Brazilians that were victims of discrimination
(originally part of the Bortz Press Conference at FCCJ August 1, 1998)
1.) Fishing equipment shop in Kita-machi, Hamamatsu, Shizuoka-ken
LOCATION: Tokai Tsurigu Yugen Kaisha. Shizuoka Ken, Hamamatsu Shi Tamachi 327-19. Tel: 053 456 4053
(Photo Courtesy Ana Bortz)
a) E.S., 41, a businessman, has lived in Japan for 9 and a half years. In 1988, he and his wife, H. entered this shop and asked the shop clerk what kind of spinning reels they had. The clerk could see that both of them were foreigners and asked where they were from. As soon as they answered, "Brazilians," the clerk said that they did not sell equipment to Brazilians. The couple wanted to know the reason for that, but the clerk immediately shouted and ordered them to put the spinning reels back.
b) A.B., 43, a businessman, has been in Japan for 7 years. In 1994, A.B and his wife M. came into the shop looking for a pot. M. asked the shop's owner if he could use the toilet. Showing a "not friendly" expression, according to A.B., the owner answered that the shop had no toilet.
c) M.A.N., 21, is a factory worker. He went into the shop one year ago and the staff did not wait on him.
d) J.S.Y., 46, is a factory worker who has lived in Japan for 8 years. In August
of 1997, he and two of his Brazilian friends went into this store. They were selecting
the products they were going to buy, talking together in Portuguese. The counter
staff asked J. if he could understand Japanese. In reply, he smiled and said, "Yes,"
thinking that maybe the clerk would recommend some products. Instead, the man said,
"If you're not going to buy anything, leave this place." They all put the
things they intendend to buy back to the sheves and left the place.
2.) Futon shop
LOCATION: Ema Futon Ten. Shizuoka Ken Hamamatsu Shi Tamachi 229-1. Tel: 053 453-2280
M.J.Y., 38, is a factory worker who has lived in Japan for over 8 years. Last
year, M., her sister and a friend entered a futon shop just across the street from
the fishing equipment shop previously mentioned. There were no customers inside and
the clerk looked at them with contempt, turned her back to them and refused to wait
3.) Two Drugstores
a) M.T, 27, a partner in a restaurant, has lived in Japan for 6 years. Last July 30, M. and two Brazilian friends entered a drug store in Sunayama-cho to buy black hair dye. They selected the product and while they were paying for it, the counter staff said that that product would not be useful for him and added,"In this shop we do not sell things to young people."
b) P.S., 37, has worked in Japan for 8 years. In 1994, P. and his friend went
to a downtown Hamamatsu drugstore but the owner did not want to wait on him. P. asked
his friend who worked as an interpreter to say, "I'm a second generation Japanese.
The only difference between us is that I do not understand Japanese." The Japanese
did not change his attitude. As he, P. was very astonished by the situation, his
reaction was to leave the place as soon as he could. As they were leaving, the owner's
wife came after them and apologized.
4.) Three Real Estate Agencies
a) M.T., 27, is a restaurant partner who has lived for 6 years in Japan. Just this year he tried to rent an apartment for three months. He had two Japanese men as guarantors, and visited 8 real estate agencies, but all of them refused to rent him an apartment after he said that he was Brazilian.
b) R.A.M., 26, is a businessman who has lived for 7 years in Japan. Last April, he saw an apartment for rent in a 116-page special magazine edited by a real estate agency. By phone, an employee told him that none of the landlords of those apartments would rent to foreigners.
c) K.Y., 42, is a businessman who has lived in Japan for 7 years. In March of
1997, he saw an advertisement in a magazine for apartments for rent in a new building.
He asked a Japanese friend to negotiate the contract. When the real estate agent
realized that the resident would be a Brazilian, he assured them that all of the
apartments were rented already. Later on, when the Japanese friend questioned them
further, the real estate agent said that the landlord did not want Brazilians as
5.) Rental video shop and swimming pool
C.L.F., 24, from the USA, is an English teacher who has lived for two years in
Japan. In January of 1996 he went with his friend A.I., a 22-year-old Brazilian worker,
to a rental video shop that is in the same building as a swimming pool in Kikugawa
City, Shizuoka-ken. According to them, it was known that some Brazilians were not
allowed to enter the pool, but they were unaware that Brazilians received the same
treatment at the video store. As soon as they came into the store, the clerk asked
A., aggressively, which factory he (C.) worked for. A. explained that C. was American
and an English teacher and that he was the factory worker. She listened to the answer,
was rude to them, and did not treat them properly, but permitted them to rent the
6.) Toy store
LOCATION: ALADIN Shizuoka Ken Hamamatsu Shi Mikatabara Cho 2150-2. Tel : 053 437 9877
A.Y., 34, has lived in Japan for seven years . Last March, she went to a toy store
in Mikatabara with her two children, N. 11, and G. 10. They were supposed to choose
Legos, as requested by their teachers, for school activities. The mother left the
store and went to a friend's place, three blocks from the store. Thirty minutes later
she was back and her boys were outside the store and seemed to be very sad. She asked
what happened but they did not say a word. Then, she entered the store, bought the
Legos, and left the store. On their way back home, in the car, she questioned the
boys who said that the clerk drove them out of the store saying that children were
not allowed to remain in the store by themselves. She considered that an outrage,
drove back to the shop and asked for explanations, as she could see that there were
many children without parents inside the store.
