Japan Times on neighborhood sento bathhouse restoration activists: Omits history of how Japan’s already-declining public bath industry hurt itself with “Japanese Only” signs

JT: “Bathhouses are a space where I can ground myself,” says Sam Holden, who first found solace in sentō when he was a graduate student in Tokyo. Holden, who labels himself an urban activist, is a writer, translator and renovation specialist. He founded Sento & Neighborhood together with four associates in 2020 with the idea of “changing historic bathhouses as little as possible but finding a way for them to become sustainable,” Holden explains, hinting at the financial difficulties that many sentō face…

To Holden, visiting bathhouses means exploring the back alleys that embody a deeper layer of Japan’s urban fabric tucked away from busy and anonymous main streets — and one that has been part of Japanese cities for centuries. “Across the street from the bathhouse you have the liquor shop where the grandpas gather, the vegetable grocer and tofu shop and all sorts of local eateries,” Holden says. “Preserving a bathhouse means not only preserving that building, but this neighborhood network.”

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: I applaud the efforts of these movements to keep neighborhood sento open. However, the writer of this article (and perhaps the activists themselves) neglected to mention an important part of history, where public/private baths have refused entry to foreign and foreign-looking residents and customers. If offering this communal experience is “an important channel of communication between neighbors”, then it’s also important to recognize the fact that sometimes sento and onsen have undermined themselves by putting up “Japanese Only” signs, and not recognized “foreigners” as fellow neighbors. Openness to all members of the community should also be part of their slogans.

Also problematic is that the Japan Times seems to be forgetful of this discriminatory history as an editorial policy, as their archive on recent articles regarding Sento demonstrates. The JT laments the decline of the industry (for example, here) without getting into how some of their decline is their own fault. That’s particularly galling, considering I wrote for The Japan Times for two decades a regular column, in addition to other stringer articles, on this very subject.

Seems the Japan Times doesn’t prioritize this type of issue anymore. So much for reporting “in the public interest”.  This is how history gets unlearned and eventually repeats itself.  Just wait for the next moral panic blamed on “foreigners”, and communal doors to a public service will shut all over again.  Even if it drives the excluder out of business. Talking about preservation without including this issue is in fact counterproductive for the industry.

Migrant Integration Policy Index rates Japan as “Integration Denied”, and “Critically Unfavorable” in terms of Anti-Discrimination measures. And this is for 2019, before Covid shut Japan’s borders.

Migrant Integration Policy Index: “Japan scores 47/100 [Rank: “Integration Denied”], slightly below the average MIPEX country (49/100) because Japanese policies still refuse to recognise that Japan is a country of immigration. This denial leads to contradictory policies that create as many obstacles as opportunities for foreign nationals. Japan’s approach to integration is categorised as “Immigration without Integration”. While Japan is a leader far ahead of the other countries in this category, its policies still deny basic rights and equal opportunities to newcomers. Foreign nationals can find some ways to settle long-term in Japan. However, Japanese policies only go halfway to guarantee them equal opportunities, (e.g., on health and education), while also denying them several basic rights, most notably protections from discrimination.

“Japan needs to invest more on all the three dimensions, especially to guarantee immigrants with the same basic rights as Japanese citizens. The way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Japan’s current policies encourage the public to see immigrants as subordinates and not their neighbours.” […] Japan is one of the only MIPEX countries still without a dedicated anti-discrimination law and body. Japan is the among bottom three countries for anti-discrimination policies, together with other ‘immigration without integration’ countries. Japan’s approach is slightly ahead of poorer Central European countries with equally small and new immigrant populations, but far behind other developed countries…”

COMMENT: It’s as we’ve been saying here on Debito.org for decades: This is what happens when you are the only developed country without a national law against racial discrimination. And this is the MIPEX report as of 2019.  I look forward to seeing the next report, where it takes into account Japan’s racist policy of closed borders (even to lawful and Permanent Residents, for a time) due to Covid.  I strongly doubt Japan’s numbers will improve.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs sets up “foreign media policing website” where anyone can report to J govt any foreign info “incompatible with our country’s standpoint”. Actually, quite within character.

Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has put up a website that enables anyone to submit to the government “information about any accounts in overseas [media] relating to our country that is based on misunderstandings of the truth/facts (jijitsu), or is incompatible with our country’s standpoint.”

Actually, what MOFA is doing is very much within the Japanese Government (GOJ)’s character.  The GOJ is very sensitive to how they are perceived abroad, historically stepping in many times to “correct misperceptions” in foreign media.  See here, here, here, here, here, and here, for example.  (And it’s a stark contrast to, for example, the Americans, who ignore outright disinformation even when it affects their own citizens abroad.)

Granted, compared to the US’s negligence (even making outright threats against their US citizens for not ignoring racial discrimination in Japan), I’d rather that a government step in to correct public misperceptions when their citizens abroad stand to get hurt.  But I’m also suspicious of the GOJ’s motives, as evidenced by the links above, as their “standpoint” towards historical and factual interpretation is riddled with ahistorical revisionism.  

Moreover, asking for the public’s participation like this is redolent of the “Snitch Sites” the Immigration Bureau deployed in 2004, so that anyone could anonymously sicc the GOJ on any foreigner they thought could be an “illegal” — much to the delight of all the Zainichi Korean haters out there.  

In sum, this “MOFA foreign media policing site” is yet another politically-motivated government-sponsored website that is encouraging online abuse and feeding the trolls.

My SNA Visible Minorities 36: “Abe’s Assassination and the Revenge of History” (July 18, 2022), on how his historical revisionism created a blind spot that ultimately killed him

SNA: The assassination of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has occasioned a lot of valuable, eye-opening discussions in the media, but few if any have focused upon how Abe’s death could be seen as a form of karmic payback–what happens when you ignore the lessons of history in the pursuit of raw political power.

The discussions have instead focused on the veneer of Japan’s “safe” society being blown away by a homemade gun; or about how the world’s democracies have been deprived of a Japanese leader comfortable on the international stage (while egregiously overlooking all the damage he did to Japan’s democracy).

A few intrepid journalists (starting with the SNA) have explored the swamp of Abe’s political connections with the “Moonies” religious cult, and how that probably gave motive to the killer.

To me the most absurd debate has been whether Abe’s death was an “assassination” at all –- the Japanese media have uniformly refused to use the corresponding word ansatsu, portraying it as merely a “shooting event” (jugeki jiken).

These important topics have been covered elsewhere by people with more expertise, so this column will take a different tack. It will discuss the role of national narratives in a society, how dishonest national narratives stunt the maturity of societies, and how a willful ignorance of history due to these national narratives circled back to kill Abe…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/07/18/visible-minorities-abes-assassination-and-the-revenge-of-history/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JULY 18, 2022

Table of Contents:
1) Tokyo Musashino City fails to get local referenda voting rights for its NJ Residents (Dec 2021). Absorb the arguments of the national-level xenophobic campaign against it.

2) Archiving my SNA VM12 “A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020 (link to full text)

3) Archiving SNA VM10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko) (link to full text)

And finally…
4) My SNA VM35: “Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers” (June 20, 2022) including the Sandamali, Suraj, Fernando, Okafor, Ekei etc. Cases.

Tokyo Musashino City fails to get local referenda voting rights for its NJ Residents (Dec 2021). Absorb the arguments of the national-level xenophobic campaign against it.

Here’s yet another example of a local government, a suburb of Tokyo called Musashino, trying to do what’s right for ALL of its residents (including those without Japanese citizenship) by getting their voice heard via voting in local referenda.  To stress:  These are votes on local, repeat, local referenda (i.e., they’re not actually *electing representatives*) — and the results are not even legally binding.  Moreover, according to a source below, 73% of the public supported the move (that is, before the xenophobes and alarmists stepped in to bully and scare the public). 

