is encouraged because judgments made in public before complete and thorough investigation may be faulty and incur liability.

      We officially request to Mr.Arudou Debito,at the point of deframation of character, to delete your comment in your blog concluding our school or Ms.Goto is RACISM. You blogged untuth things without confirming the fact
      and evidence. Or please explain me why your can say our school is RACISM> with 10 international students?

      This is not a court of law, this is public opinion, and we are absolutely allowed to have an opinion. If you want to take that away….then we have little to discuss.

      If, as I have no reason to doubt based on what has been presented so far, it was said that “We don’t allow foreigners.” Then even in a case where they obviously do allow foreigners, the case that this is racism is obvious. We do allow foreigners, we just don’t allow your type of foreigner. “Obviously, as the wife and child of a diplomat, you don’t meet our standard.”

      Comment #4 is right on. This is not about nationality, this is about racisim. If the class was full, and if that was simply stated as a reason, then it would be a non-issue. What we have here is an issue where the wife of a diplomat was told that “foreigners are not allowed!”

      This shows how systemic the issue is. The secretary understands in her heart, that it is okay to refuse foreigners based on their being foreign. This is a reasonable excuse. It doesn’t matter if the class is full or not. The more reasonable and natural excuse is that the people applying are foreign. This is terrible. Please hear it again…

      Between the choice of:

      a) the class is full;
      b) We don’t accept foreigners;

      The natural choice is to say, “We don’t accept foreigners.” Somehow, that is more easily explained and more natural than “The class is full.”

      That is unbelievable!

      And the response to criticize this being made public is a selection of ad hominem attacks on the person who makes it public, combined with weak excuses, and moderately veiled threats.

      Though I personally believe in the market and its ability to get things sorted out (that means I believe in the right of business operators to refuse people for whateverr reason and I believe that based on those reasons people will choose to support a business or not) I do not believe in the threatening tone that has been taken towards Debito. Having said that I will say that should this school take any action towards this blog, I’ll back this fight, and you will find the defense is well funded.

      The school wants to be secretly unaccountable and threaten people who argue that? I suggest you stop that course of action right now, and instead you look internally to the injustice that has been done to a member of the foreign community. After doing so, if you continue to think that through thinly veiled threats and attacks you can attmept to bully this blog and the voice it speaks with then do what you feel you must. I know where my suppoort will be.

      If on the other hand, you use this opportunity to learn, and can respond by finding out exactly what happened, and then determining the reasons the story differ, and then finally present your side without trying to dismiss it as simply “The coloured opinion” of the person who runs this blog. Then I will openly listen. I will listen to both sides.

      There may simply be a misunderstanding. Misunderstandings happen. I would love for this to be so. I do not belive this to be the case, and the threatening tone that has been seen has done nothing to change that opinion. Look to the facts and present them openly and my opinion may change.

      You put your foot in it. Accept it, make it as right as you can and learn from it.

      Do not threaten the people who make your foibles public.

      Cheers,

      CB

    31. debito Says:

      From: info@mg-ballet.org
      Subject: Re: To Ms Gotoh: “Japanese Only” Ballet school in Azabu, Tokyo?
      Date: December 16, 2007 9:25:18 PM JST
      To: debito@debito.org

      有道出人様、

      この度、貴ブログのタイトルと#4のコメントを変更頂きましたことを確認させていただきました。
      他の部分に関しても引き続き検討いただければと存じます。

      私達には実際に脅しに近いメール等が届いていますので、ブログの内容で事実に基づかない事象を訂正いただきたいのです。
      他に何の意図もございません。

      よろしくお願いいたします。

      Love People, Love Arts, Love Ballet!
      Secretary < < MG International Arts of Ballet >>
      MG Hall B1F GOTO House 5-5-9 Minami-Azabu Minato-ku, Tokyo.

      =================

      –THE QUESTIONS ASKED ABOVE STILL HAVE NOT BEEN ANSWERED ABOUT THE FACTS OF THE CASE. WHEN YOU SAY THAT ブログの内容で事実に基づかない事象, WHAT FACTS ARE IN ERROR IN THIS BLOG ENTRY?

      DID YOU REFUSE THE CHILD, OR DID YOU NOT?

      JUST SAYING THAT THERE IS AN ERROR DOES NOT MAKE IT SO.

      PLEASE ANSWER TO THE BLOG, AND NOT TO ME INDIVIDUALLY. THIS WILL BE THE LAST TIME I ASK.

    32. icarus Says:

      I’ve been following this discussion since it started, and something doesn’t sit right with me. I feel Debito’s role in this conversation is important because he’s facilitating the discourse, but the forum in which this is taking place seems wrong to me. The comment section on a blog hardly seems the best place to have this all unfold, and there are many reasons why I feel this way:

      1) There really should be only three people involved in this dialog: Ms. Rahman, Ms. Goto and Mr. Arudo. If Debito wants to play the middle-man, that’s great, but there is too much noise (i.e. other posters) for this to come to a productive conclusion. Anonymous people should not be mixed in with the actual parties involved because it leads to confusion, and in many cases, the comments can be much more inflammatory than normal. Posters should be commenting on the progress of the situation, not affecting it directly.

