2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) still mentions Debito.org’s works: “Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading ‘Japanese only’.”

Here’s something that makes me smile.  The 2018 United Nations CERD Report (CERD/C/JPN/10-11) includes something that might not otherwise be there — had Debito.org not taken up the task of describing and cataloging discrimination for the past 25 years (back when people were even denying that racial discrimination actually happened in Japan!).  Everything mentioned in the UN excerpt below is covered in my book “Embedded Racism in Japan” (Lexington Books, 2015).  But especially close to my heart is in enlarged text below. One of my lifetime goals is leaving the planet a better place than when I arrived. This feels like proof that we at Debito.org have done something positive.

UNITED NATIONS: 33.The Committee is concerned that:
(a)Non-citizens have reportedly been denied housing and employment because they are foreign nationals;
(b)Foreign nationals and individuals with a foreign appearance have reportedly been denied entry to and services of certain privately owned facilities like hotels and restaurants that otherwise serve the public, including through the posting of signage reading “Japanese only”;
[…]
34. Bearing in mind the Committee’s general recommendation No. 30, the Committee recommends that the State party:
(a) Ensure access to housing and employment to non-citizens and foreign nationals without discrimination;
(b) Create and enforce legislation against the posting of discriminatory signs and the practice of excluding public services by privately owned facilities, such as hotels and restaurants, to persons on the basis of being a foreigner or of foreign appearance; […]

“Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.

Here are some more “Japanese Only” signs that have appeared in Hokkaido (and nationwide) since the original ones back on 1993 that occasioned the Otaru Onsens Case. This time they are gracing restaurants in the eatery area of Chitose, a major city just outside of Sapporo that hosts Hokkaido’s largest international airport. Courtesy of Keiron, taken June 21 and June 24, 2021. Details follow.  Enjoy the omotenashi of un-Embedded Racism.

1) Yakitori Restaurant “Kawasemi”
北海道 千歳市 千代田町 2-1-1 1F, Ph: 0123-27-6700
(Photo of exclusionary sign and storefront here)

2) Restaurant “Yokaro”
北海道 千歳市 幸町 1-1 新橋通り商店街 Ph: 0123-24-5448
(Photo of exclusionary sign and storefront here)

Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)

Steak House “Bronco”.
Address 850-0852 Nagasaki, Yorozuya machi 5-4
Phone 095-825-9377
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ステーキハウス-ブロンコ-206688849396493/
Sign says: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.”
This is in Kanko dori, the main downtown shopping area in Nagasaki. Online photos of the interior show a Confederate flag on display.

COMMENT: Another one to add to Debito.org’s collection of “Japanese Only” signs.  In addition to all of the other places archived both here on the Debito.org Blog and on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments, it looks like the owner of Bronco is so much of a fan of America that he’s adopting America’s long history of racism, down to the Confederate Flag (supporters of which would historically no doubt have supported America’s Asian exclusion laws, WWII internment camps for Japanese, and other measures that would exclude Non-Whites like him).

The interesting thing about this bigot is that his racism has evolved with the times.  No longer is it a matter of excluding people because they don’t “look Japanese” or “don’t understand Japanese culture” etc., etc.  Now it’s a matter of infection. That’s funny, actually. Given Japan’s abysmally-low vaccination rate, vaccinated foreign tourists are probably less contagious than his regular Wajin clientele. But no matter. He’s just reflecting Japan’s incredibly unscientific border controls and the narrative that Covid is exogenous. Given the new Eek variant possibly incubated from Japan’s former honor-system quarantines for Japanese only, it’s not anymore. But any excuse for a bigot.
UPDATE: EXCLUSIONARY SIGNS ARE TAKEN DOWN

Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.

As expected (since this sort of thing is happening worldwide), the bigots unfettered by any laws against racial discrimination in Japan are doing what they do best — bigotry — portraying Covid-19 as a “foreign” virus, and making sure that foreigners don’t get the same public service or protections against it:

Hankyoreh: According to a Mar. 11 report in the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) newspaper Choson Sinbo, the city of Saitama in Saitama Prefecture excluded Saitama Korean Kindergarten and private academies from its plans to distribute 240,000 of the city’s stockpile of masks to employees working in daycare centers, kindergarten, after-school academies, and senior citizen facilities in Saitama. Upon learning of this, the principal of Saitama Korean Kindergarten inquired with the city on Mar. 10 and was told by a city official that the Korean kindergarten “is not considered a facility under Saitama city guidance and oversight, and instruction cannot be provided in cases where the masks are used inappropriately,” the newspaper reported. […] Kyodo News also reported a Saitama city employee as suggesting that masks might be “sold off” if provided to Korean kindergartens.

Kotaku: Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, is only allowing Japanese customers due to COVID-19 concerns. The owner (pictured) claims that this is not discrimination but his duty to protect his family, his employees and his loyal customers. At Ueno Sanji, a ramen restaurant in Tokyo, an English language sign was posted reading, “Sorry!! Japanese Only Sorry!!” […] The above tweet reads: “Starting today, as a countermeasure to the coronavirus, [this restaurant] is Japanese only. I have a responsibility to protect my family, my staff and Sanji junkies. Please understand that this is not discrimination.” On Twitter, people replied in Japanese that this was in fact discrimination and even hate speech. Others pointed out that viruses don’t pay attention to nationality.

Finally, Tokyo NJ Resident Sam Byford tweeted a photo from a local establishment with a sign in English refusing service to all foreigners due to the Coronavirus, with a sign in Japanese below advising customers that disinfecting measures will be taken but the shop was still open to them. A request to Byford for more information on the location of this establishment received no reply.

“Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.

Message to BBS: ‘I was in the Dotonbori area in Osaka for the New Years break. My friend and I were hungry and decided to go to an Izakaya there rather than walk a bit. Given that it’s a huge touristy area we were already expecting sneaky charges and overpriced food, but we were hungry. Anyways, we pay and notice that the price is higher than we expected, but we were super tired and didn’t feel like doing the math. An hour later we’re on the train headed to Kobe and we look at the receipt, we notice a Gaijin fee of 300 yen per person. The service charge was BS too, but somehow less surprising. Has anybody experienced something similar.”

COMMENT: A reader of this BBS sent Debito.org a copy of the receipt, and yes, “Gaikokujin Tsukidashi” (Appetizers for Foreigners) is clearly listed. Debito telephoned the restaurant to investigate…

Japanese hotel and restaurant bars all Non-Japanese — in Bangalore, India! And it’s shut down by the local Indian govt. within days

This case you might have heard about already, but in terms that Debito.org has talked about for decades, there are no surprises here: A “Japanese Only” Japanese restaurant has been discovered turning away “foreigners” in a foreign land — India. Well, turning away all “non-Japanese”. Because, you see, “Japanese” is not a function of nationality. It’s a function of racialized tribalism.

In other words, no matter where you are in the world, under Japanese binary sensibilities, there are two types of people: Japanese and NJ — not Japanese and “foreigners”. Overseas, Japanese technically become foreigners. But not in exported Japanese contexts such as Japanese restaurants. So again, Japanese society’s exclusionary view of the world anytime, anywhere, becomes perfectly understandable when looked at through this binary rubric.

Fortunately, not all societies let this sort of racism pass without comment or sanction. And India, despite being saddled with a horrible caste system, is no exception. Within weeks after exposure, it was partially shut down after notice from the Greater Bangalore City Corporation on explicit charges of racial discrimination — something Japan simply cannot do. Articles follow.

Bangalore Mirror: Unabashedly racist, Uno-In Hotel bars all other nationals; ironically, its head and staff are Indians. The hotel makes no bones about it. Its website categorically states: Located in Bangalore, we are a hotel exclusively for Japanese. Situated on Langford Cross Road in Shanthinagar, Hotel Uno-In, which also houses a Japanese rooftop restaurant called Teppen, has a policy of not allowing access to Indians, or for that matter, any other non-Japanese nationals. […] Based on an incident that happened a few months back, these reporters visited the hotel with a colleague and got a first-hand taste of the discriminatory attitude. The moment they stepped foot into the lobby and expressed a desire to have lunch at the hotel’s rooftop restaurant Teppen, they were told ‘Indians’ were not allowed. Below is a transcript of the recorded conversation that took place with Nic U Iqbal, MD and CEO of Nippon Infrastructure which runs the hotel…

Mail Online India: A ‘Japanese only’ hotel, which allegedly did not entertain Indians and other foreign nationals in its restaurant, has been closed down by the Greater Bangalore City Corporation (GBCC) on charges of racial discrimination.