To stress:  These are votes on local, repeat, local referenda (they’re not actually *electing representatives*) — and the results are not even legally binding.  Moreover, according to the Takao source below, 73% of the public supported the move (that is, before the xenophobes and alarmists stepped in on a national level to bully and scare the public). So witness the typical alarmism behind sharing any political power in Japan.  The tactic is simple:  portray the granting of any voice in governance to non-citizens as a security issue.  The assumption then becomes that enfranchised foreigners will inevitably use their power to hurt Japanese citizens. Substantiating articles follow.  Trace the arguments pro and con within and see what I mean.  The article from the right-wing rag Japan Forward is of particular notice, reprinting the right-wing Sankei Shinbun’s blatant xenophobic editorial policies; as always it gives us a distillation of intellectualized racism.  An academic article as counterweight to the Sankei follows that.  A quote of note:

Takao:  “This backlash [to the Musashino policy proposal] highlights the LDP’s intention to allow more foreign workers to stay in Japan — to address labour shortages — while also suppressing their rights to maintain the image of a ‘homogeneous’ nation. The Japan International Cooperation Agency has indicated that Japan will need to quadruple the number of foreign workers to over 6 million by 2040 to sustain economic growth. But the civic and political participation of foreign residents in Japan is necessary for the sake of smooth social integration. Despite conservative protests, it is local authorities who are forced to step up, fill the vacuum and cope with the increasing pressure of foreign workers’ needs, which are not well addressed by the national government. Prospects for the further protection of foreign residents’ rights in Japan will hinge on effective policy coordination and leadership at the local level.”

Archiving my SNA VM12 “A Despotic Bridge Too Far”, on Japan’s racist blanket ban on Foreign Resident re-entry, July 20, 2020 (link to full text)

SNA (Tokyo) — How bad does it have to get? I’m talking about Japan’s cruelty and meanness towards its Non-Japanese residents. How bad before people think to step in and stop it?

I think we now have an answer to that due to Japan’s recent policy excluding only foreigners from re-entry at its border, even if they’ve lived here for decades, as a by-product of the Covid-19 pandemic. Japanese re-entrants get let in after testing and quarantine; no other G7 country excludes all foreigners only.

Consequently, many Non-Japanese residents found themselves stranded overseas, separated from their Japanese families, lives and livelihoods, watching their investments dry up and visa clocks run out without recourse. Or perhaps found themselves stranded within Japan, as family members abroad died, and the prospect of attending their funeral or taking care of personal matters in person would mean exile.

However, protests against this policy have been unusually mainstream, including institutions who have been for generations largely silent regarding other forms of discrimination towards foreigners in Japan. Consider these examples of how institutionalized and embedded racism is in Japan:

You’re probably aware that Japan has long advertised itself as a “monocultural, homogeneous society,” denying that minorities, racial or ethnic, exist within it. But did you know that Japan still refuses to include Non-Japanese residents as “people” in its official population tallies? Or to list them on official family registries as “spouses” of Japanese? Or that Japan’s constitution expressly reserves equality under the law for Japanese citizens (kokumin) in its Japanese translation? This complicates things for all Non-Japanese residents to this day…
Full text now archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=16172

My SNA VM35: “Visible Minorities: Torture and Murder in Japan Detention Centers” (June 20, 2022) including the Sandamali, Suraj, Fernando, Okafor, Ekei etc. Cases.

News Headline: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman.”

SNA: In August 2020, a Sri Lanka national named Ratnayake Liyanage Wishma Sandamali was arrested for overstaying her visa, and detained in a Nagoya Immigration Detention Center. She had arrived in Japan in 2017, but her student visa was cancelled in 2019 because she couldn’t afford tuition fees. While in detention, she opted not to return to Sri Lanka, reportedly due to reduced flights during Covid and an abusive boyfriend back home.

During her seven months in custody, however, Sandamali’s health steadily declined due to a stress-induced stomach condition. According to the Straits Times, Sandamali “was vomiting blood in her final days, and was so weak that she had no control of her arms and legs. The immigration authorities allegedly turned a blind eye to medical expert advice to put her on an intravenous drip or to grant her provisional release to ease her stress. A report by public broadcaster NHK suggested that officials tend to suspect malingering for minor illnesses in their reluctance to grant provisional release.” […]

On March 6, 2021, Sandamali died in her cell, aged 33. By the time Sandamali’s family received her body, “her skin was wrinkled like an old person, and it was stuck firmly to her bones.” In November 2021, Sandamali’s family lodged a criminal complaint against officials at the Nagoya facility, accusing them of murder through willful negligence.

Unfortunately, as noted above, last week the Nagoya District Public Prosecutor’s Office dropped the Sandamali case, citing an inability to establish criminal liability or even a cause of death, blaming it on “multiple factors.” Multiple factors indeed. Sandamali’s case is not unprecedented. According to CNN, since 1997 at least 27 foreign detainees have died in Japan’s Immigration detention centers (aka “Gaijin Tanks,” because they detain foreigners only).

The main factor here is the cruel and unusual punishment by public officers, expressly forbidden under Article 36 of the Constitution. Yet nobody has ever been held criminally liable for foreigner deaths in detention. That’s what makes Japan’s Gaijin Tanks so cruel and unusual. Let’s consider a few more cases, then talk about the system that killed them…

Archiving SNA VM10: “The Guestists and the Collaborators”, May 18, 2020, on how long-term NJ leverage their newfound privilege against other NJ Residents (e.g., Donald Keene, Tsurunen Marutei, and Oussouby Sacko) (Link to full text)

SNA: In a recent SNA Speakeasy on “Foreign Residents in the Coronavirus Era,” I argued that Non-Japanese (NJ) must band together and be vocal about claiming what’s due them as taxpayers. We shouldn’t wait for the government to deign to divvy out what it thinks foreigners want, as if it’s the omotenashi (hospitality) Japan offers any guest. Instead, NJ residents should be telling the government what they want, on their terms; trying to influence policy agendas that affect them by, for example, participating in local government forums and policy deliberation councils (shingikai).

People have been advocating this for years. Why isn’t it happening as often as it should? Because NJ (especially those in the English-language communities) collectively suffer from something I call “guestism”: falling for the fiction that they are merely “guests” in Japan subject to the whims of the Japanese “hosts.” Their mantra is “It’s their country, not mine. Who am I to tell them what to do?”

Still, eventually some NJ live here long enough, develop deep connections and language abilities, and even become Japanese citizens. Some transform into community leaders, prominent business owners and spokespeople, media mavens, and elected officials. They are definitely no longer “guests.”

But once they earn due respect and authority, another problem comes up: Many squander their position by becoming “collaborators.”

Instead of using their power for good, such as showing other NJ how to follow in their footsteps and to assimilate and enfranchise themselves, collaborators pull the ladder up behind them. They actively consort with the powers-that-be to preserve their privilege and to undermine other NJ Residents.

For example, consider Marutei Tsurunen, Donald Keene, and Oussouby Sacko…
Full text is now archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=16075

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER JUNE 20, 2022

Table of Contents:
MURDER DECRIMINALIZED
1) Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable
2) Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

OTHER UNFAIRNESS
3) MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners
4) Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

FULL TEXT OF OLDER SNA COLUMNS ARCHIVED
5) SNA VM9: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (full text)
6) Debito’s SNA VM8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (full text)

… and finally …
7) My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

Asahi: “Prosecutors drop case over death of detained Sri Lankan woman”, predictably ending Criminal Case brought by the family of Wishma Sandamali, and keeping Japan’s deadly “Gaijin Tanks” unaccountable

Asahi: Public prosecutors will drop their case against senior officials from the Nagoya Regional Immigration Services Bureau over the death of a Sri Lankan woman at an immigration detention facility, according to sources. Wishma Sandamali, 33, died in March 2021 at a facility run by the bureau, in a case that sparked widespread outcry over her mistreatment.