      2) No one here knows how this whole thing is going to turn out, and it’s fine to say this blog thread will be removed if things get worked out, but once it has been indexed by search engines like Google and Yahoo, the damage is done. This is conversation is NEVER going away. When the debate is limited to phone calls, letters and faxes, paper records can be kept and those can be controlled. I feel that by having a blog it’s a great way to address issues quickly and efficiently – take for example the Black Sambo story that was recently posted – but unlike the Sambo issue which had pictures and other background information included from the very beginning, this has all come about because of one letter. Even in the Toyoko Inn story that Debito brought up, he was there first-hand to witness the situation – hence his experience was the verification of the story. I’m not questioning Ms. Rahman, but at the same time complaints as serious as this need to be carefully examined before permanently recording them on the internet.

      3) Especially in a situation like this where multiple languages are being thrown around, not only is it confusing, but it’s easy to make mistakes. There are no edit buttons available in this comment section so if a translation mistake is made you’re out of luck. Debito has the benefit of being the admin so he can go back and make corrections and edits, but when the other parties involved are leaving their side of the argument in the comment section they’re stuck with what they post. Some might believe that the first post is the one that should be seen because it’s probably their true feelings, but you would be silly to believe that people don’t make mistakes in the heat of the moment.

      4) Lastly, and I mean no offense to Debito, but the choice to use a bold, all-caps method of responding is a VERY bad idea. This stylistic choice is the real-life equivalent of yelling and should be used as such. I understand that you’re trying to make it easier for us to see your comments, but IF I STARTED WRITING ALL OF MY COMMENTS LIKE THIS YOU WOULD PROBABLY SEE A LOT OF PEOPLE RESPONDING IN A NEGATIVE WAY. For someone who has never visited this site before (i.e. Ms. Goto) this could be seen as very offensive because you are essentially yelling at her.

      So while I feel that this conversation NEEDS to take place to figure out what is going on, the method in which it is happening needs critical evaluation. This is a new blog and I love how it makes it easier to see what Debito’s current projects are, but in situations such as this, it is extremely open to misunderstandings.

      –YES, QUITE. THANK YOU FOR YOUR ADVICE AND COMMENTS. AND I ONLY WRITE IN CAPS TO OFFSET MY COMMENTS FROM THE ORIGINAL TEXT. IF THE SITUATION IS DELICATE, I WILL TAKE YOUR ADVICE AND WRITE IN REGULAR STYLE. DEBITO

    33. Rob Johnson Says:

      Hello,
      I’m the director of the foreign language division in the Minato Board Of Education.I’ve followed this story with great dismay and will report this situation to all of the PTA presidents for each elementary and junior high school in Minato-ku.

    34. MG International Arts of Ballet Says:

      Mr Arudou, to answer your last time question, we didn’t accept Mr and Mrs Hamid’s daughter. ( I think it is obvious from my previous comment.)

      We are sorry that the receptionist failed to get the message across.
      We apologize if there was something offending around her.
      We would like to meet Mrs Hamid personally and express our apology for the miscommunication if we could have a chance.

      As you mentioned in this blog, Mr.Hamid will contact us on this, I would like to explain to him first directly in detail,not to blog, what actually happend . This is my sincerity because we offended them actually.

      There was a comment to the effect that this blog is for the improvement. I sincerely hope so.

      But let me say one thing. I wonder if there is an atmosphere of the improvement when someone call us racist without hearing our story, when the blogger change the title and his comment without notice so that he could evade criticism. (I have a copy of old version before adding “Alleged” to your title or delete your comment partially on #4)
      I hear Mr Arudou was damaged at 2 channel when someone reported him unfarly with other hateful comments on the forum. Ironical, isn’t it?
      I am sure Mr Arudou is a fair human activist and I wish him best.

      Thank you.

      ======================
      –Thank you for responding to the blog and for answering the questions. I hope this never happens again at your school.

      As for the inference to the 2-Channel Lawsuit, the irony is that you would try to see them as similar. They are not.

      1) The poster(s) on 2-Channel was anonymous. On Debito.org she was not.
      2) The poster(s) on 2-Channel was kept anonymous by 2-Channel. On Debito.org she was not.
      3) The administration on 2-Channel at all stages of the interaction ignored all requests for action against the poster(s) for years, and never even answered. Clearly that didn’t happen on Debito.org.
      4) Most importantly, the poster(s) quoted me as saying something I never said. It was a lie, which makes it libelous. On Debito.org, however, we have repeatedly asked for clarifications of errors and clear lies in the report issued by the people refused entry into your school. None were forthcoming. There were no lies. There is no libel.
      5) I won against 2-Channel for libel two years ago in a Japanese court of law. This case would not win.

