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  • Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden”

    Posted by Dr. ARUDOU, Debito on January 11th, 2008

    Hi Blog. Mark Mino-Thompson reports below on his discovery of new “amendments” to the Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law), created in English and Japanese legalese and in generic format (meaning written by somebody else) for use in hotels nationwide. They are vague enough to make it seem as though a hotel could refuse a NJ lodging if the lodger poses an “unreasonable/unrational burden” (such as speaking a foreign language or offering beds instead of futons?). Copies of the laws linked below. Debito in Sapporo

    ============================
    From: Mark Mino-Thompson
    Subject: [Community] Hotels asking for passports from residents in Japan
    Date: January 8, 2008 11:22:07 AM JST
    To: The Community Yahoogroup

    My family and I went to an Onsen hotel over the holidays. While the reservation was in my name (My wife’s family name + my first name in katakana), my sister-in-law handled the front desk registration, as we were busy with our kids. They didn’t request to see my passport or other ID, although as I wasn’t checking in directly, I can’t say what would have happened if I had been. I did notice that they did have the standard multilingual “May we see your passport?” sign Debito has posted before, featured on the front desk.

    Later that day, while reading through the hotel information, I came across the Terms and Conditions for accommodation, printed in Japanese and English. Firstly, I noticed that much like others I’ve seen in various hotels over the past two years erroneously states in Article 8 that:

    “The guest shall register the following particulars at the front desk of the Ryokan/Hotel on the day of accommodation: (1) Name, age, sex, address, and occupation of the guest(s) (2) For non Japanese: nationality, passport number, port and date of entry in Japan
    newarticle8_eng.jpg
    newarticle8_jp.jpg

    This is nothing new. There have been many accounts from others about this error in Japanese hotel documentation. However, the Japanese version also seems to be the same wording as in English.

    I’ve attached a scan of the original documents in the files section of the Community yahoogroups site. (Too big to put here as image or thumbnail–see them at Debito.org here:)

    English: http://www.debito.org/newhotellaws2008eng.jpg

    Japanese:
    http://www.debito.org/newhotellaws2008j.jpg

    Furthermore, as Debito has mentioned and documented before, the Hotel law article 5 states that accomodation can only be refused by the hotel in the case of:

    1) a health issue involving contagious disease, 2) a clear and present endangerment of public morals, or 3) because all rooms are full.

    However, this hotel terms and conditions Article 5 has additional (new?), disturbing provisions:

    Article 5 (Refusal of Accommodation Contracts)

    The Ryokan/Hotel may not accept the conclusion of an Accommodation Contract under any of the following cases:

    (1) When the application for accommodation does not conform with these Terms and Conditions

    (2) When the Ryokan/Hotel is fully booked and no room is available

    (3) When the Guest seeking accommodation is deemed liable to conduct himself in a manner that will contravene the laws or act against the public order or good morals

    (4) When the guest is clearly detected as carrying an infectious disease

    (5) When the Ryokan/Hotel is requested to assume an unreasonable burden in regard to his accommodation [shukuhaku ni kanshi gouriteki na han'i o koeru futan o motomerareta toki--literally, "at times when the burden demanded in terms of staying has superseded the bounds of rationality/reasonability"--there we go with that easily-abusable "gouriteki sabetsu" "rational discrimination" concept again...]

    (6) When the Ryokan/Hotel is unable to provide accommodation due to natural calamities, disfunction of the facilities and or other unavoidable causes, or

    (7) When the provisions of Article 5 of Iwate Metropolitan/Prefecture Ordinance are applicable.

    newarticle5_eng.jpg
    newarticle5_jp.jpg
    As you can see, clause number 1 seems to me to have a rather broad range of powers to refuse accommodation. Fail to give up your passport/ID to the front desk and we can deny you a room because you’re not conforming to Article 7 of our Accommodation Contract.

    Clause number 5 also is troubling to me. What constitutes an “unreasonable burden” and who decides? Does having Japanese customers complaining about foreign bathers and demanding refunds allow the hotel to refuse non-Japanese out of fear of losing customers? Does not having English-speaking (or other language) staff cause “unreasonable burden” to rural hotels and allow them to turn away people as well?

    Clause 7 I haven’t researched as of yet, but it seems that ordinances created at the prefectural level may have the power to refuse others as well.

    In addition, these Terms and Conditions, similar to the multilingual front desk signs made by the Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare (that Debito has mentioned) seem to be quite professionally made. They are professionally printed on glossy paper, refer to “the Ryokan/Hotel” instead of the actual hotel name and the fact that the English legalese is high and above the ability of most English-speaking hotel clerks would suggest that they were made at either the prefectural (or more likely national) level for all hotels to use.