“Japanese Only” exclusionary Tentake tempura restaurant in Asakusa, Tokyo, allegedly due to NJ “hygiene” issues

Another to add to the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments. This time, a restaurant, as submitter YT notified me via email and photographs:

====================================
April 5, 2014, YT wrote:

Please would you mind helping me? Today I went to a restaurant in Asakusa with my wife and some Japanese friends. They didn’t allow us to enter, because me and my wife are not Japanese. In the entrance there is a paper that says “Japanese only” in English, and other advertisement in Japanese. My Japanese friend, entered to the restaurant and kindly asked the manager if me and my wife could enter, too. The manager said they doesn’t allow foreigners, no matter if they speak Japanese nor have been living in Japan for long.

I hope you can help me, and write some article about this discrimination. I think discrimination is one of the worst problem in our world, so we must stop it immediately. Thank you for your time!!!
====================================
Photos of sign, storefront, and shopfront noren: (NB: The Japanese below the JAPANESE ONLY text on the sign reads, “The inside of this restaurant is very small. In order to avoid accidents, we are sorry, but we refuse entry to all children below the age of 5. We ask for our customers understanding and cooperation.”)

Contact: “Ten-take” tempura restaurant, Tokyo-to Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-4-1, phone 03-3841-5519

COMMENT: I called Tentake today to confirm with the management that yes, they do have a “Japanese Only” restriction. Their reasons given: 1) Hygiene (eiseimen), which were, when asked, issues of “foreigners” not taking off their shoes when entering, 2) NJ causing problems (meiwaku) to other customers, and 3) a language barrier, as in NJ not speaking Japanese. Basic Otaru Onsen exclusionary excuses. When asked if he didn’t think these were prejudicial generalizations about all NJ, he said repeatedly that he couldn’t deal with “foreigners” (tai’ou o shi kirenai). Then he hung up.

That’s as much information as I could get out of the management regarding the reasons for the exclusionism. Readers who feel that this restaurant is behaving inappropriately for a business open to the general public are welcome to phone them at the number above, or drop by and say so directly. Douzo. ARUDOU, Debito

UPDATE APRIL 18, 2014: The sign is down and the shop is open to NJ customers again.

Zakzak headlines that NJ part-time staff flee Yoshinoya restaurant chain, and somehow threaten its profitability

More on the Open Season on NJ. Here is Internet news site Zakzak headlining that Yoshinoya, famous beef bowl chain restaurant, is being affected by the “big-volume escaping of NJ part-timers”. It apparently has lost a quarter of its NJ staff (over 800 souls) fleeing from the fears of radiation from the Tohoku Disasters. Then Zakzak gives us the mixed news that Yoshinoya is still profitable compared to its losses the same period a year ago, but is expected to take a hit to its profits from the Disasters.

Not sure how that relates, but again, the headline is that NJ are fleeing and that it’s raising doubts about whether the company is still “okay”. Even though Zakzak notes that the company is filling in the gaps with Japanese employees (er, so no worries, right? The Disasters, not the alleged NJ flight, are the bigger threat to solvency, no?). So… journalistically, we’ll hang the newsworthiness of a company’s profitability on the peg of “escaping NJ”?

If we’re going to have this much NJ bashing, how about an acknowledgement of how much NJ labor has meant to Japan and how we’re thankful for it, so please don’t leave?

Nah, easier to bash them. Takes the heat off the company for their own variably profitable business practices, and creates more attractive headlines for the media. It’s a win-win situation against the bullied and disenfranchised minority.

Hate crimes in Fukui: Car burned, “Gaijin GET OUT” message left at local mosque; flagburning at Indian restaurant

Kyodo: A car in front of a mosque in the city of Fukui was found on fire early Wednesday and sign saying “Foreign people [gaijin] GET OUT” written in a mix of Japanese characters and English letters was found posted at the two-story building, police said Thursday.

The possible arson case follows an incident at an Indian restaurant 1.5 km away last month, when a flag was burned and a similar sign posted, they said.

The burning station wagon, owned by a Malaysian student, was discovered at around 1:15 a.m. in the parking lot of the mosque, according to police. There were no injuries.

Japan Times on a “Non-Japanese Only” sushi restaurant in Okinawa

I had heard numerous reports about a place down in Okinawa that turned away Japanese customers (or, rather, charged them an exorbitant fee for membership) in favor of NJ. It made print today in the Japan Times Zeit Gist Column. Excerpted here.

Now, while I can’t personally condone this activity, I will admit I have been waiting for somebody to come along and do this just to put the shoe on the other foot. Let’s see how people who defended the exclusionism of “troublemakers” who just happened to be foreign-looking (hiya Gregory Clark) in the Otaru Onsens Case et.al., react to somebody excluding “troublemakers” who just happen to be Japanese. And watch the hypocrisy and “Japanese as perpetual victim” arguments blossom.

If this winds up getting “Japanese Only” signs down everywhere, this will have been a useful exercise. Somehow, I don’t think it will, however. Japanese in Japan are never supposed to be on the losing end of a debate on NJ issues.

Southland Times on how New Zealand deals with restaurant exclusions

As another template about “what to do if…” (or rather, a model for what the GOJ should be more proactive about) when you get a restaurant refusing customers on the basis of race, ethnicity, national background, etc., here’s an article on what would happen in New Zealand. Here’s a Human Rights Commission and a media that actually does some follow-up, unlike the Japanese example. Then again, I guess Old Bigoted Gregory would rail against this as some sort of violation of locals’ “rights to discriminate”. Or that it isn’t Japan, therefore not special enough to warrant exceptionalism. But I beg to disagree, and point to this as an example of how to handle this sort of situation.

Humor: Cracked Mag Online on unappetizing restaurants

More humor for a national holiday: Some restaurants (according to Cracked Magazine, which I thought was a poor second cousin to Mad Magazine, until I started reading the cutting online version) that defeat their purpose by offering food in very unappetizing ways.

Now I don’t believe for a second that there is a place in Roppongi that allows you to diddle your meal before you eat it (in fact, I found this site due to a trackback to Debito.org exposing the source as the deep-sixed Mainichi Waiwai). But it’s still a good read, and I love the (what seems to be verified) idea of airborne meals even if it’s a hoax.

Update to Kitakyushu Exclusionary Restaurant: Calls from City Int’l Affairs Desk and Bureau of Human Rights

Re Kitakyushu exclusionary restaurant: City called me to tell me they the manager, and got assurances that this sort of thing will not happen again. So did the local Bureau of Human Rights. Good. Thanks. This is shaping up into a classic case of how to deal with this problem through administrative channels.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER AUGUST 16, 2021: SPECIAL ON THE TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS

Table of Contents:
PREVIEW: Visible Minorities: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, Shingetsu News Agency, Aug 16, 2021, by Debito Arudou
1) “Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath?
2) “Japanese Only” signs up in two Hokkaido Chitose city restaurants, Yakitori “Kawasemi” and Shokuji-dokoro “Yokaro”, June 2021.
… and finally…
3) My SNA Visible Minorities 24: “The Tokyo Olympics Trap”, on how these Games are harming Japan’s minorities, and how the IOC is harming Japan.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 17, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) Kyodo: “300 people per day re-entering Japan breaking COVID self-quarantine”. But NJ report government incompetence, which punishes them disproportionately.
2) Senaiho’s final update on Yamanashi School Bullying Lawsuit: They basically lost, because bullying is an “expected and normal” part of Japanese Education (UPDATED with full court decision text)
3) Problematically racialized Education Ministry-approved primary-school “Morals” textbook: “Shōgaku Dōtoku: Yutaka na Kokoro 1-nen” (Kōbun Shoin, 2020)
4) Nagasaki Yorozuya-machi Steak House “Bronco” sign: “Foreign people are forbidden to enter this restaurant to prevent infection.” Exclusionary racism evolves with Covid. (UPDATED: Signs are down)
And finally…
5) SNA Visible Minorities 21: “A Retrospective on 25 Years of Activism”, April 19, 2021

Harvard Prof. Ramseyer criticized for poorly-researched revisionist articles on Japan’s WWII “Comfort Women” sexual slavery. Actually, Ramseyer’s shoddy and intemperate research is within character, based on my experience.

Making waves in Japan Studies recently is Harvard professor J. Mark Ramseyer’s recent academic publication in the March 2021 issue of the International Review of Law and Economics on Japan’s WWII “Comfort Women” sexual slavery. He claims, in a companion article in right-wing Sankei media group’s Japan Forward, “pure fiction”.  Quote:  “But the claims about enslaved Korean comfort women are historically untrue. The Japanese army did not dragoon Korean women to work in its brothels. It did not use Korean women as sex slaves. The claims to the contrary are simply ー factually ー false.”