The Nagoya District Public Prosecutors Office launched an investigation into whether the senior officials in charge at the time had committed murder or negligence as a guardian resulting in death, responding to criminal complaints against them from Wishma’s family and others. Sources said the prosecutors office concluded it cannot establish criminal liability in this case following discussions with another prosecution office that is higher in rank.

COMMENT: We’ve talked about the Sandamali Case here on Debito.org before, as we have the many other cases of death and destruction in Japan’s cruel Detention Centers. One of the reasons they remain so cruel is that they face no accountability, as seen here.  And prosecutors declining to prosecute those who kill foreigners have been discussed at length in my book Embedded Racism, Chapter 6, “A ‘Chinaman’s Chance’ in Japanese Court” (with 2022 updates of more cases, including Sandamali’s, in the Second Edition).

Debito’s SNA VM9 archived: “Pandemic Releases Antibodies toward Non-Japanese”, April 20, 2020 (link to full text)

SNA opening from VM9 two years ago: Pandemics can bring out the best in people. Newton came up with theories on calculus, optics, and gravity while in quarantine. Shakespeare wrote some of his best plays, and Edvard Munch created iconic paintings in isolation. Even today, we’re seeing heroes in the health care industry, volunteers sewing and distributing basic personal protective equipment, neighbors checking up on each other, and leaders stepping up their organizational skills. When the daily normal becomes a struggle between life and death, we see what people are really made of.

In Japan, we’re seeing much of the “keep calm and carry on” mettle found in a society girded for frequent natural disasters. But that grit hasn’t trickled upward to Japan’s political elite, which has ruled largely without accountability for generations, and at times like these appears particularly out of touch. More concerned about the economics of cancelling the Tokyo Olympics than about the safety of the general public, Japan’s policymakers haven’t conducted adequate Covid-19 testing, exercised timely or sufficient social distancing, or even tallied accurate infection statistics.

As happened in prior outbreaks, such as SARS and AIDS, leaders have deflected blame onto foreigners. First China, then outsiders in general, starting with the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship (which, despite a third of its passengers being Japanese citizens, was even excluded from Japan’s coronavirus patient tallies). But treating outsiders like contagion has consequences: Society develops antibodies, and Japan’s already-normalized discrimination intensifies. Consider the case of Mio Sugita, a Liberal Democratic Party Lower House Diet Member from Tottori…

Read the full text archived at https://www.debito.org/?p=16031

MRI on rude and slipshod treatment from Shizuoka hospitals and health care practitioners

MRI: I have been working and living in Shizuoka City for [close to a decade] now. I have not had any serious illnesses other than a mild case of chronic gastritis but in recent years, I know it has become more serious due to my symptoms becoming more severe regardless of the Takecab that I take daily for it. Due to this health issue becoming more serious, I have been needing to visit various clinics and I have been experiencing what I call indirect refusal.

So, I know that in the past, many foreigners were refused medical care due to not having kokumin kenkou hoken but even though I have a valid card, the doctor will always ignore me while I am trying to explain my symptoms and reason for my visit. Both the doctors and staff of various clinics here in Shizuoka City have almost systematically acted cold, uncaring, unresponsive and even downright rude to me.

After this happened the first couple times, I thought it was just that one particular nurse or doctor that was the problem, but after numerous experiences just like this at a number of other clinics, I realized that this is a big problem that needs to be brought to light.

Every time I am waiting in the lobby of a clinic or hospital here in Japan, I have a constant feeling that I am wasting my time and money. I almost always leave a clinic kicking myself because the doctor did indeed do everything they could to avoid helping me… [Specific names of institutions and their treatment follow.]

Kyodo: Japan-born American files suit against Japan’s dual nationality ban

Kyodo: A Japanese-born American said Thursday she has filed a lawsuit with a Japanese court claiming that the country’s nationality law, which bans its citizens from also holding a foreign nationality, violates the Constitution.

Yuri Kondo, 75, who currently lives in Fukuoka in southwestern Japan and filed the lawsuit at the Fukuoka District Court, said at a press conference with her legal team that acquiring U.S. citizenship should not have automatically stripped her of her Japanese one. Kondo, who was born in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture, moved to the United States in 1971 to attend graduate school and began practicing law in Arizona in 1997.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 2004, she attempted to renew her Japanese passport in 2017 but her application was rejected. She is currently in Japan on her U.S. passport. Kondo claims that Article 11 of the nationality law, which stipulates that Japanese citizens automatically lose their nationality upon gaining a foreign nationality, violates the right to pursue happiness and equality as guaranteed by the Constitution.

COMMENT: Let’s go through just how arbitrary, complicated, and racialized Japan’s Nationality Law is…

Japan Today expose: How the media failed Japan’s most vulnerable immigrants (Feb 22, 2022)

JT: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is a strange institution. It’s responsible for the way Japan is perceived abroad, and it decides who receives the opportunity to immigrate. But its jurisdiction over the lives of immigrants largely vanishes when they reach Japan. It’s also the most influential agency that does not play a meaningful role in developing the government’s legislative agenda. Senior MoFA officials can only watch in dismay as less prestigious agencies, including some of Japan’s most corrupt, devise legislation that erodes the rights of immigrants and damages Japan’s international reputation.

A proposed overhaul of Japan’s detention system, scuttled in 2021 after the death of detainee Wishma Rathnayake and a resulting wave of protests, was especially unpopular with Japanese diplomats. The Kishida administration has revived it anyway, with parliamentary debate anticipated this summer. Until recently, MoFA relied on the press to guard against legislative aggression toward immigrants, quietly passing sensitive information to reporters who covered the Ministry of Justice, which enforces immigration law.

According to MoFA officials who acted as my sources during the 10 years I covered immigration, their current reluctance to cooperate with journalists is related to the sense, among the agency’s staff, that the media has become “much louder, but much less effective” on issues of immigration.

The officials I spoke with traced this problem to 2019, when a detainee starved to death at a detention center in Nagasaki, following a four-week hunger strike, named Gerald “Sunny” Okafor… Meanwhile, the press has helped to turn Okafor’s death into a non-story, by disseminating state propaganda that diminishes the death’s significance, then responding to that propaganda with opinion essays instead of investigations.

Archiving Debito’s SNA Visible Minorities column 8: “No Free Pass for Japan’s Shirking Responsibility”, Mar 16, 2020 (Link to full text)

SNA (March 2020) — There’s an oft-used expression in Japanese: sekinin tenka. Best translated as “passing the buck,” it’s a reflex of dodging blame for one’s own actions by transferring responsibility to others. For too long, Japan has done so on the world stage with impunity—even when it affects the world adversely.

Let’s start with, since it’s timely, the 3.11 Fukushima nuclear meltdown that took place nine years ago this month. While the earthquake and tsunami are not Japan’s fault, situating a nuclear power plant so perilously close to the coastline is; as is the perpetually-botched response of containment and leakage (even the willful dumping) of irradiated water into the Pacific Ocean.

Contrast that with the attention and criticism (and even a TV series) Russia got for Chernobyl, where the situation has finally been contained in a sarcophagus. In Japan, officials instead blamed world standards of safe radiation levels for being alarmist (adjusting them upwards for domestic political purposes) and declared Fukushima produce safe for consumption.