    Any thoughts or comments on my interpretation of this document? Any suggestions or a course of action to get these documents corrected to accurately reflect the new passport ordinance for non-resident visitors and the hotel law itself?

    Regards, Mark Mino-Thompson
    ENDS

    13 Responses to “Mark Mino-Thompson on “updated” Hotel Laws: Refusal OK if “unreasonable/unrational burden””

    1. TJJ Says:

      These provisions are broad enough to catch us all.

      So, provided your Japanese is up to scratch, just fill out your name, age, sex (is this necessary?), address and occupation. If they ask for your passport, just tell them you’re Japanese and watch the fun start.

      “Of course I don’t have my passport with me! I’m Japanese!”
      “Why do I have to prove to you that I’m Japanese?”
      “Do you make everyone prove that they are Japanese?”

    2. Mark Mino-Thompson Says:

      One thing that I didn’t stress in my original report was the question what legality with these Terms & Conditions. Is it just for the hotel to use? Can an individual hotel’s Terms & Conditions supercede the The Ryokan Gyouhou (Hotel Management Law)? Has the law been changed (particularly Article 5) either officially or through a non-legislative “Shorei” without us hearing about it? Is there any way to confirm this?

    3. adam w Says:

      yes but unless you put your name in kanji they will know youre not
      japanese..
      if you have got a kanji name (which is legal) you could put that on,but of course under japanese catch 22 laws ,if you have a japanese spouse and kids with you they are not allowed to have a foreigners name in kanji ,and have to put your name in katakana..
      madness.

      –”UNLESS YOU PUT YOUR NAME IN KANJI…” NOT NECESSARILY. THERE ARE JAPANESE WITH KATAKANA NAMES (VERY OLD PEOPLE, FOR EXAMPLE), AS WELL AS NATURALIZED JAPANESE (C.W.ニコール, ラモス瑠偉), AND AS YOU MENTION, KATAKANA LAST NAMES FOR SPOUSES OF NJ. JAPANESE SOCIETY IS A LOT MORE COMPLEX THAN MOST PEOPLE LET ON–SO YOU’VE JUST GOTTA PERSIST IN INSISTING.

    4. icarus Says:

      I have a quick question -

      How do those of you who have changed your nationality to Japanese get by without constant harassment?

      I’m totally serious with this question. I’ve been curious about how people are dealing with the whole paradox of “I’m Japanese but I have to prove it.” I’m sure being Japanese helps with things like getting loans but I can’t even imagine the headaches you must go through. How do you even prove you’re Japanese?

      –DEVELOP A THICK SKIN, AND BE PREPARED TO INSIST ON THE REALITY OF YOUR SITUATION OVER AND OVER AGAIN. IT BECOMES A HOBBY, AFTER A WHILE… JAPANESE LANGUAGE IS THE KEY FOR CONVINCING. AT LEAST IN MY EXPERIENCE. DEBITO

    5. HO Says:

      Following are related law and ordinance.

      http://law.e-gov.go.jp/cgi-bin/idxsearch.cgi
      旅館業法
      第五条  営業者は、左の各号の一に該当する場合を除いては、宿泊を拒んではならない。
      一  宿泊しようとする者が伝染性の疾病にかかつていると明らかに認められるとき。
      二  宿泊しようとする者がとばく、その他の違法行為又は風紀を乱す行為をする虞があると認められるとき。
      三  宿泊施設に余裕がないときその他都道府県が条例で定める事由があるとき。
      Hotel Management Law
      Article 5.
      A hotel may not decline accommodations unless one of the following holds.
      1. It is clearly recognized that the proposed lodger is infected with contagious disease.
      2. The proposed lodger is likely to indulge himself in gambling or other unlawful or immoral behavior.
      3. The hotel has no available capacity, or such conditions as stipulated by prefectural ordinance exist.

      https://www3.e-reikinet.jp/iwate-ken/d1w_reiki/mokuji_bunya.html
      岩手県旅館業法施行条例
      第12条 法第5条第3号の規定により宿泊を拒むことができる事由は、宿泊しようとする者がでい酔等により他の宿泊者に著しく迷惑をおよぼすおそれがあることとする。
      Iwate Prefectural Ordinance on Hotel Management Law
      Article 12.
      The conditions stipulated by the article 5 item 3 of Hotel Management Law are that the proposed lodger is likely to be extremely bothersome to other lodgers due to intoxication or other similar reasons.

      If the terms of lodging contract are against the Hotel Management Law, the law will prevail. I think the hotel will argue that their contract is in compliance with law and that their rejection is based on the “unlawful or immoral behavior” clause of the law.