While this issue is a contentious one (and my standpoint on it is visible in the way I phrased it), I will leave it up to the experts to opine on what’s wrong with Ramseyer’s claims, his extremely flawed research, and its implications for the field in general. The Asia-Pacific Journal–Japan Focus is a good place to start. Quoting Prof. Dudden (link).

Instead, what I CAN talk about is how J. Mark Ramseyer and I have butted heads (in a sense) in the past. When scholar Ivan P. Hall released his landmark book “Cartels of the Mind” in 1997, exposing Japan’s “intellectual closed shops” in the fields of academic faculty (“Academic Apartheid”), legal practices, journalism, and higher education in general, it sent shockwaves throughout US-Japan Relations (and really launched my activism in earnest).  You can read all about the issues raised as pertain to unequal treatment of Japan’s NJ academics here (link).

Somehow, the reputable Journal of Japanese Studies published a hatchet-job review (including typos) from Ramseyer (fresh from getting his new job *with tenure* at Harvard Law) that was dismissive, snarky, and even poorly researched (self-acknowledging that his impressions are “haphazard”; one source is a sample size of one from a Christmas card!).  According to Debito.org’s Archives from 1999, Ramseyer wrote: (continues). My point is that this type of sloppy and politically-motivated research is within character for Harvard Professor Ramseyer.

UPDATE:  FEB 25, 2021: According to the Yonhap News Agency, Ramseyer has done it again in a separate new academic paper, claiming that the Ethnic Koreans massacred during the Japan 1923 Kanto Earthquake were in fact marauding gangs who “torched buildings, planted bombs, poisoned water supplies” and murdered and raped people!

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 20, 2020

Table of Contents:
1) Calling Debito.org Readers: How is life for you in COVID Japan?
2) COVID-inspired racism as NJ Residents are separated and “othered” from fellow Japan taxpayers by Dietmembers and bureaucrats
3) Japan’s reaction to coronavirus: Bigots excluding NJ residents from restaurants. Saitama Korean schools denied protective mask distribution because they might “sell off” the masks.
4) APJ-Japan Focus’s Jeff Kingston on PM Abe and postponement of 2020 Tokyo Olympics; plus the inhumanity of the Japanese Govt.
And finally…
5) Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020

SNA Visible Minorities Col 6: “Carlos Ghosn’s Escape from Japan Was the Right Move”, Jan 20, 2020 (UPDATED with full text)

I have to admit more than a twinge of sympathy for Carlos Ghosn’s Great Escape.

Ghosn, the former CEO of Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Renault, was arrested in November 2018 on the initial suspicion of falsifying his compensation levels, and subjected to more than a year of Japan’s “hostage justice.” That is, he was held hostage to a judicial system that detains you until you confess to a crime, and subjects you to days, weeks, months, or conceivably even years of interrogation and tortuous conditions until you crack. Understandably, most do crack, and Japan’s conviction rate after indictment is famously more than 99%.

But as you have probably heard, at the end of December Ghosn suddenly turned up in Lebanon, one of three places he has citizenship. Out on bail in Japan, he made a daring escape that people are still trying to piece together, including man-sized musical instrument cases, an uncharacteristic lack of Japanese border security, and a mysterious visit to Lebanon’s president by Japan’s state minister for foreign affairs mere days before Ghosn jumped bail.

Ghosn is now making good on his threat to expose everything that happened to him while in custody. His multilingual press conference in Beirut two weeks ago was breathtaking to watch, full of documentation, pointed fingers, and hot-tongued accusations of the human rights denied to Japan’s incarcerated.

This has been covered exhaustively worldwide, so what more is there to say? My perspective comes as a person who also tried to change Japanese rules and practices, and found that The System similarly fought back dirty…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2020/01/20/visible-minorities-carlos-ghosns-escape-from-japan-was-the-right-move/

“Visible Minorities”: My first monthly column for the Shingetsu News Agency, Aug 19, 2019 (FULL TEXT)

I have a new monthly column at the progressive Shingetsu News Agency, the only place left (following the rightward editorial shift at The Japan Times) offering independent journalism on Japan in Japan. I stake out what the column space will be about, with the full text now online at Debito.org more than a year after publication.

Visible Minorities: Debito’s New Column for the Shingetsu News Agency
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, AUG 19, 2019 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMNS

My name is Debito Arudou (or Arudou Debito, if you prefer), that guy from Sapporo who started writing about Japan from the early 1990s on a long-dead mailing list called the Dead Fukuzawa Society. I wrote so much there that I decided to archive my writings on a webpage. Debito.org soon blossomed into an award-winning reference site on life and human rights in Japan, and later a platform for newspaper articles and fieldwork research on racial discrimination.

After moonlighting at places like the now-defunct Asahi Evening News and Japan Today, I began writing in 2002 a column for Japan Times, first under Zeit Gist and then Just Be Cause. Decades later, here we are with a new monthly column at the Shingetsu News Agency, under the title Visible Minorities. I chose this title for two reasons…

US State Dept. 2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, Japan: Highlights for Debito.org Readers

Every year, the US State Department issues its “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”.  As highlighted by the Shingetsu News Agency, the 2018 Report on Japan came out last March.  Now while it’s quite rich for the US to be reporting on other countries (but not, notably, itself) while it has an ongoing human-rights debacle for detained foreign entrants and asylum seekers (and their children) around its southern border, this Report has been cited over the years as authoritative (and it has also included the work of Debito.org and others). So here are the highlights on issues pertaining to Debito.org.  As you can see, a lot of information is glossed over.  Here are some highlighted sections for Debito.org Readers:

2018 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Japan, March 13, 2019

Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
D. ARBITRARY ARREST OR DETENTION
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Pretrial Detention

Section 2. Respect for Civil Liberties
A. FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND PRESS
Freedom of Expression
D. FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT, INTERNALLY DISPLACED PERSONS, PROTECTION OF REFUGEES, AND STATELESS PERSONS
Access to Asylum
Access to Basic Services
Elections and Political Participation
Participation of Minorities

Section 5. Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
Government Human Rights Bodies

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
International Child Abductions
National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

Section 7. Worker Rights
B. PROHIBITION OF FORCED OR COMPULSORY LABOR
E. ACCEPTABLE CONDITIONS OF WORK

SCMP: “Japan: now open to foreign workers, but still just as racist?” Quotes Debito.

SCMP: Activists point out, however, that the Japanese government’s new regulations that relax visa requirements for workers from abroad mean that there will soon be tens of thousands of additional foreigners living in Japanese communities.

“It’s a net positive that Japan is bringing over more people, since that may help normalise the fact that non-Japanese are contributing to Japanese society,” said Debito Arudou, author of Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination.“ But it is disappointing that Japan still is not doing the groundwork necessary to make these newcomers want to stay and contribute permanently,” he said.

“The new visa regime still treats these non-Japanese entrants as ‘revolving-door’ workers, with no clear path to permanent residency or citizenship.“ And – as the surveys seem to indicate – one fundamental flaw in these plans is that non-Japanese are insufficiently protected from the bigotry found in all societies,” Arudou said.

“Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination, remaining the only major industrialised society without one. Even government mechanisms ostensibly charged with redressing discrimination have no enforcement power. Tokyo needs to pass the laws that make racial discrimination illegal, empower oversight organisations and create an actual immigration policy instead of a “stop-gap labour shortage visa regime”, he said.

“At the very least, tell the public that non-Japanese workers are workers like everyone else, filling a valuable role, contributing to Japanese society and are residents, taxpayers, neighbours and potential future Japanese citizens,” he added.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER APRIL 18, 2019

Table of Contents:
MORE OFFICIAL OVERREACTION TO NJ INVITED INFLUX
1) Record 2.73 million NJ residents in Japan in 2018; media also shoehorns in mention of NJ crime, without mention of NJ contributions
2) MC on new Minpaku Law and NJ check-ins: Govt. telling AirBnB hostels that “foreign guests” must have passports photocopied etc. Yet not in actual text of the Minpaku Law. Or any law.
3) XY: Hotel calls cops on NJ Resident at check-in for not showing passport. And cops misinterpret laws. Unlawful official harassment is escalating.
4) Fox on getting interrogated at Sumitomo Prestia Bank in Kobe. Thanks to new FSA regulations that encourage even more racial profiling.
5) “Gaikokujin Appetizer Charge” in Osaka Dotonbori restaurant? Debito.org investigates.

