Date: Tue, 02 Nov 1999
From: (walsh)
Subject: Foreigners and Police and Press

OK. I've been so inspired by The Community, I wrote a letter (below) to Mainichi Daily News.
As you can see, I had trouble getting through on their e-mail address; some inquiries got me in contact with a foreign reporter (?) and a senior editor.

I don't know if this effort will go anywhere but it is my response to two issues I find on the list of objectives: police treatment and perception of foreigners by media.

I would welcome: (1) any constructive feedback on my approach and/or the letter itself and (2) offers of logistical support, that is, suggestions on appropriate (re)sources should MDN contact me with any expression of interest in doing a feature of the sort I suggest at the end of my letter.

Thank you for your time. I feel I'm in great company with The Community.

Mr. Tokizawa: [DW: possibly a senior editor]

Thank you for your reply.

I have tried, as you can see in the transcript below, to submit copy to the e-mail address you provide BUT it has been returned by my server as undeliverable.

Therefore, I would much appreciate it if you could direct the copy to the Readers' Forum editor.

I note that you are a senior editor with MDN. Whether the paper decides to publish my letter or not, I would like to encourage and assist, insofar as I am able, an investigation into police treatment of foreigners. Do not hesitate to contact me if there is interest at MDN.

Thank you.


Some applause is due the Mainichi Daily News for prominent coverage in its front page report headlined "Foreigner wins racism case" (Oct. 13) concerning the recent decision by the Shizuoka District Court that banning foreigners from a store contravenes the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. Interestingly, the source of the article is cited as the Japanese language Mainichi Shimbun which did carry a report on the matter in its edition of the same date on page 26. Evidently, readers of each of the two newspapers are perceived by publishers to hold markedly different interests -- a division that I would seriously question.

Since the court decision is described in a sub-headline as an "epoch ruling", and no doubt it is, I would have anticipated some timely editorial comment in both the English and Japanese newspapers on this court decision.

Regarding the particulars of the ruling, I found it regrettable that the judge apparently offered no comment about the contents of a
pamphlet distributed by the Hamamatsu police warning against theft. Did the pamphlet make explicit reference to foreigners as suspect? If so, it is reasonable to conclude that the police have, at the very least, encouraged racist attitudes that generated this sort of incident, which, when reported in the international media, does not project a favourable image of Japanese society.

[NB from Dave Aldwinckle: It does not. But the defendant in the abovementioned Bortz Case submitted it to the Shizuoka District Court as evidence justifying his exclusionary policy. See above link.]

Perhaps Mainichi newspapers might serve the interest of all readers by offering some investigative reporting in the near future on how people who do not appear to be Japanese on sight (keeping in mind that there are some "foreign looking" persons who have acquired Japanese nationality) are characterized in communications by the Japanese police,both internal and public.

Daniel M. Walsh
Sakai, Osaka

For more on the Bortz Case referred to above, CLICK HERE.

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