"The Spirit of 'The Community'"
(Adopted Dec 20, 2002)

And Guidelines for Posting to The Community Mailing List

(Adopted September 30, 2005)

As Members of "The Community", we accept the concepts that:

a) non-Japanese (and foreign-looking peoples) are residents, not merely guests, in Japan,

b) non-Japanese (etc) make similar contributions to their communities as Japanese,

c) non-Japanese (etc) should have the same access to the fruits of Japanese society, with as few restrictions as possible,

d) non-Japanese (etc) should be treated with dignity and respect, and should likewise treat people in their community the same way,

e) non-Japanese (etc) have an obligation to show respect for the laws of Japan, and respect for and interest in the language, culture, and society of Japan,

f) non-Japanese (etc) have the right to ask for reasonable changes and improvements in their social status and surroundings in Japan in a calm, reasoned manner,

g) the actions of individuals do not and should not reflect upon a group of people as a whole,

h) people should be cordial, constructive, and civil in their discourse with one another,

i) all people are equal under Japanese law in the spirit of Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution and the UN Convention on Racial Discrimination.

We adopt the above as "The Spirit of The Community", and ask that Community Members abide by these concepts in their interactions with both Community Members and their Japanese communities at large. If the reader has trouble accepting these concepts, we respectfully ask them to form their own community elsewhere with similar beliefs to the reader's own. With these understandings in mind, The Community will seek to undertake projects and promote ideas to make Japan a better place for everyone to live.

(Originally drafted by Arudou Debito, incorporating amendments from Community Members, and passed by all voters unanimously in an open Community poll on December 20, 2002.)

Okay, less tatemae, more honne:

What is the reason behind the above clarification of goals?

(Written by One Community Coordinator Arudou Debito on December 26, 2002)

After three years in existence, The Community Mailing List by year-end 2002 reached a stage of growth and effervescence where some posts were showing lower signal-to-noise information ratios. Some have said that the List was being "Fukuzawa-ized" (The Dead Fukuzawa Society was a seminal unmoderated mailing list; it eventually collapsed due to internet trolls trashing it for sport).

This has been a special concern for The Community List because in future, "internet trolls" are being attracted here by the controversial Otaru Onsen Lawsuit (even though it is not a Community Project) merely to make trouble. Many active members quit the List due to (they say) the debate arena's concurrent unconstructive and overargumentativeness.

Don't get us wrong: Differences in opinion are fine, but apparent tendencies towards argumentation just for the sake of it--without attempts to draw conclusions--are not productive in the long run. There are plenty of other usenet lists for that sort of thing.

This is why we decided that it would be helpful to have Members on the same page "in spirit" (i.e. as per the above ideals).

We are all Community Members for a reason: to accomplish something.
Let's keep that in mind when we post.

On that topic:

Posting Guidelines For "The Community" Mailing List


By The Community Moderators

Dave Gutteridge, Jens Wilkinson, Scott Hards, and Arudou Debito

September 30, 2005




In 1999, "The Community" was created, in part by Arudou Debito (then Dave Aldwinckle), as a forum for people living long-term in Japan to share ideas on 1) how to improve their life here, and 2) how to make Japan a more open and tolerant place for its growing multiracial and multicultural community. The original mission statement and goals are available at:




Over time, The Community has taken on projects raising awareness about the need to protect human rights in Japan. Information on these activities is available at:




As the group has grown, postings by some new members have questioned our basic goals, or the need for or existence of "human rights." This is why, in 2002, we created guidelines called "The Spirit of The Community" to establish a clear common ground for agreement between members regarding certain issues. For example, members of The Community should agree that foreigners are taxpaying residents of Japan with the right to push for change, not merely guests. The "Spirit of The Community" may be found at:




As these goals are the group's raison d'etre, we feel no need to entertain debate about their merits, which should be obvious to all participants here from the start. Devil's advocacy is tolerated, but only if it is employed constructively to review and sharpen our approach to achieving our goals.


People who feel they don't share these goals or this understanding about them are asked to go to other mailing lists which may better serve their needs.


By 2005, it became clear that we needed more specific guidelines about what topics are germane to discussion on The Community list and what actions may be taken by the Moderators in order to maintain the list's focus and quality.




Although one need not specifically confine discussion to human rights, please keep in mind that the overall goal of discussion is improving one's life in Japan.


Appropriate for this list:


1. Discussion of human rights in Japan


While actual actions and their planning remain fundamental to the purpose of The Community, discussion which may not necessarily lead to action is also encouraged. Cross-pollenization of ideas is a good thing, as it leads to new ideas and understandings.