THE SENAIHO CASE OF SCHOOL HAIR POLICING TAKEN TO COURT
6) Senaiho on criminal complaint against Jr High School “Hair Police” in Yamanashi
7) UPDATE: Senaiho on the stacked Board of Education committee investigating his Yamanashi jr. high school Hair Police complaint
8 ) UPDATE 2: Senaiho School Bullying in Yamanashi JHS: How people who file complaints for official harassment get harassed back
9) NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

HOW THE MIGHTY HAVE FALLEN
10) Debito.org’s stance on the Carlos Ghosn Case, at last: A boardroom coup making “thin legal soup” that might shame Japan’s “hostage justice” judicial system into reform
11) Debito article in Shingetsu News Agency: “The Japan Times Becomes Servant to the Elite” (Feb 2, 2019)

… and finally…
12) Japan Times JBC 114, “Top Ten Human Rights Issues for NJ in Japan for 2018” column, “Director’s Cut” with links to sources

NYT: Hair policing soon to be treated as “racial discrimination” by NYC Commission of Human Rights. Compare with JHS & HS Hair Police in Japan.

NYT: Under new guidelines to be released this week by the New York City Commission on Human Rights, the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle, at work, school or in public spaces, will now be considered racial discrimination. The change in law applies to anyone in New York City but is aimed at remedying the disparate treatment of black people; the guidelines specifically mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”

In practice, the guidelines give legal recourse to individuals who have been harassed, threatened, punished, demoted or fired because of the texture or style of their hair. The city commission can levy penalties up to $250,000 on defendants that are found in violation of the guidelines and there is no cap on damages. The commission can also force internal policy changes and rehirings at offending institutions… (The new guidelines do not interfere with health and safety reasons for wearing hair up or in a net, as long as the rules apply to everyone.)

The guidelines, obtained by The New York Times before their public release, are believed to be the first of their kind in the country. They are based on the argument that hair is inherent to one’s race (and can be closely associated with “racial, ethnic, or cultural identities”) and is therefore protected under the city’s human rights laws, which outlaw discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin, religion and other protected classes.

COMMENT: Related to our recent posts by Senaiho about the unchecked bullying power of the self-appointed “Hair Police” in Japan’s secondary education system, here’s how a progressive system deals with it, particularly when it comes to hairstyles in the professional world. New York City’s Human Rights Commission will soon be enforcing guidelines dealing with racial discrimination when it comes to how people choose to wear their hair professionally. And these penalties have real teeth: The NYC HRC can levy fines on companies of up to a quarter-mil, plus damages in court afterwards!

This is, of course, absolutely unimaginable in Japan, where their state-sponsored “Bureau of Human Rights” (Jinken Yougobu) is but a Potemkin system (with no ability to levy penalties, and arbitrary guidelines for launching investigations) that only exists to deflect criticism from overseas that Japan isn’t respecting treaty obligations towards human rights. Consequently people of diversity are forced into an absolutist narrative where “looking Japanese” is not only quantifiable as a standard (e.g., hair must be straight and black), but also enforceable under normalized racial profiling by the Japanese police (which has detained people for “looking foreign” while Japanese). This is why “Embedded Racism” remains so unchecked in Japan. So consider the NYC HRC as a template.

BBC: Fukuoka Hilton Hotel refuses entry to Cuban Ambassador due to “US sanctions”. J authorities call action “illegal”. How quaint.

BBC: A US-owned hotel in Japan has been criticized by Japanese authorities after it denied the Cuban ambassador a room over fears it would violate US sanctions on Cuba. The Hilton Fukuoka Sea Hawk told Ambassador Carlos Pereria he could not stay last month because it could not accommodate Cuban government guests. That prompted a Cuban complaint. Japanese officials in the city have since told the hotel it was illegal to refuse rooms based on nationality.

JT: Japan’s law regulating hotel operations states that guests cannot be refused unless they carry an infectious disease or are suspected of committing illegal activities. The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry pointed out that denying accommodation based on nationality is against the law. “The hotels operating domestically must comply with the law,” the ministry said. A Hilton spokesperson said, “We refuse to provide service to officials of the government or state-owned enterprises of countries under U.S. economic sanctions such as North Korea, Iran and Syria. We would like to discuss about the matter internally in response to the guidance.”

COMMENT: Well, well, well.  I guess it’s helpful to be foreign and connected in high places.  As has been reported for decades on Debito.org, Japan’s hotel refusals by nationality are so normalized that hotels routinely ignore the law being cited, refusing “foreigners” entry due to “lack of facilities”, “discomfort on the part of the management or Japanese customers”, or just for being “customers while foreign” (or even the “wrong foreign customers”).  Sometimes these refusals have the backing and encouragement of local police agencies and other authorities in their overzealous “anti-terrorism”/”anti-crime”/”anti-infectious disease” campaigns (because after all, only “foreigners” do all that in Japan). Now the Cuban Ambassador gets refused.  And suddenly the law gets applied.  Good.  Now let’s apply it everywhere, for a change. That’s what laws are for.

“Japanese Only” Osaka Nishinari-ku Izakaya Bar brags on Instagram about refusing foreign customers service for a laugh! (UPDATE: RETRACTED)

Here’s what you get when you allow places legally to refuse service to Non-Japanese, as Japan does. Eventually it becomes so normalized (after all, it’s been more than twenty years since Japan signed the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination, and we still have no law against racial discrimination) that people no longer even bother to feel any form of guilt or shame about it.

UPDATE: A NJ CUSTOMER OF MARUFUKU CONTACTED DEBITO.ORG TO SAY THAT NJ CUSTOMERS ARE IN FACT ALLOWED. FALSE ALARM. PLEASE GO HAVE A MEAL AT THIS ESTABLISHMENT.

Name: Marufuku Honten (Izakaya bar)
Address: 1-6-16 Taishi Nishinari-ku Osaka 557-0002
Phone: 050-5890-9648 or 06-6641-8848

Sapporo Consadole player and former England Team soccer striker Jay Bothroyd refused entry to Hokkaido Classic golf course for being “not Japanese”

Here is some foreshadowing.  Famous football player Jay Bothroyd, who played for the English national team, and now plays for Sapporo Consadole, has faced a “Japanese Only” golf course in Hokkaido: a famous one called  the Hokkaido Classic.  (The very course was even designed by a foreigner!)

Daily Express (UK): “The 36-year-old Arsenal academy graduate, who made his only appearance for England in 2010, joined J1 League club Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo last July. But the striker was left stunned after he was refused entry to his local golf course on the northernmost of Japan’s major islands – the Hokkaido Classic – which was designed by golf legend and 17 time major tournament winner Jack Nicklaus. The exclusive par-72 course charges £338 for a weekend round of golf between June and July, with its fees website page stating that non-Japanese players must be accompanied by a club member.”

Comment: This exclusionism is somewhat old hat for people who have been following the Otaru Onsens Case and the other “Japanese Only” places in Hokkaido and nationwide for all these decades.  But when it starts happening to famous people (such as those playing for local Japanese teams), you know the bigots have lost their common sense from a public relations point of view.  Bring on the 2020 Olympics!  There will be lots more “foreign” athletes to target then!  Not to mention their supporters.

“Japanese Only” tourist information booth in JR Beppu Station

DB: Are you aware there is a “Japanese only” information booth at Beppu station? My partner and I walked in to get some information about a local onsen travel route. The woman sitting at the available desk basically refused to deal with us, and told us to go to the desk for foreigners. She initially pretended that the desk was for Japanese language help only. When we pointed out that we could speak Japanese (we had been the whole time) she shifted her excuse. The whole time she leant way back in her chair, and spoke in an extremely dismissively rude tone. In six years living in Japan I have never been treated as poorly.

After we gave up and walking out half in shock I noticed the signage. The ambiguity of “Japanese” here covers the apparent reality that they actually will refuse to serve anybody not visibly Japanese regardless of language ability. I’ll be sending a formal complaint later, but I thought I’d send you the story. Here’s some photos attached, taken April 6, 2016.

JT: “Japan’s NJ workers reach record 1.28 million with labor crunch”; more grist for the grinder

Kyodo reports that there are more NJ laborers in Japan than ever (1.28 million, of the 2.3 million total NJ registered), and this is largely due to the temporary NJ “Trainees” being brought in under Japan’s “no unskilled labor” unskilled-labor visa policy.  

The big news is that Chinese and now Vietnamese are the two biggest foreign worker nationalities in Japan (I assume the 338,950 Zainichi Korean Special Permanent Residents were not counted as “foreign workers” here), followed by Filipinos and Brazilians (yes, they’re coming again) and Nepalese.  