Even more timely is how sekinin tenka influenced Japan’s Covid-19 response…
Full text now archived on Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/?p=15978

My SNA Visible Minorities col 34: “Henry Scott-Stokes, Sell-Out to Gaijin Handlers, dies.” May 23, 2022, with ruminations on why foreign journalism in Japan has historically been so astray.

SNA: Henry Johnstone Morland Scott-Stokes, patrician among Japan’s foreign correspondents since 1964, recently died in Tokyo at the age of 83, but not before he did untold damage by performing as a foreign handmaid to Japan’s fascists.

A man described as “tweedy” and “entertaining and congenial,” Briton Scott-Stokes was nonetheless a man of privilege, lucky enough to land in Japan as Tokyo bureau chief of the Financial Times only three years after graduating from Oxford.

Becoming bureau chief of a major newspaper at the wizened old age of 26 might seem odd today, but back then foreign journalism in Japan had lower standards, and the field was infused with neocolonial attitudes towards the “natives.” Fluency in your assigned country’s language was not required.

Nor was Japanese required at the other “Big Three” English-language newspapers in Japan, as Scott-Stokes later became bureau chief of The Times of London and the New York Times through the 1970s and early 1980s. For a man described as “someone who really understood Japan,” he spent his entire 58 years in Japan as a functional illiterate, unable to fluently read, write, or speak Japanese…

Most hacks in his station moved on to other countries or settled into a quiet life in Japan, living a harmless twilight existence as cottage consultants in their cups. Scott-Stokes didn’t. He didn’t just continue to rely on his privileged access to Japan’s elite for his income; he decided to embrace their fascist tendencies…

Entire article at
https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/05/23/visible-minorities-henry-scott-stokes-sell-out-to-gaijin-handlers/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER MAY 23, 2022

Table of Contents:
1) My SNA Visible Minorities column 32: “On the Naomi Osaka Heckling” at Indian Wells tournament (March 21, 2022)

2) Kyodo: “63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police”, part of systemic racial profiling by the National Police Agency

3) My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

My SNA Visible Minorities 33: “Why Progressives keep losing” (short answer: because they alienate their own allies), April 18, 2022

SNA VM 33: Yale historian Timothy Snyder said recently in a television interview, “The Left loses for the right reasons; the Right wins for the wrong reasons.” One of the reasons why the Left, particularly the Progressives who have not enjoyed much power worldwide for more than a century, keeps losing is because of their fractiousness.

Just as soon as they gain an advantage or start making headway in the policy arena, they lose focus and begin turning on themselves. They alienate natural allies because they are not ideologically pure enough, or worse yet, as seen in critics of my columns [who claim that I have no standing to talk about racial discrimination in Japan or anywhere because I’m White], the wrong skin color.

Granted, the Left has always had a tougher time mobilizing people than the Right. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the Left wants leaders they can fall in love with, while the Right wants leaders they can fall in line with.

Let’s unpack that. Voices from the Left are discordant and diverse, and expectations are high and sometimes uncompromising. It’s also a lot tougher for a Leftist leader to gain and sustain the “love” of their supporters since, no matter what else happens, there will always be winners and losers with every decision they make. But for Rightists, it’s a lot easier to “fall in line” behind an ideological camp whose basic organizing principle is money (and the shameless acquisition of it). And once they gain enough of it, money in itself not only buys power, but also, oddly enough, credibility. […] Sadly, that’s why the Right understands power better…

But that’s Right vs. Left. Now let’s talk about Left vs. Left, and how they undermine themselves…
Read whole column at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/04/18/visible-minorities-why-progressives-keep-losing/

Kyodo: “63% of people with foreign roots in Japan questioned by police”, part of systemic racial profiling by the National Police Agency

Kyodo: A total of 62.9 percent of people in Japan with foreign roots were questioned by police over the past five years, preliminary results of a recent Tokyo Bar Association survey showed, with the group saying the outcome is evidence of biased behavior by officers.

The survey on racial profiling drew responses from 2,094 people with roots in foreign countries. The association said it conducted the poll after receiving complaints that many such people had been questioned by police apparently due to their appearance.

Among individuals who were approached by the police over the past five years, 50.4 percent were stopped “two to five times,” while 10.8 percent were questioned “six to nine times” and 11.5 percent “10 times or more,” according to the survey conducted between Jan. 11 and Feb. 28…

In a free description section, some wrote that after officers learned of their foreign nationality, they showed “overbearing behavior” toward them. The U.S. Embassy in Tokyo had warned on its official Twitter account last year that it had been receiving reports of “suspected racial profiling incidents” with several foreigners “detained, questioned and searched” by the police.

My SNA Visible Minorities column 32: “On the Naomi Osaka Heckling” at Indian Wells tournament (March 21, 2022)

SNA: At a recent tournament in Indian Wells, California, Japan tennis champion Naomi Osaka was heckled by some troll in the audience who shouted out “you suck!” while she was playing on court. That reduced Osaka to tears. She asked the referee if she could address the crowd, then asked to have the troll ejected. Both requests were denied, and play resumed. Osaka then lost in straight sets.

In post-game comments, Osaka tearfully noted the distraction and compared her situation to a 2001 incident where Venus and Serena Williams faced crowd abuse, again at Indian Wells. The Williamses boycotted the venue for more than a decade after that. Fortunately, this time Osaka’s heckler was the outlier. The audience at the venue, fellow players afterwards, media and internet chatter were overwhelmingly supportive of her.

Still, others noted that Osaka needs to develop a thicker skin. I’m afraid I agree. Osaka has been around on this circuit for quite a while. She’s now 24, and obviously has the talent to be world champion. Now the question is, does she have the mettle to maintain it? […] At some point in time Osaka has to stop letting hecklers take her focus away. This is that point in time…

My SNA Visible Minorities 31: “Shintaro Ishihara: Good Riddance to an Evil Man”, an honest obituary. Feb 20, 2022

SNA: Former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara, who died February 1, was an evil man. Any honest obituary would admit as such. Unfortunately, the media’s retrospectives have tended to eulogize him, using weasel words so as to not speak ill of the dead.

But that’s the wrong reflex. Evil should never be whitewashed, especially when it comes to a person as evil as Ishihara, and by doing so they are complicit in historical revisionism. I will try to rectify that with this column by recounting Ishihara’s actual record…

A hateful man who poured his hate into concrete policies, Ishihara eventually found himself in a position of real power, elected multiple times to the governorship of the world’s largest and richest city. Ishihara installed Japan’s first neighborhood surveillance cameras specifically in areas of Tokyo he claimed were “hotbeds of foreign crime,” and went on TV at regular intervals to propagandize that Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Roppongi at night were no longer Japan.

He also said that Japanese politicians who support more civil and human rights for foreign residents must have “foreign ancestors” themselves, and abetted political witch hunts and loyalty tests to root out politicians with international connections.

Essentially, Ishihara was trying to ethnically cleanse Japan, undoing the “internationalization” phase of the 1980s and 1990s of openness and tolerance. In its place, he sponsored overt racism and normalized xenophobia.