2.  Questions and advice for dealing with issues related to living in Japan


Procedural problems and questions about living in Japan are generally welcome. These issues would include how to deal with a landlord or an exclusionary business, immigration and visa issues, taxes, health insurance, and other legal, business, or official matters that directly affect quality of life. Ideally members will have pursued a few simple avenues of research, such as searching on the Internet, before posting. Collectively, our membership is very experienced in dealing with issues that confront foreigners, and helping each other is precisely why The Community exists.


3. Political and social commentary about Japan


Other topics which can directly affect our standard of living are also appropriate for discussion. Elections, new government policies, legislative pushes, media campaigns, labor laws, and other newsworthy matters fall into this category. Generally, this kind of discussion starts with reference to a specific event or article concerning Japan, coupled with a comment from the poster as to why it matters or a question related to it. Some topics may be contentious, so keep it constructive.



Not appropriate for this list:


The following topics will most likely be stopped by the moderators:


1. Issues that are not related to Japan


We stress that this is a list about Japan. This group has people from many backgrounds, and the only thing many have in common is some connection to Japanese society. While some may believe that international issues carry universal importance, we believe the discussion of most of these issues is not of benefit to a good portion of this list.  For example, forwarding a post from a separate human rights organization about genocide in Africa would not be allowed. While the topic no doubt deserves wide public release, this is not the forum for it, as it has no connection to Japan.  Political and legal developments in other countries are also not appropriate, unless the poster can demonstrate some strong relevance for residents of Japan.


2.  Life in Japan topics


Casual topics, such as favorite ramen shops, amusing local encounters, why you hate enka, and other topics that relate to Japan but are not fundamentally about improving life for us here will be halted. The poster must show how it relates to the goals of The Community or the thread will be stopped.


Fortunately, there is another Yahoo! Groups list for a more open discussion of anything at all to do with Japan, entitled "Life In Japan":



3.Sales, promotions, or any kind of "spam"


Anything deemed to be promotional or of a commercial nature will be halted immediately, the posting removed from the archives, and the poster removed from the list immediately and without warning.


4.  Postings that violate "The Spirit Of The Community"


Again, all postings to this list must comply with the "Spirit Of The Community" (see above) so that we do not waste time debating what we believe to be the shared beliefs of our members.


5. Postings that violate basic "netiquette," debate ethics, or common courtesy


We ask that posters avoid the following:


Inappropriate quoting.  Repeating the relevant parts of someone's post is fine and encouraged, but avoid using entire long paragraphs, or worse, their entire post.


Posts that don't contribute.   Don't enter a debate by simply saying "I agree" or "I don't think so" without offering new information, viewpoints, or logic.  Each post should contribute something fresh. Ad hominem attacks, posts which criticize another group member's character, motives or qualifications, rather than the logic or ideas in their postings, are not allowed.


Impoliteness Foul language is always unacceptable, as are insults of any kind.  We also discourage sarcasm when criticizing the views of others.  Please keep it polite and professional.


Being a troll Even without violating any of the above, posters who exploit the anonymity of the Internet to deliberately mislead the group about their identity or motives, or who appear to be attempting to flame bait, or otherwise intend to stir up trouble will be summarily banned.  The Community does not require signatures with full, real names, but encourages forthrightness regarding identity, so that people are more likely to stand by their comments.

(More on the phenomenon of "trolls" at http://members.aol.com/intwg/trolls.htm)





Foremost, the moderators stress that we do not feel threatened by plurality, and welcome posts that further discussion. More important to us, however, is constructiveness. If a post to the list violates the above guidelines, or a previously productive discussion deteriorates, then the moderators will step in and take any or all of the following actions, depending on the situation:


Warnings, which may be done on-list or off.


"Switching off" of posting privileges. Being "switched off" means a member may read, but not post messages to the list. The time period is at the moderators' discretion.


A full ban on membership to the list.


We also generally give only one warning, either on-list or off.


Anyone who disregards a moderator warning will be acted upon. These decisions may be appealed to the moderators, though appeal is no guarantee of a decision being changed.


In cases where someone feels a mistake in moderation policy has been made, or an unfair judgment passed, the moderators can be contacted at:




While some of this may seem a bit strict at times, we're proud of the fact that this list remains active and productive after several years, and we believe policies like this have contributed to that.


We look forward to good discussions on The Community List with active and constructive participants, with the goal of making Japan a better place for everyone.




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