      The “unreasonable burden” in the Japanese version of the terms and conditions is about extortion.

      Strange thong about the hotel contract is that the English version cites article 5 of prefectural ordinance, the Japanese version cites article 3 of prefectural ordinance, but neither of them is about rejection of guests.

      Icarus: “How do you even prove you’re Japanese?”
      Passport, drivers license, koseki, etc.

    6. TJJ Says:

      adam w

      “NOT NECESSARILY. THERE ARE JAPANESE WITH KATAKANA NAMES …”

      Exactly, and the relatively unexplored territory of naturalized citizens with names in katakana was, of course, what my suggestion was intended to exploit.

    7. adam w Says:

      point accepted-but can anyone explain why a foriegner can put his name in kanji and his japanese wife and children cant?

    8. Mark in Yayoi Says:

      Icarus: “How do you even prove you’re Japanese?”
      Passport, drivers license, koseki, etc.

      Why would a Japanese citizen carry aronud a passport when staying in a hotel domestically? And a koseki copy? No one does that.

      Driver’s licenses used to contain the honseki, but aren’t there new ones which don’t? And not so many people in urban areas drive.

    9. DR Says:

      Wow! The powers that be have really gone out of their way to make life difficult, haven’t they? I cannot imagine people from overseas coming here for some R & R anymore. Everything is such a hassle. It appears as if they are trying to repel the foreign barbarian invaders, by making everything difficult and unwelcoming.
      I have one ear to the news as I’m typing. ABC in NY has just announced that the DHS has just started requiring all US citizens or Green Card holders to obtain government issued ID cards. Ostensibly it’s for counter-terrorism reasons, but also to verify who is legally in the country. No one will be permitted aboard a domestic flight, or even a Greyhound bus, unless they comply. (Papiern! Schnell!)
      So, both Japan and the US of A. have now firmly welded the ‘You’re NOT WELCOME’ signs up at their points of entry, and then at various checkpoints internally. I have advised all family and friends not to come.

      On a more practical note, sandpaper applied lightly and for about ten days in advance of a return, reduces fingerprints to an unreadable level without signs of deliberate alteration. I just returned through Chubu NGO. No special gates there. Only two ‘Foreign Passport/re-Entry Permit Holders’ gates open, while there were twelve for ‘Japanese Passports’and they cleared quickly. Average time for a gaijin, 3-6 minutes EACH! After trying all fingers and thumbs, I got through the exasperated guy’s portal with a gruff, ‘Ah, dozo!’ Not sure if they got a print or not. Won’t be much though! (I just about puked though when I saw the machine screen festooned with all the happy pictures of Mt. Fuji, temples in Kyoto and Nara, cherry blossoms and the like. I thought, wow, if it were only just like the pictures they could have my toe-prints too!) Customs were getting all salivated when I got there too. I gave my usual reply to ‘What’s in the bag?’ ‘Lots of dirty laundry, go ahead!’ I motioned to open the bag, and the guy flinched back in disgust. ‘That won’t be necessary,’ he said. Works every time. Yokoso!

    10. Drew Says:

      I guess next time I stay at a hotel, if they give me any trouble, I’m gonna be an honorary naturalized Japanese. My driving license doesn’t have the honseki, and that’s the only thing that I carry that a japanese person would typically carry to prove his nationality…

    11. TJJ Says:

      Adam W

      “point accepted-but can anyone explain why a foriegner can put his name in kanji and his japanese wife and children cant?”

      Is that really the case? I didn’t know about that. Very strange.

      –I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHAT ADAM IS REFERRING TO EITHER. GIVE US AN EXAMPLE, ADAM.

    12. adam w Says:

      sorry to reply late i only just saw it.
      you should ask ryan h. as he took it to the family court in yamagata.
      im not sure if i should be posting about it without his permission
      as its his private business and he obv knows more about it,but basicallyhe has changed his name into kanji on legal docs, but they wont let his wife and kids do it because they are japanese-so they have to keep it in katakana (go figure)
      I will ask him to post on it..
      its ridiculous

    13. Ryan Hagglund Says:

      It looks like this thread has already died, but I’ll just chime in quickly. Adam W is referring to my situation, where I have a kanji name officially registered, but my wife and children are unable to use it because they are Japanese. I think it is just a symptom of what happens when policies aren’t thoroghly thought through and the concept of mixed-citizenship families is not taken into consideration. Along a similar vein is the talk about the proposed changes to the Foreign Registration Card system. I’ve read that families will now be registered together, but that Japanese and non-Japanese will still be registered separately. Well, that does me a whole lot of good being that the rest of my family is Japanese.

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