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Report on meeting between Julian Wheatley and Iwama-san (Duty Manager) at Oasis Sports Club, Kabuki-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo on 8th Nov 2002 at 14.00.

By Julian Wheatley

This is not a verbatim transcription of our conversation but extrapolated from my notes taken during the meeting, and written up immediately afterwards whilst still fresh in my mind. Iwama san was as nice and jolly "Ojiisan" as you could wish to meet:

Julian: I heard from your desk staff that foreigners must supply their Gaikoku-jin Tourokumeisho for copying, is that correct?

Iwama san: Yes, That's correct.

J: All foreigners?

I: Yes, we can't very well just ask for "Asian-kei" people's ID. That would be discriminatory.

J: Do you need the card to check something?

I: Well, we want to know what country they are from, how old they are, whether they have a visa, etc.. Julian san, you see, the thing is, being in Kabuki-cho especially, there are a lot of, how shall we say, suspicious characters.

J: Would it be acceptable for foreigners to show another sort of ID?

I: Yes, of course. I am quite happy to accept a driving license, or Houken-sho for example

J: So, what I heard from you desk staff yesterday about only accepting Gaikoku-jin Touroku Shoumeisho is incorrect?

I: I'm sorry you had to come all this way to hear something different than you were mistakenly told yesterday.

J: I heard that this is a rule of this club, is that correct? Or is it your head office policy?

I: Head office policy.

J: When did you start this rule? From the club's opening?

I: Yes, it was policy handed down from the head office from the beginning.

J: Why do you have this rule? Have you had some problems? What kind of problems?

I: As I said before, we are in Kabuki-cho and as I am sure you know there are lots of suspicious characters around here, the yakuza (he indicates visually people with scars or tattoos). I am sorry to say it but we especially have trouble with "Asian-kei" people. Of course nothing like murder, but threats to staff, angry words, etc.

J: What percentage of foreigners do you have here at the club?

I: Well I don't have any data on that but I would say around 3-4%

J: I heard that prospective Japanese members don't have to show any form of ID. Is that correct?

I: Yes, that is correct.

J: Why is that?

I: Well, we can"t very well ask them, can we? I don't think they would lie.

J: An alien card contains personal information. You know that under the "gakokujin touroku hou" I am only required to produce my alien card to authorized officials such as the police or immigration office.

I: Yes. As I said, I am quite happy to accept an alternative form of ID.

J: (Hands Iwama san the club's application form) Can you show me on this form the space for "Nationality"?

I: Well, there is no particular space for that. But look here, at the bottom we have a (series of) check box(es). This here says "I am not a member of any crime-syndicate".

J: Yes, I saw that. But nothing for nationality, right? So, let's say, just for example, that I was a born-in-Japan Korean national. From my face, or speech, or name you wouldn't know whether I was Japanese or not, would you?

I: No, no, we wouldn't know at all.

J: Then, doesn't that mean you base your decision on whether to ask for extra ID on whether someone looks like a foreigner alone?

I: Yes.

J: Wouldn't you call that rather arbitrary decision-making?

I: (Shiin).

J: Actually, I would go further than that, and say it was discriminatory.

I: That's terrible thing to say!

J: Don't you think it would be better not to ask for anybody's ID in that case?

I: That would be the ideal situation, yes.

J: Or how about asking for everybody's ID. Including Japanese?

I: We can't do that.

J: So you feel it is acceptable to ask for foreigners ID's, but asking for Japanese customers is unacceptable?

I: Yes. Look here on our promo flyer, it says in the small print that foreigners must supply ID.

J: Do you accept that, especially in Kabuki-cho, there are also suspicious people of Japanese nationality?

I: Yes, of course, no-one is saying that it is only foreigners who cause trouble. Of course there are Japanese too.

J: Yet you still don't require Japanese to show ID.

I: No.

J: Iwama san, thank you for your time and frank answers to my questions. I think I can understand more clearly your clubs application policy.

I: Please come back and see us any time.

Report ends. 8th Nov 2002. 5:47pm. Julian Wheatley.

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