And it worked. To this day, entire political parties, candidates, and hate groups publicly rally for the expulsion of foreigners and the extermination of Koreans. That’s why current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida can’t easily lift the world’s longest, most draconian and unscientific Covid border policies–because polls say 57% of the fearful Japanese public want them kept…
Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/02/21/visible-minorities-good-riddance-to-an-evil-man/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER FEB 21, 2022

Table of Contents:
1) Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives
2) Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.
3) My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

Japan Govt’s “Kizuna” magazine: “Beyond Tokyo 2020 Olympics: Leading the Way towards an Inclusive Society”, Winter 2021: Govt propaganda whitewashing history & rewriting exclusionary narratives

Have a look at this Japanese Government article in their “Kizuna” Magazine trying to present the Tokyo 2020 Olympics as a liberalizing force, allowing Japan to embrace “inclusivity”.  Of course, we here at Debito.org are all in favor of inclusivity.  But when even the data it presents below doesn’t substantiate the headline, you know even the Japanese government is indulging in propagandizing clickbait based on incomplete social science.  No surprises there, I guess, but let’s parse the article. Here’s the opening, with my comment:
/////////////////////////////////////////////

PORTRAITS OF JAPAN
BEYOND TOKYO 2020: LEADING THE WAY TOWARD AN INCLUSIVE SOCIETY
Kizuna Magazine, Winter 2021
https://www.japan.go.jp/kizuna/_userdata/pdf/2021/winter2021/beyond_tokyo_2020.pdf

The Tokyo 2020 Games, which reached a safe conclusion even under the difficult circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, made a significant step toward the realization of an inclusive society—one in which everyone respects one another regardless of gender, age, or ability.

(Comment from Debito:  So the inclusivity is restricted to gender, age, and ability?  Not nationality, minorities (who were in fact shut out of the Games), or other racialized characteristics for Visible Minorities in Japan?  Granted, those three items are good ones, but it’s a narrower scope for “inclusivity” than should be possible or laudable.)

Article continues, and so do I…

Ruminations on Ishihara Shintaro’s death: Good riddance to an evil man.

It was with some measured amount of joy that I saw that a quintessentially awful man, Former Tokyo Governor and Political-Resident Racist Ishihara Shintaro, recently died of pancreatic cancer at the age of 89. Predictably, the eulogies and hagiographies have minced their words about what an awful man this was, watering down their modifiers to call him a “brash” “hawk” “firebrand”, a ‘fiery nationalist” with “controversial views” etc. Even after some admit that he deliberately used his political power to try to start a war with China over some island scraps, and to publicly denigrate and persecute people not only because they crossed him, but also because they were born a certain way. Simply saying he was not a force for good is to have a fundamental misconception of what evil is.

My SNA Visible Minorities 30: “US Military Should Combat Japan’s Xenophobia”, i.e., counteract apparent Japanese media disinformation about their bases’ Covid policies (Jan 24, 2022)

Excerpt: Shingetsu News Agency has reported for two years on how the Japanese government and media have gone out of their way to blame foreigners for the domestic spread of Covid. Each time we’ve gone out of our way to point out that Covid was usually brought in by Japanese citizens disobeying lenient quarantines. The government’s exclusionary border policies, treating people without Japanese passports as somehow more contagious, is routinely supported neither by logic nor science. The latest mutation of this narrative has been the blame targeted at US military bases in Japan for community spread.

For example, Japan Times reported on January 8, stitching together wire reports from Jiji Press and Kyodo News, that “US military personnel are believed to have triggered a coronavirus resurgence in [Okinawa, Yamaguchi, and Hiroshima]. Many people in the three prefectures live in close proximity to American bases. Infection prevention measures taken by the US forces, which some have criticized as being too lax, are thought to be behind that explosion of cases.” […]. But this is contradicted by what the US Forces Japan say are their actual policies, with 92-98% vaccination rates and limitations on movement.

So is the blame game grounded in facts and science? Or are these reactions to people trying to find another foreign scapegoat for the latest Covid spike? We don’t know because US Forces Japan aren’t making their practices sufficiently loud and clear. As usual.

The upshot: How US Forces Japan are yet again ignoring being used for domestic political capital is irresponsible. USFJ has the duty to recognize that what they do affects Visible Minorities in Japan, whether it be inspiring “Japanese Only” bigots to slam shop doors in their faces, or giving more ammunition to reactionaries who seek to seal off Japan’s borders.
Full article at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2022/01/24/visible-minorities-us-military-should-combat-japans-xenophobia/

Combating xenophobic rumors and media: Debito.org asks US Forces, Japan for clarification on their COVID testing and vaccination policies

Query to US Forces, Japan: In recent weeks, the Japanese media has portrayed US Forces in Japan as a major vector for infection in Japan, portraying the US military presence in Japan as a leak in their otherwise tight border policies… As you know, Japan’s border policies for most of the past two years have refused entry to most foreigners, including foreign residents regardless of visa status, while letting in Japanese under often lax quarantine conditions to spread Covid anyway. Yet media and policymakers in Japan have frequently portrayed Covid as an exogenous, “foreign” disease, with the highly problematic interpretation of seeing foreigners as more likely to spread Covid than Japanese…

My point is that the US Military in Japan has a responsibility to dispel rumors and reports that are playing a part in potentially increasing xenophobic attitudes towards foreign residents of Japan… Please permit me to ask some clarifying questions, for publication on Debito.org:

1) Pursuant to President Biden’s order that all federal employees and military be vaccinated and tested by February 15, does this mean that all US Forces in Japan, both incoming and resident, have been vaccinated and boosted, and tested for Covid, including the Omicron variant?

2) What happens when members of the US Military test positive for Covid? If in Japan, are they quarantined within the base? If outside Japan, are they denied entry into Japan and quarantined overseas?

3) Do you have any response to the claims within the following reportage in the Japan Times?
“It was revealed in December that U.S. forces had been lax in their border measures against the virus… But it was found that the U.S. side was not conducting pre-departure and post-arrival testing, as required by Japan, and that it had shortened the period of restrictions on arriving personnel’s movement from 14 days to 10. It also allowed people in the restriction period to move freely within U.S. bases.”

UPDATE JANUARY 23, 2022:  We received no answer.

Why COVID keeps being seen as a “foreign” disease in Japan: Uncritical reportage in the Mainichi of Shizuoka Mayor blaming Omicron on “foreign nationals at work”, claiming it’s not “community transmission”. Wait, let’s parse that.

Mainichi: Following the first confirmed coronavirus omicron variant case in the central Japan city of Shizuoka in Shizuoka Prefecture on Dec. 27, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe said at a press conference, “He (the patient) is confirmed to have had contact with foreign nationals at work, and community transmission is unlikely.” According to the Shizuoka Municipal Government, the patient was earlier confirmed infected with the coronavirus and has mild symptoms. Genome analysis by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases revealed he was positive for the omicron variant. Two people who had had close contact with the man tested negative for the virus. The patient has no recent history of overseas travel, and came into contact with foreign nationals at work. The city’s public health center explained that it determined the route of infection was strongly suspected to have been via contact at work.

COMMENT FROM DEBITO: A few more simple questions needed to be asked of Mr. Mayor before his speculation got passed through by the Mainichi editors, and allowed to filter into the public sphere:

1) Were these “overseas people” freshly-arrived in Japan from overseas despite a near-blanket ban on any foreigners at the border?

2) Were these “overseas people” in fact foreign residents who were here anyway, therefore those people are in fact part of “the community” (meaning, yes, “community transmission”).

3) Is there any evidence that these individual “overseas people” were in fact COVID-positive? Were they tested? Was there any other vector testing of other people in the community? Or are we just simply assuming that foreigners are more likely than Japanese to have COVID and leaving it at that?

We should know.  But we don’t.  Why not?  Because the constant and uncritical assumptions that foreigners a) are vectors, and b) are not part of the “Japanese community” at large anyway, are precisely what I mean when I refer to Japan’s Embedded Racism.  Presumptions like these are so normalized as to be embedded and unquestioned in Japan, even by media professionals who are supposed to be asking these questions before they let these racist ideas infect and spread throughout society.