So all the official transgressions against NJ laborers a decade ago are forgotten, and ever more victims of Japan’s revolving-door visa market are arriving to be exploited and sent home.  Seems NJ never learn, but this new crop will find out soon enough.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCT 14, 2017

Table of Contents:
HOPEFUL SIGNS?
1) New Japanese “Party of Hope” remains unhopeful for Japan’s NJ residents, requiring new party entrants to deny all NJ voting rights
2) “Japanese Only” signs come down in Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Finally. It only took 22 years.
3) Nikkei: Japan’s “Japanese Only” apartment rental market may adversely affect NJ worker retention during labor shortage
4) “Japanese Only” rules mutate: Hagoromo-yu, a bathhouse excluding LGBT in Shibuya-ku, Tokyo, in reaction to local same-sex-partner ordinance
5) Positive book review of “Embedded Racism” in “Sociology of Race and Ethnicity” journal (American Sociological Association)

MORE ON YENER CASE
6) NJ Osakan Ibrahim Yener wins lawsuit against “Japanese only” car dealer
7) Plaintiff Ibrahim Yener provides Debito.org with details on his successful lawsuit against “Japanese Only” Nihon Autoplaza car company
…and finally…
8 ) My Japan Times JBC 108: “In wake of Charlottesville, U.S. should follow Japan and outlaw hate speech”, Aug 24, 2017

“Japanese Only” signs come down in Monbetsu, Hokkaido. Finally. It only took 22 years.

A couple of weeks ago, friends Olaf and James wrote in to say that they went down Hamanasu Doori in Monbetsu, a seaport town in Eastern Outback Hokkaido. Here’s what book “Embedded Racism” Ch. 3 has to say about this case (expanded from the original entry on the Rogues’ Gallery of Exclusionary Establishments on Debito.org):

============================
Monbetsu, Hokkaidō
Place: Miscellaneous places around Monbetsu City (Hokkaidō) (two public/private sector bathhouses, a ramen shop, a restaurant, a karaoke parlor, and more than 100 bars).
Background: According to newspaper articles, plus several visits and interviews between 2000 and 2009 by the author and other activists, since 1995 Monbetsu’s local restaurateurs’ association (inshokuten kumiai) created and sold standardized signs in Cyrillic saying “Japanese Only Store” (Nihonjin sen’yō ten) that went up on over 100 bars and restaurants in the Hamanasu Dōri nightlife district. Interviews with bars displaying the signs revealed fears of Russian sailors’ custom, including the language barrier, drunken unruliness, nonpayment of bills, rumors of rape, surrounding Japanese customer dissatisfaction, and ties to Russian organized crime (although many interviewees said they had no actual experience with any of these issues – the sign was a preventive measure); some refused the author’s business even though he is not Russian and was accompanied by other Japanese. Three restaurants and a karaoke parlor expressed similar sentiments, and said they would have refused the author had he not been a fluent Japanese speaker. Two bathhouses (one private-sector, one public/private (dai-san sekutā)) claimed drunk and unruly Russian bathers were driving away Japanese customers).

Action taken by observers/activists: In July 2000, the Japanese Ministry of Justice, Bureau of Human Rights (jinken yōgobu) Asahikawa Branch wrote a letter (see ER Chapter Eight) to the restaurateurs’ association calling their activities “clear racial discrimination against foreigners,” demanding they remove their exclusionary signs. In an interview with the author in April 2001, the kumiai head claimed that these signs were now the property of their respective purchasers, and what they did with them was not their concern. After extensive media exposure of the situation in local newspapers and national TV between 2000 and 2005, signs began coming down, and further interviews and media exposure of the restaurants, karaoke parlor, and the bathhouses resulted in exclusionary rules being rescinded in the karaoke parlor, one restaurant and the public/private-sector bathhouse. In 2006, an interview with another restaurant enabled the author to personally take down one of the Cyrillic signs with permission. In 2004, the author and one other activist submitted a petition (chinjō) to pass a local anti-discrimination ordinance (jōrei), which subsequently died in committee.
============================

So the update is:  The exclusionary signs are down in Hamanasu Doori.  Pity it only took 22 years for it to happen, apparently by attrition.  No thanks to the Monbetsu City Government, natch.

Asahi: Japan treats 1 million foreign workers as ‘non-existent’, and shouldn’t. Another recycled hopeful article.

In the wake of my previous blog entry about a new exploitative visa system for the next generation of Nikkei workers, here’s a hand-wringing article from the Asahi about how people don’t (but really should) accept NJ as part of Japanese society.  It seems like these articles are cyclical — I remember them from a good ten years ago (for example here and here and here and here).  Fortunately, the Asahi draws the same conclusions I would. Alas, next serious economic downturn, all this will be out of the window and foreigners will be unaccepted again.  

Asahi: Foreign workers in Japan are increasingly being seen as a valuable resource amid Japan’s declining birthrate and growing elderly population. However, recent headlines in the media express concern about the influx of immigrants. “Should we accept immigrants?” one publication asked. Another worried that, “What will happen if foreigners become our bosses?” The reality is that the number of foreign workers now totals more than 1 million. Japanese are increasingly coming in contact with foreigners in their daily lives, so they are no longer an “invisible presence.” Acceptance is unavoidable

Nikkei: ‘No foreigners allowed’: Survey shows heavy discrimination in Japan (which editorializing Nikkei Asian Review tries to excuse and dismiss)

Following my most recent JBC column on the MOJ Foreign Residents Survey (which showed significant and substantial rates of “foreigner discrimination” in Japan, particularly in housing), we have the right-of-center Nihon Keizai Shinbun (roughly equivalent to the Wall Street Journal in stature and tone) offering their interpretation of Survey results. Note the article’s editorializing (which I will point out within the article below [in square brackets]) to try to be discounting or dismissive of the report — trying to pass it off as somehow “worries” about mere cultural misunderstandings, or issues not serious enough to seek help for.

NIKKEI: Nearly 27% of the 2,044 foreign respondents who had sought new housing within the past five years reported giving up on a potential residence after discovering a notice saying “no foreigners allowed.” […] These rejections, however, are not necessarily motivated by racism.

[But that’s not what the survey says. This is the Nikkei offering their interpretation. And look at their reasoning:]

Many landlords fear they may not be able to communicate easily with foreign tenants. Other reasons for refusal to rent include worries that foreign tenants will not follow Japanese customs, such as taking off their shoes inside the house.

[And that’s not racism? Presuming that foreign tenants cannot communicate? And justifying the denial of housing due to unfounded “worries” that people allegedly WON’T TAKE OFF THEIR SHOES!? On what planet would this not be interpreted as a normalization of prejudice expressed performatively as racism? I guess Planet Nikkei.]

Yomiuri on “Sharp decline in tourist spending”, with GOJ measures to certify NJ in “Cool Japan” for preferential visas

Debito.org Reader JK sends articles that indicate that the Japanese Government wants tourists to come in and spend more money (without doing the legal groundwork necessary to stop them being discriminated against), and is willing to bribe the NJ already here with preferential visas if they get certified in “Cool Japan”, i.e., become shills. Kinda smart in terms of incentive systems, but very cynical — and those critical of Japan, of course, need not apply. The pressure to unquestionably “like” Japan is already omnipresent, and now reinforced as public policy.

Yomiuri: While a record 24 million-plus foreign tourists came to Japan last year, spending per person dropped sharply in 2016, according to the Japan Tourism Agency. Fewer foreign visitors are engaging in extravagant shopping sprees, so figuring out how to use Japan’s charms to increase tourism outside major metropolitan areas and encourage longer stays is becoming an issue. […] The increase in the number of tourists pushed overall spending to a record ¥3.75 trillion, but per-person spending was down 11.5 percent from the previous year to ¥155,896, the largest drop ever recorded. Behind the decline was the yen’s appreciation from the previous year, as well as a change in the purpose of travel from “consumption” through shopping and other means, to trips aimed at “experiencing things” such as nature and culture. The government hopes to raise per-person spending to ¥200,000 by 2020.

Yomiuri: The government is considering establishing a certification test for assessing the competency and know-how of foreigners engaged in activities related to the “Cool Japan” initiative, such as anime and fashion. The aim is to accept more of these foreigners into National Strategic Special Zones, according to sources. The government intends to relax the requirements for obtaining resident status for candidates who meet certain competency criteria and conditions. The plan is aimed at foreign students graduating from Japanese vocational schools, the sources said. By creating a friendly working environment for foreigners with strong interests in Japanese culture, the government aims to increase the number of foreigners with an intimate familiarity with Japan. They could then serve as informal bridges for future exchanges between Japan and their home countries. […] The working group is considering allowing foreigners to obtain certification to stay in Japan for several years, the sources said.