      So just admit you made a mistake in refusing Ms Rahman’s daughter, apologize (which you have done, albeit only for “communication problems”) and get on with life. And don’t do this sort of thing again.

    35. Drew Says:

      I wonder what the translator has to say about all this. It’s not really just “he said, she said”, there was indeed a 3rd adult in the room that day…

    36. James almost as far north as you can go without a re-entry permit Says:

      In my opinion as a school operator but not ballet.

      All the receptionist would have needed to say to the Rahmans if in fact the class was indeed full are about 4 simple sentences.

      1. We would love to have your daughter as a student.
      2. Unfortunately our pre-school ballet class is full/ or we only enroll new students once or twice a year if that was true.
      3. If your daughter can wait until we start our New Class we can accept her in (April).
      4. If your daughter can’t wait you can inquire at these other schools.

      The receptionist did not say these things. It looks like she made up her refusal as she went along. If she did it is the fault of Ms. Gotoh for providing at minimum inadequate training to her employees. If the receptionist based her refusal on the opinion that while the little Rahman girl might look cute in a ‘tutu’ but the class photograph would not look so ‘cute’. It is again the fault of Ms. Gotoh.

    37. Mike Says:

      Investigation to confirm statements and facts before making claims is aimed at preventing the publication of irresponsible claims.

      When an individual’s or organization’s reputation may suffer damage as a result of a claim, it is irresponsible to neglect confirmation of the facts of the case.

      I do not argue that action should be avoided for fear of legal response. What I argue here is procedural priority. Giving the school a chance to respond before going public, then publishing both the claim and response together would in my opinion have been the better way to go.

      –I AGREE. AND THAT WILL BE THE LESSON I TAKE HOME FROM THIS CASE. MEA CULPA.

    38. debito Says:

      Posting this to see if jpgs come out in Comments Section.

      Letter of protest from the Pakistani Embassy (click on image to expand in browser):

      Balletschool001.jpg

      If not, click here to return to top of blog entry:
      http://www.debito.org/index.php/?p=838
      Debito in Sapporo

    39. Zero Abrera Says:

      With the direction of the current state of affairs surrounding this issue, I really am hoping that this, along with many other events in the past, will be the tipping point of the change (for the better) that everyone here in this forum is hoping for Japan. Whether it was racism or not, it is obvious that it created a lasting impression on the people involved. And a dignitary at that (his voice will be heard, that’s for certain). So couple that with growing frustration among the the non-Yamato (NJ and doesnt look J), sometimes translating into violence (Homi incident), I wonder how much more damage Japan’s reputation will have to take before carefully reconsidering its policies?

      On another note:

      Will said:
      December 14th, 2007 at 8:37 pm

      Have you noticed that on the home page, there is even a picture of two cute little caucasian children dancing? With a name like MG International the SE Asian theory mentioned above sounds ominously likely.

      I wish to add some of my observations and opionions over the course of my stay here in Japan:
      1) the “Feel Live” ad of a horseracing event (or something like that) featured a Japanese strolling along with caucasians. lots of ‘em and just ‘em. possible subliminal message: only these kinds of people are entitled to “Feel Live”

      2) the Softbank commercials: Brad Pitt and Cameron Diaz. I’m hoping this is just coincidence… But the other one is more telling – a commercial featuring a kazoku comprising of a dog dad, a japanese mother, a japanese daughter and his black brother. possible subliminal message: go figure.

      3) My regular train rides to and from work –
      a) I often see that the Japanese can tolerate sitting next to a Caucasian or two, while me and my brother always enjoy (sarcasm) having ample elbow room. We’ve tried seating separately far from each other, tried riding different train cars on a specific schedule (people tend to choose the same spot to sit on in the train), but the results are the same.
      b) A month ago, on my way home, I rode in a train car full of foreigners. It turns out they were country representatives for a recently concluded event. There were a handful of Middle Easterners, a couple of South East Asian and the latter were mostly white people. And guess where the Japanese were seated/standing? Far from the middle easterners, and almost surrounding the Caucasians.
      c) My brother told me about a black man who took the same train route during rush hour. The man managed to get a seat; and just as he did, a Japanese man to his side stood up and chose not sit beside him. My brother was disgruntled just as the foreigner was, who remarked, “What the hell?!?..”

      I’m not trying to imply that it’s only us dark-skinned people who get harassed. I’m just saying that maybe because we’re less visually appealing, we seem to garner less respect and recognition as compared to the lighter skinned counterparts.

      Zero, Probably Japanese

    40. debito Says:

      UPDATE DEC 18, 2007:
      Balletschoolending.jpg
      ALLS WELL THAT ENDS WELL. ARUDOU DEBITO

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