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022: Tokyo Asakusa “Suzuya” theatrical prop store bars “foreign customers” to “prevent COVID infection”. (Plus Momosaku, another repeat offender in Asakusa.)

Let me open the year inauspiciously with a post about new “Japanese Only” signs. The first one is from a store called “Suzuya Buyou Kodougu” (Suzuya Traditional Dance Props) in Asakusa Kouen Nishisandou.

Sign: “Foreign customers are not allowed to enter the store to prevent the new corona virus (COVID-19) infection.”
Sign: “Foreign tourists are not allowed to enter the store.”
Store: Entertainment Goods 浅草公園西参道
有限会社すずや舞踊小道具店
電話 03-3844-3798
〒111-0032 東京都台東区浅草2-7-13

COMMENT: Feel free to contact Suzuya and tell them what you think about their sign, particularly since no foreign tourists (and very few foreign residents) are being allowed into Japan to spread Covid. Yet that doesn’t stop racist signs depicting foreigners already here (who like regular Japanese residents probably haven’t travelled abroad) as more infectious than Japanese from appearing on stores (again).  Because (again) there’s no law against racial discrimination in Japan stopping anyone from putting up a “Japanese Only” sign for any reason whatsoever.

Meanwhile, also in Asakusa:
Name: 100 (izakaya) (Momosaku 百作)
Address: 4 Chome-7-12 Asakusa, Taitō-ku, Tōkyō-to 111-0032
Sign: “Japanese Only (in English), “None of our staff at this establishment speak foreign languages, so we refuse entry to all overseas people (kaigai no kata) (in Japanese)

COMMENT: No “overseas people” could possibly speak Japanese to their staff, of course. But the funny thing is, we featured Momosaku on Debito.org back in April 2018!  Back then, the submitter pulled down that sign, and it was replaced a day later.  Clearly Momosaku’s managers don’t like foreigners, Covid or no Covid.  Feel free to drop by and let them know how you feel about their “Japanese Only” sign.  Perhaps pull it down again.

My annual “Human Rights Top Ten for 2021” countdown now at Shingetsu News Agency, VM 29 Dec 27, 2021

Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021
SHINGETSU NEWS AGENCY, DEC 27, 2021 by DEBITO ARUDOU in COLUMN
SNA (Tokyo) — Since 2008, I have always devoted my end-year columns to counting down the Top Ten human rights issues as they pertain to Non-Japanese residents of Japan. This year I’m moving this feature to the Shingetsu News Agency. Let’s get started:

10) Debito.org Turns 25 Years Old…
9) Tourism to Japan Drops 99% Since 2019…
8 ) Vincent Fichot Hunger Strike against Japan Child Abduction…
7) Tokyo Musashino City Approves, Then Defeats, Inclusive Voting Proposal…

Full countdown with write-ups at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/12/27/visible-minorities-human-rights-top-ten-for-2021/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 28, 2021: END YEAR SPECIAL

SPECIAL: “Visible Minorities: Human Rights Top Ten for 2021”, Shingetsu News Agency, Dec 27, 2021 by Debito Arudou

GOOD NEWS
1) US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.
2) Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.
3) Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)
4) Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

OTHER NEWS
5) My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021
6) My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021
7) My SNA VM7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)
…and finally…
8 ) Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

Good 2018 JT article on Japanese Nationality Law. Upshot: Don’t give up NJ citizenship after naturalizing into Japan

JT: Q: How many Japanese citizens hold multiple nationalities?
A: The Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times in April that some 890,000 are in a position to be dual nationals, according to data from local municipalities from the years 1985 to 2016.

Q: Has anyone been stripped of their dual nationality by the Japanese government?
There have been no reported instances of dual nationals by birth having their citizenship revoked. In April, the Justice Ministry confirmed to The Japan Times that the justice minister had never issued a warning to a dual citizen by birth to decide upon one nationality, meaning that no such dual national has ever been stripped of their Japanese citizenship under Article 15 of the Nationality Act.

Upshot: International couples with dual national children in Japan, take note:  Do not let your children sacrifice one side of their identity merely for the sake of bureaucratic convenience, especially when they don’t have to.

Miyazaki International College cut their elderly professors’ salaries by 20%. After a 7-year battle, Fukuoka High Court rules this illegal. A victory for foreign plaintiffs too.

Mainichi: Due to a revision in the basic salary levels, Miyazaki International College cut their former professors’ base salaries by 20% once they reached sixty years of age. Plaintiffs sued for breach of labor contract, demanding 42,500,000 yen of unpaid salaries. Although they lost in lower court, on December 8 the Fukuoka High Court overruled and awarded the plaintiffs all claims. 

COMMENT:  This matters because there’s a long tradition in Japan of Academic Apartheid, where foreign academics in higher education are given contracted status (increasingly, term-limited) while Japanese-citizen academics are given uncontracted, permanent tenure from day one of employment.  This is probably the oldest issue we’ve taken up on Debito.org, and it’s only gotten worse over the quarter-century of coverage:  Instead of more foreign academics becoming tenured like Japanese, the trend is to “gaijinize” the Japanese faculty (as a money-saving effort encouraged by the Ministry of Education all the way back in 1995) by putting them on contracts, eliminating tenure in an attempt to clean out disagreeable leftists from Japan’s universities.

MEI’s move to put everyone above a certain age (Japanese and foreign) on a different lower pay scale as well was a line the Fukuoka High Court was not willing to allow under the law.  Good to have that precedent set. Conclusion:  Join a union if you’re working in Japan.  Then fight these things in court as a union.

US Embassy in Japan tweets warning against Japanese police practice of “racial profiling”: Bravo. About time.

US Embassy: “The U.S. Embassy has received reports of foreigners stopped and searched by Japanese police in suspected racial profiling incidents. Several were detained, questioned, and searched. U.S. citizens should carry proof of immigration and request consular notification if detained.”

COMMENT: We’ve been warning about racial profiling by Japanese police on Debito.org for many years now. (We’ve even gone so far to call it “standard operating procedure” in public policing.) Finally the US Embassy is now warning its own citizens against it. Well, good, and long overdue.  Because when the US Embassy weighs in on things like this (such as instant Gaijin Card Checks at hotels, shady street Gaijin Card Checks by people posing as Japanese police, and instant pee-pee drug tests for people who “look foreign” in Roppongi), the GOJ sits up and takes notice (and stops the pee-pee tests, for example).  And in yesterday’s instance, it’s newsworthy enough to be reported quite widely in other media. Bravo US Embassy.  Do more of this. Since Japan’s minorities are so disenfranchised that we’ll get no public policy to stop this, the only avenue available is pressure from public exposure from abroad.

Senaiho Case against Yamanashi City for “Hair Police” school bullying: A very rare victory for the Plaintiffs! (UPDATE: Full court decision attached)

Senaiho (excerpt): In the final judgment in our civil case against the city of Yamanashi and the school system, the court awarded 110,000 yen to us, the plaintiffs. A bitter/sweet, long and hard fought victory since 2018.

First the positives. Any judgment against a public entity in Japan is almost unheard of… In the brief of the judgment the court found the teachers/school and city of Yamanashi liable for the damages of [forcibly] cutting our daughter’s hair [without her permission in front of everyone in school]… It also vindicated her from the some of the extensive damage to her self-esteem. Unfortunately, these scars she will most likely carry for the rest of her life. No mention was made of the root causes of her having her hair cut; racism and abuse against her for the sin of being born from a mixed racial couple.

The downside of our small victory is that it is small. One judgment in a regional court in Japan changes nothing really. There will be some media coverage for a little while. After that dies down, the bullies will continue to bully, the racists will continue to rant, and the public officials will continue to cover up their culpability… Thank you again to everyone here at Debito.org who supported us with your encouragement and prayers.