Japan Times JBC Column 104: The Top Ten Human Rights Events of 2016

Japan’s human rights issues fared better in 2016
BY DEBITO ARUDOU
The Japan Times, Jan 8, 2017, Column 104 for the Community Page

Welcome back to JBC’s annual countdown of the top issues as they affected Non-Japanese (NJ) residents of Japan. We had some brighter spots this year than in previous years, because Japan’s government has been so embarrassed by hate speech toward Japan’s minorities that they did something about it. Read on:

No. 10) Government “snitch sites” close down after nearly 12 years…

Rest of the article at
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2017/01/08/issues/japans-human-rights-issues-fared-better-2016/
Version with links to sources now up on Debito.org

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JANUARY 8, 2017

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains
2) MOJ Bureau of Human Rights Survey of NJ Residents and discrimination (J&E full text)
3) Kyodo: Japan enacts law to prevent abuse of foreign “Trainees”. But unclear how it’ll be enforced.
4) BLOG BIZ: Debito.org’s facelift; outstanding issues with Index Page and appearance on mobile devices

NOT SO GOOD
5) Onur on Fukuoka hotel check-ins in: Police creating unlawful “foreign passport check” signs in the name of (and without the knowledge of) local govt. authorities!
6) JT: The flip side of coveted public-sector jobs in Japan: fewer rights, by being excepted from labor laws
7) Japan Times: “Five-year rule” triggers “Tohoku college massacre” of jobs; harbinger of a larger looming purge, sez Debito.org
8 ) CR on how Japan’s blue-chip companies (Canon) get around new Labor Contract Law: Special temp job statuses and capped contracts for NJ
9) Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

… and finally…
10) Japan Times JBC column 103: “Trump’s lesson: You can lie your way to the very top”, Nov. 16, 2016
11) Tangent: James Michener’s “Presidential Lottery” (1969) on dangerous US Electoral College

Other progress in 2016: Actions against wasabi bombs in sushi for NJ customers, conductor officially chided for apologizing re “many foreign passengers” crowding trains

To start this year (which I am not at all optimistic about), let’s try to talk about two bright sides to 2016. First up, this piece of good news that shows that targeting of foreign passengers (on an airport train, no less) is officially not cool — either from the passengers’ point of view or from the train company’s:

Mainichi: A Nankai Electric Railway Co. conductor was dealt a verbal warning after apologizing to Japanese passengers for crowding on a train heading to Kansai International Airport with a large number of foreigners, it has been learned. […]

“Today there are many foreign passengers aboard and it is very crowded, so we are inconveniencing Japanese passengers,” the conductor was quoted as stating in the announcement. After the train arrived at Kansai-Airport Station, a Japanese woman questioned a station attendant about the announcement, asking whether it was within the bounds of company rules. When questioned by the company, the conductor was quoted as replying, “I heard a male Japanese passenger at Namba Station yelling, ‘All these foreigners are a nuisance,’ so I made the announcement to avert trouble. I had no intention of discriminating.”

Then the Grauniad coupled the above story with another one about “wasabi terrorism”:

Grauniad: The incident follows an accusation by South Korean tourists that a sushi restaurant in Osaka deliberately smeared their orders with eye-watering quantities of wasabi, a pungent condiment that should be used sparingly. The restaurant chain Ichibazushi apologised but denied accusations of racism, saying its chefs had decided to use excessive amounts of wasabi after other foreign diners had previously requested larger dollops for added piquancy.

“Because many of our overseas customers frequently order extra amounts of pickled ginger and wasabi, we gave them more without checking first,” the chain’s management said. “The result was unpleasant for some guests who aren’t fans of wasabi.” It was not clear how many such incidents – labelled “wasabi terrorism” on social media – had occurred, but some disgruntled diners posted photos of sushi containing twice as much wasabi as usual.

COMMENT: The fact that these incidents made news, and (Japanese) social media thought this was worth criticizing is a good thing. Corporations acknowledged and apologized. There is lots to bellyache about when it comes to how NJ are seen and treated in Japan, but when people (especially Japanese people, who are often not all that quick to leap to the defense of NJ, since what happens to NJ does not affect them) stand up against this, this is progress. Credit where credit is due.

Japan Times: “Riding while foreign on JR Kyushu can be a costly business” (re train ticket discounts in Japanese only)

JT: I thought you might be interested in this issue that I encountered when using an automatic ticket machine in Hakata Station, Fukuoka. Because I don’t read Japanese so well, I changed the machine to English language. As I went through the menu I could not select the “nimai-kippu” (two tickets of the same type) option, which offers a discount. The only options I had were two individual tickets — if I recall correctly the price difference was ¥2,000. I canceled the sale and went to the counter and had a conversation with the clerk, who confirmed that once English is selected, the cheaper two-ticket option wouldn’t be offered. I was thinking how many hundreds of thousands of yen have been taken from people simply because they select English and don’t happen to know about the cheaper ticket options.

COMMENT: This is proof positive in a national newspaper of separate pricing schemes based upon language. And this at one of Japan’s flagship companies (Japan Railways), no less. Consider the parallels: A restaurant with menus with cheaper prices for customers if they can read Chinese (something frowned upon as discrimination elsewhere). Or travel agencies that reserve cheaper plane tickets for Japanese citizens only (see here). Japan’s train network in Kyushu is filtering customers by language ability and charging Japanese-illiterates a premium. This must stop, obviously, because it’s discriminatory.

Why can’t customers just be treated as customers, and their money for access be valued the same way, regardless of their language ability? Well, I’ll tell you why. Because to JR, it’s not a matter of fairness or equality. It’s a combination of setsuyaku and mendokusai. Making discounts multilingual would be costly, and then there’s the factor of profiteering from the extra fares. The incentive system is clear: Why pay more for a system that brings in less revenue? And besides, the foreigners won’t realize it (because foreigners obviously don’t read Japanese), won’t complain (because they’re so powerless, with no voice in Japan except, ahem, the Japan Times), or they aren’t organized in numbers big enough for a meaningful boycott (plus, as seen above, anyone calling for organized action will be called racist even by their own side — see reader comments under the JT article).

TIME Magazine and Japan Times on how online trolls (particularly Reddit) are ruining the Internet and media in general

TIME: This story is not a good idea. Not for society and certainly not for me. Because what trolls feed on is attention. And this little bit–these several thousand words–is like leaving bears a pan of baklava.

It would be smarter to be cautious, because the Internet’s personality has changed. Once it was a geek with lofty ideals about the free flow of information. Now, if you need help improving your upload speeds the web is eager to help with technical details, but if you tell it you’re struggling with depression it will try to goad you into killing yourself. Psychologists call this the online disinhibition effect, in which factors like anonymity, invisibility, a lack of authority and not communicating in real time strip away the mores society spent millennia building. And it’s seeping from our smartphones into every aspect of our lives.

The people who relish this online freedom are called trolls, a term that originally came from a fishing method online thieves use to find victims. It quickly morphed to refer to the monsters who hide in darkness and threaten people. Internet trolls have a manifesto of sorts, which states they are doing it for the “lulz,” or laughs. What trolls do for the lulz ranges from clever pranks to harassment to violent threats. There’s also doxxing–publishing personal data, such as Social Security numbers and bank accounts–and swatting, calling in an emergency to a victim’s house so the SWAT team busts in. When victims do not experience lulz, trolls tell them they have no sense of humor. Trolls are turning social media and comment boards into a giant locker room in a teen movie, with towel-snapping racial epithets and misogyny. They’ve been steadily upping their game…

Japan Times: This sort of behavior is not new. Trolls — individuals who purposely send insulting and threatening messages to comments sections and social media sites — may be an Internet-specific phenomenon, but the impulses that drive them are general and eternal. Some say the difference is less ideological than psychological: serial harassers hide behind masks to express their grievances with the world, regardless of political leanings. But ideology, or at least the presumption of a “position,” is always the delivery device for the grievance. […] Media outlets should prevent intimidation any way they can, but they’re failing their mission if they don’t stand up to it.

COMMENT: This is dangerous stuff. As the veteran of many years of online death threats myself, Cyberstalking is still stalking, and Japan no longer tolerates it like it used to outside of the Internet. Debito.org reiterates its stance that something should be done to make these anonyms into real people taking responsibility for their statements. To me, that means registering real names under traceable conditions, as has happened (abortively) in South Korea. Short of that, the trolls will continue to sour and soil the online environment, depriving others of the freedom of speech the trolls themselves allegedly cherish (and use as their excuse for abuse) by remaining anonymous, immune to the same critique and exposure they mete out to others.

Kyodo: Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply [sic]. How about the J employers who employ illegally?

Kyoto: The number of foreign laborers working illegally on farms across the nation rose threefold over the three year period ending in 2015, according to government data. The findings highlight the difficulties facing Japan’s agricultural sector, including labor shortages and the advanced age of many of the country’s farmers.

Among all the illegal foreign workers subject to deportation in 2015, the greatest number — 1,744 or 21.9 percent — had worked in the farming sector. That was up from 946 in 2014, 695 in 2013, and 592 in 2012, according to the Justice Ministry. The ministry also found illegal farm workers were “concentrated on farms in Ibaraki and Chiba prefectures, which are easily accessible from Tokyo.”