E.M.L., 37, has lived in Japan for five years. In October 1996, she was on her
way back from her job and as usual she took the bus number 11 from Hamamatsu Station
to Nipashi ward. There were about 15 people on that bus and seeing two free seats,
walked to them. But before she could sit down, the driver spoke on the microphone,
"Minna-san, kaban ni kyotsukete kudasai. Gaikokujin ga notte imasu ." (Everybody
please take care of your bags because a foreigner has gotten on the bus.). She became
paralyzed with fear. The only thing she could do, already crying, was to get off
at the next bus stop. Since then, she has never used a bus again, afraid of being
humiliated in the same way again. Every time she needs to go somewhere, she calls
8.) Department Store
E.S., 14, has lived in Japan for one and a half years. Last April he and a friend
went to a department store in Hamamatsu City. As they walked around the store they
realized that the security guard was watching them all the time and stared intently
everytime they touched something on the shelves. Some days later, E. went to a carpet
store in Iwata City. He was the only customer and the four clerks turned their backs
to him as he entered the shop.
E.M.L., 37, has lived in Japan for five years. In 1993, she moved toTerawaki ward
and started to participate in parent-teachers' meetings at her children's school.
In the first weeks there was a kind of excitement among the other mothers and they
wanted to become her friend. Many offered some gifts. One of them offered to drive
her back home and she accepted. She was invited to come inside and they had tea together.
E.'s husband could speak Japanese and he told the Japanese woman that they were Brazilians.
As soon as she heard his words she replied aggressively, "I thought you were
Americans." Then she quickly left their house. Afterwards, the Japanese woman
did not talk to E. anymore and prohibited her children from playing with the Brazilian
children. After that E. was ignored at future meetings and was a target of gossip
from the other mothers. The next year, when she went to school to enroll her children,
some boys walked after her saying, "Gaijin, kowai!" (We are afraid of foreigners!).
She quit the parent-teachers' meetings. When she goes out with her daughter, P.,
13, the girl begs her to lie and say that she is American.
10.) Electronics store
The same Brazilian woman entered an electronics shop in Terawaki, Hamamatsu. An
older couple walked toward her, stood in front of her, and raised their arms showing
they were scared of being robbed. She quickly left the store, went to her car, and
cried for hours.
11.) Jewelry Store
Ana Bortz, 34 years, a reporter, has lived for seven years in Japan. After identifying
herself as a Brazilian, she was driven out of Seibi-do Trading, Sakana-machi, Hamamatsu,
on June 16, 1998.
(Photos Courtesy Ana Bortz)
12.) Karaoke bar
LOCATION: Music Lounge Abend ("Aabendo"--a nightclub) Shizuoka ken, Hamamatsu Shi, Sunayama Cho 330-6, tel : 053 451 3361)
On June 17,1998, J.S., 21, went to a karaoke bar in Sunayama ward and found a notice written in Portuguese, forbidding the entrance of Brazilians and Peruvians [Confirmed by Dave Aldwinckle on October 2, 1999, during an on-site visit. Note that the bar girls photographed on the right are mostly non-Japanese; only they are the exceptions.]
13.) City Councillor
On May 16, 1998, the Hamamatsu Health and Welfare Committee discussed the topic:
"Health Insurance for Foreigners," and whether all foreigners should be
allowed to apply for national health insurance. One of the councillors, Juichiro
Yanagawa remarked, "Foreigners who are not satisfied should go back to their
countries." A few days later, on May 22, the councillor wrote a note ordering
the sentence to be erased from the report. (Click
here for newspaper substantiation of that in the Shizuoka Shinbun, May 23,
Some posters written in Portuguese and Japanese asking Brazilians to leave the
city were put up on poles in front of Ito Yokado department store, in downtown Hamamatsu.
(Photo Courtesy Ana Bortz. Illegible, sorry.)
15.) Four years ago some Brazilians fought in Denny's restaurant, in downtown
Hamamatsu and for awhile after that, foreigners were not allowed to enter.
16.) Police department
On June 30,1998, some officers from Toyokawa police station, Aichi Prefecture,
went to a block of buildings in Suwa ward and visited all foreign residents' apartments.
The officers asked many questions alleging they were investigating the robbery of
a bank customer in the area. They spoke to R.M.'s Brazilian children,12 and 15, asking
if they knew a long-haired man. They answered, "Yes." The next day, without
their parents' permission, the officers took both of them, and a 14-year-old Brazilian
girl and an 18-year-old Peruvian man, and drove all of them to the police station.
They were separated and taken to two small rooms. The officers told them if they
cooperated, they would receive /1,100. The police filed reports on them, took their
pictures with ID cards over their chests, and took their fingerprints. As soon as
the father was informed of this, he ran to the police station and demanded that his
children be released. They remained under interrogation for four hours and then were
released. Later, M. was looking for a lawyer and thinking of suing the police. Hours
later, on the same day, police officers found the two suspects, 18 and 20-year-old
Brazilians. They were sent to the police station and asked about a wig and a cap.
They were asked to wear the wig and put on the cap to have their pictures taken with
ID cards. Then the police filed reports on them, took their fingerprints, and took
hair clippings and saliva for DNA tests. Nothing was proven against them, but they
were fired from their jobs because of the police incident.
17.) Convenience store
E.K.K., 36, a journalist, has lived in Japan for five years. In the summer of
1996, he saw a convenience store in Kosai City that had a poster on the entrance
door forbidding foreigners to enter. The poster was written in Chinese, Portuguese
and Spanish. The manager said if he permitted foreigners to enter, Japanese customers
would not come into the store.
H.G., 38, a journalist, has lived in Japan for 14 years. He called a hotel in
Ueno, Tokyo to make a reservation. They talked about every detail but after the Brazilian
journalist spelled his name in "katakana," the receptionist realized that
he was a foreigner and then refused the reservation.