My SNA VM28: “Japan’s Fast Breeder Reactor of Racism.” Summarizes book “Embedded Racism” First and Second Editions, Nov 22, 2021

Excerpt: In my new Second Edition of Embedded Racism (2022), I’m now arguing that Japan’s long-ignored racial discrimination undermines the rest of the world, especially its liberal democracies, because Japan is in fact a fast-breeder reactor of radioactive racism…

The conclusion is that my second edition of Embedded Racism is a clarion call for liberals and progressives to wake up, and get ready to defend democracy from the ethnocentrists. Fight with all your might the fiction that the way to deal with a race problem is to exclude and cleanse races from your society. That’s the Japan template. Don’t let it be yours.

Again, if you leave discrimination alone, it spreads. Leaving Japan alone to practice its embedded racism has finally reached the point of blowback. It’s time for a new set of templates to fight racial discrimination in the world, including and especially Japan’s.

Overseas policymakers should also be ready to make Japan take responsibility for what it’s wrought upon the world. It’s time to pressure the Japanese government to observe its treaty promise to the United Nations more than 25 years ago—passing a law against racial discrimination—and begin the process of enfranchising its minority voices.

That includes doing more than just scolding or issuing strongly worded letters. I suggest putting pressure where Japan’s elites care—limiting access to overseas markets. Or else Japan will remain a fast breeder reactor of racism irradiating the rest of the democratic world.

Debito’s SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism: Japan’s Visible Minorities and Racial Discrimination” (Lexington Books, 2022), fully revised and updated, now on sale

The new SECOND EDITION of “Embedded Racism” (Lexington Books, 2022), completely revised and updated with 100 extra pages of new material, is now on sale.

Information site outlining what’s new, with excerpts and reviews, and how to get your copy at a discount at
https://www.debito.org/embeddedracism.html

(Or you can download a promo flyer, take it to your library, have them order the book, and then borrow it for free at https://www.debito.org/EmbeddedRacism2ndEdFlyer.pdf)

My SNA Visible Minorities 7: “Japan’s Botched Response to the Diamond Princess Coronavirus isn’t Racism; it’s Stupidity”, Feb 17, 2020 (archiving link to full text)

Back in February 2020, Covid created the modern equivalent of the “hell ship” in the Diamond Princess luxury liner, which trapped its passengers in Yokohama Port (until they were rescued by their respective governments) because of Japanese Government stupidity.  It’s been nearly two years gone by, so in lieu of a new blog entry, let me archive and link to the full text of my SNA column on it.  Excerpt:

SNA (Tokyo) — The drama of cruise ship Diamond Princess, currently moored at Yokohama and quarantined by Japan’s Health Ministry due to some of the 3,700 passengers and crew testing positive for the coronavirus, is a human rights crisis. The Covid-19 outbreak that originated in China has killed more than 1700 people and sickened tens of thousands. Here’s my take: Surprise! I’m not going to argue that the prison-ship conditions are due to racism, but more a matter of official stupidity…

Another thing the Japanese government botched: the willingness of all the passengers to simply gaman the stupid. The Diamond Princess is an international ship, and passengers from other countries aren’t going to do what’s expected by Japanese authorities. They are not going to quietly do as they’re told.

In fact, many people with different historical touchstones about being quarantined might object to being trapped on a Kalaupapa, a Swinburne Island, a Poveglia, or a wartime “hell ship.” So they did something about it. Passengers and crew have internet access, and they complained loudly to their respective governments and media about the increasingly intolerable conditions they have been subjected to.

Viral videos and interviews have turned the Diamond Princess into a much bigger embarrassment than some statistical infection rate blip. Instead of looking like Asia’s foremost modern, clean, and civilized country, Japan has only managed to look unprepared to handle international standards of disease control, or for that matter the international tourism Japan wants so badly.
Full text now archived at Debito.org at https://www.debito.org/?p=15942.

My SNA VM27: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No’.” Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan. Oct 18, 2021

SNA: As the pandemic stretches into yet another season, the media is starting to assess how Covid is changing the world permanently. At least one pundit has called the situation “epochal,” with the ever-rising worldwide death toll causing disruptions to politics, government, economics, and social life in general. It’s no longer a matter of just getting everyone vaccinated and then everything going back to normal: for the foreseeable future, we’ll have to accept some form of deprivation as the new normal.

Some countries are coping with deprivation (or at least a deferred gratification) less well. The United States is a good example. Despite being one of the most advanced economies and developed civil societies in the world, it has botched the pandemic badly–and it is not only because the previous president was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of people to maintain his power. It’s also because of a design flaw deeply embedded in America’s national psyche.

American society is oddly susceptible to charismatic frauds posing as leaders, inept at everything except the uncanny talent of playing off social expectations framed as “freedoms”: 1) “freedom from want” (i.e., in a land of plenty, you should be able to get whatever you want); and 2) “freedom from being told what to do by government” (better known as “liberty,” where, as long as it’s not specifically illegal, you should be able to do whatever you want).

Consider how Covid has devastated American expectations. In terms of want, supply chains worldwide have broken down, meaning Americans have had to defer consumer gratification in places where it hurts, from toilet paper to used cars to sudden exorbitant rents. In terms of government nonintervention, the audacity of a national vaccine mandate demanding people get a Covid shot is being denounced as “tyranny.” Not all societies have reacted like this…

This is where Japan comes in. At a time of historic stressors around the globe, I realized that my decades living in Japan have come in handy. In fact, Japan has been an excellent training ground for deprivation and deferred gratification. They seem to lack the ability to keep things in perspective, particularly the one I gained from living under Japan’s “Culture of No.”…

Read the rest at https://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/10/18/visible-minorities-the-bright-side-of-japans-culture-of-no/

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 18, 2021

1) My SNA Visible Minorities 27, Oct 2021: “The Bright Side of Japan’s ‘Culture of No'”: Surprise! Debito has something positive to say about Japan.
2) My SNA Visible Minorities 26, Sept 2021: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

Inundated with projects: Debito.org will be posting less frequently this autumn

Dear Debito.org Readers,

Just to let you know, I’m having my typically busy Fall Semester, with lots of prep, teaching, and grading.

But what’s new is that I have a big writing project that will be dropping in a little while.  I’ll let you know more about that shortly.

So for this autumn, I’ll be paring back my blogging here a bit (probably my SNA column plus maybe a post or two each month).  I will of course be reading and approving comments to Debito.org regardless.

And if you want to bring up issues and discuss them here, please (as always) post them in the Comments section the most recent Debito.org Newsletter.

Thanks for reading and commenting to Debito.org!  Back in a little while. Debito

My SNA Visible Minorities 26: “The ‘Inconceivable’ Racial Discrimination Law”: Japan’s human rights reports to the United Nations are a case study in official dishonesty

SNA: The signature function of the United Nations is to promote world peace, and one way to do that is to encourage ethical standards of behavior from its member countries. They get people to agree on those norms and standards through signing international treaties.

One of the standards that matters most is human rights practices. After all, countries which want to belong to the respected club of “civilized” countries are expected to sign the treaties covering a whole host of noble issues: the elimination of torture; the protection of women, children, and people with disabilities; and the protections of people in general in terms of economic, political, social, civil, and political rights. Signatories are expected to submit periodical reports (usually about every two years) to UN Committees to demonstrate how they are progressing.

Japan has signed most of those treaties. My favorite one, of course, is the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which protects people, especially our Visible Minorities, against discrimination by “race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.” But getting Japan to actually abide by CERD is one of the hobby horses I’ve been riding for decades.