The average age of the nation’s farmers is now 66.4 years old, and the fact so many have no one to succeed them has become a serious social issue. “I just cannot keep my business afloat unless I hire (illegal laborers), even if it means breaking the law,” said a 62-year-old farmer in Ibaraki.

Comment from Submitter BGIO: I love the way that the headline is “Foreign laborers illegally working on farms in Japan increases sharply” when in reality it should have been more along the lines of “Japanese agricultural employers continue to flout trainee laws and illegally exploit foreign workers from developing countries”, or alternatively “percentage of foreign workers from developing countries exploited by Japanese agriculture sector worker rises to 7% (1,744 of 24,000) of those employed in ‘trainee’ scheme”. But then such headlines would require the type of objective and balanced media coverage than has long been missing in what has the temerity to call itself ‘journalism’ in this country.

Comment from Submitter JDG: If it wasn’t for the LDP letting it’s voters illegally employ NJ, those voters and their farming culture would be over! No wonder Ibaraki police are so crazy; they are being told one thing by the government and then expected to turn a blind eye to the NJ underpinning the local economy! That conflict of interest must be causing them trauma!

Telegraph: Tourists in Japan to use fingerprints as ‘currency’ instead of cash; another case of Gaijin as Guinea Pig

Telegraph: Visitors to Japan may soon be able to forget the hassle of having to change money – with the launch of a new system enabling fingerprints to be used as currency. The system, which will launch this summer, aims to make shopping and checking into hotels faster and more convenient for overseas visitors, according to the Yomiuri newspaper.

It will involve foreign visitors first registering their details, including fingerprints and credit card information, in airports or other convenient public locations. The new system will also enable the government to analyse the spending habits and patterns of foreign tourists.

Registered tourists will then be able to buy products, with taxes automatically deducted, from select stores by placing two fingers on a small fingerprint-reading device. The fingerprint system will also be used as a speedy substitute for presenting passports when checking into hotels, which is currently a legal obligation for overseas tourists, according to reports.

COMMENT: This article seems a bit too much in thrall to the possibilities of the new technology to pay sufficient attention to the possible abuses of fingerprinting (and no attention to the history of fingerprinting in Japan in particular). Culturally speaking, fingerprinting in Japan is associated with criminal activity, which is why so many Japanese (and let alone other NJ and Zainichi Korean minorities) are reluctant to have their fingerprints taken (let alone be forced to carry ID) and stored in a leaky government database. That’s why once again, the Gaijin as Guinea Pig phenomenon is kicking in — where it’s the powerless people in a society who are having government designs for social control being foisted upon them first, before it gets suggested as policy for the rest of the population.

GOJ busybodies hard at work alienating: Shinjuku Foreign Residents Manual assumes NJ criminal tendencies; Kyoto public notices “cultivate foreign tourist manners”

Despite all the campaigns to increase foreign tourism and “prepare” Japanese society for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, sometimes Debito.org feels like suggesting people just avoid Japan’s sweaty-headed public-servant busybodies, who spend our tax monies to further alienate NJ residents and tourists from the rest of Japanese society. Check these out:

Yomiuri: With breaches of etiquette by foreign tourists becoming a problem in tourist spots nationwide, local communities are using signboards featuring illustrations, pictograms and manga to inform visitors of how best to behave. These moves are aimed at helping foreign tourists understand Japanese etiquette and rules, in order to prevent such trouble, but some are concerned that the signs could spoil the scenery at tourist spots.

Shinjuku Foreign Resident Manual: “Helping you avoid getting caught up in criminal activity and have a peaceful and safe time in Japan.” With pages on how to avoid “criminal activities” such as not sorting your garbage properly, smoking outside of designated areas, and talking loudly on the phone while on the train or bus.

Submitter Concerned NJ says: This guide still has me angry that this sort of view of “foreigners” is still persisting—maybe even growing—as the Olympics approach; worse, it is being promoted by a government agency. I have been stopped by the Japanese police many times (for no reason other than being “foreign-looking”) and treated like a criminal when I simply pass through the train station, and I’ve seen similar treatment at the station of other “foreigners.” So after those experiences, pamphlets like this that further the view of non-Japanese in Japan as criminal-prone imbeciles really rub me the wrong way. There are plenty of guides for residents of Japan that do NOT take this approach with non-Japanese residents when explaining laws and helpful services that have been translated to other languages.

Comment from Debito: I understand full well the need for cautioning people when tourists, or anyone, are disrespectful towards local sights and environments. But creating reactionary media that stigmatizes foreigners as if they are natural-born criminals or incorrigible rule-breakers (i.e., naturally unable to follow rules because they are foreigners) is equally disrespectful. Care must be taken and tact used to avoid belittling guests, not to mention alienating NJ residents, and busybodies who get paranoid about any strangers darkening their doorsteps must not have free rein to overthink countermeasures (for it soon becomes an invitation to xenophobia).

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
GOOD NEWS
1) Out in Paperback: Textbook “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books) July 2016 in time for Fall Semester classes: $49.99
2) April 15, 1996: Twenty years of Debito.org. And counting.
3) Debito’s latest publication in the Washington University Global Studies Law Review (Vol.14, No.4)

QUESTIONABLE ECONOMICS
4) Terrie Lloyd on why Abenomics is a “failure”: lack of essential structural reforms
5) Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?
6) Stigmatization thru “foreign driver stickers”: First Okinawa, now Hokkaido (Mainichi Shinbun)
7) JT Interview: Tokyo 2020 Olympics CEO Mutou picks on Rio 2016, arrogantly cites “safe Japan” mantra vs international terrorism
8 ) Nate Nossal essay on how free enterprise and small-business establishment in Japan is stifled

DIRTY ROTTEN POLITICS
9) Reuters: Japan eyes more foreign workers, stealthily challenging immigration taboo
10) MOJ: Japan sees record registered foreign residents, 2.23 million in 2015; but watch J media once again underscore their criminality
11) Onur on continued racial profiling at Japanese hotel check-ins: Discrimination is even coin-operated!
12) Onur update: Ibaraki Pref. Police lying on posters requiring hotels to inspect and photocopy all foreign passports; gets police to change their posters!
13) NHK: NJ arrested by Saitama Police for “not having passport”, despite being underage and, uh, not actually legally required to carry a passport
14) JT: Abe Cabinet says JCP promoting ‘violent revolution,’ subject to Anti-Subversive Activities Law; now, how about violent Rightists?
15) Economist: United Nations fails to stick up for the rights of Imperial female succession, drops issue as a “distraction” from report
16) Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged
17) Roger Schreffler: Fukushima Official Disaster Report E/J translation differences: Blaming “Japanese culture” an “invention” of PR manager Kurokawa Kiyoshi, not in Japanese version (which references TEPCO’s corporate culture) (UPDATED)

… and finally…
18) Japan Times JBC 97 May 2, 2016 excerpt: “Enjoy your life in Japan, for the moments”

Reuters: Death toll mounts in Japanese Detention Centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks”) as NJ seek asylum and are indefinitely detained and drugged

Reuters : Niculas Fernando died at a Tokyo immigration detention center sometime between 9:33 a.m. and 10:44 a.m. on November 22, 2014, according to the coroner. But it wasn’t until shortly after 1 p.m. that day that guards realized something was badly wrong – even though Fernando had been moved to an observation cell monitored via closed-circuit television after complaining of sharp chest pain. An inmate had to alert the guards before they rushed into Fernando’s cell and tried to revive him. […] He was the fourth person to die in Japan’s immigration detention system in 13 months. In total, 12 people have died in immigration detention since 2006, including four suicides. In 2015, 14 detainees tried to kill or harm themselves at the detention center where Fernando died, according to data from the facility.

A Reuters investigation into the circumstances surrounding Fernando’s death, including dozens of interviews with detainees, immigration officials and doctors, revealed serious deficiencies in the medical treatment and monitoring of Japan’s immigration detention centers. Guards with scant medical training make critical decisions about detainees’ health. Doctors visit some of the country’s main detention centers as infrequently as twice a week. And on weekends there are no medical professionals on duty at any of the immigration detention facilities, which held more than 13,600 people in 2014. Three of the four deaths in detention between October 2013 and November 2014, including Fernando’s, occurred when there were no doctors on duty. Like Fernando, another one of the detainees died while in an observation cell.