When Japan signed the CERD in 1995, it explicitly agreed to “prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination,” and they were to do it “without delay.” Yet more than a quarter century later, Japan still has no national law against racial discrimination…

So when called upon to justify its record of nasty treatment of its foreign, ethnic, historical, and visible minorities, how does Japan get away with it? By delaying, of course. Let’s take a look at the last time Japan submitted its Periodic Report on the Implementation of the CERD, and reveal its pattern of reporting in bad faith…

DEBITO.ORG NEWSLETTER SEPT 20, 2021

Table of Contents:
1) 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’.”

2) Karst Campsite in Okinawa has “Only Japanese” rules due to Covid. Another one for the pile. UPDATE: Rules have been amended to exclude people who can’t “understand Japanese properly”.

3) Igarashi Kanoa, California-born athlete who won Silver for Japan in 2020 Olympics, rates himself worthy of representing Japan because “My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.” Dangerous old-school Olympian thoroughbred-ism.

… and finally …
4) My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

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; […]

Karst Campsite in Okinawa has “Only Japanese” rules due to Covid. Another one for the pile. UPDATE: Rules have been amended to exclude people who can’t “understand Japanese properly”.

Covid strikes again.  Here’s a campground in Okinawa that says that foreigners can’t make reservations there due to Covid.  Screen capture:

“Only Japanese can take a reservation because of COVID”
KARST CAMP SITE
〒905-0219 沖縄県国頭郡本部町字山里東屋比久原1381番地
050-6864-3379, email karstcampsite115@gmail.com
https://karstcampsite.com/facility/

COMMENT:  I’ve said this many times before, but associating contagion with nationality is unscientific.  Again, because a) there are Non-Japanese residents who live in Japan the same as Japanese, exposed to the same risks of contagion as Japanese, b) there are few foreigners in Japan from overseas at the moment due to the mostly-closed border controls, and c) chances are that foreigners who do come in from overseas are better vetted (not to mention more likely vaccinated due to better jab regimes overseas) than Japanese.

So there is no scientific reason to put up a rule like this.  There is, however, plenty of reason if you’re a xenophobe, like so many people who reflexively put up “Japanese Only” signs are, and will use any excuse (including foreign “health scares” from SARS and AIDS) to justify, even if they are a health care provider.  These are the people we will continue to expose for the record on Debito.org.  Adding to the pile.

UPDATE AUG 27: After phone calls to the campsite, the website has been amended to say “we can take a reservation for someone who can understand Japanese properly Because you need to understand our rules correctly.” Because of course, campsites are fraught with danger, and one language miscommunication and all goes to hell.  After all, foreigners don’t know how to camp if they can’t “understand Japanese properly”. And that’s after they decided in good faith just to blame Covid.

Igarashi Kanoa, California-born athlete who won Silver for Japan in 2020 Olympics, rates himself worthy of representing Japan because “My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.” Dangerous old-school Olympian thoroughbred-ism.

Just a follow-up on my Shingetsu News Agency column of this week. When I was talking there about the roots of the Olympics, I made the case that the Games are less about athleticism than about national demonstrations of power, particularly in the vein of racial superiority.  In my summary of their history, I wrote:

SNA: “When the Games were resuscitated by aristocrats in 1896, in spirit they were still grounded in contemporary attitudes equating national strength with physical strength. Thanks to the racialized social theories in currency at the time, including Social Darwinism and eugenics, the Games soon became a public demonstration of the social engineering of supermen, which depended on how racially ‘thoroughbred’ an athlete and a society was. It’s not difficult to draw a straight line from the geneticist attitudes promoted by the prewar Olympics to The Final Solution.”

Those attitudes can still be felt not only in the bad-habit national medal tallies, but also in the athletes themselves. Consider how Igarashi Kanoa, US-born resident of Huntington Beach, CA, who won Silver for Japan in Surfing, decided to depict himself. As I wrote for SNA above:

SNA: “Igarashi indicatively promotes himself on his Olympics website entry in classic Olympic ‘thoroughbred-ism:’ ‘I have so much support here in the USA and America will always be part of who I am. But I’ve grown up with a lifestyle and in a generation where things can seem a bit borderless. And so representing Japan felt like a solid, comfortable decision. My blood is 100% Japanese. That’s something that you don’t change.’

“Good for his bloodline, I guess. But for mongrel non-medalists like Osaka Naomi, as the New York Times noted, Japan’s social media pounced, contesting her Japanese language ability, her standing to represent Japan, and even her Japaneseness…”

Again, you can self-identify with and play for whatever country will have you.  But a person like this who has benefited from both systems does not deserve respect for this throwback-Eugenicist attitude, and it should be challenged appropriately in public. Doing so at Debito.org.  

My SNA Visible Minorities 25: Tokyo 2020 Olympics Postmortem, where I argue the Games failed its goals of “Diversity and Inclusion” predictably and by design

SNA (Tokyo) — The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are now past. This is a postmortem.

Last month’s column talked about the “evil” of the Japanese government and International Olympic Committee (IOC) in forcing an unpopular Olympics upon Japan’s residents, all the while as Tokyo’s cases spiked during a global pandemic. But I also argued how host Japan in particular is trained by national narratives to see “outsiders” (including residents who don’t “look Japanese”—our Visible Minorities) specifically as terrorists, hooligans, criminals, and vectors of disease.

These fault lines have predictably exacerbated the endemic social disease of racial discrimination. International events just give people more excuses to create “Japanese Only” signs and rules.

That’s not to say that I boycotted the Olympics. In fact, given my background, I should be a superfan. […] But thanks to my background in political science, I’m trained to view nationalism with a critical eye: How governments convince people to live, fight, and even sacrifice their lives for their country. The Olympics are rooted precisely in these attitudes, and forever filter athleticism through the lens of national representation and superiority.

So despite all their promises to showcase “Diversity and Inclusion,” the Tokyo 2020 Olympics shirked that opportunity — predictably and by design…

Rest at http://shingetsunewsagency.com/2021/08/16/visible-minorities-tokyo-2020-olympics-postmortem/. Go read it before it goes behind paywall. Or better yet, support independent progressive journalism and subscribe to SNA for as little as a dollar a week!

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.

“Japanese Only” doctors: “Fast Doctor” House Call Service in Tokyo (which takes foreign traveler insurance) closed to all foreigners due to Covid. Hippocratic Oath? UPDATE: The “Japanese Only” rule has been removed.

Another casualty of the Covid scare in Japan has been the Hippocratic Oath, where this English-language medical service called Fast DOCTOR (see Japanese site, and English site) (where a doctor will make house calls for a flat fee of 50,000 yen) is now closed to all foreigners. Screen captures of the English site follow.

You can comment below about the rather odd things about the English site (including the iStock photos of non-Asian practitioners, and the testimonials at the bottom without a single recommendation in English). But the fact remains that this medical service is contravening their medical oath to treat all patients. Second, the “foreign” patients they are likely to treat (especially in this time of strict Covid checks at the border and better vaccination programs overseas) at this time are less likely to be infected by the pandemic than the average Japanese patient. Finally, it of course assumes that foreigners who read English are travelers, not Japan residents. Given all of these things that defy both good physical and social science, I wonder what kind of medical care they offer in the first place.

FYI, their Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/fastdoctor.tokyo/
UPDATE: A defender of these practices steps forward below to gaslight, claiming “FastDoctor continues to offer its services to foreign residents of Japan.” See comments section for this blog entry.

UPDATE AUGUST 29, 2021:  FastDoctor’s website has been amended to remove their “Japanese Only” rules.  I have received no notification or justification for this from the company — I simply rechecked their website as a followup.  But it’s gone.  Naming and shaming xenophobes once again works.

“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)