Japan’s immigration system is under increasing strain. As a torrent of refugees pours into Europe, Japan also has record numbers of people landing on its shores in search of refuge. As of June last year, it had 10,830 asylum applications under review – small by Europe’s standards, but a new high for Japan, a nation that has long been reluctant to take in outsiders. In February, more than 40 detainees went on hunger strike at a facility in Osaka to protest their conditions [As they did in 2010, to little change — Ed.]. Their main complaint: Poor medical care. […]

The Justice Ministry has not made public the findings of the investigation into the case nor released them to Fernando’s family. In response to a public disclosure request, Reuters received a copy of the national Immigration Bureau’s report from March last year. It was heavily redacted. Under a section titled “Problems,” every line had been blacked out.

Kyodo: Kyoto taxis specializing in foreign tourists begin one-year trial. Separate taxi stands? What’s next: separate hotels?

Here’s something that feels more problematic the more I think about it: “Foreigner-friendly” taxicabs being introduced in Kyoto. As noted below, they are government-sponsored vehicles with multilingual drivers and more space for tourist luggage. Sounds good so far. Until you get to the fact that they have a separate alighting point at one station in Kyoto. Already, we are getting into shades of “separate but equal” (as opposed to equal and undifferentiated), which we are seeing in a number of venues dealing with foreign tourism (for example, here).

While I applaud the effort to improve service, it doesn’t resolve the root problem (mentioned within the Kyodo article below) — that taxi cabs are refusing NJ passengers. So instead of going after miscreant taxis, they’re creating a separate taxi system to equalize things. Except that it won’t. Think about it. Now we’ll have busybody train station ojisan waving “foreign-looking” people over to the foreign taxi stand even when they’re not tourists. Or we’ll have people being told that they have to go to that solitary Kyoto Station stand, regardless of where they are, if they want to get a “foreigner-friendly” cab. And, with the law of unintended consequences, we’ll have even more taxi drivers refusing to pick up foreign-looking people — after all, their logic will go, “There’s already a taxi designated for them, so I don’t have to bother picking them up — they can wait for one.” As if foreign-friendly taxis could ever have the same coverage as regular taxis. See, “separate but equal” essentially never works because, as history demonstrates, it’s too hard to achieve.

If they really want to improve service, have the city assign somebody “foreign-looking” to hail taxis in Kyoto, and have him or her officially report misbehaving taxis to the Kyoto Tourist Agency (there is one, and I’ve done this very thing for at least one exclusionary Kyoto hotel; there were repercussions). And tell those taxis (like restaurants hear that they’re being reviewed by reviewers posing as regular customers) that there will be person(s) posing as an evaluator so you better not avoid picking up customers. Monitoring for consumer quality is quite normal, and if Japan is serious about omotenashi, it had better avoid making historical mistakes.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MARCH 1, 2016

Table of Contents:
TIGHTENING THE NOOSE ON DOMESTIC DISSENT
1) ABC News Australia: Video on PM Abe’s secretive and ultra-conservative organization “Nippon Kaigi”
2) Sankei column by Okabe Noburu suggesting Japanese language tests for foreign correspondent visas, to weed out their “anti-Japan” biases
3) JT on corporate threats to student activists’ futures (SEALDs in particular); this is probably why they suddenly turned craven
4) O’Day in APJ: Japan Focus: “Differentiating SEALDs from Freeters, and Precariats: the politics of youth movements in contemporary Japan”
TRAGIC UPDATES
5) Suraj Case: Tokyo High Court rules Immigration Bureau not responsible for killing him during deportation
6) ALTs (“outsourced” English teachers) earning slave wages (or less) working for Japanese public schools
7) JT: Sakanaka argues success of ‘Abenomics’ hinges on immigration policy (old article from May 2014; not much has changed)
8 ) JT: Japan’s public baths hope foreign tourists and residents will keep taps running; oh, the irony!
TERRORISTIC XENOPHOBIA
9) Nagoya anonymous neighborhood poster warning of crime that “may have been committed by foreigners”: vigilantism that should be officially discouraged, but no.
10) Tangent: McNeill in No.1 Shimbun: “Into the Valley of the Trolls”: Is ignoring them really an effective strategy?
TRYING TO HELP
11) Asahi: Survey: Discrimination encountered by 42% of foreign residents in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward; Asahi wants NJ resident opinions
12) Asahi and JT: Osaka adopts Japan’s first anti-hate-speech ordinance
13) HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?
14) Ben Shearon on RetireJapan, helping people living in Japan learn more about personal finance, investing, readying for retirement
… and finally…
15) My Japan Times JBC 95, “Osaka’s move on hate speech should be just the first step” Feb. 1, 2016

HJ on Mainichi article on “Preventing Illegal Hires of Foreigners”; what about campaigns to prevent illegal ABUSES of foreign workers?

ILLEGAL EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGNERS
Demanding Prevention with Handbills
Mainichi Shinbun, December 8, 2015 (translation by HJ)

Hoping to prevent illegal employment of foreigners and illegal foreign residency, on December 7th the Akabane police department held a flyer-distribution campaign around JR Akabane station, distributing handbills, which urge the proper hiring of foreigners, to restaurant owners and area residents. Other than police officials, city officials and Tokyo immigration bureau officals also participated, for a total of about 20 participants. They also distributed a ‘Foreign Laborers’ Employment Manual,’ created by the city, and introduced the penal regulations for business owners who knowingly employed illegal foreign laborers. A police official stated that in light of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, more foreigners are expected to be visiting Japan, so ‘from here on out we want to regularly urge caution’ [in regards to illegal foreign residency/employment].
==================================

Comment by HJ: What I noticed particularly is the lack of any effort to cite any statistics that might justify this blatantly fear-mongering use of taxpayer money. No citation of illegal foreign employment statistics, or what harm such infractions might meaningfully bring on society, or really any attempt to establish any reason for this “campaign” at all. It’s as if there’s no need at all to demonstrate why this behavior is necessary or what occasioned it in the first place. We want to urge caution about illegal employment practices…because why? They’re on the rise? They cost taxpayers lots of money last year? There’s a lack of procedural knowledge? Where’s the handbilling to remind employers not to abuse their foreign employees? Haven’t we already seen many instances where that factually does occur? Where’s the “regular cautioning” about that? The whole thing is just completely disgusting.

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 5, 2015

Table of Contents:
DEFENDING THE NEW STATUS QUO
2) Another Gaijin Handler speaks at East-West Center: Dr. Nakayama Toshihiro, ahistorically snake-charming inter alia about how Japan’s warlike past led to Japan’s stability today (Sept. 15, 2015)
3) Tangent: Economist on “Japan’s Citizen Kane”: Shouriki Matsutaro; explains a lot about J-media’s interlocking relationship with J-politics
4) JK on emerging GOJ policies towards refugees & immigration, still not allowing them to stay in Japan: “tourists yes, refugees & immigrants no”

SHINING A LIGHT ON AREAS NEEDING CHANGE
5) Nikkei interview with Japan’s most famous naturalized former Zainichi Korean: SoftBank’s Son Masayoshi
6) Honolulu Civil Beat: Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor? Contrast US with J example of exploitative visa conditions
7) Yomiuri: More Japanese public baths OK tattooed visitors (particularly NJ) for 2020 Olympics: suddenly it’s all about showing “understanding of foreign cultures”

… and finally…
8 ) Japan Times JBC 91 Sept 7, 2015: Why Japan’s Right keeps leaving the Left in the dust

Honolulu Civil Beat: Cultural Exchange Program or a Ticket to Sweatshop Labor? Contrast US with J example of exploitative visa conditions

Contrast this situation with the situation of “Trainees” and other visa statuses in Japan:

HCB: It didn’t take long for the 30-year-old Japanese pastry chef to realize that she was getting the raw end of the deal. She had arrived in Hawaii only days before, lured by a promise of pastry training as part of a cultural exchange program run by the U.S. State Department. The terms of her stay, under a visa known as J-1, were to spend the next 18 months working in the kitchen of a Waikiki restaurant — six days a week on 8-hour shifts beginning at 6:30 a.m. But she found herself toiling inside the kitchen in a shift that began at 5:30 a.m. and stretched to 12 hours — without any breaks or overtime pay.

In 2012, a Japanese pastry chef arrived in Hawaii on a J-1 visa, only to find herself working at a Waikiki restaurant in sweatshop conditions. She requested her name and the name of the restaurant not be used. When she complained, she said no one lent a sympathetic ear. Initially, she said she was told that none of the restaurants in Hawaii offered any breaks. And, if she were to work on a shorter shift, her salary would have to be reduced accordingly. Unsatisfied, she went to her American sponsor organization and its Japanese contractors that had matched her up with the restaurant, but she said her pleas for their intervention were met with threats that her visa could be taken away. Soon, it dawned on her that she faced a Faustian choice: endure the grueling conditions at the restaurant or risk being deported for not showing up to work…